Dec 27, 2008

Best Songs of 2008 (Part 3)

After a Christmas break, I'm back to continue counting down my 10 favorite songs of 2008. Here's four through two.

4. "White Winter Hymnal" by Fleet Foxes from Fleet Foxes

Other than the torrent of vocal harmonies, there's almost no song here. Two or three guitar parts and one drum complete the melody. But that's enough. The two-and-half-minute playtime complements the theory at work here. Fleet Foxes remind us, conversely to most Brian Wilson disciples, that less is more.

3. "Get Better" by Mates of State from Re-arrange Us

"Get Better" is the anthem of 2008, a year when the elections, an economic entanglement, and political scandals trumped all other stories. The married duo's most ambitious song ever proclaims, "Everything's gonna get lighter, even if it never gets better," which is precisely what's happened in the last couple months. Post-election, our problems haven't really improved, but that buzz word "hope" has made out future prospects build like a cathartic drumbeat.

2. "Kim & Jessie" by M83 from Saturday = Youth

Just when it seemed like that whole 80s revival was on it's down curve, Anthony Gonzalez digs up his roots on his 2008 effort. Stephanie Meyer references aside, "Kim & Jessie" is a firmly contemporary track in spite of its retroness. There's a dark optimism here, a reminder of the bliss of teenagedom tinted with the e[c]lect[r]ic struggles of a post-911 world. It's the pop song by J.G. Ballard.

Be sure to comment on your favorite tracks of 2008. Later this week, I'll post #1, as well as the rest of my song and album lists.

Dec 18, 2008

Best Songs of 2008 (Part 2)

Today, we're continuing on Stoplight Sleep's countdown of the best song of 2008. Here's 7 through 5.

7. Single Frame  "Cold Mining" from S F E P

Coming in under 10 minutes, Single Frame's S F E P from January of this year could almost qualify as a song itself. The release is a power punch of post-punk energy for those still interested in that whole dance revival thing. "Cold Mining," riddled with Joy Division, barely sneaks ahead as the stand-out track. The hangover anthem poses the Myspace-survey worthy refrain of the year: "If you don't dream, does that mean / that you have not got one? / Or if you don't dream, does that mean / that you are living it?"

6. Frightened Rabbit  "Fast Blood" from The Midnight Organ Fight

On the surface, "Fast Blood" is standard post-millennial mope rock in the vein of Interpol, The Twilight Sad, and Arcade Fire. It could also be a pedestrian retelling of one sexual encounter. However, Scott Hutchinson's emotional conviction and extended metaphors about hurricanes and resurrection make the track the rock equivalent of impressionist poetry.

5. Crystal Castles  "Vanished" from Crystal Castles

I have a soft spot in my heart for the soundtracks of the Nintendo games of my youth. I've enjoyed covers of NES themes from The Advantage, Minibosses, and Motherbrain!, but those acts could only dictate the actual experience. On their debut album, Crystal Castles capture my remembered impression of playing games like Metroid and Astanyx  by combining an 8-bit aesthetic with a 21st-century worldview. "Vanished" is the moodiest song of the album.

Dec 16, 2008

Best Songs of 2008 (Part 1)

This week, Stoplight Sleep brings you my humble picks for this years best songs. First, we'll look at my top 10, followed by the 50 best list. So here we go . . .

10. The Dodos  "God" from Visiter

"God" is one of the few tracks where Meric Long's machine-gun precussion and Logan Kroeber's acoustic sprints ease up on The Dodo's Visiter. The duo's music theory seem deceptively simple: a reflection of the melody (and vise-versa). The jingling in the background and the steady downbeat lull you into thinking this one will be easy to digest. Then a simple euphamism ("Oh, god.") turns into a last-ditch plee for order in the universe. "Are you there, listener? It's me, the perfect album closer."

9. Los Campesinos!  "My Year In Lists" from Hold On Now, Youngster

Aside from the obvious relevance to your faithful author's current task, "My Year in Lists" is a perfect example of the energy and density packed in the best Los Campesinos! tracks.  As fun as the twee-pop music is, I can't resist lyrics in which the first verse is an extended metaphor about sex and letter-writting (a la PJ Harvey) followed by a meta-poetic comment on those lines.

8. The Kills  "U.R.A. Fever"  from Midnight Boom

In the last few years, M.C.s have commanded us to do some of the most vexatious acts ever put to music. Thankfully, The Kills, who traded in the garage sound of their last two albums for splashes of raw studio flare, have way cooler intenions for their audience. "Go down to the Rio"? "Go ahead and have her. / Go ahead and leave her"? Finally, a song about something I want to do.

Dec 14, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2008 (Version 1.0)

This list may be a bit premature, but I always find albums in the following year that would have made my year-end lists. Most recently I've found albums from 2007 (Electrelane's No Shouts, No Calls), 2005 (The Meligrove Band's Planets Conspire), and 2001 (Mirah's Advisory Committee) that probably would have made at least my top 25 list. Sometimes it takes awhile for me to give an album the chance it deserves. I've only this week listened to all of Lightspeed Champion's Falling off the Lavender Bridge, possibly because I saw it as too gimmacky following my summer 2006 affair with Test Icicles.

I've poured over this list and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon. Unlike last year, there's a definite divide between the top ten and the rest of my list (which I'll post later). These ten albums really stood out in my 2008 as musical achievements. 
Like 2007, you'll find a good mix of veteran acts (M83, The Kills), sophomores (Hot Chip, The Dodos), and rookies (Lost Campesinos!, MGMT). However, Ra Ra Riot are the only act completely off my radar before 2008.  Crystal Castles, Adele, and the other first timers all had some kind of release (either an EP or import) that I was at least aware of before this year.

Following another interesting trend, all of these albums, with the exception of Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line appeared on my mid-2008 list, although some have received a better evaluation with time. 

So what do you think? Post your lists. Do you violently disagree with any of my picks?

Dec 13, 2008

Musical Comedy and Musical Lists

Things have been good for musical comedy lately, mostly thanks to Flight of the Conchords, but some of the best recent efforts have come from the Lonely Island crew/SNL Digital Shorts with their improved production values, especially on their latest effort, "Jizz in My Pants."

I also recommend "Space Olympics" for fans of Casshern or VNV Nation.

ou can also check out the results of the Pitchfork Reader's Poll and their Best of 2008 Guest List, featuring picks from some today's best artists. Reoccuring themes include Beach House, Deerhunter, and--my personal pick--Why?.

Dec 4, 2008

Artist of the Year: Amanda Palmer

May 20, 2008: Dresden Dolls release No, Virginia, the sequel to last year's splendid Yes, Virginia. Basically a collection of tracks rescued from the Yes, Virginia's cutting-room floor, No, Virgina is worthy of some consideration. (A Radiohead's Amnesiac to Kid A analogy my be helpful.) Tracks like "Dear Jenny," and "Night Reconnaissance," and the duo's cover of "Pretty in Pink" highlight the album.

September 16, 2008: Dresden Dolls's lead singer and pianist releases her first solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? Any doubters of this Ben Folds-produced album were proven wrong by the variety of genres, emotions, and references packed into 12 tracks.

Amanda also produced a video for almost every track, most of which follow a cohesive narrative structure. The cabaret-inspired video for "Leeds United" (see below) has sparked quite the story.

November 22, 2008: Dresden Dolls fanboard The Shadowbox comes alive with indignation towards boy-club, butt-rock-and-metal label Road Runner's feedback about the "Leeds United" video. Amanda says they wanted to edited out her "belly." Her fans reacted by stuffing the net with belly shots. (No, not that kind.)

Palmer has given the label an ultimatum, wishing to be released from her (and I suppose Dresden Doll's) contract. This comes even after the label tried to spin the bad press.

Internet memes aside, 2008 amounts to a great year for Amanda Palmer, who unanimously wins Stoplight Sleep's Artist of the Year award. Congrats! Now don't fill up on cake at the party, you'll never get a new records deal, Ms. Palmer.

I went to football-gang brawl and a post-modern cabaret video broke out!

Nov 9, 2008

The Truth in You

Thanks to Anna of MOG, I've decided to do the new MOG lyrics game.

Directions and info from her site:

Mimi came up with a game for us:

I love games! Here are the instructions from her post:

Step 1: Put your music player on random.

Step 2: Post the first line (or so, some are hard) from the first 21 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.

Step 3: Post and let everyone guess what SONG AND ARTIST the lines come from (No lyric hunting! That is cheating!).

Step 4: Strike out the songs when someone guesses correctly.

Step 5: After doing the 1st 21, listen to one more random song and post it as your title.

My 21:

  1. I won't sing your algebra. I won't sing anything. Notwist - "Alphabet" (WTG, deg5000)
  2. I'm working on my backwards walk. Frightened Rabbit - "Backwards Walk" (WTG, Anna)
  3. You take the time to cut my head off.
  4. Who be in a Japanese restaurant, eating sushi, drinking saki? It's me . . .
  5. She said . . . She said . . . She said she could tempt me, both in rooms full and empty. Tricky - "She Said" (WTG, Anna)
  6. Cowardice muscles turn to tourture. The waking time is low.
  7. The community is sick. (Please believe.) And the community is blind. (In love and hope.)
  8. Yeah! Wa-ho! There's something in the air. Digitalism - "Pogo" (WTG, Anna)
  9. As if in a dream only one man can know, he tastes the dirt; he chews the dirt.
  10. I used to be so proud of thinking I was such a liar.
  11. Sample: [Funky life?] I've been told, "all that glitters is not gold."
  12. After all the words we sing, I've got my eyes on the machine.
  13. Found your mittens behind a box of pictures.
  14. Morning scatters in and I am steady like a drug, feeling out this one.
  15. [after intro] Hey, you, get off my cloud! You don't know me, and you don't know my style.
  16. The roof is leaking rust, disintegrates, and dust.
  17. Things are feeling thin. Well, I know. I know.
  18. Sometimes it's hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man.Dresden Dolls - "Stand by Your Man" [Live Tammy Wynette cover] (WTG, yummygatalover.)
  19. He led you to this hiding place. His lightening threats spun silver tongues.
  20. Well, everybody is waiting for everybody to get out.
  21. The moon hangs high in August sky. All questions cease where answers lie.

Nov 8, 2008

All-Time Top 10

Recently, my wife and I made a list of our top 10 songs of all time. I could just as easily come up with 4 other lists of 10 songs that I love equally, but here's mine in chronological order.

"The Bewlay Brothers" by David Bowie, from Hunky Dory
"Last Goodbye" by Jeff Buckley, from Grace
"Falling" by Ben Kweller, from Sha Sha
"Caring is Creepy" by The Shins, from Oh, Inverted World
"Samson" by Regina Spektor, from Songs
"Take Me to the Hospital" by the Faint, from Saddle Creek 50
"Staring at the Sun" by TV on the Radio, from Young Liars and Desparate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
"Twilight" by the Raveonettes, from Pretty in Black
"Ice Cream" by Muscles, from Guns Babes Lemonade
"The Hollows" by Why?, from Alopecia

The list is a little contemporary-heavy, but it's meant to be personal. These are the songs that I enjoy most at this point in my life, although I had to take a hatchet to a list of 40 to cut it down this much. Post your 10 as well!

Sep 23, 2008

Tuesday Tidal Wave

Today has to be one of the greatest release dates in some time. Here's the list of albums I'm going to be sinking my ears into over the next few weeks (in order of listening priority):

Cold War Kids Loyalty to Loyalty
: CWK aren't my favorite group on the list (yet), but they have a sound that's all there own. I haven't heard anything like Cold War Kids since Robbers and Cowards.

Mogwai The Hawk is Howling: If you get Mogwai, you get Mogwai. And they just keep getting better.

TV on the Radio Dear Science: Like CWK, no one quiet does it like these New Yorkers. Take Peter Gabriel, make him the front man of Souldive, then have the band do gospel covers. That's one TV on the Radio.

Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue: Rabbit Fur Coat was one of my most surprising albums of the last few years. I've always thought of Rilo Kiley (Lewis's band) as above average, but her side-project with The Watson Twins really exposed her songwriting abilities and ranked her with the likes of Neko Case. Jenny Lewis is "truly" solo this time.

Blitzen Trapper Furr: As someone who cringes at the Grateful Dead, I'm amazed how much I can get into tracks like "Country Caravan" from last year's Wild Mountain Naiton. The cover's kinda 80s metal (Valient Thor, anyone?), but lets hope the sound's still early 00s Wilco.

I'll be reviewing these albums as I absorb them, and I'm sure at least a couple will make my end-of-the-year list.

Sep 3, 2008

Best New Music: Enemy Edition

In honor of the return of the Ricky Gervais Podcast, this (hopefully reoccurring) segment will feature the "enemy" of their new release. Yeah, I know; I'm reaching here.

In August, Ra Ra Riot finally released their first full length, featuring new tracks, a couple old ones, and some re-recordings. The Rhumb Line's enemies are bands like Death Cab and Cursive, who--although still good--have a lost a bit of their edge recently. RRR's ally, the influence of Fugazi, proposes to make this one of 2008's best.

Susu's enemy is all those people who can't stand the influences on the perpetual sleave of contemporary bands. Interpol, Editors, and A.R.E. Weapons are just a few of the newer acts who've received criticism for a lack of originality. I'll admit that none of these bands are going blow knowledgeable minds, but they can't all be Arcade Fire, Rasputina, or Radiohead. There's a value in doing a genre well, and Susu are doing their part to revive a bit of dirty, no-wave influenced indie rock. Unwound is reincartnated on Susu's new release, Win.

Brevity has been fighting a loosing battle against Red Sparowes for several years in song structure, but even more so in song naming. Those hungry for just a post-metal appetizer will be satisfied by their new EP, Aphorisms. With 3 tracks and a total of 17 minutes, this release will leave Red Sparowes's biggest fans (like myself), wanting more, but it's better than nothing. Screw you, Brevity! Mogwai's new album is around the corner.

Aug 4, 2008

No excuse . . .

With no DRM and good bitrates, the Amazonmp3 Store is a great place to check out some new tunes. You can sample the songs and automatically import them to your preferred software.

Here's my recommendations for some amazing deals:

Wolf Parade At Mount Zoomer $5.99
Fleet Foxes Sun Giant EP $4.99
Red Sparowes Aphorisms $2.97
A Night at the Opera $3.99
Hank Williams 20 . . . Greatest Hits $1.99
David Bowie The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars $5.00

There's lots of other deals, too; just use the handy search-by-price links on the left.

Jul 29, 2008

2 1/2 Hours of Tom Waits

In case you haven't heard, the biggest concert on the net this week is a stream of Tom Waits recorded at the Fox Theater in Atlanta on July 5. The music is great, but the original Hellboy is known for his outrageous storytelling. Surf (don't click) on over to NPR's site to listen now.

Glitter & Doom: Tom Waits in Concert

Jul 26, 2008

New Cold War Kids Track

One of the freshest acts of the last few years has been Cold War Kids. Like The Decemberists, Dresden Dolls, and a handful of other acts, the band mixes elements and styles of decades long past (musically, thematically, and visually) with contemporary pop and indie music.

Their new album Loyalty to Loyalty will be released in late September. You can sample a new track, Something is Not Right With Me, now by heading over to RCRD LBL. Pitchfork has tour dates and a stream of the track, if you prefer.

Jul 23, 2008

Best of 2008 (First Half)

Of all the albums I've heard so far in 2008, these are my favorites, beginning with the best:

The Dodos Visiter
Why? Alopecia
MGMT Oracular Spectacular
The Gutter Twins Saturnalia
The Kills Midnight Boom
Portishead Third
Los Campesions! Hold On Now Youngster
Hot Chip Made in the Dark
The Black Keys Attack & Release
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles
Adele 19
Atmosphere When Life Gives You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold
M83 Saturday = Youth
Vetiver Thing of the Past
Mates of State Re-arrange Us
Justin Townes Earle The Good Life
Sigur Ros Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV
Black Mountain In the Future
Single Frame S F E P
Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
Jamie Lidell Jim
The Notwist The Devil, You + Me
Sons and Daughters The Gift
Ladytron Velocefiro
Islands Arms Way
Santogold Santogold
Cat Power Jukebox
She & Him Volume One
Joan as Police Woman To Survive
Saul Williams The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust
Ssion Fool's Gold
Scarlett Johansson Anywhere I Lay My Head
Girl Talk Feed the Animals
Sun Kil Moon April

I've also complied a Muxtape of some of my favorite 2008 songs.

Jul 21, 2008

Best of 2008 (First Half) Preview

Later this week, I'll be posting a list of my favorite albums of the first half of 2008 (Released prior to July 1). Here's one album that will be on the list with some of my thoughts on it:

Los Campesinos!
Hold On Now, Youngster (87/100)

No album this year has more energy than the first full length from this band of what sounds like pre-teens. Song titles like "We Are All Accelerated Readers" hint otherwise. The internet-famous "You! Me! Dancing!" has been making the blog rounds for awhile, having been recorded like 12 times. The density of hooks, sonic layers, and meter changes is matched only by the rapid-fire quotability of the lyrics. Think of a younger, more energetic, punkier New Pornographers, maybe with a little Rainer Maria or similar emo-leaning indie pop.

Los Campesinos! official site
Download Hold On Now, Youngster from Emusic.
Buy Hold On Now, Youngster from Amazon.
Buy the LP on Insound.

This album and more will be on the upcoming list. You'll also get an updated Muxtape with some of the best songs of 2008.

Jul 17, 2008


Earlier on G4, the E3 coverage team (i.e. every on-screen personality on the channel), asked who won E3. My instant reaction (and poll-winner) was Microsoft. They did debut Netflix (which I was looking forward to on PS3), announced Final Fantasy XIII will be on Xbox (if anything), and showed off their avatars.

But to say that Microsoft was "Best in Show" was highly misleading. Neither Microsoft, Nintendo, nor Sony showed us anything worthy of the adverb big. There were lots of news, tons of footage of upcoming games, and cool new things revealed. I feel like third-party developers were the real winners this week. Exclusive titles are becoming less important, and more big titles are making jumps (FF13, Bioshock, etc.). This can only be good for fans.

Best of E3*
Resistance 2 (gameplay footage)
Fallout 3 (more revealed)
PS3 Video Store (support of major studios)
Fat Princess (PSN)
Fable 2 Co-op

Honorable Mention
Bioshock (PS3 exclusive content)
Resident Evil 5 and Silent Hill: Homecoming (more revealed)
Rock Band and Guitar Hero becoming more friendly (and here).

*Many of these were not E3 exclusive, but are related to the week's events.

E3 Let-downs
Netflix exclusive to Xbox.
Resident Evil 5 delayed till March.
Nintendo markets to moms and thinks Animal Crossing: City Folk is for hardcore gamers.

Jul 11, 2008

Bu Rant

There's been a lot of talk about Blu-Ray v. DVD v. download lately, but there are a couple things that don't get mentioned often in the debate.

1. Some Blu-Rays aren't really better.

Last week, I got House of Flying Daggers on Blu-Ray from Netflix. The story’s above average, and like Yimou Zhang’s previous film Hero, every shot is a work of art. However, the quality of the video on the disc was lacking. I can’t speak for the original theatrical release, but reviews and forum posts on the disc confirm the poor quality of the transfer. Even on my 32” Westinghouse, I could see lots of noise and was distracted by the lack of clarity within deep colors (a trademark of the director’s style).

More than a few Blu-Ray releases have been scarred by poor video (or audio) quality. Most recently, the Blu-Ray release of Gangs of New York has received some of the worst comments I’ve seen regarding video quality on a high-def disc. The original Fifth Element and Full Metal Jacket releases are examples of sub par releases where the studio has actually stepped up and remedied the situation with a new release.

2. Where are my special features?

One of the reasons I happily made the jump to DVD (other than video/span quality, lifespan, etc.) was for special features: deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, commentaries, etc. One advantage that Blu-Ray boasts over DVD is the possibility for better special features: picture-in-picture commentaries, internet connectivity, and (with more space) more features.

Hellboy has seen several standard-def DVD releases, with the 3-disc director’s cut containing a wealth of bonus features, including a new commentary by the director. Fans who opt for the similarly priced Blu-Ray version will get a great video/audio bang for their buck, but will miss out on all the features found on the three-disc DVD.

Taking Gangs of New York as a case study again, the disc offers nothing that wasn’t on the two-disc DVD. The only apparent advantage of the Blu-Ray version, which costs $15 more, is the [assumed] jump in audio quality and not having to change discs halfway through the movie.

There are several examples of Blu-Ray releases that get everything right. Jumper is the best example I’ve seen. With next-gen commentary, an “animated” comic, and amazing video and audio quality, this release actually creates a highly enjoyable experience from a mediocre film.

If the big studios really want Blu-Ray to be the new media format (which is debatable), they’re going to have to do more than fatten release schedules and shrink the price gap; they’ll have to make all Blu-Rays obviously superior to their market-penetrated competition.

Apr 19, 2008

My Muxtape

Stoplight Sleep now has a Muxtape. You can go there to hear recently blogged tracks, related songs, and whatever else is on my mind.

Pop on over here. While you're there, make your own Muxtape and post the link in the comments.

The current Muxtape features tracks from my last post on the Kills.

Apr 8, 2008

Midnight Boom "Kills"

Until a couple weeks ago, I would have said that Hot Chip had released the best album of an adolescent 2008. Made in the Dark isn’t quite on par with last year’s Sound of Silver (LCD Soundsystem), but it comes from a similar sonic playground, including songs that can knock you down with shock and awe (“Shake a Fist”) and lull you into a meditative appreciation (“Wrestlers”).

Who could have up-ended this achievement? On March 18, The Kills released Midnight Boom, and album I had probably anticipated more than any other this year. No one could have had higher expectations for a fresh release from the cross-Atlantic duo of vocalist Alison "VV" Mosshart and guitarist Jamie "Hotel" Hince, but when I started hearing of Spank Rock’s involvement and some of the early reviews, I worried that my two-headed demon of ripping hipster blues had been defanged (a la PJ Harvey’s White Chalk).

When I finally got to pop Midnight Boom in my CD player, I felt the tingle that a friend had introduced me to with the first blips followed by the revving chainsaw of “Superstition” (track 1 of their debut, Keep on Your Mean Side). The first, confusing ten seconds of “U.R.A. Fever” follow landline sound effects into VV and Hotel’s endless supply of violently whispered haikus:

Pick you out a soda.
Look at you forever.
Eyes like a casino.
Find a piece of silver.
Go down to the Rio.
Put it in a fruit machine.
Everyone’s a winner.
Laughing like a seagull.
You are a fever . . .

With the refrain comes a subtle-but-deadly bass line and electro scratch. Like most of the album, it’s hit-and-run; two minutes later the track is over, leaving elation and bemused confusion in its wake.

“Take you to a jukebox . . . / Pick you out a number, / that’s our arrangement.”

Hip-hop roots decorate the proverbial sleeves of tracks like “Getting Down” and “Sour Cherry.” The Kills has always been the other side of The Bumblebeez garage-blues-for-B-boys coin (compare “Hook and Line” to the former’s “Step Back”), but Midnight Boom finds VV, Hotel, and their studio mates further exploring their metallic possibilities (Did Albini stop by with a metal pick?). There are new sounds, like the tricks that peers The White Stripes, Forget Cassettes, and Hot Chip have used to give their sound new dimensions.

With Midnight Boom, 2008 has found the spit and booze to shape its reckless youth, albeit one with decent taste.

VV borrows a pinch of soul from (The Gossip’s) Beth Ditto on “Cheap and Cheerful.”

Mar 29, 2008

Record Shop

Circa 2001. I'm working at a regional music chain in Jackson, TN. This is both the best and worst job I've ever had. My musical vocabulary and frame of reference increases ten fold in the year or so I spend there, and I meet many people who positively influence my knowledge and taste. I also encounter countless "morons" who grate my nerves with their questionable taste and inane questions. Worst of all, I become a cultural elitist (partially due to the film education provided by a roommate and a video production course), a personality trait I have only wrestled into submission in the last couple years.

Present. Inspired by my newly acquired speakers, I've u-turned away from the internet as my primary source of new music. Over the last decade the mode of transfer from my music has shifted in much the same way as yours (you being the ubiquitous blog-reader) likely has: from exclusively CD to almost exclusively mp3 (or some other digital equivalent). Although I'm completely confident in the ability of a digital audio file to deliver an experience equal to that of CD, I'm not confident in the ability of my computer or iPod or internet storefronts to consistently deliver that experience. What follows is a list of my praise and gripes:
  • The iPod classic and PC, while good in storage capacity, portability (iPod), and user friendliness, require add-ons (external DAC, controler/line-in adapter) for optimum performance.
  • BLEEP, 7digital, Anthology Recordings, and similar sites have the quality right, but their selection is limited or caters toward a specific market.
  • Amazon and iTunes (the two biggest digital music retailers) are headed in the right direction, but still aren't the perfect solution.
  • Nine Inch Nails had a great idea with their latest release, but bandwidth was a problem early on.
The--possibly foolish--reaction has been to invest almost embarrassing amounts of cash on CDs, occasionally of tracks that I'd previously acquired (legally or otherwise). Not since my time at the CD store have I so haphazardly consumed round, silver plastic. In the last two weeks, I've popped into Barnes & Noble (of all places) to look for CDs. The first time I was hoping they might have the new Kills album, and last night I was taking advantage of their 40% coupon. Both times, I hoped--fruitlessly--to see my friend/acquaintance who works there.

During his appearance on All Songs Considered, Thom Yorke stated that he missed the experience of record shopping. My time shopping the decent-but-inadequate CD section of our local B&N became about an attempt to reclaim that music shop experience, and even though there was no one around who's taste I would turn to, I picked up the Nick Cave album that sat in my friend's recommendation slot by the counter.

I realize that the try-before-you-buy nature of mp3s and music blogs are a more efficient and streamlined method of achieving the same effect. But there's a unique experience in filing through rows of CDs or vinyl while chatting and listening to someone else's selection. I don't want to give up all that technology hath wrought, but I don't want to throw out the indie shops either.

In the spirit of that idea, and the upcoming Record Store Day, here are my favorite record stores:

Grimey's Nashville, TN
If I ever move to Nashville, this place will have something to do with that.
Memorable purchase: DJ Shadow Preemptive Strike (used vinyl)

Euclid Records St. Louis, MO
I've only been there once, but the layout, selection, and staff were all top-notch. I'll be making a visit soon.
Jason Molina Let Me Go, Let Me Go (vinyl/CD)

Last Chance Memphis, TN
Memorable Purchase: Hot Snakes Audit in Progress (vinyl)
Shangri-La Memphis, TN
Memorable purchase: Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (used? vinyl)
hen I lived farther down the Mississippi, these places (especially LC) were weekly stops.

The Disc Exchange Knoxville, TN
Another one I've only visited once . . . over five years ago, but they had a nice variety and friendly staff.
Memorable purchase: The White Stripes White Blood Cells (CD, original Sympathy for the Record industry release)

Mar 9, 2008

The Otto Modest

I won't bore you gushing about The Otto Modest, something I've done to almost a fault in other media. They're a band I've been familiar with for over three years, along with developing friendships with a couple members (Lead singer Josh Evans even played at my wedding). I've discovered it's harder and harder to be objective when it comes to them.

Nevertheless, I feel they're a band that people should hear about. Their 2007 release, Badbad can now be had on Emusic and other sites. If you get a chance to pick up the CD, you'll get a unique limited-edition cover.

Rather than say much about them, I'll point you to some links where you can hear them for yourself:

The official Otto Modest site
The Otto Modest on myspace
Buy Badbad on Emusic
Buy Badbad on Amazon

Feb 21, 2008

3-Way Electro Yr Face

1. Get the new album from Kansas City's Ssion /shun/, Fool's Gold. Previous incarnations of this band have spliced the New York take on new-new garage punk and po-mo'd it up to hit all the freaky right notes, including a Rocky Horror reinterpretation ("Opportunity Bless My Soul") and a Minute Man parody ("What Make a Man Start a Band?"), both from the apparently out-of-print-but-worth-hunting-down Opportunity Bless My Soul.

The band has become more electronically oriented in the last couple years, like some of their peers. Mo' money--mo' circuits, i 'pose.

From what I could find, the album is currently only available on iTunes, which I've seen happen before. Who'd have thunk Apple would be bringing the cutting-edge indie tunes to the kids? Luckily, it's an iTunes Plus album. You can also sample some tracks on myspace. Ug.

[mp3] Ssion - Street Jizz
from Fool's Gold (2008)
[mp3] Ssion - Opportunity Bless My Soul
from Opportunity Bless My Soul (2003)

2. Check out the live Klaxons / Rihanna mashup from the Brit Awards. Laser shows are cool!? Or is it lazer in England?

As advertised on Pitchfork.

3. Crystal Castles official release of their self-titled album has been pushed back, but you can pick up the Crystal Castles v. Health - Crimewave single all over the place.

[mp3] Crystal Castles - "Alice Practice"
from Crystal Castles (2008)

Download Crystal Castles v. Health - Crimewave: Emusic Amazonmp3
Preorder Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles: insound

Bonus Track!
[mp3] Klaxons - "Atlantis to Interzone" (Crystal Castles Remix)

Feb 17, 2008

Bower-y Boi; "Rosebud!"

It's rare that I find a music writer I can name drop, but William Bowers (not to be confused with the late Western-film writer) has become an elite member of the club. Besides writing for various zines and mags, his "Puritan Blister" columns on Pitchfork have become a warm center of meta-postmodern critique among the trivial news and overwrought reviews (not that PF is bad). I'm currently enamored with his commentary on the new Hannah Montana "movie." Also check out his previous entry "about" the dysfunctional marriage of music and film.

Puritan Blister #34: I Went and Saw Me Some Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, Part One
Puritan Blister #33: Big Pimpin’ (Organic Synergy Remix)

You can also download mp3s and such from his blog, samely titled.

Filmspotting's musical interludes are provided by the Rosebuds this week. The band is currently on tour (dates below).

[mp3] The Rosebuds - Leaves Do Fall
from Birds Make Good Neighbors
[mp3] The Rosebuds - Kicks in the Schoolyard
from The Rosebuds Make Out

Feb 24th - B1 Maximum * Moscow, Russian Federation w/ Brett Anderson (Suede)

Feb 29th - Noise Pop XVI * The Mezzanine - San Francisco CA w/ Working for a Nuclear Free City & Foxtail SomersaultMar 7th - Kings Barcade - Raleigh NC w/ Monotix & Un Deux Trios (all ages)Mar 8th - Bellafesta - Wilmington NC w/ Un Deux Trios

Mar 9th - The Map Room - Charleston SC w/ Un Deux Trios
Mar 10th - Art Bar - Columbia SC w/ Beach House
Mar 11th - The Earl - Atlanta GA w/ Beach House & Birds of Avalon
Mar 12th - Spanish Moon - Baton Rouge LA w/ Silversun Pickups (all ages)
Mar 14th - SXSX * Antones * Merge Records Showcase * Austin TX w/ Imperial Teen, The Broken West, Lady Bug Transistor and and "secret band from Austin!"
Mar 15th - SXSW * Austin TX tba
Mar 16th - SXSW * Poke Joe's * Merge Records/Absolutely Kosher Records Party * Austin TX
Mar 17th - SXSW * Austin TX * tba
The Rosebuds - Night of the Furies - April 10th! Merge Records USA

The Rosebuds on Emusic
The Rosebuds on Insound