Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas-Eve

Bradford Cox just put up a Christmas song, "Artificial Snow" on the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound blog. You can download five (!) versions for free.

Also- if you're a fiend for the musical stylings of said Mr. Cox, be sure to visit his November posts to download 4 volumes of home recordings (!!!).  It's a Christmas miracle!

After a brief mixup where Sony Records took down 3/4 of the volumes (He's not even signed to them), they're back up again.  So get them quick, lest they disappear a second time!

"Apparently Sony Music owns my bedroom. Feel free to call or email and let them know what you think. I can understand them requesting for me to remove a cover but the only one I can imagine that happening with is Dylan."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2009...Finally my Top-10

Hello hello hello. You might be thinking there's a typo in the title. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to putting up my 2009 best-of list… let's just say it’s been a crazy year. My residency program concluded in June and I started work in July. We’ve moved back to Olympia, back to the land of K Records, Kill Rock Stars, and Yo Yo!  It's good to be home.

I was initially going to post my 2009 list just as I’d had it set this time last year, but there’s been a little shuffling the longer I’ve had to listen to everything. I’m also working on a 2000-2009 best-of-the-decade. (Wanted to give 2009 a year or so to season and allow better perspective relative to the years before it).
My 2010 list is complete but I’ll wait a week or two to post it. Bands still have time to impress me before 2011 rolls in. It was cool to see Jacob’s list and realize that no matter how many albums I listen to there’s never enough time or $$ to catch them all. I’m sort of like an eager yet hopelessly mediocre Pokemon master. For this reason I love reading Jacob’s, Spencer’s, Dave T’s, and everybody else’s list. But I don’t until I’ve released mine…. meaning I’ll have a lot of catch-up. Ok, blah blah blah. This was initially a top-20 album list with additional lists of best-EP’s, compilations, etc., but it’s back to top-10 with some best-of-the-rest honorable mentions. (Nobody cares about 11-20 anyway, right?)

1 Grizzly Bear Veckatimest
No big surprise here, knowing my weaknesses. You can go back and read my initial review of this album. I don’t know if I like it as much as I did last year, but it’s still #1. It’s not as good as Yellow House or Department of Eagles’ In Ear Park, but those are insanely tough acts to beat. I almost wish they’d go back to the Yellow House era writing style; strangely enough I think their music was better before they started writing songs collaboratively. “Southern Point” and “I Live With You” are my two absolute favorites.

2 Music Go Music Expressions
Alas, this is the first change to last year’s list- it just keeps creeping up higher. I'm sure Spencer and others will take exception to this ranking, but I’m a sucker for retro-revivalism. I’m not talking about a band that wears their influences on the proverbial sleeve, I’m talking about complete inhabitation. It’s like being in a cover band but writing all new material. Well, MGM is like stepping back into the summer of 1979 (though the video would suggest an early 80's aesthetic). There’s a couple scoops of ABBA, a cup or two of Heart, a dash or two of Blondie and maybe some Electric Light Orchestra cherry-on-top. It’s not revolutionary by any means and the grooves bite you with sugar-coated teeth, but I can’t quit you MGM. I can’t wait for another LP, but who knows if you’ll ever write one!? Who even knows anything about you?! Seriously- google “Music Go Music band” and see what you get. Well, if you do a little sleuthing, you’ll eventually discover that MGM is a bit of a “supergroup.” Singer “Gala Bell” and keyboardist “Maza” are actually Bodies Of Water's Meredith and David Metcalf. (Check out that last link- awesome video). Other band members hail from Mezzanine Owls, Beachwood Sparks, The Lilys, and the Chapin Sisters. But they REALLY don’t want you to know that. In fact, it seems that for all the secrecy and obtuse media relations, they’d prefer we all believed they actually WERE a band from 1979. Look at all of their “live” youtube videos…. you could have found these on an old VHS in your parent’s attic! (Actually, I like some of these better than the "official" music video below). Whatever, I don’t care. I love it all.

3 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
Man, these guys just keep getting better with each release (I'm obviously not a Sung Tongs-era purist...). See Spencer’s review of this one. I’m sure he’s every bit as passionate now as he was then. These guys may be from “Baltimore”, but I’m growing more and more convinced that this just coincidentally also happens to be the name of their home planet… They’re freakishly good. Oh, and they also happen to make pretty sublime videos.... chekkit:

4 Dan Deacon Bromst
You know? I never got into Spiderman of the Rings when it came out. I loved the on-crack-and-LSD music videos, but the songs never resonated enough for me to get the whole album. Then Bromst was released to a chorus of warm and buzzing approval and some tiny hand claps. I stopped moving (breathing?) when I heard “Snookered.” It’s like Mr. Deacon kind of went back on his meds for this one. Yeah, the frenetically insane beats, tempo shifts, and high pitch warbling are still there but he takes a couple deep breaths and the new measured textures make for a beautiful tapestry. Dig it.

5 Mew No More Stories are Told Today…
Man, I can't believe this is only at #5! Tough competition this year... Ok, so this one definitely wins for longest album title (officially- No More Stories Are Told Today, I'm Sorry They Washed Away // No More Stories, The World Is Grey, I'm Tired, Let's Wash Away). Got to see these guys with Jacob at Neumos last year. (!!!!) He got me hooked on them via their previous LP, And The Glass Handed Kites a couple of years ago. Don’t really want to call them Scandinavian post-prog, but it might give you an idea of where they sling from. (Just don’t get hung up on it). If you’ve not yet been initiated, ATGHK might be a better jumping off point but this album is just utterly brilliant.

Also check out the great video for "Introducing Palace Players"

6 Cymbals Eat Guitars Why There Are Mountains

This self-released album was completely unexpected. Hailing from Staten Island and tickling my early to mid-90s indie funny-bone, it formed a memorable chunk of my summer ’09 soundtrack. My daughter's name is Indiana, and I like to play her the track of the same name. Man, I dig this album.

7 Lou Barlow Goodnight Unknown
Oh man. Me and Lou go way back. There was a time when I feverishly sought out every home recording, every import single and B-side. Dinosaur Jr., Sentridoh, Sebadoh, Folk Implosion; he was all over the map. Honestly, though, for most of the last decade or more Mr. Barlow’s been on a bit of a slide. I don’t know if it’s being back with J Mascis or if he’s getting more fiber in his diet, but all of a sudden over the last few years we’ve been treated to a couple new and delectable Dinosaur Jr. albums and now this truly fantastic solo release. I think it’s easily my favorite Lou B concoction since Sebadoh’s Harmacy. I’m not saying he’s reinvented the wheel here, but I just can’t quite express how refreshing it is to kick back and listen to these songs. I am incapable of objective criticism. Just love this album to pieces. (If you like "Sharing," check out "Too Much Freedom.")

8 Mount Eerie Wind's Poem

(While reading this, click play on the video below...) There's a slice of us Northwesterners with threads of Twin Peaks woven into our collective genome. The '89-91 TV show filmed in Snoqualmie, WA was something I watched a little of in its initial run but then rediscovered shortly after high school with a group of friends. I got invited to a viewing party to watch the pilot and first couple of episodes and I've never been the same since. For a while there my whole life revolved around playing N64 Goldeneye and watching Twin Peaks obsessively. I had an FM radio show in Pullman with my buddy Ryan where we assumed the alter-egos of Special Agents Cooper and Chet Desmond. We'd play Olympia bands and other good tunes and during breaks we'd always have the twin peaks theme song playing in the background. We even recorded promos for our show in the backwards-speak of the Black Lodge residents. We'd drive to Snoqualmie/North Bend and look for places where they shot on location, eat cherry pie at Twede's Cafe (RR), play the soundtrack while driving through the forest at night, climb down to the base of the waterfall below the "Great Northern." I even proposed to my wife on the top of Mount Si, the tallest "Peak" overlooking the town (I had other reasons for this location, but this made it even cooler). Ok, so if you're listening to the video below while reading this and still don't get why I'm rambling on about Twin Peaks... maybe skip ahead to #9 if you haven't already.

When you listen to Phil Elvrum's music, besides making sure you're doing this with a nice set of headphones, you need to close your eyes and deposit yourself on a moss-encrusted embankment beneath towering stands of Douglas Fir and Cedar overlooking the Puget Sound. As the cloud bank advances over the water and carries you up the mountainside, a lonely fog horn distracts you from the hypnosis that is the roar of the wind through the branches and millions of tiny droplets shearing through the needles, battering the ferns below. Phil writes songs that sonically and lyrically make so much more sense in this context (you don't even need to imagine the fog horns on Glow Pt. 2). When I heard Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks synths drifting into "Between Two Mysteries," I nearly died it was so perfect. Albeit a borrowed texture, it's so true to the theme and feel of this album (and Phil's music in general) that it never seems out of place. Anyway, I'll cut it off here... I could go on and on... I should probably get around to the Microphones/Mt. Eerie post I've been meaning to do for years now.

9 Sunset Rubdown Dragonslayer

Me love Spencer Krug music. Me love Sunset Rubdown and me love Wolf Parade. I still prefer their respective debut LPs to any later material, but this is some good stuff. Probably some of the more accessible stuff, though some of these tracks are still growing on me. Don't mean to sound unenthused, I think I'm just tired of this post.

10 Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca

Alas, my most hotly contested spot on the list.... Bitte Orca has moved in and out of the top 10, but they're back up again. If all the songs were as awesome as "Stillness is the Move" (see video below) or "Two Doves" or "Useful Chamber" etc., It would be solidly top 5 or so, but there are some tracks on this disc that I simply can't stand, which is not a good sign for a "best album" list. Dave Longstreth's voice and penchant for atonal, abrasive songcraft sometimes drive me nuts. I sometimes just wish he'd leave the vocals to Angel and Amber. Other times, he's just fine. I have a love-hate relationship with songs like "Temecula Sunrise." I love the time signature changes and the guitarwork and even the chorus, but most of the lyrics and delivery just seem so silly, not to mention his high-pitched warble. You could have a drinking game for every time he says "yeah." Anyway, it's a field littered with gems and mines alike, tread cautiously.

Just missed the top 10: Blue Roses Blue Roses

Other lovely albums (in no particular order):

Built to Spill There is no Enemy
The Antlers Hospice
Camera Obscura My Maudlin Career
Jeremy Enigk Ok Bear
Wild Beasts Two Dancers
Dinosaur Jr. Farm
Atlas Sound Logos
Ramona Falls Intuit
Desolation Wilderness New Universe

Favorite EP's

Joanna Newsom: Joanna Newsom and the Y's Street Band (I've been jonesin' for a new Joanna Newsom disc for a while now, this was a good taste, but what a relief it was to get Have One On Me this year... so so nice...)

Deerhunter: Rainwater Cassette Exchange (Holy Moses, had this been an LP, it would have been top-3. These tracks are just fantastic. I am just loving Halcyon Digest right now...)

Animal Collective: Fall Be Kind. (They weren't satisfied with giving us just one awesome disc this year)


Various Artists: Dark Was The Night

Right. Done. Look for my 2010 bestof list in around 364 days... nah, hopefully next week (I'm keeping my fingers crossed).

Monday, June 7, 2010


Can is a German band, that started out in 1968. Their last album was released in 1979. They are very experimental. Discovering this group of musicians kind of upsets me, because I didn't hear about them until just recently. Where most bands I like, have been influenced by them. Seems like I would have heard about them earlier in my life.

I Want More is a little more Pop compared to the other songs/jams.

1971 German TV Show

Interesting what they say about television.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pictures from The Grizzly Bear Show

Here are the really bad pictures courtesy of my phone of the Grizzly Bear show at The Moore.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Holy Moses! It hasn't been a very productive year at SoS, which is a shame because there have been giant earfuls of splendid new music in the last 9 1/2 months. Built to Spill's latest just came out and it's oh so very nice, but I feel compelled to play some catch-up. Not only that, but I've been writing this review in my head since it came out back in May! I honestly can't say how many times I've listened to it...

Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest

Wow, where to start? (I've been kicking around this idea about doing all my reviews in a 100 words or less, but I'll save that for another disc). Does it live up to the hype? Maybe... Is it the best album of the year? Spencer already came out and anointed Merriweather Post Pavilion... Do I think Veckatimest is better? If my annual top-10 list was ranked as a function of how many times I listened to each, it could win by a healthy margin come January. It’s almost not fair to compare the two, so I won’t. My quibbles are minor. When firing on all cylinders*, it is sublime.

*it almost always does...............................................................................for reals

Though Grizzly Bear's first LP, Horn of Plenty, was technically the debut I don't really count it (it was written when the band was just Ed Droste). Yellow House unveiled the group in it's complete form- with Daniel Rossen (Department of Eagles!!), Chris Taylor and Chris Bear filling out the roster. But as a collaborative piece, their "sophomore" release was more of an amalgam- consisting of songs previously written by Droste and Rossen before their powers combined. It made for a splendidly varied sound topography, but Veckatimest is the first time they've collaboratively written and the result is pretty exciting. Yes, Droste and Rossen still have their signature tracks (see "Ready, Able" and "Dory," respectively), but this 4-headed monster isn't easily untangled.

The opening track,"Southern Point," showcases this new explosive potential with swagger and bombast. It steadily builds, shimmering and marching, then unexpectedly erupts like an electromagnetic hoard of bats from their subterranean well.....And in a snap, it's spare and intimate again- diving back into a solo acoustic denouement. It's startling and beautiful. (Plug in some good headphones and dig the stereo effect of the flutter).

Two Weeks" is a perfect revisiting of the doo-wop aesthetic of the Crystal's "He Hit Me" cover from their Friend EP and provides some very necessary college-radio fodder. (Scroll to the end of the post to check out the song and video). The album unwinds to a needful smaller scale song by song, paring down the complexity of arrangements to "Dory" then amping back up progressively toward the lush finale, perfectly prefaced by "While you wait for the Others" (also see video down below).

The album starts as it ends: with a bang (not counting the haunting prologue- "Foreground"- I
always imagine he's singing "this is the foie gras..."). The Brooklyn Youth choir and the Acme String Quartet are used to gorgeous effect throughout, but particularly on "I live with you." It's a sprawling intergalactic effort deserving of it's own 60's B-SciFi music video (a la "Knife" from Yellow House- see right pic). Autoharp and flute welcome the strings which then melt into tidal swells of a choir-backed Rossen, (the ever-present bass clarinet lurking in the shadows), ultimately climaxing in a stratospheric collision of strings and synths.

(Ok, so this is why I want to do 100-word reviews and Haikus... I just don't feel it's enough to say that I like it).

So, in short: I love this album. Period.

Do I like it better than Department of Eagles' In Ear Park (My #1 pick for 2008)? I don't know if I do yet. Time will tell. (I'm more of a Rossen than a Droste kind of guy). I love that they experiment with sounds and genres, but occasionally the songs seem to feel a little detached. I loved the warmth and earthy feel of In Ear Park. Grizzly Bear sometimes sounds (for better or worse) like modern popular music as interpreted by extraterrestrials.

Check it out- let me know what you think.

Veckatimest Grade: 9.5/10

The Live Show:

Me and Sean saw Grizzly Bear at The Moore theater with opening band The Morning Benders last Friday. We were 8 rows back and the acoustics were quite nice. It was kind of convenient to sit down, but at times I was dancing in my seat and just wanted to jump around. For those familiar with the Friend EP version of "Little Brother" from Yellow House- it was that kind of show- all traditional arrangements for the most part (a little autoharp mixed in now and then) and the set had cool light schemes. But as awesome as it was to see them finally.... a Veckatimest live show deserves a backing choir and string quartet and some crazy projected visuals.... maybe even a painted papier mache boulder-field...... something. Yeah, it's about the music. Yeah all that other stuff would cost me more.... (or would it? i saw Sufjan on his Majesty Snowbird tour with his army of performers and elaborate stage show for the same cost like 4 years ago...) I still loved it... just imagined something a bit more grand.

Live Show Grade: 7.9/10


While You Wait for the Others