Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Albums of 2007 While Riding Through the Streets of Baghdad

Land of the free...
Home of the brave...
From my teammate, brother and comrade in arms. May he be home safe and soon. The only two weeks he had off in '07, we spent getting haught in NYC and Manchester, TN. And while he misspelled the name of the White Stripes album, I think he was fucking with me...trying to see if I'd proofread. Without further adieu, JQ aka Dr. Thomas Beckett, esq. presents...

Top Albums of 2007 While Riding Through the Streets of Baghdad

There are two approaches when riding through the streets of Baghdad. The first approach is to be vigilant – eyes and ears open, scanning the streets for anything out of the ordinary, locked and loaded, ready to fire. The other approach is to do what I do...plug your dirty white Ipod Headphones into your ears, close your eyes and fuckin pray.

Here is what I was listening to...

10) Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer! – “The Past is a Grotesque Animal,” is a true statement and an epic song from a great pop band. Must be honest with my Elephant 6 bias on this one. I can see why people wouldn’t be taken by it if they weren’t previously into the E6 scene. Plus, the previously mentioned song can get you from Camp Victory to the International Zone via Route Irish with one single play.

9) Derek Webb The Ringing Bell – “This is The End...This is the Very End” starts Derek Webb’s poignant album. I think he used to be a Christian Rocker but this album rocks. Eat skin, Jesus.

9) Elvis Perkins Ash Wednesday – One of first albums I really got into in 2007. “While You Were Sleeping,” is one of the top songs of the year and the album packs as much punch the rest of the way. Acoustic and a lot of instruments...I dig it. Elvis has interesting back story considering his father, Anthony Perkins and his mother [were] on one of the 9/11 planes...but his music speaks for itself.

8) Elliott Smith New Moon – I was thinking that this is more of a tribute, but these songs affected me just as much as any other album on this it belongs here. If Elliott transmitted 1% of the pain he felt into his songs, then one can understand how it all ended. Prolific, never wrote a bad song…anything is better than nothing.

7) Beirut The Flying Club Cup – I just love the fuckin horns! Much of the same from Beirut, but still a lot different and much better than the shit other people are putting out.

6) The Apples in Stereo The New Magnetic Wonder – Jeff Mangum played the Cow Object on this album...enough said. Seriously though, The Apples have reached a whole new level with this album (somewhat literally with Robert Schneider’s introduction of a whole new scale), but the album is simply fun and well produced. The whole E6 community seemed tied to this one way or another and I constantly had a visual of every E6 band in a room singing “the sun is out, the sun is out...c’mon c’mon c’mon check it out!!!!!!” Simply put, at the end of the year I found myself enjoying this album a lot more than others.

5) Rock Plaza Central Are We Not Horses – Came out in Canada in 2006, but released in the States in I am going with the release date just to include this great album. Some might say Chris Eaton’s voice is awful, the songs have no melody and the instrumentation is mediocre and they might have a point...but the cacophony brings joy to my ears. From the beginning with the crooning of “I am an excellent Steel Horse,” I was in and the rest didn’t disappoint. “When We Go, How We Go (Part I)” is one of my favorite songs of the year. The semi-concept album about robotic horses that are used by humans in a war against angels is somewhat poignant to a soldier on stop-loss being used by the government in a war against...
Sad that I can’t even finish that sentence. Whoever we are suppose to be fighting, I am sure they are not angels. I AM AN EXCELLENT STEEL HORSE!!

4) The Poison Control Center A Collage of Impressions – The best find of the year. This album is hard to define, but easy to enjoy. “Thrill” is probably the best song of the year. “You hit your head…now the terrorists want you dead” seemed to speak to me when a detainee tried to spit on me in a helicopter over Qadasiyah Province.

4) Okkervil River The Stage Names – Okkervil River is better than your favorite band. “Unless It’s Kicks” is another top song of the year. What I wouldn’t do to be a 14 year old girl floating to the stage during an Okkervil River show.

3) The National Boxer – I think this band has invented their own music genre. “Slow Show” makes me want to be at least 29 years old. I was lucky enough to catch them with my special lady friend during Bonnaroo. They brought me to tears...or it may have been the completely naked dude standing right next to me.

2) Radiohead In Rainbows – Sounds like the album that should have came after “OK Computer.” I think Radiohead is at a point where they are able to utilize all of their experimental achievements over the last 10 years to pick and choose what to add to just make a song great rather than just make a song different. Whenever Radiohead would play a song off one of their albums since OK Computer live it would be broken down, raw and beautiful. In Rainbows somehow combines [that simplicity] with state of the art production and the [indelible] beauty of a Thom Yorke song. Incredibly, Thom’s lyrics are also improving. I thought so during his solo debut The Eraser, and now with In Rainbows it is even more present. When he starts singing “it was the 21st century, it was the 21st century,” I almost had a head explosion. The best band of the 21st Century.

1) Cloud Cult The Meaning Of 8 – I love the back story of a musician and when Craig Minowa opens up The Meaning of 8 with the pleading of “You have eyes like mine,” I nearly melted as I could feel the pain of his lost child. The lyrics can mean something completely different...but that is what I felt...and that is the power of music. All year, I compared everything to this album and it persevered to the end...listening to it just as much in December than I did in February. If there was ever an album to get you through shots fired, it’s the Meaning of 8. If there was ever an album to help you put on your helmet and do it again, it’s this one. Suck up...take your medicine.


Honorable Mention:
!!! (CHK CHK CHK) – Myth Takes
Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
Bjork – Volta
Bright Eyes – Cassadaga
Dr. Dog – We All Belong
Figurines – When the Deer Wore Blue
Joanna Newsom – Ys
Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block
Rufus Wainwright – Release The Stars
Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
Smile Smile – Blue Roses
The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters
The White Stripes – Icky Thumb
Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

Things I Wish I Listened to More in 2006 while I was too busy getting Haught:
David Thomas Broughton – The Complete Guide to Insufficiency
Damien Rice – 9
Anything and Everything THE KNIFE.

MP3: Rock Plaza Central - "I Am An Excellent Steel Horse"
MP3: U2 - "Desert of our Love"
MP3: Okkervil River - "For Real"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thick as Thieves

[Source: NY Times]

So let me get this straight:

I'm supposed to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I'm supposed to believe that as soon as the needle sunk in to your epidermis you knew it was wrong...and you never did it again.

I'm supposed to believe that HGH helps you heal faster, but that, somehow, doesn't enhance your performance.

I'm supposed to believe that gambling on a team you are managing is less of an offense than performance enhancing drug abuse.

And when is Jose Canseco going to shut the fuck up and get out of this shitstorm. Does he have another book coming out?
What. A. Fucking. Mess. The really sad thing is that I think everyone is fucking guilty. I don't know who to trust. And I don't know who to believe. MLB is beginning to look like the Bush Administration.

Blender: Best of 2007

25. Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad
24. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
23. Lily Allen - Alright, Still...
22. Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
21. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
20. Brad Paisley - 5th Gear
19. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Sank
18. Justice -
17. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
16. Jay-Z - American Gangster
15. Alison Krauss & Robert Plant - Raising Sand
14. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
13. Feist - The Reminder
12. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
11. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
10. Rilo Kiley - Under The Blacklight
09. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
08. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
07. The Dream - Lovehate
06. Radiohead - In Rainbows
05. Against Me! - New Wave
04. Kanye West - Graduation
03. Lil Wayne - The Carter 3 Sessions
02. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
01. M.I.A. - Kala

No love for the National? No love for Blender. Year end lists are starting to make me throw up in my mouth.

2008 Tour Dates: The Mars Volta

Jan 9th – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
Jan 11th – New Haven, CT – Toad’s Place
Jan 12th – Providence, RI – Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
Jan 14th – New York, NY – Terminal 5
Jan 17th – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore at the TLA
Jan 18th – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
Jan 19th – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
Jan 21st – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Hall
Jan 23rd – Michigan Theater – Ann Arbor, MI
Jan 25th – Kansas City, MO – Beaumont Club
Jan 27th – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
Jan 30th – Irvine, CA – The Bren Center at UC Irvine

More should follow at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Video: Lupe Fiasco, "Dumb it Down"

A new Scarface album, a new Lupe Fiasco album and all is right with the world. Well, not really, but I found it funny that in the same day that I pondered what the fuck was going on in a rap video blazing across every screen in Best Buy (I still don't know what video it was), I found a bare bones rap track (and video) that actually provided something creative and worthwhile. I refer, of course, to the video above.

Pitchfork's Best of 2007

50. Tinariwen, Aman Iman: Water is Life
49. Dizzee Rascal, Maths + English
48. Robert Wyatt, Comicopera
47. Yeasayer, All Hour Cymbals
46. Marissa Nadler, Songs III: Bird on the Water
45. Ricardo Villalobos, Fabric 36
44. Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends
43. Stars of the Lid, And Their Refinement of the Decline
42. Ghostface Killah, The Big Doe Rehab
41. Life Without Buildings, Live at the Annandale Hotel
40. Beirut, The Flying Club Cup/Lon Gisland [EP]
39. The White Stripes, Icky Thump
38. Wu-Tang Clan, 8 Diagrams
37. Grizzly Bear, Friend [EP]
36. Iron and Wine, The Shepherd's Dog
35. Black Lips, Good Bad Not Evil
34. James Blackshaw, The Cloud of Unknowing
33. King Khan & the Shrines, What Is?!
32. Sally Shapiro, Disco Romance
31. Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity
30. Caribou, Andorra
29. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago
28. Dinosaur Jr., Beyond
27. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
26. Various Artists, After Dark
25. The Tough Alliance, A New Chance/New Waves [EP]
24. Dan Deacon, Spiderman of the Rings
23. Studio, Yearbook 1
22. Okkervil River, The Stage Names
21. Dirty Projectors, Rise Above
20. Liars, Liars
19. Feist, The Reminder
18. Kanye West, Graduation
17. The National, Boxer
16. Lil Wayne, Da Drought 3
15. Justice, t
14. Deerhunter, Cryptograms/Flourescent Grey [EP]
13. Jay-Z, American Gangster
12. No Age, Weirdo Rippers
11. Jans Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedala
10. Burial, Untrue
9. The Field, From Here We Go Sublime
8. Battles, Mirrored
7. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
6. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam
5. Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
4. Radiohead, In Rainbows
3. M.I.A., Kala
2. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
1. Panda Bear, Person Pitch

This list is pretty legit.

There. I got that out of the way.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the LCD Soundsystem album. It is a great CD, but I don't think it is one of the top 2. I just can't reconcile that album being ahead of Boxer or In Rainbows. Mirrored in the top ten is also a stretch for me. All in all, Pitchfork continues to put together a comprehensive list each year and they do it by covering each album intelligently, on its own terms, and with the hipster-sarcasm levels adjusted down to a 4.6.

Re-Upping with Rolling Stone

I've been receiving issues of Rolling Stone for the past year and I'm fairly certain this was gifted to me although I'm not sure by whom. I know this because I've never paid for it. Despite all of its shortcomings, I enjoy the magazine and typically read through everything but the political articles, however, I've largely ignored the requests to "renew" my subscription. Yesterday, my final notice arrived in the mail along with the Yearbook 2007 issue. I set it aside and readied it for the trash. It wasn't until I opened the magazine and noticed that, shockingly, there was an interview with none other than the reclusive Cormac McCarthy. Well played RS, my $12.95 is in mail.

It wouldn't be fair to mention this without noting that NF got me into Cormac this year with "The Road" - easily the best book I've ever read - and I've been tearing through his other books ever since.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another List: Billboard Critics' Poll

The folks at Billboard have done a nice job on their year-end list; and I say this, of course, because I agree with many of them. In related news, I'm growing a little tired of the so-called high-and-mighty sites bashing top album/song lists without coming up with a list of their own. These two particularly come to mind.

Billboard Critics' Poll:
10. Battles - Mirrored
09. Kanye West - Graduation
08. M.I.A. - Kala
08. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
08. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
07. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
06. Feist - The Reminder
05. The National - Boxer
04. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
03. Amy Winehouse - Back in Black
02. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
01. Radiohead - In Rainbows

Previous winners include Bob Dylan (2006), My Morning Jacket (2005) and Franz Ferdinand (2004)

UPDATE: Our friend Ultra8201 also agrees on Radiohead.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

AV Club Top 25 of 2007

25. Iron and Wine, The Shepherd's Dog
24. James Murphy & Pat Mahoney, FabricLive 36
23. Fall Out Boy, Infinity on High
22. Bat For Lashes, Fur and Gold
21. Grinderman, Grinderman
20. Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight
19. Against Me!, New Wave
18. Ted Leo, Living With the Living
17. Low, Drums and Guns
16. The White Stripes, Icky Thump
15. Les Savy Fav, Let's Stay Friends
14. PJ Harvey, White Chalk
13. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
12. Jesu, Conquerer
11. Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
10. Bloc Party, Weekend in the City
9. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
8. Tegan and Sara, The Con
7. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
6. M.I.A., Kala
5. Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
4. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
3. Radiohead, In Rainbows
2. The National, Boxer
1. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

That Fall Out Boy album kind of comes out of left field for me. I have to visit with M.I.A. and PJ Harvey. They are popping up on a lot of lists. I think this might be the strongest showing Bloc Party has had on any year end list I've seen.

AV Club's write up on Arcade Fire pretty much hits the nail right on the head. Win Butler and The Boss are on the current cover of Spin and you can read the beginning of their mutual interview here. Arcade Fire is about as epic as it gets...

Friday, December 14, 2007


Yeah, I'm buying this thing twice...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Across the Pond

Despite solid albums from Klaxons and Bloc Party, I was generally disappointed by the output of new music from the U.K. in 2007 - an area which I've come to count on for good tunes. Radiohead, of course, can't be counted because it's been determined that they are in a world by themselves.

With 2008 on the horizon, I can safely look to two new releases that gives me confidence of more greatness to come. First, the David Sitek-produced debut by the Foals now has a tracklist and album title, Antidotes. Unfortunately, the album doesn't contain "Hummer" or "Mathletics" but given the strength of those two songs, that should bode well for the album. First single, "Balloons," was out Monday in the UK. The album comes out in March but I'm not sure when Sub Pop plans to release it stateside. If you're not sold by those plugs for David Sitek and Sub Pop well, then, I can't help you.

MP3: Foals - "Hummer"

Antidotes tracklisting:
'The French Open'
'Red Socks Pugie'
'Olympic Airways'
'The Race For Radio Supremacy'
'Heavy Water'
'Two Steps, Twice'
'Big Big Love (Fig. 2)'
'Like Swimming'

British Sea Power followed up the awesome The Decline of British Sea Power with the boring Open Season but with all of the ateaseweb excitement over Do You Like Rock Music? I couldn't help but take notice. This one hit the WWW's yesterday and after 3 listens to the album, I can safely say that the album title is rhetorical because it does not disappoint. The album is out next month in the UK and Feb. 12 in the states. Below is the video for the first single "Waving Flags".

Filter Mag's Top 10 of 2007

Pretty solid list from the gang at Filter Mag. I haven't listened to the Elvis Perkins or Great Northern albums and TGTBATQ is a bit questionable but I certainly won't argue with their first pick.

1. Radiohead, In Rainbows (self-released)
2. Band of Horses, Cease To Begin (Sub Pop)
3. Arcade Fire, Neon Bible (Merge)
4. The Good, The Bad & The Queen, The Good, The Bad & The Queen (Virgin Records)
5. Animal Collective, Strawberry Jam (Domino)
6. Elvis Perkins, Ash Wednesday (XL Recordings)
7. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver (Capitol)
8. The National, Boxer (Beggars Banquet)
9. Great Northern, Trading Twilight For Daylight (Eenie Meenie)
10. Andrew Bird, Armchair Apochrypha (Fat Possum)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Steak Cologne? Stologne.

[Photo Creds: Sarah Lee/Guardian]

Antiquiet: Is the Queens sound a conscious or deliberate atmosphere?
Josh Homme: The thing is, that’s from years of doing whatever you want. Everything you do is habit-forming. You will form a habit of one style or another. And it might as well be getting people used to the notion that you’re going to do whatever you want. ‘Cause all the other habits include cow-towing to what somebody else wants. And there’s never a time to do that in music. As I understand it, your obligation is to play your favorite music that noone else plays, so you have to. And my favorite music is hooky, quirky, arty, dark, surprising, heavy, groovy, soft, emotional but not emo. It wears a sweater because it’s cold, not because it’s stylistically there.

Antiquiet: And it doesn’t try to fit into girl pants.
Josh Homme: Yeah, like there’s enough room for your cock and balls in your pants. And it’s in touch with its feelings, but it’s not a fucking pussy, man. Like, I need Lee Marvin, and I need Robert Mitchum. But I don’t need Sylvester Stallone, unless it’s Tango and Cash, ’cause that movie is fucking awesome. Or unless it’s my new steak cologne called Stologne.

Antiquiet: What are your thoughts on Radiohead’s name-your-price approach to selling their new album?
Josh Homme: I think it’s working great for them. I think they’re doing a really cool job of it and a really cool thing. Not everyone is Radiohead. You’re talking about one of the finest working bands in the world. So it’s tough to transpose a situation that works for the finest rock’n'roll band in the world and sort of move it around the cabin. If you were in a band noone knew, that wouldn’t work so well.
[Entire Interview @ Antiquiet]
Just when you think you've got you're monthly quota of Josh Homme (C-C-C-C-Cocaine), he goes and drops an interview like this. I'm looking forward to the day that QOTSA gets all In Rainbows on our collective asses.

MP3: Queens of the Stone Age - "Feel Good Hit of the Summer"
MP3: Queens of the Stone Age - "White Wedding" (Billy Idol cover)