20. The Dream - Love vs. Money
After masterminding some of the biggest hits of the past couple years (Rihanna's "Umbrella", Beyonce's "Single Ladies"...list goes on and on), The Dream showed he could hold his own musically. Enlisting the help of the likes of Kanye and Mariah, The Dream crafted some steamy futuristic R&B cuts that kept PA systems of clubs all over the globe under a bump-n-grind trance. That "Radio Killa" moniker is well earned.
Listen: "Rockin' That Shit"
19. The Mars Volta - Octahedron
The Mars Volta make the list this year not because they added more static noise and maracas, but because they cut those sorts of excesses out. Don't get me wrong, Octahedron retains the psychedelic progressive Latin-spiced rock, but with a more tight composition, most obviously from their resident guitar freak Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. On the other spectrum, Cedric Bixlar-Zavala's vocals sound as impeccable as ever. From the depths of his cackling tenor to heights of his stratospheric falsetto (check: "Twilight As My Guide"), Cedric demands the majority of the attention and pushes this solid record onto another plane.
Listen- "Since We've Been Wrong"
18. Therefore I Am - The Sound of Human Lives
A late winner for me, these Boston hardcore kids are huge in Beantown, and rightfully so. Pairing thundering drumming and flying guitar lines with throat-scraping barks and electronic-tinged loops, the band charges forcefully through the album from the spoken-word intro of "Death By Fire" to the final scream in "Big Blue". And if you wanna check them musically, the instrumental title-track is a silencer. The sheer force of this record compels you to listen regularly and you will...trust me.
Listen - "I Am Only An Island"
17. Alexisonfire - Old Crows/Young Cardinals
Another album that dominated my head this summer. George Petit replaced his painful shrieks of the past with menacing slurring screams...and if were being honest, anything coupled with Dallas Green's amazing clean vocals will sound like gold. For my money, he's got one of the best voices on the music scene. Throw in crushing drumming and lyrics about nicotine babies, whores, and sons of priviledge...you got something cooking. Don't skip "Born and Raised", one of the best song of 2009 hands down.
Listen- "Born and Raised"
16. Devendra Banhart - What Will We Be?
Hadn't give much listen to freak-folker Devendra Banhart before What Will We Be? until I heard the first single "Angelika", whose breezy harmonies and Beach Boy melodies plop you down on an exotic beach somewhere. The rest of the album's trippy folk song keep you at that mental beach party until the fun and games end with the album, leaving you begging to go back.
15. Wale - Attention Deficit
Knowing I live in the DMV it's easy to see why I give love to Wale. But now the entire nation is getting up with what he's been putting down thanks to Attention Deficit. Wale's energizing blend of go-go and hip-hop along with his unique lyrical wordplay may not bring a Grammy back to D.C. like he claims just yet, but this record is a good first step.
Listen: Pretty Girls (feat. Gucci Mane and Weensy)
14. As Cities Burn - Hell or High Water
Sad the same year As Cities Burn released Hell or High Water, their finest work yet, they also break up. At least our last memories of them will be fond one. Standouts like the ripping feedback of "'84 Sheepdog" and the glimmering "Into the Sea" demonstrate a mature restraint more developed than their early days as a screamo act. We'll miss you guys!
13. The Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
This North Carolina based quartet had a breakout year, including a stint opening up for DMB on their hugely popular summer tour. A lot of it is thanks to this record, filled with wholesome odes to hipster mecca Brooklyn ("I and Love and You"), sweet-and-sour piano pop ("A Perfect Space", "Kick Drum Heart"), and even a country take on fuzzy garage rock The Strokes would be proud to have penned ("Slight Figure of Speech"). Still their harmonic version of Appalachian Mountain music comes through beautifully in the way these guys vary their arrangements. Expect these guys to be praiseworthy regulars in the pages of Rolling Stone for the next five years.
Listen: "I and Love and You"
12. Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
Conor Oberst sighting #2 (and final). It wasn't long between the announcement of a folk supergroup including Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) and M. Ward and the release of Monsters of Folk, but these guys put out quality tunes. Heralded as the Traveling Wilburys of our generation, M.O.F. more closely resemble CSNY with their lush orchestration and swirling harmonies. The best part of the group's chemistry is that each person (except Mogis) leads a share of the tracks without their former project's style dominating the feel of the music. A true collaboration in every sense of the word and hopefully M.O.F. ain't a one time deal.
Listen: "Say Please"
11. Drake - So Far Gone
In the remix of one of Drake's original cuts "Forever", he rapped "dropped a mixtape that shit sounded like an album". Yup, he got it right. Drake versatility on the mic lets him offer up swaggering party jams ("Best I Ever Had", "Uptown" (feat. Bun B and Lil' Wayne"), introspective crooners ("Houstatlantavegas", "Successful" (feat. Trey Songz and Lil' Wayne)), and sometimes both ("November 18th"). Thank Me Later will drop with serious expectations in 2010, but Drake's abilities shine through a truly great collection of music in So Far Gone.
Keep grindin' it out. The real deal tomorrow, 10 to the all important #1 record of 2009. Until then, later.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Tempus fugit. True enough. Hell of a year life-speaking and musically. Had some good times, learned a thing or two, and listened to some amazing music. So to my family, friends, fellow bloggers (especially the dudes at weworemasks and Bedwetting Cosmonaut), readers, and anyone who even accidentally clicked on my link 'cause they were tipsy...here's to many more!
With no further blabber:
30. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3
Always had respect for Hove, but hadn't really caught me with anything since 2003's Black Album. Then comes along BP3, dropping some of the biggest songs of the year (i.e. "Run This Town", "Empire State of Mind" and just wait til "Young Forever" catches on...) Slipped to the end of my list because there were a touch too many flat tracks, but no hate here...Jay can keep coming back until he dies and all eyes will always be on him.
Listen: "Off That" (feat. Drake)
29. Mansion - New Best Friend
Christopher Browder can write some great fuzzy pop songs. Intimate and emotive, he whispers hauntingly through the echoing strumming of "Insulated" and driving sear of the earnest "Talk, Talk, Talk". For anyone who remembers the first time they heard Straylight Run's first demos, you need to get on this ASAPz.
Listen: "Talk, Talk, Talk"
28. Moving Mountains - Foreword
Foreword gave us a fresh blend of atmospheric post-rock...clock most songs well over 5 minutes, these guys blended thundering drumming, sky-high walls of sonic chords, and etheral vocals to keep the song not drawn out, but complete. One of the most promising young acts out so check 'em out and tell your homies told ya so later.
Listen: "Lights and Shapes"
27. The Dangerous Summer - Reach for the Sun
Local boys The Dangerous Summer stepped up amongst the crowded lot of cookie-cutter pop-punk bands to release the best effort from the genre this year. Everything from the heart-on-sleeve lyrics, to the Kenny Vasoli sound-a-like vocals (singer/bassist AJ Perdomo) are enriched with a refreshing youthful honesty. Pop on "Weathered" and tell me I'm wrong.
26. Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
First Conor Oberst sighting on this list. This time bringing along the Mystic Valley Band for some credit with one of their most collaborative efforts yet. Though the grip this album held over me in the early summer months wore off, there are some great road trippin' cuts ("I Got The Reason #2", "Slowly (Oh So Slowly)", "Big Black Nothing", and "Ten Women"). Not to mention "To All The Lights In The Windows" has all the fixins to be a straight classic track. I have this theory that Conor could be our generations Bob Dylan...this helps make my case.
Listen: "To All The Lights In The Windows"
25. K-os - Yes!
A great hip-hop album no one talked about. Still think the Phantom Planet sample (aka. OC theme song) on "I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman" should've have blown the song up but what can you do. Through the paranoia of "Eye Know Something" and brooding spitfire of "Zambony" this Canadian MC makes sure to bring the goods: equal parts Bob Marley-like hooks and zany, head spinning rhymes. Don't overlook it also.
Listen:"I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman"
24. The Republic of Wolves - His Old Branches
All that needs to be said is right here. Best new band of the year and I can't wait to see what they have in store in their bright, bright future. For any Brand New fans this is a must-have.
23. Closure in Moscow - First Temple
These Aussie boys help bring out the award for best debut record in 2009. Bringing the fury of Saosin ("Reindeer Age") and Coheed Guitar Hero-quality shredding ("Vanguard"), Closure In Moscow keeps enough in the tank to throw their listeners a curveball with more twists and turns than a pre-Lady in the Water M. Night film ("A Night At The Spleen"). Each individual in this band has immense talent and is definitely another one to watch in the coming years.
22. U2 - No Line on the Horizon
It's been over 20 years and Bono and co. have some inability to cease putting out good music. More abstract and less structured than their more popular albums, No Line on The Horizon carries a more spiritual and philosophical tone (see: "Unknown Caller"). This is art in one of it's most pure forms. Don't get me wrong, Joshua Tree and War will always be essentials, but wait and see how time favors No Line on the Horizon and I'll be shocked if it isn't mentioned in the same breath soon enough.
21. Portugal. The Man. - The Satanic Satanist
As far as music goes, I'll always reward consistency. Portland-via Alaska based pyschadelic pop outfit Portugal. The Man. have always been productive (releasing five albums between in the past 5 years), but have the tendency to jump all over the place. The Satanic Satanist shows them at their most focused, showcasing their skillz with solid dreamy sing-a-long after dreamy sing-a-long reminiscent of The Beatles more L.S.D. laden years. Can't wait to see what they have in store for their next album, American Ghetto, slated to drop in Spring 2010.
Phewwww. Stay tuned...20-11 comin' at ya tomorrow. Night ya'll.
Charles is officially back with his new mixtape The Normalcy Project. Been keeping up with some of the tracks on it and from the sounds of 'em, he's going hard on each and every cut. Not quite like watching Britney salvaging her career from the shaved head/umbrella wielding stage, but a comeback nonetheless. Grab it below...
Download: Charles Hamilton - The Normalcy Project
MySpace: Charles Hamilton
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Video from New Found Glory's stop in Pomona, CA. Pretty literal cover. Jordan's voice will always have that signature whine, but I thought he did the song justice, even hitting some tricky notes at the beginning of the chorus. Sheeeee's a brick...
MySpace: New Found Glory
Friday, December 25, 2009
Hop over to Coheed's myspace to hear a cover of The Church's new wave smash "Under The Milky Way Tonight." Heavy on electronics, but hearing Claudio's voice over anything is fresher than Whole Foods groceries (plug). Year of the Black Rainbow: 4 months and counting...
Listen: Coheed and Cambria - "Under The Milky Way Tonight" (The Church cover)
Got a present from my fam to yours with a little help from Lupe Fiasco. Dropped a brand-spanking new track off his upcoming We Are Lazers and you can grab an MP3 of it for free below. Lupe is always smooth and I'm getting the album title with all the zapping synths in this one. Merry Christmas everyone, spread the love.
Download: Lupe Fiasco - "I'm Beaming"
MySpace: Lupe Fiasco
Cudi stopped by to perform his newest single off Man on the Moon for Conan and Co. Songs unquestionably good, but the best part was to see the confidence (SWAGGGG) and stage command Cudi got working for him now. Video below.
MySpace: Kid Cudi
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
New single from Canadian post-hardcore band Secret & Whisper. I think this is the song Saosin has been trying to write forever. Unrelentingly heavy, but still enough stratospheric vocal/guitar melodies to rise above it. Can't wait for Teenage Fantasy.
Download: Secret & Whisper - "Warrior (Southern Arrowwood)"
MySpace: Secret & Whisper
P.O.S. announced his aptly-titled second tour and he's bringing out Dessa to fill his Doomtree quota. Interested to see her style crosses over in a live atmosphere. Same for Astronautalis, but his collaborations with P.O.S. are always on point (see Astronautalis' "Story of My Life"). Fellow Rhymesayers member Grieves rounds things out...haven't heard much of his music but he's got buzz and he's somehow blood related to Mac Lethal (brother? cousin?) so that can't hurt. Every P.O.S. always feels like a family reunion so be there. Dates below...
POS with Dessa and Grives
2/2 Lawrence KS Jackpot
2/4Colorado Springs CO Black Sheep
2/5 Denver CO The Marquis Theatre
2/6 Salt Lake City UT Kilby Court
2/7 Salt Lake City UT Urban Lounge
2/8 Boise ID Knitting Factory
2/9 Missoula MT Badlander
2/11 Vancouver BC CANADA The Biltmore Cabaret
2/12 Seattle WA Nectar Lounge
2/13 Portland OR Berbati's Pan
2/14 Eugene OR WOW Hall
2/16 Reno NV Tonic Lounge
2/18 San Francisco CA Bottom Of The Hill
2/19 West Hollywood CA The Troubadour
2/20 San Diego CA The Loft - UCSD
2/21 Pomona CA The Glass House
2/22 Scottsdale AZ Chasers
2/23 Tucson AZ Club Congress
2/24 Albuquerque NM Launchpad
POS with Dessa and Astonautalis
2/26 Austin TX Red 7
2/27 Denton TX Hailey
2/28 New Orleans LA The Parish Room - HOB
3/2 Tallahassee FL Club Downunder
3/3 Orlando FL Backbooth
3/4 Atlanta GA The Masquerade
3/5 Chapel Hill NC Local 506
3/6 Washington DC DC9
3/7 Philadelphia PA First Unitarian Church
3/9 New York NY Bowery Ballroom
3/10 Cambridge MA Middle East Downstairs
3/11 Portland ME Space
3/12 Burlington VT Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
3/13 Montreal QC CANADA II motore
3/14 Toronto ON CANADA Sneaky Dee's
3/16 Pontiac MI The Pike Room at Crofoot Ballroom
3/17 Cleveland Heights OH Grog Shop
3/18 Chicago IL The Bottom Lounge
3/19 Madison WI High Noon Saloon
3/20 Milwaukee WI Turner Hal
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Powerful video for the fourth single off Blueprint 3. Kinda feels like those Levi's commercials without the corporate sponsor let down. The cut itself is sick...Mr. Hudson kills the hook, reminding everyone to keep on the look out for him, and Hove remains one of the few MCs whose beats show off tactful sampling (cough pay attention Flo Rida cough)...well done all round boys.
Download: Jay-Z - "Young Forever" (feat Mr. Hudson)
New single coming from newly major label-ed (verb?) Four Year Strong. After that cover band nonsense its great to see them getting back to their roots and delivering a great pop-punk song. Any fan of Rise or Die Trying will be glad with the cut...plenty of machine gun double-bass kicks, crazy riffing, and an anthemic chorus that's catchier than H1N1. Clearly doesn't suck thaaaaat much to be them...har har har. Enemy of the World slated to drop March 9th...LET'S GO!
Download: Four Year Strong - "It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now"
MySpace: Four Year Strong
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Haven't heard much Vampire Weekend, aside from the opening scene in Step Brothers (did we just become best friends?) Starting to see why so many people dig these guys. Tumbling drums, chirpy vocals, and a slight electro-dabbing. Definitely get why they are huge in the UK. Look out for their new record Contra on January 12, 2010.
Listen: Vampire Weekend - "White Sky"
Sad news as Cincinnati Bengals WR Chris Henry died this morning at the age of 26 after falling out of the back of a moving pick up truck during a domestic dispute with his fiancee. As a Redskin fan, I can sympathize with many Bengals fans after enduring Sean Taylor's murder in 2007. Many similarities exist between the two tragedies: both had their share of early troubles. Both were in the process of getting back in line because, both were fathers. Most importantly, both passed away to young. 21 will always stick with us Skins fans, but today, all our minds are with Henry. R.I.P.
Read: "Henry, 26, dies day after dispute"
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Midnight on a beach in the Mediterranean,
And I miss you...even here, taking it all in
The sand, silvered, carries the moon on its shoulders
Is it possible to put this night to tune, and move it to you?
Those lyrics about sum up this 2005 cut for me. Throw in chiming riffs, dripping keys, and a pumping chorus...takes your right out on the Mediterranean with them. Really powerful. Menos El Oso is taken over my life about now, you down too?
Download: Minus The Bear - "Pachuca Sunrise"
MySpace: Minus The Bear
Let's keep the holidays rollin', rollin', rollin' (I ain't slept in a week). New high-budget, Band of Brothers style visuals for "This is War" . Kinda surprised they did a montage for "In Exile" with the quality of this. Either way solid track, comes off the Thrice frontman's 2008 Christmas record This Good Night Is Still Everywhere...music's always a good holiday gift!
Buy: Dustin Kensrue - This Good Night Is Still Everywhere
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Visuals for the second song to drop from Ernest Greene aka Washed Out's Life of Leisure EP. Nintendo, neon headbands, VHS...I think we get the 80's vibe. Dig these tunes hard though. If you need a mental trip to some Pacific island ASAP, get on some Washed Out now.
Download: Washed Out - "Belong" (direct link)
MySpace: Washed Out
With the first proper release from The Republic of Wolves (better known as "that band mistaken for Brand New"), the Long Island youngsters prove they've got the skills to shelter fans from the quickly closing Brand New camp.
On the His Old Branches EP, the band chooses to fully master the four demos that ended up released on Youtube as Daisy demos. While no real change is made to the face of the cuts, the body of the tunes went through some serious production work outs, emerging extremely beefed up. In my humble opinion, "Spill" showcases the superior songwriting and emotional power the band is capable of at such a young age.
New tracks include the winding opener, "Done Haunting Houses" and ghostly semi-ballad "The Clouds". The standout amongst them is the title-track: a jazzy free-form gem that builds slowly in the bridge before ripping into a seething, jagged solo. Though they keep themselves from straying to far from their formula, these cuts off enough progression to yield enough drool.
Addressing the elephant in the room: yes, the Brand New influence is unquestionable. The somber, slurring wails, the sound dynamics of "Cardinals", and pretty much all of "A Weather Vane" scream Fight Off Your Demons. Yet I'd argue, as Brand New appears to be coming to an end, The Republic of Wolves may just pick up where they left off. I mean, if they sound like late Brand New when they're first starting...that's a hell of a Square 1.
It'll be tough for The Republic of Wolves to break free from the shadow of their Long Island elders, but with the promise they possess, it's really hard not to root for them. Only time will tell, but His Old Branches is a great first impression.
Buy: The Republic of Wolves - His Old Branches EP
MySpace: The Republic of Wolves
Never gave Girl Talk's 2008 record Feed the Animals the same attention as 2006's Nightripper, which I might've literally drooled on. Still, Greg Gillis knows how to read drastically different tracks and get a good feel for melody/tempo/etc...
Check aptly titled "Still Here" featuring a smooth mix of Blackstreet's "No Diggity", Kanye West's "Flashing Lights", Radiohead's "15 Steps" and The Band's "The Weight". How about "Here's The Thing"? Got a hollow-to-crunchy mix of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" over Nine Inch Nails "Wish" before transitioning into a crushing "Jessie's Girl" to Three 6 Mafia's "I'd Rather" hybrid.
Straight ridiculousness. Plus, throw this on at any champagne-sprayin', dance-oriented shindig and you got some magic. Play yo part....
MySpace: Girl Talk
Monday, December 14, 2009
With Christmas less than two weeks away (???), figured it's about time to get in the spirit. Kevin Devine posted a great homemade video for his new X-mas tune "Splitting Up Christmas". Typical dopeness. Grab the track TODAY ONLY (*used car salesman voice*). Myself, I gotta get back to copy and pasting song lyrics for my little brother...kids these days.
Download: Kevin Devine - "Splitting Up Christmas" (Right Click > Save As)
MySpace: Kevin Devine
Guess that time off freshen Charles Hamilton up. So far he's dropped three solid new tracks and this one might be the best yet. Putting the pink polo down for a second, Charles sounds more focused lyrically, vocally, and production-wise...about ready to check out The Normalcy Project later this week. He's baaaaack!
Download: Charles Hamilton - "Airs Again"
MySpace: Charles Hamilton
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Video: The Black Keys - "Dollaz and Sense"/"Telling Me Things" (feat. RZA) (Live on The Fallon Show)
The Black Keys must be making a late show tour in support of their Blakroc project...stopped by Jimmy Fallon Show with Wu-guru RZA to perform his two tracks on the record. "Telling Me Things" is still one of the eeriest cuts I've heard in awhile...if The Black Keys ever do one of those shows where they play through an entire record with Blakroc, I'ma need to be there.
Download: The Black Keys - "Dollaz and Sense" (feat. RZA)
Download: The Black Keys - "Telling Me Things" (feat. RZA)
MySpace: The Black Keys
Friday, December 11, 2009
I've never seen Therefore I Am live, but this video was exactly my mental picture of what it'd be like. Sick visuals, probably would've chosen "Splinters", "My Father, The Fatalist" or "For The Sake of Skin" over this as a single, but I guess just most songs on The Sound of Human Lives are dope...
MySpace: Therefore I Am
Solid performance. Michael Angelakos voice is crazy. That about sums it up. Oh and, higher and higher and higher...
MySpace: Passion Pit
Windy City duo Kidz In The Hall dropped a new mixtape compiling a lot of the songs they've work on over the past year. Although Naledge's rhymes don't explore any deep themes and his flow has no real acrobatics to it, he still possesses a solid pop appeal. The standout is Double O's production, sounding more like and more like 9th Wonder with his soul and disco beat samples. A solid bit of tunes to wrap your mind around in anticipation of their next record Land of Make Believe, which will definitely grab some minds.
Download: Kidz in the Hall - The Professional Leisure Tour
MySpace: Kidz in the Hall
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Jim Jones and Mos joined The Black Keys on Letterman to drop a performance of their Blakroc single "Aint Nothing Like You". Everyone sounded on point and I'll stay on record that Jim Jones killlls the verse. I think I've given enough love to convince ya'll to pick up Blakroc, but if not..DO IT!
MySpace: The Black Keys
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Charles continues his comeback with a new track. Feeling only alright on the verses, but the hook is what's up. One thing is for sure, he's brought his A-game on production. Interested to check out The Normalcy Project mixtape, dropping any day now.
Download: Charles Hamilton - "Loserville"
MySpace: Charles Hamilton
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Dope new video for my personal favorite track off Man on the Moon. Never noticed a party vibe on it so all the champagne sprayin surprised me. Video also includes a Drizzy sighting as he continues to pop up everywhere. Still cool the see the Kanye faction (Cudi) and Wayne faction (Drake) representing the up-and-comers together. Don't sleep on Man on the Moon either...straight class.
MySpace: Kid Cudi
Confirmation that Jonsi voice is jaw-dropping in English as it is in Icelandic or whatever language the Sigur Ros frontman is making up now. You can pick up classical composer Nico Mulhy's touch all over the string section of the track, but more in a grandiose, theatrical way bringing an added epicness to it. If this is whats to come from Jonsi's solo career count me in. Go slated to drop March 22, 2010.
Download: Jonsi - "Boy Lilikoi"
MySpace: Sigur Ros
Rx Bandits dropped by Fuse studios to perform a couple cuts off this year's excellent Mandala. I'm more partial to "It's Only Another Parsec" especially Steve Choi moving between liquidy synth lines and spiraling riffage. Seriously one of the best groups out...
Oh and Mandala is only $5.99 on Amazon. Show it love!
MySpace: Rx Bandits
Touching anything on Deja Entendu is really, really risky in my opinion. If it ain't broke don't fix it. That being said I have to give love to up-and-coming New York indie group The Narrative. Their cover of "Tautou" bounces between the original somber darkness of the track and adds a playfulness with call and return vocals between Jesse (hmmm) Gabriel and Suzie Zeldin. Got me drinkin' up their Kool Aid at least. Do your thang and grap an MP3 below...Just Say Yes, The Narrative's debut record, is in stores now. Get at it.
Download: The Narrative- "Tautou" (Brand New Cover)
MySpace: The Narrative
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Shawn Harris finally drops off some more details on his post-Matches side project. Check out this video correspondence between Harris and other Maniac member Jake Griggs (singer of Australian pop rock group Something With Numbers)to get the updates. EP from Maniac expected to drop sometime in Feburary so keep a look out...