Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Music Jerk Rob's Favorite Albums of 2013

Through darkness and in to the light--a champion emerges.




(Click links for ear fun.  Mostly comprehensive Spotify playlist below.)

30.  Lousy With Sylvianbriar by Of Montreal


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Thrashed through the forest like a tormented brute, 

I had to make myself a monster just to feel something ugly enough to be true." (Triumph of Disintegration)

29.  Secret Songs: Reflections From the Ear Mirror by Nobunny


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "She's a different kind of girl.  She lives in another world..." (Lizard Liars)


28.  Floating Coffin by Thee Oh Sees


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I've been filling the tunnels with my lantern at night, slowly scratching the names off the walls of the mind for good." (Tunnel Time)


27.  The Speed of Things by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "But if you come back to haunt me, I would swear I heard you talking through the walls again.  All night I'd be pretending every noise I heard was just your ghost." (A Haunting)


26.  For Years by Airhead


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Autumn day, that's enough for me.  And I've lost all the certainty I think I can hold.  I think I can hold on." (Autumn)


25.  Settle by Disclosure


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I've been infected with restless whispers and cheats that manifested in words and lies that you speak--because I played the fool for you." (F For You)


24.  OutRun by Kavinsky


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I come to life when I'm drivin', see the city lights..." (Suburbia)


23.  Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I believe in the rapture, for I've seen your face." (Mermaids)


22.  Trouble Will Find Me by The National


Lyric of Possible Relevance: "You didn't see me I was falling apart.  
I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park." (Pink Rabbits

21.  Curiosity by Wampire

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Life is but a playground with kids running around -- catch me on the slide." (Magic Light

20.  Idle No More by King Khan & The Shrines

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "If there's a Lord, make her a woman.  May she look after all who need her inside.  May she forgive all of those cowards who make every day a losing fight." (Pray For Lil

19.  Dynamics by Holy Ghost!

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Open the shutter, to let the light out.  Painting by numbers and it's going south.  I need thunder, we need thunder.  I need something for my summer drought!" (Dumb Disco Ideas)

18.  Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I'm only one of her one and onlys." (Clipped On)

17.  Thr!!!er by !!!

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Well I can't forget things you said or your kisses.  And I keep your secrets where I keep your promises.  But you need my confessions 'bout as much you need my lies." (One Girl/One Boy)

16.  Anxiety by Autre Ne Veut

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "You make me whole.  You make me crawl." (Play by Play)

15.  Hummingbird by Local Natives

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "I know nothing's wrong, but I'm not convinced." (Breakers)

14.  Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Want a little grace, but who's gonna say a little grace for me?" (Unbelievers)

13.  The North Borders by Bonobo

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Love is in the eyes of the beholder. I’ve kept the clouds at distance from the blue, hoping there’s a chance we’d change it over.  Picking up the pieces and make do." (Pieces)

12.  Amok by Atoms For Peace

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Move through the moment, though it betrays." (Ingenue

11.  Silence Yourself by Savages

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Don't worry about breaking my heart.  Far bigger things will fall apart." (No Face

10.  Love's Crushing Diamond by Mutual Benefit

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "And sometimes beauty isn't hard to find when you're around to ease my troubled mind." (C.L. Rosarian)

9.  White Lighter by Typhoon

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "
And now your choices surround you.  And decision confounds you.  And you're pacing around the place.  Shows you everything you're not." (Young Fathers)

8.  Specter at the Feast by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "How much time have we got left?  It's killing us, but carries us on." (Returning)

7.  The Flower Lane by Ducktails

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "When you're walking next to me, seems just like it's make-believe." (Letter of Intent)

6.  MCII by Mikal Cronin

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "The heavy times are worth their weight in gold." (I'm Done Running From You)

5.  AM by Arctic Monkeys

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "Now it's three in the morning and I'm trying to change your mind." (Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?)

4.  We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "There's no need to be an asshole, you're not in Brooklyn anymore." (No Destruction)

3.  The Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "
Bang bang, I'm calling your name.  You're like a fire the world can't tame.  I wanna riot 'til the stars come out and play.  Is that okay?" (Primetime)

2.  After Dark 2 by Various Artists

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "
Is life a social fiction?  Not to see but be seen?  Oh, now that's a ghost's ambition." (Beautiful Object)

1.  ...Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age

Lyric of Possible Relevance: "And I’m swimming in the night, chasing down the moon.  The deeper in the water, the more I long for you." (...Like Clockwork)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Music Jerk Rob's Favorite Songs of 2013

Every robot must eventually find his dance partner.  But must also keep the music coming.


2013.  Strong damn strong year in music and certainly the deepest in quite some time--hence my list of favorite songs from 2013 is a whopping THIRTY tracks.  Yet as always, I make you my all killer, no filler guarantee.

A few notes about this list:

  • The track order is randomized.  While I will rank my choices for best albums in a given year, I don't have the patience or will in me to try to rank songs outside of maybe my favorite 3-4.
  • Having said that, I can tell you that my song of the year for 2013 was "Letter of Intent" by Ducktails.  A perfectly crafted song if I ever heard one--my  Last.fm stats can attest to the fact that it was far away my most listened to song of 2013.
  • Unlike many of the websites and lists you will read, I am a one-man semi-pro operation.  I did NOT listen to everything that came out this year and thus my lists are composed of my "favorites" as opposed to some loosely conceived consensus on what the "best" music of the year was.  There's a great chance I'll hear an amazing song from 2013 next month that I'll wish I'd heard before.  But thems the damn breaks, eh?
  • Four artists have more than one song on my list this year: Janelle Monáe, Glass Candy, Ducktails, and Foxygen.
  • One album--Italians Do It Better's superb After Dark 2 by various artists--has four tracks on this list.


  In the coming weeks we'll start analyzing and dissecting the best albums of the year. But for now, cozy that sweet ass of yours up to this loving playlist.  It will do right by you.

There are TWO ways to listen to this playlist!  The Spotify version of the playlist* is located directly below the track listing. Not a Spotify subscriber?  No problem. Directly below the Spotify playlist, an 8tracks playlist (requiring no subscription) is also found below.  Just press the 'play' button on the box and rock.  (Works on computers or mobile devices.)

*Track 2, "Stuck Together Pieces" by Atoms for Peace, is currently unavailable on Spotify.  It IS available on the 8tracks playlist below!






Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Your Tuesday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "$" by Mark Sultan



Artist: Mark Sultan


Album: $


Release Year: 2010


Label: Last Gang (2010)/Mark Sultan (2012?)


Genre: Rock, Psychedelia, Noise Rock, Doo-Wop


For Fans of: The King Khan & BBQ Show, 1950's and early 1960's rock, Nobunny 
DISCLAIMER: Mark Sultan is notoriously easy to make incorrect comparisons with in terms of similar artists.


Perfect For: Solo thrashing, Partakery, Occasional air guitaring/drumming, exfoliation of brain

Album Highlights: "Icicles", "Go Beserk", "I Am the End", "Misery's Upon Us"



The Non-MJR Review

*The album is currently unavailable for "legal" download from the major vendors, so Grooveshark is your best bet.  It's a bit illusive, but a GREAT album worth listening to (and finding on vinyl is possible!)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your Tuesday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "Station to Station" by David Bowie



Artist: David Bowie

Album: Station to Station

Release Year: 1976

Label: RCA 

Genre: Art Rock, Dance Rock, Dark Glam, Funk/Disco, Post-Punk


Perfect For: Warming your dark, cold heart in a dark, cold world--but not too much because it's important to carry some of that coldness around to remind you the party can't last forever

Album Highlights: "Station to Station", "Golden Years", "TVC15"


Friday, November 15, 2013

Playlist of the Week: To Build a Fire

Light it up.


The end of year work begins in earnest.  To further help prepare you, I've  updated my giant mega ultra "MJR's Top Tracks of 2013" Spotify playlist.

This final playlist of the week for the year is one of my favorites thus far in 2013.  It keeps me warm and will hopefully do the same for you.

There are TWO ways to listen to this playlist!  The Spotify version of the playlist is located directly below the track listing. Not a Spotify subscriber?  No problem. Directly below the Spotify playlist, an 8tracks playlist (requiring no subscription) is also found below.  Just press the 'play' button on the box and rock.  (Works on computers or mobile devices.)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings and 3 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions

Savages made it in to my record collection the old school way.  They knocked me on my ass live.  If you squint real hard, you can see me out in the audience.  Knocked on my ass.

The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings*

*Spotify links provided when available

1.  ...Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age (Last Week: 1)

2.  After Dark 2 by Various Artists (Last Week: 2)

3.  The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae (Last Week: 3)

4.  AM by Arctic Monkeys (Last Week: 5)

5.  We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen (Last Week: NR)


Other 2013 Contenders (in no particular order)

+Available via Grooveshark

Newly Added 2013 Contenders This Week:

    3 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions to/about Music This Week

    1.  Potentially provocative observation that I actually don't intend to be: I never thought I would have so many female artists in my music collection.  And while that may sound sexist, I can assure you that I've generally "gone" where I've been "lead" in terms of finding great music.  For whatever reason, I'm finding more dynamic, daring, innovative, and plain damn good music from women than I ever have before.

    2.  I got married earlier this month and my lovely wife and I decided to make a mixed CD to give to guests.  If you're interested, you can listen to it on this handy Spotify playlist.  Fun (EASY) game: Guess which tracks are mine and which ones are hers.  Side note: There is a palpable sense of personal victory I feel for finding a way to include a Desert Sessions song on my wedding mixed CD.

    3.  Now that the wedding and honeymoon are over, my other labor of love can begin--my year end music project.  Best songs/best albums list-making bliss/misery/consternation.  And mid-November is just about the time that all the work I've done up to this point keeping running lists and ratings gets shot to hell when I'm suddenly bombarded with tremendous albums I've managed to miss in 2013.  I'm certain I'm not alone in this.  Having said all that, PLEASE send great music my way that you think I've missed.  I promise to only take 60% of the credit for finding it later.

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Your Tuesday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "Gotham!" by Radio 4



    Artist: Radio 4

    Album: Gotham!

    Release Year: 2002

    Label: Gern Blandsten

    Genre: Indie electronic, Post-punk dance, dance punk

    For Fans of: The Rapture, !!! (Chk Chk Chk)


    Perfect For: Urban dance party, catharsis via tribal beats, NYC

    Album Highlights: "Start a Fire", "Eyes Wide Open", "Calling All Enthusiasts", "End of the Rope"

    To Stream: Spotify, Grooveshark (No Subscription Required)

    The Non-MJR Review


     

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    Your Monday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "The English Riviera" by Metronomy



    Artist: Metronomy

    Album: The English Riviera

    Release Year: 2011

    Label: Because

    Genre: Indie electronic, Brit-pop, dance

    For Fans of: 13-era Blur, LCD Soundsystem, Bloc Party


    Perfect For: The city at night, covert mischief-making, classy drinking affairs

    Album Highlights: "Everything Goes My Way", "She Wants", "The Bay", "Corinne"

    To Stream: Spotify, Grooveshark (No Subscription Required)

    The Non-MJR Review


     

    Monday, October 21, 2013

    Your Monday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "Let Go" by Nada Surf



    Artist: Nada Surf

    Album: Let Go

    Release Year: 2002

    Label: Barsuk

    Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative

    For Fans of: Death Cab For Cutie, Fountains of Wayne


    Perfect For: Hangovers, Lovelorn-ness, people who like Death Cab's sound but wish the songs were way better

    Album Highlights: "Happy Kid", "Blonde On Blonde", "Killian's Red", "The Way You Wear Your Head"

    To Stream: Spotify, Grooveshark (No Subscription Required)

    The Non-MJR Review


     

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Your Monday Morning Random Album Recommendation: "The North Borders" by Bonobo


    Artist: Bonobo

    Album: The North Borders

    Release Year: 2013

    Label: Ninja Tune

    Genre: Electronic, Ambient

    For Fans of: Baths, Zero 7, Röyksopp, Air

    Perfect For: Rainy Days, evening walks through the city, writing

    Album Highlights: "First Fires", "Heaven For the Sinner" ft. Erykah Badu, "Sapphire", "Ten Tigers"

    To Stream: Spotify, Grooveshark (No Subscription Required)

    The Non-MJR Review


     

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Playlist of the Week: Weekender 6

    25 days to my 7 day weekend.



     (Has it really been nearly 2 months since my last, ahem, "Playlist of the WEEK"?)

    Oh yeah, and Boomer.  If you get it, you got it and if you don't, you'll live.


    There are TWO ways to listen to this playlist!  The Spotify version of the playlist is located directly below the track listing. Not a Spotify subscriber?  No problem. Directly below the Spotify playlist, an 8tracks playlist (requiring no subscription) is also found below.  Just press the 'play' button on the box and rock.  (Works on computers or mobile devices.)



    Friday, September 27, 2013

    The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings and 3 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions

    "Oops, did I just blow your Top 5 of 2013 wide open?", Janelle Monae seems to be saying here with a single look.

    The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings*

    *Spotify links provided when available

    1.  ...Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age (Last Week: 1)

    2.  After Dark 2 by Various Artists (Last Week: 2)

    3.  The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae (Last Week: NR)

    4.   White Lighter by Typhoon (Last Week: 4)

    5.  AM by Arctic Monkeys (Last Week: NR)


    Other 2013 Contenders (in no particular order)

    +No longer streaming online

    Newly Added 2013 Contenders This Week:

      3 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions to/about Music This Week

      1.  The biggest musical revelation for me since we last met like this is without a doubt Janelle Monae's sci-fi-tinged pop masterwork The Electric Lady.  The album is magnificent and I can't promise it won't move higher in the rankings before all is said and done.  Lady finds Monae and co. happily taking residence in the adventurous, futuristic, space-age wonderland that Daft Punk was seemingly so eager to give up so that they could give us this year's Random Access Memories--a largely well-made, well-produced, joyless listening experience (with a few notable exceptions) that was so far from the dance-driven, electro-pop (often soulful),  and FUN work that had preceded it.  Janelle Monae embraces this vacant space and expands upon it to create an album that is just as much a unique and imaginative narrative as it is a collection of songs.  Though it doesn't hurt that in pursuit of developing a "concept album", Monae has delivered an abundace of great pop songs. And there's a duet with Prince. PRINCE  Buy.  This.  Album.

      2.  Having said all that, I am both surprised and perplexed at how much I damn hard love "Doin' It Right" from the aforementioned Daft Punk album (I told you there were a few notable exceptions).  And it's a collaboration with Panda Bear (I mean seriously, look at this doucher)--one of my sworn enemies due primarily to the fact that I hate him and his fans and everything he stands for and his pesky habit (labored breathing) of making one super rad song (another being "Bros", for instance) for every hundred borderline unlistenable songs that I end up loving which inevitably leads to my continued self-loathing and discontent about my place in the world of music consumption and beyond.

      3.  Exactly one week from today, I will be in the midst of my first Austin City Limits Music Festival Experience where on Day 3 I will literally be forced to choose between Thom Yorke and Lionel Richie.  And the fact that this is a true dilemma for me speaks to the odd place I find myself both in terms of age and outlook.  Thom Yorke is like the Batman of my music universe and thus a hero and icon beyond compare or reproach in my eyes.  But Thom Yorke never gave me this.  And that's just a fact.

      Tuesday, September 3, 2013

      The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings and 3 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions

      Typhoon.  There's nothing I hate more than breaking my self-imposed "Arcade Fire band size limit" rule, but good music is good music.

      The MJR Top 5 Albums of 2013 Weekly Standings*

      *Spotify links provided when available

      1.  ...Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age (Last Week: 1)

      2.  After Dark 2 by Various Artists (Last Week: 2) ^

      3.  We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen (Last Week: 3)

      4.   White Lighter by Typhoon (Last Week: NR)

      5.  The Flower Lane by Ducktails (Last Week: 4)


      Other 2013 Contenders (in no particular order)

      +No longer streaming online
      ^Newly available on Spotify

      Newly Added 2013 Contenders This Week:


      3 4 Thoughts/Facts/Opinions/Lies/Kneejerk Reactions to/about Music This Week

      1.  Say it without saying it exercise: America's greatest export in the 21st century is manufactured controversy and outrage.  We largely react passionately and quickly to the things that don't matter and display a remarkable ability to gloss over/effortlessly look most of the things that do matter.  You don't have to care about ANYTHING.  But if you're gonna make noise about the shit you do care about, maybe make it something slightly more substantial than her.  And him.  And all that.

      2.  Having said all that, the Beetlejuice photoshopping this week was top notch.

      3.  Pitchfork and ESPN are culture changers who have radically impacted the way in which we consume and evaluate music and sport, respectively.  And I faithfully pray each day that true, viable competition will emerge to try to make right all that they make wrong on a daily basis.

      4.  I love writing about music.  And not because I'm necessarily any good at it, but I love doing it in the way that a certain segment of geeks out there enjoy writing fan fiction.  Hell, this probably IS fan fiction.  I'm an over the top music superfan who has probably--in your estimation--made up a bunch of shit on the fly and laid it at your feet and called it a finished product.  Having said that, I wish MORE of YOU--my friends and even others who reside on the periphery of my life--would write about music.  And not just because I feel particularly alone in my present blogging music nonsense geekery.  It's because I know so many of you have done it before (and well) and/or have as much if not WAY more to offer in terms of quality opinions, recommendations, etc.  And most of you could do it better than me whether in terms of style or substance or critical analysis.  God knows I hear you talk/tweet/bitch/praise/decry music enough.  And while I can't assume that writing will carry the same cathartic value for you that it does for me, I suspect many of you will be pleasantly surprised by the feeling of satisfaction and occasional accomplishment it brings.  If a billion strangers can blog from their finely-manicured thrones up on High Horse Mountain about the cultural merits/implications of the VMAs, surely a handful of YOU people (you know who you are) can offer your thoughts on music, what it means to you, its implications for your life as either a backdrop or occasional catalyst for something, etc.  Go beyond reviews and playlists and recommendations.  Tell stories with it, make art with it, make it the soundtrack to a bigger narrative.  C'mon.  Hello?  Any takers?

      Thursday, August 29, 2013

      Playlist of the Week: Groove Directive 4

      The following is the soundtrack to my strange Atari alien dance fantasy.


      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.
      Digitize.  Optimize.  Dance to lose so you can win.  Beats as remedy.  Synth, bass, Synth bass.  Repeat.


      There are TWO ways to listen to this playlist!  The Spotify version of the playlist is located directly below the track listing. Not a Spotify subscriber?  No problem. Directly below the Spotify playlist, an 8tracks playlist (requiring no subscription) is also found below.  Just press the 'play' button on the box and rock.  (Works on computers or mobile devices.)



      Tuesday, August 20, 2013

      Playlist of the Week: Airport Commuter 9 (Boston)

      I met Leslie Nielsen once.  At an airport.  But I was a kid and had never seen "Airplane!" and thus couldn't whip him with my schtick. And now he's dead.  Missed opportunities rarely stop stinging.

      From the point at which I just typed the word "From", I've got fifteen minutes before I need to head to the airport.  I'm flying American today, so pray extra hard for me, eh?  On the bright side, headed to Boston for a couple days.  I will eat seafood and drink lager.  And if the fine folks at a certain "institution of higher graduate learning" have an issue with me being drunk during my presentation--well, of course I'm being ridiculous.  It's Boston!  They'd probably be offended if I WASN'T drunk.  Right?

      Here's the music that will take me on my journey south to DFW (so dumb) and on to BOS and back.  Remember that if you listen to this playlist, it's like we're in Boston getting hammered together.  In spirit.  That's called intimacy.

      There are TWO ways to listen to this playlist!  The Spotify version of the playlist is located directly below the track listing. Not a Spotify subscriber?  No problem. Directly below the Spotify playlist, an 8tracks playlist (requiring no subscription) is also found below.  Just press the 'play' button on the box and rock.  (Works on computers or mobile devices.)