30 January 2009

When she was 22 the future looked bright...

Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You
Want a catchy little pop song that articulates your youthful discontent? The spunky Lily Allen has just the track you're looking for. So put on that old prom dress with your favorite Chuck Taylors and dance along. It's so deceptively poppy, you'll almost forget you don't have a job or a date. Almost.

22 - Lily Allen

26 January 2009

The cats, they dance!

I have NO idea what this song is about. BUT that's totally irrelevant because at the 2:32 mark CATS DANCE. Like real live cats. THEY DANCE. Japan clearly wins at life.

24 January 2009

Top Albums of 2008, #15-26

Apologies this is coming in so late. Blame the weather.

Last year sucked. Thankfully, the music didn't. Our picks were all over the map for the most part, but are winners are clear. Here's what we liked, graded with a weighted system of points. We're breaking our picks into two posts. This post is the second half of our list. the top half will be posted later.

Album names are buy links. Please support the artists you like by purchasing their music. We do!

Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
By the most casual and freewheeling of the all the Jews’ albums, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea still retains David Berman’s trademark caustic witticisms. He’s just a little more relaxed this time around.
Suffering Jukebox.mp3

Coldplay - Viva La Vida
"This is just simply amazing pop, everything you ever loved about Coldplay, but with the trademark Brian Eno twist. There are dancing strings, powerful vocals and a piano line that keeps building and building." - Cameron Adams
Strawberry Swing.m4a

Rook – Shearwater
A gothic yet baroque tapestry woven together with an eclectic array of horns, woodwinds, and dulcimer, not to mention Jonathon Meiburg’s sexy vocal prowess.


Dr. Dog – Fate
"Strict modernists may chafe at the band's unapologetically backward-glancing aesthetic, but the rest should happily succumb to the shaggy charm of Fate's easy-like-Sunday-morning ramblings." - Leah Grenblatt
The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer.mp3

Flight of the Conchords (s/t)
Leggy Blonde.m4a

Human Highway - Moody Motorcycle
"Opening with a swatch of lo-fi backwoods guitar, the duo merely jests with the antiquated before smoothing everything over with a sheen of crisp production. A spring in its step, “The Sound” bops along, oblivious to the lack of substance in its lyric." - Josh Constine
The Sound.mp3

Death Cab for Cutie- Narrow Stairs
"While Narrow Stairs may scale down the melody-assaults of previous efforts, with their fresh groove and whiff of rebellion, Death Cab announce themselves as genuine rock stars." -The Guardian (UK)
Your New Twin-Sized Bed.m4a

Los Campesinos! -Hold on Now, Youngster...
A cheeky British romp that’s equal parts snark and sincerity, it’s a whirlwind of rocking, glockenspiel, pun-laden fun.
You! Me! Dancing!.mp3

Conor Oberst (s/t)
"It's no surprise that Oberst is able to pull off this style exceptionally well, but what impresses most about the record is how its relaxed vibe--the album was recorded with the specially assembled Mystic Valley Band in just two months at a private house in Mexico--carries over into Oberst's songwriting." --Jonathan Keefe
Cape Canaveral.mp3

Jukebox the Ghost - Let Live & Let Ghosts
"Sounds like a sort of amped-up Ben Folds record, with bouncier piano and more liberal doses of electric jubilation. Serving as an excellent introduction to an incredibly fun new group, this debut rekindles the joy of sing-along pop without sounding dorky or forced." - Jordan Richardson
Under My Skin.m4a

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
I didn’t even know Dan Rossen was in another band besides Grizzly Bear. But apparently he is and apparently his side project is nearly as good. In Ear Park abounds with enough eerie harmonies and codeine-coated melodies to keep you satisfied well until the follow-up to Yellow House is released.
No One Does It Like You.mp3

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
"Stay Positive is a true testament that good music will always prevail. One can only hope that a band like this will continue to make music for years and years to come because we desperately need it." - Adequacy
Sequestered In Memphis.mp3

23 January 2009

For those of us who weren't invited to the Obama staff party...

Here's the Arcade Fire covering Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA". Thank God someone videotaped this, although fair warning they happen to sing along very loudly. Can't really blame them though:

22 January 2009

Like the title says: Love it! Love it!

This is totally a case of an album cover doing me in. I love how the cats and bats are totally rocking out. And those are some killer pink boots on that dinosaur.

I was hoping the music would be just as awesome as the cartoon animals. Luckily it is! Nana Grizol is band from the indie-pop heaven that is Athens, Georgia. Many members belonged to several Elephant 6 bands including Elf Power and Olivia Tremor Control, so that alone should spike your attention. Seriously I can't recommend this album enough. If you remotely enjoy lo-fi, twee melodies, with adorable brass accents and off-kilter vocals you will LOVE this stuff. Download these songs now. The cats with the trumpets implore you. Just as the title says: Love it Love it!

Everything you Ever Hoped and Worked For- Nana Grizol
Voices Echo Down the Hall - Nana Grizol

19 January 2009

Antony & the Johnsons - The Crying Light

Note: My review of Antony & the Johnson's The Crying Light is set to appear in this week's issue of Crawdaddy! on Wednesday. But I can't resist republishing it here, as it is such a beautiful album.

Antony’s voice is an undeniable force of staggering beauty. He makes a soulful, bluesy and nearly operatic sound that abounds with ample emotive capability. He could literally recite the phone book and he’d leave me feeling something.

On The Crying Light, like its predecessor, 2005’s I Am a Bird Now, that something is sorrow. It’s a warm kind of melancholy though. It’s a voice that knows what it feels like to be alone to exist androgynously on the border, always on the periphery looking in. And through his warbly coo he welcomes you into his personal angst, in a way that is both foreign and universally accessible. As song titles like “Her Eyes Underneath the Ground”, “Daylight and the Sun” and “Dust and Water” suggest there’s an emphasis here on the natural world and one’s place within and beyond it.

This is however is a much more subdued affair. Gone are the fiery, stomping horns of “Fistful of Love” and there are surely no hot club numbers like “Blind” his exuberant, disco diva contribution to last year’s Hercules and Love Affair album. This time around it’s just pure Antony.

The arrangements are even sparser than anything he’s ever recorded. Minus a couple of sweet string parts and some dour piano accompaniment, there’s not much more than his vocal stylings, which are left to shine in the forefront. (The haunting “Dust and Water” is nearly a capella.) The prominence of such a powerful voice is certainly welcome given his ability to control and contort his Nina Simone-like warble into something so naturally compelling.

The epic “Daylight and the Sun” finds Antony “crying for daylight, daylight in my heart, daylight in the trees.” It’s six minutes of heart-on-a-sleeve yearning and is probably the most immediately gripping of the album’s ten tightly cohesive tracks. The crescendo-ing arpeggios of “Aeon” and the swirling pixie-dust strings of “Kiss My Name” are additional highlights, although The Crying Light is best consumed as a redemptive whole, rather then picked apart on a song-by-song basis.

His words (and his perspective) are parlayed with disarming authenticity. While listening to The Crying Light, it almost sounds as if you’re eavesdropping on someone’s very own cathartic experience. And yet it also sounds like it was meant for all of us. There is something almost comforting about the ability to accept one’s solitude and outsider status with grace and dignity, even if you do feel like you’ll never find acceptance in this corporeal life. The stately somberness of “Another World” truly exemplifies this theme. “I need another place,” he plaintively mourns over gospel-tinged piano. It’s just one of many minor key melodies that so effectively taps into the universal desire to belong somewhere, anywhere –which is probably what will find you coming back for future listens. Antony gets what so many people don’t.

Daylight and the Sun - Antony & the Johnsons

15 January 2009

She really is great, like really.

I first caught Emmy the Great back in October during CMJ and was just enamored with her lilting British voice, folksy melodies and clever lyricism. She just released this video for "First Love". It's quite quotable and pays tribute to "Hallelujah" (the original Leonard Cohen version).

Emmy the Great's debut album comes on in the UK on February 9th. Sadly no word on a US release date yet.

14 January 2009

She's a maneater

Finally, finally a new Neko Case song. "People Got A Lotta Nerve" fits in just dandy with the alt-county chanteuse's back catalog. Once again her voice swoops and swerves in epic directions. Oh and guys consider this your fair warning: She's a maneater!

And as if the song wasn't good enough on its own, Neko has promised to donate five dollars for every blog that posts it and one dollar for every user of iLike that adds the song to his/her profile to Best Friends Animal Society. The promotion runs through February 3rd so do your part and spread the love. But psst, we would've posted it regardless.

Off the upcoming Middle Cyclone out March 3rd

People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case

12 January 2009

I'm a little lost...

I've been doing a lot of research on the late great Arthur Russell recently. Wikipedia describes him as a "cellist, composer, singer, and disco artist." But really he is a whole lot more than that. He dabbled in genres that range from classical to folk to the avant-garde to the aforementioned disco and sadly died of AIDS in 1992. Yet thanks to a bunch of recent re-releases, compilations and even a documentary he's had a resurgence in popularity.

I'm currently OBESSESSED, like OCD-obsessed, with "A Little Lost". It's a simple, sincere tune, one of love and longing and just wanting to kiss your sweetheart "without entertaining another thought". I defy you not to embrace its heart-wrenching melody. Oh and did I mention it's currently (finally!) ringing true for me. So do me a favor: grab the one you love, crank up the volume and kiss 'em like you'll never see them again.

A Little Lost - Arthur Russell

Oh and hey a Jens Lekman cover!

A Little Lost - Jens Lekman (Arthur Russell cover)

10 January 2009

My fave cover of the year so far...

Here's one of the most unpredictable covers I've heard in a long time. Orchestral rockers Pale Young Gentlemen tackle M.I.A.'s ubiquitous smash "Paper Planes". On paper this sort of rendition shouldn't work, but on record it totally does. I just love the crooning vocals, plucky string accompaniment and faux gun shot drumbeats. You will too!
Paper Planes (M.I.A. Cover) - Pale Young Gentlemen

It's just one of many superb covers you'll find on Cokemachineglow's annual Fantasy cover podcast

08 January 2009

Okkervil River @ The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY 1/06/09

It was quite refreshing to see Okkervil River in a space as intimate and cozy as Brooklyn's Bell House, especially after seeing them at the less-than-stellar Webster Hall the last time they played in town. Will spewed sweat and spit, giving his all, as always and the band raged on and on for nearly two hours. Highlights included "Get Big" in which Will dueted with his girlfriend Beth (of the band Bird of Youth) and a solo rendition of "Red" Here's the complete setlist.

Plus Ones
A Hand to Take Hold…
Starry Stairs
John Allyn Smith
The Latest Toughs
Red (Will solo)
Get Big (Will + singer from Bird if Youth + Lauren, Justin, Travis (tambourine))
Blue Tulip
Pop Lie (song they’ll do on Letterman)
Lost Coastlines
Black Sheep Boy >
For Real (loud)
Our Life is Not a Movie
Unless It’s Kicks
Bruce Wayne Campbell (Will, Lauren, Justin)
Girl in Port
Another Radio Song

Red - Okkervil River
Get Big - Okkervil River

06 January 2009

Even Bon Iver at full volume fails to bring the heat down.

So Phosphorescent's 'Aw Come Aw Wry' (released way back when in 05) is pretty cool. Sweeping gestures with just a hint of southern twang. Houks' voice cracks all over the place, which makes me happy. I'd say more, but its day five of a 40 degree heat wave (that's 100 degrees for my Farenheitly inclined friends) and it took enough effort just to come into this sweltering room and say that the album is interesting and worth a listen and a tap of your toes. So, yeah.

Not A Heel

I Am A Full Grown Man (I Will Lay In The Grass All Day)

05 January 2009

If you look really closely you can see a 9.6 in the cover art

That's the rating Pitchfork is giving Animal Collective's latest album Merriweather Post Pavillion.

While MPP isn't technically released until tomorrow, I happened to spot it on sale over the weekend at Princeton Record Exchange, which just happens to be the best record store in all of New Jersey. You should have seen the college kids squealing over it. God bless independent music shops for totally disregarding proper release dates!

My Girls - Animal Collective (removed at request)