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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Best of 2009: March

Best Albums of 2009

Rather than compiling a huge list at the end of the year, not having enough time to do a good job, and simply throwing something together really fast, I'm going to start compiling my thoughts on albums over the whole year - month by month.

March Edition

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

This album had a lot to live up to. The Decemberists have long waxed towards the epic - consider some of their Loooooong songs. So, when I heard that The Hazards of Love was one big long epic story of love, deception, treachery, suffering etc . . . my curiosity and anticipation was piqued. Lyrically, I was not disappointed. It is Decemberists to the core. Soncially, I liked a lot of what I heard. However, there were some serious disappointments. 1. A few songs feature female lead vocals. I have nothing against female vocals per se, but its just not the Decemberists to me. If that was the entire album, I probably wouldn't buy it. My palatte for the Decemberists is very much oriented towards Colin Meloy's vox. 2. Since the album is one long story, there are quite a few melodies and refrains that are recycled throughout the album. While holding the album together sonically, there are a few sections that got a bit stale. "Didn't I just listen to this a few minutes ago?" Top tracks include The Hazards of Love 1, A Bower Scene, Annan Water [download mp3] and The Hazards of Love 4.

Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele - The Good Feeling Music of Dent May

This album came out in February, but I didn't find it until now. Holy out of left field Batman! Dent May sounds something like a combination of a Time-Life best-of collection of "Your Favorite 1950's Jukebox Ballads" with lots of Ukulele. I can't get it out of my head. Check out the following videos for a glimpse at his uber-dorky fashion styling: "Howard" video, "Oh, Paris!" video, "Meet me in the Garden" video. Top tracks include Howard, God Loves you Michael Chang [download mp3], and You Can't Force a Dance Party.


Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels

I took my Ph.D. comprehensive exams with a lot of Great Lake Swimmers playing softly in the background on my iPod. This new release is a bit more up beat and rawkus, if you could ever consider the Great Lake Swimmers "rawkus." Good indie-acoustic-folky goodness. Top tracks include Palmistry [download mp3], Pulling on a Line, and Unison Falling into Harmony.

Common Market - The Winter's End [EP]

According to their press releases, this album signals things looking up for Common Market. Last year's LP Tobacco Road was dark, brooding and raw in its accounts of poverty, domestic abuse, etc . . . The cold dark winter though has come to an end for RA Scion. There are some great horns on this 5 song EP and well worth checking out. Check out all 5 tracks, including Slow Down Moses [download mp3]

Death Cab for Cutie - Open Door [EP]

What a treat! 4 more songs from the sutdio sessions that brought us last year's Narrow Stairs. One of the tracks, Little Bribes, has been kicking around for a while on solo Ben Gibbard under the monicer "Big Casino." The tracks are all great, but try out A Diamond and a Tether [download mp3]

Vetiver - Tight Knit

I'm not totally sold on this band yet. It is promising though - some good folky acoustic indie-rock. We'll see if it grows on me. Top tracks include Everyday and Through the Front Door.

Peter, Bjorn and John - Living Thing

I really liked Writer's Block (2006). I didn't like Seaside Rock. The Swedish bands lastest is ok and worth a couple listens to see if it sticks for you. The jury is still out for me. Top tracks are . . . well . . . I'm not sure. Try I Want You! Also - Nothing to Worry about has one of the best videos ever made!

Running LP List

  1. J. Tillman - Vacilando Territory Blues (January)
  2. The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love (March)
  3. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast (January)
  4. Dent May and his Magnificent Ukuele - The Good Feeling Music of Dent May (March)
  5. The Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels (March)
  6. Say Hi - Oohs & Aahs (February)
  7. Coconut Records - Davy (January)
  8. The Appleseed Cast - Sagarmatha (February)
  9. Peter, Bjorn and John - Living Thing (March)
  10. Vetiver - Tight Knit (March)
  11. General Elektriks - Good City for Dreamers (February)
  12. Ben Kweller - Changing Horses (January)

Running EP List

  1. Common Market - The Winter's End (March)
  2. Death Cab for Cutie - Open Door (March)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Common Market Video - Escaping Arkham

From the aforementioned "The Winter's End EP"

Zia Mohajerjasbi strikes again. This time equipped with just 4 hours, 2 tapes, 1 MC/DJ duo, 0 crew and New York City as a backdrop. For the track “Escaping Arkham” (free download here) off the new Common Market digital EP “The Winter’s End.

Add them to your collection!

Also, consider their associated act Blue Scholars (same DJ, different MC)

New Great Lake Swimmers Video

Pulling on a Line

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Common Market EP

Common Market

Winter's End EP

But it on iTunes

These guys have yet to make a serious misstep in my book. They continually impress me and keep me excited about the new places their music is exploring. 206, Represent!

Add them to your collection!

Also, consider their associated act Blue Scholars (same DJ, different MC)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An Open letter to "Alternative Rock" radio

Dear so-called "Alternative Rock" radio stations,

Its not 1996 anymore. For that matter, its not 2001 anymore either. Nobody wants to turn on the radio to hear the Offspring, Hoobastank, Creed, Limp Bizkit, etc . . . Arguably, nobody wanted to hear it back then either, but I digress. I understand that this music came out during your "musical prime," and holds a great deal of nostalgic value for you. But come on!

Over 10 years have gone by and you're still stuck in the late 90's?! And, if you actually are playing something current, it is still some horrible post-grunge alternative rock . . . or even worse rock/rap band whose sound is equally stuck in a late 1990s genre that stunk even when it was fresh.

Because really, "The best alternative rock of the 1980s, '90s and present," which you purport to play, is actually "the worst alternative rock of the 1980s, '90s and present. Mr. DJ, would you please accept the fact that you're in your 30s or 40s now. Just deal with it. That doesn't mean that you can't still be into music. As a matter of fact, I am begging you to be into music - but please, update your music. The rest of us have moved on, and the independent music scene has as well. There's a lot of good new (and old) music out there. Would you please play some of it?

Hugs and Kisses
-Music Snobs Anonymous

ps - enough with the shock-jock overly distorted and reverb-ed announcer voice for your station and/or radioshow promos. Ugh!

pss - college radio and real independent radio stations (KEXP) are exempted from my ire