WAVVES – The New York Rockmarket http://newyorkrockmarket.com Mon, 14 May 2012 22:05:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 My Favorite Albums of 2010 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/12/31/my-favorite-albums-of-2010/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/12/31/my-favorite-albums-of-2010/#comments Fri, 31 Dec 2010 15:42:01 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=4974

I almost didn’t make this list.  I mean, come on.  It’s New Year’s Eve.  No one cares anymore.  Everyone’s just getting psyched for Ariel Pink or Titus tonight (you should definitely go to one of those shows, by the way), and looking forward to the whole music cycle starting over again in 2011.  I swear I started trying to make this list at least two weeks ago, but as I was getting closer and closer to posting it, I started dreading it more and more.

I realized that I didn’t listen to enough music this year.  Seriously, I think I only got through Halcyon Digest three or four times.  I know the album is great, but it didn’t permeate my year the way new music has in the past.  That’s mostly my fault.  I got really frustrated around August with the state of music- everything seemed too lazy, not good enough, too stuck in woozy 80s throwbacks to really hold my attention, or come anywhere near historic importance in music as a great album– a criterion I partially wanted to base my list off of this year.  I started listening to a lot of Replacements and Guided By Voices instead of new music.  When I got to making my list and the only albums I thought were going to live on from this year were The Monitor, Before Today, The Suburbs, and maybe Teen Dream, I felt really down.  I only really liked one of those.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, this isn’t the list I was hoping it would be, but all of the artists on here did put out very good albums that are worth listening to.  It’s a list of albums I liked this year.  It’s by no means exhaustive.  I’m not even going to write blurbs for them because I’ve run out of time and my mom needs help cleaning up the house for her New Year’s party (blogging: the glamorous life).  The moral of my musical year: learn to buck up when things aren’t going your way musically- you’ll be surprised when you sit down to make your year end list how much music you actually should have been listening to.

Still, the only albums I feel very strongly about- about their quality and longevity and originality- are The Monitor, the Cloud Nothings 12″, Melted, and Have One On Me.  All the other albums I greatly enjoyed.  The following albums ought to be on this list, but I am a total slacker and didn’t listen to them quite enough to make them my favorites:

Hippes – Harlem

Be Brave – Strange Boys

Moon Deluxe – Andrew Cedermark

Jungle Surf – Pill Wonder

Tomorrow Is Alright – Sonny & The Sunsets

Marnie Stern – Marnie Stern

Crush – Abe Vigoda

Prince Rama – Shadow Temple

Infinite Love – Dustin Wong

And my favorite 25:

25) The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man On Earth

24) The Mistress – Yellow Ostrich

23) Under the Table Tennis – Tim Fite

22) Nothing Hurts – Male Bonding

21) Worry – Big Troubles

20) Public Strain – Women

19) Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter

18) Everything In Between – No Age

17) Twin Hand Movement – Lower Dens

16) Dungeon Dots – Air Waves

15) Odd Blood – Yeasayer

14) King of the Beach – Wavves

13) Aloha – Your Youth

12) At Echo Lake – Woods

11) In Evening Air – Future Islands

10) High Violet – The National

9) Play It Strange – The Fresh & Onlys

8 ) I Will Be – Dum Dum Girls

7) Litanies – Royal Baths

6) Sports – Weekend

5) Have One On Me – Joanna Newsom

4) Happy Birthday – Happy Birthday

3) Melted – Ty Segall

2) Group Tightener 12″ – Cloud Nothings

1) The Monitor – Titus Andronicus

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My Favorite Songs of 2010: 40-31 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/12/19/my-favorite-songs-of-2010-40-31/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/12/19/my-favorite-songs-of-2010-40-31/#comments Mon, 20 Dec 2010 02:53:32 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=4906

Welcome to The New York Rockmarket’s end of the year list spectacular.  This is when I talk about how lists are fun but ultimately meaningless, and apologize for not posting the last few days because I’ve been compiling my lists.  This is also where I talk about favorites as opposed to best,like I did last year.  All of those things still apply.  I’m making two lists this year: Favorite Songs and Favorite Albums.  I’m going to attempt to skew my albums list a bit more towards the critical, but this songs list is just straight-up about fun, beautiful, moving songs.  Some of the songs are actually terrible, but I like them.  Each artist can only be listed once, for the sake of music discovery.  (Why are there fish in the header, you might be asking.  Because I like them.  That’s my rationale for this list, as well.)

Here we go, my favorite songs of 2010.  I hope you find some new bands that you really like.

joanna_newsom_-_have_one_on_me

40) “California” – Joanna Newsom Have One On Me is remarkable.  The fact that Joanna Newsom’s voice doesn’t become annoying even after two hours is for some in and of itself a remarkable feat.  But what I found most astounding about the album is the way she weaves unforgettable melodies throughout the entire three discs.  To me, “California” best represents and pulls together all the most beautiful pieces of these melodic fragments.  That’s why this one goes on my list.

crystal necklace

39) “Crystal Necklace” – Total Slacker I’m not going to claim that “Crystal Necklace” is an amazing song that’s going to stand the test of time and go down in indie rock history.  But when I look back on 2010, I will probably always remember how Total Slacker came out of nowhere, and I suddenly found myself watching them at nearly every show I went to.  The image of the three members playing this song and screaming the “Crystal Necklace” chorus at Death By Audio and Monster Island and Cake Shop is permanently burned into my brain.  These guys definitely deserve a spot on here.

artmuseums

38) “s.h.o.p.p.i.n.g.” – Art Museums Finally, a song that answers the age old question, “Why can’t we look good if we want to?”

fergus and geronimo

37) “Girls With English Accents” – Fergus & Geronimo These recent Texas transplants are jangly and great at crafting both melodies and guitar sounds.  Plus, they totally destroy live.  Especially on this song.

big troubles worry

36) “Bite Yr Tongue” – Big Troubles Big Troubles is another band that was suddenly everywhere this year, and happily so.  This song kind of has that whole Wild Nothing feel going on here, but change any semblance of keyboards for a crunchy guitar part that you won’t be able to get out of your head.  The song has excellent forward momentum, just like the band itself.  Expect big things from these guys in 2011.

twin sister color life

35) “I Want a House” – Twin Sister Everyone really started going crazy for Twin Sister this year when they released “All Around and Away We Go.”  To me, that was just more of that 80s keyboard synth I was already tired of.  This song, though, earlier than their real break through song, is so quietly odd that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Sure, there’s hints of what came after with the syncopated guitar part.  But Andrea Estella’s vocal track is so eerily almost-perfect-but-not-quite that you can’t but help listening to this song over and over to savor all of the imperfections.  I think some of the best music I’ve heard is good because of its slight imperfections.  This song absolutely falls into that category.

Best-Coast-Crazy-For-You

34) “Crazy For You” – Best Coast I put Best Coast on this list last year (that song was better, too, I think) and I was so excited about her.  She was just starting to blow up, and I was pumped to hear such a strong female vocalist making blunt, straight-forward pop with great little guitar riffs.  Then she started dating Wavves and tweeting about her cat and doing lots of corporate stuff and maybe getting a little overexposed.  I kind of forgot it by December, but this song is great.

wavves

33) “Idiot” – Wavves See above, replace all mention of “Best Coast” with “Wavves” and “Wavves” with “Bethany Cosentino.”  (I picked this song because I think the crazy laugh in the beginning is kind of genius.)

answer to yourself

32) “Answer To Yourself” – The Soft Pack It seems like only a few weeks ago that I was crammed into the basement of Cake Shop with a million other people waiting to hear The Soft Pack play their new album in its entirety, front to back, last Feburary.  I remember this song as particularly fierce.  Plus, words to live by.  This year I listened to this song when I was running and getting ready to go out, and if I’d had any important trials or life decisions to make, I would have listened to it then, too.

never come around la sera

31) “Never Come Around” – La Sera So, so sweet.  So deceptively sweet.  This song easily has one of the best videos of the year, with Kickball Katy as a creepy murderer with talking dead victims.  It’s a simple song, but its sweetness hits all of the right notes and chords, down to the very last few seconds of the song when her voice takes on those Weezer-esque add-on harmonies for the last few syllables.  It’s like eating really fancy candy: sugary sweet and appreciably well-crafted.

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Recommended Monday Show: Wavves, The Smith Westerns, and Total Slacker at Bowery Ballroom http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/08/02/recommended-monday-show-wavves-the-smith-westerns-and-total-slacker-at-bowery-ballroom/ Mon, 02 Aug 2010 14:39:29 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=4135 Smith Westerns

Wavves hater or not, you have to admit that his new album, King of the Beach, is at least a lot of fun.  Personally, I think it’s more than that.  I might even say it’s a perfect slacker anthem album, and it will be on repeat in my apartment until the weather stops making me want to go to the beach every day.  If his recent show at the Knitting Factory is any indication, Wavves’ live show keeps getting tighter and better, though I’m not sure he can carry a space as large as Bowery (his show at the large Brooklyn Bowl was abysmal).  The Smith Westerns put out one of my absolute favorite albums of last year, and their tough-as-nails-teen-heartthrob vibe makes for a fun live show.  Plus, it’s Total Slacker’s Bowery debut!  After months of constant playing, they totally deserve this next step.

MP3: “Idiot” – Wavves

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Photos: Northside Part I http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/06/28/photos-northside-part-i/ Tue, 29 Jun 2010 04:33:38 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=3916 Stephen Pope

Wavves.  Wavves, Wavves, Wavves, Wavves, Wavves.  Are you really dating Best Coast or is it all just a publicity stunt?  Why exactly did you sign to Mountain Dew Records?  And are you flat-ironing your hair now?  It kind of looks like you are.  So many questions.  One resounding answer.  A pretty sweet rock and roll show.  While it’s eerie to see Pope and Hayes backing Wavves, saying things like, “We taught him how to be a punk,” when only a few months ago they were quitting the band of one of the actual last true punks, only to have him die weeks later, they are a damn fine rhythm section.  The threesome has clearly practiced quite a lot since their awful Brooklyn Bowl gig (they did, in fact, cut a record in that time), but I still think the best version of Wavves I’ve seen was with Zach Hill.  There’s always a lot to say about Wavves, but I’ll keep this brief since it’s so belated.  This show at the Knitting Factory was immensely fun, with a ridiculous amount of stage-diving and Pete and Pete theme songs.  Hayes’ stage banter was cuter and less offensive this time around, which seemed to signal that the band had finally jelled.  And Nathan Williams himself?  He seemed coolly unaffected by it all, kicking out the jams and surfing along with his guitar out into the crowd.

Cloud Nothings played a fantastic set.  At first I thought their drummer was rushing, but as their set wore on it quickly became apparent that they planned to play their songs as fast as they humanly could.  A lot of the pop intricacies were lost, but it sure made for a fun show.  It was my first time watching Dom, and I generally liked them.  Their songs seemed to drift between 60s surf-style garage rock tunes and more 80s synth inspired ones.  I’m sure you could guess which ones I favored, but I’ll spend a little more time with this band before dispensing my final judgement.  They’re worth checking out, at least, with a reservedly interesting frontman.

Dom:

Dom

Cloud Nothings:

Wavves:

Wavves

Wavves

Wavves Stage Dive

Wavves Knitting Factory

MP3: “Even If It Worked Out” – Cloud Nothings

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Recommended Thursday Show: Wavves, Cloud Nothings, and Dom at The Knitting Factory http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/06/24/recommended-thursday-show-wavves-cloud-nothings-and-dom-at-the-knitting-factory/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2010/06/24/recommended-thursday-show-wavves-cloud-nothings-and-dom-at-the-knitting-factory/#comments Thu, 24 Jun 2010 19:25:22 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=3905 wavves

Northside Festival has begun!  What does this mean?  So.  Many.  Shows.  If you’d like to see a lot of music this weekend, it’s definitely worth it to get a $50 badge.  If you’re just looking to go to one, well, it’s probably best to just get tickets for that show.  Unless, however, you want to go to this ultra-buzzy show tonight- Wavves, Cloud Nothings, and Dom at Knitting Factory.  It’s sold out, so you’ll need a badge for entrance.  This is definitely the show of the evening.  I’ve never seen Dom before but have heard good things, and Cloud Nothings definitely have one of the albums of the year.  The last time we checked in with our buddy Nathan Williams was at that terrible, weird free show at Brooklyn Bowl.  He couldn’t fill the room, and it was eerie watching him play with the late Jay Reatard’s old band.  Since then, he’s announced his new album, which I have heard in full and really, really like.  He also signed to Mountain Dew’s record label which is…you know…fine but not really fine.   I think tonight will reveal a lot about how Williams’ music and “personal brand” is going to proceed.

MP3: “Post Acid” – Wavves

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My Favorite Albums of 2009: 10-1 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/12/22/my-favorite-albums-of-2009-10-1/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/12/22/my-favorite-albums-of-2009-10-1/#comments Tue, 22 Dec 2009 21:03:16 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=2335

Well, this is it.  My top ten favorite albums of 2009.  There was so much great music this year that it feels strange to narrow it down to so few albums.  I really did love each of these though, and I hope you do, too.  Let me know what you think.  I probably won’t be blogging too much until 2010, but I can’t wait to hear what happens next year.

I’ve included my favorite song from each album, unless it was on my Favorite Songs list, in which case I’ve included a different favorite.

10) Yeah I Know – Darlings Darlings are charmingly adolescent.  They’re like that adorable kid you used to baby-sit, but who you know is going to grow up to be really attractive.  With lines like “We can do things to each other,” and “We’ll get fucked up in the park/And we’ll get fucked up in the dark” scattered throughout Yeah I Know, there is something innately raw and youthful about these songs.  They give a pretty great picture of what it feels like to be a twenty-something in New York, as well, with songs like “Eviction Party.”  I think they capture something innate about the spirit of Brooklyn right now.  Then you get a song like the title track, “Yeah I Know,” that’s so full of ecstatic songwriting ideas, and sublimely mature for such a young band (and it’s even better live).  This is a great, fun album, but I’m even more excited about it because of what it signals for this band’s future.

MP3: “Yeah I Know” – Darlings

9) Ducktails – Ducktails Matt Mondanile has put out so much music this year.  This self-titled Ducktails LP is probably the most concrete chunk of output, but I’d really like it to represent everything Ducktails has put his name on in 2009.  From splits with Julian Lynch to tapes to work with Real Estate, Mondanile has created a wonderfully unique soundscape and new musical sensibility.  It’s so calming and peaceful without being too easy to accept.  Ducktails is swirly and complicated and totally satisfying.

MP3: “Backyard” – Ducktails

8 ) Here We Go Magic – Here We Go Magic This album deserves to be on any top ten list based on the strength of “Tunnelvision” and “Fangela” alone.  While those tracks circulated around the internet quite a lot in early 2009, Here We Go Magic somehow didn’t get the kind of buzz that other bands have garnered in 2009.  I believe this is due to Luke Temple’s maturity as a musician and songwriter.  These songs age well with repeated listens.  Temple’s been around forever and is finally getting the recognition he deserves.  This album is full of serious compositions, wonderful and bewildering- not the kind of thing that’s easily hyped.  Instead, this album is solid and stable, steeped in talent and vision, and will be a work to remember for years to come.

MP3: “I Just Want to See You Underwater” – Here We Go Magic

7) Hospice – The Antlers This is the saddest album I’ve ever heard.  A year ago, The Antlers were another Brooklyn Antlers band, one that I frequently mixed up with Crystal Antlers and in turn, Crystal Stilts.  A year later, I doubt anyone will make that mistake again.  Dubbed as one of the best albums of 2009 all the way back in January by NPR, Hospice is stark and honest, a frank take on death and mortality, especially from a young person’s point of view.  Hospice feels like an accomplishment, one that must have been difficult to produce.  I saw The Antlers play it, front to back, at Union Hall earlier this year.  I’ve seen the band several times since then, but I particularly remember Silberman’s a cappella vocals at the end of that Union Hall set for “Epilogue.”  That’s when I knew how truly good this album is.  What a talent.   My only worry about Hospice is that it’s so well-conceived, that the extremely talented Silberman will have a difficult time ever creating anything better.  I’m not the only one to be struck so starkly by the Antler’s live show.  I’ve heard others complain that the album sounds like it’s too muted compared to the sound of the songs live.  I think, though, that this only adds to the beauty of Hospice.  Suffocating, choked, and dying.  The whole thing is so despairingly gorgeous.  Truly one of the most remarkable works of art produced in 2009.

MP3: “Bear” – The Antlers

6) Real Estate – Real Estate I feel the same way about Real Estate as I do about Ducktails.  This band really created a sound this year, something that didn’t exist before they started doing it.  Plus, they’ve done it with two guitars, bass, and drums- a remarkable feat at this point in rock and roll’s history.  It’s less that I love this album, and more that I love all of the output from Real Estate that’s been floating around the internet all year, much of which did find its way onto this release.  An immensely talented group of young men.  Not only is Ducktails a side project, but so is Alex Bleeker and The Freaks, another band that I bet you’re going to pay attention to in 2010.  I’d like to crown all the boys in Real Estate champions of 2009.

MP3: “Fake Blues” – Real Estate

5) Songs of Shame – Woods Maybe it’s because one of my favorite tracks off of Songs of Shame is “Rain On,” but this is the perfect album for a rainy day.  There’s just enough melody to ground all of the psychedelic noodling, and it holds together because all of it is so pretty.  Tapes and old microphones and beards and guitars all add to Woods’ homey aesthetic.  There’s a reason why I put Woods and Real Estate next to each other on both this list and my Favorite Songs list.  They’ve both cultivated, in different ways, a laid-back, quiet rock sound without being too much like that lost 60s band from way back when.  I don’t know, I just really love this stuff.

MP3: “The Number” – Woods

4) Smith Westerns – Smith Westerns Young, overconfident, gritty, naive, celebratory, excited, already jaded.  These are all the things a good punk record should be, and the Smith Westerns deliver all of this on their debut self-titled lp.  Boys and girls and girls and boys, I had to exercise a lot of control so that this wouldn’t be the only album I listened to throughout the month of November.  I’m astounded that these guys are only seventeen years old, but at the same time, no one older could have made such a confident, brash, excellent album.

MP3: “Girl In Love” – Smith Westerns

3) Post-Nothing – Japandroids The title really says it all.  Post-Nothing.  Don’t call them post-punk, post-noise, post-Pavement.  Japandroids know that they sound like a lot of things that came before.  In a year that truly did mark the evolution of what indie music means with the enormous proliferation of genre-bending electronic acts like Animal Collective, Japandroids put out a rock and roll album.  And while it might not be a huge step forward for music like the aforementioned band, it’s no less good or important.  The urgency of the vocals and drumming were unparalleled anywhere this year, and few bands put out an album with so much energy and rock and roll grit.  While the Smith Westerns take their burgeoning boy/girl crushes with the humor of a teenager, Japandroids take their crushes a little more seriously, a little more urgently.  Just like this style of music we love, they’re getting older and maybe wiser, and feel the impending sense of time.  You can hear all of this in their songs.  In the end, it makes my heart feel good.  Let’s go French kiss some French girls.

MP3: “Wet Hair” – Japandroids

2) Wavvves – Wavves Amidst the sudden rocket to fame, amidst the drinking and the drugs, the breakdowns, the backlash, the broken arm, and the bar fights, Wavves put out this album.  It’s easy to forget the music, in light of all of the hype-inducing antics.  Let me illustrate this clearly.  I know the number rankings aren’t ultimately important, but Pitchfork gave Wavvves a higher ranking than it did Jewellery.  But Jewellery made it onto their 50 Best list, and Wavvves did not.  After all of the furor (that Pitchfork largely created) over Wavves this year, it’s become gauche to include Nathan Williams in your best of 2009, or possibly to even admit liking him at all.  Well, I don’t care.  I stand by my convictions that when you cut out all of the other bullshit, you’re left with a fantastic, innovative lo-fi album.  Wavves was one of the first of the whole “lo-fi” craze this year, and frankly, I don’t think anyone does it better than him.  If there’s a better representation of contemporary suburban kids’ existential angst than “So Bored” in music, literature, or art, I haven’t heard, seen, or read it.  With his “ooos” and “waas,” Williams also creates a wonderful pop tension above his difficult, scuzzed out guitar.  Lest we forget the more experimental tracks on Wavvves – while other lo-fi artist like Times New Viking incorporate the pop into their noisy songs, Williams actually divides noise and pop into two different types of songs on his album.  There’s “Goth Girls,” “To the Dregs,” and “Killr Punx, Scary Demons.”  Then there’s “So Bored,” “No Hope Kids,” and “Gun in the Sun” – Ramones-worthy punk janglers.  There’s a wonderful logic to structuring an album in this dual way, one that says quite a lot about bedroom music versus live shows (one of the main tensions of Wavves’ act), and it really sets this album apart for me.

Sometimes it may be difficult for an artist to get themselves heard if they’re not getting hyped by the proper sites.  But we’ve reached the other end of the spectrum, where it’s sometimes difficult for an artist to get heard once they’re in the hype machine.  It’s challenging, but we need to put our notions about Wavves aside and stick to the music on this one.  When you subtract how popular or hated or obnoxious or overexposed Wavves might be, you’re left with one hell of an album.

MP3: “Sun Opens My Eyes” – Wavves

1) Jewellery – Micachu and the Shapes Jewellery is the most original, unique record to come out in 2009, hands down. Micachu and the Shapes are an androgynous female-fronted band of twenty-two year olds banging on beer bottles and home made guitars,  who play completely bizarre Waitsian ditties with more dark humor than a Poe short story.  Maybe it’s because they’re British and didn’t tour in America as much as other bands this year, but this is another album that escaped the hype machine.  Pitchfork gave them an unbelievably low review the first time around, but did indeed include the album in their Fifty Best list.  I honestly can’t understand how this album, with its stunning originality, wasn’t in the top ten.  For starters, they are straight-up weird.  For being so strange, it’s a remarkably versatile album.  “Golden Phone” and “Calculator” are two of the catchiest songs of the year.  Jewellery can be dark and scary, or fun and lighthearted, depending on what mood you’re listening in.  They’re also one of the few indie bands that have really incorporated electronics with guitar-based tunes in an exciting, creative, new way.  The first forty seconds of “Just In Case” are a great example.  It’s still, vaguely, rock and roll, but the electronics combined with the home-made guitar make sounds that are totally new.  It might all be a little too wacky for some to take seriously, but to my ears, Jewellry is absolutely delicious and refreshing, and will certainly be one of the coolest, most interesting artifacts of 2009.

“Calculator” – Micachu and the Shapes

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My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009: 10-1 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/12/15/my-favorite-50-songs-of-2009-10-1/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/12/15/my-favorite-50-songs-of-2009-10-1/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:50:38 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=2236

To recap:  As for My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009, I made a few rules for myself.  First, a band can only appear once.  Also, this is purely about singles I enjoy.  For instance, I would never put Harlem Shakes’ Technicolor Health on my favorite albums list, but “Sunlight” made it pretty high on this list because it’s a great pop song.  I like a lot of Grooms’ songs and think they’re probably better than many of these, for instance, but none of them made it onto this list because they work much better as a group of experimental songs on an album.  This gave me a chance to give recognition to many bands from this year I would otherwise have left out.  And, for the record, I think this list of songs is less important but more fun than my forthcoming list of best albums of 2009.  You can download all of the songs by clicking on the words in bold.

This ha been really fun.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.  Stay tuned for my favorite albums list.  So here it is, the FINAL installment of My Favorite 50 Songs of 2009.

10) “Snookered” – Dan Deacon Bromst was so much better than I expected it to be.  The album was a huge leap forward for Deacon.  He moved away from dancy, albeit awesome, electronic creations, and transformed them into something a little more serious, a little more sinister.  This song is the centerpiece of that excellent album.  Starting with just a few chimes, adding garbled chanting voices, and layering synth upon synth, this song is the perfect exercise in build.  But it’s not just a simple treatment of how to create tension with electronic music.  This song oozes soul, and honesty.  “I’ve been wrong so many times before/But never quite like this/Heard all/In the rain/But the rain all turned to piss.”  That’s exactly what life feels like sometimes, and Deacon gives us all a hope with the wonderful climax of the song, right before the break down with the voices.  I’m really usually not one for button-pushing, but a mature Deacon reminds me how very human, complex, and downright good it can be.

9) “The Ancient Commonsense Of Things” – Bishop Allen I reviewed Grrr… on the blog earlier this year, and I didn’t give it a very good review.  But this is an album, particularly this song, that I’ve continued to listen to over the months.  Part of that has to do with how good Bishop Allen is live, particularly this song (I saw them for the first time at Northside in June).  I suppose “The Ancient Commonsense of Things” really wouldn’t be included on a “Best” list, but it does what music ought to do.  It makes life feel a little brighter.  There are two concrete reasons, both lyrical, why I like this song so much.  First, I do think that there is an “ancient commonsense of things,” and I’m glad this song points it out.  Also, “There are those/Who know to look/Through all the crannies and the nooks/And when I found you did/What it meant to me.”  This is the problem with doing a Favorites list instead of a Best Of.  I really, really love that line, and I can’t really explain why.

8 ) “Sunlight” – Harlem Shakes This is the best pop song I’ve heard all year.  Honestly, I don’t know why it isn’t played on Top 40 radio all the time.  Maybe Lexy’s voice?  I don’t know, but “Sunlight” is pure ear candy.  It makes me want to dance.  It makes me want to drive fast in my car.  It makes me want to listen to it again and again and again.

7) “When They Fight, They Fight” – Generationals From the outset of this song, you know it’s going to be special.  It starts with a 70s sort of piano/cowbell part, giving “When They Fight” an insistent energy right away.  Then suddenly, you’re right in the middle of a late 50s, Beatlesesque, vaguely doo-wop melody.  “When they fight, they fight/And when they come home at night they say/I love you baby.”  The horns, the choppy vocals, and the “oooohs” are all irresistible.  I can never get enough of this song.  I do think it lacks a strong bridge, but the ideas and general feel of this song are great, and I’m surprised this band didn’t get more attention this year.

6) “Tomorrow Sorrow” – Blake Miller When I posted this song awhile back, it was the single most popular MP3 ever on this blog, by far.  There’s something incredibly relatable in Blake Miller’s quiet freak folk.  Not only is “Tomorrow Sorrow” musically interesting and remarkably mature for someone so young, but I think it has that little bit of teenage angst that everyone can relate to.  He’s right.  Tomorrow will inevitably bring bad things, along with the good, and the idea of “If I could figure out/A way to trick the sun/Into keeping me warm,” is so comforting in its simple beauty.  A remarkable song.

5) “Shine On” – Air Waves Nicole Schneit’s songwriting is so simple, so straightforward.  “I lost someone this year/You gained a start.”  “Shine On” feels true.  That’s what I like about it.  She’s really telling the truth.  I don’t know how else to explain it.

4) “When I’m With You” – Best Coast This song has been on a ton of Best Of lists, and the reason is, without a doubt, because no one likes sleeping alone.  Best Coast pinpointed one of the most private but universal feelings and put it to music.  That takes talent.  “When I’m With You” is also just really well-written.  The slow, lazy start, the sped-up verse, and the completely different, driving end.  The song unfolds so well on itself.  Plus, the production quality is just right.  Best Coast deserves every bit of buzz she gets, and I love this song.

3) “White As Diamonds” – Alela Diane Writers use the words “achingly beautiful” far too often.  But that’s exactly what “White As Diamonds” is.  I believe that Alela Diane will be remembered as one of the most unique singers of this time, or at least she ought to be.  The timbre of her voice is absolutely incredible, and this song stays with you long after you hear it.  Diane paints such a unique aural landscape, creating something entirely new out of strong folk traditions.  Plus, her father is in her band, which is about the coolest thing ever.  A true talent, and a truly classic song.

2) “No Hope Kids” – Wavves I get shit for this all the time, but I love Wavves.  I’m completely and totally fascinated by him.  But I’ll save that for my Favorite Albums list (there, I just gave one away).  Instead, let’s focus on this song.  “No Hope Kids” is a great song.  There’s a lot of reasons I listen to music, but the number one reason is probably as an outlet for my teenage angst.  Isn’t that, after all, when most of us really started to listen to music to begin with?  When we were sullen fourteen year olds and no one else could understand?  It’s a musical habit now.  “Got no car/Got no money/I got nothing nothing nothing not at all/Got no God/Got no girlfriend.”  “Got no friends/Got no family/Just a bunch of people put around me.”  Wow, way to pinpoint the post-modern condition of suburban teens.  His petulant, stuck-up attitude only makes it better.  The energy of this song is unparalleled in all the other lo-fi, schmo-fi bands that came out this year.  “Yeah I know, I know, I know, I know, I know.”

1) “Young Hearts Spark Fire” – Japandroids There was not a single time this year when I was in a moving vehicle and did not listen to this song.  If Wavves is about teenage angst, then Japandroids is about twenty-something angst.  “Oh, we used to dream/Now we just worry about dying/I don’t wanna worry about dying/I just wanna worry about sunshine girls.”  Hold onto your youth while you can.  I can think of no better soundtrack to do that to.  I suppose this song isn’t all that interesting.  It’s fairly derivative and doesn’t bring much new to the table in the way a Merriweather Post Pavilion track does.  But this song is even better than all of those to me because it shows that rock and roll is still worthwhile.  Despite its two-man simplicity, its typical drums and guitar, “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is so good. The rock and roll I grew up on is alive and well and possible, and Japandroids proved that to me in 2009.  This is my absolute favorite song of the year. It understands something about me, and for that, it gets my number one spot.  “Young/Hearts/Spark/Fire.”

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Photos: Ganglians and Wavves at Santos Party House http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/09/25/photos-ganglians-and-wavves-at-santos-party-house/ Fri, 25 Sep 2009 05:12:44 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=1802 P9248782_2

I’m not sure what the best part of tonight was.  It was either the fact that Wavves totally and absolutely rocked, or it was one very special conversation I overhead.  A not-s0-young man with the exact same haircut as Nathan Williams (seriously, exactly the same, shaved on the sides with a ducktail in the back) remarked to his friend, “I don’t know about Wavves hair, dude.  He kinda looks like a skunk,” without even a hint of irony.  Yep.  The crowd at Santos might have been questionable (a strange mix of thirty-something men in suits and 18-something boys in greasy band t-shirts), but the caliber of Wavves’ performance was not.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about Wavves and his place in our blog-centric, Pitchfork-fueled, increasingly lo-fi music landscape of today.  I recently wrote an article for BreakThru Radio complaining how despicable the media coverage of Williams has been, and ultimately decided that it was up to him to just keep making great music.  If the show tonight was any indication, he’s done exactly that, and it seems that the meltdown in Barcelona may be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

The new drummer was incredible.  Zach Hill is a real-life version of animal from the Muppets.  His crazy yellow hair is a mass of movement as he pounds the drums harder than almost anyone I’ve ever heard.  Not that Ryan wasn’t a good drummer, but this guy takes the tunes to the next level, turning the lo-fi sing-alongs into all-out rock anthems.  With such strong, forceful backing, Williams seemed more confident and poised than ever.  He played his guitar as if he were a small boy, discovering for the first time that if he hit the strings, an enormous noise would happen, and played with all the joy that this suggests.  He’s learned that his bedroom project simply can’t translate to the stage, and has given up on trying to make that happen.  Instead, the duo have re-worked the songs into newer, louder, more feedback-driven punk rock, and the result is raw and powerful.  Williams may yet turn into a true showman.

When I saw Wavves at Market Hotel several months ago, Williams seemed more bemused than anything at the crowd’s insane reaction to his music.  This time around, he was ready for it.  He took himself more seriously, and this was able to take the audience more seriously, as well.  He put on a good show for us, rather than silently mocking us for actually liking him.  A little confidence goes a long way, and everyone (Willaims included, I think) had a great time.  It was only at the end of the show that we caught a glimpse of his petulant behavior.  Williams leaned his guitar against the amp to feedback- an act normally reserved to fill the space before an encore- only to have the sound guys end the show five minutes later.  It was fine, though.  It’s best to keep the set short and sweet; he wouldn’t want to get too big for his breeches.  Look what happened the last time.

Ganglians also put on an excellent set.  I suspect that something wasn’t quite right with their vocal mics and that their “woos” and “oos” are a big part of their music, but musicianship managed to overcome any sound problems.  Their songs are complicated and interesting, and manage to grow beyond most of the other bands in their lo-fi league right now.  The guitar player was absolutely excellent, carrying the songs away on meandering riffs, while there were enough tempo changes and danceable beats to keep everyone satisfied.  Bands like Ganglians and Woods are going to be the ones to come away from 2009 with lasting impact.  Their live show was fun, but also incredibly musical.  I’d like to see them again tomorrow at Market Hotel, a show you should definitely go to if you didn’t make it out tonight.

Ganglians:

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MP3: “Mickey Mouse” – Wavves

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Photos: Vampire Hands, These Are Powers, Wavves http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/03/29/photos-vampire-hands-these-are-powers-wavves/ http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/03/29/photos-vampire-hands-these-are-powers-wavves/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2009 18:44:59 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=735 p3282814When I mentioned I was going to Market Hotel to see Wavves, my co-worker told me, and I quote, “that place is a death trap.”  Well, she’s completely correct, but it was a very fitting venue in which to experience Wavves.  I hate to say anything bad about the place, mostly because Todd P, indie promoter extraordinaire, got on the mic asking people not to smoke in the room where the bands played because “people will go home and write about it on the internet.”  Which is exactly what I’m doing.  But the out-of-the-way, possibly life-threatening Market Hotel is packed full of charm and has the most exciting vibe of any makeshift DIY venue I’ve been to yet.  It’s so cool and DIY that it almost renders itself obsolete.

Which is the same exact problem I had with Wavves live.  I love the new album.  I think it’s very good.  But the fuzzy distortion of the record is gone from the live performance.  He doesn’t even run his fender through any pedals.  It’s just straight-up guitar and drums with some distortion thrown on his mic for good measure.  As the surprisingly diminutive rocker casually took the stage, he sat down and smiled to himself before he began to play, as if the crowd of ready-to-go fans buzzing with excitement were some sort of amusing inside joke.  Someone in the front row lit up a joint, passed it up to him, and then the rocking began.

For an artist who started out being whispered about on blogs a few months ago, there were an awful lot of very excited teenagers from New Jersey there (I feel that I can make that judgement because I was once one of them).  The Wavves aesthetic worked at Market Hotel.  Short songs, full of “I don’t give a fuck” personality, and just enough detached rocking to give the kiddies something to mosh about.  But much like the state of Market Hotel, if you pack any more bridge-and-tunnelers into a Wavves show, it’s going to have to be at Bowery Ballroom or Music Hall of Williamsburg.  And it’s not going to work there.  So much of Wavves was built up around him being an underground buzz act, and once that’s no longer the case, I don’t know what he’s going to do to sustain himself.  The live songs are good, but not good enough for that next step yet.  I’m excited to see how this kid handles all of this newfound attention.

These Are Powers, by the way, completely rocked the house.  Their thick layering of beats and spastic/beautiful lead singer are absolute winners.  Another band to definitely keep a close eye on.  And as far as Vampire Hands goes, I could really take them or leave them.

Vampire Hands:

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Wavves:

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Recommended Saturday Show(s): Your Weekend Wavves Strategy http://newyorkrockmarket.com/2009/03/27/recommended-saturday-shows-your-weekend-wavves-strategy/ Fri, 27 Mar 2009 23:44:32 +0000 http://newyorkrockmarket.com/?p=731 wavvesThis weekend is all about Wavves.  He’s pretty much the buzziest thing out there right now (along with POBPAH).  The backlash has already hit after the Pitchfork Best New Music, but I love his album.  The first track alone is such a dark, angled introduction to what I see as a an album that captures something essential about current affairs.  Love him or hate him, you’ll probably want to catch him at least once this weekend, as he makes a post-SXSW pit-stop in NYC.  He’s playing tomorrow at Market Hotel in Brooklyn with These Are Powers and Vampire Hands.  On Sunday, he’s playing at Cake Shop with just Vampire Hands.  And on Monday, he’s playing Mercury Lounge with DD/MM/YYYY, Vampire Hands, and NYRM faves, Real Estate.  Unfortunately, I have to work on both Sunday and Monday nights, so I will be checking him out tomorrow night.  However, Cake Shop is by far the best venue that he’ll be playing.  On the other hand, the Mercury Lounge show also has Real Estate, so that’s a huge added bonus.  Take your pick, but definitely pick one.

MP3: “So Bored” – Wavves

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