Song of the Day: "Manhattan" by The BGP

>> Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sorry reader. I have gone quiet the last few days. I had a family hangover. But I am back and I have some very exciting things to share of the next couple days. I have it all planned out.

First and foremost, I have something you are guaranteed to love. Money back. The BGP have long been one of the recurring staples on this blog, as they should be, as the NW soul sound is bursting at the seams, and they are at the forefront. This is a band that is one real break away from an Allen Stone or Pickwick type rise. Fame and fortune awaits, I am certain. And, if they keep releasing such refreshingly awe-inspiring live clips like this, I fathom that break is not far off.

Just a few weeks ago, I listed my favorite live music clips from 2011, and this video makes me wish I didn't make a rule against revisions. Because, if this had been released prior to that list, it surely would have been right near the top, if not king of the hill. Well done boys, well done.

"Manhattan" by The BGP

Song of the Day "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by The Gundersen Family

>> Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone. Thank you all for sticking with us on our little blog this year. It has been a good year for us, as our readership continues to grow, and it's all thanks to you.

Here is my favorite new Christmas song. It's brought to us by the amazingly talented Gundersen Family. Now, I say new even though this is the most classic of classic xmas tunes. But, it is so breathtakingly refreshed here that it feels brand spankin.

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by The Gundersen Family

Song of the Day: "All I Wonderful Christmas Is You" by Summer Camp

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The most awkwardly titled Christmas song ever. But, once you listen and realize it's two xmas songs mashed into one, you'll understand. It is one of the best "new" takes on a tired Christmas classic.

"All I Wonderful Christmas Is You" by Summer Camp

Song of the Day: "Breaking The Ice" by Samantha Crain

>> Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And we keep trucking on. Here is another gem of a Christmas song, an original by one of my favorite little rock darlings, Samantha Crain. She stands as tall as her guitar, so she may be small in stature, but, her voice towers a good 9 feet tall. I cannot stress enough how much power and beauty she fills a room with. And, now, she is taking over Christmas.

"Breaking The Ice" by Samantha Crain

Song of the Day: "Christmastime Is Here" by Kris Orlowski

>> Sunday, December 18, 2011

As I mentioned the other day, I am going to try and find some of the best newer Christmas songs to share for the rest of this week. And although it's still pretty early in the week, I think this may be the winning song. But, I have to admit, inclusion of a children's choir is kinda cheating.

But this song is fantastic, the video is filmed beautifully, and it is probably the best I have heard Kris sound, all sultry like and stuff. Another NW product that is going to making some great noises in 2012.

"Christmastime Is Here" by Kris Orlowski


This excellent video was produced by Eratosthenes Photo & Video. Check out their site and YouTube Channel when you get a chance, great stuff over there, that I often steal from.

Song of the Day: "A Very Minimum Wage Christmas" by The Oh Wells

>> Friday, December 16, 2011

So, now that I have those pesky end of the year lists taken care of, I am going to spend the rest of this lovely year, up until xmas at least, finding the holiday songs. Some of these are going to be originals, some are going to be reinterpretations, but all are going to fan-f'n-tastic, Christmas style.

Tonight, we take a jaunt up to Canada, and join The Oh Wells celebrating A Very Minimum Wage Christmas. This song attacks whimsy like it was their bitch, and makes an all new holiday genre, Bitter Happy Christmas songs! And I think it is a category we are desperately missing these holidays. Thanks for filling the void, The Oh Wells.

Fa la la la la la la. Fa la la la la la la.

"A Very Minimum Wage Christmas" by The Oh Wells

Band Of The Week and Public Apology: The Belle Brigade

>> Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do you ever write a list and then immediately regret the order in which you listed things? Yeah, me neither.

But, I am feeling a little pang of regret over my best albums of 2011 list. Not so much in the albums I picked to include, because, I feel very good about that. First time in years, I might add. What I do feel, is that I messed up on one album in particular. The Belle Brigade.

Now, being upset for not including an album is one thing, but I am sitting here fretting over how listing them 4th is a disservice. I think I talked myself out of ranking there where I originally wanted, 1st. I don't know why I did that. The album is FANTASTIC. Like beginning to end, completely out of control, super-duper good.

You will hear a lot of people wax on about how their influences are clearly Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, and Fleetwood Mac. And all of those are true. But when I hear them, I cannot help but hear me some Loggins and Messina, which makes me very happy.

I am not going to rewrite my Best Albums of 2011 list tonight, but, I want to get this out there. I should have put The Belle Brigade as my number 1 record of 2011. And I want to publicly apologize to them for this egregious error.

"Belt Of Orion" 


"Lucky Guy"


"Where Not To Look For Freedom"

Best of 2011: Favorite Songs: 20-1

>> Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Here is how I determined this list. I consider every song I can get my hands on in the year. This year that means 1,942 songs, and I make a smart playlist on my iPod. Every song that I love I give a 5 star rating, and they all get sorted together. And then, I trim from there, song by song.

I know. Each year the best songs list gets longer and longer. But this year, there is justification. If you read my best albums post, you will know this is the year of the song. And if I tried, and, when I say tried, I mean, if just didn't stop myself, this list would be 200 songs long. This year may be lacking in an overabundance in complete albums, but, when it comes to songs, it was uniquely jam packed with quality tunes. Here are my favorite 80 of 2011 (broken into the next 4 posts so it doesn't crash your flash player). Here is the top 20.

Fair warning, there is no Bon Iver on this list. It is not that I do not like the album, or tracks, I just don't think it is the end all record of the year like everyone else does.
View 80-61 Here.
View 60-41 Here. 
View 40-21 Here. 

20-1
20. Open Air – Lemolo


19. No One To Let You Down – The Head And The Heart


18. Someday – Middle Brother


17. Family – Noah Gundersen


16. Two Cousins – Slow Club


15. Rolling In The Deep – Adele


14. Million Dollar Bill – Middle Brother & Dawes (both bands released this fantastic track on different albums. I couldn't decided)


13. The Last To Say – Atmosphere


12. Window Sill – Pickwick


11. Losers – The Belle Brigade


10. Love Like A River – Girls


9. Goodnight – The Rural Alberta Advantage


8. Complimenting Parts – Campfire OK


7. Worried About – Lissie


6. The Honest Truth – Typhoon


5. Putting The Dog To Sleep – The Antlers


4. Don't Say Oh Well – Grouplove


3. We Will All Be Changed – Seryn


2. Belongings – Clock Opera


1. Avalanche – Noah Gundersen (This live version in particular is the one that I love)


Best of 2011: Favorite Songs: 40-21

Here is how I determined this list. I consider every song I can get my hands on in the year. This year that means 1,942 songs, and I make a smart playlist on my iPod. Every song that I love I give a 5 star rating, and they all get sorted together. And then, I trim from there, song by song.

I know. Each year the best songs list gets longer and longer. But this year, there is justification. If you read my best albums post, you will know this is the year of the song. And if I tried, and, when I say tried, I mean, if just didn't stop myself, this list would be 200 songs long. This year may be lacking in an overabundance in complete albums, but, when it comes to songs, it was uniquely jam packed with quality tunes. Here are my favorite 80 of 2011 (broken into the next 4 posts so it doesn't crash your flash player).

Fair warning, there is no Bon Iver on this list. It is not that I do not like the album, or tracks, I just don't think it is the end all record of the year like everyone else does.
View 80-61 Here.
View 60-41 Here. 
40-21
40. Up All Night – French Horn Rebellion


39. Comes In Waves – Psychologist


38. Get Some – Lykke Li


37. Comeback Kid (That's My Dog) – Brett Dennen


36. I'll Be The One You Want Someday – Jessica Lea Mayfield


35. From The Woods – James Vincent McMorrow


34. Run – Matt Nathanson Ft. Sugerland


33. Backseat – Bryan John Appleby


32. Sweetness – Pearl And The Beard


31. Colours – Grouplove


30. Everywhere I Go – Lissie


29. Fish – Wye Oak


28. I Hate The Sun – The Oh Wells


27. David – Noah Gundersen


26. We Are Young (Feat. Janelle MonĂ¡e) – fun.


25. Otis – Jay Z & Kanye West


24. Lead Me Home – FM Radio


23. Say So – Allen Stone


22. American Wedding – Frank Ocean


21. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars


Best of 2011: Favorite Songs: 60-41

Here is how I determined this list. I consider every song I can get my hands on in the year. This year that means 1,942 songs, and I make a smart playlist on my iPod. Every song that I love I give a 5 star rating, and they all get sorted together. And then, I trim from there, song by song.

 I know. Each year the best songs list gets longer and longer. But this year, there is justification. If you read my best albums post, you will know this is the year of the song. And if I tried, and, when I say tried, I mean, if just didn't stop myself, this list would be 200 songs long. This year may be lacking in an overabundance in complete albums, but, when it comes to songs, it was uniquely jam packed with quality tunes. Here are my favorite 80 of 2011 (broken into the next 4 posts so it doesn't crash your flash player).

 Fair warning, there is no Bon Iver on this list. It is not that I do not like the album, or tracks, I just don't think it is the end all record of the year like everyone else does.
View 80-61 Here.

60-41
60. Hospital Beds – Florence + The Machine (Cold War Kids Cover)



59. A Little Bit Of Everything – Dawes


58. Make You Fall In Love With Me – Brett Dennen


57. Sweet Louise – The Belle Brigade


56. Wilderness – Middle Brother


55. Became – Atmosphere


54. Sleep – Allen Stone


53. So Well – Dawes


52. Oh Mississippi – Lissie


51. Same Damn Time – Beat Connection


50. We Don't Eat – James Vincent McMorrow


49. The Wall – Yuck


48. How Can You Luv Me – Unknown Mortal Orchestra


47. Austere – The Joy Formidable


46. Hackney Marsh – Slow Club


45. Silver Screen – Beat Connection


44. When I'm Alone – Lissie


43. Rave On – Cults


42. The Vent – Big K.R.I.T.


41. Don't Stop – The Dodos


Best of 2011: Favorite Songs: 80-61


Here is how I determined this list. I consider every song I can get my hands on in the year. This year that means 1,942 songs, and I make a smart playlist on my iPod. Every song that I love I give a 5 star rating, and they all get sorted together. And then, I trim from there, song by song.

I know. Each year the best songs list gets longer and longer. But this year, there is justification. If you read my best albums post, you will know this is the year of the song. And if I tried, and, when I say tried, I mean, if just didn't stop myself, this list would be 200 songs long. This year may be lacking in an overabundance in complete albums, but, when it comes to songs, it was uniquely jam packed with quality tunes. Here are my favorite 80 of 2011 (broken into the next 4 posts so it doesn't crash your flash player).

Fair warning, there is no Bon Iver on this list. It is not that I do not like the album, or tracks, I just don't think it is the end all record of the year like everyone else does.
  
80-61
80. Happy Day - Idiot Glee


79. Fasten You To Me - The Belle Brigade


78. Too Late To Apologize - The Oh Wells


77. You Yes You - tUnE-yArDs


76. No Harm - The Boxer Rebellion


75. High Hawk Season – The Mountain Goats


74. Very Nice Things – Youth Rescue Mission


73. Heartbreak Heartbreak – The BGP


72. Wetsuit – The Vaccines


71. White Nights – Oh Land


70. Letters - Lemolo


69. Never Look Back (Acoustic) – Slow Club


68. Muscle Relaxants – The Rural Alberta Advantage

67. 40k – Pearl And The Beard


66. Virgin – Manchester Orchestra


65. I Know Places – Lykke Li


64. Elephants & Little Girls – Loch Lomond


63. Sometimes At Night – Jessica Lea Mayfield


62. Next Time – Meredith Bragg


61. Glorify – Ivan & Alyosha

Best of 2011: Albums

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2011


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.

This was a helluva year for music, not really for albums as a whole, but for music in general. I know that sounds contradictory, but, stick with me. Out of the 217 albums/EP's/singles that I picked up this year, very few felt complete. But, so many had something spectacular to share. A song here, a lyric there, something unique. This is definitely more so the year of the song, rather than the album. However, with that said, I still scoured through the 217 records in my 2011 collection, and there are about 20 standouts which I have narrowed down to my favorite 13. 

So, it's that time. It's the list I work on all year. My favorite list to write. I hope you enjoy. 

1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing 
 Listening to this record is like forgetting. The RAA allows you to lose yourself within yourself. Allows you to forgive and redeem yourself in 16 bars.
It shocks me to no end that The RAA is not the biggest band in the world. They can craft a song like it's a habit. They can haunt, enthrall, engage, and epic from one song to the next. Listening to this record is like forgetting. The RAA allows you to lose yourself within yourself. Allows you to forgive and redeem yourself in 16 bars. This is my go to album. This is the record that ten years from now will define 2011 for me. That is why it is number 1.
"Two Lovers"

Songs that Hit: Every Single One.
Songs that Miss: Nil.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Goodnight, Two Lovers, Coldest Days, Tornado '87, Stamp, Muscle Relaxants

2. Lissie - Catching A Tiger
Lissie sings with a reckless abandon that can only be celebrated.
First things first, this record was released in the latter stages of 2010. But, it was too good to pass up, and as you loyal readers will remember, I often count anything released after September of the as part of next year, for musical purposes. How am I to develop a relationship with a record in so few months? So, this is included. I hope you can deal.
There are some voices that sing you. And there are some voices that move you. Lissie sings with a reckless abandon that can only be celebrated. She is so distinct, so unique and powerful, that I often think it will work against her in the long run. But for now, and as long as she is putting out music, I'll champion it the best I can.
Lissie came so close to being the number one record of the year, that I would not be surprised, if when I do my annual review, she does not pop up there.
"Worried About"

Songs that Hit: Nearly All.
Songs that Miss: Stranger
Songs that I will listen to forever: When I'm Alone, Everywhere I Go, Worried About, Oh Mississippi, Record Collector

3. Middle Brother - Middle Brother 
Because each member of Middle Brother is so immeasurably talented, it is like the band has multiple personality disorder. From one song to a next, you never know what you are going to get, and yet it never fails to disappoint. 
Super groups are commonplace these days. With the way the music industry is, and how bands starting out seem to be built on a support system of other bands, it's understandable that they would often find kinship in their likemindedness and passions. Most of those bands fail *cough*monsters of folk*cough* but every now and then, one will show up and far outshine the bands they came from. One of those bands is Middle Brother. Comprised of the frontmen of Deer Tick, Delta Spirit and Dawes (appearing later on this list) this band has found something within eachother that is lacking from each individual part. Because each member of Middle Brother is so immeasurably talented, it is like the band has multiple personality disorder. From one song to a next, you never know what you are going to get, and yet it never fails to disappoint.
"Someday"

Songs that Hit: All.
Songs that Miss: None.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Someday, Million Dollar Bill, Wilderness, Portland, Thanks For Nothing, Bloods and Guts, Mom and Dad.

4. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade
This is the kind of record that will ninja your world.
This brother and sister duo takes me back to my childhood. Not that they have been around that long, hell, this is their debut, but their sound is so classic, it feels like they are displaced in this era. And I am grateful. Their harmonies and song structures bleed their influences. Simon & Funkel and Fleetwood Mac most notably.
This is the kind of record that will ninja your world. As I go through the year, any song that I really feel, I give 5 stars on my iPod. When all was said and done, I had gathered 286 songs that garnered that rating. When I reviewed my list, I was utterly shocked to find that The Belle Brigade were the most starred band, getting 8 songs on that list. This albums slowly took over my life.
"Sweet Louise"

Songs that Hit: Nearly all work yet again. And those that don't, just barely fail.
Songs that Miss: Rusted Wheel
Songs that I will listen to forever: Sweet Louise, Losers, Where Not To Look For Freedom, Fasten You To Me, Lucky Guy,

5. Noah Gundersen - Family
Everytime Noah Gundersen plays, it is like he is cutting out his own heart and putting it on a platter for all of us to see. There is not a more honest voice in the game right now.
If this record was longer, it would be number one. I cannot justify putting a 7 track album at the top. I know that is a little close minded, but if this was one song shorter, I'd have to consider it an EP. Releasing a record with only 7 tracks is a gamble, if one song fails, the album is like 15% failure. Luckily, Noah, does not not have that concern, as he does not fail. Everytime Noah Gundersen plays, it is like he is cutting out his own heart and putting it on a platter for all of us to see. There is not a more honest voice in the game right now. I say that with so much reverence, so many of us try to hide behind ourselves that we often get lost in the facade of who we want to be, rather then who we are. Noah Gundersen is who he is, and he sings it outright, and it's f'n grand.
"David"

Songs that Hit: All
Songs that Miss: None.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Family, Garden, David, Nashville

6. Campfire OK - Strange Like We Are
I think, if not the shadow of the Head and the Heart's hustle, this would be considered the best band in Seattle right now. Easily.
So, if you read my Best Of The Northwest blog a few days ago, you would have notice this band was number, one, and Noah Gundersen sat firmly at number 2. I do not want this to shine any negative light on Campfire OK. This album is fanfuckingtastic. It's just that I could write this list, or the NW one, for that matter, 100 times and Noah and CFOK would filpflop 50 times.

Campfire OK's debut album is one of the more complete records I have heard in many many years. There is not a throw away track among the bunch. In today's digital music industry, when albums are pushed out so fast, this is one hell of an accomplishment.

I think, if not the shadow of the Head and the Heart's hustle, this would be considered the best band in Seattle right now. Easily. And, I am sure, soon enough, the rest of the country is going to catch on as well. And that is in no way a slight to THATH, you all know how much I love them, but Campfire OK, is wow
"Strange Like We Are"

Songs that Hit: All.
Songs that Miss: Nada.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Complimenting Parts, Strange Like We Are, Not Young Not Old, Brass, Mexico N-O

7. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
On quiet days, when alone starts to veer into lonely, sometimes all you need is the right album. This is the right album. 
This is the first album I feel in love with this year. Like really fell in love with. And it's staying power is remarkable. When you are me, and you sift through 217 albums in a year, its easy to forget the old as the new shuffles in. And for the most part, there is a record or two that I lose along the way each year due to this plight. But not The Civil Wars. On quiet days, when alone starts to veer into lonely, sometimes all you need is the right album. This is the right album. Thank you The Civil Wars.
"Barton Hollow"

Songs that Hit: C'est La Mort, Barton Hollow, The Violet Hour, Falling, Forget Me Not, Dance Me TO The End Of Love, Dance Me To The End Of Love, To Whom It May Concern,  and of course Poison and Wine
Songs that Miss: My Father's Father
Songs that I will listen to forever: C'est La Mort, Barton Hollow, The Violet Hour, Poison and Wine

8. Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
This record came out of nowhere and choked me out of my self induced stupor.
It's funny to me that I have this album ranked ahead of the one that follows. Dawes is a band that snuck right up on me. I was going to a concert for Brett Dennen, and for Brett Dennen only, but, being the audiophile I am, I opted, as I always opt, to make sure I was early enough to catch the opening act. This band that my friend who sold me her tickets to the show, was very excited to see. A band that I had never heard of. This little band called Dawes. A little band the blew me away. A little band, who's album I purchased based on that set alone, is now sitting pretty at number 8 in 2011. This record came out of nowhere and choked me out of my self induced stupor. It ruined my game of listening and not hearing, and I could not be more grateful. It is a pleasure to find that Harry Chapin-esque song writing like this still exists.
"So Well"

Songs that Hit: Time Spent In Los Angeles, Coming Back To A Man, So Well, How Far We've Come, Fire Away, Million Dollar Bill, A Little Bit Of Everything
Songs that Miss: Moon In The Water
Songs that I will listen to forever: So Well, How Far We've Come, Million Dollar Bill, A Little Bit Of Everything

9. Brett Dennen - Loverboy
This is my summertimegoodfundrivingwiththewindowsdown album.
This is my summertimegoodfundrivingwiththewindowsdown album. There is just something about that man that sings out to the ugly kid inside of me. It just works. Brett Dennen has long been a mixtape staple of mine, but this record goes beyond the occasional fantastic track, and delves into something more. This singer songwriter has found that special thing that only the rarest of the singer songwriters latch onto, something where he can make you dance on one track, and break your heart on the next, and it always feels genuine. Honest.
"Comeback Kid (That's My Dog)"

Songs that Hit: Dancing At A Funeral, Comeback Kid (That's My Dog), Sydney (I'll Come Running), Make You Fall In Love With Me, Can't Stop Thinking About You, Song For Leaving, Alone Again
Songs that Miss: Little Cosmic Girl, Queen Of The Westside
Songs that I will listen to forever: Dancing At A Funeral, Comeback Kid (That's My Dog), Sydney (I'll Come Running), Make You Fall In Love With Me, Alone Again

10. Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tell Me
Her coy demeanor, and her aloof voice draws you in, and washes over you in cloud of stillness.
I didn't know apathetic could be sexy. But somehow, Jessica Lea Mayfield makes it happen. Her voice has an "I have feelings, but I don't give a shit" vibe to it that is impossible to describe until you hear it. Now, does that voice make this a good record? I think it might. Her coy demeanor, and her aloof voice draws you in, and washes over you in cloud of stillness. This album makes you stop, dead in your tracks and take stock of your life.
"Sometimes At Night"

Songs that Hit: I'll Be The One You Want Some Day, Our Hearts Are Wrong, Somewhere In Your Heart, Grown Man, Sometimes At Night, Tell Me, Sleepless
Songs that Miss: Run Myself Into The Ground
Songs that I will listen to forever: I'll Be The One You Want Some Day, Our Hearts Are Wrong, Somewhere In Your Heart, Grown Man, Sometimes At Night, Tell Me, Sleepless

11. Slow Club - Paradise
The band has found it maturity without losing its gleeful edge.
I was so blindly enamored with Slow Club that even before their record came out, I wrote on a song of the day for The Belle Brigade that I was reserving the top spot for album of the year for this record. And even as I wrote this today, I had to honestly look at my rankings, and drop them from #4, down to #11, where they actually belong. I have a blindspot for this English pop duo, but this record is not Yeah, So, and I cannot pretend that it is. But, that said, this record is still very good. I mean, 11 out of 217, that's 95% better than anything else out there. That's something. The band has found it maturity without losing its gleeful edge. Sadly, I do not think this record will win new fans, namely my co-blogger Stevie, but, for a guy with a Slow Club blindspot, it's special.
"Hackney Marsh"

Songs that Hit: Two Cousins, Hackney Marsh, Never Look Back (Acoustic), Palms, Half Drunk, Where I'm Waking, Beginners, The Dog, Horses Jumping, You Earth or Ash
Songs that Miss: Gold Mountain
Songs that I will listen to forever: Two Cousins, Hackney Marsh, Never Look Back (Acoustic), You Earth or Ash

12. Wye Oak - Civilian
Wye Oak's dark album pulsates with such raw energy that is palpable.
Another boy/girl duo. Huh. I didn't realize how many of those "acts" would end up in the top 13.
Wye Oak's dark album pulsates with such raw energy that is palpable. This is the kind of record that I am at a loss of words for, yet cannot stop talking about. I am just gonna let the music tell you the story.
"Fish"

Songs that Hit: All.
Songs that Miss: Nope, none.
Songs that I will listen to forever: Fish, Holy Holy, Civilian

13. Atmosphere - The Family Sign
It is everything a hip-hop album should be. It is complete, rare and a masterclass.  
The songs within The Family Sign are unlike anyother hip-hop record I have laid my ears on. It is intelligent without being preachy. It is dramatic without being exaggerated. It is moving without being soft. It is honest and open without being weak and exposed. It is everything a hip-hop album should be. It is complete, rare and a masterclass.
"My Notes"

Songs that Hit: My Key, My Notes, Your Name Here, I Don't Need Brighter Days, Became, Last To Say, Something So
Songs that Miss: Bad Bad Daddy
Songs that I will listen to forever: Became, Last To Say, Something So, My Notes

Honorable Mention
Adele - 21
Cults - Cults
James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning
Lykee Li - Wounded Rhymes
Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

Song of the Day: Pickwick - The Round (Remixed by Councours d'Elegance)

I am sorry that the blog has been a little quiet these past few days. I am currently working on the best albums and songs of 2011 lists. I am almost done with best albums. I have them all picked, now I just gotta order and review them. Should be up by the end of the week. Until then, please enjoy this gem of a track.

The nation is quickly catching on to what the NW has known for a while, Pickwick is a beast. Easily one of the best bands up here, and that is a big crowd of bands to compete with.

They released this duel record with Councours d'Elegance back in August, and I feel that I am the only one that got on board with it. As fantastic as it is, that is a shame. I urge you to head over to the bands Bandcamp page and pick it, and their other EP's up.

This track is like Pickwick meets Chromeo. And its grand.

Pickwick - "The Round (Remixed by Councours d'Elegance)"

Songs of the Day: "Little Talks" & "Love Love Love" by Of Monsters and Men

>> Monday, December 12, 2011

FML. I am in love. This band, from Iceland, wrecks my year. It is the richest sound I have heard all year. Now, if I could only get my hand on the damn record. As of today, it is only available in Iceland, not going world wide until 2012. I smell an import going on. This is going to be my 2012 Temper Trap all over again. Importing a record, falling in love, and then it blowing up. I am so excited.

"Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men


"Love Love Love" by Of Monsters and Men

Song of the Day: "Fondu au Noir" by Coeur de Pirate

>> Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beatrice Martin is just adorable. Even her stage name is adorable (Pirate Heart). Plus anything sang in French is just beautiful. Behold my new obsession (must get this album!!)

Best of 2011: Northwest Albums

>> Thursday, December 8, 2011

This is the list that makes me the most nervous. As a northwest music lover. As an occasional northwest music blogger. And as an "oh shit, one of the bands might read this" realization hits me, this list makes me nervous. But, it is also one of my favorites to write.

2011 has been a crazily strong year in northwest music. I have had this blog up and running for well over 3 years, including 600+ entries, and not once in that time, or hell, any time before that, can I remember the music scene being this strong. And this list barely even scratches the surface, as it is only about full length records released in 2011. Consider the fact that it does not include the likes of The Head and The Heart, Hey Marseilles, Pickwick, Lemolo, Macklemore, The BGP, Smoosh, Fences, or any of the excellent bands from Portland like Loch Lomond, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Fruit Bats and Blind Pilot. Read that list again of bands NOT included on this list along with the ones below and you see the strength in the NW music scene in full force.

Here is a bakers dozen of the best Northwest Albums of 2011.

1. Campfire OK - Strange Like We Are
There are some bands that you feel in your bones when you hear them. There are some bands that hit you in gut when they come on. And then there are some bands that shake you to your core, that shiver your soul. Campfire OK falls into that third category. It is also, from beginning to end the most complete record of the year, and not just in the northwest.
"Strange Like We Are"


"Brass"


2. Noah Gundersen - Family
This is actually only the first appearance of Noah on this list, but more on that later. Everytime Noah Gundersen plays, it is like he is cutting out his own heart and putting it on a platter for all of us to see. There is not a more honest voice in the NW right now. I say that with so much reverence, as so many of us hide behind ourselves that we often get lost in the facade of who we want to be, rather then who we are. Noah Gundersen is who he is, and he sings it outright, and it's f'n grand.
"David" 


"Family"


3. Youth Rescue Mission - Youth Rescue Mission
Youth Rescue Mission, a Seattle band, by way of Montana, has me all in a tizzy. This group of siblings make noises to die for. I keep trying to string together other artists to give you a good description/comparison of style/sound, but all combo's fall short. Yes, you can hear a bit of The Head and the Heart, a dollop of Blind Pilot, a tad of Hey Marseilles, and a smidge of Choir of Young Believers, but in only the littlest of amounts. They are distinctly their own. And I am loving it.
"Thursday After"


"Very Nice Things"


4. Allen Stone - Allen Stone
This Chewelah, WA product is something to behold. He is a honest to goodness oxymoron. I mean, look at him, and then listen to the songs. If soul music was dead, Allen Stone would be the revivalist. His album is so choice, (yes, I used choice like its 1988) that it feels unreal, and makes me feel bad for other soul singers out there, because there is just no competing. I get excited about music, we all know this, its the curse of being a passionate person/blogger. But this record is far and away the best Soul record I have picked up since 2001's "The Way I Feel" by Remy Shand.
"Unaware" 


"Sleep"


5. The Lonely Forest - Arrows
So, this is a band that I did not give the chance it deserved. I know, shame on me. I just buy music in bulk, like, I get the music buying bug, and 15 mins later end up with nine new albums. One is bound to get lost in the shuffle here and there. Now, generally, that is not a big deal, 50% of the stuff I buy falls well short of awesome. But I fucked on when I over looked The Lonely Forest. This northwest band is pretty fucking fantastic.
"We Sing In Time"


"(I AM) The Love Addict"


6. Bryan John Appleby - Fire On The Vine
Some bands knock you away like a ton of bricks, and that is great and all, but sometimes the luster fades and you are left with a record that you thought you loved that you barely like. Then there are some records that hit you like a slow wave, that build upon itself with track after track. They don't need to lust slap you across the face, because the music speaks for itself. And the luster doesn't fade.
"Backseat"


"Noah's Nameless Wife"


7. Brandi Carlile - Live At Benaroya Hall With The Seattle Symphony
I've mentioned in the past that I am not the biggest of fans of live albums, that they often only capture the noise of the show, but not the feeling, and no one really goes to the show just to listen. But, I eat my words today. I am going to let the songs make my case instead of blabbering on.
"The Story"


"Looking Out"


8. Seapony - Go With Me
Like a dream wave of airy indie pop rock. I may be wrong on all those descriptors, but that is how the album makes me feel. It makes me feel free, and light, and momentless. Yes, momentless is a word I just created, but it works. It's that feeling of just zoning out, so all the movements becomes blurs in your peripheral, and you are just lost, right then and there, you are lost and blissful. Seapony does that to me.
"Go Away"



"What You See"


9. Beat Connection - Surf Noir
For the average NW music blogger, they might look at Beat Connection at number 9, and think this is way too low. And it might be, if this year was not so damn strong. This Seattle Duo can craft a beat and a hook like no ones business. When I review my most played tracks of 2011, the two songs below well cemented into the top 15. Out of over 2,000 songs, that's a hell of a feat.
"Same Damn Time"


"Silver Screen"


10. The Cave Singers - No Witch
When I first picked up this record I was rather disappointed. I'm not gonna lie. But, a ways down the line, regrettably not sooner, I realized that I had unfair expectations. I was comparing it to their previous album Welcome Joy. A record that was not only great, but defined a year of my life. No record can live up to that. So I let go and let the noise in. And the record, or maybe myself, turned a corner, and it morphed into an album that I can celebrate outside of the unfair shadow of Welcome Joy.
"Haller Lake"


"Black Leaf"


11. The Courage - Fearful Bones
Before Noah Gundersen was Noah Gundersen he was apart of The Courage. A band that I think most of us missed. Now, this record was actually released in late 2010, but it deserves mention, as it is a soft kind of spectacular. Sadly, The Courage is no more, But because of this sad fact, we have our number 2 record on this list.
"Wedding Song"


"Moles"


12. Shabazz Palaces - Black Up
A hip-hop collective that is making me rethink my views on the fact that hip-hop has reached its creative peak. I have long believed that hip-hop has filled in every corner of its creative capacity. That it is soon going to have to start repeating itself and backtracking to stay viable. And for the most part, that's true. Now, that does not say anything negative, there are a lot of things that reach their peak, that cannot be reinvented any further, sitcoms and neckties come to mind, but that does not mean the quality is not there. However, my impressions on the stagnancy of hip-hop were shattered by Shabazz Palaces. Shattered.
"Swerve... The Reeping Of All That Is Worthwhile (Noir Not Withstanding)"


"An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum"


13. Ravenna Woods - Valley Of The Headless Men
I can't figure out why none is talking about these guys. They are fantastic, well crafted, and composed songsmiths. Now, this album wasn't perfect, rarely any are, but the full on needs to be celebrated. Just watch the video, and then go and pick up the record. I am tired of Ravenna Woods being my little secret.
"Tides"


"Graves"

Song of the Day: "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers

>> Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This shit right here makes me happy. That is all.

"Ho Hey" by The Lumineers

Best of 2011: Extended Plays (EP's)

I think the most horrific thing about all year end Best Of lists is the glaring lack of people celebrating Extended Plays, or EP as the common man calls him. Normally, as in years past, I would just include a snippit at the end of my best albums list to share my 5 favorite EP's. But this year is not a normal year, not for me, and definitely not for extended plays. This year, more than any other, probably spurned on by the digital age, as been a strangely strong year for EP's, so here are the best 16.

Side note. The general rule of thumb is an EP must be at least 3 tracks. Otherwise it would just be a single with a b-side. However, the advent of Bandcamp, and other digital download sites singles have kinda become obsolete, at least in my mind. So, for the purposes of this list, 2 track releases are going to be included as EP's.

Rather then break down each one, I'm just gonna let the music speak for it's self. Trust me, and pick up each and every one.

1. Pickwick - Myths
"Window Sill"


2. Grouplove - Grouplove
"Don't Say Oh Well"


3. FM Radio - Lead Me Home
"Lead Me Home"


4. Hey Marseilles - Elegy
"Cafe Lights"


5. The Oh Wells - The EP That We Love/Not The Girl From Transformers
"I Hate The Sun"


6. Lemolo - The Singles Record
"Open Air" - Lemolo


7. Clock Opera - Belongings
"Belongings"


8. Typhoon - A New Kind Of House
"The Honest Truth"


9. Lissie - Covered Up With Flowers
"Nothing Else Matters" (Metallica Cover)


10. Psychologist - Waves Of OK EP & Propeller EP
"Comes In Waves"


11. Niki and the Dove - The Fox
"The Fox"


12. Kim Churchill - Turn To Stone
"Will Go Home"


13. Great Waves - At The Bottom Of The Well
This I do have to include some words on. This northwest band, who played the opening slot of Bumbershoot in 2010 has long been on a hiatus. In fact, this song, and 4 others that used to be available on bandcamp, are no longer there. That makes me immensely sad. Out of all the bands I found in 2010/2011, this is the one I was most excited about seeing where they would go.
"Burial"


14. Ivan & Alyosha - Fathers Be Kind
"Glorify"


15. Lulu & The Lampshades - Cold Water
"Cold Water"


16. Angus & Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane
"My Malakai"

Best of 2011: International Releases

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I spend so much time focused on the Northwest music scene, because, lets face it, it kills right now, that I often have to remind myself that there is a whole world of music out there. There are worthy sounds comings from all walks of life. from exotic countries like Sweden and Canada.
So, with that said, here is a collection of the 15 best Albums and EP's released internationally in 2011. I am sure I am missing some, and that I'm including some that you may not have heard of, but that is the great thing about a music blog. The omissions and introductions.

1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing (Canada)
Quite possibly the best album of 2011, this Canadian three piece band has blown my year apart with this slow burn of a record. Released early in the year, most records would have faded over time, but, not The RAA, The RAA has a record with abnormal staying power. I'll still listen to this ten years from now.

"Coldest Days" by The Rural Alberta Advantage. 


2. Slow Club - Paradise with Bonus Disc (England)
I was 100% certain that this record would end up as my #1 of the year. So certain that I wrote about it before it was even released. And it's not as though its a bad record, it's not. It's a fantastic album. It's well written. well sung, and a near masterpiece. It's just not as life changing as their 2009 release, Yeah, So was for me. Not that I should have expected, but I hoped.

"You, Earth, Or Ash" by Slow Club


3. The Oh Wells - Songs That We Love EP/Not The Girl From Transformers EP (Canada)
Two 5 song EP's totaling 7 songs. Sounds a bit confusing huh? Not really. First came the Songs That We Love EP. Then some member changes, and a new Transformers EP with a couple new songs. It's a win for the listener for sure. I first found The Oh Wells back in February or March, and I wrote this on the blog...

Canada does good! I know as a Washingtonian it is my right and duty to make fun of all things Canadian, but I cannot muster the enthusiasm when it comes to this lovely band. I was unable to attend this years Sound Off! music competition. So, I had my own little contest. I picked up the EP of each of the four finalists (Northern Departure, Fit For Hounds, Tomten, and The Oh Wells), and although all were good, and Tomten officially won, if I had a vote, it would go to this quirky ensemble. Yes, they have a bit of Regina Spektor in them with some She and Him mixed in, but they truly stand on their own. With sharp hooks and biting quirk they have worked out their own niche.
"Out Of Love" by The Oh Wells (From the Transformers EP)


4. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar (Wales)
Simply put. Ritzy is a full blooded rockstar. Like their is no question. For this album review, I am going to let the clip below speak for me.

"Cradle" by The Joy Formidable. 


5. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes (Sweden)
Ok. Lykke Li is an enigma. Sometimes she is pop. Sometimes she is rock. Sometimes she is soft. Sometimes she is brash. But she always works. And this record is out of control good.

"I Know Places" by Lykke Li


6. Adele - 21 (England)
This is someone I doubt you've heard of. Just a little singer-songwriter from England that I predict pretty big things from a few years down the line. Right now she is still struggling to make a name for herself. But if she keeps putting out records like this one, she'll make it. On a more serious note, I think someone needs to cover "Rolling In The Deep" as I am not sure that's been done enough yet.

"He Won't Go" by Adele


7. Summer Camp - Welcome To Condale (England)
This is a high concept record. It's about a fake town in California and all their fake residents. It takes living vicariously to a whole other level. With her sweet lullaby voice, and his gritty styling, this group is like no other out there right now, except maybe, Slow Club.

"I Want You" by Summer Camp


8. Yuck - Yuck (England)
Garage rock for the indie sect. And I say that with very little disdain. If this album was not so well made and absolutely great, I would do my best to rebel against it and it's hipster cache, but.... arg. It's so good.

"The Wall" by Yuck


9. Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness (Wales)
I wish this band would not have come out of the gate so strongly. Their debut record Hold On Now, Youngster... blew the top of my head off. I still listen to it on a regular basis and it is easily one of my favorite records of all time. But since then, nothing they do, lives up to what I hope it will be. However, this record comes damn close. 

"By Your Hand" by Los Campesinos!


10. James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning (Ireland)
On those rainy days. On those days where you are tucked in and just wishing the day away. it's James Vincent McMorrow that will lead you there. Again. I am going to let the music do the talking.

"Hear The Noise That Moves So Soft And Slow" by James Vincent McMorrow


11. Kim Churchill - Turns To Stone EP (Australia)
I just wrote a Band of the Week about this kid. Just click here and listen to catch up.

"The Battle Of Mr. Shibuya" by Kim Churchill


12. Angus & Julia Stone - Down The Way & Big Jet Plane EP (Australia)
I thought they were English!. Ha. Either way, they are an amazing brother and sister duo that have soft love just flowing out of their every note. Heart meet platter.

"Yellow Brick Road" by Angus & Julia Stone


13. Ellie Goulding - Lights (England)
I have never been much of a mover.  I have never been much of a shaker. But when Ellie Goulding comes on, I can't help but break it down some.

"Human" by Ellie Goulding


14. Oh Land - Oh Land (Denmark)
Oh Land brings another form of bad dancing out of me. It is like a hiccup with rythem that I can't stop. But my God. its fantastic.

"We Turn It Up"


15. The Boom Booms - Hot Rum! (Canada)
The Boom Booms I found on accident via a YouTube clip from The Oh Wells Vlog. So, being who I am, willing to buy any album for any reason, I picked them up. And I am not disappointed at all. Their song "Falling Rain" below is one of my favorites of the year.

"Falling Rain" by The Boom Booms

Song of the Day: "Forget Me Not" by The Civil Wars

>> Monday, December 5, 2011

I feel like I have not given enough recent due to The Civil Wars. At one point they were the most commonly, and if you ask my co-blogger, annoyingly mentioned band on this meager blog (just click the tag for The Civil Wars at the bottom, and you'll see. Listologies loves The Civil Wars). And now, they are a Grammy Nominated world dominating force. Now, normally I am exactly the kind of guy who rebels against a band that he (quote unquote) found first but then blew up. Normally I would start to slowly resent them for it. But. I have not come across a band who deserves the success they are having more than The Civil Wars.

From playing small bars like The Tractor Tavern in Seattle (great show btw), to stealing the show at SxSW, I have watched with bated breath. And now, you better f'n believe I will be there rooting on their success this award season. The Civil Wars are a class act with a superb album that has a guaranteed spot in my top 13 of 2011.

"Forget Me Not" by The Civil Wars

Best of 2011: Rediscoveries

I spend so much time finding what's next I often forget about what was. It is the biggest complaint I get about the music I share. And, although, I often ignore that complaint. It doesn't mean that I ignore all the music that came before. This list is a quick little jog down memory lane. These are albums, or reincarnations of albums (you'll see) from years past that I have rediscovered in 2011. I hope you enjoy.

Counting Crows - Across A Wire: Live in NYC
Best live album of all time.

"Have You Seen Me Lately" by Counting Crows (VH1 Storytellers)


Counting Crows - August and Everything After (kinda).
I have never really forgotten about Counting Crows. August and Everything After is my favorite album of alltime. But the Counting Crows released "Live at Town Hall" album and DVD. This a live concert where the only songs they play, beginning to end are from August and Everything After. In Order. Best. Idea. Ever. Totally gives the classic record a new life.

"Rain King" by Counting Crows (Live at Town Hall)


The Eels - Beautiful Freak
This record defined 1996 for me.

"My Beloved Monster" by The Eels


Tonic - Lemon Parade
Damn. 1996 was a hell of a year for music. Like seriously. If I were to rank years (idea!) this one would be damn close to the top.

"Soldier's Daughter" by Tonic


"Travis" - The Man Who
This is who Coldplay stole their sound from. That's just science.

"As You Are" by Travis


Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
This, like the Counting Crows album, is not one I ever forgot about. But, I have not listened to it nearly enough in the recent years. One of the most complete records, start to especially strong finish.

"God Of Wine" by Third Eye Blind


Wood - Songs From Stamford Hill
This is probably the best album you have never heard of. Far and away the best no hit wonder ever. Created, released an astoundingly good record and disbanded in record time, this outfit never got its due. But, it has been one of my favorite albums for 12 years now.

"Could I Be" by Wood


Band of the Week: Kim Churchill

>> Sunday, December 4, 2011

I have a singer songwriter for you all to fall in love with. A new unique voice on the landscape of the songsmith. Someone that will ease the tension in your shoulders, get you to stop thinking. Someone that will allow you just to wander aimlessly through the shelter of lyric and melody.

Please meet, The Band of the Week: Kim Churchill
This 20 year old Australian classact and guitar player extraordinaire (watch the second clip for proof) is quickly climbing up the ranks of my favorite Singer Songwriters. A genre any long time reader of this blog will know I take very seriously. I would normally wax on and on (I'm a bit long winded if you hadn't noticed) about how he is this and that. How he sounds like a mixture of that guy and this guy, but I am going to let the music do the talking today. Please watch these videos. There are going to be quite a few, so bear with me. I promise it will be worth your time, as my gut tells me that North America is in for a Kim Churchill song storm in the next year or so.

"Smile As He Goes Home"


"Bathed In Black"


"Will Go Home"


"The Battle of Mr. Shibuya"


"Rusted Wals"


"Turn To Stone"


"Truest Intentions" (Thanks to Green Couch Sessions for this Awesome Video)


Visit kimchurchill.com for more info and to purchase this kids lovely tunes. 

Song of the Day: "123 Stop"by The Postelles

I found this video on accident last night. Late last night. It was one of those songs that I immediately loved and played several times. When I woke up this morning I was worried that in my tired-eyed stupor, it was better then it would be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But, luckily for me, and for you lovely readers, it is still one of the more fantastic videos I have seen in quite a while. Thanks The Wild Honey Pie!

"123 Stop"by The Postelles

Best of 2011: Most Disappointing/Worst Records

This is my least favorite list to write, but I told myself it is a necessary evil. If I only ever write about albums I like, I will never seem objective. So, this is it. I am going to write a post about the most disappointing and/or worst records of the year.
Now, I'd say most of these albums ended up on this list, not due to lack of qualify, but due to failure to live up to the expectations I had for them. Now, that is not the case for all of them, a few of these are just wrong.

I am not going to rank these, nor am I going to go into detail tearing the record apart. These artists put their heart and souls into these releases, and above all else, I respect that. And I know. that I put my heart and soul into this site, and if someone were to not like it, that's cool, but if they were to put in time tearing it and me down, it would hurt. So if you expect to see a bunch of verbal jabs, you are in the wrong place.


The Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
I am not sure of the Boys have lost their flavor or if I have lost my taste for them. But I could barely stomach this release. On top of that, my expectations were set pretty high by a buddy of mine who talked this record up like crazy in the weeks prior to its release. 

BOAT - Dress Like Your Idols
This record failed due to my own expectations. But, that more speaks to the unspeakably high quality of their previous releases, most notably their 2009 release "Setting The Paces," then to the low quality of this one. This just feels like their hearts were not in it. 

Bow Ribbons - Bow Ribbons
I know I said I was not going to tear any records apart. I think it's mean. So, I will do my best to refrain. But it is not easy, as this is probably the least successful album I've ever heard. I picked this up after watching a pretty impressive live clip filmed at a party in which I thought "this seems like a really cool stripped down version of a song. And she has an interesting voice." So, I got it with my hopes up. But I was wrong. It was not a stripped down version of a song. The whole album is like this. It is hard for me to hate music. I love music, and can generally find something redeeming about nearly every noise that people are proud enough to put on a record, but this is horrible meandering whiny drivel. I buy a lot of records, and I never ever write a negative review, but this music is so bad, it actually makes me angry as I type about it. It is the kind of music, that if you were stuck at the bottom of a well with a crazed serial killer standing above you slowing filling it in with water and laughing a sinister laugh, you would hear. 


Sorry. 

Eddie Vedder - Ukulele Songs
Ah, Eddie Vedder. Why? This album has kinda turned into a running joke with a few friends of mine. When I first heard he was making it, I was filled with excited hesitation. His solo stuff from Into The Wild was fantastic, but a Ukulele? Really? Yeah, it does not work. And now it's been nominated for a Grammy?! 

Eisley - The Valley
Paramore for the indie sect. Paramore for the indie sect, but less catchy songs. Paramore for the indie sect, but too safe. 

Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
Oi. This album was all over every music blog that I read. Words like "genius," "album of the year," and "groundbreaking" were often tossed around. So, I felt obligated to pick it up, and I cannot fathom their words. This is indie elevator music. I cannot listen to it without falling asleep. 

The Kooks - Junk Of The Heart
This record may be on here due to my own expectations. I have never been a full on Kooks fan, but I have liked a song here and there. So, I picked this up. But it feels like The Kooks want so bad to be a success that they formulated their album to be as radio friendly as possible, and by doing so, they lost everything that made them unique and special. 

The Unthanks - Last
This entire record does not suck. I want to get that out there first and foremost. Their song "Give Away Your Heart" is strikingly, hauntingly pretty. And it is the reason I picked up the record. But I think I liked that song SO much that the rest of the record, which is so different, just fell far short of what I wanted it to be.