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Faves 2013   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2012!  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what music -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  Some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

THE ORWELLS really released just a pair of EPs this year -- Other Voices and Who Needs You -- but I overlooked their debut LP Remember When in 2012 and mean to rectify my error (chalk it up to them being from Elmhurst).  Rock n' Roll always has a place for the young, loud and snotty and that place is where The Orwells live quite comfortably, albeit discontentedly.

SWEARIN': Not as young, loud and snotty as The Orwells on their sophomore LP, Surfin Strange, but this combo led by Allison Crutchfield (twin sis of Waxahatchee's Katie) retains enough of those qualities from their debut; they're just a bit more introspective and musically accomplished this time around.

THE ALLAH-LAs: Their self-titled debut is another one I overlooked when compiling Faves 2012. Vintage garage-y psychedelia. Totally groovy, maaaan.

FOXYGEN: With a title like We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, you can be sure the band's third LP is psychedelic, but whimisical, not garage-y. As inspired as it is strange, one hopes the band's well-publicized internal strife doesn't make this their last.

CHRISTOPHER OWENS: In his post-Girls career, I think people were prepared to dismiss the folk-y concept album Lysandre for lacking the raw exuberance of his former band.  I think people will eventually re-discover its gentle charms.

IRON & WINE: Sam Beam gets orchestrated here, moving from his typically minimialist folk-rock to something landing somewhere between Belle & Sebastian and Van Morrisson, which is pretty darn good, as neighborhoods go.

YO LA TENGO: Fade is also orchestrated at points, but also very Yo La Tengo, with consistently solid songwriting and the warmth of a Summer's evening, although released way back in January.  Thirteen was not unlucky for them, but the strengths of the LP are not a matter of luck, either.

THE JAMES HUNTER SIX:  Mentioning Van Morrison reminds me James Hunter reurned this year leading a combo on Minute By Minute, which is more of his blend of old skool Morrisson, Sam Cooke and other fine ingredients.

CHARLES BRADLEY: Having veered toward vintage R & B here, it's the spot to mention Victim of Love. Some critics found the former James Brown impersonator diversifying too much on this collection, but not me.

CHRIS STAMEY's solo LPs tend to have a more ethereal and introspective quality than his work with the dB's -- and I suppose solo efforts should be more personal.  Lovesick Blues carries on that tradition, reminding me most of 1991's Fireworks.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: Maybe I should be at the point where I'm too cool for this band. But I like Modern Vampires of the City. I find "Diane Young" to be a blast. And "Step" may not be entirely right in asserting "Wisdom's a gift, but you'd trade it for youth / Age is an honor, it's still not the truth,”' but it's entirely rock n' roll.

WIRE: Like Wire is going to put out an album that doesn't go on my list.  The fact that Change Becomes Us iscomprised of vintage material recorded for the first time is just a bonus here.

MIKAL CRONIN stepped away from Ty Segall to produce MCII, a tasty slab of power pop for now people, with a dash of psychedelia. There aren't so many practitioners in the genre these days, but this one compares favorably to those of decades past.

TELEKINESIS: Speaking of power pop, it's hard to go wrong with Michael Benjamin Lerner.  Domarion might be faulted for not straying much from the formula of prior Telekinesis albums... but when the formula is this good, I don't complain.

TEGAN & SARA: Okay, so Heartthrob really isn't one of my faves of the year, although "Closer" may be the most infectious tune of the year and almost certainly the best 80s song of the year.  But I wanted to write about them because I on some level admire how brashly commercial they want to be. The Top 40 could and usually does worse, and I was never enough a fan to feel any sense of betrayal, so I wish them well.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Others on my long list this year included: Neko Case, Deerhunter, Primal Scream, Smith Westerns, Kurt Vile, Laura Marling, and Superchunk.  It speaks of a year where more established artists turned in solid efforts than one of dynamic new entries.

A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  It's always somewhere on the net.

WKRP: "Turkeys Away," in its entirety. And here's the turkey giveaway by itself.

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. Not to mention the fights over kindergarteners dressing as Native Americans.  However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex.  Ultimately, Bradford quieted internal discontent by doing away with the collectivism of a company town and granting property rights.

NOW SHOWING? Did that yesterday; check it out.

2196 Reads

Blitzen Trapper, Josh Tillman, Northern Soul, Hamster   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


MAZZY STAR played "California" for Fallon, the band's first TV appearance in 11 years.

CONNAN MOCKASIN is streaming Caramel, which The Fader rightly compares to Ariel Pink.

JOSH TILLMAN (Father John Misty) streams his soundtrack to The History of Caves.

BLITZEN TRAPPER recently rolled into WFUV’s Studio A to play some of new songs and talk about their new record.

NORTHERN SOUL: NPR is streaming a tasty mix, ans well as a Tubed Top 5 list.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: The rarely-heard “I’m Not A Young Man Anymore” teases the White Light/White Heat box.

GLEN CAMPBELL: "Guess I'm Dumb" (co-written by Brian Wilson and Russ Titelman).

BJORK talks to Rolling Stone about The Simpsons, Kierkegaard, tequila and more.

THE BEST PLACE TO HEAR MUSIC? Cruising in the car, speakers booming.

TEN 80s CLASSICS You May Not Have Known Were Covers.


ALEC BALDWIN was fired by MSNBC. He blames the media and the fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are Disney's Frozen, which is currently scoring 88 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Homefront, currently scoring 29 percent; and Black Nativity, scoring 49 percent.

KANYE WEST is dangerously close to a Tom Cruise couch-jumping moment.

JENNIFER LOVE-HEWITT welcomed her first child and secretly married fiance Brian Hallisay.

JULIA ROBERTS has Jennifer Lawrence issues: "Seriously, this 67-second video should be nominated for its own Oscar for best live-action short."

JENNIFER LAWRENCE & BRADLEY COOPER in the film you haven't heard about.

FRANKIE MUNIZ is recovering from a second mini-stroke.

EGYPT: Prime Minister Beblawi says he considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. Authorities said they were investigating the disappearance of an Egyptian-born German author and critic of Islam.

AFGHANISTAN: The US threatened to withdraw all forces after 2014 if President Karzai doesn't sign the Bilateral Security Agreement. The government may reintroduce public stoning for adulterers.

IRAN strongly rejects the version of the nuclear deal released by the White House.

A BABY HAMSTER, SNORING: Let's go to the video.

THREE LITTLE BEARS dance in the woods.

WHEN TIGERS ATTACK, they attack at Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's zoo in Australia.




3493 Reads

Swearin', The Julie Ruin, Warpaint, Springsteen, Birdhouse   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JAMES FRANCO & SETH ROGEN recreate the new Kanye/Kim video in "Bound 3." Likely NSFW.

SWEARIN' performs rare stripped-down versions from its latest album Surfing Strange live in the WNYC Soundcheck studio. 

THE JULIE RUIN: Kathleen Hanna & Co. played a mini-set at WNYC Soundcheck

WARPAINT played the BBC, including a new song.

IVAN & ALYOSHA played the Secret Stage at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN announces a new -- and unusual for him -- LP.  He drops a video for "High Hopes" in advance.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE used to say "live and let live," but now they say "Live and Let Die."  The first version has the balloon drop, but the second lets you see more of the instruments and dancing, plus the backstory.  The third version has a grittier club vibe, courtesy of Emo's.  Throw in another McCartney-penned cover, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" for Twofer Tuesday.

MOTORHEAD: Lemmy talks to the New York Times about wine, women and song.

NOEL GALLAGHER will give good quote to pretty much anyone, except Rolling Stone.

ROUGH TRADE: The rise, fall, and rise of a historic record store.

RUN WESTY RUN is going a reunion gig next month; The Current has a vintage clip to sample.

MILEY CYRUS turned 21 years old this weekend ... and she celebrated with booze, celebrities, strippers and a guest appearance from The Lorax.  Of course, there's video.

ANGELINA JOLIE did not buy a heart-shaped island for Brad Pitt's 50th birthday.

MALIN ACKERMAN (The Trophy Wife, Watchmen, 27 Dresses) has split with husband Roberto Zincone.

CLINT EASTWOOD & JONAH HILL have a wedding annulment to celebrate, though not to each other.

EMMA THOMPSON is glad to be working at all, and despairs of empty epics (presumably excluding those Harry Potter flicks she was in).

THE LEAST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE of 2013, according to GQ.

IRAN: The hidden cost of the nuclear deal. Not so hidden, really. Also, Saudi Arabia claims they were kept in the dark by Western allies over Iran nuclear deal and says it will strike out on its own.

SYRIA: Rebel groups advanced in eastern Damascus and southeast Aleppo; the Syrian National Coalition said it was due to the recent merger of Islamist groups into the Islamic Front.

EGYPT: Prime Minister el Beblawi said a referendum on the country's constitution would likely take place in January.

INSIDE A BIRDHOUSE: I suspect this was staged.

DOG EATS HOMEWORK, requires surgery.

A BLIND DOG and his loyal brother find a home in Philly.

A KILLER DINOSAUR roamed in what is now Utah some 100 million years ago.

2126 Reads

Destroyer, Waxahatchee, Edward Sharpe, Sad Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 25, 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


KINGS OF LEON drop an epically goofy video for "Beautiful War."

DESTROYER streams the Five Spanish Songs EP.

WAXAHATCHEE: Katie Crutchfield plays a Tiny Desk Concert at the offices of NPR.

EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROES stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

KING KRULE stopped by Morning Becomes Eclectic for a session.

U2 drops "Ordinary Love" from the soundtrack to Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

THE BEATNIX: The Fab Four's upcoming box set put me in the mood for a light take on... "Stairway To Heaven."

SEBADOH: Lou Barlow talks to NOW magazine about the band's (partial) reunion.

THE COMPLETE LAST WALTZ: Members of Wilco, Furthur, Guster, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Blitzen Trapper, Delta Spirit and many other groups are coming together at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York to recreate the historic concert.

THE ART OF THE MIX(TAPE): Going beyond High Fidelity, via The Federalist.

MICK JAGGER is set to become a great-grandfather.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire dominates the chart with 161.1 million, just a tad more than the original and probably a Top 5 all-time debut, in the ballpark of the Dark Knight movie openings. It's an all-time record opening for November (sorry, Twihards).  With a significantly bigger budget this time (170mm), the studio needed to improve in overseas markets, as the original earned 408 million domestic, but only 283 million elsewhere.  So the big news is that the sequel has already grossed 146 million in other markets.  Katniss & Co are thus likely to reap over 900 million during their run.  No November flick has ever grossed 400 million domestic, but this one might, as it won't face head-on competition until the next Hobbit flick arrives on December 13. Thor: The Dark World is hardest hit, placing with 14.1 million on a 61 percent drop.  That said, the Norse god has 167.8 million domestic and a thunderous 381 million overseas.  The Best Man Holiday shows with 12.5 million on a 58 percent drop, but has a 50.4 million total to date against 17 million budget.  Delivery Man flop, debuting in the fourth slot with only 8.2 million in a very wide release.  Counter-programming the Games simply didn't work.  Free Birds takes the bottom of the Top 5 with another 5.3 million, with hopes that Thanksgiving puts families in seats next weekend.

THE AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS went to these folks. Congrats?

MILEY CYRUS was burglarized, though she was not home at the time.

LAMAR ODOM admits he fell off the wagon last week ... but he insists he was drunk, and not on crack.

CHARLIE SHEEN allegedly appears in a sex tape said to be stolen during a burglary of the home of Christina Fulton, whose ex Nicolas Cage is allegedly featured in other explicit images taken in the heist - and now a key witness has been located after allegedly going missing under bizarre circumstances.

CLINT EASTWOOD & JONAH HILL both had a weekend wedding to celebrate, though not to each other.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: Mercifully, Paramount nixes the sequel story.

TOLKIEN: A new Hollywood biopic looks to tell the story of the author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

IRANIAN officials and the EU announced that a deal has been reached between Iran and the six world powers on the Iranian nuclear program. It provides that Iran will suspend enrichment of higher-grade uranium for six months in exchange for $6 billion to $7 billion in US sanctions relief as well as renewed trade in metals, aircraft parts, and petrochemicals. The deal -- personally approved by Pres Obama -- is running into deep skepticism — and harsh criticism — from officials in Israel (and behind the scenes, the Saudis) and from lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill. Critics charge the offer represents a significant softening of earlier demands from the United Nations, United States and even the Obama administration. Defenders argue the temporary deal struck in Geneva seems like the least-worst option at the moment. New sanctions legislation that the US Senate would likely consider would include a six-month “window” that would allow the US and Iran to finalize a deal, said Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), but would also include a trigger that could slap Iran with immediate penalties if further diplomacy fails.

SYRIA: The Al Nusrah Front and other Islamist groups captured Syria's largest oilfield, in Deir Azzour province; it is not known if it is operational.

A DRAMATICALLY SAD DOG: And they laugh at him. Poor thing.

ORGANIZING DOGS to hunt rats in NYC alleys.

MOOSE-EATING SHARK rescued in Newfoundland. Gonna need a bigger mouth, shark!

COWS plummet through the roof of a Cornwall workshop. We've got cows!

2095 Reads

JFK, Cults, Chvrches, Laura Marling, Cutout Bin, Ram   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 22, 2013 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with JOHN F. KENNEDY.  Perhaps you've heard the former President was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald 50 years ago today.  Over the years, the man and the assassination have turned up in -- or inspired -- any number of songs.  The Beach Boys' "The Warmth Of The Sun" was written in its immediate aftermath, while Dion's "Abraham, Martin and John," and The Byrds' version of  "He Was A Friend Of Mine" -- here with David Crosby's Monterey moment -- are more overt. Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero" referred to a different Oswald, but the confusion was so pervasive he eventaully obliged with a "Dallas version" of the tune.  Even as incongruous a song as The Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town" refers to the post-assassination ennui being broken by the arrival of The Beatles on American shores.  And while it's not musical, this edition of Inside Mad Men from Season Three doesn't require you to know the show to understand the impact of not only the assassination, but also the killing of Oswald by Jack Ruby. Also, courtesy of my pal Nathan, is live coverage from WFAA in Dallas.

CULTS played a mini-set at KUTX.

CHVRCHES stopped by WFUV's Studio A for a chat and mini-set. 

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES played the Secret Stage at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival.

LAURA MARLING played a mini-set at KUTX.

INXS: "Don't Change." Because Michael Hutchence also died on this date, albeit in 1997. (Thx to Nathan for the reminder.) BTW, C.S. Lewis also passed on this date, for all you fans of The Screwtape Letters, the Chronicles of Narnia, and McGosling.

METRIC: Emily Haines talks to Chicagoist about technology’s effect on the music industry and how some things never change.

SPENCER KRUG (Moonface, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown) talks to PopMatters about writing and recording Julia With Blue Jeans On.

LAURIE ANDERSON reveals her favorite Lou Reed song.

THE 50 BEST DEBUT SINGLES, according to Flavorwire.

THE CUTOUT BIN:  It's a Wes Weekend streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.If you see tracks from last week's playlist, try refreshing your browser, because something's not quite right with the HM as I write this.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases are Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which is currently scoring 94 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; and Delivery Man, scoring 40 percent.

HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE, the second in the dystopian young adult franchise, may actually better than the first installment.  Perhaps this is because it tends to play more as a political thriller than pop culture satire (though elements of this remain, primarily in the deliciously over-the-top reprise performance from Stanley Tucci as a host of the Games).  Perhaps it's because the young adult angle is downplayed, though it's still there as well. Perhaps it's because the plot doesn't require the killing of young children, which means the action can be shot without the herky-jerky camera that didn't really show anything.  Maybe it's because the cast is joined by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jena Malone, who seem incapable of being bad at acting. All of that said, I still tend to find the franchise as compelling as the rabid fans of the books.  But this one was good enough to get me back  for the inevitable third installment.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE was hospitalized before the L.A. premiere of her Hunger Games  blockbuster because her tummy hurt. She thought it was an ulcer; it tuned out to be gas.

KENDALL JENNER...and One Direction's Harry Styles?

CHRIS BROWN is complaining he should be allowed to take medical marijuana for his anger management issues because it's legal in California.

HUGH JACKMAN recently had skin cancer removed from his nose.

AMANDA BYNES isn't planning on living with her parents after she leaves rehab.

LIAM HEMSWORTH: Getting along fine without Miley Cyrus.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED has a new trailer online.

SANDMAN: David Goyer has pitched a take on the seminal comic series that WB likes; Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the ideal candidate to play the lynchpin character Morpheus.

EGYPT: A policeman was shot and killed while trying to arrest suspects in the recent assassination of a senior national security official in Cairo.

PAKISTAN: The US killed three Haqqani Network leaders in a drone strike in Hangu. The strike is the first outside of the tribal areas in four years. Pakistan "strongly condemned" the US attack.

AFGHANISTAN: President Karzai wants to delay signing the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US until after elections in April 2014.

SYRIA: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham clashed with rebels in Idlib. ISIS imposed 'sharia' restrictions on clothing for schoolgirls in Idlib. ISIS, the Al Nusrah Front, and other Islamist rebels clashed with regime forces in east Reef Aleppo and near the 80th brigade base.

WHAT DOES THE RAM SAY? You will tell me if the ram stops screaming, won't you, Clarice?

BEAVER steals hunter's rifle.

A TINY DIK-DIK was thrust into the position of carer for her younger brother after they were both rejected by their mother.

A "TROLL DOLL" INSECT is discovered in the South American rainforest.

2248 Reads

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