Best Coast - The Only Place

The Only Place

I went to the Pacific coast in 2010 without ever getting in a car or leaving the Midwest. Of course I didn’t physically go. I made a mental trip facilitated by a wave of new indie rock albums that embraced lo fi fuzz and warm guitars that conjure the west coast. Best Coast released Crazy for You, one of the year’s best albums, in 2010. Now their back now with The Only Place, a new album that builds on the successes of Crazy for You and moves their sound forward.

The best way I can liken the progression of Best Coast between their two major releases is with the following poorly constructed metaphor. Crazy for You is fuzzy and warm and feels like you’re half awake, hanging on to the remnants of an AMAZING dream you were having. The Only Place is an AMAZING dream that bursts with the same warmth and pop hooks but removes a layer of haze. Bethany Cosentino and crew benefited from a better studio and emerged with a tight group of pop songs about crushes, boys, beaches and love. Best Coast is an indie rock, surf pop, lo fi band but Bethany Cosentino channels The Shirelles and decades of broken teenage hearts through her voice and pushes Best Coast out of an increasingly populated and convoluted sound into a truly unique direction. If you haven’t made your summer playlist yet, get cooking, and don’t forget to add Best Coast. 

Spotify Playlists

I know we’re not all friends on Facebook, so I thought I’d post links to some of my playlists on Spotify.  Please, if I’m missing anything, let me know!

Favorite Songs

 - These are my favorite songs.  They’re 2010-2012 heavy, but I’m working on pulling some of my favorite older songs into this list… 

2012 Albums 

 - This is where I keep all of the new albums I’m listening to that have come out in 2012… typically I’ll have them in there for 3 weeks at least, and if I don’t it they go in the trashcan.  But, if I do, they stay in and at the end of the year I’ll send them to my genre playlists and maybe we’ll chose them for our top albums of 2012.  Here are my playlists by Genre.

Rock/Pop/Indie

Classical/Non-Vocal

Folk/Pop

Rap/HipHop/R&B

Electro/Techno/Remixes

Retro/Oldies

STL/Local

And if you are a fan of the best of the best albums, by year… Here were our picks from 2010 and 2011.

2011 VIVE Top Albums

2010 VIVE Top Albums

Happy Listening!

Via St. Louis: Wilco’s Humble Origins

Pat - Again, another one of my more talented friends and history scholar has agreed to write a quick narrative on one of his favorite bands, Wilco.  Do enjoy!

By Zach Garrison.

In the song “Heavy-Metal Drummer,” Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy croons, “I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands; I used to go see on the landing in the summer.” In a fantastic and revelatory interview with Chuck Klosterman, Tweedy is asked to explain the lyrics of this ode and whether or not he was in fact a member of a Kiss cover band. Much to Klosterman’s chagrin, “Heavy-Metal Drummer” in fact recounts Tweedy’s angst-ridden teenage days in the mid-1980s, which were more often than not spent down by the Mississippi River on St. Louis’ infamous ‘Landing’ jealously watching local metal bands attract hordes of female followers. Thus, as it turns out, this nostalgic remembrance was in fact a lamentation. Disaffected with his small-town existence (he grew up across the river in Belleville, Illinois), Tweedy turned to the second wave of punk music that offered the chance to mosh, scream out indecipherable lyrics, and ostensibly rebel. Looking back, however, Tweedy explains, “The song is really just another reminder about not being judgmental and reductive. There were many, many nights in St. Louis where me and my friends would go see some punk band at the cool punk club, and then we’d all go to the landing on the Mississippi River…. And all of us Punk Guys would sit there and scoff and feel superior to all the heavy-metal bar bands with the big hair and the spandex, most of whom were having the f**king time of their life. So who was losing? Me. I was.”

In 1987, after several unsuccessful years attempting to ignite a punk explosion in St. Louis and Southern Illinois, Tweedy and fellow band-mate Jay Farrar formed Uncle Tupelo. Fusing the up-tempo rhythms of punk with the twang and lyrical styles of traditional country music, the band offered up a version of alternative country at a time when no one really knew or understood what such a descriptive term even meant. One could trace Uncle Tupelo’s musical DNA ad nauseam, but what seems far more important is the direction in which Tweedy and Farrar pushed, seeking out a form of expression blending the rural mid-west with the youthful resistance to the conservative turn of the 1980s and early 1990s - the beginning of the culture wars. More simply, Uncle Tupelo allowed Busch Light drinking, Marlboro smoking, working class kids to partake in the refutation of a world they didn’t quite grasp but knew they wanted to change. Intuitively, Tweedy and Farrar recognized this and embraced such a message. 

Adored by critics, Uncle Tupelo built an impressive following with songs aimed at nailing down the sepia-toned Mid-West and the inherent need to escape. The style was truly innovative in the sense that youthful recalcitrance found expression in a blue-collar band from Middle America. Labeled “Alt-Country,” Tupelo inspired regional musicians to embrace their roots but turn it inside out and make it their own. Their songs reached back to the Great Depression of the 1930s and their first album, No Depression, blasted out piercing lyrics in straightforward, traditional folk-style arrangements. Uncle Tupelo struck a chord that reverberated across the region and beyond, leading to an eventual major label signing and release with Anodyne in 1993. 

Shortly thereafter, creative differences between Farrar and Tweedy forced a split and the end of truly one of the most innovative band of the late 1980s. Tweedy, of course, would go on to form Wilco ([“Wilco” = will comply, in military speak] in concert with all the members of Uncle Tupelo, sans Jay Farrar), and find major success in more experimental yet, I know this sounds strange, accessible pop music. It’s important to note that their first show was at Cicero’s in 1994. Farrar, meanwhile, continued on with Sunvolt, a band more analogous to Uncle Tupelo in both sound and style. 

No longer a regional songwriter, Tweedy relocated to Chicago, finding nation-wide fame and recognition. It’s interesting to note that Wilco’s origins can be found via St. Louis. That so many of Tweedy’s early performances and musical experiences took place within the St. Louis music scene is undoubtedly significant to the band’s musical journey. In fact, Tweedy once commented to the Riverfront Times, “It’s hard to play in St. Louis sometimes because you’re haunted by so many ghosts of yourself.” Still, recently (this past October), Wilco played a welcome home of sorts show in honor of the re-opening of the Peabody Theater. Part of the set list was “New Madrid,” an Uncle Tupelo song about a small town in Southeast Missouri…

Interview with Dear Genre’s Andre Cataldo

Music lovers devote themselves tirelessly to the procuring and discovery of new music. It’s the search, journey and ultimate discovery of a song or album or band that encapsulates a moment in life, better than we ourselves can. Imagine then, how exciting it is to discover new music from an up and coming band from your own neighborhood. We at VIVE are incredibly excited to introduce the St. Louis indie rock band Dear Genre to our readers and even more excited to listen to their new EP Rip Raw Shapes out this Saturday February 25th

These guys are as fun as their “thumbs up dudeness” suggests but have some serious musical chops to back it up.

Dear Genre frontman, Andre Cataldo, was kind enough to answer our questions about the band and upcoming EP.

Tyler Okay, so how did you guys form?

Andre- We formed in 20 minutes over a Facebook status that I posted looking to recruit people to help flush out the full band sound that was created on the record. After only a handful of practices we quickly realized that the initial line up that had come together, including; Charlie Unger, Marcello Farrell and Jack Mudd would soon be the perminate line up that would come together to form the full sounding Dear Genre.

Tyler- What is the release date of the new EP?

Andre- Yes, actually as of this week we’ve set a date for the EP to drop. We hope to release our EP “rip raw shapes” on Saturday, February 25th, which we are thoroughly stoked out of our minds for. We’ve waited long enough to get this new material out into the bloodstream of the local scene as well as the world in general.

Tyler- Where did you record it?

Andre- This EP we recorded with Kevin Gates in Springfield MO. Kevin has also recorded artists such as; Never Shout Never, The Ready Set, Cady Groves, Plug in Stereo, Romance on a Rocketship, Breathe Electric, Eatmewhileimhot and many other bands that have shaped us as individuals and musicians. We sort of grew up listening to these bands and through them decided we wanted to pursue music ourselves, so it was an honor and a dream come true to have the opportunity to work with the producer behind all of our favorite work.

Tyler- Andre, did you bring material to the group or did you all write songs together?

Andre- For “rip raw shapes” I wrote the material and created full band demos of how I envisioned the songs in my head. After I was fully content with them artistically and structurally, I then brought them to the band. Through a period of a few weeks we began to work on learning them as a group and translating them so that they would best be suitable for a four-piece group. Also during this process, each member adds his spin to the original parts, which creates something of a “collision of sound” due to varying backgrounds and musical influences. It is this very collision that we feel comes together to encase the current sound of Dear Genre.

Tyler- Have people/fans compared you to any other artists or groups?

Andre- With the old material, we haven’t received the same comparison more than once or twice so it’s tough to pinpoint very many. As far as comparisons to the new material, only a handful of people have heard it so we haven’t gotten enough feedback to know who or what people think we sound like yet. Guess that’s still to be determined.

Tyler- What artists and groups do you listen to either individually or as a band?

Andre- This one is tough to answer with specifics as well because each of us come from completely different backgrounds so every man sort of speaks for himself BUT to give a brief summary, I will say that everyone in the band comes from a more pop-punk influenced background. Marcello is sort of the hard-core heavier pop-punk kid, Jack and Charlie are more strictly pop-punk without as much of the hard-core edge and I’ve sort of shifted from my roots which was more melodic poppier punky stuff to more indie alternative interests these days… I am very intrigued by psychedelia and mysticism and attempted to create melodies that would make one think of the beach and I really wanted those themes to obviously translate into this new EP. Although that’s where we have all come to rest in our musical diaries for the time being, we all enjoy listening to every type of music…except country, we won’t do it.

TylerIf you could open for anyone who would it be? If you could have any act open for you who would it be?

Andre- If we had the opportunity to open for anyone we would most likely open for a band like Grouplove or Wavves because we like the upbeat party like atmosphere and energy that they bring to their live shows and we feel that they’re a perfect examples of bands that don’t take themselves too seriously, yet continue to expand and grow with a positive work ethic. We hope to achieve the same sort of thing in the future. If we could have any act open for us we would pick an adolescent punk group from Brooklyn called “Tiny masters of today”.  We like them because they’re young and independent and don’t give a flying fret what anyone says about them.

Tyler- Have you spent any time on the road touring?

Andre- Currently, the only time we’ve spent on the road is driving to the various local venues in St. Louis. We have yet to play a show out of state but we are planning to do some touring this summer and are hoping to make it out to the west coast for a change of pace, scenery and crowd.

Tyler- Do you feel that being in high school is a blessing or a curse (should be noted that I wrongly assumed all members were in HS…not the case)?

Andre- Currently the only member of the band that is still in high school is our drummer Jack. Though from my time in high school, combined with catching glimpses of Jack’s senior year, we have observed both blessings and curses. The blessings being networking advantages such as being able to address a massive amount of people with very little effort and spreading the music through domino effect.  On the contrary we have observed that in high school everyone always wants free stuff, and people will near refuse to pay for things. As artists who are depending on people’s support both from both their minds, bodies and souls as well as from them financially to continue on, the issue of wanting free stuff is obvious. What people don’t understand is, as much as you may like the music that a band writes and perform, it is near impossible for those bands to continue on and keep doing what they’re doing without the support from them.

Tyler-  There are some musical pivots, some quick shifts in style in your “Rip Raw Shapes” preview from quick and vibrant to a more subdued, almost haunting melody. Which style will we see more of on the upcoming EP?

Andre- First of all I would just like to say that I appreciate you taking the time to realize the diversity of styles. That is something that myself and us as a whole have always been interested in doing. When bands function with a singular writer, it’s difficult to please both yourself and the rest of the members, simultaneously. To make things easier on myself I have found that it’s best and safest to maintain a diverse range of styles ranging from more upbeat stuff you can dance to or have playing in the background during a summer pool party followed by a more subdued melancholy dreamy style that may encase multiple meanings and emotions. Ideally there is a fair balance between the styles.

Tyler- Tell me more about the artwork for Rip Raw Shapes. Who did it? Why is it significant?

Andre- I worked hand in hand with an artist and media designer named Sam Wade, who also did the artwork for “You put the fear in atmosphere.” We’ve been friends for quite a while now and being an artist himself, he understands and encourages my attempts to diversify my writing style. He always tries to create album art that goes hand in hand with the music that the artist has created while accentuating themes within the music. A theme that Sam and I both share and explore is the idea that a single song, or line within that song may encase multiple meanings. On this particular cover, the point was to stay away from using actual text to get a point across (as most visual art does) and instead use already existing and varying elements to try and reinforce the multi dimensionalism in the music. I highly encourage you to pick up a tangible copy of this EP because once you have the opportunity to look at it close up, and observe the elements and shapes, you may gain a better understanding of the intended themes within the lyrics. It may even aid you in understanding what the songs as a whole are about.

Tyler- Musically, what do you hope to accomplish with Rip Raw Shapes?

Andre- Musically, through “rip raw shapes” we hope to please you with all five songs on the EP but minimally, I hope to have provided a song for everyone to be able to relate to regardless of the place you are in your journey. It is meant to promote those good times and good feelings and help encourage and relate to those that may be anything but.

Tyler- Plug time. Any upcoming shows?

Andre- Our next upcoming show is our EP release Party/show at Cicero’s on February 25th! Come out for surprises in merch, sound and experience! 

Thanks again to Andre for answering our questions. I encourage you all to check out Dear Genre’s single “Do Me” available on iTunes and their upcoming show on Feb 25th at Cicero’s in The Loop. Don’t forget you can check out Dear Genre on Facebook

Ross Christopher Interview

Pat – I was lucky enough to see Ross Christopher do a show in West County a few months ago and afterward, I began listening to some of his music on Spotify.  He graciously agreed to do an interview with VIVE and has invited us to join him at his show on February 24th in the Duck Room.  We’ll be giving away some merchandize and doing a follow-up Hi-Def video of his performance – I am looking very forward to that!  For now, enjoy the great interview I had with local STL artist, Ross Christopher and come down to the Duck Room to see everyone on the 24th!

Interview – Ross Christopher

Me - Firstly, I love the violin, when did you first learn and how long have you been playing?

Ross - I started playing violin 27 years ago, when I was 3 years old.  My parents got me started on the Suzuki Method, and I haven’t looked back.

Me - Also, I know you play a few instruments, how many can you play? And does playing multiple instruments affect your songwriting?

Ross - I play violin, sing, guitar (acoustic & electric), bass, keys/organ/piano, mandolin, cello, and really anything I can get my hands on.  I love trying new things and pushing myself with new sounds and textures.  Playing multiple instruments has made me think more broadly about sound, what makes a soundscape, and how the listener reacts to it.  Different sounds create different emotions, and the more I can use (tastefully), will no doubt create a broader experience to its listener. 

Me - Do you write and play all of the music on your records?  Is there an instrument that you use primarily when creating a new song? And what do hope to accomplish with a diverse instrumentation?

Ross - Currently yes (for the most part), but not always in the past.  Boxes and Human Fog is my 6th solo album.  I recorded and produced it at my studio, SiloTreeSTUDIO.  My first 3 were done from more of a band perspective, and the past 3 solo.  I think you can hear the difference in the recordings, and each record was done so with that kind of intention.

I write a few different ways.  Violin is definitely my bread and butter instrument.  It’s the one that gets the crowd going.  I use it as the writing tool for my songs that are more riff-based, and most of my lead electric guitar tones are actually violins.  When I write the non-riff songs, it’s usually from a guitar’s perspective. 

All in all (instrumentally), my goal is to use lots of traditional instruments in very non-traditional ways.  I like it when people are caught of guard, thinking to themselves, “I didn’t know a violin (or whatever instrument) could sound like that.”

Part of my motivation in life is to make people see things that they’ve never seen, that have been staring at them the whole time.  I want to create new realities.

Me - When did you start using a loop pedal?

Ross - My wife (fiancée at the time) bought it for me back in 2002.

Me - Can you explain how the loop pedal works and why you enjoy using it?

Ross - Basically the loop pedal allows me to record a sequence and layer an infinite number of tracks on top of it.  I start with a chord progression or riff, add percussive hits on my guitar, strings, etc and before you know it; I’ve created this sonic-orchestral piece that takes the song to new heights.

Me - Your album ‘The River Child’… you claim to be the river child. Why do you claim to be this person and what does being a river child represent?

Ross - It’s a story of redemption, renewal, and life.  It’s certainly my story, but I think it’s the story of humanity.  We started perfect, we’ve broken that, but I believe that’s all been set straight by Jesus about 2000 years ago.

Me - Your newest album Boxes and Human Fog has a lot of new sounds; piano, spacey vocals, a plucking banjo? (maybe), organs… can you tell me how your music and you as an artist have changed since River Child and Act Alive?

Ross - Ha, no banjos, those are violin plucks.  Boxes is different than The River Child in lots of ways.  Its way grittier and more in your face.  I think I took more lyrical leaps and discuss some more volatile issues.  The River Child was much more pop-rock.  It’s where I was in 2007-2008, but the topics I wrestle with on Boxes just needed more raw, in your face, instrumentation and vocals. 

Topically, I was working out this issue I take with those that say God is black and white and create these boxes to define who God is, how he works, and conversely, how he can’t work.  It’s a call to arms for the revolutionary practice of grace, of a justice that isn’t anything like war or our U.S. justice system.

Me - On your new album I listened to a song called 372 Year Eclipse… what is 372 Year Eclipse?

Ross - I wrote the instrumental piece the night of an eclipse that only happens every 372 years.  I figured, “you can’t not name it that…I won’t be around again to name it that in the future!”

Me - If you were to cover any popular artist, who would it be?

Ross - That’s a tough one.  I’m a huge Beatles fan.  I really get into Radiohead.  Sting and Michael Jackson are also huge influences.  But to be honest, the only “cover” I’ve ever done was ‘Amazing Grace.’  It’s the perfect song.  It sums me up.  It’s ageless and everyone knows it, whether you call yourself a follower of Christ or now.  It’s such a gritty song.  Grace is not pretty.  I don’t like the idea of the guilty being set free, but that’s grace.  So I tried to capture that feeling. 

Me - What is the most important message you hope to convey to your listeners?

Ross - Just to think, wrestle, and embrace doubt.  I think it’s in those moments we see what we’ve been missing.  Realities are made and transformation happens.

Guest Bloggers - Kara & Molly - Ryan Adams

Pat - I’ve long considered myself to be a very inadequate/average writer, and I have no intention to change that belief.  Instead, I’ve been lobbying some of my friends (who through some peculiar geek-ish mutation, actually want to write for a living) to ‘guest-blog’ on here… the blog.  To my delight and your relief, I’ve had a breakthrough!  Avid writers, Kara and Molly, have teamed up to give ‘we readers’ some insight into the young intellectual-woman’s fandom of the captivating, Ryan Adams, who they saw this past week in Kansas City.  Do enjoy!

Ryan Adams—Kansas City Music Hall—February 1.
This was our third Ryan Adams show, and while it wasn’t our favorite (it’s hard to beat the 2008 show that converted Kara into an official Ryan Adams fan: two full sets with The Cardinals and Kara’s first beer ever), it will be one of the shows we’ve gone to together that we never stop talking about…much like 2009’s now famous drive-through-a-snowstorm-at-3 am-show of another acoustic guitar playing guy. 

Throughout the evening, Ryan Adams switched back and forth between piano and two red, white, and blue acoustic guitars. He also played a lot of sad harmonica. In the interest of disclosure, we must admit that we’d probably go along with anything Ryan Adams does because of our emotional connection to his music, and because his legs are wirey when he plays guitar, and that’s fun to watch…but…if Ryan Adams says “Hey, let’s sit in this lovely 1930s auditorium, and I’ll play chill acoustic versions of my songs,” we are SO in.
One audience member rudely shouted during the set that he was falling asleep.  Molly did find herself closing her eyes late in the set.  Arguably, this could have stemmed from driving from Omaha to Kansas City and subsequently indulging in some pre-show whiskey, but she contends that it was a result of this show being about the music.  We didn’t need to see the stage to fully enjoy what was happening. He created a connection with the audience, even with two girls wearing cute dresses and sitting way in the upper balcony (despite buying presale tickets. Can someone please explain Ticketmaster to us?). His voice was clear and powerful, resonating with emotion. After sitting through a dozen numbers spanning his career, Ryan Adams “worked the stage” (his words), transitioning with “English Girls Approximately” to a standing performance of more recognized, crowd-pleasers, such as “Two” and “Come Pick Me Up.” It was almost as if he played two sets, knowing exactly when the crowd needed the show to evolve into something else.
In addition to the quality of the music, his spontaneity and humor were refreshing. The show could have also been billed Ryan Adams Music and Comedy Hour. He wrote multiple songs on the spot, including a full-length song “My Badger” that referenced Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” and Axl Rose. He also mocked his own catalogue, saying that his songs were all “F*** me, and it’s raining,” where we expect John Cusack to enter at any moment. What would we do, he asked, if he started taking Prozac and wrote songs about buckets of kittens?  
His patience with the crowd was also a pleasant surprise. Rather than behaving like the old Ryan Adams and cutting the show short or delivering rants about casserole (Google “Ryan Adams casserole speech,” folks), he patiently handled audience comments and song requests like…well…a sober grown-up. After a man bellowed that he wanted to hear “16 Days,” Ryan Adams replied that we all must wait, that we had to eat dinner before we could have dessert.
Molly has often thought that it seemed Ryan Adams was running towards something.  Granted, she’s never sat down with him over tea and discussed this, but she figures she’s as decent an authority on the subject as any fan of her favorite artist can be.  She’s followed him through his phases— putting out albums at a frenetic pace, announcing that he was no longer a solo artist and instead a Cardinal, retiring, publishing two books of poetry, and emerging from retirement. It always seemed as if he was searching for “the right thing,” throwing himself wholeheartedly into an endeavor that held promise.  Now it seems as if he has gotten where he was running all along and is enjoying it with the fans that ran with him. And, on that note, if anyone can set up a chat over tea for us with Mr. Adams, we’d be eternally grateful.

Most Underrated Albums of Recent History

What consists of an underrated album?  What is it?  Well… it is simply my own silly and biased music ego.  I, for some reason or another, thought it was under-rated, in some aspect of the music world.  So, I’ve listened and lobbied for these albums… and to no fault of their own (except maybe everyone’s ineptitude to recognize good music when it is placed right in front OF THEIR FACE!!), they don’t enjoy the albums quite like I do – I blame no one.  Let’s get started… and let’s end at 10 and only go back 5 years, because it oddly happened that way.  Tell me yours in the comments section!

1.0   Tristen – Charlatans at the Garden Gate (2011)

I took to this album immediately after I heard it and shamelessly sent tweets and posted videos on my Facebook page - I was a social media mess.  I went to her concert at the Firebird and at the Old Rock House – both of which had annoyingly very sparse crowds.  I’ve gotten to talk with her a few times and her slow-fame has nothing to do with her, she is gorgeous, very nice, attentive, and incredibly charismatic on stage.  I am at odds why she isn’t on any top albums of 2011.  At odds.

2.0   Vive Voce – The Future Will Destroy You (2011)

This is a recent find of mine… I’m not too sure how I missed it, but Plastic Radio is easily one of my favorite songs of 2011.  The entire album reminds me a lot of another album on this list, Metric – Grow Up and Blow Away.  I think maybe the laid back indie/rock may not move people in the same way heavier indie/rock does.  But you can’t ignore the solid sound of both of these albums – they just may not strike you right away, LIKE they did to me.

3.0 Bear Hands – Burning Bush Supper Club (2010)

I actually have pushed this album on a few people with much success.  So this one isn’t as much of an under-rater, but regardless, I think this is a great album that has received little if any hype.  They opened this past year for We Were Promised Jetpacks - which, to no offence of WWPJ, is a travesty.  Great album all the way though… 

4.0 The New Pornographers – Moves (2010)

The New Pornographers have a ton of good albums; Twin Cinema, Mass Romantic, among others… and I can’t tell you much more about this album, other than I really really love it.  And because it wasn’t hailed as their best album, of which I very much disagree and tell you I love this album the most and I’ll leave it at that. 

4.5 Avett Brothers – I and Love and You (2009)

This album isn’t really on this list… so it gets only a half, and I almost put it on at the end of the list.  It isn’t really underrated, I just get the feeling that it isn’t underrated when compared to…  Well, the fact that this album gets less buzz/hype/whatever than Mumford and Sons title album just blows my mind… its no contest… in my mind… sorry… I just really love the Avett Brothers.

5.5 As Tall As Lions - You Can’t Take It with You (2009)

I started listening to this album right when it came out.  This is the album that puzzles me the most.  Cool songs, cool cover, great guys… maybe you know why they haven’t taken off?  But, I have listened to this album more over the past 3 years than any other album.  I do everything to do this album; run, sleep, laugh, cry… It is confusing to me, without an end…

6.5 Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight (2008)

This is another weird album for this list.  It got some hype from Pitchfork and most music blogs, however, I can’t figure out why they didn’t make a larger dent.  I was hoping for top 10 albums or maybe a spot at a cool half-time show… They were great live, their drummer is hilarious looking, funny lead singer… (sigh)

7.5 Panic! at the Disco – Pretty Odd (2008)

Weird choice, you are thinking?  But I think this album paints a pretty good picture of why indie music still struggles to catch on mainstream.  Panic came out with a huge first album and then attempted to do something great, of which they succeeded marvelously.  However, their fickle punk following hated it… even so that they chanted the name of the first album during the concert I attended.  We, shamelessly, chanted Pretty Odd at the same time… I was fuming.

8.5 Metric – Grow Up and Blow Away (2007)

Similar to Panic’s 2nd album, Grow Up and Blow Away strayed from Metric’s previously harder rock sound, and I guess fans didn’t catch on to how GRIPPING and BEAUTIFUL this album was and still is!!  This is one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time… and yet it is probably their least popular album…. Raw Sugar, The Twist, Grow Up - all incredibly great songs.

9.0 Radiohead – Kid A(2007)

This is another bone-picking album - probably shouldn’t be on this list either.  Here’s why it is.  Supposedly In Rainbows is the best Radiohead album of all time, and possibly Pablo HoneyOK Computer, and Amnesiac are next and then Kid A.  Kid A… in my humble opinion (deep breath) is twice as good as any other Radiohead album. 

10.0 Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future (2007)

I was actually given this album from my roommate Matt, to which I have no fear saying this was my 2nd favorite album of 2007. Kid A, 1… Myths of the Near Future, 2.  It’s weird, which I can see why it may go unnoticed, but it shouldn’t.  Golden Skans is an incredible song.

It feels good to get those off my chest… I hope you can find room in your library for these great albums… if not, I guess it’s me, not you…

Washed Out - Within and Without

Pat - I’m not sure how or when this happened, but I have found myself taken by a lot of electronic music over the past few years.  With technology thrusting forward and new sounds being introduced in music, odd genres are being created everywhere.  Now, I neither expect you to like, love, nor hate this album/genre of music - there is nothing mainstream or catchy about Washed Out. But their album, Within and Without, is the epitome of chill - hence the genre, chillwave.

Washed Out, for me, is my favorite ‘new artist’ release from 2011… for 2 out of 3 of my equally music-loving roommates, not a chance.  However, for one of them, I have entranced with the smooth beats, echoing choruses, soaring synths, mind numbing coolness… if meditation were in music form, I assume it would be this album.  So, get your mindset in the right place and go look up Washed Out, no promises, though :).

Eyes be Closed - Washed Out

What We’re Listening To: First Aid Kit & More

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Eternal night if you’re dead, 

It’s Tuesday and that means that lots of music is being officially released today even lthough the majority of music is available in some form of streaming, downloadable, pre-listen format in these technological times. Here’s a short list of what new music we are listening to here at VIVE.

First Aid Kit - The Lion’s Roar

Patrick turned me on to the folk, sister duo and I was immediately enchanted by their woodsy harmonies and haunting melodies. Their second album is out today. 

Graffiti6 - Colours

British electro pop at its finest. Chances are you’ve heard some Graffiti6 as you watched “One Tree Hill” “MTV Teen Wolf” or “VH1 Basketball Wives” (what a pedigree I know). But if you’re NOT a 14 year old girl and you haven’t heard of Graffiti6 yet, now’s your chance. It’s great for a run in the dead of winter or during that late night crunch to meet a deadline.

Hospitality - Hospitality

This group falls somewhere between First Aid Kit and Vampire Weekend and they’re a fun listen in the middle of winter. 

Expensive Looks - Dark Matters

Ethereal chants and vocals floating over psychedlic hip-hop beats are perfect for overcast and bitterly cold January days. Seriously. Try it. 

Yeah I know Nada Surf has a new album out. I’m not listening to yet, so disappointed was I last time. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, find us on Spotify, like us on Facebook, find us in the streets and sing us a song. We will listen…promise. 

Listen to this: Howler “America Give Up”

So I started to outline the best music releases from last week and this week and, with the best of intentions, I had 11 albums ready to recommend. But then something happened. One album held me captive. It handcuffed my brain, luring me in with baritone vocals, fuzzy guitars and an indie sound wrapped in dark romance. When I found out that Jordan Gatesmith is 19 and supposedly created his band Howler out of boredom, my fascination transformed into an unhealthy obsession.

Yes the band is Howler. Yes Wikipedia says Jordan created Howler out of boredom. Yes I believe it (he’s from Minneapolis, where all things created inside its borders emerge from some form of boredom). But the young man’s age and the circumstances under which he creates fall secondary to the actual music. When I was in high school, The Strokes made a promise to me (not really but I imagined they did). They promised me that there was a world of rock outside bands like Staind, Godsmack and the 4 headed Canadian beast Nickelback, a world filled with distortion and energy, a world where I belonged. The Strokes reneged on their promise a few times over but other bands have stepped in to fill the void. Most recently and most notably, Surfer Blood, Wavves and Male Bonding. 

Indie rockers rejoice! Jordan’s amplified guitar seems destined to fill the cavernous vacancies of garages and basements, fuzzy waves bouncing off of concrete and sheet rock. There is an effortlessness inherent to the distortion and Jordan’s vocal style that create a wall of sound without a driving purpose. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Howler and America Give Up is the nonchalant quality of the music. It’s a great indie rock album that doesn’t care if it is.  

Indie rock fans, open your arms and your ears to receive the wunderkind Jordan Gatesmith and his newly minted rock outfit Howler. Their debut album America Give Up is available wherever music is bought and sold (or free on Spotify!).