Thursday, June 30, 2011

Best Albums of 2011 (So Far)

This year has been a phenomenal year in music so far. It’s pretty crazy to think that releases such as Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far , Smith Westerns' Dye It Blonde , and Cut Copy’s Zonoscope couldn’t sneak their way onto my list. I also haven’t given some key albums a listen yet, mainly the new Man Man…I know, shame on me. So as I catch up and the staying power of certain albums either grows or fades, this list will change, but as of now, here are my favorites from 2011:

Honorable Mentions
Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
August Burns Red - Leveler
Curren$y - Covert Coup EP
William Fitzsimmons - Gold In The Shadow
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 Top 10 Albums Thus Far

The year is not close to over, but there have been multiple great albums so far! This is my top 10, and obviously this doesn't include the many albums I haven't even gotten a chance to listen to yet. Also, there's so much more to come this year. Read more after the jump.

Honorable Mentions:
Wye Oak - Civilian
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx - We’re New Here
Decemberists - The King is Dead
Smith Westerns - Dye it Blonde
Cults - Cults
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 First Half Top Ten Albums (Joey D)

Here's my take on the best of first half 2011's albums. Sorry I didn't post links to the songs, but you can youtube em! Top 10 after the jump.

Honorable Mentions:

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
The Antlers – Burst Apart
Moving Mountains - Waves
Atmosphere – The Family Sign
Middle Brother – Middle Brother

Top 10 Albums of 2011 (So Far)

Please Note: This list will probably look a lot different when the end of the year lists come out but as of today, June 28th, these are my top 10 albums of the year. Top 10 after the break:

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong

The Decemberists - The King is Dead

Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean

Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
Okkervil River - I Am Very Far

Yuck - Yuck

A sea of emotions, there are no words...

Weekly Artist Profile: Justin Townes Earle

Now that we've gotten this little blog rolling, I've got ideas galore and this is another weekly column I'm going to be starting. Every week, I'll be profiling an artist whom I've been listening to a lot of. My hope is that this column will introduce you to some great new artists or perhaps remind you of an artist you've let slip under the radar. Either way, I hope you enjoy and would love to hear your thoughts on these artists!

I've been on a big time folk kick lately and started looking for new artists to get into. On my adventures through the internet I stumbled upon Justin Townes Earle and was immediately hooked. The first thing that drew me to Earle was his persona; he's tatted all up and down his arms and his swagger oozes James Dean. This outlaw persona undoubtedly comes from a history of drug addiction and as recently as 2010 he was arrested for assault and public drunkenness. But don't be fooled, Earle is not just an image, his music is damn good. His sound is heavily influenced by his upbringing in Nashville, Tennessee. Earle's sound is your typical folk music but with a healthy serving of both country and bluegrass mixed in.

He released his first EP, Yuma, in 2007 and has been nothing short of prolific since. He released his first full length, The Good Life, the next year and his work just keeps getting better. His strongest album from start to finish, 2009's Midnight at the Movies is a great place to start if you're trying to get into Earle. The album is his most poppy effort but never loses sight of his folk roots. Not to mention, it features a phenomenal cover of The Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait". After the break you can listen to some his tunes and check out some tour dates.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Music: Mumford & Sons - "Below My Feet"

Who doesn't love Mumford & Sons? Probably one of the few worldwide stars in music today that are actually unique and incredibly talented. Hopefully they are around for a long time because they are truly something special.

They've been playing a few new songs live, one of which is "Below My Feet". It's everything you'd expect from them, so check it out below and get excited for the next album, which is due to be recorded this year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekly Top 5: Songs To End An Album (2000s)

I've decided to start a new weekly column inspired by one of my favorite books/films, High Fidelity. In the book/film, the lead character and his music snob buddies are obsessed with making top 5 lists. I am similarly afflicted by a fondness for lists and will thus be doing a weekly top 5. If you have any ideas for lists you'd like to see, I'd love to hear about them.

The inaugural top 5 list will deal with my favorite tracks to end an album. I've found that far too many great albums drag out and end with a whimper. This list is dedicated to the albums that keep you hooked until the very last chord.

Honorable Mention:
The Bending by Hopesfall, from the album The Satellite Years (2002)
Foreground by Grizzly Bear, from the album Veckatimest (2009)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Northside Music Festival: Review Part 2

Photo Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan

Luke Rathborne started off the 3rd (and longest) day of the Northside Music Festival with a quick but excellent set over at Spike Hill. The singer-songwriter is self-deprecating and witty and his live band provides the perfect accent to the furious garage rock he plays live. His live set is completely different from his recorded material and while his EPs are both good, the hard rocking live show he puts on is definitely preferable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Album Stream: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Today is Tuesday and everyone knows that means new records come out. While I know many of you are probably chomping at the bit to hear the new Bon Iver disc, you should probably head over to to stream the new self-titled debut by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. It oddly reminds me of Dirty Beaches at some points while also sounding a bit like The Growlers, with a sort of haunted beach-rock sound but with some funkier parts. So really, it might have something for everyone.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Northside Music Festival: Review Part 1

Photos: Courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan

My own personal Northside Music Festival was kicked off by Atlas Sound at St. Cecila's church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The venue, as you can see above, is an absolutely gorgeous chapel where the pews acts as the seating. The chapel provided the perfect space for Bradford Cox's beautifully, haunting drone. The set was almost exclusively new songs as Cox told the crowd he had forgotten how the old ones go. There were still some old songs sprinkled in like "Sheila" and a folked out version of "Walkabout" featuring some excellent harmonica. Throughout the set, I felt like I was in a trance as Cox layered each different part of the song on top of one another creating a dense and enveloping combination of vocals, guitars and ambient noise. Jessica Amaya of Brooklyn Vegan took some really beautiful photos of the show. Check them out.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Tree of Life

First, thanks to Mike for the chance to write for this awesome blog. Hopefully this is the first of many posts that I will be contributing.

Director Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" is not for the casual moviegoer. In fact, a group of giggly young women in the row in front of me walked out about a third of the way through the movie (to my relief, as they were very annoying). If you see this movie, which I recommend you do, be prepared for something you've probably never seen before. Its been advertised as a kind of dramatic version of "The Wonder Years," but its really more along the lines of Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Aronofsky's "The Fountain." Both of which are superior films. Despite its flaws, which I will describe in detail, "The Tree of Life" should be praised overall for its technical achievement and the risk that Malick took in spending the last 10 years making this unique film. In an age of "Transformers" sequels and "Mr. Popper's Penguins," it is incredibly refreshing to see a risky film like this get made at all, let alone have a fairly wide-release.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Northside Music Festival: Saturday Preview

The Northside Music Festival is all about discovering the music and art that Brooklyn has to offer; Saturday is going to be the day that I do mostly that. I fully intend on seeing the Guided By Voices, Waaves & Surfer Blood (yeah I'm going to see them twice in one weekend!) but before and after that there is no real band I feel like I "HAVE" to see. Honestly, I've never really listened to many of the acts playing that day and I'm just going to be a sponge; taking in all that the festival presents. After the jump is a list of lesser-known artists that I'd like to look into on Saturday and I think you should do the same. Even if you're not able to see them live, give them a listen and see what you think!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sleep No More

This last Friday, I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the most unique artistic experiences in my time, Sleep No More: an immersive theatre affair, mainly inspired by Shakespeare's Macbeth and various Alfred Hitchcock films, where the viewer is given the liberty to float in and out of rooms and story lines throughout their stay.

Punchdrunk, the London based theatre company responsible, has settled nicely into the Chelsea district of New York City, renovating the formerly condemned McKittrick Hotel into a demented, creepy space straight from a film noir nightmare. As I was ushered into the hotel's bar (the waiting area before you enter the performance), it was as if I was instantly brought back to the 1920s/1930s. Everything, from the decorations to the attire of the bar staff, was straight from a time capsule. When my card (two) was called, myself and my fellow "deuces" gathered at the entrance, where we received the ground rules and our masks, which would turn us into anonymous, voyeuristic ghosts for the duration of the evening.

Northside Music Festival: Friday Preview

Friday at the L Magazine's Northside Music Festival is jampacked with shows aplenty. The live music starts around 6 o'clock in Williamsburg and in most venues it won't be stopping until well after midnight (late night DJ sets until 4 in the morning at Cameo Gallery and Public Assembly!) The day kicks off with Worcester based electo-rockers DOM at Brooklyn Bowl. Their EP Sun Bronzed Greek Gods was a highly touted release and I anticipate an awesome show. Check out their song "Burn Bridges" after the jump as well as all the rest of Friday's fun!

White Wives - "Indian Summer" Video and Tour

Finally, I have an update from my stomping grounds. Pittsburgh's indie rock newcomers White Wives are set to release their debut full length, Happeners, on June 28th. To help you get pumped, check out their brand new video for "Indian Summer" below, and be sure to try and catch the band out on tour with Touche Amore and Balance and Composure (dates after the jump). As an added treat, you can download their debut EP for "name your price." Link also after the jump.

Where I Came From!

So this is absolutely terrible, but in the end you always have to show love to the place you came from. I came from Clifton Park, New York and more specifically Shenendehowa High School, so mad love to the fellas who put this together.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Future Islands - Before the Bridge

After seeing Future Islands last Tuesday I've been listening to their album In Evening Air (which is fantastic and you should check out) pretty much non-stop. Today they released their new song "Before the Bridge" which is absolutely superb. You can stream and download the song over at Stereogum.

Northside Music Festival: Preview

This Thursday marks the beginning of the L Magazine's 3rd annual Northside Music Festival in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. With new venues, great musical acts and an expanded pallet of arts on display, this year promises to be the best yet. Last year, musical acts like Fucked Up, Titus Andronicus, AA Bondy, Twin Shadow and many more tore Brooklyn apart (in a good way) during this 4 day showcase of all the art that Brooklyn has to offer. This year I've got myself a badge and fully intend to take in as many of the great shows as I possibly can.

To prepare myself and our loyal readers for the madness to come, I will be previewing some of the best musical acts that will be performing on this momentous occasion.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Okkervil River, Titus Andronicus & Future Islands at Terminal 5

When I first saw this show announced, I had mini-orgasm at the line-up. I had never listened to Future Islands before but the thought of Okkervil River and the almighty Titus Andronicus on the same bill was enough to make my shorts sticky.

I showed up early to catch Future Islands' set and was very impressed with both their sound and energy. Their sound can be likened to fellow electronic artists like Gang Gang Dance or even Passion Pit but with one huge difference; the vocals. Sam Herring's deep growl wouldn't be out of place in a hardcore band but it seamlessly blends with the music as he hops around the stage thumping his chest and slapping his face to the beat.

I was really curious about seeing Titus in this sort of scenario. Every time I had seen them in the past, they were the headliner in a much smaller venue. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from their set or the crowd given that most people were there to see Okkervil River. Needless to say, Titus brought the house down and definitely gained quite a few new fans (at least my friends Bryant & Odin).

With Okkervil River, just having released their new album I Am Very Far, I was expecting a set full of new tracks but there were only 6 including albums highlights "Wake and Be Fine" and "The Valley". The rest of the set was full of fan favorites from previous albums Black Sheep Boy, The Stage Names and The Stand-Ins. The crowd was into it, the band was energetic and everyone was clapping and singing along. An all around great performance worthy of your attendance.

For Titus Andronicus' (short but sweet) and Okkervil River' set lists, Future Islands' video for Tin Man and the rest of the dates for this tour keep reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

EMPAC Happenings this Friday, June 10th (FREE!)

So despite the summer being EMPAC's "slow" season, they've got two interesting events cooked up for this coming Friday, June 10th. Better yet, they are both free. So go check them out before you hit the town for the night.

First, TOOL IS LOOT...

Wally Cardona + Jennifer Lacey: TOOL IS LOOT
Friday, June 10, 7 PM

"TOOL IS LOOT is a duet made via a curious process of disorientation. For one year, choreographers/dancers Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey worked apart, in the US and France, respectively. Each solicited weeklong encounters with non-dance experts, allowing the opinions and desires of an “outsider” to shift what they knew about creating short solos. These experts included an astrophysicist, a sommelier, an architect, a film editor, a medical supply salesman, a kinetic sculptor, a baroque opera singer, an art critic, an acoustician, and a social activist.

Now in residence at EMPAC, Cardona and Lacey come together in the duet, TOOL IS LOOT, with their identities simultaneously undone and strengthened. They ask the question: What comes after you don’t know anymore?"

Here's a great quote from the performers:

"We would like to believe that our bodies and our brains are fantastically flexible and responsive to change, containing—at any moment—both the abstract and the specific. Well... what we’ve learned is that this is both gloriously true and frustratingly untrue. But that’s okay, really, and this dance proves it. There will be a swan, a prince, a robot, sexual behavior, and two chairs. Sometimes all at once."
— Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey

And then later that night, Compositions for a Sound Dome

Compositions for a Sound Dome
Friday, June 10, 8:30 PM

"With 24 loudspeakers suspended in the air as a sound dome, eight composers who participated in the workshop Composing for Large Scale Multi-Channel Loudspeaker Environments present their explorations of sound, music, and space. Led by Hans Tutschku (Harvard University), the 6-day workshop immersed artists in the study and composition of pieces to be performed with many loudspeakers, going far beyond what we know as “surround sound”. The unique opportunities at EMPAC allowed participants to work in three spaces with a large number of loudspeakers to develop their ideas. The concert will include a broad range of approaches to this singular sonic challenge."

Also, don't forget that Celeste Boursier-Mougenot still has two installations up. Check our post on that here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

In the Mountain in the Cloud: New Music from Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man, an act who I unfortunately had to miss in NYC this last weekend, is releasing a new album, In the Mountain in the Cloud, on July 19th. They've opened up pre-orders on their site (with some truly awesome deals), but more importantly, they are streaming snippets of each track from the album. Just went through them all, and I think this album is going to be killer, which is really what we've come to expect from this band. So go to their site and enjoy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Curren$y - She Don't Want a Man

On Thursday, the clean version of Curren$y's new song "She Don't Want a Man" surfaced on the internet. Now, thanks to Pocket Full of Paper, there is an uncensored version up and it is unbelievable. Look out for this track on Curren$y's new album Weekend at Burnie's which is due out June 28th.

Curren$y - She Don't Want a Man