Saturday, January 2, 2010

Will's Favorite Albums of 2009

A day late on the annual tradition of posting my favorite albums from the year on New Year's Day. This serves as the fifth anniversary of positing such a list (and also the fifth anniversary of this blog) and each one is a little different: sometimes my brother and I combine ours for a more comprehensive list, and on other occasions, I have allowed myself a list that includes albums, songs and concerts. Musically, looking back at 2009, I do not think a lot about the music that came out in 2009, but instead the music I discovered and rediscovered (most of it much older). With that in mind, I have decided for a comprehensive list that includes box sets and reissues - as I feel that most accurately reflects my listening habits from last year.

1. The Beatles In Mono (Box Set), The Beatles
Amazing CD packaging that recreates the original vinyl records combine with the best sounding Beatles recordings on CD ever. It is amazing how each song feels so familiar, even though some I have not heard in more than a decade.

2. Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968 (Box Set), Various Artists
Quite possibly my favorite Nuggets box set yet, a thoroughly comprehensive set that combines lesser known cuts from bigger LA acts (Byrds, Doors, Beach Boys) with a load of brilliant records, some of which have been out-of-print for years.

3. Two Suns, Bat For Lashes
The best album of 2009 that actually was from 2009 and number 15 on my top albums of the decade list, Two Suns was an album so brilliant it demanded my attention for days and even weeks. Natasha Khan channels Kate Bush on the year's best single, "Daniel." Elsewhere, songs recall such unlikely sources as Loreena McKennitt and Fumbling Towards Ecstacy-era Sarah McLachlan. The musical arrangements are rich reflecting Khan's art school background and a Celtic influence. Two Suns is truly unique and one of a kind.

4. Let It Roll: The Best of George Harrison, George Harrison
5. Humbug, Arctic Monkeys
6. Demos, Crosby, Stills and Nash
7. In and Out of Control, The Raveonettes
8. Lungs, Florence and the Machine
9. Declaration of Dependence, Kings of Convenience
10. Merriweather Post Pavillion, Animal Collective and The Ecstatic, Mos Def

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kid Mud's 20 Favorite Albums of the Decade

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but it seemed like the albums that I like have become much more sporadic then back in the day. When I was making this list I made a Top 50 because I love making lists. I even have a to do list on my phone with the category of lists. Narrowing it down to 20 wasn't so hard but its always the very last couple that are hard because you don't want to leave something out.

These albums really molded me through the years of how I have progressed in writing music (I hope I have progressed). The way that I chose my list is by the way I played out and destroyed these albums through the years. Also they needed to be an album that I will listen to all the way through. The top 2 are also on my Top 5 list of favorite albums EVER!!!!

1. Discovery - Daft Punk (2001)

2. It’s a Wonderful Life - Sparklehorse (2001)

3. Bamnan and Silvercork - Midlake (2004)

4. White Pepper - Ween (2000)

5. Ancient Melodies of the Future - Built to Spill (2001)

6. Antics - Interpol (2004)

7. Room on Fire - The Strokes (2003)

8. Cross - Justice (2007)

9. Puzzle - Tahiti 80 (2000)

10. The Virgin Suicides - Air (2000)

11. The Software Slump - Grandaddy (2000)

12. Fancy Footwork - Chromeo (2007)

13. Idealism - Digitalism (2007)

14. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons - Blonde Redhead (2000)

15. Steak Soundtrack - Mr.Oizo/SebastiAn/Sebastian Tellier (2007)

16. Relationship of Command - At The Drive In (2000)

17. We have the facts and we are voting Yes - Death Cab for Cutie (2000)

18. Oi Oi Oi - Boys Noize (2007)

19. The Warning - Hot Chip (2006)

20. Cocotte - Teenage Bad Girl (2007)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My 20 Favorite Albums of the Decade

As a music fan, there are plenty of times I wish I could have come of age in the mid-to-late nineteen sixties. Just plant me somewhere in 1965-1969 and I will survive on the greatest musical innovation ever known. It's rather mind-blowing to think of how many great albums were made in such a short period of time - and even more mind-blowing when you consider that the greatest innovators would return to the studio and release an even greater album six months later. Perhaps being idealistic, I seem to think that music would never cease to blow my mind were I to have experiences the Beatles, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, the Who, etc. etc., in their day. Certain albums still do have a tendency to grab my attention, forcing me to ask myself whether what I am hearing is actually happening.

When the decade began, I was starting college and hungry for new music. I was in luck - there was a record store nearby and Napster had yet to be brought down. As the decade comes to a close, I find my interest in new music waning, and again I return to my beloved era of 1965-1969 to treasure the sounds I love and discover new ones I have missed.

I remember being in a record store listening to Kid A for the first time and just being in awe, unable to find the words to describe it, relying on the almost embarassing, "that was so fucking good." I stayed up late listening to Kanye West's Late Registration and Blur's Think Tank, too excited to go to sleep. There was an absolute thrill in listening to The Streets' A Grand Don't Come For Free and M.I.A.'s Kala - the thrill of hearing something new, exciting and fresh. For pure emotional resonances, it is impossible to top Bjork's Vespertine, but a pair of albums from The Twilight Singers come pretty darn close.

This is a list of albums that renew my faith that innovative and exciting new music is still possible (even if it is not as abundant as in my favorite era). These albums tug at me everytime I hear them. They are my 20 favorite albums of this decade.

1. Kid A - Radiohead
The obvious choice, yes, but quite frankly, the only one.

2. Late Registration - Kanye West
3. Vespertine - Bjork
4. A Grand Don't Come For Free - The Streets
5. Kala - M.I.A.
6. Blackberry Belle - The Twilight Singers
7. Graduation - Kanye West
8. Destroyer's Rubies - Destroyer
9. White Blood Cells - The White Stripes
10. Think Tank - Blur
11. Powder Burns - The Twilight Singers
12. Stankonia - OutKast
13. Sea Change - Beck
14. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips
15. Two Suns - Bat For Lashes
16. The Hour of Bewilderbeast - Badly Drawn Boy
17. Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
18. Bubblegum - Mark Lanegan
19. Love and Theft - Bob Dylan
20. Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, Of Montreal

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shiloe: New Music, Praise, and Radio Play

Shiloe - "By The Daggers in Your Eyes" (mp3)

Shiloe have begun debuting some new material for a forthcoming full length. The first track, "By The Daggers in Your Eyes," is a self-proclaimed "three-minute love letter to anyone who's ever been proud to be different." It is reminiscent of what you have heard from the trio thus far, but also suggests an evolving sound. The song has received alternative radio play in markets around the country, while also drawing praise from a host of blogs including Buzz Bands, BeatCrave, Chicks with Guns and The Organ Grinder.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Mixtape: Re-Living Thing / Peter Bjorn and John with Mick Boogie

My favorite mixtape DJ Mick Boogie has just curated another innovative, genre-mashing mixtape, taking tracks from Peter Bjorn and John's Living Thing and turning them into hip hop anthems. Unlike previous Boogie tapes, these are not mash-ups but new tracks with a host a hot verses from the likes of Bun B, Talib Kweli, U-N-I, GZA, Wale, and tons more. My personal favorites: Jazzy Jeff's "Stay This Way" featuring Big Pooh, Chaundon & Phil Nash and The Kickdrums' "Lay It Down" featuring Trouble Andrew and GLC. Download it over at Get Right Music.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Informant Opens Today

It always promises to be a good weekend when my favorite director has a movie opening. His latest promises to mix his trademark cinematic style with my new favorite subject matter of late - corporate criminals. The Informant tells the true story of Mark Whitacre, a top executive at the Archer Daniels Midland, who blows the whistle on his company's price-fixing only to turn around and committ some white collar crime himself. Hilarity ensued - at least in Steven Soderbergh's version, it does.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tigers Can Bite You
Second Nature EP Out Today

New and Used Records is pleased to announce our latest release - Tigers Can Bite You's Second Nature EP - out today. "Second Nature," which first appeared on last year's Steve Ward Hears Voices, kicks off the 4-song EP, which also features new songs, "Sad Magicians" and "Ghosty" as well as Kid Mud's remix of "Opener." Second Nature is available at all digital retailers worldwide.

Friday, July 24, 2009

LA Briefs [Cage the Animals Edition]

This Sunday, a fan-tabulous all-day concert event is happening in Los Angeles called Cage The Animals. You can find out more by reading our interview with the organizers, This is Tightrope. In anticipation of the event, we asked This is Tightrope to give us an introduction to each of the bands performing...

+ Palm Yard are friends of ours from Santa Cruz. They were looking to play an LA show in July. They've never played here before but have been booking some good gigs in Santa Cruz. I checked out their My Space and was impressed with what I heard. I hope people get there early enough to check them out because this event could be a great boost for them and hopefully afterwards they can come to LA more often.

+ Drug Warz got in touch with me about playing because they're good friends of Slang Chickens. They've been swapping shows back and forth in LA and San Diego. They are another band that will get some good recognition by playing the event and hopefully it will get them more LA gigs. They play fun punk music and I think they will being great energy!

+ Hotel St. George is a band we've been working with. We're helping to put out their record, City Boy Lemon which has already been getting great reviews. They're super passionate about what they do and it shows every time I see them play. They play music because it's what they love and I know great success will come from that. When I first saw them play, it was in a sketchy venue with hardly anyone there but they rocked out, jumping on their instruments and going crazy for the 10 of us who were watching. They need and deserve to be seen in front of a big crowd. The best part is, their music is accessible to all kinds of music fans. Three friends of mine saw them together: one who is a punk rock loving Smiths fan and two who were in to sports and being frat bros and all three were blown away.

+ So Many Wizards has been gaining a lot of recognition on local radio station, KXLU. In the past 2 months they've been asked to play live on the station twice and have been getting a lot of calls requesting their songs. Rightfully so. They have a completely unique sound where they mix an old-timey feel with smooth indie hooks. They even have samples from Breakfast at Tiffany's (the movie) on one of their songs, which certainly draws me in as a fan of the film. Their live show is unconventional and perfectly suits the music; you'll just have to see what surprises they have in store.

+ When someone asks me to describe Intricate Machines, their sound is so unique that I have to pick three polar opposite bands to compare them to: Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective, and Vampire Weekend. They have the experimental sounds of Animal Collective, harmonies of Fleet Foxes, and pop hooks and semi-world beats of Vampire Weekend (plus, sometimes the lead singer Lee Hepner wears boat shoes). Their live show consists of cool video work to go along with their unique sound.

+ Slang Chickens has been gaining a lot of recognition in LA. They've played Part Time Punks and other local shows that highlight up and coming bands. We were just lucky to get them before they blow up. All of the guys in the band are extremely talented musicians who have been involved in the music scene for most of their lives. This project could potentially be their most successful. I haven't seen them live yet so having them play is great for me since it gives me the opportunity to finally see them!

+ Cheetahsaurus are a great band formed in the ashes of The Colour. Wyatt the lead singer has a Jim Morrison way about him, and their sound echoes Radiohead in a fantastic, non-derivative way.

+ Black Apples have songs with the subject matter ranging from animals to Star Wars so obviously I am a big fan. They do that magic unconventional thing of having the drummer as the lead singer which makes their show even more fun to watch. I always admire that in a band since I could never keep the rhythm and sing at the same time! It shows true talent. With their energetic performance, they will be a fun one to look out for at the festival.

+ Swim Party is a great, fun band from San Diego. They’ve been gigging hard lately and we’re told by others that there live show is top notch.

+ Avi Buffalo has been blowing up in Los Angeles. After a recent residency at The Echo, he keeps gaining momentum and making his name bigger and bigger. With bluesy teenage love songs that harkens back to the 60's but with the new indie twang of the 00's, his music is truly addicting. With how big he's getting I was shocked he agreed to play but was even more shocked at how excited he was about playing. Probably since he's only 17, he was excited to finally have an all ages show his friends could attend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Interview: Ilyse and Patrick from This Is Tightrope

In a city full of amazing talent, thankfully it is also full of amazing individuals who seek to promote that talent. The Cage the Animals all day event happening this Sunday [flyer above] is a showcase for great music, but it is also more than that. The event is presented by This Is Tightrope, a collective made up of Amanda Van Goethen, Alyssa Van Breene, Ilyse Kaplan, Patrick Presto and Zach Best. Patrick explains, "We originally all started as interns together at Filter Magazine and kept in touch over the years and always had the vision of having our stamp and ideas about good music go through us rather than other superiors." In anticipation of Sunday's event, we present our interview with Ilyse and Patrick...

What is This is Tightrope, and how did the idea originate? What are your future plans?

Ilyse: We though, why not take all the good and bad things we learned from that [interning at Filter] and start our own company? Our motto is "yes we do that," which leaves things pretty open to interpretation. We don't want to be limited with our endeavors. Each of us is really passionate about music and the best way to act on that passion is to involve ourselves directly with the music scene. We first met with some of our friends' bands (Intricate Machines and So Many Wizards) and started to help promote them. Things jumped off from there and we ended up making connections with people who have the same vision of us of what the music industry is doing wrong. We want to put the industry back in to the hands of the actual fans, the people who are truly passionate about music, because we ARE those kids. Right now, we're focusing on promoting bands and starting a small label. We'll be putting out a record by Hotel St. George soon.

Patrick: And look out for more impromptu events that are creative!

How did this event came together, and why did you decide to make it something more interactive as opposed to just a show?

Patrick: Because collectively we've gone to our fair share of shows and we know how people interact at them. Especially with so much talent out there we needed to appeal to not just people's music tastes but their food tastes/fashion tastes/ fun tastes. Once you hit them all then you're event becomes more than just a show.

Ilyse: At first it began as just a day party but as we kept discussing bands that we thought would work well at the event and they kept accepting our invites to play, it turned in to a slightly larger event than anticipated. We wanted to make it interactive so it could be a place to come hangout with good people and see live music. It is not just about showcasing the talent of our bands, we want to showcase our other talented friends by having them set up art, jewelry booths whatever. We would have had a full-fledged carnival if money would allow but homemade games and art booths will have to suffice this year.

This strikes me as a community-building type event - do you think LA's music scene makes it establish strong for community-building events?

The problem with the music scene is that instead of being about great bands, certain movements happened to make it about being seen or "scene." People would go see bad live music or shitty DJs only in hopes of being photographed. I think right now, the community needs strength again. It needs people who are music fans themselves pushing for people to hear great local acts because they are great local acts, not because of how big they are or whose blog they're on. Right now, you have great companies like Manimal Vinyl attempting to build the scene back up but it's more challenging this time around because instead of moving FROM something organic we have to move the scene BACK to something organic. That is what we hope to do with our event.

It definitely is a community building type event. During the production process we took in many considerations that we thought would seclude people and figured out ways to welcome them and this dealt a lot with location, bands, stuff to do, etc. We figured in order to put something on like this we needed to get a little bit of everything out of LA and provide it to those coming.

Regardless of how much you end up paying, this is a pretty cheap event AND these are tough financial times. Do you think times like these call for events such as this? or are events like this just awesome and necessary - no matter what?

Patrick: Awesome and necessary no matter what. It's easy to see many of the big companies come crashing down during these times and slashing some awesome events AND/OR screwing people over by hiking up the prices for an experience.

Ilyse: Yes, this event is definitely awesome and necessary. Our goal in all of this is not to make money but to promote great bands, see great live music, and better yet--to have fun with great people!

Patrick: All events are just experiences. With that said, what better way to enjoy your Sunday with affordable fun? Come to Cage The Animals!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RIP: A Remix Manifesto Screening in SF Tomorrow Night w/ DJs

Director Brett Gaylor outlines his intentions to attorney Lawrence Lessig about 20 minutes into RIP, declaring that he wants to make a "mash-up movie." Lessig watches what Gaylor has edited so far and tells him, "that's totally illegal." It's one of several self-referential moments in RIP: A Remix Manifesto, which screens at the Mezzanine tomorrow night, followed by performances from Eclectic Method and Adrian and Mysterious D.

Gaylor's doc looks at the remix culture that the web has given life to - one made up of artists whose work centers around the sampling and distortion of others' work to create new art. The film opens with Girl Talk and the famed DJ drives much of the narrative, with the film frequently cutting back to Girl Talk's live shows and commentary. There is also a rather charming visit with his parents.

The goals of the film are very clear - this is not a fair and balanced attempt at showing both sides, with hopes of arriving at a hand-holding conclusion. With Manifesto in its title, RIP intends to point out the wrongs of the present while arguing for the future. And the future is remix. Besides Girl Talk, RIP brings in major players in the remix and free culture movements such as Lessig, Girl Talk precursors Negativland, Brazil's former Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow.

The film's argument is one that I wholeheartedly agree with - culture builds from the past but copyright law as it stands now is preventing the building of said culture. Gaylor shows how the principals of remixing and mashing up have been a part of art for centuries and copyright law was originally intended to promote creativity. Only in the 20th century with mass media consolidation has such creativity been the subject of legal action. RIP maintains a cut-and-paste/mash-up/remix visual style to further drive its point home.