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

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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

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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...