Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We Read Comedy

I'm coming out of my communication vacation to write this little tiny bit.

Jeff R. of Manchester, NH is a good friend, a guy I've known for over four years.

I would never, ever call him a Luddite.

Until now.

On his blog, he wrote the following line
"Also, I still don’t know if I like the whole mp3 thing, but this is pretty handy."
Next thing you know, he'll be sending digital pictures.

Alright, back in my hole.

Friday, December 26, 2008

T-Shirt Giveaway

So, I'm cleaning out stuff in my bedroom, and I find two unworn shirts from two very awesome concerts this year.

And I'm thinking, "Hey, new shirts to wear!"

But I'm also thinking that I haven't worn these shirts, and I already have two dozen shirts that I find hard to wear already.

So, I decided to have a giveaway. Our first ever here at The Shimmy Shake.

These are two, brand new, unworn shirts from two very awesome bands. The first is from the Ra Ra Riot show I went to back in October. And the second is from the the Bishop Allen show I went to in November.

The Ra Ra Riot shirt is green. The Bishop Allen shirt is white. I'm not going to go into detail about what's on them. They both are American Apparel. And they are both XL (I'm not a big guy, but AA shirts cut kinda close.). If you wash and dry them, they will shrink, so if you wear a large, you might be alright after a few washes.

Interested? Good. Leave a comment on this post. It's gotta have an email address attached to the name, or I can't get in contact with you. I'm not gonna spam you or anything.

Contest ends 11:59 pm Dec 31, 2008. I'll randomly pick people the next day, post winners and send emails out. There will be a one winner for each shirt. If you have a preference, say so in the comment (then you'll only be in the drawing for that shirt. Got that?) If no preference, you'll be in the drawing for both.

Tell all your cool ass friends! Even your not cool ass friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The inaugural shaking of my shimmy, with my top 10 of 2008 (and then some!)

Howdy. I am the aforementioned Georgy, hailing from the crispy climes of Boston, Mass., where I can be found alternately freelancing for the local alt-weekly, writing about one of the top universities in the area, running or eating cookies. So, what exactly am I doing here? Well, every year, on my personal blog, I create a list of my top 10 albums of the year, with various additional categories and rankings if I am so inclined. When this here blog got started, I asked its humble proprietor -- whom I met via my blog service on a mutual friend's blog -- if I could sully its pages with my ramblings. For some reason, he agreed. So, without further ado, here are my musical picks, pans, scans and other assorted leftovers from 2008. Enjoy!



1) Nada Surf - Lucky
These guys aren't showy. They aren't pushing new boundaries. Sometimes I wince at some of their more unpoetic lyrical offerings. But you know what? Their songs are genuine. They're catchy, not in a vapid way, but in a crawl-under-your-skin-and-stay-a-while way. These guys fly just under the radar, far removed from "Popular," turning out gem after gem and I get to sit back and enjoy it all. Works for me. Plus, the video for "Whose Authority" features older Pete from "The Adventures of Pete and Pete." That makes a winner in my book.

2) Cloud Cult - Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes)
I had heard a random Cloud Cult song here and there in the past ("Take Your Medicine" stood out the most), and while it was enjoyable, I wasn't compelled to run out and buy up their catalog. Then I heard "The Ghost Inside Our House," which encapsulated what I would come to learn and love about Cloud Cult -- they are not afraid to be unabashedly in love, vulnerable, fragile, honest, emotive, devoted. Package that with lush, creative songcraft and you have an album I could not extract from my stereo this year. Finding a band with zero pretense, emotionally or musically, is a treat.

3) Bob Mould - District Line
I've been a Bob Mould fan for a long time -- even saw him solo live last fall -- and this album was not a letdown. From the electronica-tinged "Stupid Now" to the beautiful ballad "Old Highs, New Lows" to the straight-up rocker "The Silence Between Us," Mould never ceases exploring his musical boundaries, expanding his sound to new dimensions and exposing us to his most intimate thoughts and feelings. We should feel privileged.

4) Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious
Though I am doomed to never see him live, this album will keep be satisfied for a while to come. While the first half is stronger than the second half -- with amazing entries like the emphatic Iraq War response "Fort Hood," the funky "Put it Down" and the self-affirming love song "I Wrote a Song About Your Car" -- it's still overall another strong effort in his solo catalogue.

5) Fleet Foxes - s/t
For the record, I like to think I got in *slightly* ahead of the curve with these guys. I discovered "White Winter Hymnal" and was pretty much haunted from that point on. That's pretty much the only word to describe it. It's hard to say whether these songs warm me like a fever or a fire, cool me like a breeze or a chill. Somehow, they do it all. They are, simply put, pervasive in their beauty.

6) Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
John Darnielle can do no wrong. The songs here are intelligent, affecting, gut-baring and musically compelling, which is par for the course when it comes to the Goats, but each time they get crisper without getting slicker, tighter without wringing the feeling out of them. It's a careful balance, and Darnielle's come a long way from his lo-fi days, but he keeps on keepin' on, and we are the richer for it.

7) Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
I don't even remember where I first heard these guys -- some MP3 blog, in all likelihood -- and I was literally blown away. I love me some Scottish rock -- particularly the sneering vocals -- but I was pleasantly taken aback by the blunt, in-your-face quality of the songs. "It takes more than fucking someone you don't know to keep warm"? "You're the shit and I'm knee deep in it"? Who WRITES lyrics like that? More to the point, why don't more people write lyrics like that?

8) Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
This was also a grower -- I loved "Plans" so much, I was skeptical this could even match that in quality -- but I soon became quite enamored. From the romp "No Sunlight" to the more pensive "Bixby Canyon Bridge," Death Cab may be driving the same car, but they continue to grow more confident behind the wheel. The songs didn't affect me as personally as the ones on "Plans" did, but I can feel the growth on this album. I have a feeling, though, that they need to shake things up soon, lest they grow complacent.

9) Elbow - The Seldom-Seen Kid
I heard an advance of Elbow's first album at a party many years ago and fell in love. We grew apart with their intervening releases, but after hearing the song "Starlings" off of this album, we were back on. Now I need to go back and see what I missed. This album has a little bit of everything -- world-weary blues, indie rock attitude, orchestral glory (see "Starlings"). It's quite an accomplishment and a pleasant rediscovery of a once-loved band.

10) We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery
I was a huge fan of "with Love and Squalor," and while this album was slightly more of a grower for me, it's become a frequent presence in my stereo. The rollicking barhop anthem "After Hours" is just the capper to a sophisticated, well-crafted, enjoyable rock album. There's not a lot of frills or scene here, just some solid pop hooks and killer licks. What more do you need?

Bonus, Since It's a Live Album

Girlyman - Somewhere Different
Now, Girlyman is my great folk indulgence, and I am happily addicted to their three-part harmonies and heartfelt songwriting. But the highlight of the Girlyman experience is their exceptional live show, made special not only by their music but their incredible stage banter. It's high quality stuff, and they did not shrink from including a healthy amount of it on their first live CD. We also get great live versions of unreleased tracks like "Everything's Easy" and "Storms Were Mine," as well as covers of "All Through the Night," "Angel of the Morning" and Girlyman's classic version of "Son of a Preacher Man."

Honorable Mentions

Vampire Weekend - s/t
Catchy and fun as all hell, but I have doubts about how it will age. Get wasted while you can, I guess.
She and Him - Volume One
A true delight. These songs are a fun throwback, but she distinctly owns them. Zooey Deschanel i's not pretending to be something she isn't -- this is who she is.

Watson Twins - Fire Songs
This was one of my favorite surprises of the year, a near-miss from the top 10. If you loved "Rabbit Fur Coat," you'll dig this. Pick up their earlier "Southern Manners," too.

Mike Viola - Lurch (EDIT: This was on my list, but apparently it's technically a 2007 release. Kept here for continuity's sake, since I've posted this list elsewhere.)
It's Mike Viola, what's not to love? We know exactly what to expect -- wry, catchy, clever songs about life and love -- but he is among the best in the game. Perhaps THE master of the medium. Look forward to the collaboration with Mandy Moore (!) in '09!

Santogold - s/t
Yeah, yeah, you'd love me if I put out remixes with Diplo, too.

R.E.M. - Accelerate
Another nice surprise. A better effort than "Around the Sun," and while it didn't blow my mind, I've come to terms with the fact that R.E.M. and I are past that point in our relationship.

Aimee Mann - @#%&*! Smilers
Ms. Mann is lovely, as always, though my one hope is that I don't identify with "Thirty-One Today" when I reach that age in, uh, less than two years.

Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All
Another fun discovery this year, who I had the pleasure to see live. These songs are head-boppingly fun, but they're not fluff -- sort of an earthy whimsy

Freedy Johnston - My Favorite Waste of Time
One of my favorite underrated singer-songwriters released a great covers album this year, complete with a fun version of Matthew Sweet's "I've Been Waiting." You can't go wrong.

Mates of State - Rearrange Us
At one point this year, I looked at my CD shelves and remarked, "Why on earth do I own five Mates of State albums?" This album reminded me why. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

Certificate of Participation

Islands - Arm's Way
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Sigur Ros - Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Pershing

Biggest Disappointments

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
It's a great album, don't get me wrong. I'm probably not being fair to it since I was so madly in love with "Boys and Girls in America." But, hey, I never said this list wasn't subjective or cruel.

Radiohead - In Rainbows (EDIT: This was on my list, but apparently it's technically a 2007 release. Kept here for continuity's sake, since I've posted this list elsewhere.)
I admit needing to give this more time, but I'll chalk up this ranking for the time being to an irrational predisposition to unfairly measure MP3-only albums (which "In Rainbows" was when I bought it -- I was quite annoyed when it came out on CD a few months later).

Crystal Castles - s/t
"Vanished" blew my mind, but the rest was just OK.

Best Albums I Didn't Hear…

Hello Saferide - More Modern Short Stories From...
Glen Phillips - Reveals Secrets of the New Explorers / Plover / Remote Tree Children
Crooked Fingers - Forfeit/Fortune
Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby – s/t
Los Campesinos - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms
Lucksmiths - First Frost
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
Q Tip - The Renaissance
David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

…Or Hear Enough Of (the Underlistened)
Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
The Major Labels - Aquavia
The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Angles
Martha Wainwright - I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too
They Might Be Giants - The Else (also apparently 2007)
Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

Special "I'm Still Waiting for the US Release" Entry

Winterkids - Memoirs

Best Albums of 2009 (in no order)

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
A.C. Newman - Get Guilty
Beirut - March of the Zapotec
The Decemberists - Hazards of Love
M. Ward - Hold Time
Midlake - Courage of Others
New Pornographers
The Postal Service
Wilco
Mike Viola/Mandy Moore

Monday, December 22, 2008

What I'm Listening To - Feed The Animals

What is it that makes us like Girl Talk?

I mean, at best, this is a guy making party music. He's lacing current hip hop beats over rock songs (or vice versa). I mean, there was a guy who did this at the skating rink I used to go to when I was growing up.

But for some reason, this sounds revelatory. Like it's never been done before.

I saw Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, last year for what might have been the most rockingest concert I've ever been too. it was loud, there were sweaty people dancing, there were songs I knew blasting over other songs I knew.

It was amazing.

I picked up Feed The Animals late, and I'm sorry I did. This is a flat out amazing record. it's perfect pastiche that has you constantly wondering, "Where did I here that song?"

Girl Talk isn't so much a DJ as he actually is an artist. He's almost reinventing something by making it seem simultaneously familiar and new. It's as if he's spent his whole life collecting bits of every song ever played on the radio and has been finding ways to make them all fit together.

There's Jay Z's Roc Boys (and the winner is) over Radiohead's Paranoid Android. There's Sinead Oconnor sharing space with Lil Wayne. Heart and Young Jeezy. It's fantastic.

Don't be surprised if somebody plays this whole album at their next wedding.

Some Other Voices

I'm glad I never made any promises at the start of this blog.

Like, I never promised this wouldn't become a group blog.

Because it isn't becoming a group blog.

But I am inviting some people to pitch in occasionally.

There's something to be said for a diversity of voices. I like poppy dance music. But that excludes a lot of the rest of the spectrum of indie rock.

So, I have some friends. People I really respect, who've turned me on to some really great music. The first person you'll probably read is Georgy C. She writes way better than I do. And she has better tastes in music than I do. Expect to see her end of the year up here soon.

Second is Jeff M. Jeff's been sending us emails, and I've been posting them. So I asked Jeff to just write instead. It'll make it easier on all of us.

Finally, Zak C. should also be showing up sometime, though I don't know when. He's got an interview brewing with a graphic artist and some other stuff.

They've got the keys to the place, so there won't be any editing or me going back and touching up what they've written. I asked that they use tags to keep the place nice, but who knows.

I hope you all enjoy someone else bloviating for awhile. I'll still be writing. I'm not taking a break or anything. Just letting some other people in on the fun.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rest of the Best ofs

Some more best of lists.

Pitchfork's super pretentious Top 50 albums of 2008 came out today. Question: How many people can swing from the Fleet Foxes jock without falling off? Answer: The world may never know. To be fair, I don't like that album, but everyone else does, so maybe I'm wrong on this one.

Rolling Stone put out their Best 50 albums of 2008. TV on the Radio? Bold, but not unconventional. Bob Dylan bootlegs at No. 2? Yes, RS still believes your parents are 19 and still subscribe.

NPR's All Songs Considered did something respectable: a show discussing but not necessarily listing the best music of 2008. And then they let the readers decide. Kind of pantywaisted? You betcha, but this is NPR, home of the $85 pledge drive reusable shopping bag made of fair trade organic hemp as gift. Hippies. That being said, I think this is the right approach. And again, the masses crown Fleet Foxes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Just Business - Amazon Second Largest Digital Music Retailer in US, Behind iTunes

Reuters is reporting that Amazon is the second largest seller of digital music, trafficking an astonishing 130 million digital tracks in 2008.

Of course, this pales in comparison with the biggest pushaman on the block, Apple, who sold 2.4 billion digital tracks through it's iTunes music store during the same period.

It's become sort of a raison d'ĂȘtre at The Shimmy Shake to promote digital music purchases over physical ones, but even moreso, DRM-free purchases as well. So I like Amazon over iTunes for those two reasons (also, it's weekly deals remind me a lot of Turtles and Coconuts and other brick and mortar stores). But almost every record label will sell you a DRM-free version of an artist's album (whether it be with the purchase of a physical CD or not).

But here's my defense of these numbers. Have you ever seen an Amazon mp3 ad? On a bus? In the subway? A little silhouette dancing with some earphones telling you to go to Amazon and get this album?

Essentially, after starting just under two years ago, Amazon has sold nearly 5 percent of the tracks that Apple did and claims 8 percent of the total market, but with zero promotion (and in just the US alone). At 89 cents a song, that's nothing to sneeze at. That's a huge chunk of change. Amazon also sells twice as many whole albums as Apple does, something that probably resonates with record companies (older comsumers, like the demographic I'm rapidly entering, tend to purchase music in that fashion).

Things that could help Apple succeed? Better sharing features (a Facebook button wouldn't hurt when I buy an album). More marketing of course. And an aggressive take on of iTunes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Defenders

I had intended to write a post about my newest Christmas music purchase, and how much I love this genre of music, and how corny that makes me.

But before I started writing, I came across LA Times Music Blog Pop & Hiss, and was reading their intense defense of Kanye West's performance on SNL last week.

The LA Times, above alomst any other publication, has been a staunch defender of Kanye's latest album. I'm not sure if Kanye is secretly an heir to the Chandler or McCormick fortunes (haha newspaper history joke), but they loved 808s and Heartbreak. They even compared it to Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear, his own very personal album written after his very bitter divorce with Anna Gordy.

As you are aware, I think Kanye's fourth album is a hot pile. A very good friend of mine vehemently disagrees. But that's perfectly okay to disagree about the merits of an album.

Kanye's performance on SNL was flat out garbage. It could be that the album doesn't lend itself to live performance (note the last song on the album, Pinnochio Story, sonically sounds the worst). It's very processed, and very personal, and Kanye is nothing if he's not a showman. And the show he put on was dismal.

The crowd is dead quiet. It's incredible sterile. And there are these huge screens in the background, and just him.

Mrs. The Shimmy Shake made a face while he was singing.

Hopefully Kanye has hit his lowest point.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Shimmy Shake Best of 2008

I've agonized over it long enough. I spent a full week making on the fly playlists, evaluating and reevaluting. I took a day or two off pain meds just so I could think clearly (all that resulted in was me being in more pain.)

But here you are. My top 10 albums of 2008. It was hard. 2008 was a terrific year for music. A lot of new bands put out solid debut albums. Some veterans also put out some of the best music of their careers. So we had a lot to work with this year, and our ears and minds are better for it. If you like music, you had to have loved 2008.

1. No Kids, "Come Into My House." I heard this album back in February, a suggestion from eMusic. This is what happens when you stretch the boundaries of genre music. Is it r&b? Is it smarty academic art pop? Is it four part college quartet harmony? I love it because it's indescribable. I love it because when you see it live it's totally reinvented. I love it because it makes me dance. And I love it because no one this year was trying to have this much fun and push this far past what sonically music should be.




2. Lil Wayne, "Tha Carter III." It's a real achievement when rappers decide they can both be entertainers and true artists. Lil Wayne finally hit that point this year. Picking up the mantle of "greatest Rapper alive" from Jay-Z, he put out an album that was commercial and truly weird. Don't believe? He has a song on here where he raps about being an alien. The second single, "A Milli," might be the best indie rap song on a major label. Lil Wayne calls in the heaviest producers (Swizz Beatz, Kanye West, David banner) and still in the end chooses to do it his way.



3. Conor Oberst, "Conor Oberst." I didn't think this album would rate this high. But on repeated listens, it just gets better and better and better. Sure, he's aping Dylan on over half the tracks, but who doesn't? It's a flat out solid record, beautifully written, and beautifully sung. Still, one has to wonder, where is the dividing line between Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst?






4. Tokyo Police Club, "Elephant Shell." This album is another early release that held up all year long. Try to find yourself not hand clapping and singing along to this 30 some odd minute record. True, it lacks some of the energy of the 2007 EPs, but these kids have a lot of energy. Don't believe me? Check out their Spring 2009 tour.






5. Ra Ra Riot, "The Rhumb Line." All debuts should be this good. Catchy pop music, with incredible lyrics. A violin and cello might seem gimmicky, but it works remakarbly. You have to give it up for a band that decides to push on after one of its founding members dies. Try to think about anything else when you hear "Dying is Fine" or "Winter 05."






6. Rhymefest, "Mark Ronson Presents Rhymefest: Man in the Mirror." The second best hip-hop album this year, from one of the game's best lyricists and from one of the industry's best producers. It's rare for concept albums to work with rap, but essentially what you have here is a spliced up conversation between Rhymefest and King of Pop Michael Jackson. The beats are flawless, the rhymes complex, the skits funny, and the guests spots never overshadowing (even with Talib! And Mary J! And Wale!). You can't buy this album (cos no one could ever clear the two dozen or so MJ samples) but you can get it for free from Rhymefest's website.

7. Lowry, "Love is Dead." This is the album I wish Death Cab for Cutie had put out this year. Soft haunting lullabies, with wisps of electronics and synths piped in over them. Calling it folk pop seems a bit of a strecth (it's way more folky than poppy). But it's a strong effort from a brand new group.







8. The Rosebuds, "Life Like." I was torn about this album. Is it a regression to the organic Birds Make Good Neighbors, or was it a less new wave-y Night of the Furies? In the end, I just decided it was like all other Rosebuds records: a consistently solid album from start to finish. You can tell Ivan and Kelly pour themselves into the production, and you feel it on every song. This is perfect for night driving, when you want to go really fast on empty highways.




9. Okkervil River, "The Stand Ins." The second half to last year's "Stage Names," we find songs about your douchy trust fund friend, porn star Savannah, lying pop signers, and possibly mass murders. Yeah, it's weird. But it's fantastic.








10. Santogold, "Santogold." Imagine MIA without the controversial third world politics. What you get is Santogold. You still get the Baltimore house beats, the Diplo and Switch produced tracks. If you fell in love with the sexy neo rock soul of Res' How I Do then you'll love this album (as you should, since Santogold produced that).






Honorable Mentions
Ingrid Michaelson, Girls and Boys
Cool Kids, The Bake Sale
Jukebox the Ghost, Let Live and Let Ghosts
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges

Year's Biggest Disappointments
Death Cab For Cutie, "Narrow Stairs"
Kanye West, "808 and Heartbreaks"

We Get Letters - Zak C.'s Top Albums of 2008

Soooooo. We got a phone call Saturday afternoon. It was from our man in Jacksonville, Zak C.

He says he's having trouble picking out his No 1. He's got a four way tie. I tell him to give them all No 1 and move to No. 5.

He's against that. He says he will send me something later that night.

And he does.

And I sat on it.

I sat on it, cos I was busy working on my Top 10. But also because I wanted to pimp my man's Shelby's awesome end of the year podcast (and I'm all about the tie-ins).

But here it is. It's good. It bends a little bit towards the edge of the rockin indie spectrum (as you allmight have guessed, I like the poppier, dancier side of things).

1. Fleet Foxes—Fleet Foxes. So I fought and fought with myself about number one this year. Easily any one of the top five on my list could have been number one at a given point during the year. But I think what it boils down to is that the Fleet Foxes record is the one that has resonated with me the most and it’s the one that I think will hold the test of time. I mean the songs on this record are simply some of the best songs I’ve heard in quite some time. And I should remind you all that it is their DEBUT record. I mean I’m not sure how to comprehend that statement. It’s the record that My Morning Jacket should have made.

2. Tokyo Police Club—Elephant Shell. The record that I played the most this year and it was the one I anticipated the most. Before I heard it, I knew it would be huge. I can’t help but smile every time I listen to this. Such a sold record. And again, a DEBUT people.

3. Okkervil River—The Stand Ins. They were number one last year (and number 8 on my list, but who’s counting) and there were days where I was sure this would be number one. I really was. The truth of the matter is…they are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands of all time. Enough said.

4. Conor Oberst—Conor Oberst. Dear Conor, It’s not really a solo project if you have a band….and can you please explain why this wasn’t released on Saddle Creek or Team Love (your own label!). But in spite of those picky details, nice work….really.

5. Blitzen Trapper—Furr. I can’t believe to put this at number five. Such an amazing record from start to finish. I could listen to this cd over and over again. Plus they are some of the nicest guys in indie rock. The DP and I saw them perform at the Middle East in Boston…and Fleet Foxes were set to open but caught the flu…so Blitzen Trapper rocked the house.

6. Dodos—Visiter. What a great DEBUT! These guys make nice stripped down indie rock that is just easy on the ears.

7. Foals—Antidotes. This is to me what the Battles record from last year should have sounded like. The Foals DEBUT record is sorta math rock with good vocals…a rare find.

8. Wild Sweet Orange—We Have Cause to Be Uneasy. I so anticipated this album. If you would have asked me last year what this year’s list would look like I would have mentioned Tokyo Police Club and this band. I was so excited about this record. Partially because of the obvious Bright Eyes comparisons….and partially because of the quality of the music these guys were releasing prior to this DEBUT.

9. TV on the Radio—Dear Science. What can I say about this record that hasn’t already been said. It’s really good…and I did NOT like Cookie Mountain at all. In fact I said it was overhyped. But this is a sold record from start to finish.

10. Titus Andronicus—The Airing of Grievances. These guys have such songwriting talent. It’s not an easy listen by any means…but it’s really raw and gritty indie rock. I love this DEBUT.


And for those of you out there who care…I capitalized DEBUT because six of the ten records on my list (a little less than two thirds for you mathematicians out there) were debuts and I think that means there are going to be some amazing years to come…


Damn we were close…

Port O’Brien, All We Could Do Was Sing

Rosebuds, Life LIke

Cool Kids, The Bake Sale

The Knux, Remind Me in Three Days…

Kanye West, 808 and Heartbreak

And damn it…this Bon Iver record is going to be freakin amazing….I just know it. But I don’t own it yet. So who knows that Wild Sweet Orange could be replaced before the end of the year…

Shifted Sound's Best of 2008

Shelby Miller, the fantastic host of the best damn indie music podcast, submitted to my requests and sent over his Top 10 albums of the year.

And it's perfect because it coincides with his year end show, where he recaps all the good stuff that he's been pushing out over the year.

So here's his list. And subscribe to his show.

In no particular order:

Rosebuds "Life Like"
Arizona "Glowing Bird"
Pictures and Sound "Pictures and Sound"
Ra Ra Riot "The Rhumb Line"
Vampire Weekend "Vampire Weekend"
Mates of State "Re-Arrange Us"
Lowry "Love is Dead"
Air France "No Way Down"
Girl Talk "Feed the Animals"
Cut Copy "In Ghost Colours"
No Kids "Come Into My House"
Cloud Cult "Feel Good Ghosts"


Disappointments:
Jenny Lewis "Acid Tongue"
Keane "Perfect Symmetry"
Lindsey Buckingham "Gift of Screws"

Friday, December 12, 2008

We Get Letters - Jeff M.'s Picks for 2008

I was at this concert. It was stinking hot. Jeff was keeping it cool. On the high hat

Occassionally we get letters. And occasionally I will post them.

Here we have another letter from longtime reader and my good friend Jeff M., former drummer for the now defunct Alphabetical Order.

Jeff was kind enough to send over his picks, so I said, hey, I'll post them. They're really good. Jeff's turned me on to a lot of new music over the past two and half years I've known him (FMCI GAO FOR LIFE!!!), and in true form, he doesn't disappoint.

Except for that Deerhunter pick.




i know it's bad form for a bunch of like-minded people to like the same albums, but so be it. we hear the same because we feel the same, to paraphrase Damon Albarn of Blur. Mr. Shimmy Shake is the person who turned me on to No Kids and i absolutely love that the spirit of "i love this band so much, you need to hear it!" lives on in my life. and besides, No Kids is the most interesting band i heard in 2008. in fact, music was so good this year that i was lucky enough to put albums at the top of this list from bands that are truly innovating, creating new sounds and mixing genres. these are the ones i spent the most time with.

1. No Kids - Come Into My House
2. Jaguar Love - Take Me to the Sea
3. Parts & Labor - Receivers
4. Calexico - Carried to Dust
5. Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont'd
6. Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell
7. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
8. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
9. David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
10. Rhymefest - Man in the Mirror mixtape with Mark Ronson

honorable mention:
All the Saints - Fire on Corridor X
Foals - Antidotes
French Kicks - Swimming
Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
The Kills - Midnight Boom
No Age - Nouns
The Notwist - The Devil, You, and Me
Portishead - Third
Q-Tip - The Renaissance
Sigur Ros - Some Made Up Icelandic Album Name
Sun Kil Moon - April
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
Vampire Weekend - self-titled
Vivian Girls - self-titled
Wire - Object 47

then there were a bunch of bands whose albums i didn't love all-around, but who put out some amazing songs nonetheless:

The Big Sleep - Bad Blood
The Broken West - Auctioneer
Coldplay - Lost!
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Horse Feathers - Albina
Joan As Police Woman - Hard White Wall
Ted Leo/Pharmacists - Paranoia (Never Enough)
MGMT - Time to Pretend
Mountain Goats and Kaki King - Thank You Mario, But Our Princess is in Another Castle
Nada Surf - Weightless
Neon Neon - I Told Her on Alderaan
Santogold - You'll Find a Way
Santogold - Creator
Sebastien Grainger - American Names
Subtle - Exiting Arm

here are 7 excellent albums i heard this year that i either 1) didn't know existed or 2) had never even heard of the band before. this is the big lebowski "new shit has to come to light / we were not aware of that, dude" award:

Diplo - I Like Turtles mixtape
Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
Meligrove Band - Planets Conspire
The Natural History - People That I Meet
Sea Wolf - Leaves in the River
Statehood - Lies and Rhetoric
Strategy - Future Rock

and finally, because they haven't gotten props anywhere else, i just want to shout out Radiohead for putting on a hell of a live show at nisaan "who the fuck designed this place" pavilion in may. i endured torrential rain and was sopping wet the whole show, but it was worth it. also, a shout out to Lupe Fiasco's show in january at 9:30 Club. he said he was under the weather, but put on an awesome two-hour show anyway. it was good to see a showman on stage, and he is definitely a showman.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interview with Kristin Andreassen


After hearing Kristin Andreassen on A Prarie Home Companion a few weeks, I dropped her an email, and hoped she would write me back. Well she did, and threw in the curveball of a phone interview. This sent me in a bit a whirlspin, since I've never done a phone interview before for this blog, and I wasn't quite sure about taping it and what not. And when I do live interviews, I tend to let the interviewee take over, because it gives you better quotes.

So I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do.

But I called her last Wednesday, only to be kicked to voicemail. Now I'm thinking she stood me up. But she called back in a few minutes and told me she was driving in a tunnel on her way to Brooklyn, and once she parked and found a coffee shop she'd call me back.

I'm of the belief that most people are nice, but she was really really nice. 30 minutes later she called and we chatted for a very quick hour about everything. I had questions, written down, but they kind of went right out the window.

So this is less an interview, but more of a long recap of our conversation, sprinkled with quotes.

Although she is based out of Boston right now, Kristin still has a Maryland area code for her cell, attributable to her time with Annapolis's Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.

Kristin says that the song "Crayola" was kind of a bridge from Footworks to her solo album "Kiss Me Hello."

"Most of the first songs I wrote didn't have any muscal accompianent. Crayola was one of the first songs I ever wrote, playing patty cake on the steering wheel. I had rhythms and kid shows on the brain."

One of the most amazing things about the album is that Kristin plays virtually all the instruments. But she wouldn't categorize herself as a multi-instrumentalist.

"As a kid, I played piano and sang in choirs. I still wouldn't consider myself an instrumentalist.

"The journey started as a dancer in annapolis, and wiritng my own songs, I figured that I should learn how to play the guitar in from an audience.

"I've always been sort of a band person."

And a band person she is. She plays with two other bands, Sometymes Why and Uncle Earl. For the record, I'm all for attractive women getting together and singing beautiful music. But Kristin keeps the whole thing rather breezy and low key, even when she's name dropping. On talking about Uncle Earl's last album

"It was a very unfanfareish release. We did this record with John Paul Jones."

Oh, just John Paul Jones. Of Led Zepplin fame.

And so our conversation goes. She still seems geniunely incredulous that she got on to A Prarie Home Companion after mailing them a copy of her fantastic debut album ("I was like , that's a waste of a $1.11").

I've already gushed over "Kiss Me Hello" but I'm going to continue. It's a really pleasant and refreshing album. Slightly genre mixing, it still is very traditional American music. Kristin says she had many sources of inspiration.

"I feel like in a weird way, I wrote these songs in sort of genre categories, and recording them kind of taught me what they were. Our friends would come and stay with us [in Annapolis] all the time. And I feel that what I learned about music, came from those times when friends would come by and stay."

Lyrically, the album stands out for great writing. Each song has a very nice hand-crafted feel to it, with no thrown away lines or overemoted filler.

"I'm not a fan of music that makes you work too hard to understand it, that it's not an exercise.

"I think it's the influence of listening to other songwriters. One of the thigns that Dylan said is that he listened to so much traditional music. So much of his stuff is stolen melodies. And I think that's okay. And you can't always come up with something completely orginal. There's something archtypal."

Kristin's next big adventure is her two song a month club. For $15, you get two brand new songs a month from her for 2009. This is why I love independent artists. That's an incredible connection to make with an audience.

Again, Kristin seems very unassuming about the task.

"It's a lot of music. It's not that I'm going to have low standards for myself. I'm seeing the two song a month club as a committment to myself to write. Of the fans I have, I feel like thay enjoy the process. Your early demos, you feel like they are completely flawed, and those are the ones people like.

"I've learned that other people are more forgiving than I am of my first attempt."

If you'd like to see Kristin play in your hometown, she says just write her, which I'm sure your local music hall will appreciate.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Housekeeping

I feel like I'm in the news biz again, I got plenty of copy, I'm working on two stories. I just need to the pull the trigger.

Kristin's interview is taking longer to put together than I thought (pain meds and typing don't mix kid). But it's coming.

And I have the very difficult task of putting together my Top 10, best of the year list.

And this year was tough. I mean, I can name 20 standout albums. I already have my No 1, but yeah. That still leaves 19. We'll have it all done by the end of the week, and then you can go on reading.

Thanks for the daily clicks though. We'll get more stuff up soon. I promise.

Nick of No Kid's Top 12 Albums of 2008

I asked the lead singer from my favorite band of 2008, Nick Krgovich of No Kids, to send me over a list of his top 10 albums for 2008.

And he did. He did even better. He sent over his top 12.

This cat is fa real. I think this is why "Come Into My House" is my favorite album of the year. His top 12 includes the obscure, the indie famous, legendary funk expirmentalists, and a funky R&B chartreuse. Also a bunch of people I never heard of.

Thanks Nick for sending this over. If you haven't bought it yet, go get No Kids "Come Into My House" now.

Nick Krgovich's (No Kids) Top 12 of 2008

Allez Allez - Promises

Erykah Badu - New Amerykah, Part One (4th World War)

Beach House - Devotion

Dri - Smoke Rings

Herbie Hancock, Thad Jones, Ron Carter, Jerome Richardson, Grady Tate, Jonathan Klein - Hear O' Israel: A Prayer Ceremony In Jazz

Tommy Jay - Tommy Jay's Tall Tales of Trauma

Reiko Kudo - Licking Up Dust

The Magnetic Fields - Distortion

John Maus - Love Is Real

Arthur Russell - Love Is Overtaking Me

Sprigs of Time: 78s from the EMI Archive

Mark Tucker - In The Sack

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yay

I just got off the phone with Kristin Andreassen, and what a joy to talk to her. I'll be posting the interview up later on this week, but in the meantime, please check out her music at her website. She's doing some really amazing things, and it's great to hear new artists as the get big.

December is going to be an awesome month here t The Shimmy Shake. We're going to have a first ever contest/giveaway. Some special guest postings. Decemebr is going tobe a good month.

Interview with Electric Owl's Andy Herod

Andy Herod of The Electric Owls

So a little over a month ago I went to the Bishop Allen show and was really impressed with opening one-man band The Electric Owls. Helmed by The Comas' former frontman Andy Herod, he detours from that late 90s fuzz rock to a more melodic, lyrically focused psychedelic folk pop sound.

The crowd was a little wary at first, but really got into his set.He released his four song EP, The Magic SHow, back in November. it has two track from his upcoming 2009 release and two other tracks.

Andy was kind enough to submit to a few questions, so here they are.

The Shimmy Shake: Talk a little bit about how you got from The Comas to > here. How did Electric Owls start?

Andy Herod: Electric Owls was born during the year after I left Brooklyn. I fled suddenly and without much of a plan. I couch surfed in North Carolina for a couple months and wrote these songs in friends bathrooms and kitchens when they were at work. Then I drove to California to work construction at a nuclear power plant on the Central Coast for 2 months. I finished up writing a few more songs there and formed a plan to go back to Asheville NC where a friend manages an amazing studio called Echo Mountain and could get me a good deal. So I asked Jason Caperton who had played bass in The Comas but that I knew to be a particularly gifted guitarist, to join me in California and help spice the songs up during a road trip back to the south.

None of this was done with any end in mind other than to have the best time possible. Which we did. But, at some point we involved a record company to get more money to finish and now it looks like I have a new project. Pretty excited though. The theme is really to approach things very differently than I did in The Comas. To let it go where it wants, to have fun, not to stress, concerned only with beauty and fun.

SS: This is definitely a different sound than what you were doing with The Comas. Kind of like psychedelic folk-pop (but maybe that's just me). But it's enjoyable. How did you get there?

AH: As far as the style of the music goes, it was a conscious effort to make it unique sounding and use as many acoustic instruments as possible. There is very little electric guitar on the record. But to make it full and wild we threw on a whole hell of a lot of synths and super effected string patches. This is what will have people using the psychedelic folk pop adjectives which i am totally happy with.

SS: The lyrics though, remain very personal, and very rich. Is the entire album going to sound like this?

Lyrics where very important to me this time around. I had gotten away from that and I put a lot more effort into making sure that SOMETHING was being said whether it was something personal or a story about someone else.

SS: When can we expect the new album to drop?

New album comes out on Vagrant Records first week of April.

Magic Show EP is out now on itunes now.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Q-Tip's The Renaissance


I got Q-Tip's new album from Amazon's $5 Digital Download Black Friday Sale (still going on!!!).

It is a flat out fantastic record. From Track 1 to 11, ever song is a hit. He's solo now, but there's dipping back into that A Tribe Called Quest, and it serves him right. 'Gettin Up' sounds like an updated track from Midnight Marauders. It's got that funky little piano, and Q-Tip just breathlessly and effortlessly rhymes over the whole thing.

And like any major hip hop effort now, there's always guests. But Q-Tip uses them judiciously, and the effect is pleasant. Raphael Saadiq, D'Angelo and Norah Jones fit right in as backup singers; you'd almost miss them if no one pointed them out.

The truth is, this record owes much of its sound to the late J Dilla (he even gets production credit on two tracks, the single 'Move' and the aformentioned 'Gettin Up'). The laidback-ness is directly attributable to him, and Tip acknowledges as much on the ode to hip-hop track, "Life is Better."

It's hard to imagine that Tip's been rapping for over 20 years. He sounds young and as vibrant as ever. If you're looking for something to round out your hip hop collection, , from one of the giants and living legends of the game, get this now. It'll fit right in nicely with your Mos Def Black on Both Sides download I told you to get a few days back.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

50 Albums for $5 each

If you're looking to get your Black Friday music shopping on early, Amazon will feed your wanton consumerism with 50 albums for $5 each at it's digital download site.

Some of it is good (Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III is arguably the best rap album out this year) and some of it is not (you cannot pay me to listen to She and Him again).

But they've got Ra Ra Riot's The Rhumb Line, Colplay's latest, Q-Tip's Renaissance, and a host of others.

And it's all DRM-free.

SO belly up to some more turkey with rockin cheap music.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dance Biscuits

I've been trying to find a video of this for days now. I saw it on SNL two weeks ago and this might be the best clip this season next to Tina Fey's Sarah Palin.



"We're the dancers."

Kristin Andreassen - Kiss Me Hello

If I'm in the car between 6 and 8 pm on Saturday, odds are I'm listening to Garrison Keillor's A Prarie Home Companion. I've been doing this since I was a little boy. I've been to see the show live once, and it is truly something you should do if you have the chance. Each show is a masterpiece.

But something I forgot about APHC is that it's constantly introducing me to new music. And this week delivered a pleasant surprise.

Performing on the show was Kristin Andreassen. And the only song I caught was "Crayola Doesn't Make a Color for Your Eyes."

And I was hooked.

Her 2007 solo debut album, "Kiss Me Hello" is a happy mix of country, blues, folk, pop, jazz. Essentially, this is Americana music.

Andreassen is a masterful songwriter. A winner of the Jonh Lennon Songwriting contest, you can tell that ever word is deliberate, nothing thrown in or thrown away.

"Crayola" is a fun romp that starts off the album, with her searching through a big box of 64 trying to find Looking for a great song for your Valentine's Day mixtape/playlist? Might want to start here. The title track is a sweet, playful diddy that comes right in under two minutes. It's crammed with so many all-girl harmonies, horns, and light percussion, you'd think it'd be too much. "Pale Moon" might be my favorite after "Crayola," a bluegrass lullaby that I will no doubt sing to my next child.

She's also a multi-instrumentalist, playing virtually every single instrument on the album. The slow fingerpickin on "Fly" is just as good as you'd find on a Ralph Stanley album or Nickel Creek album.

I cannot praise this album or artist enough. But if you don't believe, check out the APHC webpage and listen first. Then go buy.

Get Kristin Andreassen's "Kiss Me Hello"

Buy from Amazon
Buy from CD Baby

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First the Fat Boys break up...

Yesterday, President Bush commuted John Forte's 14 year sentence.

With the man (partially) behind The Score, a seminal rap album by one of raps most seminal groups, out of jail, will The Fugees get back together?

I know it's wishful thinking. I mean, if Dave Chapelle couldn't do it, why should John Forte.

But if he's really abouthelping kids stay out of foolisheness, then I think getting the Fuges back together to record the followup to the Score is a great place to start.

Note: Do you know how awesome that would be? Can you imagine the producers who would line up for this event? Maybe it could keep Kanye West from sucking so hard right now.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heartbroken

I'm trying my best to wrap my head around what Kanye West set out to do with 808s and Heartbreak.

It's clear that Kanye is going through some stuff. He lost his mama. He had that weird assualt thing at LAX. His long-time fiance (two words that make most women mad) broke it off with him. And up to this point, he's released relatively flawless albums that have garnered critical acclaim, sold bazillions of copies, but been denied a Grammy for album of the year (last year was probably the worst, losing to Herbie Hancock's Joni Mitchell tribute).

Normally from this adversity, he releases a masterpiece. He got balled up in the car accident, he dropped College Dropout. Denied the Grammy, he worked doubly hard and put out Late Registration. And in an effort to top that album, he put out the skit free top, 10 perfection that was Graduation.

And with a ton of problems at his back, he releases his most personal album to date.

And it's garbage.

The whole thing. I don't think there's one salvagable song on here.

The beats are sparse and haunting, an theme that is intrguing in song one, tiresome by song two, and annoying by song three. It's like sad Daft Punk.

But if the beats don't get to you, it's the mindless singing through AutoTune. Kanye does almost no rapping on this album (I know, a God send to some who are perpetual haters on the man's rhyming ability). The problem with Auto Tune is that it flattens your voice out to the point it begins to sound unpleasant. T-Pain's a novelty act, and Lil Wayne is probably the only cat who really succeeds at screwing with the thing. Kanye just sounds horrible.

I don't think there's any need to get deep about Kanye's intention. No, I don't think him using autotune is some sort of critique on consumer automation. I know Kanye could have made a much better album that still got at his personal feelings and turmoil. Hell, he did just as much with Late Registration.

This album just plain sucks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This post is a conversation stimulator



"How can it be bullshit to state a preference?"

"Since when did this store become a fascist regime?"

"When you brought that bullshit tape in."

It's getting close to the end of the year, the time when you look back over the hundreds of songs you've downloaded/bought/burned/shared and decide which albums will make the best of the year list for 2008.

It has been, without a doubt, a great year for music. There are easily 20 albums i can think of that are vying for the top spot.

I'd like to see what you're placing on the top of your list. Since I'm going to be laid up for about a week, let's say send them to me no later than December 5. Then I'll start posting them and share your fail or success with the world.

Nothing lasts forever

I was in seventh grade when Use Your Illusion One and Two dropped.

I can still think of the ridiculous girl I had a crush on whenever I hear November Rain.

It was the first time I heard "Live and Let Die" and to this day, I more closely associate that song with Axl's screech than with Sir McCartney's dulcet tones.

Today is the date that Chinese Democracy drops. Or is available. Or something.

Doesn't matter. I won't be getting it.

The Rescues - Crazy Ever After


I'm not sure how I found out about the band The Rescues, since I don't watch Grey's Anatomy.

It sort of ended up in my eMusic Saved for Later file, and who knows how it got there.

But I'm glad it did.

The first thing that comes to mind when you here it is Fleetwood Mac. Lots of girl/guy harmonies, sweet pop melodies, personal lyrics. Say what you will about Fleetwood Mac (and I'm sure you will), if you own any Top 40 pop from the past 30 years, Fleetwood Mac was an influence.

The Rescues "Crazy Ever After" is a fantastic album from this L.A. quartet of singer-songwriters. It melds those pop melodies with some slight country undertones (think Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss) and 90s era soft rock (think Hootie and the Blowfish, Elliot Smith).

It's always refreshing when people who can sing, get together and sing at the same time. Much of the album is covered in these sorts of harmonies. The title track, in addition to being well written, is just beautifully performed. "Matter of Time" is just another perfect song, sounding more like Fleetwood Mac than not.

I'm told this group wants to make super pop music, and it seems fair to say that they've come close.
Buy The Rescues 'Crazy Ever After'

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I need help

Hi. My name is The DP and I recently purchased Jimmy Buffet's "Songs You Know By Heart."

I'm not sure why I did it. I'm not particularly a Jimmy Buffet fan. But dear Lord, I know everyone of those songs on that album. It's like some taunt with that album title.

"You know you want to buy me. You know all these songs already. You just try to hide it from your hipster friends. You think you're all indie rock, listening to Swedish pop. No you're not my friend. You're just a poser Florida refugee in the Nation's Capital. Margaritaville comes on in a bar and you start singing. You can order a cheeseburger in paradise with your eyes closed. You have spent three lonely days in a brown ugly haze"

I'm sure there's a woman to blame for all of this.

But it's my own damn fault.

Umi Says Buy This Album Now

You know you like Mos Def. He's kinda indie. He does awesome films. And like that site from earlier this year illuminated, he's a rapper that it's okay for white people to like.

If for some reason or another you don't own Mos Def's solo debut, Black on Both Sides, first, WTF is wrong with you? Seriously. WTF? This album is almost a decade old.

Second, it's today's Amazon Deal of the Day. You can have the whole digitally, instantaneously, DRM-free for $1.99.

Stop playing and go get it now.

FAIL

Fail Whale
I have very much been slacking on this end, and for that I apologize.

It's been slightly crazy at my job, as I exit this one and start another (who says the economy is taking?). I also have had some knee issues, but rest assured, that I will be blogging with a vengenace soon (especially when I'm laid up, hopped up on goof balls and morphine!).

We also kind of stopped short in the middle of The Rosebuds feature. And that's because I didn't get a write back from Ivan. Which is cool, I understand that they're on tour and what not. Ivan, if you're reading this, please write me back.

Since I don't have any bands lined up right now for interviews, we'll probably be doing alot of of odds and ends to fill out the pages. You know, more free form blogging.

Anyways, so sorry for the fail on the blogging front.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stars - Sad Robots EP

I am a cheapskate.

Not really, but I refused to pay $5 for the Stars new EP Sad Robots, when I already cough up $15 a month for eMusic.

Yes, I'm aware of the way the economy for independent music works, and that bands probably make way more money from direct sales than from my eMusic purchase.

And yes, I realize that I'm coming to this EP over two months late. That is the price you pay sometimes.

A bad price really, cos this album is good. You kinda gotta ignore that steampunk Victorian era machine concept they got going on. I'm liking everything that's on the damn thing.

It's only six songs!

So short. So sweet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Auto-tune

I'm not sure why, but I'm captivated by the Auto-tune/vocoder sound. It makes Lil Wayne, who is arguably already pretty jacked up sounding, sound even more crazy.

The Washington Post has a great article on T-Pain and his use of the tool to give his songs that crazy robot noise.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mmmmmm... Cue

Ivan and Kelly ponder the menu at Allen and Sons

So, as some of you know, I run a somewhat profitable barbecue catering business when I'm not ranting about politics, blathering about music, or making sure your tax dollars are spent as inefficiently as possibly.

Sometime ago, the food website Chow did an interview with four local artists, taking them to various BBQ joints around the country.

Now seeing as how The Rosebuds hail from North Carolina, what is arguably the best place in the world for barbecue (pork anyways), they interviewed them at Allen and Sons.

Check it out. I think you might want to lick the screen when you're finished reading.

Get Up Get Out Video

So I totally stole this video from The Rosebuds blog, but it's a pretty awesome video.

It's a one shot of them singing 'Get Up Get Out' on a front porch at a pig pickin'. Already one of my favorite songs, it's also sadly the closest I've come to seeing them live. Things I need to remedy.

Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.


The Rosebuds - Get Up Get Out (live) from tk on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Remixed

Normally I shy away from remixes.

"What's that? You want to sell me a bunch of songs I already have? I'll pass."

And earlier this year, I was almost quick to dismiss the "Sweet Beats, Troubled Sleep" remix of The Rosebuds "Night of the Furies."

I'm glad I didn't. From the Merge website:
Night of the Furies contained songs of despair and loss that roused friends of the band to present them with personal reconstructions of these dark tales. The resulting assortment of dance tunes and lullabies delighted Ivan and Kelly, and inspired them to release Sweet Beats, Troubled Sleep (Night of the Furies Remixed) as a free download available only here at Merge.
There are songs that I like better than others, but the reinterpretation of what I thought was already a great album is really amazing.

Because I harbor some guilty love for big energetic dance/house music, I love the El Venado "Cemetery Lawns" remix, and both "I Better Run" versions (though I like the first one more). But it's the "Get Up Get Out" remix by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon that stands out the most. It slows down the urgency of the original and wraps it with these acoustic guitars and Star Trek-space sounds.

The best part is? It's totally free.

Check it out. I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shifted Sound Plays The Rosebuds


Have I told you about the best damn podcast on the planet?

Oh I haven't? Then allow me to retort.

Shifted Sound is the best damn podcast on the planet. A true labor of love by Shelby M., he puts together a brand new spanking show every week. And the music is always top notch. I'm not sure how he does it.

So, why am I talking about the best damn podcast on the planet?

Because this week Shelby is playing two songs by our featured band, The Rosebuds, from their new album, Life Like (that might be the most ungodly string of clauses ever in that sentence).

Check out Shelby and Shifted Sound. You can subscribe to it in iTunes, or you can get it from his site.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thanks!

Wanted to say thanks to everyone who's been reading the blog. It's very gratifying to see that little number ticker click up everyday, sometimes with fairly large jumps.

If there's something you'd like to see, or something you don't like, or something you think I should hear, I'm very accessible. Leave a comment, drop me an email (shimmyshakeblog AT the Google Mail company.com), or whatever.

And tell a friend. Tell two friends.

New Featured Artist - The Rosebuds


It's been the end of two weeks, so we must bid adieu to No Kids. Please check out their music and see them live if you can. All of their mp3s will be coming down today.

Up next however is the amazing Asheville, NC band The Rosebuds.

If you have not heard this incredible band you are missing out. Zak C. turned me on to them last year and I've been hooked ever since. The husband and wife duo of Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp just released their latest album, Life Like, last month. (I reviewed it here).

I simply have not been able to stop playing it. It's a really good album.

I just got an email back from Ivan, so we're going to be setting up an interview soon. Email me with any questions you might have. I'm also trying to line up a few other kind of surprises, so we'll see how that works too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bishop Allen at The Black Cat

Went to see Bishop Allen last night at The Black Cat, on the first date of their fall tour. A good mix of people showed up (including a guy from job who I did a psuedo interview with a few months back... always awkward).

Anyway, the first band up was the very impressive Electric Owls. A one man band, just Andy Herod, his acoustic guitar, and his MacBook. I checked out his MySpace page before going to the show and was really surprised at how solid he sounded. He did not disappoint.

The next band, Philly's Drink Up Buttercup... The less said the better.

Finally, Bishop Allen came on and didn't disappoint. They played mostly songs from their new album, and it won't disappoint. The stuff from Broken String was always exceptional, especially "The Monitor" and "Castanets." (note: Why DC won't you get down with the sing-a-longs? If he wants you to sing, you should sing. Bastards.)

All in all a good show.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals - Cardinology

Ugh.

Just Ugh.

It's sad. The last two EPs, "Follow the Lights" and "Easy Tiger" were such masterpieces. They were both worthy successors to "Heartbreaker", "Gold", and "Jacksonville City Nights."

But this... Each song trips into the other. The first single, "Fix It" is self indulgent and an ugly song. The opener, "Born Into a Light" is a miserable piece of writing and sounds.

The album doesn't get pleasant until "Crossed Out Name." Adams is at his best when he's vulnerable, when he's trying to reach across and connect with you. When he doesn't achieve that element, the song fails miserably.

I'm a Ryan Adams fan. Just a disappointed one right now.

We Get Letters

I'm stealing a feature from my other crappy blog called "We Get Letters." This is where I post letters and emails I get from people I know. If I ran a newspaper, I would have this instead of letters to the editor.

Anyway, this letter is from my boy Jeff M., the Human 808 machine. He used to be part of The Alphabetical Order, but now he just holds it down solo, David Byrne Style.

Jeff gets to go to concerts on the weekdays. And he went to one last night
I saw Jaguar Love last night at Black Cat and they were amazing!! Maybe not your thing, but check out the track "Humans Evolve Into Skyscrapers" on eMusic. It's got this Timbaland-ish beat, with the 16th note hi-hats and syncopated kick/snare (is every producer doing this these days? I feel like Timb started it).
But it also has loud start/stop guitars, actual singing mixed with screaming. It's like everything I want music to be.

2008 has shaped up to be a killer year for music. I mean, look at No Kids: orchestral pop with more percussion than a high school band class plus r&b beats and a singer that can deliver on that promise. Jaguar Love, No Kids -- they're not afraid, and that's what I love about them.
So there you have it. Jeff, The Thrilla in an Arlington Villa, recommending Jaguar Love.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview with No Kids' Nick Krgovich


Things have been ridiculously hectic (and painful) here on my end. I twisted my knee, my kid had a low grade asthma attack (which prevented me from going to see No Kids.. Sorry Jeff!!!), and I've been handling some extracurricular activities at work.

So I've had a rather full plate lately. It kinda sucks.

But we've had this interview sitting in the hopper for awhile. and I wanted to get it up.

So without further adieu, here's The Shimmy Shake interview with No Kids' Nick Krgovich.

I think you'll find the interview to shed a lot of light on how he and the band went on developing the incredible sound that is 'Come Into My House.'

The Shimmy Shake: I'm going to be honest, this is without a doubt one of my most favorite albums of the year. I love it, my friends love it, my sister loves it, and these people come from all various points on the musical spectrum. And the music is sonically different from what you were making with P:ano (though I can see the relation). How'd you all go about making Come Into My House?

Nick Krgovich: I like the idea of tying records together with some sort of theme, like "no reverb" or "songs about stuffy, dissatisfied people living in New England" or "awkwardly funky dance pop". Come Into My House is really just an attempt at putting a whole bunch of disparate elements in the same setting, and trying to make it work. I was really interested in trying to marry my infatuation with late 80's/early 90's dance pop, with the melodrama of Douglas Sirk films, and the stillness of Alex Katz paintings and "This Side Of Paradise" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. You know, super "collar up" vibes. I thought attempting to make an autumnal R'N'B record was a good idea for some reason.

SS: I've read in other interviews about your influences, and of course listened to the album, and you can tell that r&b and hip hop had some role in the sound. What were you listening to when writing the songs and recording? How did it become such a defining sound of the album?

NK: It really boils down to Amerie in a lot of ways. I heard "1 Thing" back in 2005 and I just thought it was the most thrilling thing to listen to. I still feel that it is the pop achievement of the decade. Ever since then I've just been taking certain aspects of R'N'B and top-40 music really seriously and it started to inform the way the songs for Come Into My House were being written. I also, got really interested in singing, and writing fairly melismatic melodies, where the notes and the lyrics just become this blur. Like "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey. I started to get really fascinated by how there are these super weird top ten singles, where the lyrics are almost indistinguishable, yet you totally feel everything about them. It seems to antagonize the idea of what a pop song is considered to be. No more, "Yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy", now it's these long rambling lines about crying, throwing plates and Bobby Womack on the radio. I find it all really exciting and weird.

SS: I caught you on the first one at the Black Cat Backstage opening up for Dirty Projectors, and now you're opening up for Mirah. That's been pretty much touring non-stop. How's that affecting the band, and your energy in shows?

NK: Well, I wouldn't say we've been touring non-stop but we are certainly playing more often than we did as P:ANO. I think there's much to be learned from playing music in front of people, especially night after night. On our tours we generally play the same set, because I feel that each show can be wildly different even though we are playing the same material. I was just reading "Catching The Big Fish" by David Lynch, and he was going on about the "circle" between an audience watching a film and the film itself. Just how different it can be from screening to screening depending on the energy in the theatre. With P:ANO I used to be really hung up on always trying something, then moving on. The songs didn't seem to have long lives at all. I don't really feel that way now.

SS: One thing I was amazed with at the show was the ability to not so much recreate the sound on the record, but to sort of fill it out with just the three of you. What have you found to be successful in your shows in getting that really complex layered sound from the album?

NK: Luckily the arrangements of the songs on Come Into My House were constructed with a pronounced emphasis on interlocking rhythmic and melodic ideas. So, we basically decided to just focus on those as way to represent the songs live. We've ended up relying heavily on this kids keyboard from the early 90's called the Yamaha PSR-75. It's like "well, a brass section plays that on the record, but I guess we could use #57 BRASS ENSEMBLE on the keyboard instead." I think it all comes down to representing the melodic ideas, rather than worry about the instrument that will be playing it.

SS: What are you listening to now? What can't you get enough of?

NK: I really love this record called "Mountain Rock" by Dear Nora and Katy Davidson's other group Lloyd & Michael. I listen to those albums constantly. I really love Bernard Herrmann's score for "Psycho", I think that is pretty much perfect music. I love Judy at Carnegie Hall. "A Walk Across The Rooftops" by the Blue Nile. I think the new Erykah Badu is really weird and great. I could go on and on. There was a time recently when I was listening to "Stronger Than Pride" by Sade every day.

SS: One of the many cool things about the album is the feeling of the American Upper Northeast you recreate. Now that you've seen New England, what do you think?

NK: I'd been through New England before, but only briefly. I was on tour with my friend Rose in the fall of 2006 and we were listening to these R'N'B mixes I made in the van, while we were driving from NYC to Boston. We stopped for lunch in Mystic, CT and I was just like "I want to make an R'N'B album that is the aural equivalent of this feeling right now." Like porch swings, and tall ships and the movie Mystic Pizza. I also think it's important when you fall in love with an idea just to go with it no matter how arbitrary it seems. I really do love New England in the fall though, I love the idea of romanticizing something that does not need to be romanticized because it is so inherently wonderful and dreamy.

SS: You are also signed with Tomlab, a fairly prominent indie label, but a foreign one nonetheless. Do you find that having a foreign label limits your exposure here in the States?

NK: Well, Tomlab do have a North American office. I don't know, I don't really think about it. I think Tomlab are great and they put out really terrific records. We really can't say enough good things about them.

SS: I haven't bought a physical CD in forever, though I do purchase all my music legally online. But I remember going to record stores and meeting bands and how that was an incredible part of the music experience for me. What's your take on the state of digital music?

NK: I think the best thing about CDs becoming an outmoded format is that there has been a renewed interest in vinyl. I think having an album on your iPod and an LP on your shelf is pretty ideal. At the same time I find how overwhelmingly accessible music is these days to be kind of troubling. It's giving people this endless knowledge of all sorts of music that kind of adds up to nothing. I feel that having 90 billion songs on your iPod does nothing to foster thoughtful listening because there is always something to move on to. I sort of liked it when I had to listen to "Laughing Stock" by Talk Talk all the time, 'cause it was the only Talk Talk album I had. Now it's like at the click of a button you can have their whole discography, and then what?

SS: You've kind of caught the best and worst of our politics during your spring and fall tour. What are your thoughts on the election?

NK: That is probably a question for my bandmate Justin.

SS: For me, it's always interesting to see who other bands associate with, who they like playing with. Vancouver has a pretty solid music scene, but are there bands or artists you would call "friends", people you enjoy playing with?

NK: Strangely enough, even though we've been playing shows since last March, we just played our first Vancouver show on Labour Day. It was odd knowing that we've played a place like Oslo twice but not our hometown. There is certainly a scene happening in Vancouver, I think they call it the New Weird Noise Punk or something. They have shows in former meat packing plants and things like that. No Kids really don't have anything to do with it. We certainly have a kinship with all of the groups we've toured with this year: Dirty Projectors, Mount Eerie and now Mirah and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. We've also played with other Tomlab groups like Why? and Thee Oh Sees and Skeletons. We're really thankful that we've been able to meet such supportive, wonderful people over the last while.

Get "Come Into My House"

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Great Music Makes a Show

I just finished watching this week's episode of Entourage, and the music as always was top notch.

To close out the show, first they played A Tribe Called Quest's "Check The Rhime" which was probably one of the few first rap songs I learned by heart (that and The Humpty Dance). Then, right on the heels of that song, they closed out the show with Fake Plastic Trees.

Hollywood, if your reading (and you aren't) keep hiring good music supervisors.

A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhime


Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees


Chakachas - Jungle Fever

Siblings

I have one of the best sisters in the world. It's cool cos we didn't grow up together or live in the same house at all (our parents married after I left the house for school), so we don't have a lot of that crazy baggage you normally get (see: her and my brother). We're more like really good friends than anything else.

I wonder if I can do that with my kid and the next one.

Anyways, I made a mix for my lovely little sis back in April when she came for a visit, and I put some No Kids on it.

She loves it. So I asked her to write a little something here about it, and she promptly obliged.
Why do I like the No Kids album so much?

It makes me move. What's better than that? It truly is infectious. Not to mention that I've never heard anything quite like it. I'm not sure I have a good reason for digging the album so much. Do I need one?
How sublime.

It makes me move.

Do you need a better reason to go out and get this album? I don't think so.

Muchos gracias to my most favorite sisterin the whole world, Alex D.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Glee Clubs And Lettered Pullovers

"To steal away with you again
to go to Mystic, Connecticut
to watch the drawbridge go up and the tall ships come in."
No Kids - Old Iron Gate

Fall was in full effect in Chocolate City.

Light bit of frost on the cars. A nice cool nip for my run this morning. Leaves beginning to drop, swirling around.

And again, I found myself drawn to "Come Into My House."

Aside from creating perfect pop bliss, No Kids have done an excellent job of capturing that essence of fall. It's like they bottled up a whole season and crammed it into 41 minutes.

All day long, I found myself whistling and humming "Old Iron Gate." I was drumming on the walls, getting all into the break down in the middle of the song, with the horns and stuff. I'm sure I drove my coworkers mad.

I probably drive them insane on most days anyway.

No Kids - 'Old Iron Gate'


Get "Come Into My House"

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Featured Band - No Kids



The next band I'm going to feature has put out what could possibly be my favorite album of the year.

No Kids, a trio from Vancouver, play this sort of R&B tinged melodic indie pop about autumnal trips through New England on their debut album "Come Into My House."

I got the album back in February and was instantly in love with the sound. I then saw them in April opening for the Dirty Projectors and was just floored by the ability to recreate that full sound with just three people.

The album reminds me of N.E.R.D.'s "In Search Of..." but sans the crazy sex, violence, and well, more crazy sex.

We've got an interview with singer/keyboardist Nick Krgovich. We've got some great links. We'll be heading out to see them at the Black Cat this Saturday (opening up for Mirah) And because I'm super technically smart, I've even found a way to post music.

No Kids - "The Beaches All Closed"

Get "Come Into My House"

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