Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top 15 Albums of 2010

15. Devo - Something For Everybody
One of the best bands of all time release their first album in 20 years (1990s wretched Smooth Noodle Maps) and it just happens to be their best album in almost 30.

14. Surfer Blood - Astrocoast
Surfer Blood from Florida play guitar pop rock with bite. The album Weezer wishes it still was capable of releasing.

13. Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek - Reflection Eternal: Revolutions Per Minute
Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek pick up where their last classic collaboration Train Of Thought left off without missing a step.

12. WAVVES - King Of The Beach

The guy from Wavves gets out of his bedroom, hooks up with Jay Reatard's backing band and releases an album full of catchy garagey rock that gets stuck in my head really easy.

11. Best Coast - Crazy For You

Awesome shimmery hazy California guitar pop with vocals that evoke Liz Phair, Kim Deal & Courtney. When these songs get stuck in my head it's not easy to get them out.

10. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem (supposedly) final album goes out not with a bang but with a long dance party. This Is Happening doesn't come with as many visceral instant gratification moments as Sound Of Silver but is still a worthy epitaph.

9. Girl Talk - All Day

Greg Gillis doesn't mess with his formula on All Day mining classic rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s along with newer rap and alt rock. He hits a happy balance between the pure WTF? moments of his breakthrough Night Ripper and the pure instant gratification sample recognizability of Feed The Animals to make what may well be his masterpiece.

8. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

Craig Finn and co. release another solid Hold Steady album. It's a Hold Steady album. They're one of my favorite bands. Amazing lyrics, great bar band riffs, froggy vocals. I'm a fan.

7. Sleigh Bells - Treats

There's still something to be said for sounds unheard. Sleigh Bells' music has it's roots in industrial but don't sound like anything that's ever come before. Loud bombastic tunes, laced with synthesizers and guitars so loud and distorted in the mix you think your speakers might be broken, all with super saccharine pop vocals on top. This stuff probably isn't for everyone but I really dug it.

6. Vampire Weekend - Contra

Vampire Weekend came out of nowhere a couple years ago with a hot demo and an even hotter debut that was pure garage afropop. Lots of comparisons to Talking Heads and Paul Simon's Graceland. Their sophomore album dispels any fears that they're a one trick pony with even more great songs and an expanded production.

5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

The Arcade Fire release their most sprawling album yet (which is fitting considering it's a concept album about suburbia) but at the same time the arrangements are for the most part toned down and pulled back from their usual epic arrangements. It gets a little rambly at points but the really good parts make it a worthy listening experience.

4. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Bradford Cox and co. delve deeper into the 60s pop fascination that they flirted with on their brilliant Microcastle. Completely original and amazing rock music.

3. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor

New Jersey's Titus Andronicus under the influence of working class heroes Springsteen and Westerberg release an album of anthemic shambling punk influenced rock that also happens to double as a concept album comparing growing up in New Jersey to being in the Civil War ("The Enemy Is Everywhere"). That second part isn't as important as the music. The album is chock full of loud funny and great songs with awesome lyrics and soaring leads and a lot of fury. It's easy to get lost in and merits multiple listens to wrap your head around it.

2. The Roots - How I Got Over

The Roots spent the year leading up to this album as Jimmy Fallon's late night talk show house band (can you say overqualified?). In that year they got to play music together a lot and made A LOT of musical friends. The result was this album. HIGO starts off with a mood of despair but about halfway through, starting at the title track turns the despair and anger of the first half into songs of hope. The music is tight and focused and Black Thought brings some of his best rhymes ever. This is by far the album I listened to the most this year.

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye turns all of the drama from the last year (most self inflicted) and turns the concept of a hip hop album on it's head. From top to bottom his verses and his production set out to prove he's the best at what he does. His flow still lacks at times but the production on this album is insane. His everything but the kitchen sink approach to making beats shouldn't work but it does every time. The only feeling you are left with at the end of the album is the desire to put it back on again. It's a wild ride.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mix for J's Mexico Vacation. March, 2010

I made this mix the other day for Jess for her Mexican Vacation. She's going to Puerto Vallarta and I thought this would be a nice chill mix to have while sitting on the beach. Hopefully she thinks so too. I guess I'll find out in a week, she left this morning!
  1. Calexico - Alone Again, Or
  2. Deerhunter Cover Me (Slowly)/Agoraphobia
  3. Alice Cooper - Under My Wheels
  4. Rancid - The Harder They Come
  5. The Coasters - Down In Mexico
  6. Modest Mouse - Float On
  7. Surfer Blood - Swim
  8. The-Dream - Walkin On The Moon (feat. Kanye West)
  9. The Killers - Bones
  10. Mos Def - No Hay Nada Mas
  11. Lynyrd Skynyrd - I Need You
  12. Climax - Mesa Que Mas Aplauda (Za Za Za)
  13. Atlas Sound - Walkabout (feat. Noah Lennox)
  14. Lupe Fiasco - Kick, Push
  15. Led Zeppelin - Going To California
  16. Animal Collective - Summertime Clothes
  17. Wyclef Jean - Guantanamera
  18. The Olivia Tremor Control - Jumping Fences
  19. Sleigh Bells - Beach Girls
  20. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
  21. Blue October - Into The Ocean
  22. Girls - Hellhole Ratrace
  23. The Lonely Island - I'm On A Boat
  24. Calexico - Corona
  25. Beck - Mexico

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black Flag - The Last Four Years

It was definitely a line in the sand. It was sort of an intelligence test - if you could handle the changes of Black Flag, you weren't an idiot. And if you thought they were just selling out, then you were an idiot - Mark Arm, Mudhoney

This is one of those mixes that I always tell people I'm going to make them. I usually make this promise in the midst of a heated argument over Black Flag and whether or not they are worth listening to post Damaged (I know some people don't think they're worth listening to after Henry joined the band).

Black Flag was always Greg Ginn's band and he always took it upon himself to write songs that challenged the band and challenged the audience. There was a huge backlash when the band came back from their legal issue forced 3 year hiatus with long hair and Dio era Black Sabbath influenced punk/metal/rock/whatever. It's great stuff in my opinion. I'm pretty sure my words won't change your mind but hopefully if you give the tunes a listen with an open mind you'll see just how influential the post Damaged era Flag was on some of your favorite bands.

Black Flag - The Last Four Years
  1. Can't Decide
  2. Black Coffee
  3. Loose Nut
  4. Drinking And Driving
  5. Wound Up
  6. Modern Man
  7. My War
  8. Annihilate This Week
  9. In My Head
  10. Best One Yet
  11. I Love You
  12. Slip It In

Friday, February 12, 2010

Andrea's Soundtrack for Spring, April 2002

Special Guest Post!
Let's mix it up a little bit. Andrea is an awesome crafty lady and a dear friend of mine. She's a mixtape aficionado and recently found one she made a while back. I asked if she'd like to share it here and she agreed. She picked some awesome tunes on this tape and I'm honored to have her here. Take it away Andrea!

Spring is always the most inspiring season for me. It smells right and sounds right and feels right. There is nothing like those first real days of springtime.

The spring of 2002 was a good one. It was a couple of years before my sweet children were even a possibility in my mind and while I still had a car with a cassette tape player. Life was pretty laidback in Madison, Wisconsin. I was planning a road trip to Memphis with my husband that April and this mixtape was made for the trip. I'm not sure why I repeated artists as that's not something I typically did on mix tapes. I guess I just thought it flowed well.

This may have been one of the last years I actually made a mix TAPE. Can you believe I held out that long?

Although this mix may be a little more mellow than something Mario would make, I know he secretly loves the wuss rock (secretly? - Mario.) and would at least approve of the Beach Boys.

I think this soundtrack for spring is as relevant now as it was eight years ago. I hope it sparks a little inspiration and captures springtime for you!


soundtrack for spring. april 2002.
  1. blake babies: baby gets high
  2. the promise ring: scenes from parisian life
  3. teenage fanclub: happiness
  4. pete yorn: ez
  5. the beach boys: feel flows
  6. matthew sweet: come to love
  7. mike felumlee: sleepwalking
  8. the jesus & mary chain: she
  9. duvall: the game is up
  10. teenage fanclub: dumb dumb dumb
  11. simon & garfunkel: america
  12. superchunk: driveway to driveway
  13. smoking popes: paul
  14. moods for moderns: you're the one
  15. blake babies: nothing ever happens
  16. reggie & the full effect: what's wrong
  17. mega super ultra: silly waste of time
  18. matthew sweet: i've been waiting
  19. the figgs: favorite shirt
  20. elvis costello: alison
  21. smoking popes: off my mind
  22. white stripes: hotel yorba
  23. badfinger: no matter what
  24. the velvet crush: hold me up
  25. moods for moderns: only on a saturday night
  26. dashboard confessional: age six racer
  27. superchunk: detroit has a skyline

While you're at it:
Andrea's Blog:
Craft Therapy
Andrea's Etsy Store: Space Oddities

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Skyway Songs

This is the first in a series of mixtapes where I highlight my favorite bands. Please please please if you enjoy the songs on this mixtape make it a point to buy some vinyl or a cd or MP3s or whatever your poison is. These songs are just the tip of the iceberg and there's way more amazing music where they came from. Thanks for listening.

I love the Replacements. I was a little bit late to the party but once I got there it was impossible to leave.
When I listen to the Replacements they're undoubtedly the greatest Rock and Roll band in the history of music. No one ever wrote better lyrics, rocked harder, had sweeter ballads, drank more beer or played cooler leads (at least when Bob was in the band). I'm not joking when I say their songs changed my life and the way I think about music and what it means to be in a band. It was never enough to just rock out. These songs are goddamn art.

When it comes to the 'Mats the lyrics are my favorite part so I'm gonna highlight some of my favorite lines of theirs when applicable.

Skyway Songs
  1. Kids Don't Follow (Stink)
  2. I Will Dare "How young are you? How old am I? Let's count the rings around my eyes" (Let It Be)
  3. Bastards Of Young "Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled. It beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten" (Tim)
  4. Can't Hardly Wait "I'll be home when I'm sleepin" (Pleased To Meet Me)
  5. Nobody "Yeah you're still in love with nobody, and I used to be nobody" (All Shook Down )
  6. Unsatisfied "How can you look me in the eye and tell me that you're satisfied?" (Let It Be)
  7. Kiss Me On The Bus "If you knew how I felt now, you wouldn't act so adult now" (Tim)
  8. Achin' To Be (Don't Tell A Soul)
  9. Within Your Reach "I can live without your touch. Die within your reach" (Hootenanny)
  10. Skyway (Pleased To Meet Me)
  11. Left Of The Dial (Tim)
  12. Alex Chilton (Pleased To Meet Me)
  13. Color Me Impressed (Hootenanny)
  14. Favorite Thing (Let It Be)
  15. Swingin Party "If being afraid is a crime then we'll hang side by side" (Tim)
  16. I'll Be You "Lonely, I guess that's where I'm from" (Don't Tell A Soul)
  17. Answering Machine "How do you say good night to an answering machine?" (Let It Be)
  18. Here Comes A Regular "You're like a picture on the fridge that's never stocked with food" (Tim)
  19. Beer For Breakfast (All For Nothing/Nothing For All)
  20. If Only You Were Lonely "Forgot my one good line so I just said what I felt" (B-Side from Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash!)
Also you know they're a good band if other great bands are writing tributes to them.