Friday, December 17, 2010

Erik's 2010 Mixes

Hey All! Here are my mixes for 2010 in review. It's 2 discs, one of which has all male singers and the other all female. Enjoy!

Mix #1 - One For The Boys

Track List:
01. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Bright Lit Blue Skies
02. Deerhunter - Memory Boy
03. The Walkmen - Angela Surf City
04. Woods - Suffering Season
05. Harlem - Friendly Ghost
06. Wavves - King of the Beach
07. Flight - Real Estate
08. Yeasayer - Madder Red
09. The National - Terrible Love (Alternate Version)
10. Perfume Genius - Mr. Peterson
11. The Morning Benders - Excuses
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - Vocal Chords
13. The Books - Beautiful People


Mix #2 - Girlz Rule!

Track List:
01. Dum Dum Girls - Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout
02. Best Coast - Happy
03. Marnie Stern - Cinco De Mayo
04. No Joy - Hawaii
05. Land of Talk - Swift Coin
06. Warpaint - Shadows
07. Cults - Go Outside
08. Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill
09. Beach House - Walk in the Park
10. Janelle Monae - Oh, Maker
11. jj - And Now
12. Joanna Newsom - On A Good Day
13. Zola Jesus - Lightstick



Saturday, December 11, 2010

TK's Best of 2010

2010 bombarded me with excellent songs. Here are 5 mixes, trying to make sonic sense of what I heard throughout the year:

Mix 1: The Warmth of Your Way (2010 Runners-Up Vol. 1)

01. Avi Buffalo - What's In It For?
02. Lower Dens - Tea Lights
03. Wye Oak - I Hope You Die
04. Phosphorescent - Mermaid Parade
05. Laura Veirs - Where Are You Driving?
06. Kurt Vile - Invisibility: Nonexistent
07. Sharon Van Etten - One Day
08. Tobin Sprout - Wedding Song
09. Andrew Cedermark - Hard Livin'

Mix 2: A Break In Time (2010 Runners-Up Vol. 2)

01. Twin Sister - All Around And Away We Go
02. Here We Go Magic - Collector
03. Cosmetics - Sleepwalking
04. Deerhunter - Desire Lines
05. MGMT - Flash Delirium
06. Casiokids - Finn Bikkjen!
07. Police Academy 6 - Fill In The Blanks
08. Spoon - Out Go The Lights

Mix 3: Dazzle Them All (Best of 2010 Vol. 1)

01. The Walkmen - Angela Surf City
02. Gauntlet Hair - Our Scenery
03. Boston Spaceships - Come On Baby Grace
04. Wild Nothing - Chinatown
05. Reading Rainbow - Always On My Mind
06. Ganglians - My House
07. Spoon - The Mystery Zone
08. Harlem - Friendly Ghost
09. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round And Round
10. Family Trees - Sleep Talkin
11. Dum Dum Girls - Pay For Me
12. Pineapple - Harvey
13. Harlem - Gay Human Bones
14. Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3 - Luckiness

Download Dazzle Them All

Mix 4: Food For The Gods (Older Songs Discovered in 2010)

01. Guided By Voices - If We Wait (1996)
02. Sonny Smith - Good Folks Bad Folks (2007)
03. Caravan - Love To Love You (1971)
04. Jeff Mangum - Sign The Dotted Line (2009)
05. Cosmos - Nude Metropolis (2009)
06. The Fresh and Onlys - Peacock and Wing (2009)
07. Guided By Voices - Hey Aardvark (1993)
08. Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk - 3 (2007)
09. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Le Chat Du Cafe Des Artistes (2009)
10. Manishevitz - Eiji (2007)
11. Twin Sister - I Want A House (2008)

Download Food For The Gods

Mix 5: Great Are The Sounds (Best of 2010 Vol. 2)

01. Pill Wonder - Restless
02. Frightened Rabbit - Living In Colour
03. Woods - Suffering Season
04. Beach House - Zebra
05. The Bees - Silver Line
06. Gord Downie and The Country Of Miracles - Gone
07. The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
08. The War On Drugs - Comin' Through
09. Closed Cassette - Time Trials
10. Steve Mason - All Come Down
11. jj - And Now
12. Tobin Sprout - Fix On The Races
13. Midlake - Acts Of Man

Download Great Are The Sounds

What do you think? What did I miss? What else should I be listening to these last 3 weeks of the year?

As always, thanks for reading.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Everything I Think About Think About

1. Guided By Voices - Big School: I still have GBV fever, after seeing 3 shows in 5 days earlier this month. I passed the "Big School" on my bus tour of Dayton earlier this summer. Such a great tune.
2. Pill Wonder - My Valuable Hunting Knife (GBV cover): This is a track off of the Guided By Guided By Voices tape I was lucky enough to snag last month - only 50 were made. I'm not sold on all of the covers, but some of them are pretty great, including this one. There's also a hilarious synth version of Tractor Rape Chain, but you'll have to ride in my car with me to hear that one.
3. Burning Little God - Notes On Being Snowblind: This one is from No Fear Of Pop, I believe. One of the best blogs out there. Love the driving drum part, drone-y guitar, and melodic bassline.
4.Nightlands - Suzerain (A Letter to the Judge): I forget where I found this one, but it's probably from NFOP too. Kind of has a Grizzly Bear vibe to it, but less smug. Good for autumn. Confirms my love of the drum machine. And my love of the real drums on top of a drum machine. Yon Yonson anyone?
5. Beach Fossils - Face It: My friend Mike loves this band. I didn't really get into their album (not enough variety and no songs stuck out), but this song sounds a little cleaner and focused, which I think is a step in the right direction. 
6. Deerhunter - Desire Lines: From my go-to album of the past 2 weeks. Definitely the best album Deerhunter has released so far. This song acts as a great centerpiece for the record. I love the little ascending/descending guitar lick during the beginning of the jam. 
7. Twin Sister - Meet The Frownies: Twin Sister alluded me this year. I was so close to seeing them in Chicago during Pitchfork Fest, in Milwaukee right after Pitchfork Fest, and in Montreal during POP Montreal. Some day, Twin Sister. Some day. Until then, I'm gonna enjoy the heck out of their studio stuff, which keeps getting better and better. 
8. Andrew Cedermark - Moon Deluxe: I totally get a Microphones vibe out of this tune, which is great for this time of year. It begs for the days to get shorter and shorter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz (Review)

Where to start…


Contextualizing Sufjan Stevens in the broader framework of the music world was easy in 2005, the year of his last traditional, non-B-sides/compilation/instrumental album, Illinois. He was simply a brilliant songwriter, tapping into stories from state history to expose his own intense beliefs and vulnerabilities. His sprawling, manic and stunning compositions were equally balanced with stripped-down, delicate folk pieces to create a wonderful and varied collage.

Now, normally when we write about songwriters we have a tendency to look to the past to draw comparisons. Everyone is inevitably reduced to Bob Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen or Nick Drake, or, or, or, or… During 2005, I would’ve put Sufjan up there with any one of these guys in the upper echelon of writing. And though it’s cliché to do so, if forced to make a comparison, I think he most resembled Brian Wilson than any songwriter we’ve seen in this era. The way he looked to childhood innocence and basic beliefs to extrapolate moods and motifs throughout his music was fantastic.

These days, Sufjan draws a different kind of attention to himself. Perhaps because of his disaffection with the delivery system and format of music, or maybe because of the self-imposed limits of his own ambition, he has become more of a behind-the-scenes artist. His work his shifted more to the realm of composer and collaborator. In a way, what was once a career that could have broadened to Brian Wilson status, he has chosen a different path; something akin to that of Wilson colleague, Van Dyke Parks.


OK. Long-winded intro aside; I say all of these things to contextualize where in Sufjan’s career he is upon the release of The Age of Adz. It’s a seemingly dark place.

If Illinois characterized a place or event, it would have been a ticker-tape parade at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. If Adz was a place or event, it would be a funeral processional in an indistinct future. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

One of the more amazing things about the recent shift in Sufjan’s career (starting with “You are the Blood” off of Dark Was the Night) is his use of electronics in his production. Granted, he has made a straight electronic album in the past (2001’s Enjoy Your Rabbit); and since has produced straight folk albums (2004’s Seven Swans) and the aforementioned and varied Illinois. Just like in Illinois, Adz uses a broad spectrum of instruments and melodies to create these impressionist compositions. But the way he uses synth, beeps, buzzes and auto-tune alongside his orchestra of a sound palate is really an accomplishment.

I brought up Van Dyke Parks earlier, because there are definitely traces of that style of fluttery, whimsical flourishes imbedded in these 11 synth-heavy tracks. A perfect example of this balance is the stunning “Too Much” (which I will post after the album’s October 12 release date.) It’s truly a pleasure to see someone with such a solid track record attempting to push himself and music as a whole further.

Having said that; ambition doesn’t come without a cost. While it’s great to laud boundary pushing and genre splicing, Adz tends to struggle under the weight of its own aspirations. The tracks jump from dance-y electronica to Disney strings and horns schizophrenically. Most of the time it’s a pleasant experience, but there is a certain amount of challenge to the listener in 75 minutes of jumping around (including the 25-minute closing track “Impossible Soul”).

Overall, I feel we’re going to revere The Age of Adz for years to come. But, like Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me from earlier this year, the task put on the person experiencing the record is too much to warrant multiple listens. And maybe because of this, everything Sufjan feared with regards to how we listen to records will be his downfall; it’ll be chopped down to 2 tracks on an iPod playlist.

The Age of Adz can be streamed here, and pre-ordered here.

Dig It,


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh Look, It's September

Ahoy there.

Haven't posted anything in a long while. This changes. Now.

I'll cut to the chase, here are some tunes I've been really digging lately:

The Goodnight Loving - Doesn't Shake Me

These guys share some common members with Jaill, who are probably the most "famous" Milwaukee indie band at the moment. Not sure why Sub Pop didn't come after The Goodnight Loving instead, because this sounds like the band ready for the national stage. Melodies, jangle, hooks - they've got it all. 

Cosmetics - Sleepwalking

This band lives in your dreams. If you are lucky.

Cosmos - Nude Metropolis

This song's from last year, but I only recently heard it for the first time (as part of my ongoing Robert Pollard obsession). There is something about the drum part that I really get a kick out of - like it's out-of-step with the piano in the best possible way. As usual, Bob takes a pretty basic chord progression and comes up with like 10 different melodies to sing over it - complete with the big pay-off at the end. dum dum dum.  

In other news...

* I still haven't made it through the new Arcade Fire (yawn), but apparently I'm not the only one who thought that one of the songs sounded just like something else (only Time to Pretend jumped out at me at first, but the rest make sense too)

* Tobin Sprout's The Bluebirds of Happiness Tried to Land on my Shoulder is only sounding better and better as the weather cools down.

* Speaking of dudes in their 50's, my top 2 albums from this year might very well end up being the newest offerings from Gord Downie & Robyn Hitchcock...take that, youngsters. 

Talk to you hopefully before October.

- tk

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Curse of Choice/How We Listen

Before I begin this post, I would like to say that I realize it contradicts my initial mission with this blog. I wanted to be the guy that listened to shit endlessly, and had such a discerning ear that I could find non-stop diamonds in the rough. It hasn’t worked out that way so far. And I began to wonder; is this just an off year? Aside from a couple albums that I really enjoy (This is Happening, High Violet, King of the Beach, and Best Coast’s Crazy for You, et al.), the new albums I’ve been hearing have been just OK. And the myriad of singles I’ve paged through have been no better; just a waste of time.

But the more I thought about this development, the less it bothered me; and the less I worried about not being able to deliver constant gems every other day.

We live in an era where we’re endlessly burdened by choice. You can’t talk to a single person who’s into music without being belittled into not knowing about a new band or a new release. But it’s OK. Don’t feel like you have to know everything all the time. There is no shame in ignorance. The game has changed so much. There are blogs that you could literally spend every minute of your day on and not hear everything on it. So relax.

What happened to the era of the “favorite song”? Remember? There was a time when people used to have a song that they would listen to endlessly. Have you seen Do the Right Thing? Radio Raheem listened to “Fight the Power” on a loop, and he loved it! Now we have to constantly jump from rock to rock in order to digest everything out there. We have to listen to musical styles we don’t even enjoy just to be able to say we don’t like them. How absurd is that? I look at someone like Anthony Fantano over at (whose work I enjoy and respect), and I wonder; when was the last time you just got obsessed with a band? When has there been an album you flipped over immediately after it ended? When has the iPod been stuck on repeat? Why do we feel this obligation to need to hear everything all the time? At what point are we just listening and not really hearing?

This thought came up recently when Tim and I were talking about his Guided By Voices obsession. And we decided, he is in a committed relationship with them. And that’s OK. You can be musically monogamous. Sometimes the most gratifying listening you’re ever going to have is going to be the 50th time you spin your favorite record and a chord change hits you like it did the first time; or you notice a lyrical nuance you'd missed the 49 previous times. Or if you dust off a record you were obsessed with a decade ago and you feel the same way you felt when you were 17. Sometimes the most emotional attachments we have aren’t to the best songs; but songs that define a moment in time for us.

So. If you take nothing out of this; go back. Listen to your favorite band over and over. Get obsessed with a song and listen to it until you can’t stand it anymore. Because, though your favorite album may be released this year; odds are it won’t be. Any new track is probably going to be a rehashed version of something you already have an affection for. And we'll still be here looking. Eventually we'll find something we're bursting about. And you'll know.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TK's Version of Pitchfork Happ'nings

This was my sixth P-Fork festival...feeling like I could use a little break next year.
Here's what I liked, what I didn't like, and what I didn't even bother to check out:


1:00 Free Energy (a) - A good set to kick off a day in the sun. A little derivative, but fun and energetic - had no problem listening to the whole set while trying to take up as much room as possible.
1:00 Netherfriends (b) - Didn't see 'em, but saw them open up for Real Estate & Woods back in March and rather enjoyed them then.
1:45 Real Estate (c) - First song was awful, left to go see Sonny instead. I think the drummer plays too much. Still, they put out a great record last year. Not giving up.
1:55 Sonny & the Sunsets (b) - Like Erik said, they played most songs twice as fast as on their records. I knew I'd like 'em, but I didn't know I'd like them so much. I screamed for "Good Folks Bad Folks" to no avail. Still a really great set. 
2:30 Delorean (a) - Not bad to listen to, only stayed for a few tracks though. Nothing special, and was not feeling that type of music at 2:30PM.
2:50 Kurt Vile (b) - A little disappointing. He didn't play to his strengths and his set list was questionable (he played Monkey second, which is the most boring song on Childish Prodigy)
3:20 Titus Andronicus (c) - Brought it. Really really enjoyed these guys, who have learned how to command a crowd since they last played P-Fork in 2008.
3:45 Dâm-Funk (b) - Wandered over there for a bit and didn't realize someone was "playing". Just sounded like a really boring DJ.
4:15 Raekwon (a) - Skipped it.
4:45 Smith Westerns (b) - Major disappointment. I love these guys' recorded output, but the mix sounded horrible and the vocals were extra weak. I'll give them another try, but it'll have to be in a club and with better sound.
5:15 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (c) - It seemed like they played for 2 hours. Pretty boring, except for when the lead singer (Jon Spencer, I assume) said "Blues Explosion" after every song, which was just kind of sad.
5:45 WHY? (b) - Didn't feel like wandering over there, so I skipped it.
6:15 Wolf Parade (a) - These guys have two really good songs (This Hearts On Fire & I'll Believe In Anything), which they played back-to-back (glorious!)...other than that it was a fairly pedestrian set. I think they're on the decline, but we'll see.
6:45 Bear in Heaven (b) - Possibly the biggest regret I have is picking the wrong Bear, as I passed on these guys to see...
7:25 Panda Bear (c) - A completely and utterly pretentious set. He had a golden opportunity to make thousands of people happy if he would have thrown us a bone (a couple minutes of Bros, Take Pills, Comfy in Nautica, etc.), but he instead droned and occasionally yelped into the mic. You could feel the festivals collective spirit setting with the sun.
7:40 Freddie Gibbs (b) - Didn't see him, too busy being bummed out.
8:30 LCD Soundsystem (a) - The save of the century, although I think even the Goo Goo Dolls would've sounded amazing after Panda Bear's set. My calves are still sore from hopping up and down the entire time. All My Friends was incredible and Yeah was epic. Best Saturday night headliner in the history of the festival, hands down.


1:00 Allá (a) - Missed it due to rain
1:00 Cave (b) - Missed it due to rain
1:45 Cass McCombs (c) - Only caught a few songs, but liked what I heard. Completely appropriate for a sparsely attended Sunday afternoon...
1:55 Best Coast (b) ...but it turns out that everyone was at Best Coast, and I can't blame them. She's got a much better voice than I was expecting. Kind of a one-trick pony, but it's a great trick.
2:30 Girls (a) - I still don't care about these guys. Only saw a couple songs, but didn't feel bad leaving.
2:50 Washed Out (b) - Great set. This is what Panda Bear could've (and should've) sounded like. Glad this was on the smaller stage though.
3:20 Beach House (c) - Sounded really great in the afternoon sun. These guys have really blown up. Zebra is one of the best songs of the year.
3:45 Local Natives (b) - Didn't see 'em. Didn't wanna see 'em.
4:15 Lightning Bolt (a) - Not really my thing, but I did have a delicious chicken dish during their set in shade.
4:45 Surfer Blood (b) - Didn't see 'em, don't like their album.
5:15 St. Vincent (c) - I really like St Vincent, but I don't think she is festival material (much like Grizzly Bear). Only stayed for a few tracks.
5:45 Here We Go Magic (b) - The set of the day for me. They displayed a total mastery of complex yet catchy songwriting and playing. Collectors and Casual sounded great live, and they closed with a 12-minute version of Tunnelvision. Great to get lost in. 
6:15 Major Lazer (a) - Only caught the last couple songs, but just seemed like gimmicky hip-hip cliches..if you're in to that type of thing.
6:45 Neon Indian (b) - Only caught one song because of the immense crowd. Didn't feel bad leaving.
7:25 Big Boi (c) - I enjoyed this more than I though I would. Not mind-blowing, but solid.
7:40 Sleigh Bells (b) - Avoided them, because I still like the album and I knew that seeming them play live would probably ruin it for me.
8:30 Pavement (a) - Very conflicting. On one hand, it was incredible to see one of my favorite bands of all time play, but on the other hand, it was maddening to witness 90% of the crowd just standing still. I don't expect everyone to sing along to every word, but it would have been nice if people at least looked exciting during Range Life or sang along to the chorus of Two States. Is that too much to ask? Probably. But then again, I got spoiled by Heedfest (and that's all I am gonna say about that). 

Man, I sound like a grump.