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.
Tennis Pro – Shimokita is Dead
Ah, Tennis Pro! Running into frontman David Drury at SIFF last year made me remember how much I like this band, and their latest CD does not disappoint. Tennis Pro is a party band through and through; they clearly want you to have as much fun as they’re having, and it shows on this CD. Frenetic dance-pop mingles with old-school rock for an album that’s a total blast to listen to.
M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.
I admit, I was skeptical about this — as I am about anything that’s getting heaps of critical praise — but honestly, it’s good. It’s really, really good. Dreamy, electro-pop beats join with pretty lyrics and harmonies for an album that’s perfect for just about any mood you’re in. Road-trip, dance-party for one, friendly gathering, sipping cocktails, good conversation — the options are endless. LOVE this, and so glad I got over my stupid stupidness and took a listen.
Pony Time – (self-titled)
This is one I picked up after listening to a few tracks at Sonic Boom. A Seattle two-piece (Luke & Stacy), this bass and drums duo kicks out some pretty sweet rockin’ tunes. It’s the kind of music you’d want to hear at a dive bar on a Friday night after a few beers — and it’s meant to be CRANKED up and played loud.
Gauntlet Hair – (self-titled)
These guys are weird. I admit. I mean, you can tell just from the name, right? But I kinda fell in love with their crazy drums & keys tunes, combined with almost angelic (?) vocals and pretty oohs and ahhs. I don’t know how to explain it. JUST LISTEN.
Lux – Disorders
This cute-as-a-button retro rock two-piece consists of a pretty and talented ex-coworker of mine, Leah, and her equally talented partner, David. Long story short: I backed their Kickstarter campaign because I love their fuzzy ’80s-esque Jesus & Mary Chain-like indie pop rock and I love their determination and I LOVE them. There, I said it. And yes, I would marry them. So shut up.