Category Archives: 2007 Favorites Staff Favorites of 2007: Chip Midnight

Better late than never, right?

I started with a list of 45 favorites. Over the course of December I tried to give each one another listen to decide a) where it would land on the list and b) whether or not it would make the cut. I ended up with a list of 24 and, not much to my surprise, many are female-fronted or British bands. I am surprised more didn’t make my list (I guess Wilco is the token band) and a complete lack of hard rock is unheard of (oh, how I wanted to love the new Down CD but it just didn’t happen).

From the first 30 seconds of listening to Great Northern’s ‘Trading Twilight for Daylight’, I knew it was going to be my top pick. But along came The Dollyrots a few months later and nearly stole the top spot. Actually, in my mind, they tied for my favorite of the year, I’m sure I listened to both of them an equal amount of times. The rest of the top 10 is pretty interchangeable but I figured I had to put them in some sort of order.

So, here’s my list of Favorite CDs of 2007:

1. Great Northern – Trading Twilight for Daylight (Eenie Meenie Records)
Part of the Silverlake scene (Sea Wolf, Earlimart, Silversun Pickups), Great Northern provides the soundtrack to a lazy/hazy Friday afternoon. Though Rachel Stolte is the lead singer, her vocal interplay with guitarist Solon Bixler adds depth to the songs.

2. The Dollyrots – Because I’m Awesome (Blackheart Records)
Signed to Joan Jett’s label (Blackheart Records), The Dollyrots embody a punk rock spirit and, to a degree, a punk rock sound though the band’s single “Because I’m Awesome” (as featured in a Kohl’s commercial) is gaining steam on pop radio stations such as WNCI in Columbus, Ohio. Based on comments left on The Dollyrots MySpace page, the trio is appealing to a wide age range including pre-teen girls whose iPod Shuffles are loaded with songs by Kelly Clarkson, Hannah Montana, and Avril Lavigne.

3. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat)
From the thick Scottish accented vocals to the wall of guitar sounds, The Twilight Sad sound like Snow Patrol if Snow Patrol had started just a few years ago and was influenced by Mogwai, Aereogramme, My Bloody Valentine, and Dinosaur Jr. The band’s SXSW performance in a tent outside of Emo’s left my ears ringing for days … and I liked it!

4. Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer – Schematics (Le Pamplemousse)
As long as Zolof keeps putting out records, there will be a place for them on my year-end list. The synth-driven pop-punk with an edge is infectious and I can’t get enough of Rachel Minton’s spunky vocals. This band could sell a ton of records if they catch the right break.

5. The Frames – The Cost (Anti)
The Once soundtrack made a lot of year-end lists, as well it should and it would have made mine had Glen Hansard’s band, The Frames, not put out a record of their own this year. Fully fleshed-out versions of Once’s best tracks (“Falling Slowly” and “When Your Mind is Made Up”) appear on The Frames’ tenth studio album and are just as passionate and emotional as the stripped-down soundtrack versions. My hope is that everybody who loved the music in Once will explore The Frames’ back catalog.
Continue reading Staff Favorites of 2007: Stephen Slaybaugh

Having done one of these top tens every year for some time now, looking back it’s hard to recall a year as pervasively boring in terms of music as 2007. There were few new ideas from new places, while veteran acts (Arcade Fire, Spoon, Radiohead, Wilco, etc.) seemed content to merely meet expectations rather than surpass them. I found it hard to put together this list, and as such was tempted to put a book (Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris) on here instead of a record as it’s probably the best thing I’ve read in five years and was more rewarding than anything I heard this year. But this is a music list for a music website and admittedly all of the below are well worth your time.

10. The Lodger, Grown-Ups (Slumberland)
Sounding (to these ears) somewheres between the Delgados and Housemartins, the debut from this Leeds, England group is an arresting bout of vitriolic pop.

9. CocoRosie, The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn (Touch & Go)
While I dug the Casady sisters’ debut, their sophomore album lost me. Less nefariously obtuse then, their third album is an enchanting mix of worldly rhythms, hip-hop chants and siren singing.

8. Calla, Strength in Numbers (Beggars Banquet)
One of my perennial favorites, Calla parted their oceansize electric guitars with acoustic reveries and Tex-Mex accents for their fifth record. The result is no less consuming.

7. Githead, Art Pop (Swim)
The “other” band of Wire’s Colin Newman, Githead bears much resemblance to Newman’s main preoccupation: glassy guitar riffs, angular rhythms and a mix of pop and avant garde ideas. The band’s second full-length strikes the perfect balance of these qualities.

6. Times New Viking, Present the Paisley Reich (Siltbreeze)
Locals Times New Viking’s last release with the rejuvenated Siltbreeze label before their out-soon debut with Matador, the Paisley Reich shows the band continuing its expert dismantling of pop archetypes.

5. The Maps, We Can Create (Mute)
The debut full-length from the Maps (a.k.a. James Chapman), is a lovingly textured mix of shoegazed electronica. Awash in warm tones, the record is much more affecting than the sum of its effects.

4. Von Südenfed, Tromatic Reflexxions (Domino)
This curious collaboration between the Fall’s Mark E. Smith and electro experts Mouse on Mars, turned out to be one of the best of both’s output. Mutated pulses and jarring beats clash with Smith’s distinct mutterings, making for a truly unique and ingenious record.

3. M.I.A. Kala (Interscope)
With her second record, M.I.A. proved that her multicultural tract on debut Arular was no flavor of the month. She returned with an album enriched with sundry influences manifested in cohesively infectious songs.

2. Shout Out Louds, Our Ill Wills (Merge)
Sweden’s Shout Out Louds increased the pop quotient for their second album, creating a contrasting blend of bittersweets and melodies.

1. The Horrors, Strange House (Stolen Transmission)
I once had a friend tell me that “there are two kinds of people in the world: freaks and weirdos.” So with its liner notes transcription of “Psychotic Sounds for Freaks and Weirdos,” could these British upstarts’ debut unite the two? I don’t know, and it certainly doesn’t matter. The band’s blend of Iggy-ed caterwauling and Birthday Party?recalling rumble is top-notch, while their sense of humor (“Sheena Is a Parasite”) helps lighten the batcave aesthetic. I’m always suspicious of the authenticity of any band (especially one that’s British) with this much put-on, but when it’s this good, best just to suspend any disbelief. Staff Favorites of 2007: Film

1. Atonement Ian McEwan’s challenging British World War II romantic novel becomes an equally challenging film, thanks to director Joe Wright. The film boasts one of the most haunting single scenes of the year (the British retreat at Dunkirk), and the rest of it ain’t too shabby either

2. Before the Devil Knows Your Dead Phillip Seymour Hoffman had another hell of a year, turning in excellent performances in The Savages and Charlie Wilson’s War, but the best film to contain his presence was this neo-noir crime film by Sidney Lumet, in which Hoffman and brother Ethan Hawke’s jewel heist becomes the stuff of Greek tragedy.

3. Day Night Day Night A mysterious young woman prepares to engage in a suicide bomb attack in the streets of New York City, and we watch her and her handlers’ careful, methodical, practically ritualistic preparation for the act. Director Julia Loktev removes any and all clues as to the why of the attack, leaving us with no context, only the inherent drama that comes from finding oneself immersed in a ticking time bomb of a movie. Star Luisa Williams gives a commanding, if highly unsettling, performance as the bomber, getting very few lines, but every single frame of this powerful movie.

Continue reading Staff Favorites of 2007: Wes Flexner

1. El-P, I’ll Sleep When Your Dead (Definitive Juxtaposition)

Rap music is great because it hypnotizes you and convinces you that caring about anything but making money is a sign of mental illness. And I thank rap music for this, normally. But El-P’s album reminded me the reality is that we are still paying “30 Percent a Year to Fund the World’s End”. And the everday conversation with many of youse may be worse than the government’s intentions. El touches on that as well.

Video:El-P performing TPC and Smithereens at Little Brothers in Columbus

2. MIA, Kala (XL/Interscope)

M.I.A.’s record is kinda like a futuristic Robin Hood if Robin Hood was a female that made music that people will dance to in Third World Countries 50 Years from now after the American dollar becomes more worthless than a Congolese franc. I also want to be the first to point out that MIA is not physically attractive. I’d hump a terrorists daughter on GP, but she still is pretty average looking.

LINK:Value of Dollar Dropping

3. Times New Viking Presents The Paisley Reich (Stiltbreeze)

I have a friend that paints graffiti a lot and works a really shitty job. He is really nice and only listens to Lil Wayne and Nirvana because they sing romantically about despair, love,drugs, and death. Lil Wayne is a lot funnier than Nirvana as is TNV. My 2008 resolution is to get him into TNV.

Video:Some Guy in Canada named “DipsetMuthafucka” Dancing to TNV’s Little Amps.

4. Wu-Tang Clan, The Eight Diagrams

Most of all the other Hip Hoppers were out here trying and failing at trying to figure out the formula to sell records, ring tones, and themselves. Wu remembered that they are the sole controllers of their universe, and it is their duty as poor righteous teachers to civilize the uncivilized in the Wilderness of North America. So they made a Wu-Tang album that sounded like a good Wu-Tang album. Can a devil fool a Muslim?

Hypem:Wu-Tang Clan-Campfire

5. Lil Wayne, The Drought

Lil Wayne boasted in Fader that he does nothing all day but take xtc, and receive oral sex while constantly recording. The result of drug use, work ethic, and an inability to keep his music from being uploaded meant we got to experience exactly what was going on in Wayne’s brain at all times.

HYPEM:Lil Wayne-Dipset

Continue reading Staff Favorites of 2007: Andrew Patton

15. Caribou, Andorra

This is the first Dan Snaith creation that I’ve gotten into (and just barely in time for this list), but it has been a successful venture so far. The subdued pop melodies and the orchestral beatscapes add up to a mellowed out final package.
Video: Melody Day

14. Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra, Voices and Choices

Mr. Shawn Lee has created a future soul orchestra that is marching to victory. He also conjured up a video game soundtrack, a covers album, and a Christmas album in 2007, but it is this full-fledged beauty that helped me through the year. Lee painted a wide palette of lush instrumentation and smooth vocals over some beathead drum breaks to sculpt a fine product that is suitable for a mellow listen at all times of the day.
Video: Kiss The Sky (Well, not really, but the song is the soundtrack to “The GH Chronicles: Chapter Six, Part 9.” Thanks, YouTube!)

13. New Pornographers, Challengers

Your favorite Canadian supergroup came forward with another strong entry to their catalog this year. They’re not doing anything super unique, but cozy songs jampacked with warm instrumentation and endless hooks are bound to work, right? Not to mention that the soaring waltz of “Go Places” is one of my songs of the year. I still like 2005’s Twin Cinema more, but that took into this year to grow on me, so I’ll give this some time too.
Video: Challengers

12. Electrelane, No Shouts No Calls

The toast of Brighton, England has apparently called it quits, but not before they dropped this addictive bomb on the masses. I mean, I might not have had a summer without it. Verity Susman’s sincerely yearning vocals on songs like the twinkling “To The East” and the heartfelt “Cut And Run” hit me right where I live. Emma Gaze’s almost robotic drum patterns are also a hallmark of this album. Is an American reunion tour out of the question? Probably.
Video: To The East

11. Black Kids, Wizard of Ahhhs EP

In a move that is in line with the internet-powered evolution of music distribution, this Jacksonville quintet gave the world their first four “official” songs for free. The EP is a concise 15 minutes of New New Wave anthems brimming with smart-alec vulnerability. So, go to their website and check it out.

Continue reading Staff Favorites of 2007: Ben Chenoweth

Honorable Mention: Menomena, Friend and Foe

This one might have had a place a bit higher on the list, but it was a real late arrival- I just got it for X-mas. It’s worthy of mention for the packaging alone- the Craig Thompson artwork is great, and reminds us that the jewel case can still be a viable canvas and album art matterts. Like the cover, the music is both fun and dense, layered a full of appropriately place holes. Doesn’t that lil’ description just work out nicely.

10. Thurston Moore, Trees Outside The Academy

Sometimes I want it to be Sonic Youth, sometimes I just want the guitar mayhem to just keep flying. But all and all, it’s Thurston doin’ his thing, which is fine by me.

9. Band of Horses, Cease To Begin

I was so ready to hate this record. I was so sure it would fall flat compared to how much I enjoyed last years debut. Well, it’s not my number one, but it’s generally more of the same from the band, and definitely makes the list.

8. Megan Palmer, Take You Away

Mr. Duffy would probably want me to insert some disclaimer about his business ties to this record, but make no mistake about it- this one makes the list on merit alone. These songs are fabulously crafted- smart lyrics, funny and biting, soft and beautiful.

7. The Dreadful Yawns, Rest

I guess this kind of continues in the Ohio nu-folk vein. Hard to call it exactly country, but organs and steel guitar tend that way despite some more poppy elements. Nice quiet melodies and thoughtful lyrics. Maybe Iron and Wine meets Yo La Tengo (in Cleveland).

6. Jose Gonzalez, In Our Nature

I’m startin’ to feel a bit broken recordish with another spacey folk pick, but here it is. It’s pretty and weird, and I find it goes well with coffee.

5. The New Pornographers, Challengers

After those last couple of picks, you thought I was gonna put Andrew Bird in here, right? Nah, dude got bumped this year. But New Pornographers continue to make my perennial favorites list. They can do almost no wrong, as is appropriate for a super group. Might not touch Mass Romantic for pure in your face pop bliss, but this is still great. Maybe a bit more subdued, possibly grown up.

4. Lewis and Clarke, Blasts of Holy Birth

All right, back to that slow, quiet wimpy stuff. It’s no rocker, but man is it nice. Almost classical instrumentation, complete with strings and such, it’s full of contemplative and hypnotic folky swells. Man, that album title makes me think of blasts of afterbirth though. Yeech.

3. The Mendoza Line, 30 Year Low

Man, nothin’ quite like a good rockin’ breakup song. Or an entire album full of them that chronicles the band members divorce from each other. I don’t know how exactly they pulled that off, but holy hell, the results are good.

2. Broken Social Scene presents: Kevin Drew, Spirit If

Perhaps actually more a solo work by Mr. Drew, this one is a little more melodious and less cacophonous than a full-blown BSS record. There’s definitely the messy sonic crash, and a contribution by J.Mascis, so you know this isn’t all fluff. But in general, a bit easier to eat your dinner while you listen compared to earlier Broken Social material.

1. The National, Boxer

Well, what can I say. Clearly I love it, or it wouldn’t be in the ace spot. A lot of other folks have described it better, but there’s a manly coolness about it, like Tom Waits can pull off, with a sweetness to dull the edge. Sooo good. Staff Favorites of 2007: Kiesha Jenkins

1. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Living with the Living

While perhaps not his strongest album, “Living With The Living” reveals a slightly more romantic side of the hardest working man in punk rock today. Sure, there are still plenty of those fiercely political songs – “Bomb Repeat Bomb” is particularly wonderful to scream along with at the top your lungs – but it’s nice to see Ted’s kinder, gentler nature reveal itself in songs like “A Bottle of Buckie” and “Who Do You Love?”

2. Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

While any Wilco album is guaranteed to be miles better than most popular music these days, it was nice to see Jeff Tweedy and Company return to their alt-country roots after the experimentation that was “A Ghost is Born”. “Sky Blue Sky” is the perfect album to play on a lazy Sunday morning spent reading novels on the couch with your legs intwined with those of your significant other. It’s a gentle record that doesn’t require a lot of thought, but definitely pays off when you take the time to really listen. “Hate it Here” is the real gem.

3. Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha

Indie rock’s favorite whistler returns with a fleshed out album that still manages to highlight his quirky lyrics, sleepy vocals and emotional violin work. Enlisting other musicians gives the album a much bigger feel than his previous solo work, and that bigger sound lends itself quite nicely to Bird’s style. “Fiery Crash” is a stand out.

4. Mike Birbiglia, My Secret Public Journal Live

There were several really good comedy albums that came out this year, but this one topped the list. Based on a suggestion by his therapist, Birbiglia kept a journal of embarrassing moments in his life and decided one night to start reading his entries at shows and on the Bob and Tom radio show, where they instantly became a hit. “My Secret Public Journal Live” retells some of those stories and Birbiglia’s congenial style and self-effacing humor is a perfect match for such autobiographical material. Being introduced to Birbiglia’s nighttime altar ego Sleepy Karl is a treat.

Continue reading Staff Favorites of 2007: Kevin J. Elliott

15. Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures (Warp)

The best of the Brits.
Video: “Books From Boxes”

14. No Age – Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)

I recently re-discovered this album in the band’s intended format — split into 5 equally intriguing vinyl chunks. Psych-infused metaphysical skate punk. My review in June.
Live: “Everybody’s Down”

13. Besnard Lakes – …Are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar)

Fits, fuzzes, and floats between Fleetwood Mac and Floyd. This Canadian husband and wife like staying up late carving endless canyons of heavy guitar sagas that echo from a bygone era — namely 70’s rock radio. Recommended on vinyl only.
Video: “For Agent 13”

12. Bonde do Role – With Lasers (Domino)

Sure half the entertainment is the zany, hyper live show but With Lasers is also a major evolution musically. Not just party jams mocking baile funk — now they’ve learned how to inject their separate personalities into smart electronic bangers. Anyone with a passing understanding of Portuguese and Afrika Bambaattaa should be changed by this.

Video: “Solta o Frango”

11. Marmoset – Florist Fired (Jagjaguwar)

Lazy Sunday Rainy Record. Naptown cult-hermits return like zombie Beatles.

MP3: “Missing Man”

10. Psychedelic Horseshit – Magic Flowers Droned (Siltbreeze)

Should be required listening by now. My review in October.

Live: Chaos last weekend in NYC

9. Gui Boratto – Chromophobia (Kompakt)

The title suggests that this Brazilian composer has a fear of color — within these cold and calculated structures that may be true — but Boratto reveals human error, a human hand that allows cracks through which vibrancy flows. Of all the brilliant minimalist releases this year, Chromophobia sounds the most organic, a prism through which all forms of melody are welcome even when traditionally shunned.

Video: “Shebangs”

8. Liars – Liars (Mute)

Fitting that a band that was becoming too art-rock for their own good (i.e. letting Berlin get the best of them) would surprise the world by removing art from the equation. Still this record is as dark and engaging as the band’s most puzzling work, just twice as catchy and twice as heavy.

Video: “Plaster Casts of Everything”

7. Skeletons and the King of All Cities – Lucas (Ghostly International)

Perhaps I need to take a few months off to research Sun Ra? Here’s my review from April.

Video: “What They Said”

6. Radiohead – In Rainbows (ATO)

In Rainbows came late one night, for free (but that’s beside the point) and without warning. I’m pretty sure that the band knew they had a monster on their hands or else it all wouldn’t have happened this way, it ebbs and flows with the finest releases of this year.

Live: “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”

5. Times New Viking – Present the Paisley Reich (Siltbreeze)

I pledge allegiance. Jump aboard the Shitpop Revolution before it’s too late.

Live: “Thing With a Hook”

4. Justice – (Ed Banger)
Hard to find a party starter as solid as Justice (but we’ll get to that). The only reason this doesn’t eclipse Mr. James Murphy’s LCD is experience. While the debut by the Ed Banger Illuminati is exhilarating and above all else a fun trip, it lacks in songwriting. As a ephemeral piece of 2007 though nothing will top it.

Video: “Dance”

3. LCD Soundsytem – Sound of Silver (DFA/EMI)

Here James Murphy has concentrated all forms of electronica, dance, disco and standard rock, into one overwhelming force. Try and not move, shake your head, or mouth his easy to comprehend/understand lyrics. In LCD land every night is a party at the center of Manhattan, whether you want it or not.

Video: “All My Friends”

2. M.I.A. – Kala (XL/Interscope)

This one’s kinda like Psychedelic Horseshit in that there’s not much more that I can say. I’ve tried many times to describe what I feel whilst listening to Kala but nothing comes close. A colleague of mine called it “omni-pop” and that’s really the closest conclusion I can come to.

Video:: “Bird Flu”

1. Panda Bear – Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)

Glorious existential bliss. Person Pitch could be looped for days and I would never tire of Noah’s endless harmonizing, endless waves of melody, and endless summer inside the machine. The hallmark of a timeless album. A new wave hippie that has persevered.

Video: “Comfy in Nautica”

Bonus: You can find an unabridged version of my top ten here. Staff Favorites of 2007: Doug Elliott

1. Psychedelic Horseshit, Magic Flowers Droned (Siltbreeze)
The most sincere record of the year. Despite it’s pasted-together ambiance, Magic Flowers Droned is a meticulously-crafted manifesto against the mundane, the disposable, and the transparent. Mr. Whitehurst is at once the most detail-oriented and haphazard person I know.

2. Panda Bear, Person Pitch (Paw Tracks)
Beautiful and uplifting without overstatement, Noah Lennox has trumped every dream-pop or collage-work record over the last fifteen years, including his own band’s best work, with Person Pitch. The most forward-looking album of 2007.

3. Blues Control, Puff (Woodsist)
True postmodern psychedelia. Guitar, keys, some pedals and a Walkman are all this duo need to create a 21st Century Atlantis. It’s like the bong is taking hits from you.

4. Justice – † (Vice/Ed Banger)
The Ed Banger hype finally culminates stateside with this French duo’s debut. House grooves, hi-jacked funk, disco strings, a Devo video sample…this is a rare dance record that will stand the test of time.

5. Pink Reason – Cleaning the Mirror (Siltbreeze)
Primal screams from Kevin DuBroux, the Midwest’s finest post-hardcore singer/songwriter (don’t call him that to his face). Rumors that he might end the PR book have me bummed.
Stream: Pink Reason

6. Los Llamarada, The Exploding Now (S-S)
Never-wave jams outta Monterrey, Mexico. This one climbed up my list as ’07 rolled along, its scuzzy vibes finally able to penetrate my dense skull.

7. Times New Viking – The Paisley Reich (Siltbreeze)
I would probably put this in my top two or three if a) it were a tad longer, b) the drummer wasn’t my brother and c) they didn’t have the album of the year ’08 coming out in a little more than a month. Still, a huge piece in the TNV puzzle and the most bang out of fifteen minutes ever.

8. Burial, Untrue (Hyperdub)
As big a breakthrough for dubstep you’ll see in the US, Burial takes a dated artform (minimal breaks) and somehow makes it vital again.

9. Shocking Pinks, Shocking Pinks (Astralwerks/DFA)
Not quite your older brother’s Kiwi Pop. DFA compiles the best from Nick Harte’s two Flying Nun albums to make this domestic long-player. Love the live feel of these recordings.
MP3: Second Hand Girl

10. Der TPK, Harmful Emotions (Siltbreeze)
Read my full review of this here.

11. Sword Heaven, Entrance (Load)
Read my review of Entrance here.

12. R. Kelly – Double Up (Jive)
I wish Kels would serialize “Real Talk” like he did “Trapped in the Closet”. And isn’t it time he got his own reality show?
MP3: Real Talk

13. The Field, From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt)
A human pulse for adderall-fueled robots. Warmth + repetition = ecstasy.
MP3: Everyday

14. Sonic Chicken 4, Sonic Chicken 4 (In the Red)
SC4 are a French group that play spirited garage in the VU/Kinks vein. Fun stuff, I’m really kicking myself for missing not one but two shows in Columbus this Fall.
Link: Sonic Chicken 4 live on Cherry Blossom Clinic

15. Group Doueh, Guitar Music From the Western Sahara (Sublime Frequencies)Sublime Frequencies’ first foray into new, album-length releases, Guitar Music showcases Doueh’s virtuosic string talents. This is their first official release outside of Morocco and deserves a much wider edition than its 1000 copy, vinyl-only run.
Link: About Dakhla, Morocco Staff Favorites of 2007: Robert Duffy

I can’t say these are the best albums of the year, but they’re the ones that certainly got the most play by me. Columbus OH list coming seperately.

In reverse alphabetical order, no ranking.

The White Stripes, Icky Thump

This is only one of two albums from 2007 that I bought both the vinyl and CD version. ’nuff said, haters!
Video:: Conquest

Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
Look, I own the Jeff Tweedy poetry book. I’m in deep with this band, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. “Sky Blue Sky” is another collection of solid songs from one of America’s most important bands.
MP3: Impossible Germany

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Living with the Living
It was good to see Ted expanding his bag of tricks, making an album that sounded both new and familiar at the same time. One of the few American musicians who actually thinks about politics these days, and sings about them. Last of the independents.
MP3: Colleen

Once Soundtrack

Oh Glen Hansard, please forgive me. I didn’t care much for the last album by your band, The Frames, and that made me sad. But then you go and do this movie and do this soundtrack (which contained some songs I had previously written off), and I fall in love. Along with Marketa Irglova, the music on this soundtrack is beautiful and heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the film to come out on DVD so I can share it with friends and play it to death. (Finding a vinyl copy at Shake It Records with Shiv was a nice bonus, WORD).
MP3: Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglov

The New Pornographers, Challengers

I’ve not been the world’s biggest fan of The New Pornographers. I’ve liked some albums, and others I’ve let fall out of my life completely after a few listens. “Challengers” is my favorite album from the band so far. There is just something epic about the songs on this that I really can’t get enough of… I know some diehard fans didn’t really like this one, but maybe give it another chance dudes.
Video: Challengers

M.I.A., Kala

MIA makes exciting, danceable political music. It makes me want to go to mysterious jungles and start shooting machine guns, I can’t explain it. There’s lots of layers to this music, and every time I listen to the album I hear something new. And I love the vinyl packaging.
MP3: Jimmy (DJ Eli Remix)

Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City

Yo I think everyone sort of hated this album but I actually like it as much as their debut, “Silent Alarm.” Rich and textured in both music and lyrics. Still as fresh as when I picked it up in February.
Video: The Prayer

Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

Okay that flash video they put out like a month ago was lame, let’s not kid ourselves. But this band is still living up to the hype, and that’s not an easy thing to do these days.
Stream: No Cars Go

AA Bondy, American Hearts

When I played this at one Happy Hour, this old rambler came up to me and asked if I was playing Willie Nelson. Now, Bondy might not have the experience of Nelson, but he certainly knows how to strip it down to the essentials and make a really great record. In this case, less is more.
MP3: Vice Rag
MP3: There’s A Reason