Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Willys - Part VIII - Finale

Here is my top of the heap.
Like many decisions in life,
there may be some doubt tomorrow.

Today, these are my guys...


4. Foals – Antidotes

Maybe seeing this Oxford, UK outfit is what it was like to see Gang of Four in Leeds in the 70's. Don't get me wrong. They're NOT Gang of Four, but they have that danceability. I'm surprised that they didn't have more attention in these end o' the year lists. I suppose that I'm the only one to bite the hook on this hype...With all the hype around TV on the Radio the past couple of years, I'll have you know that this album was produced by their guitarist. Regardless, I enjoy this in all its NME/British rag over-hype. "Mathletics" was their 1st single. "Balloons" (arguably their strongest track) slowly churns to a fever pitch. "Cassius" is simply a stomper, and "The French Open" opens the album with a march into the inevitable fast pace of the whole album. Much like riot grrls and Swedish music, Will is a sucker for any British Invasion.

3. Little Joy – (s/t)

The Lord only knows when and if another Strokes album will arrive, but it is amazing how their drummer, Fabrizio Moretti's, presence in this little side project shifts the sound the way of his primary band. Granted, Little Joy sounds like the Strokes at the Copa Cabana Lounge. Lead singer, Rodrigo Amarante (a Brazilian - hence, the Copa), sounds eerily like the Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas, with his vocals distorted and filtered through a drain pipe. Free spirit, Bikini Shapiro, fills in with a mysterious and beautiful voice like Regina Spektor once did for the Strokes. "Keep Me In Mind" is the Strokes wannabe song but far from the best song. "Next Time Around" is a sweet ballad that finds all 3 of our players harmonizing over beach blanket riffs and beats. "Brand New Start" moves like a duet between Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello - simple and sharp. "Unattainable" is Shapiro's solo. It is identical to solo takes by Maureen "Mo" Tucker of The Velvet Underground (see: "After Hours" or "I'm Sticking with You"). At the end of the day, I love this record. In the dark, cold winter of Boston (it is dark here at 4:00pm, and we had a wind chill of -12 week before last), this little piece of vinyl will take you away to a desolate beach with a beautiful, warm sunset....

2. Vampire Weekend – (s/t)

You know? What more can be said about my little New England prepsters? I'm sure some of you STILL have not checked them out even after all my prodding. You still have time...Where Little Joy takes you to the beaches of Rio De Janeiro, the boys of VW make you feel like you are on the west coast of Africa having a beach jam off the Cote d'Ivoire. I must say as a Boston resident, resistance is futile as many have labeled this album a concept album about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" will bring out your inner noodle dance - go white people, go! "A-Punk" will make you bounce right through the living room floor. "Oxford Comma" has all my favorites: chapstick and bow ties. You people owe it a listen. So, grab your favorite critter sweater from J. Crew, your Vineyard Vines polo, throw on your Sperry top-sider boat shoes and dance like there's no tomorrow.

1. Fleet Foxes – (s/t)

Seeing my rants about the 2 previous bands, you've got to believe in the quality of Fleet Foxes to topple them both. 1 of 2 SubPop bands in my top 4 (Foals), the Foxes were a breath of fresh air as Spring turned to Summer in 2008. Their sound is something almost Appalachian with the heavy reverb that My Morning Jacket has popularized. Many of you love Band of Horses. I, too, once thought they had something. Now, I realize they are a bastardization of the Shins, the Jacket, and some Jane's Addiction sprinkled in like vermouth in my Manhattan. No thanks. Fleet Foxes is everything that BoH wishes they could be. This album is nothing short of beautiful. If you close your eyes, it's hard to tell whether you are trecking the Appalachian Trail or marching along the Misty Mountains from Rohan to Rivendell. This band was not one of hype. They just quietly worked their way to the top of almost every list out there. I hate to side with the masses, but Fleet Foxes are for real and deserve your attention. These songs were plumb worn out in Whitney's car. The lyrics and melodies will haunt you. I dare you to resist. "Your Protector" is one of my favorite songs of the year. "White Winter Hymnal" sounds like O Brother Where Art Thou's Baptist congregation bathing in the shoals. "Blue Ridge Mountains" is their "Battle of Evermore" (that's one of Led Zeppelin's most blatant songs of Tolkien influence in case you didn't know).

I hope some of this music will take you to another place. They have taken me away...

Thus, ends the Willy's.
Hope you enjoyed or even read some of this.

(it ate up some serious time)

Please comment with your favorites.
***I'd love to hear.***

I won't chastise your love of Sasha Fierce.
I promise.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Encore: The Muslims/Soft Pack

See, I told you I'm obsessed.
Here they are playing an acoustic
version of "Extinction" in Sterogum's studio.

They're garage rock, but they still rock stripped down.

The Willys - Part VII

Twice in 1 day, children
papa's got to make up for Friday.
Here begineth the rest of the Top 10...


8. Black Keys - Attack and Release

1st off I hate Ohio. Nevertheless, these Ohio natives are A-OK with me! Yet another Danger Mouse helmed album that stole my heart. This blues rock duo got down and drrrty for this Attack. While some of their bluesier sounds were sacrificed for some grungy 60's via Seattle sound, the end result is still fantastic. "Strange Times" is nothing strange, but shows the vacation from their stripped down sound on this album. It may be scorn early BK lovers, but they're still the same band you fell in love with.

7. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs

Much like Ohio, I have never been a fan of Death Cab. I know. It's right up there with Alex's heretic comment about Radiohead. You've all done it. That hot band that everyone embraces to the point that it makes you want to puke and the only way to rebel is to say, "No thanks". In 1994, it was Counting Crows and Hootie. In the '00s (that's pronounced ~ oughts), it has been Ben Gibbard and Co. It's not that I don't respect their music/talent (it's there), I just wanted no part of the hype. Narrow Stairs has come off like the end of the world for hardcore cabbies. Well guess what? I LIKE IT! Benny boy takes his mopey self and adds some "old" Seattleness rather than the droning new school of Shins and Band of Horses (another band - I loathe - here comes the hatemail - and I know they're from NM and SC, respectively - not Seattle). "Cath" f-ing rocks, while "No Sunlight" is a power pop anthem of AC Newman/New Pornographer proportions. What can I say...? It will "Possess Your Heart".

6. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

These cats are cool as grits. They sure like to have fun, and it translates to their music. They sound as if they could be a Phil Lesh offshoot of the Dead. "Furr" is them all stripped down for a mountain jam ala Fleet Foxes. Heck, just listen to the whole album. It sounds like a 70's rock revival (and I don't even like most 70's rock) see: "Sleepytime In the Western World".

5. The Muslims - (s/t)

The words escape my lips. Much like my eargasm/obsession that began last Winter with Vampire Weekend, the Muslims (now The Soft Pack) appear poised to steal my heart into 2009. They rock with the swagger of the Black Lips but take it into 5th gear. "Extinction" is the heat along with "Call It a Day" and "Beside Myself". Unless you bought this long before I blogged about it back when, you are plum out of luck until February when the 2nd pressing comes out...Get it fast!!!! If they come anywhere near your town, you owe to yourself to check them out. I'd put this closer to the top, but it isn't even a full album....

The Top of the Pops

The Willys - Part VI

Sorry for the delay kiddos...
it's hard to find time around the holidays....

Back in Boston and back to the countdown


12. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

This was on my list last year, but seeing as it was re-released by Columbia this year to widespread appeal it deserves our attention. This trippy duo had arguably my favorite song last year in "Time to Pretend". It still is amazing 1 year later. This year they had another breakout in "Electric Feel" and a minor hit in "Kids". I'm sure you've heard something at this point. If not, you can't go wrong with any of those 3.

11. M83 – Saturdays=Youth

Other than "Don't Save Us From the Flames" from a couple of years ago, I was relatively uninterested in M83. This album changed that. Rather than an album, this plays like a soundtrack to an 80's movie you never saw. At times, it feels like the soundtrack to something like "Risky Business" minus the train ride...."Graveyard Girl" is the hit single, and "Couleurs" is the sound that M83 always aims for. They're one of the few French acts I can stand other than Phoenix.

10. Beck – Modern Guilt

Most of what Danger Mouse has touched turns to gold. Here he strikes again. Teamed with Beck they craft 60's reverbed rock that cuts like a knife. At just over 30 min, these 10 songs cut out the fat and leave you with the meat. "Orphans" pairs Beck with Chan Marshall/Cat Power for a spooky ballad. "Gamma Ray" is Beck's surf rock anthem. "Profanity Prayers" is Beck at his heart...Can You Dig It?

9. My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Most people can't stand when their favorite band releases that "experimental" album (me included). For most, Evil Urges was that sour taste. For me, I thought Z was the experimental one. Give me all the "Evil Urges" I can handle. The title track soars, while "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream" is a classic! "I'm Amazed" is nothing short of amazing, and could be a hit for crossover country like "When the Stars Go Blue" was butchered by Tim McGraw....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Willys - Part V

The 20 continues.
Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas!
Now on with the countdown...


16. The Black Ghosts – (s/t)

"Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu don't feel loooooooonsoooooooome don't yooooooooo?" sings Damon Albarn on "Repetition Kills You". This combo of Simian Mobile Disco and the Wiseguys made for a dancefloor explosion in the UK. You can most certainly shake your rump to to these boys. If the Repetition doesn't move you, then check "Anyway You Choose To Give It". If still nothing, then check your pulse...

15. The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke

Many thanks to the kids at SubPop whose parent label Hardly Art highly recommended this boy/girl duo. Imagine if the White Stripes had not been soaked in Mississippi Delta blues but steeped in early Between the Buttons Stones. Listen to "Reservoir Park" and tell me it wouldn't fit right between "Ruby Tuesday" and "She Smiled Sweetly"....(If you've never listened to the Rolling Stones - Betwen the Buttons - then do - it's my 2nd favorite Stones album after Sticky Fingers)

14. The Virgins – (s/t)

After last years EP that was aptly titled: "07", I was about to pee my pants waiting for the Virgins full-length debut. It couldn't have lived up to my excitement, but it almost did. The shame was that they re-recorded 2 of the best songs from the EP and not for the better..."Love Is Colder Than Death" and "Rich Girls" were unreal on the EP. Rich Girls stayed about the same, but L.I.C.T.D. became an entirely different song....***If you can find the more upbeat version of "Love Is..." off the EP, get it! The Virgins are what Dexy's Midnight Runners (they sang "Come on Eileen", morons...) would sound like in 2008, I think...

13. The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

While not the herky jerky of the debut, this album sounds more cohesive. Rather than a Jack White song followed by a Brendan Benson song, the boys really collaborated for this effort. You can't help get fired up by "Salute Your Solution", and Brendan really cuts his teeth on "Many Shades of Black". "Carolina Drama" takes me back to some old White Stripes, while "Attention" sounds like the Brendan Benson of 1996...."Sittin' Pretty"

Tomorrow: #12-9

Merry Christmas !!!!

That's it! Have a great day with your family!

Glory to God in the Highest !!!

(and a merry Merry from Sufjan!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Willys - Part IV

Here is the beginning of my Top 20 - I hope I don't change my mind too much....


20. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals

Greg Gillis is a mash-up mad man. I can only imagine what fun a Girl Talk show is....If you have never heard any of his work, just download 1 song off this album and see what a crazy mess it is. I still can't believe the lawsuits have not come pouring in. When you combine 20 songs to make a 3:00 song - it is impressive. For sheer effort, this madness makes the 20. "Set It Off" is worth a listen.

19. Vivian Girls - (s/t)

What can I say? I am a sucker for many things and music. Riot Grrls/Indie rock chicks: check! Though they sound like they're singing/droning out of a drainage pipe with Jesus & Mary Chain's wall of sound backing them up, they can rock my garage any day...."Tell the World" is their main gun.

18. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

While it seems to be coming a habit for groups to have random girls playing random instruments in their band, it works for the Riot. I'm pretty sure that's a cello I hear. Whatever.
This was the best album on Barsuk's label this year. Good indie pop rock with sad undertones of a lost bandmate, just as they came on the scene. I'm sure he's looking down and proud. Check "Ghost Under Rocks" for a sample.

17. Kings of Leon – Only By the Night

Well let's be honest...if these cats were not from my hometown, they probably wouldn't have made this list. They've long hung up the strokes sound and sold their soul for U2 arena styles. Bad moooove for Will. Good move for them? I miss the Aha Shake Heartbreak, but will learn to embrace the "Sex on Fire". That was a pumping good single (piss poor lyrics) that opened doors for them. Let's just say the August 2007 show at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston was mild compared to the October 2008 Orpheum show. This year the balcony nearly came unhinged with revelry (security had to enlist a "no jumping/dancing policy"). Too bad they play the SAME setlist EVERY night - Boring! Live this album sounds 1000x better, and that's what brings it home. "Use Somebody" is a classic song live. Just not sure if the Kings are wearing their crowns right......?

Tomorrow: 16-13

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Willys - Part III

Sometimes, you have to just cut yourself off....Some of these could be in the Top 20 tomorrow, and out of my mind and in the garbage the next day....Nevertheless, today - these are the ones that fell short....

Honorable Mentions, Almosts, and Nice Trys...

Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster

These Welsh peasants (I think that is what that means in Spanish?) scream and yell but in a good way. They're of the same vein as Architecture in Helsinki except the music does not sound like kids's like if Black Kids were as hip as they thought they were - "Death To Los Capesinos" is a gooder!

Hercules and Love Affair – (s/t)

Ask me tomorrow and this may be in the Top 20 - I waver! It is a great dance record. Anything by DFA is good to groove to and "Blind" is a single of the year everywhere. I'm a "Theme from Hercules and Love Affair" guy, though...

No Age - Nouns

One of my favorite mysteries of the year, Nouns is from my boys at Sub Pop Records. I have this on vinyl, so it necessitates listening to the whole album and not skipping around. It truly is a beautiful mess. It may be so good and over my head that I can't comprehend it. Go with "Eraser" or "Teen Creeps" - Honestly, it's over all our heads.

Chairlift – Does You Inspire You?

"I try to do handstands fooooor yooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!" This iPod Nano commercial staple is always fun to sing in our house. I managed to get past the "Evident Utensil" to embrace "Bruises".

She and Him – Volume 1

Whitney knows I have been intrigued with Zooey Deschanel since Almost Famous. Too bad Whitney hates her, but she is also slightly/secretly intrigued. She and M. Ward's collaboration is very ambitious, and would be in my Top 20 if it weren't for their Beatles sacrilege of covering it Hawaiian/Don Ho style. "Why Would You Let me Stay Here" is a classic!

Megapuss - Surfing

Devendra - The retro vibe on this one pulls me through. It breaks no barriers and achieves nothing new, but it has fun with itself. This is just some friends goofing off. It shows, but it's fun. "Gun on My Hip and a Rose on My ____" is laced with swears, but it is coooool.

The Kills – Midnight Boom

This American/UK duo rocks the Lo-fi garage rock. They've added an almost danceability to their sound....THAT is what keeps them out of my 20. It's good, but I miss the old Kills..."Cheep and Cheerful" is the new sound....."Good Ones" is some good ol Kills.

The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement

I love Arctic Monkeys plain and simple. Since this is Alex Turner's side project with his Brit buddy, I have no choice! Granted it all sounds like Roger Moore era Bond soundtracks, but I dig it. Live and let die!!!!! Check out - "Standing Next to Me"

The Dodos – Visiter

This is the Iron & Wine for '08, since Sam didn't put out an album this year. Very chill and folksy and excellent to chill to. Nick Drake fans? Maybe give it a whirl! They're no Nick Drake, and that is why they're not in the 20. "Fools" is for you!

Nice try, guys! Maybe next year!

Tomorrow: The Beginning of the Top 20

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Willys - Part II

Like my compadre, Leland, work has taken it's toll this year. Even with me making the utmost effort to stay on top of things, many an album fell through the cracks...While there are countless others I could list, here are some albums I wish I had "bent an ear to". (and my apologies for ending a sentence with a preposition - but who says, "albums to which I had bent an ear"?)

Albums I Wish I Had Bought
(so, I could have an opinion)

Black Mountain – In the Future

These cats rock on down the mountain. I think I will pick this up before New Years. I tend to steer clear of Jagujaguar bands (it's a label with a bunch of weirdness on it), but I have a 7" of theirs that even Whitney was digging on (by that I mean I was allowed to keep listening...).

Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads

I've already spoken of this album in a previous post. I've heard a handful of their songs off this one, and it may be some of their better stuff courtesy of Mark Ronson behind the board. Again, check out "Never Miss a Beat", and maybe we'll go get this one together!

Bloc Party - Intimacy

So, I have yet to listen to anything Bloc Party since Silent Alarm short of a remix of "The Witch" from the last album. I have heard nothing but the song "Misery" (is that even the name?). With songs back when like "Like Eating Glass" and "Hellacopter", I'm not sure I want to hear the newer stuff.

The Walkmen – You and Me

Never owned any Walkmen albums, but I almost bought this one. I'm never quite sure what I think of the singer's interesting delivery...This one got good reviews, and I like "The Blue Route". Could be on my after Christmas InSound order....

TV On the Radio – Dear Science

Well this album is #1 or #2 in almost every list I see. Yet, I am still reluctant. I have their 1st 2 albums, and like this one they were on all the best of year lists...They're most certainly talented people, but maybe just not my style. I love "Wolf Like Me" off Return to Cookie Mountain, and "Golden Age" off this one is a winner. Agree to disagree...

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cardinology

Just really lacking the motivation for this one...Talk about no self-editing mechanism....I celebrate the guys entire collection, but I just wonder if he's got anything new to tell me? "Fix It" was not the lead single I would have put out there...I'm gonna go listen to Cold Roses...

Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us

My favorite husband wife duo! They're like a modern day Captain and Tenille! I just bricked on this one. Critics says it wasn't thee best, but I think I'll eventually break down. Whitney and I both enjoy "My Only Offer".

Women – Women

What is this? Two Jagujaguar bands that I wish I had bought? I must be losing my mind...and they're Canadian! eww! Then again they have some Pavement moments....

Lykke Li – Youth Novels

This little Scandinavian popper sounds like the best thing since Robyn! You know how I love Scandinavian pop - I'm a huge sucker! Granted she has a more Gem sound with the occasional Lily Allen moment, except I think she's got more talent than those 2 without a doubt..

School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms

Ben Curtis' new venture after leaving one of my favs, Secret Machines...Only listened to a couple songs, but I just want to know where all those SM hooks went - I believe you'll find it here (wink).

The Knux - Remind Me in Three Days...

Ahhh, non-mainstream rap. This two guys appear intriguing. I have heard nothing and know nothing. Anyone else have any input?

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Not a Craig Finn fan (hold your horses!), but at least THS put out a song I at least could tolerate ("Sequestered In Memphis"). It should be an automatic download or anyone with anything to do with that town. It appears to be great Midtown action. Their show at the Hi-Tone last spring must have been coupled with a very harassing interview with some Memphis Flyer hussy. Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it goes! (Midtown is Memphis! Belvedere, REPRESENT !!!!)

Well, that's it - I could list these all day...I'm glad I didn't buy the new Of Montreal, Deerhunter, any of the Crystal Castle/Antlers, Beach House, blah blah blah stuff. I've heard enough from those camps, so sorry every magazine/pundit out there....

Anything out there that you guys wish you had checked out and didn't?


Honorable Mentions, Almosts, and Nice Trys...