55 posts categorized "Music"

January 04, 2009

Three great albums I almost missed this year

Thank God for year end "Best Of" lists.  

With a simple Yahoo News Search, you can find a boat load of critics' picks for best records of the year. If you look for repeat entries, you'll quickly see a pattern that helps you grasp the gestalt of the rock year. 

Finding great new independent music is my #1 hobby, and a big consumer of my free time. I scour websites (like Pitchfork), industry pubs and great online stores (like Good Records in Dallas). I even surf iTunes like a music-shopoholic. With all that work, though, the year end lists always surprise me with some new gems I never heard before. 

Here are three great records I just bought, based on the tips of critics.  

Bon Iver -- For Emma, Forever Ago 
This is a one man recording, produced in the dead of winter in a Wisconsin cabin. Bon Iver is loose French for Good Winter, and for singer-songwriter Justin Vernon -- it was. Track 3, Skinny Love will break your heart and make you a fan. The CD is moving up the indie=charts fast. 
 
The Knux -- Remind Me in 3 Days 
Every five or so years, a new hip hop supergroup emerges. Remember Arrested Development? Fugees? Roots? Outkast? The Knux are the new soul of hip hop and their single Bang Bang will convince you that this is a great band you need to hear right now.

Gang Gang Dance -- Saint Dymphna 
If you like Vampire Weekend, MGMT or Yeasayer, you will love Gang Gang Dance. This New York collective plays excited electro rock, with a cool world beat twist.  Check out the track "House Jam" and you'll hear the future of global punk funk.

December 22, 2008

Top 10 albums of the year

2008 was a banner year for new music, especially independent rock. 

I'd suspect that I've purchased at least six dozen CDs and downloaded a few hundreds tracks via iTunes on the road to my 2008 top albums list. The 80's,90's and 70s are all back this year (again), and a few newcomers have me really excited about the future of music.  

When I say these are the top 10 albums, I mean that they are albums in the classic sense of the word. They are coherent collections of great songs that capture a place and time.  One good song or a few big singles doesn't mean it's one of the best 'albums' of the year for me.  

Top 10 albums of the year (in no ranking order): 
MGMT -- Oracular Spectacular (Time To Pretend is an indie-anthem, every song soars.  The new band of the year.  Best debut since Killers' Hot Fuss.) 

Santagold (She's got M.I.A. swagger with a No Doubt sensibility.  She's the perfect dancehall meets 80s.)

Deathcab For Cutie -- Narrow Stairs (The sound of the record is sooooo Deathcab delicious.  New Twin Size Bed is my pop song of the year.) 

My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges (This is a sonic journey, like Pink Floyd meets Neil Young.  They've grown into their shoes and provide this year's Wilco=like breakthrough album.) 

Killers -- Day and Age (They are baaaack! The record tells a great story, and Human punctuates it's message early on.) 

Fleet Foxes (This is the best sounding record of the year. This Seattle band combines CSNY vocals with Shins like song-sensibility.  A record Brian Wilson would cherish.) 

Angus and Julia Stone -- Book Like This (Got this as a gift from JB in Austin, WOW. Belle and Sebastian meet Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes.  Great UK indie-pop.  Buy used via Amazon, or download the EP from iTunes. Big here next year.) 

Conor Oberst (The Bright Eyes frontman and brainchild makes a great solo record. He's got Bruce's soul, Jenny's wit and Bob's sense of rebellion.  And all the tracks are great too.) 

Portishead - Third (It took this UK trip hop collective years to make this, but it is well worth the wait. Classic torch meets hip hop.  Track 9 (Small) is the highlight of the downtempo year.) 

Black Mountain - In The Future (Think Zep, but with a gothic Southern bent. This indie-swamp-psyche band is the coolest thing since Monster Magnet.) 

New bands with much promise that almost made this list:
Does This Offend You Yeah! -- You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Into 

Parts & Labor -- Receivers

December 13, 2008

Savor the Bitter:Sweet

BITTERSWEET-mating-game-400

Every year I stumble upon a new downtempo, chillout band that rocks. 

This year, I found Bitter:Sweet while shopping at Fred Segal's in LA. Their 2006 classic (Mating Game) was playing in the store (and on sale for way to much money), so I went home a sampled a track via iTunes (Don't Forget To Breath). 

It was trip hop of the finest quality, right up there with Portishead, Sneaker Pimps and Morcheeba. I don't know how I haven't heard of this electronic duo, but they are the freshest sound in this genre since De Phazz.  

Buy the entire CD (Mating Game) and put it on the next time you throw a dinner party. Everyone will groove out and thank you for introducing them to Bitter:Sweet.   

November 15, 2008

Ghostland Observatory: Folie a deaux

Ghostland

My good friend JB Hager showed me a YouTube video of Austin art dance-duo Ghostland Observatory. 

In short, they rock.  They killed at Austin City Limits, and their new record is like Air meets The Killers with a dollup of NIN.  They have one of the most exciting 2 person live shows in alt-club world.  

I just picked up their newest disc, Robotique Majestique.  Check out track 3 (No Place For Me) and track 4 (Freeheart Lover) for a taste of this act.   There is something very special about this singer, so don't miss one of the big indie-electro buzz bands of the year.   There are more than six great tracks on this disc, so buy it in full -- this is no one-hit-flashband.  

November 02, 2008

Does it offend you (yeah!)

There's a new electo-rock band on the scene, and their name is as provocative as their music. 


You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into is the new CD by Reading UK band Does It Offend You Yeah?  This band captures the energy of recent electronic standouts:  Daft Punk, The Rapture, Justice or even VHS or Beta.  

They have two styles of music:  Chemical Brothers styled instrumental tracks and Killers style pop.   Check out "We Are Rockstars", their first single for an instrumental blast of energy.  Check out "Dawn Of The Dead" for their more song oriented vocal tracks. 

Either style, this band is exciting.  They are the most innovative group of 2008 since MGMT and Vampire Circus.  The record delivers at least eight great tracks, making it worth the whole disc purchase and not just a few tracks off of iTunes.  I've been listening to it solid for the last few days, and likely it will make my year's final top ten new records/bands of the year. 

Buy the CD on Amazon

Buy the CD at Barnes and Noble Online

October 26, 2008

Let's get killed

I've decided to reach into my CDs-you-have-to-own goodie bag for a music recommendation. 

Many of you first heard DJ-tastemaker David Holmes when you saw the film Ocean's Eleven.  His sense of style, funk and lounge fit perfectly with the stylish film.  Truth is, he makes fantastic party records you can put on for any crowd. 

Holmes weaves a perfect cinematic story in his records.  Last night I listened to his class CD, a single 45 minute mix titled, "Come Get It, I Got It".  It's out of print and sells for $35.00 on both Amazon and Ebay.  

Another fantastic record, that is actually affordable, is his follow up master piece: Let's Get Killed.  It weaves soundtrack, anthem, jam and chillout into a must have record.  You can also download this record for less than ten bucks on iTunes. 

August 31, 2008

Invest in Santogold

Santogold

For the last month, I've been enjoying a new record by Santogold.

She's on par with MIA and even Gwen Stefani -- with her infectious blend of 80's, dance hall dub and sassy pop princess styles. Check out L.E.S. Artistes and Creator are the two tracks that will sell you on the record (or cost you about 2 bucks in iTunes).

Buy it at Barnes and Noble
Buy it at Amazon


June 15, 2008

Try out the new 'Jacket

Mmj2alt
If you haven't ever heard Louisville Kentucky's My Morning Jacket, give their new CD (Evil Urges) a listen right away.

The might be one of the most important American rock bands of the last few years. I put them up there with The Shins, The Strokes and Band of Horses for their sonic qualities and amazing rock/pop sensibility.

If you want to hear the future of electro-Americana, just buy track 13 (Touch Me, I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2) and give it a full listen through. It sounds like Radiohead by way of Wilco -- nice. Don't get me wrong, My Morning Jacket is highly original, but at the same time has a vintage feel that you'd expect from Crazy Horse.

Standout tracks on Evil Urges include: Track 4 (I'm amazed), Track 1 (title track) and Track 7 (Two Halves). Lead singer-song writer Jim James shines on this city-recorded release. The band takes the alt-indie-country sound to a classic album level on this disc.
Click here to buy it on Amazon
Click here to buy it on Barnes and Noble


June 09, 2008

Into a dark cinematic soundscape, Portishead goes

I just received my copy of Portishead's newest CD, Third.

They are back! If you are a fan of Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation or Zero 7, you must pick this disc up ASAP. The band's sound, fronted by the torchy singer Beth Gibbons, is chillout meets sci-fi film. Liam, the brainchild of the group, has picked up some extra programming chops and has diversified Portishead's trip-hop style. Their new material has smatterings of old Nine Inch Nails, Young Gods and even Ministry. In other words, it electronically rocks.

When you pop the disc in, go straight to track 5 (Plastic) and listen through to the last track (Threads). This 6 pack of songs = the perfect listening experience. Track 1 is great, but 2-4 are slow songs, thus my re-sequencing recommendation.

For iTunes store buyers, pick off these tracks:
5 (Plastic), 6 (We Carry On) and 9 (Small).

If you've never listened to Portishead before, you are missing out on one of the best British bands of the last twenty years. They have a classic Jazz-Funk-Dr.Dre-James Bond sound found only in the UK.

Buy it at Barnes and Noble online

Buy it at Amazon


May 19, 2008

Chase the fleet foxes

Seattle's Fleet Foxes have a unique sound: Part Brian Wilson, part folk explosion, part Coldplay-Muse-U2.

If you want to get hooked on their psyche-strum sound, check out Track 2, White Winter Hymnal. It'll haunt you for days.

The Fleet Foxes are label mates to the Shins, both on Sub Pop Records (which brought you Nirvana). This is the nature of the new indie rock scene, combining pretty pop with dissonant experimentalism and minimal arrangements. It's a far cry from punk, but related nonetheless.

If you liked Beach House or even UK's Keane, you should slide out to the edge of reason and check out the Fleet Foxes first full length record: Fleet Foxes


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