December 30, 2007

Best of 2007, 11-25

best of 2007 11 25 smaller
My top 10 list is coming soon, but in the meantime, here are my other favorite albums from 2007. I am not going to give you any type of description, just a list and some links. In parenthesis following each album you will see how I purchased the album and whether or not the album is available on emusic. I really need to get some time of advertising agreement with emusic so I am making some money off all of the promotion I do for them!

11. Radiohead- In Rainbows (downloaded for 75 cents)
12. Fountains of Wayne- Traffic & Weather (bought CD)
13. Lovedrug- Everything Starts Where it Ends (bought CD, available on emusic)
14. Over the Rhine- The Trumpet Child (received Vinyl as gift, got on emusic)
15. Pinback- Autumn of the Seraphs (bought Vinyl, came with free MP3 download)
16. Right Away, Great Captain!- The Bitter End (got on emusic)
17. Blonde Redhead- 23 (got on emusic)
18. Smashing Pumpkins- Zeitgeist (got on iTunes)
19. The Innocence Mission- We Walked in Song (bought Vinyl, available on emusic)
20. The Shins- Wincing the Night Away (bought Vinyl, came with free MP3 download)
21. The National- Boxer (got on emusic)
22. Bodies of Water- Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink (got on emusic)
23. Band of Horses- Cease to Begin (bought Vinyl, came with free MP3 download)
24. St. Vincent- Marry Me (got on emusic)
25. Neon Horse- s/t (bought CD)


The Redskins beat the Cowboys 27-6 today, clinching a playoff birth. They won their final 4 games and play Seattle on Saturday in the first round.

December 10, 2007

Current Vinyl Want-list

For those of you buying me presents, or just curious...
(updated 11/18/2014)

The top of the list:
1. Over the Rhine- Ohio 2 x LP
2. The Gloria Record- s/t EP
3. The Gloria Record- A Lull in Traffic

Everything else:
Appleseed Cast- End of the Ring Wars
Counting Crows- August and Everything After
My Bloody Valentine- Loveless
Neko Case- Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
The New Pornographers- Mass Romantic
R.E.M.- Out of Time
R.E.M.- Monster
R.E.M- New Adventures in Hi-Fi
R.E.M.- Reveal
Seventy Sevens- 77s (Island)
Sleigh Bells- Treats
Toad the Wet Sprocket- Fear
Toad the Wet Sprocket- Dulcinea
Weezer- s/t (‘The Blue Album’)

December 3, 2007

Best of 1993

I started this post weeks ago, and got most of the way through it, but then got busy with grading and coaching swimming, so it got delayed. I am now working my way through it and about to post the 1993 list.

1993 is the year I actually discovered good music, so unlike the previous years this time I actually bought some of these albums as they came out. Most of these bands I probably discovered in 1994 and 1995 though.

1. Mortal- Fathom
Two years in a row with a Mortal album at the top. While 'Lusis' is great, 'Fathom' is on another level for me. So much more diverse and epic. The album is incredibly long, over an hour, and the songs probably average six minutes in length. Overall it would be classified as industrial rock, but it is so much more than that. 'Rift' is one of the most unique songs I have ever heard, starting with a minimal percussive track and whispered vocals, but then there are short explosions of sound as it builds to a chaotic ending. I have a strange memory listening to the song 'Rift' leaving the "Beaver Dome" in Nashville after losing in the NBA FBC playoffs my senior year. 'Jil Sent Me' is a ballad with strings, yet still based on programmed drums. My favorite song on the album is 'Bright Wings', mainly due to the tribal percussion and lyrics.

2. Smashing Pumpkins- Siamese Dream**
I heard the radio singles first of course, 'Today' and 'Disarm'. I liked them, but didn't take the time to listen to the whole album until I was a freshman in college. The rest of the album blew me away, and it remains my favorite Smashing Pumpkins release. The walls of guitars are just awesome. Too bad "Zeitgest", the 2007 album, sounds nothing like this. Best song: "Mayonnaise" (Which is ironic considering mayonnaise is one of my least favorite things on earth.)

3. The Prayer Chain- Shawl
My brother Keith and I would always listen to the A-Zone Saturday nights from 10 to midnight in our bedroom before we fell asleep. Keith would often call in and talk to the DJs, Dr. Tony Shore and KC Jones. They had some contest and Keith called in and won "Shawl" on CD. It took them forever to get it to him though, and we ended up "borrowing" the cassette of Shawl from our friend Jay. The A-Zone played many songs from it, and we loved them all. 'Never Enough', '58' are both in my top 20 songs of all time, but '58' is the best song on the album. (Named for its unique 5/8 time signature.) (Member of TPC are working on a new Cush album, check that out here.)

4. Poor Old Lu- Mindsize
The first true album from my co-favorite band of all time. 'Sin' was the first Poor Old Lu album I bought, but I soon went back and ordered 'Mindsize'. (Back when you had to request the store to special order it for you.) Unlike their later albums, this album is structured around acoustic guitar, but that doesn't keep it from being rock. One of my favorite things about Poor Old Lu is that they are completely indescribable, it is impossible to compare their sound to any other artist. They came out of Seattle's grunge scene, but they are not grunge in anyway. Best song: "Cruciality"

5. Dakoda Motor Co.- Into the Son
This was my first favorite album. I heard DMC for the first time on Way-FM, but it was completely unlike most of the stuff I heard on there. Davia's vocals are great, and the music is very fun- surf rock. Dakoda Motor Co. was actually what led me to listen to the A-Zone, when they debuted DMC's second album. I still can't believe that in 2007 this band is active and recording a new album. Last summer (2006) I started a Dakoda Motor Co. fan Myspace page one month before they reunited and played their first show in 10 years. Crazy. Now that page is official and run by the band. They have played half a dozen shows in the last year, but all on the West Coast. Dakoda Motor Co. was actually the first real concert I ever went to, with Hoi Polloi and Johnny Q. Public opening. It was at Rocketown, when it was still in it's original location in Franklin. Davia had already left the band though, Melissa Brewer was singing lead. Now I actually might get the chance to see DMC play with Davia. Dakoda Motor Co. is actually one of only two bands on this list that are active. The other is the Smashing Pumpkins; but unlike the Smashing Pumpkins, DMC has all the original members. Dakoda Motor Co. is also the band that probably made me aware of how much I love female lead vocals. Best song: "Wind An' Sea"

6. Lost Dogs- Little Red Riding Hood
This is the first Lost Dogs album I heard, and the one I listen to the most. I don't have many memories about it, except that I love the first two songs. My favorite song on the album, "Imagine That", is one of the best examples of all four guys- Roe, Taylor, Daugherty, Eugune - singing in the same Lost Dogs song.

7. Steve Taylor- Squint
Steve Taylor was an extremely prolific musician, this his final musical release. I discovered him late, as this was my first exposure to him. There is so much about him I could write, and want to write a lot, as this will be the only mention of him in all of my lists.

Taylor is primarily a lyricist; he is very clever and has an amazing way with words. He wrote great songs for a decade, but musically much of his work left a lot to be desired. I probably heard it too late, and also it may have not been my style. ‘Squint’ though is a terrific rock album. “Bannerman” was probably the first song I heard from it, and is possibly my least favorite on the album. The next song I heard was “The Lament of Desmond R.G. Underwood Fredrick IV.” Yes, that is the name of the song, and yes, I did just remember the full name off the top of my head. The best song on the album, “The Finish Line”, gives me chills to this day if I really concentrate on the highly profound and spiritual lyrics. The first song I ever played on my radio show was “The Cash Cow”, a three-part rock opera that really had no business ever being played on the radio. But the first time I heard it, I promised myself I would play it live over the air if I ever had a chance, and I did.

Taylor has gone on to be a producer and filmmaker, producing most notably Sixpence’s self-titled album. He has only finished one full-length film, but has done tons of videos and shorts. He most recently contributed a song to the Veggie Tales movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

8. The Connells- Ring*
My freshman year in college I took a basic drawing class that was composed of mainly JRs and SRs. My main memory of the class is the crazy stories my teacher would tell while we would draw. The next thing I remember is that people would bring in CDs that the entire class would listen to (whenever the teacher wasn't telling his stories). I brought in Poor Old Lu-Sin one day and one of the older guys in the class commented on how much he liked the album. This was Mike, we later became good friends and worked together. Well, Mike brought in a lot of CDs of bands I had never heard, the one that stuck with me the most was the Connells. I remember specifically listening to "One Simple Word" in that class. "One Simple Word" is my favorite Connells album, and was my introduction to the band (it was released in 1990). "Ring" is probably the most well-known Connells album, featuring the song "'74-75", which was a huge radio hit in numerous countries (but not the US). It is much more poppy than their older work, and better produced. I was fortunate enough to see this band play 3 or 4 shows in their final years before their break-up. A couple of those shows were at the 5 Points Music Hall in Birmingham, and another was in Chattanooga. Best song: "Carry My Picture"

9. The Cranberries- Everybody Else is Doing it So Why Can't We?
Little known fact about the Cranberries- Dolores O'Riordan was not the original lead singer, and the lead singer was a male. Good thing he left the band! Everyone has heard the song 'Dreams' from the commercials it has been on, I think it was actually licensed to their home country of Ireland for travel promotion. The song "Linger" was the senior dance song at my prom. I hate dancing, but was thrilled when it was played at the Prom. Possibly the only song I liked all night long, but still a great night. Best song: "Dreams"

10. DigHayZoose- MagentaMantaLoveTree
Strange album name, strange album title. The album is 22 tracks and is almost too long to fit on a CD. Knowing how weird the band is, they probably intentionally filled the CD to the max. Hard to describe their sound, reminds me of Faith No More. Or maybe it just reminds me of the song "Epic" by Faith No More. This album is definitely epic. It samples tons of things, from Mr. Rogers to sci-fi movies, but it is not at all industrial. Of the 22 tracks, 12 are true songs, and average over 5 minutes in length. Stylistically all over the map. I don't listen to the album often, but when I do, I am always surprised by how good it is. I often get into discussions with music friends about cohesive, complete albums. This is one of the first ones that comes to mind for me. It works perfectly as a whole, it is hard to break apart. I did however play the song, "Dancing in Concert with the Infinite" on my radio show all the time. The lead singer, known only as "Phil", ended up being in another band, whose name I can never remember and sounded drastically different than DigHayZoose. This unknown band actually sounded like the next band on the list, but nowhere near as good. They had some songs on the original in the late 90s. Back to "MagentaMantaLoveTree" it is impossible to single out a favorite song from it. Like I said before, you have to listen to all 70+ minutes in one setting.

11. Counting Crows- August in Everything After*
Did you realize that the Counting Crows have been an active band for 15 years yet have only released four studio albums? I find that to be crazy. Starflyer 59 has released three times that many LPs in the same time frame; the benefit of being an independent band. Of course I guess one could argue money is better than being able to release an album a year. This album is extremely depressing, but excellent. The first time I heard the album as a whole was my 18th birthday. The party was at the FBC Rec Center, and it was an "all-nighter". I remember trying to sleep, and kept waking up hearing music echoing through the gym. I didn't know it then, but it was "August and Everything After." At the time, because I was half asleep, I remember thinking it was Adam Again but knew that couldn't be right. Best song: "Omaha" (My friend Micah and I drove to Montana and back from Tennessee in a week in June 2000. We listened to a ridiculous amount of music on the trip, and we timed this Counting Crows album so that "Omaha" would be playing as we drove through the city in Nebraska. Yes I am a music dork.)

Other important albums from 1993:
Focused- Bow
Hoi Polloi- Spin Me
The Throes- Fall on Your World
Wish for Eden- Pet the Fish
Pearl Jam- Vs.*
Browbeat- Unplugged Alternative (Best compilation album ever? Mortal, Poor Old Lu, the Choir, Lost Dogs, the Throes, etc.)

(The only album on this list that I own on vinyl is the Smashing Pumpkins. The other two vinyl records I own from 1993 are both 7"s- the Prayer Chain- "Crawl "single, and Mortal- "Rift"/Poor Old Lu-"More" split on green & clear vinyl.)

November 27, 2007

Sean Taylor

November 21, 2007

Christmas Albums

I have almost completed my 1993 post, but I am going to take a break from it and do one short post about Christmas albums. I LOVE Christmas music, but it's hard to find unique, good Christmas music. Here is a list of a few I enjoy:

Mindy Smith- My Holiday
I just got this with an iTunes gift card today, it is awesome. Many great original songs, a few traditional ones, all in folk style with Mindy's beautiful voice. Best song on the album is one Mindy wrote, "Follow the Shepherd Home." Alison Krauss also contributes BGVs. I have only listened to the album twice, but I love it already.

Sufjan Stevens- Songs for Christmas (available on emusic)
Incredibly thorough and diverse, actually made up of 5 EPs spanning 5 years. A variety of Christmas classics and new songs written by Sufjan is various styles. Buy the box set, you get 5 CDs and tons of extras like chords, lyrics, stickers, a poster and a nice cardboard box. 42 songs in all. If you get this, definitely buy the box, don't just buy the mp3s.

Jars of Clay- Christmas Songs (on emusic)
Newest album on the list, very good. A nice mix of hymns, Christmas classics, and originals all arranged in folk-rock style.

Over the Rhine- Snow Angels
Over the Rhine's newest Christmas album, consisting of all original songs. Outstanding, one of their better albums. Was released last year independently, this year I think it should be available in stores.

Over the Rhine- Darkest Night of the Year (on emusic)
Over the Rhine's more traditional Christmas album, released a decade ago. Album is surprisingly about half instrumental. Not thier strongest work, but definitely worth getting cheaply off emusic.

Low- Christmas (on emusic)
I am not really that much of a fan of Low, but I love this album. Easily my favorite thing they have ever done. A few hymns, but highlighted by two songs they wrote- "If you were born today" (covered recently by Jimmy Eat World, you can buy their version on iTunes) and "Long way around the sea" (covered a few years ago by Pedro the Lion on one of their many Christmas 7" records).

Noel (out of print, but you can download it for free right here)
Probably my favorite Christmas album, because I have been listening to it for so long. Recorded by various artists, but cohesively, not each artist recording a seperate song. This was probably the precursor of the City on a Hill albums (brainchild of Derri Daughery and Steve Hindalong of the Choir). Featuring Michael Pritzl, Riki Michele, Jenny Gullen, Buddy & Julie Miller, etc.

Leigh Nash- Wishing for This (on emusic)
Great EP of originals, covers, and classics.

A Winter's Night (on emusic)
A mostly folk album with lots of nice songs from Nickel Creek, the Weepies, Sixpence, Hem, the Be Good Tanyas, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavinge, etc. I have gotten most of the tracks off emusic, but not all of them yet.

Even though I am not a fan of the band, I am considering getting the new Relient K Christmas album. Matthew Thiessen (lead singer) has written one of my favorite Christmas songs that was on a Tooth and Nail sampler years ago, called "I Hate Christmas Parties."

November 8, 2007

Best of 1992

It has been about six weeks since my last top-10 list, the best of 1991. My original intention was to do one of these every few days, and if I am going to finish before the end of the year, I am going to have to. Probably unrealistic, but I do have a lot of time off from work coming up soon. Anyway, here we go with 1992. Just like my 1991 list, only one of these albums did I hear at the time, the R.E.M. The other albums I didn't discover until at least couple years later.

1. Mortal-Lusis
The first of three masterpieces by Jyro (Please make more music!) and Jerome (how the heck did he end up in Switchfoot?). What originally attracted me to the album was the Star Trek samples (yep I was a Trekkie, maybe I still am?), but eventually fell in love with everything about this techno-industrial release. At the time I had never heard anything like it. I am pretty sure I bought this in 1994, after I bought "Fathom". Heard initially on the A-Zone. Best song: "Mytho-X"

2. Seventy Sevens- Pray Naked
Album was actually self-titled due to Christian bookstores deeming the original title "sinful." Apparently one should not pray in the shower? Anyway, they missed the 77s point- 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Probably my second-favorite 77s album behind the first one I owned, "Drowning with Land in Sight." Good mix of styles, from light pop-rock to edgier bluesy rock. Michael Roe took advantage of the addition of the Harmon brothers to the band, and used some of their Strawmen songs. I have many memories listening to this album all summer at beach project in 1996. Best song: "Look"

3. R.E.M.- Automatic for the People*
I heard the radio singles in 1992 ("Drive" & "Everybody Hurts"), but it wasn't until 1995 (when I saw R.E.M. in concert, with Radiohead opening) that I bought the album and fell in love with it. Probably R.E.M.'s most popular album. My favorite song on the album is "Nightswimming", which is definitely in my top-10 favorite songs of all time. I remember the first time I heard the song I was at the Rosenbaum's house in Franklin, TN at their annual Christmas party. This probably would have been December 1994. Chris Martin (Coldplay) has also been heard saying this is "the greatest song ever written."

Also of note, 2007 is the 15th anniversary of this album, and all the albums from 1992 obviously. Stereogum has put together a free tribute to "Automatic for the People" that you can download here. The tribute is mainly by unknown bands, but it is excellent. Bodies of Water's cover of "Everybody Hurts" is outstanding. Best song: "Nightswimming"

4. Adam Again- Dig
Another artist discovered thanks to the A-Zone. I really liked Adam Again all through high school, but I don't think I really appreciated them until I saw them at Cornerstone in 1997. Adam Again never really reached it's potential, partially due to Gene Eugene's tragic death in 2000. Ironically, Gene's vocals are often compared to Michael Stipe of R.E.M. I just this minute learned tons of new stuff about Gene Eugene on his Wikipedia page. Best song: "River on Fire" (The story of the Cuyahoga River actually catching on fire is fascinating.)

5. L.S.U.- The Grape Prophet
1992 was, in a way, the year of Michael Knott. He released what many consider his best solo album and best band album in the same year. They are not my favorites of his, but they are both outstanding. This is is a concept album, and here is a 1992 article explaining the premise. It took me a long time to track down this album in college, because it went out of print very quickly, as with all of the Blonde Vinyl releases. And at the time, if you didn't own a physical copy of an album there was no other way to hear it. Definitely no Michael Knott on the radio, except the A-Zone and my own radio show. At one point I probably could have sold the CD on eBay for $50. Best song: "English Interpreter of English"

6. Poor Old Lu- Star Studded Super Step
This was Poor Old Lu's first full-length, but in 1992 only a cassette demo. It was later independently released on CD in 1995, and then again on CD in 1998 with different artwork and a shorter tracklisting. I have the 1995 CD version, which I got straight from Jesse Sprinkle (drummer for Lu, Demon Hunter, Dead Poetic, etc.). I will never forget getting it because he mailed it to me and a couple of Poor Old Lu t-shirts in a cereal box (Fruity Pebbles, maybe?).
Anyway, about the album, it is rough obviously as it is a demo, but I find it to be terrific. Many of these songs ended up as much better, finalized versions on "Mindsize". However, the best song was never released again. Best song: "A Snowfallen Desert"

7. Lost Dogs- Scenic Routes
I discovered the Lost Dogs upon the release of their next album, but this one is definitely their best. The band was started as a one-time collaboration between Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos), Michael Roe (the 77s), Derri Daughtery (The Choir) and Gene Eugene (Adam Again). However, the band eventually because equally popular as any of the members' original bands, and in recent years has been the primary engine for many of these guys' creativity. Extremely diverse stylistically, ranging from folk, country, rock and blues. Best song: "The Last Testament of Angus Shane" (beautifully sung by Gene Eugene)

8. Michael Knott- Screaming Brittle Siren
Most of Knott's solo releases are more acoustic based, but this one is equally as rocking as any of his L.S.U. albums, including the one on this 1992 list. Another album that was extremely hard to find even only a couple of years after its release. Best song: "Apocalypse Lips"

9. The Violet Burning- Strength
I didn't hear this album until at least 5 years after it's release, if not longer. I discovered the Violet Burning in 1994, as they had one song on a compilation, the original version of "Low". I loved the song, but never really searched for anything else by the band. It wasn't until the Violet Burning's self-titled album was released in 1996 that I fell in love with the band. Then it took me a few years to find this CD, once again out of print and overpriced. By the time I first heard it, it already sounded very dated. The song-writing is great however. I hadn't listened to this album in forever until I saw Michael Pritzl play at Cornerstone this summer. He played a solo acoustic set and many of his songs have never sounded better. Best song: "Undone"

10. Circle of Dust- self-titled
When I first heard Circle of Dust, in 1993, I had never heard anything like it. I didn't even know industrial music existed. It absolutely blew me away. This album is here mainly due to nostalgia, but Klayton Scott Albert Celldweller is one of the best on the planet in this genre. This album was re-released and re-recorded in 1995, and I always get the two confused because they have the same cover and artwork. There was only one other Circle of Dust album, "Disengage", in 1998. Klayton is now releasing music under the "Celldweller" moniker, his 2nd Celldweller album is due in 2008, and it is a a natural progression from where he began with Circle of Dust. And unlike his growling then, he now sings, and sings very well. Celldweller songs have appeared in more movies than I can count, including the Spiderman films. Best song: "Dissolved"

Other 1992 albums of note:
Sixpence None the Richer- The Original Demos (Most songs ended up on "Fatherless & the Widow" in 1993)
The Prayer Chain- Whirlpool EP (Songs were all from the "Neverland Sessions" in 1991)
Bride- Snakes in the Playground (One of the first three CDs I ever bought)
Tori Amos- Little Earthquakes
10,000 Maniacs- Our Time in Eden

You should all use emusic...

Dustin Kensrue of Thrice at the Masquerade in Atlanta

First of all, Tess Wiley's newest album is on emusic now, so you all have no reason not to buy it. And if you don't use emusic you should, it is far and away the best and cheapest way to get music legally. Other recent albums I have gotten on emusic are Zookeeper, the Besnard Lakes, and Bodies of Water. The new Thrice is also on emusic, which I will say once again is my album of the year.

I was going to post more about the New Pornographers, but never got around to it. I am still greatly impressed by their show, one of the best I have ever seen. My wife and I went to the Eisley/Mutemath show last Saturday with 13 students. Eisley, who I love and have seen now 5 times, sounded terrible. Apparently it was due to the venue, the Tabernacle in Atlanta. I have always heard great things about the Tabernacle, but I never want to go back. I can't stand Mutemath's music, but they put on an entertaining live show. I can't take them seriously though, this picture makes me laugh every time I see it.

I haven't listened to much David Bazan or Pedro the Lion in a long time. (Pedro the Lion's entire catalog is on emusic by the way.) However, I did just find a great live bootleg of his from a few days ago. I am optimistic about his first solo LP next year on Barsuk. That blog is a great by the way, tons of good mp3s and info.

Quick sports update: The Redskins are 5-3, but could easily be 3-5 or 7-1 with a few different bounces of the odd-shaped ball. In order to make the playoffs they are going to have to beat the Cowboys at least once and win their second game against the Giants. And continue to beat the teams with losing records, which they have done but barely. The Redskins 3 losses are to teams who are combined 22-3. Two of those games they led at halftime, the third... well, I don't think too much about that third loss.

Auburn is 7-3, which pretty much means nothing. The only thing that matters now is beating Bama. I won't even be that upset if they lose to Georgia this week, although I am excited about watching my first Auburn game in a month (2 games not on TV, missed the LSU game.) This will be the first year since Zambia that I did not make it to an Auburn game. The Pistons are 3-0, easily one of the two best teams in the Easy (the new Celtics are amazing.) I try not to care about the NBA, but I always really get into the Pistons as usual when the season starts.

I am 6-3, 5-4 and 8-1 in my three Fantasy Leagues. The only one that matters though is the 6-3 in the FBC Nashville league, I am currently in 4th and trying to stay there and make the playoffs for the first time. That is the only truly competitive fantasy league I have ever been in, the others are pretty much jokes.

October 31, 2007

Thrice & New Pornographers

Um, yeah, so I counted down to the release of "The Alchemy Index" for months, then I failed to post when it was released, on Oct. 16. It is amazing, even better than I anticipated. Should definitely be my number one album of 2007. Listen to songs from it here.

I have been busy, but I have many posts to come, including my "best of 1992". I saw the New Pornographers last night, I intend to post a complete concert report, it is just a matter of time. Here are some pics that I took and a link to another review that includes a video:

Here are the rest of the images from the show at the Variety Playhouse.

October 10, 2007

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 9)

One week to go!

New Radiohead album is out today...

You can buy it digitally from their website, you pay whatever price you want- 1 cent, 1 dollar, 10 dollars? You can also buy an amazing looking box set (2 vinyl records, 2 LPs) that will ship in December. The box set cost 40 pounds, which is $81. Maybe a Christmas gift from someone?

September 27, 2007

I can't believe I missed this tour...

Fiona Apple w/ Nickel Creek- Criminal

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 7)

September 21, 2007

Best of 1991

If you've been paying attention, a little over a month ago I posted my Top 10 lists from the last 10 years. I love lists, and I love favorites. The thing about those lists is I posted them as they were at the time. Well now, finally, I am going to post my Top 10 album lists for every year I have been listening to music. Using the help of iTunes, I have grouped all my favorite albums into years.

I am going to start with 1991. I didn't listen to much music in 1991, but if I did, it was probably Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and Petra. I didn't truly discover great music until 1993. So what is funny about this is list is that most all of these albums I was not aware of at the time. And the albums I was aware of (U2 and R.E.M.) I had only heard the radio singles. I have just revised this list for the second time because I keep getting release dates confused. I will be sure to get accurate dates before I post my 1992 list. (I originally thought Mortal-Lusis was 1991 [it was 1992] and I had My Bloody Valentine-Loveless for 1992 [it was released in 1991].)

Top 10 Albums of 1991:

1. Smashing Pumpkins- Gish**
I don't even remember the first time I heard this album, honestly it probably wasn't until after 'Mellon Collie...' was released in 1995. I didn't buy it until 1997 or so. Pretty groundbreaking stuff, the layers of guitars are amazing. If I had heard it when it came out I probably would have gone into shock. My 3rd favorite Pumpkins album behind 'Siamese Dream' and 'Mellon Collie.' My first memory of the Smashing Pumpkins was when my friend Gregg on the N.A.C. swim team had one of their shirts and was listening to 'Siamese Dream' at a meet. I can actually picture us listening to the album sitting on the bleachers, but I don't remember where it was.

2. Toad the Wet Sprocket- Fear*
The first girl I ever went on a date with made me a mix that contained several Toad songs, this would have been May of 1995. I know the songs "Come Back Down" and "Windmills" were definitely on the cassette tape. Fell in love with the band instantly and bought both 'Fear' and 'Dulcinea' within the year. I eventually saw them in concert on the 'Coil' tour a few years later. I bought two tickets for the show, asked a couple girls to it, neither could go, I ended up attending the show by myself and gave the ticket to a guy on the street. It was at 328 Performance Hall in Nashville. Not as sad as it sounds, the show was terrific. I can't seem to get into Glen Phillips solo stuff though.

3. My Bloody Valentine- Loveless*
For some reason I always thought this album came out in 1992, but not that I would have known since I didn't hear it until 10 years later. I found it stunning when I did first hear it, and finally understood where shoegazer music came from. Revolutionary.

4. U2- Achtung, Baby*
I am sure I heard "Mysterious Ways" on the radio around the time it was first release, but I don't think I actually listened to this album all the way through until the late 1990s. This is actually the only post-Joshua Tree U2 album I enjoy. (I own all of the 80s U2 on vinyl and love it. The first vinyl album I ever bought was "The Joshua Tree" when I was at a track meet in Auburn in Spring of 1997.)

5. R.E.M.- Out of Time*
"Losing My Religion" was of course the first song I heard from it, as it was for all of you. I also loved "Shiny Happy People" when it was on the radio. I can remember sitting in a La-Z-boy at Aunt Mimi and Uncle Walt's house in Mobile, listening to the radio on a super-old stereo with headphones on and "Shiny Happy People" came on. I bought this album in Fall of 1995. I saw Radiohead and R.E.M. in Birmingham that fall and soon went on an R.E.M. album-buying binge. And yes I memorized all the words to "It's the End of the World as We Know it" before the show.

6. Pearl Jam- Ten*
Pearl Jam is a band I actually have a much greater appreciation for now in 2007 than I ever did 15 years ago. I heard all their songs on the radio and the song "Jeremy" was one of the first music videos I ever saw. My first Pearl Jam memory was also at a swim meet and there was an amazing swimmer on the team (possibly the best on the team) named Jeremy. Because of this they would often play a song for him before he raced at the Tracy Caulkins Nataorium in Nashville. Of course he embraced the Pearl Jam song with his name and this was the song he chose.

7. The Prayer Chain- Neverland Sessions
This is kind of strange choice, but I will put it here none-the-less. Of course I love the Prayer Chain, and there will be much more on them to come, but this is actually just a demo album and was never officially released. Six of the songs were re-recorded and released on the Whirlpool EP in 1992 and then the remaining four I didn't hear until the "So Close, yet So Far" compilation came out in 1998. I don't even own the Neverland Sessions CD ($100 on eBay), but these 10 songs are awesome.

8. Chagall Guevera
Pretty sad that Steve Taylor hasn't released an album in 15 years. This one is definitely one of his best, I would put it 2nd behind "Squint". It used to go for big bucks online, but fortunately I had a friend give it to me in college. He was also supposed to give me a cordoroy Prayer Chain hat, but unfortunately that never happened.

9. The Innocence Mission- Umbrella*
I first heard the Innocence Mission in 1995 (Glow) and thought they were amazing. It took me a couple years, but I was finally able to track down their first two albums- this and 1991's self-titled. I like the self-titled better, but this is also good. Pretty much a preview into how good they would become.

10. L.S.U.- This is the Healing
I only own this album on tape. So many Mike Knott releases in the early 1990s, this is actually one of the weaker ones. But as far as my 1991 collection goes, I like it.

September 20, 2007

Uniforms for this week...


Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 6)

September 19, 2007


As you have seen over the last few weeks, I have been posting Thrice videos, which preview their new album, "The Alchemy Index", due out in October. I have not been so excited about an album in a long time. Thrice is easily my favorite active band. Most people I know don't take them seriously because of their punk roots, but I believe them to be more talented than most bands out there. Not only is Dustin Kensrue an amazing lyricist (my favorite ever? either him or Chris Simpson), but they are truly ground-breaking, which I can't say about any other band currently. And they no longer fit any one style of music, they do it all, and do it very well.

The new album is actually four new EPs, themed after the four elements- Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The amount of thought and detail put into following these themes is amazing. The Fire and Water EPs release is in October, unfortunately we have to wait until March for Earth and Air. Anyway, the reason for my post, is that the debuted two songs today. You can hear them here. Also read this interview while you are at it.

September 18, 2007

Hail to the Redskins!

I have for the most part narrowed this blog down to almost entirely music, but I must comment on the Redskins win last night on MNF. They won at Philly, improving to 2-0. Every time Joe Gibbs has started 2-0 the Redskins have made the playoffs. This is a pretty fun blog about the game.

September 13, 2007

September 3, 2007

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 4)

August 31, 2007

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 3)


August 22, 2007

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 2)

August 14, 2007

The album of the year came out today, and you need to buy it right away. Eisley's "Combinations" is spectacular. More to come...

August 8, 2007

Thrice- Alchemy Index (Video 1)

August 6, 2007

Darkness fell across the land
Our hope fell in the sand
And there it was
Though for certain we stood still
The earth shook and spilled
Then gave it up
Could we believe our eyes
When life has tossed us aside?
So turn and hang your head
He is given up for dead
And so am I

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide

The night turned to day
The days fade away
And so it was
The hours wouldn’t pass
And forever couldn’t last
We gave it up
We were fixed on the door
Waiting for… is this a dream?
Tell us how to feel
Can it be that this is real?
What am I?

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide

We once were full of hope to know
He’s opened up our eyes
But if He walks across the sea
What does any of it mean
If He has died

But the stone was rolled away
And the angel came to say
He’s alive, He is alive
But the stone was rolled away
And we just have to say
He’s alive

So give me the light to understand
The fight to comprehend the whys
So give me the mind to step ahead
When I hear what You’ve said and hide

"Friday to Sunday" by
Poor Old Lu
From the album "The Waiting Room" (2002)
Words by Scott Hunter

August 1, 2007

As long as I have been listening to music, I have been making year-end lists. I have favorites for everything, and I always make a top 10 album list at the end of every year. Thanks to the fact that I am a pack-rat (and keep a blog), I have located my top 10 lists for the last 10 years. I am going to post them here just for kicks. Some inclusions (Five Iron Frenzy) and exclusions (Radiohead) are fairly embarrassing, but what can I say, my musical tastes are constantly evolving (and hopefully improving?).

Within the next week I am going to make new updated top-10 lists for every year starting with 1991. (I own very little music pre-1991.) I also plan to make a best-of mix for every year from 1991 to the present. My top albums have generally stayed the same, but the rest of the lists have changed drastically in some cases.

The stars (*) represent which albums are available on vinyl. Three stars (***) represent which albums I actually own on vinyl (I am in the long process of getting all of the starred albums on vinyl.) If you are aware of any of these albums being available that I don't have starred, please let me know.

1. Sixpence None the Richer**
2. Stavesacre- Absolutes
3. Model Engine- The Lean Year’s Tradition
4. Velour100- Of Colour Bright**
5. Luxury- The Latest & The Greatest
6. Rose Blossom Punch- Ephemere
7. Dear Ephesus- The Consolation of Pianissimo
8. Christine Glass- Human
9. Havalina Rail Co.- Russian Lullabies
10. Starflyer 59- Americana*
11. Five Iron Frenzy- Our Newest Album Ever
12. Vigilantes of Love- Slow Dark Train
13. Pedro the Lion- Whole EP*

1. Sunny Day Real Estate- How It Feels to Be Something On*
2. Jennifer Knapp- Kansas
3. Pedro the Lion- It’s Hard to Find a Friend*
4. REM- Up*
5. The Smashing Pumpkins- Adore*
6. Mineral- EndSerenading*
7. Circle of Dust- Disengage
8. Aunt Bettys- Ford Supersonic
9. Starflyer 59- The Fashion Focus*
10. Common Children- Delicate Fade

1. The Juliana Theory- Understand This is a Dream
2. Vigilantes of Love- Audible Sigh
3. Fleming & John- The Way We Are
4. Jimmy Eat World- Clarity**
5. P.O.D.- The Fundamental Elements of Southtown
6. Stavesacre- Speakeasy
7. Luxury
8. The Innocence Mission- Birds of my Neighborhood
9. Lost Dogs- Gift Horse
10. Starflyer 59- Everybody Makes Mistakes*

1. Sunny Day Real Estate- The Rising Tide*
2. The Juliana Theory- Emotion is Dead*
3. Cush
4. Elliott- False Cathedrals**
5. Pedro the Lion- Winners Never Quit**
6. Aaron Sprinkle- The Kindest Days
7. Smashing Pumpkins- Machina*
8. Kerith Ravine- The Streams of Jettison
9. Evanescence- Origin
10. Blindside- A Thought Crushed My Mind

1. Tess Wiley- Rainy Day Assembly
2. Jimmy Eat World- Bleed American**
3. Thursday- Full Collapse
4. Over the Rhine- Films for Radio
5. Death Cab for Cutie- The Photo Album*
6. POD- Satellite
7. Appleseed Cast- Low Level Owl Vol. 1 & 2**
8. Starflyer 59- Leave Here a Stranger*
9. Aaron Sprinkle- Bareface
10. The Lassie Foundation- The El Dorado LP

1. The Gloria Record- Start Here*
2. Poor Old Lu- The Waiting Room
3. Sixpence None the Richer- Divine Discontent
4. Pedro the Lion- Control*
5. Blindside- Silence
6. The Anniversary- Your Majesty*
7. Brandtson- Dial In Sounds**
8. The Beautiful Mistake- Light a Match, for I Deserve to Burn**
9. GRITS- The Art of Translation
10. Chevelle- Wonder What’s Next

1. Fountains of Wayne- Welcome Interstate Managers
2. Thrice- The Artist in the Ambulance**
3. Death Cab for Cutie- Transatlanticism**
4. Over the Rhine- Ohio*
5. Nada Surf- Let Go**
6. The Appleseed Cast- Two Conversations*
7. Sleeping at Last- Ghosts
8. Elliott- Song in the Air**
9. Zwan- Mary Star of the Sea
10. Mates of State- Team Boo**
11. Brown Feather Sparrow- Wide Awakens Everything
12. The Jealous Sound- Kill Them With Kindness

1. Brandtson- Send Us A Signal
2. Lovedrug- Pretend You're Alive
3. Tess Wiley- Not Quite Me
4. Jimmy Eat World- Futures**
5. Blindside- About a Burning Fire
6. Mindy Smith- One Moment More
7. Pedro the Lion- Achilles Heel*
8. Jump (Little Children)- Between the Dim and the Dark
9. Demon Hunter- Summer of Darkness
10. Starflyer 59- I am the Portuguese Blues

1. Eisley- Room Noises**
2. Sufjan Stevens- Illinois**
3. Thrice- Vheissu**
4. Luxury- Health & Sport
5. Starflyer 59- Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice**
6. Over the Rhine- Drunkard's Prayer
7. Fiona Apple- Extraordinary Machine**
8. The New Pornographers- Twin Cinema*
9. Rosie Thomas- If Songs Could Be Held
10. Death Cab for Cutie- Plans**
11. Coldplay- X & Y*
12. Nada Surf- The Weight is a Gift**

1. Fair- The Best Worst-Case Scenario
2. Mates of State- Bring it Back**
3. Jeremy Enigk- World Waits
4. Manchester Orchestra- I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child*
5. Neko Case- Fox Confessor Bring the Flood*
6. Starflyer 59- My Island
7. The Be Good Tanyas- Hello, Love
8. The Appleseed Cast- Peregrine**
9. Brandtson- Hello, Control
10. Sleeping at Last- Keep No Score

Remember, these were my top-10 lists at the time, and not currently!

July 30, 2007

Well I woke one morning,
found you staring down at me,
you said "I'll take my share now, father please",
and you took your money,
and you took your leave,
you drilled my heart and turned your back on me...

And you hit the town,
and you hit the bottle hard,
you race 'round in your fancy cars and you blow all your money,
on brothels, beds, and bars,
before you know your broken times get hard...

I still stand here waiting,
with my eyes fixed on the road,
and I fight back tears and I wonder,
if you're ever coming home,
don't you know son that I love you,
and I don't care where you've been,
so please come home.

And now you've hit bottom,
all those open doors have shut,
and you're hungry stomach's tied in knots,
but I know what you're thinking,
that you troubled me enough,
nothing could ever separate you from my love...

I still stand here waiting,
with my eyes fixed on the road,
and I fight back tears and I wonder,
if you're ever coming home,
don't you know son that I love you,
and I don't care where you've been,
yes and i'll be right here waiting,
'til you come around the bend,
and I run to you and hold you close,
won't let go again,
so please come home,
please come home...

Don't you know son that I love you?
And I don't care where you've been,
so please come home

"Please Come Home" by Dustin Kensrue
From the album "Please Come Home" (2007)
Words by Dustin Kensrue

July 26, 2007

She stepped outside into the morning air
To watch the cars go by and let the sun dry her hair
I wanted to tell her how beautiful she was
But I just stared

I sat behind the wheel and watched the raindrops
As they gathered on the windshield
And raced down into the humming motor
And she folded up her fears like paper airplanes
And lost them in the trees

And I know I don't deserve this
The capacity to feel
To laugh and cry and to praise
For that I live and breathe and wake each day clean
Is nothing less than your grace
In awkward and glorious movement

Mineral- "If I Could"
From the album "The Power of Failing" (1996)
Words by Chris Simpson

July 22, 2007

I know one day, all our scars will disappear, like the stars at dawn
and all of our pain, will fade away when morning comes
and on that day when we look backwards we will see, that everything is changed
and all of our trials, will be as milestones on the way

and as long as we live, every scar is a bridge to someone's broken heart
and there's no greater love, than the one shed his blood for his friends

on that day all of the scales will swing to set all the wrongs to right
all of our tears, and all of our fears will take to flight
but until then all of our scars will still remain, but we've learned that if we'll
open the wounds and share them then soon they start to heal

(as long as we live, we are bridges to someone's broken heart
there's no greater love, shed your blood for your friends)

we must see that every scar is a bridge, and as long as we live
we must open up these wounds
when some one stands in your shoes and will shed his own blood
there's no greater love. we must open up our wounds

Thrice- "For Miles"
From the album "Vheissu" (2005)
Words by Dustin Kensrue

July 20, 2007

now the light is fading fast
if only it would last
our time has come and gone
yet i'm still holding on
to words i should have said
and what they would have meant
between old friends like us
between us

how do i begin to say
i've loved you since the day
we waited for the rain
and how it never came
and for the years to come
through a thousand moons and suns
how you've remained my friend

one thing will never change
and that's how i feel today
i know you're closer now than ever
let me close my eyes a minute
i'll start from the beginning
before life takes you from me
you have to know

now the night has come at last
our time is fading fast
just let me say
that i will love you always

Mortal- "Moons & Suns"
From the album "Wake" (1994)
Words by Jyro

June 21, 2007

New Blindside EP coming out next week, you can listen to all of it on their Myspace site and it sounds great.

One week until Cornerstone! I haven't been in 5 years, and I am very excited. Very few artists I love are playing, but there are some good ones: SF59, Rosie Thomas, Leigh Nash, MeWithoutYou, the Violet Burning, and most notably Tess Wiley.

I have been listening to the New Pornographers new album a ton: Challengers. They have this thing called "Buy Early, Get Now" that allows you to listen to it early, plus all kinds of bonus things. The title track is a beautiful slower-tempo track featuring the lead vocals of Neko Case.

Other upcoming albums I am excited about:
Tegan & Sara- The Con (July 2007)
The Smashing Pumpkins- Veitgeist (July 2007)
Eisley- Combinations (August 2007)
The New Pornographers- Challengers (August 2007)
Pinback- Autumn of the Seraphs (Sept. 2007)
Zookeeper- Becoming All Things (Sept. 2007) (Chris Simpson of Mineral & The Gloria Record)
Theft- Nothing Gold Will Stay (November 2007) (Matt McCartie of Driver Eight, National, etc.)
Thrice- TBA (4-disc) (Fall 2007)
Jimmy Eat World- Chase This Light (Fall 2007)

My previous post is about the NBA, which is ironic considering I have almost lost all interest in the league. In a way I wish the Pistons would just suck next year that way I wouldn't watch any games. I did not see any of the NBA Finals and apparently I didn't miss much. I am now counting down the days until football starts- ready to watch the Washington Redskins and the Auburn Tigers again.

May 11, 2007

Last night the Pistons won one of the best NBA games I have ever seen. The Pistons had won games 1 & 2 against the Bulls convincingly, by over 20 points both times, but I really expected the Bulls to win game 3. The Pistons over the past few years have typically had game 3 let-downs on the road.

The first quarter was just like I expected, the Bulls playing better and up by 2. The second quarter was horrendous for the Pistons, only scoring 10 points. They trailed 43-28 at the half. Yes, they only had 28 points at half-time, I don't remember the Pistons ever scoring that few in 24 minutes of basketball.

At the beginning of the 3rd quarter it got worse, the Bulls widening their lead to 19 points. Then the Pistons took over, dominating the game offensively and defensively. Rasheed Wallace hit a 3 as the buzzer sounded closing the defecit to 61-60.

The 4th quarter was dominated by the Pistons, yet very, very ugly for both teams. The Pistons now lead the series 3-0, a lead that has never been overcome in NBA history.

In music news, Tess Wiley's new album is on iTunes now, although CD copies are only available in Germany presently. I plan to get my physical copy of the album when I see her play at Cornerstone. Speaking of Cornerstone, my wife and I are tentatively planning on attending. It will be my first Cornerstone since 2002 (my 4th overall) and her first. The line-up is actually pretty decent- Tess Wiley, Leigh Nash, Rosie Thomas, Over the Rhine, Starflyer 59, MeWithoutYou, among others. I am hoping Fair and Neon Horse will be playing Tooth & Nail Day. Dakoda Motor Co. unfortunately is only playing Cornerstone California.

April 20, 2007

The new Tess Wiley album isn't yet out, but here is a new free mp3 from Tapete's website to tide you over:

So, anyone know who is in the band Neon Horse? The only obvious member is Mark Salomon, but I have my guesses for the rest of the line-up. Seems very similar in a way to the failed Emergency/Enemy Ships project.

March 14, 2007

I have been getting a lot of requests lately for two items, so here they are!

The first is Kerith Ravine's music. Kerith Ravine is essentially the band Lovedrug before it was called Lovedrug. They had one LP, two EPs, and then a couple of other tracks. Here are the EPs, long out of print.

The next is All Things Bright and Beautiful. This is the project of Luxury's Lee Bozeman. He has a full length All Things Bright and Beautiful LP that was released a couple of years ago and is available from Northern Records. There were two independently released EPs before that, and they are also both long out of print. Download them here.

NCAA Tourney starts tomorrow- woo hoo! Go Vandy!

February 8, 2007

Best of 2006 (and 2007 preview)

I know, it’s already February 2007, but I always do a year end list, and this year is no exception. January was the busiest month of my now 30 (!) years of life, so I have not had time to do this until now. And in some ways I am glad I waited a month to do this, because during that time I discovered one of my top 5 albums of 2006, Manchester Orchestra. Starred (*) albums are available on vinyl. At this point every album I want that is available on vinyl I buy in that format.

Another benefit of me doing this list so late is that I have had tons of time to think about it. This is the most complete list I have done in years. There is a top 10, honorable mention section, and a most anticipated list for 2007. I also provided links to all the artists websites, and to all of the record label websites. And all of the artists listed here have Myspace sites, which at this point are usually a much better source of information than their actual websites.

Lastly, I provided mp3s! There is one zip file which is my best of 2006 album. If you download it and unzip it the songs will fit perfectly onto an 80 minute CD. Then there is also another zip file that is another mix, containing mostly songs from 2007. Since there is obviously not much 2007 music available yet, I filled it with songs from the last few years.

The Top 10 of 2006:
1. Fair- The Best Worst-Case Scenario (Tooth and Nail)
I have been an Aaron Sprinkle fan since I first heard him sing “Ring True” for Poor Old Lu back in 1994 (The only Lu song he sings lead on). I have loved and purchased everything he has ever done, from Rose Blossom Punch to his solo albums and now Fair. I am also a big fan of his production, from bands diverse as Eisley and Demon Hunter. This album is pop-rock perfection, and the best thing Aaron has done outside of the Poor Old Lu albums. Very slick production and some very unique guitar tones and effects throughout. The artwork is beautiful and was nominated for a Grammy!

2. Mates of State- Bring it Back* (Barsuk)
Not your typical husband/wife band, because they rock! Kori on keyboards & vocals, Jason on drums & vocals, this is their 4th and by far best LP. I have been obsessed with them since I saw them perform in front of about 30 people in a small club in Paris in August of 2003. Fun music.
3. Jeremy Enigk- World Waits (Lewis Hollow)
Jeremy Enigk is the lead singer of one of my all-time favorite bands, Sunny Day Real Estate. Counting albums from that band, the Fire Theft, and solo, this is his 7th LP. His only other solo album, “Return of the Frog Queen”, came out 10 years ago. I haven’t been too excited about any of his work since the last SDRE album (2000) except for the soundtrack he did for the movie “The United States of Leland.” This album takes him back to his glory days, singing with my favorite male voice of all time. Good balance between stripped down acoustic songs and more upbeat rock songs. Entire album is driven by piano and acoustic guitars. I saw Jeremy perform live last November opening for Cursive. That is the most recent show I have been to. It was far and away the best concert I have ever seen put on by a single individual. Jeremy was so passionate, the show was very moving. He alternated between playing piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar. The highlight of the show was when he performed the SDRE song "How It Feels to be Something On."

4. Manchester Orchestra- I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child (Favorite Gentleman)
At this point in my life I rarely discover “new” bands. Almost all of the music I buy is from artists I have been listening to for years; whether it is the band they have always been in, a new band they are in, or another solo album. Manchester Orchestra is the only “new’ band to make my top 10. ‘I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child’ is their first LP, releasing in October of 2006. I didn’t get it until January however, and I have been listening to it non-stop since. What I find most appealing is the intensity of the vocals and the lyrics. There is more lyrical depth on this album than I have heard in awhile. Musically, for fans of Lovedrug, Death Cab for Cutie, the Decemberists and Bright Eyes. If I had discovered this album sooner, it could have been number one on this list. As I type this, I am still tempted to move it to number one. It, probably more so than any other album on here, has the potential to become one of my favorite albums of all time.

5. Neko Case- Fox Confessor Bring the Flood (Anti)
This is a spectacular folk-country album, and sounds like it could have been released decades ago except for the crisp production. Neko Case has one of the best voices out there today- she can wail!

6. Starflyer 59- My Island (Tooth and Nail)
Starflyer has been releasing a CD a year for the last 14 years. For awhile, they somewhat lost my attention, even though I have bought every release. They regained my utmost respect two years ago with the great ‘Talking Voice vs. Singing Voice’ and then this album blew me away. The most rocking album they have done in 10 years probably, but absolutely nothing like what they were doing 10 years ago. SF59 reinvents themselves with every-album, this one being bass-heavy and up-tempo.

7. The Be Good Tanyas- Hello, Love (Nettwerk)
I wouldn’t call myself a bluegrass fan, but I LOVE the Be Good Tanyas. A female trio of stripped-down, acoustic bluegrass. This is their 3rd album, and probably best. Mostly very earthy mid-tempoed and vocal-heavy tracks, accompanied by quiet banjo and guitar.
8. The Appleseed Cast- Peregrine* (the Militia Group)
9. Brandtson- Hello, Control (the Militia Group)
I discovered the Appleseed Cast and Brandtson about the same time, when Deep Elm Records started around 1998. They each had songs on the first Deep Elm sampler, which led me to seeing them on tour together in the late 90s in the back of a small skate shop in Birmingham, AL. I was most excited about the Appleseed Cast song on the sampler (Marigold and Patchwork), but it was Brandtson who most impressed me at the show. I have been following both bands very closely ever since, buying every release. The Appleseed Cast has pushed the limits with their very diverse body of work ranging from the indie-pop rock of ‘Two Conversations’ to their post-rock masterpieces ‘Low Level Owl’ volume 1 & 2. At their best, there are few bands better. Brandtson has stayed closer to just straight up indie-rock, being very fun music to sing along to. Over the last decade I have seen Brandtson on average twice a year. The Appleseed Cast I did not see again after that first show until summer 2005 in Nashville.

Brandtson has always had great songs, but never really had a great full-length album until ‘Send Us a Signal’, which was my number one album of 2004. Now in 2006, both bands are back on the same label, this time the Militia Group. Neither band is at the top of their game, but they are still talented enough to put out intriguing albums. Brandtson’s album is a complete departure, one member change leading to a completely new dance-based style. Most all of the songs are super-catchy with electronic drums; pure pop. The first time I listened the album I was in shock and somewhat appalled due to the huge shift from their usual organic indie rock. The album grew on me however and now I appreciate their effort to do something new.

The Appleseed Cast’s album isn’t too different than their past work, but for most fans it is a welcome shift back to territory more similar to the ‘Low Level Owl’ albums. However, most Appleseed fans didn’t like ‘Two Conversations,’ which I love. 'Peregrine' is probably my least favorite Appleseed Cast album (excluding the debut), mostly due to the fact that there are no great songs. I love the overall style and guitar work, but nothing makes too much of an impact.

10. Sleeping at Last- Keep No Score (no label)
Sleeping at Last continues to put out great music just under the radar. Their last album, ‘Ghosts’, was awesome and on a major label, but it led to nothing and they stayed in anonymity. ‘Keep No Score’, the band’s third album, is their masterpiece. Stylistically consistent with ‘Ghosts’, they have added strings to their solid guitar work and it sounds amazing. The highlight of the album is probably the lyrics, the line “You were meant for amazing things” from the song “Umbrellas” often streaming through my head. The packaging is composed of stunning original watercolor paintings.

2006 Honorable Mention:

Headlights- Kill Them with Kindness* (Polyvinyl)
The debut album from former members of Absinthe Blind. Tracks typically alternate male and female vocals, reminds me a lot of the Anniversary in many ways. Very happy, keyboard heavy indie rock, somewhat a more serious version of Mates of State.
Cursive- Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek)
2006 was the year I finally "got" Cursive. I had been hearing them since the late 90s, but I never truly explored their music. "The Ugly Organ", Cursive's 2003 release I heard when it camed out and liked it, but never took the plunge and bought it. Well, in preparation to see them in concert in November with Jeremy Enigk, I listened to "The Ugly Organ" again and fell in love. Thier concert was strange- I thought about 2/3 of the songs were amazing, but the other 1/3 I hated. All of "The Ugly Organ" songs sounded awesome, so I bought the vinyl. Well, for some reason I assumed those songs that I hated must have been from their newest album, "Happy Hollow", so I never listened to it. Yesterday I found the CD used for $3.00, so I bought it, and it is great! "The Ugly Organ" is better, mainly due to the cello and the lyrics, but this new one is very good. Cursive sticks with their dischordant sound, but adds horns, accordion, and tons of other instruments. "The Ugly Organ" would have been in my best of 2006 top 10 if not for the fact it was released in 2003.
My Brightest Diamond- Bring Me the Workhorse* (Asthmatic Kitty)
My wife and I saw My Brightest Diamond open for Sufjan Stevens and we were absolutely blown away by her vocals and stage presence. My Brightest Diamond is Shara Worden, who is a trained opera singer. This album is extremely diverse and takes influences from rock, jazz and classical styles.
The Weepies- Say I am You (Nettwerk)
Acoustic pop-rock songs with very soothing vocals and memorable lyrics. Songs alternate between male and female vocals and both voices are outstanding.
Cat Power- The Greatest* (Matador)
I have heard Cat Power for years and after reading so many positive reviews this is the first album I actually bought from her. Quiet and sexy.
Over the Rhine- Snow Angels (no label)
I would rarely mention a Christmas album on any kind of list, but these are all original songs and everything Over the Rhine does is spectacular. Karin’s voice has never sounded better.
Anathallo- Floating World (Nettwerk)
Sufjan-esque rock band delivers Japanese themed album. The album is so good I don’t think I appreciate it correctly. Music is complex, weird, and great. Highlight for me is the album artwork- beautiful. The cover is an intricate cardboard cut-out.
MeWithoutYou- Brother, Sister (Tooth & Nail)
It took Jeremy Enigk singing on the album for me to finally appreciate this band. Now I am blown away- very intense stuff.
Hem- Funnel Cloud (Nettwerk)
I have heard Hem for years, and while I liked the style, nothing ever stuck with me. They opened for Over the Rhine over the summer and my wife and I worked the merch table and loved them. They are similar to Over the Rhine, but quieter, more similar to the Innocence Mission. Their song “Not California” is my number one song of 2006.
Stavesacre- How to Live With a Curse (Abacus)
Stavesacre was one of my top 10 bands of the 90s. But after Jeff Bellew left the band their releases suffered greatly and they reached a low point with their self-titled album in 2002, which I found horrendous. This album doesn’t quite reach the standard set by their first three albums, but it is very good. Mainly it is just nice to see Stavesacre making great rock music again.

Most disappointing album of 2006:
Leigh Nash- Blue on Blue (Nettwerk)
Anyone who knows me knows that Sixpence None the Richer is my co-favorite band (along with Poor Old Lu.) They broke up in 2002, so obviously I was very excited to see Leigh making music again. Matt Slocum was the primary song-writer for Sixpence though, and it really shows here. While I don’t dislike Leigh’s solo album, most of the song-writing is weak, cheesy, and shallow. Her voice sounds great, but it is not enough. I can't remember the last time I listened to this CD. (Am I the only person that thinks she looks like Ashlee Simpson in this picture?)

Most anticipated of 2007:
Tess Wiley- Super Fast Rock N’ Roll Played Slow (April) (Tapete)
My favorite female vocalist ever; she also writes great songs and plays almost all of the instruments on her releases.
Eisley- TBA* (May) (Warner Brothers) When I discovered this band in 2002 I heard three demos and said that if they stayed together 10 years and released LPs consistently they would probably become my all-time favorite band. They are on their way!

Thrice- TBA* (Summer) (Island) Thrice is pretty much my favorite band of the last few years. Everything they release is stunning, musically and lyrically. This album is going to be in four parts and on four discs, from 5 to 7 songs on each, around 25 total.

Lovedrug- Everything Starts Where it Ends (March) (the Militia Group)
The tracks I have heard of this (about half) have blown me away. I loved Kerith Ravine and the first Lovedrug album, but I think this album will be a step to a different level.
Fountains of Wayne- Traffic & Weather (April) (Virgin)
The best pop-rock band ever, their last album was my number one of 2003. Needless to say, there are high expectations.
Zookeeper- TBA (April) (Belle City Pop!)
Zookeeper is Chris Simpson of Mineral and the Gloria Record, who is my favorite lyricist of all time. His new project is a huge departure from his former rock bands. His song writing style is similar, but the instrumentation is drastically different. Based around acoustic guitar and piano, he is accompanied by horns, accordion, banjo... just about everything. His first 5-song EP was released in 2006- I have mixed feelings about it. It is solid, but hard to get used to they style. The first Zookeeper full length hopefully will be a little more refined and cohesive.

The Innocence Mission- We Walked in Song* (March) (Badman)
The Innocence Mission is the quietest band I listen to. I own everything they have ever done, but the last few albums have not been my favorites. I am hoping for a return to the quality of song-writing they had in the 90s.
The Smashing Pumpkins- Zeitgeist (July) (Label unknown) Who is in the band? Who cares! It is Billy Corgan releasing a rock album, and that is enough for me.
Tegan & Sara- TBA (Fall) (Label unknown) Tegan & Sara put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. What you need to know here is that their new album is being produced by Chris Walla and there going to be notable guest appearances from many great musicians.

Dakoda Motor Co.- TBA (TBA) (Label unknown) Coming out of nowhere, this band has reunited with their original line-up (Davia!). They played their first show in over 10 years last October. I am still shocked. They were my first favorite band, but their break-up was so final, the members weren’t even really in touch. No one really knows what the plans of the band are, but they are back!

This Diminishing West- TBA (TBA) (Label unknown) After Poor Old Lu broke up in 1996, ¾ of the band have stayed super active except for the lead singer Scott. Well he is finally back with a new band!

Chevelle- Vera Sera (April) (Epic) Chevelle’s first two albums were great hard-rock releases, reminiscent of Tool. Their third album bored me; I am hoping for a return to form.

2007 Albums I already have:
1. Explosions in the Sky- All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone* (March) (Temporary Residence)
I generally like instrumental post-rock, but don’t listen to it much and never buy it. The exception is Explosions in the Sky- some of the most emotional music I have ever heard, and they are able to communicate so much with no words.

2. Rosie Thomas- These Friends of Mine (March) (Sing-A-Long) Another album that was available digitally in December, I find it to be Rosie Thomas’ best work. Her voice is spectacular, but her last album was over-produced. This album is more stripped-down folk, and the album title is for a reason- her friends, playing guitar, banjo, and singing bgv’s, are Sufjan Stevens and Denison Witmer. This is her fourth LP after a short stint singing for Velour100, and she keeps getting better.

3. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible* (March) (Merge) I haven't truly digested it yet, but it is epic. Not as raw as the first, the vocals are much improved and the instrumentation more diverse.
4. Dustin Kensrue- Please Come Home (January) (Equal Vision)
This album was available digitally in early December, but it didn’t officially release until January. Dustin is the lead singer of Thrice, a former punk-metal band that now crosses every genre. His solo album is still a complete departure, being very lo-fi folk in the vein of Bob Dylan or Johnny Cash.

5. The Shins- Wincing the Night Away* (January) (Sub-Pop)
It took me years to “get” this band, but I finally have- great album.
6. The Brothers Martin- s/t* (January) (Tooth & Nail)
Jason Martin from Starflyer 59 and Ronnie Martin from Joy Electric record their first album together in 15 years. It sounds EXACTLY like what you are thinking and it doesn’t impress me. I’ll stick with SF59.

Best of 2006 CD Tracklist:

1. Jeremy Enigk- Canons
2. Starflyer 59- Mic the Mic
3. Brandtson- Earthquakes and Sharks
4. Cursive- Dorothy at Forty
5. Appleseed Cast- Woodland Hunter (Part 2)
6. Headlights- Put Us Back Together Right
7. Mates of State- Like u Crazy
8. My Brightest Diamond- Something of an End
9. Hem- Not California
10. Neko Case- Hold On, Hold On
11. The Be Good Tanyas- Opal
12. The Weepies- Gotta Have You
13. Cat Power- Where is My Love
14. Over the Rhine- Here it Is
15. Sleeping At Last- Umbrellas
16. Fair- Unglued
17. Manchester Orchestra- Where Have you Been?
18. Anathallo- Hanasakajii 1
19. MeWithoutYou- O, Porcupine

02.10.07 Mix CD Tracklist:
1. Explosions in the Sky- What do you go home to? (2007)
2. Lovedrug- Happy Apple Poison (2007)
3. Arcade Fire- Keep the Car Running (2007)
4. Cursive- Driftwood: A Fairy Tale (2003)
5. Rainer Maria- Life of Leisure (2006)
6. The Brothers Martin-The Plot That Weaves (2007)
7. Fair- Once Again (2006)
8. The New Pornographers- From Blown Speakers (2003)
9. The Shins- Sea Legs (2007)
10. Thrice- Between the End and Where We Lie (2005)
11. Brandtson- Parallels (2006)
12. Headlights- This One (live) (2007)
13. Rosie Thomas- Much Farther to Go (2007)
14. The Innocence Mission- Into Brooklyn, Early in the Morning (2007)
15. Dustin Kensrue- Weary Saints (2007)
16. Copeland- When You Thought You'd Never Stand Out (2006)
17. Zookeeper- Delivery Room (2006)
18. Tess Wiley- Halfway Through (2007)