Dec 232008

This list was even harder to come up with than the best albums.  (Speaking of which, I’m still kicking myself for one ommission from that list: Day & Age by the Killers.  It’s brilliant and definitely deserves to be on that list.  But thems the breaks when you try to break an AMAZING year in music down to 5 albums and 5 singles.)

At any rate, I’ve been agonizing over this for the past few days, so it’s time to just rip the bandaid off and get it over with.  So here they are, the best singles of 2008:

5.)  The Last of the Shadow Puppets, “The Age of the Understatement”:

4.)  The Killers, “Spaceman”

3.)  Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, “Magick”:

2.)  Sigur Rós, “Gobbledigook” (video is NSFW):

1.)  The Cure, “The Only One”:

The Cure – The Only One – The Cure

Aug 062008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.8.5

Uncategorized Comments Off on Tuesday Playlist for 2008.8.5

Intro: Okay, well, I’m a little late starting this one (11:53pm), but it’s still Tuesday, so I declare that this still counts as on-time. I’ve got a lot to get through, so I’m just gonna jump right in.

Listening: Well, my progress up through recent musical history’s brought me more or less up to the present. Been listening to some of my favorite 2007/2008 releases (Our Love To Admire FTW!) and even getting around to checking out some new albums and bands to which I’d been meaning to listen.

Speaking of which: why did no one tell me about the Rakes before? Their song “Binary Love” popped up a few times on one of my Pandora stations, so I added it with the hopes of hearing more of their stuff. Well, as so often happens, one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I’d bought Capture / Release and was using it to soundtrack my drive to Helena this last weekend. Honestly, the album isn’t quite as brilliant as I was hoping, but it’s still pretty strong. “Strasbourg”, “22 Grand Job”, and “Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)” are all fun. Also I’m enough of a geek that I’m pretty sure I want “Binary Love” played at my wedding.

I also grabbed The Last Shadow Puppets debut, The Age of the Understatement. It’s more introspective and complex than either Alex Turner or Miles Kane’s previous work. From the lush string parts on “My Mistakes Were Made For You” to the oddly cacophonous vocal counterpoints on “Separate and Ever Deadly” the album’s full of pleasant little aural surprises. I’m not sure what I think of it as a whole quite yet, but I do like it. If you like either complex, novel rock music or are a fan of either Arctic Monkeys or the Rascals, it’s well worth a listen.

I also just picked Conor Oberst’s new self-titled which just came out today. If you haven’t heard the single off it (“Danny Callahan”), it’s available for download here. If you’d prefer to just stream it:

Warning: it’s not exactly a happy tune. It is, however, beautiful and moving. Speaking of the album…

Upcoming: Wow, how did I not know that Oberst’s new release was due out today until I saw it on Amazon’s frontpage? I seriously need some new sources for upcoming release dates. Metacritic is accurate, but woefully incomplete. The Billboard lists are so noisy as to be practically unusable. News sites are, of course, hit or miss, since they all differ in what releases they deem mention-worthy. Where do you folks hear about new releases?

In concert news, Puddle of Mudd are playing Spokane tomorrow (2008.8.6) night, if you’re into that sort of thing. Also, I learn by way of a comment here at the blog that The Shondes are touring this Fall. They’ll be playing several shows over on the coast. (Alas, none here in the Inland Northwest, but that’s nothing new.) If anyone’s interested, I’m seriously considering heading over to catch the Seattle show. Finally, Alt-Country masters Wilco will be playing Spokane on the 21st of this month. They give a GREAT live show, and if I can scrape together the funds, then I’ll definitely be hitting it up.

News: Did you know that Lee Perry is a dirty old man? Neither did I, but his new single “Pum Pum” is pretty much a stoned, dirty old man’s ode to cruising for sex in nightclubs. Wait, why do I say “pretty much”? That’s EXACTLY what it is. It’s also crazy-groovy. The man has a masterful command of the Dub/Raggae side of things.

(Warning: lyrics are not safe for work, beats are not safe for staying still in one’s seat. Download Link. Hat Tip to 3Hive.)

Also, those perpetually catty folks over at PopJustice are right: the new Streets single is pretty disappointing. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s “shite”, as they so eloquently put it, but it’s definitely no “Stay Positive”.

Thinking: So I’m a huge sucker for unique voices. Voices that, after a few listens, anyone could pick out of a audio lineup. Louise Wener, Tom Waites, Robert Smith. I love artists whose voice is entirely their own. It’s a little like hearing an instrument that no one else in the world can play. Paired with a good writing talent (either their own or a partner’s) and the possesors of such voices can turn out some truly brilliant music. (Louise Wener is a great example of that: a fantastic songwriter with the unique voice necessary to really make her songs her own.)

What I think is really interesting is how often these voices wind up either spawning genres or, at least, defying being placed into them. I think that part of the reason that Alt-Country became a big thing is that Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy have such unique voices and musical visions to accompany them. Similarly, I think that the current wave of singer-songwriters is thanks in large part to the unique voices of people like Conor Oberst and Ben Gibbard.

I think that the vocal qualities are one of the key things that shapes a new musical movement or genre. It’s why so many singers in the late 90s sounded like bad Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder impersonators. In a way, their voices were distillations of what the genre was meant to sound like.

Just a thought that’s been rattling around in my brain of late.

Song of the Week: I’ve been going back to this tune over and over again ever since I got the album. This is “Orphans”, by Beck, off of Modern Guilt:

Apr 292008

Hey folks. A few updates regarding the site. I’m currently in the process of moving into a new apartment and starting several new contracts in the work-world. I also have a lot of stuff coming up on weekends (relatives in town, followed by travel, followed by, at the end of May, Sasquatch! Festival) so I’m going to be pretty swamped for the next month or so. That’ll mean that my reviews will no doubt be late.

In that vein, I’m delaying my Flight of the Conchords review until next Tuesday. *Waits for the jeers and boos to die down.* Sorry, but I’ve barely gotten a chance to listen to the album (I’m a much amused fan of it so far), and I’m not terribly long on time.

So no review this week, but check back next week.

I will, however, be starting something I did last year (can you believe my blog’s finally old enough to have yearly traditions?): the Annual(!) Sasquatch! Festival Preview. I’ll be hopefully posting an artist from the lineup every day or so from tomorrow up until the start of the festival.

For now, though, here’s a video from a new supergroup (composed of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and Miles Kane from the Rascals) called The Last Shadow Puppets. “The Age of the Understatement” is the first single off their debut album of the same name, which is out May 6th on Domino Records.

(Major tip of the floppy Russian deerstalker to Chris and Ann for linking me to the video.)