Katie & Allison Crutchfield - “Oblivion” (Grimes cover)
The Crutchfield sisters, who used to play together in PS Eliot, covered Grimes’ Visions standout “Oblivion” for the terrific teen girl website Rookie Mag. I read this site more than I probably should. Katie Crutchfield now records as Waxahatchee, while her sister Allison’s focus lies with Swearin’.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 2/1/13
We were having some technical difficulties in the studio at WNHU last night, and the online stream may or may not have been working for the entirety of the broadcast. Anyway, if you did get a chance to tune in, or if you’re just interested in what I played, here is the full playlist from Left of the Dial last night. I won’t be doing my show next Friday because I’ll be seeing Jeff Mangum, but be sure to tune in the Friday after that for another live broadcast.
Stream the available tracks from the playlist below via Spotify.
- 1. The Antlers - “I Don’t Want Love”
- 2. The Velvet Underground - “Beginning to See The Light”
- 3. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - “A Teenager In Love”
- 4. Los Campesinos! - “Romance Is Boring”
- 5. Grimes - “Genesis”
- 6. Wise Blood - “B.I.G. E.G.O.”
- 7. Dirty Projectors - “Gun Has No Trigger”
- 8. Animal Collective - “Also Frightened”
- 9. Primal Scream - “Higher Than The Sun”
- 10. The Beach Boys - “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)”
- 11. The Stone Roses - “Waterfall”
- 12. Elvis Costello - “The Greatest Thing”
- 13. Cat Power - “Manhattan”
- 14. The xx - “Islands”
- 15. David Bowie - “Sound and Vision”
- 16. The Jam - “Start!”
- 17. Titus Andronicus - “Ecce Homo”
- 18. The Modern Lovers - “Roadrunner”
- 19. LCD Soundsystem - “Beat Connection”
- 20. Tame Impala - “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”
- 21. Iceage - “Coalition”
- 22. Bright Eyes - “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)”
- 23. Crystal Castles - “Untrust Us”
- 24. WHY? - “These Few Presidents”
Stream via Spotify:
all the hours you wait - patience
4. goodluck jonathan
This is a screamo band named after a Grimes lyric. That means you have to listen to it.
Top 25 Songs of 2012
A great song is a singular entity — something that stands out from the pack on a record, that distinguishes itself from everything it touches. The following 25 songs all happen to appear on albums that I liked, many of which I enjoyed largely because of the strength of these individual tracks and others. Some were huge singles, and others were local anthems. Some were big budget hits, and others were simple demos. Some made me laugh, more of them made me cry, but all of them made me feel something real inside. Behold, my 25 favorite songs of 2012.
Stream the 8tracks mix featuring all 25 songs in reverse order at the embedded link below. Read on and enjoy each song individually below that. As always, thank you for being supportive and reading my work. I appreciate it more than I can articulate.
25. The Magnetic Fields - “Andrew In Drag”
In a way that no other track on Love At The Bottom of the Sea succeeded, “Andrew In Drag” perfectly blends modern synths, beats, and textures with the lyricism of Stephin Merritt’s very best material as The Magnetic Fields. “Andrew In Drag” hits all the marks of being a classic Magnetic Fields track, from its twee bleeps and bloops to its unexpectedly soaring chorus, and its inclusion of gay humor for both romantic and comedic emotional appeal. It’s also got one of Merritt’s best lyrical characters in years — not Andrew, the cross-dressing titular subject, but rather the frustrating, confusingly lovestruck observer.
24. Joey Bada$$ - “Survival Tactics” (feat. Capital STEEZ)
While going over my completed list, I was actually listening to this song when I heard the news that Joey Bada$$ collaborator and Pro Era member Capital STEEZ had died of an apparent suicide at age 19. The effect was rather chilling, and probably not unlike hearing about the death of any of the now deceased 90’s hip-hop legends that Bada$$ and the Pro Era crew idolize. Before I heard the news, I was thinking about how STEEZ’s verse is what makes this song so great — such a stellar combination of 2012-nowness (to the point that it already almost feels dated) and childlike nostalgia. Bada$$, of course, is the star of the show throughout most of his 1999 mixtape, but right now, I think it’s probably more important to honor the awesome feature guest, who will sadly never grace another terrific track with his rhymes.
23. WHY? - “Sod In The Seed”
Far and away the best cut that the ever-unpredictable hip-hop act WHY? put out this year, “Sod In The Seed” is a hard-charging, fist-pumping anthem the kind of which Yoni Wolf & Co. have never before released. It drives along, driven in equal measure by a terrific bassline and Wolf’s nasally, bleeted raps, spat faster than nearly anything else in his discography, solo or otherwise. It’s a tour-de-force of a track from a strictly musical perspective, but Wolf’s hilarious lyrics are the real highlight. A road veteran, Wolf knows what he’s talking about when it comes to insincerity and vulturism in the music business, and is quick to call out all the “wordy blogger thugs” and their equivalents in the world with as much spite as he has humor. It’s self-aware, comedic, and laughable, but there’s more than a grain of truth to Wolf’s lamentation of the “first world curse.”
22. The Human Fly - “Moth”
“Moth” is the most pure and pristine distillation of the product that The Human Fly was trying to craft on Everything Feels Bad All At Once, the emotionally crippling debut from Robert Mathis’ solo project. Hell, its lyrics are even insect-themed. It’s really rather heartbreaking, posturing Mathis as the utterly insignificant ‘fly on the wall’ and subtly, beautifully conveying that feeling of total helplessness through its slowly overlapping guitars and Mathis’ deep, hushed vocals. He re-recorded this track and others with a punk band shortly after the release of the debut album, channeling that complacent grief into anger, but the effect is lost in that context. On the original, Mathis grieves solemnly, and is all the more evocative because of it.
21. Titus Andronicus - “In A Small Body”
This track may deserve its spot primarily for a single line, which happens to be my favorite lyric throughout all of Titus Andronicus’ new album Local Business. In between memorable figurative punchlines like “your dick’s too short to fuck the world” and references to Titus’ pals Diarrhea Planet, Patrick Stickles delivers some cold, hard truth: “What do you know about being no sort of slave?” he screams over dueling guitars, “I know some kids who’d kill for this kind of cage.” With that verbal wrecking ball, Stickles ideologically demolishes a number of his newfound Brooklynite peers, but he also cuts himself down to size. Stickles himself is the cage — a flawed, damaged, but still remarkably privileged one at that. If there’s anything that I wish Local Business would have done more of, it would be to acknowledge that more thoroughly.
20. Elvis Depressedly - “Road Side Memorial (repeat)”
Out of the context of his 2012 album Mickey’s Dead, Elvis Depressedly’s grim closer “Road Side Memorial (repeat)” paints a bleak and powerful portrait of a vague, tortured individual. In the context of the album, though, the listener realizes that it is a portrait of Mat Cothran himself — the remarkably damaged songwriter behind the Elvis Depressedly project. This knowledge doesn’t necessarily increase our perceived quality of the song, but it does make me at least very worried about Cothran’s stability and wellbeing. There is something so perilously honest about “Road Side Memorial,” from its reverberant, single chord throb to Cothran’s hard-panned multitracked vocals almost casually dropping lines like “burn my wrists with cigarettes / wash the blood out of my dress” and “I don’t want or need your fucking help.” Cothran, it seems, doesn’t literally need the “self portrait painted in vomit” that he describes in the second verse; this track is as wounded, flawed, and true as any self-portrait could be.
19. Hostage Calm - “Woke Up Next To A Body”
Hostage Calm want to be a pop band, but they can’t quite shake their punk rock roots. “Woke Up Next To A Body,” from this year’s Please Remain Calm, is something like their Archaeopteryx, miraculously blending a sunny, power-pop verse melody with one of the year’s greatest stage dive-inducing, fist-pumping shout-along choruses. It’s also one of the most personal tracks on Please Remain Calm, conveying the universal struggle for romantic validation through a distinctly millenial lens. The track’s closing line, “No longer young and in love and at war with the world,” may actually describe Please Remain Calm more accurately than the band’s chosen descriptor — “The punk rock album of the Great Recession.”
18. Dum Dum Girls - “Lord Knows”
All the praise that is being heaped upon Dum Dum Girls for their new EP End Of Daze, and its lead single “Lord Knows,” seems to focus on how much frontwoman Dee Dee has developed as a songwriter. I, however, maintain that at least since the Dum Dums’ second LP, she’s always been mature, poised, and hugely talented. If I had heard Only In Dreams last year, I guarantee that “Coming Down” would have graced the top 10 of my Songs of the Year list for 2011. “Lord Knows” doesn’t quite reach the highs and lows of that aforementioned drugged out lamentation, but it’s definitely a terrific track, floating breezily on a reverb-heavy chord progression that gives way to a terrifically unexpected chorus. Dee Dee may have always been a great songwriter, but now she makes it sound easy.
17. Grimes - “Oblivion”
At the Pitchfork Music Festival this year, I skipped Grimes’ set to get a spot in the front row for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I don’t exactly regret it, but I do feel like I missed out on an important aspect of my potential 2012 experience. Even if it was just to hear this song, I would have liked to be a part of that communal existence — to take part in something that would only ever mean as much as it did in that very moment. Every year has a song like this, but no song I’ve heard has ever been like this, exactly. “Oblivion” is far-reaching in its appeal, accessible and catchy, bolstered by the year’s best video, and yet, it still feels like a great secret. I still feel like I could put it on a mixtape and not feel ashamed. In its best moments — the deceptively ominous chorus, the first time the “la la las” come in from the back of the mix, the “girl you know you’ve got to watch your health” line — it almost makes me want to love Visions as a whole. It doesn’t quite succeed at that, but it comes close.
16. Serengeti - “Go Dancin”
If Serengeti’s pitch with this year’s C. A. R. was for originality, then “Go Dancin” is his most successful sale. In its frantic, image-powered depiction of a decaying relationship (probably a marriage, given the context that the rest of the album provides), “Go Dancin” achieves in four minutes what countless minimalist indie films struggle to do in two hours. Geti’s constant lyrical contrasts, his increasingly emotional delivery, and the song’s brilliantly simple concept leave the listener struggling to decide whether to root for the narrator or to abandon him like his partner eventually does, as Geti’s last-ditch efforts for a meaningful life turn into empty promises and eventually selfish kiss-offs. It’s an emotionally wracked song that achieves remarkable pathos from relatively meager means.
15. Slow Warm Death - “Sleep”
The 2011 dissolution of emo revival firebrands Snowing left many wondering what direction frontman John Galm would take with his next project. He answered those questions to a certain extent when he dropped Slow Warm Demos, a demo collection released under the name of his new band Slow Warm Death. The record is perilously lo-fi, and mostly comprises gritty garage rock numbers in the vein of Ty Segall’s early material. One track, however, stands so tall above the rest that it would be criminal for Galm not to explore this style more in the future. “Sleep” begins with hollow acoustic guitar and strained vocals, calling to mind Galm’s rare solo material, but at exactly the one minute mark, the track goes supernova, evoking the massive sonic weight of Have A Nice Life with maxed-out guitars and a thunderous drum machine. Despite its demo quality, no other track blew my brains out the way that “Sleep” did this year.
14. Jens Lekman - “I Know What Love Isn’t”
Like Giles Corey, my #1 album of the year pick for 2011, Jens Lekman’s I Know What Love Isn’t is best appreciated as a full album, not as a collection of songs. Unlike Giles Corey, I Know What Love Isn’t is a lot of fun to listen to. On an album full of great tracks, the song “I Know What Love Isn’t” is one particular highlight. Lekman throws caution to the wind over a jaunty acoustic guitar, shooting the shit with a best friend, ogling girls from afar and, for 3 minutes and 33 seconds, forgetting about the one who broke his poor little Swedish heart. By the end, you’ll realize that he’s still miserable and alone, but each time that the glockenspiel signals the beginning of the song, I can’t help but feel that there’s hope.
13. Beach House - “Lazuli”
Beach House have distilled their formula for dream pop bliss so perfectly on “Lazuli,” that the track doesn’t even need a chorus. The effortlessly beautiful and cool Victoria Legrand’s smoky falsetto simply hums along each time the verse gives way, arching skyward over a constantly rising synth loop while Alex Scally layers harmonic textures. They’ve been building towards “Lazuli” for years, and from here, I honestly don’t see how their aesthetic could get any better or any more refined. Given the quality of this track and the rest of Bloom, for that matter, I’m nevertheless excited to see what they do next.
12. Carly Rae Jepsen - “Call Me Maybe”
If I had released this list a week ago, nobody would have minded this choice. You might even have thought that it was ‘cool’ of me to include such a sugary, maximalist pop song on a list that mostly comprises music released on independent labels. But now that everyone from Pitchfork to Stereogum to probably Rolling Stone or something like that has included Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer smash “Call Me Maybe” on their end of the year lists, a lot of people are throwing the ‘pop tokenism’ card. I can’t say I blame them, given the track’s utter ubiquity, but to dismiss this as a token pick would be a disservice to just how great “Call Me Maybe” is. Although she goes for the ‘innocent teen girl’ market, 27 year old Jepsen’s anthem is remarkably empowering and even quite mature. On top of that, this synth-heavy treat is endlessly appealing. Even after hundreds of plays, on the radio, at parties, and in the comfort of my own home, “Call Me Maybe” has yet to grow tiresome for me.
11. Purity Ring - “Fineshrine”
If I can write about Carly Rae Jepsen for a little longer, I have to admit that I was made a little uncomfortable when I found out about her age. I had been imagining her as 19 at the oldest, and the realization that she was 26 when “Call Me Maybe” was released made me aware of just how powerful marketing can still be. Afterwards, the song made me feel kind of creepy and weird in a way that was definitely unintentional. Around that time, though, I was just starting to get into Purity Ring, another terrific pop act that also made me feel creepy and weird, but in a decidedly purposeful manner. “Fineshrine” is on par with Jepsen’s hit as my favorite straight up synth pop song of the year, but Megan James’ eerily sexual lyrics and self-imposed, childlike fetishization make “Fineshrine” the superior dark horse, despite its considerably lower budget. I’ve had “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you” uncomfortably stuck in my head for six months, and that chorus shows no sign of leaving any time soon.
10. Self Defense Family - “Self Immolation Family”
I think we can stop calling them End of a Year now. The latest music from the newly re-christened New York band Self Defense Family bears little in common with the DC post-hardcore worship of the records released under their former name. The new Self Defense Family is decidedly more experimental, heavier, and much, much better, as their recent output indicates. The perfectly-titled “Self Immolation Family” is the a-side to a 7” they released on Deathwish, Inc. this year, recorded at Sigur Ros’ studio in Iceland. True to its Nordic origins, “Self Immolation Family” is frost-bitten and, at over 6-minutes, glacially paced. The band’s endearingly tuneless frontman Patrick Kindlon barks his bitter heart out with vigor, but the real highlight is the pummeling instrumentation, with interwoven guitars and bass that evoke post-rock more than the band’s once-signature post-hardcore style.
9. The Music Tapes - “Takeshi and Elijah”
Much has happened to the Elephant 6 collective in 2012. Jeff Mangum continued his second year of solo touring after a very successful return to the spotlight in 2011, and has possibly hinted at a Neutral Milk Hotel reunion for 2013. The Olivia Tremor Control continued their reunion, including a stop that I witnessed at Pitchfork Festival, until the untimely and mysterious death of frontman Bill Doss. Honestly, I think the best thing that happened to the closely-knit Athens, Georgia collective was the release of The Music Tapes’ new album Mary’s Voice. It’s really the first great album from Neutral Milk Hotel ex-pat Julian Koster’s longtime pet project, and the closing track “Takeshi and Elijah” is far and away the best song he’s ever written. It’s mostly a solo cut, featuring Koster’s strummed banjo and nostalgic lamentations and remembrances about his life, including his time with his old band. It’s actually rather sad, for the most part, but once the full band comes in at the end with Rob Cucchiaro’s horns blaring, it’s clear that there is still hope — for Koster, and for all of us.
8. One Hundred Year Ocean - “1576”
Often, the most profound memories are set off by the simplest remembrances. In “1576,” the heartbreaking standout from One Hundred Year Ocean’s Poison Smoak EP, Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak describes fumbling around in a messy car for a dropped marijuana joint, only to find “burned CD-Rs” and other mementos of a former life that now seems so distant. It’s a bittersweet paean to the confusion of life, the unfortunate necessity of companionship, and the bittersweet comfort of home. Shanholtzer-Dvorak wrote “1576” about his current home in the small town of Willimantic, Connecticut, but it could just as easily be about my hometown of New Haven, or any other town in America. “All cities are coffins,” he sings along with vocal harmonies from his wife, Katie Shanholtzer-Dvorak. The lyric is grim, but the sentiment is transcendent. “We’ve all got to die somewhere,” he sings in the guitar pounding final movement. He’s right.
7. Suns - “Crocodile”
“Crocodile,” the best track from Suns’ debut full length The Engine Room, creeps up slowly in a manner not unlike the animal that its title describes. Lithe, and swimming just beneath the surface, the track lures the listener into complacency with its spindly guitar line and soothing vocals, before exploding in a cataclysm of spiteful virulence at the end. There are lyrics there, but only two lines are discernable. “WHY DON’T YOU GET IT?,” screams frontman Will Rutledge. Later on, the sentiment is even more desperate and angry — he’s simply shouting “Oh my god.” The violent final minute of this song is my favorite 60 seconds of music from 2012, but it’s only so powerful because of the preceding three minutes of slowly building, restrained urgency.
6. Kendrick Lamar - “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
Last year I was at a party where somebody asked me to put on some music. I put on a track from Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 mixtape, and within a minute or two, somebody had exchanged it for some other song by a different artist. It was kind of depressing, but I understood it. Section.80 wasn’t party music material. From a certain standpoint, neither is anything on good kid, m.A.A.d city though, ESPECIALLY “Swimming Pools (Drank),” the super depressing alcoholism study that Lamar released as a lead single from his major label debut earlier this year. Why then, does Kendrick’s reedy flow and “Swimming Pools’” cavernous bass hum seem to follow me to every party I attend? Probably because it’s the best track he’s ever released. Hip-hop purists might prefer the 12-minute suite “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst,” but to me, this single has the perfect combination of eeriness and accessibility, pleasure and pain, and happiness and misery.
5. Spirit Night - “The Last Time”
Spirit Night’s “The Last Time” strikes a very similar emotional chord with me as One Hundred Year Ocean’s “1576,” which is appropriate considering that they were both released on Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak’s label Broken World Media this year. Like OHYO’s anthem, “The Last Time” is a sweeping piece of emotive, mid-tempo indie rock. It courses with the viscous, tangible energy of desperation, opening up slowly as frontman Dylan Balliett describes with just the right amount of vagueness a harrowing teenaged realization. “I don’t want to have to kill you,” Balliett stammers in the first chorus, “I don’t want to have to kill anyone…” By the time the chorus rolls around again, he sounds stronger in his convictions. The listener never learns exactly what “The Last Time” is about, but the music is so incredibly powerful that one can’t help but feel its innate confusion, sadness, and pain.
4. Frank Ocean - “Bad Religion”
So much of Frank Ocean’s breakout album channel ORANGE is effortlessly great, from the buttery soul of “Sweet Life” to the borderline rock chug of “Lost.” Of all the great tracks, only “Bad Religion” seems to take a genuinely painful emotional toll on Ocean. On “Bad Religion,” the California-based singer abandons his philosopher’s mentality for the first time and bares his soul to a humble taxi driver, unraveling a truly unexpected outpouring of sorrow and conflicted pain through his achingly gorgeous falsetto. The album’s accompanying letter gives Ocean’s pathos context, but more than all the other tracks on channel ORANGE, “Bad Religion” truly speaks for itself. No other song in 2012 made the tried and true topic of unrequited love so real, so intimately human, more than Frank Ocean’s solemn, quiet masterpiece.
3. How To Dress Well - “Ocean Floor For Everything”
“Ocean Floor For Everything” is the most formless song on How To Dress Well’s stellar Total Loss LP, but it’s also the most powerful, favoring pristine, nearly divine-sounding atmospheres over songwriting chops and structure. In that way, it almost seems like ‘post-music’, or perhaps something more pure and ancient, untouched by the musical conventions that humanity has developed over thousands of years of making noises just for the pleasure of it. Philosophy student Tom Krell, the mysterious electronic/R&B project’s unassuming mastermind, is still singing words of course — lamenting “the worst of things” that no amount of planning could prepare for. And yet, this isn’t a song about sadness, or even particularly a sad song. It’s an experience in and of itself: not a conveyer of emotions, but an objective constant from which emotions may come. It’s art for the sake of art, untouched by the perversion of the surrounding totality.
2. Title Fight - “Head In The Ceiling Fan”
Much as Grimes’ “Oblivion” video did a lot to increase my appreciation for that song, so too did Title Fight’s clip for “Head In The Ceiling Fan,” the breathtaking, anomalous standout from their otherwise merely solid Floral Green LP. That grainy VHS footage of friends laughing, jumping off rope swings, and playing baseball in empty parks contrasts in such an intensely heartbreaking way with the slow, building chaos of the song’s shoegazing guitars. When the drums crash in, godlike in their sonic density and heft, it’s hard not to be emotionally moved. All of this joy that comes with everyday life, the song seems to suggest, will fade just as unexpectedly as it arrived. “Head In The Ceiling Fan” is the sound of that happiness dying out. It is the sound of your entire life’s experiences meaning more to you than you possibly could have imagined at the time. It is the groaning, glacial progression of existence towards a formerly unwanted but ultimately welcome end.
1. Japandroids - “The House That Heaven Built”
I have been waiting for so long — at least since I first started consciously paying attention to new music — to find a new album like Japandroids‘ Celebration Rock that is as good as Celebration Rock, with a song as good as the lead single “The House That Heaven Built.” My favorite songs of the year for the past two years have essentially made me want to kill myself, but this is different. This is flawless, unforgettable punk rock makes me want to stay alive forever, and I couldn’t be more gratified that it exists. I could have chosen “Adrenaline Nightshift” or “The Night Of Wine And Roses” or “Fire’s Highway” or nearly any of the album’s eight near-perfect tracks to put in this place, but “The House That Heaven Built” somehow stands out in particular. It is the apex of an album about living life to the most ridiculously intense degree, about forgetting the rules and breaking them inadvertently, and ultimately, about transcendence. Isn’t that what we all want, at our deepest core? I can’t speak for anyone reading this, but if I ever achieve that primal goal, “The House That Heaven Built” will be blasting on my record player in the clouds.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 12/7/12
My broadcast of Left of the Dial on Friday was the first of a three part radio series in which I’m informally spinning some of my favorite tracks from this year outside of the rigidly formal ‘year end list’ context. I will, of course, be dropping a Songs of the Year list in addition to an Albums of the Year list and a bunch of other goodies in a matter of weeks, but I wanted to preface those lists on the radio in this way.
If you missed the show, give this playlist a listen to get a taste of some of my favorite 2012 tracks. Parts 2 and 3 of this series will take place on the coming two Fridays.
- 1. The Babies - “Alligator”
- 2. Cat Power - “Manhattan”
- 3. Cloud Nothings - “Stay Useless”
- 4. The Act of Estimating as Worthless - “Bones”
- 5. Dirty Projectors - “About To Die”
- 6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - “Only In My Dreams”
- 7. Literature - “ARAB SPRING”
- 8. Dan Deacon - “True Thrush”
- 9. Fang Island - “Make Me”
- 10. Purity Ring - “Saltkin”
- 11. Great Caesar - “Rearview”
- 12. The Magnetic Fields - “Quick”
- 13. Mac Demarco - “Ode To Viceroy”
- 14. Woods - “Cali In A Cup”
- 15. Grimes - “Genesis”
- 16. Grizzly Bear - “Yet Again”
- 17. Wild Nothing - “Only Heather”
- 18. S O H N - “Oscillate”
- 19. DIIV - “How Long Have You Known”
- 20. Death Grips - “I’ve Seen Footage”
- 21. Lower Dens - “Brains”
- 22. Desaparecidos - “Backsell”
- 23. Liars - “No.1 Against the Rush”
- 24. Jason Lytle - “Dept. of Disappearance”
- 25. David Byrne & St. Vincent - “Who”
Stream via Spotify:
Video: Grimes - “Genesis” (Official Music Video)
Although her new album Visions is a little too spotty for my liking, Grimes’ music video game has been pretty on point lately. Last year’s high fashion-skewering “Vanessa” video was a great start, and the video for Visions’ standout “Oblivion” might be my favorite music video of the year so far.
I’m not sure if this is necessarily better than either of those videos, but it’s certainly weirder. The roadside footage at the beginning kind of reminds me of St. Vincent’s “Marrow” video, but the outfits, dancing, and dangerous sword swinging are in a class of their own.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 3/9/12
Last night’s broadcast of Left of the Dial on WNHU was my first time doing my radio show in three weeks! It felt good to be back. On the show last night I played a lot of new stuff by artists such as The Men, Arcade Fire, and Bruce Springsteen. I also played some new music from Cheap Girls, whom I saw live the night before in New Haven. Check out some photos from that show HERE. Additionally, I played one of my favorite tracks from Love At The Bottom of the Sea, the new record from The Magnetic Fields. I reviewed that album HERE.
Here’s the full playlist, complete with youtube links to each song whenever I could find them. Thanks for tuning in!
- 1. The Men - “Turn It Around”
- 2. Ben Kweller - “Launch Ramp”
- 3. Cheap Girls - “Gone All Summer”
- 4. New Year’s Revolution - “City Lights”
- 5. Paul Baribeau - “Nothing To Say”
- 6. The Mountain Goats - “Full Flower”
- 7. Dagwood - “Guilt”
- 8. of Montreal - “Jacques Lamure”
- 9. The Kinks - “Victoria”
- 10. Echo & The Bunnymen - “My Kingdom”
- 11. Simon & Garfunkel - “April Come She Will”
- 12. Arcade Fire - “Abraham’s Daughter”
- 13. Bruce Springsteen - “Death To My Hometown”
- 14. Cheap Girls - “Communication Blues”
- 15. The Magnetic Fields - “I’d Go Anywhere With Hugh”
- 16. Porcelain Raft - “Unless You Speak From Your Heart”
- 17. Grimes - “Oblivion”
- 18. LCD Soundsystem - “North American Scum”
- 19. Cursive - “The Sun and Moon”
- 20. The Saddest Landscape - “This Heals Nothing”
- 21. Loma Prieta - “Fly By Night”
- 22. Alcest - “Écailles De Lune (Part II)”
- 23. Balance and Composure - “Separation”
- 24. I Hate Myself - “This Isn’t The Tenka-Ichi-Budokai”
- 25. Xiu Xiu - “I Luv The Valley OH”
- 26. Bruce Springsteen - “Wrecking Ball”
- 27. Nick Drake - “Place To Be”
- 28. Into It. Over It. - “Raw Bar OBX 2002”
- 29. David Bello - “Farewell Earth”
Stream: Lewis and his Blog February 2012 Mix
I’m posting this a little late because the past few days have been extremely busy for me. Last night was particularly cool; I played a show in New Haven with some other local acts at my friend’s apartment and it had a pretty great turnout. Anyway, this is the second installment in a monthly mix series that I started in January for this blog. The goal is to recap some of the best new music that I’ve covered on here in the past month. Each mix features 10 tracks. Feel free to stream the mix HERE on my 8tracks page, where you can also listen to last month’s mix.
1. The Magnetic Fields - “Andrew In Drag”
On March 6th, Stephin Merritt’s long-running project The Magnetic Fields will release their highly anticipated new album Love At The Bottom Of The Sea, which, among other things, marks their first use of synthesizers on a record since 2004’s i. The bouncy “Andrew In Drag” was the first track to be released in advance of the album, and if it’s any indication of how the record as a whole will sound, then I look forward to falling in love with Love At The Bottom Of The Sea. This track is vintage Merritt — ironic, catchy, and unabashedly gay — and I love every second of it. Pre-order the new record from Merge Records HERE.
2. Porcelain Raft - “Drifting In And Out”
Porcelain Raft’s new record Strange Weekend wowed me a lot when I first heard it, but it hasn’t held up too well with subsequent listens. Still, I can’t seem to get the opening track “Drifting In And Out” out of my head. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention to indie electronic music trends over the past few years, you’re sure to be familiar with at least some aspects of Porcelain Raft’s sound. If you haven’t, then Strange Weekend should be a good introduction. Purchase the album now from Secretly Canadian Records.
3. Grimes - “Oblivion”
The best description I’ve heard of Grimes’ music is that it sounds like the singing of Greek Sirens. Even if you approach it with this knowledge in mind, you still can’t help but get sucked in until the pixie-voiced Claire Boucher has you in her hyper-melodic musical grasp. “Oblivion” is one of the best tracks from her new record Visions, a delightfully twisted synth pop record with a lot more heart and spirit than most of the similar albums I’ve heard from the past year. Like the album as a whole, “Oblivion” is messy and certainly flawed, with a looping synth bass line that constantly straddles the line between working and falling off, but such flaws only make the realization that it won’t get out of your head more fascinating.
4. Burial - “Loner”
“Loner” may not be the best track from British dubstep producer Burial’s new EP Kindred, but it is the most immediate. From the eerie vocal sample that introduces it (“There is something out there…..”) to when those vaulting synthesizer arpeggios come in around the 1:30 mark and never seem to leave for any sustained period of time, “Loner” conveys that creepy, walking alone in the city at 3 AM mood even better than anything on Burial’s 2007 full length Untrue. Now we just need another full length. Until then, the Kindred EP is out now on Hyperdub.
5. The Saddest Landscape - “This Heals Nothing”
I was a fan of The Saddest Landscape before seeing them live last weekend, but I don’t think I realized just how great they were until that show. In particular, I’ve come to appreciate their new record After The Lights quite a bit, largely due to their performance of this track “This Heals Nothing.” I firmly believe that it’s the best song on the record now, and certainly the most emotionally charged. Andy Maddox’s vocals are the highlight here, and his use of militaristic lyrical imagery is seriously chilling. It all comes to a head at the very end with a shouted repetition of the song’s title. It’s powerful stuff. Hopefully I’ll get to see them again soon, when they officially release After The Lights at The Space in Hamden on March 18th. The album is available for purchase now from Topshelf Records.
6. Ceremony - “Quarantine”
If it hasn’t already, Ceremony’s new LP Zoo is sure to piss off some hardcore purists when it comes out on March 6th. If you want to see why, look no further than this track “Quarantine,” one of my favorites from the album. Instead of staying true to the raging hardcore punk style of their previous releases, Ceremony adopts a sort of lackadaisical Replacements-style slacker swagger. I’m not sure if the stylistic change is meant to be a “fuck you!” to 80s hardcore purists or if it’s just a genuine representation of what they want to sound like now, but I’m all for it either way. Zoo is out now on Matador Records.
7. Matt Elliott - “Dust Flesh and Bones”
As far as I’m concerned, Matt Elliott’s masterfully-constructed The Broken Man is an early contender for the most interesting folk record of the year. With a lush classical guitar as the instrumental foundation, Elliott layers eerie choir sounds, strings, and subtle ambient inflections onto his music, along with his own distinctive baritone vocals. But The Broken Man is not just aesthetically beautiful; it’s also incredibly moving. Perhaps no other track on the record cuts as deep as “Dust Flesh and Bones,” on which Elliott proclaims, “This is how it feels to be alone.”
8. Leonard Cohen - “Crazy To Love You”
With his new album Old Ideas (his first full length in eight years!), the legendary, 77 year old singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen has crafted one of his best LPs ever by finally admitting, unlike so many other aging musical geniuses, that he really is an old man. On the wonderfully minimalist standout track “Crazy To Love You,” he sings, “I’m old, and the mirrors don’t lie.” It’s a powerfully statement coming from Cohen, and one that works wonders in humanizing him. In the best sense, Old Ideas makes Cohen seem like a Tom Waits figure — old indeed, but still very full of ideas.
9. Katie Buonanno - “East Of Hudson”
This wouldn’t be Lewis and his Blog without a little shameless self-promotion. My friend Katie Buonanno recorded her debut EP Mediocre Songs For Mediocre People this month, and released it on her bandcamp page for free. I produced the record and we recorded it together at my house. I also play instruments and/or sing on a couple tracks. Anyway, I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’d love it if you gave it a listen. This is my favorite song on the record and I’ve been thinking about covering it for a while. Enjoy!
10. First Aid Kit - “King Of The World” (Featuring Conor Oberst)
On the closing track from their new album The Lion’s Roar, the Swedish sisters known as First Aid Kit offer a wonderfully skewed interpretation of American folk rock music. The best moments are when they diverge slightly — either intentionally or otherwise — from the distinctly American musical format and display other influences that transcend lingual and national boundaries. Complete with a guest vocal spot from Conor Oberst, “King Of The World” makes a strong contender for the best folk rock song of this early year.
Thanks for reading and listening! I hope all of you have a wonderful March.
Left of the Dial Radio Playlist - 2/17/12
Last night’s broadcast of Left of the Dial was an interesting mix. I saved most of the new stuff (Grimes, Burial, etc.) for the second half of the show, and reserved the first for a selection of deep cuts from the Conor Oberst discography. If you missed the broadcast, those early Bright Eyes and Commander Venus songs are definitely worth giving a listen to.
- 1. Bright Eyes - “Haile Selassie”
- 2. Death Cab For Cutie - “Bend To Squares”
- 3. Elliott Smith - “Coast To Coast”
- 4. Bright Eyes - “Falling Out Of Love At This Volume”
- 5. The Replacements - “Color Me Impressed”
- 6. The Get Up Kids - “Valentine”
- 7. Cloud Nothings - “No Sentiment”
- 8. Commander Venus - “The Uneventful Vacation (Part 1)”
- 9. Dinosaur Jr. - “Just Like Heaven” (The Cure cover)
- 10. Ceremony - “Repeating The Circle”
- 11. Desaparecidos - “Survival Of The Fittest / It’s A Jungle Out There”
- 12. Bright Eyes - “Trees Get Wheeled Away”
- 13. Okkervil River - “John Allyn Smith Sails”
- 14. Leonard Cohen - “Crazy To Love You”
- 15. First Aid Kit - “King of the World”
- 16. Burial - “Kindred”
- 17. Grimes - “Oblivion”
- 18. Astronautalis - “Meet Me Here Later”
- 19. James Blake - “A Case Of You” (Joni Mitchell cover)
- 20. Dan Deacon - “Build Voice”
- 21. Bright Eyes - “Touch”
- 22. Sharon Van Etten - “Mike McDermott”
- 23. Sparklehorse - “Homecoming Queen”
- 24. Mercury Rev - “Hudson Line” (Early Rough Version)
- 25. Weezer - “Tragic Girl”
- 26. Nana Grizol - “Broken Cityscapes”
Tune in next Friday for another live broadcast on WNHU.