The Sweetest, Snobbiest Albums of 2014

danieltalsky | Albums,Best of the Year | Monday, December 29th, 2014

These are the ten albums that came out in 2014 that I consider essential.  These are the albums that outlined the shape of music for me.  All of them I listened to dozens of times.  Sometimes I just had to go see them do it in person.

I would love for you to get a taste of these albums, and roll them around on your tongue.  It was a good year.

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10. The Clientele – Suburban Light

I would have never guessed this album would have been on this list when I first heard it. I would have never guessed it would have edged out a similarly beautiful and gentle album by a band I love, Real Estate. But I have a feeling this album is going to be soundtracking my rainy Tuesday nights for many years to come.

Listen to the infinitely mellow Reflections After Jane:

And the slightly more rocking Joseph Cornell (which makes me sing the line "If we're on Delancey Street…" every time I walk down Delancey Street:

 

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9. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

In an interview, the producer said a rough sound was so important to Angel Olsen that they didn't use any mic that cost more $100. They did a good job. Burn Your Fire For No Witness sounds vital and passionate. Angel's voice smolders with desperation and feeling. The guitars crunch with sweet menace. A good portion of these songs could fairly be called timeless.

I think the best introduction to the album is its magnificent one-two punch of it's opening two songs.  First the plaintive Unfucktheworld:

And then the howler Forgiven/Forgotten:

 

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8. Run The Jewels – RTJ2

Do me a favor if you like rap. Play the new Wu-Tang album, and make a tic mark every time you hear someone rap something amazing that makes you want to repeat it to another person wide-eyed in amazement that another human being came up with that. Then play RTJ2 right after it and do the same thing. My guess is you’re going to end up with 8000% more tick marks on the RTJ2 side. Listen to two guys who are just realizing they’re getting the first real chance to shine after working at it for 20 years and they’re not going to let this chance slip through their fingers. Hear totally new ways to shit talk. Hear Killer Mike open up the album by squealing, “I’m finna bang this bitch the fuck out!” and then he promptly does.

Even if you don't like rap, try the relaxed but still great wordplay of All My Life:

And my favorite song on the album is Early, where Killer Mike describes an encounter with police.  It gives me chills:

 

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7. Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear

This is not my favorite Sia album. That would be her dark 2001 masterpiece, Healing Is Difficult, a fun, jazzy, dark-pop masterpiece that almost everyone in the world slept on. 1000 Forms of Fear is much more a pop album, with at least one certified major hit in Chandelier. As a part of Sia's committment to use visual replacements for herself in all of the visual material for this album, an insanely talented 11 year old dancer serves as a stand-in for her in the Chandelier video. The video is a little shocking and you should watch it right now:

That song aside, Sia has a majestic and elastic voice and a unique gift for writing evocative songs. I think my favorite is the smoky torch song Straight for the Knife, which probably could have been rocked by Dusty Springfield:

 

2014-06-AGAINST-ME-TRANSGENDER-DYSPHORIA-BLUES

6. Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

The Against Me! lead singer used to present as a man. Now she sings and lives as a woman. I have an unprecedented number of people in my life who decided to transition to living as a woman and I'm guessing they all identify with the lyric: "You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress. You want them to see you just like any other girl. They just see a faggot." Transgender Dysphoria is a term psychologists use to describe someone unhappy with the gender they were assigned. Against Me! tells the story pretty well in the pop-post-punk idiom. These are some thrilling songs.

Unconditional Love reminds us that "Even if your love was unconditional, it still wouldn't be enough to save me":

And the title track, Transgender Dysphoria Blues:

 

2014-05-A-SUNNY-DAY-IN-GLASGOW-SEA-WHEN-ABSENT

5. A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent

There's two particularly thrilling moments for me on Sea When Absent that make it really stand out. One is the first few seconds of the album where a doom-metal crunch fanfare makes you think for one moment that this is going to be a very different kind of album, before the lead singer's angelic voice and 80's synth stabs immediately confuse. The other is about 20 seconds into the second song, titled In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing) where the song breaks and she yelps: "Antipsychotics / Sink to the bottom / Dreams that were buried / Comin' up". The sample of her singing is proccessed in such a way that the moments of quiet are cut off, like someone talking on a bad cell phone signal. The result is exuberant and actually thrilling. This is a beautiful and exquisitely layered album that sounds like nothing else this year.

Byebye, Big Ocean (The End):

Also this:

In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing):

 

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4. Caribou – Our Love

The album starts out with a low-pitched vocal sample of Dan Snaith repeatedly singing, “Can’t do without” about 60 times until another layer of him singing in falsetto, “I can’t do without you” comes in as another layer, and it’s not until almost halfway into the song that the full spectrum of sonic color comes in. Dan Snaith has made several albums as Caribou, each one a new take on his idea of dance music. He’s been more adventurous before, but he’s never made such a consistent and beautiful statement.  If you can, listen to this album on good enough speakers to hear all its amazing studio tricks.

Listen to the mesmerizing album opener Can't Do Without You:

And the closer, the sonic landscape of Your Love Will Set You Free:

 

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3. Cymbals Eat Guitars – LOSE

Joe D'agostino (most Long Island name ever?  probably) opens his song Chambers like this: "The feds closed Silk Road, and I'm out in the cold 'cause I don't know anyone. Lights out in South Beach, coming up on seven weeks, need a pill to sleep so I drive out to Stapleton, but even I'm not dumb enough to enter The Chambers.”  That's just one of his vivid stories about his childhood and fairly fucked up adulthood.  I played this album for a friend and she said, "He has such a pretty voice.  Why can't he sing about something nice?"  In response they sent the following tweet:

The aforementioned Chambers:

And a beautiful ballad called Child Bride where he talks about the moment he realized a young friend of his was going to be fucked up for life, and then how he met her years later at a concert and was bragging about how her new girlfriend "turned her on to crack":

 

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2. Flying Lotus – You're Dead

You ever hear an otherwise good instrumental album ruined by a couple of dunderheaded rap verses that clearly don't belong there. I sure have. (See the first Burial album and many many more.) That's not what happens here, however. Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg(!) and a couple other people add perfect meditations on death to Flying Lotus's expansive compositions. Is this an amazing free Jazz album? A hip hop album? Electronic music by one of the most explosive and inventive electronic music artists? Yes.

If someone showed me an insane audiophile stereo system and said, "What do you want to boom out of this?  You only get one album!"

"You're dead," I'd say.

The album plays like one continuous suite, and most of the songs are under two minutes so it's difficult to pick only a couple of tracks.  Never Catch Me is a great representative track with a good mix of electronic music, jazz, and hip hop, with a great Kendrick Lamar rap about death:

And to show some of the breadth of the album, this later, almost interstitial interlude Turtles:

 

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1. FKA twigs - LP1

Most years I agonize about the best album of the year but not this year. I knew months ago that it would be hard for anything to unseat this minimal R&B masterwork. I like my beats and electronic sounds fierce and asymetrical and challenging. FKA twigs ode to sex, alienation, desperation, and fame is lonely and perfect for every moment of its running time. This is the kind of album you want to blast on a good speaker system with plenty of bass, but works on tinny earbuds just fine. The beats clatter and intrude and seduce but her voice floats above it perfectly, with her own dark and beguiling anthems. One of my favorite songs is Video Girl. She was once, a "Video Girl". She's an unusual and beautiful woman, with unnaturally full lips and slender form. She danced in other artists videos and became semi-famous a first time that way, but she was determined to be known for her own musical work. So when people approached her on the street, recognizing her from the videos, she'd say, "Yeah, I get that all the time, I know I look like her, but it's not me." So the lyric in the song goes, "She's the girl from the video / you're lying, you're lying, you're lying." Now when they stop her and say "hey you're the girl from the video" at least they're talking about HER videos, which are insane.  Now all we need is a James Blake, FKA Twigs collaboration.

Video Girl is essential:

And Pendulum encapsulates everything I like about the album.  Its etherial textures, odd rhythms, and sincere singing.  When she sings "I'm a sweet little lovemaker" I believe her:

Ok, now it's time to listen to everyone else's end of year lists, or listen to all 20 songs as a playlist.

INXS – KICK Makes You Wonder How The Other Half Died

danieltalsky | Albums,My Favorite Things (Classics),Reviews | Monday, July 7th, 2014

Inxs-Kick-Fixed

I remember when I first pronounced INXS as "incks" in front of someone in my middle school class and was soundly ridiculed. (It's pronounced, har har, "In Excess" for anyone still not in the know.) KICK was one of the first cassettes I purchased and I think it holds up well. They were considered pop-pretty-boys but the songwriting and performance is still vital all these years later. If you're only familiar with the hits, do yourself a favor and get on Spotify (or whatever) and give it a listen.

However, if you already know the album, then you could do worse than to listen to this pretty and understated live cover of THE ENTIRE ALBUM. One of the great things about KICK was Michael Hutchence's unhinged and sexual performances, but Courtney Barnett does a great job of distilling this into a laid-back wistfulness.  She even does the Bob Dylan ripoff flash cards for Mediate.

The Sweetest, Snobbiest Albums of 2013

danieltalsky | Albums,Best of the Year,Reviews | Monday, December 9th, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, I present my top 10 albums of 2013, starting with number 10:

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10. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Hey, I could sure live without hearing "Get Lucky" ever again but this is one amazing album and one amazing experience.  A band that made their fortune on sampling the works of others pulls together an original album with mostly originally performed compositions.  It's a love song to dance music and it is frequently beautiful.

It's hard to pick a song, but I lose myself to dance the most in Lose Yourself To Dance:

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9. Savages – Silence Yourself

When I needed to feel tough walking down the street this year I listened to City's Full, which is a woman singing about how she prefers her older female lover to all the "skinny pretty girls".  Also it shreds.  So does the whole album.

2013-no8-regionsoflight

8. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

Why did I never listen to My Morning Jacket before… oh yeah, the stupid band name. This album made me realize how majestic Jim James is and what a loving songwriter he is.

You could hardly do better than Of The Mother Again:

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7. Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon

A powerful new voice on the music scene making timeless, music like a young, creative Nina Simone.  I wrote more about the album in a recent post.

Green Garden is the stunner:

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6. Matthew E. White – Outer Face EP

Another soft voiced guy with super lush arrangements. 5 songs of pure perfection.  I loved his album Big Inner last year, and I'm so glad he decided to cut us off another little slice of his gorgeousness this year.

Listen to his facility with strings and amazing background vocals while he teaches you his Signature Move:

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5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II [Deluxe Edition]

Who knew these guys had such a beautiful album in them. The acoustic versions in the deluxe edition are at least as good as the originals.

Listen to the watery guitars and super-Beatlesy composition in the album opener From The Sun:

2013-no4-woman

4. Rhye – Woman

The album is called Woman but it's sung by Mike Milosh. This is the dead sexiest album that came out all year.  Imagine if Sade put out another classic album but a man fronted it.

It's hard to make a pick for this album but I think I'll settle on Three Days which is all the time they have with each other:

2013-no3-immunity

3. Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Electronic music at its most vital, dynamic, and listenable.  Yes, it sounds like Johns Hopkins, the Baltimore university.  You are the first person to notice.

Open Eye Signal shows his approach to crunchy, delicious sound that makes me want to stand up out of my computer chair:

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2. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare

Gorgeous album straight out of nowhere. I'm proud to put this album on my top 10 in a year when it seems like everyone else slept on it.  Crosby and Stills actually play on the album and that gives you some sense of where it's coming from.  Some kind of beautiful Steely Dan shit with great songwriting.

The mellow, horse-clop percussion masterpiece Cecil Taylor.  I love the way he sings, "I'm just another heart and set of eyes, looking for a miracle" and all the crazy little details and effects:

2013-no1-acidrap

1. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

This high schooler made the lushest, cleverest, most touching rap album imaginable. Look, if you just can't handle Chancellor's voice I assure you it can grow on you. I thought Joey Bada$$ was coming up with amazing lyrics for a 17 year old but he's got nothing on the twisty, loving wordplay of Chance.

Also, the mixtape is TOTALLY FREE so there's no reason not to add this album to your collection.  I think his style, his weird sqwawk of an ad-lib, his sweetness, and his clever rhymes are best illustrated by Cocoa Butter Kisses.  My little sister hates it because of the cough noises but I think it's adorable:

STUFF I HEARD THAT DIDN'T MAKE THIS LIST ON PURPOSE:

Kanye West – Yeezus: Made so many end of year lists but there's just too many dumb ass lyrics and ok I'll say it: the music isn't as innovative as people are saying.

My Bloody Valentine – mbv: Never quite got Loveless, and don't quite get mbv.

Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze: Dude is starting to put me to sleep.

Janelle Monae – Electric Lady: She's amazing but something is off about this album.

COMFORT FOOD LIST: (stuff I really enjoyed and listened to a lot but can't unseat the top ten)

Young Galaxy – Ultramarine: I would never have thought I would have loved these well-crafted pop songs as much as I ended up. They are perfection and all the music videos contrast by being odd and ugly.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City: In which Vampire Weekend prove to the world that they weren't just a knockoff of the Graceland album and actually make their own singular and beautiful music.

The Belle Game – Ritual. Tradition. Habit.: They call themselves "dark-pop". For me it's just like musical comfort food. Passionate singing and jangly rock guitar.

Deerhunter – Monomania: I think I'm finally a Deerhunter fan.

Vondelpark – Seabed: Muaic to make out to as you drift off to sleep with your lover.

Phosphorescent – Muchacho: A wonderful, wonderful album from a great new voice in music.

STUFF I THOUGHT WAS AWESOME BUT JUST DIDN'T GET TO LISTEN TO ENOUGH TO EVALUATE:

Bill Callahan – Dream River

Mikal Cronin – MCII

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

Disclosure – Settle

Ty Segall – Sleeper

Ka – The Night's Gambit

Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven

Danny Brown – OLD

Late Addendum: Extra thanks to Sean Glenn for doing the awesome picture frame graphics for all the albums!

The Gorgeous Power of Laura Mvula

danieltalsky | Albums | Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Laura Mvula - Sing to the Moon

 

You may be excited about the new Janelle Monae, and you should be, it's amazing. But you were going to listen to that anyway.

You might not have heard the astounding debut of Laura Mvula, however, and I recommend you do.  Laura sings songs I would play for my (imaginary) children, and we'd listen to the songs over and over until the LP wore through.  Laura takes a few phrases and then stacks them layer by layer to make a musical tower out of them.

Sing to the Moon has its strengths and weaknesses, but at its best it is utterly timeless.  Like, Nina Simone timeless.  This is one of those albums where I feel confident in hyperbole because I'm going to play you a few songs and I feel like they stand on their own for pure "wow" factor.

First of all, Green Garden, a love song so magnificent I need to listen to it almost every day.  Only a few lines, but she does the most with them.

Then only Laura could make an angry song like That's Alright so exultant.  She "could never be what you want and that's alright" but she'd like to ask "who made you the center of the universe?"

Lastly, I Don't Know What The Weather Will Be, the classic theme of love that fears commitment, made romantic as only Miss Mvula could:

10 Amazing Jimi Hendrix Deep Cuts

danieltalsky | My Favorite Things (Classics),Reviews,Songs | Thursday, March 28th, 2013

hendrix_deep_cuts

I'd like to do a little write-up in honor of the new album of mostly new and restored recordings of Jimi Hendrix. I have been a Hendrix fan for many years and have always felt like we were kindred spirits. I'd like to take a moment and talk about the Hendrix road less traveled  The deep cuts. The amazing songs that no one knows about, presented in roughly chronological order.  Of course this is not a real top 10, but I couldn't resist the urge to go for the cheap "listicle" format.  People will read the top ten of anything.

Songs I will not be including: Foxy Lady, Manic Depression, Fire, Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, Castles Made of Sand, Crosstown Traffic, or Voodoo Chile (Slight Return). Those songs are amazing, everyone's heard them.

Because of his hits, people consider Jimi some kind of superhuman voodoo sex machine (which he probably was), but these cuts point out the sweet, loving sci-fi nerd deep within Jimi. This is the Jimi I've always seen.

1. May This Be Love

This is Jimi's ode to daydreaming, and is basically a love song to an inner spiritual guide he calls "Waterfall". This originally only appeared on the US and not the UK versions of Are You Experienced, making it an ideal deep cut. Featuring some of the amazing, watery, mellow guitar Jimi excelled at. There's a plodding, thick drumbeat wherein he tells "Waterfall" why he thinks it is so damn groovy, and then an impassioned defense of daydreamers. Gorgeous and uplifting from the first moment to the last.

2. Wait Until Tomorrow

Jimi shows up atop a ladder to elope with his love, Dolly Mae, and she tells him that she thinks they should think about it one more day. With predictably fatal results.

3. Up From The Skies

This is Jimi's plea for aliens to contact him. Mitch Mitchell drops in a soft-brushed drumbeat while Jimi plays some of the grooviest and subtlest guitar while he tells the aliens that he wants to "hear and see everything". I said it was groovy and I meant it.

4. Little Miss Lover

Why this wasn't a single, I have no idea, since to me it stands right along other, more famous barn burners like Foxy Lady or Fire. This is, in my mind, the sexiest Hendrix song ever recorded.

5. Bold as Love

God knows how many drugs Jimi was on when he came up with the concept for the album Axis: Bold as Love. There's a line in Bold as Love (the song) where Jimi says, "I'm bold as love, just ask the axis," so presumably the title of the album (Axis: Bold As Love) is the response in screenplay format. Jimi goes through the colors a couple of times in the lyrics, and then finally, at the end, explodes into one of psychedelic rock's formative moments when he blows the whole world's mind by pioneering the "phase effect". I wish you could be high on LSD for just… just the four minutes and 12 seconds it takes to play this song so you could really, you know, get it man. And then get back to work cause it's not fucking 1967 anymore. Yeah.

6. Burning of the Midnight Lamp

Jimi Hendrix was so far out that he actually thought this paon to the depths of inner loneliness was going to be a hit song. It is a sincere and beautiful song with heartfelt lyrics describing his isolation at the time. It's a great song, I think, but the kids don't run out and buy albums written by Debbie Downer.

7. 1983 … (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) / Moon Turn The Tides … gently gently away

I'm pretty sure this song actually made a label suit actually cry at one point. It's a 14 minute multi-movement sci-fi epic about retreating to an undersea realm because of the horrors of war and includes a several minute long tone-poem depicting reality underwater. In the first movement (up to about the 3 minute mark) Jimi describes the sad state the world has got itself into and why the powers that be don't think going underwater is a viable idea. Then in the next movement, Jimi describes his lover and he making love in the sand as they prepare to say goodbye to the world they've known. Then, at about the four and a half mark, a soundscape begins as they go down into the sea with all kinds of eerie sounds. At the 6 minute mark, guitar and melody begin to come back including a drum solo (8 minute mark) and really gorgeous little bass solo played by Jimi himself (9:30). At about the 11 minute mark the next movement begins where Jimi and his love are now under water going deeper and deeper, chilling with Neptune and various mermaids and such. Hey this didn't turn out so bad after all. Finally in the last minute or so Jimi sends us out with one last shredding guitar solo which ends in oscillating bird sounding electronic noises which lead into (if you want extra credit) the next song, a one minute set of oscillating tones called Moon, Turn The Tides … gently gently away. Whew. And they pressed this to wax! In 1968!


8. Power of Love

By this point The Jimi Hendrix experience was over, and Jimi was jamming with blues great Buddy Miles. He owed the label one album and gave them Band of Gypsys, taken from two nights of recordings on New Years Eve '69/'70 at the Fillmore East here in New York City. I put this song on a mix-tape for a 4 year old once, and didn't have any idea what he was talking about when he referred to "the jellyfish song". Well, eventually I finally caught that part of the lyrics:

It's so groovy to float around sometimes
Even a jelly fish will tell you that
I said floatation is groovy, and easy
Even a jelly fish will agree to that
Yeah, but that old jelly fish
Been floatin' around so long
Lord he ain't got a bone in his jelly back
Floatin' every day and every night
Ridin' high is a risk
Sometimes the wind ain't right

Don't get put off by the pyrotechnics that start the song, it settles into a deep blues groove as he lays out the power of love. One of my all time favorite Jimi Hendrix songs.

9. My Friend

A world-weary Hendrix wrote one of the most hilarious of his songs, about being out on the road. The conversation in the beginning is simulated, and you can even hear Hendrix himself jabbering a little in the background pretending to be a regular joe at one of his shows. A the beginning of the song, a lady of the night (bourbon and coke possessed words) recognizes him and says "haven't I seen you somewhere in hell?" and "before [he] can ask, 'was it the east or west side?'" he's run over by her cart. In the third act he "just got out of a Scandinavian jail, and I'm on way back home to you". Then, he ruefully reminds us in the refrain that his only friend talks, sees, looks and feels like you, and you do just the same as him. What happened to "waterfall" right? I truly love this song, and if there was any justice in the world it would be in every karaoke book in the world.

10. Angel

I will end with a beautiful love song about an angel.

Parenthetical Girls and Glockabelle at Bowery Electric were Awesome!

danieltalsky | Concerts,Reviews | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

parenthetical drummer wp

I liked but never quite got into Parenthetical Girls, but when my friend Glockabelle told me she was opening for them I thought I'd give it a shot.

Glockabelle is Annabelle Cazes and whatever awesome musicians she happens to be working with.  She plays everything from surf rock to classical on her Glockenspiel, and then plays twin little keyboards and sings in French.  Her stage banter is awesome, she'll say, "This is a song about a gazelle" and then launch into madness.  Here's two great samples:

We stayed for Parenthetical Girls and they blew us away.  Lead singer Zac Pennington is a charismatic demon and stood on amps, came out into the crowd, and performed all over the venue.  It's a good thing he has a long mic cord.  In the most intense moment, he came over to the bench we were standing on, grabbed a rolldown movie screen, and pulled it down in front of us so only me and a couple of other people could see him performing for a few minutes.  It was so amazing and intimate that I couldn't resist giving his scrawny arm a little kiss.

It's been a long time since I saw a show with such panache and engagement.  Their recordings don't quite capture the same spirit but have a listen anyway!  Check out the amazing song The Pornographer and its (NSFW if armpit hair is not cool at your work) video:

Anyway, thanks to Glockabelle and Parenthetical Girls for an amazing New York experience!

parenthetical zac wp

Never Trust a Man With a Butter Knife, a Plastic Butter Knife

danieltalsky | Reviews,Songs,Uncategorized | Saturday, January 5th, 2013

5a5adf3e

  1. I'm starting to warm up to this whole new Big Boi album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
  2. This song Gossip is straight up amazing.
  3. How high was this man when he made up the part about never trusting a man with a plastic butter knife.

I'm actually posting this song because none of the versions of it online have the "plastic butter knife" lead out.  Also everyone should listen to it.  And then the whole album.  Cause I said so.

kissed her little sister

danieltalsky | Albums,Reviews | Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

Way back in 2010 I called out the independently released kissed her little sister album, high&low as half of the 10th best album of 2010.

It reminds me of early Beck in a lot of ways.  high&low was a shambling, brilliant, lo-fi mess of a really talented kid making amazing music in his living room.  It was at once humble and ambitious.  Listen to cocaine for example.  He sings an amazing, grim version of Cocaine Blues, the song Johnny Cash made famous in his Folsom Prison recording.  However, sings it over a perfect sample of Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall.

Then, in my dreams are television, he sets up a hilarious hip-hop cut up out of human voices and scratching, and then does a slow, creaking sing/rap over it.  I love it.

Then there's just lovely, pretty singing and songwriting like he walked on the water, which brings me to the fact that kissed her little sister just released a brand new album: sailor, which is much more focused on the pretty singing and guitar than all the sonic experimentation of his last album.  I've only given it a few listens, but I think it's worth a few listens.  And, since you can listen to both albums on his bandcamp page: sailor and high&low for free, streaming on the web.

Bandcamp is a really cool site, and it's nice to see bands have a good alternative for self-releasing albums and band pages now that myspace is just too dorky to even use anymore.   Bandcamp lets you put up your music for streaming and lets customers purchase it in a variety of high quality digital formats.

Anyone have any other good Bandcamp finds?  Isn't that album cover awesome?

 

Anna Minard has "never heard of 'em" and NPR learns how to "get along"

danieltalsky | Albums | Thursday, May 24th, 2012

When I was in Seattle on vacation I discovered the coolest new column in the weekly paper The Stranger.  Anna Minard just started writing Never Heard of 'Em.  The premise is that Anna doesn't know that much about the "essential" albums her friends and fellow writers pass her.  She listens for the first time, and then writes a review of what it's like to be exposed to the album for the first time.

So far, she's done Love, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, The Cramps, Royal Trux, and Suicide.  I must confess that I'd never heard Royal Trux or Suicide myself.

Another cool project is NPR's All Songs Considered's new project called Why Can't We All Get Along.  They're trying to find the top 10 albums everyone can agree on.  They're posting a bunch of universally liked albums every week and letting people vote all summer to populate the semifinals.  One thing I find funny is that for every album "everybody loves", someone hates it just to be contrary.

Paul Simon's Graceland, Bob Marley's Exile, AC/DC… I think it's kind of funny to come up with a list of music that's least hated.  I know some people who REALLY can't stand Exile though.

What's your least hated album?

 

 

Worthwhile Jazz Deconstructions of Songs You Probably Know

danieltalsky | Reviews,Songs | Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

(note: None of the songs are actually ON the Jazz and 80's album, I just think it's a cool cover.  Also sex sells.  Not that I'm selling anything.)

I was just listening to this brand new Jazz album by the Vijay Iyer Trio, and on it they have a great cover of Micheal Jackson's Human Nature.  I love how they keep the song recognizable, but then evolve into their own exploration of the song's musical themes.  I think that a good jazz cover respects the original song, but still tears it apart and puts it back together again somehow.

It made me think of several songs that do something similar that I've come to appreciate over the years.

The Bad Plus is probably the most famous for their Smells Like Teen Spirit cover, which is great, but I'm partial to their amazing cover of the Tears For Fears song, Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

Of course I had to have a Beatles song, and there's no lack of Beatles covers of any genre in this world, but I particularly like the somewhat insane version of A Day In The Life by Grant Green.

Charlie Hunter's Come As You Are cover starts with the Smells Like Teen Spirit riff, but is in fact a groovy cover of the (slightly) lesser known song.

The rest, just enjoy.  I think every one has a little something special.

Listen as a playlist:

Or listen to the songs individually:

Human Nature (Micheal Jackson) as covered by the Vijay Iyer Trio

Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears) as covered by The Bad Plus

A Day in the Life (The Beatles) as covered by Grant Green

Live To Tell (Madonna) as covered by the Bill Frisell

Come As You Are (Nirvana) as covered by the Charlie Hunter Trio

Day is Done (Radiohead) as covered by the Brad Mehldao Trio

Isobel (Björk) as covered by Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey

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