In the Shadow of the Impending (Mayan) Apocalypse (Pt. 3): Best Albums of 2012

(Or, how I got through my neurosis about the end of the world with the aid of my headphones)


best of albums 3.

(Also, in case you missed them, click here for (a) the best tracks of 2012 or (b) best shows/moments of 2012.  Now back to the regularly scheduled program…)

I started writing this a couple of days ago and yesterday afternoon I learned of the passing of Ravi Shankar, the world famous musician that introduced the sitar and Indian devotional music to the Beatles and the world. As I reflected on his passing, I thought about how so many of the artists I adore and are featured in this year-end reflection were influenced in part by the music that Ravi brought to our attention. Bear with me for a second, the connection isn’t direct; none of the musicians discussed herein necessarily incorporated sitar or Indian musical traditions into their work (though certainly some drew from non-Western music). Just, take a second and go back in time with me to the late 60s. Imagine yourself in 1967 putting on B-side of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and hearing the opening notes of Harrison’s “Within You Without You” emanating from your stereo speakers. Before a single word is uttered, a sitar introduces the song’s existential ruminations on love. What a strange and unfamiliar yet beautiful sound? In blending, incorporating, pushing, and exploring the spaces were Anglophone popular music had (t)heretofore not ventured, the four boys from Liverpool, England, were introducing generations (courtesy of Ravi Shankar) to the infinite permutations towards which music could evolve. It is exactly this sort of creativity, genre-defying, and experimental work that has always impressed and moved me. (The same could be said for the work of Philip Glass whose influence can be readily seen in the remix record compiled by Beck featuring many of today’s most innovative electronic/dance artists, discussed further below. At times, it is hard to distinguish between the style of the original and the remix.) The foregoing isn’t to say that I don’t appreciate “traditional” forms as well. But, the ability to fluidly move between innovation, reinvention, and convention makes me marvel at the power of artists, musicians, and composers; more importantly, it is what keeps me coming back for more. Without too much more of a lengthy intro, I’ll just make some final passing observations.

  • Unlike years past, no single record captured my head and heart totally. Instead, a handful of excellent records all found themselves as the soundtrack to my year. Personally, I thought this was a great year for music, but then again I tend to enjoy various styles of music.
  • The number of quality albums across diverse genres and the resurgence of old forms (e.g., R&B, Soul, Folk) pleased me to no end. Of course, I have a soft spot for certain styles more than others (which my lists betray), but I spent more time away from “Rock” and more time in realms nestled between genres.
  • I loved both the refinement of electronic modes of production and the resurgence of pure, unadulterated, non-studio enhanced stripped-down songs and albums across all styles. The power of real instruments and voices is always what captures the rawest and purest emotions.
  • In a genre too often dominated by men, the ladies of indie/rock, Neo-/folk, electronica, dance, and R&B put out some of the best recordings of the year.
  • Unlike my “best tracks of 2012″, the albums I found myself revisiting contained many different emotional and thematic tones. Although there are many records that contain a comical, joyous, up-beat and playful quality, a number of these albums also tackle more weighty and heavy emotional, personal, and political themes from dealing with profound personal loss to losing direction to social inequalities (socio-economic and legal). But, running throughout each is the overwhelming sense of hope and possibility.
  • In these records there is: complicated beauty, unbridled joy, southing soul, witty wordplay, mesmerizing grooves, furious creativity, heart wrenching loss, and unapologetic honesty. A couple of records made me cry a whole lot (good and powerful tears): Passion Pit’s Gossamer, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love”, Perfume Genius’ Put Your Back N 2 It, and How to Dress Well’s Total Loss.
  • As always, I regret not spending more time with certain records. Okay, No more distractions.

Favorite Albums of 2012

(Click on each title to listen via Spotify or the “tier” playlist header.
Click on the (+ more) for previous write-ups.)

Tier 1 – Records That Inspired, Touched, Impressed, and Soothed (#s 1-20)

  • crockJapandroids – Celebration Rock(Indie/Punk Rock): This Vancouver duo makes loud and infectious anthemic indie-punk rock that brings the adolescent in this aging hipster to the fore. Their songs exude a youthful devil-may care abandon and optimism tinged with subtle dose of nostalgia for simpler times. Remember what it was like not to second guess every thought and pump your firsts into the air? Turn this on and up!!! (+ more)
  • KellyHogan-ILikeToKeepMyselfInPainKelly Hogan – I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (Americana, Standards, Bluesy Rock): Kelly’s latest record reminds me of “the why” and “the when” of when I feel in love with music: a young boy moved by grace and beauty. Breathing life into songs composed for her bourbon and blues soul-drenched voice by some of the best songwriters in the business (e.g., Stephin Merritt, Robyn Hitchcock, Andrew Bird, Jon Langford, M.Ward, Robbie Fulks, and herself), this record travels across old popular American musical genres and contemporary indie rock with a fresh and fulsome feel. I could listen to Kelly Hogan sing the ingredients of a Campbell’s soup label. She has a voice that singes, soothes, and inspires all at once. Wedged in the spaces between jazz standards, Americana, blues and indie pop, this is one of the more perfectly tuned and orchestrated collection of songs you’ll hear in a long time. (+ more)
  • channelORANGEFrank Ocean – channelORANGE (deconstructed R&B & Neo-Soul): The only thing the Grammy’s got right this year is acknowledging the brilliance of Frank Ocean’s debut record. Capable of ripping through classic Soul and R&B with the skill of a Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye, Ocean also takes apart songs to their barest parts and tells culturally critical anecdotes of socio-economic differences with tongue-in-check wordplay and unapologetic candor. Unlike many other popular R&B artists out there, he doesn’t need superfluous dance beats or studio effects to catch your attention, instead he relies on carefully, densely packed yet tense songs to impress. A brilliant chill ride. (+ more)
  • omam_albumOf Monsters and Men – My Head Is An Animal (Baroque Indie Pop/Neo-Folk): Next to the Japandroids record, I might have listened to this more than any other. Why? Aside from it being the kind of music the 8 year old me would have relished, it is a joyous collection of upbeat, melodic and musically rich songs filled with stories of animals (anthropomorphic or allegorical?), distant locales, and a wide-eyed embrace of a raucous Where the Wild Things Are fervor. Blaring horns, dueling and complimentary male-female vocals, frenetic choruses, all out multi-instrumental jams, this record has enough life and sunshine to power through long winters days and nights. (+ more)
  • FJM_FEAR_FUN_COVER1Father John Misty – Fear Fun (Neo-Folk, Americana): Former Fleet Foxes drummer, Joshua Tillman, was a revelation for me this year, especially for one who never quite liked his former band. For an aficionado of marginalia and referential writing, Fear Fun is bottomless of wellspring of associations and inspirations rooted in an anachronistic kaleidoscope of 50s/60s Americana imagery and literature. If this sounds like some bizarre “trip”, trust me it only gets stranger the further you dig below the surface; it’s like the Kubrick adaption of Nabokov’s Lolita. Definitely for fans of old school Americana, Bluegrass and 60s Folk. (+ more)
  • Beach-House-BloomBeach House – Bloom (Indie Rock/Dream Pop):  Let this record wash over you like a pleasant daydream with its undulating, layered electronic rhythms and Victoria Legrand’s dream world evoking vocals. With Bloom, the Baltimore duo might have made the perfect dream pop record to date. Or, at the very least, it’s been a joy to get lost in their head space. (+ more)
  • heistMacklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist (Hip Hop/Rap):  Difficult to summarize all that Seattle’s Macklemore is doing on this record because he can be polemicist, joker, soul-searching, preacher, and penitent all at the same time. If you think Hip-Hop has to be about consumerism, gangs, posturing, or dissing, then you need to listen to this refreshing bit of social and self critique done with unyielding passion for life, self-empowerment and faith in the ability to overcome obstacles both personal and political. (+ more)
  • ole-773-Cat-Power-SunCat Power – Sun(Multi-Layered Indie Rock):  Following from the above (and in the vein of Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp), a hard-edged, biting, mature and multi-faceted record that sees Chan Marshall eschewing what has worked for her in the past for a whole new range of hues and tones. I relish how bold, brash, and adventurous the sounds and juxtapositions of styles are on this record and I adore the willingness to press beyond and without. This may take repeated listens but it will reward the patient listener. (+ more)
  • bobby_womack_the_bravest_man_in_the_universeBobby Womack – The Bravest Man In the Universe (Soul + Downtempo): If you listen to one record or artist you’ve not heard of before, please let it be Bobby because this is just a beautiful exploration of soul fused with stripped-down downtempo and bass production that will soothe your soul. Musical genius Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz) has found a way to foreground Bobby’s plaintive vocals while producing intoxicating (yet subtle) rhythms. If you heard and liked Gil Scott-Heron’s album I’m New Here, then check this out. (+ more)
  • alt-j2Alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Indie Rock): Far and away the most arresting blend of rock and electronica to date. Listen for the massive bass drops, the choir boy harmonies, the odd fusion of sounds, and the cleverly deconstruction and reincorporation of song elements from these Cambridge boys who evoke another English band from a college town. (Hint: early Radiohead. Yes, I recognize that this is a bold comparison but give it a listen.) (+ more)
  • How-To-Dress-Well-Total-LossHow to Dress Well – Total Loss (deconstructed R&B, downtempo): A barebones R&B record with MJ dance sensibility and a deeply introspective reflection on connection or missed connections in our modern age.   Tom Krell (akak How to Dress Well) has produced that rare collection of deeply personal, haunting, chilling and gorgeous all at once.  The sultry under-the-radar dim light/late night dance record of the year; this year’s Weeknd.  (+ more)
  • SVE_tramprecord2Sharon Van Etten – Tramp & Sean Rowe – The Salesman and the Shark (Neo-Folk): Sharon and Sean offer a reminder that amazing songwriting, raw storytelling, and traditional song structures can wedge their way into our consciousness with their unabashed and utter honesty. Two of the most stunningly heartfelt and piercing records of the past year. This is a beautifully painful and painfully beautiful. (+ moreSVE) (+ moreSR)
  • Grimes-Visions-608x608Grimes – Visions & Purity Ring – Shrines (Electronic Indie-Dance):Grimes and Purity Ring are both Canadian (though opposite ends of the country) and working in the ever expanding sphere of Art-Electronica (the electronic counterpart of 60s/70s Art/Prog Rock) where as Grimes goes for the highs, Purity Ring explores the lows, yet both mesmerize and hypnotize with an ability even Biggie would appreciate. This is what should be on the speakers at dance clubs. (+ moreG) (+ morePR)
  • kendrick-lamar-good-kid-maad-cityKendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. City (Hip Hop/Rap): Compton’s newest MC might be giving Jay-Z and Kanye notice that it’s time to relinquish the “throne” they claimed a year ago. Certainly, Kendrick has found the recipe for making sultry and captivating beats without resorting to over-produced Diplo-laced sound effects. (This despite the fact that Dr. Dre, aka Mr. meticulous, produced this record.) Now everybody serenade the new faith of Kendrick Lamar, King Kendrick Lamar… It might not be hubris but telling it like it is.
  • AshakesAlabama Shakes – Boys and Girls (Southern Roots/Blues Rock):Southern blues folk rock at some of its finest with one of the most captivating vocal performances (by Brittany Howard) this side of the Atlantic. (+ more)
  • Various Artists – Rework_Philip Glass Remixed (Minimalism + IDM/Dance): For those who love contemporary dance and electronic music and are unfamiliar with Philip Glass, this is a must listen. Glass and the Minimalists had such a profound effect on popular dance and electronic music, yet it’s not often acknowledged. Consider yourself on notice. Or, you should just listen because this is a beautiful reinterpretation of one of the 20th Century’s most important composers and innovators. (+ more)
  • Godspeed_You!_Black_Emperor_-_Allelujah!_Don't_Bend!_Ascend!Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Instrumental/Epic Rock): Arguably one of the best GSYBE records to date from the initial listen. Why so low? It takes a while to really take in the epic nature and intricacies of what this Montreal collective of superbly talented musicians do. I’m sure it will play with greater regularity than other higher listed albums in the weeks (and years?) to come.
  • Chromatics-Kill-For-LoveChromatics – Kill for Love (Neo-New Wave, Shoegazer, Indie Rock): An overwhelming sumptuous collection of melodically dark synth and guitar tracks that will soothe you to either trance or sleep (is there a difference?). I love getting lost too and with this record while working; the perfect soundtrack for focused efficiency or gyrating grooves, depends on your mood. (+ more)

Tier 2 – Brilliant but Quirky (sort of like my taste…) (#s 21-35)

  • Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard (Multi-Instrumental, Soundscape, Indie Rock): Lush delicate collection of filmic multi-instrumental masterpieces. Think Andrew Bird meets early Calexico and Explosions in the Sky, but with a pop sensibility. (+ more)
  • Dum Dum Girls – End of Daze (Dream Pop/Indie Rock): Wait. A five song EP? Yes. It is a near perfect blend of up-tempo indie rock, dreamy Goth dance, New Wave pop, and Shoegazer soundscape.
  • Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory (Indie Punk): A loud and brash post-punk and pop punk foray from Cleveland. The opening four tracks are masterful and jaw dropping. Produced by Steve Albini, this has some distinct hints of In Utero laced throughout, for the Nirvana fans.
  • Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio (Neo Soul, Jazz Fusion): A transmission from the late 70s heyday of Soul and Jazz fusion with amazing contribution from Neo Soul staples (Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Bilal) and Hip Hop youngbloods (Lupe Fiasco). A true gem of groove for a year end reverie. (+ more)
  • Lost in the Trees – A Church That Fits Our Needs (Neo-Folk): Haunting neo folk reflection on life and personal loss with an epic, sprawling quality. (+ more)
  • Brooklyn Rider – Seven Steps: Contemporary Classical musicians with a distinctly modernist feel. (+ more)
  • Adam Arcuragi – Like a fire that consumes all before it . . . (Neo-Folk): An immensely talented singer and songwriter making blues infused folk rock with a hint of gospel that will soothe your soul and get your feet stomping.
  • Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself(baroque indie rock): I think he just gets better and tighter with each record. Definitely the most lyrically biting and contemplative to date. Barnyard hoe downs. Caribbean percussion and rhythms. Old world waltzes. Is there anything Andrew Bird can’t do? We should probably send him to negotiate peace accords. He’d definitely get the crowd up in whistles.
  • Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It (lo-fi, Baroque Indie Rock): Another impressively tender stripped down contemplation of daily life. Mike Hadreas relies on simple piano chords and his falsettos to produce an operatic and blood chilling effect. Reminds me of Youth Lagoon’s Year in Hibernation with a more introspective and dark interior. (+ more)
  • Andy Stott – Luxury Problems (downtempo, ambient + bass): People refer to Stott’s music as “dance”. I guess if you were a tree-sloth. Kidding aside, this is just an amazing combination of deep bass grooves with some angelic vocals perfect for your late evening reveries. (Four Tet’s There is Love in You meets Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, for the Ambient/IDM geeks.) Or, if you want to impress your friends, a very chill and luscious backdrop.
  • Love on a Real Train – s/t: Joachim Cooder brings some of his very talented friends together to weave this amazing collection of rhythms from various musical traditions fused with electronic undercurrents. For fans of 80s Paul Simon or Afro Celt Soundsystem. (+ more)
  • Nora Jones – Broken Little Hearts: Biggest surprise of the year was how much I really liked this record. Danger Mouse is the perfect foil for Nora’s brilliant voice. “She’s 22″ chills with its dagger-like lyrics and simplicity.
  • : I think Regina is vastly underappreciated as both a lyricist and composer. She can weave together ragtime, fin de siècle waltzes, and big band into a pleasant pastiche of pop melodies, while telling comical and poignant tales. Definitely a record that requires repeated listens.
  • : Say what you will about the at-times questionable actions, lyrics, and antics of the LA outfit known as Odd Future, they are an ingeniously clever collective of wordsmiths and beatmakers. Although I often question their choice of vocabulary, I do believe they are engaging in a sort of meta-commentary about the use of language in hip-hop culture. As for the music, it feels like the sort of straight flow and rhythms of mid 90s with less of a focus on “radio or club friendly” and more concerned with lyrical vérité. This is hip-hop for the weirdoes and the outsiders; it’s about time. So instead of critiquing and b-ing, being mad as f-k, just admit not only are we talented, we’re rad as f-k. Boys make a good point. (+ more)
  • Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror (Thrash Dream Rock): 60s Doo Wop meets Lo-Fi Punk? Yeah, it’s an odd but perfect mix. Should be the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic adventure tale of a roller derby like hunger games? (I’ve neither read the book nor seen the movie but relying on the kindness of strangers’ summaries.)

Tier 3 – Solid records worth multiple turns or spins (#s 36-50)

…and because I don’t like leaving folks out of the party

Other Things I Also Really Enjoyed

from Newer Artists…

from Veterans and Stalwarts…

Gosh, I’m sure I left something or someone out. Urgh. Oh well, I’ll try better in 2013.

In the interim, I hope everyone enjoys gearing up and preparing for or simply surviving the Holidays and the New Year.

If you tire of carols, Yule-tide sing-a-longs, or “Auld Lang Syne” I’d definitely recommend listening to some of the folks above.

Peace and love in the year to come!


p.s. Please post your favorite records in the comments section and share!

p.p.s. As always, I encourage you to not merely stream but purchase the records of or support (i.e., attend concerts, buy merch) the artists you like. I prefer the following sites: Insound, eMusic, or directly from the labels (they will send you added goodies, karma, and Indie-Cred/love).

p.p.p.s. All grammatical mistakes and misspellings are intentional, unless they are oversights, in which case blame the editor.

Where’d he go?

out to sea

In the Shadow of the Impending (Mayan) Apocalypse (Pt. 1): Best Tracks of 2012

best of 2012(Or, how I got through my neurosis about the end of the world with the aid of my headphones) (Or, I’ve been listening so you don’t have to)

In the words of Alec Baldwin’s Bob Barrenger from State and Main, after overturning a car and avoiding a near fatality, “So, that happened”. (No endorsement of Alec’s fictional character’s behavior, but with great adoration for the art of the understatement.) “That” in this case was 2012. Even as our country teeters on a cliff of financial proportions and people stockpile for possible doomsday, our thoughts turn to Dradles, Candles, Mistletoe, Egg Nog, and days of celebration and/or consumption (in every manner imaginable). No stranger to the aforementioned, I prefer to turn to thoughts of a Higher Fidelity, contemplating the rhythmic and lyrical highs and lows of the year that was. And, as I write this with a several days left in the calendar year, I am remiss to shut the books just yet; things will go unsaid, unseen, unheard, and over-looked. Despite my best efforts, I’m sure I’ve missed a number of things, but I try my best to at least represent some semblance of thoroughness.  What follows are a series thoughts, reflections, observations, and, of course, lists of songs, albums and moments that moved or in a few instances underwhelmed me. Because I recognize people have limited time, I’ve broken these up into three palatable sections:

(1st) Tracks, (2nd) Concerts/Moments, and (3rd) Albums.

(Caddy comments forthcoming)

Part the First: Favorite 100 (+11): Tracks of 2012:

General Observations

  • Folk, old school Soul, and Rhythm and Blues made some stirring come backs, incorporating modern day trappings, deconstructing traditional structures, and proving that heart and emotion always trump production and polish.
  • The 80s are alive and kicking throughout the realms of dance, indie rock and retro R&B. Synthesizers of the world unite! Domo Arigato.
  • Despite mass consumerism, artists can still write songs with real world relevance and impact. See “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis or “Ruin” by Cat Power.
  • Yes, Gotye, fun., and Carly Rae Jepsen are on the list, but not PSY. Sorry, perhaps I’ve still got auditory PTSD from all the JPop I heard when living in Japan but that song feels like nails on a chalkboard to my ear. Given these artists’ pervasiveness in our musical landscape, it was difficult for them not to make an appearance but then again their songs had a certain something that really endeared their work to me (just not enough).
  • Rock stalwarts, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan, are also in the mix.
  • Billboard golden boy (Jack White) and golden girl (Nora Jones) decided to return to form and step out of the box, respectively, and made some amazing songs and records.
  • These musicians opened my eyes and made me smile: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Hip-Hop), Father John Misty (Neo-Folk psychedelia), Adam Arcuragi (Neo-Folk/Bluesy Gospel), Kishi Bashi (baroque pop), Grimes (Indie-Dance Electronic), Purity Ring (Indie-Dance Electronic), Julia Holter (indie-art experimentalism), Chromatics (Neo-New Wave), Daughter (folk), and Patrick Watson (neo-folk jam).
  • Many artists you probably didn’t hear on the radio (but should have) appear on here: Kelly Hogan, Solange, Drop Electric, Generationals, Eternal Summer, Love on a Real Train, and many more.
  • Plus, old and new friends join the list too…
  • Individual thoughts on tracks appear further below, and, as always, feel free to share

back tomorrow with more but for now it’s time to listen to…

Bring on Your Wrecking Ball: a best of 2012 playlist

Click on one of the two playlists below
(ordered from bottom to top (countdown style) or top to bottom)

Top 111 (Countdown Style)             Top 111 (from top to bottom)

(note: four tracks are only available via YouTube, click here).

Two notes about this track/playlist:

Thematic: At the end of the day I believe we turn to art and music to inspire, excite, console, relate, re-energize and even to escape. Although I tend to find lots of joy in somber and reflective songs, in compiling this list, I found myself drawn towards upbeat songs both in tempo and sentiment (in other words, lots of songs for dancing). However, the songs on this list span a gamut of styles, emotions, continents, and traditions, but such are our experiences.

Organizational: I devised a rule for myself that I could not repeat any artists even if they recorded multiple songs that would have been in my top 100 (or 111 as the case may be). But, then this list is somewhat disingenuous, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. I could easily have included multiple tracks by Frank Ocean, Japandroids, Of Monsters and Men, but then you might not hear some of the other songs and artists who struck a chord (pun only partially intended). In all fairness, the ranking are arbitrary at certain points, except towards the top where there were clear cut favorites. Mostly this captures which songs and artists resonated in my consciousness.

I hope you’ll discover some things you’ve never heard.  (You can purchase tracks hereeMusic or Insound.)

  1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Same Love” – Stunning in its simplicity and power; brings tears to my eyes every time
  2. Japandroids “The House That Heaven Built” – the anthem for those who have ever been told to stop following your heart and your passions, feel free to tell them all to [fill in the blank]
  3. Chromatics “Kill For Love” – hits the perfect intersection of Goth-y guitar rock with post-punk/new wave sensibilities
  4. Bobby Womack “Please Forgive My Heart” – a soul song engineered for the electronic age; a perfect fusion of heartache, spaces, and aural tension
  5. Sharon Van Etten “Serpents” – like the rhythm, this song sinks into your body and mind with its emotional rawness; feels like this decade’s “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  6. Cloud Nothings “Stay Useless” – a Zen slacker anthem for all to take to heart, and get it beating
  7. Dum Dum Girls “Season In Hell” – dreamy dance pop with a wry sense of humor (aka the female version of the Smiths and the Cure)
  8. Frank Ocean “Pilot Jones” – tough call with Frankie Ocean but this track shows how he can deconstruct R&B with surgeon-like precision and unearth even more genius (also genius = “Pyramids” & “Thinkin’ Bout You”)
  9. Of Monsters and Men “Mountain Sound” – unbridled mirth and joy from Iceland; this song just makes me want to let go with total abandon
  10. First Aid Kit “Emmylou” – a haunting, pining love song with staying power and emotional depth
  11. Shearwater “Animal Life” – sweeping, stirring, stentorian and spiritually arousing
  12. Kelly Hogan “Haunted” – another difficult choice with so many great songs (and songwriters) on this record (the S.Merritt penned “Plant White Roses” or the glorious Kelly wail on “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain”), but I chose this because of the message of optimism and inspiration from one of the sweetest voices in the business
  13. Miguel “Adorn” – was there a more sultry and seductive song all year? Think not
  14. Ellie Goulding “Anything Could Happen” – the next five songs are all songs that get you dancing and grooving, put on those red shoes and dance boys and girls
  15. How To Dress Well “&It Was U” – an MJ sensibility stripped down to its most basic components
  16. Grimes “Vowels = Space and Time” – the e.e. cummings of artsy electronica
  17. Purity Ring “Ungirthed” – the bass drop on this track is just sick
  18. Chairlift “I Belong In Your Arms” – the 80s child loves this infectious rhythm
  19. Kendrick Lamar “Backseat Free Style” – explicit language but Kendrick manages to find the perfect way to let his rhymes dominate with beat & rhythm as backdrop; a welcome change of pace in a hip-hop landscape dominated by style over substance
  20. Father John Misty “Nancy From Now On” – a magical mystery trip to Hollywoodland via a Kerouac-like appreciation for serendipity; one of my favorite songwriting discoveries in a long time. (Other favorites “Hollywood Forever Cemetery”, “Tee Pees 1-12″)
  21. The Very Best “We Ok” – a joyous life affirming reminder to keep perspective
  22. Beck (x Philip Glass) “NYC ’73-’78” – this 20 minute adventure by Beck through countless Glass compositions requires steady and repeated listens; absolute genius
  23. Lord Huron “Time To Run” – in the words of Calvin*, “let’s go exploring”. *(cartoon not predestination guy)
  24. Perfume Genius “Hood” – haunting reflection on our imperfect (inner) nature
  25. The Tallest Man on Earth “Revelation Blues”some times its just roses dying to young; bittersweet epiphany and nostalgia; love me some beautiful melancholy
  26. Sean Rowe “Signs” – there are roads, years, and heartache in every note of Sean’s voice and yet an overwhelming sense of possibility; as a good friend said, “this is what I want to feel the rest of my life”
  27. David Byrne & St. Vincent “The Optimist” – like walking through a city after the rain has cleared all the dirt away; annie clark sings like an angel
  28. Alabama Shakes “Be Mine” – Brittany Howard is an amazing singer and to me this song displays the depth and range of her gloriously rich, soothing, and heartachingly brilliant vocals
  29. Niki & the Dove “Somebody” – two back-to-back tracks of unapologetic 80s inspired indie-dance; hints of Prince
  30. Tanlines “All of Me” – hints of Yaz/early Depeche Mode
  31. Regina Spektor “Don’t’ Leave Me . . . “ – she is so good at bridging the world of old school musical traditions with a modern sensibility… I like Paris in the rain, who doesn’t?
  32. Cat Power “Ruin” – yes, it’s possible to write an artful polemic on the self-obsessed, narrow-minded perspective of our culture while also holding yourself accountable; Chan Marshall can spear yet please with a song
  33. Daughter “Landfill” – the brutal honesty of this song destroys me; the central metaphor is something I think folks can easily relate to
  34. Norah Jones “She’s 22″—along with Daughter’s “Landfill” the most acerbically beautiful song of the year
  35. Sleigh Bells “Crush” – every time I hear this song I get the image of a hard core roller derby match with the participants clad in 50s attire. Mad Max Wo/Men on wheels? Anyone else? Sleigh Bells have a unique ability to thrash and harmonize.
  36. Stars “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It” – these Canadians know how to craft a heartfelt, sincere pop song with a mantra we should all live by.
  37. alt-J “Fitzpleasures” – Cambridge boys who aren’t afraid to break traditional forms, combining heavy bass drops and blissed out guitar rock
  38. Beach House “The Hours” – dream-inducing brilliant pop music; is it the allusion to Michael Cunningham’s novel or just something about the mysterious wafting rhythms? Whatever it is I get lost in this song
  39. Kishi Bashi “Bright Whites” – pleasant bopping 60s pop that still makes me smile
  40. Jessie Ware “Wildest Moments” – stunning, sleek, sultry retro R&B with an Annie Lennox like bravado
  41. THEESatisfaction “QueenS”—if you aren’t groovin’ to this song, something has gotta give
  42. Kuhrye-oo “Give In (for the Fame)” – dreamy downtempo grooves
  43. Andrew Bird “Orpheo Looks Back” – few artists can work across musical genres with the simplicity and mastery of Andrew Bird; this is a straight up hoe-down for your enjoyment
  44. Odd Future “Oldie” – a nine minute old school free-style
  45. Adam Arcuragi “Oh I See” – difficult to pick one song but the live version of this was one of the most pure moments of joy I experienced all year
  46. Bat For Lashes “All Your Gold” – Natasha Khan’s voice is mesmerizing and disarming all at once
  47. Usher “Climax” – only Miguel put together a sexier groove all year
  48. Now, Now “Prehistoric” – lo-fi female fronted guitar brilliance
  49. Drop Electric “Empire Thrashed” – one of my favorite discoveries; an amazingly varied and talented set of musicians from DC who make epic soundscapes in the GSYBE and Sigur Ros vein; keep an eye out!
  50. Bob Dylan “Soon After Midnight” – in his 8th decade on this world, Dylan is still the poet laureate of the hopelessly romantic; a stunningly beautiful love song from one of the greatest. I mean who wouldn’t want to have their lover write the following: “It’s soon after midnight and I’ve got a date with the fairy queen.” (Queen Elizabeth I certainly did.)
  51. GenerationalsLucky Numbers” – best geeky dance song you didn’t hear on the radio
  52. Patrick Watson “Into Giants”started out as lovers don’t know where it’s gonna end
  53. Bomba Estéreo “El Alma Y El Cuerpo” – sultry rhythms fresh from the streets of Colombia
  54. Julia Holter “In the Same Room” – a david lynch baroque pop song
  55. Love on A Real Train “Strike Up Your Matches” – Joachim Cooder (son of Ry)’s brilliant fusion Incan rhythms and electronics
  56. Frankie Rose “Know Me” – dance-y dream indie pop
  57. Lampchop “Gone Tomorrow” – Nashville’s finest alt-country band goes Gershwin
  58. Tomas Barford “November Skies“—for those who like to meditate and groove out
  59. Rhye “Open” – reminds me of a Sade’s raw R&B style
  60. Calexcio “Fortune Teller”I’m on the road to finer things
  61. Titus Andronicus “Ecce Homo” – an existentialist anthem, I know it’s more than just being born
  62. Santigold “This Isn’t Our Parade” – slow burn brilliance
  63. Nas (feat. Mary J. Blige) “Reach Out” – old school Nas and Mary J at their best; it’s like ’95 in the house.
  64. Robert Glasper Experiment “Always Shine” – so many great groves from this project
  65. Lost In the Trees “Red“—sprawling and majestic; talented musicians not to be missed
  66. La Sera “Please Be My Third Eye” – Katy Goodman’s surfy-dream pop makes me smile
  67. Twin Shadow “Five Seconds” – thoughts of james dean run through my head every time
  68. Mynabirds “Disarm” – also check out their shoot ’em up rock out genius on “Generals”
  69. Jens Lekman “Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder” – variations on the same theme with a different take; comedy here and despondency below; both work brilliantly
  70. Gotye “Somebody That I Use To Know
  71. Passion Pit “It’s Not My Fault I’m Happy” – the ability to cut through all the challenges and hurdles the world sends you and still stand and appreciate the good and the bad
  72. Hot Chip “Motion Sickness“—if Hot Chip can’t get you on the dance floor, there isn’t any hope Not even Obi Wan can help you now.
  73. Baroness “Take Your Bones Away” – metal never sounded so pleasant (to me)
  74. Lavender Diamond “I Don’t Recall” – Becky’s vocals are dreamy and soothing
  75. Mumford and Sons “I Will Wait” – adore their musicianship on this piece; yes very maudlin but it’s their thing
  76. Best Coast “How They Want Me to Be” – an us against the world love song
  77. Jack White “Hip (Eponymous) Boy” – ah, like an early White Stripes song!!!
  78. Lee Field & The Expressions “Still Hangin’ On” – An old school soul crooner pining for his ex-lover; bitterness rarely sounds so sweet; Lee & crew provided one of the best outdoor dance parties this summer
  79. Solange “Losing You” – what follows is a series of over the top poppy dance songs; absolutely no shame in letting go to a good dance/pop song
  80. Sky Ferreira “Everything Is Embarrassing
  81. Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe
  82. Icona Pop “I Love It
  83. Chad Valley “My Girl
  84. The Shins “Simple Song” – it’s no “New Slang” but darn if he isn’t a talented song-writer
  85. Eternal Summers “Millions” – my other soft spot: female fronted shoegazer tinged guitar pop
  86. Patti Smith “April Fool” – the only fools in the room are those that haven’t ever listened to Patti Smith
  87. Allo Darlin “Capricornia” – pleasant indie-pop built for dancing fearlessly around the room/office
  88. Astro “Panda” – electro pop from Chile
  89. Tennis “Origins” – this husband and wife duo make dreamy dub infused pop
  90. Sainte Etienne “Tonight” – twenty years later and still making amazing dance music
  91. Sauti Sol “Soma Kijana” – a track that pours forth sunshine and joy perfect to warm these cold winter months
  92. Dan Deacon “True Thrash“—a midi genius, looper extraordinaire that will get you moving
  93. DIIV “Doused” – shoegazer, lo-fi, goth rock at its finest
  94. Bruce Springsteen “Wrecking Ball” – although the record underwhelmed me, this track really resonates in terms of the challenges we face and how we handle them; the Boss is no stranger to stirring a groundswell of sentiment
  95. R.Kelly “Feelin’ Single” – his personal life aside, R knows how to groove and soothe
  96. Caitlin Glennon “Cut You Loose” – this track just gets me boppin’
  97. Lucius “Don’t Just Sit There” – yup dreamy, lo-fi pop x 3 to follow, it’s a thing for me; these vocals just make me happy
  98. Pure Bathing Culture “Lucky One”
  99. Seapony “Follow
  100. Liars “No. 1 Against the Rush” – one of the stranger yet more pleasing songs of the year
  101. Taken by Trees “Dreams” – title says it all
  102. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Baby“—”cover” of Donnie and Joe Emerson’s rediscovered ’79 home release
  103. Hundred Waters “Visitor” – after seeing them perform this live I had it stuck in my head for days
  104. Martha Wainwright “Can You Believe It?” – my favorite Wainwright far and away
  105. The Walkmen “Song For Leigh“—few bands manage to find a wider range in a limited universe than these guys
  106. Hospitality “Eighth Avenue” – pleasant baroque indie pop
  107. Sarah Jaffe “Glorified High
  108. The Magnetic Fields “Your Girlfriend’s Face” – always a witty, dark comedy element to what they do
  109. Collen Green “Nice Boy (I Wanna)” – lo-fi garage punk rock, more please
  110. The xx “Angels” – when they hit their spot, its unlike anyone, dark yet sensual
  111. fun. “Carry On” – my guilty pleasure of the year, this song has Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, and Rod Stewart chords and allusions all over it; and yet…

no mas. for now. ;)


Monday Medley: Songs for Summer and Slumber

Welcome to the working week…

To help get you through the day, a medley of new songs blending a pinch of pizzazz and a dash of detachment. The mix splits in two, aimed to rouse you from your morning slumber(s) and guide you back into a peaceful state.  Hopefully, along the way, you’ll also find a song or two, to add to your summer rotation.

Listen here to the MirthfulMay(hem) Mix (via YouTube), which includes the following:

Up-Beat Happenings

  • Icona Pop‘s “I Love It” – An electro-pop dance song from a Swedish female duo that might be 2012’s summer smash. Reminds me a great deal of The Sounds – another electro-pop Swedish outfit. #infectious
  • R.Kelly‘ “Share My Love” – Look, R.Kelly might have some questionable taste in certain aspects of his personal life. But, there is no question that he has a unique and eccentric creative spirit, e.g. Trapped in the Closet. With this song, R. brings his textbook smooth, soulful voice back to the disco era. I wouldn’t fault you if you thought you were listening to Barry White or Tom Jones. #populate – this will make sense later.
  • Andrew Bird‘s “Orpheo Looks Back” – Another track from A.Bird’s Break It Yourself (which I previously discussed and lauded). Here, Andrew turns the clock back and brings us an old-timey hoe-down folk song. #simplysmileinducing
  • Santigold’s “The Keepers” #banger
  • Best Coast‘s “The Only Place” – An ode to the band’s love of their home city/state of Los Angeles/California.  FYI, really digging the new Jon Brion produced record of the same name. #sunsoakedbearhugs
  • Patti Smith‘s “April Fool” – The first single from Patti Smith’s forthcoming album sounds like a time-capsule track – a song from yesteryears that still resonates today with the same immediacy as it did so many years ago. If this appeared as a bonus track on a reissued/remastered version of Horses, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash. For fans of Television, Tom Verlaine plays guitar on this track; not surprising, Patti and Tom have a long history. #timeless
  • Norah Jones‘ “Say Goodbye” — The first single from Norah’s collaboration with Danger Mouse. I won’t belabor my previous post on how much I enjoy the combination of these two talented musical minds. #unlikelypairingyetperfect
  • fun.’s “Some Nights” – Kansas anyone? #anthemicmillenialmusic
  • Debo Band‘s “Asha Gedawo” – A Boston based band that draws inspiration from 1960s Ethiopian pop music while adding a contemporary twist and update. If this song doesn’t get you wanting to dance in the summer sun, I don’t know if I’ll be able to help. Also, I think that horn section sounds decidedly ska. #startthedanceparty

The Pensive Turn

…starting here we slow down the tempo, reduce the vocals, and increase the electronic beats. Great background for the end of the day/weekend as the sun sets in the West or when you find yourself on empty city streets (one of my favorite pastimes). No words, just tracks.

  • Tomas Barfor’s “November Skies”
  • Airbird’s “Trust”
  • Stay+’s “Eyes”
  • d’Eon’s “Al-Qiyamah”

Updated Concert Information!!

…as promised an updated slate of concerts for the next couple of months.  As always, links to tour dates are embedded in band name and links to purchase tickets for Chicago dates embedded into venue name. (Note:  Shows in Bold are those for which I already have tickets and will be in attendance.)

P.S. If you see any glaring omissions or shows you are excited about let me know via the Comments.  I’ll add!

I Can’t Wait For:

Run! Don’t Walk To See:

4/20 – Cults @ Metro

4/20 – the Jezabels @ Lincoln Hall

4/22 – Record Store Day @ Your Local Record Store (← for closest venue or The Vinyl District a GPS based App for record stores)

4/24 – Lambchop (the band) @ Lincoln Hall

4/28 – Tortoise @ Empty Bottle If you’ve never seen these Chicago stalwarts, you NEED to see them if only to witness one of the finest and most captivating drummers/percussion sections of any group out there.

4/30 – Frankie Rose @ Township

5/3 Spiritualized @ the Metro

5/4 M83 @ the Riviera – (Sold Out) Saw M83 four years ago at the Empty Bottle, I’ve rarely been so tired from dancing or drenched in sweat (except for LCD Soundsystem) as I was that evening

5/5 Carolina Chocolate Drops @ Lincoln Hall

5/9 Childish Gambino @ the Riviera

5/10 – Justin Townes Earle @ Park West

5/10 – Ty Segall and White Fences @ Lincoln Hall

5/11 St. Vincent @ the Vic Theatre (SOLD OUT)

5/12 Andrew Bird @ Auditorium Theater Rumor has it that there will be snacks.

5/16 – We Are Serenades @ the Empty Bottle

5/16 – The Cranberries @ the Riviera Theatrethey seem to be waltzing back into our lives.

5/16 — Active Child and Balam Acab @ Lincoln Hall

5/17 – Xiu Xiu @ Lincoln Hall

5/20Kurt Vile and the Violators @ Lincoln Hall

5/21-22 – The Beach Boys @ The Chicago Theatre

5/24 – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros @ the Riviera Theatre

6/1-6/3  – The Antlers, BBU and more @ Do Division Festival (Division and Damen)

6/15-17 – Pitchfork Music Festival @ Union Park  featuring: Vampire Weekend, Feist, Godspeeed You Black Emperor, Cloud Nothings, Grimes, Kendrick Lamar and many more!

6/22 – Dinosaur Jr. @ Subterranean (Sold Out)

6/23 – Dinosaur Jr. @ Green Music Fest (Damen b/w North and Schiller) FREE!

6/24 – the Raveonettes @ Green Music Fest (Damen b/w North and Schiller) FREE!

7/8 – Wilco, Andrew Bird and fireworks! @ The Kane County Cougars ballpark in Geneva, IL

7/10 — Radiohead @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheater (Tinley Park, IL)

7/27 – Best Coast @ the Vic Theatre

8/3-5 – Lollapalooza @ Grant Park featuring Jack White, Black Sabbath, The Black Keys, the Weeknd, Justice, the Alabama Shakes (ed. note:  not thrilled with lineup but will keep you posted about midnight shows!)

8/10-12 – Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco

9/7 – Bruce Springsteen @ Wrigley Field

A Mild Winter’s Tale: 5 Essential Discs for 2012 (so far…)

Anyone who reads music periodicals has probably been privy to the overabundance of “Lists”. “Critics” have a fondness for rating (and raving about) their favorite fill-in-the-blank. Take for example High Fidelity‘s Rob Gordon who takes list making to an absurdist length by rating past breakups and revisiting the best and worst in his ongoing search to grow up, all the while learning how to make the perfect mixtape. Although an arguably endearing and amusing trait1, it’s also a neurotic (and benign) affliction that many of music-loving geeks cannot avoid.

Three months into 2012 and I find myself pleasantly wrestling with the question of which albums I like the best. The astute reader would easily retort with, “Well, it’s easy isn’t it? You either love a record instantly or you don’t, right?” At times, yes, but, then again, I find certain albums will slowly grow on you or just one day make sense. Growing up I never cared much for the Rolling Stones, something about the music didn’t really resonate with me. Then, in my early 20s, while sipping on an Old Style at the Beachwood2 the jukebox came to spinning out a soulful, bluesy rock song and I heard Mick’s strange, sultry voice intone “I want to be your beast of burden” and my whole perspective on the Stones changed. All of a sudden, I understood (a) what he was talking about and (b) how the Stones’ music seeped into people’s minds firing neural pleasure receptors, inspiring insight and recollection. Since then, I won’t relegate any record to the trash bin without giving it some time to reverberate in my consciousness. Thus, without further ado here is the first installment of a recurring list of albums which I believe deserve a good listen. Are these my “favorite records” of the year so far? Not necessarily. However, something in each record has struck me and I believe they will have a broad appeal or contain an emblematic or common musical motif I’m hearing.

  • The Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio – A difficult record to categorize because by its own admission it refuses simple tags such as hip-hop, rhythm and blues, rap, or jazz but blends elements of each into its unique tapestry of sound. Black Radio like the title suggests is an eclectic collection of songs and styles mostly associated with Black culture in the U.S., but it is also much more than that that, it is like a lost transmission from a not too distant past. Its closest analog would be the Neo-Soul sound or Soul Revival of the late 90s by artists such as Maxwell, Erykah Badu, or Lauryn Hill, who brought back the brilliant fusion of Jazz, R&B, and Soul music that embodied 70s musical production. A beautiful cross-pollination of chill musical styles, this album will serve as the perfect way to wind down the week or enjoy those pleasant spring nights to come. (I know that by using the “J” word (i.e., jazz) I’ve raised a number of cautious eyebrows but don’t let it scare you, jazz music underscores and inspires so much of the early hip-hop movement that you’ve probably been listening to jazz samples without knowing for years. Give it a listen; you’ll be pleasantly smiling by album’s end.)
  • Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror – If I were selling this record like Tim Robbins in The Player, I’d say this record is like The Shangri-Las meets Black Sabbath. If you heard their fantastic single “Rill Rill” from a couple of years back, you will understand what I mean. While these guys (or guy and gal) can thrash like metal monsters, there is a 50/60s pop and doo-wop sensibility underscoring their rage. It’s fantastically, blaringly loud and precise bubble gum rock all at once. In other words, these guys are the Pop Rocks of indie rock.
  • Sharon Van Etten, Tramp – The more time passes the more I adore this record as I find it unfolding new layers of meaning. This is a brooding and emotionally raw record with beautiful and lush instrumentation. It recalls the sounds and feel of old favorites like Mazzy Star’s So Tonight That I Might See (somnambulistic southwestern guitars), Cat Power’s You Are Free (pensive folk rock) and PJ Harvey’s Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (fierce, acerbic songwriting) – all records that catapulted the respective artists into Indie stardom. In addition, having watched Sharon perform earlier this year, I was struck by both her humility and how much she really connected and shared with the audience. She is a class act and this record is an engrossing listen.
  • Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N2 It – Yet another dark and haunting record; however, unlike Tramp, Put Your Back N2 It works in a far more delicate and stripped down environment. The two defining characteristics of this record are Mike Hadreas’ (aka Perfume Genius) voice, a cross between Nina Simone and Antony and The Johnsons, and his ability to play with the silences and the spaces between notes. The latter creates this pregnant tension throughout the entire record as the listener waits (at times in vain) for an eruption of sound, the moment of pop nirvana that we’ve come to expect. This is definitely a record that will take repeated and careful listening. Additionally, for fans of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, there is a striking resemblance to the music underscoring our glimpse into the strange Northwestern town Agent Dale Cooper chanced upon so many years ago. Diane, remember to remind people that Perfume Genius is playing Schuba’s next week.
  • Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself A new Andrew Bird record is a reason to get excited because for a brief moment in time we are able to take a trip into a magical, rural landscape with violins and whistles. What makes this Andrew Bird record more special (to me) than previous releases is its consistency and strength from start to finish. I’ve always found wonderful moments in his previous releases and certainly there are individual moments that are better in say The
    Mysterious Production of Eggs or Noble Beast but both of those records have moments during which I tuned out or wanted to skip forward (which is a lot more cumbersome when you are listening on vinyl). Also, this record finds Andrew Bird embracing and incorporating more American folk traditions as well as some Caribbean inspired percussion and rhythms – which definitely brings a smile to my face!

If you want to listen to these records via Spotify individually, simply click on the album title or to listen to all five click here.

In the next post, I’ll offer up my favorite individual tracks so far — hint they are likely all within one of the two playlists I’ve already posted.

Musica En Vivo: Concerts News…

  • This week in Chicago,
    • @Schuba’s: Lost in the Trees at Schubas (4/3)
    • @theMetro: Youth Lagoon and Porcelain Raft at Metro (4/4), Wild Flag(!!!) and Hospitality (4/5), and Lucero (4/7)
    • Attending the ones in Bold.
  • Do you think it’s dangerous to have Busby Berkley dreams? Not, I. In fact if only every songwriter had the depth and breadth of reference owned by one Stephen Merritt. If you’ve never seen the Magnetic Fields live, make sure not to miss them on their current tour in support of the fabulous Love at the Bottom of the Sea. If you are worried that they won’t play the “hits”, dispossess yourself of that notion, because there were plenty of tracks from 69 Love Songs, Get Lost, and The Charm of the Highway Strip. Particularly stirring were their renditions of “Grand Canyon”, “The Book of Love”, “No One Will Ever Love You” and “Busby Berkley Dreams”. I will say don’t expect to “rock out” to this show. It’s definitely a mellow evening (filled with plenty of banter about bunnies and unicorns), but you can dance like a whirling dervish if you like. I don’t think Stephen will mind. Well maybe… An additional highlight was the opportunity to hear Kelly Hogan’s exquisite voice concluding with a cover of “Papa Was A Rodeo”.
  • Come On Back New York City: All I have to say is I’m really glad that Jeff Tweedy didn’t go to NYC in search of the girl he thought he loved in “New Madrid” because Chicago is really lucky to have him and his band of merry music makers as our “house band.” Playing his annual benefit for a local school, Jeff Tweedy played thirty (!!!) songs picked by the audience spanning his entire songwriting career, a handful of Tupelo songs, a song from Wilco’s collaboration with Billy Bragg (which by the way is being reissued with new and previously unreleased materials, see here), a large number of Wilco songs (duh) and some solo stuff he’s written over the years (plus two very special covers). To me the highlight of the set was the collection of Uncle Tupelo songs he played, one of the most important and influential bands I will likely never get to see (even though all the members are still living). But, the TRUE highlight is Jeff Tweedy who is a great showman and a humble, pleasantly self-effacing artist. I marvel that despite all the critical success his band has achieved he doesn’t take any of the fanfare and adulation for granted. It is clear that he loves to play music and, more importantly, he loves playing for his fans. Now this last part isn’t very punk rock, or is it? Who cares, as a fan it’s wonderful and he and his band (Wilco) are phenomenal – a truly special band that every fan of music should see.

…and before I go:

  • Other stuff I’m currently listening to (I’ve yet to discuss) and really digging:
    • Odd Futures’ The OF Tape, Vol. 2
    • The Shins’ Point of Morrow
    • Julia Holter’s Ekstasis
    • Young Prisms’ In Between
  • If you need a good laugh, check out the crazy comedic clowns at Professor Blastoff (one of my favorite podcasts) discussing the subject of “Taste” – stay tuned for the piece de resistance where Kyle calls his mother to discuss whether he’d been breastfed (47 minutes in).

Goodbye to the lions, lambs, and Ides of March and hello April’s figurative showers3.


 1 If you’ve ever gone toe-to-toe with someone declaiming why their “band” is better than yours, you’ll understand.

2 Which is a pretty aptly named bar because it’s at the corner of Beach and Wood. Oh and they have a phenomenal jukebox…. when it’s actually working.

3 Because we’ve already got plenty of sprouting flowers.