Jan 2 2012

Quarterly Review – October-December 2011

Once every three months I list the best of what I heard in albums/songs/remixes for the quarter. I do this to personally keep up with all the awesome music I hear, as it ultimately helps me at the end of the year when I do my overall listing for the previous twelve months. I also do it to introduce you cool cats to tunes you may have missed independently.

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Dec 27 2011

The Top 50 Albums of 2011 – 40-31

40. Tom Waits – Bad As Me

Finally, after seven long years, our favorite barroom brawler has returned with his first album of new material. And the result? More of the same, give or take. Not that anyone’s complaining. With Bad As Me, Waits determines and plays to his strengths, all of which are diverse, and absolutely none of which are filler. The rasp is refreshing, the arrangements unusual, the dark mood prevalent. Nothing has been broken for a long while, so why change a winning formula?

39. Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation

22-year-old Idaho native Trevor Powers has created a half hour’s worth of material that can be interpreted as simultaneously joyful, shy, alienated, and sad. Beneath these eight tracks is a vibe that shifts with every tempo change, every gradual crescendo, every explosion. And in all the correct places, Powers’ echoey vocals fill the air with the uncertainty of the future and the courage to move forward all at once.

38. The Dodos – No Color

Visiter was the strong debut, and Time to Die was the experimental sophomore slump. And so, No Color is indeed the combination of the two, where the Dodos have come full circle and grown immensely along the way. The brilliant hooks and time changes of their first album strengthen the intense progression of their songwriting they previously tried but came up short. Here, it all works.

37. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears – Scandalous

If you don’t know him by now, you best get acquainted; Austin local Black Joe Lewis, like contemporaries Janelle Monae, Sharon Jones, and Cee Lo Green, has a knack for taking the classic sounds and giving them a 21st century feel. But Lewis and his tightly-wound band aren’t focused on the surreal or the space-age; rather, they just want you to dance your ass off. And dance you will, all the way to Booty City.

36. Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams

It’s no secret Dum Dum Girls are simple. Obviously I mean that as a compliment – we heard that pretty simplicity on I Will Be. Here, as was hinted on the stellar He Gets Me High EP earlier this year, the group takes their Sub Pop-financed production and raises the bar ever so slightly. The melodies are intact, surrounded by a post-punk take on gorgeous music Chrissie Hynde would kill for. So you see, in this instance, simplicity is a very, very good thing.

35. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

Good Bad Not Evil introduced this rowdy crew to the indie rock masses, but perhaps the limelight blinded them a bit. This was evidenced on the hot-and-cold 200 Million Thousand, but now, with the help of unlikely producer Mark Ronson, we get an incredible comeback littered with some of the finest, rawest, and catchiest material Black Lips have ever given us.

34. The Weeknd – Thursday Mixtape

The follow-up to House of Balloons is less diverse, less immediate, but just as intense. The Weeknd, by this point, was decidedly less mysterious, but no less serious about partying. Dark, disjointed, and deeply affecting, this second part of a strong trilogy of mixtapes released this year is a powerful chapter into the psyche of one of the year’s finest emerging artists.

33. Gauntlet Hair – S/T

This Windy City duo turned heads in 2010 with a few excellent singles, and here they take their winning formula to a full-length effort. The album is layered with echo, clanging guitars, R&B beats, and mounds of noise. It’s not for everyone. But for the patient, for those willing to be challenged, there’s a fair amount of accessibility here, precisely buried under that first level.

32. Wavves – Life Sux EP

Even when he’s dicking around, Nathan Williams is powering through, creating sloppy power pop-punk garage nonsense that will alienate some and inspire others. This thrown-together EP isn’t perfect, but its highs are almost as high as Williams perpetually is constantly. Life Sux marks a stepping stone for a project that has seen its ups and downs, but is certainly at a creative peak.

31. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

Is it too early to call these guys elder statesmen? Because in a time when everyone is biting their style, Cut Copy remain consistent, churning out hook after hook while newcomers struggle to create even one. I know it’s only their first follow-up to In Ghost Colours, but Zonoscope is a strong reminder that this group is naturally brilliant. They make it sound so easy. And it sounds like, it feels like, they’ve always been around, the way great bands in over-saturated genres are. Occasionally delivering gold around everyone else’s varied imitations.

Dec 21 2011

The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 100-51

100. The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

When the band sticks to what they know, they sound great. Angles is a hot-and-cold album, but this is the first of two tracks that showcases the former.

99. Born Gold – Wrinklecarver

Originally released as former project Gobble Gobble, nothing has been done to this track in terms or re-mixing or mastering, but it just sounds better in context within the new album Bodysongs.

98. St. Vincent – Cheerleader

Another highlight from Strange Mercy – here Annie Clark shows off her knack for start-stop surprises around what sounds conventional at first, then grows to be beautifully unusual.

97. Drake – Lord Knows (featuring Rick Ross)

The snare hits, the booming bass, the background vocals, that “Just Blaze!” intro, the use of the phrase “Murdercedez Benz.” What’s not to love here?

96. Wiz Khalifa – The Race

One of the more down-tempo tracks on the fun Rolling Papers, Wiz drops a chill-out anthem for the end of the night when you just wanna light one up and take it easy.

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Dec 20 2011

The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 150-101

150. Drake feat. The Weeknd – Crew Love

This is the first of many times for both these artists on the list. Here the Weeknd provides his eerie tortured-party R&B before the beat drops and Drake laments.

149. Cass McCombs – County Line

McCombs brings another signature somber note in his trademark melancholy falsetto. One of my favorites from Wit’s End.

148. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The first verse of this track more or less describes my life right now – realizing we are not unique snowflakes but small cogs in a machine we don’t know about yet. Simple, yet poignant.

147. The Joy Formidable – Magnifying Glass

From the maniacal laughter to the thumping stomp of that chorus to those wailing guitars, Joy Formidable claim the throne as the loudest new band of 2011.

146. YACHT – Dystopia

A play on an old R-rated cheerleader chant becomes a boogie-worthy ode to the end of the world. In typical Yacht fashion, it makes you wanna dance around the flames.

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Dec 4 2011

Sunday Night Videos 12/4/11

Gauntlet Hair – Top Bunk. from Neighborhood Watch on Vimeo.

Nov 19 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 11/19/11

Every Saturday, I post a 15-20 minute podcast featuring some tracks I’ve been jamming the previous week, as well as some commentary and random musings from yours truly. Enjoy!


Azealia Banks – 212
Gauntlet Hair – Mop It Up
Ryan Adams – Lucky Now
Skream – Anticipate (feat. Sam Frank)
Madden Brothers – Firetruck (Kreayshawn X Hollywood Holt)
Yuck – Milkshake

Nov 6 2011

Sunday Night Videos 11/6/11

Mates Of State “Sway” from Barsuk Records on Vimeo.

Jul 30 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 7/30/11

Every Saturday, I post a 15-20 minute podcast featuring some tracks I’ve been jamming the previous week, as well as some commentary and random musings from yours truly. Enjoy!


Starsmith – Lesson One
Mikal Cronin – Apathy
Gauntlet Hair – Top Bunk
The Morning Benders – Last Nite (Strokes cover)
They Might Be Giants – You Don’t Like Me

Jan 7 2011

Top 200 Tracks of 2010 – The Top Twenty

20. The Hold Steady – Hurricane J

Craig Finn, while less belligerent, is still plenty drunk and emotional and frank on Heaven Is Whenever, and the group delivers one of their poppiest efforts thus far.  “Hurricane J” is a plea to a lost soul he may be care a little too much about, spoken plainly and perfectly alongside a perfect tropical storm metaphor.  We’ve all known someone like the person Finn describes, and we’ve all said the exact same things.

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Jan 5 2011

Top 200 Tracks of 2010 – 100-51

100. Vampire Weekend – White Sky

99. The National – Lemonworld

98. Magic Kids – Superball

97. Drake – Up All Night (feat. Nicki Minaj)

96. Free Energy – Bang Pop

95. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

94. Evan Voytas – Our Thing

93. DOM – Burn Bridges

92. Games – Strawberry Skies

91. Dominique Young Unique – Show My Ass

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