Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Review: Top 60 Albums of the Year (31 to 60)

Last year we published the first version of our year-end album list around Christmas. This time we decided to wait until the very last day of the year before we press the "publish" button, to make sure that as few as possible of the latest incoming records were left out. Seeing the amount of last minute additions to the list, I think it was a good call. Of course there will always going to be a few omissions and this is exactly the reason why we also keep a blog exclusively for our "Best of the Year" lists. To find the final, up-to-date version of any of our year-end lists, just look it up in Cool Music Database - the process of discovery is continuous!

If, however, we momentarily freeze this process on this day, the last of the year, the result we're getting is the list we present to you here and now. Today we are unveiling the second half of Cool Music Central's 60 favorite albums of 2012 plus a few more that deserve a mention and we'll start 2013 with the Top 30. Keep in mind that EPs, compilations and reissues are excluded from this list.

Here are the albums from 31 to 60:

Top 60 Albums of 2012: 31 - 60

31. Django Django - DJANGO DJANGO
32. Synthetica - METRIC
34. Ekstasis - JULIA HOLTER
35. Between the times and the tides - LEE RANALDO
36. Kill my blues - CORIN TUCKER BAND
37. Europe - ALLO DARLIN'
38. Nocturne - WILD NOTHING
39. The haunted man - BAT FOR LASHES
40. Sweet heart, sweet light - SPIRITUALIZED
41. Circles - MOON DUO
42. R.A.P. music - KILLER MIKE
43. The money store - DEATH GRIPS
45. Endless flowers - CROCODILES
46. The only place - BEST COAST
47. Animal joy - SHEARWATER
48. Nootropics - LOWER DENS
49. Centipede Hz - ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
50. Interstellar - FRANKIE ROSE
51. Manifest! - FRIENDS
52. Toy - TOY
53. The horror - POP. 1280
54. Strapped - THE SOFT PACK
56. Heaven - THE WALKMEN
57. Port of morrow - THE SHINS
58. Researching the blues - REDD KROSS
59. Confess - TWIN SHADOW
60. Hospitality - HOSPITALITY

What else we liked: Sees the light - LA SERA, Let's go eat the factory - GUIDED BY VOICES, Class clown spots a UFO - GUIDED BY VOICES, With Siinai: Heartbreaking bravery - MOONFACE, Clay class - PRINZHORN DANCE SCHOOL, Future this - THE BIG PINK, Master of my make-believe - SANTIGOLD, Four - BLOC PARTY, In the belly of the brazen bull - THE CRIBS, In time to voices - BLOOD RED SHOES, Something - CHAIRLIFT, Quarantine - LAUREL HALO

And here's just a small sample of the albums that we need to give a few more spins before we can decide where they fit in the big picture of 2012: Oshin - DIIV, Zeros - THE SOFT MOON, Melody's Echo Chamber - MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER, Shields - GRIZZLY BEAR, Until the quiet comes - FLYING LOTUS, Banks - PAUL BANKS, The north - STARS, Don't be a stranger - MARK EITZEL, Coexist - THE XX, Beard, wives, denim - POND, Silencio - LAETITIA SADIER...and the list goes on!

We're signing off for 2012 with our current favorite video (and our last jam of the year), a short fashion film created for The Defiant based on Purity Ring's song "Obedear". Purity Ring have made our favorite debut album of 2012 and, as you can easily guess, they are going to be a part of our next post! Stay tuned for the Top 30... time to get that champagne on ice. Happy New Year!

 Purity Ring - Obedear

Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 Review: Top 50 Singles of the Year

2012 turned out to be the year of the Cat - Cat Power that is. Chan Marshall's triumphant return with "Sun", her excellent ninth studio album, was announced in June with the digital release of "Ruin", the surprising upbeat first single of the record.

Given that usually Cat Power's musical mood falls into the category of "bleak" and "gloomy" (to use allmusic's description) and the fact that this record was written around the time of a bad breakup, "Ruin"'s upbeat pop tempo and uplifting piano melody was certainly not what we had expected. Chan may be singing about "sitting on a ruin" but she's putting things into perspective. The message is simple: before you start bitching and complaining about your life, you better take a look around and see what's going on with the rest of the world. Maybe your situation is not as bad as you thought.

Before we proceed with the presentation of the rest of our Top 50, here are the rules of the game: 1) All tracks included in our list were either released as singles in some shape or form (digital or physical) in the past 12 months or offered as free mp3s. 2) Only one track from each artist or group is included in the Top 50 to ensure a wider musical variety in our selection.

With these rules in mind, it's time to unveil 2012's ultimate playlist! There's no Christmas without a Festive 50, so here is ours:

Top 50 Singles of 2012

1.   Ruin - CAT POWER
2.   The Gravedigger’s Song - MARK LANEGAN BAND
3.   Fineshrine - PURITY RING
4.   Genesis - GRIMES
5.   My Love Is Real - DIVINE FITS
6.   Lazuli - BEACH HOUSE
7.   Love Interruption - JACK WHITE
8.   End of Daze EP ("Lord Knows" mp3) - DUM DUM GIRLS
9.   Onwards To The Wall EP ("So Far Away" mp3) - A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS
10. Doused - DIIV
11. Creeping - 2:54
12. Lay Your Cards Out - POLIÇA
13. Know Me - FRANKIE ROSE
14. Elephant - TAME IMPALA
15. Keep It In Motion - GUIDED BY VOICES
16. Stay Useless - CLOUD NOTHINGS
17. The House That Heaven Built - JAPANDROIDS
18. Watch The Corners - DINOSAUR JR.
19. The Only Place - BEST COAST
20. Capricornia - ALLO DARLIN'
21. Kill For Love - CHROMATICS
23. Gun Has No Trigger - DIRTY PROJECTORS
24. Brats - LIARS
26. Wet Blanket - METZ
27. The Full Retard - EL-P
28. Put Your Sad Down EP ("Secret Days" mp3) - SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
29. All Your Gold - BAT FOR LASHES
30. Youth Without Youth - METRIC
31. Off The Wall - LEE RANALDO
32. Brains - LOWER DENS
33. Lupine Dominus - THEE OH SEES
34. The Hill - TY SEGALL
35. Moonlight Mile - THE BABIES
36. My Heart Beats - VERONICA FALLS
37. Betty Wang - HOSPITALITY
38. Default - DJANGO DJANGO
40. Motoring - TOY
42. Comeback Kid - SLEIGH BELLS
43. Big Beast (ft. Bun B, T.I., Trouble, & El-P) - KILLER MIKE
44. Mind Control - FRIENDS
45. Fireflies - STILL CORNERS
46. Shadow - WILD NOTHING
47. Leonard - SHARON VAN ETTEN
48. The Rifle's Spiral - THE SHINS
50. Octopus - BLOC PARTY

(mp3s via stereogum, 4AD, kexp blog, Sub Pop, Matador, gorilla vs bear, insomniaradio, Rolling Stone)

Next week: We're giving 2012 a proper goodbye with our Albums of the Year list. Keep that champagne on ice!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Raveonettes, live @ Kyttaro Club (Athens, December 16, 2012)

Our last gig review of the year and a good opportunity to look back on all the live action that 2012 had to offer us:

The Raveonettes, live @ Kyttaro Club, Athens, Dec. 16, 2012)
Looking back on the gigs we've covered this year, I have to say that 2012 turned out to be a surprisingly good year for live music in Athens. Although we're quite a long way out from the established European live music routes, a very interesting mix of up and coming new acts including Ty Segall, Japandroids, The Men, Milk Music and Still Corners made it to Athens for the first time ever, while a handful of our all-time favorites (The Fall, The Afghan Whigs, Mark Lanegan) also made a stop here in the past 12 months.

Another old favorite band, The Raveonettes, made their eagerly awaited come back to Athens last Sunday after a long time, filling Kyttaro club to capacity. Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo accompanied by a drummer gave us a thoroughly satisfying dose of their sweet noise-pop blend, in a well-balanced 70-minute set that mixed the new stuff with the old favorites.

Their simple formula continues to work well a decade since they made their debut with the early '00s classic "Attack of the Ghost Riders", a track that remains one of the highlights of their set. Other high-points of the evening included “My Tornado”, “Love in a Trashcan”, “Dead Sound”, “Aly, Walk With Me”, “She Owns The Streets” and the encore with "The Christmas Song" duet and "Heart Of Stone" which you can watch below:

The Raveonettes - Heart of Stone (live @ Kyttaro, Athens, Dec. 16, 2012) 

And, finally, just before we get into the Christmas spirit with our Top Singles of the Year List (coming very soon), here's another 2012 list. This year, we've written about 15 concerts and 2 festivals (Plisskën in Athens and Optimus Alive in Lisbon). These are, according to the statistics from blogger, our 10 most popular live music posts of the year:

1. Plisskën Festival '12 (Athens, May 12, with Dead Skeletons, Forest Swords, King Khan, Male Bonding, Michael Rother, Peaches, The Notwist)
2. The Fall (Gagarin 205, Athens, February 10, with The Mongrelettes)
3. The Afghan Whigs (Vox, Athens, May 29, with Bokomolech)
4. Milk Music (Six D.O.G.S, Athens, May 23, with Pockets Full Of Sand and The Mongrelettes)
5. Mark Lanegan Band (Fuzz Club, Athens, April 5)
6. Shearwater (An Club, Athens, April 21)
7. Optimus Alive '12 (Lisbon, July 13 & 14, with Big Deal, Dum Dum Girls, Here We Go Magic, Refused, The Antlers, The Stone Roses, Zola Jesus)
8. Optimus Alive '12 (Lisbon, July 15, with Caribou, Mazzy Star, Radiohead, The Kills, The Maccabees, Warpaint)
9. Thee Oh Sees (An Club, Athens, June 4, with Baby Guru)
10. Keep Shelly In Athens & Baby Guru (Gagarin, Athens, March 29)

Sune and Sharin getting into the Christmas spirit

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Review: Debut Albums of the Year

The preparation of our "2012 Albums" list is well under way and at this point the battle for number one is between two equally worthy candidates. May the best woman win (hint, hint). But until we make up our mind and present the final results in about two weeks time, here’s another one of our mini year-end lists.

Last week we singled out the best albums from the old school, this time we are dealing with the new blood: the best debut albums of the year from new artists and bands. This means that new groups by already established musicians (for example Divine Fits) or first solo efforts by members of well-known bands are not eligible for this particular list.

Although 2012 has not been a vintage year for debuts, we did have a number of highly promising first efforts. The most outstanding of them all came from Canadian duo Purity Ring who released "Shrines" in July, an album that masterfully combines the best elements from the last three decades of electronic music. By the end of summer we were declaring "Shrines" to be our favorite album of the season and now it’s time to bestow upon it the title of "Debut Album of the Year" - well done Megan and Corin!

Here are the twelve debut albums that stood out for us in 2012:

Top 12 Debut Albums of 2012

1.   Shrines - PURITY RING

2.   Give You The Ghost - POLIÇA

3.   Metz - METZ

4.   2:54 - 2:54

5.   Django Django - DJANGO DJANGO

6.   Manifest! - FRIENDS

7.   Toy - TOY

8.   Hospitality - HOSPITALITY

9.   The Horror - POP. 1280

10. Oshin - DIIV

11. Melody's Echo Chamber - MELODY'S ECHO CHAMBER

12. Quarantine - LAUREL HALO

Check out below our favorite debuts from previous years:

Top Debuts of 2011
Top Debuts of 2010
Top Debuts of 2009
Top Debuts of 2008

Sunday, December 09, 2012

2012 Review: The Old School

The making of and the presentation of the "Albums of the Year" list is always one of my musical highlights of the year and one of the main reasons for starting Cool Music Central in the first place. Our long standing tradition is to unveil this list at the very last days of December or as the first post of the New Year and despite the strong peer pressure to go public with it early, we shall stick to our guns. Although December usually doesn’t have many new releases, there is always plenty of new stuff to listen to from previous months and we want to make sure that nothing important is left out. The fact that so many year-end lists are out there before our own, actually helps us a lot in the process of discovering those records that eluded us so far.

This means that we are now three weeks away from the premiere of Cool Music Central's "Albums of 2012" list. To build up to the main event, starting today we’ll be presenting mini lists that highlight some of the important releases of the year which have something in common.

For starters, we have the Top 10 Albums of 2012 from The Old School of Rock. All of the following artists and bands have been active since the '80s or '90s and their work has been hugely influential to many of today’s indie rockers. Their latest releases have proven that they still have a lot to offer us; all of these albums are valuable additions to an already formidable body of work, while a couple of them, namely Cat Power's "Sun" and Mark Lanegan's "Blues Funeral", are among their all-time best.

Top 10 Albums from the Old School of Rock

1.   Sun - CAT POWER
2.   Blues Funeral - MARK LANEGAN BAND
3.   Silver Age - BOB MOULD
4.   I Bet On Sky - DINOSAUR JR.
5.   The Bears For Lunch - GUIDED BY VOICES
7.   Kill My Blues - CORIN TUCKER BAND
8.   Between The Times And The Tides - LEE RANALDO
9.   Tuscon - GIANT GIANT SAND
10. The Seer - SWANS

Cat Power - Cherokee

Mark Lanegan Band - 4AD Sessions ("The Gravedigger's Song", "St. Louis Elegy", "Riot In My House", "Harborview Hospital")

Bob Mould - The Descent

Coming soon: The Debuts of the Year

Cat Power photo by Indie Design Studio

Monday, December 03, 2012

New Releases: November 2012

November's most interesting new releases featuring Crystal Castles' highly anticipated third album, Guided By Voices' third and best album of 2012 as well as fine sophomore efforts by The Babies, the band formed by Vivian Girls' Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby from the Woods, and The Soft Moon.


GUIDED BY VOICES - The Bears For Lunch
THE BABIES - Our House On The Hill
THE EVENS - The Odds
CLINIC - Free Reign
MUSHY - Breathless
PRINCE RAMA - Top Ten Hits of the End of the World
NEW WAR - New War
ONEIDA - A List of the Burning Mountains
THE BIG DIPPER - Crashes On the Platinum Planet
STUBBORN HEART - Stubborn Heart
X-TG - Desertshore / The Final Report
ZOMBIE ZOMBIE - Rituels D Un Noveau Monde
BY THE SEA - By The Sea
CITIES AVIV - Black Pleasure
LUST FOR YOUTH - Growing Seeds
SONIC YOUTH - Smart Bar Chicago 1985

Singles & EPs

FOALS - Inhaler
POLICA - Lay Your Cards Out
DINOSAUR JR. - Pierce The Morning Rain
DIIV - Sometime
CHILDHOOD - Blue Velvet
TWERPS - Work It Out
YEASAYER - Reagan’s Skeleton
DOLDRUMS - She's The Wave
DAN DEACON - Crash Jam
BAND OF HORSES - A Little Biblical
DAWN MCCARTHY and BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY - Christmas Eve Can Kill You
TEMPLES - Shelter Song
DEATH AT SEA - Drag / Selfless
HAPPA - Bring It Back
SAN ZHI - Ice Light
KATE NASH - Death Proof EP

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1999: Top 50 Singles

Time for the final installment of our '90s Singles project - I hope you had as much fun listening to our playlists as we did compiling them!

Once a month since February we've been revisiting a year from the '90s and choosing our 50 favorite singles of that year, the majority of which you can stream through our Grooveshark playlists . The complete Top 50 lists can be found in Cool Music Database, the central hub for all our year-end lists, while you can easily find all our '90s related Top 10 posts by clicking here.

Our 1999 Top 50 Singles list is actually an updated version of the first ever year-end singles list that we published in the first incarnation of Cool Music Central which was launched in the summer of 1999 as a DIY webpage hosted by Netscape. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, but I still consider Sleater-Kinney's "Get Up" to be not only one of the band's finest moments but also one of the most moving songs I've ever had the pleasure of listening. The fact that the same year The Flaming Lips also released the greatest single of their amazing (and, of course, ongoing) career, while Primal Scream reinvented dance-punk with the venomous "Swastika Eyes" only helps to make 1999 one of the strongest years for music in the second half of the '90s, preparing the ground for an even better 2000.

Here's our Top 10 Singles of 1999 with accompanying videos (official or unofficial) - go here for the complete Top 50:

2.   Race For The Prize - THE FLAMING LIPS
3.   Swastika Eyes - PRIMAL SCREAM
4.   Hot Topic - LE TIGRE
5.   Metal Fingers In My Body - ADD N To (X)
6.   Pretty Please - VERBENA
7.   I Can't Wait - BRASSY
8.   Touch Sensitive - THE FALL
9.   6 Track EP - ELASTICA

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Cribs, live @ Kyttaro Club (Athens, November 15, 2012)

It was certainly long overdue. After almost ten years in the game, in which time they've built up a solid discography boasting no less than five first-rate albums, finally someone invited The Cribs over to Athens for their first ever Greek show. Unfortunately, a combination of lack of airplay and inadequate media coverage led to a sparsely attended gig, a missed opportunity for local music fans to enjoy in action one of the most consistent bands of Brit rock in recent years.

Thankfully for those of us in attendance, the band didn't hold back at all. The Cribs took to the stage after a brief set by local, grunge-influenced, indie rockers Keyser Soze and did their best to raise the temperature of the rather cold room. Ryan Jarman chatted with the fans, took requests and granted the wish for them to play "Bastards of Young", the band’s cover of The Replacements’ classic which wasn't on the planned set list, and towards the end of the show he ended up playing his guitar among the small but appreciative crowd.

The well-balanced 70-minute set included several tracks from the band’s latest album "In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull", without ignoring their strong back catalog. All five albums were represented in the set with the best moments coming from "Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever" and "The New Fellas", my two favorite Cribs albums.

The absolute highlight of the show came when the band played in succession "Be Safe", their Lee Ranaldo collaboration with Lee delivering his spoken word part through video, and their two best singles, "Hey Scenesters!" and "Men's Needs". Other highlights included "Mirror Kissers", "I’m a Realist", recent single "Glitters Like Gold" and set-closer "City Of Bugs" where the band ceremoniously trashed the staged and waved goodbye. A fine performance by a truly great live band that deserved a bigger audience.
Keyzer Soze
The Cribs - I'm a Realist, live @ Kyttaro (Athens, Nov. 15, 2012)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ty Segall, live @ An Club (Athens, November 10, 2012)

Despite rumors to the contrary, rock music remains in fine health in 2012. It may be difficult in this day and age to find something truly new, something you’ve never heard before in the six decades since Bill Haley and His Comets rocked around the clock, but as long as there are musicians of Ty Segall’s caliber with the remarkable ability to effortlessly transmit their energy and passion to the fans, I see no reason for concern about the future of electric music.

Psychedelic garage punk has found fertile ground in San Francisco in recent years and the amazingly prolific Ty Segall has become a key player in this scene alongside Thee Oh Sees, who also paid us a visit recently. This sound always had a small but devoted fanbase in the local underground rock community, and it seems that the time is right for a new generation to embrace it as well, as Ty Segall’s tightly packed gig at An Club proved last Saturday.

With an already solid discography which was enriched this year with the aggressively noisy "Slaughterhouse" and the more melodic and accessible "Twins", Ty Segall has the right material at his disposal for a great live set. And, indeed, Segall and his band delivered the goods in spades, in a 65-minute storming performance with two encores that gave us exactly what we needed: heavy doses of delirious, incandescent garage rock.

It’s not easy to pick highlights in such a thrilling set but, if I had to choose, my vote would go to "You're The Doctor", "The Hill", "Oh Mary", as well as the brief cover of Black Sabbath’s "Paranoid". In fuzz we trust!

Ty Segall - Oh Mary, live @ An Club (Athens, Nov. 10, 2012)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Listening Habits 09-10.12

As we’re coming closer to the end of 2012 and the beginning of the annual internet listmania, let’s take a closer look at our favorite albums and tracks of this autumn:

Cat Power’s return to action with "Sun", her first album of original material in six years, turns out to be a runaway success here at Cool Music Central. Both of the album’s singles, "Ruin" and "Cherokee", have been in heavy rotation for the last few months and now the album itself tops our autumn Top 15 list. Arguably this type of success will not solve any of Chan Marshal’s recent troubles, but we do feel she has done an exceptional job with this record and we’d like to send her our best wishes for a speedy recovery. "Peace and Love" to you, too, Chan!

Meanwhile, the '90s comeback is at full swing right now, with several of the era’s indie rock protagonists offering excellent new albums that can stand their own against their ace back catalog. Bob Mould’s "Silver Age" is a return to the sound of his Sugar years, a record that proves he can still produce the same fire and fury that inspired the early '90s alternative rock explosion.

With the release of "I Bet On Sky", Dinosaur Jr.’s third post-reunion album, the original line up of the band now has as many albums as it did in its '80s heyday. Although it’s rather impossible to reproduce the excitement of a record like "Bug", there’s no denying that the new material has the strength to inspire the same awe and keep the band at the top of today’s noisemaking elite, without any help from their past glories.

Other notable returns of our '90s indie rock heroes include the reunited Jon Spencer Blues Explosion with the hard-hitting "Meat and Bone" and Corin Tucker with her ace, blues-killing, second solo work "Kill My Blues". Spoon’s Britt Daniel and Wolf Parade - Handsome Furs vocalist - guitarist Dan Boeckner have joined powers as Divine Fits and have produced a thing of divine noise-pop beauty, "A Thing Called Divine Fits". Ariel Pink has gone hi-fi for "Mature Themes", a record whose psychedelic experimentation pays off handsomely, a statement that is also true for Tame Impala’s "Lonerism". Wild Nothing offer the purest of pop delights with "Nocturne", while Canadian newcomers METZ are here to kick ass and take names with their vicious noise bomb of a debut album. Killer staff, indeed!

Top 15 Albums

1.   Sun - CAT POWER
2.   Silver Age - BOB MOULD
3.   I Bet On Sky - DINOSAUR JR.
4.   A Thing Called Divine Fits - DIVINE FITS
5.   Metz - METZ
7.   Lonerism - TAME IMPALA
8.   Nocturne - WILD NOTHING
9.   Kill My Blues - CORIN TUCKER BAND
11. Twins - TY SEGALL
12. Circles - MOON DUO
13. Endless Flowers - CROCODILES
14. Centipede Hz - ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
15. Four - BLOC PARTY

Top 20 Tracks

1.   Wet Blanket - METZ (mp3 via sub pop)
2.   My Love Is Real - DIVINE FITS
3.   Peace And Love - CAT POWER
4.   Elephant - TAME IMPALA
5.   Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know - DINOSAUR JR.
6.   You’re The Doctor - TY SEGALL
8.   Paradise - WILD NOTHING (mp3 via rolling stone)
9.   Neskowin - CORIN TUCKER BAND
10. I Got Nothing - DUM DUM GIRLS
11. Star Machine - BOB MOULD
13. Sleepwalker - MOON DUO
14. Endless Flowers - CROCODILES (mp3 via spinner)
15. New Town Burnout - ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
16. Octopus - BLOC PARTY
17. Secret Days - SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS (mp3 via stereogum)
18. Fireflies - STILL CORNERS (mp3 via pitchfork)
19. Wrath Of God - CRYSTAL CASTLES (mp3 via stereogum)
20. Underground - THE DARK RAGS

Wild Nothing - Paradise, starring Michelle Williams!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

New Releases: October 2012

Round up of October’s most interesting albums, singles and EPs:


METZ - Metz
TAME IMPALA - Lonerism
BAT FOR LASHES - The Haunted Man
MOON DUO - Circles
TAMARYN - Tender New Signs
FLYING LOTUS - Until The Quiet Comes
DEATH GRIPS - No Love Deep Web
BO NINGEN - Line The Wall
EGYPTIAN HIP HOP - Good Don't Sleep
TAKEN BY TREES - Other Worlds
TOPS - Tender Opposites
THIS MANY BOYFRIENDS - This Many Boyfriends
ALLAH-LAS - Allah-Las
A.C. NEWMAN - Shut Down the Streets
MARK EITZEL - Don't Be a Stranger
JASON LYTLE - Dept. of Disappearance
EARLIMART - System Preferences
PINBACK - Information Retrieved
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR - Allelujah! Don't bend! Ascend!
DAPHNI - Jiaolong
KENDRICK LAMAR - Good kid, m.A.A.d city
SEAPONY - Falling
CHELSEA WOLFE - Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs
PETER BUCK - Peter Buck
JASON MOLINA - Autumn Bird Songs
MOUNTAIN GOATS - Transcendental Youth

Singles & EPs

LIARS - Brats
BAT FOR LASHES - All Your Gold
STILL CORNERS - Fireflies (mp3 via pitchfork)
HOSPITALITY - The Drift / Monkey
JACK WHITE - I'm Shakin'
THE BLACK KEYS - Little Black Submarines
BEST COAST - Do You Love Me Like You Used To?
DJANGO DJANGO - Life’s A Beach
FOUR TET - Lion / Peace for Earth
PINS - Luvu4lyf EP
MUSHY featuring A.R. KANE - My Life So Far
TIMES NEW VIKING - Over & Over EP ("Sleep-In" video)
MY DISCO - Wrapped Coast / All I Can Do
THE DEATH RAYS OF ARDILLA - Diamonds / Daggers
PALMA VIOLETS - Best Of Friends / Last Of the Summer Wine
DEAP VALLY - End Of The World
FUN ADULTS - Sap Solid
ANGEL HAZE - New York (mp3 via stereogum)
ALT-J - Something Good
FEAR OF MEN - Mosaic / Your Side
TELEPATHE - Destroyer
JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD / HELL'S BEACH - Turpentine / Teenage Whore

Thursday, November 01, 2012

1998: Top 50 Singles

Time for our monthly trip back to the '90s, with another killer playlist featuring our favorite singles from 1998.

Despite a recent “gleeful” attempt to ruin it, “Celebrity Skin” retains its captivating glam rock glow after all these years and remains one of the best moments of '90s alternative rock. The lead single from Hole's third album of the same name was co-written by Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson and Billy Corgan and became the band’s most commercially successful release, reaching number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song on the b-side of the single, the gorgeous “Best Sunday Dress” (co-written with Babes In Toyland’s Kat Bjelland and originally recorded by their short-lived band Pagan Babies in 1985) is another reason for naming “Celebrity Skin” our Single of the Year for 1998.

Check out below the Top 10 and click here for the complete Top 50 Singles of 1998 list:

1.   Celebrity Skin - HOLE
2.   Waltz #2 (XO) - ELLIOTT SMITH 
3.   Goddess On A Hiway - MERCURY REV
4.   Somethin' Hot - THE AFGHAN WHIGS
5.   Space Lord - MONSTER MAGNET
6.   Boys Better - THE DANDY WARHOLS
7.   Intergalactic - BEASTIE BOYS
8.   Sunday - SONIC YOUTH
9.   A Perfect Day Elise - PJ HARVEY

The 1998 playlist:

1998 Singles by ody on Grooveshark

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Japandroids, The Noise Figures, live @ An Club (Athens, October 24,2012)

Here’s a question for rock music scholars: Was it the sharp rise in popularity of The White Stripes that imposed the guitar-drums power duo as a dominant force in modern indie rock or is this another sign of the plummeting world economy and the subsequent downsizing of everything? One thing is certain though; there are many unemployed bass players out there and as long as bands like Japandroids are capable of such mind-blowing shows like the one we witnessed on Wednesday, the future of the low end in modern rock and its many garage - blues - punk offshoots remains uncertain.

With two excellent albums, one collection and several singles in their discography so far, Japandroids were already high in my personal hierarchy of guitar-drums duos. After their marathon, 110-minute set at An Club which included a large portion of this discography, the band certainly cemented its place near the top of this rapidly increasing list.

The extended length of this particular show was down to the band’s desire to give their Greek fans something extra at their first-ever Athens show. As a result, we had the opportunity to enjoy not only the eight tracks on the band’s most recent LP, "Celebration Rock", but a large portion of their back catalog as well, including tracks from their very first days as a band, like their cover of McLusky’s "To Hell With Good Intentions". All the highlights from their debut album "Post-Nothing" were also present in their set as well, including my favorites "Young Hearts Spark Fire" and "Wet Hair". Japandroids’ rock celebration ended with an explosive rendition of The Gun Club’s "For the Love of Ivy", injecting drunken energy to a cherished classic.

Japandroids, live @ An Club (Oct. 24, 2012)
The night opened with a brief set by another noisy guitar-drums duo, The Noise Figures. The new band, which consists of George Nikas from Zebra Tracks (vocals, drums) and Stamos Babaris from Keyser Soze (guitar), presented their debut EP "Turn Off The Lights" (listen here) with which they pledge allegiance to The Black Keys’ garage-blues sound. The guitar-drums gospel keeps spreading!

The Noise Figures, live @ An Club (Oct. 24, 2012)

Japandroids - To Hell With Good Intentions, live @ An Club

Japandroids - The Nights of Wine and Roses, live @ An Club

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Place To Bury Strangers, Zebra Tracks, live @ Fuzz Club (Athens, October 20, 2012)

Sonic warfare… it’s the best way to describe what I see unfolding on Fuzz Club’s stage when A Place To Bury Strangers begin their set.

This is the band’s third visit to Athens after the December 2009 show at the tiny, claustrophobic Rodeo Club and their participation at the last Synch Festival the following summer, which means that we are well prepared as to what we are going to witness. Still, the previous experience doesn’t make it any less thrilling to get caught in the middle of the huge wave of furious sound that they can stir up.

The well-attended Saturday show at Fuzz Club is the band’s biggest one yet in Athens and its main advantage, in comparison to the two previous gigs, is the much bigger stage which gives Ackermann and Lunadon space to move around freely and thrash on their instruments without immediate danger of bodily harm. Also, the impressive light show that accompanies their performance (which should come with a photosensitive seizure-warning) is much more effective in this venue. On the downside, the club’s high ceiling means that we are not getting the full blast of the sound (though someone could argue that this is for our own good), while the vocals seem to be too low in the mix. Technical sound hiccups aside, A Place To Bury Strangers’ third sonic onslaught gets top marks for both intensity of performance and visual presentation.

The 65-minute set, equally divided between their last two albums ("Exploding Head" and "Worship") and the "Onwards To The Wall" EP, was a towering wall of sound with almost no pause for breath or applause between the songs. The individual songs are just pieces of a puzzle that when it is completed, it reveals the true purpose of the A Place To Bury Strangers live experience: to construct a monumental sonic shrine dedicated to the worship of pure Noise. The war they are waging on stage is a holy one - there is no place for unbelievers in their Noise rituals!

A Place To Bury Strangers, live @ Fuzz Club, Athens (Oct. 20, 2012)

The evening began with a strong performance by Zebra Tracks who showcased their recent album "Collective Guilt" (see also here). In the space of the year and a half since the last time I saw them live, it is obvious that the band has taken some big steps forward. Their stage presence is confident and with their solid new material that strikes a skillful balance between melody and guitar noise, they seem ready to reach a wider audience.

Zebra Tracks, live @ Fuzz Club, Athens (Oct. 20, 2012)
Here’s the set list of A Place To Bury Strangers’ performance:

A Place to Bury Strangers Setlist Fuzz Club, Athens, Greece 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Killer Tracks: Wet Blanket by METZ

I do think this is the start of a beautiful friendship...METZ bring together the razor sharp guitars of Big Black with Mudhoney's dirtiest, grungiest garage fuzz. The result is nothing less than spectacular. Here's the official video for "Wet Blanket" from their recently released self-titled debut album:

And here is the mp3 for the equally awesome "Headache":


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Obits, False Alarm, The Dark Rags live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, October 17, 2012)

You could say that The Obits, the main protagonists of the guitar feast we enjoyed last Wednesday at the Six D.O.G.S club, came to Athens at just the right time. If you paraphrase a little the title of their latest album ("Moody, Standard And Poor"), you have a very succinct, right on the money description of the way most Greeks feel at the moment: moody, substandard and poor!

On the other hand, if you take into consideration the achievements of Obits main man Rick Froberg over the last two and a half decades (from Pitchfork, to Drive Like Jehu, to Hot Snakes), then it definitely took too long to see him in action here in Athens.

The same basic elements that characterized the sound of Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes, Froberg’s piercing yell and the two adventurous, dueling guitars, are still present in The Obits sound. The songs on their two albums so far are simpler in structure compared to the past but retain their explosive edge, while Froberg may not yell as loud as he used to but both his delivery and guitar playing are just as intense as back in the day.

Sohrab Habibion, the band’s other guitarist, also made his presence felt both on and off the stage, breaking one string after the other and also managing, during incendiary set-closer "Killer", to crowd-surf all over the tiny club. Credit, of course, goes also to the band’s rock solid rhythm section which consists of Greg Simpson on bass and Alexis Fleisig, of Girls Against Boys fame, on drums.

The Obits, live @ Six D.O.G.S

Scott McCloud
The voice of the latter, and legend in his own right, Mr. Scott McCloud was also present in the club on this night. His role was to reprise his performance on False Alarm’s "Sell Me Something", one of the two tracks on the Greek band’s just released debut single (see the live collaboration below). False Alarm opened for Obits with a strong set comprising of material from their soon to be released debut album and also paid tribute to their influences by bringing on stage Ada Lambara (guitarist of '80s greats Villa 21 and Nonmandol later on) to perform with them on their covers of Social Distortion’s "Don’t Drag Me Down" and Wipers’ "Over the Edge".

False Alarm, live @ Six D.O.G.S

False Alarm with Ada Lambara, live @ Six D.O.G.S

The night opened by another local act, The Dark Rags, who successfully mix garage and punk rock, continuing a rich tradition of the Greek indie scene that can be traced all the way back to the '80s and bands like The Last Drive.

The Dark Rags, live @ Six D.O.G.S

Here’s what Obits played for us in their 65-minute set:

Light Sweet Crude, Shift Operator, Pine On, No Fly List, SUD, Everything Looks Better in the Sun, New August, Suez Canal, Lilies in the Street, The City Is Dead  (The Kids cover), You Gotta Lose, I Want Results. Encore: Talking To The Dog, Widow of My Dreams, Killer.

The Obits - Widow Of My Dreams, live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Oct. 17, 2012)

False Alarm with Scott McCloud - Sell Me Something, live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Oct. 17, 2012)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Found Sound Vol.7: Zebra Tracks, Time And Energy, Generator Ohm, Vajra, Minor Sounds

Found Sound, our series of posts showcasing the best new tunes we discover based on your suggestions, is back in less than a month since the previous edition, thanks to the quality of submissions we’ve received lately. Volume 7 features some of our favorite tracks from new releases by Zebra Tracks, Time And Energy, Generator Ohm, Vajra and Minor Sounds plus, as a bonus, a new cut from the latest free mixtape by Found Sound alumnus (see also this) LAw.

If you have a tune or album you'd like to share with us, you can reach C.M.C. through the email address on this page or you can contact us through facebook, twitter or soundcloud. Volume 8 needs your input!

Zebra Tracks - A Moment Of Life

One of the highlights off "Collective Guilt", Zebra Tracks’ second long-player. The Athens, Greece, indie rockers have recently released their album digitally in North America via Miami, FL-based Limited Fanfare Record and are organizing a North American tour, which will end up in SXSW festival in March 2013. Listen to all 9 tracks here and check out the rest of Limited Fanfare’s releases here (personal favorite: The Ettes' single "Teeth")

Time And Energy - Tree Salad

Time And Energy is a California-based experimental rock duo with a wide range of influences (from Battles to Badly Drawn Boy), comprising of Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach. "Tree Salad", a melodic guitar track with meandering rhythms that brings to mind a more laid back version of White Denim, is taken from their forthcoming second album "Strange Kind of Focus" which you can listen to in full here.

Generator Ohm - Platius

An interesting scene seems to be forming around the King Killer Studios in Brooklyn, NYC. We've already met EndAnd in the previous edition of Found Sound, time to make our acquaintance with the furious guitars of Generator Ohm. "Platius" is taken from the trio's debut album "Upon the Me Om I" which is released this December - listen to it in full by clicking here.

Vajra - Inside The Flame

The title ("Pleroma") and cover art of Vajra’s debut album is of Greek origin but its core influences reach further east to India where composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Annamaria Pinna was located when she decided to start a band. The imposing "Inside The Flame" is "Pleroma"'s opening track, which reminds me of the eastern-influenced sounds of Religious To Damn, one of our favorite new bands of 2011. To listen to the full album which includes appearances by Blake Fleming (ex-The Mars Volta) on drums, Doug Wright (The Dirty Pearls) on bass and Will Dahl (ex-Harley’s War) on guitar, click here.

Minor Sounds - Gravity

Minor Sounds is the dark folk - electronic project created by Brighton, UK, based Croatian singer-songwriter Mirna Stanich and Warsaw based producer Martin Zietek. "Gravity" is one of the more upbeat, electronic-leaning tracks of their atmospheric, lo-fi debut album "The Humming" (listen in full here) which was recorded in a few living rooms around Brighton and Martin's home studio in a village near Warsaw between 2009 and 2012.

Bonus track: LAw - Freak Show

Celebrating one year since his debut mixtape and while putting the finishing touches to his new LP "Idiom" (out December 14th), LAw has just released a new, free mixtape titled "Silence is Still Golden, So Shut the F_ck Up". Click above to listen to "Freak Show", our choice for the outro of Found Sound Volume 7, and then go for the full thing here.