Spoon – Transference Album Review


With Spoon’s seventh album, this Austin-based band departs from their previous release, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” by limiting the layered sound and accompanying horns that contributed to its greatness. “Transference” retains Spoon’s signature piano and stabbing guitars but casts this sound in a more understated context. At times this album feels like you are listening to an intimate bedroom recording or a demo and not a finished album. This works for me, as I like the intimacy that this creates with the listener. For some, “Transference” may need some time to grow on you (and your ears). Others, like myself, may respond to it immediately. It is the first entry on my list for albums of the year (2010). Sure we can debate the merits of where this album ranks in the overall Spoon catalog, but for the moment, listen to the MP3s and be thankful for 15 years (and counting) of Spoon.

Spoon | Who Makes Your Money

Spoon | Written in Reverse

My Favorite Albums of 2009

Hey everyone. Here it is. What you’ve all been waiting for, my favorite albums of 2009. The first four on my list I have reviewed previously on this blog and have linked to those reviews.

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
The xx – xx
Mos Def – The Ecstatic
Get Busy Commitee – Uzi Does It

Animal Collective – Fall Be Kind EP


Love these guys. This EP feels like a natural extension to MPP. The songs on this EP really have that classic Animal Collective epic, dramatic feel to them. The MP3 that I have posted below features the first ever authorized Grateful Dead sample. See if you can figure out the song. Phil Lesh sings the lead. Leave a comment with your guess. I think I just outed myself as a Grateful Dead fan – something Ryan Adams and I have in common.

Animal Collective | What Would I Want Sky

Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day


A little piece of country-folk-indie-Americana right out of Rhode Island. I heard that Deer Tick evolved from a bedroom project of one John McCauley, into what is now a full-fledged band. McCauley sings with a very distinctive rough and gruff voice, that really lends itself to the country vibe of the music. Hailing from Massachusetts, I take special pride in a band coming out of New England and I look forward to future releases.

Deer Tick | Little White Lies

Built to Spill – There Is No Enemy


With “There Is No Enemy”, Built to Spill has released an album that is right up there with “Perfect From Now On” and “Keep It Like a Secret.” Yes, it is that good. Gorgeous melodies, strong rhythms and Doug Martsch’s fantastic guitar playing. Some of my best memories are seeing these guys over the years. I haven’t seen them perform live since ’99, I am due!

Built to Spill | Life’s a Dream

Girls – Album


This album got a lot of play this year. It is a gorgeous album of dreamy, ethereal, California pop. It feels like Brian Wilson or Panda Bear could have possibly had a hand in this. My whole family dug this album, especially the kids. A few months ago, while driving in the car Cece shushed Maya because she was talking to loudly while we were listening to Girls. Sounds exactly like something I would have done to my sister back in the day.

Girls | Hellhole Ratface

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone


In case you have been living under a rock, Neko Case has a stunning voice. It seems to hover above her music, which creates a haunting, otherworldly effect. With this album, Neko continues to redefine country music on her own terms and in many ways has created her own sub-genre of country.

Neko Case | Fever

Japandroids – Post Nothing


With just a guitar (and lots of pedals) and drums, these guys produce one hell of a sound. Rooted in garage-rock, but more complex with their use of noise. Yes, they are loud, but inside of the noise, exist some really incredible melodies. I saw these guys back in November and they put on a fantastic show, one which I highly recommend.

Japandroids | Young Hearts Spark Fire

Buju Banton – Rasta Got Soul


This album by Buju Banton really surprised me. It is a fantastic roots-reggae album. I realize many will disagree, but I like it better than “‘Til Shiloh.” Buju’s enthusiasm on this album is boundless.

Buju Banton | Rastafari

Handsome Furs – Face Control


Handsome Furs is the husband and wife team of Dan Boeckner (of Wolf Parade) and Alexei Perry. Together they create high-energy, electro-punk (is that even a genre?) that is catchy and infectious and danceable.

Handsome Furs | All We Want, Baby, Is Everything

The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love


For some reason The Big Pink (isn’t that a Band album) remind me of the The xx. Both are youngsters from the UK, that create dreamy, electro-pop songs that stick to your ribs. This is a great album, noisy at times, but with enough melodies to have you tapping your toes and singing along. Listen to Dominos (MP3 below) and get a taste of what The Big Pink is all about.

The Big Pink | Dominos

The Get Busy Committee – Uzi Does It Album Review

GBC

I received an email about three weeks ago from a friend with the following message:

Your new favorite album has arrived.

You’re welcome.

In his email, he also included a link to download the album as an MP3. We have a pretty similar taste in music, and furthermore, he is quite passionate about what he likes, so I figured this wasn’t just hyperbole. The band is “The Get Busy Committee” and the album is “Uzi Does it”. It’s hip-hop with a healthy dose of humor and satire, and is already one of my favorite albums of 2009. Do yourself a favor and head over to their website pick this up, you will love it.

Here are a couple of my favorite tracks.

The Get Busy Committee | I Don’t Care About You

The Get Busy Committee | Chillin out Maxin

Mos Def – The Ecstatic Album Review

mosdef

Finally Dante delivers. If you are a fan of Black Star or Mos’s first album, “Black on Both Sides”, then you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. “The New Danger” and “True Magic” just didn’t do it for me. Sorry Mos. The Ecstatic on the other hand is great. The beats are solid (especially the drums) the use of samples is right on and Mos delivers with his detailed rhymes and stories. For all you doubters, listen to this with an open mind.

Mos Def | Priority

Mos Def | Casa Bey

The Middle East – The Middle East EP Album Review

me

Since this band isn’t from the States, I suppose I can’t classify them as Americana. How about Australiana? Yup, hailing from Australia this six piece offers up five fantastic songs on this EP release. What’s more, for a limited time, you can pick up the EP as MP3 from their website for a mere $1.00. The Middle East craft sparse, atmospheric folk/pop songs that employ haunting, harmony vocals. After purchasing the MP3 I did two things; listened to it over and over, and told everyone I know about it. Guess I am just doing more of the same here, but now you get a listen as well. This EP does not disappoint. What’s more it “feels” like an autumn album; perfect for this time of year.

The Middle East | Blood

The xx – xx Album Review

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Wikipedia tells me that the xx are a foursome coming to you live and direct from the UK. Apparently the foursome are alumni of the Elliott School which also counts Burial, Hot Chip and Four Tet as graduates – some serious talent coming out of that school. The easiest and most common mechanism to describe a band (or a book, film or play ) is to identify something comparable and use it as a reference. We all do it. Not sure it is possible with The xx. They are truly something different. Try to imagine programmed beats coupled with instrumentation which is at times stark and austere. The album feels like a concept album in the sense that there isn’t a lapse or a song that doesn’t fit. Take a listen. Hoping to catch them at Neumo’s on November 27th where they will be sharing a bill with Friendly Fires

xx | Islands

xx | Basic Space

Major Lazer – Guns Don’t Kill People, Lasers Do Album Review

major_lazer-guns

I picked this album up at the beginning of the summer, have been killing it not stop, and am now just getting around to posting a quick review. Major Lazer is the nom de plume of Diplo and Switch (the guys that produced “Paper Planes”). The fictious back story of Major Lazer is that he is a Jamaican commando who lost both arms, and is now outfitted with prosthetic lazers, thanks to the United States Military. Pretty silly if you ask me. I bought it for the music not the mythology. Now, on to the tunes. Diplo and Switch have produced a great mashup of classic Jamaican dancehall-ragga, rocksteady and pop that is the perfect soundtrack for the summer. If Diplo and Switch set out to re-introduce dancehall to the club kids (as some have speculated), this album certainly has the chops to get the job done.

Major Lazer | Hold The Line Feat Mr Lex & Santigold

Major Lazer | Can’t Stop Now

P.O.S. – Never Better Album Review

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I have to admit, I slept on this for a while. For some reason, I had already made up mind (inexplicably) that I wouldn’t like this album. Don’t know why. I am just crazy that way sometimes. I am glad I changed my tune and listened to this album. P.O.S. Never Better – and there is nothing out there right now that comes close! It absolutely fucking rocks! I haven’t been this hyped for a hip-hop album in a couple of years. If you like hip-hop and/or punk, please take the time to listen to the album – or at least the MP3’s I have posted below. For me, this was not a “slow-burn, it grows on you” album. I connected with it viscerally on my first listen.

This is everything a new, current hip-hop album should be – fun, witty, thought provoking, but most of all; ORIGINAL! The beats and rhymes are new and different but still familiar enough not be jarring or obtuse. In addition to the quality of the music and words, the CD digipak is fantastic – it is totally customizable with different picture inserts and plastic overlays – a very nice touch.

Here is a fun video clip showing the various packaging options – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6IrjDvVkKI

P.O.S.| Purexed

P.O.S.| Low Light Low Life

Introducing Miss Bank$

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I stumbled onto Miss Banks while reading The Fader the other day. She’s a new rapper on the scene out of NYC. Her full name is Azealia Banks and she spits clever and profane rhymes over fun, infectious beats. Just the thing to put a kick in your step, and brighten up a grey, winters day. Check out the MP3 below, and check out Miss Banks.

Miss Banks | Gimme a Chance