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My Boys sing My Girls (Video) January 27, 2009

Posted by reidmix in Domino, Indie, Labels, Music, New Releases, Videos.
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I’m not gonna say it: just play it!  I need to break up some of this text with something I’m excited about.

What I like about this video is that the electronics are front and center and everything else is sugar for the eyes (Animal Collective even put themselves into that 2-dimensional space)

Makes me think, Science Fiction. Double Feature.

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Top 10 Bands in 2008 (According to Last.fm) January 26, 2009

Posted by reidmix in 4AD, Band Reviews, Best of 2008, FatCat, Free MP3, Indie, Labels, Lists, Marriage Records, Music, Reviews, States Rights.
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Unlike my Top 12 Bands 2007, this year is a throwback to all good things ’80s and ’90s (kinda-sorta).  Because I like to blame Tim Peysar for my musical deviations, I will continue to do so for he led me, kicking and screaming, against my will, against my better intentions, against the will of my wallet, to buy all the Cure deluxe re-issues.

As I’d like to give him that full credit — I’ll also give him The Radio Dept. — I continued to buy re-issues of The Smiths (7″ Singles: hawt!), and a deluxe re-issue of Beck Odelay (did DGC forget Mellow Gold?) all by my lonesome.  I’ve been avoiding those Sonic Youth re-issues.

If anything, it stands as a testament that this year in music was a grab-bag into the past instead of the push forward I’ve seen over the past few years.  Sometimes those leaps aren’t so obvious, or aren’t mined from the depths for years from now, but it gave me some time to discover and re-discover some of my musical roots.

The downside, this has been one of the most frustrating posts to put together and I know why I love my indies and give them all my money every chance I get.  To the major labels of my 80s and 90s icons and their weakness to share: they make it impossible to legally link to any mp3s.  High margins for them — no downloads for you — but you’ve probably heard it all before.

01. The Cure on Fiction, thecure.com
I swore off The Cure with Wild Mood Swings.  I didn’t buy Bloodflowers. Alt.End: What.Was.That? I didn’t need the deluxe reissues, I had everything I wanted on LP, tape, and CD, Boxset, OMG.  Then the I Am a Cult Hero single was on one of the Reissues, then some of the non-Curiosity Anomolies, then I saw the packaging, in person with those wonderful liner notes.  After Robert Smith’s vocals made an apparance on The Orb Orbital’s Paul Hartnol “Please” single, and the once a month campaign of CD Singles leading up to 4:13 Dream, I got sucked back in.  The Verdict: stay with the classics, they’ve held up to the test of time and bought up by the majors which is probably why their MP3s are on lockdown.  Re-issue Disintegration already!

02. Cut Copy on Modular Interscope, cutcopy.net
If you listen to any songs from In Ghost Colours you might be inclined to wonder how did you miss them on you last 80s comp you bought.  Didn’t they come out of pre-Madchester with the sensibilities and guitars of New Order?  Even their debut album, Bright Like Neon Love,  cover art is oh-so-Nagel. But as implied by their name, the genres are exquisitely cut from different pieces and blended seamlessly like a crossed memory.  There’s the edge of The Pixies on “So Haunted” and the comfort of Fleetwood Mac on “Strangers in the Wind.”  There is an urgency of youth in the tapestry of songs.  I feel very lucky to have discovered Cut Copy and had the chance to see them at Coachella last year.

03. The Radio Dept. on Labrador, Shelflife, theradiodept.com
If Pet Sounds was the epitome of 60s-era genius, you could say that Pet Grief is analogous to 90s shoegaze on par with My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless.  What’s surprising, like Cut Copy, is that they have arrived within this decade!  From Sweden.  What I love about The Radio Dept. is that their take on shoegaze isn’t groundfacing, overdriven with guitar bloat.  It’s crisp as a leaf on a fall day, bringing the best of Cocteau Twin-sy ethereal without getting lost in the sirrus.  Hints of Johnny Marr, Robin Guthie run side-by-side with synth and piano, vocals receding alongside them. So many free downloads it makes you want to learn more about Labrador!

04. Lucky Dragons on Marriage, 555 Recordings, hawksandsparrows.org
I’d been looking forward to see how Luke Fischbeck and Sarah Rara would follow up Widows but to my surprise, winning tickets to see them perform at LA’s The Smell, I saw what Make a Baby was all about.  It’s hard to explain, nearly religious in experience, where the audience to become participants in Lucky Dragon’s collaborative music making — Make a Baby, because, participants have to touch skin to affect the music.  I highly recommend!  There’s plenty of free music on Luke’s site, a copy of Dark Falcon, Bleach on Bleach (A Nirvana “remix” album split with Y.A.C.H.T.).  I was happy to discover to Pierre Henry‘s “Atelier” on his site, perhaps giving insight to Luke’s influences.

05  French Kicks on Vagrant, frenchkicks.com
I burned through all of French Kick’s albums this year but was stuck on Swimming, their latest release.  The first song “Abandon” is maybe one of the best jumps into an album, with bright guitars, deep bass, clapping, and the dulcet voice of Matt Stinchcomb.  I think it’s one of those albums that is burdened by it’s past, comparisons to their post-punk debut “One Time Bells” or the shimmering electronics of “Two Thousand” somehow undo what I feel is an album that can stand well on it’s own.  And I wonder, if the weight of the past was lifted, would we be more receptive to let Swimming soar?

06. Department of Eagles on Isota, 4AD, departmentofeagles.com
I feel like I can address that wonderful album The Cold Nose.  When they were known as “Whitey on the Moon UK”, their approach is freer, consuming abandon of The Beta Band and downing it with a good dose of trip-hop. In”Gravity’s Greatest Victory / Rex Snorted Coke,” Rossen’s beautiful pipes are still there, but now we can gleam the 50s scifi-beatnics at their finest.  On their rarities album, songs are overdubbed with both whimsy and what makes “In Ear Park” so beautiful.  On a live performance of “Sailing by Night” we are introduced to “Señor Buttmerge” and a “Cat named Johnny Glaze” who “knows his ways around all the public bathrooms / always has a cookie in his pocket.” Yeah. All over the Rossen harmonies that make us think of the Beatles.

07. Beck on Geffen/DGC/Interscope, beck.com
What can I say about Beck that isn’t already covered.  I bought the Deluxe Reissue of OdelayModern Guilt was better than The Information but still not as good as Guero. I wished that I had bought Midnight Vultures when it came out in ’99, I think 10 years has aged it pretty well tho. I’ll still buy Beck albums and one of these days I’ll make it to The Echo for one of his free shows (I hope!)

08. The Smiths on Rough Trade, Rhino
I love the Smiths.  I love mexi-goths for their love of Morrisey.  I bought the Singles Box set for the dirty pictures — uh, original cover art.  There are a few songs that illicit such a precise feeling in my adolescence the way that “How Soon Is Now?” does.  The late discovery of “Jeane,” I swear it sounds familiar: “We tried and we failed.”  The tumble of the locks at the end of “Rusholme Ruffians” and all that walking home alone sums up my high school years so succinctly. Sweetness, sweetness, I was only joking I would like to mash every tooth in you head.

09. Silje Nes on FatCat, myspace.com/siljenes

I wish there was more Silje Nes in the world — I had to dig deep to find the NPR feature on “Shapes, Electric,” where the DJ is equally awestruck on how she composes this warbled little affair.  You feel deeply seated in between the ears and within the mind of Silje and just want to know more.  An Ames Room, a forced perspective illusion, is an appropriate metaphor for the album, where Silje can grow to unexpected sizes with that childlike singsong that make you want to ask along with NPR, “How’d she do that?”  It’s not all an experimental hodge-podge, i said before, it’s rooted and organic, subtle in its wash,  a stretching of cassette tape and static. The songs are like pills that’re easy to swallow, Alice-like and precocious. One of my top 3 in 2007 if I had heard it in 2007!

10. Bauhaus on Beggars Banquet, bauhausmusik.com
Oh boy did I ever feel at home amongst my peeps at Coachella watching Love & Rockets, the Bubblemen, missing Peter Murphy, and seeing the goth-glam-goth come full out and close the festival.  With Bauhaus, I have lived primarily on “1979-1983” Parts I & II, “Swing the Heartache,”  “Crackle,” and somehow I never bought the originals.  Oh what a trip to listen to the songs in their original inception some wildly different, others right on par.  “A trick of the light and too much caffeine, he thought.”

Next: no surprises in my Top 10 Albums of 2008.

Top 10 Tracks I Listened to in 2008 (According to Last.fm) January 25, 2009

Posted by reidmix in 4AD, Best of 2008, FatCat, Free MP3, Indie, K Records, Labels, Lists, Marriage Records, Memphis Industries, Music, Reviews, Slender Means, Song Reviews, States Rights, SubPop, Tomlab.
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Continuing in the info-porn that is my stats-madness of play-counts of last year’s 2007 Top Tracks, here is my top 10 songs of the past year according to last.fm.  What I like about this list is that the songs don’t need to stay within the confines of the year, I just needed to have listened to them on a device that scobbled them in the past 12 months.

01. A Song for Ellie Greenwich by Parenthetical Girls
Clearly one of the stars of Entanglements, the oompa of wind instruments and oboes polka over the percussion and wind-up of the ever-present glockenspiel.  The chorus hearkens back to The Carpenters (yeah, but somehow more perverse): “Just like me / They long to see you / On your knees” and presumably is a nod to Spector singer-songwriter mentioned in the title.  Her story reminds me of the faux-Carole King biopic Grace of My Heart, and is as big and sweeping as Illeana Douglas’s eyes.  Still, the song lyrics remain impenetrable, winding rhymes that are hard to shake, orchestral in their presentation leaving you wishing you were in on the secret, and loving them more for all the mystery.
Listen:
[mp3][vimeo] Buy:[Tomlab]

02. Fire by Valet
A surprise that this song topped my list, I discovered Valet on the 2nd Marriage Records comp.  Sounding like a mix of psychedelia of Mazzy Star, the quirk of Silje Nes, and twang of the Cowboy Junkies, “Fire” is epic even against Honey Owen’s whispered delivery.  The space between the words and the notes of the guitar are as wide as the Grand Canyon and the two lay on top of one another in sedimentary layers until the end: “Fire, keep me room.” The rest of Owen’s album, Naked Acid, is slow and deliberate as the Colorado river and takes you on a journey that is outside of the mainstream.
Listen:
[mp3] Buy:[Marriage][States Rights]

03. In Ear Park by Department of Eagles
The wait for Department of Eagles latest album left me listening to “In Ear Park” quite a few times.  A labyrinth of acoustic guitars intertwining over Rossen’s voice create the atmosphere that will forever be linked to the cover-art dark forest lit by strange lights on the album by the same name.  “If you listen / You’d hear the waves.”  The request is somber and beautiful and the harmony is crisp in its refrains, like another favorite of mine, Herring Bone [Live on Daytrotter], the songs feel out of time, remembering things long gone and in stowed forever in the past. In Ear Park’s “We all forgot him / We can’t forget him” vs. Herring Bone’s “When you’re gone / You are gone / Those nights you wandered all night / You won’t get to relive them.”
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[4AD]

04. Wrong Side by French Kicks
I discovered French Kicks this year with their latest album Swimming.  Unlike most reviewers of the album, I was more receptive to it than their previous releases, the album is shiney and clear in its conception and execution.  Clear like a spring day that is shaking off the nostalgia of winter.  To my surprise, the 1st song off the 1st album and the 2nd song of the 2nd album, Also Ran, were at the top of my last.fm.  Both share a post-punk approach, graffitied with stripped down guitars and flourishes that pull you into Matt Stinchcomb’s vocals giving fair warning “I got you on the wrong side of me / Went and had my mind made up so suddenly”  Truer words were never uttered.
Listen:[last.fm] Buy:[Vagrant]

05. Spark by The Breeders
All of you waiting for another Last Splash, well, too bad. Mountain Battles was a Tanya Donelley-era Breeders in the fashion of Albini-produced Pod, the one which ole Pixies-fucks like me fell in love with and waited for since we first set ears on Gigantic.  Of all the songs on Mountain Battles, I thought the reggae-punk of Bang On would rank highest, but Spark stands strong. It has the same sound as “Iris” (When Iris sleeps over) and a lyric symmetry on par with “Oh,” “I am chewing on power lines / Spraying the yard in spark / Clouds were bruised when the day broke”.  Thank you Kim Deal for drawing on your roots and giving us an amazing album and fuck you to all the Cannonballers.
Listen:[YouTube] Buy:[4AD]

06. Drown by Silje Nes
Alas the albums that come out in December, 2007 that is.  The only reason Silje Nes didn’t sit at the top of this list was because she played in my car for the first half of the year.  Ames Room, her debut album and title song, is filled with the bend of melody and clank of glass-marbles, water features and wind through the chimes and oh glorious static and bright-noise of percussive delights.  The darkness of “Drown” only features her wispy child-like vocals against the pluck of electric guitars, but where Icelandic contemporaries like Múm are precocious and cold as stratus, Silje performance is organic, rooted in dischord, creating off-kilter harmonies and warm loops.
Listen:[last.fm] Buy:[FatCat]

07. What Do You Think Will Happen Next? by Final Fantasy
I have two confessions.  The completist in me cannot bear to buy any of Tomlab‘s Alphabet Series (note the evil Sold Out, below.) If I were to buy any, it would have been Final Fantasy’s appearance on the letter X.  Second, the b-side is my ringtone, it’s genius. The YouTube is a great example of how Owen Pallett layers on each voice of a song, playing an orchestra of a one-man-band. The crux of the song is simple, “If you let the heirarchy tax your sex / What do you think will happen next?” Palette’s build up of violin melodies, plucking, and castanets reach a crescendo of anger-sex.  He sings, quite well now, “Turn your scream to a shout / Yes I can / Yes I can can can can can!”
Listen:[YouTube] Sold Out:[Tomlab]

08. Scuby by Little Wings
A friend of mine has cursed me with the idea of the single, I’m an album man.  But on Soft Pow’r, Scuby is the only song I love. Its a common curse of Little Wings, gems of song strewn about compilations and albums (see: Next Time on K Records’ Invisible Sheild, a Kimya Dawson inspired dream, for sure).  Scuby is a soft rattle of piano and footpedals, accoustic strumming and double vocals, one whispered and ambient, and one longing for seashells and lighting pumpkins. “Scuby of the canyon / Once you find again the coast is clear / At door you you went but hesitated / So his name is ringing in my ear / Scuby’s gone again.” This is the only song you need to come back to.
Listen:
[mp3] Buy:[Marriage]

09. Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
Not much more I need to say about Sleepyhead that I didn’t say in my last post.  I don’t think Passion Pit needs much to get some cred. My god, it was featured on the last Best Week Ever with Paul F. Thomkins on VH1.  Maybe I can link to some remixes.  I could go on about “Cuddle Fuddle,” my fave song from the EP, which makes a nursery rhyme sound dancable, “Let down your hair / Let down your hair / Rapunzel, Rapunzel / Let down your hair.”  Go buy the album.
Listen:[mp3][YouTube] Buy:[Frenchkiss]

10. Look Out SOS! by The Ruby Suns
If I didn’t hate Microsoft enough, they’re using The Ruby Sun’s “Oh, Mojave” as their newest marketing campaign. I suppose the upside is that the Auckland, New Zealand based band is probably making bank.  Each of their albums sound like a world tour, covering parts of Polynesia and Africa (listen to Tane Mahuta) without loosing any of it’s indie appeal.  Folksy and popsy, “Look Out SOS!” has all the musicbox qualities that I love so much in music. Layer in some xylophone/mirimba, some Flaming Lips sound effects, some prettyboy vocals to the indie guitars and you’ve got the magic.  Oh, hello, static noises and banjo, glad you could join the party.  (Stop saying Beach Boys! We’ve evolved past them. Sorry, Brian Wilson.)  The Ruby Sun’s 2008 album, Sea Lion, was definitely a star in my sky and soared beyond much of the other indie/folk/pop acts out there today.
Listen:[last.fm] Buy:[SubPop][Memphis Industries]

Next a look (back!) on my last.fm bands of 2008.

Top 10 Tracks I Listened to in 2008 (According to iTunes) January 10, 2009

Posted by reidmix in Best of 2008, Free MP3, Indie, Lists, Music, Reviews, Slender Means, Song Reviews, States Rights, Tomlab.
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So I’ve consolidated my iTunes onto one computer this year, but as it is with the nature of music, my listening mode has changed.  I’ve begun digging into the past for history and inspiration, and expanded on favorites with re-issues and deluxe editions from the 60s through the 90s.  Despite that, most of my top tracks over the year remained in 2008 territory.  3 tracks that weren’t came from 2007.

Compare with my top 10 albums of 2008 and, for many, this is not a surprise! Since I pretty consistently blog these end of year lists and they are the most popular, I’m giving them a little more meat, especially since this is the one time of year I bring up some of these bands, I want to be able to give them more of their due and love.

01. Blue Imelda by Final Fantasy
Love. Love. Love. A dream of steel drums shared with Beirut in the imagined land of Spectrum.  The song is filled with chirps and lush beats that introduce us to “Blue Imelda / She is the saddest bitch of Spectrum.” This song comes on high from a West Side Story rumble “Oh Spectrum” and the switch to the Caribbean flavor is seamless.  The song sets the mood for the whole EP which is counter-point to Plays to Please (see below), another Final Fantasy EP released at the same time.  Every song on the EP is a winner, but Blue Imelda gets you in the door.
Listen:[YouTubeBuy:[Blocks Recording Club / Blue House]

02. Man’s Heart Complaint by {{{ SUNSET }}}
I believe Bill Baird’s {{{SUNSET}}} may be one of the most underrated bands to come out of 2008.  This song is a great introduction to the layers and whispers of his surf psychedelia, but certainly is not the limit of it.  He also goes into that steel drum territory on Bright Blue Dream, along with more esoteric experiments like “Mobius” which can play indefinitely looped upon itself.  Here is another artist who released two albums, the second This Glowing City, in the same year along with a slew of limited edition tapes (Eternally Dead, Pink Clouds), I look forward to hearing more from Baird.
Listen:
[mp3] Buy: [Autobus]

03. Head Spins by High Places
Coming in multiple versions and remixes, the original is my favorite because it is direct and cuts to the core of their take on tribal electronica and musicbox rhythms. Yes, steal drums make another appearance in this self proclaimed “Hawaiian / Hardcore / Chinese pop,” I like this moniker because it hints at the bands eccleticism.  The lyrics have a UFO-like sageness while constrast has a childlike-wonder: “The words he spoke that night / They struck a chord / He struck a chord / We talked about all kinds of things / Like dinosaurs and seagull wings / And where the ocean meets the forest.”  Certainly all the songs from this eMusic EP are cast in the mold and are full of joyful whimsy, addictive pop-hooks and static.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[Thrill Jockey]

04. Sleepyhead by Passion Pit
Unless you were in the Bostonian inner-circle (of CD-Rs), this was most of our introduction to Michael Angelakos’ Beegees-esque gem (read: Castrati vocals) and certainly this track stands apart from the others in it’s ethnic beats, but as an addendum on the Frenchkiss release, it finishes of the EP strongly.  The songs were originally composed as a valentine to his sweetheart, you can get an understanding of that from the syrupy lyrics and dance beats that feel like a warm hug. Sleepyhead begins to trek away from the intimacy of those first songs but makes such a strong statement in its 8-bit glory.
Listen:
[mp3][YouTube] Buy:[Frenchkiss]

05. In Ear Park by Department of Eagles
Was it a Grizzly Bear spinoff with Daniel Rossen in the band?  This song certainly sounded like it with spare Beatles-esque harmonies and acoustic guitars.  But after waiting months (without any knowledge of their prior releases as Whitey on the Moon UK’s “The Cold Nose”), this song gave to something not quite Grizzly Bear, half of Grizzly Bear.  The jangly folk and percussive freakouts that make their appearence on the sometimes sparse songs following In Ear Park infer Fred Nicolaus’ glee that is easily heard on the first album, and perhaps he is the missing part of the equation that make Department of Eagles work so well and stand apart from it’s counterpart.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[4AD]

06. Four Words by Parenthetical Girls
I have a fanboy crush on the Parenthetical Girls.  “Four Words” opens the latest installment and first Tomlab release, Entaglements, which I refuse to believe is “The most disappointing album of 2008,” as posted on the (((GIRLS))) website.  The song is rich, layered, textured, symphonic, joyful, a Gordian knot of rhymes and meanings that are as impossible to unwind as are the best Kate Bush songs.  And that’s what the “Four Words” reminds me of, the most complex and revered songs like “Sat in Your Lap” and “Get Out of My House” which express themselves as smart, bizarre and difficult to put down.
Listen:
[YouTube] Buy:[Tomlab]

07. The Onliest Thing by Idol Fodder
“The Onliest Thing” snuck onto my charts from last year via Tomlab’s Alphabet Series and later on Bäbytalk, from the wonderful Pregnancy Series.  Heavy cellos on a deep loop open up this EP to the evolving refrain, “When your lonely / I will hold you / I guess you are only / Little baby.”  Only to be met with harmonized response of “But the onliest thing is that is that you need me / And the onliest thing is that I love you too,” matched with scratchy guitars and echos from any ole CBGBs friday night. The EP continues this formula of repetitive lyrics on the backdrop of looped world-instruments , giggles and post-punk guitars.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[States Rights][Slender Means Society]

08. Touched Something’s Hollow by Of Montreal
Although, there are 15 songs on Skeletal Lamping each song modulates through many moods, it feels like 70 songs from start to finish to create a composite of shiny little mirrored squares that it could be a disco ball.  I don’t know how “Touched Something Hollow” snuck onto the scene, a torchsong that asks, “Why am I so damaged, girl / Why I’m so much poison, girl / I don’t know how long I can hold on / If it’s going to be like this forever.” It’s the closest that Georgie Fruit (Kevin Barnes’ alterego) comes to meeting Ziggy Stardust and is a ballad untouched by any modulation, underscored only by essential piano that’d make Hedwig swoon.
Listen:[last.fm][YouTube] Buy:[Polyvinyl]

09. Skinny Love by Bon Iver
I feel lucky to have seen Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver perform, even on his worst day (he had a cold!) and probably the only reason this song ranked so low is that it played on repeat in my car for months at a time.  There are so many jewels on For Emma, Forever Ago, it doesn’t seem fair that this song gets the spotlight, but it does for good reason.  The song is so rich and full-sounding, it’s hard to believe the instrumentation comes down to a few guitars and light percussion. Vernon can sing the high and low parts, “Now all your love is wasted? / Then who the hell was I?” It’s the emotion of the song make “Skinny Love” so good.
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[4AD][Jagjaguwar]

10. Ultimatum by Final Fantasy
I typically remove songs from the same album from these lists, but Owen Palette produced two different EPs this year, including this Pregnancy Series EP, Plays to Please, full of covers from Deep Dark United.  “Ultimatum” features the whistling magic of Andrew Bird while it gallops with piano and string instrumentation as if running along the Santa Anita racetrack.  And the Alex Lukashevsky’s lyrics are wicked, “You want him ’till I tap your tits / He’s gonna caution your clits” and they couple nicely with the next amazing song, “Moodring Band,” like: “Penis pokes pussy.”
Listen:[mp3] Buy:[Slender Means Society]

I’ll leave you on that note.  Next: my last.fm song stats for 2008.