Recently in Music Category

March 24, 2008

The opening track to REM’s triumphant return to glory, Accelerate, Living Well… delivers on the rock and roll promise of the band’s IRS years. I’m especially fond of this super-acoustic in-car performance put together by budding music video auteur Vincent Moon.

This video is a free download on iTunes. The album version is pretty sweet too (below). Accelerate is released in finer record stores everywhere on April 1.


REM - Living Well is the Best Revenge (5.2 MB MP3)

March 6, 2008

The new single from MGMT. It’s kind of Cold War Kids with a beat. Plus the song is all about getting “models for wives.” Ace.

February 26, 2008

Hot Chip is known for blasting together a kazillion samples to make electronic dance music. But for this one, they slowed things down, added a piano track and created a much lighter vibe. Reminiscent of the best songs by Air and frankly, devastatingly beautiful. Enjoy.

February 12, 2008

So I’ve delayed this long enough. Here are my best albums of 2007.

  1. The National, Boxer
  2. Okkervil River, The Stage Names
  3. Band of Horses, Cease to Begin
  4. Weakerthans, Reunion Tour
  5. Radiohead, In Rainbows
  6. Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City
  7. Rilo Kiley, Under the Blacklight
  8. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen, The Good, The Bad, and The Queen
  9. The Rumble Strips, Girls and Weather
  10. Modest Mouse, We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
  11. Director, We Thrive on Big Cities
  12. The Twang, Love It When I Feel Like This
  13. Feist, The Reminder

BONUS! Here’s an Imeem playlist of the best songs from each of the best albums! Enjoy!

February 10, 2008

I’ve been noticing for a while a Feist-led trend of female-infused indie rock really making waves. It’s largely delecate, but still strong. I told my buddy Adam on the phone today that these artists “kicked ass, but were still girly.”

Adam hadn’t heard a lot of these artists, so I put together the little playlist above for him to introduce some of my favorites. Enjoy.

January 16, 2008

In honor of today’s MacBook Air announcement, I’m naming “New Soul” as the BTP Song of the day. It’s catchy as hell.

Plus, it makes the new laptops seem that much hotter.

January 15, 2008

B9BEA280-E86D-4D50-9EF2-DF283A35163C.jpg

Look! It’s my photographic debut, online with Spin.com!

My friend MacKenzie was desperate for a photographer to shoot a gig her site was covering this weekend and I jumped at the chance to help a friend and have a great time in the process.

The band wasn’t anything special, but shooting the show and meeting the peeps was great. I’m going to try to do it again when the opportunity arises!

The craziest part? I took 153 shots and this was the only one that I thought was really, really good.

August 22, 2007

The new Rilo Kiley hit the streets on Tuesday and even though it was only my second most anticipated album of August, I think it might actually be better than the Weakerthans album I wrote about last week.

It’s been so much fun to listen to the last week - connections, natch - that I couldn’t just pick one song of the day.

First up is the video for “Silver Lining,” the first track on the album.

The video is an imagined wedding scene between the band’s two singers, indie rock megababe Jenny Lewis and countrified guitarist / songwriter Blake Stennet. Blake does not win the encounter.

The imagery hits all the dreamy, breezy, but just a little dark notes that run through the entire record. Plus, Tracy can’t stop singing along.

I think the song on the album I like best, however, is the Beyonce-sounding one. That’s right, the Beyonce-sounding one.


Rilo Kiely, Breakin’ Up (7 MB AAC)

Well, I suppose it’s really a “disco-sounding” track. But saying Beyonce is more fun.

Anyway, this record is about disco, handclaps, and sex. The chorus to this song is unbelievably catchy. And ooo, ahhh, feels good to be free.

That’s all I have to say.

August 21, 2007

Per Adam (BTP’s Official NBA Correspondent): Wait for the end. It’s worth it

He’s so totally right.

The song itself isn’t really all that good. You can’t really make out the words. And most of it is just “Repeat Chorus.”

But as Adam said, “It’s like the Foo Fighters Cliff Notes.” It’s just so driven and rocky and…perfect, that you can’t help but love it.

August 17, 2007

PJ Harvey


PJ Harvey - “When Under Ether”
(4.1 MB MP3)

Breezy, druggy, and destructive, the first single from Ms. Polly Jean Harvey’s new album harkens back to her best and most intense work on To Bring You My Love and the Thome Yorke duet “The Mess We’re In.”

I’ve always appreciated Harvey’s screamy side, but loved her quieter music. This leak has me eager for White Chalk which drops 9/24 in the UK. No US release just yet.

via Deaf Indie Elephants

August 15, 2007

weakerthans.jpg


The Weakerthans, “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure”
(5.9 MB MP3)

If you were a brilliant song writer who had previously written about the loyalty and steadfast companionship provided by your loving cat and your beloved animal started going deaf and couldn’t “remember the sound that you found for [her],” you’d probably write a heartbreakingly devastating song about having to put her down too.

Reunion Tour drops September 25 and will be a serious contender for album of the year.

Update: As befitting a band from Winnipeg, the Weakerthans have a song about curling (“Tournament of Hearts”) and a spoken word tribute to Rangers / Canadiens all-time goalie Gump Worsley (“Elegy for Gump Worsley”).

Classic.

July 23, 2007

RK is bringing sexy back with this brothel-themed video for “Moneymaker,” the first single off their highly anticipated new record Under The Blacklight. The song is funky and groovy and a departure from the band’s not-quite-alt-country roots. But it also completely rocks.

Blacklight drops August 21. Grab the MP3 at My Old Kentucky Blog. Grab presale tickets at Ducat King.

July 4, 2007

It’s pathetic that this post has been collecting dust in my notebook for months. But in the interest of completeness, here you go.


For the first time ever, I have named co-number ones. It’s fitting because they are both such active participants in the conversation about the role of religion in American life. But first, the music.

The Thermals are loud and fast and fun. The type of band about 250 people get blown away by every night. Tight, focused and frantic, but ultimately pretty straight ahead.

The Hold Steady are a little more ambitious. The video below for for the hit “Chips Ahoy” is set in a forgotten and dusty motel at the side of a desert road. The music is a perfect soundtrack.


The Hold Steady, “Chips Ahoy”

They still rock, to be sure, but where the Thermals just tell you what they think, The Hold Study are much more likely to reach for a metaphor to say how they feel.

Both albums tackle topics of religion head on. The Thermals deliver rock’s traditional middle finger to the establishment with the lyrics of 2006.

We were born to sin.
We were born to sin.
We don’t think we’re special, sir.
We know everybody is.

—The Thermals, “Pillar of Salt”

That’s not to say they’re solely reactionary. Picturing God as an authoritarian on a power trip, The Thermals’ Jesus looks to the sky and screams “Dad, I’m afraid!”

Ultimately, the record makes one overarching point: Extremism, absolutism, and authoritarianism are (A) central to a whole lot of modern religious practice and doctrine and (B) anti-thetical to rock’s rabid individualism.

I’m tempted to cast my lot with rock and roll.

On the other hand, my sister’s friend Benn basically says The Hold Steady are actively undermining the fabric of rock. As he sees it, the arc of the morality tales playing out in their songs is simple: Jesus saves.

If, as the Thermals seem to, you believe that rock is inherently anti-religion and vice-versa, this is really a pretty subversive claim for an buzz bin rock band.

I’m not sure Benn’s take is entirely accurate. Yeah, the lyrics mention how one character “wasn’t that good of a Christian,” but the story of religious salvation is pretty oblique. In most songs, the characters are saved by love.

The imagery is probably vague enough that the “love” in question could be God’s divine love, but frankly the idea that love can lift up addicts and prostitutes is probably Christianity’s most noble aspect.

If the angry vindicitve God of the Old Testament and The Body, The Blood, The Machine were reigning hellfire upon the characters in Boys and Girls… songs for their egregious sins, I think Benn would have a point. When hippie New Testament Jesus is raising up the least among us, it’s hard to feel too angry.

The idea that each and every one us has innate value and that we each bring something special to the party is precisely what I hope rock and/or roll is all about.


Previous 2006 Todd Ten Entries

3. Thom Yorke - The Eraser
4. Rock Plaza Central - We Are Not Horses
5. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
6. Roddy Woomble - My Secret is My Silence
7. Infadels - We Are Not the Infadels
8. The Twilight Singers - Powder Burns
9. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
10. Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

May 24, 2007

Sweet new tune from New York’s new buzz band, the Battles. Posting the video because the mirrored room and, as Pitchfork points out, the band’s physical closeness gives even more ominous snarl to this track.

It’s kinda like a really evil Postal Service. My theory is that so many of the bands that come to glitch rock get there by experimenting with traditional pop songs. In previous incarnations, Battles was a fringe experimental post-rock band. Darkness and downbeats thrive in that world, so when they add vocals and dance beats, it’s not surprising the result is a lot less sunny than “Such Great Heights.”

Give it a listen. It’s pretty rad.

On another note, the video above is posted from imeem, a YouTube competitor that handles music well and focuses on letting you make playlists. The quality is obviously superior to the YouTube clip below, but I think the imeem site is pretty dreadful.

So, BTP readers, now it’s time for you to decide! Which do you like better? Imeem? YouTube? Or Tin Cans with String!?

May 5, 2007

theNational_boxer.jpg



The National, "Fake Empire" (7.9 MB MP3)

In a year already jam-packed with great music, I think the new National record, "Boxer," might take the cake.

Linked here is the first track, "Fake Empire," a chilled-out, piano-driven number that dances around themes of excess, corruption, and obliviousness in contemporary America.

It will take a listen or two to grasp how powerful a statement the band is making. The lyrics are strong enough poetry that they stand on their own below.

Stay out super late tonight
picking apples, making pies
put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Tiptoe through our shiny city
with our diamond slippers on
do our gay ballet on ice
bluebirds on our shoulders
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Turn the light out say goodnight
no thinking for a little while
lets not try to figure out everything at once
It’s hard to keep track of you falling through the sky
we’re half-awake in a fake empire
we’re half-awake in a fake empire

Added bonus: Stereogum linked today to the cool new video for the second single, "Mistaken for Strangers."

April 15, 2007

So I'm watching Fox News Sunday for client work AND because a friend will be featured, and Chris Wallace just asked Al Sharpton if he will protest Timbaland. Not totally absurd, but Wallace said something like "I'm not familiar with Timbaland myself, but I understand he's just as bad as the other rappers."

So...How can Wallace ask anyone to protest anything he's never actually listened to?

Sigh....this is what I get for watching Fox News.

April 5, 2007

A few days ago, I posted this NY Times story about how Apple and EMI records announced the sale of music with "DRM" anti-copying and piracy technology. At the time, I was a little dismissive of the announcements importance.

Apple and EMI announce higher quality audio with zero usage restrictions. File this under great news that shouldn't really affect anyone too noticeably.

This morning, I read a post on the Wired "Cult of Mac" blog that analyzed some of the long-term ramifications of the deal. It's a theme that has played out on the blogs over the last few days. Based on my previous comments, you might imagine that I feel like it's all much ado about nothing. You'd be right.

The Wired blog post had a couple of minor factual misconceptions, so I was motivated to comment in respond. Once I start writing, I decided to add in my "It's no big deal" analysis in a little more detail. I thought I'd reproduce it below.


Ultimately, it sure seems like the EMI announcement is much ado about nothing. Like, yeah, sure…fewer restrictions and higher fidelity are a good thing. No complaints there. It just doesn’t seem to me like it will change things a whole lot.

It doesn’t seem to me like there’s been a massive popular outcry about the restrictions or audio quality of current songs. Plenty of super-geeky bloggers have complained about not being able to put their iTunes tracks onto their Linux-based, DIY portable Tivos. And the odd audiophile cluck-clucks about lossy encoding, but it just seems like most people don’t care at all.

The ONLY time I’ve ever run into the usage restriction is when I wanted to post tracks to my blog. Other than that, I’ve downloaded from iTunes, transferred to my iPod painlessly, and not batted an eyelash. I don’t have 5 computers. I don’t burn a whole lot of CDs.

I’m not at all suggesting that people NEVER run into the DRM restrictions. Just that the vast majority don’t. How many people actually have music blogs?

Bottom line: bigger, better features that are obviously pro-consumer are great things. I’m not at all opposed. It just seems like everything thinks this will be earth-shattering. I really doubt it.

March 30, 2007

In the stretch run now...


I listened this record more than anything else in 2006. To some extent, the delicious interplay between the next two records (WARNING: Spoiler Alert!!) is the only thing keeping it from the top spot. That, and it seemed dreadfully predictable.

In his solo debut, Yorke jumps off of the most intimate and sparse Radiohead songs. Thing "Pyramid Song" minus the guitars.

And, of course, Yorke can't help be political. Yes, "The Eraser" could just be another sad breakup song. It could also be a paean to the power of an idea:

The more you try to erase me,
The more that I appear.

In "Harrowdown Hill," he's more direct. The song is named after the site of the suspicious suicide of David Kelly, a British government official who spoke out against the trumped up "evidence" of Iraq's WMD. In that context, the lyrics of authoritarianism and artificial patriotism are chilling.

Ultimately, Yorke proves himself again to be the musical genius of his generation. I don't know if the others on this list can repeat their success, but I'm rather certain Radiohead's 2007 record will find him gunning again for the top spot. That kind of legacy means something.




Best Song: The Eraser (4.7 MB MP3)
Official Site - MySpace

Previous 2006 Todd Ten Entries

4. Rock Plaza Central - We Are Not Horses
5. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
6. Roddy Woomble - My Secret is My Silence
7. Infadels - We Are Not the Infadels
8. The Twilight Singers - Powder Burns
9. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
10. Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

March 22, 2007

Returning from hiatus. As always, the game is simple. Describe your favorite records of the year. Count backwards.


It's an indie-folk concept record about the existential crises of robot horses.

Seriously.

And it avoids the minefield of potential pitfalls - every single one - to make one of the truly fantastic records of the year. What else do I really need to say?


Previous 2006 Todd Ten Entries

5. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
6. Roddy Woomble - My Secret is My Silence
7. Infadels - We Are Not the Infadels
8. The Twilight Singers - Powder Burns
9. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat
10. Band of Horses - Everything All The Time

I'm a sucker for horns. If the guy singing with the horns is hapless and British, well so much the better. So it's not really a surprise that I'm getting a huge kick from the above video. It's the first single from the Rumble Strips' upcoming June debut, Girls And Weather.

It's also a song about how much it sucks to wake up in the morning, a topic near to my heart.

It's also worth noting that a year ago, I fell in love with "Motorcycle," the first Rumble Strips tune. I even went so far as to download a special program to strip out the audio from the video (below) so I could listen to the song on my iPod. According to iTunes, it got the second most plays of any song last year.

Any band that can put together two ace singles in the span of a few months is clearly worth paying attention to. I'm excited for the new record.

Finally, I also dig that the videos are cool. They're just fun to watch.

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