Jan 032015

Hello and welcome to 2015!

Although we Hallers don’t spend a whole lotta time discussing new music, I know you’re out there buying new music. Shall we have some further discussion about The Year In Music, 2014?

Here are my favorite 5 albums of the year, presented in no particular order. To make this list, each album had to feel coherent and have no throw away tracks. I’ve included a link to a track from each album for your tasting pleasure. Please raise your glasses to the following:
1. Steve Gunn – “Way Out Weather” The guitarist from Kurt Vile’s band, The Violators, is now singing along with his melodic music making. Aromas of Laurel Canyon, with some of the pong of David Crosby and John Fahey.
2. Spoon – “They Want My Soul” This album goes down easy, but with some quirky production Lindsey Buckinghamesque (really, it’s produced by Dave Fridmann a la Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips). While this album appears on so many Best Of lists, Britt Daniel continues to manage to dodge Rock Star Diva status and brings words of heartache (and notes of sour grapefruit) to the greater American People.
3. Real Estate – “Atlas” Melodic janglepop. Vanilla, oaky, earnest. Still a small vineyard production.
4. The Soundcarriers – “Entropicalia” For those of you who still mourn the loss of Broadcast and Stereolab, this fizzy concoction will get your toes tapping. Notes of The Free Design and Can.
5. Eno-Hyde – “High Life” No Miller canned shit, this is of English and African origin. Additional drone aromas and aged in a vintage “My Life In the Bush of Ghosts” cask.

Five additional albums were tasty but they didn’t make my Top 5. Included are links to live performances:
6. Cibo Matto – “Hotel Valentine” A new whimsical and thematic album from Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda and released on Sean Lennon’s label. This one’s not about food (see “Viva La Woman”) but instead relays the observations of a ghost girl (kawaii!).
7. Camper Van Beethoven – “El Camino Real” Another thematic album, and the twin to 2013’s “La Costa Perdida.” While the earlier album focused on NorCal, “El Camino Real” is a narrative of Southern California’s sights and people. Mellower than vintage CVB but with sharp, dead-on observations.
8. St. Vincent – “St. Vincent” I don’t care for Annie’s new blond hair, but this album yielded a couple of very good singles and live performances.
9. Tricky – “Adrian Thaws” More club oriented than some of his previous albums. Sexy and violent.
10. Deerhoof – “La Isla Bonita” More noise from that crazy formerly-of-San Francisco foursome. Spiky, melodic, poetic.

What were your favorite albums of 2014?

Jul 102012

What are you listening to these days? While we may be inundated by suggestions for beach reading, grilling recipes, and refreshing beverages, I’d like to hear more about what you all are listening to during the heat wave, your holidays, your longer daylight hours. It’s the summer and for me it means more time to explore bands I’ve been meaning to catch up on or learn more about. So here are 2 that I’m totally addicted to these days:

1. The Men

Mr. Royale has been sneaking tracks from this Brooklyn 4-piece onto music mixes he’s been making for me, but it was this track that really turned things around and made me join the cult:

This is 8:06 of The Power and Glory of Rock! We start with some Neil Young “Southern Man”-style guitar, and move into a psychedelic guitar lead that winningly reminds me of one of my favorite covers, Camper Van Beethoven’s version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” Two minutes in, the beat picks up but then is followed by a teasing lull. However, the volume kicks back up and at 5:18, The Men are in full swing and even add cowbell! I’m imagining the group of them head banging in tandem and this continues with some extra psychedelic guitar noodling thrown in for good measure. This music IS everything and the kitchen sink!

Whereas The Men are very overt with their influences, my other music addiction these days could be described as True Originals:

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