Jan 4, 2012

10 More 2011

About a month ago, picked my 10 favs of 2011 for The Elliot Potter Show with Jason Brown. I told him at the time that I could have picked 10 totally different albums and been happy with my list. Here are those 10.

Tim Hecker Ravedeath, 1972

Why it didn't make the list: I really have no excuse.

Why it should have made the list: This is probably the greatest non-guitar, non-beat-driven instrumental album I've ever heard. If I start a drone project in 2012, this album will be why.

EMA Past Life Martyred Saints

Why it didn't make the list: Again, I really have no excuse. Other than I had to leave off something.

Why it should have made the list: Past Life is full of emotionally piercing, sincere, relateable lyrics and subtle but powerful production.

Big Black Delta BBDLP1

Why it didn't make the list: Some of the tracks came out in 2010 on BBDEP.

Why it should have made the list: It's a great mix of post-modern big beat ballads and huge dance tracks.


Why it didn't make the list: Probably because there's not enough diversity on the album to make it stand out among the plurality of my taste.

Why it should have made the list: The album features the best straight-up guitar work and production of the year.

Radiohead Live from the Basement

Why it didn't make the list: The King of Limbs underwhelmed me until I saw this show (soon to be DVD) and their performance on Colbert. Radiohead is one of the few bands that can take brilliance in the studio and somehow make it even better live.

Why it should have made the list: It's creative, moody, blah blah. They're the greatest band of the last 20 years.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart Belong

Why it didn't make the list: It's derivative. Rock albums featuring heavy guitars were popular this year (Ume, Joy Formidable), so it's hard to pick one.

Why it should have made the list: Pains took their SmithsXXBelle&Sebastian and mixed it with heavy early 90s guitar for the shoegazey-ist pop hooks this side of Ride.

The Antlers and friends (together)

Why it didn't make the list: I hadn't heard it yet, but it kinda did. Burst Apart was my number 2.

Why it should have made the list: This re-imagining of their album may be better than the original.

Phantogram Nightlife

Why it didn't make the list: I hadn't heard it yet.

Why it should have made the list: Their debut was great. This EP is bigger/better. Can't wait for what they do next.

Oneohtrix Point Never Replica

Why it didn't make the list: I hadn't heard it yet. And I'm upset about that.

Why it should have made the list: This was album Gang Gang Dance instead, but Oneohtrix gets it for being a bit more concise.

May 13, 2011

Mainfinger Remixes Scott Pilgrim!

Several months ago, I planned to do a podcast commentary with some friends for the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World DVD. Those plans fell through, but I did come away with a sweet, "overclocked" remix of "Threshhold" from video-game enthusiast and electronic artist Mainfinger. Now it's my ringtone!


Feb 14, 2011

Their Entire Catalog

Amidst recovering from a long, hazy weekend full of pizza and sugar and C2H5OH, I rediscovered Hail to the Thief, the only of Radiohead's four full-length releases (Yes, Com Lag, the In Rainbows b-sides, etc. are all good as well.) over the past decade that I wouldn't have previously labeled "a classic." I'm not sure why, but I'd never really fully understood the album, however enjoyable and punctuated with genius moments, specifically the shift in "2 + 2 = 5" and the opening riff of "There There."

I'm not sure if it was the post-bender glaze of a Monday-morning commute or the new lens I see all music through as I age and become a more knowledgeable musician myself, but for the maybe the first time ever, I completely consumed and absorbed and swam through the clicks and sighs and breathes of HttT. My recent discovery of their "secret playlist" hasn't hurt my renewed enthusiasm for the band in general either.

Radiohead is a band that have become so ubiquitous in the minds of anyone with even the slightest interest in music that it's hard to say much about them. Whether ambitious young musicians are referencing influences or Kid Rock is trying to carve out his cultural significance, the band cannot be ignored when analyzing the first decade of the 21st century.

Kid A was a kind of wake-up call to labels and bands and whoever else cared that a bar had been set, and (along with Nine Inch Nails and a few others) In Rainbows recalibrated the distribution dial. So it's fitting that this decade, still fresh in every way, will see Radiohead's newest effort released this weekend. You can pre-order now.

Everyone: take note.

Feb 11, 2011

The Kills - Keep On Your Mean Side

Remember, if you can, Dear Reader, the first time you heard that one album. That one time it took only the first few seconds for you to fall in love? A love so deep and painful that the only way you could express it would be to rip your skin off with pliers or at least bloody your hand on some rusty guitar strings.

Maybe you've never had this experience, Dear Reader. In that case, I mourn for you. You've never had your Keep On Your Mean Side.

2003: It was a late night after a few rounds at the bar. Maybe we'd stopped at a gas station for cigarettes or beer or both. Maybe we'd been playing pool or talking poetry. I don't recall. For the first and only time, I sat in the spacious, thrift-furnitured living room of the house he shared with some roommate or three. As usual, we talked music with semi-automatics, blasting names and songs and labels back and forth with sharp precision.

At some point, he changed the record and then . . .

. . . the faint, lo-fi clicks of some rescued beat box rolling around my skull. Then—

—that guitar. That. Guitar. Like a hobble-legged demon growling from down the hall. "I will rip you." Just three notes and lots of space, but that was enough. And always will be. Forever.

There was that voice, too. The demon's ghostly familiar. But it really only took that 10 seconds—not too change my life, for sure—to change everything I ever thought music and bands and rock and energy and love and lust and cool could be.

Jan 26, 2011

Best of 2010: The Canada Connection

Last year, Spoon and Joanna Newsom (among others) received heaps of praise for albums that—at least when compared to their previous work—were pedestrian, uninspiring, and, well, boring. Meanwhile, Broken Social Scene released yet another masterpiece, Forgiveness Rock Record. How this band isn't on the tip of everyone's tongue, I'll never understand.

Perhaps I could write their lack of overwhelming success of to being Canadian, but who isn't (or doesn't want to be) these days. SS is, however, convinced that the under-appreciation of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was partially due to it's "tragically Canadian sensibility." Not only did an older BSS track appear on the soundtrack, but members Kevin Drew and Emily Haines also contributed original songs to the movie.

Scott Pilgrim has birthed no fewer than 3 albums at this point: the film's OST, the videogame's score (by Anamanaguchi), and the film's score, primarily composed by famed producer Nigel Godrich. Every minute of SP-related music is worth your time, but "Threshhold" and "Garbage Truck," written by Godrich and Beck, and performed on the soundtrack by the cast (as Sex Bob-omb), are two of SS's favorites.

Beck also collaborated with Black Moth Super Rainbow's Tom Fec on one of his TOBACCO releases, Maniac Meat. On a few songs, Beck adds his "It's in the Becktionary" hip-hoppish lyrics to Fec's fuzzy beats and mosquito vocals. SS is a sucker for fuzz . . .
But we think you should give it a shot anyway.

Watch videos from Forgiveness Rock Record on Broken Social Scene's site. (And say that 5 times fast.)

Tobacco - Grape Aerosmith (feat. Beck) Official Video from Allen Cordell on Vimeo.

As always, if you like something: buy it!