• Top 10s of 2013

    Gen 1 2014, 13:24

    Well, not necessarily by opinion or anything, but according to last.fm, here's what I listened to the most in 2013:

    1: Sonic Youth
    2: The Fall
    3: R.E.M.
    4: Elliott Smith
    5: Cursive
    6: The Clash
    7: M.I.A.
    8: Yo La Tengo
    9: Bright Eyes
    10: Magnolia Electric Co.

    Albums (though to be fair, this is tracks played from albums, not albums listened to in their entirety, so whatever):
    1: 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong
    2: Super Black Market Clash
    3: The Bones of What You Believe
    4: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
    5: Ta det lugnt
    6: First Four EPs
    7: The Complete Birth of the Cool
    8: MAYA
    9: Anniemal
    10: Destroy Rock & Roll

    Tracks (limited to one per artist):
    1: Gun
    2: Brother James
    3: Piglet
    4: Bill's Dream
    5: Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
    6: The Radio's Hot Sun
    7: Porno
    8: The Lament of Pretty Baby
    9: I Walk on Broken Glass
    10: Pervert
  • The Jesus & Mary Chain - Darklands

    Gen 17 2009, 11:13

    I know that The Jesus & Mary Chain are one of those bands that everyone should hear and get into at some point, but I never did. I ended up with Darklands after spending a week visiting a friend in Nairobi -- in between drinking and drug abuse, I burned a few CDs. I don't know if I ever listened to those discs, but I doubt it. So, listening to J&MC now is a bit odd, as I have heard 20+ years of music that has come since and has obviously been influenced by them. Case in point: The Raveonettes -- everyone compared them to J&MC, but I had no baseline. Now I can say that yes, they are very similar. This record is rather short -- around 40 minutes -- and essentially reminded me of a more guitar-y My Bloody Valentine. Good stuff. Essential? I'm not ready to say that, but good for sure.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Нож Для Frau Müller - Мечты - Третий Сорт

    Gen 10 2009, 15:39

    Well, a year on and we're winding down this project. I wish I'd come up with a clever name for it, like the guys at the AV Club did with Popless or My Year of Flops. However, I didn't really know what I was gonna do or for how long it would remain interesting. Anyway, I will have more comments on all of that after I finish this for good next week, I guess. For now, let's talk about Нож Для Frau Müller - Мечты - Третий Сорт, which I picked up in the y2k while doing study abroad in Moscow. I suppose my first introduction to the band, also known as Messer für Frau Müller, came while hanging out in the dorm room shared by newmalevich and muzantrop, where we used to hang out, drink beer and vodka, and listen to all sorts of music. We would all be pleasantly surprised that we knew Fugazi, for example, and that was the basis of our friendship. I think the one gig I went to that semester (with those two guys if memory serves) was Frau's, at Moscow's venerable Proekt OGI club. Anyway, the music is some boppy electronic stuff. Lounge music, I guess, but with lots of kitschy samples from Soviet movies. It's pretty good stuff, and I used to always get high to it back in the day. I would probably do the same now, if I had a consistent weed supply.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Evergreen Trio / February Stars Union - Adults Are Threatening Creatures

    Gen 5 2009, 17:22

    I was pretty surprised when the Evergreen Trio / February Stars Union split "Adults Are Threatening Creatures" tied (four-fucking-way!) for this week, as I honestly haven't given either band a thought in years. Well, I should say that is only true about the FSU -- Evergreen Trio I thought of last year when their solo album came through alphabetically. Basically though we've got two bands typical of late 90s midwest indie/emo, both of which show promise, but neither of which is great. I mean, listening to the screams on the last FSU track almost make me laugh, whereas I am sure that ten years ago I took them a lot more seriously. My loss, I suppose. Anyway, this split EP is definitely very necessary for fans of the obscure late 90s indie/emo, but if it falls further through the cracks, probably it won't matter much. But a nice relic of a time when you thought your friends' bands, with all their earnestness, would be going all the way.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • V/A - Warp Routine

    Gen 5 2009, 12:00

    Another day, another compilation (that time of year, I suppose). Today it's an album that, from what I recall, was set to celebrate Warp Records tenth anniversary: Warp Routine. Again, I am sure I acquired this for free back in my music director stage of life, a time when I wasn't picky about my acquisitions, as I wasn't paying for them, and the key reason to keep a CD in many cases was whether it may have resale vaue down the road (eBay, hello?). In any case, that explains why I ended up with this CD of electronic music, IDM or what have you. Although this is probably among the tops of the genre, I can't say that most of it stands out beyond being background music. I did dig tracks by Mira Calix and Autechre, and the Jamie Lidell song made me wonder if he was really singing about fucking someone in the back of his daddy's car. Oh, and the droney nature of the Untitled Polygon Window song was alright, too. But ultimately, this is nothing I am going to find myself going back to. However, given that I now essentially only listen to music on shuffle (10,931 songs and going strong!), I certainly won't complain when this stuff pops up.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • V/A - Troubleman Mix-Tape

    Gen 4 2009, 12:58

    The problem with writing about something like the Troubleman Mix-Tape is that not only is it a compilation, it's a fucking huge compilation. Something like 50 bands contributed to this 2-disc set, which really is arranged more like a mix-tape from Troubleman's humble owner. You've got everything on here from spazzy hardcore to pained emo to lo-fi indie pop to noise to drone core to dance punk to [insert genre here], but it is all somewhat cohesive, very much a record of what the hip kids were listening to eight years ago. Bands you'll recognize on here include Blonde Redhead, !!!, Melt-Banana, Black Dice, The Locust, Radio 4, and Unwound, among others. Listening to this for the first time in years reminds me of why I once wrote an email to Troubleman Unlimited's proprietor, asking him that if I sent him like $100, could he "subscribe" me to a year's worth of his label's excellent and widely varying releases? I think he said yes, but I never sent him the money, probably because I was broke.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Wire - Send

    Gen 3 2009, 15:36

    Before talking about Wire - Send -- which, I guess, was their comeback album -- I think I should mention something: I have never heard their "classic" "Pink Flag". I know, kill me now, take away all my cred, etc. But that's just the way it worked out. In 1993 or 94 I guess I was, for some reason, a subscriber (or freebie sub? or maybe I bought it? or something?) to CMJ New Music Journal. As cheesy as the compilation CDs were that they sent out every month, they did introduce me to a lot of interesting stuff, and not just the high-gloss alt-rock they were generally being paid to push. Anyway, I remember in one of the issues of the mag, there was a column about some band called Wire, and CMJ basically named then one of the punkest bands that ever punked around. Or something. All I was able to find at the local used music store (I think it was still called Mad City Music, so that tells you how long ago it was!) was a late-80s LP called "The Ideal Copy". I liked the kind of electronic post-punk that I was hearing, even if I had no context to put it in. I don't think CMJ was referring to that record when they were pushing Wire, but that was my introduction. Nearly a decade later, "Send" was getting decent reviews everywhere, so I picked it up. It's a lot heavier than I remember "The Ideal Copy" being, but that's pretty good: aggressive post-punk with electronic elements. Done by oldschool masters. An excellent record, very much worth downloading.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Soundtrack - Kids

    Dic 27 2008, 11:43

    I first saw the movie Kids on a pirate VHS cassette overdubbed in Russian sometime in late 1996 or early 1997. I think I probably had the Kids soundtrack earlier, probably based on the strength of the Folk Implosion song "Natural One". In the decade plus since, I have seen the movie once or twice more, but have listened to the soundtrack dozens, if not hundreds of times. Of course, I haven't played it more than once or twice in the last six or seven years, which is why I listened to it today. My thoughts? It's definitely better than the movie. And I am glad to have these songs back in my collection. But again, the reason I never ripped this in the first place is because I listened to it so much in high school, that it's permanently imprinted on my brain. Why do I need it on my iPod, when I can call up the key tracks from memory? Almost, anyway. There are essentially only three artists on the disc: Daniel Johnston, Lou Barlow (in Folk Implosion and Sebadoh mode), and Slint. I can't recall if I'd heard any Barlow before this disc, but I certainly explored his world in a bit more depth later. I unloaded most of my Folk Implosion records ultimately, because outside of 1-2 good songs, they were all rather weak. Regarding Sebadoh, I ended up with a few discs, but only one -- Bubble & Scrape -- have I ever bothered ripping. Same story -- more filler than killer. I do have to thank the soundtrack's producer for introducing me to Slint: "Good Morning Captain" was (and is) a great fucking song (and come to think of it, I think it was on one of the mix tapes I brought to Russia with me, so I guess I had this before I saw the movie), and introduced me to Slint (which opened me up to a lot of new things). I don't know why I never went farther into Daniel Johnston's catalog -- his little insane ramblings on here were pretty good, but I guess they never showed up in the local record store or on Columbia House's free CD pages. Overall, I'm glad to have these songs back in the library.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Wall of Voodoo - Call of the West

    Dic 20 2008, 13:25

    Spending my middle school years listening to 96.7 WLUV "THE HEAT" FM was often a mistake. Particularly during the weekdays. But on Friday and Saturday nights, for an hour or two, semi-amateur DJ Mark Snodgrass came on, somehow having the only live, locally-broadcast show on this satellite radio network. And from what I recall, he often opened with a quirky, 80s synth-heavy (but not in the overproduced Duran Duran way) track called "Mexican Radio". After some time, in early high school years, I played with one of those computers at Best Buy, plugged the track name in, and found out it came from Wall of Voodoo - Call Of The West -- which, surprisingly, Best Buy had a copy of in stock. So, this is another album that takes me back to my high school years, an album that came into existence the same time as the last band you forced me to listen to was just getting their start. Outside of the "hit" mentioned above, the rest of the album takes a moody and dated feel. Not that being dated makes it bad -- just that you immediately realize it was recorded in the early 80s. Maybe I didn't listen to a lot of this kind of music, but it certainly seems to me that this album is one of the greats in its style. The spaghetti western tendencies in tracks like "Spy World" and "Look At Their Way" is very interesting, and songs like "Factory" and "Lost Weekend" have not left my head in the decade or more since I first heard them. And, of course, "Mexican Radio" is a fucking classic.

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
  • Violent Femmes - Add It Up (1981-1993)

    Dic 20 2008, 12:31

    I've long made the argument that in the case of the Violent Femmes, there are only two albums you need: their self-titled debut, and Add It Up (1981-1993), their best of. In high school I listened to this best of so much, that coming back to it now is like revisiting an old friend. I know every song on here by heart, and could play the entire record in my head with no problems. Listening to this just reminds me of how great that first LP was, and since my copy is on vinyl in my parents' basement (one night at college, after having a bit too much to drink, the LP slipped out of my hands as I was turning sides, and in a frantic effort to catch it before it hit the ground, I scratched side one, effectively ruining half of this band's best record. Then I wrote about that incident as an intro to a campus newspaper review of whatever the Femmes' current album was, and their lame-ass editorial staff removed the part about me being drunk, making it look as if I was just some sort of jackass who didn't know how to turn an LP over without scratching it), maybe I will have to go a torrenting. Amazon's review of this record puts it better than I ever could:

    Aside from the Milwaukee trio's 1981 debut, the Violent Femmes have made a career of tacking one or two great songs onto otherwise mediocre albums--so this 1993 best-of is perfect for consumers. It has all the good stuff, from the retro radio hour staples "Blister In The Sun" and "Gone Daddy Gone," plus the creepy murder-suicide story "Country Death Song," the should've-been-a-hit "American Music" and ephemera like live versions of "Add It Up" and "Kiss Off." With Gordon Gano's never-aging teen whine and a crack rhythm section, the Femmes have had brief moments as America's best rock & roll band. This collection captures some of them. --Steve Knopper

    As always, if you decide to download the record, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.