Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) 10-1

Albums 10-1

10) High Highs: Open Season - I've been gushing over High Highs for a couple of years now, since I first heard "Flowers Bloom" followed by their self-titled debut EP. The duo, comprised of Jack Milas and Oli Chang, feature and extremely chill and beautiful arrangement of instruments and voice/harmonies. You may have heard them in recent movies like Pitch Perfect, For A Good Time, Call..., and a recent Amazon Kindle commercial. Unfortunately, I missed them when they were here for SXSW so remain high on my "need to see live" list.

2 years later, the hauntingly beautiful "Flower Bloom" is still one of my favorite songs, be impressed


And the full song from the Kindle commercial, and title track, "Open Season"



9) The Lone Bellow: The Lone Bellow - One of the last reviews I actually did earlier this year, which you can check out HERE. Have seen them live since and they are AMAZING. How this band hasn't blown up yet is beyond me.

Just listen to the below live rendition of "You Never Need Nobody." Unbelievable voices and harmonies..


This song is included in my initial review, but how many of you clicked it? My favorite, "Bleeding Out"



8) Shout Out Louds: Optica - A band that continues to seemingly stay under the radar for most. Been a huge fan of this Swedish indie pop outfit since 2007's Our Ill Wills. A penchant for 80'sish pop and singer Adam Olenius' ability to channel a less depressing version of Robert Smith (The Cure). If you enjoy an updated version of upbeat 80's style pop then you should check them out. Great band.

The more chill slow burner, but awesome, "Blue Ice"



And the awesome and kinda rocking "14th of July"



7) City and Colour: The Hurry and the Harm - Alex Green, aka City and Colour, returns for his fourth album and follow up to 2011's Little Hell. Green is a master of beautiful indie folk and acoustic jams. Things expand out on Harm with Green dabbling in some beats and funk. One of the best albums I've heard this year, from top to bottom. It was only released early June so has plenty of time to gain additional steam.

Here's the just-released video for the pounding (at least for City and Colour) "Thirst"


And one of my favorites on the mellow side, album closer "Death's Song"


6) Phosphorescent: Muchacho - Back-to-back entries by solo artists with stellar releases. Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent, released his 6th album earlier this year and it's nothing short of amazing. "Song for Zula" could quite possibly be the best song of 2013. Just listen to it.

The aforementioned "Song for Zula"


And the surprisingly bumpin' "Ride On/Right On"



5) Rhye: Woman - Hands down the most gorgeous (and sexy) album of 2013, at least in this guy's opinion. Also, one of the most confusing, seeing as how I literally found out a couple of days ago that the singer is a DUDE!? Shocking. Just wait till you check out the tuneage below. Not a concern, though, cause I haven't stopped listening to this album since it was released back in March. The California duo consists of the Canadian Mike Milosh and the Danish Robin Hannibal. When they first started releasing the occasional song on the internet, there was a cloud of mystery around the source of the tunes other than it came from Rhye. Sensual, dreamy soul-pop. That's all you need to know. Baby-making music.  

...honestly having trouble deciding with just 2 songs...

Here's album opener "Open"


And the song that caught my initial attention "The Fall"


4) Jim James: Regions of Light and Sound of God - Shocking that the debut solo album by the lead singer of my favorite band (My Morning Jacket) would be so high on this list. Not so shocking is how great this album truly is. As has come up in any conversation I've had about this record, it's beyond really chill. You can read my full breakdown of the album HERE from back in February before it was released. One thing I can say, after seeing James live 3 times in the span of a few weeks...SXSW, an amazing Austin City Limits episode taping, and then headlining at Stubbs the follow night...James brings a lot more rock and soul to the live versions of these songs, as one might expect. Like many albums, especially ones involving MMJ/James, it's hard to truly appreciate the songs without hearing them live.

For this reason, I present a live version of the slow building rocker "State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)"


And another entry into "Best song of 2013," the video for the epic "A New Life"



3) Local Natives: Hummingbird - Finally, Local Natives return with their follow up to their exquisite 2011 debut, Gorilla Manor. One of the best albums of the year, let alone debuts. The afropop percussion and 3-part harmonies were a welcome addition to the musical landscape. Hummingbird finds much of the same, slightly less urgency with the percussion, but with a more refined and cohesive collection of songs. Although the band may argue, there is a darker feel to the recent release. Some may attribute this to it being produced by Aaron Dessner of The National. There have been some changes to the members of the band since Manor but the current LA-based quintet have progressed very well on their sophomore release. No slump here. Not anything close. I for sure recommend the album version with the Bonus Tracks. 2 of my favorites, "1111" and "Palms" are featured here.

"Breakers"


And the video for "You & I" that's just as hauntingly gut-wrenching as the song



2) Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City - 3 long years since Ezra Koenig and company released Contra, these New Yorkers come back with, to me, their best album to date. Comprised of a cleaner sound across the board, there are no disappointing tracks. That said, the album is kinda front-loaded with most of my favorite tracks comprised within earlier in the album. There may not be an "A-Punk" or "Oxford Comma" this time around but VW (no, not Van Wilder) continues to grow and progress musically while still maintaining why we are drawn to their sound in the first place.

I know everyone seems to love "Ya Hey," it's a good song and all, but not even in my top 5 for the album.

My absolute favorite that I can't get enough of, "Unbelievers"


Still can't go wrong with the ludicrous speed "Diane Young"



1) The National: Trouble Will Find Me - Oh The National. Another of my favorite bands and one of my most anticipated albums of 2013. It was going to be hard for me not to like this album, since the band typically sticks to their guns while still sounding fresh. But it was also going to be hard to live up to my expectations. Well, it saw my expectations and destroyed them like Chris Farley destroys a sale (and biscuits) in Tommy Boy before he finds his niche. Translation...in a year with so much amazing music, The National found a way to park themselves at the top of the mountain and swat away all challengers that came before and after them. The haunting sadness of the lyrics are relentless, yet somehow don't put me into a deep deep depression. That's their formula and they're the masters. Kudos. Bravo. Excellent. Even Ron Burgandy thinks it's Super Duper...

Further proof this album belongs as my #1, I could easily pick any 2 songs from the album at random and couldn't argue against their inclusion. All 13 tracks are that good.

"Demons," fantastic song/lyrics.



Still love this kid in the video for the anthemic "Sea of Love"


"If I stay here, trouble will find me." A phrase I can relate to. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) 20-11

Albums 20-11

20) Iron & Wine: Ghost on Ghost - The great Sam Beam returns as Iron & Wine for his 5th LP. He's yet to let us down, and continues his run and progression with Ghost. Beam picks up right where he left off from 2011's Kiss Each Other Clean, which is still one of my favorite album titles. The softness of his voice, the folky vibe, the brass, the occasional unexpected beats. That is good news!

Listen to "The Desert Babler" below


19) Kanye West: Yeezus - Oh Kanye, how you continue to alienate yourself. You came onto the scene back in 2004 with College Dropout and changed the game. You were the anti-rap hip hop artist with mad ability. You were more indie than thuggish (not intended as a stereotype, but comparison to many (not all) popular rappers at the time). You were more positive. Then you evolved and became an absolute artistic genius on 2010s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. You had already begun to drink your own Kool-Aid at this point but it hadn't quite taken over your existence. This devolution seems to be complete. Yeezus is mostly a step in a whole new darker direction. It's still fantastic but also quite blasphemous, hence you are deducted. How about we tone it down a tad and find a happy medium? I get you're growing as an artist but you have a kid now. Let's bring back a teddy bear or 2, bud.

Watch Ye debut the dark, but still pretty epic, "Black Skinhead" on SNL below



18) Daft Punk: Random Access Memories - Daft Punk return with another great album, this their follow up to 2012's Tron: Legacy soundtrack and first legit DP album by the French duo since 2005's Human After All. Dance beats and collaborators like Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers fit perfectly. A great album for the summer of 2013, and any other time actually.

Everybody knows "Get Lucky" so check the stellar "Lose Yourself to Dance," also ft Williams, below



17) Houndmouth: From the Hills Below the City - Another album I can't stop listening to. This mid-western folk/rockountry quartet add soulful harmonies with an array of genre influences. There's the playful back and forth reminiscent of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes and Grouplove. There's some Deer Tick-esque-tasticness at times. Then, there's a rockin' country flair like you'd expect from the Avett Brothers (that actually sounds like them). Basically, there's a lot going on and it keeps the album fresh.

"Penitentiary" below...make it happen #earholepleasures



16) Foals: Holy Fire - This English indie folk/rock band released their 3rd LP Holy Fire back in February. I had heard of them but never really paid much attention until I heard the infectious single "My Number" and I was hooked. The rest of the album didn't disappoint either. (Don't be fooled by this seemingly uninspired amount of info, I obviously dig this album since it's top 20 and all. Sometimes I get lazy. it happens.)

Watch the video for the aforementioned "My Number" below


15) Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito - Karen O is still the queen of awesome. Mosquito, the band's 4th Long Play and 1st since 2010's It's Blitz features production from TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek and James Murphy (formerly of LCD Soundsystem). The Murphy-produced " Buried Alive" ft. Dr. Octagon is straight up wicked. The album cover looks like it came straight off of a Garbage Pale Kids card. For those of you that even remember those...I shutter to think how many have no idea what I'm talking about.

Listen to the groovy "Under the Earth," and check out the cover I mentioned previously



14) The Cave Singers: Naomi - The Cave Singers instantly became one of my favorite bands when I saw them open for Fleet Foxes at Stubbs a couple of years ago. The bluesy folk and funk was beyond infectious. It's impossible not to get an overwhelming urge to move when you listen to these guys. They continue to be one of my favorite live acts and I do not miss an opportunity to see them. 2011's No Witch became one of my favorites of the year and still gets a copious amount of play for me. Naomi follows suit and adds a slightly cleaner sound. Even though some of the grit has been toned down, vocalist Pete Quirk maintains a voice as grizzled as his beard. One of my favorite aspects of this Seattle band. Highly recommend seeing them live if you get the chance. In case you hadn't already picked up on that....

Listen to Quirk and company channel CCR on "It's A Crime"


13) Telekinesis: Dormarion - Sticking to a solid every-other-year schedule, Telekinesis released their 3rd album back in April. Another I had heard of and debated checking out. Surprising I didn't try them sooner with their affiliation with Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla. Better late than never I suppose. And I blame the delay, this year, on the fact it came out the same day as the much-anticipated Caveman sophomore album (spoiler alert). Oh, you want a description? Fuzzy indie rock that gets the limbs moving. Boom!

Check out one of my favorites, "Wires"



12) Cayucas: Bigfoot - This is my current summery album of choice. Just feels like the soundtrack of an epic bike ride through the city on a sunny day. Frontman Zach Yudin previously went under the moniker of Oregon Bike Trails before expanding into a full band and changing the name to Cayucas. Bigfoot is their debut and was released by Secretly Canadian. Unfortunately, I am going to miss them play here this weekend as I'll be out of town. Fortunately, they'll be back as part of the stellar FunFunFun Fest lineup in November. Stoked. Now go scoop this album, roll the windows down, and enjoy. Go!

"High School Lover" below....chchcheck it


11) Caveman: Caveman - Once again, a band I was fortunate enough to catch during SXSW and got to meet a couple of them after the show. Really nice and down to earth dudes. The follow up to their 2011 debut Coco Beware, Caveman take a large step forward. I am not comparing the sound or anything but it kind of reminds me of the step Grizzle Bear made when they released Yellow House. There's just so much more to this band than they even are aware of. As great as this album is, I expect something completely epic from them in the next few years. Lofty expectations but the talent and potential are evident.

Here's one of my favorite tracks of the year, "In The City"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) 30-21

Albums 30-21

30) my bloody valentine: mbv - It was a Saturday night, February 2, when social media exploded with the unexpected announcement that (FINALLY) the follow up to 1991's Lovelace would be available for download/purchase that evening. To be honest, I wasn't too familiar with the band other than hearing their name from time to time and reading people clamor for them to reunite and play festivals I was attending. Needless to say, I got caught up in the excitement and ordered the vinyl, which came with an instant download. I spent the rest of that evening sipping on Crown Black and listening to this ridiculously good album through my headphones. Why had I never listened to them before? The luster wore off a bit but it's still a very strong record and if so much time hadn't passed, would be much higher on my list. There's a good chance it'll climb back up once it gets back into my rotation with some more run again.

Check out "new you" below


29) Night Beds: Country Sleep - Any other year, this would be much higher on my list. Ok, I'm going to stop saying that because it seems true to just about everything I have been posting. Once again, I was lucky enough to see Night Beds a few weeks back and was blown away by the live show. Not only does Winston Yellen have an amazing voice, but the dude is really funny. Interesting stories/quips fill the gaps between songs, sometimes due to tuning his guitar(s) on the fly. Especially for fans of Ryan Adams, check these guys out, you won't be disappointed.

Check out a perfect live rendition of "Ramona" below



28) Atoms For Peace: Amok - Another release likely hurt by its early 2013 release. Thom Yorke, Flea, and company produce and epicly funky sound and Yorke's voice/genius is on full effect throughout this album. I can't wait to see them at Austin City Limits in October, not only for their songs (which are rumored to include some Radiohead) but also to see the 2 of them dancing around on stage. Gonna be awesome.

Listen to "Reverse Running" below


27) Phoenix: Bankrupt - This French band has been releasing albums since 2000 but it took 2009's stellar Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix for MOST of us to really take notice. 4 years later, they are back and still bringing similar fun tuneage. I have been a tad slow to warm to this one, hard to follow up, but it's really starting to grow on me.

The band just released a video for "Trying To Be Cool" that you can watch below



26) Leagues: You Belong Here - Another that falls into the equation of being out for a while but just recently in my rotation. I had flagged them earlier in the year as one to watch and check out their debut album, but apparently fell through the cracks. Luckily, I stumbled upon them again a few weeks back and now I can't stop listening to their infectious sound. Strong debut from top to bottom and worth a few listens, at least.

Watch the video for "Spotlight" below


25) James Blake: Overgrown - James Blake came onto the scene a few years ago randomly releasing some songs on the internet and garnered quite the buzz and buildup for his self-titled debut in 2011. A spattering of songs and EPs since led to his follow up. Blake has few peers in his creativity with the electronic-crooner genre.

Check out "Retrograde" below


24) The Strokes: Comedown Machine - After a bit of a hiatus and a bunch of solo endeavors, The Strokes reunited after 5 years for 2011's Angles. That was a solid return but didn't have quite as cohesive of a sound as fans were used to. Everyone seemed to still be stuck in solo mode and it was obvious. Comedown Machine finds everyone seems back on the same page and it shines through. This is truly the next Strokes album. It's a little different, less funky at times, but it's a solid progression for some rockers that are growing up.

Listen to "Slow Animals" below


23) Little Green Cars: Absolute Zero - When my buddy first described them to me as "Of Monsters and Men with a little Arcade Fire" it obviously caught my attention. On lead single "The John Wayne" I heard exactly what he meant. The harmonies and folkiness met with pounding percussion and energy. Made perfect sense. The rest of the debut album by this Irish quintet may not have the same vibe but it is stellar nonetheless and one of the better debuts of the 2013.

Here's a fantastic live version of  "My Love Took Me Down to the River (to Silence Me)"


22) Wild Belle: Isles - My new music crush for 2013 (at least one of them), Natalie Bergman, makes up 1/2 of Wild Belle. Luckily the other half is her brother, Elliott. So I may still have a chance. Not only is she beautiful, but her voice is ridiculous. Think (the late great) Amy Winehouse. Now lay that out over some reggae beats and brass. Exactly.

Here's "Keep You," hopefully she's talking to me...



21) Mikal Cronin: Mc II - JUST recently added to my collection after too many people/articles saying how good it is. Figured I should give a listen. 30 seconds in, I was glad I did. Somehow, it didn't get watered down by all the praise, and almost cracked my top 20. Had I scooped this up sooner it would have for sure. Cronin has a few other bands besides his solo work but is likely best known for playing bass with Ty Segall's live band. No description needed, just follow the advice of myself, and pretty much anyone else that's heard this album, and check it out for yourself.

Hear "See It My Way" below


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) 40-31

Albums 40-31

40) The Shouting Matches: Grownass Man - What do you know, another side project by Justin Vernon (Bon Iver)!? Taking a break from his days spent with Kanye, Vernon found time to collaborate on an official album with long-time friends Phil Cook and Peter Moen on a more bluesy project than what we're used to from him. It's a nice change of pace from his usual sound. Not slowing down, he's also releasing another Volcano Choir album later this year. Based on the first single, sounds like it's going to be great in its own right.

Check out said change-of-pace-for-Vernon "Seven Sisters" below



39) Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience - Another who needs no introduction, Timberlake returned to music in 2013 after a bit of a hiatus (2006) to focus on his acting career. Luckily, he didn't return for an N'Sync reunion. He's a much better artist when solo and/or collaborating with other greats, like Jay Z. The 20/20 Experience is part one of his triumphant return to music as part 2 is set for release later this year. 20/20 was a bit of a departure from the norm with 10 tracks coming in around 70 minutes so longer and more intricate than previous releases. This is a good album and could be higher on MY list, but the songs are consistently a tad too long for me to really keep my attention. But that's me.

Everyone knows "Suit & Tie"  and "Mirrors" by now, so check out the fresh opener "Pusher Love Girl" below


38) Little Tybee: For Distant Viewing - Another fun indie band that's been on my radar for a few years but for some reason, never fully resonated with me. The 3rd release, and 2nd under Paper Garden Records, by Little Tybee has an eloquently layered and rich sound. The music is very accessible and needs to be heard by more people. Vocalist Brock Scott's whimsical singing just adds to the sound, almost like another instrument, and flows perfectly. Please, listen to Little Tybee. They deserve your attention.

Check out "Hearing Blue" below


37) Daughter: If You Leave - Another dreamy indie pop addition to the list, Daughter's exquisite debut album. This English trio has been around for a few years and after a couple of EPs, signed with 4AD for the release of their 1st LP, If You Leave, released in March of this year. They did an extremely chill and beautiful rendition of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" back in April. Ballsy, yet glad they did it.

Check out "Youth" below


36) Young Galaxy: Ultramarine - This sextet from Vancouver first caught my attention with their lush sound and phenomenal videos ("We Have Everything" and "Peripheral Visionaries") from their last album, 2011's Shapeshifting. On their 4th release, Ultramarine, Young Galaxy bring their most cohesive album to date. Their synthy dream pop is unique, unlike many others in the genre that might claim to have a similar sound.

Check out "Fall For You" below

    

35) Frightened Rabbit: Pedestrian Verse - Was lucky enough to finally see these guys play earlier this year at SXSW. Like most chill folky bands, they bring it harder live and put on a great show. This 5-piece Scottish indie rock/folk band takes their sound to a more anthemic level this time around, and they crush it. Not gonna lie, this SHOULD be higher on my list but I haven't given it enough listens to this point, even though I've had it since February. An unfortunate casualty of the epic music of 2013. Luckily, there are still 6 months to change that.

Watch them play "The Woodpile" live on Conan from back in March



34) Hanni El Khatib: Head In the Dirt - Apparently, this is the bluesy section of the list. Khatib enlisted The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach to produce his 2nd full-length album and his presence is obvious from the start. The reverb-drenched garaged-out blues rock shines through in Dirt. Another recent add to my library that will surely grow as the year goes on, especially due to my love for the Keys and similar sounding artists. You may have heard him channel The White Stripes on "You Rascal You" from commercials/TV/movies off his debut Will Guns Come Out.

Check out the opener and title track below


33) SZA: S - Came across the latest release from this New Jersey R&B singer back in April courtesy of one of my favorite music blogs, Gorilla vs Bear. Her voice is amazing and tranquil and she has a pension for tight beats and backing music. Always a good combo. If you're unfamiliar with her, you need to change that.

Check out the catchy and epic "Aftermath" below


32) Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: We the Common - Thao has been on my radar for a few years now but this is the first of their albums I've really been able to dive into head first. Lead by singer/guitarist Thao Nguyen, this San Fran based band brings the alt-rock-folkountry with a vengeful sense of fun. The band's 5th album is very good and includes a collaboration with indie darling Joanna Newsom on the old-timey beautiful Kindness Be Conceived.

Listen to the awesome title track "We The Common" below


31) Small Black: Limits of Desire - The 2nd full-length from this Brooklyn-based quartet caught my attention with lead single "Free At Dawn." The song is in the same arena as the chill Washed Out, that I am a huge fan of. Their sound is a more laid back take on the 80's synth-wave reinvention many bands have taken on these days. I unfortunately missed these guys when they were in town a few weeks ago, a mistake I don't intend to make again. The album cover is a perfect take on the title Limits of Desire, as it features a naked man and woman on either side of the top of a ladder embracing. So close, yet so far from each either.

Check out the stellar "Free At Dawn" below (with the album cover so you get what I'm talking about).

Monday, July 8, 2013

Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) 50-41

So yes, once again it has been a while since I've posted anything. You know the drill if you've kept up with my posts at all. I go out of town for work and get busy and next thing I know I'm 10 albums behind and don't post for a while. Which is sad because I was starting to get a nice following. C'est la vie, story of my life.

Since I have been terrible with posting this year, yet have listened to way too many albums for any normal person in 6 months, I've decided to do a mid-year "Best-of" list. That way, you can get a taste of what I've been into this year and I'll just do mini-reviews of each.

Hope you enjoy! 2013 has been one of the better years for me, music-wise. So many bands I love have released great new albums. Also, fantastic new side projects and new artists have infiltrated my musical soul. It's barely July and I've already amassed my usual amount of music for an entire year. As tough as it was to compile an ordered list for 2012, it has been equally as tough, if not harder, to do the same for the 1st 6 months of 2013.

That said, I'll get to it since I doubt you're really here to read my mumbo jumbo.

Albums 50-41

50) Hey Marseilles: Lines We Trace - 6-piece from Seattle whose latest album will quite possibly find itself climbing this list before the end of the year. An album of indie-pop goodness that, at times, brings back the baroque pop sounds of early Ra Ra Riot. Lead vocalist Matt Bishop has a tendency of channeling the occasional Colin Meloy (The Decemberists). You may remember them from their cover of Daniel Johnston's classic tune "True Love Will Find You in the End" back in 2010 for a Starbucks Sweetheart compilation album.

Check out the video for the beautiful "Heart Beats" below



49) David Bowie: The Next Day - No intro needed here for one of the living legends of music, who decided to surprise everyone and release his first album in over a decade. Apparently he recorded almost 30 songs in this session and there is talk of another album to surface in the next year or so. A solid effort back into the front of our minds as his style and voice fit in nicely with the current age of pop music.

Check out the video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" ft. Tilda Swinton below



48) Unknown Relatives: 2 - I find it kinda funny that it took me finding out about this recently-former Austinian band, now in California, through my first Feedbands album to arrive. Feedbands....once you sign up, they send you a new 1st pressing vinyl album of an up-and-coming band. You have no clue who it is until it arrives, as they want you to hear it first via vinyl. Pretty cool concept. Anyway, this album has quite a garagey grungetastic taste to it. Kinda reminds me of a pre-empt to Yuck's debut album, that I love. Check these guys out and check out Feedbands!

See the just released video for "Say What You Want" by clicking HERE (since the YouTube search on here won't find it. awesome start)

47) MS MR: Secondhand Rapture - This, the band's debut LP following last year's splendid debut Candy Bar Creep Show EP, is pretty epic and shows a bright future for this duo. I was lucky enough to catch one of their shows earlier this year at SXSW and was beyond impressed. Usher was even there watching them and seemed to dig it. My initial thought was if Florence (sans the Machine) was heading up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Lizzy Plapinger just has one of those amazing voices but they have this unique weirdness to them as well. Solid debut and I look forward to what they have in store for us in the future.

Scope the awesome "Hurricane" below



46) Fear of Men: Early Fragments - The debut by this UK foursome is one of the dreamiest and most beautiful new shoegaze entries for 2013. This album fell into my lap earlier in the year and has remained in the forefront of my listening pleasure and I can imagine a steady climb as the year continues on.

Check out the opening track "Seer" below



45) Young Hunting: Hazel - Gold Robot continues to roll out solid records, this being a stellar debut by this LA quintet. A recent addition to my collect, was just released June 11th, but steady in my rotation will no doubt climb up the charts before the year ends. Lush, dark, folky, dream-pop album with lead vocalist Hari Rex sounding like he just left Yeasayer for this project. Solid debut worth giving a listen.

Scope out "Baby's First Steps" below



44) Autre Ne Veut: Anxiety - There's a lot going on here with the latest from Arthur Ashin (aka Autre Ne Veut). Dude has a pretty amazing voice and add that to the R&B, brass, 80's synth and you have a solid album to get you moving.

Check out "Counting" below



43) Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside: Untamed Beast - LOVE this band and album. Following in the footsteps that Brittany Howard laid last year, Sallie Ford brings some awesome nasty grit with her voice. Add that to their fun, emotional, gritty, rockabilly with soul and you have the makings of an awesome band. Hoping to see them live sometime soon.

Check out "They Told Me" below



42) Junip: Junip - Latest album from this Swedish psychedelic folk trio. Another gorgeous entry for 2013. A late add for me, even though this album was released in April. Have only been able to listen through a couple times but it made quite an impression on me nonetheless.

Watch the eerie/awkward video for the stellar "Line of Fire" below



41) Free Energy: Love Sign - It's funny because I actually saw this band play last year during SXSW. I really enjoyed their set, that we happened upon while waiting for another band to play. Then, I seemed to have forgotten about them because it took me a few weeks after getting and enjoying Love Sign before I made the connection when talking to a friend about it (shout out to Travis). This was the 1st album of 2013 I purchased and I still love the fun (free?) energy it brings. No way you can listen to this and be in a bad mood. They're one with a sound perfect for a hot and sweaty dance-fest concert in a bar near you. So hit them up when they come your way, if you like having fun.

See the video for opening track "Electric Feeling" below



Monday, February 11, 2013

New Video: Jim James - A New Life

Last week I told you about Jim James' (My Morning Jacket) stellar solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God. At the end of the post, I included the audio to one of my favorite tracks of this new year, "A New Life," which I have been enamored with since the 1st time I heard it.

Today, James gives us a video for this epic tune. Can't say I ever expected him to have some backup dancers in a video but when in Rome! I have to admit when he opens the door to see the apparent object of his affection, I immediately thought about Hot Tub Time Machine when they keep uttering "great white buffalo." Obviously, the image doesn't perfectly match but nonetheless it's what I thought of and caused a little enjoyment.

Great video that fits well with the song's theme. Great great tune Mr. James. Scope it below....


Friday, February 8, 2013

Band to Watch in 2013: The Lone Bellow


The Lone Bellow is a Brooklyn-based trio soaked in folk, harmony, and awesomeness. They just released their self-titled debut album last month and are ready to take the world by storm. It's early but they are my hands down favorite to pull a meteoric rise like The Lumineers did last year. Now all they need is to have a song featured in 38 commercials and be featured in just about every rom-com's trailer and/or soundtrack.

Back in 2010, lead singer Zack Williams was looking for a place to play some songs he wrote and hone his skills when he approached his longtime friend, and future guitarist, Brian Elmquist about playing in the diner he worked. Another acquaintance, Kanene Pipkin, had just returned from spending time in Beijing and Williams asked if she would sing with them at the diner. Their chemistry transferred to their music and Williams recalls knowing they had something special within the first 3 songs played. It was that point he realized and decided he needed to focus on making music with what would soon be called The Lone Bellow.

Williams had unknowingly been penning songs for years. His wife had a tragic accident falling off of a horse and was feared she'd be paraplegic, best case scenario. Miraculously, after months of rehab she was able to walk again. Throughout this ordeal, Williams kept a journal of his thoughts to help him deal with the situation. His good friend, Caleb Clardy, who co-wrote "Teach Me To Know" suggested that he turn these rhythmic thoughts into songs. Williams then learned to play guitar and incorporated his folk, country, and gospel roots into the words he had laid to paper.

Fate would continue for the group as shortly after they played their debut show, they were contacted by recent Grammy winners The Civil Wars about opening for them at a gig in Philadelphia. Williams became friends with the duo during a show they played together as struggling artists. Shortly after, Civil Wars' producer Charlie Peacock met with the band and set them up in a recording studio. Three days and three nights later, the band had recorded 12 songs.

I highly recommend this album as it has been one of my favorites of this young year and has a steady spot in my rotation for the foreseeable future. There are aspects of recent folk hit-makers like The Lumineers and Civil Wars but also the indie folk darlings The Head and the Heart. The meaningful but fun songs and the male/female vocals playing off each other and harmonizing are truly magical. It's no coincidence that this trio came together and everything has fallen into place so quickly for them.

I look forward to many years of Lone Bellow albums and you should too. Now, get on the bandwagon and share with your friends. Look for them to swing through a venue near you as they are currently touring in support of Marcus Foster.

Check out one of my favorite tunes, "Bleeding Out," below...