Sunday, December 31, 2006

Best Music of 2006

Album of the Year -Floating World by Anathallo

The famous wood block prints of the Edo period in Japan are called ukiyo-e (it translates to pictures of the floating world) and depict landscapes, samurai, theatre, and other forms of entertainment. Upon listening to Floating World, one can see that Anathallo tried to stay true to this when they made the album.

Japanese culture greatly influenced the band as the core of the album is four songs; Hanasakajijii (parts 1 through 4) tells the folktale of a farmer that owns a dog and how his neighbor steals the dog in a fit of jealousy and is punished by karma. Two other songs are old Japanese singsongs.
Instrumentation throughout the song is grand and extravagant. After listening to all of Floating World, you feel as though you accomplished something. Not that it is difficult to listen to, but because it is an epic. Moods change throughout different songs, and at one moment a faint whisper turns into a massive emotional wall of sound. Every single note of Floating World seems intentional, and I am glad.
If one does not immediately fall in love with Floating World, it is understandable. It is a lot, and it doesn't quite fit into any genre. Yet, it has something for everyone, and after a few listens, one can understand the bedtime story quality of it to truly let the fable take over.
Listen to "Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind, More Ash)" - the star of this amazing work

Song of the Year that Is Probably Disqualified Due to Technicalities - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin "House Fire"
There is debate whether this one counts because Broom was released widespread in 2005, but it was remastered and released by Polyvinyl Records late this year. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite songs of all time (as noted by iTunes). Why? Because this song has amazing metaphors, repetition of key lines, and a weird sense of optimism. Add to this mix minimal subtle female vocal backing against John Robert Cardwell and Philip Dickey with interesting guitar work. I read somewhere that SSLYBY sounds like that local band that should have, but never actually, got big. Its true, and that's why this song seems so honest. Its a great pick for any time and any mood.

Video of the Year - Danielson "Did I Step On Your Trumpet"
Its innovative and catchy. Simple, yet very organized. Watch, you won't be disappointed.

Band of the Year - Bishop Allen
It was such an ambitious project to release an EP every month this year (buy any or all of them them here). They somehow succeeded with great songs on every album. Did I mention they were on tour for part of the year? Seriously, through hard work and dedication, these guys rocked this year.
Listen to "The Same Fire" off June and a year ending appropriate "Calendar" off December

Best Song by a Woman-lead Band - Headlights "Owl Eyes"
Man this song drives. I always start off tapping my heel to the "boom boom boom" bass drum that opens this gem. By the two minute mark, I'm slamming my foot up and down to the beat. Sure, you think this song is cute, but it also rocks. Not in that heavy metal hard rock stuff, but like true old rock and roll. The piano adds a little, but its the basic drums that carry "Owl Eyes" and Erin Fein's gorgeous voice that hovers over the music that make it so great. (buy Kill Them with Kindness)

Best Song by a Wolf Band (and we thought we got done with them on last year's lists...) or Best Song by a Side Project - Sea Wolf "Middle Distance Runner"
Alex Church has a side project that I love even better than his other band Irving. The song is uses metaphors of track to describe his inability to really get into a relationship. Awww... Guitar picking is phenomenal. Raspy lyrics feel intimate. And you know what, I may only be a middle distance runner myself.
BONUS (because I love Sea Wolf so much): "You're A Wolf" and "Black Dirt"

Hottest Track of the Year - Justin Timberlake "My Love"
JT's newest album FutureSex /Love Sounds really is pure aural sex. "My Love" is no exception, but the lyrics actually show that it is romantic, consensual, and really loving. He wants to marry this girl, not just use her as an object. Oh the ex-boybander really has a soft-side, how cute. Joking aside, this is a standout on a truly amazing record. I have a lot of respect for Justin Timberlake and the way he's been able to reinvent himself and try to really be a tiny bit experimental. Yeah, its produced like crazy, but its done well and makes me dance. Can you ask for anything more? Oh yeah, a hot video, but he gave us that too...

Biggest Secret Pleasure - Fergie "Fergalicious"
Fergie makes my day with this song. Its sugary sweet, and its saccharine character is evident in the lyrics she chooses. She plays the sexy vixen, but she's great. I especially love the ^^Fergalicious def-^^ breaks, and of course, check out the Willy-Wonka-esque music video. (buy The Dutchess)

Best Ballad - Owen "The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi"
At Home with Owen was a huge leap of progress for Mike Kinsella, and its my favorite work by him thus far. The help he enlisted and professional recording made such a difference, the piano work is wonderful. Kinsella's voice still has its trademark imperfections, but would I want them changed? NO! Pietro Crespi is a character from One Hundred Years of Solitude, and this song inspired me to pick up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's work. This song might not be as good as this book, but its a great love song.

Best Dance Song - Cansei de Ser Sexy "Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above"
Lovefoxxx and the rest of this Brazilian getup might be the coolest hipsters alive, especially because they shout out to the now defunct Death From Above 1979. I feel like they are just a bunch of fun loving musicians that make music for all the right reasons. Karma's rewarded these guys, and I can't wait for more stuff to dance to. (buy Cansei de Ser Sexy)

Best New Sound - Beirut
Who would have guessed that the indie scene would fall in love with the gypsy folk influenced music of Zach Condon? The new sound was a breath of fresh air. Gulag Orkestar, with light sounds and traditional sounds, made music fun to listen to again. Listen to "Postcards from Italy" and "Mount Worclai (Idle Days)"
Simplest Song of the Year - Matt & Kim "Yea Yeah" off Matt and Kim
A little guy/girl group that makes drum and keyboard music. I love 'em, and you will too.
Check out their funny music video:

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cantique de Noël, or The Best Christmas Song Ever

We didn't sing my favorite Christmas song at church today. O Holy Night is such a beautiful classic. The range required is difficult, and if done right, the carol is haunting. No version is nearly as good as a congregation singing it with few instruments backing a multitude of voices, but a man's voice is critical.

Sufjan Stevens "O Holy Night" - Sufjan, I really have mixed opinions about this song. There are parts I love, and then there are parts that grate my ears. I guess that is how holy night was when Christ born, it wasn't all halos and a beautiful baby in a suprisingly clean stable with hay underfoot. Its how Christmas ends up at my house, its happy, then the afternoon is wierd, and then its happy as everyone leaves. The highlight of this song is when the little drummer boy type drums come in to bring this folky song back home. (buy Songs for Christmas)

Anathallo "O Holy Night" - This is one of the only versions of the song that I like that isn't traditional. I especially commend the way they chose to switch between a more rock sound and a more hushed familiar coral voice. One of this band's greatest quality is their ability to make any song an epic, and this is no exception. The trumpet and the rest of the brass add a texture matched by very few innovative versions of Christmas songs. Sure to put any music snob in the holiday spirit. (buy Anathallogy) Ps. they have a funny video on their website...

And because everyone likes it: Rockapella "Carol of the Bells"
(if you look closely, Mary and Joseph are really David and Victoria Beckahm, with Kylie Minouge overhead and others...)

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Festivus

Happy Festivus (the holiday for the rest-of-us)!

This holiday was created by Frank Costanza in opposition to the commercialism of Christmas. Let me familiarize you with some events of this wonderful and bizzare holiday.
Snowden "Anti-Anti" (buy Anti-Anti)

The Festivus Pole (buy one here) - Normally, an unadorned alumnium pole is set up in a family room, much like a Christmas tree. Alumnium is used because of its high "strength-to-weight ratio." Some people have begun adding tinsel and garland to their poles in order to make it more cheery, but the more orthodox followers refuse to add anything. Yes, that is the Wisconsin governor with a pole...
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah "Heavy Metal" (buy Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)

The Airing of Greivances is a time of reflection. Starting with the eldest person or host, each person at the table gets to tell their fellow celebrants what they did not approve of since the previous Airing of Greivances.
TV on the Radio "Mr. Greives (Pixies cover)" (buy Young Liars)

After the feast, comes the Feats of Strength ceremony. The host normally challenges one in a display of great honor. When the host is pinned, Festivus ends. As a Festivus gift to you, I give you the most Festivus song I made this year: "Sirens"

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Y is for Yarmulke

There are two more bands that really rock the Jewish scene: Yo La Tengo and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Yo La Tengo translates to I have it, and I bet they're talking about their yarmulke. (Apparently, it is a New York Mets baseball reference which means I got it, but they do got chutzpah). They really rock and they've been around for so long. Sadly, they didn't play their 8 days of Hanukkah at Maxwell's this year. "Be Thankful for What You've Got" listen to Spoon's cover of "Decora"(buy Little Honda EP)

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs rock. Sadly, I'm not sure if Karen O is Jewish, but I bet she got a present from Brian Chase for Hannukah. All my love goes out to Karen O for her great voice and Nick Zinner's put some great riffs out on his guitar, but the Yeah Yeah Yeah's wouldn't be so amazing if Chase didn't blow my mind with his slammin' drumming. "Maps" listen to Arcade Fire's cover of "Maps" (buy Forever to Tell) (buy Arcade Fire)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Scientologist blasephemy

Beck is a Jew, but both his parents are Scientologists. I remember when I first heard about it, I thought about Sea Change. Its such a wierd album to my ears.
"Paper Tiger" - Backed by an ebbing string section, his vocals creep me out, but in a good way. The song is really pessimistic, but its shows Beck's ability to come out with something new and original. It also shows his flexibility.

I am actually suprsied Beck rebounded from it so well. Guero is my favorite of his thus far.
The reason I like Beck is because he challenges standardized genres. You might say he's indie, but he's a bit electronic and he's done a song with Timbaland in Moulin Rouge. Guero is not afraid to show its Latin American influences.
"E-Pro" - Tying it into the last entry, the Beastie Boys helped write this song. Its got a great distorted guitar riff, a bouncy lyric line, and those damn catchy na-na-na-na-nas. This song really captures the feel of a comeback and Guero as a whole.

"He's A Mighty Good Leader" - My favorite Beck song, its a little sing-a-long folk diddy. The way each note is hit on a slightly out of tune guitar makes it feel more intimate. I'm not sure, but it may be about scientology...(buy One Foot in the Grave)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Happy Hanukkah

Believe it or not, I'm not Jewish. But Hanukkah is a great holiday. Not only does it represent the rededication of the Temple, its eight days long. True, you may say, there are 12 days of Christmas, but thats Christmastide. Kids get presents for 8 days. I know cause I took Intro to Judaism (Religion 6) this last term (and somehow managed a B)...

So in honor of this and my Jewish friends, I am instituting 8 days of Jews. In my all of my posts until the end of the last candle on the menora, I will include Jews. Most are probably non-practicing, but its a cultural thing you know. Think of how many of you only go to Church on Christmas and Easter. Yes, I'm talking to you.

Starting off are probably the musicians most Jew-youth are proud of: The Beastie Boys.

It may be a little known fact that BEASTIE really stands for Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Internal Excellence.

"Paul Revere" - What kid that likes hiphop doesn't know this famous opening? With simple rhymes and a basic beat, they stormed into the Top 50 on hip hop charts. This song is a classic and should be played at every Bar Mitzvah. (buy Licenced to Ill)

"Girls" - Paying homage to their oldest ancestor, Adam, they declare that all they really want is girls. God gave Adam one as a compainion, and Mike D, MCA, and Ad-rock just wanted ones too. So sophomoric, but incredibly catchy.

" " - Hello Nasty was a real return for these guys as they went back to their proven original sound. I doubt more than a handful didn't agree with this decision. My favorite Beastie Boys song, I used to rap along every time I heard this song. The greastest part comes at 2:33 when Adrock says "Beastie Boys known to let the beat drop".

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out"

Put this song on while you read the following article from the Modesto Bee. You'll read why.
Chin Up Chin Up "The Architect Has A Gun" (buy We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers) - this is the first time it has shown up on my site, I swear.

Horseplay among co-workers triggers standoff with police

A police standoff in downtown Modesto ended peacefully Tuesday morning when police discovered that what they thought was a masked gunman was in fact a group of co-workers playing with toy guns.

Police closed several blocks around Dow Diversified Inc., a construction company on the 1100 block of 14th Street, after a passer-by called 911 at 8:39 a.m. and reported seeing a man with a mask and a gun running on the street, Sgt. Craig Gundlach said.

Officer Jesse Garcia approached the business at 8:49a.m. He said he looked through the business's glass front and saw a man holding what appeared to be an assault rifle to his shoulder and aiming it inside the business.

Garcia retreated and called for backup. Dozens of officers and deputies from the police and sheriff's departments and the California Highway Patrol flooded the area. Police began to alert businesses in the area of the potential danger, and some, including The Bee, locked doors and kept employees and customers indoors. No public schools were closed, Gundlach said.

Shortly after 9 a.m., police stopped a man in a silver Taurus one block from the business and ordered him out of the car at gunpoint. The man was identified as Joshua Kemper, 28, of Turlock.

A Dow Diversified employee said Kemper had been inside the business with four other male employees playing with Airsoft guns — replica guns that shoot plastic pellets — and planning a paint-ball excursion this weekend.

"We were just horsing around in the office," said Greg Adams, 43, of Gustine.

Adams said Kemper had left the building to put paint-ball guns in his trunk. For unknown reasons, he put on a dark-colored mask when he left the building.

The other men remained in the office, Adams said.

"We were all standing around talking when we heard all these sirens," he said.

One of the men looked outside and saw Kemper surrounded by police, Adams said. "So we all walked outside to see what was going on."

Outside, the men found dozens of officers aiming guns at them, including a sharpshooter on a roof across the street.

Police cuffed the men and held them in a nearby parking lot. Officers searched the business and found three toy handguns and one toy assault rifle, Gundlach said.

The guns are "very realistic-looking," Gundlach said.

"I can guarantee you, if a subject had come out with that (fake assault rifle) and did not immediately comply with officers' orders, we would have shot that subject," Gundlach said.

No arrests made

The three fake handguns had orange tips, as required by state law. The fake assault rifle also had an orange barrel, but it had been painted black. Nobody was injured and police did not arrest the men.........

Brand New "Okay I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't" - Seriously, the whole police department was there? Woah. I especially love the sniper. Good thing the cops didn't shoot before they knew what was going on. (buy Deja Entendu)

Indian Moon "Sleeping With His Gun" - This song is dark, but in the mood of Iron & Wine. In fact, Scott Wheeler sounds a lot like Sam Beam. I want to see him if I go down to San Diego this break. We'll see.

Gorillaz "Kids With Guns (Hot Chip Remix)" - This doesn't sound like a normal Gorillaz song, but its kinda poppy. I think more people should hear it because its a nice studying song. A lot of people think if you give kids guns at a young age, they'll grow up to be killers. I mean, these adults were playing with toys. Look at the trouble they got into. I believe the only guns kids should be able to play with are the old Nintendo Duck Hunt Ones. (buy El Manana/Kids With Guns)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finally back to business

I know I haven't posted in ages, but for whatever reasons, I didn't have a lot of time or energy to post. Whatever, I'm here now. and by here i mean home.

And its time to do a playlist. The end of the year is coming up and I gotta follow the crowd and make one.

Here's the first list of the Top ___ season:
Top 5 songs I'm not putting on my Top 25 of 2006 for some reason or another:

5. Lady Sovereign feat. Missy Elliot "Love Me or Hate Me Remix" - My two favorite female rappers in one song? It had to be a hit and I'm sure no fans are dissappointed. There is so much attitude in this track that not even the biggest bitch could put up a fight. Missy is extremely talented and Sovereign is just getting started, and the song feels like it has a bit of both. SOV's part is a bit repetitive and doesn't truly show her skills, but the beat is kinda addicting. It doesn't make the list because its a remix, and I was going to name this the top 5 remixes. Its a good listen nonetheless and a rare female rap duo jem. (buy Public Warning!)

4. Sufjan Stevens "Chicago (Multiple Personality Disorder version)" - Oh Sufjan! How you continue to amaze! However, you made a mistake. This is the song you should have included on Illinoise. The upbeat syncopated rythms are hot. Your ego got the best of you, but its okay, I will not hold it against you. Just make another CD soon with new material. I promise I will not complain if it sounds like anything you've done before. Just hurry so the internet can continue to offer its praises. (buy The Avalanche)

3. Portastic "And I Was A Boy From School (Hot Chip cover)" - I love this cover. Even though it doesn't stray to far from the original (which is awesome), it still has a completely different feel. Scratchy vocals and guitar strings inject emotion written in the original lyrics into the dance hit. It didn't make the list because the original made it and I couldn't make a decision between the two. Forgive me.

2. Nelly Furtado feat. Chris Martin "All Good Things (Unreleased)" - Yeah, this songs been around the block more times than Anna Nicole Smith, but there is a reason. Its gorgeous. I wish this song had been fully mastered and made a secret track on Loose. I remember putting it onto a CD after the first time I heard it and then on the drive, I think I may have gotten teary eyed. Not on my list because it wasn't released. Take that Nelly Furtado, Timbaland, and gang.

1. The Knife "We Share Our Mother's Heath (Ratatat Remix)" - People think The Knife's "We Share Our Mother's Heath" is the best dance track of the year. What? I think Ratatat's "Wildcat" is. Wait, here is a compromise that is synergetic! It retains the scary vocals of the Swedish duo on top of the driving electronic sounds of the New York rockers. If this doesn't make you dance, go listen to some Cher. (buy the Knife's Silent Shout and Ratatat's Classics)

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