Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Releases: January 2010

Round up of the most interesting album and single releases of January 2010 plus links to videos and free (and legal) mp3s:


VAMPIRE WEEKEND - Contra (mp3s)
SPOON - Transference (stream)
BEACH HOUSE - Teen Dream
MIDLAKE - The Courage of Others
FOUR TET - There Is Love In You
LOS CAMPESINOS! - Romance Is Boring (stream)
OH NO ONO - Eggs
SURFER BLOOD - Astro Coast (video for "Swim")
SCOUT NIBLETT - Calcination of Scout Niblett
GET WELL SOON - Vexations
OWEN PALLETT - Heartland
EELS - End Times
FREE ENERGY - Stuck On Nothing
FOOL'S GOLD - Fool's Gold
OK GO - Of The Blue Color Of The Sky
ADAM GREEN - Minor Love
LAURA VEIRS - July Flame
RJD2 - The Colossus
DELPHIC - Acolyte
PIT ER PAT - The Flexible Entertainer


SPOON - Written in Reverse (video)
THESE NEW PURITANS - We Want War (video)
BEACH HOUSE - Norway (mp3)
SERENA MANEESH - Ayisha Abyss (mp3)
BROKEN BELLS - The High Road (video)
GORILLAZ - Stylo (video)
THE XX - VCR (video)
HURTS - Wonderful Life (video)
DELPHIC - Doubt (video)
EDITORS - You Don't Know Love (video)
BIFFY CLYRO - Many Of Horror (When We Collide) (video)
BETTIE SERVEERT - Deny All (video)
AU REVOIR SIMONE - Another Likely Story (video)
ASH - Space Shot (video)
SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO feat. BETH DITTO - Cruel Intentions (video)

Recommended downloads:

HIGH PLACES - On Giving Up (mp3)
SPOON - Mean Red Spider (mp3)
JJ - My Way (mp3)
CARIBOU - Odessa (mp3)
THE KNIFE - Colouring of Pigeons (mp3)
PIT ER PAT - Water (mp3)

This week "Transference", the seventh LP from Spoon, debuted at number 4 of the Billboard Album chart after shifting 53000 units, giving the band its highest charting album and best sales week. Well-deserved commercial recognition for one of the most consistent and reliable indie-rock bands of the last 15 years. We'll have more about Spoon and their excellent release very soon. In the meantime, here's a live performance of new single "Written in Reverse" on KCRW:

Spoon - Written in Reverse (live on KCRW)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vintage Tracks 1: The Fall - Impression Of J Temperance

Official premiere of our Vintage Tracks series of posts where we'll be presenting videos for some of our all-time favorite tracks. No better band to start with than The Fall, one of the most original groups in the history of rock and by far the favorite one of this blog. The video we've chosen today is a live performance of "Impression of J Temperance", recorded in 1981 in Leeds. The track is one of the highlights of the 1980 album "Grotesque: After the Gramme", which was recorded in London and Rochdale in August 1980 and released on Rough Trade on November 17th (more info here). My vinyl copy of this album was bought in August 1992 from a second-hand record shop in Notting Hill, London, and remains one of my most prized possessions. A new Fall album is expected this year from Domino, while Mark E Smith has also collaborated with Gorillaz on the track "Glitter Freeze" from the upcoming "Plastic Beach" album. Meanwhile, here's the bizarre tale of the hideous replica of a hated dog breeder, named J. Temperance. Apparently, only two did not hate him.

The Fall - Impression Of J Temperance

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vampire Weekend - It's lonely at the top!

"Contra" has gone straight to the top of the Billboard Album chart? I guess congratulations are in order! 124.000 Vampire Weekend fans can't be wrong...

Vampire Weekend - Cousins

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New albums by These New Puritans & Blood Red Shoes

Two of our favorite new bands are about to make their comeback. About a year ago we had included the debut albums of These New Puritans and Blood Red Shoes in our Top 10 Debuts of 2008. Both bands are returning with their sophomore releases over the next few weeks. Tomorrow is the release date of "Hidden", the new These New Puritans LP, which you can listen now on their MySpace page. The epic "We Want War" is the first single from the album:

These New Puritans - We Want War

Blood Red Shoes has scheduled its comeback album "Fire Like This" for March 1st. It is proceeded by the single "Light It Up" in February. The band is making available to listen a new track from the album every week on their website, while the track "Colours Fade" is available as a free download.

Blood Red Shoes - Colours Fade

Friday, January 15, 2010

Retribution Gospel Choir 2

While Low is providing the musical backdrop to choreographer Morgan Thorson's latest modern dance piece "Heaven" (details here), Alan Sparhawk is about to make his rocking comeback with the second Retribution Gospel Choir album. Simply titled "2", the LP will be released by Sub Pop on January 26 and we can get a first taste now with the excellent "Hide It Away", which you can download from here.

Retribution Gospel Choir - Hide It Away

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Best Albums Of 2009: Top 30

A Happy New Year to all! We’ll start 2010 in our time-honored tradition of presenting our favorite albums from the year past. During December, with a record-breaking 32 posts in 31 days, we presented our choices for the Best Albums of the Decade and focused on some of the highlights of 2009. We have already presented our Top 50 Tracks of the Year, the 10 Best Debut LPs and yesterday we posted the bottom half of our Top 60 Albums list. Time to finish this marathon by unveiling today, first day of the year and the new decade (!), our 30 favorite albums for 2009.

Our choice for "Album of the Year" is not going to be a surprise for anyone who’s been following this blog. As early as January I’ve been praising Telepathe’s debut "Dance Mother", placing it at the top of our first "Listening Habits" list for the year, ahead of the critic’s darling for 2009, Animal Collective’s "Merriweather Post Pavilion". By July "Dance Mother" was leading our First-half of the Year album selection proving that the spell Telepathe had casted could stand the test of time and by December it was our choice for "Debut of the Year". This is how I tried to explain the unique charms of this extraordinary avant-pop masterpiece in earlier reviews: "The two exceptional singles that Telepathe released in 2008, "Chrome's On It" (their most pop-friendly moment so far, with playfully melodic vocals and unusual, hip-hop influenced beats) and "Devil's Trident" (The Slits meet Kraftwerk in a haunted disco) along with the information that the multi-talented Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio had undertaken production duties for their debut album, made "Dance Mother" one of the most anticipated releases of 2009. Our expectations were completely fulfilled upon listening to the album…Ethereal, dark melodies that draw inspiration from both the trip-hop of Portishead as well as the gothic charm of Cocteau Twins, combine with experimental rhythms, inspired by New York's hip-hop radio stations, and repetitive, trance-inducing, tribal percussion. The electropop sounds of the early '80s intertwine with the feminist DIY punk aesthetics of the late '70s and the result is a unique, truly inventive sound- the sound of 2009!"

The only other album that was able to compete with "Dance Mother" for our "Album of the Year" title was the recently released sophomore effort of A Place To Bury Strangers. The not unreasonably dubbed "loudest band in New York" offered us "Exploding Head", an excellent gift to noise-rock fans everywhere. As I was writing in November "...the band's sound remains rooted in their love for the "Psychocandy" wall-of-noise with its buried pop melodies while paying close attention to Kevin Shields' guitar effects, Sonic Youth's sonic assault, Big Black’s shattering rhythms and the gothic new wave atmospherics of the early '80s… The amazing "To Fix the Gash in Your Head" was the track that showcased what this band was really capable of, and this potential is fully realized this time around resulting in a thrilling noise trip that renews and revitalizes the genre." The mind-blowing live performance that we witnessed here a few weeks later was the confirmation that A Place To Bury Strangers is the most exciting new noise-rock band in existence right now.

Of course, the band that started all this gloriously apocalyptic guitar noise a few decades back could not be absent from our list, especially when it has presented us with its best work for the '00s. Sonic Youth’s "The Eternal" was at the top of our June playlist and the band was also responsible for one of the most thrilling gigs we saw in 2009 with their headlining performance at the Primavera Sound festival in May.

Among the top albums of the year we also have Metric’s self-released fourth LP, the wonderful "Fantasies" (it was our "Album of the Month" in March, while "Help I’m Alive", its first single, topped our Tracks of the Year list), the second Bat For Lashes effort, the pop masterpiece "Two Suns", which was among our favorite releases of April along with Yeah Yeah Yeah's dance-frenzy mayhem of "It’s Blitz!". Animal Collective also gets respect here (although not the Pitchfork-style "We’re not worthy!" acclaim), as does the magnificent, otherworldly Fever Ray debut (read here our initial reaction upon hearing this unique sound for the first time). Our Top 10 is completed with The Dead Weather’s blues-heavy "Horehound", our "Album of the Month" in July, yet another project of the workaholic Jack White (it would be impossible to pair Allison Mosshart’ lung power with White’s mad skills and not have a Top 10 worthy album in my book), and with the euphoric indie-pop of the self-titled debut of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, our second choice in the "Debuts of the Year" list. Here’s the complete Top 30:

Top 30 Albums of 2009

1. Dance mother - TELEPATHE
2. Exploding head - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
3. The eternal - SONIC YOUTH
4. Fantasies - METRIC
5. Two suns - BAT FOR LASHES
6. It's blitz! - YEAH YEAH YEAHS
7. Merriweather Post Pavilion - ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
8. Fever Ray - FEVER RAY
9. Horehound - THE DEAD WEATHER
10. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
11. A brief history of love - THE BIG PINK
12. Get color - HEALTH
13. Only built 4 Cuban linx… pt. II - RAEKWON
14. Embryonic - THE FLAMING LIPS
15. I'm going away - THE FIERY FURNACES
16. Marry me tonight - HTRK
17. Face control - HANDSOME FURS
18. Post-Nothing - JAPANDROIDS
19. Fits - WHITE DENIM
20. Popular songs - YO LA TENGO
22. Dragonslayer - SUNSET RUBDOWN
24. Farm - DINOSAUR JR.
25. Dim light - GUN OUTFIT
26. Everything goes wrong - VIVIAN GIRLS
27. Rose city - VIVA VOCE
28. XX - THE XX
29. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - FRANZ FERDINAND

Our list of the Best Albums of 2009 can also be found here, where it's going to be updated with the albums that I'm sure we are going to discover later on. When it has been finalized, it will also be posted in Cool Music Database, the place for all the lists of our favorite music from the late '70s to the present day (the project is currently at the 1993 list, but I'm going to pick up the pace in 2010 - one of my new year's resolutions).