Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top 28 Moments in Music :: 2009

... a countdown ::

28. Viral Videos: Staged Acts
Everyone’s trying to get their 9 minutes and 59 seconds of fame on the youtubes these days. And by the way, that wedding ceremony dance video thing was really lame. Also, I’m not a big fan of The Black Eyed Peas and I could care less about Oprah, but I have to admit this caught my attention. After all, I do like me some synchronized dance moves and seeing Chicagwegiens having fun.

27. Flight Of The Conchords...These guys continue to make me laugh and their songs are both catchy and hilarious. Too bad their show got cancelled.

26. Morrissey... What a year it was for Morrissey - his 50th. Sickness and bottles to the head meant a whole lot of shows were cancelled (or stopped suddenly), he released a new album - the average “Years of Refusal” - and dragged out a forgettable collection of recent b-side drivel. Mozzer also continues to shun Canada due to our apparent taste for seal products. As well, he is currently without a record label and is contemplating hanging up the gladiola for good. All this and I’m still not sure what to think - other than I know that if he finally found a decent set of musicians (who had at least one original idea between them) to back him up, then things would be back on track with my hero-worshipping. Hmmm, all four Smiths members are still alive!

25. Emmy The Great ... Her vocals on “Seattle” gave The BPA’s Fat Boy Slim renewed life. Meanwhile, Emma-Lee Moss has carved out for herself a fine little singer-songwriter career who’s best work is surely ahead of her.

24. Discovering/ Rediscovering the oldies... I may have been raised on early 70’s am radio, but the only Beatles music I ever really got into was Stars On 45’s medley take. As awesome as that is, hardly a primer. So it wasn’t until this year’s Beatles Rock Band that I got a new found appreciation, though I still think I prefer Wings. The Animals, The Kinks and even Pavement were other “oldies” I finally discovered.

23. Pixies reunited...

Maybe this time they’ll pump out some new tunes to go along with the reformation. Yeah they’re as “dull as butter knives” on stage but I like the fact that they toured the Doolittle songs on the occasion of that album’s 20th anniversary (and that Joey Santiago still looks like he’s 25).

22. Pet Shop Boys - Yes... “Love etc.” is a phenomenal song from a group that is not supposed to matter anymore. The remaining songs were... fine.

21. Dead Man’s Bones... Made up of actor Ryan Gossling and a friend, Dead Man’s Bones, through their daring amateurism, goes down as the band least likely to of 2009. More surprising than the storyline of an actor succeeding in music is that Gosling transformed his tween turn in the Mickey Mouse Club to that of baritone singer of ghoulish prose.

20. NSFW Music Videos... Others have pursued the NSFW/ nekidness type-video theme before, like Sigur Rós last year, but this sure was the year for pushing the envelope. Yeahsayer had naked running people, Girls showed off their own penises, Major Lazer peformed dance-based sex acts minus the nudity while Massive Attack recently released a video for Paradise Circus with clips from old porn flics. Matt and Kim were the most original with their Times Square clothes ripping FU for Lessons Learned, but the best of the bunch was The Flaming Lips’ Watching The Planets... as much as I didn’t need to see Wayne’s Coyne, it was a fairly decent video.

19. The Avett Brothers... I first heard these guys during a scene in Friday Night Lights and was blown away. Turns out they have quite the following in that southern belt of states. “I and Love and You”, released in September, is fairly conventional stuff (Starbucks sells it - yikes!) but there are enough original bits and pieces in there to hold my attention.

18. Miike Snow... This Swedish/ American band came out of nowhere to produce a handful of memorable, if slightly conventional, songs. Their videos were equally memorable.

17. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic... I have only listened to half of this album, but I like the direction these guys are going. These are not simple tunes that catch you right away - you have to work at them a bit.

16. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug... Again, for some reason I haven’t gotten around to listening to the entire thing, but I’m sure glad that the Arctic Monkeys still matter and have been able to translate all that hype and talent into high quality output. Nice lads too!

15. God Help The Girl... This film score to a non-existent (yet) movie by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch contains all the great songwriting , hooks and necessary twee-factor of a proper B&S album but perhaps comes off a little too polished.

14. múm - Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know...
Iceland’s múm changed up their members and their sound this time around and while the vocals are a little more present, the minimalistic squeaks and blips that make their music so enduring remain. Perhaps not their best effort, but an intriguing departure from the ordinary.

13. Antony and the Johnsons - The Crying Light... This came out way back in January. This is Antony’s most complete album to date but given his warbley vocals, I think people still either love him or hate him.

12. Flotation Toy Warning - Bluffer’s Guide to The Flight Deck... This album was actually released in 2004, but I went five years without knowing the beauty that this thing contains. Mesmerizing stuff. New work is expected from Flotation Toy Warning next year.
Song :: Popstar Reaching Oblivion by Flotation Toy Warning

11. Hello Sweden (once again)... Discovering the music of Hello Saferide, Skatan, Air France and Anna Ternheim was enough to make this list but “old” Swedish standbys like Peter, Bjorn and John and Loney Dear also pumped out reasonably decent new material.

Song :: Collapsing At Your Doorstep by Air France

10. fun. - Aim and Ignite... Nate from The Format joins forces with his buddies to create happy songs with wide reaching arrangements and tempo changes all over the place. A beauty!

9. Karen O (Karen O and The Kids - Where The Wild Things Are OST; Yeah Yeah Yeah’s - It’s Blitz)... I have ignored the The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s over the years but Karen O’s handling of the Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack was so brilliant that I then went back to It’s Blitz, released earlier in the year, and enjoyed that too. Next thing you know, Karen O was popping up, via telephone line vocals, on a couple of tracks on Embryonic, the new Flaming Lips album.

8. Karin Dreijer Andersson... One half of Swedish electronic outfit The Knife, Karin continued her collaborative work with Röyksopp in 2009 on a couple of tracks and also branched out as a solo artist with Fever Ray – a collection of dark and eerie tunes strung together with THAT voice.

7. Music Go Music - Expressions... Disco revival at its finest! Actually, I only need one album in the “disco revival” category... and this is a whole heap of fun.

6. The xx - xx... xx stands for twenty - the age of all four members of the band at the time of recording this, their first album. Vulnerable, exquisite, measured... their music belies and confirms their accumulated experience. The xx combine boy-girl narration with a modern, low fi sound that results in creative works of art hailed by critics and fans alike. Believe the hype!

5. Animal Collective... The band’s 2009 album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, spawned two of the best videos of the year - both for the excellent “My Girls”. Later in the year, Animal Collective released one of the best songs of 2009, ”Graze” off of their EP, Fall Be Kind. Graze contains the most awesome sample of Zamfir’s pan flute that you’ll ever hear(!)... in the dancey bit of the song no less!

4. Röyksopp - Junior... The ultimate up-beat album; benefits from the diversity of all those guest singers (Lykke Li, Karin Dreijer Andersson, Robyn). Dance music you can listen to on your commute!
Video :: The Girl And The Robot by Röyksopp

3. The Antlers - Hospice... One would think that an album entirely dedicated to songs about watching your beloved die of cancer in hospital would not be well received (or even conceived). But with Hospice, which is equal parts moving, engaging and entertaining, The Antlers manage to achieve the impossible. A must! Note: Hospice was originally distributed by the band themselves - an indie group in the truest sense of the term.

Song :: Two by The Antlers

1. The Hidden Cameras - Origin:Orphan... This is one of the two best albums of the year. There was less singing about peeing on your fellow man and more attention to detail on this, Joel Gibbs’ fourth album proper. The hooks are still there and the songs are better than ever. I would say this represents a more mature approach but past Cameras songs detailing golden showers and enemas were oddly mature in their own right. Origin:Orphan is a brilliant album by a brilliant man and it goes well beyond the band’s self described “gay church folk music” moniker.

1. Jason Lytle - Yours Truly, The Commuter... The other best album of the year - this by the recently-gone-solo ex-Grandaddy leader. Any commentary on this album, positive or otherwise, has strangely been absent from 99.9% of interweb music blogs: proof of my continued uncoolness I suppose. However, “Yours Truly...” will one day be looked upon as a classic! Bonus: you can get Jason’s new seven track “Christmas” album of improvised piano pieces for free here.

MixTape :: 2009 Edition

Top songs from the 76 best artists of 2009

Disk One
Bear - The Antlers
Pingvinvärmen - Tvärvägen
I Can Be A Frog - The Flaming Lips
We Almost Had A Baby - Emmy The Great (Video)
Epilepsy Is Dancing - Antony & The Johnsons
He Falls To Me - The Hidden Cameras
Brand New Sun - Jason Lytle
Arjeplog - Hello Saferide (Video)
My Timing Is Off - Eels
All The King's Men - Wild Beasts
The First Days Of Spring - Noah and The Whale
Surprises - Skatan
klass 6b - Rena Rama

Disk Two
Shot In The Back Of The Head - Moby
When I Grow Up (Version by Lissvik) - Fever Ray
The Girl and the Robot - Röyksopp
Graze - Animal Collective
Fot I Hose - Casiokids
Sleepy Head - Passion Pit
Love Etc. - Pet Shop Boys
Lisztomania - Phoenix (Video)
Paddling Ghost - Dan Deacon
Pon de floor' feat. VYBZ Kartel - Major Lazer
If I Know You - The Presets (Video)
Solid Gold - The Golden Filter

Disk Three
You Saved My Life - Cass McCombs
So Far Around The Bend - The National
Animal - Miike Snow
Sing Sang Sung - Air
Prophecies & Reversed Memories - múm
No Excuses - Air France
Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear
Heart Skipped A Beat - The xx
Electric Car - They Might Be Giants
Mary's Market - God Help The Girl
Pa Pa Power - Dead Man's Bones
All Is Love - Karen O and the Kids

Disk Four
Knotty Pine - Dirty Projectors + David Byrne
Seattle (Feat. Emmy The Great) - The BPA
The Rake's Song - The Decemberists
Lindsay Brohan - Javelin
Chase The Tear - Portishead
Paradise Circus - Massive Attack
Nothing To Worry About - Peter Bjorn & John
French Navy - Camera Obscura
Hysteric - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Dimmer - Bishop Allen
Shampoo - Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Summers - Loney Dear
Used To Be - Beach House

Disk Five
When I'm Gone - Vivian Girls
Crying Lightning - Arctic Monkeys
Uprising - Muse
Jackie Collins Existential Question Time - Manic Street Preachers (Video)
Think I Need It Too - Echo & The Bunnymen
Sink Or Swim - Bad Lieutenant
Angela - Jarvis Cocker
Let's Go Surfing - The Drums
Strictly Game - Harlem Shakes
Just Me - Music Go Music
Black Swan - Sunset Rubdown
Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise - Black Moth Super Rainbow
Shame Is The Name - Morrissey

Disk Six
Nice to Come Home - Julie Doiron
Gentle Hour - Yo La Tengo
Roll Up Your Sleeves - We Were Promised Jetpacks
White Jetta - Casiotone For The Painfully Alone
Nice Trip - Monogold
Stillness Is the Move - Dirty Projectors
Tightrope - Yeahsayer
Lowiza - The Lovely Feathers
Modern Girl (...with scissors) - Alec Ounsworth
Slight Figure of Speech - The Avett Brothers
At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be) - fun.
When Life Gives Me Lemons... - The Boy Least Likely To (Video)
Uh huh - Munchausen By Proxy (Video)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avett Brothers for $9.95

Video :: Slight Figure of Speech by The Avett Brothers

Monday, November 9, 2009

This one never really understood the 80s is over

Video Roundup...

This is your standard video format here (though with a minor twist at the end) but nonetheless... the first official video from fun. Finally.
Video :: All the pretty girls by fun.

The Pixies are touring Doolittle and sounding pretty decent (four free new live tracks available here via the usual circuitous route.) Live last Friday on Conan:
Video :: Here comes your man (live, 2009) by The Pixies

Mozzer got hit with a plastic cup two nights ago in Liverpool, on song number two, and immediately abandoned the show. Fans were not amused:
Video :: (18 seconds of) Black Cloud by Morrissey

No words can describe the brilliance:
Video :: Beat it (MJ cover) by Pomplamoose

This wouldn’t happen at one of those boring (and unhygienic) American football matches... While watching this live, it all seemed rather surreal and bizarre. But having viewed it again since this clip has gone viral, it now appears somewhat normal:
Video :: Orally responsible lad at footie match

Commentator :: "So you're in the football stadium, you have had your pie, you brush your teeth. I mean where do you rinse, or gargle?"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dead Man's Bones

In time for Halloween... it's Dead Man's Bones. Released a few weeks back, DMB's debut, self-titled album is a monster ghost love story - that works!?! Don't be put off by the fact that this is Ryan Gosling's band - he can sing, he has a purpose, and he is no mere actor looking for some interesting little side project (hello Scarlett Johansson!). The entire album is a collaboration with the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir (inspired by the Langley Schools Music Project) as seen here in the clip:

Video :: In the room where you sleep by Dead Man's Bones

There's a link to the mp3 of "In the room where you sleep" from the youtube page. Also, this is excellent:
Song :: My body's a zombie for you by Dead Man's Bones

Monday, October 26, 2009

Best of the Decade

Top 10 Albums of the 00's...

1. The Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy (May, 2000)

2. Come on feel the Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens (July, 2005)

3. Takk... by Sigur Ros (September, 2005)

4. Chutes too narrow by The Shins (October, 2003)

5. Pleased to meet you by James (July, 2001)

6. Proof Of Youth by The Go! Team (September, 2007)

7. Waiting for the sirens’ call by New Order (March, 2005)

8. Oh, Inverted World by The Shins (June, 2001)

9. 23 by Blonde Redhead (April, 2007)

10. Talkie Walkie by Air (January, 2004)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I can be a frog

Not the biggest Lips fan out there, but this new one is intriguing ::

The Flaming Lips "I Can Be A Frog"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Brothers performing and being good ol' boys in the just released video for the excellent "I and Love and You"...

Video :: I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers

All is love

Three weeks to go until the long-anticipated "Where The Wild Things Are". This song is turning me into a Yeah Yeah Yeah's fan...

Video (unofficial) :: All is love by Karen O and The Kids

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Brooklyn seems to be the place to be, and be from, these days. A cool lineup of hip Brooklyn born (or based) bands includes :: The Welcome Wagon, The National, Grizzly Bear, Vivian Girls, Vampire Weekend, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Au Revoir Simone, MGMT and Dirty Projectors.

The Hold Steady are also from Brooklyn but I don’t really care about The Hold Steady. On that note, Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond also hail from New York’s most populous borough.

Vivian Girls provide some pretty standard rock (but with a stellar bass groove):

Next month Sufjan Stevens comes out with his BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) multi-media effort, which will include a “stereoscopic 3D View-Master reel”. The tunes are grand, orchestral efforts developed as a musical expression of the much-maligned BQE thorough fare. Reviews, of the music at least, have found Sufjan much-maligned as well. As in: get on with making the sequel to Illinoise and stop farting around!! At least there are hula hoopers:

Interlude I—Dream Sequence in Subi Circumnavigation from Asthmatic Kitty on Vimeo.

Not bad. Music to drive to? I've tried and.... well.... meh!

The Avett Brothers are from North Carolina but the title track from their forthcoming album (September 29) references Brooklyn and it sounds like they'd like to live there too... so there ya go!

Song :: I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers

"I and Love and You" featurette ::

I and Love and You, the album, will be out next Tuesday. And, yes, it will be awesome!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The xx

They are brilliant. They are the current "it" band. They are from London. And, yes, they're frikin' young.
They are my band of the moment. I do like their style...

Video :: Crystalized by The xx

Video :: Crsytalized (acoustic/ playing to 3 people on a bridge in Amsterdam) by The xx

Song :: Basic Space by The xx
Song :: Crystalized by The xx

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Very Good Film

16: Moments... with music by Iceland's Parachutes (Alex from "Jónsi and Alex"... aka Riceboy Sleeps... Jonsi being the Jonsi from Sigur Rós)

More by William Hoffman: interesting takes on sitting, shooting and tanning here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I think about this world a lot - and I cry

Video :: You are the everything by REM for MoveOn (We Can’t Afford to Wait)

Why is this simply not a no brainer to all sane Americans who are not associated with any pharmaceutical or health insurance company?

Me Canadian. je ne comprends pas.

Do you know how much we love our universal public health care in this country? In 2004, we voted Tommy Douglas, the father of medicare, as the greatest Canadian ever. Gretzky came a lowly 10th!

Also, today when I noticed a headline that the Obama “you lie” heckler has raised over $200,000 I thought ,“what a splendid gesture, transforming your buffoon-based infamy into charitable donations... lovely”. Turns out, however, that the money raised is for himself. The dude aims to translate his new found glory status into cold, hard campaign financing. What, me apologize?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I told you I would stay

The best of the new music...

One of the songs of the year, Grizzly Bear's Two Weeks, gets a video reworking courtesy one Gabe Askew. This "fan video" is absolutely incredible and blows the official, unwatchable head popping video out of the water ::

Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear from Gabe Askew on Vimeo.

Six months of shuffling legos has resulted in this piece of art - 8 Bit Trip by Rymdreglage ::

Air are back with a wonderful return to form in Sing, Sang, Sung...

Sing Sang Sung from Colour Me In on Vimeo.

"we talk about dishwasher tablets"...

The usual creeposity from Fever Ray - the video for the excellent "Seven" ::
Via Pitchfork

The best damn tune TMBG have put out in a goodly long time. Perhaps its the female vocals (supplied by the wife of one of the Giants, Robin Goldwasser of "In the middle, In the middle, In the middle" fame)?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Two (cool) videos

Flight Of The Conchords with a song about Brabaria (or was it Barbara?) and her lazy eye...

Buster Keaton comes to life (Wow - this guy was massive!) through the music of Radiohead...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Absence makes the heart lose weight, yeah

Paddy “Tevye” McAloon :: outstanding in his field

As a huge fan of ZZ Top Prefab Sprout and someone who likes to think they’ve got their pinky planted firmly on the pulse of today’s pop music, I was both ecstatic to learn that a new album is due out very shortly and annoyed that, according to, I have “been living under a rock all year” since I’m only hearing about it now. In my defense, no one really talks about Prefab Sprout anymore. Of course, there was a time when they ruled, or at least visited, the indie airwaves (a little known pop trivia fact: in 1993, I named my outdoor volleyball team the Prefab Sprouts. Opponents thought we were a bunch of new-age granolas. No one else cared.).

2001 was the last time PS put out a new collection of songs. Paddy did offer up a solo, largely instrumental “I Trawl The Megahertz” in 2003 (at the height of his vision troubles... and prior to his ear troubles) but this is largely unlistenable and bears little relation to the output of Prefab Sprout. This time around, the band once again comprises Paddy and brother Martin - two fourths of the original, hit-making lineup. Sadly, the harmonizing Wendy Smith appears to be shut out yet again.

“Let's Change the World With Music” is due for release on the 7th September 2009. Lead single can be heard, via youtube, here:
Listen :: Let there be music by Prefab Sprout

Sounds pretty decent!!! But when will musicians realize that it isn't 1984 anymore and that a "music video" does not need be a huge monetary investment. Sit in front of a camera and film yourself mouthing the words if need be, but give us something (and help yourself out at the same time)!

Here’s Prefab Sprout in their heyday, back when Paddy’s whiskers were in their controlled infancy and you could see his ears...

Video :: When love breaks down by Prefab Sprout

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The death of a disco dancer

The new music...

This acoustic version of Anna Ternheim's "What have I done" is, I believe, far superior to the album version. Bjorn (Anna's producer/ the "Bjorn" in Peter, Bjorn and John) and his lovely peeano skills are to thank for this. The album version has violins, yes... but check this bit of awesomeness out (if only one could still find the MP3 ANYWHERE!):

Really into Swedish trio Miike Snow lately. Here's the not-too-shabby-at-all vid for "Animal":

Here's some more disco-infused pop wonder from the ever timeless Music Go Music...

Music Go Music - Live on Face Time - Just Me from music go music on Vimeo.

The video for Strictly Game by Harlem Shakes is pretty clever - upon close inspection it's a play on all those unofficial youtube vids where someone merely uploads the tune and mixes together a slide show:

Video :: Born on a day the sun didn't rise by Black Moth Super Rainbow

Song :: What have I done by Anna Ternheim
Song :: Animal by Miike Snow
Song :: Strictly Game by Harlem Shakes
Song :: Born on a day the sun didn't rise by Black Moth Super Rainbow

Friday, August 21, 2009

The smell of today

Two must-have albums are set for official release next week ::

Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know by múm
Aim and Ignite by fun.

múm‘s Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know is a nice sideways departure for the long running Icelandic band. Still with their dancing bleeps and interesting instrumentation, múm now, apparently, has something to sing about. Fun, joyous, upbeat (and often silly) stuff... this is what happens when all the strange instruments in the world get together and party. It turns out we will not see "Sing along..." released this side of the pond next week. We get to wait until September... or buy it from here (gogoyoko - a fair trade music site).

I only first heard of The Format a year after their final album was released when they gave it away online for free. I find them decent enough - good tunes when you’re feeling like something a little more straight and narrow. They appear to have a huge following. People wept at their demise. However, this was the best thing that could have happened because co-Format leader Nate Reuss has gone on to form fun.... and they’re a blast. They have been working on this project for a while and it shows. Each fun. song must take forever to write since there is so much going on. Like Queen for the indie set. Soon to take the world by storm... fun.!

Song :: The smell of today is sweet like breast milk in the wind by múm

Song :: All the pretty girls by fun.

Neither band has been all that diligent about posting videos, other than live shows (fun.) and life on the road (múm). So here's a video for one of my favorite songs of the summer ::

Yes it's a commercial. She should really get some spandex for that bicycle.

Song :: Fabric of my life (full song version) by Zooey Deschanel

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You had a new dream, it was more like a nightmare

It took me a while to get into The Antlers... their album "Hospice" came out in March and has received nothing but high praise. Well deserved high praise. They are now re-issuing the album and have a cool video for "two" now out...

Video Premiere: The Antlers: "Two"

Shared via AddThis

Song :: Two by The Antlers

"Hospice" is not just a fancy, trendy title. The album is a concept one in theme - detailing one's stay in a hospice as a loved on dies. Uplifting? Perhaps not. Powerful? Yup.

You had a new dream, it was more like a nightmare.
You were just a little kid, and they cut your hair,
then they stuck you in machines, you came so close to dying.
They should have listened, they thought that you were lying.
Daddy was an asshole, he fucked you up,
built the gears in your head, now he greases them up.
And no one paid attention when you just stopped eating.
"Eighty-seven pounds!" and this all bears repeating.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You saved my life

...ooh, that was a nice sleep... The New Music ::

Burial by Miike Snow
A band from Sweden currently burning up the blogosphere. Did they really take a film crew and their jackalope to India to shoot this? A great video:

You saved my life by Cass McCombs
The dyi clip matches the pace of the tune as a slowed down McCombs passes many beer-pitcher swilling 20-somethings (including, I couldn't help but notice, mothers and mothers-to-be) in a Chi-town square.

Pon de floor by Major Lazer
An energetic dance floor number recorded in Jamaica and featuring the creative, explosive sounds of, yes, marching-band drummers. The video is a bit off-putting and Not-Suitable-For-Anything really. It contains repeated displays of a bizarre new-fangled Jamaican dance style known as “daggering” which, unfortunately, has to be seen to be believed. The fact it takes place in the Blues Clues house does little to make it a comfortable viewing.

Major Lazer "Pon De Floor" from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.

In the NA by The Hidden Cameras
Their song titles may not be as convoluted and strange as Of Montreal but.... what the hell is a NA? New album "Origin:Orphan" to be released September 22, 2009.

Warm in the shadows by Music Go Music
There is a reason why pop songs average 3 and a half minutes in length - short attention spans of listeners. “Warm in the shadows”, by 70’s revivalists Music Go Music, pretty much defies this logic at nine plus minutes of goodness.

Song (link) :: Burial by Miike Snow
Song :: You saved my life by Cass McCombs
Song (link) :: Pon de floor by Major Lazer
Song :: Walk on by The Hidden Cameras
Song :: Warm in the shadows by Music Go Music

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My concerns have been confirmed

Jason Lytle’s debut solo album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, was described in one article as music that “simply crawls by in a maddeningly static mid-tempo blur, going about its melancholy business on the way to nowhere”. Less than favorable then. In fact, Yours Truly, The Commuter has, to date, an aggregate total of only 65% on Metacritic. I suppose if I was a slovenly, cheetos crunching critic who listened to it once and jotted down such “sounds like a continuation of Grandaddy” drivel, I might be inclined to simply dismiss it as well. But the truth is that the last two Grandaddy albums were mere continuations of Grandaddy and Commuter goes well beyond this. It is understated, sure, as realized through its minimal lyrics, but the album’s beauty lies in its subtlety. And subtle is the best vehicle for Lytle’s often hushed, whisper like vocals. At the same time, there is an awful lot going on here when you actually LISTEN. This is music to crawl into, to lay down and fall asleep to, to get up and jump around to, and yes, to commute to. This is an album that makes you ache for its follow-up. This is the best darn album released by anyone in a goodly long time! Not that I suppose anyone cares.

See Jason’s mastery of his instruments below!?!

Video :: It's The Weekend by Jason Lytle

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Robyn gets her robot on

Video :: The Girl and The Robot by Röyksopp (featuring Robyn/ live)...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birds encouraged him

I've been waiting a long time for this... new music from Jason Lytle, ex of Grandaddy. Since dissolving the best beardo band ever, Lytle has fled native California for nowheresville Montana, talent up the ying yang (and drummer) in tow.

Jason Lytle's first solo effort is out in three weeks (apparently).Lead off (and title) track, "Yours Truly, The Commuter" is a song about "getting out into the great and gnarly unknown, getting up to who knows what kind of trouble and eventually, gratefully, limping back home".

Song :: Yours Truly, The Commuter by Jason Lytle

New Video/ Old Song :: Campershell Dreams by Grandaddy

campershell dreams.......... (lost but not forgotten) from jason lytle on Vimeo.

Video :: Birds Encouraged Him (live in studio) by Jason Lytle

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Matt + Kim

Okay, I admit that this video actually made me gasp out loud (*gasp*). I won't mention where though for fear of giving too much away...

Lessons Learned by Matt & Kim
Lessons Learned

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hey... STFUB

Video :: Lay it down by Peter Bjorn and John

Song :: Lay it down by Peter, Bjorn and John

Through the hypnotic psychedelia, Daedelus plays some sort of lit up scrabble board...
Video :: LA Nocturn by Daedelus

New, mesmerizing alternate version of Animal Collective's My Girls...

Animal Collective - My Girls from Rob Chesnutt on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The obstacles we build for ourselves

Lately I have been stuck in the upper BPM levels of electro-dance music through recently released and highly satisfying albums from both Pet Shop Boys and Röyksopp. I have come up for air occasionally via 60’s and 70’s AM radio classics (as part of my “research” for a future Top 25 Albums That Changed My Life post) but otherwise it has been a non-stop dance party around here. Thankfully, I found Hello Saferide and have been afforded a rest.

Swedish band Hello Saferide released their second album, “More Modern Stories From Hello Saferide”, this past September. Led by the heartfelt and just-quivering-enough-to-be-described-as-mildly-unique vocals of Annika Norlin, Hello Saferide is now, slowly perhaps, starting to gain some much deserved momentum outside of Scandinavia. Or maybe they’re already huge and I’ve just been oblivious. Out a week ago, Arjeplog is the new single off of “More Modern Stories…” and is a song about country vs. city, love, and spooning without one arm getting numb (so says Annika). The video was filmed at Vittjåkk for $0 and took five minutes (Vittjåkk would appear to be a rather wonderful looking - on a sunny day at least - ski resort). Never mind the DIY aspects and the shaky camera, sometimes simple is the most beautiful…

Video :: Arjeplog by Hello Saferide

Also check out Hello Saferide’s fantastic Detektivbyrån-backed performance of “Anna” at Sweden’s 2009 P3 Guld Awards show. Annika Norlin’s performance, through her sincere vulnerability and tenderness, yields an awkwardly effective stage persona. Meanwhile, a theremin is employed and Jon Nils of Detektivbyrån (now ex of Detektivbyrån - yikes!) plays the scissors!

Video :: Anna (live) by Hello Saferide w/ Detektivbyrån

The heartbreaking music video for Anna here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Up Here

Norway’s electro-dance outfit/ modulation mongers Röyksopp continue their video-making dominance via a wonderfully executed Space Invaders type demolition of concrete landscape. Cool.

Video :: Happy Up Here by Röyksopp

Happy Up Here from Röyksopp on Vimeo.

Song :: Happy Up Here by Röyksopp

“You know I really like it
I know I'll always be here
You know it makes my heart beat
You know I'm happy up here”

Röyksopp’s “Junior” out tomorrow! A reminder of the band's video brilliance is available at their website here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

She wanted to control it

For many years Glasgow’s Camera Obscura languished in hometown heroes Belle and Sebastian’s long, twee shadow. Then came 2003’s aptly titled “Underachievers Please Try Harder” and they were off. Today, they’re churning out orchestra-tinged ditties with big-production vids. “French Navy”, off of the forthcoming “My Maudlin Career”, is a brilliant step forward for the band and it is good to see that they are fairing better than fellow one time B&S shadow dwellers Franz Ferdinand who continue to slide down the respect-o-meter mightily.

As the two characters in French Navy smooch their way through Paris and Rome, something ever so subtly happens to seemingly turn the girl off the boy. Or vis-a-versa. But I put my money on his tidy little beard forcing the rift.

French Navy by Camera Obscura:

My Maudlin Career (the album) is out in late April.


As for Belle and Sebastian, they have been busy lately soundtracking a film, written by lead Stuart Murdoch, called “God Help The Girl”. “God Help The Girl”, coming (or not) to an art-house or university theatre near you sometime later this year.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ukulele Sessions

On a cold Brooklyn night, improvised magic happens:

Video :: "I will call you lover again" and "Now let it go" by Loney Dear (Ukulele Sessions)

love the plastic bag!

Olly Olly blah blah blah

I imagine it is not easy to incorporate “olly olly oxen free” repeatedly into a song and, yes, it kinda feels forced and overused in Bishop Allen's “Dimmer”. This band had a cameo appearance in the underwhelming Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and I guess there is a market for underwhelming as Bishop Allen themselves can be described as such (a watered-down version of Vampire Weekend - if there is such a thing). Anyway, they are mildly worthy enough to spend a few minutes watching their video. I could not be more enthused!

Video :: Dimmer by Bishop Allen

"Olly olly oxen free" worked way better for Newman (though not so much for Ramon)…
Seinfeld - The Pool Guy

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Do You Remember

Progressive rock n [pruh-gres-iv roc] : music where songs either avoid common popular structures of verse-chorus-bridge, or blur the formal distinctions by extending sections or inserting musical interludes, often with exaggerated dynamics to heighten contrast between sections… sometimes yielding entire suites. Live shows often incorporate lasers and giant mirrors synchronized with the music.

In other words, A Recipe For Disaster.

Never one to easily relinquish my indie bias snobbery, I have always dissed the prog rock. Although God-like Rush is included in their numbers, prog rock musicians are people that I have always associated with over-the-top songs, misguided outfits, silly double-necked guitars and easy-to-mock place-name bands like Kansas, Boston, Chicago, Asia… Toto!

However, I am proud to say that I once purchased, and still own, an LP laden with neo-progressive rock: Marillion’s “Misplaced Childhood”. I am also willing to assert that that album’s hit single “Kaleigh” (#16 on the Dutch Top 40) may just be one of the finest power ballads ever constructed.

Admittedly, I have very little experience with the power ballad.

Video :: Kayleigh by Marillion (1985)

Brought to you by: 80's-Videos-That-Haven'

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We drove to the sea

Was about to rant (again) about how the Coldplays, Elbows, Doves, Keanes and Snow Patrols of this world - while engineering some pop perfection over the years - rarely offer anything original or truly inspired, but then I watched the new Doves video for Kingdom of Rust and had to eat those thoughts. Sure on its own, Kingdom of Rust is simply an everyday pop song but the capacity that visuals, and a bit of a story, has to transform a song can be powerful. Not that this story - journey across country/ free a loved ones ashes/ cry - hasn't been told before... so maybe its the sweeping views of one of my favorite places on earth that captured me. "Distant sound of thunder, moving out on the moor..."

Video :: Kingdom of Rust by Doves

(This is not) a love song

Love the Rom-Coms... love the Rom-Coms featuring "There is a light that never goes out" (membership limited!). (500) Days of Summer starring Zooey Deschanel and the kid from "10 Things I Hate About You". Trailer:

Monday, March 2, 2009

Soldier on

New vid from the annoyingly talented Andrew Bird. Apparently you're allowed to sling off flaming arrows in Chicago!

Andrew Bird with Mucca Pazza - "Fitz & The Dizzyspells”

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Depeche Mode were once kings of the live circuit, breaking attendance records for their shows wherever they went. They're one of those bands that, back in the 80's, would have seemed unlikely to carry on through 2009. Their high point was 1990's Violator ("Personal Jesus", "Enjoy the Silence"), their low point: singer Dave Gahan's "clinically dead" overdose from the mid-90's. They are indeed survivors even if their music hasn't really shifted with the times - they continue to employ the same jarring electronics as in the past. Retro, and perhaps dated, for sure... and yet oddly comforting. New car wreck video from forthcoming "Sounds of the Universe" album (out in April)...

Depeche Mode - "Wrong" (official music video)

Quite possibly the best track from DM's career:
Video :: Blasphemous Rumours by Depeche Mode (also check out the Gregorian chant version linked to this video - cool!)

Song :: Blasphemous Rumours by Depeche Mode

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Big in Japan

Interesting video for new single from Sweden's Peter Bjorn & John. A children's choir and Japanese bikers/ b-boys (who also line dance and leap-frog!) join forces to create this masterstroke of musical enjoyment fine piece of art.

Video :: Nothing To Worry About by Peter Bjorn & John

Song :: Nothing To Worry About by Peter Bjorn & John

"Do this thing, this type of thing
Put a little money in this type of thing
I got nothing to worry about
I got nothing to worry about"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We Need Love

A new one from Pet Shop Boys. This song is excellent - not sure PSB have ever done anything half-assed actually. Great bouncy video as well featuring some fine video-game themed choreography! Never mind youtube, this one needs to be seen in its highest quality (currently available on PSB's homepage):

Video :: Love etc. by Pet Shop Boys

New album, Yes, to be released in late March.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I need someone to set a pick for me at the free-throw line of life

Never going out of style… from 1974:

Song :: Basketball Jones by Cheech and Chong w/ George Harrison (guitar) & Michelle "Mama" Phillips (backing vox)
Video :: Basketball Jones by Cheech and Chong


Best observation of Obama’s Feb 23 address to Congress (Scott Feschuk):
9:44 “This is America - we don’t do what’s easy, we do what’s necessary to move this country forward.” Dear Mr. President: Your nation is home to a company that manufactures frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and markets them by claiming that their product “removes all the hassle” from making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As though people previously seeking such a sandwich would first have had to toil for hours in the jelly mines. And people actually buy this product. Believe me, sir: sometimes your country does what’s easy.

Irish Step Dancing by Mozzer

Song :: Lighten Up, Morrissey by Sparks
Video :: Lighten Up, Morrissey by Sparks

Friday, February 20, 2009

That’s How People Grow Up

As if it is not obvious, no one single “celebrity” has had a greater influence on my life than Morrissey. I continue to wish for but two things in this world (you know, beyond health and untold riches, etc): a Stanley Cup championship for the Vancouver Canucks (not bloody likely) and a reformation of The Smiths (less bloody likely given Rourke and Joyce sued Moz and Marr for performance royalties - and won - over a decade ago… they are all still alive however so the slim hope of a reunion has that going for it at least)

“And as sure as my words are pure, I praised the day that brings you pain. So don't close your eyes, don't close your eyes. A man who slits throats has time on his hands and I'm gonna get you” Morrissey lyric directed at Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, from “Sorrow Will Come In The End”

Morrissey has been a solo artist since 1988 and has, for the most part, employed the same set of songwriters since 1991; Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte. There have been many gems in that 18 year period but still the overall quality does tend to pale in comparison to the output from Morrissey’s alliance with Johnny Marr in The Smiths - a time spanning a paltry 6 years. With a song writing style rooted in their first love (Rockabilly of all things), Boorer and Whyte obviously have limitations in what they are able to bring to the table. I’m continually surprised that Morrissey has lasted this long with them, especially given his penchant for firing pretty much everyone he has ever come into contact with (sounds like a bit of a bastard doesn’t he? quiet those thoughts!). Morrissey’s song-writing partnership with Johnny Marr was such that he was able to weave his words throughout the layered music in a way that produced wholly original songs contrary to the traditional song structure of verse-chorus-verse. He mostly abandoned this style as he shifted from young, gladiola-waving popstar to aging crooner… and for this I’ll blame the musicians.

So how much can we expect from a new Morrissey album when it contains songwriters who have proven to be capable, yet far from inspired to run (or even saunter) off in any new musical direction? As a singer who plays no instrument, Morrissey is highly reliant on his musicians. Add to this the fact that Morrissey, who turns an un-popstarish 50 in May, has long since narrowed his vocal range (or so they say) and reduced his sphere of lyrical influence from humdrum Manchester’s council estates to the not-so-humdrum surroundings of Beverley Hills and Roma and you have the makings of a (don’t say it too loud) washed-up artist.

Those of us who continue to purchase his records do so for Morrissey the brand - that being his voice, his biting, witty lyrics and that whole fey yet vicious persona he’s so shrewdly developed. We also hope that the music will improve slightly and have less conventional structure. Unfortunately Morrissey’s latter-day lyrics are mostly reduced to convenient sound bites in that there are no more earth-shattering songs filled with lyrical wonder. The song titles are often as witty as it gets these days. We all know this, but will take whatever we’re given nonetheless.

And, despite all this, what we’re given with Years Of Refusal - the new album that came out earlier this week - is actually quite good. The Moz continues to shine and somehow he pulls off a pretty darn good record out of nothing. Or at least this is what I think at the moment. I can’t tell if I like it because it’s good or I like it because I feel like I have to like it. Although Years Of Refusal is newly released, two of the tracks found here were available last year as part of an official Best Of album well in advance of YOR’s release. Other songs were leaked months ago. The title “Years Of Refusal” even sounds like a Best Of compilation or a possible title for Morrissey’s rumoured forthcoming biography. As confusing as all this may be, it has nothing on how confused and disoriented I felt when I happened upon “Years Of Refusal” the other day down yonder at the local WalMart. Morrissey at Wal-friken-Mart!?! One step up from the bargain bin, this still represents the horrific equivalent to finding your favourite radio-friendly band’s CD on display at a Truck Stop where the counter-top selection is generally limited to U2, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty and all those other artists claiming to have “sold more records than Elvis!!!”

Morrissey has had a slight resurgence in popularity in recent years, not that the average joe would have noticed. His two “comeback albums”, 2004’s “…Quarry” and 2006’s “Ringleader…” were hailed as a return to form after seven years in new-material exile following 1997’s critically panned Maladjusted. And yes, his two newer albums were marked by improved vocals and the instrumentation appeared to be crisper and much more dynamic. Still, these are not the easiest albums to listen all the way through as the music is fairly uninspired and some songs tend to circle the wagons and feel like they go on forever.

What appears to make “Years Of Refusal” a success is that the songs have an increased energy, the lyrics are a bit more biting and quite simply his voice is in better form than in other recent work. His vocals are still too up front in the mix but unfortunately you can not expect anything less from singers with their names in lights. One of YOR’s more stellar tracks, “Shame Is The Name”, not only skips along at a decent pace, weaves in some lovely piano and harmonica AND features - though barely distinguishable - backing vox by Pretender Chrissie Hynde, but is also a bonus iTunes-only track and not available from WalMart.

Song :: Something Is Squeezing My Skull

Video :: That's How People Grow Up by Morrissey (live on Letterman) in June 2007 for chrisakes!

I was wasting my life
Always thinking about myself,
Someone on their deathbed said:
"There are other sorrows too."

I was driving my car,
I crashed and broke my spine,
So yes, there are things worse in life than
never being someone's sweetie

That’s how people grow up