The Best of the ’00s Part 3: #80-71

Off we go!

80 The Breeders – Title TK (2002) (left) – I’ve forgiven Kim Deal for the bodily injury inflicted on me in 1994. I have also forgiven her for taking her time between Breeders albums. I think many people were disappointed with Title TK as it had no “Cannonball” and felt more like a home demo than an album 8 years in the making (well, it might not have been in the making for all those years).

79 Amon Tobin – Supermodified (2000) – I remember having a conversation with someone in 2000 about how electronic wasn’t just a flash in the pan but it was hear to stay. Sadly, looking back on that, it was sort of like Homer claiming that the height of rock and roll was Grand Funk Railroad. It doesn’t mean that the decade was bereft of excellent electronic, it just means that it quickly receded into the background (or hybridized effectively).

78 Passion Pit – Manners (2009) – Speaking of which, this might be a prime example of the electro-hybridization. There is a level of uncomfortableness in the album, maybe with the forced falsetto vocals or children yelling the chorus, but really, that is what made it so fascinating. Or maybe I just like music that makes me feel a little uneasy, much like …

77 Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles (2004) – I give a lot of people a hard time for listening to bands that I consider, well, unlistenable because all they seem to do is f&%k around with instruments and suddenly get praised for their genius. Then I think that I might not have an appendage on which to stand because of my undying love for Xiu Xiu. Too bad, I’m going to go on living with this inconsistency.

76 The Faint – Danse Macabre (2001) – My friend Melissa, who seems to have vanished into oblivion, introduced me to the Faint in a record store somewhere in Cambridge. I probably spent a good part of the next year listening to this album.

75 New Pornographers – Mass Romantic (2001) (right) – I checked both Mass Romantic and Electric Version out from the Corvallis Public Library (nice job on the part of the music purchasers there), not really knowing what to expect beyond the fact that I had read “hey, the New Pornographers are good.” The last thing I expected was a pile of power pop that was like a lo-fi revival of the Cars (but better).

74 Hot Chip – Made in the Dark (2008) – Sometimes I think that Hot Chip will slowly climb into the top 10 of my favorite bands – sort of like a Pet Shop Boys 2.0. Made in the Dark did nothing to dispel that notion.

73 YACHT – I Believe in You. Your Magic is Real (2007) – I think this album is a fine example of what happens when a band that spent too much time dithering around on previous albums trying to be “experimental” sits down and tries to write pop songs. And yes, it works like a charm. Note to many bands: being catchy and succinct isn’t a sin.

72 Ratatat – Remixes Vol. 1 and 2 (2004/2007) – Maybe I cheated a little bit by including these unreleased (well, released briefly for free on the internet) remix albums on this list, but very few ‘mix tape’ adventures had as much of an impact on my listening habits as Ratatat’s. I eagerly await Vol. 3.

71 Tilly & the Wall – Wild Like Children (2004) (left) – I am a sucker for charming bands and Tilly & the Wall turned the charm dial up to 11. Tap dance percussion? Check. Mixed male-female vocals? Check. Songs about love? Check. They might be a little gimmicky, but you know, sometimes that AOK.

Here is your iTunes iMix for 80-71, which sadly lacks any of the Ratatat remixes and oddly, the Breeders (go figure, iTunes lacks Title TK). Thankfully you can find Ratatat’s remix of Allure on Youtube (audio only) and the Breeders’ “Huffer” (on Conan) as well.

Best of the ’00s Part 1: 100-91

Best of the ’00s Part 2: 90-81

Best Albums of 2008 – #20-11

Two days left in 2008 and I’ll finally start posting my best of 2008. I also want to mention a late-arriving honorable mention, that being the Crystal Castles self-titled album. I only got it about a week ago and I quite like it. Look for #1-10 tomorrow and my 2008 mix to go with it. Anyway, on to numbers 20 through 11 for 2008:

20. Reefer: Reefer – This year, Islands released their follow-up to Return to the Sea, and wow, did Arms Way stink. However, Nick Thornber, who left Islands before Arms Way, released what could be seen as the real heir to Return to the Sea. Bizarre, laidback and somewhat unfocused, it is just far more entertaining that Thornber’s former band’s release.

19. Coldplay: Vida La Vida – Bite me. If anything, Coldplay is catchy as hell, even if they are just U2.1.

18. Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak – Now presenting: Kanye West’s Postal Service’s Give Up.

17. Maus Haus: Lark Marvels – A real darkhorse for the top 20, this album is something like Modest Mouse without the arena rock metamorphism the Mouse has experienced. Well worth your time to check out.

16. Shearwater: Rook – Really intense and full of atmosphere yet oddly familiar sounds. Almost impossible to describe this album except “haunting”.

15. Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Lie Down in the Light – Speaking of haunting, Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy) has become much less haunting and much more accessible since his days in Palace. This album is definitely the alternative folk rock that doesn’t bland you to death.

14. Silver Jews: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Maybe not the best Silver Jews’ album, but definitely the most focused since American Water. One of those truly underappreciated American bands.

13. Bloc Party: Intimacy – OK, so, a lot of people dissed Bloc Party’s Intimacy. I’m not entirely sure if it was because (a) Bloc Party is no longer cool in their eyes; (b) the sophomore album A Weekend in the City was a disappointment; (c) Intimacy is kind of schizophrenic or (d) all of the above. Whatever the reason, they are wrong. Sure, Bloc Party suddenly finds itself maybe a little too enamored with their synths and yes, maybe they’re just the 00’s version of Jesus Jones, but, well, those are two things that I am susceptible.

12. Xiu Xiu: Women as Lovers – Jamie Stewart is the patron saint of tortured electronic geniuses in America today.

11. Ratatat: LP3 – The most nuanced Ratatat album thus far, it brings in a lot of diverse sounds – both energized and relaxed. Now, they just need to release another hip-hop remix album.

Look for #1-10 tomorrow!


The return of … music?

So, the election is over.

Baseball season is over.

And suddenly, Erik is feeling music again.

What happened? Well, I think that should be pretty obvious. A lot of tension was lifted from my mind after Barack Obama won the presidency (can you dig it?!) I’ll have more to say about this, but right now I’m a little too busy trying to get ready for a weekend field trip and an interview, so instead I’ll post my first iPod top 10 in months. Enjoy!

  1. “Like This” by Girl Talk
  2. “The Menace” by Mongrel
  3. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
  4. “Shame on a Nigga” by Wu Tang Clan
  5. “Blind” by Hercules & Love Affair
  6. “Freiwild” by K.I.Z.
  7. “Flux” by Bloc Party
  8. “Dance Wiv Me” by Dizzee Rascal with Calvin Harris
  9. “Mumtaz Khan” by Ratatat
  10. “I Lost You” by the Walkmen

Oh yeah, music and such

I haven’t written much about music in ages. Not entirely sure why beyond the fact that it seems that 2008 has been a pretty uninspiring year for me, new music-wise. Yes, there have been a few great albums – Portishead, Fleet Foxes, Shearwater, Vampire Weekend – but nothing has really grabbed my attention and kept it. Ah well.

On that note, I will post my latest Top 10 from my iPod, for your amusement. Maybe visiting Amoeba in Berkeley this weekend will help alleviate my malaise.

  1. “Rubicon” by the Blistering Suns
  2. “Like This” by Girl Talk
  3. “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend
  4. “Holle” by K.I.Z.
  5. “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
  6. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay
  7. “Ready for the Floor” by Hot Chip
  8. “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” by the Silver Jews
  9. “Mumtaz Khan” by Ratatat
  10. “Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo” by Jens Lekman
And for the fun of it, a song that might make the top 10 soon … and it is in German!
“Du Much Auch” by Die Fantastischen Vier

Back from Canada …

So, I’m back from my lovely conference in Canada. Vancouver is a real nice city, I have to admit it. If you ever go to Vancouver, be sure to do the Grouse Mountain Grind if you enjoy deathmarches up mountainsides.

I had a chance to see Tullycraft live in West Seattle last week and you should see them live, too! They’re a heckuva a lot of fun. I also got to go to some real record stores, so I purchased to my heart’s content. What did I purchase? Good question!

(Loosely ranked by how much I’ve liked them so far)

  • Shearwater – Rook
  • Hercules & Love Affair – S/T
  • Ratatat – LP3
  • Tilly & the Wall – O
  • Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
  • Sigur Ros – Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
  • Wolf Parade – On Mount Zoomer
  • Dan the Automator – 2K7

Anyway, I will be starting my Erik Gonzalez 100 this week, so stay tuned for that!