Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dan Craig - Alchemy

Official | Buy
Somehow a simple christmas carol led me to discover Dan Craig, a Denver man with a band that is currently making a big impression on me. It's his song "Enough" that really caught my full attention, and from there my productivity went way downhill as I was constantly being swept up in his evocative and emotional lyrics. His songs are well rounded with a nice full sound, part of which comes from the string and piano arrangements that float in and out of his songs. His music really sucked me in and at times reminds me of Josh Ritter (especially "In The Company of Friends") so of course that was enough to keep me listening. Enjoy this one and be sure to check out his other songs on his website.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Favorite Albums of 2010

According to itunes I acquired 3,062 songs or 8.7 days or 208.4 hours worth of music in 2010. I've spent the past month meticulously combing through it all trying to figure out just what I liked the best from this year but in the end I decided to use two specific rules for making my list:
1. I had to have paid for the album
2. It had to have a high play rate
Based on these rules I arrived at a list of 17 that were clearly at the top. Putting it in order was the hard part. I hate odd numbers but the reason for 17 is that there was a large drop off in number of times an album was played after number 17, so I'm just going with it. There were plenty of albums that I bought but were forgotten after a month or quite a few that I only have 4 or 5 songs from, so they got ruled out (like Kanye West, The National, and Kanye West). The top ten are all albums that I can listen to start to finish without ever wanting to skip songs which is why there are no listening recommendations, just listen to them all. Here it goes...
17. CEO - White Magic [Buy]
I know this is a really awkward number but it's my list and I can do what I want. I felt I really needed to include this because when I think back to the summer all I hear is chill wave/electronic music all the time and this was the one I listened to the most. Certainly when you look at this album as a whole it has the most to offer and is one of the most cohesive albums that we heard off the chillwave market this summer. It is filled with sunshiny optimism, I couldn't get enough of it during the summer months and I'm pretty excited to have remembered it during the winter months too.
Recommendations: Come with me, White Magic, All Around, Love and Do What You Will

16. Various Artists - Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein
Yes, this is a children's album, technically. But I loved it. Andrew Bird's "The Twistable Turnable Man Returns" was one of my most played and favorite songs of the year. There is a lot of twang to it but with Dr. Dog, My Morning Jacket, and Black Francis it has a modern spin.
Recommendations: The Twistable Turnable Man Returns, The Unicorn, Queen of the Silver Dollar

15. Basia Bulat - Heart of My Own [Buy]
She played one of my favorite concerts of the year. Her songs are truly beautiful and uplifting from the lyrics to the composition. This album is like the sun coming out after a dreary rainstorm. I will always remember her saying, "I'm going to softly folk rock you all." And that's what this album is.
Recommendations: Go On, Run, Gold Rush, Heart of My Own, If Only You

14. Sarah Jaffe - Suburban Nature [Buy]
This 14 song is one big dark rumination, with at least half of the songs being the kind you want to play on repeat for hours. A lot of her songs build you up to crashing cresendos and compelling choruses that stick with you for days.
Recommendations: Clementine, Summer Begs, Better Than Nothing, Perfect Plan

13. Frontier Ruckus - Deadmalls and Nightfalls [Buy]
I really enjoyed this album and even though I liked their previous album better, this one got played a lot especially on those grey days when it was hard to get out of bed. Every song is a poem put to gentle guitars and occasionally aided by the saw, banjo, and trumpets. After an especially long weekend I went to their show, only to have 10 other people show up and now "The Upper Room" always reminds me of sitting on the cavernous room's wooden floor and being completely overwhelmed with emotions.
Recommendations: Nerves of the Nightmind, The Upper Room, Silverfishes

12. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs [Buy]
I love listening to this album in the car and the drums at the end of "Suburban War" still gives me chills. There are a few songs I skip but there were plenty of other songs to choose from that were flawless. This was one of my most played albums this year.
Recommendations: Suburban War, We Used to Wait, Sprawl II

11. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker [Buy]
There was nothing else that came out this year that was even remotely like this psychedelic rock album. If you ever thought this music died with the sixties, Tame Impala is single handedly giving it a new life in 2010. In fact, just the other week I got pulled over for speeding because I got too distracted while listening to this album. It definitely takes you to another place.
Recommendations: Solitude is Bliss, Lucidity, Runway Houses City Clouds

10. Glasser - Ring [Buy]
Those voices, the percussion, the everything, even down to the little clicks and yelps...they've always left me speechless. So much in fact that I have four posts on Glasser that are still in drafts because I could never verbalize anything about this band. I always wanted to say this album is unsymetrical but that statement was too hard to justify. This album blew me away from start to finish.

9. Menomena [Buy]
This album is a little bit schizophrenic but that is what keeps me listening over and over. If any album ever deserved to be described as "interesting" this is one of them. It makes you an active listener because you can't just zone out listening to this one.

8. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks [Buy]
A friend once described this as being "too indie" for their listening pleasure. But I think that's why I like it so much. It reminds me of the stuff I loved back when I had time to fully and wholeheartedly love bands. Nothing makes me feel better than jumping around and stomping my foot while belting out the words to "The Loneliness & The Scream", and I really do scream it, just to prove I exist.

7. Josh Ritter - So Runs the World Away [Buy]
Full disclosure: I am a long time and huge fan of Josh Ritter. I've seen him in concert more times than I can count and more than I've seen anyone else. I was really excited for this new album and it didn't disappoint. It is one that grew on me day by day and then month by month, it is probably still growing on me seeing as how every time I listen I find something new to love. It is one of the most accessible albums on this list and I love that this is someone who is going to stand out for years to come.

6. Sharon Van Etten - Epic [Buy]
All I can say is it shreds my soul to pieces, little tiny pieces.

5. Fitz & The Tantrums - Breakin' the Chains of Love [Buy]
I love the story behind the formation of this band almost as much as the album itself. I love hearing this bittersweet soul-funk album that seems to say "let's get back together, oh wait, you did me wrong I don't want you anymore" but with a bajillion times more eloquence and with dancey sing-along tunes sans guitar. This is a great trend in music, reviving the sound of motown, and more people need to hop on this soul train.

4. Future Islands - In Evening Air [Buy]
No other voice stood out for me quite the way frontman Samuel Herring's did this year. I always find it hard to believe that it was all recorded in a Baltimore living room because dear god is this an amazing album with a lot of depth to it.

3. First Aid Kit - The Big Black & The Blue [Buy]
How did I not see this on any Best Of List? They may be young, but their music is incredible. I listened to it for months straight. When I saw them live, I got misty eyed, ok actually I cried twice (there were some other factors too but their music was a catalyst). I thought I had overplayed them throughout the summer but when I recently went back to this album, I found I could never tire of it. It is one of the rare album's that I know every single word to.

2. Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice [Buy]
I'm a bit surprised this made it up to the top too, but it belongs here, of that I am sure. I really thought he was going to win the Polaris Prize this year but he won plenty of other awards anyway. I wish I could offer some concrete description of this album but I'm blinded by love.

1. Head and the Heart - Head and the Heart [Buy]
I must have said it a hundred times now but this is easily my number one album. It got the most plays this year by a long shot and I'm still not tired of it. It's rough around the edges, like you might expect from a debut album, but it also has a lot of warmth and feeling that you can soak right up as you are stomping your foot and singing along.
Albums that weren't released in 2010 but still listened to obsessively in 2010:
Hey Marseilles - To Travels and Trunks (2008) [amazon $9]
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More (2009 this is debatable) [amazon $5]
Anna Ternheim - Leaving on a Mayday (2009) [amazon $9.50]
Lost in the Trees - All alone in an empty house (re-released by Anti in 2010, originally released by Trekky in 2008) [amazon $5]
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (2009) [amazon $5]
Robert Francis - Before Nightfall (2009) [amazon $9]
Coeur De Pirate (2008) [amazon]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jason Spooner - Seed in the Ground

Official | Buy
This is the kind of music I listen to on trains. During the kind of train rides where my face is nearly pressed against the plexi-glass staring out at leafless trees and the sad vision of run down houses that flash before my eyes, it is that desolate eastern landscape that makes me want to pack up and drive west at least four days out of the week. Anyway, this song is perfect for those train rides. "Breathing, on that window/put me on a fast train underground/living, lost in limbo/ worried about the times I'm not around." While it is a song that is about a relationship that fails to bloom, it's not neccesarily the lyrics that get my attention. Sometimes it is that longing harmonica that make me think of sitting on the caboose of a boxcar (harmonicas always sound like they are coming from that place and the player of said harmonica is always wearing overalls in these fantasies) or not wanting to let someone down, is what gets my attention and makes me dive for my ipod before the song changes so I can see who is singing it.

Seed in the Ground

You can also get a free download of his HERE. It is a great cover of Dylan's "Girl from the North Counrty" with Dar Williams. Definitely worth a listen

Monday, December 27, 2010

Matt Pond PA - Snow Day

I went to bed when there was about five inches on the ground and woke up to find 16 more had accumulated over night, and it's still snowing. I know people outside of the New York/Boston target zone don't want to hear about our snowpocolypse (which is also being tagged as #SnowLoko and #SNOMG) but it does come with a good song.

Matt Pond PA was one of the first artists that I became obsessed with nearly 8 years ago, and at the time it seemed nobody else had heard of him, so I went around telling all my friends about him and got them hooked too. Now a lot of people dismiss his music as too vanilla but I think he still has something going on and I will always buy his albums. And I think I will always blindly love his songs. Plus this song is just perfect for today.

If you are lucky enough to take the day off and play in the snow, enjoy it. The snow is what makes the rest of the cold winter worth it. Who can complain about a snow day?While I'm not busy sledding or shoveling, I'll be sitting by the fire listening to music and drinking some beer.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from David Sedaris

No music from me today, I think we have all had our share of holiday music for now. But I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and if that's not your thing have a wonderful weekend and perhaps some vacation time. Something I have always enjoyed reading during the holidays is David Sedaris's  Holidays on Ice. Sedaris is one of my favorite satirical writers and if you don't already know him, you should. His stories are hysterical and something you can reread multiple times. However listening to him read his own stories is rather wonderful too, something about his voice and his tone of voice takes the stories to the next level.  He has quite a few holiday themed stories and one of my favorites is "6 to 8 black Men" a story of the Dutch interpretation of Santa Claus. This is from his live performance at Carnegie Hall. Enjoy it, and Merry Christmas to all.

David Sedaris- Six to Eight Black Men

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Resurrectionists - Cordelia [Listen Local]

I'd like to introduce you to The Resurrectionists, who I came across when I was looking up concerts at The Lizard Lounge in Cambridge. They had a month long residency there in November and I was lucky enough to catch their last show of that residency. It was one of those concerts that I left wondering why I didn't see them the past three weeks, it would have been worth it. The song they played at their concert from their soon to be released album, "Chainsaw Heart" was enough to keep me wanting more. But if you're in Boston you can catch their next show at grand re-opening of The Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain on January 7th. It's slated to be my first concert of 2011 and I couldn't be more excited.
The Resurrectionists have been a part of the Boston americana-roots/rock scene for four years now. They bring to the table a lively amalgam of blusey, rock, and foot stomping tunes that sound best turned up loud. My favorite song of theirs, "Cordelia",  sounds like it was born in the Louisiana bayou. I can't help but sing along with the theatrical background vocals as he sings Cordelia over and over. I feel like their song "Jesus Loves You", could be an easy and seamless substitution for HBO's True Blood theme song. It has that same dark atmosphere, partially due to that unique steel guitar sound. With lyrics  like "Heard you started boozin' at 3pm/Heard you lost your religion like REM/Heard you got that guitar and formed a rock 'n' roll band/Let loose three weighty bar chords, sang of your inner pain" You'll be putting their songs on repeat and stomping your foot along in no time.

Oh, Starling - Noel EP

It was just last week that I told you christmas carols are one of the most painful forms of music, and a few weeks before I presented you with the anti-holiday cheer mixtape.  I'm already tiring of the indie christmas carols I've posted, there are only so many times I can listen to the multiple versions of "Fairytale of New York" before the novelty of singing "you're a bum / you're a punk / you're an old slut on junk" in a...err.."traditional" christmas song wears off. But then I got this in my inbox, and I might have changed my mind a little bit. Oh Starling, is musicians and husband/wife duo Dan Craig (not James Bond) and Jessica Sonner from Denver.

With a distinct lack of jingling bells in their music, the Noel EP features original arrangements of holiday classics with a sound that might even garner a few listens from staunch anti-christmas song people. There is quite a bit of talent and effort behind these songs and is very clearly not the usual lame attempt at covering christmas carols, they are thoughtful compositions backed by their mellifluous voices. It might even take you a while to figure out which songs they are working with because they do such a good job at making them drastically different from the traditional songs we all love to hate. The EP consist of the following songs and you can get "Hark" for free and instantly (just requires an email).

1.  Come (Oh Come All Ye Faithful)
2.  Noel (The First Noel)
3.  Bethlehem (Oh Little Town of Bethlehem)
4.  Emmanuel (Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel)
5.  Hark (Hark the Harald Angels Sing)

Be sure to check it out. I especially like "Come" and "Emmanuel". When soundcloud is working again I'll give you some samples. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Kori Pop - Northern Belle

This is the song that wraps me up like a blanket and gives me whispers of hope that things can change. It is unbelievably simple and Kori Pop's voice is one of those that somehow penetrates my heart and lingers like a mist in my head for a few days at a time. Her words cloud my thoughts at the most unlikely times, rushing to the forefront when I least expect to recall a song. I've been sitting on this one for a few days  two months now. I was going through my drafts and saw that I never posted this song. Kori Pop is exactly what you want out of a pop artists, she has a wonderful voice, her lyrics are thoughtful, and her songs are fun to listen to. While this song is on the sadder side, the rest of her stuff is a little more upbeat.

Luckily for us she also has a four song Holiday CD available for free on bandcamp. Definitely check it out if holiday songs are your thing. The lyrics for her original christmas song are enough to make anyone smile. Just remember more love goes into handmade gifts. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December's Free Music

Apparently the holidays make musicians and record labels want to share lots of music and by share I mean give it away for free. Here are some of the places I've been going to for the goodies.

Joe Purdy - Download his 12th album, This American, for free. A long time favorite singer/songwriter of mine, I really think you should check this one out.
Barton Carroll - Get his 2009 album, Together You and I, for free. He has a really unique voice and tells great stories through his folk-ish songs, that feel like they are from some forgotten era in the past. "Do You Want to Get Out of Here?", "Monday Night" and "Poor Boy Can't Dance" are ones you absolutely have to add to your music collection. "Poor Boy Can't Dance" is a story about crushing on a bridesmaid and using some liquid courage to get on the dance floor (and there is a clarinet). How can you not like that?

InSound - December mixtape just the cost of an email address for an awesome mixtape with Braids, Mynabirds, Deerhoof, Tennis and lots more. Go get it, you won't regret it. 

The Line of Best Fit - Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Deux I can't get enough of this indie christmas mixtape of 30 songs. This is the most refreshing compilation of holiday themed songs I have seen in a long time. Absolutely loving it. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Gertrudes - Wind from the South

Official | Label | Myspace | BUY
With this overload of songs popping up on end of year lists, I thought I was going to be overwhelmed with songs and busy sorting through everything. But instead, I have attached myself to this band and fallen madly and deeply in love with The Gertrudes, especially their song "Wind From The South". It is the perfect song for when the cold sets in, it gets your blood pumping, makes you want to clap and stomp along, and makes you with a warm wind would blow your way too.

If you think that picture over there looks like a lot of people, that's because it is. This 12, yes 12(!), person band puts their mass to use by playing the widest arrangement of instruments I've seen in a while. Their sound is full and large, without being clumsy or messy. It comes together surprisingly smooth and when they all sing in unison you can tell just how in sync they all are. They also know how to rock a squeezebox, so of course I was instantly attracted to their sound. Not to mention they also play a theremin, which is pretty awesome. It is also an instrument that Neon Indian plays, but of course The Gertrudes actually make music with theirs. (too harsh?)
You have to listen to this song. It will probably be in my top 20 of the year. Be sure to watch the video below too, its a great alternate version to their recorded one, plus you get to see the many faces and instruments that make up the band.

Hooded Fang - Laughing

More Canadian music, please! While Canadians might be familiar with this Toronto based band of seven, I only just found them on my quest for more bands from the north that seemingly are kept secret from those of us further south. The Toronto Star calls this album "one of the year's true pop gems" in a recent interview. They put out their EP titled EP in 2008 and now their album titled Album is a recent release and is making some waves. All-star Canadian blog, Quick Before It Melts puts it on his Favorite 10 Albums of the year list, you know right next to Deerhunter and The National. But what do I think? I've only listened to the album once but some of the other songs I've listened to quite a few times. It has great appeal, it is easy to listen to, and the fun group dynamics show through in their multitude of instruments and harmonizing vocals. They certainly have something, something with potential for the long run which is saying a lot these days. I need to listen more but I do love their song "laughing". Keep an eye out for these guys I think you might be hearing more about them soon. Stream Album on bandcamp.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My 10 Most Awkward Music Blogging Moments of 2010

Just to preface this, if you don't know me in real life, I love awkward moments and I find myself a part of them all too easily, which is why I have embraced them wholeheartedly, and almost look forward to their regular occurrence. While this first story is not music/blogger related, the rest are. This is just a testament to my character. One time in Paris, after drinking some wine at the Sacré Coeur my friends and I got up to leave in the middle of an open air movie that was playing. There was a large crowd of French people gathered on the hill watching the screen at the bottom of the hill. I of course tripped down this hill while wearing a dress, it is a steep hill and I fell on my face, thus flashing everyone a nice view of my derrière, while the two empty wine bottles fell out my purse and slowly rolled down each step with a loud clink. Everybody saw and heard. If you have never heard a crowd of 200ish people snickering or laughing outright at you, I suggest you try it, it's really humbling. I only wish that after I stood up I did a curtsy for the crowd. After that my friend said, "I always thought you were exaggerating in your emails about all of your awkward stories, but after witnessing that I have a feeling you don't." So yeah...thats the kind of person I am, luckily I can laugh at myself. Here are some music-blogger specific awkward highlights of the year, in random order. Read my ten moments after the break.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sherman Downey - Soulsweeping

Official | Myspace | Buy
I'm going to warn you that I'm on a huge Canadian music streak. I've recently fallen in love with a few Canadian blogs, CBC Radio 3 is always streaming, and it's all just so good. I've been playing this album by Sherman Downey & The Ambiguous Case loudly ever since I stumbled across it on The Broken Speaker.

I hate using the word "fun" to describe music, but this album is exactly that. It is the kind of music I want to turn up loud while cooking dinner, the kind that gets played in the morning just so I can smile despite the darkness and chill of a winter morning. One of the biggest determining factors of fun music is if I can dance around to it in my underwear a la Cameron Diaz in Charlies Angels (if only I looked like that). But seriously, this is underwear dancing worthy especially the songs "Soulsweeping", "Mud Jacket", and "Church Mouse".

In addition to the usual guitar, bass, and drums this Newfoundland band also employs the banjo, accordion, trombone, and mandolin in their musical artillery and they put it all to excellent use. Somehow they manage to avoid a typical bluegrass or folk type label despite the instruments they play. They sway more to a pop beat with charming and relevant stories and lyrics that can induce laughter and smiles aplenty. I'm happy to say this is an album to listen to start to finish and is one you can enjoy without thinking too much about it. It is absolutely worth purchasing, it will warm your heart, have you singing along in no time, and you might even feel like dancing along in your underwear.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Indie Christmas List of Lists

I've had so much fun compiling list this week that I decided to do it again except with Christmas/Holiday songs. I could go out and find my favorites and then share them individually, but this way all the songs and playlist are in one little post, like a wrapped up package for you. Like I've said before, I hate the incessant playing of christmas carols for a month straight on the radio, or walking down the street, or when waiting in line for a coffee, it drives me crazy. The 98% of the songs are auto tuned crap that make me feel like I'm going to collapse in a store one day and start having a seizure because it is just that painful to my ears. I like the holiday spirit and the traditions that come with it, it just needs better accompanying music. So here is what I dug up this year.
The Line of Best Fit: This top notch Canadian blog is offering up a two CD compilation of holiday songs by Canadian artists. This one is very impressive with 15 of the 30 songs having been recorded just for them. With artists like Basia Bulat, The Zolas, and Teen Daze it is an eclectic mix of artists but includes a wonderful array of original songs and just a few covers. The baritone and slightly dark version of Jingle Bells by Paper Lions is enough to ensure that these aren't the type of christmas songs you'll be sick of after a few listens.

Can You see the Sunset: This is a highly amusing list of any sort of christmas carol your heart could desire. From punk bands butchering  the classics (Bad Religion doing Joy to the World anyone?), to sad, lonely, and drunk christmas songs, to a whole set of jazzy carols that I like very much (on the day 5 post), it is one of the most random christmas lists I've ever seen but I love the variety.  You really have everything to choose from, with a different theme for each of the 12 days of christmas you're bound to find a handful of goodies here. 

My Aimz is True: This is a Blue Christmas post and has 16 of the saddest country/alt-country/or pop songs you've ever heard. I never realized there were so many songs about being drunk for christmas or in jail for christmas. If brutally sad almost to the point where you want to start laughing at other people's pain is what you look for in your Christmas songs, then this is your place. Also I think Amy, the author of this wonderful blog is moving to Boston! Excellent.

Ride the Tempo: Here is a list of 26 indie christmas songs that seem to really include everything. You have your covers of the classic carols, like First Aid Kit doing Blue Christmas, and then there are the original ones. There's lots to choose from here. Dig in.
Blitzen Trapper - Christmas is coming soon

Also check out the hip-hop christmas playlist. Yup, a whole playlist.
Kanye West (ft. Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Vado, Cyhi Da Prynce, Pusha-T, Musiq Soulchild, Teyana Taylor, Big Sean)
Christmas in Harlem

Mad Mackerel: This  little list is another good one with some absolute treasures and more uncommon indie christmas tracks. The Arcade Fire "Rebellion"cover by Benjamin Francis Leftwich is absolutely stunning. And my favorite one is the Summer Camp cover of an 80's song by Waitresses. Enjoy it. 

Your Third Ear Gives us a couple of playlist found on other blogs with the download links, as well as a few hand selected specialties.

Tsururadio - My favorite mixtape maker presents us with a mixtape aptly named "Christmas Whiskey Means Good Cheer Mixtape!" complete with zip file. 

Hooded Fang - Laughing

Listen/Buy on Bandcamp
I went on a huge Canadian pop search yesterday which ended with the purchase of three more albums and a whole bunch of fun songs. Why does it seem like this type of music only comes from cold places like Sweden or Canada? Hooded fang is a sextet which employes numerous instruments in their arrangements but it comes across as smooth, fun, and enjoyable pop with nice interludes of trumpets or glockenspiel. Favorites of mine include Promise Land, Straight up the Dial, and Younger Days.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beach House is like Brussel Sprouts

Listen to: Zebra & Norway

People say that you can be genetically predisposed to disliking brussel sprouts. You either have the genes that allow you to like the bitter taste of them or you don't. I happen to like brussel sprouts just fine, but I have to admit that...this is really hard to get out...I...don' House. For months now, I've been hoping I could blame it on genetics. 

For so many reasons I really should like this band, the vague lyrics are a non-issue, the hazy, ethereal, drifting mood is something that usually captures my attention, the calming melodies and soothing voices, are all things I like. Many people and bloggers with whom I share similar tastes in music have put this album high up on their "Best of" lists this year. Every review I've read screams "Jessica, you will love this album!" But I don't, not even a little bit. I own the album and I've sat down with it three times throughout the year to seriously listen to it, not to mention the countless times I forced myself to let it play all the way through when it came up on shuffle. But now as I try to get into it one last time, I am itching to skip through the songs, nothing holds my attention for longer than 20 seconds. If I had to choose a song I like the most it would be "Used to Be" but I still want to change the song half way through. 

I wish I could explain why I dislike Beach House better, but it is not really anything I can voice, they just don't do it for me, like I have a glitch in my system. I'm sorry, I tried my best, but now I must accept the hard truth that I simply don't like Beach House, even though I really hoped I could over time. I've honestly tried to let their music sink in, but I always end up scrunching my nose in a pained expression much like a person would if they were genetically incapable of liking brussel sprouts but trying them anyway.

What do you think? Am I crazy? Is there anyone out there who agrees with me?

Dark Dark Dark - Daydreaming

Official | Purchase CD / VINYL / MP3
I have somehow neglected to tell you about Dark Dark Dark, a band I loved from the very first listen on Their Bated Breath. Yes, they are dark but there are wonderfully uplifting moments of beauty intertwined in their music. They are described as a chamber-folk sextet, and I could tell you how talented they are or about the haunting vocals but it is the type of music that easily speaks for itself. Please please please listen to Dark Dark Dark it is well worth your time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Evening Hymns - Just Like Christmas

Here's another indie christmas song for you. Although it seems that to make such songs, bands just use some old melodies they've had kicking around, add some jingle bells, maybe use the word Christmas and voila an indie christmas song is born. While there isn't much to this one, you still get to hear their beautiful voices and a soothing melody. I love Evening Hymn's other song "Broken Rifle" which is sadly no longer available for free download. Their last album was released in 2009 so hopefully they have something in store for us in 2011.

Just Like Christmas (Low cover)

*Update: After posting this, and a brief twitter convo with Draw Us Lines, Evening Hymns got in touch with us both to let us know that they are working on a new album. And they also sent over a video of a new song "Cabin in the Burn". And that folks, it why twitter is so cool, despite what your friends may think.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Joe Purdy Free Download!!!

How did I ever miss that my favorite sad sap of a songwriter put out 2 albums this year? That and I just found out that his most recent album (and his 12th album!), This American, is available for free download all December long. Merry Christmas to me! After a day of feeling very American and actually serving as a juror, I'm hoping this album can compliment my mood. We shall see. Get your free download on Joe Purdy's website for the entire month of December. Listen on the widget below and enjoy. If it doesn't work it's not my fault and go to his website.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Good Grief its Charlie Brown...

Just in case people think I'm anti-holidays because of my latest mixtape, I want you to know that I'm not. I enjoy all the traditions I am just easily bothered by excessive christmas songs. But here is one reworked christmas song that I can never tire of (in its original format at least). It is not as violent as it sounds, it's just a remix, I promise.

I recently watched Charlie Brown's Christmas Special and found it to be much more entertaining than I remembered it. Plus their were lots of little jokes thrown in that made me laugh out loud. I suggest trying to watch it this holiday season if you can.

Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that. Charlie Brown: What is it you want? Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate. 

Music for Mom

My mom and me differ on our choices of music in a big way. She likes sugary sweet pop music, the kind you find on the radio or anything the Boston Globe music reviews tell her to buy, and I have taste that reaches a little wider than that (thank god). I might have thrown a Katy Perry CD in the trash recently. My mom likes to ask me if I have ever realized that all my music sounds the same and I like to ask her if she has had her hearing checked recently. Among the complaints I receive from her about my music is that it is too whiny, too much noise, too much rock, the bass gives her a headache, and most often that it is too depressing. So this year I am working on a list of what music I could possibly buy for my mom that we can both agree on, maybe you'll find something for yours.

Brooke Fraser - Flags  [BUY]
Listen to "Something in the Water". It's hard not to love this one.

Josh Ritter - So Runs The World Away [BUY]
Ritter is one of my all time favorites. This is an album that manages to surprise me with something new each time I listen to it. His lyrics are pure magic, the kind that will hit you at just the right moment and leave you speechless.

Listen to: The Curse (via Whale in a Cubicle)

Elizabeth & The Catapult - Other Side of Zero [BUY]
I haven't actually gotten into this one yet, but their last album, Taller Children, was fantastic and one we both liked, so I don't expect to be let down.

Listen to: You & Me 

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - I Learned The Hard Way [BUY]
My mom loves this music, I think it reminds her of when she was young listening to her Motown records. Why she hasn't bought it yet is quite the mystery.

Listen to: I learned the hard way

The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart [BUY]
No secret here, this is one of my top five albums of the year. I could listen to it for months and never tire of it. The foot stomping harmonizing choruses will hopefully get my Mom's attention.

Listen To: Sounds Like Hallelujah (via The dadada)

Lissie - Catching a Tiger [BUY]
People say the album wasn't as good as her EP led them to believe and Lissie seemed to be forgotten in the later half of the year. But frankly, I think it is a solid pop album with a great Nashville kind of sound to it. The album is worth it just for "Record Collector" (which I already know my mom likes), "Little Lovin'", and "Everywhere I Go", all top notch songs. Listen to Everywhere I Go below.

Brett Shady - The Devil to Pay [BUY]
I love this album but it could be a bit of a stretch for my mom. She likes country hits but this is neither country nor pop, but some distant cousin of the two. Sometimes my mom has to hear something 10 times before she realizes she likes it, so I might have to condition her to like it. As for me, one listen to "Angels, Ghosts & Demons" and I was hooked.

Listen to: Angels, Ghosts & Demons

Andrew Belle - The Ladder [BUY]
This one is your typical singer/songwriter poppy album by up and comer, ten of tenn member, Andrew Belle. I really like the ten of Tenn artists but I'm still grinding through this one, none of the songs really pop out at me. But it is something I think my mom would really enjoy.

Listen to: The Ladder (via untitled records)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Constantly Updated LIST OF LISTS

It's that time of year for lists and lots of them. It's madness out there navigating through it all. Here are some selected blogger's lists that have popped up recently. I know all these people put a lot of effort and listening time into their selections, making them all worthwhile reading. There are a lot out there, and more pouring in by the day so best of luck sorting through them all. Hopefully this might help. * denote my biased display of favoritism.

*TsuruRadio: 25 Most Awesomests Tsururific Albums of 2010 A great list with a few surprises in there (Electric President and The Shivers). I agree with a lot of the selections and if you are a regular reader or hit up the Tsuru mixtapes upon occasion the numero uno album won't surprise you. Also comes with a zip of songs from the albums...mighty excellent.

Also on Tsururadio: 59 favorite songs of 2010 from the Tsuru Community. All the writers for Tsururadio submitted songs for this, making it an eclectic list of goodies.

We Listen For You: Top 25 Songs Of 2010 a list comprised of soundcloud and bandcamp links that makes the site run very slow, but totally worth checking out. I don't even know how to explain this list because it seems to encapsulate everything out there so well that it feels like he covered 50 songs instead of 25. Plus Sharon Van Etten's "DSharpg" gets it's dues.

Also on WLFY: We Listen For You: WLFY's 7 Best 7"s Of 2010 seriously great list that makes you wish you owned all 7 7"s. Those are some pretty looking goods. *5 Worst Albums of 2010. I hated the nonsensical buzz Best Coast got too. Use this link to see all their lists. Don't forget to check out WLFY Top 10 Records with some snazzy accompanying artwork too. He also has a Best/Worst list up which is pretty interesting and slightly controversial, but we all knew he was going to dig into Pitchfork so it's not a surprise and is getting rather old.

Everybody Taste: 50 Best Songs of 2010 This is covered in 5 posts consisting of 10 songs each. This is a really well written list with a nice blurb on each song. I was surprised by the "Song of the Year" pick but it seems like most people, E.T. included, agree with having the Morning Benders, Joanna Newsom, Cults, and Sharon Van Etten on their lists and I have to agree.

Also on Everybody Taste: Best EPs of 2010 Makes for a good way to include Tallest Man on Earth, Girls, and Lord Huron on a list.

Listen Before You Buy: Top 31 Albums of 2010 This one involves a kick ass contest where you can win the top three albums on vinyl, you just have to pimp each post a little. This is one of the more interesting end of year lists because it is done in countdown form starting from December 1st which makes it extra fun to follow. The layout of each post is done really well too with big links to buy the albums and big pictures of the album. For a first time list maker this is mighty impressive. Hats off to you!

Music for Ants: 25 Best Music Videos of 2010 Here is a list I could never dream of tackling myself. It is far too overwhelming to sift through videos but this is quite the list. With El Guincho, Chromeo, and of course the HTML5 Arcade Fire video in the ranks, this list can keep you amused for quite some time.

Also: 50 Best Songs of 2010 comes with a zip file for download. 

Captains Dead: Top 11 Albums of 2010 First off, I love that there are 11 top albums and that Trampled By Turtles sneaks in at the #11 spot. This one varies a bit from the blogs listed above, but in a good way. And again if you are a regular reader of his, than this list makes sense.

*Chromewaves: Favorite Albums of 2010 This is a perfect short and sweet top ten list. I was excited to see both Stornoway (who I saw in concert friday) and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers (who I fell in love with thanks to CBC Radio 3) on the list. A great list with some albums you'd expect and then some surprises that could be on their way to being your new favorites.

Slowcoustic: Favourite Canadian Albums of 2010 A great list with a lot of artists you might have never heard of, I only know three on this list. Sometimes it seems like Canadians keep their music wrapped up in the cold north and keep it for themselves and it takes awhile to trickle down to the states. But if you read this blog, you can be sure to be ahead of the game.

*Favorite Albums of 2010. A list of 13 with 3 honorable mentions. I know this is due to the fact that I sit more on the folk side of the fence, but I am in love with this list, but that is really no surprise since most of my musical purchases this year were due to Slowcoustic suggestions. Plus it doesn't look like anybody else's list, not even a little bit.

You Ain't No Picasso: Favorite 30 Albums of 2010 I feel like a lot of the albums on this list came from the first half of the year and are some that have been neglected on the other lists. Portugal, The Man takes the number one spot and I don't think you'll find another list this year that does that. 2 points for original #1 spot choice.

Dailybeatz: Top 20 Albums of 2010 I love that this list includes Sia, Javelin, and Phantogram, and all those other electronic goodies that we would expect from Dailybeatz. I really like this list, probably because it offers a little something different than most of the others. Also has accompanying mixtape available for dl via soundcloud.

*Also on Daily Beatz: Top Remixes of 2010 Chris is my go to guy for electronic music and remixes so I give this list my highest recommendation, he really knows his stuff. Delphic's "Doubt" (Build Remix) takes the number one spot.

Neon Musical Insight: 25 Finest Songs of 2010 I don't read this site but if you are looking for some more electronic selections check it out. Gobble Gobble takes #1, Teen Daze, Twin Shadow, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Beach House, Baths, Gauntlet get the idea.

Gorilla Vs. Bear: 30 Albums of 2010 With Arcade Fire taking a back seat to everything else at spot #22, it looks slightly different than some of the other lists. A lot of that nitty gritty lo-fi indie stuff is on this list with dum dum girls, harlem , Shackleton on the list. Big Boi comes in at number 6 which is nice to see, and then there are a few obscure bands that I've never heard of thrown in the mix too. Certainly an interesting list.

*Music Savage: 20 Albums of 2010 a countdown throughout the week spreads out this list. From a guy that posts about 3-6 songs a day (sometimes more I think) all by himself, while working a full time job, he is pretty much a music blogging machine. Also, he must spend every waking minute listening to songs. Oh wait, he also wakes up with songs stuck in his head and blogs about those too. Nice to see his favorite albums stand out in his list.

Aquarium Drunkard: Year in Review 2010 a nice written newsletter of sorts that sums up the year focusing on some of the best music coming from all over as well as reissues. It is a great snapshot of the year with lots of linkage to keep you busy.

*Knox Road: Top Albums of 2010 25 albums listed here and most of them are the usual suspects. But nice to see Jonsi finally make a list at #25 as well as Balmorhea #18. Sufjan Stevens makes it all the way to #2 and if you think you can guess the #1 spot, you're probably wrong. I was surprised with the top choice but I don't think it was a bad choice either. See for yourself.

Stadiums & Shrines: 15 Favorite LPs of 2010 Love that I'm finally seeing Future Islands snag a high spot. I also really like this mixed up list with some popular ones and then a handful of unknowns (Mark McGuire and RxRy...who are they?). Now I'm listening to Mark McGuire for the first time and loving it. Ahh the beauty of a good list.

The Leaving Scene: Most Treasured 7" Singles of 2010 it is what it sounds like and I loooove the #1 song. So beautiful.

*Dyson Sound: Top 10 Listened to Albums an aptly titled list which seems like a fair way to select albums. Brilliant #1 choice, but I won't spoil the surprise. I like that it is short and sweet with a little bit of everything. Plus Blake Mills shows up here (also on Music Savage's list) and now that I have purchased that album, I think I'll jump on that bandwagon too.

Their Bated Breath: 15 Best Albums of 2010 I love this blog, the writing, the thoughts, the music presented. I was 90% sure this would be the first, if not only, list I'd read to put Sarah Jaffe on this list and it makes me happy to see her there. Cours Lapin is a cool choice too. This list is also well designed and nicely presented.

Pasta Primavera: Top Albums of 2010 This is an interesting one with all the usual culprits (Toro y Moi, Kisses, Yeasayer, Warpaint, Wolf Parade, Caribou etc.) but in a totally different order than all the other blogs' lists. Also a few I haven't heard of, very intriguing list.

Melophobe: 20 Best Albums of 2010. I like how this was compiled. Melophobe's 20 contributers had 100 points to distribute between a maximum of 15 albums. A great system to use, making for a great list of some of the most agreed upon top albums. Naturally this means Arcade Fire, Kanye, and The National take the top three spots. Gold star for using math to create this list.

Also on Melophobe: Top 10 Hip-Hop albums

Karen Hart: I always forget the name of her blog since she is @fortherecord on twitter. She graces us with 55 Songs Worth Obsessing Over with an accompanying zip file of them all. Yippee.

Rawk Blog: EP Singles of the year, and 50 Records of 2010 and not one of them is Arcade Fire. 

*Said the Gramophone: Best Songs of 2010 and as Sean prefaces his post with: "These are my 100 favourite songs of 2010: songs I love more than gold & silver & snowstorms on the smaller side." This is one of my top five favorite music blogs so of course I am loving this list filled with one hundred little treasures all available for downloads.

The Broken Speaker: Best of 2010: Canadian Albums and Best Songs of 2010 love the Canadian albums but the best songs are done in youtube video format. My computer is too slow to handle that. There is best of coverage in the form of many different list from December 8-18th here, makes checking in everyday a worthwhile experience.

***They are making the best, most original list. Read them!
Draw Us Lines: Top 10 Live Shows of 2010

Also check out this brilliant Top Ten list of the most unique voices in music. Well done guys!

Popdose: Rob Smith's Top 10 Albums & Favorite Track a good list and highly surprised by a very buzzed about electronic artist earning a top spot. Frankly, I'd put this artist on my best of list not for his music but for his outstanding and effective use of social media to get noticed. All musicians should follow his model since he won over many a blogger and developed strong relationships with them and topped Hype Machine multiple times. Bet you can guess who by now. Sorry to take away from popdose but I had to throw that out there.

The Recommender: 20 Top Albums of the Year Gayngs gets one of the first mentions I've seen yet and is placed high on the list at #7. I dig this blog but not so sure how I feel about the list. Certainly a different one, just look at the #1 pick. But that is what is so great about the blogosphere someone always has a different opinion.

Also on The Recommender: The Best Music Blogs of 2010 (as voted by other music bloggers). Huge congrats to Sunset in the Rearview for winning along with the others in the top. Turned out to be a really awesome list.

The Ruckus: 50 Tracks We're Loving in 2010 I definitely love the list of tracks better than albums because I think you will find a much more varied selection and this one makes for an excellent playlist. Stream away.

Those Who Dig: Favorite Albums of 2010 I know this is going to be a different kind of list, so I'm looking forward to the rest in this spread out series. The link is to the first day. Also mentioned: man crush on Jamie Lidell. Who knew?

Also on TWD: 10 Most Dug Songs of 2010

Sunset in the Rearview: Top 20 Albums of 2010. If it wasn't for her, I'd listen to hip-hop a whole lot less. She has Yelawolf on the list and I'm really enjoying it.  She also has the soulful Fitz & The Tantrums at #3 which is one of the most underrated picks of the year, you need to listen.

Stay tuned for: Some unique and useful lists coming out near the first day of 2011

Pop Dose: Michael Parr's Top Albums So refreshing to read a best of pop list. I didn't know The Weepies, an abondoned favorite of mine, had a sad song on their new record. I only like the Weepies when they are sad. And Amy Petty makes the list too. 

Hype Machine: (Zeitgeist Coming January 3rd)

Magazine/popular webzine lists:
Odds and Ends:

  • Read Hipster Runoff for Carles' take on Rolling Stone and SPIN's lists.
  • A MUST READ article about Best of/Favorite lists. Very well put from Rawk Blog
  • Also, Largehearted Boy has me beat with his aggregate list which is also constantly updated. But my list is basically just what I see in my twitter feed, so it is only from bloggers I care about.

I'll be updating this throughout the weeks, the list of lists should grow like a disease, try and keep up. Let me know what I'm missing.
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