Archive for the ‘music’ Category

My Favorite Music of 2013

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Best of 2013 cover

I see a trend developing here – that I am only going to make one post a year, and it’s going to be my “best of” music list.  I’m fine with that.  As you can tell, I couldn’t even get this post out close to on time.  I actually did have the list 95% finished before the end of 2013, but I just couldn’t get around to finalizing it until right now.

I also have a confession – I “cheated” pretty badly with this year’s list.   I borrowed a few selections below from other “best of 2013” lists.  That’s a tempting option when you wait until late December to start assembling your lists.  But now that I’ve come clean about it, I have a clear conscience.  Enough blah blah, here’s my list…

  1. High School Lover – Cayucas – Bigfoot  This is the first track that made it into my “best of” playlist.  This band sounds a little like Vampire Weekend as the backing band.  The vocals sound sort of like a higher energy Jack Johnson who stole Jim James’ reverb.  This track is one of the most upbeat on the album, but the whole album is good.  (Unfortunate confession: I heard this song in a BMW commercial last night, which definitely lowers its street cred a bit.  But good for Cayucas for getting paid).
  2. Bad Reputation – Haley Bonar – Bad Reputation (Single)  Don’t know much about Haley Bonar, but I really dig this song.  I like the opening guitar drone, the high capo strums on the chorus and the head voice/falsetto vocal parts.  This one will get stuck in your head.
  3. Caught in the Briars – Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost  Great album from Iron & Wine as Sam Beam now sounds completely at home playing with a full band.  Saw I&W live in 2013 and it was a great show as well.  Surprisingly, Sam Beam is a hilarious snarky smart ass.  Didn’t see that coming.  Let’s be honest, this band could easily be classified as “easy listening,” but it’s really good easy listening.
  4. If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – The Speed of Things  I worried I was just tempted to include this track because I liked some stuff by DEJJ and they seem like a hip band, but the more I listen to this song the more I’m sure it belongs on the list.
  5. America Religious – Caroline Rose – America Religious  This track was right on the cusp of inclusion on this year’s list, but again I’ve been listening to the final list for almost two months now and this one is a grower.
  6. Brother Bryan – Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt A friend described Waxahatchee as sounding like “early Liz Phair,” which is pretty accurate.  It is also a guarantee that I would like them.  There’s a different track on this album that has some guitar that’s slightly reminiscent of early Smashing Pumpkins.  Double-win.  This one is lots of quarter notes and heavy on the bass and drums, which I also tend to like.
  7. Shake It Off – The Spinato Band – Cool Cocoon Stolen from a friend’s “best of” list.  To me this band sounds kinda like The Cars.  Catchy, very catchy.
  8. Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster – Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin Also plagiarized from another list.  Sloppy, fuzzy guitars that are tastefully done.  I need more songs like this in my life to keep me from swinging too far into indie “easy listening.”
  9. My Heart Belongs to You – Johnathan Rice – Good Graces I love the opening slide guitar riff.  I like the song OK.  The lyrics are a little simplistic and underwhelming, but I never fault anyone too much for their lyrics.
  10. Byegone – Volcano Choir – Repave  Again, borrowed from another list.  Great dynamics in this song with a big arpeggio that you can’t help but keep anticipating while listening to the song.
  11. Two Fingers – Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg  Heard a different track on the radio that I didn’t like as much.  And his name Buggs me.  But he’s 19 years old, and this song is undeniably catchy.
  12. Haunted – Leagues – You Belong Here  I like falsetto vocals when they’re done right.  I like the verse here, I like the chorus, I like the backing vocals, I like the drums and I like the opening guitar.  Lots of things to enjoy.
  13. Izze’s Lullaby – Jorma Kaukonen – River of Time  Not released in 2013 but that’s when I discovered it.  This track also doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the list, but again who cares.  I found it this year and I like it – hope you do too.

I hope you enjoy.  As always, if you like anything you hear please support the artists by buying their albums or (better yet) seeing them live.


DOWNLOAD ZIP of all tracks HERE


happy belated new year!


My favorite music of 2012

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Best of 2012 Cover

I see I’ve gone another year without posts.  Oh well, having a personal blog was so 2007 anyway.  My only real goal is to keep making my “best of” lists each year, and once they’re made I might as well share them.  See below for the gems I discovered this year.  I’ve got 14 tracks on my list.  I really love about half and I genuinely like the other half.  See if you can tell which ones are which.

  1. Lost in the Light – Bahamas – Barchords  I found this one early in the year and instantly knew it was a keeper.  This is actually my album of the year too. It’s just one Canadian guy (Alfie Jurvanen) who goes by Bahamas.  He sounds to me like a lovechild of M. Ward and Jack Johnson.  The whole album just has a great mellow vibe I enjoy listening to from beginning to end.
  2. Lord Knows – Dum Dum Girls – End of Daze EP I included a DDG song I liked on last years mix.  This year I found one I love.
  3. Came Out of a Lady – Rubblebucket – Omega La La  Must Love Horns.
  4. Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) – Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats  I like Regina and I’ll search a new album for a few good songs.  Her newest album does have a few good songs and this is my favorite.  Guaranteed to put you in a good mood (or annoy you).
  5. Prize Fighter – The Killers – Battle Born (Deluxe Edition) See exact same description as song above.  Replace “Regina” with “Killers.”  However, this song is actually ONLY available on the Deluxe Edition.  I’m fancy like that.
  6. Guttersnipe – Bhi Bhiman – Bhiman A surprisingly simple and redundant acoustic song, but this dude has a great and very unique voice.  Infectious.
  7. Cough Syrup – Melanie Martinez – The Voice I try to make sure I include a curve ball or two in the list each year.  My wife happened to have The Voice on TV and I happened to be in the room at the same time.  I liked this girl’s version of this song.  The song is a cover (Young the Giant), so I downloaded the original first.  Melanie’s is better.  It’s way overproduced and kind of predictable, but still very likable.
  8. Typhoon – Crooked Fingers – Breaks in the Armor I think Crooked Fingers have been around forever.  Maybe their old stuff is great, but I haven’t had time to dig.  This song is cool.
  9. The Honest Truth – Typhoon The only way to follow a song called “Typhoon” is with a song by a band called “Typhoon.”  At this point I’m too lazy to look up albums for all the songs I found off of Paste Magazine.
  10. Our Hearts – Firehorse  Not to be confused with 80’s band Firehose or the other 80’s band Firehouse.
  11. Magic Summertime – Eleni Mandell – I Can See the Future  Sounds old timey.  I like.
  12. Rules – Jayme Dee – The Hunger Games  As far as I can tell this girl doesn’t have any other material worth listening to.  From her website it looks like she has done a lot of covers, and her song choice makes me want to barf.  But I still like this song.  Also, she’s cute.
  13. *I’m Not Driving – Luxe Pop – One Bulb Room  Kind of like Interpol, but with better pop sensibilities and a better drummer.
  14. *Place to Lay My Head – Penny Western – First  Shameless.
  15. Take Me Out of the City – Dawes – Dawes Besides including a curve ball or two each year, I also like to include a “Fuck the Haters” pick.  Here you go – you know who you are.  This song was actually released in 2009 –> Double “Fuck You.”

I hope you enjoy.  As always, if you like anything you hear please support the artists by buying their albums or (better yet) seeing them live.


DOWNLOAD ZIP of all tracks HERE


happy new year!



My favorite music of 2011

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

2011 was a busy year for me, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve posted nothing on this blog since last year’s “best of..” list.  Apologies to my throngs of blog fans.  Not sure 2012 will feature many more blog posts, though I may tinker with advertising on here just so I have a better understanding of how that works.

In any case, here’s my favorite music from the last year.  Just like last time, a song doesn’t need to have been released in 2011 to be included on the list.  I try to choose mostly 2011 releases, but I think of this more as my “mix tape of the year,” and if I discover some oldies during the course of the year, they are still welcome on the list.  And also like last year I did a bit of cramming to put this list together, so I may not be able to tell you much about the artists or the other songs on these albums.  Big thanks to Pandora and Paste Magazine as my two primary sources for discovering music.  Here goes:

  1. Pinecone Lovely – Gustafer Yellowgold – Gustafer Yellowgold’s Have You Never Been Yellow?  Not sure how I discovered this one, but I liked what I heard and I downloaded it.  Then I saw that iTunes listed the genre as “children’s music.”  Then I paid attention to the lyrics.  I like to think it’s total coincidence that this song appealed to me the same year that I became a father.  In any case, I like to try to never be genre biased, so if I like a song I’ll include it in the list.  See what you think.
  2. The Walk – Mayer Hawthorne – How Do You Do Mr. Hawthorne is this year’s nominee for the “I can’t believe he’s a white guy” award.  The song is very soul/R&B with slightly edgier lyrics, but the photos I’ve seen of the singer look more like a guy who could star in a Judd Apatow movie.
  3. Screws Get Loose – Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose This one is a snarly girl rock song.  I like it now; I might find it annoying by this time next year.
  4. The Commander Thinks Aloud – The Long Winters – Ultimatum Slow but not plodding, hints of old Pink Floyd maybe?  It’s kind of a mood piece, so don’t worry too much about the lyrics.  Just put it on and space out.
  5. BlackNight – The Dodos – No Color eh, I’m tired of describing each song
  6. Million Dollar Bill – Middle Brother – Middle Brother This album is the collaboration between the guy from Dawes, the guy from Deer Tick and the guy from Delta Spirit.  Lots of good songs on the album, but this is my fave.  There’s also a very similar version of the same song on the Dawes album, but I prefer hearing all 3 different vocalists.
  7. Bedroom Eyes – Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams I wanted to hate a band called Dum Dum Girls, but dang if this song isn’t catchy.
  8. Free My Mind – Katie Herzig – The Waking Sleep Maybe the most unlikely inclusion in this year’s list.  This song has a lot of poppy & electronic elements, and it’ll get stuck in your head.
  9. Cats and Dogs – The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart I’m a sucker for “ooooh’s” and this song has a lot of them.  Plus I saw this band live this year at the Variety Playhouse and they made a good impression.
  10. Shadow – Gringo Star – Count Yer Lucky Stars The opening guitar riff makes me think it’s going to be an annoying song, but once the first chorus kicks in I’m hooked.
  11. A Little Bit of Everything – Dawes – Nothing is Wrong Dawes was the focus of much debate earlier this year among my music snob friends.  We saw Dawes and Blitzen Trapper share the stage at the Variety Playhouse.  Most of my friends preferred BT and even dissed Dawes.  I felt the exact opposite.  This Dawes song could very well be the worst offender in the eyes of those friends, but I find it very endearing – even if it is over-earnest and borderline melodramatic.  Plus you gotta like a song that features a shout-out to mashed potatoes.  Suck it music snob friends.
  12. Morning Thought – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  – It’s A Corporate World I’ve seen this band on lots of “best of” lists.  This is a genuinely good, catchy, interesting song.  Too bad the band name and album title are terrible.
  13. I Don’t Wanna Go To The Party – Marvelous Darlings – Single Life This year’s most rockin’ inclusion, so turn it up.  (I just noticed that I’ve got both Darlins and Darlings on this list).
  14. Hobby Girl – Mannequin Men – Mannequin Men Good garage rock track with the sentiment “you should get a hobby, girl.”  Surely this can’t be the first song written about this sentiment.
  15. Palomino – Mates of State – Mountaintops I just realized how frequently Mates of State make my “best of” lists.  I’m by no means fanatical about this band, but they put out catchy songs and there’s always a hole they can fill as I put these lists together.
  16. Sydney (I’ll Come Running) – Brett Dennen – Loverboy I like Brett Dennen.  This album was only fair, but this track is a catchy gem.  Still, BD should consider getting some new glasses.
  17. Don’t Carry It All – The Decemberists – The King is Dead When the Decemberists are on, they’re hard to deny.  I thought this one offered the right mood to wrap up the CD (if you should feel like listening to this list in order).

Download link below:

DOWNLOAD ZIP of all tracks HERE

Hope you enjoy, please let me know what you think.