Year In Music: Best Albums of 2010

>> Thursday, December 30, 2010

This year, for the first time in many years, seemed insignificant. One day bled into the next until this year felt like last. Stretching within my own confines proved to be a fruitless task, this year was doomed to be nothing special, static, and forgettable. Understand, this is not a bad thing; quite possibly, it is something to celebrate. No news is good news. My life, for the first time in years, was dramaless and boring. Dramaless and boring, is great for one thing. Losing oneself in those true inner passions. Rediscovering exactly how discovering something feels. This was my year in music. A year of discovery. And it was bountiful.
(Yes, that is the same intro I wrote for last year's Year In Music Review, but it is still prefect, so deal)

This year I purchased 163 records and EP's that were released between Oct. 2009 and Nov 2010. Just writing that makes me feel sick. Both with the concept of how much money I spent (I do not steal music) and the prospect of narrowing that down to 13 records. FUCK, a 163 records?!?!? Seriously, I need a life or something. The biggest issue with that, most were unremarkable.

So, it's that time. It's the list I work all year on. And even as I write it today, with all my choices narrowed down, I still do not feel great about it. It's not so much about the quality of the music, my issue is with the order. I feel like it is a clear near tie for the top 3, a solid number 4 and then another tie for the remaining 7. It is as if, any order will do. However, you will notice, this is easily my most eclectic collection ever. It ranges from piano pop driven stuff, to 80's revival, to egotistical hiphop, to a butt load of traditional folk and indie folk revival. It is quite the genre busting list.

I apologize, my reviews are not going to be as elaborate this year. I usually take about a month to review all these records and write all my thoughts down. But I had trouble narrowing down after the top 4, then got hit with a nasty flu bug. So, I will give brief reviews this year, and attach a sample song. Enjoy.

1a. Wakey!Wakey! - Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said The Last Time I Saw You...

Sexy. Heartpunching. Dancey. Sing-a-long-a-thon. Impactful.
So, piano pop melodies have never been something I gravitated towards in my musical endeavors. I try to stay as cool and indie as possible. But, some records just just need to be reckoned with, no matter how uncool they make you feel to love.
Sexy. Heartpunching. Dancey. Sing-a-long-a-thon. Impactful. This string of mostly made up words should never be used together to describe one artist, let alone one record. But, it barely does the job here. I have never had the urge to both harmonize, cry, boogie and make-out at the same time in my life. Nor would I recommend doing all those activities at the same time, but that is what this record does to me.
"Feral Love"

Songs that Hit: All. Yes, every single pop hook.
Songs that Miss: Nil.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Feral Love. Car Crash. Dance So Good. The Oh Song. Almost Everything...

1b. The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart
This Seattle band is going to be the biggest thing to come out of the area in the last 10 years. Easily.
I wrote this list in my head 10 different times, and this record was king of the hill 5 of those times. It was honestly a toss up. So, if you look closely, this is actually ranked 1b. Yeah, I cheated. But this Seattle band is going to be the biggest thing to come out of the area in the last 10 years. Easily. This album, from top to bottom is SPECTACULAR. It came down to the point where I was searching for something not to like about it. It took a while, but I found it, the one and only thing I cannot stand on this record is that 2 or 3 second gap they have between the songs. It's wasteful. Also, easily the best live band out there right now, and the second best show I have ever been too. So, yes, this is my local pick, but, they would make the list if they were from Germany.

Songs that Hit: Every GD amazing track.  
Songs that miss: The fact that they use real animal sounds on "Cat's and Dog's" bugs me, but it's still a gem of a song.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Ghosts. Down In The Valley. Sounds Like Hallelujah. Honey Come Home. Lost In My Mind. Winter Song. 

3. Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
The warmth of this record permeates everything.
Sometimes, while trying to emulate your heroes, you fail and stumble into yourself. And that is about as much as I want to comment on all the Bob Dylan comparisons that are clearly unavoidable. This record is so much more than a Dylan knockoff.
"As it stands, as of 4/18/2010, this is one of the best records of the year. Top spot possible, top three probable." This is one of my bold predictions that actually held firm, and it's easy to see why. The warmth of this record permeates everything. I know I am ranking this record number 3 of the year, but I turn to it more often than any other this year. It's my music to write too record. My music to mope to record. My music too shut my eyes too record. This is my any excuse record.
"Love Is All"

Songs that Hit: Hard to find a fault in this entire record.
Songs that Miss: Burden of Tomorrow, but just barely.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Love Is All. King of Spain. Kids on the Run. The Drying of the Lawns. Troubles Will Be Gone.

4. Girls - Album 
It is a story of drunk teen angst, and beautiful sloppy rebellion. 
This is my big cheat of the year. This record was released in Sept of 2009. So, yes, that falls outside of my Oct-Nov yearly window, but who the hell cares when the music is this good. I am actually glad I discovered it after last years list was published, because last years list was so top heavy with outstanding music, this would have been lost in the shuffle and fallen too far down the rankings. From the first rushed guitar strings and stinging vocals, you can taste the angst. The pop melodies hurry along like they are being chased in songs like Lust For Life, and slow down to catch their breath in an Elvis Costello haze in tunes like Hellhole Ratrace. The pacing of this record is suburb. It is completely an album. This is not one to put on shuffle. Every note is specific and important. It is a story of drunk teen angst, and beautiful sloppy rebellion.
"Lust For Life"

Songs that Hit: All but one, see below.
Songs that Miss: Big Bad Mean Motherfucker
Songs that I will listen to forever: Lust For Life. Hellhole Ratrace. Lauren Marie. Laura. Ghostmouth.

5. Steel Train - Steel Train/Terrible Thrills Vol. 1
 It is 2010 indie rock at its finest, but with that whole 90's alt rock sensibility. Infectious.

This is not really a double album, it is only pretending, and it is genius. When Steel Train released their album, I was excited. I am a fan of Jack, the frontman from his work in the awesome band fun. So I was sold from day zero, but then, I was blown away. The band did something unthinkable. They released their album, but with a slew of female indie rock goddess' re-imagining their tunes. And I am sorry guys, but they out did you all. Not that Steel Train's record is not impressive in itself, it is very very good. It is 2010 indie rock at its finest, but with that whole 90's alt rock sensibility. Infectious. And would have undoubtedly made this list own its own merits, but the rerelease certainly moved the record up at least 4 spots.

Below you will see the same song twice, from each record. Both have something fantastic, and utterly different to offer. Enjoy.
"You Are Dangerous" - Steel Train

"You Are Dangerous" - Deradoorian

Songs that Hit: Nearly All.
Songs that Miss: The Speed Motor Racers Club (Steel Train). Bloody Lips (Both Versions)
Songs that I will listen to forever: Children of the 90's (Both). Bullet (Steel Train). Turnpike Ghost (Both). Fall Asleep (Steel Train) Soldier In The Army (Rachel Cantu). Touch Me Bad (Nellie McKay). You Are Dangerous (Deradoorian)

6. Samantha Crain - You (Understood)
 It is as far away from what one would typically consider soul music, but the closest thing I have personally found in my adult life.
I think this will win the award of the best record you have never heard of. I am not sure that I would have picked this up had she not blown me away as an unknown opening act earlier this year. I think I had 20 bucks to last me for 2 weeks when I was at this show, and I spent $10 on this record. Some stupid decisions work out. She stands as tall as her guitar, she is small in stature, however, her voice towers a good 9 feet tall. I cannot stress enough how much power and beauty she filled the room with.
Core shiveringly emotional, this record delves deep. It feeds those empty parts of you that you did not know were hungry. It is as far away from what one would typically consider soul music, but the closest thing I have personally found in my adult life.
"We Are The Same"

Songs that Hit: Lions. Equinox. We Are The Same. Sante Fe. Blue Prints. Wichitalright. Toothpicks. Holdin' That Wheel
Songs that Miss: Religious Wind.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Lions. Equinox. We Are The Same.

7. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The things that Kanye is doing is just beyond.
As I have said, I wanted so bad to hate this record. I never ever want to fall for a record I am "expected" to like as a consumer. I know that sounds all extra indie and whatnot, but it is what it is. I want to form my own opinions, not fall in line with others. But this album is madness. It is so far past anything that I ever expected it to be. It smashes all boundaries and expectations. The things that Kanye is doing is just beyond. The fact that he pulled Justin Vernon of Bon Iver into his wicked web was a stroke of genius. This album will be referred too as a pinnacle point in the path of hiphop 20 years from now. The game has changed.
"Lost In The World"

Songs that Hit: Runaway. Power. Lost In The World. Monster. Gorgeous. So Appalled
Songs that Miss: Who Will Survive In America. Blame Game
Songs that I will listen to forever: Runaway. Power. Lost In The World.

8. Chromeo - Business Casual
There is not a lot of depth in the record, because there doesn't need to be.
I am at a loss of words on how to describe this record. It is just straight late70's/80's pop revival. All synthed out and awesome. Clearly the most fun I have found in a record all year. Every tune is turn it up and car dance qualities. There is not a lot of depth in the record, because there doesn't need to be. There is not a lot depth in this review either, because I am lazy.
However, this is probably the best music video of the year.
"Night By Night"

Songs that Hit: Almost the entire album.
Songs that Miss: (The Hook of) When The Night Falls
Songs that I will listen to forever: Hot Mess. I'm Not Contagious. Night By Night. 

9. First Aid Kit - Big Black & The Blue
It's a blanket or footie pajamas. It just fits on those rainy days.
If this list would have been written back in June, this record would be top three. And I feel bad saying that, because I really has done nothing wrong to lose its high ranking, it's just a little one note. Granted, that one note is spectacular, but it does not supply that staying power that a record with a little more varied tones would. Do not get me wrong, I love this record. I love these teenage Swedish sisters. It is a special record that does not have a hole in it. It's a blanket or footie pajamas. It just fits on those rainy days. It just lost a little luster.
"I Met Up With The King"

Songs that Hit: All
Songs that Miss: Honestly, none.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Josefin. I Met Up With The King. Sailor Song. Winter Is All Over You.

10. The Black Keys - Brothers
This record wins the award of making me look like the biggest retard in public.
This is the newest record on my list. I am still exploring it, and do not feel 100% comfortable giving it a full on review. However, it has clearly shown it deserves a spot on this list. Although, I may be over valuing it a bit. But, only time will tell. However, I will tell you that this record wins the award of making me look like the biggest retard in public. I cannot help but bob my head/shoulders/torso to every bluesy beat. And I do not look good when I bob.
"Too Afraid To Love You"

Songs that Hit: Too soon to tell.
Songs that Miss: Too soon to tell.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Tighten Up. She's Long Gone. Next Girl. Too Afraid To Love You.

11. the bird and the bee - Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates
This album should never have been made. But fuck, I am so glad it was. It should not work. But holy shit, does it ever. 
I have said it before, and I'll say it a hundred times more. This album should never have been made. But fuck, I am so glad it was. It should not work. But holy shit, does it ever. It just shows you that a good song is a good song, but a great song transcends. From top to bottom, this is a good mood spinning. I was so embarrassed to love it at first, now I am ashamed not to share it. This is fantastic.

Songs that Hit: All nine of em.
Songs that Miss: Nil.
Songs that I will listen to forever: The ENTIRE record is a forever record.

12. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
This record took over my subconscious. It was like musical ninjary.
I thought this record was a throw away up until a month ago. Then, one of my closest musical advisors told me it was her album of the year. I was shocked and knew it was my fuck up and not hers. So I gave it another listen, well, a first real listen, and it really did kill. Turns out, I already loved it. I just didn't realize what I was listening too. Have you ever heard that song, that you don't realize you're singing along too, that you're tapping your toes too? That was this record. I knew almost all the songs, but never paid attention to the fact that it was actually the local natives. This record took over my subconscious. It was like musical ninjary.

Songs that Hit: Airplanes. Sun Hands. Wide Eyes. World News. Cards & Quarters. Warning Sign. Who Knows Who Cares.
Songs that Miss: Cubism Dream. Shape Shifter. Sticky Thread
Songs that I will listen to forever: Airplanes. Warning Sign. Who Knows Who Cares.

13. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Do not get me wrong, this is one strange fucking record, but it is strange in all the right places.
I have switched back and forth between like 3 records for this last spot on the list. When I physically started writing this exact blog several hours ago, this spot belonged too The Dead Weather, a week ago, this spot was filled by Vampire Weekend, and you could make a case that both bands are very very worthy. It just came down to the excitement factor. This record, although it has its major faults, gets me happy. It really is that simple. Do not get me wrong, this is one strange fucking record, but it is strange in all the right places.
"Ambling Alp"

Songs that Hit: Ambling Alp. Madder Red. O.N.E. Rome. I Remember
Songs that Miss: The Children. Mondegreen
Songs that I will listen to forever: Ambling Alp. O.N.E.

Honorable Mention.
The Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards
Vampire Weekend - Contra
Fences - Fences
Born Ruffians - Say It
Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Revisiting: My Up and Coming Book List

So a couple years ago I did a list called "My Up and Coming Book List" - since then, I've read alot of them, removed many and have added a bunch to the list. I revisited this list below with what I've read, what I still intend to read, what I no longer want to read and have added new books to my "To Read" list. See something glaring that I'm missing? Comment me! -S

Breaking Dawn – Stephenie Meyer *Read It
My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handley *Read It
Keeping Faith – Jodi Picoult *Read It
What Was Lost – Catherine O’Flynn *Read It
The Pact: A Love Story – Jodi Picoult *Read It
I Love You, Beth Cooper – Larry Doyle *Read It
Marley & Me – John Grogan **Remove (saw the movie, good enough for me)
Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky *Read It
Buddha: A Story of Enlightment – Deepak Chopra *Still on my List*
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier – Ann Packer *Still on my List*
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami *Still on my List*
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd *Read It
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen *Read It **Top Favorite Books**
Motherless Daughters- A Legacy of Loss – Hope Edelman *cut
Open House – Elizabeth Berg *Still on my List*
Drowing Ruth – Christina Schwarz *Read It
The Liar’s Club: A Memoir – Mary Karr *Still on my List*
The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver *Still on my List*
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay – Michael Chabon *Read It- half way thru
The Friday Knight Knitting Club – Kate Jacobs *Still on my List*
Then She Found Me – Elinor Lipman *Read It
The Life Before Her Eyes – Laura Kasischke *Still on my List*
Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides *Read It
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon *Read It
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield *Still on my List*
Go Ask Alice – anonymous *Still on my List*
Smile While You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer – Chuck Thompson *Read It
Life is a Mixtape: Life and Loss, One song at a time – Rob Sheffield *Still on my List*
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Sijie Dai *cut
Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain *Cut- maybe his new one?
Life is So Good – George Dawson *Still on my List*
Forever – Pete Hamill *Read It
The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy *Still on my List*
Flower Children – Maxine Swann *Still on my List*
Elsewhere – Gabrielle Zevin *Read It
Harvesting the Heart – Jodi Picoult *Read It
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell – Tucker Max *Read It
The Bright Forever – Lee Martin *Still on my List*
The Secret History – Donna Tartt *Cut
Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life – Steve Martin *Still on my List*

And thus... my new list 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead
Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
One Day by David Nicholls
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Room by Emma Donoghue
What Alice Forgot by Loriane Moriarty

Ambitious? stay tuned!

Song of the Day: "Cousins" by Vampire Weekend.

>> Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So, tomorrow I post my year end music review, well, if I get it finished by them. But I have finally narrowed down my list to the best 13 records of the year. So, this song of the day is to celebrate sad number 14. The first album not included in my best of list, and my favorite track from it. It will surely make my top ten songs of the year. Enjoy.

"Cousins" by Vampire Weekend

Song of the Day: "Long Decemeber" by Counting Crows

>> Monday, December 27, 2010

December always feels both dark and over-whelming what with the holidays and expectations. I think we all want that magical white Christmas feeling... that feeling you had every Christmas when you were a little kid when everything was exciting and then you grow up and it's like-FAIL! You run around buying gifts and stressing out and trying to make everyone happy and you end up tired and not filled with the magic of Christmas. With that being said I so so so so hopeful for the new year. This song captures my feelings of the moment...

Song of the Day: "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses

>> Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas.

"Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses

Best and Worst Movies of 2010

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I have to say overall this year was a disappointment for movies. Some good (okay hot) actors made some really poor choices (hello Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp) and what wasn't great was also predictable- oh really "When in Rome"? She ends up with the guy? Ya think? However there were some gems that stood above the rest (yes you Inception). So below is the Good, the Bad and the Ones I missed on purpose (and the ones I hope to see still).

The Good...
1. Inception
2. Black Swan
3. Easy A
4. Kick Ass
5. Eat Pray Love
6. Iron Man 2
7. Scott Pilgrim
8. Despicable Me
9. The Social Network
10. Get Him to the Greek

The Bad...
1. Takers
2. Leap Year
3. Youth in Revolt
4. The Next Three Days
5. The Town
6. Dear John
7. The Sorcerers Apprentice
8. Resident Evil 4
9. When in Rome
10. Bounty Hunter

Others: Alice in Wonderland, Grown Ups, The Other Guys, JackAss 3D, Paranormal Activity 2, The Book of Eli, Hot Tub Time Machine.

The Ones I Missed but want to see...
1. Going the Distance
2. Love and Other Drugs
3. The Runaways
4. Twilight 3
5. Due Date
6. Letters to Juliet
7. Sex and the City 2
8. Charlie St. Cloud
9. How to Train Your Dragon
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Ones I Missed and am so glad I did...
1. Knight and Day
2. The Expendables
3. A-Team
4. Secretariat
5. Burlesque
6. Unstoppable
7. Cop Out
8. Tooth Fairy
9. The Spy Next Door
10. Little Fockers

Others: Crazy on the Outside, Brooklyns Finest, The Last Song, Machete, Predators, Lottery Ticket, You Again, The Tourist.

Civil Wars West Coast Vlog

Thought this was lovely... wanted to share... enjoy!

Song of the Day: "It's Summer" by Summer Camp

>> Sunday, December 19, 2010

So, this band released like 2 EP's this year, and it makes you wonder, why not just release an album? But anyways. This is a little English duo that I featured earlier this year, at the time, I had no clue how much I would end up loving the releases. But I did, and now they will be sitting somewhere in the heart of my best EP releases. This song is just my escape from the dreary winter, I could not find a video anywhere online for it, so I had to make this myself, so it is not very impressive.
I just love her "I don't give a shit" vocal styling, there is something undeniably sexy about it all.

"It's Summer" by Summer Camp

Top 5 All Time Concert Memories

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

And I wonder, when I sing along with you, if everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you, you've got to promise not to stop when I say when, she sang.

No, this is not a post about the Foo Fighters. It is not a post about the futility of love and life and so on and blah blah blah. That lyric just felt as good as any to broach this next topic. To explain the exact feeling I get from standing in a crowded bar, or with my elbows on the bar of the mezzanine railing letting the music besiege you. The bassline vibrating your very breath from your body, as the melody forces your eyes shut because 5 senses is just one too many.
This is a mini list where I am going to share with you my top five concert memories/experiences. Now, to understand this list, you must know, I am not much of an interactive concert goer. I am that guy that gets there early. I’m that guy that finds the best spot to take it all in. Not just the music, but the crowd, the lighting, the set up. I love opening acts. I don’t throw things on stage. I don’t try to sneak backstage to meet the band.  I just go. I listen. I love. And the world needs guys like me. As a good friend once told me, “where would the world be without lovers of things?”

Anyways, enough with that crap. Onto the list.

5. Faceplant Keyboard Solo.
This is actually a memory from this year.  It was fleeting, but awesome.
I was at The Vera Project, a quaint all ages dive of a club in Seattle seeing this little band that has one of my favorite albums of the year. So, First Aid Kit is a sister duo from Sweden, that I have already written about and that you can read about here.  First things first, it was a good show, I came away overall more impressed by the opening act, Samantha Crain, but they were good nonetheless. Anyways, as First Aid Kit was wrapping their show, they finished things off with a rousing version of their song “I Met Up With The King.” During this rousing encore song, Klara, the younger sister, did the most punk rock think I have ever seen at a folk show.  Faceplant Keyboard Solo. Yeah, she rocked out, long hair and all, by rubbing her face back and forth on the keys. It was out of nowhere, it was awesome, and it was unforgettable.
first aid kit
(Photo Credit: Victoria of The Portable Victoria aka Imaginary Victoria of Three Imaginary Girls, a fantastic NW music blog. I met Victoria at this very concert, and she is one cool lady.)
4. And everybody cried…
Picture this. September 21st 2001. The Gorge at George. Dusk. Crosby Stills & Nash. It was 10 days after 9/11, and nothing was right, but the music went on. We all gathered on the hill, and before everything really go into the swing of things, the Band asked the audience to reflect for a moment, that the next song was going to be dedicated to those lost, and those still hurting from that loss.  The sang “Find The Cost of Freedom” A cappella, and everybody cried.
(Random photo found online, not actually from show. But The Gorge, at sunset nonetheless)
3. What, who are these guys?
I was at The Gorge for a show I never had any intention of being at. Given tickets at the last min, I was just there because it was free and because it was The Gorge in the summer. The bill looked something like this, Silvercrush (never heard of at the time, and even now), Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (who I was and am not a fan),O.A.R. (never heard of at the time), Train (who I loved at the time, but had just seen in Seattle earlier that year) and Sheryl Crow (who is super annoying). So, as you can see, not the most enticing bill, especially if you realize this was only 2002. But, I was there, 10 rows back, center stage, reserved seat, just waiting for Train to do their set, so I could drive home. While I was waiting however, something amazing happened.
Keep in mind; this was back before I perfected my snobbery, back before I spent hours and thousands of dollars finding that next great band. So, when O.A.R. took the stage, I felt nothing, it was just filler, until it wasn’t. About 30 seconds into their set I was on my feet. And suddenly surrounded by thousands of people who obviously did not miss the Of A Revolution bus like I had. I was like a wall of noise surrounding me. It was fantastic. Then I started to listen to the music. Started to bob my head as I do, and just got happy. Then, they kicked it up a notch. The broke into a 15min version of a song called “A Crazy Game Of Poker” that every single person around me knew every single word too. It was the most surreal experience of my life. The crowd took on a life of its own, encompassing one giant sway/bound/shimmy/repeat motion. This band that I had never heard of, with a crowd that 1 hour before I had no desire to be around, became a part of me. I was in on the secret. They stole everysecond of that show.

2. 1100 voices as one.
This is my most recent concert memory, as it is just from 11/27/10. But, I knew right away that I would be revising this unpublished list. Let me paint the picture for you…. 1100 file into the Showbox at The Market for a trifecta of NW music at its best. You have the old school headliner in David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), the indie singersongwriter vet Damien Jurado, and the like-a-freight-train upstarts The Head and The Heart, it’s the perfect possible NW showcase, and I was excited. But, to be honest, I only cared about those upstarts. So, Jurado did his sitting down thing, he sang and was not unspectacular, but not memorable. Then the buzz started. The crowd felt anxious and alive. We were sitting on the side of the stage in the bar, the perfect spot to see the entire show and watch the crowd react, as this is half the fun. But this was different than I have ever seen, there was an energy that I cannot explain. From note one of The Head and The Heart it was like all out choir practice for all 1100 people. Every word, of every song was shared, and not in the annoying I wish I could hear the band way. It was like we were feeding off eachother. Almost cultish, but in a fantastic way. It’s like the building had once voice, one breath, one beat for one fantastic show. Looking over at Stevie (co-blogger) just absorbed into the music with her eyes closed and voice ringing will always be one of my favorite mental pictures. This was my second favorite concert memory of all time. And it’s less than a month old. Oh, then David Bazan played, but nobody cared after THATH.
(Photo Credit goes to Abbie Simmons from Sound on the Sound, my favorite local music blog)
1.  Speechless
The Swell Season, one of my all time favorites were half way through what was already one of my favorite concerts of all time, top 10 for sure. But then they did two incredible things that I will never ever forget.  Yes, this concert has two memories in one. I have written about one of these before, and it is hard to put into words, so I have a video below from this exact night that might do it better justice. But, here is a quick rundown and the other memory.
Glen, solo, center stage played a cover of my least favorite Van Morrison song “Astral Weeks.” I knew a Van song was coming, he always pulls it out. And at first, I was mildly disappointed. But then he started to rock it. Upon doing so, he broke a string on his guitar. No big deal, another was run out to him. Not more than 30 seconds later, he broke a string on this one too. But, he decided to continue to rock it. He played hard, on 5 strings, until another broke, down to 4 now. He pushed on, it was clear he was going to both finish this song, and break every single string on that guitar while doing so. Raising his arm up and driving it through the remaining strings he push that song faster and harder than it was ever meant to go, and every second or third swipe, you would hear the pop/twang of another string breaking apart, until the stage was quiet and stringless  and the crowd roared to life. It was the most bad ass rock antics I have ever seen on an acoustic guitar. Right then and there, I knew this show just jumped into the top 5 all time. But he was about to outdo himself.
Here is that video, quick recap, Glen, stepped infront of the mic, and did this. This is actually pretty close to where I was sitting, so you can get a good feeling for it. I also have included a video with better quality and sound. It is again Glen solo, and if you have ever seen the movie Once you may know it. Still gives me chills.


Band of the Week: Local Natives

>> Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So, I am not gonna lie. 3 weeks ago, I didn't like this record. I didn't find the originality in it. I had fully decided that it was NOT going to take part of my year end music review. In fact, I was not even set on including any of the tracks on my top 30 (or probably 50, if I cannot narrow down), so for this post be up now is a considerable feat.
But, one of my favorite friends, and a true musical soul told me how it was her record of the year. I was shocked and knew right then and there that I missed something. Her and I are like musical soul mates, so if she saw something deeper or different than I did, I knew that was on me. So, I gave it another listen. Soon I realized it was one of those records you don't know you love. You know. A song comes on, you love it, you sing along, and you move on. I never knew that the songs I was tapping my toe too, or turning up in the car, were these songs. I just did not make that connection. So, yeah, that is my bad.

This is a fantastic record and will sneak in the bottom half of my top 13. Enjoy, the Band of the Week:

Local Natives

"Sun Hands"

"Airplanes" (Let this song build around you. It's a wave)

"World News"

"Wide Eyes"

Song of the Day: "Excuses" by The Morning Benders

>> Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This gave me chills. I knew I was going to post this song, as it is one of my favorites of twentyten and I listen to it often, but I had no clue how awesome this video was going to be. Just watch it.

"Excuses" by The Morning Benders

Songs of the Day: "The Town" and "Otherside ft. Fences" by Macklemore

>> Monday, December 13, 2010

So, with another EP of the year contender, I give you local hip-hop at its best. If you are a fan of rap music, or even if you not, pick this record up. It is about Seattle. It is about life. It is just strikingly real lyrics. This little EP has a good chance to have 3 songs end up on my top songs of the year, and if you look at last year's list, you will only see 2 hip-hop songs on the entire list. So, yeah, check this out.

"The Town" by Macklemore (Sabzi Remix)

"Otherside" by Macklemore ft Fences

Show of the Day: The Civil Wars with Lindsay Fuller

>> Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tonight, at the Tractor Tavern, Stevie and I (plus our one avid reader, and two drag alongs) will be attending what I am hoping is a hell of a show. You may recognize The Civil Wars, as they have been featured quite a bit on this blog, as a Song of the Day, they were also #2 on The Alphabet list "C", as well as #4 song of the year, however, if I were to rewrite this today, they would be #2. They were also the #2 EP of the year, as well as an Honorable Mention for their Live at Eddie's Attic record on my Year in Music Review. So, you can say I am a fan. Now, my drag alongs are not quite as sure, but I am sure that after the show, they will be as convinced as I am. 

Along with The Civil Wars, we will be enjoying the opening act Lindsay Fuller, whom I am excited for, even though the band did not take my suggestion of having Lemolo open, but that is ok. This is going to be a good show. I am stoked. 

"Ball & Chain" by Lindsay Fuller

Lindsay Fuller & The Cheap Dates - Ball and Chain - Live @ Crackle & Pop! from Andy Smith on Vimeo.

"Barton Hollow" by The Civil Wars

Songs of the Day: "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer and Wakey!Wakey!

>> Saturday, December 11, 2010

So, for the first time ever, and probably not the only time this year, 1 song will be represented on my best songs of the year list twice.

The videos will explain why.

"Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer

"Ambling Alp" by Wakey!Wakey!

Song of the Day: "Audience" by Cold War Kids

>> Friday, December 10, 2010

I think a good EP is an underrated thing in todays musical world. I know we are all about singles singles singles, and when thats not enough we have to have that one album that is so "great." But there is an important transitional period that often gets over looked by record labels, listeners and even bands, that classic Extended Play. More than a single, less than an album. I'ts like the brunch of records.

So, be rest assured that I will have a dedicated second, maybe even its own separate blog just to celebrate 2010's great EP's. Including the one the cut below comes from.

Do not judge me, I realize this is the 15th time I have mentioned this band on the blog. But it is just one of those bands that I will always be able to fit into my life.

"Audience" by Cold War Kids

New Name

>> Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yeah, we made a little change, but do not fret, we are still the same ball of awesomeness we always have been.

All we did was drop the "Personal" from "Listologies." It's not the end of an era, just a revamping to align the name with the direction the blog naturally took.

All is well.


Song of the Day: "The River Still" by Casey Shea ft. Wakey!Wakey!

2010 song contender...
First thing you need to know, I spent more time on this little Song of the Day that I have on any other post in a long time. This version of this song is easily going to be one of my top 10 songs of the year, but it was no where to be found online. Not on Youtube, not on Vimeo, not anywhere. So, I made a video. It's actually pretty easy, once you research how to do it in the first place, but it still took forever.

This song is from Wakey!Wakey!'s live in concert record entitled "Silent As A Movie" but it is not his song. His labelmate Casey Shea, who often opens for/plays with is the creative force behind this gem. And it is stunningly beautiful. I have to give credit where credit is due though, Wakey!'s piano work adds new depth to this already great song.

Songs of the Day: "Fall Asleep" & "Turnpike Ghost" by Steel Train

>> Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Refresh: All STOD for rest of year from Addi will reflect song or albums you will find on year end list.

Today, I give you two more songs, one of which is surely to be on my best songs, as the album takes its place in the bottom half of my top 13 records (quite possibly in two forms). It's a pretty spectacular record.

It is the closest thing I have found that rehashed that 90's alternative vibe with 2010 indie enthusiasm Give it a listen.

"Fall Asleep (Acoustic version)" by Steel Train (This is my favorite song from the record, but this is a much mellowed out version, that I dig, but others may not.)

"Turnpike Ghost" by Steel Train (official music video, that kinda sucks, but great tune)

A Year in Music: Best Albums of 2009: Look Back Part 3.

A Year in Music: Best Albums of 2009.
I am going to do a quarterly revisit of my best of the year albums. I am doing this, in part because, it is funny how albums stay the same as you change. You realize that overtime you are listening to some albums more than others, and some you are not listening to at all after the luster wears off. But also, upon reviewing my previous best of lists, I would change so much in retrospect. So, this is to document how my mind is evolving throughout the year.

Below you will see the albums ranked in their new order with the original ranking in parentheses. You will also see my original introduction for this list, as well as each original review listed as they were back when first posted. I have put my updated thoughts from March in a lovely shade of lilac, and my insights from June in a manly shade of green. 
My newest and final updates of the year are going to be an annoying hue of orange.
First and foremost I need to ask for forgiveness for my absence from this glorious blog. I have been devoid of a computer for the last 6 months and the itch to write nearly killed me. So, you have my profoundest and sincerest apologies. With that in mind, I fear that my ability for string coherent words together to form witty one-sided banter may be a bit on the rusty side, so bear with me while I gain my bearings.
This year, for the first time in many years, seemed insignificant. One day bled into the next until this year felt like last. Stretching within my own confines proved to be a fruitless task, this year was doomed to be nothing special, static, and forgettable. Understand, this is not a bad thing; quite possibly, it is something to celebrate. No news is good news. My life, for the first time in years, was dramaless and boring. Dramaless and boring, is great for one thing. Losing oneself in those true inner passions. Rediscovering exactly how discovering something feels. This was my year in music. A year of discovery. And it was bountiful.
In 2009 I purchased a total of 144 albums and EP’s, 58 of which were actually released between November of 2008 and December of 2009. That is 58 new recordings from this year alone that made this year anything but forgettable. And, yes, I did, purchase all of these. And yes, this is where all my money goes. It’s better than a drug habit, although, sometimes it’s hard to know the difference.
As 2008 progressed, I took a noticeable step away from my standard singersongwriter persona. I started to really appreciate music that took real chances. Music that tried something new and of value. Leaning more and more towards the Los Campesinos! and The Dodos of the world, I started to purchase records I never would have considered two years ago. This was just the start of a hell of a journey.
This year was about taking chances in safe places, between the left and right side of storytelling headphones. I hope you enjoy. I will do a quarterly review of this list to track the changes that are sure to follow.
The list after the jump...

Songs of the Day: "Lions" and "Equinox" by Samantha Crain

>> Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So, for the rest of they year, I am going to be using the Song of the Day platform to help whittle and determine what tunes/records are going to make up my best of the year lists. So, if you see them here, you can be rest assured that they will also me on display in about a month.

So, today, I bring you two songs that will undoubtedly make my best songs list from an album that has a very very good chance of making my final 13. I would sing her praises, but I have already written an entire blog about this gem of a singer. In short, I had never heard of her as she opened for First Aid Kit and she blew me away and left me in awe for the rest of the show. Overshadowed the headliner. Not easy to do.

"Lions" by Samantha Crain

"Equinox" by Samantha Crain

Song of the Day: Walking Far From Home (Iron and Wine)

>> Monday, December 6, 2010

Yes it's been a while. First it was I was packing in NYC to come to WA and then I was moving and then I was temporarily in one place and then my computer crashed, blah blah blah.
So you could say I've been MIA.
This is the song that is bringing me back- or I guess all my thoughts about this new Iron and Wine album.I've only heard three songs on the new album and I can say so far I'm... worried? intrigued? curious? All of the above?
Walking Far From Home is both a return to his never-ending paragraph long sentence lyrics but with an electronic twist. Yes you read that right. Give it a listen, let me know what you think. S

Song of the Day: "Runaway" by Kanye West

>> Sunday, December 5, 2010

I REALLY really wanted to hate this album. Like, I wanted to buy it, just to say I listened to it and thought it was shit. I had my whole speech worked out and everything. But, this album is incredible. It feels dirty saying that. I have never been one to jump on the pop culture train, because it is usually on a course to safe and mediocre. But, on that rare occasion, it detours to extraordinary. This album is going to be impactful for the next year. Like Lauren Hill's "Miseducation" this record is going to cross every boundary, infuse itself in all levels of life. Kanye West is on a different level. He is doing things that will be remembered. I hate saying it, but it's true. This SOTD is not even my favorite song of the day, but the video is great.

Check out song below, but understand it is just an excerpt from a 35 min short film that is truly worth watching. you can find it here. It has mini videos from like 6 songs, including my favorite, entitled "Lost In The World - Ft. Bon Iver."

"Runaway" by Kanye West

Bakers Dozen: Cancelled Too Soon! Updated.

I wrote this blog like 2 years ago, and have since changes my stance on a few things. Like I took "Love Monkey" off the list, and added "The Unusuals" in it's spot. I just realized I liked the idea of "Love Monkey" more than the actual show itself. "The Unusuals" was a show that really broke my heart when it got cancelled. 

I have also included where, if anywhere, you can find episodes for these awesome shows online. 

In my blog about the best TV romances of all time, I commented that My So Called Life would lead up my list of best TV shows cancelled too soon. But, I decided I was wrong on that fact. And since several people have asked what that list would look like, OK, well, maybe not several, just one. Me. OK, I inquired about how that list would go. Leave me alone. It is not wrong to talk to yourself, my mother says it is eccentric. 

Here is my list, with the surprise number 1.

1. Veronica Mars. (Available on Netflix in its entirety. Also on Fancast a few episodes at a time)

While doing research for this list I stumbled across some YouTube clips from this gem of a show, and remembered why I loved it so much, and still have a Series Recording set up on my DVR just in case some blessid channel decides to air the reruns. Some of the best writing for a "teen" show ever to grace our airwaves. And you know what the worst thing is? It was cancelled in favor of "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search For the Next Doll." Can you fucking believe that? I miss Veronica.

2. My So Called Life (Available in its entirety on Fancast and Hulu)

We all know, this show was too real. Blah, blah, blah. Bullshit. Claire Danes just refused to blow the producer or something. That is the only logical reason I can think of for this show to be cancelled. Seriously. Someone made a mistake. Someone screwed up. I just want to know what happened. Did her dad cheat? Who did she pick, Brian or Jordan? I need Answers.

3. Freaks and Geeks (Unavailable online)

Look closely, tell me how many people you can name in this photo. I will give you a second.... Ok, got it? Yeah, in front there, thats John Francis Daley, if you watch the show "Bones" that is why you reconginize him. Sitting on the rightside table, that is James Franco, yeah, you might know him from all three "Spider-Man" movies, or maybe you caught his award winning performance in "Milk" (which IS amazing by the way). On the left side of the table, maybe you see Seth Rogan. How about "40 Year Old Virgin." How about "Knocked Up." Maybe "Zach and Miri Make a Porno." Oh, that obstructed guy in the middle on the table, that is Jason Segal. Yeah, Jason Fucking Segal. Does "SLC Punk!," "Knocked Up," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," (personal fave) strike any bells? How about "How I Met Your Mother?" Come on, this cast alone, not to mention the rest of the regulars, should have gotten this show at least 3 more seasons!

4. Joan of Arcadia (Unavailable online)

This may be a little high for you, reader. But hear me out. This show was not only cancelled early, but it was given a horrible death. Limes disease? Fucking Limes Disease! Oh, its OK Joan, you are not really talking to God, you were just bitten by a Tick, no worries. I am so angry at this ending that it automatically gets bumped up three spots on this list. I make the rules.

5. Pushing Daisies (Available on Netflix in entirety & TheWB a few episodes at a time)

Damn writers strike. If not for that void of TV writing, this Emmy Winning show would still have a shot. Too much time past between season one and two. It has not been able to sustain that power that it began with. Out of all town fictional towns that have ever existed in the tv-sphere, this is where I would choose to live. Makes me super sad this show did not get the respect it deserved. 

6. Jericho (Available on Fancast with a few episodes at a time)

OK, I will admit, I was a bit biased about this show. I liked it before it even aired. I mean, anyone who knows me, knows that "Perks of Being a Wallflower" was the most impactful book of my life. "What does that have to do with a dumb TV show?" you ask. "It's not dumb!" I respond. But, to answer your question, the author of that lovely book was the writer and executive producer of this fine show, and yes it was a fine show. Yeah, that plot was a bit convoluted at first, but they worked that all out, and the show only got better. 

7. Arrested Development (Available on Netflix in its entirety & both Fancast & Hulu for season 2 only)

The little critically acclaimed show that could not. This multiple Emmy winning show just could not hold an audience. Including me. I discovered this gem on DVD. Not because I did not know it was on TV, or because I did not realize how well reviewed it was. Not even because I had something better to watch, I do not really know whyI didn't watch it. I regret it. We all should. We are the only reason this show is not on the air. But, good news reader, a feature film is in pre-production with the whole cast, excluding Michael Cera who is too cool.

8. Undeclared (Unavailable online)

Judd Apatow's second foray into television and this list. If you watch the show "Greek" that is currently running on ABC Family, then you have "Undeclared" to thank for it. If you take the Greek System out of "Greek" you would have this exact show, just not as funny. Again, Apatow sticks to who he knows, he brought Seth Rogan and Jason Segal over to this underrated comedy.

9. Kid Nation (Unavailable online or on DVD)

I made a silent vow to myself not to include reality shows in these TV lists, but, "Kid Nation" was the best reality show ever. Ever. The show was about 40 kids, between ages 8 and 15 creating a town all on their own. No one was eliminated, although they could ask to leave at town meetings, there were no plot twists, it was just good old (new) fashioned reality television. The kids would compete to be assigned stature in society for the week (Wealthy, Merchants, Working Class, *i am forgetting one class*). At the end of each week, the kids would vote on who helped lead the town the most for that current week. That child was awarded a Golden Star worth 20,000 dollars. It was wholesome, it was riveting, it was damn good. The show was cancelled after one season due to the controversy surrounding it.

10. The 4400 (Unavailable online)

This is a personal favorite. I did not miss a single episode, not even the damn cliffhanger that became the last episode. I may be in the minority on this show, and I know that. But it was damn good. Well written, well acted, well missed. If you are a fan of the show "Heroes," as I am, you may not be aware of the connections. So, I will answer this question for you. Yes, they are recycling the storylines from "The 4400." The whole, injection to give people powers, does not work out will, just advance warning. This is another show where I need answers. It was another casualty of the Writers Strike. There was no intention to cancel, but, due to the strike, the show was off the air for over a year (it was on a cable off-season schedule) and just could not survive. Angry.

Now, sadly, the new show “The Event” which is a complete rip-off of The 4400 may be joining this list this time next year. Oh, when I say rip-off, it is not a bash, I am a big fan of “The Event” and it’s “Joan of Arcadia” alum.

11. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Available on Netflix in its entirety)

Like "Jericho," I came into this show already a fan. In my opinion, "West Wing" is one of the best shows of all time. So, how could I not be excited when the same creative team, and a integral member of the cast, created this dandy of a show. Yes, it was over written. But look at that cast. Yes it was pretentious. But, look at that cast. I loved this show. I thought the dialogue was sharp, I thought the concept was unique, and I thought the cast was top notch, obviously.

12. The Unusuals (Available on Netflix & Hulu in their entirety)

A veteran detective that refuses to take off his bullet proof vest, even while sitting at his desk, who only owns plastic, inflatable furniture, and can barely do his job, all over a fear of dying at age 42, like his grandfather and father did before him. And all that, doesn't have anything to do with the real plot of the show. He is just a sub character. Now, with depth of writing like that, it is a crazy surprise this brilliant little show failed. Oh and look, another “Joan of Arcadia” star.

13. The Black Donnellys (Unavailable online)

Too violent. Too real. Wrong network. I 100% truly believe if this show was created on TNT or A&E or even one of the premium channels it would still be gracing our presence with its awesomeness. This show was gritty, it was well acted and cinematically shot. This show was a triumph. If you watch "House," you may recognize 13 in this photo.

As always, I do not know more than you do. I just take the time to write what I do not know down. Tell me how I am wrong.