Toronto – Here is an A to Z list of bands playing at SXSW. I’ve even been kind enough to link each band to their respective myspace/website so you can check them out*. Apologies if I missed any letters, English isn’t my first language.
Antlers – I might see these guys again, although it’d be weird to see their depressing music in the clear afternoon light
Broken Bells – Danger Mouse + The guy from the Shins? Yes please. Will this album only kind of change Natalie Portman’s life?
Chew Lips – English dance-pop act has Josh blowing his load with each single they release. Might check them out.
Dr. Dog – Lo-fi folk band keeps on churning out consistently good albums. New album Shame drops sometime in April
Toronto – One of the acts I’m more excited about at SXSW is Marina and the Diamonds. Filled with witty lyrics about society, a wide range of musical styles and a soulful voice, her debut album The Family Jewels has been consistently in my rotation since came out on February 22nd. I’m pretty sure she’ll be pretty big sometime soon, so it’ll be nice to see her in a smallish venue before she reaches Lily Allen levels. Check out her new single, the cleverly written Hollywood.
Toronto – Albums are such a funny thing. For an album to sound right, you need to have
a) the appropriate amount of time
b) the right mood
c) mark’s crazy stereo system
most of the time, I do not have choice #c, so I rely on my headphones instead. I use:
Grado SR60 when I’m at work. This is because it’s very comfortable, and it also bleeds music, so I can subliminally affect peoples music tastes around me. Sometimes people can hear me from 2 cubicles away. Awesome. Maybe this also makes me an ass, but I have yet to hear anyone complain openly. While I am on the streets representing, I’m styling the Denon AHD1001‘s
These babies also double as ear muffs in the winter. Sure they look big and clunky, but definitely you feel a good sense of superiority as some idiot struts onto the subway with their 30$ skullcandy headphones thinking they are all hype and shit. No fool, you are not. On the flipside, I bet someone in 500$ headphones is looking at me the same way “poser! you claim to like music, but can’t spend 500$ on a pair of headphones! fool!”. I am however reminded that people with 500$ headphones probably don’t take the subway, so it’s okay. The point is, I highly recommending getting headphones for good music enjoyment while not at home.
Back to albums. There were a lot of records vying for people’s attentions this year, and if you have read a lot of music blogs, you will probably have a faint idea as to what these albums are. I’ll take a different approach and give you a good time to listen to each of these albums, as the right album and the wrong time can mean a very different experience. For example, you wouldn’t want to play Dizzee Rascal at a funeral. Unless it’s Dizzee Rascal’s funeral.
So without further delay, here are some albums I enjoyed in 2009
Suede – Dog Man Star – OF COURSE I enjoyed this album in 2009. I’ve enjoyed this album in all previous years too. Haha. I just put this down to annoy Josh and probably the rest of the writers. Anyways, when would you want to listen to this? always. However, probably not on a sunny day, or when there’s a lot of people at a party having a good time..unless you want them to go home.
okay, on to the real 2009 albums I’ve enjoyed and when to listen to them.
The album for listening to really late at night when you are driving on a city highway
The XX – XX – Something different is always good, in this case, it was the XX’s dark, melodic and minimalistic album about love and other stuff. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics on this album, so I’ll be damned if I know what ‘Crystallized’ is about other then maybe some sort of scientific process that Gary or Tom may or may not have written essays about. It’s good.
Listen to this when you are doing some last minute coding before a 3 and a half week vacation, desperately trying to make it so your employers will not call you in case something catastrophic happens at work (I just did this)
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – For the longest time I resisted this album, simply because I have rarely really enjoyed albums from bands named after North American animals. Caribou, Panda Bear .. wait a minute. Anyways, that was my assumption, until I realized I can’t name any others. There are definitely others, I just can’t think of it right now. Panda Bears don’t even reside in North America. So I guess it’s only Caribou. There’s also a band named Moose, now that I think about it… We Are Wolves? Foxy Brown? Anyways, once I put away my North American Animal band name bias and started listening to the album, it’s actually quite good in a “listen to it because it’s mellow and doesn’t really distract me” kinda way. I even find myself enjoying Two Weeks more and more.
Listen to this album when you see a mix race couple making out on the streets
Emmy the Great – First Love – ahh, the mixed race children. As we head into the future, and the technology known as ‘airplanes’ and ‘make shift rafts’ continue to allow people from different countries and cultures to move all around the globe, we will see more and more people from different cultures getting together and producing children of mixed race. We even have one (or more?) on our blog, and just like Emmy the Great, they had a great advantage of having two different cultures and influences shape their minds growing up. East vs West, North vs South, whatever it is, the results are overwhelming. More to the point, whites and Asians seem to produce very cute females. Remember China Chow from the Big Hit? every Asian does. This all somehow in a very superficial way brings me to Emmy the Great. Her album First Love is a smartly written and catchy record. She also have a strong singing voice. It’s very singer songwriterish, but when done right (like this album) its a pleasure to listen to.
Album(s) to listen to while you are thinking of breaking away from your work/friends/club/posse/wrestling faction
Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications / Julian Casablancas – Phrazes for the Young – remember that Animals song “We gotta get out of this place” ? Probably not, it’s from the 60s and people born during that era don’t “get” “the internets”. Anyways, if you are ever feeling down or trapped because you are always with the same old friends from high school or elementary, and you feel like if only you can get out a little… you should listen to these two albums. Jarvis and Julian both prove there is life after “death”. The Strokes aren’t technically dead but you know what I mean. Both of these albums are very good in their own way and who would have thought Julian Casablancas would enjoy retro style 80s video game synth?
Album(s) to listen to before joining a Feminist rally secretly hoping that the amount of females in the crowd will eventually lead to two of them making out
Lily Allen – Self Titled, Little Boots – Hands, La Roux – La Roux, Florence and the Machine – Lungs, Marina and the Diamonds – Self Titled – Females vocalists just destroyed music this year. You could probably say that Lady Gaga was easily the most talked about act of the year, and even Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus crushed the teen crowd. Lets not however, focus on those acts. These four English ladies all made extremely catchy, listenable albums with enough beats for you to comfortably play them at a party. Sometimes people want deeper meaning in their music, but sometimes people just want to listen to really good danceable pop. For those moments, you can’t go wrong with any of these albums. Did you know that if Taylor Swift married Taylor Lautner, her name would be Taylor Lautner? haha
Album to put on if you got lads comin over for some fish n chips, drinking some pints ‘n lager and talking about birds who are fit
The Rifles – The Great Escape – This album came quite early in the year so it slipped under a lot of peoples radars when these lists came about. However, I’m doing this list more or less alphabetically, so nothing escapes me. If you read my review and ignore all the talk about poutine, you will realize that I think this is a really good britpop album and in 2009, a good 14 or 15 years after britpop hit its boon, beggars can’t be choosers.
Album to put on if you got some ballas comin over to watch the latest raptor game, and they ain’t down with dis dirty projectors shit
Wale – Attention Deficit – Straight out of DC comes Wale, who along with Kid Cudi and a few others, are trying to successfully rescue hip hop from all this guns n bling shenanigans that people like Jay Z still tout (despite the fact that Jay Z was at a Grizzly Bear concert and is 39 years old). There are some definite catchy tunes on this album and of course has the Mark Ronson approved “90210” which appeals to indie kids due to the star producer credibility and the delicious irony of the song title. So yea, if you is meetin up with some boyz from the y and want to impress them with some dirty hip hop knowledge, drop this on them and maybe they’ll be so impressed they’ll invite you to a happening hip hop party, which in the end, is all we ever wanted.
Album to listen to if you want to tell people what album you are listening to, but have a stuttering problem
Joel Plaskett – Three – The former Thrush Hermit singer(?) came out with am ambitious triple cd this year, aptly entitled Three. To further this three theme, most of the songs are just one word, repeated three times, three times, three times. Perfect for those with a stuttering issue, you only have to say it once. In other news, I am going to hell. This album is pretty good, as with most triple albums, there’s probably quite a bit you can cut out, but most triple albums are about excess anyway.
I’m going to stop now. The last two albums are two of my favorites (along with the xx). I’m not going to write anything bout it cos there’s already a lot of press on them. Just know they are good and deserving of your attention.
Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor
Bat for Lashes – Two Moons
Thanks for reading, and looking forward to some good albums in 2010.
Apparantly this was not the album, but a collection of EPs… DOOHHH!!!!
Toronto – Marina & The Diamonds is the stage name for one Marina Diamondis, some chick from Wales. I had her confused with the similarly named Florence & the Machines (another band I am listening to). I guess the ‘Diamonds’ aspect of the name refers to her fans or something. Her ep The Crown Jewels is available here. I’ve been listening through out the week and it’s pretty good. Whereas La Roux and Little Boots are pure pop, it seems like Marina and the Diamonds has a bit more substance. Marina’s defintely got a powerful voice know hows to use it. If I had to classify her music against current female lead bands, it would somewhere in between Ida Maria and Little Boots. She’s not as angry as Ida, but not as saccharine as Little Boots. The lead single ‘I am not a robot’ is pretty catchy and the video is visually captivating.