Saturday, December 26, 2009

Best of the Decade...according to Zak

I just need to note that I am not cool or hip and this list would NEVER fly in any magazine/blog/zine you read as a best of the decade. Rather these are the records that shaped my decade. Like you care right…well I guess you sorta do care, because you are reading The DP’s blog and my skinny ass can show whenever I want. So here you go…the top twenty records that changed/ shaped/ challenged/ amazed/ reverted me to the person I am and more importantly the one I want to become.

1. Bright Eyes—Lifted, or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground (2002)

2. Bright Eyes—Digital Ash in Digital Urn (2005)

3. Okkervil River—The Stage Names (2007)

4. Stars—Set Yourself on Fire (2004)

5. Arcade Fire—Funeral (2005)

6. Jay Z—The Blueprint (2001)

7. Pela—Anytown Graffiti (2007)

8. The National—Boxer (2007)

9. Band of Horses—Everything All the Time (2006)

10. My Morning Jacket—At Dawn (2001)

11. Death Cab For Cutie—The Photo Album (2001)

12. Avett Brothers—I and Love and You (2009)

13. The Decemberists—Her Majesty, The Decemberists (2003)

14. Bon Iver—For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

15. Bright Eyes—I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (2005)

16. Tokyo Police Club—Elephant Shell (2008)

17. The Postal Service—Give Up (2003)

18. Fleet Foxes—Fleet Foxes (2008)

19. Maria Taylor—11:11 (2005)

20. Kanye West—The College Dropout (2004)

Because I’m a math guy…here are the stats by year


Friday, December 25, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No. 2 - Phoenix's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

What is there to say about this album that hasn't been said?

These French dance nerds have been making awesome music for a decade.

And here we are in 2009 (or 2010 cos I suck at posting), dancing to this album.

Yes you've heard their songs everywhere. And 1901 should make you want to buy a Cadillac.

Buy this album now. You don't want your kids to know you were lame in 2009.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No. 3 - Harlem Shakes' Technicolor Health

Xmess Eve.

I'm drunk.

So let's keep this brief and professional, like an office hookup.

Harlem Shakes put out an album that on first blanch is Vampire Weekend without the douchy-ness.

But Technicolor Health is the album FOR 2009. It is full of blips and falsettos and sounds befitting a video game. It has such a good energy that you'd be dead to not dance. These Brooklyn-ites get hipsterism without being dicks. And we appreciate them for it.

Strictly Game, Unhurried Hearts, Niagra Falls. These are the songs that more accomplished bands wish they could write.

This band make me happy and makes me dance each time I hear them. Asham they're maybe over.

More booze please...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No. 4 - Jay-Z's The Blueprint III

I was kinda conflicted about ranking this album this high. It's a great album to be sure, and from a legend nearing the edge of his prime to put out work this flawless and this phenomenal is an accomplishment all by itself (let's give it up for old people!)

The truth though is that this album will never compare with the Blueprint I (I'm not even going to talk Reasonable Doubt or The Black Album, which combined form a hip hop trinity that ensures Jigga is bigger and better than Biggie or Pac).

But by itself, in 2009, it is one of the best. Jigga does what he always does: wrangles the best producers, invites the hottest guests, and churns out bangers that even your moms likes. Every old ass cute with a Coogie was singing Empire State of Mind.

But the formula falters sometimes. You invite Kanye to rap, and the Louis Vuitton Don, a notoriously weak rhymer, outshines you on Run This Town. Drake (WTF?) holds his own. The best part of Young Forever is Mr Hudson's crooning. I bought a Jigga album and got singles from seven other people.

But there is no one bringing wordplay, flow, rhyme, swagger and logic so effortlessly like the CEO. Each verse requires a double take. Yes that is him telling you the exact location of where he hid is dope.

This isn't a classic like The Blueprint, but it's still a contender in 2009.

Best Albums of 2009: No. 5 Death Cab For Cutie's Open Door EP

Should an EP qualify as an album of the year?

Probably not. I mean, five songs? Really? Kinda of lazy on the selector's part right?

But this EP makes up for the steaming pile that the future Mr. Deschanel put out in 2008.

Five absolutely perfect DCFC songs. The country twangyness of Little Bribes, the best song about Las Vegas since Elvis shimmied his way through his Viva version. The Talking Bird redo, better than the version on Narrow Stairs.

But it's the masterful songwriting of a Diamond and a Tether that hooks you. Yes Virginia, it is still possible for Ben Gibbard to write a great song.

I figure most albums only have five good songs. Seems this EP just cut out the crap you wouldn't listen to anyways.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let me break up this party...

Sorry to break up all this top ten goodness from the DP, but someone needs to make some sense of this year musically and I'm concerned that with those first five from Dave that he is NOT the man for the job. But I still got nothing but mad love for him...

So here is my top ten this was an AMAZING year...both musically and personally.

1. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You—This record grabbed me from the start. It is one of those times in your life where you think to yourself…does these guys get exactly where I am? This is a solid record from start to finish. CLEARLY my favorite record of the year…hands down. And I didn’t even know this band existed at the end of the year last year. UNREAL. Key Lyric, “grab your bags and grab your coat…tell the ones who need to know, we are headed north.”

2. Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix—Another very solid record…and if you would have asked me in August my record of the year…this would have been it. Phoenix have some of the most solid songwriting I have heard in years…and the songs just make you want to dance but at the same time listen so intently to the lyrics because you just don’t know what they are going to drop on you. Key Lyric, “Darling I’m down and lonely, When with the fortunate only, I’ve been looking for something else”

3. Harlem Shakes, Technicolor Health—What a fun record…seriously, these guys totally changed how I reel about pop music this year. Another dance your pants off while rocking out record (very similar in my mind to the Phoenix record) but pay attention, these guys drop some serious shit lyrically on you when you are least expecting it. Key Lyric, “I’m sick of holding on to nothing, when I just want to hold your hand.”

4. Jay Z, The Blueprint 3—I don’t even know what to say about Jay….he came through with this record. He delivered a solid strike and at age 40…seriously…we should all take note that Jay is the king of hip hop. Period. No one does it better. Key Lyric, “without a wrinkle in today, cause there’s no tomorrow, just some picture perfect day to last a whole lifetime, and it never ends cause all we have to do is hit rewind.”

5. Cymbals Eat Guitars, Why Are There Mountains—This record came way out of left field for me…like the Titus Andronicus record from last year. A great debut from a band with such potential. When I listen to this record, I can’t figure out if it is too hard of a listen for folks or too easy. Sometimes I just don’t get it….and then I do. Amazing. Key Lyric, “I've never loved you more than when you said I'm so scared”

6. Telekinesis, Telekinesis—How can you NOT love this record. An amazing debut that is the music Death Cab should be making right now. I really love the feel the structure and the context of this record. It is such an easy listen and you can’t not tap your toes as you listen. Key Lyric, “Woke up in another lifetime, it’s a shame it’s just not right now, dreaming of the coast of Carolina, dreaming all the ways that will make you smile now.”

7. Bon Iver, Blood Bank EP--Alright I know I need to do some explaining here. First off on principal alone, I would reem anyone who put an EP on their best records of the year list. Especially one with only 4 tracks on it and one of those songs is a strange digitally modified version of Justin Vernon. BUT, in my defense (keep reading DP), I did not hear For Emma, Forever Ago until after the year was over last year. And it should have been a top 3 record from last year. So this shows up on my list NOT only because the EP is amazing...but also because I totally missed out on him last year. So here it is...purists go ahead and rip me apart. Key Lyric, "The secret that we know, that we don't know how to tell, I'm in love with your honor, I'm in love with your cheeks."

8. Monsters of Folk, Monsters of Folk--First and foremost…this record could have been WAY BETTER! My expectations were WAY too high. So for a while I wouldn’t listen to this record. I mean you put Jim James, Conor Oberst, M. Ward, and Mike Mogis together and I am expecting the fucking world to change. But unfortunately it didn’t with this record. But if you can step back from the expectation (You should always have NO EXPECTATIONS!) and just listen…this is a wonderfully crafted record that we will all look back on someday and say…damn that is a good record. Key Lyric, “I needed you like you needed me . . .”

9. Old Canes, Feral Harmonic—Another record that totally took me by surprise! I just found this band because of the Saddle Creek connection and once I heard the record and saw the amazing limited edition packaging…these guys had me at hello. Sorry for the really overrated movie quote. Key Lyric, “There’s no you and there’s no me, everything is change, everything is working toward one end.”

10. TIE: Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Outer South--Conor deserves number 10. He really does. There are just really some lackluster tracks on this record...specifically the ones he didn't write or sing. Conor lets the boys from the Mystic Valley Band write and sing some songs on this record and we all suffer. If you take out those songs and listen to just the Conor tracks, it's as good as his self-titled debut from last year. Key Lyric, "It makes everyone believe that there is nothing impossible when I'm with and you're with me.

10. TIE: Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon, End of the Day—I just wanted to be able to say to the DP that I have two hip hop records on my list. Kid Cudi can be a bit stoner at times…but for a hip hop artist he is shaping the game right now. He is like a young Andre 3000 but can rap like Jay or Kanye. Key Lyric, “I've got some issues that nobody can see, and all of these emotions are pouring outta me, I bring them to the light for you”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Big Pink - "Dominos"

I picked up The Big Pink's record "A Brief History of Love" after reading all the buzz about them, including mentions on Best of 2009 lists. As with most new records, I put it on while I was in the kitchen.

When "Dominos" (track 3) hit, I was hooked. These guys aren't playing around. A huge Bonham-esque backbeat, fuzzed out shoegaze guitars and a FULL CHORUS directly following the 8-bar intro.

Not a half-chorus to tempt you.

Not a full chorus with the lyrics missing.

The full, unadulterated, you'll-hear-it-again-in-30-seconds chorus. By the minute and a half mark, you've heard it TWICE.

And, well, I gotta admit... it's a brilliant chorus. The spirit of Berry Gordy lives on...

Best Albums of 2009: No 6 - Discovery's LP

You know what I love about this album? There are no pretenses.

You are getting to relatively geeky white dudes (Rostam Batmanglij and Wes Miles) who in their own right make arguably very popular indie rock/pop (Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot respectively), making synth and autotuned soaked R&B.

Further, layer that effort with appaling lyrics, like "Every text I get from you is so so serious. And I'm sitting at home drinking my miso."

Yeah, no good right? No chance.

This album was my summer go to JAM. It was my nighttime driving music.

The lyric above, from the song "Orange Shirt" is just as good as anything you'd hear on your local urban top 40 station (which you don't listen to. Don't lie). It's heavy with a thumping bass line and sketchy images of Tokyo. The boys get all Sonic the Hedgehog with reinvented video game sounds in Osaka Loop Line, Carby, and It's not my Fault, blipping and blooping, skittering and scattering.

The covers of the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" cement this album's R&B creds.

As side projects go, you could not ask for anything more different or more satisfying.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No 7 - Langhorne Slim's Be Set Free

To call Be Set Free the album that Ryan Adams should've made almost undersells Langhorne Slim's greatest attribute over Adams.

He's just a lot fucking happier.

For as much as Slim (nee Sean Scolnick) would like to fancy himself as a folk singer, he's essentially trodding down the alt-country, gospel tinged road laid by Adams with Whiskeytown and his solo albums Heartbreaker and Gold. The vocals aren't as strong, but somehow that makes them more evocative.

But the real difference is in the songwriting. Where Adams got off at some point and started sucking and becoming self-indulgent (only to occassionally flirt back with greatness), Slim keeps writing about love, sex, girls he should've had, and girls who'll never have him.

He rollicks and romps through "Cinderella" and "Say Yes" and shines on the slower, more thoughtful ballads "Sunday By The Sea" and "I Love You, But Goodbye." But my favorite is "Land of Dreams," with his baragaining lyric: "Take me tonight I'm yours/for as long as I can be."

On his Twitter profile, Slim writes "I'm not sure there's any other kind, but the songs I write are love songs." Damn right they are. Let's hope Slim can keep it up. This album is pure gold.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jeff M.'s Top Picks for 2009

Yikes, did you guys see Zak call out Master Shake on his top 2009 picks? Kind sir, do I have what it takes to make sense of the year musically? After all, I am a musician. OK, a drummer... but that counts, right?

My Favorite 10 Albums of 2009

1. White Rabbits - It's Frightening.
Like I said, I'm a drummer, so I suppose I'm predictably drawn to a band with two drummers. But that's not the only thing that kept me coming back to this album all year -- there's also wonderful piano thronks, flanged out acoustic guitars, and snippets of studio talkback throughout (thanks to Spoon's Britt Daniel, who was behind the boards). The choice of instrumentation and mix allow each musical voice the space to breathe -- on its own, as well as be part of the larger whole. Leadoff track "Percussion Gun" is instantly likeable due to its insistent drumbeat and spare minor piano chords, but it's the subtle thrill of songs like "Lionesse" that put the icing on the cake. The song is completely unpredictable, owing to its unstructured, likely spur-of-the-moment jamminess, and if you listen on headphones, you can hear one of the musicians mutter at the end, "I hope that got on tape." (Thanks to Britt, it did).

2. Dodos - Time to Die
This one took a while to grow on me, but once it did, I couldn't stop playing it. Dodos added a vibraphone to their spartan drums/guitar duo, but like with the White Rabbits album, there's still plenty of space for the music to breathe. This is a tight band that plays with finesse and never shows off. The guitar strums occasionally, but is usually a jumbled melody of picked notes, while the drummer lets his floor tom do the talking and wisely keeps away from his cymbals. My favorite track, "Fables" rides on a drumbeat that switches from a reggaeton shuffle to a West African sway and is probably the only song I spontaneously sang along with this year, EVERY TIME: "I don't want to go in the fire / I just want to stay in my home."

3. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Back in the day (Feb. 2008), Master Shake and I went to see No Kids open for Dirty Projectors at the Black Cat. At the time, Dirty Projectors were bashing their way through their recently-released Black Flag covers album, and despite us (ok, me) digging the art-geek idea of covering an entire album from memory, something just didn't sit right with either of us. We left after three songs. Cut to this summmer, when I found out the Projectors were opening for TV on the Radio, one of my favorites. I went in with an open mind, and I'm glad I did. The bashing was still there, courtesy of their drummer, whose style is at once heavy handed and syncopated, like John Stanier from Battles. But it's what floats on top that makes this band special: squiggly guitar lines, (dare I say it?) funky basslines, a dash of keyboard, a flannel shirt, cutoffs, a couple of scrunchies, and four, count 'em, four vocalists, whose voices and vocal parts mesh together excellently. "Stillness Is the Move" is one of the best songs of the year.

4. Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another
Future of the Left's last album, 2007's Curses, was so fantastic that I wondered how they could possibly follow it up. Travels With Myself and Another finds FOTL writing a leaner, edgier album with fewer quiet-time tracks (there's nothing approaching "The Contrarian" or "The Big Wide O," for example). David Malitz of the Washington Post sums the album up better than I can (for the record, I had written some blather about "weapons grade songs"... seems this band inspires combat metaphors): "Guitars like knives, lyrics like daggers and a rhythm section that pounds with the ferocity and speed of a rapidfire machine gun. The Welsh trio is at once terrifying and hilarious; no other band is this loud, clever and catchy." 2 Tru! Standout tracks: "Arming Eritrea," "You Need Satan More Than He Needs You," "Drink Nike."

5. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I don't care how many movies and cars and diapers these songs hawked in 2009, or how popular this band and this album became. I only care that "Lisztomania" and "1901" were the best one-two album-opening punch I heard all year. Well, I also care to say that I love how so many of these songs end without a downbeat to finish them off, they just vanish into thin air, making me want to put them on repeat. FYI, in some countries, it is a crime not to own Phoenix's previous album, 2007's It's Never Been Like That.

6. Japandroids - Post-Nothing
To write a good song, do you need to write complicated guitar parts with more than three chords? Do you need to nail all your drum fills? Do you need to sing well? No, no, and no. You just need to play and sing like your life depends on it. And a garage and some gear, but that's beside the point. Japandroids give it their all on every song. The result is a supremely fun album. Top track: "Young Hearts Spark Fire." I like to think that when the duo plays it live, they hit all the starts and stops without looking at each other, ESP-style.

7. Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
Initially, it was hard for me to get through this album because the opening track, "Glass," is that good. I put it on repeat maybe 10 times before letting the rest of the album unfold. Welcome to her Otherworld.

8. Basement Jaxx - Scars
Quoth Master Shake: "Basement Jaxx?!?!?! You mean WHERRRRRRRE'S YOURRRRR HEADDDD ATTTT Basement Jaxx???" Yes, that Basement Jaxx. I've never really been a fan of these guys, but I checked out this album on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. All the guest appearances flow so well together, it's kind of unbelievable. The first half of the record is all hits, spanning multiple musical genres, sometimes within one song.

9. Cex - Bataille Royale
I almost slept on this one too since I hadn't looked Cex up since 2003 or so. On this album, Cex dropped the rapping and focused on what he does best: program ridiculously good beats. This is Baltimore Club. As played by robots. On the moon. Also, the robots are having sex.

10. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
I have been guilty of sleeping on YLT in the past, and was shown up for it by their last album, 2006's fantastic I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass. Here, Yo La Tengo are comfortable and having a blast. They're playing around with you. When I first listened to this album, sometime during the third song, I wondered, "Do Yo La Tengo still write those fast, buzzy songs like "Sugarcube" and "Cherry Chapstick"?" Track 4, you betcha ("Nothing to Hide"). The opening to "If It's True" is so unabashedly identical to "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" that you realize, they're not calling it Popular Songs for nothing.

Just Missed the Cut

Neko Case - Middle Cyclones
Oh, Neko. You're always there for me with your fantastic voice, your crazy-good backing band, and your nature worship.

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
The tag everyone likes to hang on these guys is "boring." And even though my attention wavered during the middle of this album, second track "Two Weeks" and album closer "Foreground" were two of my favorite songs of the year.

Mount Eerie - Wind's Poem
A wonderful nature poem set to music ranging from black metal ("Wind's Dark Poem") to quotes from the Twin Peaks theme ("Between Two Mysteries").

Tim Hecker - An Imaginary Country

I'm Pretty Sure These Albums Would Be On My Best-of List If I Spent Some More Time With Them

xx - xx

Wye Oak - The Knot

Great Songs of 2009 from Other Albums

Riceboy Sleeps - "Happiness"
Ty Segall - "Die Tonight"
Metric - "Help I'm Alive"
Animal Collective - "My Girls"
Thom Yorke - "Hearing Damage"
Telekinesis! - "Coast of Carolina"
Fuck Buttons - "Surf Solar"
Lily Allen - "The Fear (Son of Vader Nitemair Remix)"
The National - "So Far Around the Bend"
Kevin Drew - "Love vs. Porn"
The Big Pink - "Dominos"
Atlas Sound - "Walkabout"
Cut Off Your Hands - "Turn Cold"
Mount Kimbie - "Maybes"

Best Live Shows I Attended in 2009
Run for Cover @ Black Cat (August 1)

Glenn Kotche (of Wilco) with Bang on a Can All Stars @ University of Maryland (March 29)

T.V. on the Radio & Dirty Projectors @ 9:30 Club (June 8)

Wye Oak @ The Black Cat (December 27)

Future of the Left @ Rock N Roll Hotel (October 29)

Des Ark & Trophy Wife @ DC Mini Gallery (June 18)

Space Tigers @ Velvet Lounge (June 14)

Sonic Youth @ 9:30 Club (July 6)

Best Book About Music I Read This Year
Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records by John Cook, Mac McCaughan, and Laura Ballance
-- When I read it, I felt like I was catching up with old friends. And they made me a scrapbook with pictures, torn setlists, and broken guitar picks. In other words, a cool scrapbook.

Best Band, Album, or Music Book from the Past That I Discovered This Year

Low - "Violent Past"
-- via my brother from another mother, Dennis.

Robert Fripp and Brian Eno - No Pussyfooting.
-- Remastered, slo-mo'ed, reversed, chopped, screwed, and what have you. Headphones are your friend. This was like the year of Brian Eno for me.

Robert Wyatt - Comicopera
The Undertones - "Teenage Kicks"
-- I have John Peel to thank for these two. RIP big guy.

Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus
-- on the back of the book, Malcolm McLaren claims it is "crazy, wild, at times almost inarticulate." And he's right. But Mr. Marcus' enthusiasm and ambition in weaving together a mixtape of his favorite music, art, and political movements from the 20th century is plenty enough to win me over.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No. 8 - fun.'s Aim and Ignite

We need to reward genre hopping more. Like right now.

What is fun.? Is it gospel? Is it folk? Is it carnival music? Is it Queen?

There's horns, violins, boy girl harmonies, and the soaring vocals of former Format lead singer Nate Ruess. It's cheesy and very senior year drama high school musical to be sure. But hey, you like Glee right?

Ruess doesn't hold back, with the first four songs on the album kinda grabbing you and shaking you down for spare change. Be calm, he skitters and scatters. He channels Freddie Mercury often (All the Pretty Girls) and it's nice when he does (not like Adam Lambert, who you kinda wish would just shut the fuck up).

The sweetest song is the piano recital-esque The Gambler. It dips into treacle at points, but again, you still eat Apple Jacks and watch Glee.

Not all pop has to be serious, or studied. Sometimes it only needs to be fun.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: No. 9 - Pains of Being Pure At Heart's self titled album

There are easy jokes to be made about their horrible name, or disgusting cover art. What the fuck is that anyway?

But the hype surrounding this album is real. I've never found myself so strangely hypnotized by shoegazey noise pop. Fuzzed out guitars, sweet boy-girl vocals, evocations of Black Tambourine, The Arrogants, or Cranberries (that's right, I said it). It's young and it makes me feel young listening to it.

But these John Hughes soundtracked songs are, like John Hughes movies, about teens and their problems. That means mostly sex. Come Saturday, Tenure Itch, This Love is Fucking Right... all teen twee sex songs (dirty sex songs to boot). Hopefully you'll be adding Young Adult Friction to your mixtapes. Nothing says love like doing it on a stack of moldy books in the library. It has my vote for best song of the year

But the other songs are just as sweet. A Teenager in Love bops in with that ridiculous drum and you can't help but dancing. Contender bottles up that loser feeling and makes you feel good.

Next time you watch Pretty in Pink, turn off the sound and play this album. Imagine yourself dancing with Molly Ringwald. All will be alright.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Best Albums of 2009 No. 10 - M. Ward's Hold Time

I want to give it up for M. Ward. With Hold Time, he has made me finally in some small measure appreciate and even love Zooey Deschanel's voice. But M. Ward is doing more here than making me into less of a She & Him hater.

With Hold Time, M. Ward is giving us his own thesis on American rock n'roll, in what the entire time has been his own personal master class on the subject.

There's the dreamy cover of Buddy Holly's Rave On (again, the furture Mrs. Gibbard singing backup). But why ape when you can create your own? He channels Jerry Lee Lewis with To Save Me, with frenetic piano playing, but still there is Ward, crooning - "Save from sailing over the edge" and doo doo dooing in the background.

There's the ghost of The Man in Black hanging over Fisher of Men (complete with not so oblique biblical references). And Phil Spector's Wall of Sound is there always, asking if this could be any louder (seriously, is he just banging stuff on his chords on the last song?).

But when he somehow melds them all together, it works. Stars of Leo, Never Had Nobody Like You, Jailbird - these are the real true keepers you'll find yourself going to again and again.

M. Ward hits magic twice on this album. He makes all the songs hang together. And he makes me kinda sort of look forward to She & Him Volume 2.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Honorable Mentions

I'm going to start writing here, and pretend as if I have updated the blog in over a month.

For the past few weeks, I've been selecting, shuffling and discarding my favorite albums of the 2009. And what a hard and delightful task it was. There were some really stellar releases, way more than 10.

Which leaves us here... the honorable mention pile.

Maybe pile is not the right word. Glorious heap?

Anyway, we're gonna start from the bottom. Today Honorable Mentions. Tomorrow No 10.

Without further adieu...

"Outer South" by Conor and Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
The former Saddle Creek CEO, Bright Eyes-er has finally given up that tortured ghost and completes 2008's self-titled album with a bookend featuring his chums all touching their inner alt-Mexican country music (or something... he's defying and embracing genre). It's a good album when he sings (Cabbage Town), better at points when his mates do it (Air Mattress), and great when they all pitch in (Ten Women). But it's missing something. It feels slapdash too jaunty, but maybe that makes it better.

"Dark Was The Night" by Various Artists
Every indie artists worth his/her salt in 2009 shows up on this AIDS benefit compilation album. Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Conor, Spoon, Dirty Projectors, My Morning Jacket, et cetera, et cetera. It's almost too much. And for every five songs I like (So Far Around The Bend has made me love The National), there's one I don't. But eh. I'd rather have a finally curated tasting menu by one chef than parade by a thousand.

"The Knot" by Wye Oak
Good things are coming out of Baltimore. Probably the best is Wye Oak. The Knot is confounding. Is it shoegaze? Is it noisepop? I have no idea. It's gorgeous is what it is. That loud quiet sound has been rocking my ears for 20 years.

"Adult Nights" by Wild Light
You like Arcade Fire but find wanna turn the pop meter waaaaay up? Yeah, you'll like this. What's not to love about that catchy and profane "California on my Mind"? Or the jangly guitars and synth of "Canyon City"? Did I mention they sound like Arcade Fire?

"Cutting Ties" by We Were Pirates
Listen up. If you're not rocking DC bands, you should be. We like We Were Pirates. My kid likes We Were Pirates. You should like this. You like indie pop about girls and love? You'll dig this.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The End Draws Nigh

I love this time of year. Crisp air, falling leaves, end of year lists.

I got about 20 albums that are drop dead fantastic this year. Telekinesis, Jigga, M. Ward, Phoenix, Spoon, Conor, etc...

But I'm sure I missed some.

This is an open invitiation to tell me what I missed, what I should've listened to over these past 10 months. Send me an email, or a tweet, or a comment here.

As always, your comments are fairplay to be reposted and mocked.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What We're Listening To - Thao's Know Better Learn faster

I don't know why I never got Thao's 2008 album We Brave Bee Stings and All. It's really good, and everyone seemed to put it on their EoY lists.

And I'm not even sure what made me pick up this DC-area native's next album Know Better Learn faster.

I think a lot had to do with the album art. On Bee Stings, there's a picture of a woman's throat, gray and white and black. Eh.

But on Know Better, there's Thao, peeking from blindfold, waiting to hit a pinata heart, a massive drunken party cheering behind her, silver confetti floating around.

This album is going to be fun.

And it is fun. Fun folk dance rock. When We Swam is this sexy romp, with Thao playfully crooning "Bring your hips to me." There's a party going on in a very personal moment on the song Body... you're invited. Even the closing track, Easy, admonsihes those pouty faced muthafuckas along the wall to burn it up before turning off the lights. Thao: "Even sad people dance too... I make it easy easy."

Yes she does.

Get Thao's Know Better Learn Faster

Buy from Kill Rockstars

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amie Street

Download from eMusic

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chris Walla and J. Robbins Make Sweet Sweet Music

Oh Bob Boillen. You smooth voiced little music imp of NPR. Your podcasts are so delightfully weird, that there are days that I love them, and days when I want to reach my hands in through the speakers and strangle your throat.

And today, I catch this little amusement you've done on NPR, like some sort of hipster, liberal arts college derived reality TV show for the radio conceit: take two well known musicians (Chris Walla and J. Robbins) and force them to make a song in two days based on a picture they select.

Seriously, I'd simply say WTF and peace out. Unless you were giving out The Women of NPR cheesecake calendars. Sylvia Poggioli and Meshell Norris....rawr...

And yet, what came out was fairly good. I mean, it's Death Cab derivative, but it's remarkably pleasant. I was expecting something else. More folky. I don't know why.

And yet, there's no way for me to purchase the song. Or even an embed code. What do you want, some sort of pledge? You and those fucking pledge drives.

Oooh, a Steve Inskeep beer coozie for a gift of $65!

Check Out Mercury by Chris Wall and J Robbins here

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Interview with Telekinesis's Michael Lerner

There's probably not an album I've gushed over more this year than the self-titled debut from Telekinesis. Every song on this album is a power pop masterpiece. And despite these simple lyrics about love, you can tell a lot of time and thought went into making this a perfect album.

Michael Lerner, the one man force behind Telekinesis, is on tour in Europe with Shimmy Shake favorites and label mates The Rosebuds and fellow Pacific Northwesterners The Thermals. He took a little time out to do Five Questions with us.

Shimmy Shake: First off, how's the Europe trip going? The Rosebuds and The
Thermals, that sounds like a blast.

Michael Lerner: It's amazing! I absolutely love Europe. It's so different from touring in America. The scenery changes so dramatically in a very short amount of time, you are dealing with constant language changes, and the food is incredible (even for a vegetarian!). I am having a wonderful time, and pinch myself everyday that rock and roll music is the reason I get to travel around in Europe for a month. It's pretty much the best. And The Rosebuds and The Thermals are the real deal. SO good, and so excited to play shows with them.

SS: Your album was an instant like on my part, and almost everyone I know loves it. What are some of your favorite songs from the album?

ML: Thanks very much! I appreciate that. For me, my favorite song is Foreign Room. It was the last one I wrote before we made the record, and I like how I didn't over think it. I also really like the fact that lots of people are grabbing onto Coast Of Carolina (download from Merge Records). That song started out as a way to kill time before meeting a friend in my practice space. Sometimes interesting things can happen when you are least expecting it to.

SS: I saw you at XX Merge. Introduced by Ben Gibbard, playing with Ivan
and Matt Caws. How'd that whole thing come together? Any highlights from that weekend?

ML: It was so fun, XX Merge. The story is insane, actually. The band that I usually play with in Seattle was unable to come to the show for a number of reasons, one of which was our guitar player fell off of his bicycle and broke his hip, and the other was David and Jonie (who are married) had some health issues to take care of. All of this happened within about a week to three days before we were due to fly to North Carolina for this show. So, I scrambled, and called my friend Matthew from Nada Surf (who was on tour in Japan at the time!), and he agreed to fly from Japan to North Carolina the day before the show, and learn all the tunes, and play guitar. Ivan came about because of the Merge connection. I just got his number off some people, called him, and he was totally up for it. Matthew and Ivan did such an incredible job. We rehearsed for one hour before we played, and totally nailed it, considering all that was against us. I had a really incredible time there!

SS: What are you listening to now? What has been some of your favorite music so far this year? What are some essential 'listen-to's" while on tour?

ML: Currently, there is this band from England called Wild Beasts. They put out a new record that I really really love. The Clientele (who are also on Merge) have a new record coming out called "Bonfires On The Heath" and it is pretty much my soundtrack to this tour in Europe. It's almost like they wrote that record just for me, it fits so perfectly into my life currently. Also, I recently got into The Vaselines, and I love that quite a lot. Warsaw (pre Joy Division) is incredible. And I'm way way way into late 60's French pop right now, specifically things like France Gall and Jacques Dutronc.

SS: How are you going to top 2009? What's on tap for 2010?

ML: Eek! I don't know. It's been so amazing so far, and surpassed every expectation I ever had. Hopefully Telekinesis will have a new record out in 2010!

Thanks to Michael for taking some time out for this interview. And extra thanks to Lindsey and Christina from Merge Records for setting this up!

Get Telekinesis's eponymous debut album

Buy from Merge Records

Buy from Amazon

Get from eMusic

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thoughts on Where The Wild Things Are

I've been listening to the Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack pretty much nonstop since streaming it yesterday and then buying it I kinda have some thoughts rolling around my head about it, the book, the movie, my childhood, my children's childhood, etc.

This movie is for the Gen X-ers, filmed by a Gen X-er who fed us some of the most amazing visual images while we were young (Sabotage, that Fatboy Slim video with Chritopher Walken flying, pretty much any ), written by a Gen X-er who set the bar, for good or bad, on our 90s satire, schmaltz and cynicism meter (you like the Daily Show and Conan because you like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). And the music is by a girl with so much indie catchet it's got to be good (fortunately it is).

It plays to our stupid sense of nostalgia, pining for a time that's kind of stuck in place.

Where am I going here?

I'm not quite sure. I think the movie will be awesome, and the soundtrack without a doubt is (fuck this is good). I just don't want to feel played.I loved Away We Go, but in the end, I felt like I had been handed something purposefully crafted to make me feel a certain way.

Maybe that's what all art is.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What We're Listening To - Cutting Ties by We Were Pirates

I will never get tired of indie pop. You give me some crazy ridiculous jangly guitar, some hand claps, sweet vocal harmonies, and I'm sold.

So when I got a recommend from Amie Street for local boy We Were Pirates (nee Mike Boggs with sometimes help), I was hooked instantly. It's short, fast and hits hard.

Boggs is best when he's sunny. The songs are full of simple, easy words about simple, easy love. Since when did indie have to be tortured all the time?

Settle Down he dangles marriage as a way to get his girl. The Three of Us has him settling for love in a weird triabgle, as long as "you love me more than you love him." Rich Girl is Beach Boys pastiche, with copycat vocals... all it's missing is the surfing.

It falters a bit when the songs get darker or more aggressive. Little Monsters and Long Year seem out of place. And for those of you pining for music DCFC used to make, check out the closer Don't Forget.

Get Cutting Ties by We Were Pirates


Amie Street



Sorry it's been so long since I updated.

After Merge XX, it kinda was tough getting back intot he music swing of things.

And then when I did, I didn't really have time to post. Excuses excuses.

Today is October, and strangely enough I think this marks one year of this crazy blog thingy. Way to go for me.

I got some stuff planned for the upcoming month. Stay tuned. Your RSS feeds might get overloaded this week...

Friday, August 14, 2009

We Get Letters

An email from occassional blogger here Jeff M.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeffrey M [mailto:JMXXXX@XXX.XXX]
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 11:30 AM
To: The DP
Subject: telekinesis

Friday night i baked some brownies and put on the Telekinesis album in my kitchen. talk about perfect baking music... the dude is so earnest and hopeful and in love... these brownies are going to turn out fantastic! (and they did). Mr telekinesis doesn't stand in the doorway, he just barges right into the room with his 3-minute pop songs about how he much loves you and then quits the mic. when the last song on the album played, i knew it was the last song. i didn't even want to check the ipod to confirm. i was right.

coast of carolina is a hit. that song should be blaring out of every car this summer.

ps. woke up with the song "Awkward Kisser" in my head:

when i woke up/
you were by my side

and it was true. awesome.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jeff M.'s Best of 2009 So Far

Like Zak, my best-of-2009-so-far list has been a long time coming. There's plenty I haven't checked out yet that I hope to add to this list by the end of the year.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Not quite as good as It's Never Been Like That, but then again, not much is.)

Future of the Left - Travels with Myself and Another (They got angrier and edgier; I didn't think it was possible. They are a lean, mean, insulting-people-you-don't-know machine.)

Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

White Rabbits - It's Frightening

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

Tim Hecker - An Imaginary Country (perfect headphones record for your commute)

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest (mainly for "Two Weeks" and "Foreground")

Live Shows
Glenn Kotche (of Wilco) with Bang on a Can All Stars @ University of Maryland (March 29)-- What an amazing and disciplined drummer Glenn is. Completely zen and in full control of his surroundings. Incredible.

Dirty Projectors @ 9:30 Club (June 8) -- By the time they were done, I had completely forgotten that TV on the Radio were on next.

Des Ark & Trophy Wife @ DC Mini Gallery (June 18) -- The space (a storefront converted into a minimal thrift store/gallery) gave me the DIY warm fuzzies. The gallery's wood floors allowed Des Ark's rhythm section to lay down a stomp & hand clap accompaniment to Aimee's acoustic guitar on a couple songs. This would not be possible at most clubs in D.C. Note to city permit people: please keep allowing 20-somethings to open and run music venues.

Sonic Youth @ 9:30 Club (July 6) -- I can only hope I rock this hard when I'm 50.

Space Tigers @ Velvet Lounge (June 14) -- First show by locals from College Park, MD. Reminded me of Mazzy Star, except with drone-y Jesus and Mary Chain guitars on top. Why didn't I think of that?

Rock n Roll @ Studio Theatre -- Ok, it was a play, not a band. But the soundtrack of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, and the Plastic People of the Universe (who knew?) was so good it made me forget how much I hate the boomers. Hi Mom and Dad!


Monday, August 3, 2009

It's about time...

So I've waited until August for this...but here you go anyway! I need order and I need ten. So here are Zak's top ten (in order) from the fine year of 2009 (so far)...

1. Harlem shakes--Technicolor Health

2. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
3. Cymbals Eat Guitars--Why There Are Mountains
4. Bon Iver--Blood Bank EP
Various Artists--Dark Was the Night
6. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Vally Band--Outer South
7. Maria Taylor--Ladyluck
8. Telekinesis!--Telekinesis!
The Dodos--Time to Die
10. Yim Yames--Tribute to George Harrison

You can expect this to change (perhaps quite drastically) in the next few months. We shall all behold the amazingness of the new Avett Brothers and the Monsters of Folk (Oberst, Ward, James, Mogis) records. And if that Yo La Tengo lives up to it's hype (Boston bars anyone?) then we are all in for a good second half (or in my case last third) of 2009!

Peace Out Girl Scouts!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I can not lie. Day three of Merge XX has been plfucking phenomenal lineup. Each band brouth it harder and better than the band before.

However it was Lambchop that stole the entire show, setting the bar so unbelievably high that no one after even came close. I wrote them off for thei mellow vibe after two amazing sets by The Essex Green and Spent.

But then they justbuilt and built and built until the incredible crescendo of their 'Once In a Lifetime' cover.

That my friends is music magic. The crowd went INSANE. it was such a solid performance I think Polvo was scared to come on next.

Right now we're awaiting Spoon. And by awaiting, I mean the lights just went dim.

We will talk more later. I am about to rock.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

So far we've seen The Broken West (very awesome), Richard Buxkner (a little intense) and Guv'ner (nice but not worth the wait).

Guv'ner apparently hasn't played in 10 years. It shows, but it's a true testament to Merge Records that so many bands that haven't played together in years would come out for this.

Happy birfday Merge! Here's to another 20 years!

We're here at Day Dos of Merge XX. My companion in all of this, Adam R., had the foresight to get us close to the stage so here we are , dead center.

We have no idea who's showing up tonight. We're a little more certain as opposed to yesterday, but still in the dark nonetheless.

It also seems we've met some cool people tonight near the stage with us.

Keep following. We'll update at the breaks (just so you dorks don't think I'm not watching the show).

Also, if there is some merch you want, email me and we'll setup a paypal or something. They got some good swag.

We're here at Day Dos of Merge XX. My companion in all of this, Adam R., had the foresight to get us close to the stage so here we are , dead center.

We have no idea who's showing up tonight. We're a little more certain as opposed to yesterday, but still in the dark nonetheless.

It also seems we've met some cool people tonight near the stage with us.

Keep following. We'll update at the breaks (just so you dorks don't think I'm not watching the show).

Also, if there is some merch you want, email me and we'll setup a paypal or something. They got some good swag.

The Rosebuds Get Some Help Singing Nice Fox

So not the best video quality, but here's a clip of The Rosebuds getting the crowd to singalong to Nice Fox as they closed out their set at Merge XX.

They put on one helluva a show, probably only topped in energy and crowd participation by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band.

Without a doubt, my favorite show of the night.

So... We just saw The Magenetic Fields put on an unbelievable show. Now I have to go buy all their old stuff. I was floored by how amazing they were

Before them was The Clientele, who were good, but like Sunday morning clean the house kind of good.

Now setting up on stage are The Rosebuds, one of my all time favorite bands that Zak and Shelby hipped me to about two years ago. They've come through DC a billion times since then, but I've always missed them. Not today.

I really psyched about this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When you go to these kind of things, you have to be open to all bands and all kinds of music. You can't be like a picky chid at a buffet.

Right now we're watching Oakley Hall. I was a little put out that it took the band a half hour to setup for what will essentially be a 20 minute set. They have 7 members on stage and i almost have the feeling they were restrained in that regard.

This is a band I'd check out if I had my old eMusic plan of 50 credits a month. But seeing as how I now only have 35, they'd have to knock my socks off. And only Lou Barlow has really impresssed me. So far. The night and the week is young.

Oakly Hall is good. This would be good in the fall, driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Right now we're listening to Lou Barlow, kind of a cool singer songwriter fellow. Think a more American Damien Rice. First up was Pure. And much to my delight, Kelly Crisp from The Rosebuds is the MC tonight.

Lou just told us that he has a new album dropping in October from Merge. Make sure you check it out.

Hey everyone! The Shimmy Shake is live at Merge Records 20th anniversary show this week I'll be updating live from the concerts each night as well as on my Twitter. Maybe we can even score some interviews. Please keep reading and tell all your cool ass friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The DP's Top Music of the year so far...

So I've been lollygaggin since I put out the request to my fellow gang of bloggers about this. But below you will find what I think is some of the best music so far this year. There are some surprises, but for the most part, what you see here is stuff I have either written about here or on the Twitters (you follow me right???)

Nevertheless, here it goes.

1. Death Cab For Cutie's "The Open Door EP."
What a perfect album. Or EP. whatever. Leaps and bounds better than Narrow Stairs, with some of Gibbard's best songwriting to date.

2. Dark was the Night, Various Artists.
I listened to this again today to make sure I wanted to put it on here. It seems like a copout. Like an indie record buffet, everyone is sure to find four or five tracks they love. But sample it all. You will fall in love again and again as you listen to it.

3. Technicolor Health by The Harlem Shakes
This snuck up on me. Yes, Shelby's played them on his show a bazillion times, but seriously, that Strictly Game song is the best feel good song of the year. But the album is full of good music, witty lyrics ("I don't even get your t-shirt's pun"), and just a good time. This will be on your summer playlist.

4. Adult Nights by Wild Light
You will get hooked by the chorus of the first song. You wil stay for the Arcade Fire lite tunes. Backed by a major label (and an awesome promo team), this will be a strong contender at the 2009 Grammys.

5. Colonia by A Camp
Dream 70's schmaltz pop by Swedish chantreuse. Yeah it works. And works and works and works again. Oh, what's that, you don't own it? You must have been absent in the crazy media build up for it. (Note: Publicity companies: Take a hype machine note from Stunt Publicity)

6. Telekinesis!
I'm genuienly excited about seeing this band at Merge XX. His album is just a well produced treat. The Tokyo song is another party starter this summer.

Remainders: M Ward's Hold Time, Discovery's LP, Major Lazer's (aka Diplo/Switch) Guns Don't Kill People, Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Cut Off Your Hands' You and I)

You know where to find this stuff.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Georgy's top 10 albums and songs of 2009 (so far)

Hi folks. Georgy here. Dave asked me to shimmy on over (h'yuk) and share some of my favorite musical items from 2009 thus far. I haven't added an excessive amount of commentary, but hopefully enough to get you interested.

Note: I deliberately picked songs that are not on any of the top 10 albums. I cast a much wider net for MP3s than I do for albums, so I think there are some interesting picks in there.

If you like what you read, you can catch me blogging regularly over at Safe Digression.

Without further ado...


Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
- YYY albums always sneak up on me. I think they'll just be alright, and then Karen O never fails to blow me away. 'Blitz' is no different.
Eels - Hombre Loco
- A concept piece revolving around the concept of desire, the inimitable Mr. E leaves it all out on the table once more, and you can't help but be affected.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
- Yes, their band may have the most precious/pretentious name ever, but they put out a heck of a fun record, poppy with a hint of 80s throwback.
Hello Saferide - More Modern Short Stories From...
- My favorite quirky Swedish chanteuse
Bob Mould - Life and Times
- The man, the myth, the legend - he's not quitting anytime soon. Another solid effort.
Bishop Allen - Grrr...
- These guys continue to be some of the most inventive popsmiths out there. Another Boston(-originated) band makes good.
Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
- What more can be said? She is simply captivating. This album is a compelling work that demands your attention.
A Camp - Colonia
- Another rec from the DP himself. I love me some Cardigans, and while the slower tempo on this record took some time for me to adjust to, I soon fell hard.
Passion Pit - Manners
- Yay, another Boston band makes good! Some of the most fun, well-crafted music I've heard in a while.
AC Newman - Get Guilty
- I always feel like AC is better off sticking to his other life as a Pornographer, but his solo work is pretty enjoyable, and this is no different -- probably better than his solo debut, actually.

Phoenix - 1901
- Just a fun electro-poppy cut from some hipper-than-thou French dudes.
Baby Dayliner - You Push, I'll Go
- I imagine this song playing in the car when you're heading out to the bar. Gonna get a vodka soda, with a lime, with a lime.
The Decemberists - The Rake's Song
- Was not a fan of this album, but this song just kicks ass. Deliciously spiteful.
St. Vincent - Marrow
- A fun, dark and crunchy offering from the lovely Ms. Clark.
Mary Onettes - Dare
- This song is a delightfully fuzzy new wave throwback.
Owl City - Hot Air Balloon
- The DP actually turned me onto this. He described it best: Postal Service Lite. Still fun, though.
Nickodemus - Sun Children
- An awesomely catchy summer jam, complete with a great horn section.
Thunderheist - Sweet 16
- Here's your dirty club cut of the summer.
Paper Moon - What Are You Going to Do with Me?
- This Canadian band has not got enough props for their solid head-bobbing pop.
Brighton Port Authority feat. David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal - Toe Jam
- Probably my favorite song of the year. The video is a must-see. Censorship was never so much fun.

Monday, July 6, 2009

eMusic gets it right?

I was pretty harsh on Twitter about eMusic's summer changes. With the addition of the back catalogs of the major labels, plus the shrinking of my credits, I was not pleased.

But then I read this piece on 17Dots about how they were going to approach Sony, Epic, Arista, etc. And I remembered that I love music. I'm not clinging to indie. Some of my favorite artists are on major labels.

I also picked up MJ's Thriller.

I could see this working. I think eMusic is doing the right thing by expanding its consumer base while trying still honor the music. And this is good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't Blink

I'm a fan of the Harlem Shakes Technicolor Health.

I'm an even bigger fan of this video. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What We're Listening To - Discovery 'LP'

Is it just me, or has there been a slump in music recently?

I'm glad summer is here. I hope this means a slew of good music. Stuff for long drives, stuff for afternoon cookouts.

But what about stuff for late night deck parties, filled with dry Rose (yes it's back in again), starry skies and sexiness?

The indie-super duo Discovery delivers with their oddly titled album, LP.

The love child of Vampire Weekend producer/keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot lead singer Wes Miles is an indie rock math equation that shouldn't happen. The results are nothing short of perfect.

What you have essentailly are is indie pop AutoTuned to hell. And despite J-Hova's anthemic proclamation (and summertime hit in it's own right) the little Roger and Zapp sounding voicebox ain't quite dead yet. And we're luckier for it.

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend with Dirty Projectors XXX is the jam. Joey Ramone would approve. Can You Discover?, already a standout about longing from Ra Ra Riot's 2008 album, gets the T-Pain treatment and succeeds wildly.

The album blips and bops around like a video game on crack. Osaka Loop Line feels like a trip through sonic the hedgehog. And what I hope won't be a trend this year, there's a cover of the Jackson 5's I want You Back.

I think T-Pain is finally getting in on the meta joke that is AutoTune (see him at the 2009 BET Awards). What I wanted Kanye's album to be (fun, party jams) Discovery's LP has achieved.

Get this now. Your summer party guests will thank you.

BONUS: Buy it from Amie Street for $8 and $2 goes to Oxfam.

Get Discovery's LP

Amie Street

Album available everywhere July 7.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What We're Listening To - Other Lives self-titled album

Rainy days need soundtracks.

I'm sure somewhere it's sunny right now, but it's drizzly and miserable in Shimmy Shake world HQs. For sure, I wish it wasn't.

I jacked in my iPod and hit shuffle. And came across Other Lives, and album I downloaded a few months ago but had totally forgotten about.

And maybe it's the rain, and just a sad set of circumstances, but this is one of the best albums of the year.

The best way to describe this music is to listen to the post-Bends acoustic musings of Radiohead. It's haunting but scary, all the times melodic, very precise and richly textured.

The album starts off on kind of a downer, which is probably why is sat on my iPod for so many weeks unloved and unlistened to.

(Listen bands, choose your track order wisely. You need to hook listeners in.)

But then the album hits that Radiohead comparison I was talking about. Don't Let Them is like Thom Yorke and Jeff Buckley got together, got drunk, and laid down some tracks.

Speed Tape reminds me of some of the prettier moments of Boys For Pele, but the claustrophobia and loneliness of OK Computer. The tinkling on the piano, the cello, the the jangly guitar. Hell, the shakers that make their way in after the bridge seem to build this acoustic wall that just falls in on top of you.

Sounds like a lot? It is. But it's a gorgeous ride.

The album closer, Epic, is just as preciously constructed as the other tracks. It builds and builds, until it finally closes up.

Perfect for rainy days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

To our friend Shelby on his birthday

We wanted to take a moment and wish Shelby Miller, the host of Shifted Sound, a warm and happy birthday.

Normally we don't do stuff like this (isn't that what Facebook walls are reserved for) but Shelby has been an inspiration and driving force behind The Shimmy Shake. He has turned me on to some wonderful music over the past two years, and the least I could do for the man is thank him on my blog, and wish him a happy birthday.

Shelby, you're one of a kind good sir. Thanks for all the recs (even the bad ones).

Monday, May 18, 2009

What We're Listening To - Telekinesis self titled album

Driving my oldest kid to a playdate the other day, I put on the Telekinesis! album and thought I like a lot of music that's Posies-esque.

Not anything against this album. It's good. Bright, happy pop songs, with the breakout wonder song every once in awhile. I can't stop whistling Tokyo. Look to the East also brings the energy. It's short (31 minutes), but near the end, I find myself looking to make sure.

The songs are hummers. They stick with you long after the album is done.

Also impressive? This is the work of one man.

This is the perfect spring album, made for cookouts and Sunday morning house cleaning frenzies.

Zak, the sometimes blogger here, derisively said he liked it better when they were called Death Cab For Cutie (I'm guessing cos of the Chris Walla connection, who produced the album).

First, I don't think Ben Gibbard has written a song anywhere near this happy in his life.

But second, it's not all that on point. For sure, it's closer to The Posies, but the first band that came to mind was Versus.

Nevertheless, this album is good. I think I'm going to go put this on blast and roll down my windows and drive the speed limit.

Get Telekinesis's eponymous debut album

Buy from Merge Records

Buy from Amazon

Get from eMusic

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I took the month of May off for paternity leave, and had the high minded intentions of doting on my newborn son, learning French, listening to more music, and writing more on this blog thing.

The first was accomplished.

Je suis faim is the best of my French abilities.

And I've been sitting on a ton of eMusic credits. I dunno if May wasn't a good month for music or what, but eh.

It takes hard work to find good stuff. I had gotten fat and lazy because for awhile, I was tripping over good music.

But I found some time this Sunday morning to do a little writing, a little reading, and a lot of listening. I should have two new reviews up soon. And I should have an interview with A Camp sometime this week as well.

I'm all give over here.

Merci beau coup for reading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Camp Drops Today!

Is there a more hotly anticipated album out so far this year than A Camp's Colonia?

I heard my grandma talking about it the other day.

Well wait no longer. It drops today.

And because I bring you the new ish first, you can check out our review from a few weeks ago.

Get A Camp's Colonia

Buy from Amazon

Download from eMusic

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What We're Listening To - Death Cab For Cutie's The Open Door EP

I was so disappointed with DCFC last full length effort. Mostly because they launched that amazing single "I Will Possess Your Heart." and the rest of the album was such shit.

I felt ripped off a bit. Because I thought they were headed in this sort of new edgier than Coldplay, not quite as adventurous as Radiohead direction.

That was not the case. It was this kind of milquetoast interpretation of a formally very good band.

But I guess one starts dating Zooey Deschanel, and all of a sudden you're making some of the best music ever.

The Open Door EP is nothing short of brilliant. Five songs, each packing a pop wallop that makes you stand up and take notice. The first song, Little Bribes, is some sort of bizzare love story set in Las Vegas. It sets the tone because Diamond and A Tether might be some of the finest writing Gibbard has done. It just sort of hits you across the face.

It kicks up again with My Mirror Speaks, and I Was Once a Loyal Lover, that if not all together there lyrically, move sonically. And Talking Bird shows that Ben holds his own all by himself (and better than on Narrow Stairs).

The EP is worth it for the first song alone. The other four make it a necessary purchase.

Get DCFC's The Open Door EP

Buy from Amazon

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What We're Listening To - The Veils "Sun Gangs"

I have been loving this album for all of April.

It came across as a suggestions from Amie Street, and geez it's good.

I'm told the lead singer is the son of someone famous who I don't know.

I don't care.

The album starts off with what might be my second favorite single of the year so far. "Sit Down By The Fire" is this U2-esque arena rock song, big and grand but lacking Bono's bullshit.

From there the album stays poppy and dark, channeling the best of Morrissey, The Cure, and Jeff Buckley.

Yeah, you're fucking intrigued now aren't you?

It's a bit heavy on the Jeff Buckley, so if you like that, you'll like this (I mean, who doesn't like Jeff Buckley?)

The album is scattershot sonically, but that sort of randomness is good. it makes you work a little bit more to really like this album. You need to give it repeated listens. "Three Sisters" is a fantastic song, but it's not going to grab you out the gate first. "The Letter" is another beauty, a pretty ballad. And ending the album with "Begin Again" is a good move.

New Zealand is really coming strong this year.

This is my third must buy of the 2009 so far. Get it now.

Download The Veils "Sit Down By The Fire"

Buy The Veils "Sun Gangs"


Rough Trade


Monday, April 20, 2009

Why I skipped out on Record Store Day

There are those that ewould have you believe that I boycotted or deliberately missed Record Store Day.

That is only half true.

While I support independent music stores, and find them to be worthwhile and even necessary enterprises, they are not for me.

I'm a grown ass man.

Gone are the days when I had hours to while away, having esoteric arguments about whether Flava Flav added something of value to Public enemy (He was indeed the yang to Chuck's ying).

But now I have kids. I have an entire digital music collection. And I shop online. I am a child who was born with both the knowledge of the preelectronic life, and an entirely digital one.

And I chose the one and zeros.

record Store is an important event, and I'm glad bands and customers turn out to syupport them. But like my beloved print newspapers, they are an anachronism, a relic of bygone era. i support you, but I'm not sure I can sustain you.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What We're Listening To - A Camp's 'Colonia'

You probably stopped listening to Nina Persson after The Cardigan's Love Fool.

And you've missed out. Because she's never stopped making great music, with one foot firmly stuck in the 70s.

And her new effort with supergroup(?) A Camp is the fucking real deal Holyfield. James Iha plays some guitar. You got some Sparklehorse.

It is good in all kinds of ways. The entire album sounds like it was produced by Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, which as I'm writing it, sounds like a bad idea.

But the songs are all beautiful. The lead single, "Stronger Than Jesus" is sweet and witty (Burning Like Belgians in the Congo). "Chinatown" rips a line repping Polanski's movie with "This is Chinatown/just a state of mind."

She even looks a little like Mia Farrow.

My favorite song might be the girl/boy harmonies of "Golden Teeth and Silver Medals." I'm not even sure why. It reminds me of dried roses.

This is another strong contender for Top 10. Check it out.

A Camp's Colonia will be available in the US on April 28.

Thanks to Sue and Stunt Company for an early album copy.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Scrounging around the Remainder bin

- Zak and Shelby peeped me to the Record Store day thing. You know my feelings about digital music. But leave a comment if you'd be interested in me checking this out. Cos I will. I aim to please here. Give the people what they want.

- Big ups to the promotion people at Stunt. Wowzer. They are some kind of amazing. Especially Sue.

- Got a preview of the new A Camp album. That shit is good. GOOD! Like Bowie but better. I'll do a full write up later, but you need to download "Stronger Than Jesus." Like now.

- Do you follow me on Twitter? Seriously, that's where the magic happens. Sweet, < 140 character black magic.

- is pretty amazing. You should be rocking that.

- Did you hear Ep #150 of the best damn podcast ever? Okay, you still can. Even after this week is up. So this is a note to people who stumble over this site in the future. Click that link and experience the sexiness that is my voice and the bourbon fueled ramblings of my brain.

- Also future people: do we have flying cars? What about Apple implants in brains?

This weekend was made for whole hogs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Two Grand In the Bank!

Quietly, yet still resonatingly, our little site here has jumped the 2,000 page view mark.

I wish this meant something, but it really doesn't.

But here's a little simple math for you. It took 106 days for us to reach the first grand.

It took 72 for the next.

I'm not sure even Ron Jeremy or Peter North could sustain that kind of performance, but considering that I pretty much duffed March, I'm fairly amazed at the residual value that the site generates. If you listened to the epic episode #150 of Shifted Sound, you heard me briefly allude to the residual everlasting value of blogs, podcasts and other electronic media.

I digress.

Thank you all for reading the site regularly. I appreciate it a ton. I don't get ads or anything but personal satisfaction out this blog. So thanks for giving me that.

You can write it off on your taxes next year.

Soundtracks for novels?

When you're a semi-important music blogger, you get all kinds of crap in your email inbox. Mashups you don't care to hear, DJ remixes that was a good idea to someone apprently.

But amid the crap, there is often a little bit of gold.

Today's gold was the free sountrack to a novel.

That's right. A novel.

It's 'How to Break Bad News,' the debut work of Tim Molloy. According to Amazon, it's about a the collapse of the news industry and one mans struggle to... zzzzzzzz.

You didn't come here to read about a book.

The album is alright. You gotta set the bar lower for free stuff, and this sails over it. It's a collection of a bunch of RCRD LBL artists I have only mildly heard of (Coco B's...), and it's pretty good.

Eseentially you have a RCRD LBL sampler. But they call it an album. It's got a lot of energy.

The book got good reviews too. So maybe I'll give up this music thing and read a little bit.

Download "How To Break Bad News" Soundtrack from RCRD LBL

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

iTunes more expensive than Amazon?

It appears that way.

Engadget is reporting that variable pricing has gone into effect over at iTunes, and that its Top 10 songs, which are unsurprisingly similar to Amazon's, are more expensive than its competitors.

Noty sure if Jobsy poo was forced to charge more for music, or if Apple is greedy, or if amazon can just fuck up shit with prices.

But whatever it is, I like it. Keep the prices coming down boys.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cymbals Eat Your Face

So, I talked to Zak C. yesterday, just a usual check in, and he starts raving about this band Cymbals Eat Guitars, which I had seen on Pitchfork a while back (to rave reviews, which is never a good sign).

I kind of remembered hearing them on their MyFace page and had been momentarily intrigued.

They're good. I'm getting the album today, we'll report out later. it's a lot of that loud/soft/loud crash guitar stuff that was popular way back when. For all you suckas praying for Pavement to get back together, this band kinda fills that bill.

Everyone wants to be fucking Nirvana.

No in all seriousness, the stuff I've heard on their page is pretty solid. So I'm going to pick this up. They have it at Amazon. Or Insound. or itunes. or wherever music is sold.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What We're Listening To - White Lies "To Lose My Life"

You've gotta love a band that is so openly and unapologetically bombastic, while shamelessly aping the sound of an 80's synth legend.

White Lies debut isn't incredibly deep. The lyrics aren't especially moving. There doesn't seem to be a great string of literary cohesion. And I feel that if this was your standard indie pop, I would've passed this over.

But from the first track to the last, it's clear that this band is trying to be the second coming of Duran Duran. It starts out big, and is remarkable for that sustained energy alone.

When the songs are good, they make you think, “Damn, I did love the 80's” The Opener, Fear, is a tremendously large happy romp about death and love (which is kind of the album's entire theme.)

The sound is what everyone is doing now. You had The Killers make it novel a few years back, and you had The Rosebuds make it perfect with “Night of The Furies.” But this album might be the last sip from that well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's all happening

This Sunday.

The fearless leader of this not so regular group blog.

Will bring his electronic written thoughts, musings and indefensible music reviews...

To LIFE. Well not to life, per se, but in an audible electronic format.

The best damn podcast ever, Shifted Sound.

And The DP will unite. For one episode only.

And it will be AWESOME. Epic doesn't do Shifted Sound Episode #150 any justice. You ever put your tongue on a 9volt battery? This will be the same thing, but by a bajillion.

Subscribe now (in iTunes.. click this link and it will pop up) so your lame ass doesn't forget and miss it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What We're Listening To - Bishop Allen's Grrr

How can you not like Bishop Allen?

A week doesn't go by where I don't put on The Broken String, when I'm not humming a tune or quoting a song. It's my eldest son's favorite album (Click Click Click being his favorite song).

So I, like a lot of people I know, have been eagerly waiting for the follow up.

And it's here, amid a slew of other great albums, vying for attention on my iPod. And as much as I'm loving the new M. Ward, and finding out new songs to like on Dark Was the Night (New Pornographers, what?), this album has been a siren song, calling me back.

I heard a lot of these back at the concert in October, and it sounded good then, even if not totally fleshed out. I'm actually kind of sad I'm missing them this tour, because I can only imagine that after a few months of touring, these songs sound incredible live.

Essentially, Bishop Allen makes nerdy, sing-along college indie pop (that was an actual bin label at Coconuts). They use words like filibuster. They use Shanghai as a verb, and it's not racist. There's a guy playing a recorder. Lots of weird percussion shows up.

It is a fun record.

Yet, it doesn't hold on as well as Broken String. The past is prologue and all that jazz, but if you go in looking for the same kind of pop perfection, you'll be sorely disappointed. South China Moon seems oddly dark. The album opener doesn't really hook you like The Monitor.

But if you're patient, you'll be rewarded. Dirt On Your Shoes is pretty song about failure. Oklahoma makes me bounce whenever I hear it. And True or False is better song than Butterfly Nets (Heresay, I know).

The good outweighs the bit of bad, and this music is still sunny. And like a plenty of sunshine on a barely cloudy day, I think you'll enjoy this album

Get Bishop Allen's Grrr...

Buy from Amazon

Download from eMusic

Buy directly from Bishop Allen