Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Question for the Web Sheriff

Since you were so helpful last time, I have another question:

I know Andrew Bird is promoting his new album and he's very happy with it, but with such a wonderfully rich back catalog, why did he play literally only four old songs at his concert at Carnegie Hall last night? I'm enjoying the legal streams of songs from his new album on, but I would really have liked to hear some older stuff too, like, AT ALL. When he played new songs, the audience clapped respectfully. When he played old songs the audience went crazy. It was very frustrating. So much so that I'm tempted to post pirate links to (studio) material to vent my frustration. I'm hoping that if I don't, at the very least, you'll express your customary appreciation for not doing so. Damn you for being so easygoing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jolie Holland - Mexico City, Take 2

Another try:

Freak Out vol. 5: The Big One

I have to admit, I’ve been putting off writing this a bit. Why? Because this album is awesome. Silly awesome. I fear not doing it justice. But the project must trek on!

So after Telepathic Surgery there were some important personnel changes in the band. Drummer Richard English split from the band, leaving only Wayne and Michael behind (which makes you realize those last albums were just 3 people and Wayne as the only guitarist – amazing). They replaced him with Nathan Roberts, but far more importantly added 2 new members. First, guitarist Jonathan Donohue, now of Mercury Rev. I shared this with Q and Tex this weekend - I always knew Donahue went on to be in Mercury Rev but am not a big fan of theirs so just assumed he was the Rev guitarist. Nope – he’s the singer. That bizarre, freaked out dude who fronts Mercury Rev who is strong in his dreams? That’s the guy. Along with Donahue they added another future Mercury Rev member in producer Dave Fridmann. They new line up played some shows, felt good, and headed into the studio. And…


It seems obvious to say, but what immediately jumps out at you here is the production. Fridmann is one of those George Martin-esque producers where the band without him is just not the same band. Best example of this is on “Mountain Side” a great song that easily could have fit on earlier album, but the difference in production here is insane. He pulls the vocals to the front and makes them sound crisp and clear. He allows that background chaos that has always been a staple of the Lips, but manages to control that chaos in a new way, choosing the moments that burst through – namely the vocals, and that tight, short, but great Donohue guitar solo.

This sense of controlling the chaos can also be seen on “Stand in Line” – which fills the position of spacey freak out, but this time it’s down to 4 minutes instead of 9 and is much the better for it.

So, with some time freed up, they get to take a more standard song and push it up to soaring heights. The result is “Five Stop Mother Superior Rain” which blows everything they’d done before (and a lot of what they’ve done since) out of the water. Just an amazing epic song that captures all the beauty and dissonance this band offers, plus their weird take on religion, the power of the universe, and all the great stuff that makes this band who they are. In a lot of ways, this one song is the turning point for the band – the point where they discover just how beautiful their music can be, without sacrificing any of their oddness. This idea is reinforced on the closing cover of “What a Wonderful World”, which again captures that sense of beauty, particularly through a great high guitar line during the first chorus.

If for some reason you don’t own this, here’s “Five Stop”

There are a ton of highlights on this album: “Unconsciously Screamin’”, which is their great “single” from the album and really pulls them into the state of great modern alternative music rather than 70s influence; “God Walks Among Us Now”, a high energy quick thrill ride, “Shine on Sweet Jesus” – the perfect album opener. Really it’s all amazing, but I’m rambling.

The point is, you must own this album – there’s just no reason not to. I would be interested to hear some of your takes, so perhaps will hold off for now…

One last small note – my version is the 2 disc set that came out a few years back and includes The Mushroom Tapes, an album of demos for Ambulance recorded without Fridmann or English. It’s nothing great, but a fascinating look at how much the production adds here. One highlight though is Donohue singing prominent backing vocals on “Five Stop Mother Superior Rain”, and suddenly you hear that yes, this is Mercury Rev’s singer. Very odd.

Jolie Holland - Mexico City

One of my favorite songs of 2008. I just can't get enough of it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Los Campesinos: Arcade Fire for British Optimists

I recently got the much-acclaimed Los Campesinos record from my favorite retail source:

Sam Goody (with 50% mark-up.)

It's a fun record. The songs are enjoyably short. '50s/'60s AM radio length. And as if that wasn't already enough for Eric, they're adorably British!

The best comparison is an upbeat version of the Arcade Fire-- think No Cars Go sung by Brits wearing rainbow hipster gear instead of all black. There's something else in there too, but I can't quite place a finger on it.

Anyway, enjoy and then go download it from Sam Goody at the mall. ($18.99 + tax.)

My Year in Lists

Knee Deep at ATP

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jay-Z is proud to be an American.

Or at least REALLY PSYCHED about the inauguration.

You can fast-forward the video to the point where Jay starts rapping. But his verse is great.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Question for the Web Sheriff...

...or whoever can answer my question.

Do I need to buy the deluxe Noble Beast (with Useless Creatures)? On Amazon it's more than double the price of the regular edition, so is Useless Creatures as good as an entire separate album?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Freak Out vol. 4: End of the Early Years...


This is one of two Lips albums that, for whatever reason, I just don’t listen to as much and am not as familiar with. Some years back I made a mix of the highlights from their pre-Ambulance material, titled, nerdily and pretentiously, All That I Know is My Mind is Blown OR As Diarrhea Smears the Space Bible, and when craving early Lips I’ve tended to reach for that instead of an actual album. So this one in particular has always gotten the shaft.

Listening to it now, about halfway through I was ready to write it off as largely disposable. That first half does have “Chrome Plated Suicide”, which is great and a very effortless sounding pop song – but that’s about it.

Then at the half way mark you get “Hell’s Angels Cracker Factory.” Well, part of it. See this was originally conceived as a 30 minute concept album sound collage. For whatever reason, the band decided to pull back from that and release an actual album. But this track contains 3 minutes from that original collage concept (there’s also a 23 minute version out there on vinyl which I must track down). And man – it’s awesome. I mean, it’s a completely ridiculous jumble of sounds, but it’s glorious. Heartbreaking to know that this was the plan for the entire album, and I do wonder why those plans changed – these guys certainly aren’t the type to edit themselves in that way normally.

After that, you get the equally bizarre “U.F.O. Story”, about half of which is just Wayne druggily telling a story about seeing a U.F.O. with no music backing him. But then it launches into this shockingly cool piano solo that is unlike anything they’ve done before (or, in some ways, since). It’s just this haunting, lovely piano only melody that goes on for about 2 minutes. And all of a sudden, after 3 albums of craziness, you see that these are real honest to God musicians buried behind these levels of fuzz. I’m including all of “U.F.O. Story” here. I wouldn’t begrudge you skipping the story intro, but I strongly urge you to listen from about 4:20 on for the piano part.

U.F.O. Story

Things never reach that high point again, though there is some other good stuff in the 2nd half including a swank harmonica bit in “Redneck School of Technology” (which is in the video below) and beautiful, lush, emotional build at the end of “Begs and Achin’” to close out the album.

In the end, much of this is pretty forgettable, but the highlights are obvious experiments that pay off spectacularly. The bummer of this album is that they didn’t take that experimentation as far as they considered, and ended up with something a bit watered down compared to the other early material.

But no matter, because just after this they got a new drummer, new guitarist, new producer, and everything changed...

A quick plug for Biggie Smalls

I don't think I'll see the Notorious movie, but for those of you totally unfamilliar with his work, Biggie is worth checking out. A lot of what he does may sound like a rap cliche, but he played a large part (no pun intended) in creating those rap cliches, and he does what he does SO much better than his imitators. Many of his songs are about the gangsta lifestyle he (to some extent) left behind, but he doesn't sugarcoat the realities of that life, or fill his stories with a lot of empty braggadocio: he makes a life of crime sound like a difficult, demoralizing grind that leaves you depressed and empty at the end of the day. And his first big hit "Juicy", which I think of as a kind of "Move on Up" for the 90's, absolutely puts to shame 99% of other rap songs about getting rich and living the good life. The genuine joy and hopefulness at the heart of this song, not to mention the lyrical craft Biggie employs, make it still sound fresh and jubilant 15 years later, and set it apart from the many bling anthems it no doubt inspired.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Freak Out vol. 3: Oh My Gawd!!!


To be clear, that is the exact album title, complete with excessive punctuation, and the name of the band crammed in in a way that actually doesn’t make any grammatical sense. Such is life in the weird world of the Lips.

So the big selling point here is that this album opens with the best 2 tracks of their pre-Priest Driven Ambulance career in my humble opinion. First up – “Everything’s Explodin’” a crazily amped up, super fun song that makes you want to drive around, pounding the drums on your steering wheel and singing alone at full volume. These are the times I miss having a car. They follow that up with “One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning”, Oh My Gawd’s allotted 9 minute space jam. As I mentioned last time, I think this is the best they ever do this sort of thing. It’s got some great spacey-ness to start with occasional weird bursts of noise until an absolutely epic build up for the end that leads into full on awesome rocking before dropping back out into the ether. There’s also a live version as a bonus track on this set, which shows how insane their early live shows were. For those who may not know the story, they used to have a part in their shows where they would cover a cymbal with lighter fluid, light it on fire, and then bash it constantly throughout the song, causing flames to shoot off. They eventually nearly burned down a club and decided to stop doing that, but apparently it was this act that got them signed to Warner Bros.

Anyway, here’s a fan made video for Everything’s Explodin’. I strongly urge you to watch this video as it is just… bizarre. It’s sort of the ultimate YouTube video, and leaves me completely baffled.

And here’s a live version of One Million… from 94. Not the best quality ever, but cool to hear it live from the classic line up, and a great visual reminder that these guys were kind of scary in their intensity sometimes. Man, how great would it be for them to just drop this in the midst of one of their crowd pleasing “Yeah for puppets and confetti!” Bonaroo sets.

After those two tracks, the album takes a little drop in quality. Most of the middle chunk is solid but unremarkable songs that sound similar to Here It Is. But the end picks it back up with “Love Yer Brain”, which provides a rare second acid jam on one album. This is a fine album closer, though not as grandiose as Here It Is, but it does have a great opening line of “Sometimes I don’t know what to think…” pause, pause, pause “…about the world”. I remember once discussing with Q that in many ways this is the quintessential Lips moment. Wayne tells you he has a concern. He pauses, leading you to wonder what comes next – what is it that concerns him? The answer: the entire world, of course. And somehow, that makes perfect sense.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freak Out vol. 2: Here It Is

HERE IT IS (1986)

And now things really kick off with the first proper Lips album, and it’s pretty amazing. They come out strong with opener “With You”, which is just a great pop song with a nice build and one of my all time favorite Lips lyrics “All that I know is my mind is blown / when I’m with you”. Love it. They actually bring the track back as a coda to the entire album, which I really love as it gives the whole thing the sense of unity and being an actual album. It’s pretty simple, and they’re far from the first to do it, but again, it shows them thinking about things in a grander sense then just “here’s a bunch of songs”.

The other main note-worthy song here is “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin”. For quite a while they were committed to one near 10 minute spacey, screeching freak out per album, and this fills that slot here. It’s not the best example (that will come next album) but is fine.

Rest of the album is surprisingly straight forward songs with the occasional weird moment peppered in. There are very simple songs on here, but they often are tempered with some odd lyrical choices, like an homage to Godzilla (“Godzilla Flick”) or “Charlie Manson’s Blues”. What are they about? Not really sure to be honest.

Overall, much more tunefull than the EP, with actual melodies, singing (all from Wayne now that Mark is gone, though he’s using a much deeper singing voice here than he later would), song structure, and all that stuff.

Shorty Got Low Low Low Low Low Low Low

And now, please take a moment to bask in the ridiculous glory of this song.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

VC's Fantastic Flaming Lips Freak Out: Vol. 1

As I briefly mentioned around the end of year hoopla, the release of Christmas on Mars has reinvigorated my love of The Flaming Lips. Not because that album is so good (in fact, it’s so sparse that it hasn’t sunk in with me yet, but more on that later), but more just because it was nice to have the weird acid freak Flaming Lips back, and it made me realize how much I miss that band. This is not a “They sold out!” kind of post – they’ve toiled away for years and I am thrilled to see them improbably become stars – but I do miss some of their old insanity.

And so, I’m embarking on a little journey here, making my way through the complete Lips catalogue album by album and sharing some thoughts. Perhaps it will bore you to tears, or perhaps it will inspire you to dust off your copy of Clouds Taste Metallic and rock out. We shall see.

Onwards and upwards!


This is their not widely available debut EP, re-released in a 3 disc set with their first 3 proper albums and assorted odds & ends. Essentially this is their Syd Barrett phase (and I doubt that will be the last Pink Floyd comparison) as Wayne’s brother Mark is the front man at this time. He apparently was a bit of a kook – I’ll let Wayne summarize, in his own words (the quotation marks are Wayne’s, not mine):

My brother Mark was, and still is, a very intense person. He was considered an exceptional athlete and a high school football star. He has boiled and drank his own blood. Has rescued countless doomed animals (he currently has a three-legged dog). He has torn down an entire house using only a single hammer. He consumed over a hundred doses of L.S.D. one summer when he was 13 years old. And he has a “self-diagnosed,” “split personality,” “competition neurosis” that he has named “the duality of man.”

So there you have it.

This bizarreness shows on this EP. It’s very rough with little polish and a lot of freak out style jamming and singing. Still, there’s some pretty great stuff. “Bag Full of Thoughts” is a nice little single, and “My Own Planet” is very much in line with what the band would do in the coming years without Mark. There’s also some odd covers collected here including the theme from the Batman TV show and “Communication Breakdown”.

My Own Planet

Overall, the big thing you get here is energy. These are young guys just pounding their sound out. That early 3 disc set is titled Finally the Punk Rockers are Taking Acid which fits this perfectly. It’s got crazy raw energy, but instead of always attaching that energy to a short poppy song, sometimes they latch it onto a 9 minute space jam, such as the early version of “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin” (which is awesome).

It’s amazing to think of this thing coming out in 1984, the year of Born in the USA, "Like a Virgin", etc. Is it a great start to their career? No, but it’s got some strong moments and shows that from the get go, these guys were out there doing something pretty odd.

Great Bush-Hating Tunes

You know, with the end of his presidency, and his fall from public esteem, and his likely (one hopes) fading away into the "dustbin of history", it's occuring to me that there is so little time left to enjoy all those great anti-George W. Bush songs that used to be able to swell me up into an inflated sense of righteous anger! And don't get me wrong: I'm OK with that. But there's a certain, masochistic enjoyment of those songs that's about to be gone forever. It's already getting hard to appreciate them like I did in the bad old days, but after the inauguration, it'll definitely be too late, so I hope everyone takes this opportunity to get angry to the rhythm one more time.

There are lots of great songs to choose from, but here's my entry for one of my personal favorites:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rant Against Music Critics, Continued

Back when we were all going back and forth about Chinese Democracy, one of the things I kept complaining about was the way that critics wrote about how "loud" and "compressed" the album was. But people who actually know what those terms mean, such as Dr. Kittybrains and Tex Plush (and the rest of us really), heard something very different: dynamics. And on a hard rock album of all places.

And yet still the critics wrote the same lines over and over again, making me think that either a) they had written the reviews before the record actually came out or b) they were just copying what they read in other reviews, throwing in terminology like "compression" without actually understanding what it means.

Well it's vindication time. I stumbled across this press release/blog post from Bob Ludwig, the mastering engineer who did Chinese Democracy, other GNR, tons of modern rock and also tons of classic rock from Zeppelin to Hendrix to Springsteen. Basically he is the rock mastering engineer.

Check out the link, because damn if he doesn't reveal the truth: There is NO compression in the mix. Yes, some of the individual instruments are compressed, but the mastered mix has none. In this respect, it's the very opposite of over-produced. Over-written is a valid argument (although one I disagree with.) Over-produced is simply wrong.

Anyway, the point here is not to re-pimp Chinese Democracy all over again. Rather it's to take critics to task for not even knowing what they're writing about. It's very unfair for people's careers to be at the mercy of writers who genuinely do not understand the craft they critique. (I'd extend this criticism to 85% of the staff at Pitchfork.)

This concludes this installment of Drischord's rant against music critics-- from the letters to the editor of major newspapers to this here blog.

Travis Morrison (Or Why Pitchfork Is The Most Petty Music Site On The Planet)

Of everyone on this blog who bitches about Pitchfork, I probably do it the most. Whether its their tendency to heap musical praise on acts with almost no musical chops but plenty of hipster style (Fuck Buttons), the nonstop bones they throw to third-generation Brian Wilson imitators (Animal Collective/Panda Bear) or puerile desire for attention (making the fucking Knife their #1 album of 2006), I basically can't stand them.

And yet I keep reading to stay abreast of the indie kids' conversations, and because they provide a lot of news. But for actual music criticism, give me the A.V. Club any day.

All this is a long way of saying that they've completely shafted Travis Morrison since he left the Dismemberment Plan and had some bizarro blog war with Pitchfork several years ago. Now Travis Morrison isn't the easiest guy to like. I once went to a Plan concert with a high school friend (Jody, I think some of you know him), and he literally walked out of the concert early because he was offended by Travis's arrogant vibe on stage. (Personally, I wasn't getting that at all, but the point is that some people do.)

Furthermore, the guy's first solo album, Travistan, is merely okay. It has the awful running series of songs called "Get Me Off of This Coin" interspersed throughout the album, and they drag down the legit tracks that are the actual meat and potatoes of the thing. But the album still has some bright spots and is a pleasant listen, if a letdown from Dismemberment Plan's brilliant final record, Change.

Pitchfork, however, famously gave it a 0.0. They wanted to prove that they could sink the guy's career to settle a petty feud, and they more or less did.

Now only about a month ago, I finally got Travis's follow-up from 2007, which is called All Y'all. (The reason I waited so long was based more on money and disappointment w/ Travistan. It was not based on the 0.0 score from Pitchfork.) Well cut to the chase, this album is fantastic. It's catchy, fun, funky, danceable even. The lyrics are back to the level they were on Change. He's totally revitalized.

Here two tracks from it. First is the song Ryan Schreiber should be singing to Travis: "I'm Not Supposed to Like You (But I Do)"

And then a song with an almost identical title, but totally different sounding: "I Do"

Those songs are awesome right? Well guess what the record gets from Pitchfork? A 4.5.

Now there are two issues here. First of all, the reviewer criticizes Morrison for basically trying too many things and getting too funky. This, to me, re-enforces my belief that Pitchfork really values band image and archetypes far more than actual musicality. Secondly, the review does not get petty and personal, like the 0.0 review did, and it even expresses solidarity w/ Morrison going forward. So why, then, a 4.5? My theory is that while the reviewer wrote one thing, Ryan Schreiber and the editorial staff insisted on a ridiculously low numerical score on principle.

So even though I'm admittedly bringing up an 18 month-old review, it's that kind of shit that will render Pitchfork completely worthless in my mind.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Top 10 George W. Bush Moments

Number 8 is the funniest thing ever. Almost makes me like the guy. Almost.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Best of 2008 Followup

It's been so great to listen to all the stuff on ya'lls lists that I never heard this's a quick list of my favorite picks that you guys made that I missed:

8. Gnarls Barkley (Dr. K)
7. School Of Language (Dris)
6. Dennis Wilson (Eric)
5. Nick Lowe (Eric)
4. Wale (Q)
3. Dr. Kittybrain's Odds and Ends
Dr. K, your singles list actually makes a pretty fly mixtape, and I've got the perfect runlist!
2. The Roots (Q)
Q was right - this album is awesome. My favorite is "Criminal" and of course "Rising Up", but the whole record works best as one listen.
1. Al Green (Dr. K)
This one is a masterpiece. the songs are perfect. The production is impeccable. The arrangements and guest stars are spot on.

Sorry, VC. I already knew everything on your list :)

I also wanted to introduce ya'll to the writer for Pitchfork most suited to the Kittybrains Collective. I scrolled through the individual year end lists of all their writers, and this guy was the closest one to our taste I think (with the exception that he did not list Chinese Democracy or Lil' Wayne). I think everyone but Eric is represented. Behold:

>> Mike Powell
1. Bonnie "Prince" Billy: Lie Down in the Light
2. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
3. Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War
4. DJ/rupture: Uproot
5. Randy Newman: Harps and Angels
6. No Age: Nouns
7. Max Tundra: Parallax Error Beheads You
8. The Mountain Goats: Heretic Pride
9. Marnie Stern: This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
10. Air France: No Way Down EP
11. Harvey Milk: Life...The Best Game in Town
12. Robert Ashley: Concrete
13. Bohren & der Club of Gore: Dolores
14. Mary Halvorson Trio: Dragon's Head
15. Deerhunter: Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.
16. Bennie Maupin: Early Reflections
17. Wale: The Mixtape About Nothing
18. Volcano!: Paperwork
19. Asva: What You Don't Know is Frontier
20. Flying Lotus: Los Angeles
21. Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar
22. Deerhoof: Offend Maggie
23. Shackleton: Soundboy's Gravestone Gets Desecrated by Vandals
24. Hot Chip: Made in the Dark
25. Kanye West: 808s & Heartbreak

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Omnibus Post

Several things I've been meaning to post about:

1) I was going to post this blog post/story in the comments to the Animal Collective post, but figured I'd highlight it more because I love it. It combines so many things I love discussing: indie rock, internet memes, today's young music fans' obnoxious sense of entitlement, the complete forehead slapping studipity of record labels and pranks!

To read all about it, follow the link (and note the brilliance of "Animal CoLOLctive"):

(In short: girl uploads 11 tracks of Rickroll and says it's the Animal Collective leak, catches fire on google, humorless kids wish death upon her, clueless record labels demand removal of links (the web sheriff gets involved too!), and hilarity ensues!)

2) Another blog post that I found amusing: Do you know there is an entire subculture of teenage emo-girls that sit in front of their web cams and play songs from Neutral Milk Hotel's IN THE AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA accompanied by acoustic guitar and then post the videos on youtube? Well, it's true! This blog post alone gathers more than a dozen. Go figure:

3) Best of 2008 Follow Up:
-I finally did listen more seriously to the TV on the Radio, which despite being number 1 in several publications did not make a single kittybrain's list! In the end, I do agree with Tex-- this is definitely my favorite of their records. Much tighter and more focused songwriting (aided in no small part by the Antibalas horns). Given my lack of enthusiasm for the records I did list, I would have included this for sure, as I actually really like it a lot.

-The new Portishead, which was also on lots of lists: It's unrelentingly dark and cold, but on the other hand, has that kind of warm analogue synth feel of Kid A. In fact, that's actually a decent reference point for this record. I didn't know Portishead's old stuff at all, nor do I listen to any trip hop, but this is definitely not trip hop. It's kind of all over the place stylistically, with lots of interesting rhythmic and textural elements (though always quite bleak). I'll put up my favorite song, which reminds me of Radiohead. It's a really beautiful song:
(Because record labels are really smart, I can't embed the official one, so you can enjoy this one, which sets the delicately picked acoustic guitar moving into menacing analogue synth sounds to some Hugh Jackman movie):

And lo and behold, Thom and Johnny apparently agree with me because they covered it. Compare and contrast!

In another nice bit of downright bizarre synchronicity, the Portishead album has a brief interlude in the middle-- a ukulele based song that has the exact same chords and structure (but different melody) as....."Tonight You Belong to Me" from THE JERK!
I'll include the link rather than the embed so the post isn't too cluttered:

Animal Collective

So Pitchfork has pretty much already declared the new Animal Collective album the 2009 Album of the Year. They are not a band I know much about, but I like the stray songs I've heard.

So, I turn to you good Collective - who here digs this band? If I want a good intro to them, what should I acquire? And most importantly, are they good?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Speaking of Fey Folk Songs . . .

So, last night I saw THE JERK all the way through for the first time (yes, I am/was a culturally deprived philistine). It was, as I expected, intermittently hilarious. But as all of you (who I assume have seen it) know, in the middle of the movie out of nowhere (after a lot of nonsense) is this absolutely adorable duet between Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters. It was stuck in my head all morning, and thankfully it's on youtube. I have seriously watched it about fifteen times today (not unlike after the Single Ladies performance on SNL, which totally smokes the studio version, BTW). Anyway, after all of our best of 2008 talk, this is the music that is totally killing me right now.

(For some reason embedding is disabled, but here's the link-- the song is only the first two minutes):

I can't listen to it enough times and it makes me want to get a ukelele and sing duets-- if you search for the song on youtube, you get a bunch of tutorial videos showing how to play it on uke. How much does a decent ukelele cost?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

For Fans of Nick Drake: Bert Jansch

I discovered Bert Jansch about 2 years ago. He's a Scottish folk singer. His guitar playing reminds me quite a bit of Nick Drake. His voice is not as gentle and dare I say fey as Nick Drake's, but both men evoke that same U.K. folk sound at the end of the day.

Unlike Drake, Bert Jansch is still alive and kicking somewhere, but I don't know much about him, other than that he was an influence on Jimmy Page, Neil Young, and even Drake himself.

At any rate, here are two of my favorite cuts from my "Best of Bert Jansch" CD.

"It Don't Bother Me"

"Tell Me What Is True Love"

Friday, January 02, 2009

Best of 2008 Consensus?

Greetings and Happy New Year to the Kittybrains Collective!

Here's a generalized breakdown of albums in which 2 or more people were in agreement -

Albums that appeared on 3 lists:
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Bob Dylan
Guns N' Roses
Vampire Weekend
Lil' Wayne

Albums that appeared on 2 lists:
Dr. Dog, Kanye, Randy Newman, MMJ, Sun Kil Moon, Erykah Badu, Bon Iver, R.E.M, Tallest Man

To make things more interesting, I made a another list that gave extra weight to those albums that were listed in anyone's Top 5.
The major issue with this method is that Eric and the good Doctor K did not rank their selections. I tried to make a system that both didn't penalize them too much for this, yet still added some weight to the albums that the rest of us ranked higher on our lists.
If anyone has a different idea of how to do this, I say bring it on.

Here's what I did:
- I only included albums that were on more than one list
- Albums received 2 points for each list they appeared on in which they were listed in the Top 5
- All other albums received 1 point for every list they appeared on
- See the spreadsheet I linked to above for the tally

AND the results!

5th Place (with 2 points each)
Dr. Dog
Kanye West
Randy Newman
My Morning Jacket
Sun Kil Moon
Erykah Badu
The Tallest Man On Earth

4th Place (with 3 points)

3rd Place (with 4 points)
Bon Iver
Vampire Weekend

2nd Place (with 5 points)
Lil' Wayne

And the Consensus Best Albums of 2008 (with 6 points):
Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Bob Dylan
Guns N' Roses

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dr. Dog Revisited

Inspired by the Top 10 lists of Via Chicago and Tex Plush, I revisited the Dr. Dog album today. Tex had given it to me over the summer, along with a glut of other music, and I wound up only listening to it once-- and on either an airplane or a bus, so I didn't even hear it properly.

Well I finally gave it a proper listen, and better late than never. It's a great record. I would describe it as closer to Wilco than any other contemporary act. Acutally it sounds a lot like the Minus 5 album with Wilco, only better vocal harmonies. And a better primal rock growl, for that matter. Actually that growl is a major highlight.

I feel like if Eric and Tex had a bastard child (and really, what are you guys waiting for?), he/she would go nuts for Dr. Dog. Eric, buy this album. I need not tell you that it's available on...

wait for it...


Really everyone on here would dig this. Although I should warn you (mainly Quinapalus, our resident lyrics afficianado) that the lyrics are the weakest link on the album. Most are standard-issue and a few are downright goofy ("choo-choo train" comes to mind), but man, the harmonies are sweet.

Despite posting my poppiest list in the 5 years we've been doing this, I never got around to appreciating Dr. Dog in 2008. But on this first day of 2009, their excellence hit me.