Great googly moogly! Another year gone and another busy January. Thanks to Blizzard 2015, I have the time today to finally post my favorite albums from the past year. I really had a hard go this time around. I really didn’t find this to be an overly strong year. Either way, with out further adue…
St. Vincent – Eponymous: Annie Clark created a masterpiece. She combined her artier indie cred. with some pretty catchy pop hooks. She also is a pretty interesting and talented guitarist to boot. This one and First Aid Kit were by far the most played albums on this list.
First Aid Kit – Stay Gold: As mentioned above this album was in heavy rotation. I love these girls voices and harmonies. Based on what I read of all the other top 2014 lists, this was the most underrated album of the year in my opinion.
Metronomy – Love Letters: This one definitely falls into the indie pop category. Much like there first album the songs are very catchy. The thing I love about these guys is that they seem just a little of kilter. I love weirdos!
Beck – Morning Phase: Beck’s new record was one of my most played records of the first half of the year. At some point it seemed to not draw me in as much. The fact that is a pretty mellow album probably didn’t help, as I was frequently in the mood for something more upbeat. Still makes it at the top because I do return to it and enjoy it greatly.
The remainder of this list really falls into the category of albums that I spent some amount of time with but couldn’t really say I loved enough to call them favorites. I guess the fact that I didn’t repeatedly come back to them signaled to me a lack of true love. Maybe with some more time a few of them will stand out a bit more…So the honorable mentions are:
Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain, Jack White – Lazeretto, The Bots – Pink Palms, Triptykon – Melana Chasmata, Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita, The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere, Broken Bells – After The Disco, tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack, Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love, The Flaming Lips – With A Little Help From My Fwends, Luluc – Passerby
I cannot believe that another year went by so quickly. I feel like it was just yesterday I was trying to get this blog rolling, now it’s been dead for a whole calendar year! I certainly wish I could find the time to keep it up but I obviously have other priorities. So this list is for my boys in the “Four North Men Of The Rockpocalypse” group on Facebook.
It was an amazing year in music. It was completely impossible to make a top 10 list, so I’ll just list a bunch of my favorites in no particular order.
Kanye West, Yeezus – I’m guessing that this one is not on any of my friends year end lists. I’ve never really given Kanye much of a chance in the past. The two main reasons are: I’m not usually to into hip hop and Kanye West is a complete jack ass. That being said, I gave this one a chance partially out interest to finally see what he is all about as a self proclaimed “creative genius”. The first couple listens I was really jolted by the oddness of the tracks, and had almost written it off. But then a week or so later I put it back on after not being able to get lyrics from the song “New Slave” out of my head. In the next few weeks I hardly listened to anything else. I hate to admit it, but this just might be my favorite album of the year.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City – This is another one of those albums that took me a little bit of time to latch onto. Ezra Koenig is such an amazing lyricist and writes some pretty catchy indie pop.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito – I love my Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love that they went back to there rock/punk roots on this one too! I even had the pleasure of seeing them live this year. Karen O. is fn crazy on stage. I was surprised that this one wasn’t on any other lists I’ve seen this year.
Quasi – Mole City – Probably one of the most overlooked indie bands of my lifetime, (even by myself for a time) Quasi put out yet another strong album. If Yeezus isn’t number one, then this one was.
Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record – Another amazing song writer, who I had the benefit of seeing live this year. The sad part was that I was one of about 30 people at the show. In Miss Friedbergers defense it was a whopping 8 degrees outside that night. In any case, one half of the Fiery Furnaces put out a pretty cool indie rock album. This just proves to me that her brother Matt isn’t the only “artistic genius” in this family.
Typhoon – White Lighter – This album crept up on my out of no where. I had previously fallen in love with there EP Hunger and Thirst, but for what ever reason the band had fallen off my radar. I had fallen behind checking my weekly email of album releases when discovered this release. I quickly fell in love with this one and will have the pleasure of seeing them in March at Port City Music Hall in P-town.
James Blake – Overgrown – Mr. Blake’s (not to be confused with Mr. Blunt) sophomore output was not a dud. Still amazed that I can love something that relies so much on synthesizers and autotune. Just proof that even the worst inventions can be made cool.
Kim Deal – Solo Series – This wasn’t actually an album, but a series of 7″ singles from the former bassist of Pixies. The trilogy of singles quickly became a main stay in my playlist rotation this year.
Volcano Choir – Repave – Justin Vernon is a god. Enough said.
Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rival – Noise Pop? I think that is what they have been dubbed. Regardless Sleigh Bell is best listened to with the volume turned up to 11.
Arcade Fire – Reflecktor – I have a love/hate relationship with this album. I think it is pretty cool “art pop” that sometime just goes on way to long. A lot of songs drone off with the main lyric just repeated over and over for several minutes to end the song. It is good in practice, but the fact that so many songs on this one tend follow the same exact formula makes the album slightly boring. So the question is: “Did I add this one because it was a good album or because it was the Arcade Fire?” Something I guess I’ll have to reflect on in 2014.
Haim – Days are Gone – Anyone who knows me at all, know that I’ve been in love with the sister’s Haim since I saw them on Mumford and Son’s Gentlemen of the Road tour. Most of the songs on this were not new to the Haim realm, so listening to this one initially didn’t contain many surprises. It will be interesting to see what 2014 will bring for these girls. I know they are huge in the UK and are getting lots of press in the US. I also have tickets to see them in Boston in May!
Lorde – Pure Heroine – I figured I would book end this list with the two most main stream outputs. Lorde stormed onto the national stage like crazy this year. (something I predicted I might add) If you have only listened to her hit single “Royales” you are missing out.
Other albums worth checking out include: Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II, Atoms for Peace – Amok, They Might Be Giants – Nanobots, Suicidal Tendencies – 13, The Flaming Lips – The Terror, Noah and the Whale – Heart of Nowhere, The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars, Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks, Arctic Monkeys – AM, Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt, and The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion.
In creating this list I have noticed about 10 albums by artist I love that I still haven’t had a chance to listen to. So I guess my 2013 still has some surprises uncover. If you want to listen to my favorites from the year on Spotify follow this link. I invite you to tell me what you think of my list and/or to post your list for the year 2013!
So some of you may have seen my list of ten albums of 2012 on our new blog Four North Men of the Rockpocalypse. If you are one of those who hasn’t yet, go check out the three other North Men and see what they thought the top albums of the year were. Remember we are four completely different guys with four greatly varying opinions, so the lists should be pretty interesting. You should also be careful, you may just discover something new…
Here, I will get into a little bit more details on to what I liked so much about some of the albums I chose for my version of the list. I will be very interested in seeing if any albums I picked even make it onto any of my counterparts lists. Anyway, here I go…
1. Fionna Apple – The Idler Wheel – This albums was one of my biggest surprises this years, although most of that was probably self inflicted. I may have had a unfair bias against Miss Apple from my youth. (a misguided one at that) I have since discovered that she has an amazing catalog of albums. Like much of the music I like I need to contain substance. This album was both passionate and even abstract at times.
2. Jack White – Blunderbuss – Does anything Jack White touches not amazing? Mr. White has an incredible way of taking classic american sound and taking modern spin on the sound. He is constantly stealing from the past while creating something new and fresh.
3. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant – I did love this giant! I couldn’t stop playing this album for a while. I even frequently would start this one right from the beginning after listening to once. It’s funny, I didn’t even know who David Bryne was before this, so this album opened the door to the Talking Heads. It is now one that I am happy to have passed though this door. The music has so many layers, and it makes me want to get up and dance. Not much I listen to does that. Now I finally see why so many artists love them.
4. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar – I was in love with these young ladies even before this record came out. These ladies have such beautiful harmonies! I love the modern Folk movement. I still find the lyrics so mature for such young song writers though.
5. Grizzly Bear – Shields – At the beginning of 2012 I thought for sure that this would be #1 on my year end list. As you can see it isn’t, and I actually wonder if their previous album Veckatimist may hurt them. Veckatimist is certainly one of my favorite albums of all time and it may have made it hard for this one to live up to. All together, I obviously did like this album if it is here, but it just wasn’t as cohesive as Grizzly Bears previous album.
6. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter – These brothers are so good. They much like Mumford (and the Lumineers) bring that old time country sounds a modern feel. These albums just make me feel warm and fuzzy and I do like me some bluegrass.
7. Heartless Bastards – Arrow – This is the only album in my top 10 that I did not discover on my own. A special thanks to Andrea Civello for introducing me to this blues group from Ohio. It is a very soulful album, and is somewhat is the realm of the older Black Keys albums.
8. Mumford & Sons – Babel – See both 5 & 6, that pretty much sums up this one.
9. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill – I have always been fond of Neil Young. Despite varying opinions of his more recent albums, I have been quite a fan of everything he releases. You really never know what your going to hear out of him next. The first track on this album alone is worth giving this one a listen.
10. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror – This on just rips. If you put this one on, be sure to turn it way up!
Honorable mentions: The xx – Coexist, Cat Power – Sun, The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet, Poor Moon – Poor Moon, The Shins – Port of Morrow, Lisa Marie Presley – Storm & Grace, Muse – The 2nd Law, The Lumineers – The Lumineers
Biggest suprise by far is Lisa Marie Presley. She has always just been a pop artist until now. Storm & Grace actually had a lot of substance, and was nothing like you would expect! The Lumineers came to me from another blog I follow, You Hear that?. I was instantly in love. Then this band blew up! It’s amazing the trend of great music in the mainstream realm at present. Last one I’ll mention is Poor Moon. Another great folk record coming from former members of the Fleet Foxes. I just missed seeing these guy this past summer. Poor me!
Well, my dear friend Chauncey has started a group on Facebook called “Four North Men of the Rockpocalypse“. It is the brain trust of four boys from northern Maine and our wild opinions of what is good, bad and ugly in the music world. To start the this new chapter, we have organized the release of our top ten albums of 2012. The list will be released this Sunday, January 13th at 8 PM (EST). It should be a pretty eclectic bunch of list since we all have varying taste in music. I invite you to visit and like our new page and to come see what we have to say about 2012.
I will be posting my short list over on the Facebook page, but if you want to read more about my choices you can also see a post on this blog that will coincide with the release of the lists. It is my hope that this new project will help me revive this small music corner I have created (and neglected). Maybe I can even con my new partners to write a post or two here also…
Hello friends . The prodigal son has returned. I just needed to google that to discover exactly what it actually meant. I’m not necessarily wasteful or extravagant , so at any rate . . .
As you have seen it really has been some time . I get on “kicks” and the most recent one was a new career . This one suffered in consequence . Well given that my cousin commented she “always looking for new tunes and I have been sick of the mundane .” to a recent facebook post , I reasoned I need to get back on my horse . I am hoping this is like riding a bike .
Since my previous post I’ve been to a couple of terrific shows . First of all we attended Mumford and Son’s first stopover on the Gentleman of the Road tour . It was a stunning day here in Portland . Eight band took to two stages over more or less 8 hours . Heading in I had been psyched to check out St . Vincent and Mumford , however knew little to nothing basically relating to nearly all the other bands on the tour . I enjoy new music that being said I made sure to get there early so I could explore some new sh !t . The musical combo that stole my heart that day ( and still possesses a tight grip it currently ) was a group of three sister from California that call themselves Haim . Initially I had been curious about how they coined this name , but down the line discovered that Haim was their last name . They actually have only one digital EP released titled Forever . I’ve listened to this modest three track sampling of the band again and again since my first encounter with these lovely ladies however I still believe it pales in comparison with experiencing them live . I recommend taking a listen to the EP, but also checking out about the video of an acoustic performance of the song Go Slow .
More recently I got to see Ben Harper at the State Theater here in Portland . It was the second show this year that I been to with my sister , the initial one being the Black Keys back in March. Ben Harper is truly one of my younger siblings most loved performers , thus she was seriously fired up in the days leading up to the show . I had been excited at the same time , just simply not as much as her . For this tour Ben was on tour all by himself , his the stage setup consisted of approximately 20 or more stringed instruments resting on stands , and the performance consisted of Ben pretty much randomly choosing one of these brilliant instruments and performing a song from his extensive catalog . For the most part the set was an acoustic one , however occasionally he did play one of his electrics .
In addition to an amazing overall performance was the fact that this was the show that never ends. Ben took the stage took the stage approximately an hour and a half before departing from for the first time . The crowd , as you would expect , cheered him to return on stage . He then performed for about one more hour before leaving the stage a second time . The crowd had started to thin a bit , however the remaining 2/3rds continued rock the place . Ben came back again for an additional hour long set ! I very seriously believe he would have played longer had it not been for the midnight noise ordinance in P-town . He actually performed his final song after midnight without a mic and only his acoustic guitar inhand . According to BenHarper.com he played a total of 33 songs . It was insanly fun and super exciting to share one of my sisters favorites with her! I somehow promised her Dave Matthews, which I may live to regret doing, but that is another story…
Check out one of the many gems from the night below. It is a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City.
Back in the fall of 1994, I was just a normal kid. I’d been caught the previous summer sneaking out late at night with alcohol in a buddies back pack. I’d stolen cigarettes from my Grampy’s camper. You know, I wanted to be cool. Well growing up I loved music. Only I loved the music that was given to me, like the stuff played on the radio or MTV (and bluegrass festivals, but that’s another story).
Then my Obi-won Kenobi came into my life. He taught me that there was more music out there to be discovered. He went on to make me several mix tapes. I was introduced to Type O Negative, the Ramones, Matthew Sweet and Suicidal Tendencies amongst many others. And so started my journey into the larger world of music (and art for that matter).
The person I am talking about is my dear friend Chauncey. He’s commented here a bunch of times and is always one person I can count on to add a song or two to our collaborative mixtapes we make here. We met when I was a little sophomore and he was a big senior. I had to listen to him back then, because he was so much older and wiser! (ROFL) Really he is only like a year or so older than me, but you know how it seems when you are in high school. Anyway, he was a big influence for me and am lucky to say we remain good friends to this day.
So to celebrate my bud, I wanted to do two things. First as you can see below is the insert to the very first mixtape the Chauncey ever made for me. As you can see it is a metal mix, he still is very into the metal scene (although you wouldn’t know it by looking at him, let’s just say family man!) Here is a link to the Spotify version of the mix. It is a little different because of certain albums and tracks not being available. In addition I would like to start a new metal themed mixtape for us all. Please pick 1-3 songs to add from any metal artist. You can post you songs here in the comments and/or add the songs to the Spotify playlist. I’ll post a list all songs and link to the playlist underneath the image below.
I haven’t done a topic off the KidAJoe Music Challenge in a while, so I thought I would do one today. I had my lovely wife pick one and she picked “a song from a band you hate”. There are lots of band I hate, Linkin Park, Creed, Puddle of Mud….I certainly could go on. Finding a song by an artist I hate will be really easy.
I guess I’ll start with my wife’s favorite artist Britney Spears. This song (pretty shamefully) is one I like (some what anyway). This actually will come as quite a surprise to her. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know that I like even one song by Miss Spears. Today actually is the first time I’ve listened to this song in years. So the song is Outrageous from the album In The Zone. You can be tortured by the video below. As with any Britney Spears video I suggest hitting the mute button before pushing play.
Next is a band I possibly hate more than any other band on earth. (No Olaf it is not 311) It is Nickelback. If you want to get some sort of information out of me, tie me up and play some Nickelback, I will promptly tell you everything you want to know. Actually all you would have to is threaten to play something and I would cave. I wish this crap on only my worst enemies. Here is a song that I brought up on youtube only long enough to copy the URL. Please do not enjoy.
Just for the record it kill me to put these two even on my blog. I might have to light myself on fire now.