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
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


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"

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


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


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.