January 29, 2010

This Weekend : Cherry Bomb !

Good news! I will DJing this event! Even better, since there are just 5 of us this time, we all get slightly longer sets. We are loading the gear in this afternoon.... so snow or no snow - CHERRY BOMB AT COUS COUS IS HAPPENING! Even if we ladies have to all walk to get there.

I was oddly inspired after putting together the Spoon set for WRIR so my Cherry Bomb set will reflect a lot of rock classics I normally wouldn't play. The good news is we all know the words (admit it, you know the words to Billy Joel's "Big Shot") to these songs and they are total cut loose on the dance floor favorites.


January 28, 2010

Cause & Effect : 1/28/10 : Spoon

Tonight's set has me skipping down memory lane holding a spoon (no pun intended) for a microphone.

My parent's had a hi-fi set up in nook of the giant windows of our formal dining room. The year is a little fuzzy but it would be the late '70s to the early '80s and I would relentlessly listen to the handful of records my brothers and sisters had abandoned by the turntable. It was mostly classic rock and in time I had memorized many of these records from front to back. With a spoon in my hand as a mic I would sing along to these records while standing on a dining room chair, barefooted like a half pint version of Janis Joplin ...only with wobbly baby teeth and armed with a glass of milk.

Many of the songs included in this Spoon set for this evening were part of my childhood dining room live performance and I suddenly realized that when placing these songs along side with Spoon, how incredibly classic rock timeless Spoon really is. In modern times we tend to love placing bands under niche banners but ultimately Spoon makes very accessible yet not 100% straight ahead rock songs that anyone could appreciate. The songs are catchy as hell. Each album is solid and well written. They are rock and roll classics turned on their side and I can imagine the 8 year old me digging them as much as the umm....30 something year old me does now.

So tonight we celebrate the Texas rock group Spoon and along music from their catalog you will also hear : The Velvets, The Kinks, Billy Joel, Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty, Guided By Voices, The Walkmen, Deerhunter, and more!

Listen in from 7PM to 9PM at 97.3 FM for you RVA local types and stream us at www.wrir.org on line.

January 27, 2010

Richmond Record Group?

via Analog Apartment, Anyone in the Richmond Area interested in a group like the one below?

Analog Apartment in a city near you...

Hope everyone had a great holiday and is gearing up for their New Year celebration tonight.

Those of you that have been following us on Twitter may have noticed that we're gearing up for a little experiment in 2010 in an effort to build and strengthen the vinyl movement in communities all over the world.

What we're doing:

In October, we started the NYC Analog Apartment Meetup group where local record lovers will come together to listen to, share, lend, and discuss vinyl records. We'll be having casual Meetups at local record stores and pubs / cafes to discover new music and build a local community that brings record lovers and local stores together. We're not really sure what will happen but we're really excited to see how it shapes up.

What others are doing:

We reached out via Twitter to find people in other cities that are interested in organizing Analog Apartment Meetups in their own town to build local communities of record lovers, support local record stores, and introduce / expand the love of records with others in the area. Everyone will be a part of a network of record collector Meetups and we will work together to help make our local Meetups better.

The response has been phenomenal and we've got about 7 people in cities all over lined up to be a part of the movement. Here's our initial idea for what someone can do to get one started in their city:

* An organizer starts a Meetup on Meetup.com called #Location Analog Apartment (or another name if they like). It costs around $12 / month and I can either help pay for or we can work together to get sponsors to cover the costs down the line. I'd like the local organizer to see what kind of ways they can offset the cost (with local sponsors) or if they're cool with $12 / month, they can pay for it themselves like I do for the NYC Analog Apartment Meetup.
* Organizer designs their group home any way that they want. Ours is here: http://www.meetup.com/analogapartment
* Organizer selects Meetup group topics such as vinyl appreciation, music on records, record swap, analog apartment, etc.
* Meetup.com finds people in your town that are interested in those topics and emails them about the new group
* Once the group has got some members, they can get a Meetup scheduled. It can be anything from a casual gathering at a local record store to local record swap. It's up to you but if you need ideas, we (and your members) can help out with that. You can also have assistant organizers, event organizers, etc. to help share the load.

What's in it for the organizer:

We're opening up this Analog Apartment blog, Twitter account, and Facebook Page to organizers so they can make announcements, share success stories, and post interesting articles.

Why are we doing this?

One of the greatest things about collecting vinyl records is the endless pursuit of discovering new music and expanding our collections and knowledge. Personally, my collection has been shaped by people that I've met, discussions I've had at local record stores, and places that I've visited.

Rather than relying solely on the web to be our guide, we think there's a great opportunity to strengthen and share our passion for vinyl by with other collectors, record stores, labels, musicians. Those people are a lot closer than we realize and we all have something to share and learn.

We're not making any money off of this and don't plan to - that's not what this is about. We just hope to see communities of record lovers self organize in their own cities and strengthen the overall network. How great would it be to visit a city and see a community of people that come together around something you love?

How do I become a part of this?

Organize - If you are interested in organizing a Meetup in your city, contact us here and I can send you the details on what we were thinking. The bullet points above should help you get started but be sure to email us so we can coordinate all of the organizers and stay in touch.

Join - If you are interested in joining a Meetup in your city, simply sign up for a free account at Meetup.com and when you're asked to select topics that you're interested in, select things like vinyl appreciation, music on records, record swap, Analog Apartment, etc. At the bottom of that page, you can request to be notified when a Meetup group starts in your area. When a Meetup starts nearby, you'll be notified!

Sponsor - If you are a local business that wants to support this type of movement, you can sponsor a local record collecting Meetup. This mean be anything from providing a venue for people to Meetup, offering a discount at your store, or whatever you can come up with. Contact us here if you are interested in this.

What's next?

As we work to get organizers in other cities up and going, we'll make announcements and introduce you to these people here on the blog. From there, these organizers will be able to share their experiences with everyone by posting articles here on the blog.

That's all for now but if you have ideas, feel free to post your comments.

Thanks and we hope you have a great night ringing in 2010!

January 25, 2010

Free Bird Joke Applies Here

Friends, many of you know my genuine and deep fear of our feather "friends" but regardless of my irrational feelings towards them, this footage created by French artist CĂ©leste Boursier-Mougenot is an interesting watch.

According to the YouTube explanation this is the backstory to the footage:
"For his installation in The Curve, Boursier-Mougenot creates a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape."

January 23, 2010

Misa Digital Guitar

Thanks Chope for passing this link along to me.

Software engineer Michael (who ironically worked for a guitar tube amp & effects company) invented this gadget because he wanted to bring electronic music to life in a live setting.

Here is a quote from his website "I love all kinds of music from Pantera to Pink Floyd, but my favourite music is electronic, bands like Daft Punk, Boards of Canada and Justice for example, and in fact Justice - Waters of Nazareth is the song that made me decide to make the digital guitar in the first place! If you listen to that song, you can just tell it is heavy/death metal guitar translated to synthesizers. I wanted to see that sort of music performed live, by a real band with digital drums and digital keyboards etc - but there were no digital guitars."

Guitar players by nature take the old fashioned more traditional stringed instrument you strum very seriously and don't welcome change often to their lively hood (take that Guitar Hero / Rock Band) so I don't see this be a welcomed invention in their circles but I can certainly see fans of gadgets and electronic music embracing this new instrument.

January 22, 2010

While we are on the topic of awesome....

I can't get enough of this Besnard Lakes single "Albatross". Their new record comes out 3/9 and if this is a sample of what is to come, I can't wait to hear it all.

Eternal Summers!

Holy excitement! There is no greater feeling than being able to rave about a friend's latest musical project. Nicole Yun Hirschmann has been writing songs under a variety of projects over the past decade, most recently, Eternal Summers. I can't say enough good things about the music. Dreamy pop carefully crafted with shoegaze undertones and a presence that is so cute it will make you want to go out and buy a teddy bear. A BIG ONE.

They have a few shows coming up that you might want to check out:

Jan 22 2010 8:00P
CHARLOTTESVILLE w/ drunk tigers and roofwalkers Charlottesville, Virginia

Jan 23 2010 9:00P
ROANOKE w/ Drunk Tigers Roanoke, Virginia

Feb 5 2010 9:00P

Mar 13 2010 8:00P
The Bazaar w/ Reading Rainbow Roanoke, Virginia

Mar 14 2010 8:00P
LITTLE ROCK Little Rock, Arkansas

Mar 15 2010 4:00P
DENTON Denton, Texas

Mar 16 2010 6:00P
AUSTIN Austin, Texas

Mar 17 2010 8:00P
SXSW 2010 Austin, Texas

Check out their latest video for "Secret Language"

January 21, 2010

Flyers are back?

Last night I found myself in one of those annoyingly ubiquitous conversations about "the way things used to be". It is always a treat to meet someone in my age bracket and discuss how we found music in the pre-digital era. This led to a discussion about rock show flyers and how much we missed them. I know that they still exist, but I think that sort of thing falls by the wayside when you can invite 600 people with a couple of clicks through a social media resource.

To my surprise, a local promoter has noticed a trend in the re-birth of the flyer. Apparently, this has a direct correlation with myspace fading away. I embrace technology with open arms, but I still get pretty excited when I see my favorite no name band is coming to town on a piece of copied paper, taped to the record store counter.

Cause & Effect : Jan 21, 2010 : No Age

There are so many right things about the this band. I have a thing for two piece bands and they are in fact a two piece band.

They make great noisy pop and bury melodies among the static. Love it.

They are vocal about being vegan. Very vocal. And the more they talk about it, the more they educate people who may not know that can be a lifestyle change they too can make.

My favorite aspect about No Age is all the cool shit they do beyond just making music. They are part of their local art community on so many levels and involved in so many varies multi media projects. Some bands are all talk but this band is all action and yes, I love them for that too.

Tonight's show will be all about No Age, the bands they grew up worshiping (hardcore, punk, noise, experimental), the bands in their scene (Abe Vigoda, Japanther Women Times New Viking), and more recent bands that ride the fine line between chaos pop (Lightning Bolt, Japandroids, Wavves).

We focus on one band every week on Cause & Effect from 7PM to 9PM and you can stream us live at www.wrir.org or locally listen to us on 97.3 FM.

January 20, 2010

Sunno))) has never been so cute.

These two images pretty much made my week and is a re-post from Stephen's site where a fan of the band offered up his girlfriend's amazing interpretations of Sunno))) in crochet form.

Dynamic Truths / Understanding is Overrated

This release has been in the works for the label (Little Black Cloud Records) for almost two years now but we finally have all the parts in and have set a release date of of March 16th. Even better, here is a link to the first single from the record; for FREE! It is called "Sailors of the Highway" and it offers just a hint of how incredible this record is! If you like it, please feel free to repost the link and share it with others.

The CD will be limited to 250 and carries the full tracklisting. All 15 tracks will also be available in the digital world. LPs will hopefully happen by Summer but the two tracks from the Merge single will not be on the LP.

Hometown – Richmond, VA
Formed: 1996 / Disbanded: 2000

Features Members of – Honor Role / Coral
RIYL: Honor Role, Coral, Alternative TV, The Fall, Gang Of Four, Joy Division, Superchunk, Modern Lovers, Hot Snakes, Chris Thompson bands, PIL, founding fathers of math rock, noisy NZ '80s bands, early Echo

What We Say:

I would love to be able say if you loved Honor Role and Coral you will love the DynamicTruths too but sadly these are bands still unknown to most indie music enthusiasts… even though Merge Records has been singing their praises and releasing many of their records over the years.

These were Richmond, Virginia bands that pretzel knotted hardcore ALA Husker Du circa 1983 to a groundbreaking style now called math-rock with a biting vocal attack in the realm of Mark E Smith. To further add to the band’s weight consider lyrics that read like Raymond Carver fronting Fugazi and there you have a rough idea of what Honor Role and Coral were about and then in turn what Dynamic Truths grew out of.

What amazes me most about these songs, 98% of which were never released, is how well they have survived the test of time. They could fit on a mix along with the best of 80’s British post punk, 90’s angsty indie rock like Superchunk or Circus Lupus, any band featuring John Reis or Rick Froberg, and then modern acts like Interpol.

DT never toured and only played a small handful of shows during their time as an active band. The good news is with the release of this collection of mostly unreleased material (remastered!), we can look forward to a reunion show or two. (fingers are crossed)

What They Say:

Stressing melody and a cool Fall/Gang of Four jaggedness in its rhythm section, the new combo kicks up sparks behind thoughtful lyrics about mental illness, public transportation and tension in the workplace. Equally capable of throttling anthems and woeful catchiness, the DT's could floor old Honor Role fans and indie kid come-latelys alike. Though still in existence in the 21st century, they have been largely dormant since a 1998 single on Merge. – trouserpress.com




January 19, 2010

Sub Pop Goes Global

Sub Pop and a radio show host (Jon Kertzer) from Seattle's KEXP's are joining forces to create a World music imprint under the Sub Pop umbrella called Next Ambience. Their first release will be Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba’s I Speak Fula.

Read more about it here.

January 15, 2010

Friday Flashcard : Name That Metal Band

This Norwegian band is working on their first full length and promises it will kick ass - much like this sweet tattoo of their logo.

They are also apparently so evil that their links on the review part of their blog are too scared to work.

The answer can be found in the comments section.

January 13, 2010

January 14, 2010: Cause & Effect : Jay Reatard Revisited

It's surreal that A) Our 1 year anniversary show is upon us and B) that at the age of 29, Jay Reatard has passed away. I've worshiped his records for some time now and the show we did on Jay last Fall was among one of my favorites of 2009. I didn't quite picture Alex and I celebrating the one year mark quite this way but alas, in memory of Jay we will revisit that show by replaying our set from last Fall.

You know the deal - the show is on Thursdays from 7PM to 9PM and you can stream us live at www.wrir.org or listen in RVA at 97.3 fm.

You can read my original Lightning's Girl post about the show here.

Here is a link to our WRIR set from the original show and as I mentioned already, it's a damn fine one if I don't say so myself.

My thoughts are with Jay's family and friends.


I read TMZ's website. I admit it. Its a guilty pleasure but if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to share these silver fox images of the Boss. Talk about aging well? (Insert Born to Run joke here.)

This is exactly the kind of boost New Jersey needs right now.

Fela On Broadway

Admittedly I live in a bit of a bubble and am not tapped into the theater or musicals community...well at all. I am however a Fela Kuti fan and was surprised when running a search on something to do with him that a Broadway production had been created to celebrate his life and music...no less with production credits that read Jay-Z and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith Presents....ummm, hi. I feel like I live under a rock right now. Anyhow, maybe all my friends and readers are way more on top of the world than I am but here is a teaser clip from the show and apparently it is getting rave reviews as well.

Another reason why I should get myself a subscription to either the NY Times or the New Yorker one of these days, ha!

January 12, 2010

This Blows My Mind : Noh - Opera

It looks like a Bjork video!

January 11, 2010

Swans Reunion ! ! !

The Swans MySpace page has this to say on 1/09/10:

The song “Jim” recently added to the playlist is an acoustic demo (solo at home)
recording by michael gira. this, and many other new songs recorded in the same way comprise many of the new (rough versions) of songs under consideration, to be fleshed out on the coming new swans album. a cd of these acoustic versions, as well as a live (2 shows) dvd of m.gira will be for sale very soon as a hand made (by gira) package called I Am Not Insane (CD/DVD). this package – in a limited edition of 1000 - will be sold in order to raise money for the swans recordings/offset the huge costs involved... check back here or at http://younggodrecords.com for ordering details and more information...coming soon...coming soon...

principal players on the swans album are (and there will be many special guests):

Michael Gira / gtr / voice / mendicant friar act (original swans)

Norman Westberg – Guitar (original swans)

Christophj Hahn – Guitar (mid period swans and most angels)

Phil Puleo – Drums, percussion, dulcimer etc etc (final swans tour and most angels)

Chris Pravdica – Bass and gadgets (flux information sciences / services/ gunga din)

Thor Harris, Drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, etc etc... (angels, now also with shearwater)

Angels Of Light is temporarily on hold while gira pursues his “new” project...

January 10, 2010

Top 10 of 2009 : #1 : A Place To Bury Strangers / Exploding Head

My original review of the record can be found here .

Top 10 of 2009 : #2 : Jeremy Enigk / OK Bear

My original review of the record can be found here.

Top 10 of 2009 : #3 : Japandroids / Post-Nothing

Part of me wanted to cut this band from my list because they have been press darlings for most of 2009 and Post-Nothing made it onto a myriad of top ten lists as well. BUT, not posting about a record I really loved last year just because they are popular seemed even sillier to me.

I will spare you a proper review of this Canadian two piece from Canada (who besides their namesake do line up nicely with Japanther sound wise) but their blissed out melodic sing along noise fest brings me this kind of childhood bliss:

1) First sled ride of the year down the biggest hill in town
2) Jumping into a pool on the first hot day of the year
3) Bumper car chaos
4) Believing in Santa
5) Waking up before the entire house to watch my favorite cartoons
6) Sleepovers with your best friend
7) Breakfast for dinner
8) Getting picked first in gym class
9) The yes box being checked on a "do you like me" note from a crush
10) Finally getting the puppy you asked for approximately 724,042 times

January 8, 2010

Best of 2009 #4 : Sunno))) / Monoliths & Dimensions

First and foremost people, the O))) is silent. It isn't Sunn-Oh, it is pronounced just Sunn...just like the amps they are named after. I am amazed at how many self proclaimed music "experts" get this wrong.

The parallels between heavy metal and classical music is not a new subject and there are a multitude of little mentions of it in various books and articles. Among many metal enthusiasts, myself included, there has always been a love for classical music and as the genre of metal branches out into thousands of shards of sub-genres, the connection between the two is overlapping more than ever.

I will spare you the dissertation of what metal and especially contemporary classical music share, but at each of their core there is an undeniable share and share alike of atonal explorations, complex rhythms, dissonant tones, meditative, contain thunderous climaxes, unsettling textures, use of choral groups....the list goes on and on.

As an adult I have fallen in love with more and more avant-classical (IE Ligeti, Stockhausen, Penderecki) and with that has come an ongoing love affair with the more out there black metal, doom, and ambient / atmospheric metal. They fall under the same category for me and once my ears arrived at an appreciation for one or two artists, the rest came with it shortly after.

There are a ridiculous number of bands out there experimenting with song structures seeped in classical influence but there are leaders within this group and Sunno))) is at the head of the class.
Monoliths & Dimensions is their 7th studio album and it is the groups most stunning, most gorgeous release to date.

Two years in the making, there are additions to the Sunno))) line up here which helped magnify their already epic use of feedback and low tones. Eyvind Klang, Oren Ambarchi, Attila, Dylan Carlson, Julian Priester, and Stuart Dempster are among the key players and for good measure there are also horns, harp, flute, strings, and a Viennese woman's choir.

What I find so completely explosive and inspiring about this entire body of music is how all the pieces fit together and compliment one another to produce a very cohesive final product. Often when bands add new instruments and layers they battle one another in an awkward way so instead of all of the elements coming together, they create an ugly soupy mess. As heavy and punishing as this record can be at times, there is still a delicate, clean, light air to it. Sunno))) has produced a glorious all encompassing fog rather than a smoggy choke inducing haze so many other bands in their genre wheeze out.

Monoliths & Dimensions are Sunno))) at their very best and it is exciting to have a band not only adventure out to sculpt their craft into a new aural shape, but use these new tools to perfection and in perfect harmony with their trademark sound. Few bands have the opportunity to record with a sky is the limit mentality and I am thrilled that Sunno))) used their fortunate position to create the ultimate gift for the fans who helped bring them to this place. We all win.

January 7, 2010

January 7th, 2010 : Cause & Effect : Scott Walker

Hero worship has never played a part in my daily inspiration however there is one man who as an artist has changed music forever by exploring the boundaries of his art but even more incredibly, has seemingly found his creative stride past the age of 55. While most who people reach retirement age start slowing down and becoming one with their couch, Scott Walker was busy book ending malady with melody and perfecting his craft. Amazingly, his most recent work makes the Shining score sound more like a Bugs Bunny sound bed.

In my world, that is a man worth bowing down to.

Shrouded in mystery and an air of cool since his early 20's, Scott Walker began making music in his early teens and has been producing music ever since. He went on to join the crooner trio The Walker Brothers, moved to the UK with the group, and become the first American to be seemingly more English than the Beatles. The Walker Brothers were blessed with wild popularity, many #1 singles over and reached a peak in the late '60s but the wear and tear of primitive touring conditions led to a near melt down for Scott. No longer interested in performing dated sounding pop music to the masses, Scott struck out on his own to produce solo records.

These solo efforts dabbled in experimentation but were still not an epic stretch from the material he was making the Walker Brothers. It wasn't until '70s that Scott's new direction leaning towards contemporary classical and atonal meanderings began to really shine through. There was a brief reunion for the Walker Brothers (that hinted towards Scott's new found style) but once that ended '78, he began sculpting what would become his trademark style of the nightmarish place where chords meet dischord.

Scott doesn't rush his art form so his fans have had to wait 11 years between each of his last 3 releases, rarely ever stepping out into the public eye. Each release is darker and more intense than the next and it is remarkable to me that this gentlemen who is the age of a traditional Grandfather figure is making music more threatening and terrifying, more experimental then people half his age. I am forever fascinated by Scott because of his remarkable creative transitions over the past 5 decades as well as his intense focus to create art that is 100% his vision. He doesn't revel in his past success nor does he have any interest in returning to life as a music industry puppet. Always moving forward, always forging out into new directions, I am thrilled to not only celebrate his varied catalog of releases tonight but also try to connect the dots over the years which brought him from Teen Idol to avant prince of darkness.

Tonight from 7PM to 9PM, I will be tracing Scott's diverse musical career. This show won't be for everyone as his music progressed down a non traditional less musical path but fan or not, there is no denying his influence on music over the past half century and on artists like David Bowie to Radiohead.

It isn't every night you hear a transition from The Drifters to Diamanda Galas and have it make perfect sense. Yes! Tune in on the dial in RVA at 97.3 or stream us live at www.wrir.org

January 5, 2010

Bet of 2009 : #5 : Bill Callahan / Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

It's a love / hate thing for me when in comes to Smog. Half the time I have no idea what grim thing he is singing about and if I do think I have a sense of his literary theme, it is often an uncomfortable one. Uncomfortable for many reasons. Perverse, self loathing, unwieldy weather conditions, venomous words against those seemingly close to him, nature and animal symbolism applied in unsuspecting ways... often all poetically stunning but in back handed way. Couple pin prickly words with a cool baritone but mournful vocal, and there you have Mr. Callahan. He creates complex songs that reveal a naked man, for better or for worse, like Adam has slipped away from Eve and with a smirk is about to tell you about the events that have unfolded.

In interviews he has explained away many of the more threatening themes of his music by explaining there was an important and good moral buried among his ruined characters and story lines but on a facade level, the guy seems pretty intense in a please don't leave me alone in a room with him for too long kind of way. Like a mirror, Bill is filled with light and dark and beyond the ability to reflect there appears to be a threatening and fantastic otherworldly void within in staring right at you.

The thing is, Smog is gone a thing of the past and in his place is the man behind that elusive element gone bad. Up from the filth and fury rises Bill Callahan, a man who sounds not quite at peace with the world but willing to maybe shake its hand and break bread with it.

His lyrical choices are drenched in power but it is just as important to call attention to the music, dotted with gentle strings that appear now again like a hummingbird resting for a moment on a chorus, verse, or bridge. The instrumentation is the ultimate cradle to his voice.

Between night and day there is the softness of dusk and dawn. Sometimes I Wish Were An Eagle lands in that lovely soft transitory place and is an audio version of that magic hour. (okay so its 48 minutes to be exact)

January 3, 2010

Best 0f 2009 : # 6 : We Were Promised Jetpacks / These Four Walls

Scottish band WWPJ delivered a debut this year that rivals in greatness the nearly flawless first releases by The Futureheads and Maximo Park. As a sucker for classic emo /angsty rock and all things from the UK, These Four Walls was probably bound to make my favorites of 2009 list.

Let me qualify myself by saying I was in a touring post-hardcore type band in the ealy '90s that played with a million bands in that scene, and you would think the last kind of record to woo me would be a throwback to a time where high water pants and back packs reigned supreme. So consider my weathered ears and how it would seem nearly impossible for a band whose style of music I know inside and out, win me over...and yet WWPJ has managed to do just that.

Once upon a time (a terrible little phrase there, I know!) all a band needed to do in order to come across as potent was write some decent songs, be able to play them well, and perform them in a way that left people feeling like a part of the song had moved into their body and made itself a home. So many modern bands use all sorts of trickery to buy themselves a following, the most common being guitar players owning 100 different pedals which more often than not are used to disguise the fact that they can't play their instrument.

We Were Promised Jet Packs approach playing their songs in an old fashioned way and while I haven't seen them live and really don't know this for certain, they don't sound like a band who uses a million gadgets on stage to sell their songs. The power comes from their no bullshit approach, something that sounds more like it comes from the gut and heart. I hate tossing out words like honest or sincere because if you are anything like me, these catch phrases make me gag a little (and I rarely believe it when I read a description in a review) but I am struggling to find a better way to express the direct punch of the songs on These Four Walls. I love a band who spills their insides out without sounding like they are whining or following a formula. These Four Walls is emotional without the cringe enducing melodrama of some of the more recent bands who have dabbled in this sound.

Yeah, maybe I am too old for records like this but then again, maybe these are the records that keep me young.

PS: My top 5 records of 2009 will be posted this week.....

Best of 2009 : #7 : 13th Chime / The Singles

I did a quick post about this reissue a few months ago and said this about them....

They were a short lived early '80s angular post punk goth band from the UK and their music is a great mix of Gang of Four, Subhumans, and Crispy Ambulance with touches of The Fall, and very early Cure.

So good....so very good...and the LP packaging comes with an amazing big picture booklet too.

This record is ideal for the closet Goth as well as the classic Goth.

Best of 2009 : #8: Slaraffenland / We’re on Your Side

There are quite a few Scandinavian bands who have dabbled in jazz and Pop/Rock with a great level success...Efterklang, Jaga Jazzist, and Notwist at the head of the pack. Slaraffenland are a 5 piece from Denmark who sound more like a band with 20 members which I suppose has something to do with the fullness a few horns and choral / group singing style can add to song.

I get why this group gets compared to Arcade Fire, A Silver Mt Zion, and Akron Family but I think many music writers struggle to describe a band's style either because their reference point is limited or perhaps they think their reader's would prefer a dumbed down description of band. Don't let the lazy comparisons scare you away. The band carries their own unique knit of playful Pop with experimental music for beginners and while the sound might be vaguely familiar, you will never be able to guess where each song on We're on Your Side will take you next.

And for those of you who care about quality packaging and extraordinary album artwork, this record makes my top 10 on the cover art alone.

Best Records of 2009: #9 : An Horse / Rearrange Beds

Maybe you liked the Spinanes as much as I did?

There was something incredibly compact and pop perfect about the two piece from Olympia, WA circa most the '90s. When they vanished in the early part of this decade I ached for a new band to fill their shoes and while some came close, An Horse was the band who came the closest.

Cuddle-core with a touch sandpaper roughness mixed in, this Australian boy/girl duo makes me want to hug and bang my head all at once (Do not try this at home). Their 2009 release Rearrange Beds on Mom + Pop Records serves up 10 tracks of delicious riff-tiffic pop songs backed by heavy drum hits; a non-traditional approach to what I am still determined to call cuddle-core.

The only other band to really nail this hard meets soft combo was Rebecca and Scott from the Spinanes and again, if you liked them as much as I did, An Horse will make for a nice addition to your music collection.

Best Records of 2009 : #10 : VA / Wizzz! Vol 2.

Some records feel like they were just made for me. Wizzz! Vol 2 on Born Bad Records has an incredible pop art cover along side a perfect collection of super rare 60's French Pop/Rock/ Psych on heavy DJ friendly vinyl... plus a great booklet! It's already out of print but I see it on Ebay pretty often. You might be thinking - why spend $30.00 + on a reissue record but if you managed to find these extremely rare songs, the cost of buying them all would probably surpass a thousand smackers.

Check out some of the songs on the label's MySpace page. (Born Bad Records)

Lastly there is a volume one, and yes, it is very much worth tracking down as well for all the same reasons I mentioned above.