Friday, December 28, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Let's Finish This Shiz Up

#4 Okkervil River - The Stage Names


To be perfectly honest, when I first put this list together I was surprised at the fact that this album wasn’t ranked higher. In my head I seriously considered it a top 3 album of the year. But then, when I put it up against all the other albums of the year, there were in fact three albums I enjoyed more. So, once again I find myself mathematically limited by the number of albums I could include…thus Okkervil River’s The Stage Names finds itself at Number 4. I know Bryan mentioned that he finds this album too “happy” in tone, and honestly I don’t really get that. The standout tracks on this albums are the ones that tend to be or sound a bit depressing. The opening track, “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe”, begins by saying exactly what the title states, that our life never works out as great or as bad as things tend to in movies. There’s not ultimate climax, no new boundaries being broken. It’s just life. Seems very ho-hum to me. In fact, I find quite a pessimistic tone throughout the rest of the album. Whether its lamenting a number of women or settling themselves on their own mid-level band status, there’s an overall pessimistic feel. This is none-to-evident on the highlight of the album (and quite possibly the entire year) on the albums closing “John Allyn Smith Sails”. If I was to list my favorite songs of 2007 (which I will certainly not bore you with, this list was long enough) there’s an exceptional chance this would find itself at the very top of that list. Regardless, “John Allyn Smith Sails” finds itself a suicide attempt story of based on former poet John Berryman. The song breaks into a rewritten form of the Beach Boys “Sloop John B” at the 2:30 point that just blows me away. Its great. To add to the fantasticness that is this album is the inclusion of an extra song when purchasing the album from eMusic. The trumpet-laced breakup lament “Love to a Monster” is a slow moving “tribute” to a former lover that includes lines like “I hope you get angry and hurt and have the hardest of landings” and “I hope your new man thinks of me when he sees what a number I did on you.” For some reason, I have a feeling that most of us have probably thought this way about a person at one point or another.


Okkervil River - John Allyn Smith Sails

Okkervil River - A Girl in Port

#3 The National - Boxer

I first discovered The National for myself this year after rummaging through a used CD box at Grimey’s Record Store in Nashville this past summer. There I stumbled upon a used copy of The National’s Alligator which I had remembered reading somewhere might be a decent album. So, unlike many other, more hip, music listeners I was not anxiously awaiting the appearance of the Boxer this year. In fact, because I had just purchased Alligator, I held off on purchasing Boxer until much later in the year than I probably should. That being said, the amount of The National I have listened to this year has been tremendous. So, this review may come off as more of a review of The National’s style than about Boxer itself. Someone, somewhere (maybe it was Bryan, I can’t remember) described The National’s music as being melancholy rock…and I think that’s an excellent description. The National is everything I want in a band from their rolling drums that are often brought to the forefront of the song (see “Squalor Victoria”) to the melancholy reverberating guitars. I typically find myself paying far more attention to the music of a band as opposed to the lyrics, and not to take anything away from the lyrics found on Boxer, The National is a band where one can be completely immersed in the music and sound of the album while not caring at all about the lyrics, and still enjoy the album. So, I very glad I finally worked my way around to getting this album. I’ve listened to both Alligator and Boxer an awful lot this year and either one is a great place to get started if you haven’t experienced The National before.

The National - Squalor Victoria

The National - Fake Empire

#2 Ola Podrida - Ola Podrida


I’ve always thought that if I were a movie director, there wouldn’t be a more enjoyable job than selecting songs for the soundtrack to my movie. Deciding what songs could create a particular feeling in someone when watching something happen to complete strangers is an art, but it’s an art that I like to think I’d be good at. Now, this is most likely completely false. I would probably suck at it, but seeing as how I doubt I’ll ever get the opportunity to prove my chops, I’m going to continue thinking that I’d do a decent job. Regardless, some people are particularly good at it, and supposedly (from what I’ve read at least) one of those individuals is David Wingo. Wingo has written music for movie soundtracks for a while, and Ola Podrida is his first attempt at band-dom. Let me be the 1000th to say it, I think the transition would quite well. Ola Podrida’s self-titled debut was critically-acclaimed in a few circles, but finds itself absent from many of the Top 10 lists I’ve been reading over the past month. I really find that hard to believe. In fact, Paste even omitted it from their Top 100 list!! Bullshit, I say!! I have dug on this album since my first listen of the song “Cindy”, which came courtesy of everyone’s favorite ubiquitous review site Pitchfork. “Cindy” is the arpeggio-ed story of a girl that decides to burn up everything she owns in a magnificent house fire. Everything proceeds perfectly as planned only until she comes to the realization that she’s got some overdue library books she left in the house that she needs to return. So, I suppose, her thinking that since she was already going to have at least one charge of arson heading her way in the near future, she needed to attempt to make piece with the public servants down at the Biblioteca. That being the case, she entered the partially destroyed, burning house to retrieve the books, never to be heard from again. It’s quite a lovely story, and I was hypnotized the first time I heard it (and subsequently the next 20-30 times). Stories are a common theme throughout the album. There’s the country-twinged ode to a bar singer in “Jordanna” and the lackadaisical vacation-turned-breakup story of “Day at the Beach” that find themselves both at top of my favorite songs of 2007. In fact, I would argue there’s not a better collection of three songs on any of the other albums in my top 10. Maybe the storytelling is an extension of his previous soundtrack writing, but Wingo does an excellent job of eliciting a number of emotions over the course of the album. And from the way I understand it, emotions are a good thing. So, Cheers to Dave Wingo and his band Ola Podrida for creating my second favorite album of 2007.

Ola Podrida - Cindy

Ola Podrida - A Day at the Beach

#1 Radiohead - In Rainbows


Ten years from now will be 2017. That seems ridiculous. Honestly. Two thousand and seventeen. I mean, we should have like flying cars, and everyone should be eating space ice cream all the time by then. We’ll most likely have populated Mars, transitioned to a completely cashless society, and we’ll be approaching 109 years of Chicago Cubs-free World Series. It sounds as if it truly will be the future. But we all know that won’t be the case. 2017 sounds like forever away, but is it really all that far? Another interesting question is what will I be listening to in ten years? Of all the albums that came out in 2007, do any have the a chance of remaining in my rotation in 2017. Well, before I answer that, let’s look back ten years ago…all the way back to 1997. In 1997 my favorite album of ALL-TIME came out. Radiohead’s OK Computer. My first listens to this album were like entering a new universe. Nothing before or it, or since in my humble opinion, had achieved close to the musical perfection that I thought OK Computer was (minus one ridiculous Macintosh-voice ridden “Fitter Happier”). Now, an entire decade later, I still feel basically the same way. My musical tastes haven’t changed much, and the album I thought was the best of all time, I still believe is the best album of all time. So, best I can gather, in another ten years, my musical tastes will most likely remain fairly constant. I mean, they’ve survived the past ten high school/college/grad school/getting married years, I cannot fathom what could happen over the next ten years (aside from getting a job, finally getting paid a real salary, buying a house, having kids, and going to PTA meetings) to cause my fully implanted musical tastes to change. So, being that is it may, I’m announcing Radiohead’s In Rainbows as my Best Album of 2007. No other album came close in creating an excitement in me than In Rainbows. And the amazing thing is….it only had like 6 days to do that. I honestly enjoy everything about the album. There’s something to love about each and every song. I enjoy the “try to learn how to clap to this song, Americans” of “15 Step”. The crunch that “Bodysnatchers” employs, and the fact that once it ends that crunch is over for the rest of the album. The airy lustfulness of “Nude”. The repetitive, crispness of “Weird Fish/Arpeggi”. The brutal, bass-ridden honesty of “All I Need”. The perfect mesh of acoustic guitar and strings in “Faust Arp”. The cymbal tapping, subtleness of “The Reckoner”. The bouncy, carefulness of “House of Cards”. The mind-erasing bridge at the 2:54 point in “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” that practically sums up the entire album for me. The going nowhere, eeriness of “Videotape”. I love each song and believe that regardless of my situation ten years from now, In Rainbows will be up there with OK Computer as one of my favorites of all time. So, the pressure’s on Radiohead…..if I’m interpreting the pattern correctly, then in 2017 we should be in for quite a new album. I’m already counting down the days.

Radiohead - All I Need

Radiohead - Reckoner

RR

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Number 5

#5 Band of Horses - Cease to Begin


I’d hate to use this forum as an opportunity to say I told you so, but I’m going to anyways. I mentioned back in September this album might challenge for Tops of the year, and I’d have say that coming in at #5 certainly fits the bill. Now, I realize, with the success that Band of Horses first album Everything All the Time achieved, that I was hardly going out on a limb, but the statement remains true. However, I’ll agree with Bryan’s analysis that Everything All the Time was slightly better than Cease to Begin. That’s not to say that Cease to Begin isn’t a damn good album, but I think its lacks a standout track. I feel Everything All the Time had two of these tracks: “The Funeral” and “The Great Salt Lake”. And where a few songs are definitely better than others on Cease to Begin, with “No One’s Gonna Love You” and “Is There a Ghost” being tops for me, there isn’t a song that makes me think, “Damn, that might be the best song I’ve heard all year.” There seems to be very little change in style from the first album to this one, and often many of the tracks are interchangeable. But I also come from the school of that that thinks that consistently changing one’s style is completely overrated. I’d rather a band be consistently consistent, and that’s one thing Band of Horses has going for them. If I want a different style, I’ll listen to a different band. If I want dreamy, reverberating, crisp guitars layered over higher pitched vocals…I’ll listen to Band of Horses. One thing I would’ve liked to hear more of, however, is acoustic arrangements. “Part One” and “St. Augustine” were two of my favorite songs on Everything All the Time but Cease to Begin lacks these songs. So, far I suppose I’ve used this as more a review of Band of Horses first record than their 2007 effort, and maybe there’s a reason to that. Maybe Cease to Begin just reiterated to me just how good Everything All the Time was. But if you ever listened to that and thought…”Man, I wish this album had more than 10 songs on it,” then Cease to Begin is for you. And that is reason enough to give it Top 5 status for 2007.

Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost

Band of Horses - No One's Gonna Love You

RR

Friday, December 21, 2007

Top 5 New Years Resolutions

This balls droppin, folks!

The end of the year approaches and makes us all think about what the new year has in store. Maybe you've got big changes coming, maybe you're perfecting your routine. Maybe its a year to rock out, maybe its a year to dig into some adult contemporary. Maybe its the year of Neil Diamond. Regardless, you've got plans, I know you do. What songs are going to help you realize those dreams? What are your Top 5 New Years Resolutions/Things To Do in 2008 Songs?

Here's a good one to get you started on New Years Eve and into the wee hours of 2008.

The Little Willies - I Gotta Get Drunk

AG

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Number 6

#6 Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

I’ve got to say….I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this album, but it took me a while to get to that point. I read a lot about this album when it first came out, and I got the feeling that the general consensus was this was Wilco’s Adult Contemporary album. Now I could never gather enough information to get a feel for what that really meant, or whether it was supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing. Regardless, I’ve really enjoyed Sky Blue Sky. I like to think the album has an overall cheerful feel to it, which is refreshing. There are not too many good albums (that I listen to anyways) nowadays would I classify as “cheerful.” From the initial, light-hearted “Either Way”, past the lazy reminiscence of the title track, to the comforting finale “On and On and On”, the album has a relax, dare I say adult-contemporary, feel. Wow. Adult-contemporary is definitely something I would not have used to describe an album I loved 5 or 6 years ago. To me, adult contemporary was always Rod Stewart or Bryan Adams. Stuff like that. I would never have imagined myself loving something “adult-contemporary”. It has such a grown up, refuse to bend the rules, negative sounds to it. But maybe the way I feel about this album simply describes a transitional state that my life seems to be in. As I slowly progress through my later 20-ies, on the cusp of entering the real world, with all the forced-realization that obtaining a job will offer, maybe I’m slowly transitioning to a more adult contemporary lifestyle. Maybe I’m slowly becoming less Smashing Pumpkins and more Goo Goo Dolls. Or maybe, just maybe, Sky Blue Sky is just a damn good album, that I would’ve enjoyed regardless of current life-state. Either way, I’m glad Wilco put it out. Now if I could just see them perform it live……

Wilco - Either Way

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Kinda makes you wanna run out and buy a Volkswagon...don't it?

RR

[EDIT] Sorry about the bandwidth problem. I just fixed things, so if you weren't able to sample a song....give it another go. Once again, sorry. I guess I'm just posting too much.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Number 7

#7 Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha


I can’t really add too much more to what Bryan already mentioned in his excellent post concerning this album in his Top Ten. For me, it isn’t #1, but I can totally understand why someone would consider it as such. My opinions have basically remained unchained on Armchair Apocrypha since I first posted a few songs in my One Man Band webcast a couple months ago. It’s a nicely done, mellow sounding, intelligent record. One thing I would like to add to Bryan’s post is the fact that Andrew Bird, at one point, was a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. It’s not really a good thing or a bad thing, its just kinda is….know what I mean? Anyhoo, my faves from the album are posted below. Enjoy, and if you haven’t already picked up this album, it’s available over at Emusic, as is a few of Bird’s older albums, which they’ve recently been adding.

Andrew Bird - Heretics

Andrew Bird - Plasticities

RR

Monday, December 17, 2007

KGB - Perspective 2007

Wrap your head around this perspective (my M.C. Escher)

Our first complete calander year is coming to a close here at KGB. We celebrated our 1 year anniversay on November 13th and now we can celebrate the end of 2007. Obviously our production, post-wise, has continued to grow, thanks mostly to Bryan's prolific posting and the addition of Ryan Rutledge to the crew. So, have we had a good year? Has KGB been wildly successful? I'd say we've done a bang up job, but that's just me. So, what do you have to say, loyal readership? What have you liked, what have you not? What do you want to see more of/less of?

To help you get your creative juices flowing, let's take a walk together down memory lane and reminice some of the fine moments of 2007, in no particular order:

1) Top 5s - I am more than happy to point out that the "most comments" award is a tie between February (Love Songs) and October (Scary Songs) with 13 valid posts. All told, 91 comments were posted for 9 Top 5s.

2) Saturday Six Packs, Monthly Webcasts, Mid-week Shuffles, Song of the Week - We all have our own way of getting our favorite tunes out there and keeping ourselves on schedule. The tunes are always good and some times we're on schedule.

3) RIP Boris Yeltsin - We lamented the loss of our comrade Boris this year. On an upside, Ryan's post got us props on some other music blogs.

4) The Beatles Debacle - This was my favorite debacle of the year and all stemmed from my inherent distrust of the Beatles. While these discussions led to some tense times at KGB, it also opened up discussions about why we like the bands that we like, how do you define it, how do you explain it. All important metrics and overall a great discussion.

5) Aspiring Artists - People think that we should review albums? Crazy, I know, but its true. You may remember artists by the name K'naan, Reyn, or Southerly. You may not.

6) Radiohead Release - The Radiohead album release/controlled leak was a pretty interesting occurance in music business this year. I think we're going to see more shake ups in the music industry in 2008. It's a pretty exciting time to be in the business. This was also the first Radiohead album I've ever listened to and I'll officially say that I liked it. There was good and bad, of course, but I liked it. Any other charming moments in KGB 2007 history?

AG

Ryan's Top 10: Number 8

#8 Arcade Fire - Neon Bible


So, I get the general feeling, both now and back in March that Arcade Fire’s second album, Neon Bible, wasn’t as “good” as their first, Funeral. Well, maybe I’m once again giving credence to the idea that deep down I know nothing about music….but count me among the few that actually like Neon Bible better than Funeral. Now, in the spirit of true honesty I will say that there’s no way I was saying this back in March after the album came out, but over the past few months, this is what I’ve come to believe. The thing about Arcade Fire (and I get a similar feeling with Radiohead) is that every song feels like an experience. Each is an epic all its own, often in my mind totally unrelated to the rest of the album. Now, this probably falls in the face of what most consider a ‘good album’, that being a cohesive group of songs sharing an overall general theme. And whereas Neon Bible may even have that I, personally, don’t get that feel when I listen to the album. What totally makes this album for me….and gives it Top Ten status as opposed to Honorable Mention or less, is the inclusion of the pipe. Evident on at least two (and not nearly enough) songs, not coincidentally my favorite songs on the album, it is the highlight of the album. It gives the album somewhat of a majestic, ‘larger-than-life’ image that not too many albums possess with me. It isn’t the only reason for my liking of the album, however, as each track is unto itself, a great song. But, I don’t listen to this album without coming away with a feeling of awe for the pipe organ. I love it. Plus, I suppose if it’s good enough for the Boss, then its good enough for me. Check out this Blair Witch-like footage.

Arcade Fire - My Body is a Cage

Arcade Fire - Intervention

RR

Ryan's Top 10: Number 9

#9 Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga


Well, I think its becoming pretty obvious now that all Spoon does is write good songs. I mean 6 albums in, and you basically can’t go wrong with any of the Spoon catalog. In my opinion, the cream of the crop lies with 2002’s Kill the Moonlight and 2005’s Gimme Fiction, but Spoon’s latest, the annoyingly titled Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga manages to run neck and neck with both of those previous albums. I think Aquarium Drunkard said it best, that even if all Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga does is become a gateway for your entry into all other things Spoon, then it’s already done its job. But, maybe a band like Spoon isn’t for you….i mean some people really just don’t like well-done songs, with catchy guitar and piano laced riffs. I’m not one of those people, but I’m sure they exist. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga also holds the title of being the most upbeat album in the Top 10, as most of the songs come at you fast with a biting guitar at front and center. Some songs can tend to suffer from a bit of repetitiveness (see “The Ghost of You Lingers), but those moments are few and far between. Its funny, in Bryan’s Top Ten post, which also included Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, he listed three standout songs for him which were “The Underdog”, “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case”, and “Black Like Me”…and those are all good songs, but I’m going to cite a different three as being my highlights on the album. I’ll begin with the first track on the album, “Don’t Make Me a Target”. The best way I can describe this song is just to say that for some reason I feel like a badass when I listen to it. I’m clearly not a badass, so when I get a feeling like this, I often like to repeat what got me there in the first place. That being said, I’ve listened to “Don’t Make Me a Target” a lot. My other two highlights are “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “Finer Feelings”, but you can’t really go wrong with any on the album. So, if you decided to pick up Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga on a whim this year and haven’t yet made it to any of Spoon’s previous albums, then quit wasting time and hit up Kill the Moonlight immediately.

Final Tallies:

Number of posts written today about Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga: 1

Number of time typed the word Ga: 36

Spoon - Don't Make Me a Target

Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb

RR

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Number 10

Fresh off a heartbreaking defeat in my fantasy football playoffs, I've decided to drown my sorrows in some of the best albums to grace my ears this year.

I've been sitting on this Top Ten list for the better part of a month now, all because I couldn't come up with a clever introduction to yet another Top Ten list. The real problem, however, was that my lack of something to say that plagued my intro certainly did not carry over to writing about the albums themselves. Each album write-up ended up being slightly longer than what I originally planned, and I didn't want to cut anything down. So rather than posting one gargantuan post, I've decided to break this up into a series of ten posts. Yes, I'm going to make this as painful as possible for everyone involved.

Now, I realize many may not particularly care what albums I think are the best of this past year, but I'm going to grace you with my opinions anyways. The thing I'd like us all to keep in mind, however, is what exactly the word "best" means.

Now, applying a term such as "best" to music is a very difficult thing to do. I don't know what makes an album better than another album. Seriously. I think a lot of people THINK they know, but i don't think they actually do. What I DO know though is what albums I've enjoyed the most throughout the past year. And that's what you'll find here. A completely subjective list of my favorite albums. I tried to take into account the potential "staying power" associated with an album, meaning is there a decent chance that an album might still be in regular rotation with me in 5-10 years. If so, I considered it for Top Ten status. If not, it was demoted. So, I hope you enjoy reading about the albums I've enjoyed, and I hope I do a decent job of conveying why I particularly like each album, all I ask is that if you enjoy any of these songs, or albums, that you purchase the albums mentioned. These are the albums of 2007 that I think are most worth your money. Also, I'd love to hear your opinions. So, if you've got time, let me know why you like (or don't like) these albums. I'd love to hear some most likely better thought out opinion's than just my own.

So, without further ado, on to the list....but first I should mention a few albums that just barely missed the cut. These five albums were all good enough to be included, but as I'm limited in the number of albums I can include, they were unfortunately left off.

My Honorable Mentions

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

My favorite Iron and Wine album remains the coeffort with Calexico. I really think the backing band adds an extra element to Sam Beam’s song writing that enhances most of the songs. The Shepherd’s Dog follows a similar format for the first time, with a backing band approach compared to the more solo previous record Our Endless Numbered Days. The Shepherd’s Dog also comes off slightly more eclectic than Beam’s previous efforts. I very much enjoyed the direction he decided to take with this album.

Iron and Wine - The Devil Never Sleeps

Bishop Allen – The Broken String

Most of the songs on this album were accumulated from their monthly EP effort from 2006, making it a “greatest hits” of sorts. The high point of the record hits very early with an excellent trifecta of songs leading off the album in “The Monitor”, “Rain”, and “Click Click Click Click”. While some of the songs might be a little poppy for some, but an overall nice effort on their second album.

Bishop Allen - Rain


Pela – Anytown Graffiti

A gem of an album that I gotta give total props to eMusic for. I had never heard of Pela, but thanks to some bored, emusic surfing, I stumbled upon Anytown Graffiti. It’s a collection of mostly uptempo indie rock songs, few of which disappoint. Its been one of my most pleasant surprises of 2007.

Pela - Tenement Teeth

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

Wincing the Night Away, on the other hand, was one of my more disappointing albums of 2007. Not THE most disappointing album (Billy Corgan is holding down that spot with his Smashing Pumpkins “resurrection”), but disappointing nonetheless, despite finding its way into my Honorable Mentions. I realize a lot of people think very highly of this record, but after The Shins first two albums, I was expecting something that was going to stick with me a little more than this one has. Regardless, its not a bad album, I just wanted a little more.

The Shins - Sleeping Lessons

The White Stripes – Icky Thump

I think the fact that Icky Thump didn’t even make my Top Ten says more about the quality of new music in 2007 than it does about the record itself. Icky Thump is a very strong album, containing, quite possibly, the rockingest song of 2007 in its title track. That heart-thumping drumming, and weird instrumental solos puts it as one of my favorite songs of the year. There’s more to the album though, it’s a good collection of hard rocking songs that were absent for the most part from their previous effort.

The White Stripes - Little Cream Soda

Finally, the list:

#10 Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

So, Ryan Adams puts out a lot of albums. We’re all pretty confident that’s a valid statement. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t read an Adams-related article or review without him being accused of being “prolific” as if to indicate this was an insult or an unwanted quality from a song-writer. Now listen, I’ll be the first to admit…not every Ryan Adams song is an “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and not every album a Heartbreaker. But that doesn’t mean that Adams isn’t constantly producing good songs. Every album has been a good, listenable album. That being said I’ve probably listened to Easy Tiger less than any other album in my Top Ten (maybe that’s why I’ve relegated it to the TenSpot, who knows). But I don’t need to listen to the album 100 times to know what it sounds like, and to know that I like it. 6 or 7 Ryan Adams in, I like to think I’ve pretty much got the hang of this now. Easy Tiger falls in line with a lot of the others, however, what separates this one from the 29’s and the Demolition’s is the consistency. I can pick up listening at just about any point throughout the album and enjoy the rest of the way through. I don’t mean that to say that the songs are interchangeable, just that they’re all good Ryan Adams songs, making Easy Tiger a collection of good Ryan Adams songs, and thus a good album. In addition, there probably isn’t a more heart-wringing, gut-wrenching song I’ve heard all year than “I Taught Myself How to Grow Old”. The harmonica kills me, and is quite possibly my favorite single part of just about any Ryan Adams song out there..........on second thought, I’d put the line about missing Kentucky and the winds blowing across the South on “Carolina” slightly ahead….but you get the point. I was hesitant when I first got Easy Tiger, with my thinking being, I already know what I’m going to hear, but I was wrong. I didn’t expect the constant quality throughout the entire album. I’m very glad I purchased the album.

Ryan Adams - I Taught Myself How to Grow Old

Ryan Adams - Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.

RR

Friday, December 14, 2007

Song of the Week 4

Tis the weekend for Christmas parties.

How about a Christmas song this week that EVERYONE needs to own? Here's one of the songs featured in everyone's favorite holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Coincidentally, you can download the entire album at eMusic. So, if you don't already have it, its an excellent collection of Christmas oriented jazz songs. Plus, it might even store up a few memories along the way.

Vince Guaraldi - Christmas Time is Here


Also, The Leather Canary seems to have put together a couple Christmas mixes (they're currently up to five at the moment). You can download individual tracks or the entire mix in the form of a zip file. There's some real gems on there.

Finally, in the spirit of the holiday's, I'm going to include one more Christmas track in this weeks Song of the Week. Its another one my favorites.

Phil Ochs - No Chrismas in Kentucky

Enjoy.

RR

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Free Stuff.....

Cold War Kids have recorded a six song EP called Mulberry Street and they're giving it away for free.

Just found out today. They're offering two songs a day between now and Friday at their website. You can go here, and scroll through their EPs. Mulberry Street should be at the bottom and you can download the first two tracks.

Track listing:

1. The Soloist in the Living Room
2. Heavy Boots
3. Quiet, Please!
4. The Wedding
5. In Harmony, In Silver
6. Don't Let Your Love Grow Away

Also, i noticed there's an acoustic EP available for free download from the site that i didn't know about called Acoustic at the District.

So, if you're a Cold War Kids fan, you should check it out. Hopefully the songs will be decent.

BUT WAIT!!! THERE'S MORE!!!

Apparently, Okkervil River has recorded an EP of cover songs which they are also releasing for free. Wow. Tis the season for giving, I suppose. It's a nine song EP which they're calling the Golden Opportunites Mixtape including one new Okkervil song and 8 cover songs recorded in various places over the past few years. You can download the album for free as a zip file from their website here.

Track listing:

1. April Anne by John Phillips (another good version of this one can be found on Okkervil River's Daytrotter Session.
2. Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear by Randy Newman
3. I Want to Know by Charles F. Olsen/Ed Sanders
4. Do What You Gotta Do by Jimmy Webb (another one on the Daytrotter session)
5. I Came Here to Say I'm Going Away by Serge Gainsbourg
6. The Blonde in the Bleachers by Joni Mitchell
7. Antarctica Starts Here by John Cale
8. Listening to Otis Redding at Home During Christmas by Okkervil's own Will Sheff
9. Solo by Sandy Denny

Man. Free stuff. Coolness. Enjoy.

RR

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Instrumental Interlude

One of the many reasons you should be watching Friday Night Lights.

In between the year end posts and mixes, I wanted to present some instrumental illness. One of my favorite shows is Friday Night Lights and at the end of last week's episode, there was a sweet little instrumental that was perfect for the scenes that were playing out. I spent hours on Saturday looking for that instrumental and finally, on Sunday morning, I found it. The instrumental is Camera Obscura's Arrangements of Shapes and Space [buy here]. It is just one of many examples of how FNL uses music to accentuate the actions and emotions of a scene. Below are a couple of other instrumentals that I like.

Uncle Tupelo -- Sandusky
[Buy UT here]

Sun Kil Moon -- Si Paloma
[Buy SKM here]

BK

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Top 10 for 2007

I am no critic, but I love music. I sampled many a good record this year and I want to write about it. Idiot's Revenge, fuckers! Here are the best records I listened to in 2007.


1. Andrew Bird :: Armchair Apocrypha


When I saw Wilco on October 16th in Columbus, little did I know that the show would introduce me to my album of the year. Andrew Bird was the opener and we arrived midway through his opening set. Although I did not know his music, from the beginning, I was mesmorized by the stunning beauty of his music and the clusterfuck that is his show (believe it or not, I mean clusterfuck in a good way - there is so much happening musically and visually for essentially a one man band). Shortly thereafter, I picked up Armchair from Emusic.

This album is great and is a deal for approximately $12, considering that this album is perhaps worth $80,000. Andrew Bird is a scholar and he can teach you and your kids. You want to save some money on an education from a liberal arts college? Just play this record over and over again - you'll learn more than I learned from my liberal arts college. Bird makes beautiful music while discussing religion, philosophy, history (a song about the Scythians and their historical troubles with the pesky Sarmatians, damn them), the metaphysical, and so much more. A classical education he will give you, along with his perspective on religion v. science, mortality, nature v. nurture, just to name a few highlights. Oh yeah, did I mention his arrangements are beautiful and sound like nothing else in pop music? Bird crafts great, catchy songs with meaning, depth, and stunning beauty. Every track is a gem and meshed together, these 12 songs constitute my favorite record of 2007. Generally, I think this album has been underrated among critics, so I have no problem fluffing it with this much enthusiasm. Everything is worth listening to, especially Fiery Crash, Imitosis, Heretics, Darkmatter, Scythian Empires.


2. Josh Ritter :: Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter


Ritter's follow up to The Animal Years is as strong from top to bottom as any other album from 2007. This album not only features some fantastic songs but, for whatever reason, it sometimes seemed that Ritter was singing them to me (as creepy as that sounds). In other words, a lot of his song subjects have relevance to my own experiences from 2007. That personal connection is always interesting to me.

Ritter is oftened pegged as a folk singer, and although there are elements of that on this album, it's also a pretty diverse work that includes some rockers, some catchy pop songs, and even some atmosphere. For the existing Ritter fan, you'll be happy to know that his poignant discussion of serious subjects, such as politics and war, are also present. My favorites: Mind's Eye, Right Moves, Empty Hearts, Wait for Love (You Know You Will).


3. The National :: Boxer


What I love about this album is the mellow intensity of it, (if that makes sense) created by the arrangements and the song writing. Matt Berninger, the primary songwriter, has a unique writing style that I find very interesting; it's almost as if he says what we are all thinking in the back of our heads but are too ashamed or scared to say (for example, in Slow Show: "Can I get a minute of not being nervous and not thinking of my dick"). In addition, it's Berninger's cryptic style that creates some really cool little short stories. Back to Slow Show -- for example, is this a twisted type of love song, or are we getting insights into a stalker? The arrangements are deliberate, often creating a dramatic affect in the storytelling (see Ada). Overall, it's a cool compliment to Alligator. Whereas Alligator has some screaming and yelling, Boxer has none that I can think of off the top of my head yet, I would argue, it is just as intense as Alligator (based on the factors that I've been rambling about). When standing next to Alligator, this is a fantastic follow up, one that shows continued growth from these guys. You can't go wrong with anything on this album, especially Mistaken For Strangers, Green Gloves, Slow Show, Start A War, Ada.


4. Dinosaur Jr :: Beyond


Before you start to think I've gone soft, I present to you Dino Jr's triumphant return. Nineteen years since their last album together, the original guys from Dino Jr released Beyond and, in my book, didn't really skip a beat. The signature shredding guitar licks of J Mascis are as intense as ever and the catchy hooks make many of these songs memorable. When I get the urge to kill some brain cells (by headbanging of course), I put Beyond on and commence rocking. My favorites: Pick Me Up, Back To Your Heart, Been There All The Time.


5. Centro-matic :: Operation Motorcide


Are you kidding? Only Will Johnson can put his scraps together and make a sweet EP. If you were unaware, the tracks making up Operation Motorcide are leftovers from last year's Fort Recovery, a great album in its own right. This EP carries on in the same direction as Fort Recovery, but perhaps with better songs. Atlanta is my favorite song of 2007! Operation Motorcide, Circuits to Circuses, and 74 Cuts, 74 Scars are, arguably, as strong as any song on Fort Recovery. In any event, Operation Motorcide was a tasty morsel to keep us held over until 2008 when Centro-matic and side project South San Gabriel are scheduled to release new records.

Here are my next five. All of these albums are great, but don't have the same consistency throughout as the Top 5 albums.


6. Spoon :: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga


It might be difficult to find any album with three songs as strong as The Underdog, My Little Japanese Cigarette Case, and Black Like Me.


7. New Pornographers :: Challengers

So yes, these guys and gals made an album that sounds similar to their previous albums. And yes, they made an album where alot of the songs might even sound the same. The New Pornographers seem to have bottled the formula for creating catchy, singable pop songs. Some find that bad. I, on the otherhand, don't mind it. Fact is, since I've been spinning this album, almost all of the songs have been stuck in my head at one time or another. I like that and I like this album.


8. Band of Horses :: Cease to Begin

Not as good as Everything All The Time, but still a pretty solid follow up. Forget the haters that knock this band for its MMJ similarities, Ben Bridwell and company can rock when they want or take it down a notch and still deliver a quality tune. Doubt me? Check out Ode to LRC, Islands On the Coast, Detlef Schrempf, and The General Specific.


9. Son Volt :: The Search


Another nice collection of songs from Farrar. Although some are throw aways, Methamphetamine, Highways & Cigarettes, and Circadian Rhythm rank up there with some of Jay's finest tunes. For even more greatness, pick up the bonus disc, which includes other gems such as Carnival Blues, Exurbia, and Houdini Punches.


10. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings :: 100 Days, 100 Nights


Amy Winehouse might get all of the mainstream media attention for her "soulful" album, but it's Sharon Jones who released the most soulful album of 2007. With her magnificant band, The Dap Kings (the same band that backed up Winehouse), Jones delivers a sensational album that explores the subjects we expect from a great soul album - love, faith, and hardship - with her tight band and fantastic vocals. This album would probably rank higher if I had discovered it earlier. Where to start? I suggest the title track, Humble Me, Tell Me, and Answer Me.


Others worth mentioning:

Magnolia Electric Co :: Sojourner
Easily in the Top 5 if this weren't a box set. I figured a 4 disc set would be unfair to include since there are 4 discs of great stuff.

Okkervil River :: The Stage Names
I've never really enjoyed these guys until this album, probably because it's a little more "happy" in tone.

Rogue Wave :: Asleep At Heaven's Gate
Some really stand out tracks on this album including Cheaper Than Therapy, Lake Michigan, and Fantasies.

Wilco :: Sky Blue Sky
Although I was a little disappointed in the overall album, it's worth mentioning for my standout musical moment of the year: the Nels solo approximately 1:30 into You Are My Face.

Thurston Moore :: Trees Outside The Academy
Sonic Youth rocker does solo well. Mostly stripped down, there just was not enough time to digest it all for it to make the Top 10.

Music is good!

BK

Friday, December 7, 2007

Song of the Week 3

Man, its been one of those weeks...ya know? One of those weeks where on Tuesday you're like, "Oh my God, I can't believe its only Tuesday!!", then on Thursday you're like, "Holy crap, its already Thursday??" And you feel like you didn't get anything done.

Neither is ever a good feeling, but when they both happen in the same week it sucks even more. So, when stuck in a situation like this I like to do one of two things....rent and watch a funny movie (i finally saw Superbad this week) or listen to a loud song very, very loud and attempt to do permanent damage to my ear drums. That usually makes me feel better for a few minutes.

So, that's what we'll do with this week's Song of the Week. Here's The Black Keys performing "10 a.m. Automatic" live at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville. No more explanation. Just turn the shit up and rock out for the next three minutes and four seconds.

The Black Keys - 10 a.m. Automatic

Feels a little better doesn't it???

RR

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A sniff of the new DBT

How do you know you're pumped for an album to be released? One indication might be listening repeatedly to the 30 second samples of the songs that are available on Amazon.com. That's what I've been doing for the last few minutes as I stumbled across previews for the new Drive By Truckers record, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, due out on January 28th. I am fucking stoked with what I've heard. Alot of these songs seem to have a more relaxed vibe (think Heathens or My Sweet Annette) to them rather than the balls to the wall rock that we are accustom to with DBT. I like it, I gotta say! Anyway, I won't gush anymore over an album I've only heard clips of, but this album will easily be my most anticipated album for early 2008. Of course, if you are impatient, head to the Live Archive and search for DBT shows -- they previewed many of these songs on the Dirt Underneath Tour last summer.

You can take a listen yourself over here.

P.S. Cooley is prominent and is awesome. Thirty second clips are enough to tell me that!

BK

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

2007 Mix 1

Damn I am clever.

There were too many great songs from 2007 for me to narrow into one mix, so I cheated and decided to make this a double disc. Many of the songs are repeats of things I've posted throughout the year but, since I am putting them on my End of The Year Mix, they must be worth hearing again. So, without further adieu, here is the first batch of goodens.

Peter Bjorn & John -- Object of My Affection
Band of Horses -- Ode to LRC
John Doe w/Kathleen Edwards -- Golden State
Okkervil River -- Plus Ones
Interpol -- Rest My Chemistry
Spoon -- The Underdog
Josh Ritter -- Right Moves
The Shins -- Australia
The New Pornographers -- Failsafe
Great Lake Swimmers -- I Am Part of A Large Family
Dolorean -- Heather Remind Me How This Ends
Magnolia Electric Co -- Montgomery
Eddie Vedder -- Hard Sun
Centro-matic -- Atlanta
The Avett Brothers -- Pretty Girl From Chile
Two Cow Garage -- Camo Jacket

More to come later this week!

BK

P.S. For my nerdy colleagues, I suggest they check out the Chemistry Mix over at the Ear Farm. Lots of good stuff over there to help you with your titration and your reductions and your what have yous.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Plotting

So the last couple of days have been pretty quiet along these fronts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything. This past weekend, I committed myself to sitting down and giving all of the 2007 contenders one final quality listen. I think I have my Top 10 and I hope to unveil it within the next couple of days. Also, I've put together my favorite tracks of the year -- there were so many that it looks like this will be a 2 - CD set. Hopefully I'll have that aboard within a few days as well.

Those crazy Europeans and their crazy t-shirt designs.

In the meantime, I stepped out last night with a few cohorts to check out Peter Bjorn & John up at Bogart's. I will readily admit that I knew very little about PB&J before yesterday and, well, thanks to many a beers, I'm still not too familiar with them. I did spend much of yesterday familiarizing myself with their 2007 release, Writer's Block. Although it will not be making my Top 10, there is some pretty decent stuff going on here. I find them at their finest in songs like Object of My Affection, with the fuzzy guitar and catchy hooks.

Here's another song. Great success!

[Buy PB&J here]

Weak blog, I know. Good songs though so fuck off.

BK

Friday, November 30, 2007

Band of Horses coming to a town near you....

Unless you happens to be Gerdon....then, well, sorry. Nothing wester than Texas. (Wester...that's right.)

HOWEVER, Nashville and Cincy do seem to be on the ol' list. As well as a couple other nice dates (including some New Year's Eve nonsense in Hotlanta).

Just saw these dates, figured you might wanna see them too:

12-28 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
12-29 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
12-31 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
01-20 Charleston, SC - Music Farm
01-21 Norfolk, VA - The Norva
01-22 Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore at the TLA
01-23 Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
01-24 State College, PA - State Theatre
01-25 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
01-26 Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall
01-27 Newport, KY - Southgate House
01-29 Nashville, TN - Exit/In
01-30 Memphis, TN - HiTone Café
01-31 St. Louis, MO - Gargoyle
02-01 Norman, OK - Meacham Auditorium (University of Oklahoma)
02-02 Dallas, TX - Palladium Ballroom
02-03 Austin, TX - La Zona Rosa
02-04 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
02-06 Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree
02-07 Tallahassee, FL - Beta Bar
02-09 Orlando, FL - Social
02-10 Orlando, FL - Social
02-12 Mt. Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern

That's all i gots for now.....

Song of the Week 2

Back with my second Song of the Week here....doesn't even feel like its been a whole week, though....but the calendar doesn't lie.

So, I listen to my ipod all day at work. Constantly. On mostdays, it is what helps maintain my sanity in the lab. Well, for the past three or four days, you would think its filled with 4 GB of nothing but Modest Mouse, which is most certainly not the case. I know good and well the things on shuffle, but damn ipod.....mix it up a little. I mean, i like modest mouse just as much as the next guy, if not a little more....but shuffle means random. And I suppose playing an overload of Modest Mouse is just as random as occasionally playing it, or not at all....but still....

With that in mind, it only seems fitting to make a MM song the Song of the Week. Congrats mice. Instead of choosing something from the newest album though, how abouts I go back just a little further. I'm going to choose the first song that really made me realize I liked Modest Mouse, "Gravity Rides Everything". This is from their third album, The Moon & Antarctica, which came out back in 2000. Who knows where I first heard it....probably on some stupid commercial or something the way things seem to go these days....i don't remember.

Modest Mouse - Gravity Rides Everything

So, if you already like the song, awesome. Try to give it an extra listen this week. If you haven't heard it, give it a listen. Its easily one of my favorites.

Holla

RR

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More lists...

I like lists, as do Amazon and Paste Magazine. Forget 10, they go 100.

Paste Top 100

Amazon Top 100


Both feature a plethora of albums that will probably show up on my Top 10.

As for my own list, I know who will be #1 and I can pretty much name my Top 10. The main thing is where they will all rank - still a month for movement.

BK

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Madeleine Peyroux

Not a lot of guitar in these songs, but she'd look good holding a marching band bass drum


Two posts in one month for me is pretty unheard of, much less two in one day. Well, just like Bryan and his music and I and my music about food, here comes a binge of posts. This one is about some light jazz/blues that will calm you down after hazarding the wreckage known as the shopping mall. Don't come home until you get that Wii at a cut rate price, but once you're home, check out Madeleine Peyroux. She's got a sweet, smooth voice and a great ear for good music. She's certainly been around for a while, putting out here first disc in 1996, at the ripe age of 22. She's had a few more out since then and the 2004 release, Careless Love, has me looking for more. Get a load of these two tracks, then check out some new stuff at her website.

Madeleine Peyroux - Don't Wait Too Long: she covers a lot of songs, but this is an original, besides her voice, I like the organ

Madeleine Peyroux - You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go: a masterfully covered Bob Dylan tune

Buy it here.

AG

Top 5: Music-induced Food Binge

Gotta have a good harvest to bring in the grub.

The feast that is traditionally Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are all left pondering cold turkey and other leftovers. I propose, instead, that we turn a critical eye, or ear as it were, to a music-induced food binge. Masters of the Kraft, I mean craft, produce songs about love, happiness, eternal struggles, and, of course, food. So, what are your favorites? What gets you ready to grub?

AG

Friday, November 23, 2007

Off topic hilarity...

The following stuff has nothing at all to do with music, except maybe there is a mention of hippies and we sometimes, but not often, discuss music concerning hippies. In any event, I find it quite hilarious that Eric Cartman (not to be confused with Noog) introduced the Colorado starting lineup in today's CU-Nebraska game. Without further adieu, enjoy:

Offense:



Defense:



BK

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgivings et al

Somethings I'm thankful for:

Let's get the old standards out there first and foremost:

My rents & company

Sly & The Family Stone :: Family Affair


My homeboys
You Am I :: Friends Like You


My pup

Ted Leo :: Me & Mia

Old rockers that get back together and still rock

Dinosaur Jr :: Been There All The Time


Great harmonies and catchy hooks, all in one song

Teenage Fanclub :: About You


Falling in love with songs from albums past that you had listened to a million times before

Wilco :: Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Bands from Ohio that rock with the amps turned up to 10
Two Cow Garage :: Camo Jacket


Navy, and everybody else, beating Notre Dame this year in football!

Centro-matic :: Mighty Midshipmen


USC Song Girls
Jeff Buckley :: Sweet Thing



Happy Thanksgiving, blokes

BK

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Song of the Week 1

In lieu of kgb v2.0's First Birthday coming up this friday (Nov. 23, i believe) I'd like to start a new segment here. Each week, for what I hope to be the entire next year I'm going to post my Song of the Week. I suppose this will likely proceed like what once was Kendall's Six Pack.....except I'm only posting one and it'll only be up for a week (assuming I remember to take the others down). They will not be topical in any particular sense (meaning this weeks song will NOT be about Thanksgiving). Just a song I want to post, but for no other good reason than its a good song, and I've been listening to it a lot recently. And hopefully, by this point next year it'll be fun to go back and look at the years worth of songs.......maybe. We'll see.

There are a lot of good single tracks out there, which I can never find enough to say about to devote an entire post to, so hopefully this alleviates this problem and finds itself a worthwhile complement to my other posts as well as those of my fellow bloggers. So, with that said, let's get to it....kicking this "year" off:

Ryan Adams - Dear Chicago


Dear Chicago,
Your NL baseball team sucks.
Love, Ryan


So, you know how you've got all these songs you love, but for whatever reason you sometimes forget about some of them? Then, almost accidentally, you stumble upon these songs again and re-fall in love with them? Well, for me that song is "Dear Chicago" by Ryan Adams, and that stumbling occurred yesterday. Sifting around through some Ryan Adams lyrics I rediscovered this Demolition song, which I would've considered one of my Top 5 songs back in college. But, for whatever reason, I just stopped listening to it (the entire CD to be exact). Maybe its because there are certainly better Adams albums than Demolition, maybe not. Who knows?

Adams reverberating guitar strumming in the background of his letter to his ex-lover (I suppose) has always been one of my faves and i'm glad its back in my rotation.

[Buy some of Ryan Adams 1,532 CDs, including Demolition, here]

Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow and in case I forget to post (as a result of a Thanksgiving induced coma, possibly).....Happy 1st Birthday kgb v2.0.

RR