Friday, November 30, 2007

JKs Picks for 2007

I think most avid music listeners would agree that 2007 was a great year for music, not quite up to the quality of '05 but far better than an all-together dismal '06. I've been working on this list for quite awhile and here's my final version.

The Baker's Dozen:
13. Bruce Springsteen - Magic*
12. Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond*
11. Division Day - Beartrap Island
10. Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future

9. The White Stripes - Icky Thump: This is a better album than I'm willing to give them credit for. Initially, I loved it but then I started to grow tired of Jack and Meg and I've since stopped listening to this. I think we just need some time apart. I'll be back.

8. The New Pornographers - Challengers: About as close to being a sure bet as they come.

7. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin: I can't see myself ever getting tired of listening to this album.

6. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga: see The New Pornographers.

5. Cloud Cult - The Meaning of 8: see The New Pornographers and Spoon.

4. Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals: I could regret putting this up too high but for now, this is exactly the fresh and unique sound from a new band that I needed this year.

3. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible: I think a lot of people will downgrade this due to overexposure (see The White Stripes) but I think this is truly a great album. They exceeded my expectations and earned arena rock status.

2. The National - Boxer: I think I saw them live 5 times this year and heard the same set list pretty much every time. Didn't bother me one bit.

1. Radiohead - In Rainbows: An easy pick for me. I can't believe I'm writing this but Rolling Stone really said it best: "...none of it sounds like any other band on earth; it delivers an emotional punch that proves all other rock stars owe us an apology."

* Proving that yes, old men can still rock.

10 Albums I recommend but fall short in a year of great music:
Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature
Dragons of Zynth - Coronation Thieves
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters
The Handsome Furs - Plague Park
Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
Interpol - Our Love to Admire
White Rabbits - Fort Nightly

Albums that were critically acclaimed and I will never understand why:
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Animal collective - Strawberry Jam
Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Albums that I thought I'd like but just couldn't get into:
Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If
Okkervil River - The Stage Names

Album that I thought was hit and miss although most felt was a hit:
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver

Established bands/artists that I just got into this year and am now completely into:
Ryan Adams
Modest Mouse
John Frusciante
The Silver Jews

The WTF album of 2007 released by a legend:
Puscifer - V is for Vagina

20 Favorite Songs of 2007:
1. Radiohead - "All I Need"
2. The National - "Fake Empire"
3. LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends"
4. The National - "Mistaken for Strangers"
5. Band of Horses - "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands"
6. Radiohead - "Videotape"
7. Arcade Fire - "Keep the Car Running"
8. Cloud Cult - "Take Your Medicine"
9. Queens of the Stone Age - "Suture Up Your Future"
10. Interpol - "Mammoth"
11. Okkervil River - "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe
12. The National - "Slow Show"
13. Bloc Party - "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)"
14. Dragons of Zynth - "Anna Mae"
15. Radiohead - "Reckoner"
16. Yeasayer - "2080"
17. The White Stripes - A Martyr for My Love For You"
18. LCD Soundsystem - "Someone Great"
19. Yeasayer - "Wait for the Wintertime"
20. Sebastian Grainger & Les Montagnes- "Are There Ways to Come Home"

15 Favorites from the 2000s:
Radiohead - Kid A
Arcade Fire - Funeral
Radiohead - In Rainbows
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead - Source Tags & Codes
Beck - Sea Change
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Broken Social Scene - Your Forgot It in People
Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Wrens - Meadowlands
Cloud Cult - Advice for the Happy Hippopotamus
The National - Alligator (or Boxer; haven't decided)
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
Dismemberment Plan - Change

Previously: 2006 Picks

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Video of the Year?

Too funny...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Paste Magazine's 100 Best Albums of 2007

[Photo Credit: American Mary]

1. The National - Boxer
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
3. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
4. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
5. Feist - The Reminder
6. M.I.A. - Kala
7. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
8. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
9. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
10. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
11. Radiohead - In Rainbows
12. Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
13. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
14. Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir
15. Kanye West - Graduation
16. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
17. Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
18. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
19. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Living with the Living
20. Blonde Redhead - 23

[Rest of List | Staff Picks | Writer's Picks]

I am slowly getting the feeling that I like this new Radiohead more than the rest of the world. No doubt, a solid list. Some surprises for me are the strong finishes from Modest Mouse and Wilco. Those are, of course, very pleasant surprises because I thoroughly enjoyed both of the albums, but, for some reason remember some lukewarm reviews upon their release.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Mars Volta: Puzzles & Covers

You have to give it to TMV. Not as revolutionary as Radiohead's latest internet ventures, but fun. And rewarding.

I'm not sure if all 732 of my moves were necessary. I think they are just proof that my brain is mush from the first semester of grad school and/or I'm just fucking retahded. I was honest, I didn't peak at the cover art before hand, I just let my synapses do the firing. Eventually, I got the track...and I'm saving you the trouble.

The videogame trailers, video clip madness and puzzle pieces for punk covers do nothing but whet my appetite. The first few impressions of this album ("Rapid Fire Tollbooth" now called "Goliath" & "Wax Simulacra") are putting me into that Tremulant, ATDI frame of mind. From the looks of the track lengths, it will be a return to exploratory form for the band, but I can't help but feel a little buzz, a little something different.

The Bedlam in Goliath drops on January 29th of next year and is the first studio album from TMV to feature new, permanent drummer Thomas Pridgen, who joined the band back in March.

MP3: The Mars Volta - "Back Up Against the Wall" (Circle Jerks cover)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh My Black Mountain

I can safely add Black Mountain's In the Future to my list of albums that I'm most looking forward to next year. Their self-titled debut was excellent but lead single "Tyrants" is nothing short of epic. Wow.

MP3: Black Mountain - "Tyrants" (via Pitchfork)

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Little City That Could; Statehood

Was back in my old stomping grounds (D.C.) over the weekend for a wedding. Great times. And it wouldn't really be a weekend full of nostalgia without a heavy dose of Dismemberment Plan on rotation, now would it? I have a feeling those reunion shows were sick. Anyway, for those looking to support one of D.C.'s most beloved bands, we got an email from former bassist and current teacher Eric Axelson that his new band, Statehood (also includes drummer Joe Easley), had finished their debut album. Click here for the full story about the band. Lies and Rhetoric is self-released and out today. After two listens thus far today, I'm beyond pleased with the result. It's certainly a more straightforward, I guess what some would call post-hardcore, rock record than any D-Plan album but fans will certainly recognize that raw intensity. This is, of course, a new band after-all and they deserve a new fan base. Have a listen below.

MP3: Statehood - "End the Moderation"
Buy the album from Insound.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Different Approach

Bob Lefsetz's recent post regarding Jay Z and iTunes caught me off guard a bit. It had nothing to do with Jay Z's decision to leave his concept album off iTunes. I agree with Lefsetz's argument there. It was his statement about how we listen to music now:

People haven’t listened to albums from start to finish since the death of vinyl. And, even in the vinyl days, we’d get up from the couch and needle-drop to skip lame tracks, to hear only what we wanted....

My iPod is permanently on shuffle. How about yours?

Really? Because I don't. Maybe I'm out of touch but I still want to listen to albums all the way through on my iPod. My approach has been to start with a song and if it's great, I'll seek out the album and listen to it. I think that's the way musicians would want it. If you like the album, maybe you buy it, maybe you go to a show. That's $ in their pocket. Would you do this if you just liked one song? Of course not, nor should you. It's emblematic of the changing music industry.

I still value the concept of an album (hell, I still buy cds on occasion). If the album isn't any good then I just lose interest and that's the end of it. Two examples: Apostle of Hustle released two insanely great tracks at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, to me at least, the rest of the album never lived up to those first two songs and I've since lost interest. On the other side, a friend recommended Yeasayer, I heard "2080" and subsequently was completely blown away by their album. It's easily one of the five best I've heard all year (I bought it and I'd like to see them live). I realize it's rare these days for an album to be great from start to finish but in an age of, what seems like, limitless music (and a lot of crap) those are the expectations I've set. Thats how I choose to listen to music when walking to work or working out and I don't really see my approach changing anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

YouTube Please...

From NME, this is too funny:

Josh Homme's desert rockers' plan to perform a six-song show for in-patients at an unnamed Los Angeles drying out clinic came to an abrupt and chaotic end when the band were cut off before the end of the first song and manhandled out of the building by heavy security, NME.COM has learned.

The rehab show was intended as a light-hearted, intimate performance in their home city of Los Angeles .

But a spokesman for the band informed NME.COM that when the band opened the show with classic 'Feel Good Hit Of The Summer', staff at the clinic were so unimpressed that they pulled the plugs and had security remove them straight away without negotiation.

The song's lyrics famously run: "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol... c-c-c-c-c-cocaine".

MP3: Queens of the Stone Age - "Running Joke"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Some Data on In Rainbows

Came across some interesting figures on Mashable yesterday regarding Radiohead's release of In Rainbows . A couple things jump out at me, first that 62% of all downloads paid nothing for the album. That seems high to me. Second, that the U.S. actually had a higher percentage of paying downloaders which suggests that people in the rest of the world a) feel more strongly about getting their music for free and b) feel like music should be less expensive. Note the more than $3 difference in average price. No official word yet on how many times the album has been downloaded but even at an average of $2.26 per, it's a nice profit.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stay Down Champion Stay Down

I've had that line in our Header since the release of The National's Boxer but never heard it in any of the album's songs. It wasn't until recently that I came across a demo entitled Liberation CD that was given out in France and found the song's origin. MP3 below.

MP3: The National - "Tall Saint" (demo)

Brainy Alternate - longer version with different ending
Slow Show (demo) - alternate version from album
Tall Saint (demo)
Rest of Years (demo)
Santa Clara

UPDATE: Link to "Tall Saint" is updated along with a bonus of "Rest of Years"
MP3: The National - "Rest of Years" (demo)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Eddie Interview; 13 Years of Pearl Jam Tour Posters

There's a very good and lengthy interview up on Billboard with Eddie Vedder. The focus, is of course, on Into the Wild but it does touch on some PJ-related material.

You can also pre-order what will surely be the incredibly awesome Pearl Jam vs. Ames Brothers: 13 Years of Tour Posters now from Ten Club. "Opening with a written forward by Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and introduction by the Ames Bros, the 264-page hard cover book features 229 posters designed by Ames Bros and Pearl Jam artist Brad Klausen. 'Pearl Jam vs. Ames Bros' features over 80 comments on individual posters from all five members of Pearl Jam and running commentary from the poster designers -- offering insight into the inspiration, concepts and process of poster creation." There is a $50 edition available to anyone and a limited edition book for $200 available to Ten Club members only. Suffice it to say, most buyers of this book are likely members in which case, you probably already know about this.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals @ Hammerstein, Halloween 2007

This was my first Ryan Adams show - as I mentioned this summer, I just got into his music - and I really had no idea what to expect. This show began at 8pm and ended around 11:10, with a 15 minute intermission. For those counting, that's about 3 hours worth of music. Honestly, I could have arrived at the beginning of the second set and left a happy man. The first set, while consisting of some great songs, was a little too jam band-ish for me. It gave the Cardinals, an outstanding band in their own rite, a good chance to spread their wings so-to-speak but given the venue and my surroundings (Hammerstein is brutal), I just couldn't get into it. With a fifteen minute intermission (which felt like 30) to follow, our morale was a bit low. The 2nd set, however, was perfect. Great songs, one after the next that seemed tight and more focused. The encore also featured two songs that I wanted to hear most, "Let it Ride" and the AIC cover, "Down in a Hole." Perhaps some of his fanatical followers expected more from a tour closer on Halloween night but again, this being my first show, I'll leave that to the pundits.

Set list:
Set #1:
Peaceful Valley -->
Blue Hotel --> Peaceful Valley
Beautiful Sorta
The Rescue Blues
The Sun Also Sets
When the Stars Go Blue
Goodnight Rose
Cold Roses
Freeway to the Canyon
Jon Joke/Spacewolf Happy Birthday
Off Broadway/Jam
Please Do Not Let Me Go

Set #2:
Bartering Lines
A Kiss Before I Go
The End
Dear John
Night Birds
Wild Flowers
Shakedown On 9th St
Everything Changes
Why Do They Leave
Goodnight, Hollywood Blvd.
I See Monsters

Let it Ride
Down in a Hole
What Sin/Jam -->
Peaceful Valley End