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Wussy – Strawberry

4th Oct 11 (Tue) 1 comment

I don’t miss Cincinnati much.  I do miss a few choice eateries (Melt, Gajah Wong, Tellers, Lemongrass, tons of Indian) and I do miss being able to see some of my favorite bands play (Over the Rhine, Ric Hordinski, Ash Peacock, Ryan Adcock, Kim Taylor, Ellery, Jason Ludwig/Noctaluca, Wussy… the list could go on for a long time).

Well, I’m happy as a doggie in a strawberry field, because the aforementioned Wussy just put out their fourth full-length studio album – Strawberry.  Wussy’s a fantastic rock quartet made up of Chuck Cleaver, Lisa Walker, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug.  They write catchy, poppy choruses and meld it perfectly with Midwest Americana-meets-indie-rock grit (or “Midwestern drone” as their press says).

Vocal duties are traded off with Chuck (of the Ass Ponys) and Lisa (of the Magic Words… and of my college days).  The samples I’ve heard so far as right in line with what I love about them.  Go hear for yourself (the entire album is up streaming with a few FREE downloads), and then pick up a copy for yourself on bandcamp (mp3 download or limited CD).

http://wussy.bandcamp.com/album/strawberry

FYI, the CDs are limited to only 100… and I’ve got one coming to me in Oregon, so grab one of the other 99 before it’s too late.  I can’t recommend Wussy, this album, and their prior albums enough.  A+++

Other links for Wussy:
Webpage / FB / MySp / Twit

~Dan – np: Steven WilsonGrace for Drowning

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Wussy’s 2010 plans

15th Jan 10 (Fri) Leave a comment

From the Wussy camp’s website…

We are gearing up for a busy winter and spring so keep your ears peeled. Right now we’re planning spring tour dates and working on a new record. We’ll have a single (vinyl-only) on Shake It Records coming out this spring as part of their Dangerous Highway series, a tribute to Eddie Hinton. The A-Side is our take on the classic “Breakfast in Bed” made famous by Dusty Springfield. More news on that soon. The Drive By Truckers and Greg Dulli 45’s are out now (see shakeitrecords.com for more info).

In the meantime, we’re also working on a live album and a collection of Wussy remixes from other artists.

In other news, Wussy’s self-titled album was #10 on Christgau’s 2009 Dean’s List!
www.wussymusic.com

Cool!  I’m looking forward to any new recorded music and touring from this great band!

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Also, reminder… if you can, please click this link and help the American Red Cross in their Haiti Earthquake Relief efforts.  Also, you can donate $10 to the relief efforts in Haiti by texting “HAITI” to “90999.”  The charge will show up on your phone bill.
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~Dan – np: dredgOrph EP

no download or torrent available

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2009 *

29th Dec 09 (Tue) 20 comments

Disclaimer (with a nod to Andy Whitman of Paste): No, I haven’t heard all 8,000+albums released this year. I’ve heard about 200 of them, which makes me at least 97.5% likely to be wrong. I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2009. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2009. And you might be right. So go ahead and vent. Enjoy!

As I start this post, I will say that this is the second year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. For that reason, the favorite vocal albums list goes first this go ’round. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, SpaceBook pages, yadda yadda yadda. OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: Jars of Clay‘s The Long Fall Back to Earth, U2‘s No Line on the Horizon, Madeleine Peyroux‘s Bare Bones, Piano Magic‘s Ovations, and Ember Swift‘s Lentic :: 子玉.

ChevelleSci-Fi Crimes (Epic) :: I don’t find Chevelle to be all that original. I mean, I found them early on (the Squint days) and I liked them due to their sound similar to Tool. I don’t know… I continue to like what Chevelle puts out, regardless of its similarities to other bands. They have good hooks, vocals, and melodies. I’ve yet to see them live… they tend to always show up where I’m not. Maybe I’ll get lucky on their next batch of tour dates.
Kim TaylorLittle Miracle (indie) :: Kim is a Cincinnati favorite of mine. She tours a lot with another Cincinnati band, Over the Rhine – which is how I first heard of her (so many years ago). Anyway, if you’re in Cincinnati, swing by her coffee shop – Pleasant Perk (and buy a CD along with the Mocha you’re craving). This record came out only about a week ago. It still needs to sink in, but it’s got that Kim Taylor vibe – sultry/smoky vocals with heartfelt lyrics. This album is more stripped down than her prior releases, full of warmth.
Tori AmosAbnormally Attracted to Sin (Universal) :: Tori’s heyday for me was the 1990s. Sin hearkens back to those days, but still remains in this weird phase of “I don’t know if I like, but I do kinda like it” for me. It’s not classic Tori, but it is a good record. Her live show this year in Portland helped me get into this album a bit more. After 20 or so years of touring, she still delivers the goods consistently.
Chali 2NaFish Outta Water (Decon) :: Chali 2Na was always my favorite rapper in Jurassic 5. I dig all of those gents, but Chali has that powerful booming baritone with quick delivery. His first official solo album [he had a mixtape type thing a few years back], this one doesn’t disappoint the J5 fan in me.
Alice in ChainsBlack Gives Way to Blue (EMI Virgin) :: New singer, same great grunge sound. Jerry Cantrell and Company are back with a great new hard rocking record. While Layne can’t be replaced, the band goes on and it doesn’t disappoint. Their live show this year was excellent as well.
IsisWavering Radiant (Ipecac) :: Post-rock, post-metal, ambient metal… I don’t know what you want to call it. I first saw these guys open up for Tool a few years back, and I subsequently quit putting off getting their music. They’re on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label (so I had heard of them prior to the Tool gig), and they are both meandering and powerful. This is not a metal band full of riffs… they would fit more in the camp with post-rockers Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed! You Black Emperor than with Metallica and Megadeth.
Talking Snakes (Gary Lenaire)Nonogram Zen (indie) :: Former guitarist/vocalist for metal band Tourniquet, Gary Lenaire, released his book An Infidel Manifesto a few years back. This album is his first solo album as being an out atheist. I love the music and lyrics in Nonogram Zen. I think this album stacks up to anything he did in Tourniquet (OK, Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance still “owns” Gary’s catalogue, in my opinion). Musically, Nonogram Zen ranges from really heavy, to electronic-tinged, to more melodic pop songs (with auto-tune… *shudder*) – but all in all, I’d consider it to be a metal/hard rock album. It’s only currently available as a digital release, but perhaps it will see a physical form in the near future.
Dream TheaterBlack Clouds and Silver Linings (Roadrunner) :: I bought the special edition of this record, mainly for the CD of completely instrumental versions of Black Clouds songs. While I love the instrumental versions better, the entire album is really well crafted. As much as I think James LaBrie’s vocals and Mike Portnoy’s oft-clunky rhyme-writing get in the way, I think this album holds up in their ever-expanding catalogue.
Bad VeinsBad Veins (Dangerbird) :: Three years in existence and the band finally gets their debut album out the door. While I think it’s a solid album, and I think the song-writing is superb, I think my fondness of their early live shows and acoustic / in-studio sets have more musical magic to me. I did get a chance to see Bad Veins twice this year, which was quite the coup – as they live 2,300+ miles from me. I’m glad that this album finally made its way out and I hope there’s another one to follow in less than three years time.
dUg Pinnick (of King’s X) & RAZR 13RAZR 13 (RockArmy) :: Doug Pinnick (aka dUg) has an amazing voice; so when he starts lending his voice out to other bands, well, I am not complaining. This collaboration finds dUg rockin’ out with Austin metal band RAZR 13. It is more like his prior metal collaborations with The Mob and 24-7 Spyz than the more straight-ahead Supershine or Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament collaborations. 2010 promises another dUg Pinnick collaboration in the new group with 24-7’s Jimi Hazel called A.N.M. Yay, more metal Pinnick!!
Regina SpektorFar (Sire Warner) :: Regina’s latest album grew on me slowly. By the time I saw her in Portland (in early November), I was digging this latest album the best out of her material thus far. It is quirky, poppy, and makes you think (especially on “Laughing With”). Her live show is energetic and quite a full night of music.
Extra GoldenThank You Very Quickly Vol. 3 (Thrill Jockey) :: I didn’t know about Extra Golden until about 3 or 4 months ago, when my friend Aaron told me about their set at Eugene Celebration. I went to that show and was a fan. They are a half American, half Kenyan group… and they play sort of jammy, sort of African songs. It’s a great melting pot of sound. Their record and live show are highly recommended!
Various Artists (produced by Ric Hordinski) – Notes From the Monastery (indie) :: Rarely do I buy a “various artists” album… in the age of iTunes, it’s easier (and usually beneficial) to just buy the few tracks from artists that I know. Well, this compilation is all music produced by a person who I enjoy and respect… Mr. Ric Hordinski. He was a founding member of Cincinnati band Over the Rhine, the creative force behind the more meandering band MONK, and the knob-noodler for his Monastery Studios. This album features all new, previously unreleased songs by Ellery, Over the Rhine, Sarah Masen, Ric Hordinski, Phil Keaggy, David Wilcox, and more. There is not a bad song on the whole disc. Kudos, Ric!
Works Progress Administration (featuring Glen Phillips)WPA (Elite Artist Services) :: While I often lump this in the “Glen Phillips side project” category, it that doesn’t really do it justice. My favorite songs are the Glen ones, but Luke Bulla and Sean & Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) round this album out into an important Americana album in 2009. Let’s just say, I came to find WPA due to Glen, but I stuck around due to it being a great band with a great new record.
FanfarloReservoir (indie) :: The best way to build a fanbase overnight… have a moderately successful internationally touring artist pimp your music directly via their website and offer your album for a $1 download months before it’s available in shops. Sigur Rós’s web viewers and mailing list got a first taste and nudge to check out Fanfarlo, and that’s all it took – a gentle nudge. While Fanfarlo isn’t really all too much like Sigur Rós, I can see why their fans intersect… gentle songs with complex and often unusual instrumentation. I missed Fanfarlo as they swung through the Pacific Northwest, as I was on vacation, but I hope they come through again soon.
Tegan and SaraSainthood (Sire Vapor) :: This T&S album is rockier than their last few albums, but after the second listen, I think I like it more than both The Con and So Jealous (and, yeah, their pre-Jealous ones, too). I think with The Con, they had started to really figure out to write really hooky yet still mature songs. While Sainthood heats it up on the rockier edge, I think the songs are better overall. This was their first album where they wrote a large chunk of the songs together in the same room – maybe that was their secret formula. I’m looking forward to their upcoming tour… April 2010 in Portland!
The Swell SeasonStrict Joy (Anti-) :: The ONCE soundtrack sunk in immediately after I heard it. While Strict Joy took a while to sink in, I think it’s a more solid record than Once. While this album represents their personal “break up,” I hope they keep working together as a band. I’ve heard some of Glen’s work with The Frames, and it’s good – but Marketa and Glen together really seems magical.
David BazanCurse Your Branches (Barsuk) :: The oft-used tagline for this record is “David’s break-up album with God.” Sure, OK. I never really thought his prior albums were all that ostentatiously “God-y” anyway. I admired David’s doubting and questioning in his prior Pedro the Lion music. His move to a more agnostic / atheistic-leaning artistic expression is a-OK with me. I realize that it’s a personal journey, and as long as he keeps putting out challenging and witty lyrical numbers, and he keeps touring & bringing some fun Q&A time to stages near me – I’m fine with whatever his philosophy moves towards.
O.S.I.Blood (Inside Out) :: What, a Kevin Moore album at #7 in its release year? I know, I know… Chroma Key and the first two O.S.I. albums were at least Top 3 spots in their respective years. While I have been moving towards a lot more instrumental music, this year’s vocal albums that I did get had some great music… the Top 10 vocal albums for me this year are especially strong albums, regardless of my bent towards the sans vocal route. Anyway, I really dig this new O.S.I. record. I wish more news and touring from Kevin Moore would leak out… I mean, news bites are few and far between. It gets a bit frustrating in this era of readily available information. Chroma Key or O.S.I. album #4… I hope not too far out there.
Nellie McKayNormal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (Verve) :: While I dig Nellie’s own music better than this batch of mostly Doris Day cover songs (there is one Nellie original), this may be the most perfect tribute album. From the cover art, to the campy photos inside, to the delivery that truly honors Doris Day, to Nellie’s excellent jaunt with The Aristocrats – this album I think is more than the sum of its parts. Back on a major label (this time Verve instead of Sony), I hope they give Nellie some creative control to go back in the studio to make her next originals album.
Porcupine TreeThe Incident (Roadrunner) :: I think I like the non-concept songs on disc 2 more than the individual parts in The Incident concept disc. Regardless, I think Steven Wilson has turned the corner away from Fear of a Blank Planet, and maybe he’s heading back into a more interesting progressive arena. The tour was also great this year, but maybe they play their instruments too perfectly. I almost felt as if I could have gotten as much out of the DVD of the show as the actual show (hey, my only negative about this latest effort is that they play “too perfectly”). Go figure!
Peter MulveyLetters From a Flying Machine (Signature Sounds) :: Half spoken word, half poppy singer-songwriter tunes… that doesn’t scream “Top 5” album release. But it is. I think this is Peter’s most solid piece of work in a while, and it ranks amongst The Trouble with Poets and Kitchen Radio for me. Peter is still fairly unknown… but he is quite prolific (12+ full lengths in 17+ years), hard-working (constantly touring all places from Alaska to Ireland), quite witty (he could be a comedian if the whole music thing doesn’t work out), and energetic (he did a 1,100 bicycle tour this year – playing gigs from Michigan to Massachusetts). He plans to do a bicycle tour from Wisconsin to the West Coast in 2010… yay!
Derek WebbStockholm Syndrome (INO) :: I grew up with Derek Webb as he made his musical start in the contemporary christian music scene – with Caedmon’s Call. I always loved his songs and vocals the best; so when he left the band, I followed. His latest album gets it right in both music and lyrics… calling out those who hate others due to their sexuality (the “controversial” What Matters More) and calling out hate in the name of God (“Freddie, Please” dedicated to Westboro Baptist’s jackass preacher). I feel that even though I have differing (non-)religious beliefs, I still can call Derek Webb a compatriot. The more electronic-tinged music is also welcome from his more “guy & a guitar” days (though, he carried that sound well, too). I look forward to his upcoming subscriber series in 2010 – Democracy, Volume 1.
WussyWussy (Shake It) :: Wussy just keeps getting better. Lisa and Chuck & Company have really stepped it up on their third full-length. I wish I still lived in Cincinnati sometimes after seeing their “hey, we’re playing at Northside Tavern” posts on SpaceBook and MyFace. Anyway, I’m utterly delighted with this record, and they’ve unofficially promised to hit the West Coast in Spring 2010. Fingers crossed…
dredgThe Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion (Ohlone) :: dredg has evolved from “good opener” the first time I saw them to “really good rock band” after I delved into Catch Without Arms (specifically “Ode to the Sun” and the b-side “Stone By Stone”) to one of my favorite bands with this new release. Quite honestly, from the first full listen back in June, I knew this would be my #1 album for 2009. It’s a concept album based loosely on Salmon Rushdie’s “Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen,” and, well, it shows off dredg’s great vocals, subtle progressive guitars, and unique and inspiring drumming. I hope album #5 is not another 4 years away… or, if it is, I hope they keep touring. I got to see them twice this year – both fantastic shows.

Top 25 instrumental albums coming up later this week… still making my way through them at this point… oy…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

  • Fave Concerts of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave EPs/Vinyl/Live/more of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave Instrumental Albums ‘09 are coming soon
  • Fave Artists of the Decade are coming soon
  • Old Years: 2008I, 2008V, 2008ep, 2008C, 2007V, 2007I, 2007C, 2006, 2005

~Dan – np: Roberto RodriguezThe First Basket

Wussy… and rumors of Wussy

8th Dec 09 (Tue) Leave a comment

One of my beloved Cincinnati locals, Wussy, has put out some great rock.  Three albums, an EP, and some vinyl to be exact… they continually put out great material.  And while not an “official press release,” they leaked some great news via a status update on the Facebox on Monday…

(highlighting by me)

I got into Wussy via knowing their lead singer Lisa Walker in college… Lisa plus Ass Ponys‘ Chuck Cleaver, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug make up Wussy.  They put out drony-yet-hook-laden rock, and they release their stuff via hometown Shake It Records (in the lovely Northside neighborhood in Cincinnati).  They’ve gotten some buzz in national rags (like Spin, CMJ, et cetera).  First national tour, first time they’ve hinted at coming out my way = Yippie!

Anyway… I hope it happens.  Srsly.

Oh, check out a recent article about Wussy’s Chuck & Lisa in Cincinnati Magazine (click picture):

PS- Celldweller‘s Wish Upon a Blackstar Ch 2 is out now.  Just DL’d it… looking forward to spinning it…

~Dan – np: Iron & WineAround the Well

no free download or torrent available here

2009 mix

12th Nov 09 (Thu) 2 comments

Well, thanks to a certain bigwig, I got off of my duff to make a mix CD for his round robin dealio.  No major theme this time like prior mixes… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2009).

{If you aren’t part of the round robin and want a CD, contact me.  If you’re local, even better. I’ll get ’em out around Thanksgiving.}

The following songs were put on the mix CD from lossless sources for promotional purposes only (read: free direct market advertising to people who decidedly love music).  Most of the artists on this compilation are independent (put out the music themselves) or signed to smaller, independent labels.  If you like what you hear, check out their music / support them with your wallet if you are able.  The artists’ Webpage, MyFace & Spacebook (whether official or not), and Amazon links are available for each song below.  I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

PDF front liner is available HERE (designed to print double-sided).

UPDATE (12/18): free download / bonus track #18 below

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01 Nellie McKayDo Do Do” from Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day
Well, the person who got this round robin going (Brad) was a direct influence in me getting into Nellie McKay back when Get Away From Me came out.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  I think GAFM is my favorite of hers, but she’s still quite consistently entertaining to me.  Her latest album is a tribute to the late great Doris Day.  It’s missing some of Nellie’s sly wit, but is definitely fitting in her “I wish I was born in another era” wishes.  The album art is 135% fitting for Nellie, too.  Perfect choice!

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02 John ZornMiller’s Crake” from O’o
I could have put on some more skwoky Zorn, but I opted for a more accessible number.  John Zorn is prolific, but this was actually a slow year – I only count six Zorn-related releases.  O’o is twelve lyrical and adventurous instrumentals combining world music, surf, exotica, soundtracks, easy listening, and minimalism dedicated to twelve different birds (Chippy’s artwork is amazing).  “Miller’s Crake” is a delightful Guaraldi-esque jaunt from the band that came out of the Electric Masada / The Gift / The Dreamers sessions: Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron, and Cyro Baptista.

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03 Extra GoldenGimakiny Akia” from Thank You Very Quickly Vol 3
I was planning on going to Eugene Celebration anyway, but I got a call from a friend who suggested that we meet and definitely go to see Extra Golden.  Um, OK, sure.  Then I saw them, and wow… fuuuuun.  I love African music, but sometimes it’s gets all too similar unless you do something fun (a la Fela Kuti, Antibalas, etc).  Well, Extra Golden are half Kenyan and half American (which I guess is the “something fun” part?  I don’t know).  They fuse some great jam-rock with Kenyan beats* and singing… great stuff.  Fantastic live show, too. *-Though, coincidentally, not so much Kenyan beats on this track.  Yeah, sorry.

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04 Ember SwiftHollowed Bones 空骨” from Lentic :: 子玉
Ember Swift (yes, her real name) is finally starting to head in a new direction.  I mean, I dig her a lot, but her past albums have been slightly derivative of Ani DiFranco (with maybe a little more adventurism).  She’s from Canada, but has spent time living in China recently.  In fact, I think she’s still living there (don’t quote me on that)… that culture has definitely had an impact on her music.

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05 Works Progress Administration / Glen PhillipsRise Up” from Works Progress Administration
This song first showed up on the Concert to End Slavery compilation as a Glen Phillips solo song.  It’s my favorite from WPA, but it’s not very representative of the album.  The album is more folky / americana via the heavy influence of Sean & Sara Watkins from Nickelcreek and Luke Bulla (from Lyle Lovett’s band).

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06 Madeleine PeyrouxDamn the Circumstances” from Bare Bones
I am usually not a fan of vocal jazz… it’s usually too full of schlock, if you ask me.  Well, Madeleine’s smoky voice overrides that generalism for me.  She’s a fantastic vocalist, a throwback to the golden era of jazz vocalists.  This album is her first of non-covers.  All original, either written solo or co-written, Bare Bones moves her from a “fantastic standards” singer to bringing vocal jazz back into fresh territory.

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07 dredgGathering Pebbles” from The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
dredg is one of my favorite bands now.  2005’s Catch Without Arms floored me, and I was eagerly awaiting the follow-up.  It took too long (4 years), but it was well worth it.  The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is by far my favorite album this year.  It was inspired by Salmon Rushdie’s essay “Imagine There’s No Heaven: A Letter to the Sixth Billionth Citizen.”  In fact, this past fall, dredg and Salmon did a joint show that was captured by Spin magazine.

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08 Porcupine TreeFlicker” from The Incident
The best progressive rock band around, Porcupine Tree’s The Incident is a 55-minute epic concept album/song.  “Flicker” is actually a session b-side from the 2nd disc from the collection.  I got a chance to see Porcupine Tree this September, and Steven Wilson & Co delivered the impeccable studio sound to the stage.  It’s almost magic.

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09 O.S.I.Terminal” from Blood
I really like this 3rd record by O.S.I. (formerly know as the Office of Strategic Influence).  O.S.I. is a joint collaboration of Chroma Key’s Kevin Moore and Fates Warning’s Jim Matheos.  Most of Blood is heavier progressive rock, but I tend to like the more Chroma Key-esque tracks like “Terminal.”  The album has guests Gavin Harrison (of Porcupine Tree) on drums, Mikael Åkerfeldt (of Opeth) on vocals for one track, and Tim Bowness (or No-Man) on vocals for one track as well. The 2nd disc also features a Kevin Moore-sung, rockin’ tribute to Elliott Smith (“Christian Brothers”).

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10 900XThe Black Beach” from Library Catalog Music Series: Music For Lubbock, 1980
Sufjan Steven’s label Asthmatic Kitty is really becoming a favorite.  They host music by Sufjan, My Brightest Diamond, Fol Chen, Osso, and now the excellent experimentation from the various Library Catalog Music Series artists.  The 900X release is my favorite of the six releases so far.  I received the high quality mp3s from the record label for free, and I loved it so much that I bought it on vinyl.

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11 Chali 2Na featuring Talib KweliLock Sh*t Down” from Fish Outta Water
I’m still sad that Jurassic 5 broke up, but now we get albums from Portable Payback (Marc7 & Soup), Cut Chemist, DJ Nu Mark, Akil the MC, and, of course, Chali 2Na (my favorite from the group).  Chali’s got that deep booming voice that makes you pay attention.  This song’s lyrics (and video) are kinda cheesy, IMO, but it still features some nice flow from the “lyrical manphibian.”

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12 Peter MulveyVlad the Astrophysicist” from Letters From a Flying Machine
Storytelling has always been a fantastic part of Peter’s live shows.  Nine years ago, when his first niece was born, Peter got into the habit of writing physical letters to his nieces and nephews (now 17 kids in total).  This album is interspersed with spoken word letters and new music.  I think it’s his strongest album since 2000’s The Trouble With Poets.  I like a lot of different music, but with that being said, I think Peter is by far my favorite singer-songwriter.  Support indie music!

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13 David BazanCurse Your Branches” from Curse Your Branches
I wanted to put on “Hard to Be,” but due to space limitations, I went for a shorter song.  This is David’s first full-length solo album since disbanding the indie rock band Pedro the Lion.  PTL was really David’s thing anyway; so him disbanding the band isn’t that big of a deal, if you ask me.  This album also marks his first decided move away from the “religious guy” things into the “heavily agnostic thing” (kudos to him, from me at least).  This album is peppered with his thoughts and doubts of his religious upbringing – even moreso than in his prior Pedro days.  It very well called a “breakup letter to God” by some.

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14 John ZornNovato” from Alhambra Love Songs
Alhambra Love Songs is a set of 11 songs that are an eclectic homage to San Francisco Bay area musicians.  This particular song is dedicated to Mike Patton (and, no, that’s not why I picked it).  The album is played by pianist Rob Burger, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Ben Perowsky – and also falls into the “more accessible” John Zorn camp.

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15 WussyLittle Paper Birds” from Wussy
This little band that could from Cincinnati is getting some good buzz in major publications (I know Spin has featured them several times).  I went to college with their female lead singer, Lisa Walker, and remember when she did a more folky thing.  I think Wussy’s sound suits her well (and vice versa).  Anyway, this is their third record, and features some great songs from both Lisa and Ass Ponys’ Chuck Cleaver.

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16 The Dead Kenny G’sBirther Blues” from Bewildered Herd
Prior to moving to the PacNW, I had heard of saxophonist Skerik via John Zorn and other avant-garde connections.  I never got to hear him until I moved here and saw him at Sam Bond’s.  He seems to be down here in Eugene every other month or so, in different band incarnations.  The Dead Kenny G’s features Skerik on tenor sax & pianos, Mike Dillon on drums (who I recently saw drum with Ani DiFranco), and Brad Houser on bass & baritone sax.

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17 Ikue MoriRedeye Skimmer” from Class Insecta
Ikue Mori is an interesting instrumentalist.  She mostly utilizes a laptop, and I saw her play live with Ellery Eskelin & Jim Black in NYC in 2007 and was wowed by the improvisational nature of her craft.  Most of her albums are more avant-garde.  She has one album that I’d consider to be much more accessible (1995’s Painted Desert on Japan’s DIY/Avant label).  Class Insecta is also more accessible than most of her work.  I suppose if you like well composed, electronic music dedicated to insect species, it’s for you!

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18 Derek WebbWhat Matters More” from Stockholm Syndrome
(bonus mp3) DOWNLOAD it >> http://www.derekwebb.com/387/WMM.zip
Stockholm Syndrome is an album that I’m bummed I didn’t get fit on the CD version of this compilation.  It’s going to place fairly well in my year-end “Best of 2009” list.  I think it’s the best thing Derek’s ever done, including Caedmon’s Call and prior solo work.  It has a great overall vibe, and a message that I can agree with, even though I don’t agree with his religious philosophy.  This song, while not the best on the album (IMO), has a great lyric and pro-gay marriage position and was actually banned by his independent Christian label (INO Records).  He subsequently released an “uncensored” version of the album, and now has the song available for free on his site.

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Let me know what you think…

unfortunately missing (due to space or flow limitations, or that I simply didn’t get them in the mail yet): pop from Regina Spektor, Zero 7 & the Swell Season; jazz from Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy and A Single Sky, Masada Quintet + Lovano, and The Fantastic Terrific Munkle; comedy from Flight of the Conchords; and some metal Ahleuchatistas, Megadeth, Isis, Dream Theater, Puscifer, Tides From Nebula & Alice in Chains.  Oh well, those may make it on my “favorite albums” of 2009 list.

~Dan – np: PusciferC is For…

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

ha’fway 2009

4th Jul 09 (Sat) 10 comments

Happy 233rd birthday, United States!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

(Sub)consciously prompted by these music blogs, here are my favs of the first half of 2009… it’s all bound to switch around by year’s end:

Artist Album (label)

  1. Dredg – The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion (Ohlone)
  2. Masada Quintet + Joe Lovano Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 12 ~ Stolas (Tzadik)
  3. OSI Blood (Inside Out Records)
  4. Wussy Wussy (Shake It Records)
  5. Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy Spirit Moves (Green Leaf Music)
  6. Wynton Marsalis He and She (EMI / Blue Note)
  7. John Zorn Alhambra: Love Songs (Tzadik)
  8. Regina Spektor Far (Sire / Warner)
  9. Isis Wavering Radiant (Ipecac)
  10. Zu Carboniferous (Ipecac)
  11. Dream Theater Black Clouds & Silver Linings, really only the instrumental disc (Roadrunner)
  12. Jamie Saft Black Shabbis (Tzadik)
  13. Madeleine Peyroux Bare Bones (Rounder)
  14. Secret Chiefs 3 Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini (Web of Mimicry)
  15. Ember Swift Lentic :: 子玉 (Few’ll Ignite Sound)

I didn’t get a few that already came out this year… the new Green Day, U2, Placebo, Eminem, Dave Matthews Band, Fever Ray, Crank 2 soundtrack (by Mike Patton).  I’m waiting for them to be cheaper used, but they may make it to the list at the end of the year.

The 2nd half of 2009 promises to bring some potential great ones, too… John Zorn’s O’o, Medeski Martin & Wood Radiolarians 3, Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane (possibly by November), Secret Chiefs 3 Book of Souls (maybe), a new Sufjan Stevens (just speculating, since it’s been a while), Ani DiFranco always has something coming out, Jon Madof’s CircuitBreaker debut (maybe) & another Rashanim, The Tango Saloon’s Transylvania (stateside release?), new Tristeza, Over the Rhine Live from Nowhere IV, George Hrab ‘s 6th album Trebuchet, Derek Webb‘s Stockholm Syndrome, SFJazz 2009 with Dave Douglas & Joe Lovano and others, A Perfect Circle internet only single releases (as mentioned back here), and a new Tool record (they’ve worked on it some, but I doubt it’ll hit until 2010)… and I’m sure another dozen or more that I’ll dig from Tzadik.

~Dan  – np: Cut ChemistThe Audience’s Listening

again… Happy 233rd birthday, United States!


This July 4th, celebrate Sarah Palin resigning as Alaskan governor!

* Favorite VOCAL Albums of 2007 *

6th Feb 08 (Wed) Leave a comment

My Other Favorites of 2007 Recaps:
Fav Concerts of ’07 are recapped *HERE*
Fav Local / Vinyl / Internet-Only / Podcasts of ’07 are *HERE*
Fav EPs / Compilations / Music DVDs of ’07 are *HERE*
Fav Instrumental Albums of ’07 are *HERE*

Favorite Vocal Albums of 2007
1) Silverchair Young Modern – Daniel Johns, leader of Silverchair, is one of my rock heroes. On Young Modern, he and the boys didn’t disappoint. This album is a continuation of the feel from Diorama, but perhaps more cohesive. Diorama was fantastic (A++), but this one seems less disjointed. Best album of the year, by far.

http://www.chairpage.com/
http://www.myspace.com/silverchair

2) Radiohead In Rainbows – This is a quintessential Radiohead album. Check out my track-by-track review HERE.

http://www.radiohead.com/
http://www.myspace.com/radiohead

3) Elliott Smith New Moon – I had many of the songs on this double-CD already from the demo stockpile on the internets, but this collection also had many new tunes from my favorite long lost songwriter. His death affected me more than any other “celebrity.” His words really cut through, and I’m glad that his unreleased music still made its way out.

http://www.sweetadeline.net
http://www.myspace.com/elliottsmithnewmoon

4) Ken Andrews Secrets of the Lost Satellite – Another rock hero of mine… I got into Ken Andrews via Chroma Key (Ken’s 1st On record was highly talked about by CK’s Kevin Moore, or Kevin was touring with Ken). Anyway, this newest solo album is a bit like On but also a bit like Failure & Year of the Rabbit. You can’t go wrong in my book, Ken. Some great hooky hardrock.

http://www.kenandrews.com/
http://www.myspace.com/kenandrews

5) Puscifer V is for Vagina – Another Maynard James Keenan side project. His main band (Tool) is still my favorite of his artistic outlets, but Puscifer has a really good vibe. Poor choice in album title (in my opinion), but I realize that it’s a stand against censorship (which I support.. meaning I support the stand against, not the actual censorship). Alas, the packaging for this album wins the Best Packaging Award for 2007. It’s built like an emergency airline pamphlet… and it’s quite hilarious. Kudos, Maynard!

http://www.puscifer.com/
http://www.myspace.com/censorshipisacancer

6) Iron & Wine The Shepherd’s Dog – Hush-toned singer-songwriter tour de force. Gritty and witty, subtle brutally honest lyrics. Nice story telling…

http://www.ironandwine.com/
http://www.myspace.com/ironandwine

7) Dug Pinnick (of king’s X) – Strum Sum Up – I love Dug/Doug. This is by far his best album. Great songs, and the extended jams are exciting, too (I kinda was disappointed when I first heard of the idea, but loved it once I heard the music). Wally Farkas (of the Galactic Cowboys) and Hal Sparks helped out on this record.

http://www.dugpinnick.com/
http://www.myspace.com/dugpinnickpoundhound

8 ) Michael Kelsey The Way It Rolls – Michael Kelsey gets added to the list of things I’m sad about moving away from Ohio. Michael Kelsey (not from Ohio, but neighboring Indiana) is a fucking Midwestern U.S. musical TREASURE. His records are always great, but his live show is one of legend. He blows your mind, the mind of the guy next to you, and the mind of the lady in the parking lot paying the meter… all with 6 strings and 37 fingers. I mean, the way he plays, he has to have 37 fingers. Doesn’t he?

http://www.michaelkelsey.com/
http://www.myspace.com/michaelkelseymusic

9) Wussy Left For Dead – Best local CD (Cincinnati, OH) for me in 2007. Lisa and Chuck are a great songwriting team. I dig both of their vocals, and the band knows how to kick it! Great rock and a well-produced sophomore record!

http://www.wussymusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/therealwussy

10) Nellie McKay Obligatory Villagers – Quirky, cute, brilliant songstress and obfuscator of journalists. Short and sweet third record. We got to see her this year in Eugene (concert review) this year. Fantastic show!! She rarely disappoints. I hope to hear more of her music now that she’s out of the clutches of Columbia/Sony/Artist Screwers Int’l.

http://www.nelliemckay.com/
http://www.myspace.com/prettylittlehead

11) Tegan and Sara The Con – Great indie pop rock record from this twin sister songwriting duo. This is their 5th record (by my count), and they truly get better with age.

http://www.teganandsara.com/
http://www.myspace.com/teganandsara

12) Abigail’s Ghost Selling Insincerity – For fans of Porcupine Tree… get this album now. It did for me what Steven Wilson didn’t do for me this year… get to 12 on my list. ;) Don’t worry, Steven Wilson continually impresses, too. Regardless, Abigail’s Ghost is right up a PT fan’s alley — lush progressive rock without the spandex, frizzy hair and crotch-too-tight falsetto.

http://www.abigailsghost.com/
http://www.myspace.com/abigailsghost

13) Blackfield Blackfield II – Ok, Steven Wilson made it to 13. I got to see Blackfield in NYC this year (concert review). Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson have a great chemistry. Blackfield II continues on the path laid out by BF I.

http://www.blackfield.org/
http://www.myspace.com/blackfield

14) Eisley Combinations – A harder-edged Sixpence None the Richer, perhaps. This five-piece band of siblings astonishes me. Mainly because if I could never be in a functioning band with my 3 other siblings. Add another… fahgetaboutit. Eisley brings great vocal harmonies and a rocky edge to what might have otherwise been sugary pop. Kudos on the sophomore album! I dig it.

http://www.eisley.com/
http://www.myspace.com/eisley

15) Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – You may have heard some of their songs on the radio. Dave Grohl and Co know how to rock and grab you with a hook. That’s all I can say.

http://www.foofighters.com/
http://www.myspace.com/foofighters

16) Megadeth United Abominations – Chunka chunka chunnk. I’m glad Dave Mustaine is back at it. Sometimes cheesy lyrically, usually brutal and fun listen, though. A+.

http://www.megadeth.com/
http://www.myspace.com/megadeth

17) Dream Theater Systematic Chaos – Complex and more rewarding after each listen.

http://www.dreamtheater.net/
http://www.myspace.com/dreamtheater

18 ) Crunchy Loserville – Monty Colvin (of the Galactic Cowboys) knows how to write a good pop-punk song about being an outcast. Some may say that’s his downfall. Oh, but what a sweet downfall… or… er… resulting record. His 3rd record under the Crunchy moniker… it’s a welcome addition to my collection of Colvin art (I also own one of his paintings… he’s a superb painter, yo!).

http://www.montycolvin.com/
http://www.myspace.com/montycolvin

19) Finger Eleven Them vs. You vs. Me – I had no idea that “Paralyzer” was big this year. Just shows you how much I know about radio (I haven’t purposefully listened in going on 20 years). Anyway, I’ve been a big fan of F11 since Tip (late 90s), and I’m glad that their last two records have been solid consistent hard rock… with vocals that I love.

http://www.fingereleven.com/
http://www.myspace.com/fingereleven

20) Over the Rhine The Trumpet Child – Well, I got “fired” by the band for being a “bad fan.” It was equal parts embarrassing, and equal parts rewarding. Alas, I still liked this record enough to crack the Top 20. “If a Song Could be President” (while quaint in lyric) is one of the worst songs ever for me (way too country for me), but “Don’t Wait For Tom” makes up for it. Totally fun track… and a solid record overall. Oh, and, Karin… sorry for being a bad fan. I still like ya.

http://www.overthewhine.com/
http://www.myspace.com/overthewhine

21) Greydon Square The Compton Effect – Great rap style with free-thinking atheist lyrics too boot. Infectious rhythms and vocals. I hope his follow-up this coming year tops it. :-) I also hopes he catches on more and can tour more beyond skeptical/atheist conferences to which I can’t afford to travel.

http://www.greydonsquare.com/
http://www.myspace.com/greydonsquare

22) Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) – Into the Wild – Got this for xmas from my brother (and sis-in-law). Fantastic short set by Eddie. I really need to see this movie, too… it’s from a book that I actually read. :P

http://www.pearljam.com
http://www.myspace.com/intothewildmovie

23) Tori Amos American Doll Posse – Solid album by pop’s bad girl. I think her many personas are getting tiring (see, I’m a “bad fan” of more than just Over the Rhine), but she still brings her A game for 95% of this CD. I wish I’d have seen her on her latest tour, too… I heard it was killer.

http://www.toriamos.com/
http://www.myspace.com/toriamos

24) Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet – Their material on the Nil Recurring -EP- should have made its way onto this record. Great stuff nonetheless… it grows on me, slower than prior PT work, but solid songs nonetheless.

http://www.porcupinetree.com/
http://www.myspace.com/porcupinetree

25) Tomahawk Anonymous – Mike Patton and Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) on Native American sourced rock songs. Not as all over the place like prior Tomahawk records… which is unfortunately missed. Alas, Mike and Duane still bring it, and over up a wonderful take on traditional tribal melodies.

http://www.ipecac.com/
http://www.myspace.com/tomahawkofficial

honorable mentions:
Coheed and CambriaGood Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV – Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow / That1Guy and the Magic PipeThe Moon is Disgusting / La Mar Enfortuna (aka Elysian Fields) – Conviviencia / OzomatliDon’t Mess With the Dragon / My Brightest DiamondTear It Down (remixes)

myspace/coheedandcambriamyspace/that1guymyspace/lamarenfortunamyspace/ozomatlimyspace/mybrightestdiamond

That’s it for my 2007 lists… whew… next year it’ll take less time to do (hopefully)…

~Dan – np: George HrabInterrobang

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