Steve Gunn is just so charmingly guitary. It’s like he’s barely tickling the instrument—effortlessly bending notes and creating little hums to form the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard. Hyperbolic? Maybe. But it’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve heard this year. When it came out in October—right as I was feeling the shift of the seasons—I remember feeling like no other album could sound as good as this does. He’s picked up comparisons to bands the Grateful Dead, guys like John Fahey, even the Rolling Stones, and he’s probably marinating in a soup of all of those. But I’d attest that there are probably others in that pot with him that Steve Gunn is still distinguished from. To create a more unique picture, Way Out Weather is sort of like if The Doors knew how to relax. Really relax. Wonderful, crisp, and unparalleled in beauty. This is early morning music for those sun basking hours.
9. Perfume Genius – Too Bright
I was not expecting an album as heavy sounding as I got with Too Bright. Like previous Perfume Genius albums I was expecting something that could be described as “mostly somber piano songs.” Happily, there is still some of that, but I was more so drawn to this for the experimentation with different instruments and sounds that led to an overall sense that you were exploring the deepest and weirdest cave. That darkness makes for something kind of creepy at times and it’s really difficult to predict where the album is going. Even on repeat listens I’m surprised at the turns it makes that I can’t seem to keep straight. Just when things get nearly too dark they quickly shift to something so light and creamy you’re being gently cooed to sleep. This is clearly an album centered around the feelings of not fitting in and the ownership that comes to life in living in that space. Breathtaking, really.
8. Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else
I spent some time trying to think about what it is that draws me to albums like this. It’s not so evident right away. I mean, at first glance it’s a scummy, quick, jumbled up album that’s moving so quickly you’re enjoying it the way you would rolling down a hill. But what gelled so well for me is the confines it worked so perfectly in. Each song—amidst all of the tumbling craziness—was secretly unraveling a beautiful melody of a vocal line, one that blends into the messy guitar so well you don’t pick it out right away. Japandroids’ 2012 Celebration Rock worked so well in this way too. Of course the music itself is fun, it sounds like it bubbled out of the dankest basement in Cleveland (oddly enough, it kind of did) but it’s hardly the most memorable thing about the album. This album achieved the impossible feat of saying “take me seriously” without actually having to ask. Only the coolest of things are capable of that.
7. Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso
I started loving this album from my first listen on NPR’s first listen. Cute, right? It was an attractive sparkle of a thing, boasting folks from Mountain Man and Megafaun, and it made me feel good. It hits all the right spots for what you’d expect of a duo like this to do. Blippy and boppy and genuinely quirky. I’d finish one listen and start the album again and uncountable amount of times. Again, it makes me feel good! Yet, in all that feel-goodery I almost feel ashamed because after months of listening—and I listened to this a lot—it’s actually a pretty one dimensional album. They found a lane and stuck to it. But, even stuck in one dimension, one lane, there still exists a space for something to really shine. While my hope and vision for the future of this band may feel a bit bleak, none of that should take away from how gooooood this makes me feeeeeeel.
6. Little Big League – Tropical Jinx
I had the pleasure of seeing Michelle Zauner’s pre-Little Big League band ‘Post Post’ about 4 or 5 years ago and was stunned. Melodies to melt your heart, attitude to put you in your place, and a sense of youth to bring you to your kneels and make you crawl. Her voice is a special kind of captivating. So when news of Post Post breaking up hit me, I was crushed. And to leave me with but one 4 song EP felt criminal. I spent a couple years casually bumming out about this until earlier this year when I learned that members of Post Post had regrouped as a little punk thang called Little Big League. My excitement went through the roof and so did my play count for their first album, These Are Good People. Rounding out my lucky year in the Little Big League universe, a few months later I learned of a soon to be released Tropical Jinx. To be clear, this is still as raw and nasty as their first album—to be clear still, this is why I love them—but you can’t help but bend to the notion that our babies are growing up. There are beautiful moments of accidental maturity peeking through. If These Are Good People is a knee scraped kid skateboarding, Tropical Jinx is more likely the ratty twenty something who sold his old skateboard to the kid on craigslist. Just as beautiful, just wearing some new perspective. There is no shortage of young Philadelphia (or elsewhere) punk bands squeezing all the good out of the pop punk they grew up on and mixing into something much sweeter and I can safely say none doing it better than Little Big League.
5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Sadness cloaked in psych bliss. Positivity buried in folk woes. It’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on with this tricky record—especially when it’s sung through a voice as dazzling as hers. But, what do you expect from a gal named Angel? Seriously, it takes a few listens to even begin hearing words. I love that. Each word is so perfectly crafted, considered, articulated, each sound coming from her feels like it’s gone through the most intense interview process. Like all tricky records, there’s an awful lot of give and take on all the cloudy ends. Throughout, she’s challenging us with examples of stark (or maybe not so stark) juxtapositions. This or thats that have no clear pull and often wind up with her meandering to an ambivalent but comfortable middle. Sounds, feelings, thoughts, nothing has a definitive direction home. It’s a very good kind of confusing. “If you don’t believe me you can go ahead and laugh, if you’ve got a sense of humor you’re not so bad.” I got lost in all the haze that this record stirs up but happily hung around not trying too hard to find the edge.
4. Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
17 minutes goes by quick. And with that, it’s hard to do much of any significance. It’ll probably take me as long to write this up as it will to listen to the album. And still, here comes Zentropy—17 minutes long, 10 songs, the power of the fluffy dog wearing a knit hat appearing on its album art, and impossible not to enjoy and beg (again, like that hatted dog) for seconds of this birthday cake of an album. It’s that type of sweetness and excitement that makes this the joy that it is. To continue the cake metaphor, beneath all that sweet icing, there is an inherent sadness baked in. Maybe the cake is gone too soon, maybe you ate too much, or maybe you realized you are aging and inches closer to your coming death. Standing shoulder to shoulder with all the candied moments of this album are all her most intimate and most real thoughts splayed out in simple terms. “I’m the kind of girl buses splash with rain” she sings, illustrating the comic luck of someone who trouble just finds “I make my canteen so heavy, as if I need any more water today” she responds, pointing out that maybe all her problems aren’t comic bad luck after all. Maybe she’s the source of her problems. Maybe she ate the whole sickly cake.
3. Mac Demarco – Salad Days
“As I’m getting older, chip upon my shoulder, rolling through life to roll over and die.” The album could very well end after this first line of the first song and I don’t think I’d love it any less. At times it’s odd feeling like you’re taking down pieces of wisdom from a guy who carries himself like he’s still yet to care about anything. A guy who answers to “Pepperoni Playboy.” Nonetheless, as he’s caught between having the flippant attitude of an angry punk and the peace and love of some stoner hippie, he’s dolling out all sorts of life wisdom. “So don’t go telling me how this boy should be leading his own life, sometimes rough but generally speaking I’m fine.” To his point, this is the Mac Demarco show and we’re voluntarily along for the ride. Hop off if it’s bumming you out. While the ethos of the album is circling around himself and how he’s fitting into the obviously less cool earth, trapped alone again in his “chamber of reflection”, it’s no less valid because of it. And when you really dig in, perhaps there’s someone who’s not just a 24 year old goober kid who can’t keep a straight face. Maybe it’s a safe front to someone who’s secretly sincere. When you have a reputation for being a goof, it’s hard to shake people of it. I look forward to listening to this and trying to figure out what any of this means. I’ve forgotten to mention that this sounds like The Beatles and The Beach Boys and Lou Reed and is just a pleasure to listen to in every way.
2. The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream
The album most likely to float a leather jacket on me as a put my arm around my friend and pump my fist into the air as we head into sunset. The album most likely to make me grow my hair out one last time even though I promised my friends and family I’d never again. The album most likely to wake me up from my own sleepy dream and put me in a ramshackle convertible and drive off a cliff to float over a make believe canyon. Yes, all of this and more. So much captured in this sparkly jewel of a record. Pickin’ on Springsteen, Dylan, The Police, Warren Zevon, you name it, it’s tapping the shoulders of all the greatest superheroes of dad rock and asking them to scoot down and make room for one more. And everyone seems to be just fine with that. I watched this album sweep over all my friends—each with their own unique preference in music—and leave no one behind. It was remarkable to go into work and hear this album quietly leaking out of the headphones of every single person for pretty much all of March and April. It’s not that mass appeal that makes this album good, it’s how good this album is that allows for that many people to enjoy it. It’s a classic in every definition of the term.
1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
The saddest, most depressing, darkest, weepiest, quietest, most-reflective, honest, diary of an album I’ve ever heard. If you know anything about this record you know death plays a big role. A huge role. It faces the worst thing that can happen to a person and then reminds you that maybe dying is actually only the second worst thing that can happen to you. Living in a world where people around you die is much worse. And while the expected angle would be that you’d be lucky to remember and celebrate those people who’ve died, this album is hardly about that. This is about the inescapable pain of dealing with it. It’s about taking the bumper sticker “never forget” mentality and burning it a fire started by an exploding aerosol can and realizing it’s not our choice to never forget something, it’s our curse. We live in a world where we are punished by the memory of the things that hurt us. “So when Christmas comes and you’re out running around, take a moment to pause and think of the kids who died in Newtown.” Oh hey, yeah, you…on the happiest days of your year, when you’re with your family, don’t you ever forget the tragedies that happened. Live with this. It’s so dark and painful, such an abysmal way to be in the world, but it’s also a cry from someone who’s hurt and sick of just going along with it.
Like any good diary, we are lucky enough to see the rest of Mark. A chance to try to piece together why he’s coming to the realizations he’s coming to. And he’s giving us a surprising amount. The bright points, the funny parts, the humiliating parts, the wonted parts, the parts where he’s scared witless. And these parts come together in each song, sometimes multiple times within a song, to tell incredibly visual—and yes, often merciless—narratives. “When I was five I came home from kindergarten crying because they sat me next to an albino. My dad said ‘Son everyone’s different you gotta love them all equally you know’”
The most beautiful part of this is that Mark Kozelek is 47 years old and despite all he’s experienced, he’s still scared to death of death, plagued by the screw ups of himself, his friends, his family, still trying to figure out how to cope with his emotions, and ultimately admitting he’s not even sure he’s better for any of it. While this easily could be taken as depressing, it’s worth noting that he’s not complaining. He’s just putting it all out there, exposing himself as best he can, and trying to deal with what comes from that.
Notable Superlatives /
The Sweetest Pop Album Of The Year
Jessie Ware – Tough Love
Pop stars begging to be taken seriously, respected independent artists trying to ironically dip into sappy R&B—there’s a lot of weirdness in those spaces of crossover, and a lot of it is ugly and unimportant. This album is nailing the one thing mainstream pop can’t seem to get right, and the one thing I won’t let it live down: an album that’s enjoyable from start to end with no junk songs mixed in. Not a just series of enjoyable singles strung together, each complete with their own shiny 99 cent “buy now” iTunes button. Also, Champagne Kisses is one of the best tracks of the year from any album, despite being one of the goofiest names.
The Darkest Pop Album Of The Year
Lykke Li – I Never Learn
Check you out Lykke Li. Look at you trading in your naive and ultimately irksome former self for a brand new something sleek. I was cautious to throw myself at this album—why should I knowingly explore yet another bout of quirk from the girl who just wants to daaaaaaance, man. Instead, I Never Learn turns her pop vocal talent to the darkish side and goes for the heart. Most impressive is how the album moves. It takes until the albums mid-point in the aptly titled Gunshot to feel a perfectly timed jolt of life. It’s a very well designed album.
The I Can’t Believe I’m Loving This As Much I Am Album Of The Year
Tigers Jaw – Charmer
Calling this anything but a pop punk album would only be an act to distance yourself from the preferred genre of most high schoolers. Now, it’s not a straight forward pop punk album, as in, it would blow the mind of Paramore, but it’s still pop punk. It’s just being done with the slightest amount of perspective and maturity and what the difference it makes. One of this year’s catchiest and sing a longiest.
The First Album I Loved This Year
Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son
I knew of Damien Jurado from my days of giving a crap who was on Secretly Canadian Records. I never listened to him though because I’ve yet to go through my days of giving enough of a crap of who is on Secretly Canadian Records to listen to all of them. Regardless, I came across this album early this year and it was the first release of 2014 that I bowed down to. Totally imaginative, great compositions, instrumentation, all guided by his certain voice. I feel like this album snuck under the world’s radar, which is a shame because it’s exceptionally great.
The I Should Be Liking This More Than I Am Album Of The Year
Spoon – They Want My Soul
Don’t mistake what I’m saying here, I like this album a lot. And I listened to it a lot. But too often did I feel like it was a chore to get thus album going. Like I had to complete my duties. When it was going I found myself enjoying it, but I never felt the need listen. It’s a very good album, probably my favorite from Spoon, and it seems to be critacally regarded as being their best. Because of this, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t experiencing this the way the rest of the world was, and in rare form, I felt like maybe I was the one who was wrong.
The This Is Getting Worse With Every Listen Album Of The Year
Beck – Morning Phase
I loved this when it first came out. It felt like it was going to be the first Beck album I really connected with. Blue Moon is as good a single as any that came out this year and I was excited about a guy who’s made a bunch of albums making one more. So, it got me feeling weird when I started losing interest as time passed, finally culminating in a bad taste in my mouth every time I skipped over the songs when they’d come on in my playlists. I felt kind of bad. That eventually turned to feeling bothered that Beck let me down again. Hard to explain why he can’t keep my attention, but this album falls right in line with the rest of secretly snoozy albums for me.
The I Listened To This Because Of The Good Name Album Of The Year
DJ Dodger Stadium – Friend Of Mine
I know it’s the artist’s name not the album’s name that drew me in, but still, that is a very good name. And this is a good album. And it’s not something I’d normally listen to—it’s basically a techno album—but I credit all that to the name.
The Most Disappointing Album Of The Year
tUnE-yArDs – nikki nack
Hey, don’t look at me like that. I loved w h o k i l l and I like tUnE-yArDs, but I can’t even fake a smile at this one. I expected big things with this album, growth, experimentation, new themes, new territories, and I got what sounds like a bunch of w h o k i l l B-sides. A lateral move right off the field and on to the bench. I tried hard to see the good in this, it just never came together. Aw, look, she’s still wearing the face paint.
The I Don’t Care, His Voice Is Amazing Album Of The Year
Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour
The boy can sing. And the album is enjoyable. And he went from playing rinky dink venues to preforming at the Grammys in the span of a year. Your mom likes him, your sister loves him, and I’m there with them both cheering him on. His range is unreal and all real, making him a little bundle of joy.
The I’m Not Buying It Album Of The Year
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Pass. The attitude is definitely a miss for me, but the songs feel kinda shotty and the album feels like he scraped the crumbs off his table and onto a napkin and offered it to you as a snack.
The I Didn’t Get It Album Of The Year
FKA twigs – LP1
Two Weeks is good but not great and Kicks is the best track on the album. Not as good as Jessie Ware.
The Of Course It’s Great Album Of The Year
Caribou – Our Love
Narrowly missed my top ten. A great album that doesn’t need me telling you it’s great for you to know it is.
Better Late Than Never
Thanks to Syro, I finally hit up the Aphex Twin catalogue. What was pinned as “very 90s” was only correct in the literal timeline. Heads up all, what they say is true, Apex Twin was(is) decades ahead in electronic music. Always down for someone taking a 14 year hiatus and then making a new album. Unless it’s like, AC/DC.
Sadly, two weeks ago my cousin’s boyfriend died from complications during a bone marrow transplant, after years of battling sickle cell anemia. Words really cannot describe the devastation this brings to everyone who knew either of them. Lateef, you will be missed and your spirit and essence will live on.
At his memorial, Emily told me that if I wanted to know and understand Lateef further, I should listen to Lupe Fiasco’s new album Lasers, which she described as just being “him.” Lupe was his favorite artist and he never got to hear the new album. I love so much that music has the ability to powerfully become a representation of a time or place, and in this case a person. I was excited and honored to be able to listen to Lasers for this very reason. In this sense, the album is remarkable and was absolutely insightful in understanding who Lateef was.
It’s hard to find the right things to say. Whether that be in trying show comfort, or trying to express your own pain, things can become too difficult to put into words. Music has the incredible ability to sometimes just do all of that for you. How amazing it is that this album be so closely knit to a person who should never be forgotten. Take a few minutes and listen to the albums closing track, Never Forget You.
Jeff asked me if would be interested in making a poster for their upcoming show in Philly with Wye Oak. And that answer will forever be yes. So here is the result of that. This is looking like it could be the show of the year thus far, so I’d really make an effort to be there if you can. This will be my first time seeing Wye Oak, for which I’m very excited and cmon, Secret Mountains are never a let down. See you there.
Secret Mountains are one of the most booming and sensational bands out there right now, and Kung Fu Necktie is one of the coolest venues in Philly. So make the most of this upcoming Wednesday night and join me in this highlight of the week. If you haven’t gotten a chance to see Secret Mountains yet, you are missing out.
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.
So I know this is more than a little overdue, and I know it’s far from being a Monday, but hey, some weeks are just like that. So let’s get to it…
About two weeks ago I was lucky enough to pick up the vinyl of a favorite record of mine, Squeeze’s Singles 45′s and Under. It’s basically a collection of some hits from Squeeze, but unlike some singles compilations, this one was released by the band, which always seems to make it more legitimate. Regardless, this album is really filled with songs that honestly get better every time I listen to them. The back half of this record keeps getting better and better and it ends with Annie Get Your Gun which I could probably listen to on repeat for an hour.
It’s sort of funny because Squeeze just put out a new album (new recordings of old songs) on XOXO records, home to River City Extension. Glenn Tilbrook has taking a liking to the band, and actually sings on one of their songs. I’m hoping that sooner of later our paths cross, because you know, that would be awesome.
This poster was strongly influenced (okay, almost entirely) by their song Black Coffee In Bed, which if you aren’t familiar with, please check it out now.
So I got to work with NJ funny man, personality, and all around nice dude, Taylor Allen, on this poster for his radio show, Attack Of The Soundtrack. He came to me with not much more than name of the show, the idea of a record with teeth, and the free range to do something cool. I love when clients are so kind.
If you’re into laughing, music, movies, or any combination of these things, check out the radio show. Taylor is a great guy and quite deserving of your attention.
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.
Here’s another compilation from the man with all the right moves, Biff Swenson. Biff came to me after the success of his first compilation, and asked if I’d like to work on the album art for the next one, and of course I did. As many of you may already know, this is an instrumental compilation aptly named Obsolete Vernacular. The title comes from the movie The Royal Tenenbaums from a scene in which Eli Cash is describing his first novel. The title actually ties in perfectly with instrumental music, as it’s an “obsolete vernacular” in its own way.
While I can’t take credit for the art in the sense of painting the leopard, I will say that Biff graciously gave me complete creative control and I was able to accomplish the idea I had. As soon as I re-watched the scene from The Royal Tenenbaums in the context of this compilation, I knew I wanted to use an old painting involving some sort of wild cat. (If you’re familiar with the scene, this connection is fairly obvious.) This was a great exercise in dealing with public domain images. I was able to find this really awesome painting, and with a few tweaks it was just what I wanted. The type I used for this is different from the stuff I would normally lean towards, but again, I think it fits really nicely is the context of this grouping of songs.
I was also lucky enough to be asked to submit a song to this, which I did quite willingly. It was a challenge writing a song that was intended to be instrumental from the get go. You can’t rely on melodies of lyrics to save you. While this wasn’t the first instrumental song I’ve written, it may have been the first I wrote on purpose. Along with my track comes 21 others, from all sorts of bands with no lack of heavy hitters. Just as the first compilation Biff put out, you would silly to not check it out. It has tons of new music to expose yourself to, and above all, it’s F R E E. Unbeatable. Hope you enjoy the tunes!
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 while back my friend Josh Dean asked me if I would make something to accompany the upcoming record he was releasing titled Hunting Party Or A Band Of Braves, which is for his band Murder Boats. I believe he was working with a few other artists for other various things to do with the record, and well, I love both this band and the people who are in it so much, that I was so happy to be a part of it.
So today I got a text from my friend John Andrews saying he got his hands on the poster, and I asked him if he would send me a snap of it, as I hadn’t seen it since it was actually printed yet. So big thanks to John for hooking me up with the picture. Also big thanks to whoever it was who wound up doing the actual printing of this, everything turned out great!
Josh is one of the most incredible song writers and Murder Boats in its latest formation is a major force to be reckoned with. Check them out, see them play, buy this record, and grab this poster.
So I saw today that John Bradley had put together an informational break down of who was playing when for Grow That Beard Fest, and it was pretty rough to say the least. John, I hope you don’t take offense to this, but I took the liberty of taking your basic idea and turning it into a pretty cool infographic. These are always fun to make, and this works as a nice companion piece to the flyer I made for the show earlier.
So here it is, everything is laid out nice and easy for you, so you can catch the bands you like, and miss the ones you don’t. Just kidding, don’t do that.
This week was all about Wisdom Tooth. John’s long awaited album release show was this past wednesday, which finally allowed me to get a copy of his newest work Baby Neptune. I have to say, he’s really outdone himself this time. In production quality, songwriting, artwork, basically the whole package has been brought to a new level, though I’m not surprised. John is a good friend of mine, so this is going to sound bias, but you need to get his new album, because it quite worthy of your time. Fortunately/Unfortunately this is a record that whatever I say isn’t going to do it any justice, you just need to hear it. Great work John!
As far as the rest of this goes, worthy of mention is Brick + Mortar an insane 2 piece band tearing up the Asbury music scene right along side bands like River City Extension. This band is literally unbelievable and I HIGHLY recommend you listening to them.
I was passed some new Dark Surfers tracks from my boy Brian, apparently before Yapes got them (soooooo VIP), and much like the new Wisdom Tooth album, this is something else coming out of Trenton that I can’t wait for.
Get me on last.fm if you want to check compatibility.
Here’s a little poster I made for the Seaside Music Festival, which is actually today. I forgot about this thing until now, and while this isn’t really doing much as far as getting you there at this point (although you still could go), I just wanted to let you have a look see.
Had the pleasure of working with these two fresh bands from the Toms River area on a DIY project they were undertaking. I’m actually really pumped with how this turned out, and it’s a good example of how you can make something look good on a budget. This has started being sold at shows a few weeks ago, so if you can catch either of them live, check this thing out.
In fact, there’s a big show in 2 weeks with these guys, and River City Extension in Baville. It’s on all their myspaces if you need more information. It’s also for my birthday, so I’d like nothing more than to see all of my friends.
My good friends in Black Churches asked me to help them with an idea they had for a shirt. All they had in mind was some sort of three eyed monster. So I gladly took on the challenge, and this is what came of it. These guys are seriously tearing it up, and they also couldn’t be a nicer batch of dudes. Grab one of these shirts at one of their shows.
This week, I was ALL about Joanna Newsom. I was listening to her new triple LP Have One On Me and I was loving it. I’ve always liked Joanna Newsom, but she was never someone I would often listen to. However, this new release just made me crazy for her. It’s like two hours long, and there are some moments on there that are just too fine for words. Good Intentions Paving Company is the ultimate groove. For anyone remotely interested in Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me is a must!
Real Estate is still doing so much right by me. I just love these guys. I am seriously trying to see them in Philly in the next few weeks, so if you’re interested in going, let me know, we can make a night of it.
Billy O’Brien asked me to make a poster for Cymbals Eat Guitars for an upcoming show they are playing in Asbury. I knew them by name, but hadn’t listened, so I wanted to familiarize myself with them before I started designing anything. And hollllllllyyyyyy cowwwww. These guys are so good! They are a new favorite already. For fans of Dinosaur Jr and Pavement, or more contemporary counterparts, Surfer Blood, check these guys out if you haven’t already. I’m seriously digging these guys and I need to find a way to make it to their Asbury show and maybe get my poster signed or something!
Ry Cooder came as a recognition from Kirby’s dad. And boy am I glad I found out about him. It’s just so good. He’s an Americana king. If you’re into any of the old folk guys, don’t pass him up. I got Into The Purple Valley on vinyl, and that’s just a sweet listen.
I had some Neil Young time this week. Everyone knows and loves Neil, so I won’t go into too much depth. But I think we can all agree that there’s some days where nothing else makes sense.
Givers are one of my favorite bands out there right now. I can’t wait to see these guys and girl live again. Also apparently some kid my sister goes to school with used to be in this band. I definitely need to explore that avenue a bit more, because you know, obsession.
Fang Island. I don’t really know about this band. I was hoping for a bit more than what I got I guess. First listen was pretty impressive, but as I listened again it just got a little corny to me. Seems like they are trying to fit a certain feel or something. Apparently these guys were also in the band Daughters, which kind of lends to my point that they are just trying to morph themselves into something a bit more relevant, but like there predecessor, this won’t have much lasting power either.
Graham Nash. I was having such a Graham Nash day last Thursday. I’m a fan of any respective letter making up CSNY, and N seems to never let me down.
I was riding the chillwave wave so hard this week. Washed Out quickly became a new favorite, especially after hearing his new Life Of Leisure EP. For fans of Toro Y Moi, this guy is the next step up. He seems to be kind of leading the pack in this group of artists, and I am going to be following. Nite Jewel is to me, the female counterpart of Washed Out. She’s really floaty and I hit this one heavy early last week, pumping her jams all day at work. She’s another player in the chillwave game, and if you have any interest in that, she’s worth checking out. King Tuff was strong again this week. Sun Medallion is king.
I finally got a taste of Cotton Jones, and I was really feeling it. You can still hear traces back to Page France, but this seems to be a bit more evolved and solid. Blood Red Sentimental Blues is a standout track, though I think I’m a bit bias because I love the Secret Mountains version so much. Surfer Blood is an absolute favorite of the past few months. I really need to catch these guys soon. Give these guys a few listens, the more you listen to it, the more you can’t help but love it. Telefon Tel Aviv is another great electronic band, who I was hesitant to get into because I had heard a song I didn’t like a while back, but Mike passed me Immolate Yourself and I was happily getting work done to that for many hours. Paul McCartney made his way back into my daily listening after months of being absent. I was more or less obsessed two summers ago and played almost everything of his to death. However, I can always revisit RAM, which this time led me into Venus And Mars which I think could be his second best.
And because any band with “surf” in their name seems to be grabbing my attention lately, I rounded this week out with Surf City who have a cool little EP out, and a really cool sound. They’re playing in Philly soon, and I think I may try to catch them.
You know how it is, last.fm.
I was kicking back to The Kinks this week. In particular Muswell Hillbillies, which I feel it’s a very under-appreciated album. I went through some of the other classics like Arthur and Lola versus Powerman, which are both just so so good.
King Tuff became a new obsession this week after finally downloading the album. I had first heard them in Ian’s car back in the summer, and thought they were a band from a time long ago. They are a great blend of old and new, where even though they sound like they could be straight out of 1969, they also sound like something completely new and fresh. I would absolutely love to see these guys live. Jeff said he’s looking for a tour with The Strange Boys, and I would have to say, I’m looking for the same.
I was waiting and waiting to hear the new Jónsi album, and this week, I finally got the chance. While the album is no doubt awesome, it’s still a little closer to Sigur Rós then I imagined it would be. I never understand why artists who make a solo album, wind up making an album that sounds like their band. I mean, that being the case, is not a bad thing in this situation, and I recommend listening to this…now.
The Morning Bends have a new album called Big Echo and it’s awesome. I was anticipating this album for a bit now, and I’m very pleased with it. Certainly their best to date. The lead-off track Excuses is a song too good for it’s own good. This band is pretty young, and I’m interested to see where they’ll go.
Megafaun had a Daytrotter session come out this past week, and that put me into a whirlwind of beards, harmonies, and awesomeness. In an effort to make your week easier, I’m all but begging you to go download it now.
The Nerves are a band that James suggested I listen to, they only ever recorded one 4 song EP, which is all songs just under or just over 2 minutes, which added up to me breezing through it multiple times. If your trying to hear a song Hanging On The Telephone is so good.
I heard about Suckers in an interview I read with Local Natives, and they were a band that one of them was listening to. So, I figured I’d check them out. They also only have a 4 song EP at the moment, but I am seriously digging it, and can’t wait for a full length. Their song Easy Chairs is easily the one, so get busy and check that out.
I heard about The Bitters because they were featured on Gorilla Vs Bear as something that the staff was listening to, so I figured I’d give it a try. Unfortunately I more or less hated it. It is too noisy, too sloppy, and too blehhhh. There’s not much redeeming this group….even their album cover for East General is just gross. I didn’t care for it, but who knows, you might.