Tag Archives: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Wrapping Up 2009: Jandy’s Favorite Music

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This is probably the first year that I’ve listened to enough current music that I feel comfortable making a top ten list. Some of my favorite bands released new records that I loved, a few released records that I don’t love as much as I wanted to, and I found a bunch of new bands that took me by surprise, overwhelmed me, and wouldn’t let me go. This list reflects both the bigger bands (though still not big by mainstream, stadium-going standards) and the local bands that I’ve grown to love – I’ll admit my bias for mixed-gendered bands with a focus on female vocals right now, because you’ll notice it anyway.

Ten Favorite Albums of 2009

10. Headlights – Wildlife

HeadlightsWildlife.jpgIf you like perfectly-crafted, sparkling pop gems, look no further than Headlights. I first found Headlights at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in 2007 – they were a breath of fresh air after a bunch of noisier, less-pleasant sounding bands, and I was an instant fan. Their first full-length album Kill Them With Kindness was on repeat for months. I didn’t care as much for follow-up Some Racing, Some Stopping, but they’re back on top with this year’s Wildlife. From the upbeat yet wistful longing of “Telephones” (“I wish I wasn’t so far from home…”) to the blissfully poppy “Get Going” to the mellow sadness of “Love Song for Buddy” (very depressing yet lovely video here), there’s so much to like about this album.

MP3:

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9. Obi Best – Capades

ObiBestCapades.jpgWhen I was checking out my Last.fm charts to see what I’d actually listened to the most this year, I was a little surprised to find that Obi Best was at about #4 of all 2009 music. But I shouldn’t be, really – they’re one of the LA bands that I try to seek out every time they play, because I really can’t get enough of leader Alex Lilly’s whimsical tunes. She also sings back-up for The Bird and the Bee, and you can see some of their influence on her unusual melodic progressions, but she’s really created something special of her very own with Obi Best (and the help of ubiquitous LA musicians Bram Inscore, Wendy Wang, and Barbara Gruska, each of whom are in a whole laundry list of bands). It may be a little twee for some, but I find myself liking it more and more every time I listen.

MP3:

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8. Karen O and the Kids – Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack

WTWTA.jpgI don’t care if it’s cheating to put a soundtrack on here, or that I’m giving Karen O extra love this year. Finding out that she was doing the music for Where the Wild Things Are was the thing that really got me interested in the film in the first place, I loved the soundtrack on hearing it before the film was released, and I’ll grant you that a decent portion of my love for the film is due to this music. It’s simply perfect, both on its own, and for the movie – a seamless melding of joy and sadness, comfort and freedom, all with a wild edge that I doubt anyone but Karen O could pull off with such panache. There are no good videos or clips that I could find to go with this one, so here’s one of the TV spots that features “All is Love,” the main theme. But the track that moves me the most is her cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Worried Shoes.”

MP3:

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7. Bat for Lashes – Two Suns

BatForLashesTwoSuns.jpgIt took me a while to warm up to Bat for Lashes (aka Natasha Khan), and the aha moment didn’t really occur until seeing her live at Lollapalooza. Even though most people agree that an outdoor festival is not the perfect venue for her, it worked for me, and I look forward to seeing her in a more controlled, indoor venue at some point. Her ethereal voice soars whether she’s alone with a piano or surrounded by intricate instrumentation, melding the influences of her British/Pakistani heritage together into something wholly unique. Her music is enigmatic, and her persona parallels it, appearing innocent and down to earth in some moments and otherworldly and profoundly strange in others. She’s not someone to be easily overlooked or forgotten.

MP3:

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6. Great Northern – Remind Me Where the Light Is

GreatNorthernRemindMeWheretheLightIs.jpgI was practically dragged to see Great Northern by a friend of mine, and now, here they are, on my top ten list. They’ve got the sort of sound that overwhelms you, especially live, coupled with a really unique timbre in Rachel’s voice that sets them apart from most other bands. I can’t seem to find a video that really captures their sound properly, but this stripped down radio station recording is my favorite of the ones that I found. They don’t perform acoustic usually, so take this and imagine it turned up to eleven with electric guitars and drums.

MP3:

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Click through to see my top five, and few of my favorite live shows of the year.

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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

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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.

Coachella 2009: Heating Up the Desert

I‘ve never made it to a musical festival before (largely because I didn’t really get into festival-type music until a few years ago), but when this year’s Coachella featured several of my favorite bands I decided to spring for it, since it’s the biggest festival close enough for me to drive to rather than fly. And even though everything’s overpriced, it’s hotter than Hades, and I ended up only seeing full sets from seven bands rather then the eleven or twelve I wanted to see, it was worth it. The downside is I think I’ve caught the festival bug – I’m drooling over the Lollapalooza lineup Andrew posted the other day, and though I won’t make it Lolla this year, I’m seriously trying to work out getting to Austin for Austin City Limits.

Anyway, here’s a recap of my subset of Coachella, which woefully underrepresents the available audio overload. Especially since I skipped Sunday altogether – fewer bands I wanted to see meant I didn’t care to spend the money for the extra day and night.

Silversun Pickups @ Coachella 2009

Please go to Row Three: More Pop to read the rest of this entry. It has pictures and .mp3 files, so I promise it’ll be worth it!