Monday, September 30, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Trips and Falls

The new Trips and Falls album showed up in my inbox a couple of weeks ago and boy is it fantastic. What I love about it, and really, pretty much everything released by Song, By Toad Records is that you never know where the music is going to go next. A contemplative piano ballad can end in blistering guitars, a straightforward rock song can finish at a much quicker tempo than it started. Anything!

Trips and Falls are masters of the track title, by the way. My favorite on this album is "No More Limbo Yay!"

I will admit that it's been a while since I listened to their first album, but I feel like the crunchiness of the guitars has increased fourfold. And I love crunchy guitars. This is an album you should check out.

You can download the first single after listening and loving it below

And then you can go over to Song, By Toad Records and pre-order the album The Inevitable Consequences of Your Stupid Behavior which comes out on 10/14!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New Countdown: Return of the King(s)

Imagine Dragons

Very late-night recording. And started the session on very very little sleep. I think it's maybe possible that we should count ourselves fortunate that what I spoke in my groggy state was actually English.

Countdown #167

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz & the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
Kings of Leon
The Neighbourhood
Tame Impala

Friday, September 27, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #79 Catch 22 - Dinosaur Sounds

Catch 22 Dinosaur Sounds, 2003

If I'm writing about Catch 22, I should be writing about Keasbey Nights. It's another one of those things where, if I had been placing bets on which album of theirs I would pick for this list, I would have lost.

The thing is, this album combines the raw "we're just a simple ska band" feel of Keasbey Nights with the "look at what great musicians/songwriters we are" feel of Alone in a Crowd and I think that's the combination that draws me into it.

I'm not going to go into the fact that the singer of this band is different than the singer of this band for at least of of those aforementioned albums (Keasbey Nights. The dude left and started Streetlight Manifesto. You should also check them out.) because that's not what I'm thinking about when I'm listening to this album.

This album is endlessly singalongable (...I was recently complimented on the improvement of my writing on these blog posts and THIS is what I write?) and that includes the horn and drum parts.

At times, I feel like I'm in a basement punk show ("Regression") and other times I feel like I've stumbled upon lost singles from Chess or Stax (Warning: Possible Hyperbole alert) because the songs are so classic feeling ("Good Times", "Chin Up")

But most of all, I'm sad when the album is over and I often will just hit play again and dive back into the comfort of these songs that I know so well. Actually, that's a quality shared by all of the albums on this list. They're comforting, broken-in pillows that are always their own specific kind of comforting. But that's WAY too long a title for the list.

There aren't any music videos for songs from this album, that I could find. If you can find one that's good quality, let me know and I'll amend the post!

Catch 22 - Regression
Catch 22 - Good Times
Catch 22 - Chin Up

You can buy Dinosaur Sounds at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2005

This was the year I graduated from college!

10. Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends

Wow. This is a pretty great Throwback Top Ten, but this Green Day video made me cry, so it beats Kanye AND Mariah. Plus, I played Nelly Furtado last week and I feel like I owe it to my readers that come here for something resembling Alternative Music. :)

9. 50 Cent featuring Mobb Deep - Outta Control (Remix)
8. Rihanna - Pon de Replay
7. Black Eyed Peas - My Humps
6. The Pussycat Dolls featuring Busta Rhymes - Don't Cha
5. Missy Elliott featuring Ciara & Fat Man - Lose Control
4. Bow Wow featuring Ciara - Like You
3. Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
2. Mariah Carey - Shake It Off
1. Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy Fangs EP

I guess the first thing I want to say about the eponymous debut EP of Happy Fangs is that it is EXACTLY what I was hoping it would be.

I've talked about them a little bit over the last year and finally, on October 1st, they will be releasing Happy Fangs which will show the world exactly what comes from a collaboration between Rebecca  from My First Earthquake and Michael Cobra from King Loses Crown.

Happy Fangs is loud and dancey and just wonderful. I had an inkling that it might be from "The Truth" and "Lion Inside You" which the band had already released (Watch the video for the latter song below. And crank it.)

I know I started this by saying that they met my expectations, but that's not exactly true. This EP goes way beyond my expectations. I was actually a little worried that the pop element that I enjoyed so much in MFE was going to be drowned out by guitars. Instead the guitars serve as a spaceship to blast the effect into hyperspace.

The last 45 seconds of "Perk Up" illustrate my point better than any words could.

Remember in The Princess Bride when Westley is dueling with Inigo Montoya and they both admit that they're stronger swordsmen than they let on at the outset of the duel?

No? Well, let me refresh your memory.

Ok, so that's what happens at the end of "Perk Up". The band is playing a perfectly wonderful song and then, BOOM they both switch hands and you realize that they've been toying with you this whole time. And you don't care. Because you're too busy dancing your ass off.

So, yeah. You're going to love this EP and you're going to be thanking me before the thing is even over.

Happy Fangs comes out on October 1st.
It looks like their website is going to be the place to get it
Amazon MP3 also has a page up for when it comes out

OH! If you're going to the CMJ festival up in New York (Is it just in Brooklyn?), Happy Fangs will be playing Sat, Oct 19 at Trash Bar in Williamsburg. They didn't know what time they would be playing when I talked to them, but that will probably be sorted as the date approaches. Go. See. Them.

One Year, 100 Albums: #80 Mest - Destination Unknown

Mest Destination Unknown, 2001

Here's one post that will assure you that this list was actually compiled by me and that I didn't just look at some "Best Albums of All Time" list and then rearrange the order.

In fact, I may be the only person I know that likes this album. I would go so far as to say that I wouldn't care to be friends with a lot of the other people who like this album.

BUT, I do love this album. It scratches the pop-punk itch that is a constant presence in my life, but it also works in some hip-hop and ska flavors. The songs are varied and fun to sing along to.

When my cousin bought me tickets to go see Blink-182 in 2001 in Colorado, Midtown opened for them and Mest opened for them, in a way. They were playing at a small stage that had been set up between the entrance and the stadium where the other two bands were playing. We stopped to watch them because we had some time before we needed to be at the other stage. They must have played more songs from this album than just the song in this video, but, for reasons you'll understand when you watch the video, I really only remember jumping up and down to this one.

This video is in the Blink-182 vein of music videos where the band is both playing the song AND getting into hilarious and perhaps slightly juvenile hijinks.

I just love that song. And if that puts me in the company of other shirtless, tattooed guys, then so be it.

But, as I mentioned before, this album is quite eclectic. Here are a couple of songs that show what I mean. In this case, my use of the word of eclectic should be considered within the narrow borders of the pop-punk genre. Neither of these are going to be like, 10 minute folk ballads or minimalist atmosphere pieces.

Mest - Drawing Board
Mest - Misunderstood

You can buy Destination Unknown at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Eminem "Berzerk"

This is the first single from the upcoming Marshall Mathers LP 2 which is set to be released on November 5.

I really really liked this song from the very first time I heard it. The hook is great and the rap is fast and clever, just like I like it to be from Eminem.

But the video. The video is something else. It's an old-school-looking video with cameo after cameo.  It does exactly what I want a music video to do. It enhances my enjoyment of the song when I'm not watching the video anymore.

I mean, for one thing Rick Rubin is basically on-screen as much as Eminem. He may actually get MORE screen time. And I think that's awesome. Plus Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance and I think he's great. This new album could be very interesting.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Andrew Carter

I got an email with the subject line, "New Soul Music from RVA" and I was immediately intrigued. "RVA" is shorthand for Richmond, Virginia and I was very excited to open this email and listen to the promised soul music.

And boy does this song deliver. It starts off with an organ tone, goes right into some of the catchiest hooks I've heard all year, and yes, there's a horn section.

There's not a lot of info that I could find, but check out the song and keep an eye on Andrew's Bandcamp Page. It appears to be from a forthcoming album called Bedroom Soul Symphony, Pt. 1, which is about as old-school Soul as an album title can get!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Countdown! I have issues! Well, AN issue!

Tame Impala
This is the kind of episode that half of me is freaked out about posting and half of me couldn't be more stoked. There's a lot of reading involved. Let's leave it at that. That way there's some surprise to the way the episode unfolds!

Two debuts this week! It's good to be back in good ol' 2013. :)

That must be the toughest part of being a time traveler. Keeping up with contemporary pop culture!

Countdown #166

Cage the Elephant
Capital Cities
Fitz & the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
The Neighbourhood
New Politics
Tame Impala

Friday, September 20, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #81 The Decemberists - Crane Wife

The Decemberists The Crane Wife, 2006

I've started to really note the albums that are paired together in a given week. Sometimes they're right in the same section of the record store. And sometimes, as is the case with The Blueprint and The Crane Wife, they're not.

But maybe they SHOULD be. Or at least closer than we'd assume. Think about it. One of the albums featured this week has violent gang fights, kidnapping/murder tales, and a boastful recounting of a successful heist. And the other one is the Jay-Z album.

Actually, The Crane Wife is more violent by a good distance.

But it's so SOOTHING. I love drifting away to Colin Meloy's voice. This is an album that you can put on and then be VERY surprised when it's already over. It's not short. It's just transporting. The music is a wonderful blend of prog and folk and the stories are compelling and varied.

If I might blaspheme a little, it feels like the perfect combination of Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and Boston.

If you're still reading, you're in for a treat. I can't believe I found this and that I haven't seen it featured anywhere before. Here is the complete title track (which, on the album, is broken into two tracks, Parts 1 & 2, and Part 3), in order (Part 3 appears as the first track on the album and Parts 1 & 2 appear as track 9.) performed by Mr. Meloy for KEXP:

And here is that heist song I talked about earlier, just to prove that The Decemberists are not completely powerless on the dance floor.

The Decemberists - The Perfect Crime #2

You can buy The Crane Wife at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2006

This is the year I got married!!!

10. Cassie - Me & U
9. Nickleback - Far Away
8. Ne-Yo - Sexy Love
7. Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
6. Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland - Promiscuous

I probably could have posted the Snow Patrol song or the Gnarls Barkley song and appealed more to who I imagine is the general listenership of this blog, but if you're as honest about this Throwback as I am, you know that "Promiscuous" was basically all that played all summer and fall of 2006.

5. Sean Paul featuring Keyshia Cole - (When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me
4. The Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg - Buttons
3. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
2. Fergie - London Bridge
1. Justin Timberlake - SexyBack

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #82 Jay-Z - The Blueprint

Jay-Z The Blueprint, 2001

I'm not really sure how I came to explore this album. I'm sure part of it was due to Kanye constantly talking about how this was the album that really allowed him to break into the business, specifically because of producing the song "Izzo".

And I also think that that same guy who played the Carbon Leaf album from earlier in this list played this when we were working that second shift job in the lab at the Perdue factory.

Oh, also Fall Out Boy named a song after the opening lyrics in one of his songs on this album ("The Take Over, The Break's Over" from Infinity on High), which intrigued me.

Regardless of how I came to know this album, it is an amazing conglomeration of braggadocio, wit, fun, and wisdom. This is an album I play when I want to motivate myself to keep my head up.

The thing that I've always liked about Jay-Z is that he makes you feel like you're just his buddy that he's talking to, trying to figure out the cleverest way to put some things, and just telling other things as simply as possible.

On "Takeover"he breaks down why he's better than Nas on a number of different levels, but my favorite level is the mathematical one. He literally talks sales figures vs number of years rapping and does it as cleanly and easily as he does everything. And it never fails to make me smile.

Here's the video for "Izzo". Couple of things about it.

1) When I first heard this song, I was really confused about what he was spelling. H-O-V-A didn't make any sense to me until a couple of years ago when my friend Calvin explained that it was like Jay Hova (read as: Jehovah) and was Jay-Z's way of comparing himself to God. Calvin was less than jazzed about this tidbit, but I, having struggled with what the hell a Hova was for year, was delighted.

2) Watch the cameos of big-name Rap and R&B acts from 2001 singing along to the song. You might see a certain lady who would become very important to Hov a couple of years later!

3) It's weird to see him still dressing in jerseys, this video being before his "And I don't wear jerseys, I'm 30-plus" manifesto from The Black Album two years later.

It's very hard to pick tracks from this album that will give you a good idea of the range exhibited. So what I'll do is this. I'll give you my favorite song on the album, "U Don't Know" and the second hidden track "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)" which was produced by Kanye West and somehow outshines Part 1, which shouldn't have been possible.

Jay-Z - U Don't Know
Jay-Z - Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)

You can buy The Blueprint at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Lorde "Royals"

So stoked that this hung around for another week. Hung around? What am I saying? This song is at #3 as of Thursday's chart! We could see this song hit #1 if Lorde can maneuver past Katy Perry and Robin Thicke. It's a daunting task, but if anyone is up for it, it's her!

I'm not sure what's going on in this video. Which means it's a great video. Very moving and emotional. And then there's the part where the guy has clearly just spit blood onto a mirror and thinks it's a pretty hilarious joke. Haha. This is a classic-feeling video.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Sirsy

When I am looking for a band with a female lead singer, I look for a band that has chosen to go one of two ways:

1) Showcasing the beauty and fragility of a delicate female vocal, often juxtaposing it with dark lyrics or large amounts of cynicism (Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight comes to mind)


2) I want the "Cassandra experience" which is to say I want to feel like Wayne did in Wayne's World when he first sees Cassandra, his future girlfriend and lead singer of the band Crucial Taunt. He is taken by her physical beauty first, but then quickly falls under the spell of her badassedness. She rocks harder than any guy in the club. And that kind of experience is something that I really enjoy in a female-fronted band.

Sirsy have this latter quality in spades. Listen to the two tracks below. You do NOT want to mess with lead singer Melanie Krahmer.

You can buy their newest album Coming Into Frame at their websiteAmazon, Amazon MP3, or iTunes

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Countdown: The First Alternative Songs Top 10!

It's a trip back to the 80's this week as we look at the very first Top 10. There was no "last week this song was at number..." for this chart. Songs just were at the positions that they were at. Pretty mind-boggling. Like thinking about the universe as it was forming. No? Well, you clearly don't think of the world of the Alternative Songs chart as being the universe like I do. :)

If I make my fortune and can switch to just doing podcasts for my job, I'd like to do one current and one flashback countdown a week until I caught up. That would be insane. But hey, maybe I'm a little insane.

25th Anniversary Show (The First Countdown)

Big Audio Dynamite
The Escape Club
Information Society
The Primitives
Psychedelic Furs
Siouxsie and the Banshees
UB40 featuring Chrissie Hynde
Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers
10,000 Maniacs

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #83 Tenacious D - Tenacious D

Tenacious D Tenacious D, 2001

I remember the day I bought this album. I was a freshman in college and the plan was this. My girlfriend and I would go to the clinic and get whatever immunizations I was supposed to get and then we'd go to the mall. That was the first time I ever passed out on a nurse (I was supposed to have some sort of food before getting the shot!).

So then we went to the mall and I bought this album. I had been introduced to the Tenacious D HBO show when I visited my cousin at her college the previous spring and I loved it. So I was super stoked to make this purchase....and super disappointed when I found out that it included instrumentation other than just the twin acoustic fury of JB and KG.

And then I got over it.

This album is an album about rockin'. And fuckin'. And rockin' some more. It's a weird album because it is done almost entirely tongue-in-cheek, but somehow manages to actually rock as hard as it claims to. You're laughing when you hear Jack Black sing his songs about writing the greatest song in the world and then forgetting exactly how it went (Yeah. The D did it 12 YEARS ago, One Direction.), or about the time Kyle Quit the Band.

The sketches work. And the songs work. This album is 21 tracks of joyous, fist-pumping, raunchy rock. I can't play this album without cranking it and singing along at the top of my lungs.

Here's a prime example of the kind of rockin', graphically sexual, and amazing songs that are on this album and, if I'm not very much mistaken, one of the songs that I saw on the HBO show that really sealed my love for this band.

Tenacious D - Rock Your Socks

And here's a song that you might have heard at the time. It was fairly popular around campus. It contains one of my favorite bits (the part about telekinesis).

Tenacious D - Wonder Boy

And finally, here's the video to the song I was talking about One Direction ripping off before (by the way, the One Direction song is called "Best Song Ever" and it's basically the same idea as below)

I'll leave you with one of my favorite sketches on the album. This is one I think of pretty much any time I'm giving my order at a fast food place.

Tenacious D - Drive-Thru

You can buy Tenacious D at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes.
You can find all the episodes of the TV show on the Complete Masterworks DVD (Amazon)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2007

10. Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - Umbrella
9. Plies featuring T-Pain - Shawty
8. Fabolous featuring Ne-Yo - Make Me Better
7. T-Pain featuring Akon - Bartender
6. Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah
5. Sean Kingston - Beautiful Girls
4. Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson - The Way I Are
3. Kanye West - Stronger

Both Kanye and Daft Punk are still doing big things, but this was the moment when they briefly touched. And it was explosive. I was so excited to listen to this song over and over, but then Graduation had "Champion" on it and this song became a distant second. This was also the first time Kanye moved away from the soul beats that he had become famous for.

2. Soulja Boy - Crank That (Soulja Boy)
1. Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #84 Less Than Jake - Anthem

Less Than Jake Anthem, 2003

If you had asked me before I actually went through the rigors of figuring out which album from each band I was taking with me to this very lenient desert island, I would have said that, for Less Than Jake, Hello Rockview is almost a no-brainer. It contains a song that I waited 8 years to hear LTJ play ("Scott Farcas Takes It On the Chin") and it has more songs that I would consider "classic" Less Than Jake.

But instead we find ourselves with Anthem. And I think the reason why this seemed a better option for the Desert Island (which I know is not really a part of the exercise anymore and I haven't mentioned it since the intro) is because, unlike the songs on HR, this album has variety. And lyrics that aren't the same 4 lines repeated with a couple of chorus in between.

These songs have range. And if this album finds LTJ drifting a little more towards the poppy side than purists would like, well, that also fits my MO for albums that I chose for this list.

But I mean really, watch this video and tell me this wouldn't be a song that would make your "Beach Playlist" on the ol' DI.

And that song is different than the song that precedes it and it's different than the song that follows it. And I think that's what I like about this album. It's more of a rock record, which somehow gives it room to be a rock record, a punk record, a power pop record, AND a ska record. Which is pretty cool.

By the way, I was going to play the video for "She's Gonna Break Soon" which stars the very alluring Alexis Bledel but whoever made the video decided that he/she didn't want the horns of that song to be in the mix for the video. So you see LTJ performing. You see the horn section, but you don't hear any horns on the track that plays for the video. Which is a shame.

Here are a couple of tracks from the early middle of the album. Please note the variety. And also note how the title of the second song is somehow ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for the song it's titling, even though it's never uttered in the song itself.

Less Than Jake - Short Fuse Burning
Less Than Jake - Motown Never Sounded So Good

You can buy Anthem at Amazon, Amazon MP3, or iTunes

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake "Holy Grail"

The second most popular post on this blog is the TTT I did for JT's "Suit and Tie" [EDIT: Since I wrote this post, it has become THE most popular post] which featured Jay Z and now the video for "Holy Grail", the lead-off track from Jay's Magna Carta Holy Grail album, and one of my favorite songs of the year. I love the juxtaposition of their voices and the dynamic, epic feel of the song.

The video is visually striking. Lots of flash and shine interspersed with scenes of Jay sitting in a room with bullet-riddled walls and dusty furniture. Very nice contrast. It's a great video to watch.

They've done some remixing of the song, which I'm not sure I care for. One of the things I love about the song is that JT gets at least 90 seconds of singing in before Jay utters a word and I think that's a pretty ballsy way to start a record. But apparently, they thought it was too ballsy a move for the video.

And then they slow the hook way way down. And just, I don't know. It changes it.

This won't be posting for 12 days from when I'm writing it and I'm sure that lots of people will have comments and discussions about it in the interim. But, from the perspective of 35 minutes after it was posted to Facebook, I'd say that I like the look of the video and I know that they needed to adjust the song to suit that look. I just don't think I'll come back to this video when I want to listen to the song. Which is maybe ok, you know? The song and the video can be two separate entities.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Cecei

Got an email a few days ago from this lovely lady who goes by the name of Cecei.

She was inspired to write this 3-song EP after a pretty nasty breakup and you can definitely hear the venom underneath the beauty of her voice.

All three songs are very different from each other and all in very good ways. You can pick up the EP for FREE on her Bandcamp page. And I think you'll enjoy what you hear.

Here's the first track, to give you a little taste.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Countdown and a Look Back at Summer Jams

The Neighbourhood
Do you realize how hard it is to be named James and type the word "jams"??

Anyway, it's the first countdown of the Calendar Fall and I've been playing with the spreadsheets, so that gets a lot of discussion in this episode. I really enjoyed the retrospection. I hope you did too!

If you DO enjoy retrospection, you should come back for a Very Special Countdown next week (HUGE HINT) :) See you then

Countdown #165

Atlas Genius
Capital Cities
Fitz & the Tantrums
Imagine Dragons
Kings of Leon
The Neighbourhood
New Politics

Friday, September 6, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #85 Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind

Third Eye Blind Third Eye Blind, 1997

This album is an interesting one. It's definitely got its haters, but I think that mostly they're reacting to the era in which it was made, rather than the content of the album itself. If you are familiar with this album, you know that the band uses the first side to take care of the singles and then uses the second side to demonstrate what a fantastic band they are.

There's nothing wrong with the singles. They're varied, fun, and interesting and that's without any weight added to them by nostalgia. "Semi-Charmed Life" was all over the place in 97 and 98 and you can still hear it every new and then today, but that's because it's a different kind of song! Play me a song that's even remotely similar and I'll give you a dollar. And "One Week" doesn't count.

But then you get finished with the jumprope-whipping simplicity of "How's It Going to Be" and suddenly we're in uncharted territory. And it's in this territory that the band really gets to have fun. Whether it's on rockers like "London" or "Burning Man" or on slower songs like "Motorcycle Drive By" or "God of Wine", it's clear that this is a band that was going to be huge one way or another. The fact that they had some gigantic singles meant that they made it on a "General Public" level, but I like to think that this album was going to be a favorite of a lot of people even without them.

Third Eye Blind - Burning Man
Third Eye Blind - Motorcycle Drive By

You can buy Third Eye Blind on Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Throwback Thursday: 2008

10. Rihanna - Take a Bow
9. Pink - So What
8. Ne-Yo - Closer
7. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
6. M.I.A. - Paper Planes

I'd never seen the video for this, but the song definitely takes me back. An almost sacrilegious blending of The Clash's "Straight to Hell" and Wrecx n Effect's "Rump Shaker" into a very fun, dangerous song. Plus, watch the video for 2/3 of the Beastie Boys making a cameo! 

5. Kardinal Offishall featuring Akon - Dangerous
4. Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
3. Chris Brown - Forever
2. Rihanna - Disturbia
1. T.I. - Whatever You Like

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

One Year, 100 Albums: #86 311 - From Chaos

311 From Chaos, 2001

This album will always remind me of the day that my mom, my sister, and I went to my college for Orientation. It was the middle of the summer of 2001 and I hung out by the pool listening to this album (and Sugar Ray's self-titled album) at our hotel while my mom and sister played in the pool. Looking back, I wish that I'd gone and played with my little sister, but I was 18 and she was 7, and that's just how things like this work, sometimes.

This album was a little more pop friendly than the other album I had heard at the time (1995's self-titled, breakthrough album) and I think it just coheres a little more. The songs are more varied and, for some reason that makes it more of a satisfying album to me.

Here's a video for the first single, but I don't think I ever saw it at the time because I feel like I would have remembered a video with Shaq in it.

And, I could have played one of a couple of the slower songs like "Amber" or "I'll Be Here Awhile" but instead, here's the song that really cemented my love for this album. I think it's just the steady flow of Nick Hexum's voice that draws me into this song time and time again. It's like a bullet train that barrels into you and just keeps going until the end.

311 - I Told Myself

You can buy From Chaos at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dessa - The Lamb (Music Video)

In addition to the Four Fists news this morning, the other big thing coming out of the Doomtree camp today is the new Dessa music video.

Maybe a month ago, Dessa posted a picture on Instagram of her with bleach-blonde hair and I, and a number of friends I talked to, were very surprised that she'd made such a HUGE hair decision.

Well, this video explains it. It's simple and cool and just very Dessa. My favorite part is the part with the earrings. Dessa loves little more than HUGE hoop earrings.

Enjoy! Oh, and if, for some reason, you haven't already bought Parts of Speech, you can get it at the Doomtree Store or Dessa's Bandcamp page or iTunes

Four Fists “MMMMMHMMMMM” 7' (P.O.S x Astronautalis)

So, with Doomtree Records, there are several projects that are legendarily always being worked on. One of them is Cecil Otter's sophomore album Porcelain Revolver. And another is the collaboration between P.O.S and Astronautalis, (who isn't technically a part of Doomtree, but is a very close associate) Four Fists.

Well, after a bunch of social media hints yesterday, there was an official announcement via the mailing list and on the Doomtree website about the release, on October 8, of the first two songs from this project. It'll be a 7" with the song "MMMMMHMMMMM" on the A-side and an as yet unnamed B-side.

You can read all about it here on the official Doomtree website announcement

Then there's this Village Voice article about the release and a Q&A with Astronautalis

If you don't want to click on either of those links before you hear exactly what the song sounds like, well, here you go. I think you'll be very convinced:

And since I know you loved that as much as I did, here's the link to the pre-order.

You can do the standard pre-order, which gets you the above song upon ordering, a 7" in red, blue, white, or clear (I got clear), and download codes for both songs and their instrumental versions included with the 7".

OR You can get the deluxe pre-order which comes with the above plus a t-shirt and a Four Fists pin. Pretty cool stuff.

Top Ten Tuesday: Avicii "Wake Me Up!"

I was really really hoping that this song would jump up into the top 10 this week. It's one of my favorite songs currently on the chart. And the video is kind of an old school effort. It tells a story, definitely has an arc, and all of that.

I like the way the two different styles of music are blended together in this song. For a while, I'd only seen a short clip of it and I thought, "I thought Avicii was an EDM (electronic dance music) guy, but this sounds basically like a folk song" and then I watched the whole video and it all clicked.

If you're wondering, the vocals are by Aloe Blacc, who I know from having a song that made the longlist for the Contrast Podcast Festive Fifty in 2010 for his song "I Need a Dollar". I don't believe that that song made the Festive Fifty, though. This song makes me want to investigate his discography.

ANYWAYS, here's the video!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mailbag Monday: Dot Dash

It's not often that you get to receive a fantastic album like Dot Dash's Half-Remembered Dream completely out of the blue. A lot of times, bands will send music and, while I can see what they're going for, they're not quite there yet.

Dot Dash are there. Now.

I don't know if it's because they have all been in bands prior to forming Dot Dash (Bands like Velocity Girl, who released 3 albums on Sub Pop and were on the Clueless Soundtrack), or maybe it's the fact that HRD is the third album for the band and they've been honing their skill all the while, but you can tell that this is a band that knows EXACTLY what it wants to sound like, and it also knows EXACTLY how to pull that sound off.

If you played me this album without preface, I'd guess that it was a lost gem from maybe the late 80's or early 90's. Something that you might see JC play over at The (New) Vinyl Villain with paragraphs about how he saw them perform and how that show changed his life. They sound like a band that all my Contrast Podcast compatriots have known about for years, but I somehow missed.

That this is an album that came out in the middle of the August that just ended is mindblowing. And extremely exciting. 

Here's the opening track. You can download it for free. And then put it on all your "End of Summer" mixes.

And here's a song that comes later in the album. Yes. Literary references abound. You can't download it for free, but after you hear these two songs, you're going to want to buy the album.

So now that you're hooked, you probably want to know where to go to buy all their music. Well, I'll tell you. 
  • Go to Their Bandcamp Page and stream the whole album and then buy it for a measly $8. You can also purchase their previous two albums for $7 each. Which means for $22 you can have the entire Dot Dash discography to fall in love with.
  • Buy it from iTunes if you've got some Gift Card money that's burning a hole in your pocket
  • Go for the complete retro 90's feel and purchase a physical CD at the The Beautiful Music label page.
If you're like me and live in the DC-Metro area, you'll be interested to know that they are playing DC9 on 9/22, opening for Terry Malts with Queen Kwong. Tickets are $10 in advance and on the day of the show. You can buy them here. I would go, but I have company coming in to town to join me at the Dessa show the following night. So you should go in my place and then rub it in my face what a great show I missed.

Monthly Poll: Radiohead - Kid A

So I want to focus a little more on these Alternative Album Grammy Winners that I'm playing for bonus songs on the Countdown. So I think, on the first Monday of every month, I'm going to do a little retrospective poll related to the album from the proceeding month.

August's album was Radiohead's Kid A.

Please answer the following questions in the comments section. (If you don't have an answer, feel free to skip the question)

1. What is your favorite track on Kid A

  • Everything in Its Right Place
  • Kid A
  • National Anthem
  • How to Disappear Completely
  • Treefingers
  • Optimistic
  • In Limbo
  • Idioteque
  • Morning Bell
  • Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • Untitled (hidden track)

  • 2. What is your favorite Radiohead album?

    3. Which do you feel should have won the Grammy, if not Kid A:
    • Fiona Apple When the Pawn...
    • The Cure Bloodflowers
    • Beck Midnite Vultures
    • Paul McCartney Liverpool Sound Collage

    Sunday, September 1, 2013

    New Countdown: When I'm 164...(doot doo)

    Capital Cities
    This was one of those weeks where it felt like the podcast had been in production FOREVER. It was really only a couple of days, but I feel like it has literally been months since I started recording #164.

    We're also in one of those waves where the bands on the countdown (with a few minor exceptions) aren't that well known, so it gives me the feeling that I'm really sharing some NEW music. Which I like :)

    Speaking of which, I am pondering starting a series for Mondays called "Mailbag Mondays" where I play songs by bands who I first heard about because they emailed me. So, you heard it here first. And if it doesn't come to pass, then you get first dibs on the ridicule and shaming.

    Countdown #164

    Atlas Genius
    Capital Cities
    Fitz & the Tantrums
    Imagine Dragons
    The Neighbourhood
    New Politics