Monday, January 31, 2011

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #50 - Filligar

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Ah, the happiness that a good, dirty rock & roll record can bring. Chicago's Filligar just so happen to have made such a good, dirty rock & roll record, The Nerve, and oh my sweet mercy is it a doozy. It's a rollicking, foxy romp, taking cues from the modern bluesy juggernaut of LET faves The Black Keys, the sexy lasciviousness of vintage Mott The Hoople, a smidge of that nouveau Southern rock a la The Black Crowes, and plenty of late, late nights in smoky, filthy, trouble-filled dives. The Nerve comes off as a ballsy, bluesy firecracker of a record. Throw it on for yourself, and just try not to fall prey to that appealingly predatory sonic swagger.

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #51 - Dead Meadow

Why I Decree it to Be So:

DC is a pretty transient place, with people moving to and moving from around here all the time. This revolving door even extends to our bands, and one of my most dearly departed, DC-rooted bands is Dead Meadow. Their latest offering, Three Kings, gives you all the Dead Meadow you can handle, what with all that crushing, swirling guitar and intoxicating velvet curtain of rich, heavy psych lushness. The record is actually the soundtrack for the band's DVD of the same name, making it feel slightly indulgent and extravagant. Quite possibly mind-altering.

mp3: I'm Gone (bonus track) (Dead Meadow from Three Kings)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #52 - Steve Mason

Why I Decree it to Be So:

You're already in smit with Steve Mason, you just might not realize it. If, say, you're a person of excellent taste and have seen High Fidelity more times than you can count, you'll definitely have heard, noticed, and come to love Steve Mason's naughtily angelic voice swell above that glorious Beta Band contortionate tomfoolery. Now, years later, Mason's voice is still as hypnotic as he flies solo with the release of Boys Outside. The music is slightly less manic and madcap, and Mason shows a deeper, more mature side to his lyrics. But that voice is as beautiful as ever. Boys Outside was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Singles Club: Mogwai

So, I'm a little bummed out here kids. I somehow managed to just put two and two together and realized that seeing as I can't actually be in two places at once (come on, science, help a girl out), I'm going to miss the Mogwai show here in DC in April. The California sunshine will probably help me ease this case of the show-missing sads, I'm sure, and I'm also pretty sure this here song will sound amazing live. Dangit.

As with many a Mogwai song, "San Pedro" is brutal, cruel, and relentlessly noisy. A wall of merciless loudness comes at you from all sides, and it hurts so very good.

mp3: San Pedro (Mogwai from the forthcoming Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will)

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #53 - Tyvek

Why I Decree it to Be So:

From the very first note of Nothing Fits, Tvyek take no prisoners. Their classically aggressive, surly agitation is a fine demonstration of what some might call punk rock. "Fuck the bullshit," they proclaim with vitriol in the bulky "Blocks," and the middle finger attitude permeates the record from start to finish. Nothing Fits is dark, deadly and dirty, all riled up and nowhere to go but up. A killer combustion of The Stooges, The Dream Syndicate, and The Ramones, to name a few. Simply fantastic.

mp3: 4312 (Tyvek from Nothing Fits)

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #54 - The Strange Boys

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Like 50s and 60s rock classics ripped from the AM dial and run through a bratty modern blender, Be Brave continues to highlight the gift The Strange Boys has for petulant rock panache. From the standout snarl and twitchy guitars of title track "Be Brave" to my personal favorite, the rollicking herky jerk of "Night Might," Be Brave is quite a sassy little rock & roller. If you're like me and enjoy a little brazenly cheeky impudence with your rock&roll, well, this here record's got it in spades. It's deliciously audacious.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #55 - Blue Giant

Why I Decree it to Be So:

The tango. Doubles tennis. Making a thing go right. Two can be just about perfect for any number of things. For instance, as dastardly duo Viva Voce, Kevin & Anita Robinson proved you only need two to make some pretty fantastic music. But the Alabama transplants aren’t resting on their twosome laurels. Oh no. They’ve decided to try expansion on for size, in their new band Blue Giant. And I think you’ll find, as I did, that sometimes, in music as in other things, bigger can sometimes be pretty darn good. Fellow fans of Viva Voce, rejoice. If you’ve been missing the family Robinson, this is your lucky day. I probably still lean a bit more towards Viva Voce, but Blue Giant is a welcome addition to the Robinsonian oeuvre. (SEE MORE)

mp3: Gone For Good (f/ Corin Tucker) (Blue Giant from Blue Giant)

Singles Club: DATAROCK

It's been touted as the most expensive single ever made, and it's certainly going to set the bar for fancy schmancy releases. Seeing as we endorse extravagance here at LET, I figured this warranted attention. But DATAROCK's new jam, "Catcher In The Rye," might also be one of the most fun songs ever made. Naturally, I appreciate the literary Salinger shoutout, but the song itself is ridiculous. In a good way, of course. It's like an 80s dance party exploded into a volcano of sparkly confetti and Adidas tracksuits and big, big silly Flock of Seagulls hair. It's an instant party. And seemingly, there ain't no party like a wacky Norwegian party, y'all.

mp3: Catcher In The Rye (DATAROCK from Catcher In The Rye)

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #56 - Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird

Why I Decree it to Be So:

My second Richmond apartment was in what's known as The Museum District. Block after block of beautifully stately, gracefully grand homes and apartment buildings line Boulevard and Monument Avenue, and there were times, some golden late afternoon days, when I felt transported out of the modern frenzy and swept back decades and decades. In short, those days felt timeless. And so too does Signs & Wonders, the sublime effort from Richmonders Jonathan Vassar & The Speckled Bird. It's a lovely record, touched by shades of the countryside and days gone by. Do your record collection a favor and get your mitts on this one.

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #57 - These United States

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Long has These United States reigned at the top of the DC heap in my book, and with latest endeavor What Lasts, they show no signs of relinquishing their collective hold on my affections. Troudadourian bandleader Jesse Elliott drew inspiration from a brush with death, and the band recovered from a stolen laptop to create another fine, folksy twangle jangle, with understandably somber undertones. "There is no justice," sings Elliott in "Just This," "just this occasional grace," and What Lasts is definitely some of that occasional grace. Yet another part of the must-have These United States ouevre.

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #58 - The Blue Angel Lounge

Why I Decree it to Be So:

If you've ever wondered what it might sound like if Spacemen 3 and The Brian Jonestown Massacre gave birth to a painfully chic German lovechild, wonder no more. The Blue Angel Lounge is the answer to that very notion, sweet Janes, and make no mistake they do their sonic parents proud. Narcotica is one hell of a record, heavy with opium swirls of fuzzery and molasses-thick walls of sound. It's a dizzying, overwhelming temple of delights, this Narcotica. Oh yeah, and someone you might just be familiar with lent his hefty production skills to the record: Anton Newcombe. I do believe that's enough said.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Megan’s Top 70 of 2010: #59 - Hooray for Earth

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Yeah, I got suckered into putting another EP on my list, because it’s just too dang good to leave out. Momo is Hooray for Earth’s way of making you sit up and take notice. It’s a collection of six dandy ditties coated in jangly and floaty electrofrothy synth goodness. Damned if “Surrounded By Your Friends” isn’t one of the catchiest songs I heard all year, and “Comfortable, Comparable” nips close behind at its addictive heels. Based on this here fine EP, I’m beyond excited for their forthcoming long player.

mp3: Surrounded By Your Friends (Hooray for Earth from Momo)

Free Music Friday: The Spurty, Japanese Boat Loving, Acidy, Swedish, Circus Freaky Edition

First off, a HUGE tip 'o the hat to my foxy partner-in-crime, Megan Terrible, for doing all the heavy lifting this past week whilst i was away on business (and temporarily snowed out of DC, stuck in Salt Lake City). It was a LOOOONG week, but i'm back in the saddle now, as it were, so here we are.

The good news for you kids is that i've had a decent pile-up of tracks with which to share with you on this, the most holy of holies, some random Friday.

Otnorot Recordings has hipped us to the even hipper sounds of GuSHee. Comprised of Cheldon Paterson (production duties, knob twiddling, etc) and Vanese Smith (vox, button pushing, etc), you might recognize the sound, as we've highlighted Paterson's Pro~Ef more than once here. Think of this as Soul II Soul for the Tens.

mp3: When I Think of You...Sunshine (GuSHee from GuSHee, out March 8, 2011)

Speaking of the spoken of before, Junk Culture recently dropped another track from his latest, Summer Friends. Man behind the plan Deepak Mantena seems to be going the Baths route, utilizing a more pop-oriented sound and structure for his otherwise beat driven tunes.

mp3: Weird Teenage Vibes (Junk Culture from Summer Friends, out February 2011)

Since we seem to be on a groove, now would be a good time to mention that Emay has dropped a new EP for our listening pleasure. This kid's sound continues to evolve, and in good ways, too. Hip hop melded with more nuanced beat music. What's not to like?

And now, for something completely similar. When i got an email promoting "hippie-hop," my first reaction was "i'll pass." Thankfully, the fact that the band was from Stockholm enticed me to give it a try anyway because i am addicted to Scandinavians for some unfathomable reason. What we've got is a pretty damn good combo sound that's equal parts Doors, Beck and Digable Planets.

On the opposite end of the email enticement spectrum, as soon as i saw that someone naming himself "Sleepyvillian" had sent something to me, i was immediately intrigued. i first thought it was going to be some Madvillian knock-off or the like, but the email note went on to tell me i had so, so much more on my hands. Sleepyvillian is one Portland, Oregon artist who spent the past few years traveling with Barnum & Bailey Circus as a musician. Fuck me with a lightsaber, i thought, that's audio gold right there, son. His is a sound reminiscent of an even ghostlier TV on the Radio.

And that, ladies and gents, is enough to send you on your merry way.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

From The Library: The Rolling Stones - 365 Days by Simon Wells

Y'all know that mama loves her some Rolling Stones. So it stands to reason that there are one or two (or more) books on those same Rolling Stones around the old homestead. Of all the Stones books I have, this one is a particular favorite.

From the very opening (and ending) of this book, a two-page homage to those luscious Jagger lips, Simon Wells gives the people what they want - 365 fabulous fabulous and foxy photos of the Stones from the archives of Getty Images. The photos lead chronologically from the beginning (photo #1 being of Mick Jagger's father, Basil), through to the 2000s, and many are accompanied by choice quotes from the members of the band and important related figures (such as former manager/svengali Andrew Loog Oldham and music rags like NME).

As you gaze upon classic image after classic image, you can softly chuckle to yourself when reading Mick's humble words, "I'm just an ordinary English bloke, same as everyone else," or concur completely with Oldham's proclamation that, "The Rolling Stones are more than just a group - they're a way of life." You'll just plain enjoy this splendid collection of Stones shots and all those nuggest of Stonesian trivia. So get off of my cloud and get your own dang copy of The Rolling Stones - 365 Days.

mp3: Tumbling Dice (The Rolling Stones from Exile On Main Street) (Nice choice, Those Who Dig!)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #60 - The Futureheads

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Listening to The Chaos reminds me a whole lot of how it felt and sounded when I first listened to the self-titled LP back six long years ago. The songs are so very good, so very catchy, and so very addictive. And while I’d hate to spoil all the frivolous fun, but in a way The Chaos seems a bit, well, mature. It’s like the band has grown up…maybe just a touch. Maturity or no, it’s a well-played return to form for The Futureheads, and I’m certainly impressed with this latest offering. (More here)

mp3: Struck Dumb (The Futureheads from The Chaos)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #61 - Blood Feathers

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Hail, hail rock & roll. These little movers and shakers and rattlers and rollers from Philly known as Blood Feathers have delivered a record full of rock & roll reverence and sass, and damned if it's not oh so mighty fine. They've studied the beautiful beginnings of rock & roll quite well, and their forefathers would be so very proud. It's as though they want nothing more than to get your blood pumping and your shimmy shaking, and listening to this record it's hard not to fall victim to their delightful master plan. Surrender now, my friends, because resistance is quite futile.

mp3: Don't Know You At All (Blood Feathers from Goodness Gracious)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Untitled Interview #52: Starring Kevin Murphy (The Moondoggies)

Ladies and gents, I'd hereby like to say that I love me some Moondoggies. Ok, so I probably already made that clear. But I'll just put it out there once again for good measure. Their breed of Seattle's finest twangy chooglin' mountain classic rockin' awesomeness is second to none. If you don't already have their record Tidelands, well, you'll want to fix that. You can bet your last dollar that it's gonna be showing up in my Best of 2010 records. Oh yes indeedy doo.

While you're doing that, why not catch up with Mister Kevin Murphy? The mouthpiece and guitarist for The Moondoggies took a little time out from touring activities to answer these here questions. Read on for some sage advice, and also to find out what the official best dinosaur ever is. Or was, rather. And speaking of that Moondoggies tour, it rolls through this area this very Friday (1/28), making a stop at the friendly confines of Iota. See y'all there, I would think/hope/expect.

Les Enfants Terribles: How the hell are you?
Kevin Murphy: Sitting in the Solar Culture venue in Tucson, AZ. Just had a good meal, which is rare on tour.

LET: Playing music is:
KM: Necessary.

LET: What album most made you realize you wanted to make music?
KM: Meet the Beatles or Nevermind...they both had the same effect.

LET: Beatles or Stones?
KM: John Lennon playing YER BLUES on The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.

LET: Top 5 albums (of now, of this month, or of ever):
-strategically left blank-

LET: Favorite music-related movie?
KM: D200 Motels.

LET: Half-full or half-empty?
KM: Fempty.

LET: Which of your peers do you think is making the best music these days?
KM: I don't think of it as "best." I think a lot of my peers are doing great things.

LET: What’s the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?
KM: Need more sleep.

LET: Little-known Moondoggies fact?
KM: Carl didn't play drums when we started.

LET: The greatest record store in the world is:
KM: I haven't traveled the whole world but Easy Street Records in Seattle is my favorite local shop.

LET: Shaken or stirred?
KM: Whiskey and 7.

LET: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
KM: You better be lining them up and knocking them down, not knocking them up and lining them down.

LET: If you weren’t in a band you’d be:
KM: A paleontologist.

LET: Best dinosaur ever?
KM: Utah Raptor.

LET: What do you find most comforting/most disconcerting about going out on tour?
Meeting people and meeting people.

LET: If you were so inclined, whom would you form a tribute band in honor of?
KM: Ted Lucas. This changes daily.

LET: Best song ever written?
KM: This also changes daily. Today? “Tonight Will Be Fine” -Leonard Cohen.

mp3: What Took So Long (The Moondoggies from Tidelands)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #62 - Brian Eno

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Few people on my list are actual, bona fide legends, but this man certainly is. Brian Eno is responsible for one of my favorite records of EVER (Here Come The Warm Jets, if you're wondering), so it's only natural, nay necessary, for me to include him on this here list. Small Craft on a Milk Sea is very, very different, reminding me of, if anything, Eno's Ambient projects (such as Ambient 1: Music for Airports). It's disorienting at times, very often confounding to the senses, and seemingly in possession of time-shifting and bending capabilities. Lovely, yet just a little eerie and subtlely ominous. In short, it's another Eno triumph. Perhaps, my lovelies, this is what the future sounds like.

mp3: Written Forgotten (Brian Eno from Small Craft on a Milk Sea)
(thanks, Electric Adolescence! You're the cat's meow)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #63 - Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Who needs traditional song structure when there are epic, almost unfathomable fifteen-minute opuses to be created? Certainly not Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, that's for dang sure. Kollaps Tradixionales is a rich, complex, and demanding of your undivided, reverential attention. The payoff for your due diligence is immense, mind-bending sonic beauty and noisy confoundation that will quite possibly mess with your mind. Do Canadians do the whole experimental changeling sonic sprawl thing better than anyone? There are times, such as while listening to this record, that I'd be inclined to say yes.

mp3: I Built Myself a Metal Bird (Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra from Kollaps Tradixionales)
(Thanks, Draw Us Lines! You're awesome)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #64 - The Ferocious Few

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Ah, the simple joys of the two man band. San Franciscans Daniel Aguilar and Francisco Fernandez unleashed
Juices on the world earlier this year, and for that bloody mess of tawdry, filthy, gritty, noisy, punch-you-in-the-gut-and-break-a-beer-bottle-over-your-head rock the world offered grateful thanks. Between the almost possessed, honey-coated rocky howl of Fernandez and the tortuous, have mercy on the drum kit style of Aguilar, The Ferocious Few and their Juices take no prisoners.

mp3: Gasoline & Cocaine (The Ferocious Few from Juices)

mp3: Lord Save My Soul (The Ferocious Few)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #65 - Meridene

Why I Decree it to Be So:

There is often beauty to be found in even the most mundane of subject matter, a concept Meridene is most definitely acquainted with. This Wisconsin band tackles those everyday moments and adds solidly arranged, solidly played hooks and harmonies to their take on modern life and modern love. Bell-clear vocals tell stories with a honest appeal, and help makes Meridene a band to keep an eye on.

mp3: Gone Baby Gone (Meridene from Something Like Blood)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #66 - Twin Tigers

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Seeing Twin Tigers on their tour with Interpol this past Summer was a rather eye-opening experience. Their sound was dynamic, savage and beautiful, and their record Gray Waves is all of that and then some. Dark shadows and sharp guitars run rampant through blissful sonic sieges like "Red Fox Fun," a behemoth of a song where slicing angularity and grimy fuzz collide with ferocity and explode into something fiery and completely wonderful. The more I listen to this LP, the better it gets.

mp3: Red Fox Run (Twin Tigers from Gray Waves)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #67 - Sensual Harassment

Why I Decree it to Be So:

You know me, I'm a sucker for anything that's even the slightest bit over the top. And starting with their ridiculously campy album cover, Sensual Harassment is nothing if not over the top. Alpha Draconis bubbles and fizzes its way from silly, synthy dancefloor dreamland to some harder, darker, deadlier nightmarishly wicked and wacky moments of dancerock sass. Whatever angle they happen to take, Sensual Harassment knows how to show a gal a damn good time. Put this on when those good times need to get themselves rollin'.

mp3: Russian Dolls (Sensual Harassment from Alpha Draconis)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #68 - Foxes In Fiction

Why I Decree it to Be So:

I was planning on staying away from EPs for this here countdown of mine, but one Mister Warren Hildebrand of the greater Toronto metro area forced me to make an exception to my rule. His one-man, bedroom vibin' project Foxes in Fiction, is a mighty fine animal indeed. The Alberto EP is seven slices of sonic splendor in the grass, open-eyed and dreamlike, like sunrays shining through on a biting cold winter day (a little like today, actually). There's something eerie, yet soothing about these songs. And anyone who can create that precarious, beautiful balance is pretty alright with me.

Singles Club: JEFF The Brotherhood

Nashville is rapidly turning into one of those towns that just keeps on churnin' out killer band after killer band. Long known for country, there's a whole bunch of Nashvillians who've been bringing the rock over the past few months. JEFF (or Jeff, if you're not down with all caps) The Brotherhood is one of the best of the bunch.

I've been a fan since seeing them play one heck of a show with The Woggles a little while ago. These two dudes (brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall) beat the hell out of their respective instruments, and their sludgy, swampy hazy-crazy rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrock never fails to bring a smile to my face. And for you kids in the UK and Ireland, the dudes are finishing up a tour. Make sure you get out to see them. You won't be disappointed.

mp3: The Tropics (JEFF The Brotherhood from Heavy Days)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: #69 - The High Dials

Why I Decree it to Be So:

It's one of our worst kept secrets here at LET that I'm kinda sorta a big fan of the whole psych revivalism thing. I also happen to have quite a soft spot for jingling, jangling 60s-esque pop ditties. Put the two together, with, of course, some good ole rock&roll, and you get this here record by The High Dials. The songs are exceedingly catchy, and some of those lyrics are plenty serious (weightier than those bouncy rhythms would suggest). Highly recommended for your daily dose of sonic springtime. Minus the pollen count.

Megan's Top 70 0f 2010: #70 - Bellflur

Why I Decree it to Be So:

Seeing Bellflur at this past Summer's BIMA festival was a rather pleasant surprise, seeing as I'd always meant to yet never quite managed to see them live before that point. This DC ensemble crafts some fine swirly, cinematic dreamscapes, as fine as just about any you're likely to hear. "Insect Politics" has been a recurring song in my rotation for many months now, all shimmery, slinky sophistication. I like to think of asleep. asleep. as pure DC escapism, the perfect record to fend off a mean case of road rage to while sitting in traffic on 495. Or 395. Or 95. Or 66. Or 14th Street...

mp3: Insect Politics (Bellflur from asleep. asleep.)

Megan's Top 70 of 2010: A Preface

If there's anyone around who says that 2010 was a down year for music, I'll emphatically beg to disagree. Heck, there was so much good music to be had that I'll be damned if I could whittle my list of most favorite records down much at all. Well, that and my terrible lack of decision-making skills.

You might be wondering why I went with 70. It's quite simple, really. Having lived in Richmond, and spent many many many hours driving up and down I-95, I was pleasantly surprised to notice on one of my trips back down that way, that a portion of 95 had been granted 5 extra mph under the law. As anyone who's ever been in a car with me knows, I have quite a hard time going the speed limit. So this extra boost of legal speeding made me rather happy. As do the 70 records I've chosen as my favorites of the fabulous year that was 2010.

As I'm sure you know, we here at LET don't really go for "best" when we're making our lists. So there's a lot you might see on other lists that isn't on my list. I went with what moved me the most. As for what's not on this list, I either didn't hear it (out of simple time constraints or on purpose), or didn't find it quite fit in my 70 record cap. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this here mammoth list. No license or registration needed.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Live Review: Eternal Summers @ Red Palace, 1/16/2011

As some of you may recall, I went to quite a few shows last year. I was pretty burnt out after all of that, so I took a few weeks off, mostly for the purposes of getting more sleep. But then, along came a show I realized would be pretty dang silly to miss. And so it was that I found myself at the newly-minted Red Palace (Palace of Wonders + The Red & The Black) for the buzzy Eternal Summers. And all was joyous and wonderful.

I'm beginning to think Roanoke, VA, might be a magical place, y'all. Every band I know of from there is dynamite. Eternal Summers is yet another offshoot of the Magic Twig Community, and features two of my favorite Young Sinclairs (Eternal Summers recently welcoming Sinclairs drummer John Thompson to the fold as bassist). After this set, I'm jumping firmly on the Eternal Summers bandwagon, and am hereby dubbing them my most favorite of the Roanoke & Rollers.

The set, as I had been alerted to beforehand, was peppered with new songs the band was trying out. "Prisoner," "Cog," "Pure Affection," and "Child's Mind" should be on the new Eternal Summers EP (due out Marchish), and there were a couple untitled jams to boot. Each and every song, new or not-so-new, was delectable. Their sound, which to me falls in some delightful ether between 80s synthpop and 60s psych revivalism, with a sprinkling of that trendy surf thing, translated ever so well to the Red Palace stage. Even with a bit of a sore throat, Nicole Yun's voice was adorably enchanting, and Daniel Cundiff's rapidfire, thoroughbred drumming was deliriously good. The addition of Thompson to the group added immeasurably, adding another level of awesome to the songs. When they launched into my favorite track from the Silver record, "Silver," I think I might have gotten a chill. They proved to be kicky, fizzy, and rather sassy up there on the stage, and as they played I got the feeling that I was seeing a rather special band.

And there you have it, dearest loves. Eternal Summers have my stamp of approval as one of the rootin'-est, tootin'-est, good time-est bands around. You will, without a shadow of a doubt, be infinitely happier once you've let Eternal Summers into your life.

mp3: Pogo (Eternal Summers from Silver)

Friday, January 21, 2011

From The Library: Bit of a Blur by Alex James

As I've no doubt mentioned here plenty of times, one of my fondest rock&roll memories involves Mister Alex James, bassist for that beloved bastion of Britpop, Blur. It was a crowded, sweaty night at the old Black Cat, and Blur was putting on one heck of a show. It was the height of the glory days of Britpop, and all the scenester kids were there. But what I will always remember above all else was Alex, glorious indifference coursing through his lanky body, head cocked to the side and trademark ciggie dangling from his slightly sneering lips. It was beautiful. Years later I would hear a rumor that James had spent over a million pounds on champagne over the years, a nod of sorts to the excesses brought on by worldwide success (and the desire to become an "alcoholic genius"). And naturally, who better to write an autobiography than a man who has a millionaire liver?

Bit of a Blur was even better than I could have hoped. Over the course of two days I only put it down to go to work and go to sleep (and fell asleep while reading). James proves a charming, captivating host, clever as you like and engaging as can be. His words are light, but earnest. I immediately was struck at how perfect it was to have such an enthusiastic musician write such an enthusiastic tribute to life as a rock star. In a sense, James is like a kid on Christmas morning while writing about his life with Blur, and it's endearing beyond belief.

Events happen chronologically, and most of the book is, as you would expect, devoted to the Blur years. Along the way you'll pick up many an unexpected nugget of James trivia (unless of course you're a total superfan, in which case you'll already know everything) such as where he met ace Blur axeman Graham Coxon, his most debaucherous, excessively scandalous evening (hint: it involves five ladies and some champers), and the fact that James has been known to fly a plane every now and again. That whole messy feud with Oasis? James barely acknowledges it, glossing over it with a scant mention hither and thither, which for some reason makes me like him even more. Prone to moments of insightful reflection, don't be surprised to come across a thought-provoking sentiment or two, though of course one is always sure that James has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

James is a terribly good spinner of yarns, and gives his recollections with a carefree panache. Even while describing the darker side of success, he remains always likeable, always the hero. Bit of a Blur is, without question, one of the best things I've read in quite a long time. There is so much good to be had within the pages of this book, I can't recommend it enough.

mp3: Country House (Blur from The Great Escape)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Dilla, Please

One can never have enough Dilla. And who doesn't love jazz and Donuts? What if we could combine all three into one, gooey, sticky mess? It would sound exactly like this. That's right, Dilla's Donuts, covered in its entirety, but a funked up jazz band. You're welcome.

With Storm Siegel on skins, Dave Mainella on piano and Evan Crane on bass, the trio called Stray Phrases performed an instrumental set of the album on Sunday, October 17, 2010. Unfortunately, it's all crammed into one mp3, but once you have a listen, maybe you'll decide that's for the best. Some things are just meant to be listened to a certain way.

And then Stones Throw just keeps giving and giving and giving...

From Madlib's latest Medicine Show (#11 Low Budget High Fi Music), a formerly unreleased track from Jaylib, the collab between Dilla and Madlib, originally slated for their second album, which, sadly and criminally, never came to fruition.

Singles Club: Fergus & Geronimo

People have been yelling "Geronimo!" before plunging themselves into pools/other bodies of water for who knows how long. So in a way, I guess it's perhaps fitting that this here new ditty by Denton, TX musicos Fergus & Geronimo makes one feel like you're twisting the night away (and the early morning, too) at a crazy fun beach or pool party (or perhaps both, which would be crazy). Wherein, of course, somebody has to yell "Geronimo!" right as they take a dip in the drink, quite possibly induced by the good time vibes of said song.

"Baby Don't You Cry" is deliciously addictive, deceptively simple, deliriously delightful, and it can be all yours right this very minute.

mp3: Baby Don't You Cry (Fergus & Geronimo from Unlearn)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WEDIDIT Does It Again

Yes, yes, yes, all the blog love is going to OFWGKTA, and hey, those kids deserve it. That being said, the lack of love and respect being afforded to the WEDIDIT Collective blows me away. Yes, i realize one's a bunch of young'un rappers with a fresh sound and one's a bunch of young'un beat producers with dope skills, but c'mon, if we're talking straight talent against talent, i'm throwing my chips towards WEDIDIT every time. Hell, they have Shlohmo, Juj and Jonwayne. What more do you want, you greedy bastards?

As luck would have it, the WEDIDIT site has had some stellar examples of their work up lately, FOR FREE, no less, so you need to get on that.

Ground is Lava (possibly my new favorite name) just dropped his Book of Tech EP in anticipation of a full LP scheduled to come out on the Friends of Friends label this April. It's just a little bit of an 8-bit masterpiece, if you ask me. If Mario and Luigi smoked a lot more dope, i have a feeling this is what the soundtrack might sound like.

And while i'm not 100 percent sure they're actual members of the WEDIDIT family, Shlohmo recently posted this damn tight mix. In his words: "From my dudes D33J and Mark Aubert...comes this under 20 minute long recently digitized cassette jumpoff. Recorded one night all live at Mark's house. 303's, 202's, toy keyboards, radios, drum machines, cassettes, and some itunes here and there."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beat Meet: The Barely Legal, Sore Assed, Mate Devouring, Witchy, Royal Edition

That's right, kids. It's time, too. Beat Meet.

My apologies for the sporadic posts of late. Damn real job, getting in the way of the glamorous life of an unpaid music blogger. If one of you readers wouldn't mind telling my clients to slow the fuck down so that you can get your daily dose of Terribleness, well, that would be just swell.

We start things off with a bit of futuristic funk from Bradford, England. Hourglass Sea combines ass wobbling synths and pounding drums with 8-bit goodness. Is that Mario copping some coins as i get my groove on? It just might be, sir.

mp3: Teenager (Hourglass Sea from his Sound Cloud)

Speaking of futuristic funk, i can think of no more apt description for the work of the Philly/LA crew, Bossasaurus. I suppose i could point out that they're boss, which certainly would be better than calling them a bunch of sore asses, but i may be losing my point here. Let me sum it up this way--if George Clinton's Mothership needed a group to play their interstellar, designer drug fuelled space raves, Bossasaurus could have the gig on the strength of their latest, Lacerta, alone.

mp3: Special Deal 4 U (Bossasaurus from Lacerta)

Ye olde submission inbox has not disappointed since our last Beat Meet. Yet another case in point comes from Mantis Power. Potomac, Maryland's own sent us a track, which got me digging around on his Band Camp, which led me to this beast he did sampling Lil' Wayne's "A Milli." By utilizing a slower, less frantic beat, MP showcases both his skills as a producer and sheds new light on the lyrics. Well done, son.

mp3: Sands ft. Lil' Wayne (Mantis Power from his Band Camp)

While we're on the topic of kick ass production making use of existing vocals, how about this Aaliyah remix by Jus' Like Music's Klaar? The groove is slowed and chilled to almost witchhouse proportions, and the end result is syrupy good, assuming, of course, you like syrup.

mp3: One in a Million (Klaar Remix) (Aaliyah from Klaar's Band Camp)

And as a Prince junkie, i would be remiss if i did not include this pretty stellar set by DJ Dredd. Dredd hosts regular Prince parties in DC, and this is in recognition of that. Some nice gems to be heard in this hour-long mix.

mp3: Genius Mixtape (DJ Dredd from his Sound Cloud)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nobody. Not Even Your Grandfather

Obscure Marx Brothers references aside, DJ Nobody has been quite the bisy backson of late. In addition to his stellar collab with Nocando as the Bomb Zombies and his always impressive work with the Low End Theory podcast, old boy also has been quite busy on his own.

Most recently, he dropped One For All Without Hesitation, a bit of a departure from his more hip-hop oriented work. Comprised of material from as far back as 2006, Nobody compiled the final CD in a scant 17 days. Of particular interest, each and every track employs auto-tune. Now, as someone who grew up with Zapp in his life, i say if you're going to go the voice modulation route, go whole hog and fuck auto-tune. That being said, even though i knew this was an AT affair before i hit play for the first time, i could not skip one track on this puppy. In no small part thanks to Nobody's stellar production work, the entire piece works. Nobody uses the vocals more as an instrumental add-on as opposed to the more traditional sense, but the overall affect is far more soothing and inclusive than one might think. Very few people get AT right. Nobody does.

And if that weren't enough, he put together a kick-ass DJ set for Self-Titled's Needle Exchange that shows the master in his main arena, throwing treats like a deranged madman on an LSD-laced Halloween binge. You've got everything from dubstep drones to hip hop bangers, from Bomb Zombies to OFWGKTA. Nice, nice, nice. And that's all i have to say about that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Singles Club: La Sera

It's still Baltic cold up in this area, but I'm feeling a little bit of thaw thanks to my glee at having bought my plane tickets for April's excursion out to my second Coachella. Sure, it happened yesterday, but dangit I'm still over the bloody moon. But back to the whole thaw thing. I was pawing through my inbox when I stumbled upon the new single from the exceedingly nifty La Sera. And I thought, hmm, there's some thaw to this here song, too.

Listen closely and you'll hear the icicles melt, feel the sun warm just a touch, and see the last piles of snow melt away. Between the fuzzy repetition and the lovely lady vocals, "Devils Hearts Grow Cold" is a winner.

mp3: Devils Hearts Grow Cold (La Sera from Devils Hearts Grow Cold)

100 Shows Of 2010: The Round-up

When first I dreamed up this little folly that came to be known as the 100 Shows project, I couldn’t have imagined how very amazing (and challenging) it would be. I brushed off the looks given to me by my nearest and dearest, the ones insinuating I was a little wacky, and got ready to sink my teeth in. It began, after much planning in late January and early February, down in Richmond with my first show on a chilly night in March, and ended just two days before Christmas at the venerable Arlingtonian venue Iota (also on a rather chilly night, as luck would have it).

Now, some of you might go out this much all the time and think nothing of it, but for the rest of us, think of it thus: Over the course of ten months, I went out once every three nights on average. Yeah, it turned out to be a little crazy. But I tell you what, friends, I wouldn’t change a thing. I saw more ridiculously good live music than I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Of the shows I came and saw and reviewed, there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. Not bad for 100 shows, eh?

So then I thought, well, now that it’s all done and dusted, I really should pick my favorite shows. The ladies and gentlemen will want to know. It was a torment to pick just ten from my hundred, but below are my most favorite shows of the entire project. They’re in no particular order, and stood out not necessarily as the best shows, but just the ones that I loved the most.

#56: A Place To Bury Strangers @ Rittenhouse Square (Philadelphia), 8/25/2010

#65: The Charlatans @ Black Cat, 9/9/2010

#88: The Dandy Warhols & Hopewell @ Ram’s Head Live (Baltimore), 11/9/2010

#13: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ 9:30 Club, 4/5/2010

#86: The Black Angels @ Theatre of Living Arts (Philadelphia), 11/6/2010

#32: The Brian Jonestown Massacre/The Young Sinclairs @ Theatre of Living Arts (Philadelphia), 6/8/2010

#71: James & Ed Harcourt @ 9:30 Club, 9/27/2010

#38: Ceremony @ U Street Music Hall, 6/17/2010

#84: The Phantom Band @ 9:30 Club, 11/1/2010

#79: Gary Numan @ Black Cat, 10/20/2010

I met some great people, saw a whole lot of great music, and have one heckadoo of a great time. In closing, I want to send out massive thanks to all the bands, PR folks, label folks, and management that have been so very open and supportive of this gargantuan little undertaking of mine. Y’all are the bestest, and I couldn’t have done it without you. Sloppy kisses to all, and to all a good night.

mp3: Telephone (live) (The Black Angels from Phosphene Dream)