Download Flight of Ideas by the Lower Class at Bandcamp for free!
when life gives you hearing, make hearingade
Download Flight of Ideas by the Lower Class at Bandcamp for free!
And here’s the whole damn thing in a tidy, easy-to-use and scent-free Spotify playlist.
25. Crystal Antlers – By the Sawkill
In a year where we were dodged by new material from the Mars Volta (again!), we were lucky to have one of our many bands with a deer-themed name help fill the freak-out garage prog void. “By the Sawkill” takes you by the balls by opening with a frantic fuzz solo, and the screamed-out vocals make sure you never have a reprieve.
24. Diego Garcia – You Were Never There
A dash of flamenco guitar, some backgrounds borrowed from “Five O’Clock World,” and an impossible-to-forget chorus make for the most infectious song I heard all year.
23. Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
Bad girls make the best songs. I look forward to hearing this in the next Tarantino movie.
22. Timber Timbre – Woman
Evil. Fucking. Tuba.
Oh, and some seriously great crawling piano, spooky slide, and inventive singing.
But mostly, Evil. Fucking. Tuba.
21. The Black Keys – Mind Eraser
On an album where Akron’s finest seem to be spending a little too much time polishing a Bad Company impression, at least the finale delivers the balance of hard blues and melodicism we’ve all come accustomed to from Monsieurs Auerbach and Carney.
20. SHIM – I Don’t Know Why
If you wonder where all the rock went in 2011, Seattle’s beer-swilling, steak-eating SHIM stole it. All of it. And then they splurged the entire lot on this 1:41-long nugget of speed-freakin’ Foghattery.
19. Legendary Oaks – Grace Underwater
Another well-kept secret from Seattle, Legendary Oaks builds a forlorn guitar-and-fiddle duet up into an electrified shuffle with awesome double-tracked singing and a killer country-stomp guitar solo.
Apparently 2011 was a good year for music, because I couldn’t whittle down my list of favorite songs below 50. Then again I’m not very good with that whole brevity thing (reference my personal mix post for proof), so what the hell do I know? The answer: A LOT.
50. Feist – The Bad In Each Other
Feist gets a lot of well-deserved praise for her trumpet-mimicking vocals, but her guitar skills always jump out at me when I watch her perform on TV. One of her subtle but ear-pleasing riffs introduces her masterpiece new album, giving way to horns and pounding percussion on this bittersweet folk gem.
49. The Cars – Blue Tip
After decades away, The Cars returned and sounded exactly like The Cars should sound. Though late bassist/singer Benjamin Orr left a big void, Ric Ocasek and Co. didn’t miss a beat after they dusted off their old instruments, picked up a few new ones, and affixed their sunglasses just so.
48. Neon Indian – Polish Girl
I’ve discovered that this chillwave stuff is kinda like a Totino’s Pizza Roll — if you stuff a whole bunch of processed crap inside a neat little package, it can be quite enjoyable. And yes, I am a fan of Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Them shits is delicious.
47. Foo Fighters – Arlandria
Dave Grohl revisited the old loud-quiet-loud pattern that grunge made famous, but also made sure to layer a few modern touches to distract the listener from some classically cliché lyrics. The crushing intro riff also sounds excellent as a follow-up to thrash-burner “White Limo,” the preceding track on Wasting Light (and, in most cases, on stage).
As much as I hate to be the girl who continuously talks about how rad she is, I have to admit that my friends and I throw the best parties. It really only started recently. Partly, this was because I feel like the transition into adulthood means that instead of getting trashed on your friend’s back porch nightly, you start doing things like throwing dinner parties and other fanciness. Another reason for my increase in ridiculously legit parties is that I met Nora. Nora is basically my party-throwing soul mate. She’s every bit as enthusiastic as I am, a great cook, and an all around awesome babe with access to a big enough house to cram all of our super cool friends inside of. Every time Nora and I have set out to have a shindig, our social circle pulls out all the stops for a raucous, fun-filled, and surprisingly adult evening of food, drinks, and music.
Last week, Nora and I threw together a ramshackle White Elephant party that turned out ridiculously well-put-together despite the fact that we barely did any party prep. In the evening, we made trillions of cookies, wrapped presents, and decorated the tree. By the time the guests had mostly all arrived, there were bunches of mystery presents under the tree (ranging from a badminton set to a really legit hat that I got but my best friend stole from me) and people were at an appropriate level of fuck-upped-ness for some legendary stuff to happen.
And that’s when The Appleseed Collective showed up and played a show at our party right next to the dang Christmas tree!
The weird thing about being friends with The Appleseed Collective is that they’re genuinely one of my favorite bands because they’re just preternaturally talented. It’s strange being friends with one of your favorite bands, but it’s mostly just really awesome because it imbues your life with a sweet sense of awesomeness at all times. I’ve got a lot of friends in bands, but there are only so many whose music that I actually, legitimately love. Appleseed is just so good that it’s impossible to not be charmed by their d.i.y. gypsy jazz style.
Nearly every member of Appleseed contributes equal parts to the songs, with guitarist Andrew Brown, bassist Sophie Tulip, and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Worder taking turns on lead vocals. Brown belts out songs with the detached grit of a young Justin Townes Earle while playing guitar like some sort of Delta blues man. It’s sick. Worder plays violin and mandolin so well that I’m pretty sure Will Sheff would recruit him for Okkervil River, if given the opportunity. And did you listen to “Sugar Cut My Teeth”? Sophie Tulip sings like a sweet baby angel. Imagine that song being played next to a freakin’ Christmas tree with twenty-five of your closest friends all singing some harmonies. It was so magical!
I don’t traditionally do “best of” music lists, but this was a banner fucking year at the old
Bender Simon/Speights family, in which I managed to cull together a pile o’ great stuff from music sent to me, and CDs I picked up at Sonic Boom after hearing a few tunes at the listening stations.
Thus, I share with you (in no particular order) music that makes me happy — and might make you happy too.
The Pauses – A Cautionary Tale
First off, the cover of this is SIMPLY BRILLIANT. Secondly, and I cannot stress this enough, I love every single goddamn thing about this album. I don’t hand out 9 out of 10 ratings lightly, my friends. I would have probably even given this a 10 — if my imaginary cohorts would have let me. :) But I digress! This Orlando, FL band’s debut album makes me wanna dance, cry, scream, and do some handstands. Really, it’s THAT good. Trust me.
The Drums – Portamento
I didn’t think I could love anything more than The Drums self-titled first album, but I think I might love Portamento even more. It has the same joyful, poppy beats at the first, with a tinge more grown-uppedness — and it still makes me want to dance my pants right off. In fact, why even start with pants? This is clearly underwear-dancing music.
Blue Skies for Black Hearts – Embracing the Modern Age
I saw these guys open for Tennis Pro last summer and OMFG they are tight. Seriously, one of the best live bands I have ever, ever seen. And hooray! The CD is just as good. Somehow I missed knowing who this Portland band was before then, because they apparently have quite a few CDS out — but this one is good stuff. Love the retro-pop sound (especially on “Caroline Make Up Your Mind”) and the heart-tugging vocals on this as much as I loved seeing them perform. Good times.
I’m no Christmas superfan or anything, but it’s one of the few things (besides New Year’s parties, “Twilight Zone” marathons, and my birthday) that make winter something to get happy about. I’m sort of grossed out by reckless consumerism and don’t believe in God and know that Santa Claus is dead, but there are plenty of things to love about the holiday, even if you don’t support all that it’s about.
For instance, Christmas cookies. My favorites are pizzelles, those buttery thin waffles of sweetness that crumble softly in your mouth and will be all eaten before you know it if you leave them out on a table at your office. Another thing to love is Christmas movies. I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas movies. Something magical always happens, and it never fails to wrap my cockles deep in warm fuzzies. Plus, one thing that Christmas is about that really hits home for me is peace, compassion and care for the welfare of others, something I try to practice every day of my life.
It’s a little hard to escape the cozy feelings Christmas brings, and believe me, I try. I’m no Scrooge, but I’m definitely not one to succumb to sentimental hokum in an ordinary context. But I guess a lifetime of happy holiday memories (save for that one year when my dad told me was dying of cancer) have left me with little to associate the day with other than good times. And that’s why, as much as I want to hate Christmas songs — because a) they’re basically unacceptable for more than one month out of the year; and b) they employ silly musical gimmicks like jingle bells for festivity’s sake — I’ve stopped fighting it. I just listen to them. I sing along to them. I play them on the piano. I purchase them, you guys!