I finally got the chance to see Wye Oak this weekend when they played in Philly with my friends in Secret Mountains. They’ve been a band that’s been continuously growing on me, to the point now where I’m pretty obsessed. Jenn not only has an incredible voice, but also shreds on guitar. Seriously, they rocked and if you get the chance to see them, do it, one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. They’re really putting a lot of two pieces to shame, not that they’re trying; everything seems extremely effortless.
Their new album Civilian is a an absolute must have for 2011. Possibly my favorite record of the year so far. So take that as you will.
The idea for this poster was entirely influenced by Kirby’s obsessions with finger spelling and sign language.
This week I reconnected with one of my favorite bands of all time, mewithoutYou. There was a time in my life when there wouldn’t have even been opportunity for a reconnection, because I’m pretty sure I was listening to them non stop for about 5 years. For those unfamiliar, mewithoutYou were one of the most absolute wild live shows among any band, and I’m willing to extend that to ever. There was an energy at their shows that I’ve yet to see matched. It was pure excitement from everyone involved. Some could argue this is still true. However, over the past years, and with the band getting older, they’ve slowed things down (in every which way) and progressively shed their early skins to become something so different from their first full length, you’d have to assume it was a different band. Which, believe me, I’m really not trying to gripe about the fact that they did this, especially given the quality of the stuff they’ve put out, but I’ve come to the sad realization that I just don’t like the stuff they are doing now as much as the earlier albums. And it pains me to say that. At one point I remember feeling genuinely sad that one day mewithouYou wouldn’t be a band anymore. Now, maybe they put out one more album, maybe they don’t but it doesn’t matter because nothing they do is going to be the magic that happened between A to B Life and Catch For Us The Foxes. Again, I really do like their latest two albums Brother, Sister and It’s All Crazy…, and had those been how they were introduced to me, I would probably not find myself in the place I’m in now. But it’s almost heartbreaking to feel so numb about a band who you’ve followed since their inception.
SO, I’m making my best efforts to realize that there is still so much magic and energy left in this band, and I never want to write them off because even the songs I like the least contain something most other bands are still trying to capture. There’s nothing feign about this band. Just a group of guys who see this world different than most everyone else, and oh, they’re also in a band. For everyone who got to spend 2002/2003 watching Aaron bounce of the walls, or shamefully trying to have a conversation with Mike online, counting how many coats Dan Pishock had, or making your own band that was a direct rip off of them, you know we’ve seen the glory days. But maybe that’s okay right?
This week I got so into Smith Westerns, some young boys from Chicago who just put out a new album called Dye It Blonde. The first song/first single is a track called Weekend, and after hearing that I just went bonkers over them. The whole album is made up of some fine licks and melodies, and although this album is impressive regardless, the fact that they are as young as they are just makes it even more awesome. Really fun songs and this album if nothing more is a great sign that they are a really promising bunch of dudes.
Finally was able to find the very first and self titled record from Peter, Paul and Mary, something I’d been thumbing through bins looking for for a while now. I think they are unfairly remembered for Puff the Magic Dragon, and nothing could make me more upset. They’ve got some really good folk tunes from their early days, and this album is prime example of that. I mean, just try to listen to this only once. Impossible.
Well, it’s hard to believe, but this today marks a full year of me doing Music Mondays! I started January 25th of last year and have faithfully posted every Monday since. This has certainly kept me listening to new music and in turn forced me to design something accordingly. It’s been quite an exercise, and I cannot wait to see what happens through out this upcoming year. You can count on having something to look at and read every Monday.
I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this anniversary than to be talking about one of my favorite bands Akron/Family. A/F finally put out a new record with a name that’s as much of a mystery to me as it is their label, but why am I not surprised? Akron/Family covers a lot of bases, both on this record and previous, and while you might prefer some over the others, it’s hard to say that they aren’t pushing the limits to their own creativity. This is one of the most appealing aspects to the band. It’s almost always a surprise what you’ll get, but rarely a let down. This new record sounds much more controlled than previous efforts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in comparison to their last album which was for better or for worse all over the place, this is certainly a change of pace. And don’t get me wrong, this album still has it’s ups and downs, but in comparison, it’s being held on a tighter leash. All in all, this is another solid album from these dudes and I think it’ll grow on you given the chance.
I’ve been intrigued by the guys of OFWGKTA after seeing them take over all sorts of corners of the internet, and I finally had to get my ears on their album (which is offered for free on their tumblr), Radical. They are some young boys from LA who put together this hip hop collective that rivals just about any other hip hop collective, especially considering how young they are. This record features some verses that are honestly as good as any seasoned rapper. I can’t wait to watch these guys take over the rap game because it seems like that is the inevitable direction things are headed.
The youngest and probably nastiest of the group is the 16 year old Earl Sweatshirt. (Get his album EARL for free on their tumblr as well.) This dude has a flow so smooth and seamless you’re waiting for him to end each line and take a breath but you realize he’s still going and is going to rhyme something from 8 bars back. Again, only 16, cmon. Imagine what he’ll be doing in another 2 or 4 years. Still, for now he’s certainly the shining star of OFWGKTA. Probably not for the light at heart, but with lines like “Yo, I’m a hot and bothered astronaut crashin’ while Jackin’ off to bufferin’ vids of Asher Roth eatin’ apple sauce” anyone with a sense of humor and an appreciation for word play can get down to this kid.
Hadn’t listened to Fleet Foxes in quite some time, and it was nice to hop back to that album for a little bit. Apparently their new album is done and mastered and will be out this year. God knows we’ve waited long enough.
The idea for this poster came to me right before I fell asleep last night, which you can’t ask for something nicer than that. And if I had to give one tip as a designer, it would be to never stop looking for and being open to inspiration, it’s everywhere and just waiting to reveal itself to you.
It’s no secret I am a huge Paul McCartney fan, and this week I was getting heavily into Wings, specifically their triple LP live album Wings Over America. Filled to the brim with hits, this is in my opinion a perfect representation of Wings. It has all the classic McCartney songs, including a few Beatles tunes, and I love the way each song flows into the next with often no break in between. McCartney is a king, and Wings is no exception to his kingdom. Really great album.
Speaking of other classic albums Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run was doing me so right this week. I’m a very late bloomer to Bruce, but this albums is surprisingly worth all the hype it still gets. I feel kind of silly for it taking me this long to get into it, but who gives, it’s awesome.
I contemplated listening to The Tallest Man On Earth many times and never got around to it, and this week I finally put and end to that, simultaneously ending one of my worst, and making one of my best decisions. I guess I just pegged him as something different, a bit more average. But this is some of the most incredible songwriting I’ve heard in a long while. I’m really blown away by his latest abum The Wild Hunt, which features, like the rest of his recordings just guitar and voice. But for being so minimal, it’s really cavernous in the way it sounds. He throws in these melodies and little vocal reflections that you could never anticipate, and that keeps everything very exciting. The obvious comparison to Bob Dylan is truer than most Dylan comparisons, and if someone’s going to carry that cross, I’d be fine with it being Kristian.
If you’re wondering if you should listen to him, you absolutely should. So glad I squeezed this in before the year’s end. Happy listening.
If you’re new to my blog, or have been living under a rocking chair for the past while, every Monday I post a poster I made for the band who I listened to the most that week according to my last.fm scrobbles. This has opened the door for new music and staying active with making things…
I had a strong renewal of my faith in Good Old War this week. Not that I didn’t like their first album, because I did, but I really love their new self-titled album. I know I am really late on this, but I finally got to really listening to it this week, and it’s pretty great. I sort of was beginning to write them off as just a bland pop band, but they’re really a bit more remarkable than that. I hear tinges of early Paul Simon creeping through, and their harmonies are nothing to scoff at. If you’ve heard their first album, the second album really is a great progression from there. It’s nothing too unfamiliar, which I liked, but it really is just more impressive all around. Great album art too.
Modest Mouse’s The Moon And Antarctica is their best album (by a long shot) and a great example of a band at their peak. I got this album my junior year of high school and it’s never not sounded good to me. I think their early albums were inventive, but sometimes too rough to enjoy, and I think everything past this album was far too polished and fussed over, making this the perfect medium.
More Vince Guaraldi, obviously. Christmas is so soon, and I’m loving it!
Forgot how great Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs is. But, really great is how great.
So upon the recommendation of just about everyone, I gave Kanye West’s new album a few more listens. I’m not exactly sure how my tone came off a few weeks ago so I want to make this clear: I think this a good album, and probably one of the better of the year. But I don’t think it’s this year’s best… I don’t even think it’s his best. But it is good. There’s something to it, that you can get behind the songs that you don’t even really like that much. I think it’s a creative album by most standards, but not all. It’s funny to me that it’s getting showered with the compliments of how unique it is, but in comparison to some truly unique acts, I think it still falls short.
Again though, it’s good.
The idea for this poster came from the couple of Egyptian references Kanye makes on the song Monster, which I just couldn’t get enough of. You may also notice this is in the style of the last poster I did for him. I don’t know if it makes sense to say this or not, but the album sounds very black and red to me, and I think it would be cool to do a few more that fit this style of illustration.
Kirby’s dad lent me a few albums that he loves, that he thought I might enjoy, one of which being Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band. He had told us that he wanted their song Blue Sky to play at his funeral. And even though that’s strangely sort of morbid to think of at this point, the song is pretty awesome, and would probably be the coolest funeral song ever. This album is southern rock, perhaps at it’s finest.
Brick + Mortar, who I know I’ve talked about before, are just one of the most creative and talented bands out there right now. They are emerging from the Asbury/New Jersey music scene and gaining a lot of deserving recognition and respect. If you have the chance to catch these guys, I would certainly not miss the opportunity. I actually had the fortune of seeing them twice over this Thanksgiving break. Once at The Stone Pony, and two nights later at a bar in Seaside. It was awesome to see that even in two completely different venues, one with a stage and an intense sound system, and the other with neither, they still performed great and made each environment work for them. I took some video of them from The Stone Pony, and I think it’s best you check them out. John Tacon is an absolute crazy person on the drums.
M. Ward’s Post War is a phenomenal album. I’m forgetting which song, but one from that album came onto my iPod early in the week, and it just did me so right, that I got into a bit of an M. Ward groove that lasted the next few days. While all of his albums are great, Transistor Radio and Transfiguration Of Vincent, being in the top three, nothing beats Post War. If you don’t listen, that’s the place to start. But also, why aren’t you listening already?
I got Cee Lo’s new album this week. Something I was certainly looking forward to. Unlike most mainstream pop records, this actually packs a few punches and delivers on more than the single. I think we can all agree Cee Lo has been pretty impressive on anything he’s worked on, and this is really no different.
I picked up Scout Niblett’s record The Fool Can Die Now this weekend mainly because I was drawn to the cover, but also because I saw Will Oldham had some work on the album, and that was good enough for me. The songs where he sings certainly shine, but the whole thing ain’t bad.
It comes as no surprise that Sufjan Stevens has been dominating most of what I listen to these days and it’s because I genuinely can’t get enough of it. I’ve been oscillating between his two newest albums All Delighted People EP and The Age Of Adz, and all I can say is that I’m impressed. I don’t think he needs much campaigning on my part, but man, those two albums are certainly some of the best of the year, and just add to his grandeur. I hope you’ve had the pleasure of seeing some videos of his new tour, or maybe you’ve even got to see it live, but that’s where the sunglasses come in to play. I’ve been seeing him wear these in quite a few videos, and to me, they summed up a lot of what The Age Of Adz sounds like.
The Neville Brothers got 3 plays, which was their rendition of Way Down In The Hole for the season three opening of The Wire, which all came in a row, because I think that’s my favorite of all the seasons. But I also think which ever season I’m currently watching is my favorite. So, who knows.
I’m just loving everything about The Black Keys lately. It’s bluesy, riff heavy, and you actually feel cooler just listening to it. I have to put the windows down and turn the music up anytime I’m listening to them in the car. It’s funny how certain music has that command, and these guys are one of those bands. I have to admit, I was sort of late on this band, not really listening to them until this summer when I heard them on a hot ride into Philadelphia with Mike in Wechter’s old truck. That sort of seemed like the perfect setting for them. Their latest album Brothers is definitely one of the best releases this year.
Another band I’m late to the game on is Miniature Tigers. I finally wised up and checked them out this week and was so glad I did. River City Extension is playing with them tomorrow night in Brooklyn, and if you like either of those bands and can make it out, that’s a show not to miss.
Black Churches. One of my favorite bands, some of my favorite people, and another band where the windows go down and the volume goes up. These guys have been blessed with the strange ability to write a song better than the last one they wrote. Sort of unfair for the rest of us, but so long as they’re continuing writing music, I’ll be benefiting in some way.
Ba Babes just released their new EP called Hate The Beach which they have put online for free. If I were you, I’d download that right now. It’s classified in my iTunes as “garage wave” which is a pretty decent indicator of what you’re going to get. These guys are doing it the right way, and I expect big things from them. They have a split cassette with Dark Surfers coming out on Cassanova Cassettes very soon. Stay peeled for that one.
When listening to Secret Mountains I often have to ask myself “Is this my favorite band”? The question itself is more indicative of how good they are then any answer could be. However, the answer could easily be “yes.” I’ve watched this group grow from one lonely guy, to a 2 piece, to a three piece, and so and so forth. They are certainly in their strongest stride to date working with a 6 piece line-up for a over a year now. One of the most interesting and charming bands to see live, now working with 2 of the best EPs from a band of their stature I can think of. Their newest, Rejoice, caught my ear this week, and it demanded multiple listens back to back to back to back. Despite how good their first EP, Kaddish, is, this yet again ups the game. Joe Michelini of River City Extension just recently said this band was “effortlessly cool.” I can’t think of a better way to describe them. Beautiful music from beautiful people, and aside from The Wire, the best thing Baltimore has to offer.
This is a band who you would literally be a fool to not check out. Live or recordings, there is so much being offered and all you have to do is rejoice, and take it in.
A few weeks back Joe asked me if I would make the poster for his upcoming show at The Stone Pony. As always, I leaped at the chance. I just love doing stuff like this, and River City Extension are my boys and girls, so it’s extra fun to work on anything for them.
I thought about this one for a while, feeling sort of uninspired for what seemed like too long. I was wanting it to be something to keep up with the last poster I did for them, but something completely it’s own. Finally, this idea came to me, and I ran with it.
So, here it is, mark your calendars, clear your schedules, this is going to be quite the event. If you know anything about me, you know RCE has my complete backing; they are a phenomenal band and group of people. Both their live show and recorded music are each impressive in their own and respective ways. Not to mention, this show is stacked an unreal cast of supporting bands. Brick + Mortar are another favorite of mine, check them out if you haven’t yet. I will be at this show singing and dancing along, so to anyone else who’d like to do the same… see you there!
So my main man, the king of Piscataway, John Bradley, asked if I would make a flyer for a bit of show he’s throwing at his basement better known as Isla Nublar and I was glad to throw something at him. And I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, though not at all what I had originally set out to do. But sometimes I love when that happens.
This show features a pretty stacked line up, including a Quiltary appearance, which is something I’m glad is happening. This is happening towards the later days of summer, and if you can make it out to this, well, the more the merrier. Shows are supposed to be ridiculous and fun, and this one is a perfect opportunity for you to get wild. And it’s free!