Saturday, December 30

Selmanaires, Snowden rock ATL on NYE

I have all kinds of new music that I want to post about soon, but things are a bit hectic for me over the next 10 days or so (including trips to Memphis, New Orleans, and Athens). We'll see what happens. For now, I want to highlight a couple of big New Year's Eve shows in Atlanta.

Two of Atlanta's finest rock bands, The Selmanaires and Snowden, are each headlining their own NYE celebrations with other local stars backing them up. The Selmanaires take over The EARL, with indie rockers Tenement Halls and garage rock act Thee Crucials supporting. Snowden will rock the Drunken Unicorn with noise/rock stalwarts Deerhunter and rock/folk band Gringo Star (formerly A Fir-Ju Well) also on the bill. Here are some tracks from each band for those undecideds:

The Selmanaires, Tenement Halls, and Thee Crucials @ The EARL

The Selmanaires - Selmanaire Rock
The Selmanaires - Images
Tenement Halls - Plenty is Never Enough
Thee Crucials - Squares Beware [buy from Rob's House Records]

Tickets to this show are available from The EARL's website.

Snowden, Deerhunter, and Gringo Star @ Drunken Unicorn

Snowden - Anti-Anti
Deerhunter - Spring Hall Convert
A Fir-Ju Well - Together (now Gringo Star)

Tickets to this show are available from Ticket Alternative.

I assume Gringo Star still plays A Fir-Ju Well material? I haven't seen them play since the name change.

Leah has info on more NYE musical happenings in ATL over at Confessions of a Music Addict.

UPDATE: I'll be at The EARL for The Selmanaires. Say hi to the guy with glasses at the pole taping the show. Happy new year!

Thursday, December 28

In Memorium, 2006

As tends to happen with the passage of time, a good number of important and ground-breaking musicians passed away in 2006. The R&B community lost some of its legends and a young star, and influential jazz, ska, and country artists left us as well. Rock, punk, hip-hop, and indie fans were hard-hit by the demise of important stars from both the past and present.

Below is a gallery of some of those who passed this year, though they will surely live on through their music. This list is not all-inclusive, so feel free to note anyone I overlooked. A link to an obituary is provided for each, along with a musical sample and links to learn more. Apologies if some of the songs are a bit melancholy, but I thought they were appropriate. Thanks to each of these individuals for their works and impact.

Syd Barrett (1946-2006)

Syd Barrett - Here I Go
Syd Barrett - Wouldn't You Miss Me?

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

James Brown (1933-2006)

James Brown - Soul Power
James Brown - That's Life

Obituary @ New York Times
Wikipedia - Amazon

Ruth Brown (1928-2006)

Ruth Brown - So Long
Ruth Brown - As Long as I'm Moving

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Desmond Dekker (1941-2006)

Desmond Dekker - Israelites
Desmond Dekker - My Precious World (The Man)

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

J Dilla (1974-2006)

J Dilla - Won't Do

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Freddy Fender (1937-2006)

Freddy Fender - Vaya con Dios
Freddy Fender - Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Maynard Ferguson (1928-2006)

Maynard Ferguson - Gospel John
Maynard Ferguson - Spinning Wheel

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Arthur Lee (1945-2006)

Love - Always See Your Face
Love - Live and Let Live

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Gerald LeVert (1966-2006)

Gerald LeVert - Made to Love Ya

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Grant McLennan (1958-2006)

The Go-Betweens - He Lives My Life (live at Barbican)
The Go-Betweens - Right Here (live at Barbican)

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Buck Owens (1929-2006)

Buck Owens - Cryin' Time
Buck Owens - Close Up the Honky Tonks

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Wilson Pickett (1941-2006)

Wilson Pickett - In the Midnight Hour
Wilson Pickett - Hey Joe

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Billy Preston (1946-2006)

Billy Preston - Will It Go Round in Circles?
Billy Preston - As One

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Lou Rawls (1933-2006)

Lou Rawls - See You When I Get There
Lou Rawls - Georgia on my Mind

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Nikki Sudden (1956-2006)

Nikki Sudden - Fall Any Further
Nikki Sudden & Dave Kusworth's Jacobites - Shame for the Angels

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Vince Welnick (1951-2006)

Vince Welnick - Heaven's Reign
Jerry Lawson & Vince Welnick - Home of the Angels

Obituary @ BBC
Wikipedia - Amazon

Will Westbrook (1970-2006)

The Gerbils - Sunshine Soul

Obituary @ Pitchfork
Wikipedia - Amazon

Please feel free to mention others in the comments. Now, enjoy the music!

Wednesday, December 27

Sebadoh coming to ATL, April 8

Seminal indie rock act Sebadoh is coming to Atlanta's Variety Playhouse on April 8. They'll have the band's original lineup on board featuring Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Loewenstein. They're touring to support the reissue of the classic III album (1991), which came out last this year (year ain't over yet, I guess). Tix don't appear to be on sale yet, but I bet they will be soon. Here is the Southern leg of the tour:

04/04 Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC
04/06 Headliners, Louisville, KY
04/07 Exit/In, Nashville, TN
04/08 Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA
04/09 Beta Bar, Tallahassee, FL
04/10 The Social, Orlando, FL
04/12 TBA, New Orleans, LA

For a complete list of tour dates, see their official site.

In honor of Sebadoh's forthcoming appearance in the ATL, here are a couple tracks from their January 1997 appearance at Atlanta's Criminal Records. Enjoy!

January 24, 1997
Criminal Records, Atlanta, GA

Not a friend
Magnet's Coil
Two Years Two Days
On Fire
Willing to Wait
The Freed Pig
Sing Something / Plate of Hatred

The entire set is available in a 77mb .zip file courtesy of the band. It loads a little slowly, so be patient.

You can also be Sebadoh's friend on MySpace.

By the way, What We All Want also reports that TV on the Radio will be in Atlanta (also at the VP) on April 13 and Arcade Fire will be here on May 1. I'm not particularly into either band, so this is probably all the coverage they'll get here. Thanks to Austin for breaking the news, and for Alex and OK Productions for continued great work.

Bonus Sebadoh live mp3 courtesy of KVRX:
Sebadoh - I Can't See (live 7-31-2004 on KVRX FM)
Sebadoh - Rebound (live 7-31-2004 on KVRX FM)
Sebadoh - Magnet's Coil (live 7-31-2004 on KVRX FM)

Tuesday, December 26

RIP Gerald Ford

Former president Gerald Ford has died. No link yet, but CNN is all over it with what appears to be a pretaped piece. Ford was 93 years old.

I hope this isn't in poor taste, but this SNL footage was the first thing that came to mind:

The transcript.

RIP, President Ford. Thanks for your service.

Update: CNN article is up.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer teaser online

Just saw the new new F4:RSS teaser linked over at Superhero Hype! and watched it. Geeks, prepare to pick your jaws up off the floor. It looks like this may be a big improvement over the lackluster first film.

It's here, and requires QuickTime to view. Not surprising since it's hosted at Ahem.

Fellow comedy fans, pay attention to who is presiding over the wedding ceremony. If you don't know who that is, here's his IMDB profile. I don't know how he got that gig, but that's hilarious.

More info and links related to the film here.

Update: It's online now...

Monday, December 25

Happy Xmas

Buy here.

Happy Xmas! I'm visiting family and busy for the holiday. Went to the exciting Rams-Redskins game yesterday as well. Woohoo.

Oh, and I got my buddy Stabby McKnifeblock from Santa. So if you come to C&T HQ, don't be frightened.

Also, RIP James Brown.

Saturday, December 23

Boba Fett & the Star Wars Holiday Special

A cartoon is appropriate for a Saturday morning, right? I thought so too.

If you've ever seen the "Star Wars Holiday Special" from 1978, you'll probably remember it's shockingly bad. I think this review at I-Mockery sums it up. However, one watchable segment of that awful mess is a cartoon starring everyone's favorite bounty hunter (hush up, Bossk and IG-88 fans) in his first on-screen appearance. This 10-minute bit of animation features Boba Fett and a number of other famous Star Wars characters. The style is very similar to the old Droids cartoons that aired back in the mid-1980s.

Someone with an odd sense of humor (bravo!) has also created a website dedicated solely to the "Star Wars Holiday Special". I guess that was a niche just begging to be filled, eh? There is also, as you might expect, an extensive Wikipedia entry on the special.

I'm not aware of any way to get an official copy of the holiday special itself, apparently because George Lucas doesn't want it circulating. However, if you use bit torrent....

Friday, December 22

Colbert Report with Schneider, Funk, etc. available for download

Just a short note -- the entire episode of The Colbert Report with the special guests and the guitar showdown is available for download. It's up on Sendspace as a 174mb .avi file, and you can grab it here. There's also a discussion of the evening's events at Pitchfork.

The Internet is neat.

Comic movie buzz abounds

Fox has revealed the appearance of The Silver Surfer in the upcoming Fantastic Four sequel:

From USA Today:
With computer-generated imagery techniques similar to those used to create Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the slippery Surfer, voiced by Doug Jones, "will look somewhere between gun metal and fluid metallics so you can see the body motion, the breathing, the muscle tone, the mood," says Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad.

Lookin' good. Apparently the trailer will be on before A Night at the Museum this weekend, so hopefully it'll be online soon.

The new Transformers teaser trailer is online, and it looks way better than I imagined.

The website for the Iron Man film has gone live. Not much content, but it's another I'm anticipating. Robert Downey, Jr., should be a fine Tony Stark.

For the latest news on comic-related film and television productions, see Superhero Hype!.

Thursday, December 21

Schneider, Frampton, Nielsen, Funk, and Colbert rock da hizzy

I've already gushed a bit about the Colbert Report from Wednesday, and I wanted to make sure everyone was aware that Robert Schneider's performance and song are available at You Ain't No Picasso. Sweet! Now, in addition to those materials here's the show's ending jam with Robert Schneider (Apples in Stereo), Peter Frampton, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Chris Funk (The Decemberists) and Stephen Colbert jamming on The Colbert Report theme song. So cool.

Georgia Fireflies @ The EARL tonight, 12/21

If you're looking for some entertaining tunes in Atlanta tonight but don't feel the need to be up 'til the wee hours, the Georgia Fireflies fit the bill. They'll be the first of three bands tonight at The EARL (along with Stovall and Blake Rainey and His Demons). Expect 'em to hit the stage around 9:30-10:00.

For those who are unfamiliar, the Georgia Fireflies play Americana and "old-timey" music including originals, standards, and covers of artists like the Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Wilco, and Camper Van Beethoven. Other folks (like Brian from Luigi and Brandon from The Sweet Loves) also often sit in on spoons, violin, washboard, and assorted tomfoolery.

Hit their MySpace for tunes and tour dates. Their record, On Down the Line, is available from Joe Rockhead or CD Baby.

Wednesday, December 20

Colbert, Decemberists square off tonight

One of my favorite bands, The Decemberists, has its much-anticipated guitar duel with Stephen Colbert tonight (Weds., 12/20) on The Colbert Report. Guitarist Chris Funk will take on Colbert, and I'm expecting hilarity to ensue. I thought Stephen would be overmatched, but then I saw his classic video for "Charlene" by Stephen and the Colberts. Impressive.

The events leading up to tonight's rock mayhem have been well chronicled. Here's a synopsis from (of all places) the Washington Times:

The trouble began brewing Nov. 29 when Mr. Colbert used the debut of his "Look Who's Riding My Coattails Now" segment to denounce the band for running a contest that invited college students to create their own animation for the backdrop of the band's latest video. Mr. Colbert had a recurring segment in his news-show parody in which he let viewers animate the backdrop while he flashed around a "Star Wars" light saber.

"Let's see how they perform their trademark brand of hyper-literate prog-rock when I'm slicing off their legs at the knee," Mr. Colbert declared.

The Decemberists, whose latest album "The Crane Wife" has received rave reviews, responded with a counter-counter challenge. If nothing more, viewers who tune in for tonight's musical showdown are promised "guitar mayhem and pyrotechnics"....

For more info, check out this article at The showdown airs at 11:30 EST on Comedy Central, right after The Daily Show. As a total fanboy of both The Decemberists and Stephen, I'm hyped.

Kite Flying Society in search of bassist

C&T favorites Kite Flying Society are in search of a bassist in the San Diego area. Here's the announcement from their singer-guitarist Dustin:

KFS is seeking a bassist in the SoCal area interested in touring with us across this great nation and recording parts for our sophomore album which we have recently begun working on.

Some prereqs for the new bassist (male or female, we don't care):

1. Someone who understands and really loves the music we're making -- do you have similar influences? Can you add somethin' pretty to this folk pop sound?

2. Someone who can SING. This is a must! We have tons of soaring harmonies, ooohs and aaahs, etc and we want to emulate our recorded sound as much as possible in our live show.

3. If you can play other instruments (keys, tambourine, glockenspiel, guitar, recorder, what have you) it would be a huge plus. Again, there are tons of sounds and parts that need playing on any given song -- we're looking for a bassist that can do lots of other things.

4. Must be willing to travel! We will be embarking on at least 2 large tours in '07 and several smaller, weekend trips up the coast. If you feel that this won't be a problem in any way, and are dedicated to the lifestyle, we'd love to meet you.

These are the main things we are looking for in a new member. If you're interested, please shoot us a myspace msg or email me directly at: -- auditions and such will begin in early January in Balboa Park. Also, Orange County and LA peeps are of course welcome if they are willing to travel to bi-weekly-ish practices in beautiful San Diego.

Hope to hear from you,

Please pass this along to anyone who might be interested. They're a great rising band, and they seem like really nice folks.

Tuesday, December 19

Neutral Milk Hotel 10-10-1998 @ Manchester, UK

In 1998, Neutral Milk Hotel toured like crazy. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was released in February of that year, and they traveled far and wide to support it. A review of their tour history reveals that they were on the road from February through October, traveling back and forth across the U.S. and all over Europe. Sometimes they were at the top of the bill, other times they supported other acts (including Superchunk and Sparklehorse). For one of their final four gigs of the year they played the University MDH in Manchester, England. Some kind soul ran tape, and now we all get to hear it.

Jeff Mangum's anguished vocal and Julian Koster's eerie musical saw in "Oh Comely," Scott Spillane's powerful horns and Jeremy Barnes's chaotic drumming in "King of Carrot Flowers Pts. 2 and 3"... this show is a lot of fun to listen to. It's an audience recording and it's not perfect, but it's great to hear a live set with the full band.

Neutral Milk Hotel
October 10, 1998
University MDH, Manchester, UK

01. Oh Comely
02. The Fool
03. King of Carrot Flowers Pts 2 and 3
04. Holland, 1945
05. Naomi
06. Aeroplane Over the Sea
07. Song Against Sex / Ruby Bulbs
08. Ghost

supporting Sparklehorse

You can also download the whole show in a .zip package via Megaupload (please do, in fact). There may be a pop-up to close and you'll have to wait 45 seconds, but it'll save me a lot of bandwidth.

For more on the band, I highly recommend Kim Cooper's book in the 33 1/3 series. It's a quick and informative read. Now, enjoy the show!


I've been informed that Wednesday, 12/20, is the last day you can pre-order the forthcoming 63 Crayons CD and get the bonus CD of unreleased material. I already did so, and I'm looking forward to the release.

Monday, December 18

Hey baseball fans...

For those who haven't peeked yet, the 2007 Major League Baseball schedules are up. I took a look at the Braves and Cubs schedules and it looks like I'm in for a good year, including a stocked April:

4/13 Reds @ Cubs
4/14 Reds @ Cubs [I should make it to one of those; I'll be in CHI]
4/15 Reds @ Cubs

And then, at The Ted...

4/18 Cubs @ Braves
4/19 Cubs @ Braves
6/07 Cubs @ Braves
6/08 Cubs @ Braves
6/09 Cubs @ Braves
6/10 Cubs @ Braves

Woo! There's been some chatter about getting some of us local music folks (I guess I count...?) to go see a game as a group. Any wider interest in that? We can all talk about how much we love Bruce Sutter, Greg Maddux, and Kelly Hogan. Seriously though, if there's interest we can try to organize something. Eh?

New Black Lips - "Not a Problem"

Atlanta garage-punk stars the Black Lips have a new album due out on February 20 called Los Valentes del Mundo Nuevo (on Vice Records). It's a live recording of a gig in Tijuana with their usual brand of scuzz and swagger, and even (reportedly) a Mariachi band. Seriously. I haven't heard the full record yet, but the good people at Vice have been kind enough to send along a track to sample. Here 'tis:

Black Lips - Not a Problem (live)

I'll have more info on purchasing the album and such in the near future. For now, you can pick up their most recent available release, Let It Bloom, from Amazon or other retailers. The 7" of "Oh Katrina" has also recently been repressed by Rob's House Records.

Atlanta folks should know they'll be at The EARL on January 12 backing up The Mighty Hannibal. Tix are available online.

Bonus mp3:
Black Lips - I've Got a Knife
Black Lips - Oh Katrina

Sunday, December 17

New Mountain Goats - "Michael Myers Resplendent"

Heads up, Mountain Goats fans. John Darnielle has just given you a holiday gift.

Over on the official MG site, a new and unreleased demo track has been posted. It's called "Michael Myers Resplendent." As the name implies, it's about the lead baddy in the Halloween series. Well, so says Darnielle, but the lyrics imply a shift of viewpoint between the character and whoever is portaying him. Or is it that of the villain as himself? Hmm.. I'd prefer you check out his explanation. Listen to it for yourself:

The Mountain Goats - Michael Myers Resplendent (demo)

According to the site, this track is likely to appear on the next Mountain Goats record in some form. Please go there for more info on the song or the band itself. Anyhow... thanks John!

We Landed On The Moon! | Atlanta Show 12/20

Hello, Paul here from The Yellow Stereo as Rich asked me to cross-post the write-up I did of We Landed On The Moon! on my site a couple of days ago. They played here in Auburn last night, but unfortunately I wasn't able to make it even though I had planned on going. So with that, I can't really tell you how the show went. For those who are interested, the band is going to be coming to Lenny's on Wednesday night. I'll post a couple of mp3s for all of you to snack on along with a little explanation about the group.

I received an email yesterday informing me of Baton Rouge’s We Landed On The Moon! who are scheduled to play at Roosters here in Auburn this Saturday night. I had no idea who the band was, and I was kinda afraid to listen because of the fact that they were indeed playing here in town, which usually meant nothing good at all. Though the name, which is even too twee for me, is not a good representation of what you might expect from their sound. With a cringe-worthy mention in their bio of the Dukes of Hazzard film cast as ‘”friends” aside, this is good ol’ femme-fronted pop-rock. Note to future band bios: don't mention Jessica Simpson, Johnny Knoxville and Stifler as fans of your music. What takes center stage with these tracks is the amazing vocal range of Melissa Eccles, as her voice manages to go from soft and restrained to full-on brashness. If you’d like to read more, check out Frank of Chromewave’s little snippet of their debut.

myspace / website / buy

We Landed On The Moon! | “Everything is Fine”
We Landed On The Moon! | “Before the Lights Come Up”

12.15 Mobile, AL @ Margarita’s Bar
12.16 Auburn, AL @ Roosters
12.19 Chapel Hill, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
12.20 Atlanta, GA @ Lenny’s
12.21 Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
12.22 Hattiesburg, MS @ Thirsty Hippo
12.23 Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
01.12 New Orleans, LA @ The Howlin’ Wolf


Rich here -- the band has also given me one copy of their album to give away to a reader. If you want in, please send me an e-mail with "moon landing" in the subject line. I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday (12/20) before the Lenny's show.

Princeton - "Where's My Christmas Morning?"

Princeton released my #6 album of 2006, and now they've unleashed a sweet little Xmas tune. You may have heard it on, where it's been getting some play. "Where's My Christmas Morning?" finds the brothers Kivel yearning for Christmas goodies and sweets rather than lighting Chanukah candles. They consider conversion before realizing that candy canes and Black Friday don't have much to do with the reason for the holiday anyway. Hey, gifts for everybody!

Princeton - Where's My Christmas Morning?

Learn more on their official site or their Myspace. Their album can be purchased here for a mere $6 plus postage.

Bonus mp3:
Princeton - Girls Just Want to Have Fun [Cyndi Lauper cover]
A Plus D - Give Da Jew Girl Toys (Sarah Silverman/Trio mash-up; dirty version)
Sarah Silverman - "Give the Jew Girl Toys" video via YouTube


MSNBC features Atlanta's own Snowden.

So the "new" Arcade Fire track has people all frothing at the mouth. Is it just me, or does it sound like a Bruce Springsteen song?

Saturday, December 16

Best Records of 2006: C&T Buddies' Picks

As you may recall, I have already posted my list of favorites for 2006. Now, because I enjoy the community aspect of being involved with this silly weblog, I'd like to share the picks of some of the bloggers and artists I admire. You may remember I did a similar post about six months ago to assess the mid-year picks, but with time have come a new set of choice albums and some different contributors. There's a heavy Dixie flair among those taking part, and that's not an accident. After all, this is a Georgia-based music blog. Of course, there are also folks from a couple great California bands (Kite Flying Society and Princeton) as well as the master and commander of the world's premiere Elephant 6 blog.

I asked each participant to submit their favorite record of 2006 along with a brief explanation for their selection. They're presented below with minimal editing. The picks are diverse and interesting, and I'm glad to see the variety of music being enjoyed. A sample track is also provided for each release. Now, on to the picks!

Allyson Allen of Confessions of a Music Addict

Manchester Orchestra, I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

this year has offered up some great new music. cold war kids blew me away with robbers & cowards, annuals certainly put up a good fight with be he me, and brit faves the fratellis definitely deserve a place up there with their album costello music. but when it came down to choosing only ONE for all of '06, strangely enough i had to go with manchester orchestra's like a virgin losing a child.

i have not been able to put down this album since the first day it arrived in the office. taking the best of bright eyes and death cab, it's the kind of cd that you don't want to skip any songs on. put quite simply- andy hull is one of the most brilliant songwriters of our time. the whole cd from beginning to end is so amazing that it might go down as not only my best in '06 (this is gonna be a bold statement), but one of my all time favorites.

mp3: Manchester Orchestra - Golden Ticket

Brandon Arnold of The Preakness

Joanna Newsom, Ys

I know this'll probably be at the top of a lot of lists this year, but dammit, I can think of no other record in 2006 that approaches it. Ys, a 5-song record clocking in at 50 minutes, is nearly impossible to listen to (and I mean really listen to – you have to invest some time in it) without recognizing not only Newsom's considerable technical abilities and compositional brilliance, but also the deep emotional resonance within the complex content of her lyrics. Once you get past any hang-ups you may have against her unusual squeal, and harp songs that bandy about phrases like "kith and kin" where the protagonists are sparrows and bears, you cut into territory that's raw and deeply personal. I read somewhere that she had a near breakdown during one of these recording sessions, and you can really hear the shiver of emotion beneath the artifice of her metaphor.

While Van Dyke Parks' string arrangements add a nice complement, Ys's heartbeat is firmly planted in Newsom's fingertips and unmistakable voice. For me, the intensity of her performance is best captured in the middle track, "Sawdust and Diamonds," featuring Newsom and her harp, unadorned. It's the most brilliant 10 minutes in music this year. Her live performance at the Variety Playhouse sealed the deal for me. While I thoroughly enjoyed her first record, with more approachable song lengths and hooks, this one is a work of startling magnitude. And in a world of records that sound like nuevo-Talking Heads wrung through a Neutral Milk Hotel grinder, it's nice to hear something that is wholly unique - at least in this time and place.

mp3: Joanna Newsom - Only Skin

Leah Baker of Confessions of a Music Addict

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, The Dust of Retreat

My top album of the year has to be The Dust of Retreat from Margot and the Nuclear So and So's. I was lucky enough to see them live before they cancelled two shows in a row in Atlanta, and I was literally mesmerized by the whole production. The album has stayed in my car since the moment I bought it, and I continue to go back to it even though I've had it since March. I even went so far as to buy it again on iTunes since the actual CD wouldn't import (thanks, Sony!). The power that Margot tends to display with all the instruments they implement is off the charts, and lyrically, the songs move me from mood to mood within a matter of seconds. I haven't been able to find anything else of this caliber yet, so I'm sticking with them...

mp3: Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Skeleton Key

Michelle Gilzenrat of Harlot PR

Summerbirds in the Cellar, With the Hands of the Hunter It All Becomes Dead

OK, so I am cheating here because technically this record came out in 2005…but! I discovered it this year and I think a lot of other people did, too. After all, Creative Loafing named Summerbirds one of the top 10 bands to watch for 2006! I discovered this band totally by chance when they opened for USSR at The Caledonia this summer. I was mesmerized by their two drummers-- one on a traditional kit and one on an electric kit. So, I bought the record there and, honestly, 6 months later its still pretty much all I listen to. Andy LeMaster recorded this beauty, and the production and arrangements are flawless. There are so many layers of complexity and detail that I find new things to love with each listen. The best news is that this Orlando band is moving up to Athens this month, so I'll get to see them more than ever! Woo!

mp3: Summerbirds in the Cellar - Behold the Wolf 1

Paul Guinto of The Yellow Stereo

Grizzly Bear, The Yellow House

I've been kind of back and forth about this as my #1, but I listened to it all the way through again last week and it reaffirmed my stance on it. It's one of the most, if not the most beautiful album I happened to listen to all year. It's the perfect medicine for a sleepless night. An album that's not trying to come off as ambitious but easily is very much so.

From the very first track, it sets a mood and tone that lasts throughout the entire album and never strays away from it. It's scattered with wonderfuly complex melodies and harmonies that have an almost haunting atmosphere to it. You just have to really sit down and patiently absorb every small detail this has to offer.

mp3: Grizzly Bear - Easier

Robbie Horlick of Cassavetes

The Hold Steady, Boys and Girls in America

2006 has been fortunate for me, musically. A lot of great records were released by great bands, and, through buying or borrowing, i was able to hear a good number of them (or, so i think). Anywho, that makes the task of picking my favorite album of 2006 a pretty difficult one, and I'm usually not a list-maker (except for to-do lists, i love 'em), but i'll give it a shot. There is one record that i was simultaneously very excited and very skeptical about this year that won me over like a new used sweater - Boys and Girls in America by The Hold Steady. I'm a big fan of Lifter Puller and the first two Hold Steady records, and Craig Finn (and/or his characters) have always been some of my favorite anti-heroes. I was nervous about their third record, because it was on Vagrant (i.e., Hot Topic Records - not literally, but you know what i mean), because as great as they are, there's always a chance of too much of a good thing, of distillation and extension to the point of pointlessness.

But the record really works. I hesitate to say it's "more mature," because I've always thought Finn's songs were pretty mature, but, as the title suggests, the scope is bigger. And they pull it off. More than ever before, there are capital C Choruses, built for singing along. There are oohs and aahs all over the place. And the piano, forgetaboutit, it's on fire. By the way, I get the Springsteen comparisons, but I really think they need to stop - minus the piano and the fact that you're listening to a skilled storyteller tell you about his Everyteen, it's not all that similar. Here, the characters are just as compelling and real as always, and like always, the specificity of their predicaments really makes you think generally about the bigger picture. From the first line, "sometimes i think that Sal Paradise was right, boys and girls in america, have such a sad time together," you're hooked. You can't wait to hear Finn tell you about this "sad time," to draw you in and make you believe. The Hold Steady gives us a lot - bit of truth, a bit of despair, a bit of hope, a lot of rock, and a ballad or two - and they get us to sing along while they do it. That's skill.

mp3: The Hold Steady - Chips Ahoy

Mike Kane of Long Knives

Mastodon, Blood Mountain

Relentless. From the opening thunder of "The Wolf is Loose" to the tight, interweaving guitar and blistering meltdown of "Bladecatcher" on through the mournful, acoustic guitar driven "Pendulous Skin" this record kills me. This record, equally complex and punishing, is why Mastodon is the greatest Metal band going. Plus, they're hometown boys. There's like fifty Metal records worth of riffing and -ahem- facemelters on Blood Mountain. Neurosis meets The Boredoms meets YES of all things. Awesome.

Close second(s):
Snowden, Anti-Anti
Grizzly Bear, Yellow House
Tim Hecker, Harmony in Ultraviolet
Boris, Pink

mp3: Mastodon - Crystal Skull

Matt Kivel from Princeton

J Dilla, Donuts

Donuts is comprised of 31 instrumentals that are eloquently woven into a unified and deeply spiritual affair. I haven’t heard another album all year that comes close in terms of intimacy and musical invention. Beats are turned inside out, Motown melodies are cut and spliced, the productions are nuanced but never overwrought. My favorite track is “Donuts of the Heart” which captures Jay Dee in all of his funk laden glory, sprinkling a muted backbeat with The Jackson 5’s clipped harmonies. The song’s outward appearance is overtly sexual, but Dilla’s work runs deeper than the average slow jam. He uses a treated guitar riff as the song’s backbone and its simple descending melody has an emotional resonance that masterfully plays against the music’s blatant allusions to physical love. There have been a lot of great albums this year, but ten years from now this is the only one I’m gonna give a shit about.

mp3: J Dilla - Workonit

Jeff Kuykendall of Optical Atlas

Casper & the Cookies, The Optimist's Club
Summer Hymns, Backward Masks

My favorite of 2006? I don't think I've listened to any '06 album more than The Optimist's Club by Casper & the Cookies. It may not be the best album the band ever does, but it captures my favorite moment in a band's evolution: when they've sharpened their talents and throw everything they can at an album, willing to try anything. It's their Rubber Soul. But I'm going to have to call it a draw, evenly matched in my heart with Backward Masks by Summer Hymns. This is a band a little further down the road than Casper and his Club, and it's a more mature, fully realized work, a major work from one of my favorite bands. I love it.

mp3: Casper & the Cookies - Sid from Central Park
mp3: Summer Hymns - Pity and Envy

David Lizerbram of Kite Flying Society

Bob Dylan, Modern Times

I'm no physicist, but I'd guess that if you piled up all the books, articles, and other fragments of praise Zimmy has received over the last 40+ years, it would be so massive as to collapse into a singularity, into which the entire world would be sucked. Or maybe that has already happened. How would we know? Wouldn't time slow to what we would perceive as a full stop? And doesn't it feel that way sometimes? Or, if I were to say a few more complementary words about Modern Times, would time come to an end? I don't know, but just to be safe, I'm not going to be the one to push us over the Bobby D. Event Horizon. This is what I call responsible music criticism. So, you'll just have to listen to the record for yourself and make up your own mind. P.S. The new tunes sounded even better live.

mp3: Bob Dylan - When the Deal Goes Down

Lori of MyExBestFriend

TV On The Radio, Return To Cookie Mountain

It would be impossible to contribute to a "Best of the Year List" without including TV on the Radio's Return To Cookie Mountain - a compelling album that scored well amongst even the toughest of critics. The album was a bi-polar masterpiece ripping one inside and out, upside and down and sometimes everywhere and everything in- between as they journeyed through an atmosphere that proved not only to energize but to drain, shaking one to their apocalyptic core. Return To Cookie Mountain was TVotR's critically acclaimed follow-up to the crazygood Young Liars EP and the full-length Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. Additionally it was the band's first on a major label and managed to not only secure their indie creed amongst hipsters but took it to a seemingly all-out über level.

Kyp Malone's perfectly-timed falsetto's continue to swirl and blend with the deep, throaty tenor of lead vocalist, Tunde Adebimpe, resulting in not only one of this year's most entertaining albums but also one complex enough to satisfy the most discriminating of listeners. TVotR ups the ante in brilliant fashion in this latest effort and the resounding beauty that falls leaves it's listener with a sense of accomplishment as they successfully float from the post-apocalyptic mist. - With Return To Cookie Mountain, TVotR brought it all to the table giving us some of the best in music, vocals and yes, even lyrics - offering more than just cookies, but a return that is one of this year's best.

mp3: TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me

Jason NeSmith (aka Casper Fandango) of Casper & the Cookies

The Bicycles, The Good The Bad and The Cuddly

Current bands making good pop music (the 60's kind, not Xtina) are increasingly hard to find. The Bicycles from Toronto know why songs work and how to write them. Then they bash them out. This record reportedly took two years to make, but it doesn't sound overproduced. Like the Turtles, but louder!

mp3: The Bicycles - I Know We Have to Be Apart

Andrew Rieger of Elf Power

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, The Letting Go

I really like Bonnie Prince Billy's album that came out this year, "The Letting Go"....amazing songwriting as usual,augmented by sweeping string arrangements and Dawn McCarthy's haunting of his best...

mp3: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Cursed Sleep

Janet Timmons of Out the Other

Guillemots, Through the Window Pane

I tend to agonize a bit over end of the year best-of lists - whether you care about them or not, I think they say a lot about a person, and I like putting a lot of thought into mine. For that reason, I will work on my list until the moment I have to post it on my blog, probably on the last day of the year. But Rich asked for my number one pick a bit earlier than that, and I (almost confidently) submit Through the Window Pane as my favorite album of 2006.

Maybe by the 31st I'll figure out a way to eloquently describe why I love this record so much, but for now all I can say is that I just feel this music in a way I can't explain; it affects me more than anything else I have heard this year. The first time I played "Trains to Brazil" on my show this year I said that it sounds like music for a film, and the same holds true for the entire album - there is something cinematic about this music, epic and emotional and incredibly personal. I think I literally fell in love with this band's sound when I first heard them early this year, and I guess sometimes you just can't explain love.

mp3: Guillemots - Trains to Brazil

Mike Turner of Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records

How I Became the Bomb, Let's Go!

Since picking a HHBTM band would be in poor taste since I love those records the most, but a non-HHBTM band that blew me away this year was How I Became the Bomb from Murfreesboro, TN. They released a 7 track Ep titled "Let's Go" in the spring. It's a mix of early 80's Cars melodies, Devo nerd-core, and classic New Order synth-pop. The frontman is one of the sassiest people I have ever met, and the band put on one hell of a live show. It's impossible not to move around when they play, after a few shows you'll know the words, and you might even have some dance moves worked out to some of the songs. Going to be mega-huge in 07.

mp3: How I Became the Bomb - Robo

Kim Ware of Eskimo Kiss Records

The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads

I should preface this by saying I really haven't purchased much new music this year. But out of what I did, if I had to pick a number one I think it would be The Lemonheads new self-titled record. Admittedly, from start to finish this isn't anything ground-breaking (but Lemonheads records usually aren't), and there aren't many moments that just blow me away. But I think one of the main reasons I took to it was that I was really in need of a Dando fix! They're one of my favorite bands ever, were a big influence on me when I first started playing music. I still rip off his songwriting whenever I attempt to play guitar.

What I like best about this album is it's classic Lemonheads... reminds me of Lick with better production and a more rockin' rhythm section. There are some great tunes here too... namely Become the Enemy (although I don't think that one's even credited to Dando, songwriting-wise), Pittsburgh, and the country-ish break-up ballad Baby's Home (not to get too personal, but being divorced, this one really tugs on my heartstrings with some really touching lines, especially "... when a marriage is dying tell me who does the firing, and who is to say who's to blame...").

I'm glad Evan is back at it; I've read a few times that critics are saying this is the best Lemonheads record ever, and I might just agree.

mp3: The Lemonheads - Pittsburgh

Friday, December 15

Holiday potpourri

Alright, a few items...

Why am I so amused by this gallery of children terrified by Santa Claus? Maybe I'm a bad person.

Out the Other has a couple of holiday tracks from Nashville folk-popsters Lylas. I'm so jealous she got the pretty promo thingy with chocolates. I LIKE CHOCOLATES TOO!

There's also a nifty little holiday track from Hello Saferide over at songs:Illinois. It's called "Ipod Xmas" and it's pretty charming. I don't have an Ipod, but I understand the sentiment.

The cult classic film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) is available for free download from It's completely ridiculous, has a 2.6 out of 10 score at IMDB, and is ranked their as the 81st worst film of all-time. Rock!

If you're holiday shopping for me, this is what I want. If I get more than one, I'll have them reenact the knife fight from the "Beat It" video.

Steaming pile alert

I usually refrain from commenting when tripe like this hits my inbox, but I can't resist.

So, the Grammy Awards are having a contest. They're allowing unsigned artists to submit a 60-second video of themselves performing a song, and the winner gets to perform on the actual Grammys telecast. That could be cool, huh? Like, Tin Cup Prophette or somebody on the Grammys? Well, that's not what's at stake. The winner will not just perform, but perform "with current multi-GRAMMY nominee Justin Timberlake." I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

All artists are required to sing a cappella for their entry, and must sing one of the following Grammy-winning songs selected by Justin Timberlake:

o "If I Ain't Got You" (originally performed by Alicia Keys)
"Breathe" (originally performed by Faith Hill)
"Come To My Window" (originally performed by Melissa Etheridge)
"What's Love Got To Do With It" (originally performed by Tina Turner)
"Dance With My Father" (originally performed by Luther Vandross)
"Cry Me A River" (originally performed by Justin Timberlake)
"Respect" (originally performed by Aretha Franklin)
"I Wanna Dance With Somebody" (originally performed by Whitney Houston)
"Vision of Love" (originally performed by Mariah Carey)

In other words, the same playlist (with apologies to Aretha) that they'd probably blast at high volume into a house full of religious fanatics (or hipsters, I guess) with hostages and an armory.

So, no solo performance by the artist, no original music is welcome, they don't give a shit about bands, and they're only looking for pure singers who are willing to sing songs we're either sick of or that suck in the first place. Way to go, Grammys! No wonder you're effing irrelevant these days.


Just got my "ABIDE" shirt in from the Lebowski Fest people:

Awesomeness. Available here for $15.

Live Shiznit: Binge & Splurge

I don't have time to write much at the moment, so I'll serve as curator for the day. Here are several full shows that are were no longer available here due to my filehost issues a while back. If you missed 'em the first time, now's your chance.

They're all packaged in .zip files at sendspace, so I believe you'll only be able to download one at a time. If they do anything funky, please let me know. The Cold War Kids shows I taped myself (from the audience), and the rest are from various online sources (and are soundboards or FM quality). I think they're all worth your time. Have at 'em...

Band of Horses
April 13, 2006
KEXP, Seattle, WA
* Download

Cold War Kids
June 9, 2006
Drunken Unicorn, Atlanta, GA
* Download

Cold War Kids
July 20, 2006
The EARL, Atlanta, GA
* Download

Kite Flying Society
July 7, 2006
AmplifySD, San Diego, CA
* Download

James Mercer (of The Shins)
February 20, 2003
Herrgarn, Linkoping, Sweden
* Download

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
June 2, 2006
World Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
* Download

And don't forget that the C&T Atlanta music mix tapes are still available.

Hope you find something you like!