Tuesday, December 22, 2009

noah and the whale's top 5 albums of 2009

Well, this is probably the last best of 2009 list, and what better way to end things off with a top 5 albums list by Charlie Fink, lead vocalist from my favourite band of the year, Noah And The Whale. Please enjoy Charlie’s list in no particular order:

Sleeping States: Gardens of the North
Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Bill Calahan: Sometimes, I Wish We Were Eagles
Jay-Z: The Blueprint III
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone: Vs. Children

Noah And The Whale's The First Days of Spring/my favourite album of 2009 is out on Young and Lost Club, buy the deluxe edition CD/DVD here and visit the band's MySpace here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

grammatics' top 5 albums of 2009

So I lied. The Noah And The Whale top 5 will not be up today (tomorrow for sure, I promise!) Nonetheless, I have a very attractive top 5 albums of 2009 list by Owen from Grammatics... I totally agree with Future Of The Left, I am so in love with that album at the moment!

1. Blue Roses: Blue Roses
"Doubtful Comforts" sounded like a magical lost classic the first time I heard it. There's plenty more than that particular track to fall in love with across Blue Roses debut, especially power-ballad (!) "I Wish I" which is full of beautiful sweeping moments. Also, check out b-side "Moments Before Sleep", a great lost track of 2009.

2. Future Of The Left: Travels With Myself and Another
Made me feel five years younger, getting ready to go out in a black shirt and red tie, listening to The Icarus Line and McLusky Do Dallas. Thank God someone made a ferocious rock album and remembered to write some actual songs again.

3. Bat For Lashes: Two Suns
One of the best gigs I attended in 2009 was Bat For Lashes at Leeds Met... few people can walk onstage in a pair of peach dungarees and be loved all the more for it.

4. Ramona Falls: Intuit
Ramona Falls is Brent Knopf from Menoma's side project. "I Say Fever" is my favourite track of the moment, full of eerie subtleties and laid-back grooving vocal lines... also home to the hugest sounding drums I've heard in a long time.

5. PJ Harvey and John Parish: A Woman A Man Walked By
PJ Harvey back to her bluesy stones-esq best. Sonic Youth squall and haunted tranquilised vocals decorate album stand-out "Black Hearted Love". Also made me dig out To Bring You My Love again.

Grammatics’ amazing debut/my 4th favourite album of 09 is out on Dance To The Radio, go here to buy the CD and here for the 180g double gatefold vinyl. Follow Grammatics on Twitter and visit the band’s MySpace here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

the shitty limits' top 5 albums of 2009

So far, I am not really surprise to find some common interests in the top 5 lists from The Zookeepers, Let's Wrestle and Dananananaykroyd. Of course, there are bands on those lists that I have never heard of, but that’s why I love reading peoples’ lists—to discover new music (I am looking forward to hear more from Kylesa). Nevertheless, when I asked The Shitty Limits about their top 5 of the year, I didn’t expect to get an entire list of bands I have never heard of. Here is the list from The Shitty Limits (note that the band didn’t give me the actual titles of the albums and I had no luck with Google search either):

Love Triangle: first 3 7"s
Faults: debut LP
TV Party: 4th LP
Four Letter Word: 11th LP
Hygiene: 2nd EP

The Shitty Limits' loud and explosive album, Beware the Limits was #10 in my top 30 of 09 list; you can order the vinyl from La Vida Es Un Mus (UK/Europe/Japan/AUS) and Sorry State (Canada/USA) and in CD format from Boss Tuneage (UK/Europe/Japan/AUS) and Wallride (Canada/USA). Visit the band's MySpace here.

I am going to take a little break, but come back on Monday as Mr. Charlie Fink from my favourite band of the year—Noah And The Whale—tell us his top 5 of 2009!

Friday, December 18, 2009

the making of the flashmob album artwork

The video below is for Vitalic’s "See The Sea (Red)"; but not only that, it actually shows how the album cover for Flashmob was made... quite amazing!

new gls ep

Great Lake Swimmers will be releasing a new EP entitled Song Sung Blue on December 22nd. Head over to The Deadbolt to stream the entire EP.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

dananananaykroyd's top 5 albums of 2009

I am very excited to have Calum and David from the highly entertaining band Dananananaykroyd share their five favourite albums of the year here.

Calum's Top 5:
1. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
2. Agoraphobic Nosebleed: Agorapocalypse
3. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
4. Kylesa: Static Tensions
5. Bygones: By-

David's Top 5:
Kylesa: Static Tensions
Lou Barlow: Goodnight Unknown
Real Estate: Real Estate
Black Moth Super Rainbow: Eating Us
DD/MM/YYYY: Black Square

Dananananaykroyd's debut/#9 on my top 30 of 09 list, Hey Everyone! is out on Best Before Records, get it from banquetrecords.com and visit the band's MySpace here

how bizarre

In the spirit of Christmas/to celebrate Paper Bag Records' upcoming 7 year anniversary, the label has posted a free covers compilation entitled The Seven Year Itch. I know you are excited for CFCF's cover of the classic OMC song "How Bizarre", go here to download the compilation.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

let's wrestle's top 5 albums of 2009

I’ve asked some of my favourite bands of the year to tell me their top five albums of 2009. Yesterday, The Zookeepers kicked things off with their top five of the year. Today, Let's Wrestle share their five favourite albums here:

Girls: Album
La Roux: La Roux
Micachu: Jewellery
Jay Reatard: Watch Me Fall
Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs

Let's Wrestle's brilliant debut (#12 on my top 30 albums of 09 list), In The Court Of The Wrestling Let's is out on Stolen Recordings. Buy the album here and visit the band's MySpace here.

song of the moment

Kill Rock Stars released a previously unreleased Elliott Smith song entitled "Cecilia/Amanda"! The original version of "Cecilia/Amanda" was first recorded by Smith's high school band, Stranger Than Fiction; the song was known then as "Time is Ours Now". In 1997, Smith went into Jackpot! Recording Studio to rework the song with almost completely different lyrics, the end result is "Cecilia/Amanda" ...enjoy the free download of the song below.

Elliott Smith: Cecilia/Amanda

In more Elliott Smith news, Kill Rock Stars will reissue Roman Candle and From A Basement On The Hill on April 6th, 2010.

favourite eps, 7-inshes & songs

Here are some of my favourite EPs, 7"s and songs released this year!

EPs + 7"s:

Atlas Sound: Rough Trade EP
This EP was free with the purchase of Logos, but only through the Rough Trade store... which is a shame because it is just wonderful; in fact, I prefer the Rough Trade EP over Logos!

Pulled Apart By Horses: Tour Traxx EP
Aggressive vocals, heavy riffs and manic energy make up for the Tour Traxx EP. It features all the songs (+ a remix of "I Punched A Lion In The Throat") from the two out-of-print Pulled Apart By Horses 7-inches. Holy shit, I cannot wait for this band to come out with a proper full-length!

Florence + The Machine: A Lot Of Love, A Lot Of Blood EP
A Lot Of Love, A Lot Of Blood EP is amazing for two reasons: 1) "Kiss With A Fist"–one of the best songs in the past few years, and 2) Florence’s incredible cover of Cold War Kids’ "Hospital Beds".

No Age: Losing Feeling EP
A perfect balance of melodic build-ups and the usual loud and noisy No Age destruction... so fucking good!

The Drums: "Summertime!" EP
An incredibly catchy EP filled with wonderful lighthearted pop songs, and not to mention, it features one of the catchiest songs of the year, "Let's Go Surfing". "Summertime!" EP puts a smile on my face every time I hear it!

Great Lake Swimmers/audiotransparent 2x7” split
An Elvis Presley cover by Great Lake Swimmers and Andrew Gold cover by audiotransparent are part of this 4-song-double-7” …and they come in a beautiful handmade triple-gatefold sleeve!

Grammatics: Double Negative 7"
Just got this one about a week ago and loving the Cursive-like title track as well as a fine cover of The Good Life’s "Notes In His Pockets".

The majority of my favourite songs of 09 were from albums in my 30 list, so I won't bore you with anything from that. Instead, below are songs by artists that were not mentioned in that list or in the honourable mention post.

Fever Ray: "When I Grow Up", from Fever Ray
Spectacular song + video!

Telepathe: "Chrome's On It", from Dance Mother
So damn catchy!

Girls: "Hellhole Ratrace", Album
"Hellhole Ratrace" is a wonderfully epic 7-minute ballad. I cannot describe how much I love this song. It’s weird: I feel the lyrics to be cheerful and optimistic most of the time, but once in a while, they become depressing. I think it’s the contrast in the chorus:

The first part, which features some of the most romantic lyrics I have ever heard:
"And I don’t want to cry my whole life through,
I want to do some laughing too,
So come on, come on, come on, come on and laugh with me.
And I don’t want to die without shaking up a leg or two,
Yeah I want to do some dancing too,
So come on, come on, come on, come on and dance with me.

...but compare that to the second part, which I think is the reason for my mixed feelings toward the song:
"Sometimes you just got to make it for yourself.
Sometimes sugar, it just takes someone else" or
"Sometimes baby, you just need someone else" or
"Sometimes honey, you just need someone else" or
"Sometimes darling, you just need someone else."

Regardless, "Hellhole Ratrace" is genius and it is tied for my favourite song of 2009; in fact, it is probably one of my favourite songs of the decade!

Bat For Lashes: "Daniel", from Two Suns
My other favourite song of 2009 belongs to "Daniel" by Bat For Lashes. "Daniel" is a brilliant pop song about first love. The dreamy atmosphere and 80s' pop-influenced production—think "Cloudbusting" and "The Morning Fog" by Kate Bush—work stunningly with Natasha Khan’s majestic vocal.

Other fine songs from 09’
Arctic Monkeys: "Crying Lightning"
Diamond Rings: "All Yr Songs"
Dizzee Rascal: "Bonkers"
Los Campesinos!: "There Are Listed Buildings"
Dan Mangan: "The Indie Queens Are Waiting"
Slow Club: "When I Go"
St. Vincent: "Actor Out Of Work"
Strike Anywhere: "I'm Your Opposite Number"
Wavves: "Summer Goth"
You Say Party! We Say Die!: "Cosmic Wanship Avengers"

And of course... The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain: "I'm On A Boat"

That should do it in terms of my own year-end lists... well, possibly one more on concerts… Nonetheless, I have been in touch with some of my favourite bands of this year and got them to tell me their 5-favourites, look for their lists in the next few days!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the zookeepers' top 5 albums of 2009

I love reading others' year-end lists, especially from musicians that I love and respect. So I was beyond thrilled to get The Zookeepers to tell me their five favourite albums of the year. Here is the list:

1. JEFF the brotherhood: Heavy Days
2. St. Vincent: Actor
3. Yea Big + Kid Static: The Future's Looking Grim
4. Clues: Clues
5. Lightning Bolt: Earthly Delights

The ZookeepersBallin’ Outrageous was my 5th favourite album of the year and Artrocker’s #1 album of 09… well deserved! Don't forget, you can download it for FREE over at the band’s site; or if you prefer to own a physical copy of Ballin’ Outrageous, you can purchase a handmade CD by emailing the band! Follow them on Twitter!

Coming soon: my favourite EPs, 7-inches and Songs of the year and top 5 lists from Let's Wrestle and Dananananaykroyd (OMG!)

christmas song of the moment

Yoni Gordon and the Goods, along with Franz Nicolay (of the Hold Steday!) and special guest vocalist Emilyn Brodsky recently covered The Pogues' classic/my favourite Christmas song of all time, "Fairytale in New York". You can download it in a special 2-song Christmas single from Yoni Gordon and the Goods’ site. The band is also asking everyone to donate $5 (or more) to Feeding America. Here is the link to the donation page.

Monday, December 14, 2009

song of the moment

The first song from Liars’ upcoming album, Sisterworld is available online! Download "Scissor" from the band’s gorgeous site here.

the next ten

As I wrote in my 'Top 30 Albums of 09' post, there were just so many incredible albums out this year and I didn’t think doing a top 30 was enough. Here’s a list of other fine albums (in no particular order) that just missed the top 30.

Brand New: Daisy
I am starting my honourable mention list with Daisy because it was the closest to break into my favourite 30 list. Brand New’s forth LP is heavy and forceful, and there is a level of raw grunge aggressions that make Daisy quite enjoyable.

Fuck Buttons: Tarot Sport
Non-stop awesomeness!

Future Of The Left: Travels With Myself And Another
What an explosive opening with "Arming Eritrea"! Travels With Myself And Another is loud, rowdy, and in-your-face... a fucking entertaining album!

Lotus Plaza: The Floodlight Collective
The Floodlight Collective is dreamy and atmospheric; it is a brilliant album full of tranquil ambient layers... it is too bad that Lotus Plaza is often overshadowed by Deerhunter and Atlas Sound.

Cursive: Mama, I'm Swollen
I was quite disappointed by this album at first; however, after several listens and finally seeing Cursive live for the first time, I came to love the album. Mama, I'm Swollen is filled with frustration and anger... perhaps the darkest Cursive album to date.

ps, the vinyl packaging of Mama, I'm Swollen is amazing!

Soap&Skin: Lovetune For Vacuum
Haunting piano melodies, dark electronic sounds, and Anja Plaschg’s incredible and mesmerizing vocal range make for a gorgeously mysterious album.

Pete Doherty: Grace/Wastelands
I absolutely loved this album when it was released back in March; songs such as "Last Of The English Roses", "Salome" and "New Love Grows On Trees" proofed that Pete Doherty is one of the best song-writers of the past decade.

DD/MM/YYYY: Black Square
The disjointed style and wild pacing of Black Square may turn listeners off initially; but through all the chaos is a fine and wonderfully noisy experimental rock album.

Black To Comm: Alphabet 1968
The fascinating sound and layers in this instrumental album create a sense of suspense and mysteriousness. Black To Comm plays with the notion of the unknown—Alphabet 1968 sounds like a soundtrack to a scary movie.

Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor
Finally, many of you were probably surprised that I excluded The Bachelor from my top 30 list... to be honest, I was/am still greatly disappointed by this album. While it is a good album, The Bachelor lacks the mystery and the beauty of Lycanthropy and Wind in the Wires. Nevertheless, "Hard Times", "The Bachelor", "The Sun Is Often Out" and "Battle" are all great songs!

What did I miss?
Next up: my favourite EPs, 7"s & songs of 2009!

woot! more lists!

Two of my favourite music sites—The Singing Lamb and Drowned In Sound—have begun posting their year-end lists:

The Singing Lamb’s 12 Days of Lists–Day One: Leah’s Top 9 of 2009
Drowned in Sound's Top 50 Albums of 2009, 50–5

On a side note, I am working on my honourable mention list right now... it should be up sometime today or tomorrow!

One more side note, to the anonymous poster who posted "Grammatics and Gallows in the top 10? Noah and the Whale #1? Really? This blog used to be good." Well, just so you know Grammatics and Gallows both made it to the Drowned In Sound top 50 list!

mmmm... blueberry

Late Of The Pier released a brand new download only track today entitled "Blueberry"! And to all of you who like to own psychical things, don't worry, the song will come out on a very special 12" vinyl sometime in the new year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

my 30 favourite albums of 2009!

This is probably the hardest best-of list I have ever complied—too many great albums this year! I almost caved in and made a top 50 list, but thankfully didn’t. This will not be the only ‘best-of-09’ post you will see on this blog because 1) there are just so many incredible releases this year and I don’t want to leave anything out and 2) I love making best-of lists! For now, please enjoy my 30 favourite albums of 2009!

30. Emmy The Great: First Love
Emma-Lee Moss’s fantastic songwriting and clever use of pop culture references make First Love a delightful album.

29. Teenage Bottlerocket: They Came From The Shadows
14 fast and awesomely fun pop-punk anthems—just a great mindless album.

28. The Maccabees: Wall Of Arms
The Maccabees’ sophomore is full of passion and emotion... it is full of inspiring and genuine lyrics; Wall Of Arms is without a doubt, a more mature and an overall better album than the band’s debut.

27. Japandroids: Post-Nothing
Loud distorted melodies, noisy rhythms and carefree lyrics like "I don't wanna worry about dying/I just wanna worry about those sunshine girls," Post-Nothing is noise rock heaven... turn this one up!

26. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca
The strange and unpredictable melodies make Ditte Orca delightfully engaging; "Stillness Is the Move" is brilliant, definitely one of the best songs of the year.

25. The Hidden Cameras: Origin:Orphan
A handsome collection of serious/grand sounding songs as well as cheery pop sensations... I don’t get why so many critics are hating on this record?!

24. Lawrence English: A Colour For Autumn
A Colour For Autumn is exceptionally dreamy and atmospheric; it is also one of the most calming and relaxing albums I have ever heard.

23. Atlas Sound: Logos
I am probably a little bias on this one as I adore anything by Bradford Cox! This Atlas Sound record sounds more like a Deerhunter record (Weird Era Cont. and Rainwater Cassette Exchange); regardless, it is another incredible release from Bradford Cox.

22. Last Lights: No Past No Present No Future
Take the best elements of old and new hardcore music + brutally truthful lyrics and emotionally aggressive vocals = No Past No Present No Future, one of the best hardcore albums in recent years! RIP Dominic Mallary.

21. Micachu: Jewellery
This cross-genre debut by Micachu is full of imaginative layers and complex melodies; Jewellery is incredibly unique, lively, and fresh.

20. Dead Man's Bones: Dead Man's Bones
This is definitely the surprise of the year! The spooky piano melodies, mysterious found sound, echoey vocals and the eerier contribution from the Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children's Choir make for the perfect soundtrack to Halloween.

19. Sunn O))): Monoliths & Dimensions
An ultimate display of intensely ambient noise and drone metal... just fucking awesome!

18. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
A near perfect pop record.

17. Pajo: Scream With Me
An album full of dreamy and tranquil Misfits covers... wicked!

16. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
Call me crazy, but I did not really start liking Animal Collective until this album, "Summertime Clothes" totally won me over.

15. Jamie T: Kings & Queens
Jamie T’s debut, Panic Prevention was my second favourite album of last year; so naturally, it took me quite a while to truly appreciate Kings & Queens. The song writing and production is once again brilliant; and while the album appears to be more mature, it is still full of witty and youthful moments that make the first record great.

14. Karen O and the Kids: Where the Wild Things Are
A very entertaining and emotional soundtrack to an equally entertaining and emotional film.

13. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
I think Grizzly Bear have successfully reached/introduced great indie rock music to a wide spectrum of audiences around the world with Veckatimest... great job guys!

12. Let's Wrestle: In The Court Of The Wrestling Let's
This brilliant debut is fun and energetic—it is a jolly and youthful indie/punk record! "We Are The Men You'll Grow To Love Soon" is ultra catchy!

11. Mount Eerie: Wind's Poem
Elverum’s soft voice and moments of soft harmonies are the perfect contrasts to the mysterious ambient noises and dark distorted drones in Wind’s Poem; the result is terrifyingly breathtaking.

10. The Shitty Limits: Beware the Limits
The Shitty Limits play fast, loud and explosive DIY 80s hardcore punk style music. Beware the Limits is for fans of 80s hardcore punk who are longing for something new but nostalgic at the same time.

9. Dananananaykroyd: Hey Everyone!
A mega fun album full of catchy fast pace rhythms, lively shouts, memorable call and response vocal exchanges, and awesome crapping section!

8. The Thermals: Now We Can See
Just a perfect indie rock album full of negativities and gloomy lyrics contrasted by joyous and poppy melodies.

7. The Horrors: Primary Colours
The Horrors have once again successfully taken the best elements from a popular classic genre and reinvented it to create an absolutely astonishing record!

6. The Antlers: Hospice
Hospice is ambitiously emotional and hauntingly beautiful. The Antlers has crafted something that is incredibly pure and moving... and exceedingly depressing.

5. The Zookeepers: Ballin' Outrageous
DIY music at its finest; Ballin' Outrageous is half an hour of incredible cross-genre journey—from loud screamy vocal ("Ballin' Outrageous") and folk ballads ("Bubbling Brine" and "Mohono") to messy lo-fi noise punk ("Fat Tax") and electro synth pop ("Chicken", "Beautiful World", and "Helio Pause"—it is the most creative record of the year!

You can download Ballin' Outrageous for FREE over at The Zookeepers' website!

4. Grammatics: Grammatics
This album is an excellent example of great band chemistry—the multi-textured arrangements work wonderfully with Owen Brinley’s dramatic vocal deliveries—the music and vocal interact so beautifully together; the result is a flawlessly remarkable debut.

3. Gallows: Grey Britain
Gallows’ sophomore consists of 13 angry anthems—that’s 50+ minutes of deliciously aggressive music! The crashing melodies, heavy riffs, and screaming vocals in Grey Britain make up for some of the best hardcore punk music I have heard in a long time; in fact, this could be the best hardcore album since GlassJaw’s Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence.

2. Timber Timbre: Timber Timbre
Taylor Kirk’s soft and controlled voice and the tranquilly minimalist instrumentation make for a gorgeously warm and welcoming album, Timber Timbre is remarkably stunning!

1. Noah And The Whale: The First Days of Spring
I have seriously listened to The First Days of Spring over a hundred times since it was released at the end of August! It is by far my favourite album of 2009! It is wonderfully mellow and genuinely heartbreaking—it features some of the most moving and candid songs I have heard in a long long time. The First Days of Spring is a beautifully crafted emotional journey; the album is flawless—the music, lyrics, Fink’s vocal, the ordering of the tracks, and the album cover art—Noah And The Whale have created a masterpiece!

I hope you enjoy my very subjective top 30 list... now it is your turn to tell me your favourite albums of 2009!