Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Review: Top 10 Albums

I still can't get over how incredible 2011 has been in terms of music. There were so many exciting new artists bursting onto the scene (WU LYF, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Yuck, ASAP Rocky) while many other well already established artists expanded on and experimented with their sound to create something completely different (The Antlers, Bon Iver, Toro Y Moi).

And while its already been noted in various other publications, one can't help but draw parallels between the current climate of the music world to the current climate of the world. With exciting, democratic uprisings occurring the world over (Arab Spring, Occupy Movement), the people are joining together in search of change. Similarly, the "underground" has seemingly taken over the established norm and the major, corporate labels no longer rule the music industry. With all of the social networking devices, artists can build a brand for themselves without any need for the big budget that comes with a major label contract. As long as their willing to work, artists can find some sort of audience and without the meddling of big businesses worried about sales figures, the art is more pure and the listeners are reaping all of the benefits.

And now, without further ado, out of all the hundreds of albums and all the thousands of songs, here are the top 10 albums of 2011!

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Review: Top 50 Songs: Top 10!

After a 4 day journey through 40 songs, we've arrived at the top 10. Thanks for reading and listening and make sure you take a look back at the other songs in the top 50 if you missed them. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Review: Top 50 Songs (20-11)

And we're down to the home stretch with the top 50 songs of 2011. Be sure to take a look back at the previous 30 songs and come back tomorrow for the top 10! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Review: Top 50 Songs (30-21)

We're 20 songs into the top 50 of the year and with some very slight adjustments after a listen to the entire list last night, here are the next 10 songs (30-21). Make sure you check back at numbers 50-41 and 40-31 if you missed them and keep checking back for the top 20!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Review: Top 50 Songs (40-31)

Yesterday marked the beginning of a 5 day quest to reveal the top 50 songs of 2011. If you missed it follow the link to check out numbers 50 -41. Today, I will be revealing the next 10 (40-31) and from the look of it we have a very eclectic mix of songs ahead. Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Review: Top 50 Songs (50-41)

The 2011 year in review continues with the top 50 songs. Over the next 5 days I will be revealing my top 50 songs of this year 10 at a time. In making this list I only followed one real rule; one song per artist. When I started making it, I had over 200 songs in contention and in a painstaking process (actually it was kind of enjoyable revisiting all the songs) whittled it down to the 50 you will see over the next few days. Now without further ado, here are numbers 50-41.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Review: 25 Great "Rock" Releases (The Honorable Mention)

This year had so many great albums that a singular top 10 was just not quite enough; too many other albums deserved at least a mention. There was the Top 10 hiphop/R&B list posted earlier this week and this here is essentially an extended honorable mention for the other rock albums this year. An overall top 10 is coming later this month with proper write ups and in an effort to preserve the suspense, none of those albums will be included. In the meantime, enjoy this list and give a listen to some of these excellent albums if you haven't already.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Review: Top 10 Hip Hop Releases (Albums, Mixtapes & EPs)

2011 has been a hell of a year in music and to kick off A Brief Intermission's review of 2011, I've put together a list of the top 10 hip hop releases of the year. A lot of up and comers had a big year with multiple acclaimed releases, while others fell short of the overblown expectations. Likewise, some of the biggest names in hip hop released albums amidst a maelstrom of hype to mixed results.

Despite some of the big time disappointments, there was a lot of great music released and many of the new boys have people excited about the future of hip hop. Without further ado, here is the list (top 10 after the jump):

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah - Well Done
Atmosphere - The Family Sign
The Cool Kids - When Fish Ride Bicycles
Stalley - Lincoln Way Nights: (Intelligent Trunk Music)
Talib Kweli - Gutter Rainbows

Monday, November 28, 2011

Artist Profile: Gold Leaves

The new(ish) project from Seattle singer-songwriter Grant Olsen, Gold Leaves places folky instrumentation into an ambient backdrop and then adds in soaring vocal harmonies. I saw Grant Olsen and his band open for A.A. Bondy this past week at the Bowery Ballroom and was enthralled by their sound. Seeing them on stage felt like watching one of the earliest incarnations of Robin Pecknold and Fleet Foxes (the Seattle connection and bearded front man certainly aided the comparison) and this band has the potential to create equally beautiful music without being a copycat.

Olsen released the Gold Leaves debut, The Ornament on Hardly Art this past August and the album sounds just as promising as their live show. Check out the title track below and then go out and get the album. Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Artist Profile: The Shivers

After hearing their song "SoHo Party" at a Halloween Party this weekend, I've been listening to The Shivers non-stop. This band's catalog of songs is incredibly diverse with songs ranging from alt-country fair that brings Deer Tick to mind, yearning Grizzly Bear-esque ballads and the more straight forward indie-rock to name a few.

"SoHo Party" typifies this diversity as the song goes from a voicemail message from the lead singer's mom, extreme silliness with lyrics like "and who told you to put your finger in my asshole, asshole!" to a brilliant interpolation of Cat Stevens' the wind. Keith Zarriello's songwriting is quirky and leaves the listener wondering what's next. The band released their new album More on May 10th of this year and you can listen to a song and buy it over at Silence Breaks. I would also highly recommend their 2004 album Charades which features the previously mentioned "SoHo Party"; listen below!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Movie Review: Drive


In Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher trilogy), directs Ryan Gosling, The Driver, in a gritty, brutally violent crime drama set in L.A. The Driver works as a mechanic and a Hollywood stuntman, moonlighting as a getaway driver for local crooks. He becomes enamored with a woman, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who lives down the hall in his apartment complex, and befriends her and her child. When Irene's husband is released from jail, The Driver takes on a getaway job for him to help him erase a debt. The job goes awry, and the rest of the film depicts the gruesome lengths The Driver takes to ensure Irene and her child stay safe.

Monday, October 3, 2011

An Open Letter to Jesse Lacey

After Michael posted Amy Klein's open letter to Conor Oberst, I was inspired to write my own letter of appreciation to the artists that made music actually mean something to me. Jesse Lacey, the lead singer, guitarist and chief songwriter of Brand New, is to me what Conor Oberst is to Amy Klein and these are my words of thanks to him.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Movie Review: 50/50

Earlier this week, Andrew and I had the fortunate opportunity to attend an advanced screening of 50/50, the new comedy/drama, starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that examines the toll a terminal illness takes on a person and their relationships. I had high hopes going in...all the press reviews had been positive and I'm a big fan of both Rogen and JGL. Here's what I have to say:

Throwback Thursdays

After quite a hiatus, I'm back with new ideas aplenty. I'm a huge fan of the music of yesteryear and a firm believer in "you can't know where you're going unless you know where you've been." With that said, here is the first track for the newest column Throwback Thursdays:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kevin Devine Smells Teen Spirit, 20 Years Later

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, the quintessential album from Nirvana that brought Grunge to the mainstream, Kevin Devine has covered the entire album. Because he is one of the coolest people in the music industry, the album is also free to download. Head to the link below to check it out.

Kevin Devine covers Nevermind

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Music: The Tallest Man on Earth - "Weather Of A Killing Kind"

Okay,so this isn't exactly brand spanking new, as the track was released by Adult Swim (what?) a few months ago. Regardless, The Tallest Man on Earth is currently my favorite folk artist. This track is more of the same from the Swede, but in this case, that's a phenomenal thing.

Head over the for a free download.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

EMPAC Happenings: Phantom Limb: 69˚S.

This coming weekend, EMPAC has another killer event. I'm really stoked for this one, and you should be too. Here's the release:

Phantom Limb: 69ºS.
Friday + Saturday, September 23 + 24, 2011, 8 PM
Troy, NY
$18 general admission / $13 students + seniors

A stunning vision of Antarctica’s past, present, and future—uniting puppetry, junk-rock, dance, film, history, and photography with contemporary music.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Music: La Dispute - "Edward Benz, 27 Times"

I will never forget listening to La Dispute's debut full-length, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, for the first time. The album re-ignited my passion for music, and brought me back to how I felt the first time I heard Thursday's Full Collapse. Needless to say, when I read they were releasing a new album, Wildlife (October 4th), I was excited. Then they gifted "Edward Benz, 27 Times" to the public, and I have to say, my expectations for the new disc are now truly massive. Bettering their first full-length would be a grand achievement. See what all the fuss is about for yourself:

PS - Below the cut are the lyrics to the song. I recommend reading them as you listen. It gets intense at the end.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Four Tet and Jon Hopkins @ EMPAC

Probably the most "mainstream" event you'll see at EMPAC this Fall is Four Tet and Jon Hopkins, treating us to a night electronic music this Thursday, the 14th. If you can make it to this show, be advised that tickets are going FAST, like Usain Bolt fast. So don't wait and try to get them at the door. Here's the release from EMPAC:

Four Tet + Jon Hopkins
Thursday, September 15, 2011, 8 PM
Goodman Studio 1

A stellar double bill featuring two of Britain’s hottest musicians, producers, and composers of electronic music performing their trademark energetic knob-twisting beats intertwined with live video and a unique instrumental piano set.

With several Four Tet studio albums, remixes, and outstanding live shows to his credit, Kieran Hebden remains rooted in many musical camps.

His work with legendary jazz drummer Steve Reid was a significant milestone in Hebden’s career—what began as a handful of live collaborations soon developed into something on a far grander scale. The fruits of this artistic connection have produced critically acclaimed albums for Domino records. Four Tet has produced a number of remixes for artists such as Explosions in the Sky, Thom Yorke, and Steve Reich; worked with directors and artists such as Woof Wan Bau and Jason Evans; and extensively toured the UK, Europe, the US, and Japan.

Jon Hopkins is a London-based electronic composer, producer, and remixer who makes powerfully emotive, instrumental music that consistently crosses genres. He is a long-term collaborator of Brian Eno. He has also collaborated with Wayne McGregor, King Creosote, and David Holmes; made remixes for artists such as Wild Beasts, Nosaj Thing, James Yorkston, and Four Tet; and created film scores for directors such as Peter Jackson and Gareth Edwards. His hyper-energetic live show has been seen at some of the world’s most iconic venues, including the Sydney Opera House and Madison Square Garden, and at numerous clubs and concert halls around the world.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Only two weeks into the season, and EMPAC is bringing us another killer event. Electronic music is all the rage today, and EMPAC knows it (this show, then Four Tet next week...yeah, Four Tet). Check out the release on EARBRAINS below.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Exciting new albums are streaming!

The great year in music continues in September with a lot of great releases coming up. Many of these albums have been made available for streaming so that you can preview them before you buy. Get the list of albums and links after the jump. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Review: Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed

Though I consider myself a pseudo-Cinephile, and spent several years seeking out the most obscure films I could find, I had never heard of Tales from the Gimli Hospital, or Guy Maddin for that matter, until this event popped up on EMPAC's calendar (hence "pseudo"). Mainly intrigued that the film's narration, score and sound effects were going to be created live, I decided I had to check it out.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Bit of Film and Music

If any of you like foreign films, here is a look at the Mexican crime thriller from Gerardo Naranjo called Miss Bala. It's centered around the drug cartel. It gained praise at Cannes and is due to hit sometime in October. Check it out!

Additionally, if you watched this trailer and noticed the awesome song it features, I went a step further to let you check out the full version as well. Saint Saviour has an EP available that was released earlier this year and it's worth a listen. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

EMPAC Happenings this Thursday, September 1st (FREE!)

So EMPAC is kicking off the Fall season with a bang, and better yet, both events are 100% you have no excuse to miss out. Getting straight to the chase, here are the details for what's on tap for this Thursday, September 1st:

Kònic thtr: Before the beep
6 PM | Studio 1 - Goodman

"Rosa Sánchez and Alain Baumann of Kònic thtr present excerpts of past works and share the status of their current work in progress, Before the beep—a dance performance piece inside an interactive and distributed installation, activated by viewers via cell phones, online, and in person."

Guy Maddin: Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed
7:30 PM | Studio 2

"Commissioned by Performa 11 with the National Arts Centre of Canada, this unique work in progress event pairs the acclaimed filmmaker's classic first feature film with a new live score performed by a remarkable all female Icelandic cast including musicians formerly of the band múm as well as Sigur Rós collaborators Amiina."

Seating is limited for both, so arrive early!

To check out the full Fall calendar for EMPAC, click here.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

EMPAC Fall Schedule

I know, I know...I'm really late to EMPAC schedule release party, but I spent the last two weeks in the Carribean surviving Irene. So without me making any more excuses, here are some highlights from EMPAC's schedule for the fall:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cymbals Eat Guitars full album stream

In 2009, Cymbals Eat guitars released their debut album, Why There Are Mountains to rave reviews. Now, 2 years later, their back with their sophomore effort Lenses Alien which is due out on September 13th. SPIN magazine has the entire album streaming over at their website so instead of waiting another 3 weeks, listen to it now and know what you're buying come September. Enjoy!

Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lenses Alien