It’s that most wonderful time of the year. This is the same list I’ve contributed to Pazz and Jop and other sites and publications I write for, but here ya go:
1 – The War on Drugs – Wagonwheel Blues (Secretly Canadian) – This record seemed to come out of nowhere and completely blew me away. Adam Granduciel has combined the best elements of traditional American rock with innovative experimentalism and managed to come off completely unpretentious.
2 – She & Him – Volume One (Merge) – I can’t believe this NPR-ready record is making it on my year-end list, but who can argue with Zooey Deschanel’s sweet vocals and girl-group meets Motown meets Nashville songwriting, and M. Ward’s inventive arrangements?
3 – Deerhunter – Microcastle (Kranky) – This time, believe the hype.
4 – Prodigy – HNIC Pt. 2 (AAO Music) – Who needs Havoc? P discovers fire on his own, keeping it sinister, gully, and somehow thoughtful.
5 – Cut Copy – In Ghost Colors (Modular/Interscope) – Cheesy house music meets irresistible Australian indie rock. It’s OK, to dance, really.
6 – The Lord Dog Bird – The Lord Dog Bird (Jagjaguwar) – Colin McCann’s (Wilderness guitar player) four-track opus. Sure, it’s rough, but that’s the point.
7 – Wilderness – (k)no(w)here (Jagjaguwar) – Speaking of Wilderness… a triumphant return to form after a so-so sophomore album.
8 – MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (Columbia) – Radio sensations deserve their popularity, making keyboard-driven music that’s both fun and poignant.
9 – Mighty Joseph – Empire State (Phantom Sound & Vision) – Vast Aire and Karnegie combine to force me to add another hip-hop release to my list in a year that didn’t find many deserving considerations.
10 – Scarlett Johannson – Anywhere I Lay My Head (Atco/Rhino) – Terrible actress, mediocre singer, Tom Waits covers… a recipe for disaster turned intriguing by David Sitek’s amazing production. How did two actresses get on this list?
The Rapture’s newest album was not a studio-produced session, but instead a mix CD – part of the K7 collection. Tapes interestingly explores various elements of hip-hop, disco, and house, showcasing the many influences on the band’s original work. Read my review here.
Merge will release Superchunk’s The Clambakes Vol. 4 – Sur La Bouche – Live in Montreal 1993 on January 13. This was recorded at the Backstreet by Howard Bilerman while the band toured for the excellent album On the Mouth. The album will be available for digital download the Merge online store, and free for all SCORE! subscribers.
I, for one, miss Superchunk, but maybe that’s just my ’90s nostalgia kicking in. Like Crooked Fingers to Archers of Loaf, Mac McCaughan’s Portastatic is good, but just doesn’t provide the kick in the nuts rock of his old band. Let’s revisit some memories:
Morrissey’s new album, Years of Refusal, is due out on 2/17 on Attack/Lost Highway. Bizarre album cover aside, I have high expectations after seeing Moz shut down the Hollywood Palladium before last year’s renovations. Simply put, his performance was ecstatic and amazing. The tracklist:
1) Something Is Squeezing My Skull
2) Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed
3) Black Cloud
4) I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
5) All You Need Is Me
6) When Last I Spoke to Carol
7) That’s How People Grow Up
8) One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
9) It’s Not Your Birthday Anymore
10) You Were Good In Your Time
11) Sorry Doesn’t Help
12) I’m OK By Myself
02/28 – Boca Raton, FL @ Mizner Park
03/01 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
03/03 – Jacksonville, FL @ Florida Theater
03/04 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Landing
03/06 – Myrtle Beach, SC @ House of Blues
03/07 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
03/09 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
03/11 – Durham, NC @ Durham Performing Arts Center
03/13 – Richmond, VA @ The National
03/14 – Washington, DC @ Warner Theater
03/16 – Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theater
03/17 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Carnegie Music Hall
03/19 – Buffalo, NY @ University of Buffalo Center for the Arts
03/21 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
03/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ Academy of Music
03/25 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
03/26 – New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall
03/28 – Mashantucket, CT @ Foxwoods
03/29 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues
03/31 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Michigan Theater
04/01 – Columbus, OH @ Palace Theater
04/03 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom
04/04 – Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
04/06 – Minneapolis, MN @ State Theater
04/07 – Kansas City, MO @ Midland Theater
04/08 – St. Louis, MO @ Pageant Theater
04/10 – Dallas, TX @ Palladium Ballroom
04/11 – Houston, TX @ Jesse H. Jones Hall
04/12 – Austin, TX @ Bass Concert Hall
04/14 – El Paso, TX @ Chavez Theater
04/15 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater
Secret Machines released their new self-titled album a few months ago, after their relationship with Warner Brothers disintegrated. What could have been a fresh start for the band turned out to be a rather boring misstep. Read my review of the new album here.
But it is Christmas, and you know how much musicians like to cover Christmas songs. The Machines’ Brandon Curtis, helped out by a vocalist named Tamaryn (with an EP coming out on Troubleman), has covered the classic “Silent Night,” available for download from their website. You can make a donation, if you wish, which will benefit Safe Horizon, a children’s charity.
“We originally released it in 2006 as a little Christmas gift of our own, on MySpace,” says Curtis. “Tamaryn and I were both performing in New York at the time, and we were looking for an opportunity to work
together on some music. It was December and we were confined by the cold, confined by the holidays, and confined by our own disillusionment.” In other words, happy holidays.
Delicious Vinyl has released a new Pharcyde mix by one Mr. Bobby Evans, of Brother Reade fame, featuring 40 tracks from the entire Pharcyde catalogue. That’s a good thing, since the occasional recent output from the once great group has been nothing short of garbage. Says Mr. Evans himself:
“With this mix, I had complete access to the Pharcyde’s full catalog. I was playing with the idea of doing this mix strictly chronologically but in the end I didn’t want to pin it down like that. Instead I trawled through ever nook and cranny and came up with a playlist of which songs I wanted to use and how I wanted them to flow. Then I started figuring out ways of working in the more esoteric bits and pieces I found, so that instead of just a continuous mix of Pharcyde records there are interviews and live versions phasing in and out. It gives the mix as a whole more peaks.”
Ya mama got a glass eye with a fish in it.
Paul Wall has announced the release of his new album, Fast Life, for sometime in the first few months of 2009. The debut single, “Bizzy Body,” can be heard right here. There’s gonna be mad, mad crew supplying both beats and rhymes on the new album, including, but not limited to: Akon, Yung Joc, Gorilla Zoe, Too Short, Z-Ro, Lil’ Keke, Expensive Taste, Amadeus, Mouse on Tha Track, Beans & Cornbread. I’m stupid hungry now.
Ooh, nothing’s as good as this:
Aesop Rock has a new track available for download at the Def Jux site. Although the process for getting said free download is a bit more convoluted than is necessary, the results should satisfy all loyal Jukies. The song is a collaboration with artist Jeremy Fish called The Ghosts of the Barbary Coast, and the download includes lyrics and a Quicktime slideshow of Fish’s work. Get it all right here.
I have a couple of articles running in this week’s SF Weekly. First up is my second review of the excellent new Wilderness album, (K)no(w)here (Jagjaguwar). Second, I tackled the shockingly controversial subject of electronic artists like Matthew Dear deciding to go on tour with live backing bands! Read at your own risk!
The past year and a half has been fruitful for Wu-Tang mastermind, the RZA, and the saga continues. Afro Samurai: Resurrection, a second soundtrack album for Spike TV’s animated series, will hit stores on January 27th (Wu Music Group). Guests include Sly Stone, Kool G Rap, Rah Digga, and the late ODB’s son, Boy Jones.
In other RZA-related news, the Abbot himself will star in a new Judd Apatow film, Funny People, this summer. Will the RZA be as funny as co-stars Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, and Seth Rogen? I can’t wait to find out. Bung, bung.
Afro Samurai: Resurrection tracklist:
1) Combat (Afro Season II Open Theme) – RZA; P. Dot
2) You Already Know – Kool G Rap; Inspectah Deck; Suga Bang
3) Blood Thicker Than Mud “Family Affair” – Reverand William Burke; Sly Stone; Stone Mecca
4) Whar – Kool G Rap; Ghostface Killah; Tash Mahogany; RZA
5) Girl Samurai Lullaby – Rah Digga; Stone Mecca
6) Fight for You – Thea Van Seijen
7) Bitch Gonna Get Ya’ – Rah Digga
8) Bloody Days Bloody Nights – Prodgical Sunn; Thea Van Siejen
9) Kill Kill Kill – Rugged Monk
10) Nappy Afro – Boy Jones
11) Bloody Samurai – Black Knights; Dexter Wiggles; Thea Van Seijen
12) Dead Birds – Killah Priest; Prodgical Sunn; Shavo
13) Arch Nemesis – Ace; Moe Rock
14) Brother’s Keeper – Reverand William Burke; The RZA; Infinite
15) Yellow Jackets – Ace; Moe Rock
16) Take the Sword pt. III – 60 Second Assassin; Leggezin; Crisi; Christ Bearer; Rugged Monk; Tré Irie; Kinetic; Reverand William Burks; Bobby Digital
17) Number One Samurai (Afro Season II Outro) – The RZA ; 9th Prince
Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs has joined forces with Fresno, CA MC Planet Asia to bring us Pain Language (Gold Dust Media). This is an excellent match, in the style of Muggs’ work with GZA on Grandmasters several years ago. Read all about it right here.
I get way too much shit for it from certain parties, but I love The Knife. Silent Shout was a moody, dark, atmospheric electro-pop record of great import and quality. Several years later, one can only hope and wonder what the next Knife record will be like. (Perhaps their recent opera work will provide some clues).
In the meantime, Karin Dreijer Andersson will release a record on Mute as Fever Ray this March. The only song you can hear thus far is an instrumental version of its first single, “If I Had a Heart,” on her MySpace page. But the track will available for download starting December 16th.
Some words from Ms. Andersson herself: “I had so many songs to record that I just had to make an album. I thought I was going to have a longer break but I guess it will never happen. I can’t stop working. My aim was to finish the album and now that it’s done I’m a bit restless (good that The Knife has an opera to write then.) During the last years I discovered that I like to sing too, so I hope that my newly found live band will make it to the stages next year. We are rehearsing and building something beautiful and brilliant.”