I just got sent a couple tracks by Compton-based rapper Problem, and they’re pretty good (I think the term “dope” would apply here). I’d never heard of him before, but he’s got a track featuring Childish Gambino that’s a lot of fun, and a remix of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” that almost makes me not hate that song-almost.
Starting next week, Problem is kicking off a US tour in Santa Barbara, CA. He makes his way as far east as Chicago (September 17th at SubT) before heading back through Colorado and Arizona. I don’t recommend a ton of rap shows, but it might be a good idea to catch this one at the very small Subterranean before Problem is playing with Drake and Lil Wayne at the United Center.
I had so much fun compiling my list of the best albums so far this decade that I decided to ape Pitchfork one more time and make my own list of the best songs as well. This one was much harder because there are a ton of albums that I don’t think are great but have one or two really great songs. So I had to dig a bit deeper. Still a lot of repeat offenders from my previous list but that’s ok.
I put them into a Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure (numbers reversed of course).
MC Lars feat Weerd Science-How To Be An Indie Rapper
The Congregation-You’ll Always Be Alright With Me
The Joy Formidable-I Don’t Want To See You Like This
Nik Freitas-Hold That Thought
Dastardly-Brief Thoughts On Death
Jason Collett-Don’t Let The Truth Get To You
Bill Fay-The Coast No Man Can Tell
Bahamas-Your Sweet Touch
Empires-Lord Have Mercy
Patrick Watson-Quiet Crowd
Of Montreal-Ye, Renew The Plaintiff
Andrew Jackson Jihad-American Tune
Lawrence Arabia-Traveling Shoes
Gloom Balloon-Fix The Sunshine
The Great American Novel-Layne Montgomery Is Bad At Girls
Los Campesinos!-Songs About Your Girlfriend
Bright Eyes-Shell Games
Jake Bugg-Lightning Bolt
Bombay Bicycle Club-Ivy & Gold
John Grant-Silver Platter Club
Portugal. The Man-Modern Jesus
Scissor Sisters-Baby Come Home
Poison Control Center-Reoccurring Kind
Rural Alberta Advantage-North Star
Chaperone-O Ye Drowning Children
Tom Waits-Hell Broke Luce
Cloud Nothings-Stay Useless
Felice Brothers-Fire At The Pageant
Pretty Lights-Still Night
Hot Chip-One Life Stand
Deltron 3030-The Return
Broken Social Scene-Chase Scene
Killers-Miss Atomic Bomb
Ezra Furman-My Zero
The National-Vabderlyle Crybaby Geeks
Spider Bags-Shape I Was In
The Vaccines-Post Break-Up Sex
Pusha T-Who I Am
Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes-Shoe Fits
California Wives-Blood Red Youth
Mountain Goats-Beautiful Gas Mask
J Cole-Let Nas Down
Portugal. The Man-Sleep Forever
Wilco-Dawned On Me
Bob Dylan-Pay In Blood
Arcade Fire-Sprawl II
Run The Jewels-Banana Clipper
Ezra Furman & The Harpoons-Mysterious Power
Willis Earl Beal-Too Dry To Cry
Islands-Becoming The Gunship
Bruce Springsteen-This Depression
Fort Frances-City By The Sea
M.I.A.-Double Bubble Trouble
Shabazz Palaces-Are You Can You Were You?
Kendrick Lamar-Swimming Pools
Avi Buffalo-Remember Last Time
Free Energy-Bang Pop
Mister Heavenly-Bronx Sniper
Frontier Ruckus-Junk-Drawer Sorrow
Calvin Harris feat Ellie Goulding-I Need Your Love
The Antlers-Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out
Sons Of An Illustrious Father-We Will Do Great Things
First Aid Kit-Emmylou
Tegan And Sara-Closer
Daft Punk-Get Lucky
Mavis Staples-You Are Not Alone
Janelle Monáe feat Erykah Badu-Q.U.E.E.N.
LCD Soundsystem-Dance Yrself Clean
Dum Dum Girls-Coming Down
Watch The Throne-Niggas In Paris
Titus Andronicus-A More Perfect Union
Last night I ventured out to Avondale to hit Abbey Pub for the very first time. A short walk from the Addison blue line train stop, the club seems perfect for local groups to hone their skills. But I know that they get some bigger acts in there as well, and if you can get tickets to one of those it’s a nice small venue. I got to 3420 W Grace around 9:30 after being told that My My My would go on at 9:45. The band before them played past that time, so punctuality is not the top priority at Abbey Pub.
Luckily that didn’t matter because the band that was on stage was a lot of fun. They’re called The Roalde Dahls, and before last night I’d never heard of them. Frontman Dylan Flynn has a wacky stage presence that makes it feel like he’s having more fun than anyone in the audience. Nikko Paoulos is brilliant on the synths and their drummer Esteban Martinez didn’t miss a beat. I’m excited to check out more from the three-piece after this performance.
My My My began to set up around 10 and I was surprised to see that the stage at Abbey Pub that looks like it fits about four people comfortably, was able to accommodate all six members plus the three singers currently making up The Peoples. Filled to capacity, the stage featured guitar, bass, keys, synths, drums, KEYTAR, as well as the two main vocalists Russell Baylin and Sarah Snow.
The set featured some new songs, to be released on the tentatively titled Tigers On The Dancefloor in a couple months (according to Baylin). The short set also featured older favorites, like “Starting To Change,” but the main focus was on the new, and it’s obvious they’ve been hard at work crafting great songs for the record. There hasn’t been a huge stylistic change in the music, but the tunes seem to be more polished and mature than their previous releases. We won’t know for sure until we hear the whole thing, but I’m optimistic that Tigers On The Dancefloor will be My My My’s best record yet.
I think the thing I’m most impressed with, in a live setting anyway, is that the vocals come across very clear. With Baylin and Sarah Snow sharing lead vocal duty, plus three backup singers and other people in the band, there were times when as many as seven or eight people were singing and it never seemed like the voices were flooding one another. I’ve been to shows where one person singing sounds like garbage, so to be able to know where each individuals voice needs to be in order to sound good is hard work and My My My did it with ease.
We have a while before we’ll get the new record, but the band has put out plenty of dancey indie rock/synth pop jams to hold you over until then. Check out some of their stuff on their Facebook page.
The list seems wholly unnecessary, but people love anything on the web that features a number followed by an item as evidenced by the popularity of sites like BuzzFeed. Pitchfork’s Top 100 Albums of the decade so far isn’t a bad list-it would’ve made more sense to wait until 2014 is over to put it out, but that’s neither here nor there. My biggest problem with it is the redundancy factor. A lot of artists made the list multiple times, taking up spots that should really go to bands that aren’t featured on the list at all (Kanye gets 2 spots in their top 10, plus another for Watch The Throne). So here’s my list. I’ve kept the doubling down to a minimum, but it does happen a couple times. And yes, Kanye makes the list twice just not nearly as high.
100-Flying Lotus-Until The Quiet Comes
99. Hot Chip-One Night Stand
98. Wolfgang Jay-And We Move
97. Patrick Watson-Adventures In Your Own Backyard
96. El-P-Cancer For The Cure
95. Andrew Jackson Jihad-Knife Men
94. Big Boi-Sir Lucius Leftfoot
93. Dastardly-Ballads In Blue
92. Bright Eyes-The People’s Key
91. The Canoes-Slim Century
89. The All-About-Winter Pop
88. Gorillaz-Plastic Beach
87. The Elected-Bury Me In My Rings
86. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons-Mysterious Power
85. Empires-Garage Hymns
84. Fort Frances-The Atlas
83. Nik Freitas-Saturday Night Underwater
82. Beirut-The Rip Tide
81. The Great American Novel-Kissing
80. Heidi Spencer & The Rare Birds-Under Streetlight Glow
79. Adam Arcuragi-Like a fire that consumes all before it
77. Kno-Death Is Silent
77. Kurt Vile-Smoke Ring For My Halo
76. Fiona Apple-Idler Wheel
75. Bhi Bhiman-S/T
74. The Congregation-Right Now Everything
73. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti-Before Today
72. Lupe Fiasco-Lasers
71. Portugal. The Man.-In The Mountain In The Cloud
70. Jason Collett-Reckon
69. Emily Wells-Mama
68. Charles Bradley-Victim Of Love
67. J. Cole-Born Sinner
66. Brian Wilson-Smile Sessions
65. The Joy Formidable-Wolf’s Law
64. Wilco-The Whole Love
63. Chaperone-Cripple King
62. Deltron 3030-The Event II
61. The Mountain Goats-Transcendental Youth
60. Free Energy-Stuck On Nothing
59. Stars-The North
58. We Were Promised Jetpacks-In The Pit Of The Stomach
57. Perfume Genius-Put Your Back N 2 It
56. Arcade Fire-The Suburbs
55. Abigail Washburn-City Of Refuge
54. Killer Mike-R.A.P. Music
53. Bruce Springsteen-Wrecking Ball
52. Conor Oberst-Upside Down Mountain
51. Ghostpal-Nathan Jones Is Dead
50. Rob-Maniac OST
49. Shovels & Rope-O Be Joyful
48. Janelle Monae-ArchAndroid
47. Slothrust-Of Course You Do
46. Pusha T-My Name Is My Name
45. Laura Veirs-July Flame
44. Arctic Monkeys-Suck It And See
43. Islands-A Sleep And A Forgetting
42. Shabazz Palaces-Black Up
41. First Aid Kit-Lion’s Roar
40. Los Campesinos!-Romance Is Boring
39. Mister Heavenly-Out Of Love
38. John Grant-Queen Of Denmark
37. Drake-Thank Me Later
36. Spider Bags-Frozen Letter
35. Josh Ritter-So Runs The World Away
34. Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
33. The Chromatics-Kill For Love
32. Gloom Balloon-You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Disaster
31. Childish Gambino-Camp
30. Tom Waits-Bad As Me
20. The Decemberists-The King Is Dead
28. The Wonder Years-Suburbia I Have Given You All And Now I Am Nothing
27. Broken Social Scene-Forgiveness Rock Record
26. The Tallest Man On Earth-The Wild Hunt
25. St Vincent-Strange Mercy
24. Hurray For The Riff Raff-Look Out Mama
23. Avi Buffalo-S/T
22. Watch The Throne
21. Dum Dum Girls-Only In Dreams
20. The Felice Brothers-Celebration, Florida
19. Bill Fay-Life Is People
18. Willis Earl Beal-Nobody Knows
17. Okkervil River-The Silver Gymnasium
16. Mavis Staples-You Are Not Alone
15. Japandroids-Celebration Rock
14. Of Montreal-False Priest
13. Run The Jewels-S/T
12. Girls-Father Son Holy Ghost
11. The Antlers-Burst Apart
10. The Vaccines-What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
9. Smith Westerns-Dye It Blonde
8. Justin Timberlake-The 20/20 Experience pt 1
7. Otis Redding-Live From The Sunset Strip
6. LCD Soundsystem-This Is Happening
5. Frank Ocean-Nostalgia, Ultra
4. Ezra Furman-The Year Of No Returning
3. Frontier Ruckus-Eternity Of Dimming
2. Sons Of An Illustrious Father-One Body
1. Titus Andronicus-The Monitor
I do my best to give every album someone sends me a fair shake. But when the first line of the email reads “We’re an experimental psych-pop group from Birmingham, Alabama,” well, my mind immediately thinks it’s a joke. Here is a list of things I know about music in Alabama: Muscle Shoals, “Sweet Home Alabama,” Wilson Pickett. That’s literally my whole list. Luckily I thought “This is probably the only submission you’ll ever get from Alabama, so what the heck.” And guess what? It’s actually a pretty good record.
Not so much psych-pop as electropop, Remedies new record Believers is a good listen that can be put right alongside some of recent albums I’ve really enjoyed like Blake Sennett’s new band Night Terrors Of 1927. It’s got a mix of 80’s new wave and early 90’s R&B grooves that is very pleasant while not being overly polite. They’ve also found a way to make the music eerily undanceable. Where most bands would want to get into the crowd-pleasing radio arena, Remedies goes a more interesting route.
The eight tracks found on Believers were recorded over a span of 10 months, so they had plenty of time to tinker with things and decide how they wanted the album to sound. Smartly, they didn’t try to get too clever, and they saved the best for last so you’ll want to hear a lot more from Remedies in the future.
The title track closes out the record, and it is easily the best song in the collection. The vocals and music mesh perfectly and it has a chorus that I could see teenagers singing along with loudly when they take their parents car out for their first drive alone. It’s Duran Duran meets Zapp & Rogers in the best way possible.
You can pick up this record for FREE from their bandcamp page and I highly recommend checking it out.
Ferguson, Missouri continues to be a hotbed of racial animosity as the townspeople have been forced to live under martial law by a police force made up almost exclusively of white men. This started last week when one of their fraternal order shot and killed an unarmed, black, 18 year old young man named Michael Brown. The details have been slow to come out, but for now we know that Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, and before the police would release the name of the officer that shot him, they sent him away on paid leave. The media’s handling of the situation would be laughable if it weren’t so rage-inducing. Luckily there are some brave souls on the ground there that have been doing a remarkable job of reporting, mostly via Twitter, under the most strenuous of conditions. The cops literally put them in a small cordoned off area and told them if they leave they’ll be arrested.
Now another brave soul, he of the musical world, has released a protest song that will hopefully become an anthem for those that seek justice as they’re being pelted with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. It’s Chicago’s own Ezra Furman, with “Ferguson’s Burning,” and it’s the most important song to come out this year.
Here’s a list of people you should follow on Twitter who are risking their freedom to report on the scene: @jonswaine @mattdpearce @ryanjreilly @mollyhf @WesleyLowery
Spider Bags came to town last night touring behind their amazing new album, Frozen Letter. It didn’t take long for that LP to jump into my number one slot for best of the year so far, and their performance did not disappoint. This was my first time seeing the band live after discovering them a couple years ago via a tweet by Titus Andronicus front man Patrick Stickles. They released the new record via Merge, and the quality is a testament to both organizations commitment to excellence.
The night kicked off with a so-so performance from Life Parter that could most aptly be described as “loud.” They seemed to be having fun on stage, which made me enjoy it a little more, but all the songs kind of ran together aimlessly and most went on far longer than needed. The second band, Chicago’s own Flesh Panthers, was much more enjoyable. They were also loud, but married that verbosity with melody, harmonies, and a take no prisoners attitude. I’d never heard of them, and was fearing something more akin to Steel Panther, so I’m happy to say I look forward to more from Flesh Panthers.