Monday, January 21, 2008

I've Returned

Hey everybody- sorry I've been gone for a while. I've been busy doing a lot of things, including recording some new demos that I'm looking to send to a couple small record companies. To hear these, just go to And let me know what you think.

Otherwise, as far as music goes, some new albums I've gotten include Challengers by The New Pornographers. All I have to say is don't believe everything you read on Pitchfork. The album (while admittedly not quite as good as their previous efforts) is still amazing, and I'd highly recommend checking it out. At least check out the song 'Myriad Harbor.'

I'll try to get back to my reviews and what-not soon, so hold tight. There are a few concerts coming up that I'll be attending, so you can look for reviews of their live shows in the near future, including They Might Be Giants (which I'll also do a pre-show run through, as I did for The Mountain Goats) and Blitzen Trapper. Thanks for reading, and I'll return soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ultimate Album of the Year

So the last post was the "top 10" of the year. Today I reveal... the ULTIMATE album of the year. That's right, you thought I was done, but I'm not. That last list was just the countdown to the very very best, which I kept in secret to surprise you. So... the ultimate... the very best... the golden nugget... of the year.... is:

Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation

This album has something for everyone to love. At times wild and eclectic, at other times melodic and beautiful, always surprising, and never disappointing, this album is the peak of what great indie rock has become. It moves from noisy art rock to country western from time change to time change multiple times within one song. This album truly is an amazing feat. Every song on the album is a winner. Influences heard on the album range from early Pavement to fellow indie rockers Tapes 'n Tapes to Wilco to science fiction television shows and rocky scenic views. This album has everything I want, and everything that I love. If you don't own, (and I'm dead serious) go pick it up NOW.

10 Top Albums of 2007

It's reaching about the end of the year, and even though I'm sure there are some fantastic albums to come out by the end of December, I am doing a top 10 countdown of my favorite albums from the past year. Keep in mind, I haven't heard every album that I should have, but these are the albums which I have heard, and which I have loved. Right now it's late, I just finished putting together my final portfolio for English, and got my design project done this morning, so I'm tired. In other words, I'm not going to write a small clip for each album, just show them, and you'll know... you'll know how you love them. HERE WE GO!

10. Okkervil River - The Stage Names


9. Feist - The Reminder


8. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

(Sub Pop)

7. !!! - Myth Takes


6. Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends


5. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings


4. We All Have Hooks for Hands - The Pretender


3. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible


2. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position


1. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?


And of course, these weren't the only albums I enjoyed all year. I made some other hard decisions as to who should go on the list, so these are the Honorable Mentions:

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Some Loud Thunder

The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover

The Go! Team - Proof of Youth

And there you have it. Those are my favorite albums from this year, and also a few that just didn't quite make the list, though rest assured, are still excellent. Check them out if you have the time, I promise, they're well worth it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Sampler - Tracks of the Week (Week 7)

Here’s this week’s rundown of songs I can’t stop listening to:

Violent Femmes – Gone Daddy Gone

From their first album, the Violent Femmes combine everything they’re great at into one song. In this song they have their furious high school angst (which, if you’re listening to emo can get incredibly annoying, but the Violent Femmes always keep it raw and actually angry, not whiny), not to mention driving bass/drums, and lo-fi acoustic guitar played punk. They even throw in what sounds like a marimba. I love most Violent Femmes song, but this one sticks out in my mind.

Beirut – Scenic World

From the Lon Gisland EP (not the version off of The Gulag Orkestar), the song opens with a beautiful accordion piece, and soon breaks in with hand drums and strings. Zach Condon’s voice breaks in with its deep swoon, “The lights go on/the lights go off/When things don’t feel right.” The song is absolutely beautiful, and makes me think of walking through falling snow from class to class, a cigarette in my mouth.

Destroyer – The Bad Arts

From the album Streethawk: A Seduction, Destroyer’s The Bad Arts is typical Dan Bejar, which is not to say it is average. Destroyer, with each album I listen to, has the ability to craft some of the most beautiful, clever music I’ve ever listened to. Opening with a solo acoustic piece and the sound of Bejar’s voice, his lyrics are, as always, genius. “God damn your eyes/They just had to be twin prizes waiting for the sun.” After the first bit, though, the song backs into a blues bass line and drums while Bejar sings bitterly. The song builds just little by little until the end when the music breaks, and a small chorus sings, “You’ve got the spirit/Don’t lose the feeling.

And those are this week’s tracks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Pretender

Alright, I’m finally doing it. I’m reviewing the We All Have Hooks for Hands album. It seems a little nerdy, (because so many of them attend the same school as me, and I see them fairly frequently) but I’m doing it anyway.

Their first (and only) album is out on Afternoon Records, and you can usually catch them playing at least once a month in the Sioux Falls area. I first got The Pretender (or at least most of it) last May, and it literally has not left my CD player for more than a day since then. It is an incredibly addicting album. The songs are incredibly catchy, filled with “Oh’s” and “Whoa-oh’s” galore, not to mention witty lyrics and memorable music. There are nine members in the band on this album, including three guitarists, a bass player, two drummers, two keyboard/trumpet players, and a violinist. Most of the songs center around partying in small towns, something which (at least for me) is very relatable.

Standouts of the album are “Oh, I’d Expect” (Well I’m sure you’ll reminisce/about the timing of this/You always thought apologies were for frauds), “On & On” (Mistitled “Ghosts and Strangers) (We go on and on about being alone/We go on and on about being alone), and “The Man Trying to Outfox Us All” (You held your ties with drugs and lies/You missed a note with all your wives/And life’s a joke with no punchline/But you’re alright, yeah you’re alright).

It is a perfect album to turn the volume all the way up in your car and just belt out the lyrics with, and one that I really can’t stop listening to. I give it, yeah, that’s right, a 10.0.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Sampler - Tracks of the Week (Week 6)

First of all, the Mountain Goats concert was amazing. John Darnielle is a brilliant performer, and one can tell how much he enjoys playing for audiences. If you ever get the chance to catch them live, I’d highly recommend it. Now, for the songs I can’t stop listening to.

Maritime – Tearing Up the Oxygen

Maritime is a band formed by remnants of The Promise Ring (Davey von Bohlen) and The Dismemberment Plan (Eric Axelson). Now, God knows I have nothing but good words for The Dismemberment Plan, with their albums Emergency and I and Change being tied for my number two albums of all time (second only to Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea), but I am also an avid fan of The Promise Ring. Now, now, you might say, they’re nothing but a washed-up emo band. Let me be the first to tell you, I hate emo music. Absolutely despise it, but these so-called “inventors of emo” sound nothing of the sort. Anyway, I digress. Tearing Up the Oxygen comes from the band’s sophomore (and superior) album We, the Vehicles. The song retains that old Promise Ring feel, but takes the harmonies further, and creates an addicting post-pop number. For some reason, the song feels perfect in the month of October (although that has passed) reminding me of lying in a giant pile of leaves, but I think that’s just von Bohlen’s voice. I’d recommend the entire album, but at least this song.

Rogue Wave – Love’s Lost Guarantee

I don’t know much about the band Rogue Wave, but I know that this song is immediately likable. I first heard the song on the trailer for the new film Wristcutters: A Love Story (which, I think, looks hilarious, and I can’t wait to see it), and after I did some research to find out what the song was, obtained the album immediately. When the song began, I wasn’t sure if I had done my research correctly, as it sounded like a very sad number, but was presently surprised by the end of it, when it builds into a giant celebration, filled with energy and shouting, and I couldn’t help but sing along with my first listen, without knowing the words.

And those are this week’s tracks, hope you enjoy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mountain Goats - The Highlights (In Preparation for the Upcoming Concert)

Since I will be attending the Mountain Goats concert in Omaha this Saturday, and since John Darnielle is my favorite lyricist, I thought I’d give a small rundown of my favorite songs of theirs:

Going to Georgia

Of course, this is an obvious one, hailing from their very first album, Zopilote Machine. It may be incredibly lo-fi, but it contains my favorite lyrics of all time, “The most remarkable thing about you standing in the doorway/is that it’s you/and that you’re standing in the doorway.” It is a simple statement, but remarkably beautiful in its simplicity. It is like what I’ve wanted to say so many times to so many people, I’m just happy that you’re here at all.

This Year

This is also an obvious choice. The first single from the cathartic album The Sunset Tree, it is a bleeding, joyous, explosion of childhood confession. It feels as if John Darnielle finally lets all of the things that happened during his childhood out in one terrifying gasp. Highlighted lyric: “I downshifted as I pulled into the driveway/The motor screaming out stuck in second gear/The scene ends badly as you might imagine/in a cavalcade of anger and fear/There will be feasting and dancing in Jerusalem next year/I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me.”

Attention All Pickpockets

This comes from the 3-song EP, Letter to Belgium. This song winds down to the old single-acoustic guitar and vocals motif. It is a touching driven song that with each chorus finds a multitude of voices singing. Highlighted lyric: “Black pumps/And a medium length black skirt/Eating a path through the dark, damp earth/I hope they’ve got plenty of money where you’re going.”

Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton

From their album, All Hail West Texas, this song tells the story of two teenagers trying to get a death metal band together to follow their favorite music acts. (Apparently John Darnielle is very influenced by death metal, although his music is usually acoustic-folk.) After they get their band together, they try to perform publicly, but the school tells them that because of their use of a pentagram (like a lot of death metal bands) they cannot continue to perform, therefore ruining their dreams. Highlighted lyric: “When you punish a person for dreaming his dream/Don’t expect him to thank or forgive you/The best ever death metal band out of Denton/Will in time both outpace and outlive you/Hail Satan!” (The last remark is obviously meant to be ironic… this band isn’t a cult.)

The Mess Inside

Also from All Hail West Texas, this song tells the story of a young couple who try to reignite their love by vacationing all over the world, but find that the world cannot solve their problems. It is close to one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard, and therefore I will post all of the lyrics from the song:

We took a weekend, drove to Provo/
the snow was white and fluffy/
but a weekend in Utah won't fix what's wrong with us/
the gray sky was vast and real cryptic above me/
I wanted you to love me like you used to do.
We took two weeks in the Bahamas/
went out dancing every night/
tried to fight the creeping sense of dread with temporal things/
most of the time I guess I felt alright/
but I wanted you to love me like you used to do.
But you cannot run/
and you cannot hide/
from the wreck we've made of our house/
and from the mess inside.
We went down to New Orleans/
one weekend in the spring/
looked hard for what we'd lost/
it was painful to admit it, but we couldn't find a thing/
I wanted you to love me like you used to do.
We went to New York City in September/
took the train out of Manhattan to the Grand Army Stop/
found that bench we'd sat together on a thousand years ago/
when I felt such love for you I thought my heart was gonna pop/
I wanted you to love me like you used to do.
But I cannot run/
and I can't hide/
from the wreck we've made of our house/
from the mess inside.