31 December 2007

Top 2007 Albums

These albums were chosen by the four of us using a weighted rating system, with each of us having 10 points to evenly distribute over 8-15 albums. Click on an artist's name to see our review of the album, the album name to purchase a copy, and mp3s to download ahoy before you ring in the New Year!*

The 12 winners (ties at #2 and #8) with their point totals are below:

1. Jens Lekman: Night Falls over Kortedala (26.8)
The Opposite of Hallelujah.mp3

Don't mind Jess plagiarizing herelf, but she's gonna quote her blurb in The L Magazine's top 25 album list, (which you should all check out as well, even though it's not as cool as this list because Jens is only #6 and not #1)
Every song on Kortedala joyously unfolds like the start of a newfound love affair, replete with all the smitten excitement, endearing awkwardness and the good kind of nervousness that any worthwhile relationship naturally entails. With its swirling retro-pop samples seamlessly integrated into the Swedish troubadour’s distinctly contemporary tales of romantic melancholy, it’s hard not to be won over by his lyrical wit, aw-shucks charm and total lack of irony. Whether he’s slicing up avocados, getting a haircut or flirting with a deaf girl, Jens effortlessly transforms those mundane little moments into the stuff that magical glockenspiel-laden epiphanies are made of. Doing what few albums this year (or any year) could accomplish: Kortedala inspires, reaffirming life and restoring faith in that crazy little thing called love, for even the most cynical. Don’t let anyone stand in your way.
Our favorite fine feathered friend fingerling-a-lings a finely focused effort.
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene.mp3, Plus Ones.mp3
The audio equivalent of a rich, satisfying novel.
Listen for our friend Sufjan ticking the ivories on a few tracks of this rock-solid rock album.

"It's got enough atmosphere to start a planet: One minute of rapt attention, at two minutes my mind was blown. By the time the three-minute mark rolled around, my face was so melted as to leave my corpse unidentifiable." -June

Overture.mp3, Accident & Emergency.mp3
Creepy and joyous, all at the same time: Wolf's broad-reaching voice and lyrics take back seat to impressive layers of Rachmaninoff-inspired pop compositions as colorful as the packaging.

Radiohead: In Rainbows (11)
Not only the best pick-your-price album of the year, but one of the best in general. A real return to real rock, and their best opus since OK computer.
7. Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (10.3)
Jess again quotes herself: "It’s a weird mix of accessible melodies and dark synth-powered vitriol, a constant battle between the two tones, ending gloriously in a draw."
Between My Legs.mp3, Slideshow.mp3
Epic and operatic and tongue in cheek and melancholy and oh-so-very Rufus.

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: Living With the Living (10)

9. Magnolia Electric Co.: Sojourner (9.6)
Hold Music.mp3, Lazy (Lazy).mp3
A more mature sounding recording that doesn't sacrifice any of the playfulness of their earlier albums.

Runners-Up (chosen by two or more of us)
So few bands actually sound their best when they sound more like themselves. Spoon is one of them.
Mmmmmm...slacker-rific! Now, with new improved sound and delicious hooks!
Does liking this album take me one step closer to soccer mom-dom? Aw, fuck it. Jeff Tweedy will never break my heart.
You Don't Know What Love Is (You just Do As You're Told.).mp3
People keep saying the White Stripes have done all they can. People can be dumb sometimes.
I Feel It All.mp3
Please, let's divorce this album from all its commercial appeal, because let's face it no matter how hard Apple might try, Feist proves you can't commodify a broken heart.

EPs we liked (not ranked)
You! Me! Dancing.mp3
The most fun 16 minutes I've heard all year, like if AiH had a love child with Art Brut.

Black Kids: Wizard of Ahhs
I've Underestimated My Charm (Again).mp3
Yeah, maybe the blogs overestimated their charm, but hey you gotta admit they're catchy.

Grizzly Bear: Friend EP
He Hit Me.mp3
Psych-folk masters rework old material and freak the crap out of me. In a good way, of course.
Hold It In.mp3
Damn near-addictive piano-based, power-pop, proving quirky vocals and handclaps are always a winning combination.
Holland, 1945.mp3
A small selection of pared-back Neutral Milk Hotel covers from one of the best acts to come
out of new weird America.

Seems Like Home To Me.mp3
With voices that sound older then they are as inherently American as Bruce Springsteen and pb&j.
New Zealand's 4th-most-popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella rap-funk-comedy folk duo!

Individual picks

Jess liked...
Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge
I'm really just a sucker for his croon.

The Cold, The Dark & The Silence.mp3
This album is so gorgeous, I can't even justify its majestic, autumnal gorgeousness.

The penned landscape of downtrodden America; Americana at its must rustic, rural--and authentic.

LCD Soundsystem: The Sound of Silver
The one album that made me want to dance and cry at the same time, despite not being coordinated enough to do so.

June liked...
Instantly arresting lyrics, unstoppable guitar riffs and rock beats; the songs stand on their own but work best as a collective unit.

Where cacophany, noise rock, J-pop and a complete lack of irony in the joy of music collide into brilliance.

Castanets: In the Vines
Haunting gorgeous... or gorgeously haunting? Asthmatic Kitty's best release this year.

Trent Reznor has been busy this year, putting out his own album (Year Zero) and producing this fantastic over-the-top grindcore work from preacher/poet/musician Saul Williams.

Megan liked...
Everything I hate combined to make something I love.

Megan raved about this album at length just a few posts down, but she'll say it again: kickass album with kickass choruses!

If The Brakeman Turns My Way.mp3
The boy wonder isn't a boy anymore, and it's fitting that his new album has a more mature
sound. Sure, a lot of the clumsy charm of his earlier stuff is gone, but the polished, grown up
songs on Cassadaga are just as rewarding in their own way.

Myriad Habour.mp3
Energetic and melodic and instantly enjoyable.

Lizzie liked...
State Radio: Year of the Crow
Griffin House: Flying Upside Down

*For those of us currently West of, say, Casablanca.

I get a little warm in my heart when I think of winter

Three Tori Amos song apropos for the season, that I always think about this time of year...

Tori Amos - Famous Blue Raincoat (live Leonard Cohen cover).mp3
It's four in the morning, the end of December
Writing a note to see if you're better
New York is cold but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening...

Tori Amos - Pretty Good Year.mp3
Hold onto nothing as fast as you can
Well, still, pretty good year

Finally, one of the most beautiful songs and music videos I have ever seen, for the 1994 song "Winter."

28 December 2007

I swear the album's title makes more sense than its lyrics.

I, like a lot of people, like Spoon. However, I, like even more people, generally have no idea what Britt Daniels is singing about. Here are four choice lyrics to illustrate why Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the most cryptically catchy and dare I say, sexiest album of the year.

1. Nuclear dicks with their dialect drawls. ("Don't Make Me A Target")
2. I humanized the vaccuum. ("Black Like Me")
3. I'm a slut for the New York Times. ("Eddie's Ragga")
4. Tract houses, square couches, short legs and square fingers, Pot holders, egg and soldiers. Y'tank rollers. ("Rhthm and Soul")

27 December 2007

Here's hoping 2008 is as cool as 2080 sounds

Seems like everyone is buzz, buzz, buzzing about Yeasayer, and while I haven't heard the entirety of their supposedly awesome debut All Hour Cymbals, I can whole-heartedly endorse the sheer tribal brilliance of "2080". I find myself wanting to chant along in my cubicle. A perfect burst of doom-psych energy to get you through the day.

2080 - Yeasayer

25 December 2007

My gift is my song

O blessed day, I officially declare this year Best Christmas Ever (much of this due the fact that it is snowing, and I have never had a white Christmas!)

As my gift, here's Pt. 2 of the most (un)necessary holiday songs to boost your spirit. Enjoy!

When you just can't find the right thing for that certain special someone:
Fountains of Wayne - An Alien for Christmas.mp3

When all you want is that certain special someone:
Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You.mp3

When you need just that right sound for the Christmas Classic:
Alex Chilton - The Christmas Song.mp3

When only the finest 60's claymation special will do:
Burl Ives - Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.mp3

Because you LOVE that scene in Home Alone when Kevin lip-synchs into his hairbrush:
The Drifters - White Christmas.mp3

Si usted dice el Español:
Los Lonely Boys - Felíz Navidad.mp3

For that mistletoe martini with the rat pack:
Frank Sinatra - Mistletoe & Holly.mp3

From my favorite Bellingham-based Jazz septet:
The Fairly Honest Jazz Band - Jolly Old St. Nicholas

If you happened to be named Emily (or live in southern California):
Cracker - Merry Christmas Emily.mp3

If you like ethereal, unseasonal B-sides:
Tori Amos - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.mp3

Additional requisite/omnipresent Sufjan (now with 40% more Jesus!):
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming.mp3
What Child Is This Anyway?.mp3
The Friendly Beasts.mp3
Joy to the World.mp3
Holy Holy Holy.mp3

24 December 2007

Have a Very Patrick Swayze Christmas!

Ok, so all those holiday songs we previously posted are all fine and dandy. However nothing, and I mean NOTHING can compare to the brilliance of Mystery Science Theater 300o's Patrick Swayze Christmas. Quite possibly the greatest Christmas song of all time me thinks.

23 December 2007

It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad!

First, here's an article from the Seattle Weekly, deconstructing the true spirit behind a lot of the holiday cheer pumped out by your favorite musicians:
Sid Vicious Understood the Christmas Spirit Better Than Sufjan? Say it ain't so!

Now, a collection of the most (un)necessary Christmas songs, Part I:

The ultimate holiday classic:
Boston Pops Orchestra - Sleigh Ride.mp3

My favorite traditional Deutsch classic:
The Vienna Boys' Choir - Kling, Glöckchen, Klingelingeling.mp3

Giving you childhood flashbacks:
Vince Guaraldi Trio - Greensleeves.mp3

To give the kids nightmares:
Tom Waits - Silent Night.mp3

For a swingin' retro party:
Richard Cheese - Christmas in Las Vegas.mp3

For some post-apocalyptic cheer:
Weird Al - Christmas at Ground Zero.mp3

If you take your gospel with extra soul:
The Blind Boys of Alabama - Last Month of the Year.mp3

When you thought you had every version of Carol of the Bells:
Mr. MacKay (South Park) - Carol of the Bells.mp3

Because Tchaikovsky didn't put enough swing into his ballet:
The Brian Setzer Orchestra - The Nutcracker Suite.mp3

The obligatory/ubiquitous Sufjan Stevens: For those of you who--for whatever reason, I will never understand--don't have Songs for Christmas, a track from each of the 5 EPs:
O Come, O Come Emmanuel.mp3
Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing.mp3
O Holy Night.mp3
Did I Make You Cry On Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!).mp3
Star of Wonder.mp3

Yours As Fast As Mine

After being pleasantly surprised by their awesome cover of LCD Soundsystem's 2007 anthem "All My Friends" I finally, finally got around to exploring some of Main Drag's original material. Their latest album Yours As Fast As Mine is startlingly eclectic. Equal parts mood and melody -at times its full of electro-pop goodness, and then bam, before you know it, you're hearing lush, guitar-based atmospherics -not to mention the all too lovely violins on "Goodnight Technologist". At first it's a lot to process and take in, in one full listen, but it's definitely enjoyable and very, very promising.

Dove Nets - Main Drag
A Jagged Gorgeous Winter - Main Drag

Everyone else disregard for another day.

To all my Australian peeps and other folk living in the future, a very merry Christmas eve!

Rufus Wainwright : Minuit Chrétiens (Oh Holy Night)

22 December 2007

Brooding Music You Can Dance To

It was hot. That’s what I remember most vividly about the day. The kind of heat that makes the air shimmer and the top of your head burn. And it was still only ten in the morning. The line stretched out ahead of us, the steady whump thump of bass audible under the excited chatter of the crowd.

It was 2006 and this was Big Day Out, Australia’s largest music festival. My boyfriend and I were there to see The White Stripes, but they weren’t hitting the stage for another 12 hours or so. We had more than a little time to kill.

But have you ever tried wandering around in 40 degree weather? (That’s about 100 degrees farenheit, my American friends.) It’s not a lot of fun, and even less so when half naked drunken guys are running around like tripping ferrets.

So bought some festival priced (read, overpriced) chips and found a shady spot with a view of the two main stages, and settled in. How many bands did we see that day? I remember the big ones of course; Franz Ferdinand, Wolfmother, and on account of their scary as all hell fans I’ll never forget Mudvayne. But it was the first act of the day who sticks in my mind after all this time. They barely had a crowd at all, and their stage wasn’t sporting a fancy backdrop like the other bands, but it didn’t seem to worry them. The lead singer took the stage, nodded and said hello, and got right into it.

It took about twenty seconds for me to be hooked, and by forty I was making a note in my phone of their name, so as to be able to buy any albums by them the next day.

The band was Faker, a five piece Sydney band, who had been around for ten years before I saw them on that stage.

The next day, sunburnt, sleepy and cranky, I made Martin stop on the way back to our country hometown so I could by their debut album, “Addicted Romantic.”

The album is dark, but with a core of desperate optimism. Masterfully crafted pop rock tracks sidled up next to darker, more alternative tracks, and the album quickly became a personal favourite. Lead singer Nathan Hudson has a unique voice which gets compared a lot to Alex whatshisname from Franz Ferdinand, and this alone would set the band apart from the plethora of other Australian five piece rock bands. But they don’t have to rely on his pipes, the melodies and stellar lyrics ensure Faker don’t get lumped with their peers.

The Familiar
I can’t wait to see your face, its been too long since I’ve been in your space

Love For Sale
Go on, love the one that you're with. I'm calling this a state of emergency.

A week or so ago the band released their sophomore album, “Be The Twilight.” It is everything a good second release should be. The growth and change are obvious, but they have not forgotten everything that made “Addicted Romantic” so great. The band experiment with new instruments and sounds, but don’t abandon the catchy choruses they are so skilled at. The darkness of the first album has not completely left the band, but ‘Twilight’ definitely has a lighter sound. What struck me very quickly about this album was that it had a Hold Steady-ish feel about it. Hudson’s vocals approach the singing/speaking thing Craig Finn does so damn well, but he never quit reaches that point. I suspect he’d be able to pull it off, though he sounds nothing like Finn. His voice lends itself to the style (have I mentioned I really like his voice?). He comes closest to it on “Lost and Found,” one of my early favorites.

Are You Magnetic?
Do you land in the right place?

Don't Hide
You were struck at a very young age by the light...

Seriously though, few bands can write choruses like these guys. Check em out.

21 December 2007

Making lists, checking them twice...

For those of you obsessed with any written work that features numbers in descending chronological order, well here's a present for you: Largehearted Boy's 2007 Year End Online Music master list of lists. If you have a blog, chances are, you're on there.

Speaking of lists, we here at VK like them too. Keep an eye out for our 2007 wrap-up sometime this week.

19 December 2007

Guess who's Keith Cheggers

Oh, and in case you didn't hear, 22-year-old Lily Allen is pregnant by 37-year old Ed Simons, of the Chemical Brothers.

Gossipy, gossipy!

Sufjan Stevens/PENultimate Lit Event @ Southpaw, Brooklyn,12/17/2007

This story is about the PENultimate Lit event, but it's more about Sufjan.

A comi-tragedy, completed:

Act 2

The travel from Seattle back to NY (though O'Hare) was horrifying, but I was determined to make it there on Monday. I found the venue at 3pm (doors opened at 8) and spent most of my day standing outside in the 30-degree, windy weather to ensure a spot in line, with periodic trips to a nearby coffeehouse, chugging hot tea to defrost.

After that, everything was fantastic. I met at least a half-dozen people who recognized/remembered me as "omigosh! you're the girl who came out here from Seattle/carved that Sufjan pumpkin!"

At one point while waiting in line, I was blah blahing about how, at our wedding reception last year, we were playing some Sufjan stuff, "hoping no one would listen to the lyrics," when the line just froze like deer in headlights.

"Hey, it's him! That's Sufjan!" He walked right by us wearing a "disguise"-- big glasses, a fresh, tricked-out 'stache, and this ridiculous hat with three flaps (two worn up, one down). ...at least, we thought it was a disguise. (My big mouth: 1, Me: 0.)

Dear Sufjan, This new-hat-and-beard trick is fooling no one. Sincerely, your fans.

Don't remember who said it, but "People work hard to become recognized as celebrities, then wear sunglasses to avoid being recognized." While I doubt Sufjan's goal has ever been recognition, he's in the spotlight now for sure.

Hours of chilly, funny banter later, doors open, we flood inside grabbing seats. The right half of the first two rows were reserved so Jess and I grab the center-most seats in the second row. The two seats in front of us remained empty for almost the whole evening.

The stage was set like I'd imagine for a literary discussion: three chairs, mics, some dim orange lights. Oh, and a grand piano in the background. The three came out (Sufjan, Rick Moody, and Wesley Stace). Rick moderated a discussion asking questions about the bridge between writing and music. Sufjan was visibly nervous, fidgeting like crazy.

Rick read off a half-page biography of Wesley, and then one of Sufjan. As he did, Sufjan leaned way over and peered suspiciously at the page.
"Can--can you cut out that sentence?" Sufjan interjected.
"I--what? Why?"
"It's embarassing."
"You don't want people to know the names of your Majesty Eagle Tour and Butterfly Kite Brigade?"
Sufjan smiles and shakes his head, looking down. "No. Just, skip to the next part. Here." He points at a line.
"You wrote this!"
"I know, but I, uh. Just, skip ahead to the next section here."

First, they were mostly questions to Wesley, then he performed three songs. When Wesley performed, Sufjan and Rick came offstage and SAT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF US in those 2 empty seats. [Insert fangirlish squeeing here.]

After, the questions turned to Sufjan--unlike every other show I've seen or heard he wasn't making up stories, he was telling the truth. We learned quite a bit about his bio & background. That intro he wrote to the 2007 Best American Nonrequired Reading, about how he didn't learn to read until the third grade? TRUE.

Then Sufjan played three songs. First two on piano, last on banjo:
Concerning The UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois.mp3

Barn Owl, Night Killer (live).mp3

The Mistress Witch From McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself).mp3
"That first song, about the UFOs, was partly inspired by my dad," Sufjan said. "I had done a lot of reading about the UFO sightings over Highland. Even police officers had seen it. It was truly unexplained. But then my dad started telling me about how he had seen them. He told me they had visited him at one point, trying to convince him to come aboard as a specimen, and do tests on him. But I guess he convinced them that since he had a large family that he was responsible for then he, you know, wouldn't be a very good choice." He laughed. "So I guess they didn't take him! My dad was smoking a lot of pot at the time. I don't know what that stuff does to your brain."

I was THRILLED to hear Barn Owl, since I'd ony heard a fragmented recording of it before! Totally blew me away. And, Mistress Witch was haunting in its sheer, stripped-down gorgeousness.

The quintessential word for the night was intimate. It was already a small venue, but add seats and all eyes were on the solo acoustic act. When was the last time Sufjan has even done a solo acoustic act--2004?

"You know, after all these years, I still don't know my own lyrics," he said. "And I'm still not a very good speller," He laughed, looking at his lyrics. "I spelled 'shirt' S-H-I-U-R-T."

After, the floor was opened to Q&A from the audience. I asked a question! I turned to both Wesley and Sufjan and said "This is interesting, because we have one person [Wes] who has been writing long novels and one [Sufjan] known for short story writing. Do you think the future of fiction is going to get progressively longer, or do you think we'll be reverting back to the short-story format?"

Sufjan answered: "Long novels. 800 pages."
Rick laughed and said, "He's only saying that because he knows I'm working on a 800-page novel right now."
Wes said, "Short stories."
Cue laughter. Wesley and Sufjan were an excellent balance in this discussion, in outlook, style, personality, experiences and goals.

After the show, we were told they would come out and we could meet them. Eventually, one by one, they did. Sufjan hid for a good 45 minutes before he emerged, and was immediately ambushed by this creepy old guy who bogarted his time and was eerily trying to keep Suf to himself. Eventually another girl just barged in (which in any other situation would have been rude, but this guy was just, like, too much) and asked for a pic with him, which we tried to take and failed several times.

Then a guy comes up and starts impatiently whispering in Sufjan's ear and then Suf's all, "I have to go." A girl gave him a homemade card. And then suddenly in the crowd he's standing right there in front of me...

"Sufjan, I just came all the way out here from Seattle to give you this as an early Christmas present."
I hold it out and he reads it.
"Wow," he says taking it, "Thank you."
"I just... thought it'd be appropriate."
There was a short pause.
"I like the sticker," he says. It was a very "I love lamp" moment.
Then, I just sort of reached forward, grabbed his hand, and shook it and rambled "It's such an honor/I'm so glad to meet you/You're so awesome/I love you/we must make zee love now/etc."
For someone who plays a lot of stringed instruments, his hand was really soft, and really warm.

And, he's so short! I was wearing heels (I'm 5'3") and we were just about eye level. I was so close to him. But even though Jess had her camera and I had my book and pen at the ready, I didn't ask for a photo or autograph. I got the feeling he was overwhelmed by the crowd and just wanted to get out of there.

So, Jess and I packed ourselves up and headed out. I called my husband to squeal into the phone about how his Christmas Gift turned out just perfect, but there was a bad connection. I found myself on the corner of 5th and Prospect shouting into the phone, "AND THEN I MET HIM! AND THEN I GAVE HIM THE STICKER! AND THEN I SHOOK HIS HAND! AND I--WHAT? NO, I SAID, AND THEN I SHOOK HIS--"

And at that moment, Jess nudges me. Sufjan is standing right there on the sidewalk mere feet from us, just shooting the breeze with some guys. There's no way he didn't just hear me, seconds ago, shouting about how short he was (but even dreamier in person). My big mouth: 2, Me: 0.


18 December 2007

One week till Christmas....

Oh What a Christmas - El Perro Del Mar
Jingle Bell Rock - The Arcade Fire
Winter Wonderland - Radiohead
White Christmas - The Pipettes
Blue Christmas - Bright Eyes

I turn around and I give it one more try

Last night June and I met Sufjan Stevens. It was brief and it was beautiful and we are still reeling. Look for photos and words later, once were done recovering from awe-ness of it all.

15 December 2007

All My Friends

Cokemachineglow pointed my attention to Main Drag's refreshing cover of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends". While the original is phenomenal in its own right (and one of 2007's best tracks), I always thought it was lacking in vulnerability that it's sentiment deserved. Also violins. Yeah, I like the violins.

Here's LCD's explosive video:

And here is the cover:
All My Friends (LCD Soundsystem cover)- Main Drag

13 December 2007

Sea Wolf

Sea Wolf's Leaves in the River is probably one of the most gorgeously autumnal albums of the year, and tragically, one of the most underlooked. Sonically snuggled somewhere between Okkervil River, Sufjan and a sepia-tinged Arcade Fire, I haven't been this genuinely moved by a record in a very, very long time. Haunting and heartfelt. Whoa, just whoa.
You're A Wolf - Sea Wolf
Middle Distance Runner - Sea Wolf

11 December 2007

And now for some cheerier Christmas fair...

Run Run Rudolph as covered by the one and only Mountain Goats:

09 December 2007

I swear the next Christmas song post will be more upbeat...

But for now you will have to deal with the bout of melancholy that is prone to infect some of us, um or at least me, while everyone else is wallowing in holiday cheer.
Cold White Christmas - Casiotone For the Painfully Alone
Owen Ashworth's throaty baritone imbues this song with an impending sense of post-graduation doom. Resigned to life alone, broke, and drunk hopefully you can't relate to this painstakingly, devastating narrative. But if you can, well join the club. This song is fucking bleak. (Buy Etiquette because it's a really fantastic albun)

All I Ever Get For Christmas is Blue - Over the Rhine
The title really says it all.

I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
"I would rather have a holiday with a lot less joy and flash." Amen.

Depressed Christmas - Culturcide
Ok so basically take the "White Christmas" melody and insert lyrics about killing yourself. Lower than lo-fi audio quality alert!
I'm having a depressed Christmas, just like the one i had last year
My slit wrists glistens as I listen to the last Christmas song I'll ever hear.

05 December 2007

Richard Hawley @ Other Music, NYC 12/3/07

Sometimes waiting outside for over an hour in the freezing, flurrying weather is totally worth it. Such was the case on Monday as concert-goers braved near-hypothermic conditions to gain entry into Richard Hawley's intimate in-store performance at New York's illustrious independent record shop Other Music. The British crooner played a sweet set of stripped down acoustic balladry. His deep rasp, charming banter and melancholy melodies had us warmed up in no time.

While nine songs are listed on the set list, he only played the first seven due to an increasingly sore throat. I was mildly bummed that I didn't get to hear the rockabilly romp, "Serious". Oh well.

If you haven't checked out his latest album Lady's Bridge, well by all means do so.
Tonight the Streets Are Ours - Richard Hawley

04 December 2007

Don't Let Another Hanukah Go By Without Giving Your Mom Some Pie

Happy Hanukkah courtesy the Mountain Goats. Have fun celebrating with your little shiksa wife.

Hanukkah - the Mountain Goats

Songs for a (really) rainy day

This photo was taken today, a few blocks from my house. (Not pictured: Gusts up to 129 MPH.)

B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head.mp3
Songs:Ohia - Didn't It Rain.mp3
Thom Yorke - And It Rained All Night.mp3
The 6ths - In The City In The Rain.mp3
Travis - Why Does It Always Rain On Me?.mp3

02 December 2007

Moral of the story: tMG > Sufjan?

Once again the Mountain Goats (and their strong immune systems!) saved the day, and by "the day" I mean June's three-day stay in NY which was wrought by devastation in the form of a cancelled Sufjan performance and a lost pair of gloves. Some notable aspects of their NYU show include:

1. Mr. John Darnielle mumbling the lyrics to Fall Out Boy's "Sugar We're Going Down" (off-mic of course).

2. The lyric switch-up in "The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton"
The top three contenders after weeks of debate were Satan's Fingers, THE HOLD STEADY and the Hospital Bombers

3. John telling the crowd he hates anyone who videotapes performances of new material. Of course he doesn't really hate, he just sorta hates you. (No wait, he really hates you.)

4. The actual performances of new material including the title track to 2008's upcoming "Heretic Pride." We're counting down the grains of sand in the hourglass until February 19.

5. Peter Hughes talking about the Pittsburgh Steeler's football helmet sticker adorning his bass. It came with three other stickers of varying teams from a vending machine, most of which were given away because the did not match the bass.

6. John's t-shirt, which read "Pinklon Thomas."

7. Peter's Etro vest, which we can never get enough of.

8. The Setlist:
1. Cubs in Five (an appetizer, as JD's string broke and had to go back and fix it, leading to a bounty of tunings and jokes.)
2. Cheshire County
3. Going to Utrecht
4. Old College Try
5. Tallahassee
6. Orange Ball of Hate
7. Heretic Pride (new song premiere)
8. You or Your Memory
9. Palmcorder Yanja
10. Love Cuts the Strings
11. Dance Music
12. Slow West Vultures
13. Love Love Love
14. September 15, 1983 (new song)
15. The Pigs That Marched Straightaway into the Water, Triumph of
16. Tulsa Imperative
17. Alpha Incipiens
18. The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton

9. How expressive John is, so wild and loud and passionate and Peter is like the stright man in a comedy routine, the one you bounce all the jokes off but he makes them funny. And he stands there with this wide-legged "Rock God" posture in a nice suit.

10. While waiting in line, two girls nearby us were talking and it was one of those things where suddenly everyone goes quiet and all you can hear is the tail end of someone's awkward conversation. This one girl was saying "...and that's when I told him that if he's going to keep masturbating in a glass box, at least I shouldn't have to..." And there was a dead silence before everyone quietly turned to their friend and said "that is SO showing up in Overheard in NY." (to my knowledge, it hasn't so far).

UPDATE 6/16/08: IT DID!!!!!

This is to say, tMG fans are clearly second only to tMG themselves for entertainment value.

the Mountain Goats - The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton (Live - Melbourne, Australia 01/05/07).mp3
the Mountain Goats - Dance Music (Live Bowery Ballroom, NY 10/01/06).mp3

30 November 2007

Mr. Red Blues EP

Here's a holiday treat to help you kick off your weekend courtesy VK faves Donny Hue and the Colors. Their Mr. Red Blues EP features eight totally original Christmas tracks which revel in the wintery jangle of the season. Here's the title track for your listening pleasure.

Also be sure to check out the there latest full-length, the utterly spellbinding Folkmote.
Mr. Red Blue - Donny Hue and the Colors

29 November 2007

A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel

A comi-tragedy in progress:
Act 1

Girls enjoy Sufjan's music. Girl decides to get tickets and arfaire for both to see Sufjan speak at PENultimate literary event as surprise for other girl. Girls go, at great time and expense and expectations for, you know, hearing Sufjan. Less than 12 hours before event, Girl gets email:
Dear all,
Due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight’s PENultiamte Lit event with Sufjan Stevens, Rick Moody and Wesley Stace has been postponed. We feel awful about rescheduling at this late date, but a very recent turn of events has taken us by surprise.
We plan to reschedule the event, so please stay tuned for details. Each of you are guaranteed a spot and I will email you with the new date.
Please accept our deepest apologies and we hope to see you when the event happens.
My best,

Girl is in denial. girl writes email:
Hi AK folk,
I just received an e-mail that tonight's lit event at Southpaw is postponed. First, we are just concerned and hope everyone/everything is OK. Second we're not sure what to do with tickets except pass them on... My friend and I flew out here from Seattle just to see Sufjan tonight... we're more than a bit heartbroken knowing we probably can't come back when it's rescheduled. We just hope though that nothing truly awful has happened.
With that creepy Christmas feeling,
June & Meghan

Girl cries. Girl receives email:
Dears June and Meghan,
We are heartbroken for you. Please know
it is because Sufjan has contracted the flu. He must be feeling very
out of sorts because he never cancels engagements.
His assistant said, and she does not know for sure,
that it will be re-scheduled for December 17th. You
may try to be reimbursed through Ticketweb for your
tickets. We know that does nothing for your disappointment
and expenses to come to New York.
Thank you for your willingness to travel so far to see Sufjan.
I will let him know.
Diane/ Asthmatic Kitty Records

Girl is glad to know truth but realizes this does not fix situation. Girls go out with friends and have fun around NYC regardless, placing absolutely no pressure on the excitement and importance of seeing the Mountain Goats tonight. Girls promise to update with further details, and perhaps less crying. Girls keep Sufjan in their thoughts and prayers and wish him a speedy recovery

End Act 1

U2 - A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel.mp3
Sufjan Stevens - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!.mp3

27 November 2007


I'm sitting in Orlando International airport right now. Free wireless never felt so good. Here are three apt songs about such transitory locales.

The City, The Airport - Loney Dear
Airport - Jason Collett
Airports - Morning Recordings

26 November 2007

Campaign '08!

This is what happens when you have new graphic design software, not a lot of creativity, and a lot of time on your hands. (If you can think of any other great pairings or campaign slogans, pass 'em on and I'll see what I can do with it.)

This last one is for the greatest mashup of all time:
R. Kelly/Jens Lekman mashup - If I Could Rock (It Would Feel Like This).mp3

I know, it's truly difficult to imagine that Jens himself didn't write lyrics like "the way we fuck gon' lead to childburfin'," and "girl your booty so swole, how you get dem jeans around it," but it's true! You learn something every day.