Tag Archives: The Dodos

My 2011 in Music: #20-11

You probably thought that Honorable Mentions post was my 11-20, right? Wrong! I couldn’t squeeze everything into a top ten or fifteen this year, so I did a top twenty, split into two parts. My top ten will post tomorrow, though between you and me, you could hop over to Row Three and see it now.

20. The Belle Brigade – The Belle Brigade

The first album from local sibling act The Belle Brigade was a self-produced collection of solid and sweet folksy songs. This time around, they have a label, a bunch of promotion (I’ve even seen them featuring on some big-name year-end lists!), and a bigger, bolder, more rollicking sound. Los Angeles musicians have their own take on country, sort of an indie-country hybrid, and I like it.

19. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

Every time I hear The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I really enjoy them (also lead singer Kip is like the nicest guy ever). They don’t stick with me for that long, though, which is the main reason this album isn’t even higher on my list. This one’s even catchier and more fun than their previous stuff, if possible, and the video for “Body” is a great tribute to the endless summers of childhood.

18. The Dodos – No Color

I quite liked The Dodo’s first album Visiter, but didn’t care for the second at all – with No Color, they’re back in form, with intricate arrangements and exuberant drumming backing up soaring vocals. Plus, this time they’ve got Neko Case on background vocals, which lends an extra air of awesome to many of the songs, especially “Don’t Try and Hide It.”

17. Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness

The most surprising thing about this album is that Los Campesinos! haven’t used this title before. Yes, you won’t find much new on here if you’re a long-time Los Camp! fan, but if you are a fan, you’re probably okay with that. It continues the slightly slower, gloomier tone that characterized the second half of Romance is Boring, with lyrics that are slightly more mature and considered. Losing more original members is starting to take its toll, though – nothing against the replacements, who are solid, but Aleks’s sunny counterpoint to Gareth’s desperation is missed.

16. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

A band combining former members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, the Minders, and others, I knew I had to check Wild Flag out as soon as I heard about them. I don’t love all of the songs (some tend toward the same noisiness that makes Sleater-Kinney just a sometimes band for me), but the ones I do like I like a LOT. Especially “Romance,” which also has a really fun video – basically a short film, really. Carrie Brownstein is also active as a comedienne (currently on IFC’s Portlandia with Fred Armison), and that sense comes through here.

15. Ida Maria – KATLA

Somehow I missed until a few weeks ago that Ida Maria had a new album out this year! Thankfully I got hold of it in time for this list, because this is one fun punk throwback album. There’s a few songs that tend a bit too abrasive for me, but for the most part, KATLA is immediately and unavoidably catchy. Throw in Ida Maria’s sly wit, and this is at least as fun, maybe more so, than her debut. “Cherry Red” is one of my favorite songs on the album; this version is acoustic, but the album is not.

14. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials

I didn’t give Florence + the Machine’s debut album Lungs nearly enough listening time when it came out, beyond the two or three singles that got a lot of play, but I tuned into this one more. I’m still not totally sold on the whole package – her voice is amazing, there’s no doubt of that, but it often overpowers everything else that’s going on. I think that’s part of the point. But there’s a lot to appreciate here, and there are several songs definitely standing out to me on here.

13. Mates of State – Mountaintops

It’s so great to hear Mates of State back doing original music again after an admittedly-great cover album. I need more time with this one; the second half starts to get a bit same-y to me, and they’re definitely moving into a more melodic and pared-down style that I like, but doesn’t excite me as much as Bring It Back, which remains my favorite of their albums. That said, songs like “Palomino” and “Maracas” are right up with their best.

12. Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls

A friend has proven to me he shared UK band Veronica Falls with me last year, which I don’t remember at all, but after stumbling across them on Stereogum earlier this year, I find myself more taken with Veronica Falls’ eponymous debut LP every time I hear it. The combination of gentle vocals with melancholic chord progressions, tight harmonies, and just a hint of medieval intervals feels fresh and unique, and imminently pleasing.

11. Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams / He Gets Me High EP

The EP He Gets Me High was my #1 of the first half of the year. I still love it, and I quite like Only in Dreams as well, but it’s a lot less noise-poppy and a lot more polished than their previous album, which is throwing me off. With more time to get used to Only in Dreams, I’ve little doubt this pair of excellent discs would jump back into my Top Ten, but as of right now, I’m not getting the same exhilaration from Only in Dreams that I got from the EP or their previous album, so I’m reluctantly bumping them down here.

Current Obsessions Mix 9-6-09

Every once in a while I put together a mix that’s unthemed other than it’s what I’m into at the moment. Okay, that’s actually what most of my mixes are. Usually I just make them and foist them off on people and say HERE LISTEN TO THIS IT’S AWESOME because I’m egomaniacal like that. But this time, my friend Lis specifically asked me for one, so this one is specifically stuff that I’m into right now that I know she doesn’t have. Other than, like, Rilo Kiley, who she’s really into but she doesn’t have this one because it’s a non-album track. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, I’m giving her an actual burned copy, but I figured why not share it here as well. Just a snapshot of what I’m listening to in September 2009. Not all of them are new, some of them are from older albums; others are from upcoming albums. The main criteria is I love them *right now*.

Preview or download individual songs below, or grab the whole mix here: September ’09 Mix zip file. Order in the mix is based on how they sound good. :)

As always, .mp3s are provided for sampling purposes. If you like the artist, please support them by buying their music and attending their concerts. If you are or represent one of these artists and would like the file removed, please let me know. The album titles are linked to Amazon, using my affiliate ID, so if you buy them through here, I get a tiny kickback. Cover image is based on a photo by Stuck in Customs on Flickr, one of my favorite photographers who has amazingly licensed his photos with Creative Commons and allowed derivative works. /disclaimers

Sept09MixCover2.jpg

1)

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(album: Taller Children, 2009)
Thanks to Nathan Chase on FriendFeed for this recommendation – I fell immediately in love with this album and have been promoting it all over everywhere. And then they played it in Barnes & Noble the other day. And I was kind of simultaneously happy they were getting exposure and sad that I wasn’t very far ahead of the curve on them.

2)

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(album: ray guns are not just the future, 2009)
I have possibly put this on every mix I’ve done since it came out. I can’t get over it, and even though I love every song on the album, this one somehow embodies the whole sound the best. Plus it’s hopelessly catchy.

3)

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(album: You Forgot It In People, 2002)
This song took me forever to get into. I heard it, and just kinda went, meh, what’s everyone see in this one? And then one day I heard it again and it just clicked. And now every time it comes on I have to put it on repeat for a while. I might have to do it right now.

4)

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(album: Lovers, Lead the Way!, 2003)
I almost put on one from their 2009 album, Rose City, which I very much like, but “Wrecking Ball” came out of nowhere on random the other day and made me fall in love with it. And I can’t deny instant love like that.

5)

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(album: Blacklisted, 2002)
And I also chose an old one of Neko’s rather than one off her 2009 album. One of my cowriters on Row Three suggested I pick up Blacklisted when I was first starting to get into Neko, and wow, was he right. And this song even more than the others – it just feels so deep and lived-in and worn and…perfect.

6)

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(album: In & Out of Control, 2009)
Okay, here’s a new one. From their upcoming album releasing in October. I’m enough into The Raveonettes right now that I’ve already reserved a spot in my top five albums of the year for In & Out of Control, so let’s hope the rest of the songs are as good as the three that have leaked so far.

7)

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(album: Two Suns, 2009)
It took me seeing Bat for Lashes live to fall completely in love with her (Natasha Khan, that is; Bat for Lashes is her band pseudonym), but now her combination of ethereal vocals, intricate melodies, and innovative instrumentation is right near the top of my faves.

8)

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(album: Heart, 2004)
Stars, like Metric and Feist, is connected to supergroup Broken Social Scene, this time through vocalist Amy Millan. They’re a little sweeter, a little less experimental than BSS or Metric, and when it all comes together right, they’re hard to beat for just pure pop goodness. Like here.

9)

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(album: Wildlife, 2009)
This album is due out in October, and if this track is any indication, it’ll match their first two albums in quality.

10)

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(album: Further North, 2007
In addition to his solo career, Johnathan also does guitar and vocals for Jenny Lewis’s latest album and tour, returning the favor of her appearances on his album and tour. Though she sings vocals on several songs on his album, this is the only one where she’s featured.

11)

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(album: Time to Die, 2009)
My current favorite of the sub-trend of folk rock, I guess you’d call it. I like them even better than Fleet Foxes – more confident, more catchy, and more jaunty.

12)

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(album: Rearrange Beds, 2008)
An Australian duo, they hung out in LA for several months this year, and I was glad to catch them twice. I think this is their best song, and the one that uses Kate’s distinctive voice to the best advantage.

13)

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(album: Swim, 2008)
This is potentially not the best introduction to The Whispertown 2000 – it’s a little more experimental and a lot less melodic than most of their songs, but this mix is about what I love and this is the song that completely bowled me over when I heard it live. Something about the slide on “great divide” and Morgan’s a capalla phrases just overpowered everything in the room.

14)

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(album: Horehound, 2009)
Heh. Okay, this one is less about what I love and more about seeing how far I can push Lis before she stops letting me make mixes for her. I’m genuinely curious to see if she’ll like it. Anyway, I think The Dead Weather are really interesting, but I’m not always sure how much I like the album. I’m somehow drawn to keep listening to it, though, so there’s that.

15)

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(album: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 2009)
I came at this band randomly, through a Stereogum post, and liked it immediately. Listening to the album more has only solidified that – fits in very well with my move toward a more Raveonettes/Viva Voce-type sound.

16)

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(album: Saddle Creek 50, 2003)
NEWS FLASH: I like Rilo Kiley. What? You knew that? Oh. Well, maybe you’ve still missed this song, which isn’t on any of their albums, but appeared on a Saddle Creek Records compilation a few years back. I’ve been collecting their non-album tracks the past few weeks, and this is easily one of my favorites.

17)

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(album: Grow Up and Blow Away, 2001/2007)
Yes, you also know I love Metric. Interestingly, this song from their first album (recorded in 2001, but due to a label issue not released until 2007), which isn’t particularly Metric-esque nor particularly within my usual taste, is the one that really got me into Metric last year. I can’t explain why I love it so much. But I do.

18)

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(album: Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, 2005)
One of several Swedish bands I like very much; probably my favorite right now, actually. You just can’t hardly help being happy listening to them.

19)

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(album: stellastarr*, 2003)
Thanks to Robert Patton on FriendFeed for this one; it was listening to his last.fm library that I first heard of stellastarr*, and he also pointed me towards this song as one of his faves. The moment it kicks into high gear? Awesome.

20)

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(album: It’s Blitz!, 2009)
Picking just one YYYs song was as annoying as picking just one Metric or just one Rilo Kiley. But this is the one that makes me chairdance the most, so this one won out. I DARE YOU to sit still while listening to this song.