if i had a christmas tree, these are the kind of ornaments i’d put on it. i saw these on pitchfork and I think they’re so cool – they’re recycled christmas tree ornaments made by the glass casters union in oregon, and proceeds from the sale of the ornaments go towards helping homeless and low-income families in oregon. this year’s designs include modest mouse, blizen trapper and the decemberists (shown above). i also like some of the ones they’ve done in previous years:
with today being “tunesday” and all, i thought it was a good time to ask everyone out there…what were your favorite songs and albums of the year? it’s been an awesome year in music, in my opinion, so there’s lots of great stuff to choose from. animal collective, black joe lewis & the honeybears, edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros and grizzly bear released four of my favorite albums this year.
send me your choices for the best songs and albums…i’ll compile a list and reveal the top ten at the end of the year!
you can leave them in the comments section or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
today’s tunesday album is a new compilation of old songs, but good songs… the kind that you can still listen to today and enjoy as if they’re brand new. dreamin’ man live ’92 is a collection of songs that make up neil young’s harvest moon album, taken from various acoustic performances in 1992 (the year the album was released). it’s hard to believe harvest moon came out twenty years after the amazing harvest album, and to listen to him sing these songs you wouldn’t think he’d aged a day, if it weren’t for the lyrics, which take on the tone of someone older and wiser. regardless, songs like “dreamin’ man” “harvest moon” “unknown legend” and “you and me” are as beautiful and poignant as ever, especially in this stripped down acoustic form.
take a listen to the song “unknown legend,” one of my faves…
*thao with the get down stay down – know better learn faster
make no mistake: this is an album about heartbreak. thao nguyen‘s own heartbreak. even though you’re set up for this material to come off as whiney, she somehow manages to avoid this by sending it out with punchy and dancey tunes. a great album to put on as soon as you’re ready to stop crying about your own broken heart.
neal morgan – to the breathing world
after years of playing drums and singing background vocals for joanna newsom, it was time for neal morgan to bust out on his own. and on his own is exactly it – just him and his drums layering over themselves to create something entertaining and totally dynamic.
xx – xx
this is the one record this year that i am a bit worried i may literally wear out. it’s fun and romantic and creates a cool, sexy, almost dark atmosphere. it’s a perfect example of the excitement of anticipation – every time you think a song’s going to break out into something huge and deserving of a fist pump, they sit you back down and tell you to hold your horses, they have more ways to whisper something salacious in your ear.
*girls – album
the life story of christopher owen, one half of girls, is so insane that the first time i heard it i thought it was a farce (it involves cults, prostitution and a stint as a gutter punk). you can feel this in the rawness of his voice, but these aren’t songs about his tumultuous childhood, these are just songs about girls. fun, surf rocky, songs about girls. what better subject to fill an album with?!? after ponies.
* these records were purchased at an awesome shop in madison wi, b-sides. they have a great selection and are really nice about making recommendations.
royksopp – melody am
royksopp currently have a new album on the way but their first is a great one for a re-listen, or even a first go. and with the unavoidable buzz and bustle heading into a new year this makes a great soundtrack to just take. a. break.
the strokes – is this it
when this album came out it made new york city a rock star again and amazingly it still sounds fresh. this cover was actually never printed in the us because the band didn’t want buyers to be put off by the bum. luckily, their songs are way more rock ‘n’ roll than that move.
portishead – portishead
they only have three studio albums to their name and yet they’ve left an indelible mark on music and even defined and created their own genre of trip hop. seriously – there’s one other band that you’d put in the trip hop bucket and i can’t be bothered to name them. every member is now working with and influencing artists that are creating a lot of the best music around. anyway, so what i was saying is this album is perfection and i want to hug it.
beth gibbons and the rustin’ man – out of season
guess what. i love portishead. their singer beth gibbons doesn’t escape the love fest with this solo album, though it has a completely different tone; dark and a little brooding, if it was a scent it would be like old libraries and snow.
and now, take a listen to some songs from these albums!
they already released one of the year’s best albums (in my opinion) merriweather post pavilion, and they toured all spring and summer, so when exactly did animal collective find the time to record a new EP? fall be kind comes out digitally today, and the album will be available in stores on december 15th. granted its only five songs, but they’re really good songs…including “graze,” which they’ve been playing live on tour for a while now, and “what would i want? sky,” which is actually the first song ever to legally sample the grateful dead. hard to believe, but true. listen to the song above…give it a second to get going. i haven’t been able to stop listening to it. the band describes the ep as having a somewhat darker sound, and they specifically wanted to release it in the fall because it felt appropriate.
band member dave porter (a.k.a. avey tare) explains, “the title is kind of a play on “fall behind,” when you move the clocks back. everything seems to be very seasonal or weather-oriented for us this year. i wanted to keep it a little bit in line with that. it felt like merriweather post pavilion was really springy or summery. we always try and push for our releases to come out at a specific time…. we even wondered if all these songs feel like a bunch of leftover songs, but i think they definitely do fit together in a sweet way. i guess because i associate fall with halloween, which is my favorite holiday. it just has that feeling, too. i really like autumn; i don’t necessarily feel like it’s a dark season or anything. the transitional seasons are usually my favorite.”
fall be kind album artwork
people have been buzzing about jersey-based indie/pop band real estate since the summer, but they’re just releasing their debut self-titled album today. while the songs might seem more summer-appropriate (just look at titles like “beach comber” “pool swimmers” “atlantic city” “lets rock the beach”), it’s a great listen at this time of year, especially if you’re missing warm weather and the shore (like me). the album does have an underlying moodiness that darkens it a little bit, but for the most part it’s simple, light and breezy…great for a lazy sunday. i especially like “suburban beverage” and “black lake”. the band, made up of martin courtney, matthew mondanile, etienne pierre duguay and alex bleeker, list paul mccartney, the doobie brothers, kokomo, the boss and new jersey among their influences. also, they’re touring right now so check out their myspace page for dates and to listen to some tunes!
anyone have exciting plans for the weekend? my birthday is on sunday and i get to celebrate by seeing edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros at first unitarian church in philly!
i love, love, love these photos of the band taken by autumn de wilde…
this video for the song “home” is so cute too…
Home – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS | MySpace Video
if i’m not at work on monday, it’s because i ran off and joined the band… :)
cold cave – death comes close
listening to this with my roommate, she asked me “is this electro?” and i said, “no, this is new wave” and then next song corrected myself – “well this is kind of electro”. truth is, i was wrong both times. cold cave sways between heady, bleached out melody and something more aggressive – it can’t easily be categorized. whatever bucket you put them in, they’re creating songs that deserve to challenge you.
julian casablancas – phrazes for the young
with such a distinctive voice it’s hard to listen to casablancas without making straight up comparisons to the good times that were the strokes albums, but phrazes for the young is a different beast. reviews for this album have been pretty acerbic, but when he’s good he’s very very good; “out of the blue” and “river of brakelights” are both beauties and once you let “glass” warm up you’re going to be happy you gave this the chance to grow on you.
bricolage – bricolage
there’s seems to be a pattern in scottish music which has veins part bitter and part raucous. this glaswegian band has created an album of poppy goodness that every once and a while bites back. i’m trying to avoid using sour patch kids as a reference…
the big pink – a history of love
with vocals that swoon and swell with shards of guitar and drums, this album is a sonic gem. by far one of my favorites of the year, a history of love lives up to its bravado.
patti smith – horses
horses doesn’t prove that smith has an exceptional voice or that she needs to work only with her own material. but it is her real, pure music at its core, and that is rock and roll.
perez prado – havana, 3a.m.
better known as the “mambo king”, prado leads his band in the perfect cuban mix of spanish and african rhythms. he finds himself with a better flow on this record than some of his others . the band is so tight, and yet when sections break way into solos they feel like an entirely different entity.
bonus: following the break up of the clash, paul simonon named his (short-lived) new band after this album!!
various artists – 41 original hits from the soundtrack of american graffiti
this is mostly a mix of rock and doo-wop hits from the late ’50s and early ’60s. george lucas and francis ford coppola spent almost all of the money allotted to music in the film on obtaining the rights to these songs. because of that the film doesn’t have a score – think of what that could have meant for some of their other, less known, films…
the national – alligator
very understated, yet feels a bit rambling. it is amazingly gloomy and catchy all at once. how can you not love a man with that deep baritone?
(side note from the blogger…this is one of my favorite albums…ever.)
and for your listening pleasure, here is a mixtape featuring songs from the above albums!