Comments: First off I am a huge fan of Questlove's drumming. The Roots also do an amazing job of combining genres such as Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul and Rock. After seeing the Roots play Lollapalooza a few years back and taking in their live experience I was fully converted.
Comments: Countdown is a song that contains everything that turns me on musically about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Countdown is a hidden gem that should not be over looked by any Yeah Yeah Yeah's fan. Maps the first track is off of the album Fever To Tell. It is probably my favorite song off that album and one that really stands out from their other work. I highly recommend this single.
Comments: I must say I was never the biggest Vic Chesnutt fan but his album At The Cut Was a big surprise this year. It featured members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Silver Mt. Zion and Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. This was a perfect fit for Chesnutt. They complimented his words well and gave the album a heavily atmospheric direction. I really liked the direction this album went and I really wish this collaboration could have continued.
Vic Chesnutt passed away in a hospital in Athens, Georgia on Christmas. He had been in a coma from an overdose of muscle relaxants. He was 45 years old. I have read that they think it was a suicide. He had attempted suicide before. Vic Chesnutt also spent his life after 18 bound to a wheel chair because of being paralyzed in a car accident. He released what were in my opinion the two best albums he had created this year At The Cut and Skitter On Take-Off.
Comments: Legend has it this album was only gonna be given to a few friends but Touch & Go Records wanted to put it out and picked it up, marking it as the first Coco Rosie album.This is a pretty incredible lo-fi venture. The album was for the most part recorded in a bathroom in Paris by the two Casady sisters with Sierra playing guitar, singing, piano, harp and Bianca singing, doing percussion, electronics and using all sorts of children's toys. Their music has folk, blues, opera, electronica and hip hop elements. La Maison de Mon Reve gives off a beautiful yet strangely uncomfortable vibe like no other. Impressive.
Comments: The Low Christmas album is perhaps the best Chritmas album ever created. It perfectly captures the feel of this time in December. It has everything from the magical and fun "Just Like Christmas" to a spacey version of "Little Drummer Boy" to a lonely "Blue Christmas" this album is unbelievably moving. I pull this album out of the collection every year around this time and it never gets old. Which is saying a lot because Christmas music gets old to me fast normally.
Comments: This is one of the coolest Afghan Whigs releases. The Uptown Avondale EP has four soul motown era covers that are just the best. It really show cases the soul side of the Afghan Whigs in such a great way. It really gives you a good idea of their sound and what they were about. The fifth song on the EP is titled "Rebirth Of The Cool" which is actually a remix of "Milez Is Dead" which was the final track on the album Congregation. The remix has a dark dance floor beat that compliments the song very well as well as a vocal effect that gives it a creepy vibe. The menacing cover of Al Greens "Beware" is perhaps one of the coolest covers I have heard. Greg Dulli's vocal performance on "Beware" is just superb. The Afghan Whigs remain to be one of my top bands of the 90's.
Comments: The songs on Let My People Go wererecorded during a short time period in the 70's. Legend has it that Darondo was a pimp though he is stated saying this is not true. Darondo said in a interview that he only played a few shows during the seventies and then stopped after he opened for James Brown. He then became a physical therapist and helped people to walk again. Pimp or physical therapist he put out some of the funkiest singles heard to man.
Comments: Judgement! consists of Andrew Hill on Piano, Bobby Hutcherson on Viberaphones and an amazing rhythm section that consists of Richard Davis on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. The songs on Judgement! touch on the avant-garde but are in more of the hard bop style. Andrew Hill is an amazing Pianist but Hutcherson's vibraphone playing on this particular record is equal if not more impressive.
Comments: Spoon's keyboard driven indie pop is one that is hard to rival on their third full length album Girls Can Tell. Girls Can Tell also remains my favorite of their albums. This collection of songs range from happy sunny day pop tunes to slightly psychedelic ones to spooky. It's definitely Spoon's most well rounded album and I've been addicted to it since 2001.
Comments: This is just an all around killer album. It is said that the 13 minute song "East-West" in which the title of the album is named after was inspired by an all night LSD trip Mike Bloomfield had been on. Bloomfield departed from the band soon after this album in order to form the band Electric Flag. For me East-West was the peak for The Butterfield Blues Band. The band just sounds unbelievable on this record. Very few albums touch this one.
The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde (1992)
Comments: Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was the debut album for the L.A. group The Pharcyde. The Pharcyde hip hop style owes much to Parliament as far as their humor and silliness goes and is closer to De La Soul's "Daisy Age" sound than hardcore. The album came out at a time when hardcore hip hop was ruling and the Pharcyde were more of what Rolling Stone descibed them as at the time "pack of class clowns set loose in the studio." Each member of the group was just as strong as the other. The stories that are told on this album make it a drop the needle and let it go type album where there is really no tracks that need to be skipped.
Grace Jones - Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions (1980-1982, 1985, 1987)
Comments: I do not normally go for compilations but this Grace Jones compilation contains all extended versions of her hits from The Compass Point Sessions that she did with Sly & Robbie. She recorded three albums at Compass Point Studios Warm Leatherette, Nightclubbing and Living My Life. These three albums are my favorites of hers and it is nice to have all the extended versions of the songs in a two disc set.
Comments: Jason Loewenstein wrote more songs on Harmacy than he had got to on any other Sebadoh release. Lou Barlow normally dominates the Sebadoh albums as far as writing is concern and on Harmacy he wrote what is one of my favorite Sebadoh songs of all time called On Fire. On Fire is perfect. It shows all of the best elements of the band that made them such a magical lo-fi rock band. When Sebadoh was good they were amazing.
Heres a link to the song On Fire:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHtG1gCYHik
Comments: There is no other way to describe today other than it was like being inside of a Throbbing Gristle song. What a nightmare.
Throbbing Gristle made it their mission in the late 70's and early 80's to investigate and portray the darkest sides of human nature and existence. They did just that. Their recordings still sound just as dark and disturbing as they most likely did back in the day. Throbbing Gristles live performances were often a multimedia ventures using film as well as music to show this darkness and were very experimental. There are four Volumes of live material that are very impressive. Throbbing Gristle paved the way for industrial bands and all sorts of experimentation within music. I have yet to find anything like Throbbing Gristle before or after their existence.
Comments: The Black Lips are a trouble making bunch and it comes across in their music. It continues here on their fourth release Good Bad Not Evil. Hands down some of the best garage rock in recent years. The Black Lips also put on an amazing live show though they have toned it down a bit over the years they are still killer.
Comments: Codeine is considered to have defined the Slowcore movement in the 90's and was most likely a big influence on the band Low. The White Birch is an extremely stripped down album filled with slow tempos. Though I don't find The White Birch to be quite as big an influence on post rock as albums like Spiderland or Tweez by Slint it definietly has many elements that would also help define the post rock sound that was soon to come. The songs on this album often start out quiet and build to a guitar driven climax that is heavy on distortion while still remaining slow. Perfect winter album.
"The world is frozen now, It glitters, sparkles, and shines."
- Codeine from the song "Smoking Room"
Here's a link for the music video for "Loss Leader" by Codeine:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaRrVFzIS5Y
Comments: I think the cover of this album just about says it all. Two sweaty men looking deep into each others eyes. The song family man has now been stuck in my head for the past few days and does not seem to be leaving. Hall & Oates in their day no doubt wrote some of the catchiest songs ever. This album is no exception. H20 rocks in the most early 80's way possible.
Here is a link to the awesome Music Video For "Family Man". John Oates is the shit and has an amazing mustache: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvSoSq2m9zM
"Leave me alone, I'm a family man, my bark is much worse than my bite."
Comments: I was always much more partial to the earlier Iron & Wine records The Creek Drank The Cradle and Our Endless Numbered Days but this EP is, at least in my experience, one of the less talked about hidden gems among the work of Samuel Beam aka Iron & Wine. He continues with the studio experimentation he began with on Our Endless Numbered Days, also adding some electric guitars to the mix. Each track is about a spiritual female figure. Jezebel is perhaps one of my favorite Iron & Wine songs ever recorded.
Comments: Lard is a side project by Al Jourgensen of Ministry, The Revolting Cocks and 1000 Homo DJ's, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedy's and Paul Barker also of Ministry. This album is most likely one of the greatest things released by any of the artists I have just listed. It's got the heavy industrial sounds of Ministry and has the crazy rants and screams of Dead Kennedy's. Things just don't get much better than that. Jourgensen's guitar playing on this album is perhaps some of the best as well. It's just been a Lard kind of day.
Charles Mingus - The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady (1963)
Comments: The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady comes across as one of Charles Minguses most intense and compelling works that I have heard. Mingus plays bass unbelievably here as well as composes and leads the eleven piece band. This is just a stellar album through and through. Good for any day really but sometimes it just hits the spot.
Comments: Blakroc is the latest rap rock collaboration between Black Keys, Raekwon, RZA, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Nicole Wray, Pharoahe Monch, NOE, Billy Danze, Q-Tip, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Damon Dash. At first listen I felt some of the songs seemed improvised in not the best way. The Black Keys are very inventive though and with every listen I find myself liking this project more and more. The hip hop artists that are on this project are some of the greatest. Mos Def really stands out here on the track On The Vista. Raekwon is also amazing on perhaps my favorite track Stay Off The Fucking Flowers. Give this one a chance it will grow on you. This has definitely been my soundtrack for many train rides.
Comments: This is Charles Spearin's musical experiment. Spearin is one of the founding members of Broken Social Scene and Do Make Say Think. The project consists of interviews Charles Spearin has conducted with people that he finds interesting. He then took the interviews and found the rhythms in the peoples speech which he put music too. This project worked out incredible well. It does not come off annoying or pretentious. The Happiness Project is an incredible interesting and entertaining listen. Charles Spearin played before Do Make Say Think a few nights ago and it translated live to stage almost better than the album. I can't get enough of this one.
Comments: I remember the first time I heard Jimmy Edgar it was at a party in a forest in Lafayette, Indiana. I immediately fell in love with his beats. Jimmy Edgar is not quite as glitchy as Aphex Twin or Squarepusher but it still has elements of those artists. His vibe for the most part is much more chilled out with more of an R&B influence. Jimmy Edgar still trips me out whenever I put it on as hard as it did the first time I heard it. Bounce, Make, Model is an exceptional EP from Jimmy Edgar the Detroit electronic genius.
Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend Of A Friend (2009)
Comments: Dave Rawlings has a voice on the guitar like no other. He plays along side Gillian Welch. He has also worked with Ryan Adams and Bright Eyes. A Friend Of A Friend is much more on the folk oriented side and that is not a bad thing. It is a sound that Rawlings makes work. One can't help but just be awe of how amazing Rawlings guitar playing is.
Concert: The Dave Rawlings Machine played Abbey Pub in Chicago tonight. While standing in line Dave Rawlings walked past me and the will call guy at the door almost did not let him it. Dave Rawlings convinced him he was in the band and his guitar was inside and eventually got in to the Abbey. The show was filled with folk. Dave Rawlings wore the exact out fit he is wearing on the cover of the album. It was as though he had just walked out of the photo shoot. The combination of Gillian Welches voice and Rawlings was quite good. They did not plug in their guitars but used microphones to project their sound. They played four encores which contained some of the best songs. I highly recommend seeing Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings if they come around again. Wonderful show.
Comments: Other Truths is a four track album. Do Make Say Think has never been light on creating intense atmospheres with their music. This album does just that and with every listen gets better and better.
Concert: Do Make Say Think, Years and Charles Spearin all played to night at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. The show was quite good. Charles Spearins Happiness Project almost stole the show. The project is an experiment. He has created songs around the rhythms in which people speak. Charles Spearin is also in Do Make Say Think. Years was Ohad Benchetrit who plays guitar for Do Make Say Thinks guitar project. He used many pedals and loops to create almost the exact songs that were on the Years album. It was quite impressive to watch and hear. The show really showcased how talented these musicians involved in Do Make Say Think are and how impressive their other projects are as well.
Comments: The Weight Is A Gift was produced by Death Cab For Cuties guitarist Chris Walla and his production style shows here. As poppy as some of this album is it is an addictive one with lyrics that just wont leave my head. Sometimes it's just a Nada Surf kinda night!
Comments: Colin Meloy is the frontman for the band The Decemberists. He has a very interesting and complex lyrical style which comes across very well here in the stripped down versions of the Decemberist songs which he sings live and acoustic. Colin Meloy Sings Live! really gives a good idea of how lyrically amazing some of these Decemberists songs truly are.
Comments: MSTRKRFT has quickly become one of the most impressive and entertaining electronic duo around. MSTRKRFT consists of Jesse F. Keeler who used to play in the band Death From Above 1979 and Al-P who was a member of Girlsareshort. Al-P produced the Death From Above 1979 album You're A Women, I'm A Machine.
Fist Of God is dark house music with aggressive beats and synths.