• Album of the Year: 2010

    17. Dez. 2010, 1:43

    I never could have seen this coming... in a year that saw new releases from Autechre (album + ep), Squarepusher, Amon Tobin, Flying Lotus (album + ep) and PVT... my album of the year is from a new electronic duo that I had never even heard of a few months prior. I'm group I'm talking about is Solar Bears and the album is She Was Colored In.

    I was first introduced to these 2 guys from Dublin on the very first Bleep podcast. The haunting, yet beautifully calming sounds of Solarization stood out from everything else I heard and I immediately headed to Bleep to sample more... I loved what I heard. This first album from Solar Bears fills me with much of the same thoughts and emotions I get from Boards of Canada, and their style isn't radically different either. For me, it's a nice mixture of Boards of Canada and Bibio. There isn't really anything radically different or new on this record, but already it feels like an old favorite when I give it a spin.

    I think what set it above Autechre's Oversteps and Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma for me is the pure consistency offered here. Usually on an album, there are a few areas I feel could have been adjusted... this bit is a little too long... this segment brings down an otherwards fantastic track. But not here - I love every moment of this album, from intro sample (Jack Nicholson from "The Passenger") to the very last recorder click (which is a wonderful way to end an album).

    The album works very much as a whole, a few of the tracks that stand a bit above the rest are Children Of The Times, Twin Stars, Cub & Dolls

    Before this album, Solar Bears also released an EP which is fantastic... but, for me, it doesn't hold a candle to the completeness of She Was Colored In. I can honestly say I'm VERY excited to see what these guys come up with next. But they can take their time, because I'm quite content to just listening to this album over and over for awhile.
  • Playlist: Animal Inspiration

    10. Apr. 2006, 21:09

    So I had this cool idea for a playlist... animals! I just took any track I have with an animal species in the title (or closely animal related) and threw them all together. I only took the studio version of any song with multiples available (no live, demos). I was quite surprised by the number of songs in the playlist... 89! So 2.2% of all my songs are animal songs... hmmm.

    Anyways, you guys should give it a try... I had a most interesting animal-themed weekend listening to the whole playlist. For my own personal amusement I tallied up my zoo population (in animal-alphabetical order of course):

    2 ants, 2 bears, a bee, a beetle, 3 unidentified birds, a blackbird, a bull, 2 butterflies, 4 cats, some cattle, a cockroach (why?), a cow, a crow, a deer, 9 dogs, a dolphin, 2 generic fish, 2 flies, a frog, a gerbil, a goat, 2 horses, 2 lambs, a leech, a mockingbird, 5 monkeys, 2 mosquitos, a mule, 2 otters, 3 pigs, 3 rats, a rattlesnake, a raven, a rhinoseros, a rooster, a sardine, a sheep, a snail, 3 generic snakes, a sparrow, 4 spiders, 2 swans, a tick, a wasp, 2 whales, 3 wolfs, 3 worms, 2 unidentified animals, and 1 generic pet.

    And here's what my playlist included:

    "Cha!" Said The Kitty
    4 White Stallions
    A Crow Left of the Murder
    A Wolf At The Door (It Girl. Rag Doll)
    Ants Marching
    Army Ants
    Bee Girl
    Bi-Polar Bear
    Big Eyed Fish
    Black Dog
    Bullet With Butterfly Wings
    Bulls on Parade
    Butterfly In Reverse
    Call Me A Dog
    Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums
    Deer Dance
    Dog Paddle
    Dog Star Radio
    Doin' the Cockroach
    Drawing Flies
    Essex Dogs
    For All the Cows
    Freeze-Dried (F)lies
    Give the Mule What He Wants
    Hello Kitty Kat
    Horses And Needles
    Hunting Bears
    I Came as a Rat
    I Think I Smell a Rat
    Leg of Lamb
    Little Bird
    Loki Cat
    Loki Cat (Reprise)
    Make Everyone Happy / Mechanical Birds
    Man or Animal
    Mockingbird Girl
    Monkey Business
    Monkey Gone to Heaven
    Monkey Wrench
    Mosquito Song
    Of Wolf and Man
    Otter Rock
    Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
    Pig Charmer
    Red Mosquito
    Ride a Black Swan
    Sit Down, Stand Up (Snakes & Ladders)
    Sitting With The Dog
    Snake Charmer
    Someone's in the Wolf
    Space Monkeys
    Swan Song
    Teen Lambchop
    The Dam At Otter Creek
    The Dolphin's Cry
    The Snake
    The Worm
    Three Little Birdies Down Beats
    Ticks & Leeches
    Waiting for the Worms
    War Dogs
    Whale & Wasp
    Whale Song
    Where Fishes Go
    Wild Packs of Family Dogs

    If anyone else actually tries this with their collection I'd love to hear from you!
  • Top Albums: No Code

    25. Feb. 2006, 21:35

    No Code

    I've been a huge Pearl Jam fan for quite a while now - they're probably my favorite rock band. I've seen them about 5 or 6 times live, way more than any other band. When a group has 7 studio albums, it's a bit tougher to choose one that rises above all the rest - but in the case of Pearl Jam, this album just calls out to me... No Code.

    Their 4th record, perfect... right in the middle. I've always thought of No Code as their laid-back, mellowed-out album... and it is more so than the others, but the other half offers some of the most rockin' songs the band has ever recorded! Both the band's softest (Sometimes)and hardest tracks (Lukin) to date are found on this one album. It's an awesome balance, and it offers up a wonderful variety.

    Sometimes - A very simple song, but a powerful start to the album! It all begins with a quiet, simple riff and sliding background bass. Some soothing vocals from Eddie make this 2:40 minute track very memorable.
    Large fingers pushing paint
    You're god and you've got big hands

    Hail, Hail - One of the album's singles, and with very good reason. Track 2 and already completely opposite of track 1. One of my very favorites... just a classic hard rock song!
    I get the words and then I get to thinking
    I don't wanna think, I wanna feel

    Smile - Probably not considered by many as one of the top songs on the disc, but I have a personal love for it. Eddie brings out the harmonica here and it all comes together for a nice bluesy rock sound.
    Don't it make you smile?
    When the sun don't shine... it don't shine at all

    Off He Goes - I've got to mention this one. The album comes down again near the middle and gives us one of the band's best slower songs. Very mellow, with some saddened undertones. Great song!
    I wonder 'bout his insides
    It's like his thoughts are too big for his size

    Red Mosquito - This song rocks! Mike's got the sweetest effect on his electric... very unique and really makes this song stand out!
    I was bitten... must have been the devil
    He was just paying me a little visit
    reminding me of his presence
    And letting me know he's waiting

    I'm Open - Wow! I would love to have more songs like this... the lyrics are presented story-book style, with Eddie reading off the lines. The background sounds and effects provide a wonderful atmosphere.
    After spending half his life searching he still feels as blank as the ceiling at which he's staring
    He's alive, but feels absolutely nothing... so is he?

    That was more songs than I intended on writing about... it's just so hard to label some above the rest. In fact, my frustration completely confirmed my feeling of this album! This isn't just one of my favorite Pearl Jam discs... it's one of the best I own.

    If you like Pearl Jam, or even rock music in general - you need to give this album a listen. In fact, go buy it... it also has probably the coolest packaging I've ever seen (complete with collectable polaroids)! The music will do the rest.

    Thanks for reading, and your thoughts are always welcome!

  • Top Albums: Come With Us

    15. Feb. 2006, 4:05

    Come With Us

    A few years ago, I hardly had any idea of who The Chemical Brothers were. Now... I can't get enough of them! How'd that happen? Well, I got introduced to the fine art of electronic music through the Fight Club soundtrack, and when I set out to explore some more I discovered The Chemical Brothers. The first album of theirs I visited was their latest at the time... Come With Us.

    I loved it! A little while later, Push The Button was released and I eagerly gave it a listen... I was a bit disappointed. It didn't quite sound like Come With Us, so I forgot about that one for a bit. Instead, I dove back into their older releases and picked up Dig Your Own Hole, as most fans seem favor that one the most. Great stuff! I made my way through Exit Planet Dust and Surrender, and finally gave Push The Button another try... this time I loved it - my tasted had been a little more refined and I could appreciate it for what it was. All of their albums are awesome, and I listen to each just as much as the others. I listen to them so much, in fact, I really wanted to do a 'top album' write-up about them as I've been doing, so I gave it a good thought about which one was just a little above the rest in my eyes, and I came up with the very disc I started with.

    I'm sure many long-time fans will disagree with me, but Come With Us is just so consistently awesome, from start to finish. It also features my favorite Chemical track ever, which of course helped a little bit. The other records seem to be a bit more up & down for me. But from the frantic strings that start up the track Come With Us to the final wind-down of The Test... it's pure electronic enjoyment! I'll list off some of my favorites from the album:

    It Began In Afrika - Track 2 on the disc begins with this sweet robotic/compressed voice reminiscent of a really old video game or pinball machine. From there it's a high-energy ride through an African landscape with bongos, steel drums and even some animals.

    Star Guitar - Another fast-tempo beat-fest... but slows down for a bit about halfway through and throws in some vocals as well. This song has an awesome video, which is half of the reason I wanted to mention it. If you haven't seen the video you should check it out on their official site.
    "You should feel what I feel
    You should take what I take"

    My Elastic Eye - The shortest song on the album, but one of the coolest here. The sounds near the start remind me of the workings of a clock, then there's that deep 'electricity-bass' that pulses its way throughout the song.

    The Test - This is the song... my favorite Chemical Brothers track! It features the most vocals of any of the songs on this album (by Richard Ashcroft) and awesome lyrics! Has a very epic feel to it. Wonderful way to end an album.
    "I'm dreaming this and I'm dreaming that
    Regretting nothing... think about that"

    The rest of the tracks are great as well, with The State We're In probably as my least favorite. If you've never gave the Chemical Brothers a good listen I would certainly recommend this disc to you as your invitation as it worked for me. Follow their advice and 'go with them'... you might discover a whole other world!

    Please post your thoughts on this... I'd love to hear them! Also, Chemical fans, I would really like to get some recommendations from you guys. I've been searching high & low for some electronic music like The Chemical Brothers but keep coming up short - I'm open for more suggestions! Thanks...

  • Top Albums: Parachutes

    11. Feb. 2006, 3:46


    My introduction to Coldplay was their 2nd album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, given to me as a gift. I'd never heard of them before and quickly fell in love with their mellow, yet intense sound. It wasn't long before I got hold of their only other album available... Parachutes.

    Coldplay's first album, and my favorite. Now, I love A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y... both are great recordings, but Parachutes just has a certain feel to it that I don't get from the others. A feeling of calmness... when I want to relax, this is one of the first discs I think of starting up. It's not that this album has more individually great songs, it's more just the complete experience.
    Here's a few reasons this album means so much to me...

    Don't Panic - First track, first album, and it's undoubtedly my favorite Coldplay track released so far... thats a good start. The fast, light drumming, that slide guitar with just a slight amount of reverb, and especially the vocals & lyrics just do so much for me. While only a bit over 2 minutes, it gets the job done. This isn't so much of a song to me as it is a pure feeling. A bit hard to describe, but I am totally in love with it!
    "We live in a beautiful world...
    yeah, we do - yeah, we do"

    Spies - Just 2 tracks later, we get this. Another one of my favorite Coldplay tracks... starts out nice and slow with some acoustic strumming and the smooth voice of Chris Martin, but later bursts out with some nice pounding drums and those wonderful guitar effects Johnny does so well.
    "I awake to find no peace of mind
    I said how do you live... as a fugitive?"

    Parachutes - Yes, this song is only 46 seconds, but very worthy of a mention here. Simply an acoustic guitar, a microphone, and 4 lines of lyrics... beautiful little song - I look forward to it every time. Lots of fun to play, too, if you've got yourself a guitar.
    "In a haze, a stormy haze
    I'll be 'round, I'll be loving you always... always"

    Some of my other favorites worth mentioning are Shiver, Trouble and We Never Change. While mostly laid-back and slow, there are some more 'active' songs such as High Speed and Yellow that break up the album a little bit. Now, I was totally unaware of Coldplay when this album was released, but apparently Yellow was quite popular as a single and helped gain them some popularity. It is a good song, but one of my least favorites from the bunch here... there's just so much better available.

    Coldplay has really grown in popularity the past few years, and I'm sure almost everyone has heard A Rush of Blood to the Head... maybe a little less X&Y, but you can't have a favorite Coldplay album until you've heard Parachutes!

    Feel free to leave any Coldplay comments you may have... I love hearing from you guys!

  • Top Albums: The Moon & Antarctica

    1. Feb. 2006, 3:14

    I've decided to write some journal entries on my favorite albums. I can't think of a better one to start with than this...

    The Moon & Antarctica

    I'm a big Modest Mouse fan. I'd like to say I've been for quite a while, but the truth is I just jumped on board when their latest album (Good News for People Who Love Bad News) hit the shelves. I loved it so much, I was eager to reach back into their collection and see if they could top it. Sure enough, they did... The Moon & Antarctica.

    This album is wonderful! From the deep, pounding bass of Tiny Cities Made of Ashes to the upbeat, energetic Paper Thin Walls to the beautiful strings & song structue of The Stars Are Projectors... you'll find tons of variety here. I rarely have the urge to start a cd over again immediately after finishing, but I've done it with this one.

    The band delivers on all 15 tracks (19 if you find the remastered version, including live versions of 4 songs from the BBC radio session). You won't find any filler here... the closest I've found to mediocre is Wild Pack of Family Dogs, and even that has it's charm. And besides, it's only 1 minute, 46 seconds.

    One reason I love this band are Isaac's lyrics, and this album is a perfect example. Every trip I take through this cd I find my mind wandering to all kinds of thoughts my brain never thought to explore before. In the lyrics category, some of the my highlights are 3rd Planet, Gravity Rides Everything, The Stars are Projectors and Life Like Weeds. If you like music that gets those brain cells firing, Modest Mouse has got you covered.

    If you've heard Good News for People Who Love Bad News and liked it, I highly suggest you give this album a chance. Even if you're not too familiar with the band, this would be a great album to introduce yourself with. My two favorites from the disc:

    Tiny Cities Made of Ashes - Possibly the coolest song the band has ever recorded. Strange lyrics and a bass line that'll still in your head for the rest of the day. I love this... you gotta check it out!
    "Does anybody know a way that a body could get away?"
    The Stars are Projectors - Such a beautiful song... lots of different parts to this song, and they all add up to 8 and a half minutes of pure audio bliss. Awesome lyrics, too - do yourself a favor and find a copy of this song right now.
    "The stars are projectors, projecting our lives down to this planet earth
    Everyone wants a double-feature, they wanna be their own damn teacher"

    Thats not to say these 2 songs are so highly above the rest... I was going to include more favorites, but I just couldn't limit myself to 4 or 5. These 2 songs here are a couple of my favorite songs ever... they just happen to fall on the same album.

    If you have any comments or Modest Mouse recommendations, feel free to let me know!