Dec 29 2011

The Top 50 Albums of 2011 – 20-11

20. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Age tends to wear and tear a group into writing lamentations on nostalgia, love, family, and life – apparently aging has the opposite effect on Foo Fighters, who have released their loudest, RAWK-iest album since The Colour and the Shape. And the songwriting in at its finest hour since One By One.

19. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & the Harvest

After years, Welch has finally returned, now a primary elder statesmen, with a new album that quiets the naysayers and gives the fans exactly what they wanted. There’s no shortage of emotion here, nor is there lacking of reserved brilliance in melody, balance in structure, and perfect respect to tradition. Best folk album of the year, no contest.

18. Givers – In Light

Simple indie pop wrapped in a blanket of wise intuition and progressive approach. In what should sound like an album full of throwaway 3-minute ditties, Givers transform an overdone sound into a borderline-epic affair full of tempo changes, wavering moods, and consistent unpredictability. And yet, it all feels like a challenging puzzle you’re putting together slowly, but surely.

17. Yuck – S/T

Fuzzy grunge and disarming melodies are the tale here. We can sense this London group loved their flannel, but so did Candlebox; the difference here is not pure derivative formula, but unique arrangement and a knack for knowing what works. We admire grunge’s finest for their abrasive, angsty mood – Yuck goes deeper to find what works not as a method of looking back, but moving forward.

16. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

For those wondering if Pains were a one-note, twee-loving band, think again. The sound is bolder, the scope is grander, and the melodies? Worthy of some of the best written this year. Choruses stick like rubber cement, shy vocals peer out from aggressive guitars, and the ambition just keeps growing as the record plays on.

15. The Rapture – In the Grace of Your Love

Like contemporaries Cut Copy, while everyone around them struggles to meet the expectations of an overcrowded genre, the Rapture takes their time to craft an impeccable album. And that’s exactly what happened. The group’s fourth album is effortless, confident, and a reminder of what everyone else is missing.

14. Cloud Nothings – S/T

2012 may be a sharper, more mature turning point for Cloud Nothings, but until then we have this self-titled debut – a fun, noisy romp through great hooks and haphazard punk licks. Six months from now we may find this effort somewhat naive compared to the growth the band has done in future albums, but for now it’s simply charming.

13. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

No one has ever said Annie Clark wasn’t a gifted songwriter, but what she had in ambition she lacked in accessibility. That is, until now. Clark has found the missing link between her unique approach and a larger audience. Crafting some of her most memorable tunes, St. Vincent has kept that bold brilliance we’ve come to adore.

12. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

In a time full of clean, quiet indie, this Welsh group provides the fix for loud and brash. The sound of this debut disc is mighty, and the melodies accompanying the in-your-face noise loom just as large. Joyous anthems are wrapped around chaos, providing optimism amongst today’s apathy and nonchalance.

11. Neon Indian – Era Extrana

Psychic Chasms was a delightful acid trip, an introduction to one of the sharper chillwave pioneers. Era Extrana proves that pioneer has staying power, even if his original subgenre doesn’t. The aural wooziness of his debut is heightened here with dark undertones and enticing refrains. If you feel weird after listening, just know that’s the whole point, as it’s always been.

Dec 22 2011

The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 50-21

50. Surfer Blood – Miranda

To whet our appetite in between LPs, Surfer Blood released a rocking little EP featuring this excellent little tune.

49. Starsmith – Lesson One

Another band I know little about, but this played nonstop in my car last spring. A great ode to the unrequited and the ones that got away.

48. Cloud Nothings – Understand At All

Another catchy lo-fi power pop rocker from this group’s self-titled debut. Enjoy it while you can, because the follow-up promises to be darker and more ambitious.

47. Kreayshawn – Gucci Gucci

This Internet sensation crept onto FM radio with this undeniable, absolutely fun track. Bonus points for rhyming “over me” with “ovaries.”

46. Born Gold – Decimate Everything

My first introduction to the newly named Born Gold, and I was immediately hooked. There is a remarkable gift here in making the unorganized sound so irresistible.

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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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Nov 2 2011

Fun Fun Fun Nites Picks

Don’t know if you’ve heard or anything, but this weekend is Fun Fun Fun Fest, and I am so pumped. And also swamped with work I’m trying to get done before the weekend arrives. So consider this a quick post. Tomorrow I will post survival tips, and Friday look for a picks playlist, as well as a themed podcast on Saturday. Told you guys I was stoked. In the meantime, today I’m delving into the FFF afterparties, or Fun Fun Fun Nites, as they’re calling them, and picking my recommendations. For the first time this year, the only way to get into these bad boys is with an FFF wristband, and if you got one of those, the admission is free. There’s so much to pick from it’s like another festival happening right after the one at the Shores. The hustle to Red River should be exciting each night; in the meantime, here are my picks for what you should do once curfew comes around.


I’m probably sitting this one out, I’ll likely be finishing up school work and waiting for traveling friends to arrive, and really the only pull here is at Mohawk, where the always awesome Ty Segall will be shredding. I would show up late, though, because the Coathangers are unbearable.


By far the best night in the afterparty lineup – go hard this evening if you go hard at all. I’m watching Cold Cave for sure at Mohawk, then skipping over to the Parish for a headlining set from the Thermals. Also, Dead Confederate is rocking Deville, which is time well spent. Dead Confed put on a loud, loud show – kind of wish they were playing the fest as well…


I’ll probably get dragged to Mates of State at Parish, which I won’t mind, but my preference is Emire Automotive for the hipster-tastic Gorilla Vs. Bear party – Keep Shelly In Athens, Purity Ring, and a Neon Indian DJ set. If I enjoy Purity Ring at the fest, I might insist on this one, but if not, it’s whatevs.


The fact that I have class and will probably be exhausted at this point likely won’t stop me from attending Dom and Royal Bangs at Red 7 – another possibility is Thee Oh Sees at Beerland, as I will likely miss them at the Fest. Sunday night’s where the Red Bull comes in handy, among other things….

So what are your afterparty picks? Taking part in the festivities? Get at me.

Oct 7 2011

FFF6 Playlist Series – Saturday’s Blue Stage

A friend of mine and I were discussing the awesome awesome lineup for Fun Fun Fun Fest this year, and recently, they announced their schedule for our viewing pleasure. My friend was excited, but admitted he knew only a few bands. Where, he wondered aloud, could he find a comprehensive rundown of each band, a sampling of their musical chops, so he could further educate himself before the finest weekend of his year? I assume the Fun Fun Fun website has such a playlist, and they do, and it’s cool, but I wanted to make my own. So every Friday, from now until the fest (that’s nine weeks), I will be posting a playlist for your educational purposes for each stage and day, excluding the Yellow stage, which is mostly comedy.

This week’s playlist covers the bands playing on the Blue (Hip-Hop/Dance) stage on Saturday – Cecil Otter, Purity Ring, T-Bird and the Breaks, Brandt Brauer Frick, Cold Cave, Childish Gambino, Rakim, Dan Deacon, Neon Indian, and Major Lazer.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Missing From Playlist (not on Spotify yet): B-L-A-C-K-I-E, Wugazi

My Stage Pick: Purity Ring

After jamming to “Belispeak,” “Lofticries,” and “Ungirthed” this year, this group’s upcoming debut LP is one of my most anticipated albums currently. I am curious to see how this group’s ethereal synth-pop translates to the stage.

Oct 3 2011

Quarterly Review – July-September 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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Sep 18 2011

Sunday Night Videos 9/18/11

Spank Rock – #1 Hit (Official Video) from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

Sep 13 2011

Five Awesome Albums You Must Grab That Dropped Today

Aug 2 2011

My Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 Picks

With yesterday’s lineup announcement from Transmission, my heart is still a-flutter.  Though I’m not crazy about the move to Auditorium Shores, this year’s roster of talent has eviscerated any worry I had that this year might not be so fun fun fun.  The lineup is crazy good; though I’m not familiar with the Black stage as some of you (as is the case every year), I do have some picks from the other stages that you will most likely find me at come November 4-6.


This is the one I’m flipping out over.  I’ve been dying to see an Anthony Gonzalez show for about three years and there’s no way I’m missing this one. Highest priority.


I’m a big fan of “Stars” and the rest of that seminal, yet somehow forgotten album You’d Prefer An Astronaut, and the kids at Transmission are like daytime talk shows for bands – they always can make a reunion happen.  I’m there expecting some spaced-out shoegaze rock.

Childish Gambino

Community might just be the best comedy on television, and Donald Glover’s Troy might be my favorite character.  But when Glover isn’t making me laugh (he’s also doing a stand-up routine on the Yellow stage), he’s wowing me with crazy wit rhymes.  Dude is a solid rapper, and this show should be nothing but fun.


All I keep hearing is how amazing this girl is live, and I finally have the chance to witness it for myself.  Fest-goers and critics called her the indisputable highlight of Pitchfork in Chicago this year, one to not sleep on.  And as awesome as that new album is, you can bet I won’t.

Cold Cave

I saw them in 2009, but since then they’ve dropped the Depeche Mode/New Order thing for the most part – now the vibe, at least on their latest album, is more of a Bauhaus feel, and I’m curious to see how it translates live.

Radio Dept. 

One of my favorite albums of last year – Clinging to a Scheme – had that sweet, jangly shoegaze electro that I love so much down to a high-minded science.  This group has been around for a while, but they’re finally getting the hipster love they deserve, and I’m pumped to see the show they put on.

Cloud Nothings

If you’ve never seen Cloud Nothings kick out the jams, you’re in for a treat.  Just be prepared – you will not be able to stand still. At all.  Show is a rapid-fire blast of percussion and sweet hooks.

The Joy Formidable

One album most people have slept on this year is the surprisingly rock’n’roll Big Roar – I’m curious to see if these newcomers can translate their loud studio sounds and big choruses to a big ol’ park in downtown Austin.  I’ve got high hopes.

Public Enemy

This is probably the festival’s entire highlight – the one for the newspapers and bloggers and whatnot.  Austinites, riddle me this: if you had the chance to see one of the most influential, seminal, and downright badass hip-hop groups of all time, you’d go, right? Of course you would. Believe the hype.


America’s Producer is gonna rock your world, along with his Major Lazer crew on the Blue stage.  And I thought I was getting spoiled when I saw A-Trak last year!

Neon Indian

I’m gonna hold off on this one until I hear the new album in October, but if it’s good, you can bet I’ll be wanting to hear those new tracks live.

Spank Rock

Fuck yes.  If any band can bring the fun x3, I’d place my bet on these guys. Sex jams and x-rated hip-hop.  Someone had to pick up where 2 Live Crew left off, and these guys do it properly.


One of the most legit producers I’ve seen in a long while, the beats and collages this guy cooks up just blow my mind, take a listen to Cerulean if you don’t believe me.

Purity Ring

I’ve been raving about this group for awhile – their music is encompassing of great pop and subtle sounds thrown in to create a pretty progressive, yet undeniably infectious, feel.  I’m very curious to see how they bring that studio texture to the stage.

WTF Award – Turquoise Jeep

I’ve slept on this, mainly because I’m not an Internet meme-chaser or whatever, but apparently these guys are a YouTube sensation and have been for a year or so.  Turquoise Jeep is a mysterious record label, headquarters location unknown, featuring a strange roster of artists that put out hilarious R&B/rap songs and post super-low-budget videos for them.  With a straight face…it’s hard to tell if these guys are in on their own joke or not, but I’m willing to bet they are.  Anyway, they’re booked for Fun Fun Fun, which is….well, it’s not the strangest thing Transmission has ever done, but it’s likely up there.

There are a ton of other bands on the lineup that I’m excited to see that I didn’t list here – these are just the ones that rank as high priorities for me (except for that last one, which I just thought was pretty damn funny.)  Once the schedule drops in September, there’s sure to be some nail-biting conflicts.  Like I said, I’m not too familiar with the Black stage roster, which is usually the case every year – not a big metal/punk/Danzig guy.  What are your picks for the fest?  What did I miss? What Black stage bands are you pumped about that I can’t miss? Educate me!