April 28 2013 Drop Box Notes

A little early this month, and as always I will update these Drop Box Notes as I find time and energy. There is (I hope as always) some terrific new stuff to go along with last month’s releases.

As I telegraphed in an earlier post, the new Del Lords record is in the Drop Box for those of you who failed to pick it up earlier (#35). I think there is a pretty good mix of old and new in this months batch of releases with Big Star‘s Record Store Day limited release Nothing Can Hurt Me, a new Depeche Mode record ( that is actually good and an interesting listen), a new reformed Fall Out Boy LP which traverses some new areas while still sounding like pre-breakup FOB, and Grapes of Wrath (who were a favorite of mine in the late 80s and early 90s and who are also reformed and back with a new release ( I saw them open for Guadalcanal Diary at the Green Door in Claremont CA).   Some of the newer artists you might recognize because they previously were in the drop box are Kurt Vile, the Thermals and Thee Oh Sees and who continue to release exciting new music.

Finally, I’d like to think that the music added here is pretty diverse covering the gambit from pop – folk – singer-songwriter- alt-country- rock – indie- electronic and punk, but if there is something you are truly seeking please leave a reply or drop a note in the drop box and I’ll seek it out.

And away we go:

01 Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze [2013]

02 Wavves – Afraid of Heights [2013]

03 Veils – Time Stays, We Go [2013]

04 Grapes of Wrath – High Road [2013]

05 Dawes – Stories Don’t End [2013]

06 Filthy Boy – Smile That Won’t Go Down [2013]

07 Murder By Death – As You Wish Kickstarter Covers [2013]

08 Murder By Death – Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon [2012]

09 Thermals – Desperate Ground [2013]

10 Sticky Fingers – Caress Your Soul [2013]

11 Virginmarys – King of Conflict [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

12 Wheeler Brothers – Gold Boots Glitter [2013]

13 Young Dreams – Between Places [2013]

14 Dead Sons – The Hollers and the Hymns [2013]

15 Because They Can – Alive EP [2013]

16 Leagues – You Belong Here [2013]

17 Lydia – Devil [2013]

18 Purling Hiss – Water on Mars [2013]

19 Rival Schools – Found [2013]

20 Satan Takes A Holiday – Who Do You Voodoo [2013]

21 Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin [2013]

22 Transit – Young New England [2013]

23 Depeche Mode – Delta Machine [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

24 Foot Village – Make Memories [2013]

25 Jil Is Lucky – In The Tigers Bed [2013]

26 British India – Controller [2013]

27 Rilo Kiley – RKives [2013]

28 Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation [2013]

29 Ocean Blue – Ultramarine [2013]

30 Woolen Men – The Woolen Men [2013]

31 Young Statues – Age Isn’t Ours [2013]

32 Mudhoney – Vanishing Point [2013]

33 Les Enfants – Les Enfants EP [2013]

34 Finish Ticket – Tears You Apart [2013]

35 Del Lords – Elvis Club [2013]

36 Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me [2013]

37 Acres Of Lions – Home(s) [2013]

38 Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder [2012]

39 Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll [2013]

40 Rival Schools – Found [2013]

41 Pyyramids – Brightest Darkest Day [2013]

42 Bicycle Thief – Fields [2013]

43 Enter The Haggis – The Modest Revolution [2013]

44 Face To Face – Three Chords and a Half Truth [2013]

45 Paper Aeroplanes – Little Letters [2013]

46 Peace – In Love [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

47 ACB’s – Little Leaves [2013]

48 French Films – White Orchid [2013]

49 States – Room To Run (Reissue) [2012]

50 Neighbourhood – I Love You [2013]

Who Is Masked Intruder?

I’m listening to a new LP full of pop punk gold nuggets in the form of the recently reissued debut by Masked Intruder. This was supposed to release to the masses in August last year, but never found general release until it hits your Dropbox next month. This is your early warning.

http://www.punknews.org/review/11407/masked-intruder-masked-intruder

Upcoming Releases and Drop Box Requests

Here we are just a couple of days after the latest drop, and already there are a number of new releases worth a spin. The most interesting of these is the newest release by the legendary Del-Lords:

 

The Del-Lords – Elvis Club (2013)

 

Del-LordsThe Del-Lords have set a May 14, 2013 release date for their new album, Elvis Club, their first new studio album since 1990.
The reunited band features founding members Scott Kempner, Eric Ambel and Frank Funaro and they are joined by new bassist Michael DuClos.
“Elvis Club confirms to me what I always felt the band could do,” says Ambel. “To me, it’s a different kind of record for us, in that there isn’t so much of a theme to it as a feel, a real band feel. I didn’t really think of it as unfinished business; it was more like ‘Here’s what we can do now.”
With Ambel producing the band for the first time, and the sessions taking place at his Brooklyn studio Cowboy Technical Services, the band was able to record on its own terms and in its own time

 

“That was a big departure from every record we’ve made in the past,” Ambel observes. “Playing with the guys felt effortless and natural, and it was fantastic to build this thing ourselves, from the ground up. We made the record we wanted to make, based on our own enjoyment. That’s as good as it gets for me.”

 

“Working with Eric as producer really opened up the musical palette,” Kempner notes. “He was never at a loss for ideas, and he’s quickly inside the music and hears everything from all angles. He can take ideas, including my own, digest the intent, and more often than not, come up with a tweaked version of the idea that’s better than the one suggested. He also knows his way around the lunch options in the neighborhood, which is a crucial contribution, and has the best coffee of any studio I’ve ever worked in.

 

“On top of that,” Kempner continues, “Eric’s playing has really expanded. Other than ‘Everyday,’ he plays all the leads on the record. That in itself was a big sea change for us, but he kept coming up with ideas and I loved every one of them. The same was true with Frank; his playing has grown tall and strong, and busted a hole in our ceiling.”

After a few spins, already a favorite on my iPad.

Also, for next month are new releases by

Fall Out Boy ( surprisingly good)

Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze [2013]

Dead Sons – The Hollers and the Hymns [2013]

Depeche Mode – Delta Machine [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

Filthy Boy – Smile That Won’t Go Down [2013]

Grapes of Wrath – High Road [2013]

Lydia – Devil [2013]

Murder By Death – As You Wish Kickstarter Covers [2013]

Rilo Kiley – RKives [2013]

Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin [2013]

Thermals – Desperate Ground [2013]

Virginmarys – King of Conflict [Deluxe Edition] [2013]

Wavves – Afraid of Heights [2013]

If you have anything special you would like to see, drop me a note or a comment.

stay tuned for more . . .

 

 

 

 

April 07 2013 Drop Box Notes

Notes 04.07.13

As I was commenting to Tida this morning as I picked up my “venti no-whip mocha”, this is shaping up to be a very good year for new music. This month’s drop box continues the trend with a diverse array of new music and significantly, some classic reissues.

One of the clear signs of aging is when you recall favorably an album being released when you still had hair or seeing a band during the tour that marked their heyday. Such is the case this month with the inclusion of two albums that mark their 25th Anniversary this year: Fine Young Cannibals, 2nd album The Raw and The Cooked, and INXS’ 6th album Kick.

The Fine Young Cannibals were an easy choice for me to like when they first arrived on the scene in the mid-eighties. Bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox were both former members of The English Beat and the self-titled debut album was loaded with catchy dance pop nuggets framed by singer Roland Gift’s unique voice. The first record had this amazing song “Johnny Come Home” which was a hit record in Vancouver as well as this unique cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” but the second album, The Raw and The Cooked, was frankly a hit machine. Most people will point to the ubiquitous hits “She Drives Me Crazy” and “Good Thing” as being the driving forces on this record, but for me the game changer was the cover of the Buzzcocks’ “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?” Not merely a Voice/American Idol karaoke version, this version heightens the soul from the original. Not a bum track on the record, but unless you purchased the album you missed some deep tracks from the record. Try also “I’m Not The Man I Used To Be” and the sweet “The Flame.” Did you realize this was once a Billboard Number 1 record in the U.S?

Similarly, INXS’ sixth record is a brilliant piece of pop rock music that after 25 years has not shorn its luster, unless you live in Vancouver where this record is still being played on CFOX like it is a new release. When I was back in town for Christmas last year I heard at least 4 tracks from Kick in two days. Well, since I don’t listen to any radio while at home or in my own car, I’ve not become desensitized to the brilliance of this record. Which again brings me to a point I’ve made earlier in these notes, in several different ways: record companies often have no freaking clue as to what they are going to do with a record. Kick was almost not released at all by Atlantic Records: Atlantic Records was not happy with Kick, and as INXS’ manager Chris Murphy remembers:

“They hated it, absolutely hated it. They said there was no way they could get this music on rock radio. They said it was suited for black radio, but they didn’t want to promote it that way. The president of the label told me that he’d give us $1 million to go back to Australia and make another album.”

What you have in Kick is a happy accident that 25 years later, stands as a classic record that is overlooked by the mainstream, but it is hard to deny the significance of amazing number of singles from this record which are perhaps unparalleled for a rock band in modern memory: 4 tracks were U.S. Top 10 Singles: “NewSensation”, “Never Tear Us Apart”, “Devil Inside” and No. 1 “Need You Tonight”, but this misses out the amazing “Kick”, and “Mystify”. No picks here. You’ve likely all heard this record before, so now is the time to revisit it with ears 25 years older than when you first heard it.

Speaking of old bands, Wire’s new record, is really an old record finally completed more than 30 years after the band wrote the original material. For those of you who missed Wire, their influence on punk and modern music is undeniable. (Evidence of Wire’s impact abounds but for new initiates try these: “Heartbeat” -Live on Rockpalast (http://youtu.be/AYv3TqwCle4 ) and “1 2 X U” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdNS4g8vOnc&feature=share&list=RD02AYv3TqwCle4 )

Following three perfect records: Pink FlagChairs Missing and 154, the songs on Change Becomes Us, Wire revisits songs written following the release of 154 immediately before their first breakup in 1979. Fragments of these songs were released on 1981’s Document and Eyewitness a recording of a live performance that featured, almost exclusively, new material, which was described as “disjointed”, “unrecognizable as rock music” and “almost unlistenable”. The LP came packaged with an EP of a different performance of more new material. So, here more than 30 years later, Wire comes back to record its 4th record renewed after having released 10 records. (Wire reunited in 1997). Still a powerful sonic source, this “new album” fits nicely where it originally should have – Number 4. And seriously, if you’ve never heard of Wire before today, for shame. There are so many bands that would have never existed but for Wire. Try: “Adore Your Island”, “Stealth of a Stork”, and “Eels Sang” (Note: Simon Cowell reference).

Moving slightly forward in the history of rock, Suede were legends in England and absolutely ignored in the U.S, and I know why. They were two British for the U.S. and as the Jam found out before them, being too British is the death sentence for any chance of commercial success across the pond. Perhaps that is why so many English rock acts found there hopes dashed on arrival to the U.S.,making an impact only on the coasts of the United States (finding success only in New York and Los Angeles) but largely incapable of penetrating the vast wasteland of middle America. Believe me, Suede were huge in England and the colonies and between 1993 and 1996. With the release of debut record Suede, Dog Man Star (1994) and Coming Up (1996), Suede were the flag bearers for the Britpop scene that saw them surpassed by Blur in The U.S. and Canada. In an article about the British music press’ “ferocious one-upmanship campaign” of the mid-1990s, Caroline Sullivan, writing for The Guardian in February 1996, noted Suede‘s appearance as an unsigned band on the cover of Melody Maker claiming that they were “ Suede, The Best New Band In England” as a pivotal moment in the history of Britpop:

Suede appeared on Melody Maker’s cover before they had a record out… The exposure got them a record deal, brought a bunch of like-minded acts to the public’s attention, and helped create Britpop. It was the best thing to happen to music in years, and it mightn’t have happened without that Suede cover.

The drama in Suede was heightened by lead singer Brett Anderson’s bitter distaste of Britpop and the tensions during the recording of the amazing Dog Man Star a brutal record that is the antithesis of everything Britpop recorded and written while Anderson was holed up doing massive amounts of heroin. Anderson left the band during the recording and Suede carried on without him. So here we are 11 years after Suede’s last record in 2002, with a new release and Anderson again leading the band. What is Suede about now? Absolutely pop perfection and Anderson is still freaking bitter. Of Suede’s new album, Bloodsports Anderson stated: “What does it sound like? Oh! I don’t know, probably like some artist on some drug, engaged in a game of quoits with some other artist on another drug, you can adopt your own journalistic cliché if you haven’t grown up yet.” A not so subtle nod to Dog Man Star and the polarized reception it received when it was released by the British press. Suede re-constituted, make beautiful records. This is a headphone record and the album is catchy, melodic, with Anderson in amazing form. The first half of the record is catchy and upbeat, the last half more reflective. So, place this on random in your iTunes and enjoy. Try: “It Starts and Ends With You”, “Snowblind” and “For The Strangers.”

Hey, did you know the Strokes have a new record? Yup, just when you thought the Strokes were cooked signaled by the release of singer Julian Casablancas solo recording 2009, Phrazes For the Young, they are back and contrary to the popular music press this is actually a fine record that belongs in your collection. Really, if you read the press regarding Comedown Machine, I guess that is why they are called critics, try to pigeon hole the Strokes as the same band that broke though in 2001. They are not the same band and frankly they don’t need to be. The trick is to listen with fresh ears as if you had never heard of the Strokes before today and then pick out what you love. The Strokes always have had more than a nod to the 80’s ( remember Wire a few minutes ago?) but what made them different was Casablancas hysterical vocals and the angular guitars that penetrate the keyboards and other sounds. Such is still true here. The Strokes are unashamedly purveyors of what is essentially dance-rock and this is a fun record – you just need to follow your heart. Try” 50-50”, “One Way Trigger” and “Partners in Crime”.

Taking a step back to look at bands from around the time of the Strokes, the Postal Service, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello, have reissued their 1993 debut record Give Up with a bunch of extras from those sessions. Recorded separately with Gibbard and Tamborello recording the tracks separately exchanging CD-R’s by mail, the record changed indie music in the U.S. as it became a commercially viable form of music. Prior to this LP, indie music was relegated to college stations. This was the game changer record that paved the way for later commercial success by the Arcade Fire (Grammy winners). Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley sings the backups on this record after being cold called by Ben Gibbard to sing on the recording, the two having not previously met ( More about her next month as you’ll get the Rkives record in the drop box.) So looking back, what made this record special? Great songwriting highlighted by opener “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”. This is electronic indie that makes you want to pay attention to what’s going on with the lyrics. And that is the secret …”I’m staring at the asphalt wondering what’s going on underneath me…. I am a visitor here…. This is music concerned with awkwardness, love, friendship, and where one stands in the big picture. Most people are familiar with “Such Great Heights” (highlighted by Owl City utilizing elements in the irritating “Fireflies.” I was not blown away when absolutely no one recognized the similarities.) but the rest of the record has some shining moments that looking back, would have and should have been hits. Try: “We Will Become Silhouettes”, “Suddenly Everything Has Changed”, and “Be Still My Heart.”

It is no secret that I am a huge Replacements fan. So, when I hear that the Replacements are reuniting after more than 20 years after a vicious and bitter breakup In January of this year Replacements members Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars released just 250 copies of Songs for Slim, an EP of newly recorded material. Proceeds from the auction benefited their former guitarist Slim Dunlap, who suffered a stroke last year and was hospitalized for nine months. You can read more about this very worthwhile record on www.songsforslim.com and the project but as for the music on this EP it would be easy to praise anything recorded by the original members, but this is truly a great record. “I’m Not Saying” is worthy of a place in the bands greatest hits catalog. I know it is unlikely that they will ever record together again with only a tragedy bringing them together, but one can hope that this will help them find perspective, because frankly, the world needs more Replacements music. Now, I’m sad. Try: them all.

Another old guy still making great music but secretly disguising who he is for the kids who will not buy music for old people is Thurston Moore’s new band, Chelsea Light Moving. Sonic Youth should need no introduction as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Without Sonic Youth there is no Nirvana. While Sonic Youth is generally recognized as influencing a whole generation of bands (they themselves being influenced by the Ramones and the 70’s New York punk scene), Sonic Youth was as challenging a punk band as walked the planet mixing punk rock and noise into an abrasive melodic frenzy. Chelsea Light Moving assembles the best of Sonic Youth’s moments into a melodic frenzy of wall of noise guitars. “Sleeping Where I Fall” collects it all together and exemplifies Thurston’s new direction – melodic squalls of dissonance with moments of clarity with Thurston’s “Lou Reed” like vocals floating through the mix. This is music to clean your palate from the twee indie pop music. This is what music sounds like after the divorce from Kim Gordon your band mate and spouse after thirty years. A cathartic release that touches on the earliest of Sonic Youth records, this is a can’t miss recording. However, be forewarned, if you liked the Postal Service record discussed above, this is really challenging but well worth the effort. Try: “Burroughs”, “Sleeping Where I Fall” and “Lip”.

Alkaline Trio write what amounts to the sweet spot of pop punk-goth music. With a nod to Elvis Costello’s brilliant album My Aim is True, on My Shame is True, Alkaline Trio return with their ninth studio record and as consistent as ever, an album full of great songs. Matt Skiba is not the same songwriter as when this band formed in 1996 in McHenry Illinois, and as he matures, so does the band’s music. Be forewarned, this is a break up record written after Skiba’s breakup with his girlfriend – “There’s just this underlying theme of shame in the album,” Skiba says. He wrote his portion of the record — eight of the twelve songs — for one person, a girlfriend he split with shortly beforehand. “I wrote them as if no one but her was going to hear them,” he says. “That’s kind of the way I used to write our original records because I didn’t think anyone was gonna hear them.” Skiba and the ex remain friends. “She’s on the goddamn cover of the record,” in fact.

All that aside, these songs are well crafted and while touching elements of the early records, these are refreshing and brutally honest. Check out “I’m Only Here To Disappoint” for a lesson on self-loathing. If I had to pick out what makes a great song, it is the dichotomy between a catchy melody framing a chorus of negative lyrics. Try: “Kiss You To Death”, “I Wanna Be A Warhol” and “One Last Dance.”

I’ve included the Cribs anthology Payola and the rarer Payola Demos (released as a freebie with NME magazine) to remind you of a great British band who like Suede were missed by the U.S. and Canada but who have written more than a decade of great music. The band consists of twins Gary and RyanJarman and their younger brother RossJarman. They were subsequently joined by ex-The Smiths and Modest Mouse guitarist Johnny Marr who was made a formal member of the group in 2008. If this is your introduction, then Payola should not disappoint. The Cribs started playing around England at the same time as the much loved Libertines without the attendant drama of Pete Doherty and Kate Moss intruding on the music. Much like Ash, the Cribs were part of the guitar band revolution of the early 2000s that pumped life back into music (See the Strokes above). As you can see from this month’s drop box, guitar bands are coming back as the cycle continues. What made the Cribs special (other than the fact that Johnny Marr joined them to play guitar. See last month’s notes for more about Johnny) is consistency. Consistency in bands is a good thing. That doesn’t mean that every song has to sound the same, rather it is about a certain quality. Like the Hoodoo Gurus, whose songs still sound fresh today and should have been hits on radio, so it goes with the Cribs, who are rock stars in England but remain a niche band here. Front covers on the music magazines in England, no acknowledgment here. One can only guess as to the reason for the rampant regionalism, but for now, you can enjoy why the Cribs record will end up on repeat for me. Start with the catchy “Hey Scenesters” (2005), “Men’s Needs” and of course the Replacements cover “Bastards of Young”.

Saturday Looks Good To Me has been kicking around since 2000. Essentially FredThomas (former member of His Name Is Alive, Lovesick, Flashpapr), with a number of friends, the project has evolved over the years into a more stable adventure. Originally conceived as a bedroom project, the band has consistently released 7’’, EP’s and a few albums through Polyvinyl. Although dubbed an “experimental indie” band, in reality, this is fairly indie forward soul tinged rock with catchy melodic hooks. On One Kiss Ends It All, Scheduled for release on May 21, 2013, Thomas is joined by a new vocalist, Carole Gray and the band picks up where they left off almost 5 years ago, with a fresh set of catchy melodic indie rock. Highlights are “Negative Space” a piano driven ballad that harkens back to early Motown recordings. Try: “Are You Kissing Anyone?”, “Sunglasses” and “Invisible Friend.”

 Among my favorites of the past month is II by Blackmail. From Germany, the band has taken the best elements from the punk alternative metal universe and woven them into a cohesive hard driving record full of sing along type melodies. While this type of music is rarely heard in the U.S. anymore, there is a sort of alt metal revolution taking place in Europe, and while it is unlikely this record will be big anywhere except Germany (and this drop box), it is hard to deny the likeability of this record. A little different experience from the norm, this is a fresh look at alt-metal. Worth a spin. Try: “Kiss The Sun”, “The Rush” and “Sleep Well Madness”.

Kate Nash should be somewhat familiar to some of you as I dropped her Death Proof EP into the drop box last year. Initially a Myspace signing from Britain in 2006 and the purveyor of catchy indie pop, this third record finds Nash rocking things up a bit. Not quite the riot grrrl experience described by some critics, Girls Talk is a refreshing rock record full of catchy quick paced songs highlighting Nash’s pleasant husky tinged vocals. While some of this is disposable, there is enough Go-Go’s like material with some great guitar playing to make for repeated play. The Cramps influenced “Death Proof” is typical with Nash’s clever lyrics sung crisply through the rockabilly beat. There is something for everyone here with distortion, alt-county, indie pop and a catchiness that will make you smile. Try: “3 a.m.”, “Are You There Sweetheart” and the Jonathan Richman inspired “Your So Cool, I’m So Freaky”.

Another completely different female vocal experience is Giant Drag’s new album “Waking Up is Hard To Do, which like Nash’s record is self-released. As should be obvious now, the music industry is rapidly changing with more artists self-releasing music as labels continue to shrivel and die. Annie Hardy, the sole member of Giant Drag has a fairly full plate since forming the proto-band in Los Angeles in 2003. Waking Up is Hard to Do is only the second LP since that formation and according to Hardy who announced via her blog that this was likely the last Giant Drag recording two days before it was released. So what about the music? Giant Drag traverses a number of territories all highlighted by Hardy’s unique vocal styling. The guitars crunch and fuzz, the melodies and countermelodies make for a blissful listen. Too bad this is the last we’ll see of Giant Drag. I suspect we will see a new Hardy girl venture, but this last effort was worth the wait. Try: “Won’t Come Around”, the glam T-Rex-ish “Sobriety is a Sobering Experience” (compare with Bang a Gong (Get It On), and “Heart Carl.”

D.C’s Deathfix formed after Brendan Canty (Drummer – Fugazi) and Rich Morel (Vocals – Morel, Blowoff) met while touring in Bob Mould‘s band. Having discovered a shared affinity for the sounds of 1972 – particularly glam and progressive rock – they started recording in a garage space. Shortly thereafter, they recruited multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo (Faraquet, Medications) and Mark Cisneros (Medications) to form the rhythm section. On this first LP, the band’s sound is best described as glam Big Star meets the 90’s with the songs punchy guitars evoking early Mott The Hoople and T-Rex, particularly on the 8 minute “Transmission” which is a slow burner that starts new wave and ends up in full on sax skronk. Morel’s baritone vocals are perfect and the neo-progressive rhythm’s are perfectly balanced which keeps you listening even though some of the songs are quite lengthy. If you are used to bands on Discord, then this is a sharp left as Deathfix has none of the hardcore elements in common with other bands on the label. In fact, this is likely the most commercial release on the label. A solid first effort and definitely would make for a great live show. Try: “Transmission”, “Low Lying Dream”, and “Mind Control”.

Perth Australia’s Tame Impala follow up their outstanding Lonerism LP released late last year (and reviewed in the drop box) with the Mind Mischief EP featuring two remixes of the Mind Mischief single. Normally I’m not a big remix fan, but as if Tame Impala’s psychedelic garage sound was not trippy enough, these two remixes (Ducktails and Field) change it up and give the original new meaning and tone.

Chapel Hill North Carolina residents Kingsbury Manx, released the Bronze Age, a couple of weeks ago, and it has kind of snuck up on me. While this is the band’s first LP in 4 years, the Bronze Age picks up where the band last album left off (Ascenseur Ouvert! (Odessa, 2009)) with an album full of pleasant chamber pop, remarkable well played. While the group over the course of six albums has consistently played what is best described as “psych-folk” this release explores more divergent aspects of the genre and in places is reminiscent of the Let’s Active/ Chris Stamey college rock of the 90’s days. There is some gorgeous playing on this record, particularly the beautiful bright Monkees influenced “Handsprings”. While the majority of the album tips in favor of the folk side of the genre equation, this is essentially dinner music best appreciated when you are in the mood for guitar light. No hardcore here. Try: “In The Catacombs”, “Future Hunter” and “Concubine”.

Speaking of psych-rock groups (see Tame Impala), Philadelphia’s DRGN King explores similar territory with its synthesizer laden version of psychedelia. An important aside – new psychedelia is markedly different from the psychedelic sounds most people are familiar with from the mid to late 60’s. Pioneered by the Byrds, and Yardbirds, emerging as a genre during the mid-1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in the United Kingdom and United States, such as Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, The Doors and Pink Floyd. New psych rock explores the same influences but is much more upbeat although with the same jam/improvisional elements characteristic of the genre. In this regard “Menswear” typifies the new version of the genre with upbeat danceable pop interspersed with psych rock elements, i.e. the psych-out portions. Like a number of the releases in this month’s drop box there are certainly glam elements ( think T-Rex’s Electric Warrior) but DRGN King on Paragraph Nights are not merely derivative. This is new music taking the genre in new directions. A pleasant surprise, particularly when you thought there was nothing new on the horizon. Try” Menswear”, “Barbarians” and the funk-psych dance number “Altamont Sunrise”.

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper is a crappy name. C’mon, not every band’s name is genius. It took me several attempts to remember the name when I first stumbled across the lovely and powerful vocals of Aly Spaltro who has adopted Lady Lamb The Beekeeper as her recording moniker. A shy teen in Brunswick Maine her first recordings were recorded on 8 track and released anonymously (from the counter of a record store next to a DVD rental shop where she worked) with only an email address on the label as she was afraid of public reaction. Five years down the line, and recording her official debut in an actual recording studio, on Ripely Pine, Spaltro exudes the charm that should make her a mega star much the same as Adele became a star. Sure there are some similarities, and the music hype machine will play a role, but the songwriting here is just as strong as Adele but not nearly as bitter, and the strength of these songs is clearly Spaltro’s vocals and the sweet melodies. Already an NPR radio favorite, look for her to break through to the masses because frankly, there are not enough quality vocalists with this kind of tone in the commercial market. (Eve if you are reading this far – pick up this one!) Try: “Aubergine”, “Bird Balloons” and “Mezzanine.”

Mazes sophomore release Ores & Minerals is a change in direction from the awesome debut Mazes Blazes which was in the drop box last year (also containing the track “My Drugs” which was in my best of list last year). Sure,  the guitar band influences are still present evoking thoughts of Television and the Feelies and the touchstone of this genre the mighty Velvet Underground, but there are other things going on here as well. From the 7 minute twin guitar fueled Golden Earring “Radar Love” inspired opener “Bodies” though the closer “Slice” Mazes picks itself from the indie lo-fi world it started in on Mazes Blazes and stretches into new territory. I think they are onto something big. Time will tell. Try: “Ores & Minerals”, “Jaki” and “Bodies”.

Heza, the third album from the New Orleans based duo, Generationals, will likely confuse some people as the sound resembles Vampire Weekend at its heart. However, after a few listens, you can see that there is something else going on. Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer craft pop hooks on an electronic bed with sharp guitars that are also reminiscent of Phoenix ( See last months Bankrupt! In the drop box) but without the airy ambience of those tracks. This is pleasant electro-pop your gonna love! Try: “Spinoza”, “Put A Light On”, and “Awake”.

Transitioning to more guitar influenced indie on Ride Your Heart, Bleached (from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles) kick start their debut album with “Looking For A Fight,” as sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin blend traditional punk snottiness nee 1977 with a California sun drenched sound to create bright punk rock with both attitude and heart. Similar to the Runaways in sound with a hint of Ramones, this is a fun little record with a DIY edge that makes for some interesting listening. Really, if you close your eyes you can here Joan Jett ( when she was young, not old bitter and jaded) cranking some great riffage and Cherie Currie, the angel, singing songs of love, disappointment, and loss with the clear moments that make the journey worthwhile. Try: “Outta My Mind”, title track “Ride Your Heart” and “Dead Boy”.

Caveman’s self-titled sophomore album, is going to raise some questions as to why this type of music is included in the drop box. I’ve thought long and hard about what makes this particular genre interesting to me given that it generally becomes faceless music after a while. The band’s name is also misleading as one would at first blush think: Kelly is putting in another indie garage band (see Thee Oh Sees later), but this is anything but. This is exactly what you would expect when you think of indie rock. Melodic guitar driven rock music well played and with a male sounding vocalist. If the Hold Steady were still actively playing, this is what that next record would sound like. However, given the time shift of the past five years where attention spans are fleeting (even mine admittedly), this was a surprise because although this sounds like background music at [insert hipster lounge name] it is powerfully simple and pure – and that is why it is in the drop box this month. It’s pure enjoyable and simple with little of the pretentiousness or precociousness of the typical indie band. On this second LP, the follow up to Coco Beware (2011) the New York five piece have developed a more cohesive sound with Beach Boys like harmonies carrying the cohesively written tunes. Typical of East Village bands, this is what you would see as the opener for the National. Try: “Shut You Down”, Strange To Suffer” and “In The City”.

March 02 2013 Drop Box Notes

Notes 03.02.13

Well another month has passed without incident. Picking up where last month left off, this month’s batch of new releases continues the trend with a number of excellent releases in a wide variety of genres. I’ve had a few extra minutes to drop some notes about the releases this month, and have also included a few nuggets from last month as well.

I am somewhat addicted to the FIDLAR (Fuck it Dude, Life’s A Risk) record. The debut from this Los Angeles based proto-skate-punk (see a new sub-sub-genre of punk!) is interesting beyond the fact that it also signals a revival of a beloved sound from the early 80’s hardcore scene (think Descendants/All, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks) updated with modern sound recording and splashed with early southern flavored new wave (B-52’s, Dash Rip Rock) and the Orange County punk scene (Agent Orange, Channel 3) all perfectly balanced. In short, there is nothing like this currently in the punk universe. Catchy melodic choruses, with California retard themes. Once you hear “Cheap Beer” you will be hooked. The album is short in time but long in songs. Awesome crunchy guitars! Try “5 to 9”, “Wake Skate Bake” and “Wait for the Man.”

First up this month, is The Fiery Piano. Apart from the crappy and somewhat deceptive band name, Second Space is pop great record. Essentially a bedroom project, the sound is somewhat like Bright Eyes, and the electro-indie-pop is catchy, and at times gorgeous.  This debut LP, which Gustaf Montelius recorded in his home of Stockholm, Sweden, opens with an instrumental which flows nicely into the album’s centerpiece, the insanely catchy “ More Like A Tiger, Less Like A Dove.” For a one man record, this is not self-indulgent or precocious like most of these types of projects. Try, “Keep Dreaming On”, “Companions” and “Pegasus.”

I recently read an article on “noise rock” as a genre. As I thought about some of the bands mentioned, Velvet Underground, The Birthday Party (more about Nick Cave later!), Sonic Youth, and Scratch Acid, as well as a number that were not, Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, The Contortions, Arto Lindsay, and the entire Amphetamine Reptile roster in the late 80’s, it dawned on me that Pissed Jeans, on its latest, and IMHO greatest record, Honeys has finally achieved the perfect balance between noise terrorists and melody. From Allentown PA this is a working person’s hardcore band. The distinguishing feature from hardcore as a genre, is that there is no metal influences (or prog rock signature lyrics/ death metal decapitation soundscapes). It would take a while to sort the differences in writing, but trust me, you no the differences when you hear then. In the noise genre, there is still a garage rock undercurrent that is palpable, and unlike hardcore, there is actual singing as opposed to growling. More to the point, on Honeys, Pissed Jeans translates their considerable live performance to a solid record. Try “Cafeteria Food,” “Romanticize Me” and “Teenage Adult.”

Moving to the other end of the rock spectrum is Matt Pond (no longer going by Matt Pond P.A) who writes solid alt-rock songs in the vein of the Replacements. For those who know me, the inclusion of The Lives Inside The Lines In Your Hand in the drop box is not a surprise. I have followed this band for the last 15 years and still play on my iPad songs from the debut, Deer Apartments in 1998. Over the span of 8 LPs and 8 EPs, Matt Pond is consistently excellent. This record continues the trend. Catchy electro rock with thoughtful lyrics, these records suck you in and I often catch myself singing along. Like the greatest college rock albums of the 90’s (Marshall Crenshaw, dB’s, Smithereens) these are traditionally structured modern rock songs that do what all great songs do – they touch you emotionally, and make you want to sing along. So, put this in your car, turn it up loud, and feel the positive vibrations emanating forth. Try “Hole In My Heart,” “Let Me Live,” and “Love To Get Used.”

Another sunny pop record is Alpaca Sports. Much like last years San Cisco record, this is an alternative pop record of the highest order. It is hard to not like a record where the chorus of the song is “I used to kiss her…just for fun.” This is another one person project, from … wait….I’ll bet you can guess….Sweden. This time, Andreas Jonnsson, from Gotenberg, is the tunesmith on the self-titled Alpaca Sports an immensely enjoyable jangle pop record. Andreas gets some help in the form of some great back up vocals from Amanda Akerman and a couple of other friends that add highlights to these sunny songs. Not much you can say, really. Jangly to the max, this is pure candy. So, with that said, be forewarned, this can be easily overplayed, and puts that fun record that was so popular last year to shame. Try “Just For Fun,” “I Was Running” and Telephone.”

Pure Love is something of a punk super-group comprised of former Gallows singer Frank Carter and former Hope of Conspiracy/Suicide File guitarist Jim Carrol. Pure Love is a long way away from either of these bands hardcore roots. This is as the name suggests punk rock for the big screen in the form of Anthems. Frank Carter can actually sing and these are well formed, punk songs tinged with power pop (think Cheap Trick/ Blue Oyster Cult). When you need a loud rock record to play for your friends without wanting to scare them off – this is it. Like always, in a perfect world some of this would be on radio, but as you know – it is not. “Beach of Diamonds” was made for radio and would fit nicely on a Gaslight Anthem record. Try: “Handsome Devils Club,” “Riot Song” and “Bury My Bones.”

Ready to enter the mod garage? Palma Violets distill elements of the Jam/Who with the Arctic Monkeys, and for a band that formed in 2011, are already touted as the next big English thing. Formed in Lambeth, England, obvious influences are the Libertines. Like all of the records in the drop box, this is not perfect, but if 180 is any indication of where they are going as a band, then the hype is real. While I have finally conceded that popular radio may never see a guitar band again, it is precisely why I love music is bands like this who form, release a couple of youthful blast of energy into the ethos, and then either breakup, write shit or die. Hopefully that doesn’t happen here…but the odds are that it does. So, enjoy this for a time, because this is a pretty damn sweet record. Try “List of the Summer Wine”, “Step Up for The Cool Cats” (Love the mellotron!)  and “I Found Love.”

Like the Guards record last month, the National Rifle record took me by surprise. (I note here that The National Rifle is the 3rdPennsylvania based band in this month’s drop box). The National Rifle is from Philadelphia, and Almost Endless is their debut record). You know how there is certain sound that drags you into listening further to a song? Well, this record has a ton of tat particular sound. Maybe its Hugh Moretta’s voice, or the harmonies with keyboardist Lynna Stancatto, or the crunchy guitars. But whatever combination of elements, this record has it for me. Lyrically, the album is themed around frustration and the songs emphasize the inability to release tension through repetition.  If you can get past playing “Almost Endless” on repeat, try also “Night High” and “Coke Beat.”

Nick Cave is older than me. That is old. He also should not need any introduction. He is the former leader of the Birthday Party, The Bad Seeds, and Grinderman, an author, screenwriter, actor and odd looking dude. And he has made a record in Push The Sky Away that I am positive will end up on many of the year end best of lists, and frankly, deservedly so. This is a masterwork in the true sense of the word. For those unfamiliar with the genre, Nick Cave delves in murder ballads but this record is very accessible to the casual listener. I saw some recent video from this tour, and it is captivating. Try “Wide Lovely Eyes” (Sounds a little like Bono here), “Water’s Edge” and “Push The Sky Away.”

On Out of View, London hipsters the History of Apple Pie contextualize early indie heroes like Pavement, Pixies, Throwing Muses through a blender adding layers of feedback and singer Miki Berenyi’s sharp vocals with heaps of pop melodies into a catchy assortment of tunes that will put some bounce in your step. Sure it is reminiscent of the 90’s college rock (originally called alt-rock ie. alternative to rock n roll) but the pleasure derived from the experience is hard to deny. Start with “Mallory” which is four minutes of psychedelic pop awesomeness, then try “Your So Cool” and “Do it Worng.”

Keeping with the aggressive garage sound theme of this month’s drop box, Scottish indie pop trio of Eilidh Rodgers, Ruary MacLean, and Rachel Aggs better known as Golden Grrrls also bring around the 60’s garage sounds in a fresh way. Opener “New Pop” sums up where we are, 35 years after the Buzzcocks broke open the punk pop barrier. There is always something interesting in boy-girl vocals, and although Golden Grrls is lumped in with what is quickly becoming the indie lo-fi scene, there is more going on with this record than other contemporary purveyors of this sound. A scant 30 minutes of playing time, but it passes quickly and leaves you wanting to hear a little more, a mark of distinction in the glut of new music hitting the world as seemingly everyone has a band. We’ve Got is a consistently good record, though be forewarned, there are some thin moments ( Paul Simon) but in context, it maybe I’ve not spent enough time with the record to discern the lyrical charms of this song. Try “Older Today”, “Take Your Time,” and “Date It.”

This is probably a good time to bring up modern guitar god (winner of the 2013 Godlike Genius Award from NME) Johnny Marr (ex of the Smiths, Modest Mouse & The Cribs) and his first solo record The Messenger. Although Marr claims that the Smiths invented indie ( not really true – I’d put Joy Division (“Love Will Tear Us Apart” 7”) , Buzzcocks (Spiral Scratch EP), Television (“Little Johnny Jewel” 7’’) and The Nerves ( The Nerves EP) at the forefront of the who started it first debate, but it is hard to argue with the melodies this guy has written over the past 35 years or so. All that said, The Messenger is a straight forward indie rock record that has some great guitar work and leans heavily towards the type of music he was writing with the Cribs as a gun for hire. Although the vocals are a little weak (somewhat the same vocal tone throughout) there is enough here for a good time as long as you mix this within a playlist and do not play the whole thing from front to back. The guitars shimmer, the choruses are catchy, and although this record will fade quickly from most people’s memory given the difficulty of comparing this album to Marr’s previous bands, particularly the Smiths recordings which still sound relevant and amazing after more than 30 years. Note: If you are going back to check, then skip the Morrissey solo years which are crap. The first Smiths record blows the doors off of everything Morrissey recorded by himself. The reason why that record is till amazing is of course, Johnny Marr. Try “Upstart”, “Generate! Generate!” and “New Town Velocity.”

Speaking of people who have been around for a while, but not nearly as prolific, Kevin Shields finally completes a My Bloody Valentine record. Originally formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1983 the band’s lineup has since 1987 consisted of founding members Kevin Shields (guitar and vocals) and Colm Ó Cíosóig (drums) with singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe. If you have not heard Loveless, a record which I put in the dropbox a last year, then go back and take a listen. Released in 1991, the album which took 2 years to make and nearly bankrupt their label (Creation) is a masterpiece. After the critical acclaim of that record, Shields, an admitted perfectionist, has claimed he has shelved 7 albums worth of material in the interim. So how long has it taken to release this new record, the bands third? 22 freakin’ years. Was it worth the wait then becomes the question. I had given up long ago; when suddenly without warning, m b v was dropped on the world on February 3, 2013. On m b v , after listening to the record with my headphones for a week and trying to not make the inevitable comparisons to Loveless, Shields has definitely captured the dynamic dissonance and the impenetrable wall of sound that changed guitar music forever. You have to think about what music means to you when you listen to m b v. This is about textures and how those textures make you feel. For example, on “Who Sees You” there is a feeling of claustrophobia and a sensation of tightness in your chest as the sonic assault relentlessly pounds you. Gripping. Try “Who Sees You,” “New You,” and “In Another Way.”

Iceage have previously appeared in the drop box and so it is not a surprise that the follow-up to New Brigade (one of Pitchfork’s best albums of 2011 receiving an 8.4) should also appear here. As noted in Pitchfork’s review of New Brigade, Iceage have found the sweet spot for punk rock “mixing the black atmosphere of goth, the wild-limbed whoosh of hardcore, and the clangor of post-punk. Such continues the trend here. Maybe Danish punk rock is ready for wide exposure, because Your Nothing is actually a better record with a bulkier sound. Perhaps it’s the move to Matador, or more likely, the band which is a road beast often playing chaotic shows, is more accomplished in both sound and structure. This is classic punk rock ( not street punk) that as mentioned above finds the soft underbelly of this particular genre and rips it wide open. Try “Coalition” “Morals” and “Everything Drifts” ( shades of Husker Du).

Similarly, The Men improve on their massive second record Open Your Heart which also appeared here last year. Like Iceage, this is a stronger record than the previously stunning record. However, unlike the Iceage record, the band is taking their sound in some new directions, muck like the Replacements did in their career arc and of whom The Men remind me.  For example, the Replacements followed up their punk record Sorry Ma Forgot To Take Out the Trash with the powerful Hootenanny. Which begs the question; will The Men’s next album be their Let It Be? From the get go The Men signal their new direction with the sweet countrified punk of “Open the Door”. Look the Byrds influences on New Moon are undeniable, as is the fact that the band acknowledges that they recorded this gem in the Catskills (like The Band). My god, they could be secretly Canadian. There is some Crazy Horse (see Neil Young reference – more evidence that they are Canadian!) references here, but the most powerful elements definitely owe a debt to the Replacements.  Try “The Seeds”, “The Brass,” and “Bird Song.”

This is probably a good time to talk about the Parquet Courts. Admittedly I missed this one the first time around. But heck, at least I found it. They have played a number of shows with the aforementioned The Men, and like The Men are based out of Brooklyn. Where else given the sound of this record. Like a punk rock Strokes, the band consisting of Andrew Savage (lead vocals, guitar), Austin Brown (guitar), Sean Yeaton (bass), and Andrew’s brother Max Savage (drums) are likely where we are going with modern punk rock – sharp fairly witty lyrics, twangy guitars, and plenty of attitude. I’m looking for their debut cassette if you can find it, but on their official debut Light Up Gold, they are a fully formed punk rock machine. This is a quick listen and there are sounds you would recognize from the first days of British punk but filtered though decades of sweat, the Hives, and moving to New York from Texas. Great stuff here. Reminds me a little of David Thomas of Pere Ubu vocally. But for most of you, this will likely be not a helpful reference. Anyway, Try: “Donut Only,” “Light Up Gold II” and “Tears O Plenty.”

Son Volt is Jay Farrar’s project formed in 1994 after the collapse of one of the best bands of the 1990s – Uncle Tupelo. Son Volt’s first life was surprisingly brief with only three albums recorded between 1995-1998. However, Jay’s released a number of solo records in the interim and his form of alt-country has stood the test of time. Finally, and after 20 years; Jay Farrar has reformed the original band and is now paying tribute to the country side of his roots head on. This is the Bakersfield sound (Buck Owens, Wynn Stewart and pedal steel player Ralph Mooney) lovingly performed. Honky Tonk is exactly what it is – 11 songs of pure country. Not for everyone, but in my view, there are few records as lovingly constructed as this one. The pedal steel work is prominent and that sound makes some people grit their teeth. For me, having loved the cowpunk of the late 80s of K.D. Lang and the Reclines, Beat Farmers, and Rank and File, this is a palate cleaner for your listening pleasure. Really, try this after the Parquet Courts record and you’ll get the idea. Try “Hearts and Minds”, The Wild Side” and “Angel of the Blues.”

Phoenix returns after a four year hiatus, with a new record entitled Bankrupt!. I have no idea why the title, but if you liked the previous record, which was massive, then you will like this one as well. The French electronic rock pop band’s 5th album, Bankrupt! Is scheduled to be released on April 22, 2013, so you will be able to tell everyone how good it is, and that is sounds very similar to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix which was released in 2009. Look a four year gap in releases after the massive success of that record is understandable. Perhaps the album title is a signal that they are not bankrupt of ideas because like Green Day after Dookie, over-exposure on the level of the songs “Lisztomania”, “1901”, and “Too Young” is pretty difficult to overcome. So, what is the new record like – pretty amazing. But don’t take my word. Try: “Trying To Be Cool”, “Entertainment” and “Chloroform.”

February 02 2013 Drop Box Notes

02.02.13

Welcome to the first batch of new releases for 2013. However, as promised earlier this month, I’ve included a collection of tracks from 2012 that I thoroughly enjoyed and have played repeatedly. Most of these are simply put, pop songs, but as always the list traverses the gambit of musical influences. For those of you who actually read the notes each month, I promised 100 tracks, but after thinking about my list, it could have easily reached 200 tracks, but then I would just be putting in a number of songs from my Top 50 albums. All that said, if you are a frequent visitor to this drop box over the past 20 months or so, then you already have all of these songs in some way or another. If there is something you’ve missed along the way, you can always drop me a note in the drop box and I’ll hook you up.

The new releases this month demonstrates that there is an abundance of new music that is sadly underappreciated, but nevertheless pushes forward with a quality that continues to capture the imagination. I have started numbering the contributions only so I can keep track of them and to break away from the inevitable alphabetical order. So, you should not presume that what I have labeled as Number 1 is any better than number 49 on this month’s list. Rather, the list reflects when I decided that the album was good enough to be included in this month’s humble offerings. In fact, if you listen to FIDLAR (no. 41) or Ex-Cops (no. 44), I like these records just as much as I like Starflyer 59 (no.1) and the Scams (no .2). I think that there will be something for everyone this month and over the next week or so, I’ll update these notes to give you some clues as to why these albums are in the drop box. If you can’t wait, then several publications have reviewed about 60% of this list: pitchfork.com, consequenceofsound.net, nme.com, and stereogum.com.

The list:

00 VA85 Really Good Tracks From 2012 That I Liked And You Might Also Like [2012]

01 Starflyer 59 IAMACEO [2012]

02 Scams – Add and Subtract [2012]

03 Royal RepublicSave The Nation [2012]

05 Chevin – Borderland (Deluxe Version) [2012]

06 Bad ReligionTrue North [2013]

07 California X California X [2013]

08 Madrid Madrid [2012]

09 Alpaca Sports Alpaca Sports (Japanese Edition) [2013]

10 Heroes For HireNo Apologies [2012]

11 Cox and the Riot Death Disco [2012]

12 Free EnergyLove Sign [2013]

13 Roman HolidayDeath [2013]

14 Guards In Guards We Trust [2013]

15 Cold PumasPersistent Malaise [2012]

16 RescuesBlah Blah Love and War (iTunes) [2013]

17 Hounds BelowYou Light Me Up in the Dark [2012]

18 Big Dipper Crashes on the Platinum Planet [2012]

19 Last RoyalsTwistification [2013]

20 Bleeding RainbowYeah Right [2013]

21 DucktailsThe Flower Lane [2013]

22 Artist Vs PoetKeep Your Secrets [2013]

23 Ra Ra RiotBeta Love [2013]

24 Reptile Youth Reptile Youth [2012]

25 Winter SoundsRunner [2012]

26 77 Bombay StreetOko Town [2012]

27 Cuff The DukeUnion [2012]

28 Dig Midnight Flowers [2012]

29 Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed In Blood (Deluxe Version) [2013]

30 Uncle Tupelo The Seven Inch Singles [2012]

31 Subsonics In the Black Spot [2012]

32 FoxygenWe Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic [2013]

33 Courteeners Anna [2013]

34 GrowlersHung At Heart [2013]

35 GallopsYours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore [2012]

36 Law – Trigger [2012]

37 Time And DistanceONep [2012]

38 Veronica FallsWaiting For Something To Happen [2013]

39 Cassettes On TapeCathedrals [2012]

40 Beach FossilsClash The Truth [2013]

41 Fidlar Fidlar [2013]

42 Joy Formidable – Wolfs Law [2013]

43 Yo La TengoFade [2013]

44 Ex CopsTrue Hallucinations [2013]

45 Everything Everything – Arc [Deluxe Version] [2013]

December 31 2012 Drop Box Notes – Happy New Year (and Year End Lists!)

12.31.12

I’m putting this up a little later than anticipated, but I have dated it 12.31.12 to reflect the passing of another year and to a better next year (We should always be looking forward and reflect on the past for comparison). 2012 was a remarkably good year for music. I have always found something positive every year, but this year was unusual with a number of very terrific releases that I will continue to listen to long after this year is over and finally discovering one (and only one) rap-rave band that I truly enjoyed. In fact, I have watched all of this bands videos as they are definitely different. More about the awesome, in the true meaning of that word – AWESOME – Die Antwoord, who really was the answer.

 As promised, this year end drop box contains my top 50 albums from 2012 (with a few that reached these shores in 2012 but were actually released in 2011) and in a couple of weeks, I’ll put in my top 100 tracks. For those of you who missed some of these albums, either because you were late joiners or overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music, listen to the K-Town Top 100 (as NT calls me). For Eve and Tida, my Starbucks loyalists, thanks for the great year! For those who I only contact through this drop box I think about you often when making these selections, particularly Fran & John and Russell. Declan, you have time to catch up! Hope you had a great year and next year is better.

I’ve reviewed almost all of these albums previously, but as the year progressed, these were the albums that I listened to repeatedly. There is quite a diversity (at least as diverse as the Indie/Pop/Punk/Alternative/Metal/Experimental/Alt-Country/Rock genres permit) in these albums which I ranked purely arbitrarily as there is no objectivity involved – only my own idea of what I enjoyed and more or less based upon frequency of play. I will note in reviewing other “best of 2012” lists, notably Rolling Stone, Spin, Pitchfork, NME, and Stereogum that my list has a little overlap, but the majority of this list is unique to me. In all seriousness, I think that much of the commercial lists are influenced by the desire to maintain relationships with artists with large fan bases that subscribe to the magazines (Rolling Stone and Spin standout here) or were first hyped by the website and who the writers really like and like me are subtly influenced by prior experience with the band (pitchfork and stereogum). My list probably suffers from some of that subtle influence, although if anything, most of this list features new bands or bands with which I had little prior experience. I would note, that I did not pick any really old artists ( Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan come to mind who put out serviceable records but for the most part they were boring and didn’t introduce anything that you would spend any significant time…okay…you would never listen to either of these records ever again. Rolling Stone had Springsteen’s Wreckin Ball No. 1 and Dylan’s Tempest at No. 4.

Some other observations about my list. My list has two No. 44’s – Titus AndronicusMixtape which was good for a laugh and the new record Local Business. I also think I am mellowing out with age. I have always likes catchy melodic tunes, but usually have found them in the punk rock genre. This year, I leaned towards the more indie-pop end of the spectrum as evidenced by the Oh Mercy, Wolfgang, San Cisco selections. There is always room for big hooked alterno-metal as played by You and Me at Six, New Electric Sound, and Imperial State Electric. Punk still abounds but it is catchier that usual as found in Motion City Soundtrack, Gaslight Anthem, Henry Clay People and the Mixtapes. Anyway, I thought it was a great year for new music and hopefully you’ve discovered some new favorites along the way.

So here is my DropBox 2012 Top 50 List:

01 Oh MercyGreat Barrier Grief [2011]

02 Wolf GangSuego Faults [2011]

03 We Are AugustinesRise Ye Sunken Ships [2011]

04 Motion City SoundtrackGo [2012]

05 Japandroids Celebration Rock [2012]

06 VaccinesCome Of Age [2012]

07 Wiretree – Make Up [2011]

08 You Me At SixSinners Never Sleep [2011]

09 Purity RingShrines [2012]

10 San Cisco – San Cisco [2012]

11 The Static Jacks If You’re Young [2011]

12 Empires Garage Hymns [2012]

13 Swans – The Seer [2CD] [2012]

14 Walk The Moon – Walk The Moon [2012]

15 Gaslight AnthemHandwritten [Deluxe Edition] [2012]

16 New Electric Sound – The New Electric Sound [2012]

17 King Tuff King Tuff [2012]

18 Henry Clay People – Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives [2012]

19 MetzMetz [2012]

20 DelorentosLittle Sparks [2012]

21 XX – Coexist [2012]

22 Cloud NothingsAttack on Memory [2012]

23 Best CoastThe Only Place [Deluxe Edition] [2012]

24 Die Antwoord Ten$ion [2012]

25 Dirty ProjectorsSwing Lo Magellan [2012]

26 Divine Fits A Thing Called Divine Fits [2012]

27 Cheap GirlsGiant Orange  [2012]

28 Bob Mould Silver Age [2012]

29 HowlerAmerica Give Up [2012]

30 Imperial State Electric Pop War [2012]

31 Redd KrossResearching the Blues [2012]

32 Tame Impala Lonerism (Rough Trade Bonus Edition) [2CD][2012]

33 Electric TouchNever Look Back [2012]

34 Classic Crime Phoenix [2012]

35 Django Django Django Django [2012]

36 The Men – Open Your Heart [2012]

37 Grizzly BearShields [2012]

38 Hoodoo Gurus Gold Watch 20 Golden Greats [2012]

39 The View Cheeky for a Reason [2012]

40 The 1975 Sex [2012]

41 Sugar Army Summertime Heavy [2012]

42 SharksNo Gods [2012]

43 Sleigh BellsReign Of Terror [2012]

44 Titus AndronicusLocal Business [2012]

44A Titus AndronicusTitus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1 [2012]

45 Choir Of Young BelieversRhine Gold [2012]

46 Ty Segall – Twins [2012]

47 ChairliftSomething [2012]

48 MixtapesEven On The Worst Nights [2012]

49 All-American RejectsKids in the Street [2012]

50 The Pusher – The Art Of Hit Music [2011]

Honorable Mention:

  1. Grimes Visions (Deluxe Bonus Edition) [3CD] [2012]
  2. Chromatics Kill for Love [2012]
  3. Allo Darlin’ – Europe [2012]
  4. Crystal Castles(III) [2012]
  5. Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel [2012]
  6. Of Monsters and MenMy Head Is An Animal [2012]
  7. Alt-J An Awesome Wave [Deluxe Version] [2012]
  8. Tennis – Young & Old [2012]
  9. Walkmen Heaven [2012]
  10. Beach HouseBloom [2012]

By way of comparison here are some other Best of Lists of 2012 from of a couple of other reviewers ( Most picked 50 but I’ve only included the top 10 from most, except Rolling Stone because it was so freakily out of touch with the rest of the world:

 Pitchfork’s Top Albums of 2012:

01 Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City

02 Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
03 Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
04 Tame Impala – Lonerism

05 Swans – The Seer

06 Grimes – Visions

07 Beach House – Bloom

08 Chromatics – Kill For Love

09 Death Grips – The Money Store
10 Grizzly Bear – Shields

 Rolling Stone’s Top 50 of 2012

I put all 50 albums because it is so odd to me how they managed to cover all areas but still skewed very oldSpringsteen, Dylan, Neil Young, Jimmy Cliff, Leonard Cohen and Dr. John all in the top 20. Seriously, there is little criticism going on at Rolling Stone to include some of these records). Count the old people (nearing or over 50) in this list. There are many more here than probably anywhere – ever). I’ve highlighted the oldsters!

01 Bruce SpringsteenWrecking Ball (Age 63)
02 Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
03 Jack White – Blunderbuss
04 Bob DylanTempest (Age 71)
05 Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…
06 Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
07 Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here
08 Green Day – !Uno!
09 Japandroids – Celebration Rock
10 Neil Young and Crazy HorsePsychedelic Pill (Age 67)
11 Mumford & Sons – Babel
12 Jimmy Cliff Rebirth (Age 64)
13 Leonard CohenOld Ideas (Age 78)
14 Best Coast – The Only Place
15 Dr. John – Locked Down  (Age 72)
16 Cat PowerSun ( Chan Marshall is 40)
17 John Mayer – Born and Raised
18 Nas – Life is Good
19 Band Of Horses – Mirage Rock
20 Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music
21 Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
22 Bonnie RaittSlipstream (Age 63)
23 Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits
24 G.O.O.D. Music – Cruel Summer
25 Donald Fagen Sunken Condos (Age 64)
26 Django Django – Django Django
27 Gary Clark Jr. – Blak and Blu
28 Beach House – Bloom
29 Dave Matthews BandAway From the World (okay he is only 46 but plays way old)
30 Azealia Banks – 1991
31 Taylor Swift – Red
32 Hospitality – Hospitality
33 Grimes – Visions
34 Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
35 Grizzly Bear – Shields
36 Bobby WomackThe Bravest Man in the Universe (Age 68)
37 Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
38 Titus Andronicus – Local Business
39 Passion Pit – Gossamer
40 Escort – Escort
41 The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter
42 Allo Darlin’ – Europe
43 fun. – Some Nights
44 Garbage – Not Your Kind of People
45 Rick Ross – Rich Forever
46 Muse – The 2nd Law
47 Todd SniderAgnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables ( Age 46)
48 The Smashing PumpkinsOceania ( Corgan is Age 45)
49 Amadou And MariamFolila ( Amadou Bagayoko ( Age 58Mariam Doumbia (Age 54))
50 Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

Stereogum’s Top 10 of 2012

01 Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…

02 Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

03 Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city

04 Swans – The Seer

05 Jesse Ware – Devotion

06 Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

07 Japandroids – Celebration Rock

08 Walkmen – Heaven

09 Chairlift – Something

10 Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

 

Spin’s Top 10 of 2012

01 Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

02 Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City

03 Japandroids – Celebration Rock

04 DJ Rashad – Teklife Vol. 1 – Welcome To The Chi

05 Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream

06 Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man

07 Swans – The Seer

08Killer Mike R.A.P. Music

09Ty Segall – Twins

10 Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe

I’ve compiled my top tracks of 2012 as well and will put them up after you’ve had time to digest this offering. Until next time…gabba gabba hey!