Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

•June 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Dirty Projectors is the project of Dave Longstreth, which is a new name on my radar and it seems as though I have been missing out on more than I thought after looking into it. Longstreth was a student at Yale University and left the Ivy league world to pursue a career in music excelling in all aspects from singing\songwriting to composing. His vocals stand out over the music in a very welcome fashion. He has a playfully, light-hearted angst in his voice. This may be a weird comparison but he sounds a lot like the guy from Maroon 5, if he knew how to use his voice and was working with a good band. I also pick up a little hint of Antony Hegarty from Antony & The Johnsons. The instrumentation is very well composed and thought out as well. Nothing feels repetitious or mundane. During vocal breaks and instrumental fills you are treated to well thought out play. Overall I think Dirty Projectors are going to be one of my favorite bands to keep an eye out for and ear to the grindstone for anything new. Bitte Orca is a fun and soothing album. The albums lead single is “Stillness is the Move” which I think is an amazing song but an interesting choice for the lead single. It features Amber Coffman working the lead vocals almost misleads it’s audience into expecting a band featuring a female vocalist, then given Longstreth for the heavy majority of the album. But then again there isn’t another song that feels like it could achieve radio play.

Dirty Projectors – Stillness is the Move

Dirty Projectors – No Intention

Dirty Projectors – Temecula Sunrise

Top 5 Most Played Songs

•April 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So I am going to start a new weekly segment. Every Wednesday I will post the Top 5 Most played tracks in my iTunes. I will be resetting the play count once a week after I post the tracks. I am hoping this will be a good way to share what exactly my favorite songs every week are. I will not post multiple tracks by the same artist. for instance right now, Bon Iver is in the top 3 postitions, I will only post the song played the most by him, then skip to the next artist. I will re post songs. So if Bon Iver is still there next week, that song will go back up. Well hear it is. My Top most played songs for the past about 6 months.

Bon Iver – Skinny Love

Vivian Girls – Going Insane

Wolf Parade – You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son

The Annuals – Hot Night Hounds

Elliot Smith – St. Ides Heaven

Cibo Matto, Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band, Bat for Lashes

•April 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I don’t know how much I am going to be focusing on just new music anymore. This will probably become a highlight list of what I have been listening to lately. Some will be new, some old, and some just new to me.

Cibo Matto is just a shitload of fun. Nothing seems to fit any sort of mold. There is a jazzy funk music in the background with a Japanese girl doing a mixture of singing, talking, and rapping about food for the most part. I can’t come up with a better soundtrack to a musically schizophrenic evening. If I can’t think of what I want to listen to, this is what will be playing. It is fun, funky, cool, ridiculous, and amazing all at the same time. If the vocals remind you of something but you can’t exactly put your finger on it, that would be because Miho Hatori did some work with the Gorillaz, assuming she was the fleshy equivalent of Noodle. This music is a blast.

Cibo Matto – Sci-Fi Wasabi

Cibo Matto – Spoon

Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band is a new band out of my neck of the woods in Seattle. This quintet is producing music that spans across a vast sea of genres, and is obviously influenced by just as vast a record collection. I have been ridiculed for my description of the band but while I am listening I hear an awesome amalgamation of Sparta, Queens of the Stoneage, Modest Mouse, Tokyo Police Club, and Fleet Foxes. I have been finding this music hitting the spot very well lately. It is fun and upbeat while occasionally having pleasant melancholic tone to it. A single song changes pace at a moments notice keeping you on your toes and questioning if it is the same song. I am enjoying this debut a great deal.

Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band – Who’s Asking

Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band – Albatross, Albatross, Albatross

Bat for Lashes blew me away with her debut, “Fur and Gold”, from 2006. I didn’t come across that album until last year so I was late on the bandwagon but couldn’t be happier to just be a part of the party. She makes haunting music that grow with length, constantly adding a new layer, creating gigantic and sprawling tracks that have a lasting effect. She also has tracks that have a steady rolling beat that pushes itself forward as if the song is walking right along with you. Rarely does music give me goosebumps like this does. It is hard not to be moved. She just released her second album, “Two Suns”, last week. It doesn’t have quite the overall presence that “Fur and Gold” did, but it is a great album none the less.

Bat for Lashes – Glass

Bat for Lashes – Sleep Alone

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Handsome Furs, Passion Pit

•April 8, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since I have written. I am still coming to terms with my writing style and what I think about it. I have decided to continue running with this and see how it goes.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs new album hit iTunes a few weeks ago and stores last Tuesday. It is a step in the right direction for the band, well that is to say it is a step in the direction they started. When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their debut, “Fever To Tell”, everyone was excited. Between the EP’s leading up to it and the album delivering on everything they promised, many of us felt as though we had a new darling, another album that you can go back to time and time again and never get tired of it. I’m not going to say that “It’s Blitz” is that good, because it’s not, but it is far closer to what we fell in love with than what we were given when “Show Your Bones” was released. Karen O has lost her most appealing while appalling feature. Her howl will always be the thing we fell in love with on “Fever to Tell”. The only way I can describe her voice on that album was the most beautiful nails on a chalk board. When she screams shivers run down every spine. I would have to say it is a close race between Karen O and Fionna Apple for the sexiest voices in contemporary rock music. All I ask from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for their next album is this, scream Karen O scream.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Role

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Dull Life

The Handsome Furs came out with their new album, “Face Control”, about two weeks ago. Handsome Furs is a husband and wife duo which includes Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade. The thing I love about this album is that it is one more album that proves how talented everyone in Wolf Parade is. Between Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug they have created four amazing bands in Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, and Handsome Furs. “face Control” is a fun album that keeps everything on the up and up, but sometimes feels out of place. Boeckner’s crooning voice doesn’t match the tone of the music as well as it did on their previous album, “Plague Park”. Maybe I should say the music doesn’t match his voice considering how much his wailing effects the tone of the music. This is an enjoyable album I just don’t think it matches up to the previous. Then again we are talking about a sophmore album, which historically is a tough endeavor.

Handsome Furs – Talking Arbat Blues

Handsome Furs – I’m Confused

A band I recently discovered and feel in love with pretty quickly is called Passion Pit. Passion Pit played at SXSW this year and was featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered podcast and immediately struck as something I had to get more of. Passion Pit was created when Michael Angelakos decided to make a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend, this gift became a vehicle which earned him the opportunity to open for bands like Death Cab for Cutie, eventually leading to label attention, releasing an EP entitled “Chunk of Change” which includes the four albums he wrote for his girlfriend plus two additional tracks. A full length album is expected out sometime this year. Story aside, this is a phenomenal first outing. Everything is beautiful, uplifting, and fun. Very synth heavy, full of clap beats, and a captivating voice. I think it is good times and well worth a listen. If I were to create an analogy I would say it feels like Postal Service ran into LCD Soundsystem and caught a little bit of funk from The Neptunes. It’s hip hop at all but it definitely has more funk than most.

Passion Pit – Sleepyhead

Passion Pit – Live to Tell the Tale

A Musical Web

•January 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The thing that has always kept me intrigued and on my toes concerning music is the fact that more so than any other form of media, music creates a web of appreciation. Let me explain. Take for example movies. Let’s say you are a big fan of Hitchcock. So you go out and buy the super bad ass Masterpiece Collection of Hitchcock films, containing 14 amazing movies. Where to from that? Sure you can link to a few other director’s that do well in the suspense realm like Brian de Palma but the trip stops pretty quickly. Sure you can watch movies that carry a similar topic or with the same actors, but a film has a signature of it’s creators that is hard to link to another. Books. You can like Vonnegut, where do you go from there? More beat authors? You can continue to work in the same genre but again you start working with topics pretty quickly and Buckowski can hurt the head of the most obscure novel reader. Music seems to create a neverending web of stuff to check out. Maybe this is strictly something attributed to the sheer amount of music out there, but I like to think that music has something more to it.

I used to hate Indy music. I thought it was whiney for no purpose and had very little to say. It was obscure for the sake of being obscure. I am talking about contemporary Indy by the way. I was introduced to what I consider the “Indy Jump-Off”. I had set up a music swapping plan with some coworkers. I have a four gig flash drive that I placed one gig worth of music on, pass it to a friend who takes my music and puts on his own gig, sends it to the next and repeat, it works it’s way back to me and I have 4 gigs worth of new music. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with everything that was great about the music I had missed. Maybe I had only heard “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” by Modest Mouse and made premature judgements, but after hearing ” Lonesome Crowded West” I fell in love. Then I had Wolf Parade, Tokyo Police Club, Iron & Wine, Blitzen Trapper, Vampire Weekend, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, Animal Collective, Mr. Bungle, Spoon, and the list goes on.

After falling in love with these bands I started looking at who had solo careers, who had alternative projects, who worked with who, and the web was created. Suddenly I find out that Antony & The Johnsons worked with Bjork and Cocorosie. Because of Bjork I fell in love with Antony & the Johnson’s, and because of Antony I fell in love with CocoRosie. Wolf Parade led me to Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs, which had similar elements to Xiu Xiu. I went from Tomahawk, to Faith No More, to Mr. Bungle, to Peeping Tom, to Dillanger Escape Plan, and anything else that Mike Patton has touched.

What I am trying to get across is the amazing web of sound, influence, personality, and emotion music carries with it. You can link one band to ten others directly, and one of those to ten others and I feel there is more of a crossover in the realm of music than any other media. More influenced is carried and acted upon. Bands like Blitzen Trapper sound eerily like Crosby, Stills & Nash, mixed with Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Cat Stevens, which then you are introduced to all them including, Neil Young, John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Sean Lennon, then Beatles over to Danger Mouse, to Jay Z, Gnarls Barkley, Black Keys, Beck, and from there you have so many others.

Yes you can do this with things like film using directors, writers, and actors but I don’t sense the influence carried within the connections. Sorry about my ramblings but my own Pandora music genome web was created in my head and I had to get it out.

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Top Ten Albums of 2008

•January 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This has been tough and a long time coming.  I have been thinking about this list for about two weeks and it has been tough deciding which albums deserve it strictly talking about quality and intrigue, versus strictly enjoying the music.  I decided to go with what I found myself going back to the most.  There may be an album that I think is a beautiful and epicly grand landscape, but not something that I can listen to at anytime.  So I guess this may be a “Top Ten Most Enjoyable Albums of 2008” list.

1) Blitzen Trapper – Furr

I think this is a beautiful album in every way shape and form.  I enjoy it everytime I listen to it, and I listen to it a lot.  The combination of classic, indy, and bluegrass is the greatest example of cross genre production I can think of.  Just listening to this album brings a wave of recollection including names like The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Bruce Sprinsteen, Bob Dylan, Iron & Wine, and many others.  It seems that evertime I listen I see something new and appreciate it even more.

2) Fleet Foxes – “Fleet Foxes”

This is a similar cross genre project.  Blending Indy & Country.  It also bleeds a Pacific Northwest tone.  It feels like a late autumn dusk.  It feels a little colder but there is still the warmth of autumn colored leaves.  This album has a beautifully landscaped and comforting tone.  It feels clean and well thought out.  “White Winter Hymnal” is the best example of the overall tone of the album.  The albums knocks the wind out of you with the vocal echoes and almost hallow sound.  The gorgeously barren voices bounce of the solid and full instruments.  It’s tough to say where this leaves Fleet Foxes.  As a debut album they have put themselves on the map of bands to watch, but I can’t help but worry that frontman, Robin’s, perfectionist attitude has made them peak to early and it’s all downhill from here.  Let’s hope not and Fleet Foxes have a discography that can compare to some of the great bands in history.  They have proven they have it in them.

3) Vivian Girls – Vivian Girls

Vivian Girls to me was one of the most surprising albums of the year to me.  I bought it completely on a whim, having no idea what I was getting myself into hoping that I was purchasing what I was looking for.  The cover art caught my eye and I was in the mood for a girl band.  I was hoping the band name lived up to itself.  Little did I know I was buying what to me felt like 22 minutes of near perfection.  It was over far to early, but preserved itself for repeat listens that support it well on my “Most Played” playlist.  They close the doors before last call, but it’s okay because they don’t give themself enough time to make that big mistake.

4) MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

MGMT is the oposite of Vivian Girls because it almost came to the point that a friend had to force me to buy the damn CD before I had listened to it.  It took a while but then I realized I was missing out on the gem of the year.  MGMT has officially recieved the accolades they deserve and sadly I was behind the times and a late adopter but a happy supporter none-the-less.  This album is as tranquil as it gets without getting into the realm of New Age.

5) Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

I guess this album goes to show you that music is at it’s best when it’s fun.  Everything that precedes it on my list isn’t sad, they may be solemn at times, but never sad, and I think this album sets this idea in concrete.  There is music out there that can make you feel happy, sad, angry, or any other emotion under the rainbow, but there is nothing that can put a bounce in your step like listening to Vampire Weekend.  When you listen to “M79” and the strings hit, I still think it’s impossible not to smile just a little.  I am sitting at my computer right now with  the goofiest smile, ear to ear right now and I can only imagine what people think when they see me walking to work.

6) Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Brave Bee Stings & All

This was an album that touched me even though I think it touched very few others.  This could have been the album that gave birth to my new found love for Indy rock.  There is nothing special here, nothing over intelligent, nothing mind blowing.  Simply great music, that seemed to sneak it’s way into my life at the most opportune time to become one of my favorite albums ever.  Thao Nguyen voice is nothing special, almost bad at times, but few people sound like they want to sing as much as she does.  She sings like it’s the last thing she can do.  At least that’s what it sounds like to me.

7) Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple

I guess this will be one of the most debated entries here.  Enough people have listened to this album to talk about how bad they think it is.  There is something that I get out of Cee-Lo when he works with Danger Mouse on Gnarls Barkley projects.  There is a darkness that eminates, protrudes, and almost errodes everything around it.  Very few people can take a song like “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul” consisting of nothing more than a simple drum beat accented with a simple guitar and make it sound so landscaped.  I think “The Odd Couple” speaks to the artists as musicians more than any other project they have touched.

8 ) Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Bon Iver snuck up on me.  Between a friends recommendation and a plug on “All Songs Considered” it required a listen and as all my friends soon found out, I couldn’t let it go.  It has a weird haunting feeling that almost surpassed description for me.  It feels as though the album wasn’t created, it simply appeared.  There is a pain and tranquility that seaps from it that feels far to natural and at home.  This feels like an album that I would want to create if I had an ounce of musical talent residing in a single bone of my body.

9) Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

So much about this album is amazing while being horrible at the same time.  I can’t believe someone made it so I could enjoy Soulja Boy because every time I hear it, I hear Journey in the background.  At least I think that was Journey.  The amalgamation of sound created on a Girl Talk track is just unreal that it does surpass any form of description.  If you haven’t listened to it do.  The highest recommended thing on my list simply because absolutely anyone who listened to pop music will love it.

10) Bloc Party – Intimacy

I have been seeing nothing but bad to mixed reviews about this album and maybe that is due to hope for something better to come out of the “break-up” album of a band who’s debut was so stirring and follow up so disappointing.  Whatever the reasons for the reviews, this album struck me.  Maybe it’s because there is no stand out track, nothing screams amazing, There isn’t a track you can referance to describe the album.  Every track requires the previous one to feel in place.  To me, this is an example of an album, not a series of songs.  Except “Mercury” which just sucks.

So there we go.  My top ten list is finally complete.  It took me a while but it happened.  Yay!

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Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak (Review)

•December 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

So I am going to say what it seems a lot of people are scared of saying, I like the new Kanye album.  I will admit, I was scared to admit this at first as well.  I didn’t like any of the singles and anytime I listened to an aditional track, I just wasn’t feelin’ it.  After listening to it as a whole and genuinely giving it a shot, having it play in the background, I can safely say, it is a great album.  I don’t want to go as far to say it’s his best album, but it is his most mature album, even if the vocoder and voice effects make it feel like an immature production.   At times the production and beats start to feel a little stale but I attribute that to how much we associate Kanye with putting a twist on a classic sample. Hearing him primarily creating his own material is a different sound for him and I think a lot of us were giving him to much credit as a producer, when he really just heavily reconstructs someone elses work.  I’m not trying to take anything away from him he does what he does well.  Here is a total count of samples on each Kanye West album.  13 for College Dropout; 22 for Late Registration; 20 for Graduation; and only 2 samples and 1 recreation on 808’s.  Wikipedia is my source for that by the way.  But looking at that you can start to understand what this album is about.  Kanye is finally creating his own sound.

I guess this album is almost dividing listeners into two different groups.  This is where I go a little extra geeky and make a comic book referance.  in “Local” by Brian Wood a musician while having a phone interview says, “As artists, as any kind of creative person, you progress. You adapt. Your art grows up with you, and to me there’s nothing sadder than musicians who’re still cranking out the same stuff 20 years later.”  He later goes on to say, “You’re hanging on to a safe, proven sound for the sake of sales and your audience, right?  Or you don’t have anything else to say.  In which case, probably time to pack it in.”  This is more prevalent a statement than many made today about music.  In a day and age where the term sell out is thrown around more often than ever and it is becoming cool to like that unheard of band and uncool to like the once unknown and currently growing artist, an artist isn’t allowed to grow.  Artists will always be compared to their previous works, and that is okay, but an artists should be allowed to breath, and thier personall credibility shouldn’t hang in the balance when they decide to change thier sound.  An artist should evolve just like the listener should evolve, not necesarily in the same direction, but evolve none the less.

Kanye West evolved, don’t hate on his evolution.  Sure, maybe you don’t like his new sound, but he is still making music that some people are enjoying.  Yeah Kanye takes a shot at singing and he doesn’t have the greatest voice in the world, but niether does Mos Def or Pharrell but no one is hating on them.  For the record, Mos Def fell off, has a bigger ego than Kanye, and has shown far less to support the ego lately.  And Pharrell just sucks, everyone knows Chad Hugo is the genius behind The Neptunes.  When it comes down to it, 808’s is slow, mellow, contemplative, and methodical.  It is an album in a day and age where the album has died.  I didn’t give him enough credit to make something so cohesive and relevant.  He made something that I think can stand the test of time where a single will fade away and die.  Turn the shuffle off and listen.  Just let it happen and don’t think about it.  This music can and will take you over.

In my opinion and for my ears, this is Kanye West’s strongest outing.  His lyrics are deep and strying into a realm that hip-hop rarely does.  He has come a long way from rhyming “coupon” with grey poupon” and “opera” with…oh yeah “opera” on Common’s “Southside”.  Why can some shitty, wish I was a punk band like Fall Out Boy sing about pain and heartbreak, but Kanye can’t.  There is an epic amount of hate being thrown around with this album.  I will admit it, I voiced a negative opinion before I listened to all of it, and I am eating my words.  Brian Zitzelman, you proved me wrong and when it came to this, your taste showed me the light.  Thank you.  This may be in my Top 10 for the year, at least in a honerable mention.

8.8/10