Thursday, December 25, 2008

Music to make you disgustingly happy, part TWO.

Hey y'all, as a special Christmas present, I'm getting my ass in gear and actually writing something for the blog. So, here's part two (of four) of Music to make you disgustingly happy! Enjoy. And remember to listen to the songs on the playlist player at the bottom! You will be really really happy, just in time for your Christmas spirit to be irrevocably damaged by hearing your grandmother warbling “Angels We Have Heard On High” in her living room. Am I bitter? No, of course not.

Brian Eno - “Baby's On Fire”
I feel like Eno gets dismissed all too often. Everyone's heard of Bowie, but it's like people think that Eno is the Wal-Mart version of Bowie. Not so! “Baby's On Fire” is full of twangy-weird singing, offbeat lyrics (“look at her laughing, like a heifer to the slaughter”), and a kickass guitar solo. I feel the need to wear glittery platforms and a blue wig and neon make-up when I listen to this... but maybe I've seen Velvet Goldmine too many times. And anyway, I'm sure Jim looks better in gilttery heels and a wig than I do.

Cake - “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”
First of all, thank you Cake for the fashion advice. Even though, when I wear a short skirt and a long jacket, it looks like I'm not wearing pants and it gets all awkward. Anyway, the best part about this song is the huge pause. “And a long...

...jacket.” This is a driving song – it makes me happiest when I'm cruising down 22 in my mom's minivan, singing along.

David Bowie - “Suffragette City”
Honestly, I'm just going to quote what Jim said when I proposed using "Suffragette City" instead of "Changes."
Jim wrote: "Awwwwwwwwwww WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM. Enough said."
(Or something to that effect, I can't remember exactly but that's basically the gist of it, anyway, it's a good song.)

The Decemberists - “July, July!”
Colin Meloy is melancholy. Hmmm... “choly”... “melan”... you think that sound similarity is coincidential? I don't. But “July, July!” kind of stands out starkly against the typical depressed music that is The Decemberists. I love the line about the “crooked French-Canadian” and pretty much everything else about this poppy upbeat song.

The Divinyls - “I Touch Myself”
So, um.... yeah. Who doesn't like this song? It's so blatant. Enough for this song to go on my only-listen-to-this-when-your-parents-aren't-around list. Though everyone knows it, I feel like people are reluctant to acknowledge the subject matter. Annnnddd... awkwardness = happy, right?

Final Fantasy - “This Is the Dream of Win and Regine”
When I first heard Owen Pallet's Has A Good Home, I straight-up didn't like it. I thought the songs were boring and the references were archaic and it just wasn't good. Now, granted, some people still think that, but I am not one of them, and that's mostly because of this song. For some reason, when Pallet shouts, it's exciting and happiness-inducing. His awesome violin playing certainly doesn't hurt, either.

Final Fantasy - “Horsetail Feathers”
Okay, so I'm not sure how fair it is for certain artists to get more than one song on this list, but I most certainly cannot help it when it comes to “Horsetail Feathers.” I was actually listening to this when I decided that I wanted to write about happy music. Yeah, that inspiring. It sounds like a musical at first, but then it progresses... and it still sounds like a musical. But not a shitty one! A really, really good one, with excellent instrumentation.

The Flaming Lips - “Race for the Prize [Remix]”
Words cannot describe. If one had to condense the essence of happy down into one song, it would be this. The first time I ever heard it (and actually, the first time I ever heard the Lips) I was riding home on the school bus in 11th grade, and I had just popped it into my CD player. The first little piano gliss is so ridiculously triumphant... when I saw them perform this last summer, I literally shed a tear I was so happy. A song cannot be happier than this one... even though the lyrics themselves aren't too happy.

EDIT: Can you tell that this is my favorite band?

The Flaming Lips - “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2”
See, everyone loves Yoshimi. They're even making a Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots musical! But I feel like Part 2 is always overlooked. I mean, Part 1 is a delicious slice of upbeat goodness, but Part 2 is where the Lips really get into it. It's repetitive, but each repetition gets increasingly intense. The weird bunny-rabbit screams pump the listener up. Is that weird that the bunny-rabbit screams pump me up? Is it weird that I associate the screaming in the music with bunny-rabbits? I'll stop now.

Flight of the Conchords - “If You're Into It”
Oh, Flight of the Conchords. You always trick me into thinking you're going to be singing a nice song, and then it deteriorates into raunchy madness. And that's why I love you. Brett starts off with a sweet offer of hanging around... and then Jemaine decides to get involved, deep sexytime voice and all. But it's just so goofy, I'm totally okay with the fact that Brett is proposing kinky food-related adventures because Jemaine summarizes up each offer so nicely.

Girl Talk - “Once Again”
I think really all that can be said about this song is “Ohdamn.” Yeah, one word. Every time I listen to it, it gets better. And it has really nourished my repressed love for The Whisper Song. Oh, gosh, I'm going to have to listen to that now.

Gogol Bordello - “Sally”
After looking up the lyrics on, I've realized that this song is kind of depressing and even indirectly mentions the Chernobyl incident. I feel like a dick for including it on my list, but it's a really upbeat song! Maybe that's Eugene Hutz's way of dealing with things. But enough of the psychoanalysis. Just listen to all of this music and be prepared to feel really happy. And then anxiously await the next installment.

...go! Listen!

Anxiously await! Go!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Spoiled Kid Problems! Yayyyyyyyyy!

So, I got a big Christmas gift early: an iPhone! The thing is awesome, really. For the past 24 hours, I've just been poking at it to see where it takes me next.

However, I realized soon after I got it that there was no conceivable way that it would hold all of my music. It holds 16 GBs, and after formatting, that number goes down to a little bit over 14 gigs of space. Those of you math majors out there will realize that 42 is bigger than 14, and thus, I find myself with a lot of choices to make.

It was essentially like picking your favorite children, if you hated a good chunk of your children.

So, here are the results. Nothing is ever finalized, obviously, and there's still a tiny bit of room, but for now, here's what I came up with:

*First and foremost, anything that could be played at a hipster party is going to make the cut, in the event that everyone else forgets their iPods. I go to NYU, after all, so hipster cred is a must on this iPhone. As a result, congrats to Girl Talk (2 albums), LCD Soundsystem (2 albums), M.I.A. (2), Junior Senior (2), Crystal Castles, Dan Deacon, Justice, MGMT, Yelle, and Ratatat (one apiece).

This also extends to dance music that I like that I think could be background music at a party, but I guess I was decidedly less lenient in letting these in. Congrats to Prodigy, Fatboy Slim, and Simian Mobile Disco with an album apiece.

*Bands and artists that I consider to be my favorite (or most-played) are certainly going to have more representation. As a result, Beck, the Beatles, , The Shins, and Spoon have their entire discographies on there. That also goes for a few other bands, whose discographies I don't own, but still really, really like: The Decemberists (five albums including The Tain), The Hold Steady (four albums), Modest Mouse (four), The Hives (three), Interpol (three), Man Man (three), and the Pixies (three).

The actual top two on my (Radiohead and Elliott Smith) will be addressed later on.

*Any band that I really liked from age 12 gets the benefit of the doubt. What this means is that they get any album that I really liked at the time, plus one album past their prime. See: Weezer (later on in the entry), The Hives, The Foo Fighters.

Then came the decisions. Some of the results (complete with a ratings system based on how many albums of the artist that I own):

*Weezer owes me an apology for the Red Album. What happened? The album may have been so bad that I retroactively disliked them more, if that makes sense. As a result, the first three of their six albums make it. Sorry, Maladroit, three out of six scorchos.

*After seeing The National live, I liked them way, way more than I did before, resulting in me getting all four of their albums. Then, I realized... the gap in quality between their first album and their last three is ridiculous. The first album not only didn't make the cut, I actually deleted it off of my iTunes completely. Three out of four slow shows.

*The Flaming Lips. Eight albums? No way. Compilations are a no-no too. After an intense debate, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, Clouds Taste Metallic, The Soft Bulletin, and Yoshimi make the cut. I don't have four iPhones that I can line up next to each other, so there's no way I could put Zaireeka on there. Four out of eight watermelon guns.

Slight consolation prize: for any Lips fans out there (Kristina), I'm trying to make "The W.A.N.D." my ringtone.

*How much terrifying Tom Waits does an iPhone need? There's no way I'd listen to his three hours of boxset without just bringing an iPod around. Rain Dogs wins, as does Bone Machine. Two out of four big black mariahs.

*As for Radiohead? I'll never listen to Pablo Honey on my iPhone anytime soon. I may never listen to Pablo Honey again. There's not even really a reason for Pablo Honey to exist. Six out of seven iron lungs.
Same goes for Roman Candle and From a Basement... for Elliott, and I can't think of a time that i'll listen to New Moon without having my iPod on me. Four out of seven ballads of big nothing.

This went on for a while. Bloc Party makes it with their debut and nothing else, Aesop Rock doesn't get all of his albums on, Blur manages to sneak one in while the others are left in the cold, etc. I eventually started to envision the bands trying to plead their cases.

'Uh, we're Wolf Parade. We're on the list.'
'Oh yeah, there you are. Your first album is awesome! Your second album isn't great. Come on in, uhh, half of you.'
'Wait! We've all got other bands too! Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs, Swan Lake, Frog Eyes... can they come in?'
' Not all of them. Dan, you and your wife can come, she's really cute and plays a mean drum machine. Spencer, you get your choice of one Sunset Rundown bandmate, not all of them. Your Frog Eyes guys are staying outside... and who the FUCK is Swan Lake?'"

I put way too much thought into this.

At any rate, I realized how spoiled I was and how stupid the selection process was a little while in, and as a result the picks got thrown in pretty haphazardly towards the end.

So to borrow from Burn After Reading:

CIA Superior: So what did we learn from this?
CIA Officer: Um... I don't know.
CIA Superior: I don't fuckin' know either.

...Happy Holidays to all! Underneath is a playlist with a couple of songs (all eighteen minutes of The Tain, if you can get through it!) and hopefully a Christmas track or two if I can find them. As for me, I've gotta get into the holiday spirit by watching Ichii the Killer and A Christmas Story, back to back. Adios!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Epiphany (sort of, vol.2)

I am baffled by Led Zeppelin.

Let me explain that a little bit better. Over the course of today, I listened to Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin IV. Listened isn’t really the most apt description; I blared Led Zeppelin and Led Zeppelin IV in my car today at a decibel level usually reserved for jet engines. “Deafening” is the only volume that Led Zeppelin should be listened at.

There’s a reason for this: Led Zeppelin is really badass. Sorry that I wasn’t more eloquent right there, but it’s true. In the conventional sense, they’re one of the stereotypically “coolest” bands in history, and people who enjoy rock music should listen to them at this optimal volume at least once in their lives.

ANYWAY, so, as I was listening to Zeppelin IV, I get to “Rock and Roll.” Some of you might be familiar with it intimately; others might know it from Cadillac commercials. It’s an unbelievable driving song, and I think that as it roared through my speakers, I was driving at 470 miles an hour. Again, very badass. And as I was listening to this magnum opus of rock and roll, all was right with the world.

And then it ended, and “Battle of Evermore” came on. Now, I understand that not every song is going to be an up-tempo romp, but this track is an acoustic song with mandolin, apparently rooted in Scottish folklore. Instead, the lyrics pretty much sound like they’ve been stolen from Dungeons and Dragons mythology. If “Rock and Roll” is the coolest kid in school, “Battle of Evermore” is the loser who gets stuffed in lockers. From a band that is often regarded as one of the most “coolest” in rock history, we get one of the flat-out nerdiest songs ever written.

“The Dark Lord rides in force tonight?” “The apples of the valley hold the seeds of happiness?!” “THE RINGWRAITHS RIDE IN BLACK?!?!” Come on, really? The only thing missing from this is a twelve-sided die.

Not that I’m saying the song is bad. Honestly, I like “Battle of Evermore,” I do. It’s just that it almost feels like an outtake when the other seven tracks are so cool. “Rock and Roll” is a song I want on in a chase sequence (hence Cadillac choosing it, I guess). “Four Sticks” is a song I’d put on and turn the bass up for having sex. “When the Levee Breaks” is the heaviest song ever written; the opening drums will flatten your house, and the harmonica sounds like a freight train.

And “Battle of Evermore” is great for… reading the Lord of the Rings really intensely? I’m not really interested in having Led Zeppelin providing the soundtrack for getting my lunch money stolen. It just doesn’t fit.

I probably wouldn’t have such a problem with this if the transition wasn’t so abrupt. At least “Stairway to Heaven” rocks kind of hard even though it has some goofy lyrics, and it comes right afterwards. Maybe “Stairway” and “Battle” could’ve been swapped as some kind of better transition to total dweebiness. I think it was Chuck Klosterman who said that Led Zeppelin “sounds like the way a cool guy acts.” I just think that that guy may have had a bit of closet dork in him.

I mean, I guess I should be grateful that this is all I can complain about with Zeppelin. It could be on the same level of the problem that I have with Ice Cube, the “gangsta rapper” who released several kids movies... then went back to trying to be a hardass.

ICE CUBE COULD NEVER BE CHILD-FRIENDLY. What is he gonna teach them, how to jack some fool? That a bitch will always be just a bitch (or sometimes, that a bitch can be a ho)? The fact that the man released a track called “Stop Snitchin’” (complete with lyrics like “I slap the Maybelline off Tammy Faye Baker”) in the year between Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet? is troubling for so many reasons, it may be impossible to list them all here.

At any rate, enclosed are some of the Zeppelin songs in question. Hopefully, you guys see what I'm talking about.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Best Albums That I Discovered in 2008 But Are Older

So, since Jim is the only legitimate journalist posting on this blog, most of my entries will probably be random reminiscences that may excite you, anger you, enthrall you, or disappoint you. In any case, instead of doing a year-end Best-Of list, or even a year-end “This is what I liked that came out this year,” I'm doing a year-end “This is what I discovered this year.” I'll be chatting about albums that came out before 2008 that I didn't listen to until this year, but only the ones I really really liked. And here's where I find it important to assure you all that I do have good taste in music, and passing phases like the Bloodhound Gang are most likely only phases. Maybe. Anyway, here it goes...

5 55-Charlotte Gainsbourg
I saw Ms. Gainsbourg in a movie called The Cement Garden a couple of years ago, and let me tell you. She is an amazing actress. When I found out she had an album, I was reluctant. After all, Milla Jovovich, that sexy sexy Ukranian woman we all know and love, released an album in 1994. And, well... yeah. But Charlotte sings beautifully! Sometimes her lyrics are a little trite (see “Beauty Mark), but her voice is always breathy and sweet, and she has an accent. Bonus points. Songs like “The Operation,” by far the best on the album, even make me uncomfortable when I listen to them with other people, because they seem so personal.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress-Belle & Sebastian
I know, I know. This came out YEARS ago. And I didn't technically discover it this year... I've been listening to “Step Into My Office, Baby” for a while, but not until this year did I realize that the entire album is amazing. Lyrically, I admit that Belle & Sebastian can be a little pretentious, but most of the time it's good pretentiousness. My favorite is definitely “Piazza, New York Catcher;” it meanders along for just over three minutes and it's so simple that you can really concentrate on the lyrics. This album is almost Flaming Lips-quality cheeriness. Coming from me, that's a HUGE compliment. As you will all come to realize.

Hear It Is-The Flaming Lips
Oh, and look who it is! Yeah, I know. This is the Lips' first full-length album (it came out in 1986) and I've had it for a while, but was so stuck on The Soft Bulletin that I never listened to it. Lately, though, as I've been on my 87th Flaming Lips kick, I've been hungry for more of them, hence my finally sitting down to listen to Hear It Is. It's really really good, and that's not just my fanaticism talking. It seems like it's somehow ahead of its time... it kind of reminds me of the noise-rock-iness of Beck's Mellow Gold, except eights years earlier. Songs like “Charlie Manson Blues” and “Man from Pakistan” are just messes of mediocre guitar playing and Wayne Coyne attempting to sing well, but the riffs are so catchy and there's so much energy that it really works. And then on the other end of the spectrum, “With You” and “Godzilla Flick” are acoustic-y and hint at the glory that is “She Don't Use Jelly” on 1992's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart.

Hooray for Boobies-Bloodhound Gang
You all know and love “The Bad Touch,” commonly referred to as the “Discovery Channel Song.” Don't lie. If it came on your iTunes right now, you would most likely squeal with delight. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have embraced that love and discovered the raunchy goodness that is Hooray for Boobies. Everything on this album caters specifically to the 8th grade boy crowd, including lyrics like “It's hard to rhyme-a/word like vagina/Calvin Klein-kind-of/North Carolina.” And honestly, Jimmy Pop is full of wise maxims. Like, in the timeless classic “Yummy Down On This,” when Mr. Pop orates, “Ouch/It won't reach my mouth/If I could do it myself/I'd probably never leave the house.” Genius. The fact that this album is insufferably trashy is what makes it so good... a quick check on my iTunes confirms that I have about 150 plays in the last two months on this album alone. Go listen. Now.

I'm not someone who particularly cares for dancing. But when I hear just the first few bars of “Bird Flu” or “Lady Killer,” I can't help myself. Unless I'm in a public place, in which case I resign myself to mental butt-shaking. Every single song on Kala is catchy and fun. Plus, M.I.A. is really hot. And here at TDoFS we don't (or at least, I don't) shy away from saying when an artist has good looks going for him or her. But seriously, songs like “Bamboo Banga” aren't just good for dancing around my room when no one is watching, they're also amazing for walking down the street and feeling like a badass. And everyone needs to do that sometimes.

(EDIT: Kristina's right, I would never refrain from acknowledging somebody's good looks... and I'll preface her remarks on Emily Haines by mentioning that she's really cute too. - Jim)

Knives Don't Have Your Back-Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
Emily Haines should stick to this project. Metric is pretty good, but Knives Don't Have Your Back is a maze of pure goodness. “The Maid Needs a Maid” is the standout track here... how can this woman with a sultry lovely voice start a song with the words “Bros before hos”? But she can. And she does. Drawing on her feminist outrage against men who expect women to do all their work, she crafts a song that manages not to sound angsty. All of the songs do that, actually. They're really angsty but not in an annoying, Dashboard Confessional kind of way. Emily Haines lets you relate to her, and relate we do.

Marry Me-St. Vincent
Easily my most surprising find. I went to this show to see the opener (Basia Bulat, a few entries down), and was blown away by Annie Clark. This is her first solo album, but you can tell she's not inexperienced. She was a member of the Polyphonic Spree, and Sufjan Stevens' touring band, so she has some pretty sweet music under her belt. Marry Me is so good, it confuses me that she opened for Death Cab and it wasn't the other way around. “Your Lips Are Red” is an example of Ms. Clark rocking out. And “Jesus Saves, I Spend” sounds like Christmas music at the beginning and progresses to... sounding even more like Christmas music. I think there are even sleigh bells. But an amazing nontraditional Christmas song that makes you really really like Christmas.

Mickey Avalon-Mickey Avalon
What can't I say about Mickey Avalon? I can't say he's classy... I can't say he's a stunning lyricist... but I CAN say that I've listened to “My Dick” approximately 40 times in the last eight or so months. Actually, I was surprised to find how amazing his self-titled debut is. According to him, he “busts flows that turn nuns to hos.” That's a pretty substantial claim, but he certainly has the music to back it up. “Jane Fonda” is such an anthemic song (actually, I got in a fight with a drunk girl at a Mickey Avalon show during “Jane Fonda,” but that's another story.). And he really does have good beats and lyrics, though critics might not consider him to be legitimate. He's really just tons of fun, even though he's slutty and dirty. You have to love him.

Night Ripper-Girl Talk
Girl Talk, I'm embarrassed to say, is a very recent acquisition. Like, within the last two months. But I'll be darned if Gregg Gillis doesn't manage to take all of the good aspects of songs that I don't actually like and mush them together in little bits of dance-y glory! And according to Wikipedia, he was going to be a tissue engineer. Which I think has to do with body tissue and not with Kleenex, but that's besides the point: if he'd done that, we wouldn't have amazing songs like “Once Again” or “Ask About Me.” I hate when people don't give him credit as an artist. Have you ever tried to put two songs together, let alone 30? I have. It's really really really hard. Take my word for it.

Oh, My Darling-Basia Bulat
Last but not least, dear sweet Canadian Basia Bulat. Basia is sort of folk, sort of country, and all beautiful. I listened to this album disgusting amounts last semester. Like, at least 40 times through. On her first full-length album, she showcases not only her gorgeous singing voice but her talent on the hammered dulcimer and autoharp. Yeah. The song “I Was a Daughter,” which I wrote about a few blog entries below, is one of my current favorite songs... handclaps and acoustic guitar and all. You really need to listen to understand, I think. So enormously underrated.

Honorable Mentions-Albums I found this year that I loved but didn't feel like writing about. Ten album limit, you know. You should still totally check them out.
Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever- Explosions in the Sky
I-The Magnetic Fields
Emotionalism-The Avett Brothers

And check this playlist! The best songs from each of these lovely, lovely albums! Except for The Flaming Lips, 'cause I just straight-up couldn't find a song from Hear It Is on the internets. Anywhere. You're welcome to e-mail me if you want to hear some of it, it really is excellent.

How excited are you? SO excited? I thought so.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


After my roommate offered me discounted tickets, I found myself at an Oasis concert tonight. What I came to realize in the middle of the set was this:

Umm, I don't really love Oasis. Furthermore, if I listen to them for a second longer than the length of (What's the Story?) Morning Glory , I barely even like Oasis.

This became a problem.

Also, Wonderwall is a really overrated song.

Also also, Champagne Supernova is a really, really great song.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jim's Best-Of (sort of)

The year is only two weeks from its end, and as such, it’s only logical that we’d have a best-of. Everybody’s doing it, right?


But honestly, as we don’t have any readers just yet, another ranked list from another random person would be kind of pointless, no? Besides, for anyone who reads music blogs, there are more than enough people out there who can tell you to listen to Fleet Foxes and Deerhunter (but both of which were really good, and both of which should be listened to by all. I couldn’t resist. TV on the Radio as well). So, while I will go so far as to say which album on this list is my favorite, the rest are all really enjoyable as well, and don’t really need any rankings.

Here are, in alphabetical order, quite simply ten albums (eleven, actually, counting both Los Campesinos! albums released) that I enjoyed this year, that aren’t all going to top various year-end lists.

*Be Your Own Pet – Get Awkward: It’s a shame that these guys (and girl) broke up after releasing this album, which was only their second. So, they sang songs about partying. We NEEDED songs about partying! It was nice that we had a couple of bands that were writing awesome songs about partying! Now, we can only look to the Hold Steady to pick up the slack.

(Note: everyone needs to listen to the Hold Steady album that came out this year too. Not that there aren’t enough people saying to listen to that either.)

*Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles: A friend of mine turned me on to this album earlier in the year, telling me that it sounded like “an army of pissed-off Game Boys.” I have yet to hear a more apt description of what’s going on.

Seriously, those are some pissed-off Game Boys, and, well, I enjoyed Game Boy back in the day. I’m sure you did too. A couple of angry Canadian misanthropes make loud music that’s fun to dance to. Isn’t that enough?

*Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords: Most of you probably know them. Most of you also think they’re as funny as I do. Surprisingly though, they actually have some musical chops. “New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" can almost certainly expect a boost into the top three with this plug.

*Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight: Without a doubt, this is the album that I listened to most on this list. It’s filled with a lot of big ballads, but not in that “Coldplay-ballad-with-nothing-to-say” way.

(First shot at Coldplay! Swish!)

At any rate, this album just came so out of nowhere for me and got so much repetition that I would have to call it my favorite of the year, in a slight edge over Man Man. The major reason for that small victory wasn’t so much because of the music, but because I expected Man Man to continuously be great. By contrast, I’d never heard of Frightened Rabbit before I had this recommended to me. Highly recommended.

*Los Campesinos! – Hold on Now, Youngster/We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed: In general, I’ve always had a bias against double albums. For the most part, if you give me a double album, I could probably just cut off six to eight songs and give you a decidedly better single album. As if reading my mind, Los Campesinos decided to simply, umm, release two albums within eight months of each other.

A little bit of background on these guys: They’re a seven-piece band, and to make matters more confusing, they’ve all taken the surname “Campesinos!” (That’s right: Aleksandra, Ellen, Gareth, Harriet, Neil, Ollie, and Tom Campesinos) They’re from Wales (home of the… umm…), but their name is in Spanish. They have a song called “This Is How You Spell ‘Hahaha, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics.’” This all sounds ridiculous. And I’d pick one, but they both sound pretty close to me to justify only including it (slight edge to Youngster).

*Man Man – Rabbit Habits: As I mentioned earlier, this was right up there with Frightened Rabbit as my favorite. People have compared Man Man to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, which means that the album sounds like a carnival gone horribly, horribly wrong… or a carnival that’s gone horribly, horribly right. Plus, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they hail from my hometown (go Phillies).

Also, if you ever get a chance to see Man Man live, I highly advise that you do it. I’m pretty much guaranteeing a more-than-entertaining experience.

*Plants and Animals – Parc Avenue: Right before I left for college, I went to see Wolf Parade in Philadelphia. I wasn’t really excited about having to stand through opening bands, but I was pleasantly surprised by the second opener, Plants and Animals. In fact, they were so good that I promptly forgot about them for the next year! Nice. But anyway, this is an excellent (sometimes) folk record. I suppose that it isn’t fair to call it that, as it bounces all over the place, sometimes within the same song.

Interestingly enough, when asking for similar artists on, the first one that came up was, surprise! Frightened Rabbit! Way to back up your choices, Jim. *pat on back*

*Sons and Daughters – This Gift: This is a really fun little record with a good amount of edge that I don’t think a lot of people heard. It’s also making me realize that there’s a fair amount of “grrrrrrl power” going on in this list. Maybe next time, we’ll do nothing but misogyny.

*Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings And All: This album came out in January, and so by the end of the year, it would have been all but forgotten about. Honestly, the first word that comes to mind as I listen to it is “nice.” That’s not for lack of trying, and it’s not intentionally vague, but it’s an album that’s really pleasing to the ears. It’s also only 32 minutes long, so it’s short and sweet, and over before you know it.

*Why? – Alopecia: I have this feeling that this is going to be the album where should people try to download it on my recommendation, they will no longer value our opinions because they’ll be mildly creeped out by what goes on inside Yoni Wolf’s head. I’ve heard it described as a rap album, but that isn’t really fair. All I can suggest is that you listen to it for yourself. Also, a word of warning: a couple of the tracks are kind of disturbing. Not the most jovial album I’ve ever heard in my life.

And there it is. There’s a playlist at the bottom with a track from each, as well as one from the Hold Steady and Nick Cave. Enjoy!

Music to make you disgustingly happy, part one

So, story. The other day I was walking down a street in New York and it was rainy and cold and windy and generally miserable. BUT I had my iPod, and as I automatically navigated to the Bloodhound Gang, and then the Flaming Lips, I realized that I have a lot of songs that I listen to all the time that are HAPPY songs. And I thought, "Kristina, everyone should partake in happy sometimes!" Disclaimer: These make me happy in many different ways. There's nostalgic happy, joyful happy, relieved happy, holy shit! happy, and many other variations of happy. And this is only the first installment. Enjoy!

AC/DC - "You Shook Me All Night Long"
Because of nostalgia, and also because, like, AC/DC. Also, do you remember that SNL skit when Adam Sandler or Chris Farley or one of them recited this as a work of poetry? Lovely.
"She was a fast machine.
She kept her motor clean.
She was the best...
(dramatic poetic pause) ...damn... woman,
That I'd ever seen..."

Aesop Rock (feat. JOHN FUCKING DARNIELLE) - "Coffee"
When Mr. Darnielle comes in a bit after the three-minute mark, you kinda just go, "Damn!" Also, I often find myself walking down the street chanting "T-A-K-E-N-O-P-R-I-S-O-N-E-R-S." Suck it, Gwen Stefani.

Arcade Fire - "No Cars Go"
The way this song is so persistent is what makes it great. All kinds of instruments band together to form the lovely backing eighth-notes. And it's also super uplifting... I love the "Hey!"s.

The Avett Brothers - "Paranoia in Bb Major"
So this isn't that positive of a song, really, lyrically, but when you listen to it and get really into it and then it gets all triumphant at the end with the raw singing and the amazingness, it's just incredible.

Basia Bulat - "I Was a Daughter"
Actually, I can just repeat the previous comments. And still be accurate. Though this mellow blonde Canadian's voice can't be described as raw so much as deliciously sweet.

Be Your Own Pet - "Bunk Trunk Skunk"
So, any song that begins with "I'm an independent MOTHERFUCKER!" is a good song in my book. I used to drive to high school and blast this. It's kind of like aural coffee. In fact... hey, it's late. I'll listen to it right now.

Beck - "Sexx Laws"
First of all, he spells sex with two x's. Second of all, I think that injecting brass into any song automatically makes it a little happier... and we all remember which playlist this is, right? And how can you argue with lyrics like "Running buck-wild like a concubine/whose mother never held her hand"? Yeah. You can't.

Belle and Sebastian - "Stay Loose"
So the beginning of this song is disconcerting, like you've transported yourself to a beach vacation in the 1950s or something. When this comes on, I expect to see little hula girl dolls appear on my desk. And then it gets even MORE awesome. Really, Belle & Sebastian? Random electronic pings and beeps? Then guitar riffs? I cannot hula to this!

Black Sabbath - "Paranoid"
Must be listened to incredibly loudly.
Also, this is what came up when I google-imaged "Ozzy Osbourne Bat":

Blink-182 - "What's My Age Again?"
Whatever. So what if they're not cool? This song is funny and fun to listen to. And don't tell me that it doesn't put pep in your step. So to speak.

Bloodhound Gang - "Pennsylvania"
Hilarious. Everything they do is genius, and has great rhythm. Plus, this song is about my home state. "I'm in a state of P-fucking-A." Enough said. Though, to be fair, from the BETTER side of the state. (Ye-uh Pittsburgh!)

And they get another shout-out with...
Bloodhound Gang - "The Bad Touch"
Okay. You ALL loved this song back in '99 or whatever, when it was still really really scandalous. Now it's just really clever and funny and has an awesome porno beat. Is there anything better? Oh, and we've all done that thing with the X-Files, amirite?

To be continued.

Here, you can listen to everything, too!