I can't believe it's been over a year since I did one of these! Good lord! I've got some music to catch you up on.
Bear in Heaven - Mellow indie rock with a vague techno/electronic/psychedelic vibe. Consistently good. I've got Beast Rest Forth Mouth and a CD's worth of remixes.
Broken Bells - A talented indie pop supergroup, consisting of Danger Mouse and James Mercer, the frontman for The Shins. You have to have heard this band's catchy single, "The High Road," at some point. They've got only one disc so far, a self-titled release that came out last year (and which just managed to secure one of the coveted spots on my top ten albums of the year list).
Codeine Velvet Club - A Scottish alternative band that formed in 2008 and is already broken up! They put out only one self-titled release, and it's good.
Das Racist - Since you asked, no, I'm not entirely comfortable listening to a group that calls itself "Das Racist," but what can you do? These guys are good! It's a rap group out of Brooklyn. I have Sit Down, Man and I'm downloading Shut Up, Dude literally as I type this. You can get both for free on their website, linked above.
Imaad Wasif - This guy's stuff is described as "folk rock," but that can't be right because I don't like folk, and I like this. I think it's more prog rock than folk rock. I'm talking about the one release I have, The Voidist.
JEFF The Brotherhood - Straight up, old school, loud, noisy, garage rock. Not complicated, but consistently good. I've got Heavy Days.
Ketch Harbour Wolves - Alternative/indie rock with powerful, emotional vocals. I've got Anachronisms.
Meshuggah - Swedish experimental metal. Hell yes. I have Destroy Erase Improve, which came out in 1995. Maybe it's time to track down some of the band's more recent releases.
The Pack A.D. - Kick-ass bluesy rock from Canada, of all places. I have We Kill Computers, which thankfully has yet to actually kill my computer, despite its brutality.
Past Lives - Not sure how to describe these guys. Indie, I guess? Loud and slightly weird. I have Tapestry of Webs. It's good.
Phoenix - That French indie pop rock band that had that hit on that car commercial! The band's most recent release, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (which has the car commercial track on it - it's called "1901"), is quite good, but I'm sad to say the earlier releases are not nearly as good. Cheesy and forgettable. Stick with that one disc and you're good.
Pirate Love - It's hard to resist an album called Black Vodoun Space Blues. The sound is sort of eerie psych rock? I don't know, I suck at describing music. It's good!
Think About Life - Canadian indie rock, with a slightly funky feel. Family from 2009 is the album I have.
The True Lovers - Quality classic rock out of Brooklyn. I think the self-titled disc is their only release, but it's hard to tell (MySpace sucks, man).
Valient Thorr - METAL! Yeah! The latest release is Stranger, which is what I've got. It's quality.
Older, Well-Known Bands I Really Should Not Have Only Just Discovered The Crystal Method - Yes, the electronic/dance band that everyone else has known about since the early '90s. I have Divided By Night.
Daft Punk - Thanks to Tron Legacy for finally introducing me to this famous electronic duo.
Jay-Z - You may have heard of this guy. I have The Blueprint 3.
I'm a little embarrassed for listing these guys here, as their music is polished, pop-oriented "nu metal." Given that I am not a frat dude, I probably shouldn't like them. But... it's just fun! And I liked listening to it! What can I do?
A contemporary band with an amazing blues/classic rock sound. Ridiculously good.
Max Tannone This dude's a DJ who I became aware of via Twitter. He mixed The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head with itself to create Doublecheck Your Head, and mixed Jay-Z with Radiohead to create Jaydiohead. It's fantastic, fantastic stuff. Click through for free downloads of the full albums.
I've been talking about these guys a lot, on this site and on my Twitter, and they've kind of exploded on the radio and the internet, so no introduction should be necessary. They're a supergroup that's actually super. Their debut release is sexy, smart, biting, rocking, and an instant classic.
It's only been half a year since I did one of these, instead of the full year between the last two! Here's some of the best stuff I've discovered in that time.
[LATE ADDITION: Middle Class Rut AKA MC Rut. Looks like the band has put out a couple of EPs, and that's about it. I have the latest one: 25 Years EP. The band name and album cover led me to believe it would be lame, like untalented white guys doing hip-hop or something, but it's not that at all. The sound (vocals and music) is similar to Jane's Addiction, but louder and heavier. Catchy hard rock. I'm rapidly becoming a big fan.]
Amanda Palmer I'd read a lot about Amanda Palmer from her partners in crime, Neil Gaiman and Kyle Cassidy, so when I saw her latest CD, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, for cheap at the Record and Tape Trader in Rehoboth, I decided to give it a try. I loved it immediately. Catchy, clever, funny, and quite lovely. Plus, Palmer is backed up with some great piano playing and production from Ben Folds. My favorite tracks are the first two on the album: "Astronaut: A Short History Of Nearly Nothing" and "Runs In The Family." I'm also impressed by the guts it took to write a fun, jaunty song about rape, abortion, and fanhood ("Oasis").
Red Fang METAL. I love metal. This band only has the one self-titled album so far, but it's evil and rocking. I'm a particular fan of "Reverse Thunder Restored," "Night Destroyer," and "Humans Remain Human Remains."
Witch J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. plus some other guys doing hard rock. Good stuff. I have the latest, Paralyzed, but they also have a self-titled from a couple years ago. Best track: "Space God."
Five Blank Pages I don't even have the album by these guys (Last Blush), just the Young Glow EP. They're a bit... emo, I guess, but it's likable, moving stuff. Thoughtful, romantic indie pop, you might say.
White Lies The resurgence of the New Wave continues! Maybe it's partly nostalgia, but I can't resist British '80s-style pop. These guys have one album so far, entitled To Lose My Life. My favorite track is "A Place to Hide." Or maybe "Fifty On Our Foreheads."
Black Math Horseman I love that band name!! Seriously, that's like my favorite band name... maybe ever. They have one album, Wyllt, and it's solid. The Amazon product description toys with calling their music "ambient post-doom" or "alchemic psych-rock." Those are as good descriptions as any. It's metal that's spacey, wandering, and jammy, but never boring.
MarvelAnn Smart, catchy, moving indie pop, with just a slight country flavor. Bad Advice appears to be the band's only full-length recording. No song in particular stands out, but they're all quite good.
Iron Age More METAL. Brutal, epic, thrashing, fast-paced metal. It's a beautiful thing. \m/
Older, Well-Known Bands I Really Should Not Have Only Just Discovered The Roots Smart, funny, powerful hip-hop with beats that you just can't stop. I'm already close to owning their entire catalog. They have many ridiculously good songs, but my favorite might be "Here I Come" off of Game Theory.
Kristin Hersh/Throwing Muses/50 Foot Wave poppy and many others have known of Kristin Hersh's brilliance for years, but I only finally got turned onto her and her various bands just recently. I'm still working my way through the incredible amount of music the woman has produced (all of which I stole from poppy), but it's only the rare track that's not either very good or excellent. I'm a particular fan of Hersh's work with 50 Foot Wave, as the stuff she does with that band tends to be harder and faster than the rest.
Liz Phair For quite a while I only knew Liz Phair from her more recent stuff, which is mostly bland pop music that's interchangeable with a lot of the other bland pop music being put out by other artists these days. Then I heard Exile in Guyville. Not every song on here is a home run, but many are brilliant, biting, clever, funny, and still fresh after 16 years.
Portishead Wow. What a unique and intriguing sound this band has. All I have is their latest, Third, but there's not a bad track on it as far as I'm concerned. Complex, thoughtful, eerie, fascinating.
It's been a looooong time since I wrote one of these (over a year! See here), so I thought it was overdue. To compile the list this time, I simply picked my favorites from a list of bands who had at least two five star songs on my iPod and had been added to my iPod within the last year.
The Duke Spirit - I gave these guys a write-up on Phillyist a while back. You can jump over there to see how I feel about them in more detail, but the short version is, they're an awesomely rocking, catchy, indie pop rock band from England with a female lead singer.
Hi Fidel - A St. Louis rap label sent me a bunch of their records at the end of last year. They were all a lot better than I expected, and one of the best was The Company of Wolves by Hi Fidel. One of my favorite tracks on it is a ridiculous and hilarious track called "Manther," which tells the origin story of the titular superhero (or supervillain?), who is described as "all man... all panther." Hi Fidel has great writing, great rhymes, and great beats.
Killswitch Engage - I mentioned in a recent post that a friend of mine at work let me borrow an external hard drive full of music. Well, two albums by this band were on there, and after a quick listen to a track or two, I copied both of them in their entirety onto my iPod. Since then I actually haven't listened to that much more of the band's music, but I already know I love it. It's screamy metal with brutal guitar riffs and dramatic lyrics. What's not to love?
Amongst the pop phrases, dance rhythms, and synthesizers, we hear New Wave and '60s pop influences.... All the tracks have strong beats that get you moving; the lyrics are fun and sexy (and sometimes even science fictiony); and Kate Jackson's vocals are hot.... Our favorite tracks... include... "Century," as well as the dramatic, foreboding "Round the Hairpin."
Mogwai - I know, these guys aren't exactly a new band, but I only just listened to them for the first time earlier this year. My Phillyist article on them is right here. They've got post-rock, instrumental music with roaring guitars. I'm a fan.
Shearwater - After I heard a few tracks off Shearwater's album Rook, I was ready to dismiss the band's work as wussy-boy music. But I kept listening, and although I continue to find some of their tracks pretty weak, others are so excellent that it's easy to ignore the few bad apples. It's emotional indie pop rock, backed up sometimes by driving guitars, and sometimes by a quiet piano. The lyrics are literate, and leave me with a vague and pleasant sense of the fantasy genre. Keep in mind I could be making that up, however; I've associated rooks with fantasy novels ever since I was introduced to the words "rook" and "rookery" when reading David Eddings' Belgariad as a kid, and that could be misleading me.
The Sword - This is one of my favorite bands on this list. The fantasy connection in their music is definite and clear; their song titles and lyrics make direct references to A Song of Ice and Fire. So that puts them on my good side right away. Add to that the fact that their music is brutal, complex, fantastic metal, and I'm in love. Phillyist article here.
3 Inches of Blood - Of the bands on this list, this is the one with the most five star-rated songs on my iPod. And that's because they put out insane, fast-paced, screamy metal with a fantasy theme. In other words, music that Fëanor has no choice but to love.
The National - I've become familiar with these guys through their album Boxer. My favorite tracks are "Fake Empire" and "Mistaken for Strangers." They do a sort of literate, slightly melancholy indie pop-rock. Favorite lyrics: "We're half awake in a fake empire." "You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends."
TV on the Radio (MySpace) - I was a little behind the times on these guys; I got into them after most other people. I have their album Return to Cookie Mountain; my favorite track is "Tonight." It's hard to describe exactly what they sound like. It's kind of slightly weird, eerie indie rock. They have a great song called "Wolf Like Me" which, at least as far as I can tell from the video, is sung from the perspective of a werewolf. Man, that song rocks.
Augie March (MySpace) - These guys win for best album title I've heard in a long time: Moo, You Blood Choir. It's got a lot of great tracks on it, too, my favorites being "One Crowded Hour" and "Just Passing Through." Favorite lyric: "I thought I'd found my golden September in the middle of that purple June... For one crowded hour you were the only one in the room." Their sound is kind of a swirling, romantic indie pop.
Robbers on High Street (MySpace) - Got a couple of recordings by these guys: an EP called The Fatalist and Friends and a full-length called Grand Animals. "The Fatalist" (off the former, obviously) is an absolutely fantastic rock song. "Married Young" on the latter disc is also excellent and rocking. These guys have bounce and verve, an interesting sort of echo on the vocals, and a rather retro feel overall.
Pterodactyl (MySpace) - "Polio" off these guys' self-titled release has some of the greatest percussion I've ever heard. "Astros" is another great track off that disc. Pterodactyl are a bit stranger and more experimental. It's noise rock, with really screamy vocals. But in a fun way. Mostly.
Portugal. The Man (MySpace) - This band has a slightly Southern-fried, foot-stomping, classic rock vibe to them, and the lead singer sounds quite a bit like Jack White. They're pretty slamming; there's only one track on their album Church Mouth that I didn't really care for. Three that I liked in particular are the title track, "Bellies Are Full," and "Sleeping Sleepers Sleep."
Rogue Wave (MySpace) - I've got a couple random tracks by these guys, plus their album Asleep at Heaven's Gate. I haven't listened carefully to all of it yet, but it all seems pretty rocking, with "Phonytown" sticking out as particularly good.
Celebration - The only band here with a female lead singer (I'm not sure what that says about me), Celebration is another group I really need to listen to more before I can give a fully developed opinion, but everything I've heard so far off their disc The Modern Tribe has been really awesome, with "Pressure" being my favorite. They describe themselves as "Alternative & Punk." I wouldn't have thought of the word "Punk" to describe them, but "Alternative" certainly.
The Advantage - Nintendo covers, plain and simple. I think I still prefer The Minibosses for this kind of thing, but these guys are good, too.
Envy - Basically a guy screaming in Japanese in front of guitars and drums. Awesome.
Final Fantasy - Like Sufjan Stevens, if instead of writing about US states, he was writing about D&D and nymphs and crap like that. Yep, the band is named after the game, and it's pretty much just one guy: Owen, who played violin for Arcade Fire.
Chromelodeon - 8-piece band playing video game-inspired orchestral instrumental fantasy metal. And how can that be anything less than totally awesome? In fact, it cannot.
Be Your Own Pet - Pretty awesome experimental indie punk rock band recently embraced by Sonic Youth.
Muse - Epic fantasy metal with a vaguely Mars Volta-ish sound to it. Cheesy sometimes, but the kind of cheesy I like. Mozzarella!
Goblin Cock - Yeah, you heard me! They're metal. Metal!!!