Thursday, June 30, 2011

The 11 Best Songs of 2011 (so far)

Today, the killer band Gomez gave our humble little blog a shout out on their Facebook page and stirred a frenzy of fans.  They argued whether our top eleven list accurately depicted their best songs. The issue shouldn't have been whether our list accurately depicted the band, it should have been could anyone make a list that would accurately depict their catalog.  I would argue that it would be impossible.  Music is such a personal experience, each person loves a band for a different reason.  Each person's list would reflect their own personal connection to the band.  The point of these lists is to never be the end-all, be-all authority on what the best songs are by a band (although it is a little ego-boosting when people love my lists), the point is to start a conversation.  I don't want to know what you don't like about my list.  I want to know what your favorite 11 songs would be.

So as we hit the half way point of 2011...let's hear what your favorite songs are so far.

Here are the 11 Best Songs of 2011 (so far):

1.  Shell Games - Bright Eyes
2.  Under The Cover of Darkness - The Strokes
3.  Get Away - Yuck
4.  Holdin' On For Black Metal - My Morning Jacket
5.  Virgin - Manchester Orchestra
6.  Uberlin - R.E.M.
7.  Future Starts Slow - The Kills
8.  This is Why We Fight - The Decemberists
9.  Under the Knife - The Rural Alberta Advantage
10.  Cool Out - Jeff the Brotherhood
11.  Dear Rosemary - Foo Fighters

Buy these songs now!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The 11 Best Side Project/Solo albums of 2011 (so far)

This week another project from the Dispatch family comes out.  Chad Urmston under the moniker Chadwick Stokes has a very strong solo release hitting the digital shelves.

Dispatch is a very interesting band considering their huge popularity on the east coast...while out on the west coast nobody even knows who they are.  It's rare to see a band whose popularity is regulated to a region of the country.  Even in today's digital world where everything should be equal, Dispatch still remains an east Coast legend while on the west coast they might as well be a unsigned act.  On the east coast they have a legion of die-hard dedicated fans and on the west coast they wouldn't even be on the guest list to their own concert.

This year, Chad isn't the only one branching out from his main band to go out on his own.  Here's a list of the best side projects and solo albums so far.

Here are the 11 Best Side Project/Solo albums of 2011 (so far):

1.  Middle Brother - Middle Brother (Dawes, Deer Tick, Delta Spirit) - Daydreaming live
2.  Radical Dads - Mega Rama (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)
3.  David Lowery - The Palace Guards (Cracker)
4.  The Elected - Bury Me In My Rings (Rilo Kiley)
5.  Chadwick Stokes - Simmerkane II (State Radio, Dispatch)
6.  Panda Bear - Tomboy (Animal Collective)
7.  Eddie Vedder - Ukelele Songs (Pearl Jam)
8.  Fruit Tree Foundations - First Edition (Idlewild, Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit)
9.  Graham Wright - Shirts vs. Skins (Tokyo Police Club)
10.  Miracle Parade - Hark and Other Lost Transmissions (Everyday Visuals, Rilo Kiley)
11.  Alex Turner - Submarine EP (Arctic Monkeys)

Buy Chadwick Stokes - Simmerkane II now!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The 11 Best Debut Albums of 2011 (so far)

All these albums are solid and every one of these artists is someone you should keep your eye on.  But there's one artist in particular I want to point attention to and that's The Weeknd.  An unknown artist who came from nowhere that has taken the blog world by storm with his first mix-tape/album.  Here's the kicker...he's giving it away for free.  What is original about the debut isn't just the music itself but the method in which he's distributing it.  The Weeknd has all but abandoned the traditional style of distributing music and fully embraced the 21st century.  Without a publicist or marketing department, he's managed to become well-known all on his own.  While the major labels are fighting tooth and nail for the fraction of floor space left on retail floors, the new emerging artists are passing them embracing the future.

The 11 Best Debut Albums of 2011 (so far):

1.  Yuck - Yuck
2.  James Blake - James Blake
3.  The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart
4.  The Weeknd - House of Balloons
5.  Foster the People - Torches
6.  The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar
7.  The Naked and Famous - Young Blood
8.  The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
9.  Cults - Cults 
10.  Ringo Deathstar - Colour Trip 
11.  EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

Get The Weeknd's album, House of the Balloons for free!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By Gomez

If you read this blog you know that I really respect bands who try to evolve rather stay stuck in the same groove over and over.  Gomez is one of those bands that’s been evolving from day one.  Even on their debut, I remember friends initially discouraged by them because they thought the band was struggling to find their sound.  But they weren't struggling at all, their revolving style was their signature sound.  In the 90s, when Brit pop was defined by a bunch of bands trying to water down the Beatles…Gomez took what was expected of their genre and turned it upside-down.  Seven albums later, the band has consistently re-invented themselves making their chaotic evolution their niche.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Gomez:

1.  Silence (Split The Difference)
2.  Shot Shot (In Our Gun)
3.  How We Operate (How We Operate)
4.  Win Park Slope (New Tide)
5.  Buena Vista (Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline)
6.  Whipping Picadilly (Bring It On)
7.  Bone Tired (New Tide)
8.  Rie's Wagon (Bring It On)
9.  Get Myself Arrested (Bring It On)
10.  Revolutionary Kind (Liquid Sun)
11.  Hamoa Beach (How We Operate)

Buy Gomez's new album, Whatever's On Your Mind, now!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By Bon Iver

This weekend, our culture lost two sidemen.  Two sidemen that may have been small parts of a bigger machine, but were integral to that machine's distinct existence.  First and foremost was the loss of Clarence Clemmons, the infamous sax man from the E Street band.  Usually, a sax player is a last second thought and is only thrown into the song to add texture.  But Clemmons added more than flavor.  He added melody...he added a unique sound that didn't just enhance Bruce's gritty songwriting, it elevated his songs to another level. Clemmons sax solos in Bruce's songs are as memorable as the songs themselves...and many times...they are the reason they are memorable.

Ryan Dunn may not have been as integral to the show Jackass...but his input added a certain camaraderie.  As a friend of Bam's, they fed off each other, and created pacing and tone that turned stupid idiots doing stupid idiotic things into an art form on par with Looney Tunes and the physical comedy of the silent movie era.  Jackass may not be the Bruce Springsteen of our generation...but when their movies outgross all the other movies at the box office they're definitely impacting our society.

You may wonder why I would include Ryan Dunn (from Jackass) in a memorial for Clarence Clemmons.  The better question is why am I using them to preview a best of songs for Bon Iver.  Justin Vernon took a few months in a cabin and released Bon Iver's debut...considered of the most important albums of the past decade.  He instantly became one of the most used sidemen in the business.  He had multiple side projects (Gayngs, Volcano Choir, Anais Mitchell), made appearances in the unlikeliest of places (Eau Claire High School Jazz Band, S. Carey, Kayne West) and even dropped in to be a part of the Twilight Soundtrack craze.  In our society, sometimes front men get all the credit.  It's not that they don't deserve credit but many of them could not have done it without a supporting staff.  Kayne's latest album uses Justin Vernon through-out it, creating a pace, a tone, and elevating it to his best release to date.  Kayne should get most of the credit...but even the best can't do it alone.  Maybe that's why Vernon hired himself a band this time around.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Bon Iver:

1.  Skinny Love (For Emma, Forever Ago)
2.  Blindsided (For Emma, Forever Ago)
3.  For Emma (For Emma, Forever Ago)
4.  Bruised Orange (Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows)
5.  Flume (For Emma, Forever Ago)
6.  Bracket, WI (Dark Was The Night)
7.  Creature Fear (For Emma, Forever Ago)
8.  Blood Bank (Blood Bank)
9.  Come Talk To Me (7-inch split with Peter Gabriel)
10.  Re: Stacks (For Emma, Forever Ago)
11.  Wisconsin (For Emma Bonus Track)

Buy Bon Iver's new self-titled album now!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

GBU: Free Music Fridays - Warm Weather EP

I have done a free Friday in awhile.  Stumbled upon this EP this week courtesy of I Guess I'm Floating.  Have to say I was very impressed.  It's light, dancy, and has the perfect summertime vibe.  I'm sure we will be hearing a lot more from these guys in the very near future.  You know that I rarely pitch new take note.

Get Warm Weather - Dances EP - FREE!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By Sebadoh

There are some albums that not only define a band’s career, they define an entire genre.  When it comes to lo-fi, in my opinion, nothing tops Sebadoh’s Bakesale.  Being re-issued this week with another 25 bonus songs, it’s the perfect example of doing more with less.  Some people might argue for one of the Doh’s early releases like III or Smash Your Head…even Bubble and Scrape are a better example.  Many will say that by Bakesale, the band had already sold out.  But making more accessible music and staying lo-fi aren’t necessarily opposites.  On Bakesale, The Doh kept their less is more mentality while pushing the creative mastery to the point of perfection.  Bakesale is so good…it redefined the genre they had helped create.

That’s why when doing this list, it would have been unfair to include the songs from Bakesale because the list would have literally been the tracklist to Bakesale…just in a slightly different order.  So, today we give Bakesale the notoriety it deserves and look at the rest of the best.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Sebadoh...minus Bakesale:

1.  Think (Bubble and Scrape)
2.  Soul and Fire (Bubble and Scrape)
3.  Willing To Wait (Harmacy)
4.  Beauty of the Ride (Harmacy)
5.  Vampire (Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock)
6.  Spoiled (III)
7.  Everybody's Been Burned (Smash Your Head On The Punk Rock)
8.  Love Is Stronger (The Sebadoh)
9.  The Freed Pig (III)
10.  On Fire (Harmacy)
11.  Thrive (The Sebadoh)

Buy Sebadoh's reissue of!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By Woods

There’s a gift at being good at being lo-fi.  Just because you have a 4-track in your bedroom and a guitar doesn’t mean that you have what it takes.  In fact, it’s probably harder to be a good lo-fi artist than it is to be a mainstream pop artist.  Yes, you heard that right.  In a genre where less is more, there are no bells or whistles to cover up your faults.  You have to be good at the most basic level of music.  Lo-fi artists are like bikini models.  Just because you have a cute face and a dream isn’t enough. When you strip down and take everything off, if you’re not able to hold your own…you’re left out on your own. 

Woods has made a solid career of doing more with less.  Basked in the days of bands like early Sebadoh and Daniel Johnston, they return with the biggest and best album to date.

Here are the 11 best songs by Woods:

1.  Suffering Season (At Echo Lake)
2.  Rain On (Songs Of Shame)
3.  Death Rattles (At Echo Lake)
4.  Military Madness (Songs Of Shame)
5.  Bone Tapper (At Rear House)
6.  Broke (How To Survive + In The Woods)
7.  Blood Dries Darker (At Echo Lake)
8.  Time Fading Lines (At Echo Lake)
9.  Be Still (At Rear House)
10.  Til the Sun Rips (At Echo Lake)
11.  To Clean (Songs Of Shame)

Songs compliments of Daytrotter.

Buy Woods new album, Sun and!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The 11 Best Guest Spots By Eminem of the 00s

It's great to see rock stars who don't take themselves too seriously.  This week, the Foo Fighters tour rider was leaked to the internet.  For those who don't know, a tour rider gives venues specifics on what artists want in their dressing room when it comes to food and drink...and what accommodations they need for their crew.  Nothing too scandalous for the Foos, in fact, their rider makes me like them even more.  Instead of sending a typical tour rider, telling venues what they wanted in things like...words, the Foos sent out a coloring book.  You check it out here at the smoking gun.

As serious and as angry as rock music can be at times, it's refreshing to see artists having a little fun with their celebrity-hood. Eminem is also one who likes to play a joke here and there.  In fact, he's the first one in line when it comes to making fun of his own fame.  And it doesn't stop when it comes to the humor on Em's new EP with Royce 5'9".

Here are the 11 Best Guest Spots by Eminem of the 00s:

1.      Renegade (Jay-Z - Blueprint)
2.      Outro (Obie Trice - Cheers)
3.      Gatman And Robbin (50 Cent – The Massacre)
4.      Drama Setter (Tony Yayo – Thoughts of A Predicated Felon)
5.      We Ain’t (The Game – The Documentary)
6.      It Has Been Said (Notorious B.I.G. – Duets The Final Chapter)
7.      Don’t Approach Me (Xzibit – Restless)
8.      On Fire (Lloyd Banks – Hunger For More)
9.      Rush Ya Clique (Outsidaz – Night Life EP)
10.  Chemical Warfare (The Alchemist – Chemical Warfare)
11.  Touchdown (T.I. – T.I. vs TP)

Buy Eminem's new collaboration album with Royce 5'9"...Bad Meets Evil:  Hell the Sequel.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By Fucked Up

Many musicians say their only in bands for the music.  Most of them are liars.  At the end of the day, most musical artists would love to be atop the charts while driving around in a Ferrari and sleeping in a hot tub with swimsuit models.  You know what band really means it when they say it?  Fucked Up.  It’s not because of their epic twelve hour concerts or their endless supply of 7-inch singles in a digital world.  It’s the fact that they’re called…Fucked Up!  You’re not getting radio play with that name.  Target and Walmart are not going to carry your albums.  And there’s no way anyone on American Idol is going to be covering your tunes…no matter how poppy or catchy they are.  Fucked Up doesn’t have to worry about that.  Their music a crushing wave of massive punk, filled with all the energy that’s missing from music today.  While the mainstream is striving for vanilla ice cream, Fucked Up delivers a monster truck.  Daring doesn’t do the band justice.  Calling them cutting edge would just be insulting.  Fucked Up is fucked up…and it fits them perfectly.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Fucked Up:

1.  David Comes To Life (Hidden World)
2.  Son of the Father (Chemistry of Common Life)
3.  Invisible Leader (Hidden World)
4.  Black Albino Bones (Chemistry of Common Life)
5.  Teenage Problems (Couple Tracks)
6.  Fate of Fates (Hidden World)
7.  Police (Epic In Minutes)
8.  Toronto FC (Couple Tracks)
9.  Magic Word (Chemistry of Common Life) 
10.  Porcelain on Porcelain (David's Town)
11.  Circling The Drain (Epic In Minutes)

Buy Fucked Up's new punk opera, David Comes To!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Unknown: Dawes - Daytrotter Sessions

Def Leppard have said that they are considering not releasing albums anymore.  That the album format is dead.  But I think dead is a harsh term.  The album is just hibernating.  For the moment, everyone is into singles.  The single works better in the digital era.  But this week Apple joined the cloud revolution which could change everything all over again.  The cloud could create a whole new world where you're not limited to space (although you are now) and new listening environments are created.  The single was dead when albums took over in the 70s, 80s, 90s...and now have made a huge comeback.  If anything is sure about the music industry is that nothing is certain.  Remember 8-tracks?  Mini-discs?  Cassettes?  CDs?  MP3s may actually be the next dead format.  So who knows what lies ahead?

Getting an album is like getting access to a fictional world created by a band.  Albums create an ambiance that cannot be duplicated by a single.  We need them.  And the bands need them.  They will be back.

Here is Dawes Daytrotter sessions (May 6, 2009):

1.  When My Time Comes
2.  That Western Skyline
3.  Love Is All I Am
4.  If You Let Me Be Your Anchor

Buy Dawes new album, Nothing Is!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The 11 Best Songs By The Arctic Monkeys

With all the problems in the world this week, it’s no wonder that America focused on one of the most trivial…that of Andrew Weiner.  It amuses me how we all act so offended from what he did…but we all have friends who have done this.  And we’re still friends with them.  What’s possibly the most troubling about this situation isn’t that he did it or that he got caught…but he’s more than likely not the only one doing it.  I’m sure if we probed all of our politicians…at least 50% of them would resign from sex scandals.  Yet, they still act so offended like they would never do the same thing…until the next week when they’re caught for something worse.

This week, the Arctic Monkeys have come under fire for the cover of their new album.  It’s crude and it’s offensive.  What is it?  It’s a plain white cover.  Off-white really.  But it’s not the picture per se, it’s the picture coupled with the title “Suck It and See.”  Angered people with too much time in their lives argue it infers male semen.  It infers?  It’s rock n roll.  Everything in rock n roll is an inference of sex.  Do you know how many songs in the top 100 Billboard songs refer to or infer sex?  All of them!  Why pick on the Arctic Monkeys when everyone is “doing it?”  That’s an inference to sex.  

Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Arctic Monkeys:

1. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor (Whatever People Say I Am)
2. Still Take You Home (Whatever People Say I Am)
3. Do Me a Favour (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
4. Fake Tales of San Francisco (Whatever People Say I Am)
5. Dancing Shoes (Whatever People Say I Am)
6. Brainstorm (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
7. The View From The Afternoon (Whatever People Say I Am)
8. Crying Lightning (Humbug)
9. From The Ritz To The Rubble (Whatever People Say I Am)
10. Too Much To Ask (Flourescent Adolescent B-Side)
11. Catapult (Cornerstone B-Side)

Buy the new Arctic Monkeys' album, Suck It and!!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The 11 Best Solo Songs By Eddie Vedder

At lunch today, I was impressed by the music selection in the franchised restaurant where we ate.  It was a selection of early 90s rock, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains.  I love this music, I grew up on it, but I was impressed how it had been adopted by such a mainstream establishment.  It made me think about how back in the 90s eccentric bands were the trend-setting uber-stars.  They didn't need to look pretty.  They didn't need to have crystal clear voices.  They didn't need to be primmed and proper.  They were everything that a rock star was NOT supposed to be.  Yet, they were gigantic.  Now, two decades later, their music holds better than anything else out there.  This is a lesson that is so blatant and so obvious is blows me away every time the big labels refuse to move away from anything that doesn't represent the middle of the road vanilla.  There is no other voice out there like Cobain's scream, or Cornell's howl, or Corgan's whine, or especially Vedder's signature croon. 

It was a tough choice of whether to go straight solo songs versus...guest appearances and collaborations.  But since I haven't done solo songs it is.

Here are the 11 Best Eddie Vedder Solo Songs:

1.  Society (Into the Wild)
2.  No Ceiling (Into the Wild)
3.  My City of Ruins (Charity Single For Haiti Relief)
4.  Guaranteed (Into the Wild)
5.  Better Days (Eat, Pray, Love)
6.  Hide Your Love Away (I Am Sam)
7.  Hard Sun (Into the Wild)
8.  Masters of War (People Speak)
9.  Long Nights (Into the Wild)
10.  Setting Forth (Into the Wild)
11.  Here's To the State (Into the Wild Expanded Edition)

Buy Eddie Vedder new solo album, Ukelele!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The 11 Best My Morning Jacket Songs of the 00s

My Morning Jacket is stepping into the future while recreating the past.  Before the internet, MTV, and Twitter, there was an air of mystery about bands.  All you knew about them was what came out in their music and what little you could glean from their record jackets.  Now you know everything about them, from the time they enter the studio in the morning to the moment they take a bathroom break.  The air of mystery is dead flat.  MMJ has found a way to make their music more exciting.  Recently, they started a new series for fans.  The Roll Call fan club with have access to their Self-Hypnosis music series.  What is the Self-Hypnosis music series?  Who knows?  It's strange.  It's weird...and it's a complete mystery.  All we know is that only the fan club members will be privy to access the material...once again reinvigorating the band's awesome mystique.

Here are the 11 Best My Morning Jacket Songs:

1. Cobra (Chocolate and Ice EP)
2. Golden (It Still Moves)
3. Librarian (Evil Urges)
4. One Big Holiday (It Still Moves)
5. O Is the One That Is Real (Split EP w/ Songs: Ohia)
6. Anytime (Z)
7. The Way That He Sings (At Dawn)
8. Where To Begin (Elizabethtown Sdtk.)
9.  Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2 (Evil Urges)
10. Just One Thing (It Still Moves)
11. Remnants (Evil Urges)

Buy My Morning Jacket's epic new album,!! (only $5 for a limited time)