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•November 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

•September 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Best Music of 2008

•January 11, 2009 • 10 Comments

I may have slacked writing about the new music in 2008, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening to it. You didn’t honestly think I’d miss out on my end of the year list, did you? Not to say the music that came out in 2008 wasn’t worth a listen, but I feel it was a lackluster year. This year there was no clear cut number 1. After careful evaluation, I feel we have a winner.  That’s enough blabbing, let’s start this hush puppy.

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#25: Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

I have a feeling I’m going to regret putting this one so low on the list. I just started listening to it the other day, and I already love it. I felt it had to be added, and in a month I will probably want it to be in the top 10, but for now it will stay down here. A very happy, mellow synth pop album.

Cut Copy - Feel the Love

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#24: Wolf Parade – At Mt Zoomer

A decent follow up to the astonishing debut, Mt Zoomer doesn’t venture far from the original formula. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes this one sound different. More keys and less rock, maybe?

Wolf Parade - California Dreamer

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#23: Vampire Weekend

One of the three overnight successes on the list, Vampire Weekend went from college radio favorite to SNL music guests in what seemed like a week. Very short, catchy, alternative indie rock. Though the album makes my list their concert was nothing short of terrible, which is honestly why I put them at the bottom. For months I was dancing around to this. Then once I saw them on stage singing their songs with about as much enthusiasm as a 90 year old man on an oxygen machine, I ran away and never looked back. I have seen well over 100 bands in my lifetime and I have never walked out on a show. Except this one. From the most horrifying Alkaline Trio set to the laziest drunken Conor Oberst masacre, I sat through the entire set hoping it would turn around. After 3 Vampire Weekend songs, I fought my way through the thick crowd as fast as I could before my ears bled. Do yourself a favor. Buy the cd, don’t buy the ticket.

Vampire Weekend - Campus

sigur-ros#22: Sigur Ros – Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust

The Icelandic groups new direction towards poppy, radio friendly tunes is refreshing. Does it compare to their previous works? Not in the least. It is something completely separate from their older albums. While this album lacks the spacey drawn out climaxes it does have a lot to offer. It has some really good tracks. It also has some really boring ones. Pretty hit or miss.

Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook


crystal-castles#21: Crystal Castles

Super duper synth happy edge from Toronto. There is a line that gets crossed where there is too much synthesizers, making the album sound like its trying too hard. Crystal Castles go far beyond that line and I have no complaints. Pretty bad ass.

Crystal Castles - Alice Practice
[Audio=http://www.ezarchive.com/original/moneymark/02AlicePractice.mp3]


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#20: Ruby Suns – Sea Lion

If you live in a tropical humid climate such as New Zealand, these reggae-ish  grooves are sure to make your day a bit breezy. Also works great if you’re trying to sell a crummy computer operating system (they sing the windows vista song)

Ruby Suns - There Are Birds


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#19: Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster…

Los Campesinos (the farmers or the peasants)  put out a hell of a good time debut album. First time we played it at the house, everyone made it about 2 minutes in before we all started dancing around the house.

Los Campesinos = You, Me, Dancing!

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#18: Hazelwood Motel

A local Seattle lo-fi folk band. The lead singer has a kick ass daughter in my school. Really chilled stuff. If you put Bon Iver on your best of 08 list, you should listen to Hazelwood Motel.

Hazelwood Motel = Break Myself in Two

cloud-cult#17.5: Cloud Cult – Feel Good Ghosts

I was writing the review for #8 when I remember this album came out in 08. I didn’t feel like reordering the whole list, so Cloud Cult sneaks in at 17.5. Similar to 8, but not as emotional and powerful, Ghosts still features Craig Minowa doing what he does best. He puts together beautiful melodies crafted with his incredible words and voice. Last years #1 slides down a few notches, but not in my heart.


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#17: No Age – Nouns

It was a warm summer day. I heard a song on KEXP that made my neck ache from my bobbing head. The DJ says the band is playing in the parking lot that night. I convince my roommate to tag along. We get right in front, and I swear to god I’ve never been to a louder show. You’d think the drummer guitarist duo would be old by now. Not with these 2 guys. They have such a dynamic sound, not to mention their noise punk is incredibly fun to listen to. One more reason to check em, they signed to Sub Pop.

No Age - Eraser


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#16: French Kicks – Swimming

Swimming is an energetic, melodic indie rock album that is a great listen from start to finish.

French Kicks - Abandon

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#15: TV on the Radio – Dear Science,

Brooklyn in the house again. What do you call it? Art rock? Punk? Jazz? Indietronica? Experimental? When it all boils down, TVOTR rolls everything into another grand album. Don’t get caught up in the buzz though. Although Dear Science seems to be an unanimous choice for album of the year from likes of The LA Times, The NY Times, Rolling Stone and Spin, there are definitely better all around albums out there.

Tv on the Radio - DLZ


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#14: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Overnight success number two and another popular choice for #1 makes it surprisingly low on my list. Bon Iver hits really close to David Gray’s “Lost Songs” on his debut album. He made it in 4 months secluded in a cabin in the middle of Wisconsin. His hit “Skinny Love” was the first thing to catch my ear. Before I even had a chance to enjoy it, I was hearing it everywhere. Shopping malls,  commercial radio, and the worst… Grey’s Anatomy. And yet, I still listen to it. It has yet to get old for me. A very somber, quiet album with well written lyrics, For Emma is sure to hit the heart.

Bon Iver - Skinny Love


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#13: Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing

If Explosions in the Sky traded in their guitars and bought synths and keys, this is what it would sound like. This experimental noise album completely took my by surprise. You wouldn’t think that an album with distorted screaming and abrasive droning would have beautiful melodies with it as well. A great listen from start to finish. A killer opener in “Sweet Love for Planet Earth”.

Fuck Buttons - Ribs
http://www.ezarchive.com/original/dtaggerty/02RibsOut.mp31

#12: Atlas Sound – Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

What a great year for the Atlanta singer Bradford Cox who has the honor of making my list twice this year. I’m sure somewhere he is extremely happy. First with his solo project Atlas Sound. Cox reserves his more emotional side for Atlas Sound, where he portrays his inner self amidst a battering of drones, synths, melodies and beats that are just as addicting as his words. The ambient electro album is breathtaking. From the glockenspiels in the opener and closer to the chilling ice picks in “Cold as Ice” and mesmerizing bass line in “Bite Marks”, ‘Let the Blind’ is a truly emotional album.

Atlas Sound - Recent Bedroom

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#11: Black Kids – Partie Traumatic

I love Black Kids. I want to marry Black Kids. I love the way their hair is all over the place. I especially love their sound. Their happy voices. The way they make you want to move your body none stop. The way they want to party all the time. The way they love fried chicken. That’s all I can say, I love Black Kids. Oh, the band is pretty good too.

Black Kids - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You

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#10: The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

If I remember correctly, I swore to never right another review praising Jack White. So until he disappoints, I’m gonna stick to my word.

The Raconteurs - Five on the Five


helio-sequence#9: The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

The Portland band breaks away from their electronic mold and dive head first into the indie scene, and succeed. This album came into my life at just the perfect time. I especially enjoyed the first track. Here it is.

The Helio Sequence - Lately


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#8: The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

Since I moved to Seattle, I have met over a dozen people from Minneapolis. All of them are either;  1. alcoholic party animals. 2. in love with music. 3. Minnesota freaks. or 4. alcoholic party animals. Which might explain why The Hold Steady are the perfect background noise to any house party or bar. Love him or hate him, Craig Finn can rock the roof off of any venue in the states. With his fast paced Springsteen tracks to his slow, moving ballads, you can’t help but sing along. Especially if it’s a block party in the middle of Capitol Hill and PBR’s are only $2 a pop. The new album keeps the good times rolling.

The Hold Steady - Sequestered In Memphis

fleet-foxes

#7: Fleet Foxes

Seattle band makes it big with their Sub Pop release. Very rustic and almost poppy at times, the 5-some  offer harmonizing folk at its best. Move over Crosby Stills and Nash.

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal


m83

#6: M83 – Saturdays=Youth

I was at a party with a bunch of Natropathic Doctor students. The macbook was hooked to the stereo, and the house was playing really good tunes. Costello, Mingus, Pixies, they were going all over the board, in a good way. Curious Dave walks over to the laptop to start looking around. I respect the dudes playlist, but snoop through it to see if I can sneak in a song or two without them noticing. He has some 80’s tunes coming up. Once they came on everyone started dancing, so i thought this would be my opportunity. I sit there and wait for the perfect time. I can’t remember what I worked it in between, but I threw “Kim and Jesse” on. The guy comes over, “Dude, don’t mess wi…. Who is this?”. I’m like “It’s M83, let the one song play and I’ll walk away”. He let me have my moment.

When you name your band after a spiral galaxy, you have an astronomical shoe to fill (maybe I’ve been working on this too long, but I thought that was hysterical). Saturdays=Youth is mind blowing. The whole album is gently spoken lyrics on top of long bits of droning instrumentals. It’s the definition of the genre shoegaze, and after you get past the moments of Tears for Fears similarities, something will happen and you’ll go head over heels (ok, it’s a proven fact now…I’m funny). It’s a can’t miss for 2008.

M83 - Kim and Jesse


hot-chip

#5: Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

I first discovered this band at Coachella 07. My friends and I had never heard them, but we wanted to see Peter Bjorn and John who was playing after them on the same stage. We lit a spliff and waited to see what they were going to sound like. After the show, all of our jaws were dropped. Astonishing. Sadly I forgot to grab their album when I got back. That is until this bad boy came out. It rekindled everything I had experienced at Coachella. Dreamy, dance electropop with a touch of heart. If you’re not dancing all over the living room, you are chilled out singing along with Alexis Taylor’s magical voice. Pick it up.

Hot Chip - Shake a Fist


mbar

#4: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

He wasted the hype he built up for himself a few years back by drinking himself into a stupor. Now, he’s trying to save face. Fortunately for him, he went above and beyond saving face. His experimental folk album has sparked a new hope that Miles just might be all he was cracked up to be. His words, his voice, and his melodies are perfectly executed throughout the entire album. The first track is by far the most powerful, not to say the rest of it is a waste. He follows his power ballad with a few more energetic tunes, then cools off to reveal his smooth side. Was a tough contender for a higher spot. Here is the first track.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - Buriedfied


mgmt-500

#3: MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

Overnight success number 3 on the list. I was fortunate to have KEXP show me these guys. I was spreading the wealth of Electric Feel to everyone I know, and everyone ate it up. Then bam, these guys are on every festival circuit, every late night tv show, and all over every radio station. Sometimes, that can be enough to make one sour up to a band. However these guys are too addicting to hate. Their psychedelic, electronic synth pop is hard to resist. They are the songs you find yourself whistling in the bathroom or singing out loud on the bus with you headphones on. You can’t resist. And unlike a different overnight success mentioned…buy the album AND the ticket. What a show.

MGMT - Pieces of What

deerhuntermicrocastle

#2: Deerhunter – Microcastle

Bradford Cox makes his second appearance on my list with his shoegaze minimalist garage rock band Deerhunter. It was extremely difficult to give this album the 2 spot. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a toss up. Alas, I have to pick one. It has so many amazing songs to offer. So many in fact, that it didn’t leave my stereo for months. Which is why I made it number 2. The number one album still hasn’t left my stereo. Both are in heavy rotation on a continual basis, however as much as I listen to Microcastle, I listen to #1 even more…

Deerhunter - Never Stops

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#1: Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight

This hard working Scottish indie band gets the nod at number 1 spot. The album starts off with a huge bang in “Modern Leper” and doesn’t let up. Every song has a line or two worthy of quoting. I’m losing my steam in the final stretch here.  Midnight Organ Fight is a very dynamic, intelligent album. In a year of mediocracy, it was nice to have such a stand out album from a band I’d never heard of before.

Frightened Rabbit - I Feel Better


That takes care of that. I swear I’ll try to get on here more than once in 2009. Hope you are all doing well where ever you are. Take care.

Holy Sheet, the list is finished!!!

•October 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

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Wow, it has been an eternity since I’ve last written. I can only assume you’ve all been holding your breath awaiting my return. I certainly know a lot of you have been bitching about me never finishing my best of 2007 list. Well that’s exactly what I came here to do today. Since I was lazy and never finished writing it out, I’m just gonna post the list as is so we can get moving towards newer music. Without further ado, the top 10 albums of 2007…finally.

10. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

9. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

8. Elliott Smith – New Moon

7. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

6. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

5. Pela – Anytown Graffiti

4. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

3. The National – Boxer


2. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

And the Best Album of 2007 is…or was, I guess…

1. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8

Now that that’s out of the way, lets get back to some new music. New post coming this weekend jam packed with music… stay tuned

Coachella 2008 Lineup

•January 21, 2008 • 3 Comments
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Honestly, thats kinda lame compared to this. Referring to both the lineup and the horrid Monet style poster. There are still decent names, but the headliners are not even close. Bad form, Paul Tollet.
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The Top 25 Albums of 2007

•January 6, 2008 • 1 Comment
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11. Peter Bjorn and John – Writers Block

This album was released over seas last year while I was writing my Best of 2006 list. I wanted to include it, but knew it was going to be in the states soon, so it would have to wait for ’07. At that time, I was hard pressed to think that I would find an album that would surpass it in 2007. Unfortunately, my prediction was wrong, as this was a great year for music. That doesn’t change the fact that this album is astonishing. It probably has the best opener of all the albums on this list. “Detects on my Affection” was my anthem when I first moved to Seattle. The chorus was on the same level as my mind was at that point in time. It is amazing in the fact that if it were any other song, it would have been worn out completely. I can’t count the number of times I have heard it. Yet every time I do I go crazy like it was the first time. I wish the whole album was like that, but when you can’t flip through the stations or browse the internet without hearing the contagious whistling of “Young Folks”, it makes it hard not to get sick of it. I gotta give it to the Swedish trio for making a song that catchy though. As a whole, this album has a lot of gems including my favorite “Up Against the Wall”. If you haven’t heard of any of the tracks I listed off in this review, check out any one of them for guaranteed enjoyment.

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12. The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
Though nearly invisible on the American radar, this Canadian 4-piece is anything but in their home country. The band is making a huge name for themselves with their latest release, having the #1 single on CBC radio this year. For me, I can’t get enough. Once the album grabs you, and it will grab you right off the bat with “Civil Twilight”, it doesn’t let go. The story telling is near flawless, and its packed with enough quotes to keep my away messages booked solid for a month. An overall great listen if you’re so inclined.
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13. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Radiohead is like a retired car mechanic. Every album, starting with Pablo Honey on, has slowly and carefully taken the alternative sound apart and put it back together. But they don’t put it back together they way the found it. They add their own fixings, their own ideas, until they get a finished product that is improved on the original. I’m not saying that every Radiohead album has gotten progressively better, but their sound has morphed into so many shapes, combined so many ideas, infused so many sounds, that it is hard to classify their music anymore. In Rainbows is keeping with the routine. It definitely sinks into a more emotionally reaching pop sound than their other albums. However I feel it was the unique release strategies of the band and not the music that is giving this album all the attention (maybe, just maybe, its also because its fucking Radiohead) The album was released online. The price? Whatever you wanted it to be. Leave it to Radiohead. I love the idea. I think Thom Yorke is always thinking on his feet. One moment, the world had no idea when the album was getting out of the studio. 10 days later, it’s on everyone’s computer at no cost (unless you were admirable and paid something for it). The problem I have is I feel the attention the album is getting (the 4 or 5 star ratings from every magazine and music source) is a little exaggerated. I know, it’s hard to give a band like Radiohead a mediocre rating when every other work of art they have produced has been nothing less than stellar. But in In Rainbow’s case, we should look past the name, past the middle finger it gave to the music business (which, let me take a moment to say, was pure genius. This is going to change the face of the record business forever) and we should judge In Rainbows by its music alone. It is a great album. I loved it. The beats are delivered very dramatically, the album flows very smoothly, and it’s even pretty at times. I would say it’s their smoothest record to date. Though it is good enough to make my list, Radiohead has set the bar at a jaw dropping level, and In Rainbows is not jaw dropping.
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14. Iron and Wine – Shepherds dog
The best Iron & Wine album I’ve ever heard. That’s saying something.
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15. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
A lot of bands on this list had killer albums they attempted to follow up with this year. This one took some getting used to for me. Once it hit though, it hit hard and I was almost as pleased as I was when I heard Aha Shake Heartbreak. They rock this album out. I think Aha is more initially appealing than Times, but I gotta give it up to KOL for making another album worthy of multiple listens. Granted, the first few were hell for me. But I was a trooper, and even though I had many other choices, I kept slipping this one in. In the end, it paid off. I notice a lot of similarities between them both which, if you know Aha, is a recipe that can not disappoint. Both Times and Aha stick in your head for a long period of time. For my money, I gotta go with Aha, but this album is definitely worth a pick up.
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16. White Stripes – Icky Thump
100% honesty… I am sick of writing about The White Stripes. Just fucking listen to them already.
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17. Holy Fuck
I thought this album was gonna be a love-it-for-a-minute kind of album. But it stuck, and I really enjoy it. This was definitely a good year for me to listen to more electronic music. Review from a few months ago https://alittlefurtherdowntheriver.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/iron-and-wine-holy-fuck-pinback/
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18. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder
The first release under Elijah Wood’s new record label and the first for Apples in Stereo in 5 years, New Magnetic Wonder is perfect Apples in Stereo. They were part of the eclectic group Elephant 6, a group of 4 hometown friends that grew up together in Denver, started separate bands like Apples and the indie kings Neutral Milk Hotel, and put them out on the same label back in the 90’s. This release keeps with their 60’s pop sound better than ever. Super catchy, extremely fun, this album is sure to hit a button for someone. Here is my review from a year ago https://alittlefurtherdowntheriver.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/the-apples-in-stereo-new-magnetic-wonder/
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19. Sigur Ros – Hvarf Heim
A double album with a few new songs but mostly just different versions of old favorites. One cd is alternative takes and the other acoustic versions. If you are new to the band, start with another album. If you already love them, pick it up.
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20. The Avett Brothers – Emotionalism
These guys have great voices. Their lyrical matter is both pertinent and creative. The folk sound is genuine, rarely boring and always refreshing. Not a glamorous release, but I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a break from the indie alternative sound.
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21. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I have grown to respect Bret Daniel a lot the past 2 years. The man grabs hold of his projects and dives head first into them. It’s really inspiring. However this project didn’t make me want to pick up and guitar like Spoons previous album
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22. Feist – The Reminder
I find it ironic that the poster girl for the ipod nano wrote a song 2 years ago with Broken Social Scene that says “You used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that/now you’re all gone, got your makeup on and you’re not coming back”. However hypocritical it may seem, her music is still great.
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23. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
Rather disappointing when compared to their older work, but this is still worthy of listen. Their first release since Zach Braff turned them into indie gods. James Mercer can really create some catchy melodies. Unfortunately, these ones are not as catchy as usual. Still good for most fans, but I was slightly disappointed. In all fairness though, I was expecting the earth to rattle from all the cute melodies, but still…sub par.
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24. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
I didn’t think Jens would make my list. His latest release, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is a little too Rufus Wainwright meets Morrisey meets Austin Powers for my taste. However, its loving melodies are simply too catchy to ignore.
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25. Architecture in Helsinki – Places Like This
I just had to squeeze these guys on here. A much more produced sound than their 2005 release, but the mission is the same: make as many different sounds as possible. And do it in a way that makes the listener dance. A slight disappointment from In Case We Die, but a very good record. “Heart it Races” just might have been the catchiest single of the year. Note to aspiring musicians around the world, you can NEVER go wrong with the steel drum.

For the curious, here is what got the quick nip. The list was longer, but these almost made it.

26. Blonde Redhead

27. Pinback

28. Rilo kiley

29. Shout Out Louds

30. Rogue Wave

Ears We Trust: The Best of 2007

•January 6, 2008 • 1 Comment

Every year I give my top albums of the year. This time I wanted to change it up a bit. Along with my top picks, I’ll be giving you some of my friends top picks as well. 4 music guru’s whose taste and standards in music are as far fetched as mine.

Our first guest is a 23 year old college grad student who goes by the name Jesse Jeffers. He has written guest spots on ALFDTR before. Being the busy grad student he is, he couldn’t find the time to do a write up, so he just sent us his list this time.

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Jesse Jeffers Top 10 of 2007

10. White Stripes – Icky Thump

9. Elliott Smith – New Moon

8. Modest Mouse – We were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

7. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

6. Peter Bjorn and John – Writers Block

5. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder

4. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

3. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

2. The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour

1. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

Our second guest is my19 year old college student brother by the name of Matt Waldbillig. When other people watch TV, play video games, read, eat and sleep…he listens to music.
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Matt Waldbillig’s Top 5 of 2007

5) Blonde Redhead – 23
This album was my first introduction to the band and I really like the sound. A really beautiful record that’s artful and intelligent. Gorgeous chords and melodies on a consistent album. Simply incredible ‘dream pop’ that will never hit the mainstream.

Favorite Track: Spring and by Summer Fall

4) Radiohead – In Rainbows
What’s better than free Radiohead?! I jizzed my pants as I read the news that Radioheads new album would be out in less than a week, and for a price you can decide. As a broke college student I paid something like 36 cents. I think Thom and the crew will get by without my charity. But although the music can be free, it does not lack in any way. The music is enjoyable, original and proficient. The album is more pop than anything they have recorded and almost seems optimistic, a word rarely associated with Radiohead.

Favorite Track: Bodysnatchers

 

3) Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Their most accessible album for sure and damn catchy. They invited James Mercer (The Shins) to balance lead Isaac Brocks tempestuous vocals and it worked great. Of course making Johnny Marr (The Smiths) an official member didn’t hurt. This is a great album and proves MM is one of the most innovative and unique bands around.

Favorite Track: Parting of the Sensory


2) LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
Holy shit! Are you ready to dance? Good tight beats and oh so catchy. A dance rock masterpiece. My only criticism: why Mr. Murphy, would you end such an up beat album on “New York I Love You, But Your Bringing Me Down”? It’s a good song but by far the slowest on the album and SoS should go out with a bang!

Favorite Track: All My Friends

http://www.ezarchive.com/original/dtags21/05AllMyFriends.mp31

1) Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
This sophomore effort had lots of expectations after the masterpiece Funerals, but fell far from short. The biggest name in indie has got the recognition it deserves. Lead Win Butler even scored a Spin cover with The Boss himself.

Favorite Track: (Antichrist Television Blues)
Our third guest is a 28 year old computer programmer named Jonathan Peffer. His life mirrors Office Space, but when he isn’t handing in TPS reports, he is listening to some of the newest music out.
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When Dave asked me to compile a top 10 list of my favorite 2007 albums, a few thoughts hit my mind. The first thought was, I hate lists, unless of course it was written by Nick Hornby. The other thought was how does one set out to quantify and rank music. There are millions of pretentious lists generated on the internet every day, from “Best Films of 2007” to “Top 10 Skankiest Celebrity Moments.” So, perhaps I made that last one up, but I’m sure E is working on it. So with all these lists, who am I to make another list. So, I decided my list really has nothing to do with what band put out the best album; my list consists of what albums I enjoyed the most throughout the year. Finally, I’d like to thank Dave for putting up with me when I start pushing albums on him.

Peffers Top 10 of 2007

10. Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures

9. Yeasayer – All Hour Cymbals (side note: Peffer never sent me this album even though he knew I was dying to hear it. So it didn’t make my list)

8. Ha Ha Tonka – Buckle in the Bible Belt

7. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

6. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

5. Cloud Cult – The Meaning of 8

4. The National – Boxer

3. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

2. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

1. Feral Children – Second to the Last Frontier
When I first ran into Feral Children, I remember thinking, hey this is pretty good. The more I listened, the more I fell in love with the album. Their ethereal sound mixed in with primal vocals, really was a fresh and welcomed surprise. I think their debut album really holds true to the definition of feral. I do however always skip their single, Jaundice Giraffe. So Dave… “dude, did you listen to Feral Children yet?”

The answer would be yes, I did. The Seattle based 5 some really do rock it in their debut LP. Lastly, we have a 17 year old high school kid living the dream. Sick of the world, this kid finds every little band worth a listen thats under the radar.

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Dylan’s Top 3 of 2007

3. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

Arcade Fire’s second album is markedly different from its more secluded predecessor: On Neon Bible, the band looks within their concerns more worldly than familial, and their sound more malevolent than pure. Angry, embittered, and paranoid, but often generously empathetic in their points of view, with multiple targets of cry-out such as the government, the church, the military, the entertainment industry, and even the basest instincts of the common man.

While the group’s us-against-the-world stance occasionally comes off as slightly self-righteous or reactionary, their critical perspective gives weight and direction to their nervy earnestness: If Funeral captured the evils of personal pain, Neon Bible sounds large enough to take on the whole world.

 

2. Ours to Alibi – Beacons

They’re a five-man mostly-instrumental indie rock group from Atlanta. Their atmospheric sounds and tri-force of guitar experimentalism is at times reminiscent to Texas favorite Explosions in the Sky, only with a little Sigur Rós-style guitar bowing. With no label support yet, they just released their second full-length, Beacons. Sometimes on the record, the group needs more than a few minutes to get across what they’re trying to say, or play. Occasionally, they need 15 minutes or more. Guitars layer and intertwine like a thick rope made of smaller cords wrapping around each other and extending up, straight up.

“These Roots are Anchors” off the latest recording is one of those rare tracks on the record that features vocals. The words are wispy and smoky and are completely overshadowed by the rising wail of guitar bowing and picks. The somber sound turns triumphant, and at this point the distant yells are barely audible over the resonating guitars. “The Dirt is a Womb” brings an ethereal feeling via guitar hums and twinkles, drum taps, and xylophone. Ours to Alibi’s skillful sculpting of layered instrumental ambience is perfect for daily life soundtracks or losing yourself in the absence of syntax.

Little known fact, my friend Travis Shockely designed the album cover.

 

1. Circa Survive – On Letting Go

Not an entirely new sound for veteran musicians Circa survive, but definitely another great release. Still writing tracks that sound like they could well be Juturna b-sides. Cuts like “Living Together,” “On Letting Go,” “Close Your Eyes to See,” and “Your Friends Are Gone” all center around the blaring siren-like guitar wails, crackling percussion, and hypnotic vocals we have been exposed to thus far. Which any fan of the band would say to be amazing and is indeed no shame at all but nevertheless, a trait that will frustrate casual listeners looking for further experimentations into their sound rather than following previously blazed trails.

While similarity is indeed present, it does not overwhelm On Letting Go, as Circa still manages to break out of the mold they otherwise cast for themselves. This is most notable on tracks like “In the Morning and Amazing,” a prog-anthem that rockets out of the gate on a furious riff and pulsing drum lines, or the shimmering “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose” – the closest thing to a pop song the band has written, which still manages to juggle random, irreverent lyrics, thoughtful instrumentation, and believe it or not, the type of massive hook notably absent from Juturna. The same type of pop-flirtation peeks out on “Travel Hymn” – a bouncy, mid-tempo song and “Carry Us Away” – a more spacey tune whose lonely verses converge and swell into epic chorus arrangements. These tracks do not, however, signify the band pandering to the mainstream throughout, as they test even their own boundaries on other tracks yet. From the funky verse breakdowns of “Mandala” to the concussive guitar blitz of “Semi-Constructive Criticism,” new territory is explored, and opens the door for the magnificent “Kicking Your Crosses Down.” Arguably the most ambitious track the band has penned to date, the song combines lonely, melodic guitar notes over a pressing drum pulse to underscore Green’s otherworldly, sensual delivery – ingredients which are all shaken and stirred into an urgent, theatrical, and almost sunny chorus.

While we (society) become more and more like a child afflicted with ADD, it is refreshing to see bands like Circa Survive return to give us music that hooks us early, but still rewards us each time we come back. On Letting Go might not be the game-changer that Juturna was, but it is still an inviting exhibition by one of the scene’s most talented bands honing its skill sets. Pick this album up, and listen to it ten times before you make your judgment on it – if you do not find something new to love on each spin, you are not listening hard enough. All in all, when the record is finished, it sounds like Circa Survive picked just the right time to let go.

 

That sums up the Ears We Trust segment. I think this was a great way to get some diversity on the site. Thanks to everyone for getting your picks in and writing a little. In a few hours I’ll be posting my top 25 of 2007…so stay tuned.

 
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