Sunday, December 16, 2007

Massive Nights

Here is the list of the songs on my cd of my favorite songs of 2007. If you are interested in a copy, let me know.

1. LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver
2. Fog- Your Beef is Mine
3. Bon Iver- Skinny Love
4. Animal Collective- Peacebone
5. The National- Fake Empire
6. Menomena- Muscle’n Flo
7. Of Montreal- Suffer for Fashion
8. Yeasayer- 2080
9. Peter and the Wolf- Scarlet and Grey
10. Soulsavers- Revival
11. Oh No- Heavy
12. Handsome Furs- What we had
13. Andrew Bird- Heretics
14. Blitzen Trapper- Wild Mountain Nation
15. Black Lips- O Katrina
16. Ola Podrida- Jordanna
17. The Rosebuds- Silja Line
18. Vampire Weekend- Oxford Comma
19. Sunset Rubdown- The Mending Of The Gown

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What I liked in 2007

Here is my list.....nothing more than a drop of rain in a tsunami, but in case anyone was wondering "what did Josh Keller like this year in music", here is your answer. If you are interested in my "best of 07" mix cd(leave your email) or just want to tell my I am an idiot with horrible music tastes....leave a comment. (The cd track list I will put up later)

LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver
Oh James Murphy, hipster god, are we worthy? The first LCD Soundsystem album was a rollicking good time (especially disc two), but it made me wonder whether Murphy was cut out for this songwriting. Maybe he needed to stick to the wonderful and boisterous remixes that he put out on his DFA label and his production of fellow dance rockers. Boy, was I wrong. Who would have guessed that Murphy had some of the best songs from this waning generation hidden up his snap button shirt sleeve? This would be my favorite album of the year even it was a single with just “All my Friends” and “Someone Great”. Those two songs alone put most albums I listened to this year to shame, and seeing them live only added to their magical trance over me. James Murphy has manically combined rock and dance with great songwriting in a way that I feel is unparalleled. These songs still have the cowbell and grooves, but they are great songs. Win Butler played a small part of “All My Friends” on acoustic and I realized that James Murphy is a heavyweight….not in the dance rock scene, but in the entire music scene. He has morphed the entire dance rock scene into a place where it is relevant and it can stand next to its more straight-forward, guitar brandishing brethren. I just wonder if it will be possible for anyone else to ever replicate this or will it be looked back on as lighting in a bottle. Kick ass, emotional, and rocking lighting in a bottle.

Of Montreal- Hissing fauna, are you the destroyer?
One album can indeed change the overbearing impression that a band levies on you. Gone are the clich├ęd E6 psychedelic pop that has always kept me an arms distance away from Of Montreal. In there place are funky, dark electronic narratives that seem to perfectly combine great songwriting and wonderful soundscapes. I love really deep music (i.e. mostly depressing lyric content), but it does get tiresome to hear mundane and lethargic somber music always, so thank you Of Montreal for getting down while you are down.


The National- Boxer
Although I seem to be the only person in the world who still likes their last album, Alligator, more than this, I still love this album. It has all of the ingredients that make the National so great. Well laid out songs with deep and thoughtful instrumentals with Matt Bringer’s smoky baritone crooning over the top. He writes interesting and atypical lyrics that fit with the slight brooding tones of the music. This is the sound of a great band who has worked together for years and it shows…nothing feels forced or contrived, just great rock and roll music.


Menomena-Friend and Foe
Weird, angular rock and roll that is more satisfying with each listen. After seeing them live I came away with an even greater appreciation for the complex sounds that this three piece creates. All three have wonderful singing voices and they have multiple instruments at their disposal. This is enough for any band to be great, but Menomena up the creative anti with their distinctive recording process (look it up). The thing that pulls everything together is the songs, which if they were not as good as they were, would render all of the talent in the world pointless. Luckily for Menomena, and me, they do have that last important ingredient, and they showed us that on Friend and Foe time and time again.
Animal Collective- Strawberry Jam/ Panda Bear- Person Pitch
Animal Collective are great. They write weird and funky tribal jams. On this album that leaned farther towards pop music than they have before and they came up with all aces.
Person Pitch was my first love of the year 07, and it stayed with me. Noah Lennox took the great qualities he brings to Animal Collective (amazing falsetto, droning rhythms, and Brian Wilson-esqe melodies) and he made himself a damn good album. I would say that this album will stand along the Animal Collective cannon in years down the road and be able to say that this was one of the best from the group.
Radiohead- In Rainbows
Radiohead made a great album…no surprise there. I think that a little of this album’s quality was lost in the hoopla surrounding its release, but I believe that they are starting to bring back some of the great qualities (song structures, guitars, etc) from their early (OK Computer and The Bends) to mix with their electronic fetish of the latter years. It still isn’t a return to the glory days (my impression only, I do realize that many people think their glory days were Kid A era), but I for one did the like the slight concessions on their part. Radiohead has proven they can make great albums in multiple genres…here is to hoping they can continue to find ways to write amazing music and surprise all of us cynical music lovers.
Peter and the Wolf- Ivory Palms
Red Hunter performs under the name Peter and the Wolf. He write folk songs and shanties, in a vain that I image Sufjan Stevens would do if he didn’t try to cram 400 instruments in every song. Plain and simple, he writes good songs and it is a crime that he is at the level of recognition he is and there are people out there with no talent making millions of dollars on image and style over substance and talent. Sorry….end of rant.

Spoon- GaGaGaGaGa
Spoon is the quintessential American Rock and Roll band. Anyone want to argue…..bring it on. When you listen to an album as solid and amazing as GaGaGaGaGa and have to wonder whether it is better than their last THREE albums, you come to realize you have a band that has been consistently been writing amazing songs for the last decade. Britt Danial is our generation’s John Fogerty (I mean that as a compliment). He cannot stop writing great, airtight songs that are ridiculously melodic and painfully catchy, without feeling structured or cheesy. This is an album (like all of Spoons albums) that is solid from start to finish and finds ways to weave Britt’s snarling voice and unique songwriting style over a plethora of styles ranging from rock to funk to electronic. Can Spoon make a bad album?
Blitzen Trapper- Wild Mountain Nation
It must get old for bands that mix different musical genres on an album to avoid being compared to Pavement. Blitzen Trapper made one of my favorite albums by having an ADHD approach to writing songs. Want an indie rock song about sci-fi nerds? Check. Want a couple old fashioned ho-downs? Check. Want some slicing rock and roll? Check. How about an even mix of serious lyrics with goofy banter? Check. A great album filled with solid songs no matter what genre or style. Check, indeed.

Dr. Dog- We All Belong
Why are these guys not world famous and touring the globe to weeping girls and fawning fans? Seriously…what more can these guys do? They sound like about 40 great classic rock groups than an alchemist someone melted into musical gold. The rolling rhythms, the catchy yet original songs, the soaring backing vocals…why can’t everyone so easily meld the Beach Boys and the Band together? Plus they wear cool sunglasses and I am pretty sure one wears a fanny pack, which is reason enough to listen to these guys, right?


HONORABLE MENTION
Okkervil River- The Stage Names
Shocking Pinks- Shocking Pinks
Poison Control Center- Collage of Impressions
Yeasayer-All Hour Cymbals
Rosebuds-Night of the Furies
Fog-Ditherer
Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever ago
Sunset Rubdown- Random Spirit Lover
Besnard Lakes- Besnard Lakes are the dark horse
Burial- Untrue
!!!- Myth Takes
Patrick Wolf- The Magic Position
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Dirty Projectors-Rise Above
St. Vincent- Marry Me
PJ Harvey- White Chalk
Kayne West- Graduation
The Field- From here we go Sublime
Beirut- Flying Club Cup
Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocrypha
Brother Ali- The Undisputed Truth
Oh NO- Dr. No's Oxperiment
Dan Deacon- Spiderman of the Rings
The Go Team- Proof of Youth
To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie- S/T
Bright Eyes-Cassadaga
Kevin Drew-Spirit if...
Caribou- Andorra
The Twilight Sad- Fourteen Autums and Fifteen Winters

Monday, November 19, 2007

Out on the town


It has been a busy couple of weeks. Here are my thoughts on the good and bad parts of the three shows I have seen in that time. Enjoy.

11/1 Hold Steady/Art Brut at the State Theatre
1.Why would the Hold Steady have a show at the State Theatre?
2.Art Brut are awesome. They have a cheekiness that is both over the top and pertinent to the music that they create. (My favorite was the band all freezing together while the bass drum continued to thump) I don't know how someone could not have enjoyed their set, even with the sub par sound.
3.The Hold Steady were great, but what else would be expected? Even though the sound was too muted and the mix was borderline horrible, the band plays with so much energy and passion (especially in their hometown) that they could have played in the echo-hell of the Target Center and given a moving performance. I sometimes forget that the Hold Steady are so amazing. Shame on me.
4.The 12 string was great. Next they need a grand piano that Franz Nicolay can play and have Tad climb up on and do a Slash solo, that would rock.
5.Why would the Hold Steady have a show at the State Theatre?

11/15 CLOUD CULT @Varsity

1.Ah, the Varsity Theatre. Ye of quaint settings, low slung Christmas lights, disco balls and leather chairs. Unfortunately, I have never had the pleasure of getting sitting in one of these fine looking chairs. I mean seriously, how early do people get there to get those god-damn chairs. I am sick of sitting on the risers and having to awkwardly stand on the stupid giant rug with a bunch of half drunk fake hipsters. Oops, I mean Cloud Cult and Doomtree were really good.
2.I do not understand how Cloud Cult are not a massive band. Not in the Arcade Fire or Pavement way, but the Dave Matthews/U2 way. These write really good songs that have pretty melodies and are easy to ingest. Not that I mean to compare them(I don't think Cloud Cult suck, and I can't say the same thing about Dave Matthews), but it seems like the millions (I think) of people who like Dave Matthews Band would eat up Cloud Cult, wouldn't they? I looked around at the show and saw some very unassuming looking kids who to me screamed "I LOVE MEDIOCRE MUSIC", the kind of kids who if you looked threw their cd's, the best one would be Advice for the Happy Hippopotamus. But yet I have seen them twice to medium sized crowds for a total price of $10. What Gives? For their sake, I hope they do make it big.
3.It never gets old to hear really good music and watch people painting. It is pretty emotional and I don't know how you don't get chills when he is singing this sings about his dead son. They put on quiet a show that I think I could see over and over again(very similar to the Flaming Lips....great music made even better by an amazing live setup)
4.Doomtree were good, but hip hop shows are so AWKWARD for crowds of non hip hop fans. Stop telling emo freshman kids from the U of M who want to hear Cloud Cult to "throw your hands in the air". There are times for crowd participation and there are times to just put on a show. A Varsity Theatre on a Thursday night 3/4 filled with kids who not only can't tell the difference between Rakim and Reakwon, but have never heard of them, is NOT the place.
5. I wish I had made it for First Communion Afterparty. They have been good when I have seen them before and I read they have a new lineup, but that will just have to be a another night. It is like seeing The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but without a drugged out singer who spends more time yelling at the crowd than singing and more girls on stage.

Menomena/Illinois 11/17 Varsity Theatre
1.So they say doors at 8, so we confidently show up at 8:10 with hearts a flutter thinking about an entire show sitting like kings in our chairs.....but NO! Are you fucking serious?! Do people show up when the sun is going down to call chairs? I think Robyn and I were the first people there to not get chairs....I swear I am cursed, all I wanted after having to work Saturday was a chair, is that too much to ask for cruel world??
2.I am going to speak in honest terms here and I want to make it clear that this next section is not a parody or an overstatement. Illinois were the worst band that I have ever seen at a show that should have good live music(this disregards some poor choices on my part from my younger day....those bands suck in a whole another way). I cannot begin to describe how bad they were. It was like a frat house got together and picked the biggest pricks to make a sublime cover band with the biggest idiot saved to sing the stupidest shit he could think. He had one song about waking up for work late and the chorus was "I'm free". He kept yelling "hip hip" and making the audience say hooray. I wish I was a better writer and could fully describe how awful this guy was. It was the kind of performance that makes people lose faith in music. There was simply no excuse for how bad they were.
3. Menomena were really good, everything I hoped for after having been into their excellent album Friend or Foe for many months. I could write about their great versatility on multiple instruments or the fact that all three sang wonderfully, but after writing about and reminding myself about that god awful band(Illinois), I am in a bad mood and want to have a drink. I really cannot stress enough that under no circumstance should you ever permit yourself to be in a situation where you would have to witness Illinois. God, I really can't believe there are bands that bad.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2080 or how my conscience cost me $15


After work Tuesday I made my way down Franklin Ave to do something I have not done in a while, which was buy a new CD. The band that has caused this cataclysmic event was none other than Yeasayer. After snooping around the Electric Fetus, I finally asked one of the hipsters who work behind the counter to put his skinny jeans and ironic T-shirt to work and help me find my CD. He was ever so kind and ventured off to the bowels of the store to find a newly arrived copy of All Hour Cymbals, the debut CD from the aforementioned band that had piqued my jaded interest. The seed that had set off this desire was the first single from this album, the magnificent 2080. It first reminded me heavily of Animal Collective, but soon had me thinking of a mix between AC and TV on the Radio, which to me is a satisfying musical wet dream. The song had so much......tribal drums, far out vocals, rhythm, soul and an outro that peaks at just the right point. It builds and builds with chanting vocals until it maxes out near the 4:30 minute mark and ends with children singing the chorus. Great shit.
There were many reasons to buy this record, but I have embraced on a new musical mantra. If I like a CD and it is on a independent or at least semi-independent label....I will support them by purchasing their CD. If a band puts a CD out on Capital, I will lose no sleep over finding their music from other sources(screw you RIAA). Now be certain that I will not avoid or boycott bands who are on major labels, and I do not think of this as an unavoidable character flaw, I just don't make a lot of money, so I am not going to support the Grey Goose habits of square record execs who try to promote "music" when they also put out Britney Spears, Nickleback, Fergi and other products that insult me(and they should insult you too). My point is, you do not need a major label. If you want to be rich and famous, then it is a different story, and I would not be against the argument that wanting these things are contrary to the entire spirit of music(and art in general), but I am not actively engaging in a "indie cred" contest. If Interpol wants to get their videos on MTV and play Madison Square Garden, good for them. I just will not be buying their CD(but I will download the hell out of it....what can I say, they make some good music). Back to my point. The reason I decided to spend $12 on the Yeasayer CD were three fold. 1.They rock
2.They are on an independent label (We are Free) that supports new and different music. If I support them, their label can help promote other bands who are as interesting and diverse as Yeasayer.
3.I really do want to support musicians, and major labels do not support musicians(except the 10% who sell 5 million copies). I know that Yeasayer is not getting all $12 from my cd purchase, in fact I would assume they don't even get half of it, but I would bet that they are getting 4-5 times more from my cd purchase than Interpol would have gotten had I bought their $12 cd(at Walmart, yuck).
Walking to my car on the cool fall afternoon brought back many memories, albeit mostly foggy images from days long passed. I had an excited feeling in my stomach, and hands casually fingered the CD case that was still wrapped in the womb of plastic. I sat in my car and unwrapped the CD (seriously though, I forgot how annoying opening a CD is....free advice, don't open them while driving down Franklin during rush hour with your knee guiding the wheel, you will almost destroy the dirty beatnik biker who feels there bike is as important as your car and deserves an entire lane) and put it in for the drive home, excitedly listening to each new song and reading the packaging (again, wait until you get home, 94 is for driving folks, not reading who plays trombone of song six of your new Yeasayer CD). I felt good about what I did and think I will continue (in moderation, I really am poor), although as much as it was enjoyable.....having $15 and a burned copy would be pretty sweet too....oh well. I'm working on it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bon Iver


I saw the band Bon Iver last night at the Uptown Bar, and I have to say that he lived up to the hype. Whether he wants it or not, the spotlight will be shining brightly on this Eau Clair, Wisconsin band in the coming months after a glowing review on pitchfork. The album is quiet but moody, which does not always translate well into a live setting, but it came across as warm and forceful live Friday night. Justin Vernons' voice is commanding and the instrumentation allows for his voice to captivate the crowd. It was one of those shows where there really were not people talking during the set, which is always impressive. The band's setup for the majority of the show was just Justin and the drummer. He switched between a telecaster and a resonator guitar. The resonator was used for the more folky, subdued songs, while the telecaster was melded with his row of effects sitting at his feet. He does a good job of mixing his wobbling falsetto with a rich texture of noise, often venturing into My Bloody Valentine esque soundscapes. The highlights including a moving take on his song "Skinny Love" and the closing number "The Wolves (Act 1 and 2) when the members of Megafaun joined him on stage and beat on anything they could find.

The daunting task of following Bon Iver was left to previously mentioned North Carolina band MegaFaun and local electropop band Digitata. Megafaun were a nice transition from Bon Iver. They took his whimsical folk and added some rocking to it. They sounded like late period Uncle Tupelo and late period Wilco, and it was not that they were Jeff Tweedy mimics at all. Their songs were back-porch country songs with epic meltdowns thrown in. It was if you took the folk/country/bluegrass/traditional music that Uncle Tueplo did so well and had the Ghost is Born era Wilco play them. Many songs would start out with banjo and acoustic songs and suddenly be transformed into multiple minute feedback laden romps, only to be returned to crowd participation clap and stomp dirven songs that sounded like drunken church anthems. It was an interesting experience to say the least, and they did a formidable job continuing the buzz Bon Iver had left.

The last band of the night was the Minneapolis based band Digitata. They played danceable rock songs sung by a Wurlitzer playing singer who bore a striking resemblance to Fiona Apple(maybe only to me). They also had a guy who had a Animal Collective type setup who was doing samples and a live drummer. I was getting tired and did not stay for their whole set, but they had very tight, well structured songs that would be suggested to anyone who is a fan of electro pop.

Overall, I can very comfratbly jump aboard the Bon Iver bandwagon. I was hoping that his live set would live up to his great CD For Emma, Forever Ago, and it did. I hope that he rides the glow of his great internet reviews and continues to wow people on his upcoming national tour.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I suck


So I knew moving home would have some negative qualities, but I also thought I would be able to go see shows on a regular basis. This plan was fool-proof....except for I forgot that I would be working 8 plus hours every day and getting up at 7am. This allows for me going to shows, but it does not live up to the lush, Lester Bangs type concert orgy that I was hoping to partake in. In the last month I have missed....Besnard Lakes, Handsome Furs, Blitzen Trapper! (TWICE!!), John Vanderslice, the Black Lips(not my fault), and countless cool local shows. OH! THE HUMANITY. Just kidding. I do get to see quite a few shows, so I should probably stop complaining, but isn't complaining to strangers and voyeurs the reason you write these things? Oh yeah, the reason I wrote this is because I am being lazy and skipping Dr. Dog tonight. Shame on me, but I am just too tired, even for a glorious band like Dr. Dog. PS shame on you for not going too....

Rethinking Girl Talk


Apparently Girl Talk is now popular among the crowd of frat kids and assholes who are willing to push you over and trample on your back to get to the stage. So to all my friends wearing hollister and being idiots at the show....thank you for being present at the the last girl talk show I will ever attend. If my beer and or fist hit you and you happen to be reading this, I am sorry....that I was not able to do more to you. My next point is that the kid who sang "Chocolate Rain" should not only be barred from performing ever again, he should be stripped of all rights and sent to some remote detention facility in Eastern Europe. What he did Friday night was certainly a crime against humanity and therefore there should be a price paid. I'm not saying hurt him, I'm just saying a single cell with 24 hour flood lights with Barry Manilow playing 24 hours a day.....maybe then he will realize that shitty music is not funny/ironic/acceptable ANYWHERE or ANYTIME. Especially when I have paid money to see Dan Deacon and Girl Talk and I am being molested by the former back-up quarterback of the Edina football team on a 80 degree night. Overall....my streak of amazing concerts came to a screeching halt. I was rolling along nicely after Animal Collective, the National, and the Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem shows, but now I am going to be starting again from ground zero. Oh Well. You win some you lose some.

I am currently listening to the new Radiohead album.....sounds good so far. I hope this is the nail in the coffin of the antiqued business plan of the out of touch record companies.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Girl Talk TONIGHT!


Tonight is going to be a sloppy drunken mess that will feature me making a complete ass of myself....see you there.

This is my first post


Brace yourself for unknown levels of rocking that will be coming in the near future. HOT DOG.