Best of 2011, halfway there...

Started on this post in May, and it is now two months later, so going to publish it with less comments than I had originally intended.

1. Death Cab For Cutie- Codes and Keys. It's about time! After two albums with some good songs, but mostly boring ones (Plans and Narrow Stairs), Death Cab finally releases another great ALBUM. Key word, album, as this is terrific all the way through. Much more mellow than Narrow Stairs, and much more experimental. Lyrically also very refreshing and positive; which I guess is what happens when you marry Zooey Deschanel!

2. Manchester Orchestra- Simple Math. I have to be honest, I didn't think Manchester Orchestra was capable of this. I became a fan quickly with their debut, I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, and that progressed with Mean Everything to Nothing (huge step forward musically, step backwards lyrically). After seeing them in concert in 2010 and being bored and disgusted with their performance, I thought I might even stop following them. Then they release this. It is a radical departure, and shows tremendous maturation, both musically and lyrically. Andy Hull's Built to Spill influence is shining through (understandable considering the b-side of the Simple Math 7" is Built to Spill's The Plan), and parts of it even remind me of Pink Floyd. Hopefully their live show has also improved.

3. Mogwai- Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will. Took me years to really get into this band, now they are by far my favorite post-rock outfit. Yes, the album is as good as it's title.

4. Eisley- The Valley. Most mature album musically by this family band, but I do miss the innocence of their older, mystical lyrics. Pretty depressing stuff, but it rocks.

5. Blindside- With Shivering Hearts We Wait. Incredible return to form 6 years after their previous album. Probably the most melodic Blindside yet, but still with an edge.

6. Over the Rhine- The Long Surrender. Been a huge fan of this band for almost 15 years and was so disappointed with their previous album, The Trumpet Child. Pretend this is the great follow-up to the fantastic Drunkard's Prayer.

7. Sleeping at Last- Yearbook. They have released a 3-song EP a month for the last 10 months, and there are 2 to go. The EPs keep getting better, hard to even pinpoint my favorite.

8. Josh Garrells- Love & War & The Sea In Between. Easily the best album I have ever downloaded from NoiseTrade, and that is saying a lot. Vocally not really my cup of tea, but lyrically outstanding and musically diverse. Oh, and by the way, it is FREE.

9. R.E.M.- Collapse Into Now. My favorite of theirs since 1998's Up.

10. Explosions in the Sky- Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. Pretty much exactly what you would expect, but I have to admit I was hoping for more. However, they are still beautiful post-rock and the packaging of the double vinyl LP is worth the price alone.

1. Appleseed Cast- Middle States
2. Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken- Tennessee
3. Pinback- Information Retrieved Pt. A 7"

Most anticipated for the rest of the year:
Thrice- Major/Minor; September 20 on Vagrant. Free MP3
Mates of State- Mountaintops; September 13 on Barsuk. Free MP3
Burlap to Cashmere- s/t; out now but haven't bought it yet. Free MP3
Fountains of Wayne- Sky Full of Holes; August 2 on Yep Roc.
Rosie Thomas (complete but no release date yet)
Nada Surf (complete but no release date yet)
Sixpence None the Richer (complete but no release date yet). Finally released a couple of new songs on their Myspace page. As you probably know this album has been mixed and shelved for over a year.
Sarah Jaffe (EP complete but no release date yet)
Paper Route (complete but no release date yet)


New Thrice song "Yellow Belly" (free mp3)

Stream or download below!

Thrice - Yellow Belly by VagrantRecords


Megan Rapinoe, midfielder and musician

Turns out my favorite player on the the USWNT is also sings and plays guitar! Anyway, nothing groundbreaking, but in honor of the Women's World Cup Final coming up Sunday, here you go...


The Spirit That Guides Us

I plan to write a lot more about this band soon. The Spirit That Guides Us is a hardcore band from the Netherlands that has now been around for a decade. The track above is from their new album that is being released in August. Hard to find much of their music in the United States, but my favorite album of theirs is available digitally on Amazon. Highly recommended!


Poor Old Lu Reunion Show 2011!


Poor Old Lu & Mates of State mp3

1. Poor Old Lu is working on a new song! Scott Hunter and Jesse Sprinkle both mentioned it on Facebook. This would be the first activity from Poor Old Lu since playing shows the summer of 2002.

2. Free download of the new single from Mates of State:








(if the widget doesn't work go to matesofstate.com)