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 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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Nov 26 2011

Culture Greyhound Podcast 11/26/11

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!

Tracklist:

Kendrick Lamar feat. Busta Rhymes – Rigamortus (Remix)
Escort – Makeover
The Dodos – So Cold
Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg – Young, Wild, and Free (feat. Bruno Mars)
A$AP Rocky – Peso (Star Slinger Refix)


Aug 21 2011

Sunday Night Videos 8/21/11


Jun 5 2011

Sunday Night Videos 6/5/11


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 27 2011

Sunday Night Videos 3/27/11

J Mascis – “Not Enough” from stereogum on Vimeo.


Sep 16 2010

My Top 300 Songs of the 2000s – 170-161

Today I continue my ongoing feature showcasing my personal picks for the best songs of the past decade, posting ten songs at a time.

170. Dwight Yoakam – Give Back the Key to My Heart

No question the 80’s and 90’s were the prime years for Yoakam in terms of success, but after having his turn at the spotlight, he ventured deep into the crossroads realm, taking a more traditional approach to his brand of honkey-tonk.  While most dug deeper into the cinematic country-pop Nashville world, Dwight stayed around Hollywood, acting and making indie records.  One of the highlights of his work this past decade is this Doug Sahm cover, recorded for the Imus Ranch Record in 2008; it’s just good ol’ DY doing what he does best.

      1. Dwight Yoakam - Give Back the Key to My Heart

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