Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stereogum’s 50 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2011

"Borrowed" from Stereogum
To tackle the cliché head-on, if you’re a big music fan, every year is a good year for music. People (and their Droids) seem more cynical than ever, but only a true curmudgeon could make it through any given 12 months without liking anything (well, the mid ’90s had a couple grim moments). That said, 2011 appears to have more than enough to keep even the angriest amongst you smiling amid the steady unemployment, nostalgia-act reunions, oil spills and explosions, celebrity sickness/divorce/death, chillwave, and even Glee.
Kanye West and his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy owned the latter part of 2010 — with the news of his five-song 2011 Watch The Throne collaboration with Jay-Z, he may very well own a chunk of next year, too. Speaking of owning: 2010 — also known as the year post-Merriweather Post Pavilion — was a somewhat quiet one for Animal Collective outside of ODDSAC and Avey Tare’s Down There. The next one brings us the next best thing to a new AC collection, Tomboy, Panda Bear’s much anticipated followup to 2007’s Person Pitch. We’ll also have the first proper Aphex Twin full-length since 2001’s Drukqs. In the time after Richard D. James paused, guitars have definitely taken a bit of a backseat in many corners of underground music and for the general listener — think chillwave, witch house, death disco, homemade GarageBand mashes, the sampled guitar-rock of Girl Talk, etc. With this landscape as his backdrop, it’ll be interesting to see how much further James, a popular electronic musician even non-electronic music fans have always liked, can spread his reach. (He’s said he’s recorded six albums worth of material since we last heard from him, so it’ll also be interesting to see how much these outside shifts have influenced his own output.) As far as other long waits, it seems Strokes IV will see the light of day in 2011, or at least that’s what the @band says. All in all, the old guard is well represented in the following list: The Cars, Beastie Boys, U2, Foo Fighters, etc. (What year is this again?)
Speaking of our list: We chose the 50 most important or enticing. And while it’s limited primarily to releases that have been confirmed, we have made a few assumptions (e.g., that the Wrens and Avalanches will finish their Chinese Democracies).
Click on an artist name for recent news, and in some cases MP3s, from these forthcoming LPs.
  • …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Tao of the Dead Part I: Tao of the Dead (2/4 via Richter Scale)
  • Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT (2/8 via Dead Oceans)
  • Damon Albarn/Flea/Tony Allen Project – TBA
  • Asobi Seksu – Fluoresence (2/15 via Polyvinyl)
  • Banjo Or Freakout – TBA (via Rare Book Room)
  • Battles – TBA
  • Beady Eye – TBA
  • Beck – TBA
  • Black Lips – TBA
  • Bon Iver – TBA
  • BRAIDS – Native Speaker (1/18 via Kanine Records)
  • British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall (via Rough Trade)
  • Burial – TBA
  • Cake – Showroom Of Compassion (1/11 via Upbeat)
  • Coldplay – TBA
  • Cornershop – Cornershop & The Double ‘O’ Groove Of>
  • Crystal Stilts – TBA
  • Danielson – Best of Gloucester County (2/22 via Sounds Familyre)
  • The Death Set – Michel Poiccard (via Ninjatune)
  • Deerhoof – Deerhoof Vs. Evil (1/25 via Polyvinyl)
  • DeVotchKa – 100 Lovers (2/15 via ANTI-)
  • Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots (2/15 via ATO)
  • Ducktails – Ductails III: Arcade Dynamics (1/10 via Woodsist)
  • East River Pipe – We Live In Rented Rooms (2/15 via Merge)
  • Esben & The Witch – Violet Cries (2/8 via Matador)
  • Explosions In The Sky – TBA
  • Matthew Friedberger – Solos (Jan, March, May, July, Sept, Nov via Thrill Jockey)
  • The Feelies – TBA (Spring via Bar/None)
  • Lupe Fiasco – Lasers (2/14 via Atlantic)
  • The Forms – Derealization (2/15 via Threespheres/Ernest Jenning)
  • Peter Gabriel – New Blood
  • The Get Up Kids – There Are Rules (via Quality Hill Records)
  • The Good, The Bad, & The Queen – TBA
  • Gorillaz – TBA
  • Islands – TBA
  • Jane’s Addiction – TBA
  • Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows (1/25 via Talibra)
  • Jens Lekman – TBA
  • Low – TBA
  • The Luyas – Too Beautiful To Work (2/22 via Dead Oceans)
  • MEN – Talk About Body (2/1 via IAMSOUND)
  • Mister Heavnely – TBA
  • Neon Indian – TBA
  • Noah & The Whale – TBA (via Lost Club/Mercury Records)
  • Beth Orton – TBA
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – TBA
  • Sic Alps – Napa Asylum (1/25 via Drag City)
  • Tape Deck Mountain – Secret Serf EP
  • John Vanderslice – White Wilderness (1/25 via Dead Oceans)
  • VEGA – TBA
  • White Lies – Ritual (1/18 via Fiction)
  • Wild Flag – TBA
  • Win Win – Win Win (Vice
  • Patrick Wolf – TBA (via Hideout)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Big Little Profile: John Darnielle

Despite an unnecessarily large record collection there are actually very few artists / bands that I can say I've stuck with unfailingly over the last 30 years of serious listening.  I thought doing a few (relatively shallow) in depth profiles of these choice folk might serve to broaden their appeal.  First up John Darnielle.

First exposure

I think the first release was Nine Black Poppies on Emperor Jones ... followed quickly by Sweden on Shrimper records, both in 1995.  This was the heyday of the micro-indie label and lo-fi production... and the Mountain Goats had that in spades.  Most of the tracks on these two releases were recorded live to two track on a recorder whose condenser mic also picked up the sound of the tape motor whirring.  This whir was always loud on the intro and extro of the tracks.  The key track for me on these releases had to be "Cubs in Five" on Nine Black Poppies.  It's lyrics were all about the massively improbable coming to pass, like "Bill Gates will single-handedly spearhead / The Heaven 17 revival," with the chorus being a big, sappy "And I will love you again / I will love you  like I used to."  This couplet was the topic of debate between an ex and me on whether the line was meant as sarcasm or magical affirmation.  I'll let you guess who sided with what.  The other stand out track that I still love on Sweden is the atypical Casio keyboard track "California Song," another lovesick ditty with the lines like "I know that in California the waves break on the beach / and I know that the foam on the breaking waves is as white as household bleach" and "You treat me badly / I love you madly / You really got a hold on me."  Damn.

Cementing the Deal

Darnielle obviously had a geyser of songs coming out of him with 5 albums between '95-'97 plus enough cassettes, 7" inches, magazine compilaton tracks etc. to later fill up three compilations of early songs (Protein Source of the Future Now, Bitter Melon Farm and Ghana came out on 3 Beads of Sweat in 2002 with a combined total of 81 songs).  But the album that cemented the deal for me from this early period was Full Force Galesburg on Emperor Jones.  Its more focussed, still a mixed bag of lo & hi fi recording styles but with a heart-on-the-sleeve truth coupled with acerbic wit that carried Mountain Goats torch from here on out.


After another small handful of lo-fi releases spread across a few labels Mountain Goats joined the venerable 4AD and got a boost to their production as a result.  First out of the gates was Tallahassee, Darnielle's ruminations of love gone wrong through a variety of lenses, including a hyper-dysfunctional couple he long ago invented as both muses and mouthpieces for his malaise.  The revelation for many fans came with 2005's Sunset Tree.  For the first time Danielle came out from behind his characters and travelogue songwriting and wrote in his own voice, or rather in the voice of his teenage self suffering through a destabilizing relationship with his abusive step-father.  It revealed very clearly his ability to turn the emotionally complex and harrowing into hook-loaded pop tunes. 

Extra Credit

Most recently, besides a form-confirming late 2009 release on 4AD called Life of the World to Come, an album about death with biblical quotes for titles (not as heavy as that sounds), Darnielle revisited a partnership began in 2002.  Then called The Extra Glenns, he and Nothing Painted Blue's Franklin Bruno released a great album called Martial Arts Weekend.  This year they've appended the band name to The Extra Lens and put out an even better effort called Undercard.  After TMG's conceptually grounded efforts this topic-hopping free for all is a welcome sight.  Though the topics are mostly grim [abandoned suicide attempts ("Some Other Way"), evangelical hypocrisy ("How I Left the Ministry")  and financial collapse ("Rockin' Rockin' Twilight of the Gods"), for example] their handling is again played for uptempo satire by and large.  A super-subdued cover of Randy Newman's "In Germany Before the War" is the album's spirit animal and keynote.

In Summation

There's no bad point to start your own consideration of the Darnielle oeuvre... but here is a short list of recommendation that shine a little more brightly:

Full Force Galesburg (1997)
All Hail West Texas (2002)
Tallahassee (2002)
The Sunset Tree (2005)
Life of the World to Come (2009)
Undercard (The Extra Lens) (2010)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rough Trade Shops list of Top Albums of 2010

"Borrowed" from Artrocker

Here's the Rough Trade Shops list of Top Albums of 2010

1. Caribou - Swim
2. Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
3. These New Puritans - Hidden
4. Caitlin Rose - Own Side Now
5. Phosphorescent - Here's To Taking It Easy
6. Darkstar - North
7. Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM
8. Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
9. Wild Nothing - Gemini
10. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
11. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
12. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo
13. The National - High Violet
14. Emeralds - Does It Look Like I’m Here?
15. Beach House - Teen Dream
16. Voice Of The Seven Thunders - Voice Of The Seven Thunders
17. Perfume Genius - Learning
18. Crocodiles - Sleep Forever
19. The Black Keys - Brothers
20. The Morning Benders - Big Echo
21. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
22. Salem - King Night
23. Brian Eno - Small Craft On A Milk Sea
24. Dylan Leblanc - Paupers Field
25. Joanna Newson - Have One On Me
26. Matthew Dear - Black City
27. Warpaint - The Fool
28. Liars - Sisterworld
29. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
30. John Grant - Queen Of Denmark
31. Konono No 1 - Assume Crash Position
32. Smoke Fairies - Through Low Light And Trees
33. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
34. Villagers - Becoming A Jackal
35. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
36. Mount Kimbie - Crooks And Lovers
37. Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
38. Best Coast - Crazy For You
39. PVT - Church With No Magic
40. Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
41. Vampire Weekend - Contra
42. Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep
43. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
44. Midlake - The Courage Of Others
45. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack
46. Sleigh Bells - Treats
47. O Children - O Children
48. Glasser - Ring
49. Zola Jesus - Stridulum 2
50. Holly Miranda - The Magician’s Private Library
51. Sea Of Bees - Songs For The Ravens
52. JJ - No3
53. Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
54. Twin Shadow - Forget
55. Gonjasufi - A Sufi And A Killer
56. Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth
57. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Before Today
58. Cours Lapin - Cours Lapin
59. Darwin Deez - Darwin Deez
60. School Of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire
61. Beach Fossils - Beach Fossils
62. Shit Robot - From The Cradle To The Rave
63. Jonsi - Go
64. Dum Dum Girls - I Will Be
65. Belle And Sebastian - Belle And Sebastian Write About Love
66. Chilly Gonzales - Ivory Tower
67. Connan Mokasin - Please Turn Me Into The Snat
68. Holy Fuck - Latin
69. The School - Loveless Unbeliever
70. Tobacco - Maniac Meat
71. Dios - We Are Dios
72. Allo Darlin’ - Allo Darlin’
73. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
74. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
75. El Guincho - Pop Negro
76. Oneohtrix Point Never - Returnal
77. Kort (Kurt Wagner And Cortney Tidwell) - Invariable Heartache
78. Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In
79. Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing
80. Sufjan Stevens - The Age Of Adz
81. Kings Go Forth - The Outsiders Are Back
82. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
83. Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards - Shakes
84. Stornoway - Beachcomber’s Windowsill
85. Tamaryn - The Waves
86. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
87. Four Tet - There Is Love In You
88. Magic Kids - Memphis
89. Marina And The Diamonds -Family Jewels
90. Mystery Jets - Serotonin
91. Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
92. Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul
93. Fool’s Gold - Fool’s Gold
94. Frankie Rose And The Outs - Frankie Rose And The Outs
95. Aloe Blacc - Good Things
96. Drums Of Death - Generation Hexed
97. Am - Future Sons And Daughters
98. Field Music - Field Music (Measure)
99. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
100. Time And Spacemachine - Set Phazer To Stun

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Fredericton 100

There's an element of archeology / anthropology to stocking a used vinyl store.  I often find myself looking at a layer of petroleum-based materials, most of which were deposited in the basements and hobby sheds of Southern NB about 25-30 years ago.  A couple of things are abundantly clear:  Sam the Record Man and A&A and whomever else did their vinyl vending back then... apparently didn't have to worry about variety.  This is proven in the seemingly endless supply of certain records that have been troubling our 99cent bin (and our regular shelves) over the last 20+ years.  While it would be great to have a flow of Led Zeppelin and Beatles and Pink Floyd (or conversely Velvet Underground, P.I.L., Cure, Ramones,  Iron Maiden, etc.) titles streaming through the door... it just isn't the case.  To whit, I present to you THE FREDERICTON 100.  Unscientifically generated, these are the one hundred most common titles... ones that almost every collection containing more than 50 records seems to require at least a handful... and some collections over 100 that seem to contain almost all.  Enjoy... and check see if your collection is THE FREDERICTON COLLECTION.  (By the way... we do still take most of these titles for stock... just don't expect to get rich off of them).

01 Fleetwood Mac - Rumors
02 Supertramp - Breakfast in America
03 Bob Seger - Against the Wind
04 Al Stewart - Year of the Cat
05 Elton John - Grt Hits Vol II
06 Police - Synchronicity
07 Genesis - Duke
08 Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell
09 Eagles - The Long Run
10 Cars - Candy-O
11 Various - Secret Policeman's Ball
12 Kenny Rogers - Greatest Hits
13 Carol King - Tapestry
14 James Taylor - Greatest Hits
15 Joe Walsh - But Seriously Folks
16 Roger Hodgson - Eye of the Storm
17 Aldo Nova - S/T
18 The Romantics - In Heat
19 Rough Trade - Avoid Freud
20 Santana - Greatest Hits
21 Cat Stevens - Greatest Hits
22 UB40 - Labour of Love
23 Jon and Vangelis - Short Stories
24 Styx - Pieces of Eight
25 Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
26 Led Zeppelin - In Through the Out Door
27 Simple Minds - Once Upon a Time
28 Human League - Dare
29 Roxy Music - Avalon
30 Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest Hits
31 Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells
32 Loverboy - Get Lucky
33 Bryan Adams - Cuts Like a Knife
34 Prism - Armageddon
35 Payolas - Hammer on a Drum
36 Boomtown Rats - Fine Art of Surfacing
37 Big Country - The Crossing
38 GTR - S/T
39 Honeydrippers - Vol. 1
40 U2 - Unforgettable Fire
41 John Cougar - Uh-Huh
42 Rod Stewart - Blondes Have More Fun
43 The Doobie Brothers - Greatest Hits
44 Foghat - Fool in the City
45 Toronto - Girls Night Out
46 Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers
47 Eric Clapton - Slowhand
48 Bruce Cockburn - Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws
49 Hall & Oates - H20
50 Steppenwolf - Greatest Hits
51 The Who - Tommy
52 Heart - Dreamboat Annie
53 Cheap Trick - At Budokan
54 Jackson Browne - The Pretender
55 Peter Frampton - Frampton comes Alive
56 Three Dog Night - Hard Labor
57 Wings - Wings Over America
58 Boston - S/T
59 Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
60 Nazareth - Greatest Hits
61 Jeff Beck - Blow By Blow
62 Def Leppard - Pyromania
63 Rick Wakeman - The Six Wives of Henry VIII
64 Steely Dan - Aja
65 OST - Saturday Night Fever
66 Jefferson Starship - Earth
67 ELO - Greatest Hits
68 Commodores - Greatest Hits
69 Joe Jackson - Look Sharp
70 Seals and Croft - Greatest Hits
71 Chicago - Greatest Hits
72 Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gold and Platinum
73 10 CC - How Dare You?
74 The Pretenders - S/T
75 Bob Dylan - Slow Traing Coming
76 Alan Parsons Project - I Robot
77 America - Greatest Hits
78 Moody Blues - The Other Side of Life
79 Burton Cummings - Woman Love
80 BTO - Four Wheel Drive
81 Duran Duran - Seven and the Ragged Tiger
82 David Bowie - Let's Dance
83 Gerry Rafferty - City to City
84 Michael Jackson - Thriller
85 ABBA - Arrival
86 Grand Funk - We're an American Band
87 Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits
88 Gino Vanelli - Brother to Brother
89 Beach Boys - Endless Summer
90 Dire Straits - Love Over Gold
91 Kinks - State of Confusion
92 Quiet Riot - Metal Health
93 Jethro Tull - Aqualung
94 Bad Company - Straight Shooter
95 Bryan Ferry - Bete Noire
96 Harry Chapin - Sequel
97 The Bells - Stay Awhile
98 Box of Frogs - S/T
99 Charlie Daniels Band - Million Mile Reflections
100 Emerson Lake and Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Waking up the slept on... Vinyl Recommendations

Here are a couple of titles that have been snoozing in the sealed vinyl bins for a short while.  Both come with the Backstreet seal of approval:

Grails - Doomsdayer's Holiday Temporary Residence)

This Portland outfit started out on Neurot records, though their sound was as much steeped in Eastern European gypsy folk acoustics as it was Western hard rock modes.  On their fifth full length they reach into the darkness for their inner Sabbath and pull out a creepy blues n raga beast that lives up to it's menacing title.

Listen to "Reincarnation Blues"
It retails for $22.98 +hst at Backstreet in Fredericton

Pan.American - Quiet City (Kranky)

As leader of Labradford Mark Nelson explored the shadowy fissure of avant rock previously etched by folks like Popul Vuh to Brian Eno.  His side project, Pan.American, concentrated mainly on minimalist electronics, but this fourth full length saw him enlisting a tastefully austere ensemble of acoustic sidemen to accompany his bleeps and ticks.  It's moody late night music for sodium flare and closed circuit television surveillance.

Watch "Quiet City":

The album retails for $16.98+hst at Backstreet Fredericton.