The Power of Cat Compels You

I'll start by saying that I generally don't take part in the gigantic fawning love-fest that involves every move Chan Marshall (Cat Power) makes in the music scene. I find her reasonably attractive, but nowhere near the pedestal of hottness she's usually placed on, a fact important only because I think it's at least one reason (possibly a big one) she's revered so much as a musician. I think her voice can be incredibly beautiful, with smoky and ethereal resonance, mostly so on well-arranged ballads with near-naked instrumentation. Still haven't bought into the traveling circus, however.

Jukebox will drop Jan 22, the second full-length covers record of her career. There are many highlights and I can't wait to get my physical copy. "Song for Bobby" is the lone original track, a pretty melodic and lyrical homage to one Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan), and it's placed smack in the middle of songs by Janis Joplin, Billie Holliday, Hank Williams, Joni Mitchell, and James Brown. The slow burners work the best for me ("Blue", "Don't Explain", "Metal Heart", "Silver Stallion"), but the pace notches up in between. It's a very balanced record and the songs, as with the first covers LP, sound like original compositions. She treats them, beautiful artifacts unearthed and polished up, like family heirlooms. There is love, beauty and respect here.

Listen: (links removed, sweet)
Blue (Joni Mitchell)
Song for Bobby
[from Jukebox|buy]


Brawwwk! Christmas!

Drew Worden - Brawwwk! Christmas!
For those of you who don't know, I'm a musician, though I don't use this forum to flaunt it much. Aside from a link to my myspace page in the links section and this one post on "I'll Fly Solo", there have been 428 posts about other artists on this blog. Every Christmas, one of my biggest projects is an EP of sorts, for anyone and everyone, of the songs I've written in the last year (though not always). Home-recording demo-style. It serves as motivation to get the songs down on paper, so to speak, to push myself to finish the songs that don't finish themselves in a day's time. Even this year, I procrastinated until the last possible minute on it, took time off from the blog to get everything done, and still came up short of the 6 songs I wanted. But I cut my losses, put the best three on it, and here it is.

The first two tracks are both to be on the finished demo I hope to complete by the end of January. The third is a Christmas standard with a twist. In February, I plan on going into the real studio with these songs and my bandmates to flesh them out with full instrumentation. Until then I'm putting this EP up on my virb page to listen to. You can download "O Come O Come Emmanuel" there as well. Hope your holidays were safe and filled with profound moments. Here's to being inspired by new things...

Hotter than Africa
[from Brawwwk! Christmas!|stream]


Listening Assignments 12.24.07

Phew, I just took the biggest break in the history of linesthroughlines, missed a Monday assignment for the first time, and made a few people of note very sad. I think it was much needed. Went to DC for a night, had a great Christmas, recorded a short EP of my own (coming to the blog tomorrow). Feels good to be back! Onward to the assignments...

1. Rivers Cuomo - Lover in the Snow - All I ever used to hear about Rivers is that he was an uber-geek with an ivy league education and had concocted a specific formula for writing the perfect pop song. My opinion on this has wavered from utter disbelief to complete gulping of the cool-aid over the years, finally settling on this: He's one of the unique and influential songwriters of our time, a rep only achieved by an impressive body of work, both artful and commercial. You love or hate Weezer's new stuff, but its hooks are huge and undeniable. This home recordings release is mostly a fan-fest, but it shows another side to this interesting figure. [from Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo|buy]

2. Copeland - Chin Up - One of the few totally new tracks on this collection of b-sides and rarities. I have a ridiculous soft spot for this band. Nostalgia and butterflies. Masters of swirling layers of electronics and falsettos. [from Dressed Up & In Line|buy]

3. The Thrills - Long Forgotten Song - I can't figure out if this British import uses a mandolin on all of their songs or just a guitar with a capo way up the neck, but it's a signature sound nonetheless. The voice that threatens to peter out on every line is also one-of-a-kind. They'll make you happy. [from Teenager|buy]

4. Wheat - What Everyone Keeps Telling Me - This is more than a little hypnotizing with its backward-played synth bed, rhythmic shakers, and at times manipulated vocals. Then a harmony and clean acoustic comes in on verse two and it's gravy. [from That's Exactly What I Wanted...Exactly That|buy]


Tidbits of Misinformation

I pleasantly backed myself into a corner with the recording of my annual Christmas EP of all the new stuff I've written in the past year, so I've been working overtime to get it done in time. Grrr. Anyhoo, some tidbits...

1. Thom Yorke is saying they made more money on In Rainbows than all of their other records combined.

2. New Deathcab for Cutie album drops in May of 2008. Awesome trailer for it over at deathcabforcutie.com.

3. In the latest sign that the apocalypse is upon us, Josh Groban's holiday album Noel just became the #1 selling record of 2007. Another scary fact: It's #1 with "only" 2.77 million copies sold. Do you remember when albums sold way more than that? Sales this week are down 23.1% from the same week last year. Yowza. Buy music, people!


Surrounded by Sweden

Stellar Swedish supergroup seeks select society of citizens for synergetic soaking of sound. Surrounded's single "Safe Tomorrow Sun" sits sadly separate from the top 50 songs of 2007, snubbed similarly to those in yesterday's post. Still, some stock may be salvaged.

All alliteration aside, this subtle yet potent band from across the pond deserved more press this year. This record boasts some epic progressions, set just slow enough to sear into your cranium with deliberate weight. It's spacey and low-fi with sampled and manipulated strings, bombastic beats and smart basslines. Leave it to the foreigners to cut through the noise and give us something fresh, Scandinavians particularly. Strangely comforting, this band.

In Comfort's Tight Clothes
Fellow Citizen Stars
Safe Tomorrow Sun
[from The Nautilus Years|buy]


2007 Odds and Ends

The year is coming to a close, the all-encompassing lists have been done (the big ones anyway), and planning for the new year has begun. A permanent chill has finally set in outside of my front window, my heating units finally working constantly to keep my apartment toasty.

With listing anything, especially something so expansive summing up an entire year, omissions will happen. I'm happy with my lists, but I'm kind of bummed I didn't throw in Blitzen Trapper for top songs or albums (it's at least #31-#50!). I forgot about Wesafari's awesome (and free) Moss Green EP when listing my top 5 EPs of 2007. The uniquely amazing Tom Brosseau merited nary a mention since March, though his fantastic folk album Cavalier was released in late October. Silly me. I'm sure there will be more, and I'll be happy to identify the goofs as soon as they come to my attention.

Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (In Rainbows demo)
[buy In Rainbows]
Blitzen Trapper - Jericho (Wild Mountain Nation B-side)
[buy Wild Mountain Nation]
Wesafari - Magaz
[from Moss Green EP|download]
Tom Brosseau - My Heart Belongs to the Sea
[from Cavalier|buy]


Listening Assignments 12.17.07

1. Liam Finn - Wide Awake on the Voyage Home - There will be a day where talking about Liam Finn will not require the identification of his famous father Neil (Crowded House, Split Enz). Judging by his incredible debut album, that day is just around the bend. This track smolders with hypnotizing sadness, a beautiful melody in 3/4 time. "Tell me love isn't true. Is this just a trick to procreate?" [from I'll Be Lightning (out 1.22.08)|buy]

2. Broadcast 2000 - Get Up and Go - I'm a sucker for glockenspiel, which this song and its outro contains in spades. It's a fantastic arrangement of sounds, strings, and things. It actually reminds me of some of Neil Finn's solo work, oddly enough. Overtly pleasant. Would you believe this "band" is barely a month old? [from Building Blocks EP|info]

3. Brooke Waggoner - Hush If You Must - Brooke has some of the creative moxy that Regina Spektor weilds with authority, but a more delicate approach. Softer edges, almost velvet, but her pattern is far from standard. It's a patchwork of pinstripes and solid brushed cotton, with a few extra pockets sewn on for effect. It just might surprise you. Thanks Alex! [from Fresh Pair of Eyes EP|buy direct or from iTunes]

4. The Weakerthans - Left and Leaving - Mr. Samson, you are a master of chilling melodies, of spitting icy ironies through my speakers, but putting in so much of your heart that it succeeds in melting that new frost and turning it into an optimistic morning dew. "I'm back with scars to show. Back with the streets I know will never take me anywhere but here."
[from Left and Leaving|buy]


Snow Angles, an original mix

I really can't stay (baby it's cold outside). It's time for the holiday mix, with frost-bitten edges and full of wintery cheer and other odds and ends. Hope you enjoy it. -drew
Snow Angles
1. Over the Rhine - All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue [mp3]
2. Some By Sea - The Saddest Christmas
3. Elliott Smith - Angel in the Snow
4. John Legend - Jesus, What a Wonderful Child
5. Stevie Wonder - One Little Christmas Tree [mp3]
6. Marvin Gaye - Purple Snowflakes
7. Sufjan Stevens - Put the Lights on the Tree
8. Matt Pond PA - Holiday Road
9. The Bird and the Bee - Carol of the Bells
10. The Swimmers - The Christmas Sound
11. The Robot Ate Me - Wonderland
12. Erland Oye - Last Christmas
13. Julie Doiron - Wintermitts [mp3]
14. Charles Brown - Please Come Home for Christmas
15. Madeleine Peyroux - River
16. Rosie Thomas - Christmas Time Is Here
17. Anathallo - O Holy Night
18. Bright Eyes - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

[download] (.zip)

Other linesthroughlines original mixes:
Sing Her Name
Blankets V. 1
Heartbreak List
Oh, It Is Love
Spring/Summer Road Mix V.1


For the Kids Three...

It's been great getting some feedback on the end-of-year lists. Thanks for the e-mails of appreciation. You all rule. I thought I'd take a step back today with something nice and light. Something you might smile about...

If you haven't heard of the For the Kids series, this is your intro. Here's the no-brainer part of the equation: it's an album for kids. The curveball is that it's a compilation of a wide array of great indie and mainstream bands. This version (3) has Over the Rhine, Rogue Wave, Blitzen Trapper, Of Montreal, Anathallo, Mates of State, The Format, Jolie Holland, Barenaked Ladies and more all contributing studio tracks, both original and traditional. The originals are the most fun. Past version have had Tom Waits, Matt Nathanson, Guster, Glen Phillips, Billy Bragg & Wilco, Bleu, They Might Be Giants, Nada Surf and Cake.

"The Poopsmith Song" (not inspired by the Homestar Runner character, to my knowledge) is one of the catchiest and educational songs of the year. You'll probably blush and laugh at the same time, then find yourself singing it for the rest of the night. And you might just learn something you didn't know. ("Not on your brother, not on your sis. Not on any family member, you might want to make a list...")

Over the Rhine - The Poopsmith Song
Rosie Thomas & Damien Jurado - Small as Me
[from For the Kids 3|buy]


Top 5 EPs of 2007

TOP 5 EPs of 2007

5. Aloha - Light Works
4. The House Floor - ...have your gloves of gold!
3. Grizzly Bear - Friend
2. The Acorn - Tin Fist

The Acorn might be my favorite band of the year simply because they put out this amazing EP in March and followed it up with a stellar LP (#16 on my top 50) in October. No one else can claim that kind of prolific song production while maintaining this much quality songwriting in 2007 (sorry Ryan Adams). Includes 4 of my favorite tracks of 2007.
Brokered Heart [mp3]

1. Tigercity - Pretend Not to Love

If there were 4 more songs on this EP, it'd warrant consideration for album of the year. All 6 of these songs are cohesive, unique, and as catchy as the rage virus in 28 Days Later. Buy this cheap, independent, incredible EP for $5.95 on Amazon or iTunes. Do it. Seriously do it.
Powerstripe [mp3]
[buy at amazon or iTunes]


Top 30 Albums of 2007

Notables on the cutting room floor (#31-50, in random order): Mae - Singularity, Lovedrug - Everything Starts Where it Ends, Feist - The Reminder, The New Pornographers - Challengers, Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War, Say Anything - In Defense of the Genre, Menomena - Friend and Foe, Travis Morrison & the Hellfighters - All Y'All, A National Chorus - The Millions Too Many, Rogue Wave - Asleep at Heaven's Gate, Page France ...and the Family Telephone, Other Men - Wake Up Swimming, Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice, Kings of Leon - Because of the Times, Fink - Distance and Time, Far-Less - A Toast to Bad Taste, Wheat - Everyday I Said a Prayer for Kathy..., Via Audio - Say Something, The Snake The Cross The Crown - Cotton Teeth, Chris Bathgate - A Cork Tale Wake

30. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
29. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
28. Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
27. Pinback - Autumn of the Seraphs
26. Jose Gonzalez - In Our Nature
25. Lymbyc Systym - Love Your Abuser
24. Matt Pond PA - Last Light
23. Sara Bareilles - Little Voice
22. Sunparlour Players - Hymns for the Happy
21. The Thrills - Teenager
20. The Rocket Summer - Do You Feel?
19. Dear and the Headlights - Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
18. Paramore - Riot!
17. Maritime - Heresy and the Hotel Choir
16. the Acorn - Glory Hope Mountain
15. Cloud Cult - The Meaning of 8
14. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
13.Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
12. The National - Boxer
11. Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir
10. The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

Everytime I hear this record, I like it more. It's quirky and decidedly Canadian. Not the kind of Canadian always making headlines here, the BSS's, Stars, Feists, New Pornographers, Acorns, or Most Serene Republic's. This is the kind of Canada I can hear through odes to hockey goalies, curling, snow and ice, sung in John Samson's inimitable voice. It's decidedly human, warm despite the cold outside.
Top tracks: Night Windows [mp3], Civil Twilight, Sun in an Empty Room

9. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

So this is what happens when you give Sam Beam a full band to work with. Wowza. It's really nice, though I still prefer the stripped down themes of his last album for the most part. An amazing storyteller, this one.
Top tracks: Carousel [mp3], Boy with a Coin, Resurrection Fern

8. Chris Merritt - Hello, Little Captain

Finally a worthy successor to the Ben Folds throne of amazing piano pop. In addition to being a ridiculously talented pianist with a voice that kills, Chris has an uncanny feel for chord phrasing and melody. His songs will stick to you like velcro-covered maple syrup. Chris has jazz hands.
Top tracks: The Palace Flophouse, It's Been Sad, Lay a Finger on Me (aka: Show Me What You're Made Of) [mp3] (bonus track)

7. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

This is the little record that could. Justin Vernon's (of The Rosebuds and Ticonderoga) solo project was the surprise of the year, probably most of all to himself. Secluded in a snow-covered cabin in NW Wisconsin for 6 months, he combined a barrage of heartaches and memories with solitude, serene sunrises and sub-freezing temperatures. The result is a haunting 9 song album without equal. "Re: Stacks" destroys me. It devastates me. It makes me feel alive.
Top tracks: Skinny Love, Re: Stacks [mp3], Lump Sum

6. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

Their most accessible and polished record, to their detriment some would say. It is what it is, I say. Gone is some of the emotion, scratchy and lo-fi, from their previous albums, and also the novelty. That said, this release is exactly what it needed to be. Tight, clean, and beautiful, grabbing the nation as a whole with its first major release. Maybe now they can return to their roots, break out the analog recorders, and make history.
Top tracks: Sleeping Lessons, Australia, Spilt Needles [mp3]

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows

The best and greatest band in the world continues to break barriers their own way, pulling rabbits out of their hats, farting in paper bags, etc. This record is no bit of recorded flatulence, however, despite the backlash of non-Radiohead fans that are sick of hearing about them. With time, this could be their finest release overall, and certainly their most notable. Ok Computer came out of nowhere, there were no expectations to make the best album in history. These days it's a different story as the band has reached god-like status, expectations weighing down like so many stones. How do you exceed them? Release an album with some of your best songs in a decade, in the raw, melodies a-soaring, piano a-plinking. And let people pay what they want for it, the most revolutionary tactic to hit music sales in years, not to mention a public relations coup. Brilliant.
Top tracks: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Videotape, Bodysnatchers

4. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Mr. Bird is a truly special performer and songwriter, virtuoso at violin, whistling, and the loop pedal. This record is flawless and plays like the soundtrack to a Vonnegut novel, full of emotion and eccentricities that'll bring smiling tears. It's a campfire album, a triumphant love song, a eulogy, an inspirational speech, a road trip, your first love, a lullaby.
Top tracks: Heretics, Armchairs, Simple X [mp3]

3. Fionn Regan - The End of History

I know, I know. "Black Water Child" was my #1 song of 2006, so how can the album be included this year? a) It's my list dammit, but more importantly b) I didn't have the entire album yet because it didn't get released domestically until this year. Fionn is well on his way to becoming one of the definitive troubadours of our generation. A stunning debut.
Top tracks: Black Water Child, Hunter's Map, Underwood Typewriter

2. Field Music - Tones of Town

One of only two early '07 releases to hold its position over the entire year (the Shins being the other). From the opening track (below), this record is determined to capture, balancing immaculate pop sensibility and restraint with a sack full of tasty hooks. There is simply no weak point on this album. Channeling Squeeze and the Beatles creates the kind of pop that never gets old.
Top tracks: Give It Lose It Take It [mp3], Working to Work, Kingston

1. The Most Serene Republic - Population

Here's something: It took only two weeks for this band to become the most listened-to artist on my last.fm page overall, largely because of this album. It flows like molten sugar, too hot to touch, 3rd degree burns if you do. Tongue-in-cheek, sometimes-dark, social commentary built upon layers of sweet indiepop, two singers, furious percussion, crescendos, the works. The Most Serene Republic is the facade of a normal band, but inside they are anything but.
Top tracks: The Men Who Live Upstairs [mp3], Present of Future End, Sherry and Her Butterfly Net

Take a look at 2006's best songs/albums here.
Tomorrow, 2007's best EP's and maybe some other things.


Top 50 Songs of 2007

As each year I become more and more immersed in this hobby of mine, seeking out music far and wide, it becomes an increasingly daunting task to narrow down the finest of the fine, especially when it comes to songs. It's very difficult to write an entire album of amazing songs (and therefore easier to rank), but I believe that every musician has at least one incredible song in them. Therefore, there are literally hundreds of songs I've heard this year that I've given the 4-star treatment to, yet hardly any that I've awarded the coveted 5-star rating. Faced with this charge, I can assure you that each of these 50 songs could easily have been top 20 for me, had I not been exposed to so much this year. It was a banner 12 months of tunes here at linesthroughlines.

Further clarification: At first, I tried to find a balance between "the best songs" and "my favorite songs" before I realized that my favorite songs were all that mattered. So what if I don't have Panda Bear on my list. Likewise for blog-favorites LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., or Kanye West. Sunset Rubdown doesn't do it for me, sorry everyone. Every person will agree or disagree with something about this list and that's the best part. Love music with everything you've got, but love it for a reason. Your tastes are your own. Revel in them.

50. Bottom of the Hudson - Rusty Zippers - "It's moments like these where we can see life in one hand, death in the other, and see how closely related they are. Moments where we can be thankful for each breath, every touch from the music and musicians we love, and cherish them always." [8.3]
49. Sam Sparro - Black and Gold - [mp3] - "He sweats in style, dripping from his chin onto tiny paper synthesizers. It brings them to life." [11.12]
48. Kings of Leon - Fans
47. Band of Horses - Is There a Ghost?
46. Menomena - My My - An early release that some people are forgetting about. I liked this track more than the also fantastic single "Wet and Rusting."
45. Rosie Thomas - Much Farther to Go
44. Joan As Policewoman - Save Me
43. Shearwater - Red Sea, Black Sea
42. Illinois - Alone Again
41. Lymbyc Systym - Love Your Abuser
40. Bill Coleman - Offer Up the Hope
39. Jeremy Warmsley - Dirty Blue Jeans
38. Georgie James - Need Your Needs
37. Des Ark - Lord of the Rings and His Fascist Timekeepers
36. Stars - Midnight Coward
35. Kate Nash - Merry Happy
34. Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running
33. Jason Anderson - July 4, 2004
32. The Frames - Falling Slowly
31. Josh Ritter - Mind's Eye - [mp3]
30. Ryan Adams - Oh My God, Whatever, Etc
29. Sara Bareilles - Love Song
28. Cloud Cult - The Deaf Girl's Song
27. Spoon - Don't Make Me A Target
26. Air Traffic - No More Running Away
25. Paramore - That's What You Get
24. Fink - If Only
23. Fall Out Boy - The Takeover, The Break's Over
22. The House Floor - Sign My Caste
21. Andrew Bird - Heretics
20. Modest Mouse - We've Got Everything
19. Matt Pond PA - People Have a Way
18. The Acorn - Spring Thaw
17. Rooney - When Did Your Heart Go Missing - One of the catchiest guitar riffs of the year, hands down.
16. Beirut - Elephant Gun - Classic Zach Condon melody/composition.
15. Feist - One Two Three Four - Thank you Steve Jobs for propelling a deserving indie starlet into superstardom.
14. The Softlightes - Heart Made of Sound - [mp3] - The fantastic video got my attention, but the honest playfulness sold me.
13. Chris Merritt - The Palace Flophouse
12. Loney, Dear - Hard Days 1, 2, 3, 4 - [mp3] - "Swedish and sweetish...It's got huge dreams, big love, and you're going to feel good about it." [1.14]
11. Maritime - Love Has Given Up
10. Sunparlour Players - Talk It to Death - [mp3]- "I wish I could sit down on an upside-down apple basket, stomp up an audience of dust with my boot, and strum it like this." [10.28]
9. Grizzly Bear - Alligator (Choir Version)
8. Tigercity - Other Girls - "spouting synth and hi-hat-heavy dance karate like it's 1986. I feel like I'm 4 years old again!" [9.18]
7. The Most Serene Republic - The Men Who Live Upstairs - [mp3]
6. Bon Iver - Skinny Love - [mp3] - "transcendent" [12.10]
5. Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
4. The Shins - Australia - "...melody and harmony joined in perfect matrimony" [1.23]
3. Field Music - Give It Lose It Take It
2. Iron & Wine - Carousel - "If this isn't blasting over the speakers in heaven right now, I'm calling the man in charge." [9.23]
1. The National - Fake Empire - [mp3] - There's nothing that can be said here that hasn't been chewed and re-chewed elsewhere. Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's wrong. An amazing song, period.

Top 20 Albums of 2007 coming tomorrow!


Listening Assignments 12.10.07

1. Bon Iver - Skinny Love - You think this is going to be a simple acoustic song for about 30 seconds, then Justin Vernon's voice comes in, heaven-sent, and the song becomes something else: transcendent. "Come on skinny love, just last the year. Pour a little salt, we were never here. My, my, my, my, my, my, my. Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer." [from For Emma, Forever Ago (out 2.29.08)|info/stream]

2. Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers - Sweet Sophia - There's nothing outwardly unique about this song, but something about the almost-country voice, melody, and adorable sweetness make this a big winner with me. [from Glassjaw Boxer|buy]

3. Cloud Cult - Bobby's Spacesuit - Aside from linking to me from their site (thanks guys!), this Minnesota 7-piece put together one of the year's best albums in The Meaning of 8. This track is one of my faves from their previous record. [from Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus|buy]

4. Halloween, Alaska - Drowned - This was an assignment before the blog existed, back when I foolishly didn't even keep records of the assignments. These Minneapolis boys are apparently back in the studio, laying down the follow-up to 2005's Too Tall to Hide, and it's about time. This song has been my favorite since play #1. "Hope won't weigh you down." Preach it, brother.
[from Too Tall to Hide|buy]

*here's what I posted a year ago.


The Spirit of Kevin Drew

I gave this record a cursory listen while I was visiting Portland, OR. Nothing hooked my earlobes like lightning, and I was currently in the most comprehensively awesome music store I'd entered in over a year. I spent over $100 in there on stuff I'd never find in Virginia, so I passed on Broken Social Scene's frontman Kevin Drew's new solo record. Now, with fewer distractions, I'm letting the tunes flow through my head. They're not throttling me, but I'm actually kind of thankful. They're abundantly enjoyable in a way that requires an attention span. I'm pleased that this doesn't sound like a BSS album, though his influence is definitely identifiable. Other moments take on a vibe akin to faves American Analog Set and Apollo Sunshine. Favorable and welcome comparisons, all.

Safety Bricks
Lucky Ones
[from Spirit If...|buy]

Fathead, Fake Guitar, Fantasy Football

1. I frickin' love this Fathead commercial.

2. If you haven't seen these videos of Carlos Santana (or Eric Clapton) "shredding", they're pretty genius.

3. Heading into the first round of fantasy football playoffs this week, I figured it was time to let you know my roster.

QB: Tony Romo
RB: Willis McGahee
RB: Chester Taylor
Rb/WR: Greg Jennings
WR: Reggie Wayne
WR: Wes Welker
TE: Jason Witten
D/St: Seahawks
K: Nick Folk

Derek Anderson/QB/Browns
Kevin Jones/RB/Lions
Andre Johnson/WR/Texans
Patrick Crayton/WR/Cowboys
Laurence Maroney/RB/Patriots
Dwayne Bowe/WR/Cheifs

Hose me down, I'm on fire.


The Desert Island Top 10 - Iron & Wine

To use an apt cliche, writing this Desert Island 10 is like shooting fish in a barrel.* It's almost unfair. But press on, I must. It's cathartic and inspiring, listening to these gems buried in my music playlist. It's easy as a blogger/music lover to simply get submerged in a wash of "new" music, ears clogged by all the listening, the random song downloads, the one-and-done songs I hear every day. Every once in awhile, I think we need to return to the heart of why we love the things we love. I only love the things I love today because I loved the things of yesterday. This collection of 10 is the foundation of now.

Iron & Wine -Our Endless Numbered Days

I'm not afraid to admit that I slept on this record for almost eight months after its release. For that matter, I slept on Iron & Wine in general until that point, missing his splashdown of a debut album The Creek Drank the Cradle as well. I'm not ashamed to admit that it took a movie to bring this to the front of my vision. In Good Company came out in theaters January of 2005, a bittersweet (disarmingly realistic) "romantic" dramedy. No happy endings here, just the stark reality of both interpersonal and familial relationships, set to a gorgeous soundtrack featuring three poignant tracks from Sam Beam (two of which are the best known from Days).

I had heard of Iron and Wine, and had heard "Jesus, the Mexican Boy" (which I was not impressed with at the time, nor am I very fond of now), but these tracks hit me like a backhand across tear-stained cheeks. Unlike Creek, this album is without the hiss of a homemade demo, leaving only a beauty that sounds, with eyes closed, like it's a serenade penned solely for you. "Fever Dream" and "Sodom, South Georgia" are back-to-back near the end of this record, a combination so emotionally devastating (love and loss) that it's hard to believe the legality of that decision. Beginning to end, this is the dream of a journey. This is laying in the grass under clouds and stars, contemplating the meaning of everything important in this world.

Fever Dream
Sodom, South Georgia
[from Our Endless Numbered Days|buy]

*As proven by Adam and Jamie on Mythbusters, shooting fish in a barrel is, indeed, as easy as we're led to believe.


The Snow Fall, No Star, Whimsy

1. No Star Clothing (Portland, OR) is having a sweet $12 sale on about 10 of their awesome/hilarious designs.

2. Whimsy Press is a really hot looking printing site. The most relevant part being the unique wrapping paper designs, the most disarmingly funny part being the irreverent gift cards.

3. It's getting colder by the millisecond, I can almost hear water particles in the air arguing amongst themselves, delaying the inevitable. Bring it, clouds. Bring it.

4. Fingers crossed.

Band of Horses - the Snow Fall (demo)
[from 2005 Tour EP]


From the edge of the earth...

Party people, sorry for the lack of explosively awesome content. I've been out of town. I will return tomorrow to feed your ears with goodness.


Listening Assignments 12.3.07

1. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - Down in a Hole - We'll say right off the bat that it's not every day we get to hear an Alice in Chains cover, but are you really surprised to hear this troubadour cranking it out? This is right up Ryan's alley, full of tension and longing. It limps along on wounded legs, evoking Neil Young and, yes, Starsailor. [from Follow the Lights|buy]

2. Alaska in Winter (feat. Beirut) - Close Your Eyes, We Are Blind - This starts like pretty much every Beirut track, the layered strum of a tinny guitar and a ukulele, then come the accordions, then the spiraling melodies and harmonies, positively minstrel-like. But unlike every Beirut track, this one changes for good at the halfway point, shifting into a more electronic backbeat and keyboarded vocals, building up to the group-sang outro. [from Dance Party in the Balkans|buy]

3. Arrah & the Ferns - Science Books - As soon as the wurlitzer bounces in, we all pretty much know we're in for a happy number, probably sung by a cute-voiced female, probably a tambourine somewhere along the way. And of course, we're right. But it doesn't mean it's not an adorable song. [from Evan is a Vegan|buy]

4. Belles Will Ring - Mad Love - Those Aussies are crazy for their homeland music, and this band is no exception. ("absolutely brilliant album from another incredibly talented bunch of Oz artists. I consider myself lucky to have heard it and now I can subject my ears and body to the aftereffects of Mood Patterns whenever I want" -user review on amazon) Lofty praise, no? Still, the jangly guitars recall a time before my birth, probably the '60s, and it's welcome. This one'll hook you. [from Mood Patterns|buy]


Things to Come

Currently watching my Hokies in the ACC championship game. Just took a 7 point lead in the 4th quarter. Fingers crossed...

Just wanted to alert you to some of the things that are in the works.

1. The Desert Island 10. I'm thinking weekly, though it may be twice-weekly. There aren't many new releases of interest coming out this month (though January picks up nicely).

2. End of Year Best-Of Lists. Top 50 Songs, Top 30 Albums. I'll start those off a few days before Christmas.

3. The Holiday Mix. Inevitable mix of festive covers and originals. ETA: Less than two weeks.

4. If all goes well, my entry in the Sufjan X-Mas X-change. Sometime before the 15th.

Stay tuned!