Low Roar – “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”

Artist: Low Roar
Album: Self Titled
Homeland: Iceland by way of San Francisco
Featured Track: “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”

A simply gorgeous album. If you’re a sucker for pathos and Bon Iver (like me), this album is your anecdote. Ryan Karazija is the man behind Low Roar, who just released his debut, self-titled album this November. Ryan moved from San Francisco to Iceland and began writing this album as he found himself in a state of loneliness struggling to provide for his family in a foreign land. Anyone who as ever picked up and left a stable life in hopes of finding something new/better/different or just to escape from their past knows this feeling of despair, fear of the unknown, and hope of what’s to come. Dive in and wallow in it.

One to Watch: Lia Ices – “Grown Unknown”

Artist: Lia Ices
Album: Grown Unknown
Release Date: 1/25/11
Label: Jagjaguwar
Featured Track: Grown Unknown”

When my friend told me about his girlfriend the musician from Brooklyn I didn’t think much about it. When he said she has an album coming out on Jagjaguwar I thought…hold up, I need to check this out. Because when a label with that kind of reputation signs an artist it’s for a good reason. And listening to this track it’s clear what that reason is. She’s quite the talented songstress and could easily follow the same trajectory of Feist and Cat Power. Her debut album, Grown Unknown, is slated to be released on 1/25/11 and includes a track with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.

Trendspotting: Solo, Side Projects and Collaborations – Part 1

2009 seems to be the year of artists embarking on new solo efforts, side projects and collaborations.  It’s become quite a task to keep up with it all.  So much so I’ve actually created an Excel spreadsheet to track it. (But hey, I’m OCMD like that.) The proliferation of new projects and good music being put forth this year is astounding. And it’s a good thing.  It points to the positive – and much needed – evolution of the music industry.  This multi-part series will try to make some sense of it all by laying out the notable artists and projects released this year in all of their various incarnations. Enjoy.

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Artist: Volcano Choir
Album: Unmap
Type: Collaboration
Who’s Involved: Justin Vernon of Bon Iver with Collections of Colonies of Bees
Featured Track: Island, IS

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Artist: Lightning Dust
Album:Infinite Light
Type: Side Project
Who’s Involved: Joshua Wells and Amber Webber of Black Mountain
Tour Dates: October 6 @ The Independent in SF with The Cave Singers
Featured Track: “Never Seen”

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Artist: Julian Plenti
Album:Skyscraper
Type: Solo Project
Who’s Involved: Paul Banks of Interpol
Featured Track:”Fun That We Had”

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Artist: Brendan Benson
Album: My Old, Familiar Friend
Type: Solo Project
Who’s Involved: Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs (tho his solo work preceded it)
Featured Track: “Feel Like Taking You Home”

A Good Day

Today was a good day. Not only did we get a new president but today launched a landslide of hot, fresh, highly anticipated albums from the likes of:

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A.C. Newman – Get Guilty

Featured Track: ‘Submarines of Stockholm’

 

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Andrew Bird – Noble Beast (& Useless Creatures)

Featured Track: Oh No 


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Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

Featured Track: My Girls 

 

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Bon Iver – Blood Bank EP

Featured Track: ‘Blood Bank’

 

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J. Tillman – Vacilando Territory Blue

Featured Track: ‘James Blue’ 

 

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Robert Pollard The Crawling Distance

Featured Track: ‘Imaginary Queen Anne’

Get this album free via eMusic’s 50 Free MP3 Promo

buy it at insound!

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Peasant – On the Ground

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Artist: Peasant
AlbumOn the Ground
File Under: Indie Folk
Recommended if You Like: Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, Elliott Smith
Featured Track: Birds

You know how annoying it is when you diligently track new music from your favorite blogs, hear something you get excited about, then can’t find it because the album isn’t even released yet?  Well, I’m sorry but I’m about to do that to you right now.

I just can’t help myself on this one though.  Peasant’s, On the Ground, was a little gem sent to me from Paper Garden Records last month and I cannot stop listening to it.  Unfortunately for you, it’s not available until January 27, 2009. But you can pre-order here now.

Peasant is the musical alter-ego of Damien DeRose from Doylestown, PA.  And you can’t help but think Elliott Smith when you hear his beautiful lyrics and delicate acoustic arrangements float by.  I’m completely obsessed with the song, ‘Birds‘.

Based upon his upcoming engagements to promote the album, it appears I’m not the only one obsessed.  He just recorded studio sessions with Daytrotter (known for helping to launch emerging bands like Of Montreal, Vampire Weekend, Tokyo Police Club, Spoon, and A Place To Bury Strangers), and is scheduled to record live sessions on WOXY and LaundroMatinee as well.  Oh, and let’s not forget his upcoming music placement on the new Showtime series “United States of Tara.”

So go get it already!  Pre-order here.

Check out the Daytrotter recordings here.

 

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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

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“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’

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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’


Get these albums free via eMusic’s 50 Free MP3 Promo

buy it at insound!

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