Friday, December 25, 2009
We've got another 6 or so days till 2009 is over, so who knows what could happen, but I think these are my favorite songs from 2009. Check 'em out!
#20 Drummer - "Feel Good Together" - Worst. name. ever (the band is a collaboration between a bunch of different drummers from all different bands, led by the drummer of The Black Keys). I suppose it's a cute name, but in the age of the internet a name like that might as well make it goddamn impossible to find any information about them. Fortunately, names don't really affect music and their talents shined through in a big way.
#19 Spiral Stairs - "Maltese T" - I need to write a post about music that might not have been from released in 2009, but I discovered it then and it was awesome. Pavement would be one of those bands. I'd never heard and I don't recall why I did it, but in March of this year I listened to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and was hooked immediately. With the announcement later this year they would be reforming, I looked deeper into the catalogue and stumbled across this new track recently by their guitarist. Great stuff.
#18 Miike Snow - "Animal" - The two i's aren't a typo, nor is this song's inclusion on the list. Upbeat, fun song with a pretty sweet music video.
#17 Dinosaur Jr. - "Over It" - Also has a cool video. Nice lil grungy redux in 2009.
#16 Atlas Sound ft. Noah Lennox - "Walkabout" - The influence of Noah Lennox a.k.a. Animal Collective's Panda Bear is immediately apparent in this one and that's a very good thing. It's like if Animal Collective wrote a 3 minute pop song for the radio. Super chillin'.
#15 Yeasayer - "Ambling Alp" - You fucking hipsters did it again. Nice work.
#14 Metric - "Gimme Sympathy" - Metric should be a lot more famous right now.
#13 Animal Collective - "What Would I Want? Sky" - Phil talked about this song and he's dead on. I think "My Girls" is a really great song and it deserved of the many accolades people have heaped on it this year, but I think this new one that just came out takes the cake.
#12 Wale ft. Lady Gaga - "Chillin" - I think a lot of people don't like this new Wale album because of the outrageous hype surrounding it and the crummy track list that bounces 903909239023 places (aside: for somebody that talks about DC in every song, maybe you should like...embrace that style fully on your debut album? I dunno, seems like a pretty obvious choice if you're serious about all your past criticisms you have about recording industry.) BUT, I think this song is a blast no matter what. It's basically a Lady Gaga song, but that's okay, Lady Gaga rules. Wale's parts are pretty trivial, but they're fun and in the spirit of the song so it gets a big thumbs up from me.
#11 Iyaz - "Replay" - one of the few songs on hot 99.5 that I didn't get sick of. That says a lot--they played it every hour for 2 months this fall.
#10 Pearl Jam - "The Fixer" - Kick ass pop-rock tune. It's cool to hear Pearl Jam sing a pop song. It keeps the rest of their work honest. If everything were an epic grungy bitter alt-rock songs trying to recreate Ten and they never smiled, the whole body of work would be diminished. They're older guys having fun now and this let me in on it. Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E1UxWOFSvw
#9 Julian Casablancas - "11th Dimension" - review my thoughts here. Great, great track.
#8 Girls - "Lust For Life" - Very short, very weird and very cool.
#7 Passion Pit - "Moth's Wings" - There are certain morning songs I like to hear when I wake up. You know the songs that seem to be written for sunny sunday mornings when you've got a day free ahead of you and not a care in the world. "Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel's "59th Street Song" immediately come to mind. This song has joined that group. Compared to Passion Pit's other work, it's very gentle in nature, but it still maintains the group's energy and the result is a truly uplifting experience.
#6. Kid CuDi ft. MGMT & Ratatat - "Pursuit of Happiness" - Truth be told it's a sad song, but goddamn do I like kickin' it hard with this playing
#5. Franz Ferdinand - "Lucid Dreams" (album version) - I knew I had to put a FF song on this list somewhere because I listened to the album all year, but I had a lot of trouble deciding what song I liked the very most. I first heard the single "Ulysses" around this time last year loved it. When the album arrived, I heard "Lucid Dreams" in full and was blown away. The full 7+ minute version that closes the album turns into a kickass acid house electronica jam. It's also an incredibly fitting tribute to one of my favorite bands of all time and a major influence on FF, The Stone Roses. This past summer, I saw the band live and they closed their set with a fantastic 15 minute version of the song that ensured that it was one of the top three concerts I'd ever witnessed in my life and the best part of any concert I went to in 2009. Great, great, great song.
#4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Heads Will Roll" - It's simultaneously a dance track, heavy as metal, and with clever lyrics to boot.
#3. Alice in Chains - "Check My Brain" - I'm not sure what I'm more impressed by: this song or the fact that it has been basically 15 years since any serious AIC work and somehow, with a new lead singer, Jerry Cantrell & Co. were able to put such a great album that revels in the past style of the band, but still is new and innovative with a new lead singer and new vitality to it all.
#2. Them Crooked Vultures - "Nobody Loves Me & Neither Do I" - best...rock song...of 2009. New in style, but it harkens back to the heaviness that made the 70s so great.
#1. Grizzly Bear - "While You Wait For The Others" - just a beautiful, beautiful song that still carries all it's vibrancy with me almost 10 months after I first heard it.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
So 2009 was a great year for music! We had Lady Gaga bleeding from the hips, Kanye finally learns he needed to put down the bottle, and the rise of the dreamwave and refined electropop sound. Understand that my taste in music should not affect your taste in music, nor should you let any tight-jean-wearing hipsters who use decimal points to rate albums dictate your taste either. Consider me your playlist man. Of 2009. Listen to the songs (minus my #2 song) in the Lala player below. Sit back and relax, folks.
1. Animal Collective - "My Girls": A frolicking psychedelic ride about every man's simple wants and needs. Ok, that was pretentious. He just wants four adobe slabs and his girls.
2. Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks": Timeless, clever, and fresh. Good for those bus rides when you stare out your window and contemplate your life like it's directed by Zach Braff.
3. Dirty Projectors - "Stillness is the Move": IMO, Dave Longstreth's band's Bitte Orca isn't a great album. But when he writes songs as self-deprecating and groovy as this, I gotta give him props.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
As a huge fan of their eponymous first album, and an even bigger fan of second album, “The Sun and the Moon”, I had a lot of expectations for The Bravery’s third album, Stir the Blood.
First the criticism-
In the first two albums, every song was unique and a great listen. Not so for this album. The songs are darker for sure, and they achieve some cool effects-such as in Song For Jacob. The problem is that a lot of the songs are similar to each other and lack a unique feel.
On top of that, the melodies in many of them, like “Jack-O’-Lantern Man”, “Red Hands and White Knuckles”, and “I Have Seen the Future” don’t seem to flow directly from the instrumentation. Rather, singer Sam Endicott seems to place his vocals separate from the rest of the song, the effect being that he demonstrates his remarkable virtuoso skills at the expense of the song’s natural progression. In contrast- a couple good examples of the different parts of the song giving one another enough room to develop independently can be found in The Ring Song and Tyrant, both from their self-titled first album.
Anthony Burulcich’s drumming is excellent as always; unfortunately, I don’t think it’s used to its full potential to really steer songs in new directions. You can see Burulcich’s unique imprint in songs like Honest Mistake off the first album and in the mind-blowing conclusion to The Ocean off the second album, elements that are sadly missing in Stir the Blood.
As for the positive-
There are some really solid songs on this album. The single, “Slow Poison” is wonderful, musically and lyrically, with a perfect mixture of Sam Endicott’s leathery, emotional, straining voice singing dark lyrics against the upbeat, 80’s new wave-y background.
However, the best song on the album by far is “The Spectator.” Again, lyrically powerful stuff, some great visuals:
"His eyes, like two cats, scratching in his head
Begging him for sleep, starving for a bed."
I don't know much about music theory, but I believe that the song uses minor two part harmony vocals when they sing "Chime Chime Chime..." that produce a really cool effect. Look for it at 2:53. I tried recording the same part myself as a 3-part harmony triad- totally destroys the effect that The Bravery cultivated, one that fits perfectly with the subject of the lyrics.
Two songs that completely stand out on the album, in the sense that they don't really fit the feel of the other songs, are She's So Bendable, (that seems to have taken a page out of BJ Thomas' Rock Me Gently) and Sugar Pill, both very cool with unique mixing.
Like all Bravery albums, give the songs a few listens; at least one or two will be sure to grow on you. --- FA
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Them Crooked Vultures. I've heard mixed opinions. I have mixed opinions, but there's a few songs that are just too good for anyone to ignore in my very unhumble opinion.
The album opens up with the crunchiest of the crunchy, "Nobody Loves Me and Neither Do I." This song is phenomenal for a few reasons. For one, it manages to combine all three of the individuals,
(Random aside: In what order do you name the three founders of the band? Go first with the traditional lead singer who kinda sucks compared to the others, go with the most important historically from the best band of all time, or the one who is arguably the most important rock star in the world right now and was the catalyst for the project in the first place? Alphabetical? Do they draw straws? No matter what, I'm fucking bitter I missed seeing them in concert. BUT ANYWAYS....)
...it manages to combine all three's individual talents in an extremely complimentary way.
The song starts out with Josh Homme's lyrics over a pure Queens of the Stone Age stoner rock jam bit with some silly lyrics:
"Well if sex is a weapon, then smash, boom, pow,
How do you like me now?
You can't always do it right, you can always do what's left
So I told her I was trash, she wait til after and said I already know...
I've got a beautiful place to put your face and she was right,"
What holds this all together better than your typical QOTSA song is Dave Grohl's drumming. Much like Jimmy Chamberlin pushing along Billy Corgan's silliness on guitar, Dave Grohl keeps the song moving and kicking ass, for the lack of a better term. Then we get into a little bridge that starts picking up pace and makes you wonder, but wheeeeeere's John Paul Jones? Gimme some bass, yo!
And then it happens.
There's a brief pause...and the heaviest 2.5 minutes recorded in AT LEAST 15 years takes over.
Listen to the song and you'll understand very quickly. In the meantime, I'll be headbanging. Also, check out the listed below:
Has anyone ever noticed how radar never signals anything good? When was the last time a friendly dude found somebody else friendly via radar in a movie? NEVER. IT DOESN'T HAPPEN. Doesn't happen this time either, the radar finds some victims and we've got some horrific whales on HUMAN violence.
My god I'm scared myself, I don't even need to know Isaac Brock's details about this horrifying story, his shrieks alone convey the horrible stripping of the human carcasses and the frenetic beat accompanying the partying scene similarly says it all. In this twisted tale, all the horrendous things humanity does for bills comes back to haunt them in graphic detail
Down goes the people (or whales) down the shoots and becomes human (or fish) stick mush. Perhaps the most horrifying image? At the end. My god, I hope my puppy doesn't see his dinner like the pet in the video does.
DID I MENTION HEATH LEDGER DIRECTED THIS? THIS WAS THE LAST THING HE DID BEFORE HE DIED.
If there is a better look into Heath's head post-Batman, pre-death, I don't know what it is. This video will make you freak.