Archive for November, 2007

My Top 10 Favorite Albums – #10

November 21st, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

I love lists. The Rolling Top 500, Pitchfork’s Top 50 picks for every decade since the 70s and random lists all over the internet have been sources of fantastic discovery for me in the last couple years. Now I’ve decided to make my own lists of albums that just absolutely blow my mind. Obviously I’m going to leave out a gazillion amazing albums and I’m probably going to think of an album later and I’ll be like “oh that should have been on there!” but whatever man. Also, since this list should be all Beatles and Bob Dylan albums, I’ve decided to only pick one album per band/artist. And sure, maybe the exact order of this changes from time to time but the point is these are all amazing albums that deserve to be checked out. Here’s the first of the ten.

10. THE MC5 – High Time

Kick Out the Jams and Back in the USA are both fantastic albums and for a long time I didn’t bother to check out High Time because I’d heard it was the worst of the bunch. Luckily, one day I decided what the hell, how bad could it be? I was amazed by how close I came to missing out on the groups best offering. Kick out the Jams and Back in the USA were both fundamentally flawed: KOTJ is too noisy and messy at times, not to mention it’s a live album. I always loved it because it was so ridonkulous but it’s uneven. BITUSA is filled with amazing songs but it’s too clean. The production was not right for the MC5 though they still made one hell of a record. It’s just not The MC5 as they’re supposed to be. On High Time they finally got it all right. It’s cleaned up, but still rough around the edges. The songs fucking kick ass. Fred “Sonic” Smith’s “Over and Over” is the greatest song the MC5 ever recorded and one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s political, it’s personal, it’s explosive, it’s heartbreaking. The rest of the songs are great as well and it feels very well organized and perfectly timed. An incredible record that for some reason never received the status it deserved.

My Top 10 Favorite Albums – #9

November 21st, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

9. The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat

While most consider The Velvet Underground and Nico to be their best and most influential album, I was always more intrigued by White Light/ White Heat. The first time I heard it, I thought there was something wrong with the disc or the stereo or something. It sounds so messy and terribly produced. It’s filled with noise and even the vocals are distorted. Then once I figured out that that was the idea, I came to love it and it has served as a reference point for me and certain productions (the recorded version of Holly especially) ever since. It’s only six songs long but what it lacks in songs it makes up for in fearlessness. It’s the last John Cale-era VU album and I feel like he has more of an impact on it than he did on the first album. He does lead vocals on two tracks. The classic spoken word piece “The Gift” and the lovely “Lady Godiva’s Operation”. The latter is one of my favorite VU songs. It details a surgical operation performed on a woman who enjoys “curly-haired” boys. The shitty trade of vocals near the end between Lou and John is hilarious and awesome. They end up imitating the sound of surgical instruments. I love it. Lastly there’s the (in)famous 17-minute long “Sister Ray” jam. Despite it’s length, I’ve never gotten tired of this song. It’s filled with Cale’s madman Organ, Lou Reed’s frenetic guitar and Mo Tuckers relentless caveman drum-beating. An awesome song to end an awesome album.

Band of the Week – Danielson

November 20th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

While checking out Ohjibou’s All Music Guide profile, I saw they were influenced by an artist I’d never heard of. I checked him out and was tres, tres impressed. That artist is this week’s band of the week.

DANIELSON!!!

If Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse) and Sufjan Stevens had a drunk one night stand and had a really weird and wonderful child who’s best friend was Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, a gazilion other bands), that kid would be Danielson. Danielson is one of several monikers of Daniel Smith and the various rotating artists who play with him.

Hailing from Clarksboro, New Jersey, Danielson is another perfect example of what indie-pop is these days: quirky, experimental, catchy, bright and colourful. The music is filled with synths, melodicas, horns, flutes, violins and other eccentric instruments. Everything feels very happy and childish.

The sound is also a little psychedelic in it’s kaliedascopic sound. It’s sort of like The Hidden Cameras but painted a different colour. The songs are about whatever; I haven’t been able yet to derive any actual subject matter. I’ve caught bits about books and boats, everything else just seems like he’s telling some weird story about who knows what – its still interesting.

The music Danielson makes is bursting with energy, ideas and excitement. If your down with weird – check it out.

http://www.myspace.com/danielson

www.danielson.info

Band of the Week – Ohbijou

November 14th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments

Am I crossing over weeks here? I don’t know and I DAMN WELL DON’T CARE. I just had to blog about this band. They’re fucking miiiindblowing and unsigned, most definitly by choice though. Maybe you’ve heard the name floating around the indie ether, this week’s band of the week is…

OHBIJOU!!!!

No, I’m not 100% on how to pronounce it either but DAMN these guys kick ass. Fronted by the Mecija sisters, Ohbjou is a Toronto based seven-peice that makes gorgeous orchestral indie pop comme The Arcade Fire except less concerned with politics, more interested in flowers and pretty colours… They swing more towards the pretty-pop of Sufjan Stevens with the brilliant string arrangements of a Final Fantasy. I would describe them as gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous….

Unfortunately, because they’re not signed, obtaining their album is made somewhat more difficult than it is with most amazing artists we hear about(that are signed…). However, the four songs on their myspace are convincing enough. The keystones of contemporary indie pop are very present along with some nice bits to distinguish them. The twin vocal harmonies of the Mecija sisters are mesmerizing. The strings don’t sound bigger than an arcade fire but they sound amazingly refined and fantastically placed. The music swells and descends fantastically, it’s kinda sexy actually…

Look, STOP READING!!! Just go to their myspace and check out the songs and if you’re not lured into their pretty world of wonder and loveliness than I give up. You might want to double check if you’re human though.

http://www.myspace.com/ohbijou

www.ohbijou.com

Band of the Week: Bright Eyes

November 11th, 2007 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Arite, so how bout this ilan? I will write the band of the week mathinger about the challenge in order to promote your next show…but first you need to announce a show…In the meantime, the band of the week is not a band but an artist who’s literate lyrics and heartfelt melodies draw listeners in gradually. The band (er, artist) of the week is:

BRIGHT EYES!!!

Really just Conor Oberst and friends, this musical vehicle has consistently released albums of experimental alt-country genius over the last decade or so. One could describe Lifted or the Story… and Fevers and Mirror as emotionally compelling albums full of truth, sadness and beauty- others might describe them as overly pretensious and boring. The two albums he released simultaneously in 2005 (I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn) certified him as an indie rock star. Recently artists ranging from Lou Reed to MCRs Gerard Way have professed admiration for him.

When I first heard him, I thought he was a whiny give-me-pussy-pleeeeassee acoustic type (cough, James Blunt) but somehow his song “First Day of My Life” ended up on my computer and I just kept coming back to it. There was something about it that I couldn’t shake. An honesty and adherence to detail that reminded me of Dylan in his prime. He expressed something that was both contemporary and fundamentally human with an ease that distinguishes poets from the rest of the herd. I ended up checking out the entire I’m Wide Awake… album.

I’m Wide Awake… lacks the adrenaline pumping experimentalism that characterised some of his other works and is nowhere near as complex lyrically and musically as other discography entries. It’s simplicity however, made it possibly his best and most affecting album. Like the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, it is a brilliant simplicity, which sticks with the listener.

Once sucked in by I’m Wide Awake I checked out his other albums. They’re all fantastic but certain songs on them are just mindblowing. Fevers and Mirrors’ “The Calendar Hung Itself”, with it’s latin rythms and insectoid electronics propel a song of obssesive jealousy filled with brilliantly bleek images. Lyrics like “And I kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her./ She had eyes bright enough to burn me. They reminded me of yours.” and ” Does he lay awake listening to your breath?/ Worried you smoke too many cigarettes.” just reach out and smack you like only the best lyricists can do.

Lifted or the Story… has “False Advertising”: probably the greatest indie-rock waltz song ever. It’s sweeping strings are just glorious. It’s marching band drums pound as though signalling the apocalypse. A beautiful song by any definition.

The new album Cassadaga is no dissapointment. It’s string arrangements and female vocals no doubt reflect Oberst’s admiration for his contemporary indie rockers such as The Arcade Fire. He sounds more mature, his vocals are less quavery and the arrangements are larger than ever.

Rolling Stone recently called him one of the greatest songwriters of our time. I agree completely. Along with Jeff Tweedy, Conor Oberst’s literate writing is based around classic folk and country sensibilities and delivered in a way that’s modern and progressive. He’s been remarkably consistent and shows no signs of slowing down. Like Bob Dylan, Bright Eyes is an artist impossible to ignore whether you love or despise him.

Such is why he is this week’s band of the week.

http://www.myspace.com/brighteyes

http://www.saddle-creek.com/