26 December 2008

10 Categories, 20 Albums, 1 End of Year List

1. Highest Pitched, and Scrambliest/Awesomest
Marnie Stern - This is it
Shugo Tokumaru - Exit

2. Prettiest Songs That Try To Not Be Pretty
Dan Friel - Ghost Town
Why? - Alopecia

3. Most Complementary Albums From The Same Artist
Mount Eerie - Black Wooden Ceiling Opening and
Mount Eerie - Lost Wisdom

4. Best Albums By Bands Who Have Done Better, and that's their main problem (also, two of the best shows all year)
Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling
Deerhoof - Offend Maggie

5. Best Angry Growly Music
Harvey Milk - Life... The Best Game in Town
Sunn o))) - Domkirke

6. Best Panda Bear Ripoffs And I Mean That in The Best Way (Other Than El Guincho)
Ruby Suns - Sea Lion
High Places - High Places

7. Guiltiest Pleasures That Came Out of Nowhere and Built A Nest in My Ears
Noah and The Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up Til It Was Light

8. Unexpectedest Surprises for Completely Different Reasons
Longwave - Secrets Are Sinister
Grampall Jookabox - Ropechain

9. Best Continued Exploration of Auteur Indie Lyricism Culled From Your Troubled Past
Xiu Xiu - Women as Lovers
Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

10. Worthiest-The-Effort/Favorite Albums Of The Year
Women - Women
Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

25 December 2008

Top 10 Songs That Got Stuck In My Head – 2008

I’m not exactly up-to-the-minute when it comes to music. I happen to stumble upon things on accident, I don’t seek them out because…well, I’m terrible at figuring out what I’m looking for! Due to this, I do not have a Top Ten Albums of 2008. Rather, I have the top ten songs that I’ve discovered in 2008 [songs that got stuck in my head, specifically].

11. Vib Ribbon – Universal Dance:
Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a song I discovered in 2008. It’s a bonus song I re-discovered, and you should check it out if you like insane cartoon stick-figure rabbits. This song is from a Japanese video game [Vib Ribbon] where a white rabbit follows a path to the beats of seven songs that sound like the fever-dreams of a DJ high on happiness and pop.

10. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Cold Son:
I actually heard this song a few times while in The Blaze during the Spring ’08 semester. I quickly embarked on a quest to figure out who the heck performs it. I don’t get it, but the song got me just at the right time every time, and so it goes round and round in my head. I think it’s the, “Face-plant/Stumble ahead” part that holds me.

9. Ben Kweller - Harriet’s Got A Song:
I don’t know who Ben Kweller is, but I now have a crush on him. I don’t understand most of this song, but I have a little crush on it as well.

8. Black Kids – Hit The Heartbreaks:
My friend sent me the song, and the file says it’s from the album ‘Wizard of Ahhhs.’ I prefer it to the version that is on ‘Party Traumatic.’ It probably won’t make a difference to you, but I like the rougher sound quality of my preferred version. It’s less whiny, and sounds like you’re attending a concert in a cave. An awesome cave.

7. Meaghan Smith – A Little Love
This song is adorable. It has quirky little sounds, a fun strings section, snapping, and makes me feel really happy inside.

6. Matthew Reveles – That Girl:
The lyrics. My oh my. So sweet! You get an absolute picture of the girl he sings about. The music is good, but the lyrics are what really interest me in this song. And the harmonica solo--a good harmonica solo never hurts.

5. Lenka – Like A Song:
Although I found most of this album to be a complete snooze-fest, this mellow song managed to catch my attention. I know, mellow should = boring, but it’s haunting/pretty. I’m a sucker for haunting songs. This one gets put on repeat when I have to write a paper.

4. Her Space Holiday – Sleepy Tigers:
It’s so up-beat! You just wanna bounce up and down while smiling. The lyrics are cute and all, but when this song gets stuck in my head all I can think of is the beat. And he makes burning down a room sound romantic. I mean, it isn’t…but…ya’know.

3. The Postal Service – Nothing Better [Styrofoam Remix]:
I don’t know anything about this song. I have to look it up on youtube to hear it, but I absolutely play the hell out of it. And I sing along to it with much gusto [for which you must all forgive me].

2. Belle & Sebastian – Ease Your Feet in the Sea:
It’s. Just. So. Good. This came into rotation on one of my Pandora stations. Now I am in love. There’s some kind of xylophone action or something going on in this song. I enjoy it :]

1. Neutral Milk Hotel – Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2:
Really, it’s the whole album. The whole thing gets stuck in my head, and I’ll admit that it’s probably only #1 because ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea’ is my latest obsession. This is the last song, and it makes me melt into a happy little puddle. It isn’t the prettiest or cutest song, which are usually the deciding factors for me. Nope, this song has some pretty weird lyrics, but I like them. Example: “She will feed you tomatoes/and radio wires” WHAT DOES IT MEAN? I don’t know, but I love it.

24 December 2008

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2008

HMs: Avantasia - The Scarecrow, Eluvetie - Slania
10. Falconer - Among Beggars and Thieves
Really, any of these albums could have been number 10. They were all really good, solid releases but lacked the spice to push them into the upper echelons this year. They were all safe albums and while they were good safe albums, they lose points for not doing amazing things outside of their norm. The title track of The Scarecrow is the notable exception to this.

9. Protest the Hero - Fortress
I like this much better than Kezia though I might be in the minority. Good evolution of sound and a step away from the -core stuff that dragged them down previously. Outstanding musicianship, as usual.

8. Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God

Possibly the best album this band has put out. Definitely the best of the last few. Normally I find the whole scene these guys play in quite tired and uninspired...generic. This sounds good though.

7. Opeth - Watershed

Most people thought this album was a huge disappointment, so commercial sounding and blah blah blah. I like Pop Punk, so this didn't bother me and I felt the album was quite solid.

6. Sculptured - Embodiment: Collapsing Under the Weight of God

What an underrated record. The drumming on this album earns it a place in the top 10 albums of the year overall. The concepts were also pretty cool and the progression and experience of this album is great.

5. Genghis Tron - Board Up The House

Electronica/Grindcore has every opportunity to sound awful. The fact that this doesn't says a lot I think. The mix of experimentation and the safer grind these guys did before is perfect. Much more experimentation and the album might have been dragged down by it, but instead is just serves to accentuate it.

4. Meshuggah - Obzen

This album is good and better than some other stuff by them but I wish they'd play more with their sound.

3. Intronaut - Prehistoricisms

The epic closing track here is phenomenal. Fantastic mix of the darker stoner/doom style and the more progressive stuff. This album could define my show.

2. Burst - Lazarus Bird

Metal bands that mix in Hardcore should all sound like this. Jazz Fusion, Hardcore, Metal, all in one song...this is soooo great.

1. Cynic - Traced In Air

They hadn't released an album for 15 years, and their last album is highly regarded and considered one of the better and definitive metal albums of all time. Then they released this and topped that album. Enough said.

I want to reiterate that this is metal albums only because otherwise I'd be hard pressed justifying leaving off the new albums by Anathema, Jack's Mannequin, Medeski, Martin and Wood, Panic ath the Disco, Thrice, United Nations, and many others that slip my mind currently.

18 December 2008

Becky's Top Albums of 2008

This is tough for me. I already submitted my Top 10 Albums of 2008 to CMJ, but I think this one will deviate a bit for two primary reasons: the first being that I made that list in a hurried state of my usual brand of absurdly spastic excitement, and the second being that I want to make the list longer than ten records. Here we go, in no particular order, I don't think.

Miniature Tigers Tell It To The Volcano
I know every word to every track on this record. I waited so patiently for this release, after whetting my palate with the Mini's Black Magic and White Magic EPs, and it's not only perfectly accessible, lyrically charming and a record I could listen to on repeat for weeks (I kid you not.), but these dudes are based in Arizona! If they are not proof that the Phoenix scene has evolved and only continues to foster better, more promising projects, and that, despite Idolator's uninformed musings, all Arizona bands don't actually sound like the Gin Blossoms. Good local music makes me love my job(s). Miniature Tigers make me love our city's potential.

Marnie Stern This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
This is as close as we got to Riot Grrrl this year. In '07, I was totally into The Little Bicycles, but this year I didn't hear much along the lines of Kathleen Hanna's brand of yelly, angry lady punk. My only grievance with This Is It and I Am It is when Marnie gets all motivational on us, particularly the line, "The future is yours, so write this part in." The more I consider why I am so bothered by it, the more convinced I am that I prefer miserable music to uplifting. Whatevs, there are plenty of awesome lines that combat the hints of cheesiness.

The Helio Sequence Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Listening to The Helio Sequence is like coming in from a cold, rainy, windy day and wrapping yourself in a warm, but not too warm, blanket. Songs are sad, but not depressing; it's the kind of sad that makes you smile because you relate. Plus, have you seen these guys live?! There's such an electric, enompassing vibe about them, not to mention when I saw them at Rhythm Room, they did their cover of Tomorrow Never Knows, a.k.a. my favorite Beatles song, and I died.

The Breeders Mountain Battles
Kim Deal = I die. Listen to Bang On, and if that doesn't convince you, you probably hate music.

The Cool Kids The Bake Sale EP
I saw these guys twice at CMJ in 2007, first opening for New Young Pony Club at Studio B and then at Terminal 5 with MIA. I'm almost positive that they're impossible to dislike. I mean, they rap about riding bicycles and flossing. C'mon.

WHY? Alopecia
This is why: "I'll suck the mallow out, and break your hollow bones, Yoni." Lyrics that make total sense whilst trying desperately to masquerade only as jaded, dark, sexist, selfish, neurotic and childish. Pfft. How about all that and more? Yoni Wolf and company will murder your ears in a totally hatable nasaly voice spewing devilish imagery and deviance.

Of Montreal Skeletal Lamping
I, along with presumably all other Of Montreal fans, have a curious crush on Kevin Barnes (duh), and when I hear that the concept of this album was to change what people perceive as songs as far as structure goes, I wanted to make out with him more than ever. And hey. Can we talk about the innovation that is the packaging options for this record? Genius, if just for the possibility that you could have a poster, plus CD, plus vinyl, plus tote bag, plus baby unicorn, plus etc.

Oxford Collapse Bits
This rocking follow-up to Remember The Night Parties was worth the two-year wait. This Sup Pop trio of New Yorkers made a record that I kept in my car for the duration of August. I think it was the scratchy melodies and and leftover punky straining yelps.


Fujiya & Miyagi Lightbulbs

Sigur Rós Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaus

Cadence Weapon Afterparty Babies

More to come. Stay tuned.

10 December 2008

AC/DC / The Answer @ US Airways Center 12/10/2008

The Answer were the only opener for AC/DC, and they were a good opener. Before I discuss the performance, I want to discuss the band. This is a band who has 1 full length CD out, yet they opened for Aerosmith and tour with AC/DC. That speaks to the attention that 1 CD has gotten. On a more personal note, I have to say that the interview I did with them was absolutely fantastic. The band is very chill and super friendly (they invited me to come out with them after the show to explore bars), and most of all very personable. Most folks who are stuck in the 70's musically are boring stoners, but these guys were not. As to the performance, it was really spot on. When they hit the stage, I remember that my first thought was "Hmm, sounds pretty damn close to Robert Plant." Whether or not that's a compliment depends on your tastes I suppose, but for the sound they are going for, it's great. The band plays a little bit heavier riffs than their 70's counterparts, but the heavy blues influence is still extremely prevalent. In some ways, they feel like a small band still even on the big stage. They're not doing much more than most bands to (which is different from what arena bands do), but they're playing solid music and the crowd gets pretty into it and dances. They're a good pairing with a band like AC/DC and it's nice to see young bands still play music like older bands every once in awhile.

AC/DC are pros, of course. They have been putting on big shows for decades, and they know how to be effective. One of the most notable moments of the show was actually the intro. Beginning with a movie that features a runaway train, the screen then splits apart as a train crashes through, with pyrotechnics galore, as the band jumps into Rock and Roll Train. Other big hits had similarly exciting spectacles. TNT had time synced bursts of flame. There was a blow up doll for Whole Lotta Rosie. Also, it must be said that for a bunch of guys around 60 years old, the energy on stage is still remarkable. Running around and climbing on staircases. Oh and of course the obligatory Angus Young striptease. Even with all of that, I hardly touch the various showmanship aspects of the show, but what about the music? Well, it's AC/DC, the music is solid. Young is a little sloppier than expected, but only in the really nuts self indulgent soloing where it seems so many blues guitarists lose their touch while technical ones thrive. Young is a blues guy through and through, most evidenced in the blues jam the band performed in the middle of Rosie. To sum it up though, a great show, without a doubt.

03 December 2008

We're All Dancers In The Magic Chorus Line

...apparently. This is the kind of thing we get in the mail here at the station.

02 December 2008

The Fall of Troy/The Number Twelve Looks Like You/Warship/Black Houses @ The Clubhouse 12/2/2008

Today's show I was, for whatever reason, critiquing bands as far as my show goes.

Black Houses opened the evening with an interesting blend of metal and sludgy/stoner music, but all led by a very alternative/hard rock voice. An interesting mix. The crowd was totally dead for this band sadly, but I enjoyed it enough to pick up a copy of the album for the station. I just wish the vocals weren't so pretty. It's great for mainstream rock radio, but not quite as rough as I'd like for indie metal radio. If you like Hard Rcok though, check these guys out, good sound.

Warship was next and while the crowd never really got into these guys much either, I thought they did a really nice job. The music came off much better live to me and I think I will enjoy the CD more after hearing them play live. This was a another band where, with a different vocalist, they would be all over my show. But with these guys, I really do like it either way, I just can't fit them into my sound.

Number Twelve Looks Like You was tonight's winner, by far. Definitely stole the show. They know how to play in a small venue. One of the vocalists divided his time actually being in the mosh pit singing into a megaphone, waving a flag around, crowd surfing, hanging his mike over the crowd from the ceiling, and more zany things I temporarily forget. Then there was the theme of love. To promote love in the audience, couples were invited to make out on stage for an entire song. A boy was invited up to get his first kiss from a girl. The drummer spent as much time at the front of the stage as behind the set, banging cymbals from the front and dancing with the rest of the band. Oh and about the music: not my style really, but that affected my enjoyment of the live show not at all.

Fall of Troy was meh, in a word. I'm not entirely sure why I stuck around for the whole performance. I guess I was always hoping they would play good music. Then, for the encore, they played FCPREMIX, and I guess they did play good music at that point. Some neat facts about this performance though: it was their first in 3 days as their van had broken down on tour, they started with old songs and not the new album to get the crowd (and I think themselves) pumped up. Many elements of their music appeals to me but I still can't get into it...though I rather wish I could.