Elbow to Release Next Album in 2010

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Elbow has been on an extended worldwide tour, riding the wave of their Mercury Prize winning album, Seldom Seen Kid.  But they haven’t lost sight of their next album, their fifth, which is expected to be released in September 2010. 

The group is certainly feeling the pressure for their follow up to the acclaimed Seldom Seen Kid.  Bassist Pete Turner admitted to the BBC, “There is [pressure].  I think we’re up there for a little bit of a taking down almost – for us it means we’ll work a little bit harder.”

Part of working harder means the band will be more organized upon entering the studio, with songs in hand.  Something they haven’t done in previous sessions.  To that end the group has been diligently writing on the road, setting up writing rooms at every stop.

Elbow will be performing a smattering of US dates throughout the East coast this summer, including the recently announced All Points West Festival. The only West Coast stop they have scheduled is The Wiltern in LA on July 22.

Listen to “Running to Stand Still (U2 Cover), off the recently released War Child charity album.  


2009 | Keep Calm and Carry On

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My friend Erin had this print of an old British poster in her house that struck me.  It’s a reproduction of an old slogan used to allay public fear during the outbreak of World War 2.  The original poster was held in reserve for use only in times of extreme crisis.   Although thousands were produced, only a handful ever saw the light of day. (For a reproduction of the poster, go to Keep Calm Gallery.)

Some 60 years later, I couldn’t help but think how fitting it was in this day and age where fear and uncertainty has reached epidemic proportions. It seems as though the world is on the edge of its seat, waiting for life as we know it to end sometime in 2009.  Just how bad will 2009 be?  The speculation is endless and the anticipation exhausting. It’s only January 1 and I’m already tired of it.  And like a bunch of rubberneckers at the scene of an accident, we seem compelled to slow down and look at the wreckage, clogging up everything behind us.  Too scared to do anything else. While I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, I have decided to adopt this as my motto and modus operandi for 2009. I think we can all use a little more of that British ‘stiff upper lip’ right now.

So Happy New Year folks.  Let’s all just keep calm and carry on.  In honor of our wise British brethren, I’ve composed a mix of some of my favorite UK-based artists and songs.  Enjoy.  And let’s keep on rockin’ in the free world!

Keep Calm and Carry On Mixtape


  1. The Early Years, ‘High Times and Low Lives’
  2. Glasvegas, ‘Geraldine’
  3. Elbow, ‘Mirrorball’
  4. Radiohead, ‘House of Cards’
  5. School of Language, ‘Keep Your Water’
  6. The Duke Spirit, ‘Wooden Heart’
  7. Belle and Sebastian, ‘Stars of Track and Field’
  8. Jamie T, ‘Back in the Game’
  9. The Bees, ‘Better Days’
  10. Jim Noir, ‘Computer Song’
  11. Paul McCartney, ‘Oh Woman, Oh Why’

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Best Albums of 2008

And here it is.  My top 20 albums for 2008.  This list represents the music that inspired me throughout the year and the albums that I kept coming back to again and again.  I’ve tried to put the critic hat aside to be very honest in my ranking.  What you see here, in order of appearance, are the albums I listened to the most throughout the year.  In order of heavy rotation, so to speak.

So while some of you may judge my harshly for listing bands like The Raconteurs in the top 10, the truth of the matter is I listened to that album a lot this year and it got me off every time. It’s a great rock album. Plus they were one of my favorite live performances of the year.  And hey, if they’re good enough to make Nic Harcourt’s top 10 list, it’s good enough for me.

Enjoy!

1.  Deerhunter, Microcastle

300x300This album blew me away from the first listen and put Bradford Cox into the genius category for me. I really and truly can’t stop listening to this album. It’s brilliant start to finish and much more melodic and song-oriented than other Deerhunter albums. A classic for sure.

Listen to Agrophobia.  


 

 

2.  White DenimExposion

white-denim-wd-us-frontI’m truly obsessed with this Austin-based band. I listen to this album, without fail, every single day.  I start with the Let’s Talk About It EP followed by Exposion. It’s my go-to,  late night, ‘gotta wake my ass up to get some work done’ combo.  I just love their stripped down Stooges/White Stripes vibe. Feels really good. And seriously rocks! 

Listen to Shake, Shake, Shake


 

3.  Black Keys, Attack & Release

1208967_170x170What a sexy album this is.  And their collaboration with Danger Mouse on this album adds subtle layers of complexity to give it a more ethereal and eerie sound than their prior releases. Sooo good.

Listen to Psychotic Girl:


 

 

 

4.  Elbow, Seldom Seen Kid

ssk-cover

“I’ve been working on a cocktail called Grounds for Divorce…,” is the opening line from the rockin’ single, ‘Grounds for Divorce,’ off Elbow’s fourth and best release to date, The Seldom Seen Kid.  The song is immense, snarling with emotion and emblematic of the theme of the album – the joys and sorrows of everyday life.

Listen to Grounds for Divorce.  


 

5.  The Raconteurs, Conselors of the Lonely

consolers-of-the-lonely‘The Rockintours’ as my 3 year old son calls them, this album was most definitely on heavy rotation throughout 2008.  To the point where he has developed an obsession with Jack White and tries to emulate his moves on his toy guitar.  Could Jack White be the rock god of his generation?  Very well could be.  He made demi-rock god status in my book after seeing them play at Bimbos earlier this year, one of my concert highlights of the year.  A relentless assault of rock and roll I haven’t seen the likes of in quite some time.

Listen to ‘Rich Kid Blues’


 

6.  The Duke Spirit, Neptune

The Duke SpiritI’ve been a fan of The Duke Spirit since their first album, Cuts Across the Land, hit the US in 2005.  With their second release, Neptune, the band has clearly come of age.  The album is a seductive blend of lead singer Leila Moss’s bluesy-rock vocals and ferocious guitar riffs.   The songs, evoking images of sea gods and ships, are a journey of brooding intensity that, in the end, leaves me only to say… “All Hail The Duke Spirit.”  

Listen to ‘This Ship Was Built To Last’

Download: 06%20This%20Ship%20Was%20Built%20to%20Last.m4p

 

7.  School of Language, Sea from Shore

School of LanguageThis album is almost entirely a solo project showcasing the genius of David Brewis, member of the on-hiatus group Field Music, and is a true album experience.  Like a mini rock symphony, the album starts and ends with a series of songs called ‘Rockists Part 1 and 2’ and ‘Rockists Part 3 and 4’.  Parts 1 and 4 are different versions of the same song but strung together and listened to in it’s entirety, is a stunning arrangement. The songs are exquisitely constructed and I love the way he plays with structures and sounds.  

Listen to ‘Extended Holiday’


  

8.  Beach House, Devotion

beachhouse_devotionMy biggest regret of the year?  Having to miss Beach House play The Swedish American Music Hall.  Grr. It’s such a lovely, lovely, album.  I love their etherial, haunting, lovelorn music and Devotion was a late night favorite on my headphones all year long.

Listen to ‘Gila


 
9.  Department of Eagles, In Ear Park

300x300-11Department of Eagles is essentially a side-project of Grizzly Bear singer-songwriter Daniel Rossen, who developed its dreamy, autobiographical songs with college friend and cohort, Fred Nicolaus. Their latest album, In Ear Park, was developed over the years between the two, stealing time on weekends and between tours. 

This is the kind of album that grows on you over time. As you dig deeper through the album, you’ll start to appreciate the complexities and amazing orchestral arrangements that continue to unfold listen after listen.

Listen to ‘Phantom Other’


 

10. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

fleet-foxes-lpHave you heard the one about this girl who walks into a bar in Austin, TX and sees Fleet Foxes for the first time?  Call it serendipity, call it love at first sight – er, listen – she’s smitten.  And so is the rest of the indie rock world.  With good reason.  Another one of my top live performances of 2008

Listen to Sun it Rises’


 
11. Sam Champion, Heavenly Bender

300x300Are you a Pavement fan? If you are, you’re gonna like the latest release, Heavenly Bender, from the Brooklyn-based quartet, Sam Champion.  Steeped in lo-fi, garage-rock jams, their sound may be a little too Wowee Zowee for the non-Pavement aficionado, but for me it’s the perfect combination as bands like Pavement /Stephen Malkmus represent everything I like in Indie Rock music – crunchy guitar jams sandwiched between sweet harmonies.  My indie rock PB&J. 

Listen to ‘Dead Moon’


 

12. Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago

Bon IverRemember when this band was fresh on the scene and how great it was, for that brief moment, to have them all to yourself? Then suddenly they were everywhere and even your non-music friends started talking about them.  ‘Have you heard of this band called Bon IVER?’ At least we had the satisfaction to smugly correct them on their mispronunciation.  “It’s pronounced Bon Hiver – like good winter in French? Phht.”  Okay, maybe that was just me.  All kidding aside, this is such a beautiful album and truly one of my favorite live performances of the year.  It gave me goosebumps.

Listen to ‘Flume


 
13. Helio Sequence, Keep Your Eyes Ahead

1270390_170x170The Portland-based duo, The Helio Sequence, released their third album ‘Keep Your Eyes Ahead’ in January of this year; but it’s one of those records I just keep coming back to again and again.  It makes me feel so nostalgic. Perhaps it’s because there are moments on the record that sound so early U2/Joshua Tree I can’t help but feel that way.  

Listen to ‘Lately’


 
14. Dodos, Visiter

The DodosThis stripped down, two-man San Francisco band consists of Meric Long on guitar and vocals and Logan Kroeber on percussion.  Both are feature performers  - on the recording and live.  Their simplicity has drawn comparisons to a crop of new-primitivist bands like Yeasayer and High Places.  Whatever the case, you should listen to this album and make a point to see them live.  They’re mesmerizing.

Listen to Fools


 

 
15. Wintersleep, Welcome to the Night Sky

300x3001Welcome to the Night Sky is the third album for the Halifax-based Wintersleep, and one that seems destined for success in the US. Already quite popular in Canada, the band recently received the 2008 Juno award for ‘New Group of the Year’. Their sound is expansive with heavy, smashing guitars combined with delicate, heartbreaking vocals. A sound so well represented in the track ‘Drunk on Aluminum’.

Listen to Drunk on Aluminum:


 

16. Women, Women

11225197_155_155Women are a Canadian group (two of them brothers, actually) with their self-titled debut released July 8 on Flemish Eye Records.  I was very pleased to learn that Chad VanGaalen produced this album, of whom I’m a big fan.  He recorded the album in his basement on old tape machines and ghettoblasters.  To say their sound is lo-fi is an understatement. My guess is you’ll be hearing a lot more from this band.

Listen to Black Rice’


 

17. Chad VanGaalen, Soft Airplane

6PANEL_ALT PACKI adore this guy.  He’s a wonderful and interesting artist, a virtual one-man band who’s notoriously very reclusive and apparently obsessed with death and other morbid topics. I find a stark beauty in the basement-recorded ‘Soft Airplane’ (as well as a nice cover of The Shins ‘City of Electric Light’). And while it’s true that the basement can be a dark and scary place at times, it can also be filled with wonder and surprise.

Listen toWillow Tree’


 

 

18. The Kills, Midnight Boom

the-killsTape ain’t gonna fix it/ Honey, it ain’t gonna stick/ Six kinds of glue/ Won’t hold you! / You’ve got to, you’ve got to, you’ve got to go straight ahead!  

I love this album.  It’s just downright fun.

Listen to Tape Song’


 

 

 

19. The Sea and Cake, Car Alarm

205_smThis Chicago quartet has been around for quite a while and there’s a comfort in the familiarity and consistency of their music.  Their latest release, Car Alarm, is no exception.  One of their best albums in over a decade.  I’ve been listening to their electronic grooves a lot. Mellow yet powerful at the same time, they are firmly rooted in Indie rock with a splash of that electronica sound I like so much. It’s smooth, well balanced, easy on the ears and layered with just enough complexity to keep it interesting listen after listen.  Like a fine wine.

Listen to ‘On a Letter’


 

20. Juana Molina, Un Dia

l_578961d089af3008d796327e86bf7554Last, but certainly not least, is Juana Molina’s, Un Dia. This Argentinean singer /songwriter is an amazing interpreter of sound. I discovered her by chance many years ago opening for a band I can’t even remember now because her performance was so compelling and mesmerizing I’ve forgotten everything else about that night.  I’ve been an ardent fan of her dreamlike, hypnotic music ever since.  Her fifth full length album, Un Dia, is her most adventurous, upbeat and rhythmic release to date.  

Listen to ‘Los Hongos de Marosa’



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Elbow Wins UK’s Mercury Prize

Elbow’s current release, Seldom Seen Kid, has officially won the UK’s coveted Mercury Prize.  And deservedly so.  It’s an outstanding album and one of my favorites so far this year.  Lead singer Guy Garvey was quoted as saying: `I know I’m supposed to be cool, but it’s literally the best thing that’s ever happened to us.”

Congratulations.  And go get the album if you haven’t done so already.

Listen to Grounds for Divorce:


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the OCMD Mixtape: Best Songs of 2008…So Far

It’s the last day of July and half the year has gone and passed.  To celebrate, I’ve compiled a mixtape of my favorite songs (not albums) of the year…so far.  You can listen here, but if you want the file, you’ll have to subscribe to the OCMD Mixtape.  Enjoy!  


  1. The Raconteurs - These Stones Will Shout
  2. The Duke Spirit – This Ship Was Built to Last
  3. Elbow – Grounds for Divorce
  4. Black Angels – You on the Run
  5. The Black Keys - Psychotic Girl
  6. Beck – Soul of a Man
  7. Women – Black Rice
  8. The Raveonettes – Aly, Walk with Me
  9. The Ruby Suns – There are Birds
  10. Handsome Furs – Handsome Furs Hate this City
  11. Girls – Hellhole Ratrace
  12. Atlas Sound – Recent Bedroom
  13. High Places – Head Spins
  14. Beach House - Gila
  15. Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
  16. Bon Iver - Skinny Love
  17. Citay – Little Kingdom
  18. The Helio Sequence – Lately
  19. Art in Manila – The Sweat Descends
  20. The Dodos – Paint the Rust
  21. Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today
  22. Tilly and the Wall - Pot Kettle Black
  23. Rafter – zzzpenchant
  24. School of Language – Extended Holiday
  25. Jason Collett - Charlyn, Angel of Kensington
  26. The Morning Benders – Boarded Doors
  27. Jim Noir – Don’t You Worry
  28. Cut Copy – Lights & Music

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And the Mercury Prize Nominees Are…

Being the huge Brit Rock fan that I am, I always follow the Mercury Prize to make sure I’m on top of my UK artists.  Who will get the award for ‘Best Album of the Year’?  There are certainly some strong contenders, but I’ll be rooting for Elbow – the eternal underdog.  

Adele – ’19′
British Sea Power – ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’
Burial – ‘Untrue’
Elbow – ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
Estelle – ‘Shine’
The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘The Age Of The Understatement’
Laura Marling – ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’
Neon Neon – ‘Stainless Style’
Portico Quartet - ‘Knee-Deep In The North Sea’
Robert Plant And Alison Krauss – ‘Raising Sand’
Radiohead – ‘In Rainbows’
Rachel Unthank And The Winterset – ‘The Bairns’

Click here to listen to a sampler of these artists on MixWit.

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Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

Artist: Elbow
AlbumThe Seldom Seen Kid
File Under: Brit Rock
Recommended if You Like: Radiohead, Coldplay, Rob Dickinson, Peter Gabriel
Featured Track: Grounds for Divorce; The Bones of You



“I’ve been working on a cocktail called Grounds for Divorce…,” is the opening line from the rockin’ single, ‘Grounds for Divorce,’ off Elbow’s fourth and arguably best release to date, The Seldom Seen Kid.  The song is immense, snarling with emotion and emblematic of the theme of the album – the joys and sorrows of everyday life.

I’ve been obsessing over this album since it’s release in April.  Definitely one of my top albums for 2008.  I’m in love with Guy Garvey’s voice, which reminds me of Peter Gabriel at times and Rob Dickinson at others.  It’s beautiful and melodic, regardless. Especially the track, ‘The Fix’, in which Guy collaborates with another British crooner, Richard Hawley.

Elbow is one of those Radiohead-esque English bands that emerged from the wake of The Bends and OK Computer in the 90s.  For whatever reason, Coldplay was the band the masses glommed onto while Elbow remained in relative obscurity, despite their abundance of critical accolades.  Lucky for you, you now know better. 

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