Dec 26 2011

The Top 50 Albums of 2011 – 50-41

50. The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts

The third album from the Go! Team is slightly more mature, but only slightly. The cheerleader chants are here, the rollerskating rap staples are alive and well, yes, but leader Ian Parton amps up the instrumentals and girl group numbers. There’s more variation, more challenging diversity, more fun. Overall, a satisfying listen from a group determined to build upon a winning formula.

49. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

The title track describes how one feels upon realizing they are not necessarily as unique as they were raised to believe, but rather discovering what machine in the world they want to be a cog for. It’s an all-too real feeling for most people, particularly Generation Y’ers, and not only are Fleet Foxes tackling it lyrically, they’re doing so musically as well, building upon their glorious, harmonious sound. The results may not give any solid answers, but they are rewarding nonetheless.

48. Green Day – Awesome As Fuck

Green Day’s second official live album predictably gives its share of live versions from their latest album, but the middle third is so satisfyingly punk and old skool you can feel the energy eeking out of your speakers. For anyone who’s never seen this band’s full throttle live show, let this serve as a reminder you need to put Green Day on your bucket list.

47. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – S/T

The Internet can provide a perfect sense of anonymity for those who wish to share art, but are a little camera shy. We’ve seen it many times over the years, and we can chalk up UMO as the latest, a band from Portland we knew very little about for a long time. What their art tells us is that they have incredible, hooky potential for the forseeable future. This is a strong, half-hour long, infectious, lo-fi debut.

46. The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

After the conceptual mess that was The Hazards of Love, Colin Meloy has reined it in and gone back to the beginning for this refreshing album. Keeping it short and sweet at 10 tracks in 40 minutes, there’s nothing here to bore. The focus of melody, the natural blending of rock and folk, and the sharpness of Meloy’s voice all blend together for one of the band’s strongest albums in years.

45. Cass McCombs – Wit’s End

Not for the faint of heart, McCombs has outdone himself with despair. If Catacombs was a tribute to loneliness, Wit’s End contains the sounds that inspired the entire concept of loneliness. He has always been one to delve into somber emotions and downtrodden structure, but here McCombs digs the hole further, albeit with his most subtle, subdued, and brilliant songwriting yet.

44. EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

I’ve mentioned before this album has many different sounds, but you’re just going to have to listen to understand. Never have I heard someone throw so much at the dartboard and hit the bull’s eye so consistently. An album of this ambition usually is dismissed as directionless, but the one theme tying it all together is the raw, unbridled, and unafraid emotion throughout.

43. I Break Horses – Hearts

This is a disc too many people slept on. Incorporating shoegaze, dream-pop, and dense instrumentation, this new band have created a meticulous, enjoyable, and surprisingly precise debut. The flaws here, of which there are few, give a human quality to the grand soundscape the band has made, which only supports the notion I Break Horses are just getting started.

42. Teams vs. Star Slinger – S/T EP

What happens when you get a producer who specializes in ambient sounds and combine him with a rising star, high hat heavy DJ who just wants to make booties shake? One of the most interesting, fun, and repeatable EPs of the year. And definitely booty shaking. Lots of it. The sound texture and beat structure work great together here, and the chosen samples only amplify the enjoyment.

41. Dominique Young Unique – Glamorous Touch Mixtape

Dominique’s been busy, churning out three mixtapes in a year and half. This one, the strongest of her latest two, finds the Florida-bred female rapper spitting her trademark rapid-fire delivery alongside unusual beats and rock-inspired sounds. If Domination was the strong introduction, Glamorous Touch is proof this girl can rap over almost anything. It’s also proof we should keep an eye out for her in the future.

Dec 24 2011

The Top 20 Remixes of 2011

Compared to the past couple of years, I was underwhelmed with the number of awesome remixes I heard in 2011. Not that they weren’t out there, I just didn’t mosey upon them. So if by chance you don’t see one of your favorites listed here, send it my way or comment, by all means.

Regular readers will not be surprised to find a plethora of Star Slinger on here; he’s one of my favorite current producers. There are others here as well, and he doesn’t get the top spot. Also it should be noted, for those uninitiated, that I’m a big club and house fan, so other styles are likely under-represented here. I enjoy dance music, but I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about it. Like most of my year-end lists, this is basically just a ranked list of remixes I heard that I enjoyed. YouTube links are provided, and listening to these tracks loudly is highly encouraged.

20. Star Slinger – Dumbin’ (Diplo Remix)

19. The Rapture – How Deep Is Your Love (A-Trak Dub aka Dub For Mehdi)

18. Escort – Cameleon Chameleon (Club Remix)

17. Trombone Shorty – Do To You (Star Slinger Remix)

16. Jamie Woon – Lady Luck (Hudson Mohawke’s Schmink-Wolf Refix)

15. XV – Swervin’ (Clams Casino Remix)

14. Tyson – Out of My Mind (Star Slinger Remix)

13. Star Slinger – How Will I Copulate (Moranis Mashup feat. Whitney Houston)

12. Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody (Hudson Mohawke Remix)

11. James Vincent McMorrow – If I Had a Boat (Star Slinger’s R ‘n’ B Thug Mix)

10. Gold Panda – Marriage (Star Slinger Remix)

9. Ra Ra Riot – Too Dramatic (The Kids Are Radioactive Remix)

8. Pony Pony Run Run – Hey You (Star Slinger Remix)

7. Alex Winston – Sister Wife (Star Slinger Remix)

6. The Go! Team – Apollo Throwdown (Star Slinger Remix)

5. Rizzle Kicks – Down With the Trumpets (Star Slinger Remix)

4. Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall (Swedish House Mafia Remix)

3. Childish Gambino – Freaks and Geeks (Star Slinger Remix)

2. Bingo Players – Cry (Just a Little) (Kids at the Bar Bootleg Remix)

1. The Joy Formidable – Whirring (Innerpartysystem Remix)

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 19 2011

The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 200-151

There are quiet moments, but overall this year’s song countdown is crazy upbeat; you’ve gotta be an uptight jerk not to enjoy at least some of what’s here. For the most part, this collection of songs from 2011, while decidedly less diverse than in past years, still perfectly captures my mood and preference. I’ll be counting down until Friday – feel free to browse, listen, discover, disagree, etc. I’ll publish a Spotify playlist at the end with most of the tracks on there; the rest can be found via YouTube below and on subsequent posts.

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Dec 15 2011

My Year In Live Music – 2011

Compared to my first year as an Austin resident, I took it pretty easy this year. I suppose the combination of budgeting, starting grad school, and just generally growing old has slowed me down a bit, but I still saw some cool shows. And with M83, Radiohead, Drake, and Born Gold all coming in the first half of 2012, looks like I’ll be getting a head start on this list for next year. In the meantime, here are some highlights, at least ones I could remember, from 2011.

Hooray For Earth @ Emo’s Inside – 10/1

I believe this was the last show I saw at Emo’s Inside (I remember seeing Twin Shadow around ACL time on the outside stage just before they shut it down), and I’ve yet to see a show at the new locale on East Riverside. I had been dying to witness Hooray For Earth for many many months, and finally seeing them rock out was rewarding, as was a nice conversation with the lead singer afterwards.

Deftones @ Austin Music Hall – 6/4

Call it making up for lost time; I’m not a huge fan of AMH – actually, I hate it quite a bit, but I’m never missing a Deftones show. I finally saw them for the first time last year, and as long as these guys make it to Austin, I’ll be going. The crowd was awful, as was the case last time, but Deftones more than make up for all the teenage rudeness.

Bill Maher @ ACL Live – 3/26

Not a music show, but man was it hilarious. My second show in the ACL Live venue, and Bill proved he loves Austin. The crowd was mostly receptive, but I did get some looks for applauding loudly at the atheist jokes. Do people know who they came to see?

Robyn @ ACL Live – 2/17

Robyn is incredible, see her live the first chance you get. High energy, tons of dancing, great acoustics, great venue. The crowd up front was crazy annoying, especially during Diamond Rings, but what are ya gonna do?

Sleigh Bells @ The Glass House – Pomona, CA – 4/13

The Glass House is a weird little venue; I honestly had no idea how far Pomona was from West Hollywood, but we drove a long way to see this awesome awesome show. It was all ages, no alcohol. Not that I had a lot of cash anyway. Sleigh Bells killed, as is the routine.

The Go! Team @ Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – 4/19

The Echoplex was closer, but it felt like a shady neighborhood. The venue, however, is pretty damn awesome, and the Go! Team were just as fun as I could have imagined. Hopefully these guys make a new album, because I’m betting they’ll make a stop here in Austin if they do.

Primus @ Stubb’s – 5/24

It’s so great to have these guys back and playing new stuff. Have I said that lately? Great show in one of the best venues in town, and we met Les (again!) and got a pic with him afterwards. Swell fella!

Dwight Yoakam @ ACL Live – 7/21

Another strong showing from the hillbilly king, this time at a venue within walking distance. Now if he would just get back in the studio!

Austin Psych Fest @ Seaholm Power Plant – 4/30-5/1

I really had no idea what to expect, but this ended up being a pleasant surprise. I got sufficiently drunk and listened to some crazy great psych music from all around the world, in the most appropriately creepy place to see a show in Austin, the echo-riffic Seaholm. Capping off the fest with Roky Erikson providing the soundtrack to the news of bin Laden’s death is a memory I will never forget.

Fun Fun Fun Fest @ Auditorium Shores – 11/4-6

I was a bit concerned for the future of my beloved FFF when they announced they were moving to the Shores, but in hindsight I feel ashamed for not having faith in the Transmission crew. Not only was this the best lineup I’ve ever seen in the fest’s six-year history, but the change of venue actually improved the overall experience. Great vendors, great music, not too crowded….best music experience of 2011, hands down.

SXSW 2011 – Spring Break and Beyond

The best week of the year did not disappoint, though this year I focused a lot of energy on getting into shows I didn’t think I would be able to get into. There’s certainly an extra feeling of reward when you’re granted access to an exclusive party with A-list bands and free food and booze. My personal highlights were the Zynga party (flyer above) and catching Queens of the Stone Age at La Zona Rosa. Another great free party showing as well this past year, especially Mess With Texas, which never disappoints. Saw the Strokes at the Shores, too, which was great. While 2010 might be remembered as the year of mini-riots and ridiculous overcrowding, for me it was just a regular old SXSW, fun, booze, catching up with old friends, and seeing some great music.

Apr 1 2011

Quarterly Review – January-March 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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Mar 13 2011

Sunday Night Videos 3/13/11

Jan 31 2011

Five MP3s You Must Grab 1/31/11

Fitz And The Tantrums – MoneyGrabber

buy album

The Go! Team – Apollo Throwdown (Star Slinger Remix)


Best Coast – Sunny Adventure


Purity Ring – Ungirthed


Yuck – Coconut Bible


Jan 29 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 1/29/11

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!


Lil Wayne feat. Cory Gunz – Six Foot Seven Foot
Daniel Markham – Across the Water
The Go! Team – Apollo Throwdown (Star Slinger Remix)
Mind Spiders – Don’t Let Her Go
Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em (Diplo Remix)

Nov 28 2010

Sunday Night Videos 11/28/10

Radio Freq “Turn on the Radio” from JoeL Knoernschild on Vimeo.