Archive for December, 2006


Personal theme songs


“I didn’t do anything today/stay in bed” The beat is usually what hits me first when I hear a song, but this time around, it was the lyrics that instantaneously made me think of someone I know. This could even be that person’s personal theme song. Hell, mine is this. It’s lyrics like the above and others as well that make me smirk every time this spins. Besides the obvious connection I have to this song, it is also from a band I’d rank in my all time top 20 for nostalgic reasons and their true ability to craft the perfect song; rather it’s about teenage popularity, one hell of a blizzard, or blue balls. The track entitled “Nothing” is from Nada Surf’s Karmic EP, which was released approximately three months before High/Low. 10 plus years ago…

Nada Surf-Nothing


It must be that time of the year again..

These records were on repeat rather often this year. Please excuse my wordiness, but these are all deserving of being in your physical or digital collection. Yes, “Hell Hath No Fury” and “Night Ripper” are beyond strong records; however, in a year I thought was rather poor for music, actually turned out to generate some breathtaking records. Check it…

10. Sergent Garcia-Mascaras


English, Español, and Français are the languages presented on Sergent Garcia’s latest energetic record, Mascaras. Just like some of my other favorite artists, Sergent Garcia is someone who has true talent when it comes to anything that is associated with music. With the help of his band, Los Locos del Barrio he composes 12 tracks that he has labeled, “salsamuffin” due to their unique hybrid of hip-hop, salsa, reggae and just about anything else he feels like throwing into his mix. More often than not, those hybrid albums that consist of so many different genres just don’t work, but just like his other four timeless albums, he’s concocted another upbeat classic for today and definitely for tomorrow too.

9. Damien Rice-9


Sophomore slump seemed to be the consensus on the Internet about this Irish man’s latest record, which we anxiously awaited for over three years time. To me, he came very far from disappointing, even though this time around, he trades beautiful words like, “Hallelujah” for phrases like, “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you”, but, I sense the sincerity in his true hatred for I assume his past love. Ironically, that is why some people were hating on this record because of his desire to be over emotional at times. Whatever. Rice’s voice and vocal delivery has always reminded me of another at times hated musician, Ryan Adams, but luckily for us, Damien isn’t capable of creating a new album everyday, or has one serious quality control manager who only lets him release the ones that matter. With a striking piano ballad with Lisa Hannigan on“9 crimes” and the upbeat, yet sensitive material that is “coconut skins”, 9 is a record that truly proves Damien Rice has far surpassed his sophomore jinx.

8. The Features-Contrast EP


This has happened before that an EP was just that strong and impressive to gain a spot in my most coveted Top 10 list, which the Features have most definitely earned. It is always funny to hear what’s produced from a band after they are dropped from their label, and if this EP is even a minuscule amount representative of their still to be named full length, they’ll definitely be earning a spot in my 2007 list as well. The Features produce amazing compositions, generate witty lyrics, and create a live performance that’s destined to leave audiences craving more every time they’re fortunate enough to witness the foursome from Tennessee. With these fellas, it just does take a little commotion for an epic rock experience!

7. Secret Machines-Ten Silver Drops


It usually plays out like this; I hear a record, enjoy it, go witness that band’s live show, and then really begin to appreciate that album even more based on the live experience. With the Secret Machines, it was the complete opposite. I sadly just began to see the utter brilliance of this band in 2006 after witnessing them live for their “In-The-Round” tour, which consisted of a hand-built round stage, which created the opportunity for spectators to witness them from any angle. Besides the unique setup the band brought, the 360-degree stage was outfitted with some of the best lighting I’ve ever witnessed that was choreographed with every single one of the band’s movements throughout the surreal set list. This New York based group creates epic rock songs that have a psychedelic meets spacey feel to them, but still include enough hooks to engross the average pop fan, and by epic, I mean their average song is about seven minutes or more. On “Ten Silver Drops”, it is yes, only eight tracks, but every single song is so well composed that instead of yearning for more, you’ll just decide to repeat the album from the excellent opener that is, “Alone Jealous, and Stoned”.

6. Hot Chip-The Warning


This record really describes itself. Take a bunch of dorky looking white boys who are down with Casio beats, Prince, giving you the opposite of a laid-back record and you have possibly one of the more entertaining acts of 2006. Any band that sets up as many keyboards live as these guys decide to, are plenty ok with me. Hot Chip produce a strong electro meets funk sound that makes you want to get up and show you got good rhythm, girl. The quality of these songs are credible enough to impress the rock kids, but will standup to anything the club kids are banging today too. Like a monkey with a miniature cymbal!

5. Junior Boys-So This Is Goodbye


Within seconds of the intro, “Double Shadow”, this record already has me hooked with its bouncy, yet subtle electo beats. At times this record is upbeat, almost club like with tracks like “In the Morning”, with pulsating beats and dirty synth sounds, but overall, some may categorize So This is Goodbye as a dreamy, chill-out record with the sporadic dance track. Regardless of the category you want to place this record into, Junior Boys have simply made the most forward thinking, electro pop record of this year that is sometimes dark and dreamy, but also melodic enough to make you smile.

4. Muse-Black Holes and Revelations


As the notes on the dark sounding Wurlitzer begin to pulsate, you know you’re in for another monumental opener by this UK threesome that to me generate outstanding orchestral rock. “You will burn in hell for your sins” are the lines so keenly uttered by Matt Bellamy on their ominous opener, “Take a Bow”. No matter the song, Matt is always flexing his vocal range and ability, even on the where did this come from single, “Supermassive Black Hole” he demonstrates his ability to drop a fancy falsetto. It’s the ability to write and invent eclectic sounding compositions that make this band stand out as one of the only bands out of that area that still matter to me. Rather it’s an epic opener, an emotional ballad like “Hoodoo”, or the truly closer of closers, “Knights of Cydonia” that they decide to intersperse with horns even, Muse will always be the only English group that really matters.

3. Wired All Wrong-Break Out the Battletapes


Mahaffey hasn’t officially put out a record since summer of 2000, which seems like an eternity, and in today’s fast paced era, it most definitely is. This record gets an automatic slot just because I could buy it commercially. When it comes to Self/Mahaffey projects, they usually just are shelved, some band will not grant a right to a cover song, or something else that prohibits us from hooking the man up with funds, or at times, he just wants to put it up for grabs online. Regardless of past bogus situations, Wired All Wrong finally became something after talk about this project for some time now. Take one part industrial, studio wizard Jeff Turzo from God Lives Underwater fame and add Matt Mahaffey on vocals of none other than Self to produce Break Out the Battletapes. Turzo lays down the beats while Mahaffey screams, drops a flow, does some Prince like falsettos, and just plain rocks the M-I-C every time he opens his mouth. No bullshit, just 10 strong tracks that maybe iTunes users do not dig, but hey, we do. As always, Matt and company have not disappointed with this one.

2. Spank Rock-YoYoYoYoYo


2 Live Crew for the hipsters is and will still continue to be Spank Rock’s most perfect description of who and what they are. MC Spank Rock has instant credibility with me just based on his lyrical content. How many records do you own where the lyricist drops, “Slam back that Sparks and you’ll believe me”? Lyrically speaking, Spank Rock is the epitome of dirrrty rap music with songs that talk about everything you can imagine sexually. Besides that, MC Spank Ro references characters from HBO’s the Wire, which is filmed in his hometown of Baltimore. And oh yea, their beats are probably the most infectious thing I’ve heard in a minute. Most are just simple, dirty club beats with the occasional sample thrown in. On “Sweet Talk”, there is a small clip of Frank Wilson’s “Do You Love Me?” Most people need to make a mix or a special play list for a party to be bumping, but with YoYoYoYoYo, all you have to do is press play, stop acting like a bitch, and throw your hands up!

1. Silversun Pickups-Carnavas


As much as I may now loathe Los Angeles for being the city that it is, that area continues to generate some of the highest quality music since the mid 90’s boom in the Chicago area. It really baffles me that it took months after finally hearing this full length to appreciate its true brilliance and beauty, which just sounds like an unusual word to use on a band relying heavily on distortion/feedback. As I mentioned earlier here, my mind was plenty made up by November on what record was deserving of my number one spot. With a R.I.Y.L. of Autolux, Hum, and the Smashing Pumpkins, how could have someone with my tastes not absolutely fallen for this foursome? Carnavas saw the most play from me all year out of all albums I purchased, and this record came out post mid-year. Live, they are something to blog about. The Pickups have already posted a brief 2007 tour itinerary and they’ve long graduated from the small clubs. I feel for those who missed out.

And what are you feeling this year?


Sing Song

The Little Ones

As the curtain on 2006 begins to close, best-of lists are being compiled in every corner of the world.  I trust this site will be no exception to that trend.

The Little Ones is a band that will surely be represented on a couple of my lists.  They self-released an EP entitled Sing Song in the spring.  Before the summer was over, they found themselves signed to Astralwerks.

 The seven-song EP (originally released as a six song set) packs a potent punch of sunshine pop  with hand-claps, jangly guitars, tamborines and enough ooh’s, ahh’s and la la la’s to make Brian Wilson cream in his pants. 

Catch their live show if you have an opportunity.  They bring it something fierce.

RIYL :: The Shins, Of Montreal, Neutral Milk Hotel

The Little Ones :: Lovers Who Uncover

The Little Ones :: Heavy Hearts Brigade


State of the Ark: One seminar paper left.


Howdy boys and girls.  Welcome aboard to our many new visitors who helped make yesterday one of our most trafficed days yet.  I imagine the students in my journalism class who have found our little pie in the sky blog will soon resume their normal surfing activty.  This is hardly Second Life.  I’m officially announcing my triumphant return to our blog, after about a month away.  I finished a paper today and have one left Monday, then it’s no more classes [as student] for me…ever!  I am actually looking forward to comprehensive exams, as twisted as that may sound.  Just one step closer to my Canadian rockin’ dissertation.

So, The Ark.  My vote for the most original, over-the-top, and embarrasingly good Scandanavian band since Hurra Torpedo.  And, yet, poor Milton Friedman could only explain away the economic successes of the Scandanivian economies (despite violating every laissez-faire capitalist dogma) with comments such as, “Yes, we have many Scandinanvian-Americans in the U.S. and there is no unemployment among them either.”  Milt only had to look as far as their wonderful pop music to see that creativity is the engine of their economies.  If you didn’t hear it and see it with Abba though, what can one really say?

The Ark promote themselves as glam-rockers and I think they look the part.  I don’t know whether they fully sound the part, but I honestly have little knowledge of glam-rock. just gave their new album, State of the Ark, number 33 on it’s Top 100 list of 2006.  Fair enough.  Thank goodness it edged out The Artic Monkeys’s debut, my biggest “don’t get it” huge success of 2006.

The Ark teach us all that no matter the silly, so-called glamorous outfits or the absurd lyrics (e.g., “Had no cannabis to sedate us/So we smoked carrots and potatoes/Tea and head-ache pills/But I can’t recall the thrills…/So don’t talk to me like that/I’m also a cat”) that a good tune is a good tune.

 I also enjoy the poetic “Rock City Wankers”

You ought to know
Just because you’re full of it
It doesn’t mean that you’re the shit
So take a good look at me
Now, Here’s some good advice:
Try some manners, fuck-face!
(I mean it, baby…)

Bob Dylan, you’ve been warned.

Despite my surface criticisms, the Ark have produced one of the catchiest albums of 2006.  It’s as glam as I’ve ever gotten, but it’s fun with no greater intentions (except to call out the wankers).  I would say it’s to glam what the Kooks are to Britpop for 2006.

Okay, quizzes to grade.  And, of course, you gotta see “Clamour for Glamour.”  And to think, that’s not even close to the best song on the album.  Shake it like a Polaroid picture.


12 Inches of Snow

As I sit here, Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are getting blasted with the first significant snow storm of the season.  This little cut seems fitting, and if it isn’t, then perhaps it will spark a little nostalgia from a time when we wore Cross Colours and Karl Kani clothes. 

The song/video is from a former Canadian convict who found his love for Reggae while in the clink.  Once he served his time, he busted out and hooked up with MC Shan to create an album entitled 12 Inches of Snow (which just might be the best album name in the ’90’s).  He’s an argued one-hit wonder with this song, although I’m sure others would tell you that he’s an international success outside of the United States.  That’s cool though.  I’m huge in Poland.

 Snow – Informer

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December 2006