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Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

We'll be attending the Ghostland Observatory show tonight at Gypsy, and as far as we're concerned, that's the place to be tonight. I can't imagine a more ideal or fun band to bring in the New Year. Plus, they have the best looking groupies fans of any band I've ever seen. But, if you find yourself in Austin...



...you should definitely check out Urban Pollution's amazing lineup over at Mohawk, featuring The Blow, Evangelicals, Cari of Belaire and Jason of Voxtrot, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, and Shearwater's Jonathan Meiberg. Only 10 bucks.

The Blow Pile of Gold mp3
Shearwater White Waves mp3
Evangelicals Here Comes Trouble mp3

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jagjaguwar



If the early 2007 releases are any indication, Jagjaguwar is poised to have a pretty amazing year. Dodge just posted a great song from the new Besnard Lakes record, and I've heard great things about the upcoming Alex Delivery and Julie Doiron albums as well. The one band I wasn't aware of was Nurse & Soldier, featuring Robertson Thacher of Oneida. This song is beautiful, and has me extremely intrigued to hear the the band's upcoming Marginalia LP, out Jan. 23:

Nurse & Soldier Green Tea mp3 (highly recommended)

Each of these bands deserves their own post (which they'll evenutally get), but for now, here are a few more mp3s from upcoming releases, courtesy of Jagjaguwar:

The Besnard Lakes And You Lied To Me mp3
Julie Doiron No More mp3
Alex Delivery Komad mp3

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elsewhere:


Our friend Austin LaRoche (whom you might know as the "non-indie dude") is back with his final post of 2006, featuring his favorite things of the year (complete with mp3s!):

These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty
by: Austin LaRoche

2006 Awards and Best Of Lists!!!!!

Alright guys, part two of my year end review is going to be a lot shinier, happier, and fun than part one. I probably should have edited part one a lot more, however, the anger kinda made it work, even if all the ideas weren't fully conveyed. Oh well, what can you do? Possibly start handing out your 2006 Pretzel Awards? Good idea!

(Warning: long column, make sure you have time, I don't want anyone getting fired because I write too damn much.)

Click read more link to continue with Austin's column...


I'm not sure if it was the whole "first year out of college" thing or just a lack of my kind of music, but 2006 was kind of a down year for me. No biggie, especially when I look at everything that's coming out next year. But I will say that I continue to try and salvage 2006 by going to every blog and music media site and looking for new stuff on their "Best Of" lists. It’s hard though, because people are a lot less inclined to put up an "underdog" album as opposed to Joanna Newsom's, ya know?


Ys, enough already, let's get to the awards...

Artist of the Year



Voxtrot


Hands down, across the board, easily the best band of 2006. Two EPs of absolute perfection this year, plenty of touring, and we leave 2006 with the great possibility that 2007 will be their year as well. Look, ever since the crazy 2001 Strokes hype and the equally insane 2004 Franz Ferdinand hype, the media's strayed away from getting overly excited about an artist until they've released an LP which is deserving of that hype. I don't get excited about most bands I find on blogs because of the parity that exists in the blog world, but this band is far beyond a "blog" band.


They aren't "The Next Great Band," they are the "Great Band of the Moment." And they keep getting better, doing it on their own terms, nonetheless. They could have rushed an LP this year, but they let the songs come to them, and they released as much material as they had. 5 good songs at the moment? Throw it on an EP. Only 3 good ones a few months later? Make a single with a few B-sides. Believe me, this LP will take off next year. Assuming they release one. You never know, we may be getting phenomenal EPs for a long time to come, which is just fine by me.


Overration? Schmoveration. Appreciate their "best band no one knows about" status now, elitists, because next summer when everyone you know is singing "Your Biggest Fan," you'd at least like to give them an "I told you so," right?


And one more thing before I quit talking about my favorite band this year--why is it every time Pitchfork mentions Voxtrot they pull the whole "it's not entirely original" card? Look, we know Rameesh has a similar (wait for it) croon as Morrissey does, however, could you really say that Voxtrot sounds like The Smiths? Who else sounds remotely like Voxtrot? I'd love to know so I can pick up their stuff.


Plain and simple: Voxtrot has the ability to be as big as they want to be, whether or not they choose to conquer the world is all their decision.


Cover Song of the Year


Iron and Wine – Love Vigilantes (New Order Cover)


As I stated in my Saddest Songs Ever list, living in a time of war makes music about war a lot more intense. New Order's original version of this song does not really create the musical setting in which the lyrics call for. A song about a soldier who misses home and can't wait to see his family is something reserved for the greatness of someone like, I dunno, Sam Beam? Sam gives this song both the tempo and delivery to strengthen the passion and heartbreak intended by such beautiful lyrics. You really feel for the song's protagonist when Iron and Wine's singing. Ch-ch-ch-check it out.



The Male Underdog of the Year


Langhorne Slim


Langhorne only released an EP this year, titled Engine, but the fact that Pitchfork and the blogs aren't eating this guy up is beyond me. He sounds like Jeff Mangum singing bluegrass. Does this mean fans are just tired of Jeff Mangum singing about pirates and calling himself The Decemberists? I kid Colin Meloy. But seriously, check out Slim, he's one of the very few original artists out there, so at least go to iTunes and listen to 30 second clips of his Top 5 most purchased songs, you can make a decision from there, alright?



The Female Underdog of the Year



Sonya Cotton


I think I found her over at Scenestars sometime in the spring. Wow, what a bad ass singer/songwriter. You know how everyone loves Joanna Newsom because of how different she sounds than the other 2,486,937 singer/songwriters alive right now? Well, Cotton isn't far off the ledge like Newsom, but she's fresh and original. You'll probably have to google her (no joke intended) to learn more, but I think it's worth it in the end.



Alright, let's move on to the tracks of the year…


Top 25 Tracks of the Year


25. Destroyer – Watercolours in the Ocean

Probably would be much higher if I liked Bejar's voice a bit more.


24. Arctic Monkeys – When the Sun Goes Down

The funniest song I listened to this year.


23. Sonya Cotton – Guard Your Heart

Underdog songwriter with awesome voice


22. Loose Fur – The Ruling Class

Jeff Tweedy is cooler than everyone...and I do mean everyone


21. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy

First hip-hop song I listened to in years...that says something


20. M. WardTo Go Home mp3

Star track on a decent album.


19. Langhorne SlimRestless mp3

His voice might not be 100% Mangum, but it's Mangum-esque, and this song is great


18. The Hold Steady – Massive Nights

Picking a favorite Hold Steady song with "Whoah, Oh, Whoah" in it is tough.


17. Josh Ritter – Good Man

I like a live MP3 I got from a blog better, but great tune by a great songwriter.


16. J. TillmanMy Waking Days mp3

Not 100% this was '06, but beautiful...simply beautiful


15. Cold War Kids – We Used to Vacation

So it looks like the CWK are headed in the RollingStone/rock fans who aren't quite indie direction. I'm okay with this. These guys are great musicians, the lead singer has some amazing vocals, and they're really nice dudes. Very proud to own all EPs and their album, even if it looks like the indie crowd wants nothing to do with them. Whatever, they're great. This is the finest tune which centers on a recovering alcoholic and is sung with the passion to deliver the complexities of the life in which he lives. I'd tell you to check it out but 99% of you already own the MP3.


14. MidlakeRoscoe mp3

Funny story (and I may have already told it in another column). About two weeks after I moved to Chicago, Rachael and I drove to Youngstown, Ohio to pick up a puppy. We spent the whole ride discussing possible names for the dog and even had trouble deciding what to call him. I had been listening to this Midlake song for days upon days and couldn't get it out of my head. "What about Roscoe?" I asked. The rest is history.


13. Josh Ritter – Thin Blue Flame

You know those old Dylan songs that would go for 10 minutes, be full of religious symbolism that was way beyond your head and after listening to it you said to yourself, "that was amazing, incredibly intelligent, but I got a feeling I won't listen to it for another 6 months?" Thin Blue Flame is one of those, only not quite as smart (I still like to hold Dylan on his pedestal.)


12. Bob Dylan – Workingman's Blues #2

Another great song from another great album. I wish more people would listen to the old man and write about the social issues going on today, but I'm not going to rant about it like I did a few weeks ago. Just move on and say it's good to know a musician still cares and isn't afraid to show it through his music.


11. Two Gallants – Long Summer Day

Maybe the most disappointing album of the year. After listening to this song, I thought Two Gallants would put out a classic album, I really did. Well, I was wrong, the rest of the album was, a little, let's say boring, however, this track, about a slave who's finally had enough is truly wonderful, especially at the end where he screams, "and if I'm dead by sunrise, kiss my baby girl for me, it ain't life if it ain't free, I got a mighty burden to unload." Makes me want to kill plantation owners every time I hear it.


10. Johnny Cash – If You Could Only Read My Mind

Warning: I have three cover songs in my top ten, this being the first. When a great artist is making his "On my last leg" album and releases a song called "If You Could Only Read My Mind" as his old voice tries to make it through without cracking, you know it's a tearjerker. Maybe the most emotionally tense song I heard all year, and a very well-written tune as well, penned by the late Gordon Lightfoot.


9. Califone – The Orchids

I just found out this was a cover yesterday. I'm not really sad about it, because it's still more beautiful than 99% of the songs that were released in 2006. It sounds like the perfect song to roll across the credits of a great coming-of-age movie, there's just some sort of finality to it. Very surprised it wasn't the last track on the latest Califone record.


8. Arctic Monkeys – A Certain Romance

The soundtrack to a young British man's Saturday night. The best written and performed track by a band that was determined to define the lives in which they live, even if America just passed it off as another British post-punk act. The Monkeys, if you remember correctly, sold more records in their opening week than any other artist in British history--and this is a time where 25% of their fans already owned the album illegally through the internet. And while the American press didn't all jump aboard, I think Alex Turner and the gang explained it fine when they said, "oh it's a funny thing you know/ we'll tell 'em if you like/ We'll tell 'em all tonight/ They'll never listen/ Cause their minds are made up/ And course it's all okay to carry on that way.


7. Iron and Wine – Love Vigilantes

See Above


6. Band of HorsesGreat Salt Lake mp3

I think that Band of Horses have the potential to create an amazing album. They were pretty close their first time around, however, it was one of those "when the songs are good, they're damn good, but when they're bad, they're pretty bad" albums. Thankfully, gems like this made "Everything All the Time" exceptional. Somewhat of a rocker, you know from the opening riff that this song is something special. The progression of the song continues beautifully and before you know it, the song seems it could end any second and you just keep holding on wanting more and more. That's the sign of a great tune. And on top of that, I'm 42% sure the lead singer refers to himself as "Bennie the Rat" in this song, but unfortunately, every lyric site I've looked up has a (?) at that part in the song, so I can't be 100% sure.


5. The Hold Steady – First Night

"Boys and Girls in America..." I love the piano line in this song, just beautifully orchestrated and the standout song on an incredibly consistent and important American record. Plus, I love the names--Gideon and Solomon...hilarious. I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and I'll be damned if this doesn't take me back...not just to my adolescence, but to my days listening to Springsteen as well.


4. Band of Horses – Monsters

Very few "best tracks" list will have two songs by the same artist in the top ten (I'm about to go further in just a minute), but I can't help it. Band of Horses are simply amazing when they want to be, and Monsters is one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. I don't know if I've seen a song build and build so beautifully since the streets had no name back in the 80s. Probably the best chorus of the year, and my god, Bennie the Rat has phenomenal pipes.


3. Voxtrot – Your Biggest Fan

Your Biggest Fan is the reason I'm prescribed to Ambient. I was listening to this overly catchy tune about 20 times a day back in October and when I'd lay my head down to sleep, sure enough, it was still there. I mean, Kelly Clarkson is jealous of Voxtrot's catchiness. If you only listen to one minute of music from 2006, listen to the last minute of this song. Definitely wins "Minute of the Year." I can't say enough about this band…actually, I can...


2. VoxtrotMothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives mp3

The number one most played track on my iPod this year! Woohoo! And on top of that, my best concert story of the year. I was living in Atlanta back in early April, it was the Tuesday night that the Mothers EP officially came out. On top of that, the band was playing a show in Athens, GA, which is about a 45 minute drive from where I was living. I called up my buddy Patches, told him I was coming to town, but in return, he had to go see a band he'd never heard of that I promised would be awesome. So we walk into the venue, and I immediately want to buy the new EP from the band. I buy it and start jabbering with the guy at the desk, only to realize at the end of our ten minute conversation that he was in fact Rahmeesh, the lead singer of the band. Here comes the cool part. During our convo, I mentioned to him how Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives was my favorite song. Well, in the middle of their set, after a fine rendition of Raised by Wolves, Rahmeesh takes the mic and says, "this next one's for a fan we met earlier named Austin" and proceeded to play the best version of Mothers that they have ever played. A very cool moment. I felt like a 13 year old who had a crush on the prettiest girl in school and found out that that girl knew my name. Simply awesome. Wait a second? Are you saying I'm biased because of this? Yeah right, and Tobias Funke's a homosexual.


1. TV on the RadioWolf Like me mp3

Do you remember a few weeks ago when I admitted that during the week all I wear is an FSU hoodie and gym pants? Remember when I said if you see someone wearing this on the North side of Chicago that it was probably me? Well, if you saw someone wearing those clothes dancing to his iPod as he walked down the street, there's a good chance that this song was playing. This is one of those tunes you hear for the first time and know immediately that you'll be listening to it on repeat for the next three days. The musical creativity of TV on the Radio is incredible and this is by far their most accessible and enjoyable track. I feel like I keep seeing TV on the Radio in the second position on every "Best of" list. Not this one. Congrats boys, you've made the song of the year.




Concerts of the Year


The "Best Concert Because the Band was so Talented" Award


Wilco – Lollapalooza

Maybe I'm just a diehard Wilco fan, but being able to see the band in their hometown with about 2 million people who knew the words to every song was something really special to be apart of. Besides, it was Jeff Tweedy's anniversary and he did the whole "really sweet guy telling his wife how much he appreciates her putting up with him" routine. Those are always great.


The "I had the best time because I was listening to the band all the time when I saw them and I was a little drunk" Award


Voxtrot – Pitchfork Pre-party

Because this was Rachael's first Voxtrot show, I was pretty pumped for her. We got nice and tipsy at our place and walked down to the Metro. When Voxtrot came on, we were right up front and that perfect buzz turned into some crazy dancing. In fact, if you were at the show, you were probably making fun of us jamming out and going crazy to every song they played. You probably started throwing ice at us or something or at least making fun of how I have no rhythm whatsoever. Regardless, I can't remember having that much fun at a concert all year.



Top Three Albums I'm Sure Most People Like But I Can't Get Into

3. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale

2. The Knife – Silent Shout

1. Liars – Drums not Dead


Top Three Albums I Need to Give More of a Chance To


3. Vetiver – To Be Gone

2. Phoenix – It's Never Been Like That

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys


Enough with the bullshit awards, let's get to the big category...


Top 10 (er, 8) Albums of the Year


10. Destroyer – Destroyer's Rubies

I enjoyed it. Didn't love it, but I enjoyed it enough to make it apart of my top ten (I'm not kidding when I said 2006 and I didn't see eye to eye on music this year.)


9. Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards

It's hard to really get into an album when half the songs are from EPs you already own and the other half aren’t as good as those originals. However, this album was still better than most.


8. Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther

A conversation I had with my buddy Dave the other night. "Hey Austin, is that Midlake album any good?"


Me: It's great, just a solid soft rock album. Nothing on there will make you change your mind about the way you see the world, but definitely a good album.


Dave: Alright, because I need something to listen to while I'm studying.


Me: I think this might be the absolute perfect record for that.


7. Johnny Cash – V: A Hundred Highways

I mentioned earlier the whole "On my last leg" album concept that Warren Zevon started and Johnny Cash followed with. This is a wonderful idea, in my mind, but your heart's gotta be ready for it every time you listen, because it's so damn powerful. I don't care who wrote them, I don't care what their original intention was, as long as Cash is sitting on his musical deathbed pouring his heart out and relating these songs to his life, well, I'll be listening, and I'll be loving every word that comes out.


6. Band of Horses – Everything All the Time

Again, a few weak songs away from being a phenomenal album. It's hard to think any album with Monsters, The Funeral, and Great Salt Lake can't make the top five, but there was a slight drop off from those three songs and about three others on the album I've just gone ahead and deleted from my iPod. Keep an eye on these guys, though, what they do next could really be something special.


5. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

I’ve written how I feel about these guys way too much. I love this album, it means something somewhere else, anymore tidbits would be overkill. Done and Done.



4. Josh Ritter – The Animal Years

Before I talk about what a tremendous album this is, I have to laugh at the fact that it was Stephen King's favorite album this year. Very weird considering I don't really like anything remotely close to what King writes about, yet I love his EW column each week. Regardless, this troubadour (always wanted to use that word) Josh Ritter is extremely talented, and extremely overlooked. His album, The Animal Years, I enjoyed mildly in the daytime, but anytime I would drive around at night, it was always the perfect soundtrack. Had this album come out 30-40 years ago, it would have ended up on all those 500 Greatest Albums Ever Lists.



3. Bob Dylan – Modern Times

I ranted about this a couple weeks ago, I won't here. I'm just saying, the old man still has it.



2. TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain

I hate putting them at the number 2 position on this list. EVERYONE has them number 2. But it's true. Return to Cookie Mountain is a great enough album to be in everyone's Top 2, but not good enough to be everyone's favorite. They were one song as catchy as Wolf Like Me away from being the 2006 consensus number one. But alas, the poser that I am, they sit on number 2 for me.


Which, if you read my last column, means you already know that the number one album of the year is...




1. The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America

For a little over a year, my buddy Pat has been trying to convince me to listen to these guys. For a little over a year, I downloaded random tracks and never thought enough of them to continue researching the band…until this year. I had changed banks, which meant another go-around with eMusic and the free 50 songs on my new debit card, and this album had just opened to rave reviews and I figured "why not, I like the title." So I downloaded it, gave it a listen, and it was everything I had been looking for in music in 2006. Extremely well-written, unabashed in its ability to speak about what's going on in our country, with a ton of sing-a-long choruses in-between. The best album of the year.



Alright guys, that pretty much wraps up the musical part of this column (consistent readers know I have to get a TV and a sports thought in there before I go), but I wanted to say it's been a great 2006. After a fun weekend at the Pitchfork festival in July, I wrote a funny email to two MP3 bloggers who I really enjoy. One of them, Chris, asked if he could post it. The next week, I sent him my thoughts on Lollapalooza. The week after that, I wrote a little ditty called "The Hipster Test" and we were off from there. I used to write once a week, and I’d like to go back to it. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself to write 10,000,000 word columns instead of just a consistent, weekly column that you guys could read in-between classes or while you're surfing the internet at work. So my Pretzels New Years Resolution is consistency. I got a few column ideas in mind, such as spending time just dissecting one song or writing a column full of questions to you the reader.


Regardless, let's hope 2007 will be as great for the column as 2006 was. It should be. After all, do you realize that all of the following are supposed to release albums in '07: Shins, Bloc Party, Modest Mouse, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Arcade Fire, Voxtrot, Interpol, Spoon, Wolf Parade, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. There's some material to work with, eh?


See you guys next year.


And a two more things for the regulars...




TV Show of the YearThe Wire

There's so much so say that it's really hard to say anything about Season 4 of The Wire.

Better writing, better characters, more accurate than anything on television. There's only been two seasons of TV I've ever seen better than Season 4 of The Wire—seasons 1 and 3 of the show. The best way I can try to peak interest is to say that back in college I remember having to read a few books that were super long, incredibly hard to get through, but when it was all said and done, I felt 200 times smarter and as if I had gone through one of the greatest journeys of my life. That's how it feels to watch a season of the Wire. So just imagine how smart I feel having watched all four.


Sports Moment of the Year

If I wrote for Sports Illustrated and had to answer this question, I would probably talk either about the USC/Texas Rose Bowl or the 5-set "I won't go down" Andre Agassi tennis match at Flushing Meadows. But as a fan, and this year, as a spectator, I'm going to give it to the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. I'll never forget the feeling of sitting in the first turn, watching my horse, Barbaro make his move. Because we couldn't see the back stretch, we watched on the monitors in the infield as he began to pull away. Then we leaned our heads to watch every possible second of the race as they came around the fourth turn and storming down the stretch. No horse in the history of mankind was going to beat Barbaro that day. With one arm around my best buddy and the other one pumping wildly, I screamed until I could no longer feel my vocal chords, and before I knew it, Barbaro had crossed the finish line, followed by Bluegrass Cat. As much as I loved the $600 payout, the feeling of watching that horse pull away from the pack as he charged down the stretch was the greatest thing I saw in sports all year. I can't wait to go back to the Derby this year.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

the real intervention



"Intervention," the actual first single from the Arcade Fire's new album Neon Bible, is now available for purchase on iTunes. Muuuuch better than that crappy radio rip. It's unclear whether the above photo is the Neon Bible album art, or just the art for the single. "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" is also still available on iTunes under the title "Intervention." The real "Intervention" is 4:19 long, while "Black Wave" is 3:57. Confused yet?

p.s. Does anyone else think this wasn't a Merge screw-up at all, but rather a very clever ploy by the band (not only to generate interest in the new record, but also to raise money for and draw attention to Partners in Health)?? It just seems too coincidental that a song called "Black Wave" was released "accidentally" two days early on Dec. 26, which happens to be the anniversary of the Thailand Tsunami. Either way, I'm not complaining, as both new songs are brilliant and will undoubtedly raise tons of money for charity.

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tonight



Very good lineup tonight at the Granada here in Dallas, the highlight of which is St. Vincent. This is her last Dallas date before she heads off to tour with Jolie Holland (and one date with Stephen Malkmus.) Also, you can finally purchase St. Vincent's European tour-only Paris is Burning EP here for only $3.99.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

gorilla vs. bear presents

We are proud to announce the first gorilla vs. bear presents show of 2007, featuring three bands we love very much:



gorilla vs. bear presents...

The Early Tapes Austin
The Dimes Houston
Teenage Symphony Dallas

Friday, January 5, 2007
Club Dada
10 PM
$6

mp3:
The Early Tapes Betty and Thomas

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Thanks to Garrison Reid for hooking up the flier.

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listening man



2007's not even here yet, and we've already heard tastes of great new records from the Arcade Fire, Deerhoof, DMST, !!!, Menomena, LCD Soundsystem, Explosions in the Sky, and the list goes on. Well, you can add the Bees' (aka a Band of Bees) new LP Octopus to that bunch. I was a huge fan of their debut LP, Sunshine Hit Me, and subsequently completely ignored their follow-up, Free The Bees, for no apparent reason (is it any good?)

But like Sunshine, Octopus successfully pulls together the best elements of '60s and '70s dub, reggae, psych pop, and perhaps most impressively, vintage soul. Derivative, probably, but when it sounds as authentic as "Listening Man," I'll take it. Highly recommended:

The Bees Listening Man mp3

You can download the first single from Octopus, "Left Foot Stepdown," now from iTunes.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

oops: more new arcade fire


the Arcade Fire's "Intervention"

So if you head over to iTunes with the intention of buying the new Arcade Fire single "Intervention," what you'll really get is the track that follows from Neon Bible, "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations", and it is huge, dark, urgent, and absolutely amazing. Regine takes the first half:

We can reach the sea
they won't follow me
shadows, they fear the sun
we'll make it if we run


and Win comes in at about the 1:40 mark:

Stop now before it's too late
Eating in the ghetto on a hundred dollar plate
Nothing lasts forever that's the way it's gotta be
There's a great black wave in the middle of the sea
for me/for you


According to Win Butler:

"Intervention was supposed to be uploaded to iTunes as a charity single benefiting Partners in Health on the 28th of December, but someone at Merge uploaded the wrong song 2 days early. The song that people have downloaded from the US side of iTunes is called Black Wave/Bad Vibrations, and it is the next track on the record after Intervention...

The whole thing sounds a little fishy, and then Win adds some cryptic stuff that is even more likely to be complete bullshit, including:

"That is why we leaked over 100 songs on myspace as fake band names over the last year and made a compilation of the 11 most popular songs and called it Neon Bible!"

Read Win's full message at arcadefire.com. Then go to iTunes and purchase the song, as it's likely the best 99 cents I've ever spent. Thanks to the Torture Garden and Deaf Indie Elephants for the tip.

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you, you're awesome



The new Do Make Say Think album, You, You're A History In Rust, will be released in February 2007, and I can't say enough good things about it. I was really turned onto these guys when I saw them open for (and nearly upstage) Broken Social Scene earlier this year. The new record features the band's signature swirling, non-linear instrumental post-rock, but they also get guest vocals from members of Akron/Family, which sounds exactly how you might expect. The label says the song A With Living "will surprise hardcore DMST followers" with its "full-on verse-chorus-verse singing that builds towards lovely massed vocals before breaking down again into a beautiful modal horn denouement." I'm not a hardcore DMST follower, but the song is amazing and alone makes the album worth purchasing. With that said, I'm going to post a different one. Here's the shortest track on the album:

Do Make Say Think You, You're Awesome mp3

The simplistic and starkly gorgeous album cover (pictured above) is an early contender for the best album art of 2007. I will unquestionably be purchasing You, You're A History In Rust on vinyl, featuring DMM mastering at Abbey Road and pressed on 180g virgin vinyl, with the LP gatefold cut from whiteboard and offset printed in full-color.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

new !!!


!!!'s Myth Takes

Sorry for the lack of posting around here lately, but I did want to mention a couple new records that have been getting constant spin as I drive around fighting holiday traffic trying to complete my X-mas shopping. I'm a little surprised at how much I'm loving the new !!! record Myth Takes, out in March on Warp. I mean I've always enjoyed the stray !!! song here or there in the right setting (ie, surrounded by sweaty dancing hipster girls) but this record is thoroughly enjoyable even while driving around mall parking garages for hours on end. Try it!

mp3:
!!! Break in Case of Anything

Dreams of Horses has the equally enjoyable title track from Myth Takes.

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elsewhere:

Don't forget, the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon starts at 8 eastern on TBS.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

various best of 2006

Here's our final year-end wrap up, made up of the various "Bests of" that we feel are worth mentioning. Not technically a list, but still fun to do. Thanks for reading our often misguided, ill-conceived, and ridiculous ramblings this year. We had fun writing them. Happy holidays. (oh and thanks to everyone who voted for us in Stereogum's Gummy Awards!)

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Favorite EP: Sparrow House Falls

Jared Van Fleet's aptly titled Falls EP is a deceptively complex collection of beautiful pop songs. The best compliment I can pay Falls is that everyone I played it for ended up falling in love with it. And I do mean everyone.

Runners up:

Tacks, The Boy Disaster Oh, Beatrice
Dirty Projectors New Attitude

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Favorite Remix: We Share Our Mothers Health (Ratatat Remix) mp3

Runners up:

Diplo Vans til Infinity mp3
Peter Bjorn & John Young Folks (Punks Jump Up Special Disco Mix)

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Favorite Music Festival: Pitchfork Music Festival

This festival had it all. The Biz-3 tent was like a non-stop house party (Diplo, CSS, Spank Rock, etc.), while the main stages featured incredible sets from Destroyer, Liars, Tapes 'n Tapes, Band of Horses, Man Man, and more. But it was Os Mutantes' festival-closing set that made this event unforgettable. We'll be back next year.

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Favorite New Artist: (tie) St. Vincent and White Denim

We've probably said enough about both of these artists this year, especially considering that neither has actually officially released anything yet. But with both artists' debut releases due next year, we're extremely excited to see what 2007 has in store for them.

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Favorite Music Video:



Runners Up:

TV on the Radio "Wolf Like Me" (youtube)
CSS "Alala" (youtube)
Peter and the Wolf "Lightness" (youtube)
Hot Chip "Over & Over" (youtube)


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Favorite TV Show: Wonder Showzen

Fuck, if you've seen the full "Horse Apples" episode, you know what I'm talking about. Cross, Oldham, Galifianakis, and crew created what is possibly unquestionably the most offensive half-hour of television in the history of basic cable. If you haven't seen it, buy the DVD today.



Runner up: The Wire


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Favorite Film: The Departed

In a relatively weak year in cinema, The Departed was the only film that really wowed me. The main criticism this movie received was focused mostly on the cartoonish "Nicholson-ness" of Nicholson's character, but that was part of the appeal to me. I'm not a a huge fan of DiCaprio or Damon, but both of their performances were genius. Scorsese should finally get his Oscar with this, his best work in I don't know how long.

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Favorite Viral Video: "Little Superstar"

So much great stuff on YouTube this year, including inexplicable slips of the tongue, adorably foul-mouthed kids, mythological midgets in the hood, and probably a bunch we didn't even see (enlighten us). But this is hands down the most intoxicating, bizarre, and let's face it, plain awesome YouTube video of the year. You've likely seen it by now, but if not, ladies and gentleman, meet Little Superstar:

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history song



Brand new track from Damon Albarn's latest project, The Good, The Bad, & The Queen, which features Paul Simonon of the Clash on bass and production by DangerMouse.

The Good, The Bad, & The Queen History Song mp3

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

new talkdemonic


talkdemonic

One album that I think was unfortunately overlooked in '06 was instrumental duo Talkdemonic's Beat Romantic, a collection of some of the warmest, most emotionally affecting and organic-sounding instrumental music (programmed beats and sampled sounds combined with live instrumentation to create what the band calls "folktronic hop") I heard this year. Well, after taking a brief hiatus due to member Lisa Molinaro's new gig as a touring member of The Decemberists, Talkdemonic are ready to begin touring/recording again. In fact, the band has recorded (at least) two songs that will likely end up on the next full-length:

Talkdemonic Ending the Orange Glow mp3
Talkdemonic Recorder (demo) mp3

Talkdemonic has toured with the likes of the Walkmen, CYHSY, and the National, and will start the New Year with this string of West Coast dates. You should see them live because I hear their drummer is the best thing ever:

1/11: Crocodile Cafe, Seattle
1/12: Doug Fir, Portland
1/14: Spaceland, Los Angeles
1/15: Casbah, San Diego
1/17: Cafe du Nord, San Francisco
1/18: Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene

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a christmas gift from barsuk records



So today we got a nice bag of Christmas candy in the mail from Barsuk, which our puppy proceeded to eat as soon as we turned our backs. Shit. But luckily, Barsuk also included a copy of the previously unreleased Songwriters Show album, recorded in Seattle in April of 2005, and featuring Ben Gibbard, John Roderick, Jesse Sykes, John Vanderslice, and Matthew Caws of Nada Surf. Here's a song from that night by the Long Winters' John Roderick, which would later appear in various incarnations on both the Ultimatum EP and the band's 2006 LP, Putting The Days To Bed:

John Roderick Ultimatum (live) mp3

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

not a problem


the black lips

More bands should record their albums in Tijuana. We frequented the endearingly scary border town probably more than we should have while attending school in San Diego, and we'll always hold our (somewhat hazy) memories of the place close to our heart. But the fact that it was recorded live in TJ is only part of the reason we love this new Black Lips song, which would not sound at all out of place on the Nuggets comp. Taken from the band's Vice debut, Los Valentes del Mundo Nuevo, "Not a Problem" contains many of the elements I love about '60s surf/psych garage rock. The album also features an enhanced CD with live footage, including "interviews, pills, tacos, hookers, Mexicans, tequila, and a donkey painted like a zebra" so that's a plus, too.

Black Lips Not a Problem mp3

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surf's up

To combat the dearth of new music that always plagues this time of year, we've decided to revisit some of our favorite old/lost records for the rest of this week. Up first is the Beach Boys' lost 1967 classic SMiLE, which of course was resurrected by Brian Wilson and released as a solo album in 2004.

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Dubbed a "Teenage Symphony To God" by Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys' SMiLE is widely considered the greatest album that never was. Wilson and Van Dyke Parks were so ridiculously far ahead of their time with this one, and the pair firmly believed that SMiLE was their chance to outdo Sgt. Peppers. The album was ultimately shelved because the other Beach Boys "felt the new music was too weird, too complicated, couldn't be replicated live." Here's "Surf's Up," the best song from SMiLE and arguably one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded. I've also included the legendary Brian Wilson solo piano version, recorded during a Leonard Bernstein TV special, in all its lo-fi glory:

mp3:
Beach Boys Surf's Up (1967)
Brian Wilson Surf's Up (solo piano version)

Here's the Surf's Up video, taken from the Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and The Story of Smile DVD:



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elsewhere:

P-Fork agrees with us that Silent Shout is the best album of 2006.

Tapes 'n Tapes robbed in Australia. This is getting ridiculous.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

a charlie brown christmas



Thanks to Aquarium Drunkard for pointing out that the brand new reissue of Vince Guaraldi's classic A Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite holiday album of all time) is now available for download on eMusic. We watched the TV special last night and were reminded just how warm and nostalgic (in a good way) Guaraldi's soundtrack makes us feel every holiday season. The reissue comes complete with 4 bonus tracks, and we can't recommend it enough for your holiday listening needs. Download it now with your 25 Free Download Trial offer.

Vince Guaraldi Trio Linus and Lucy mp3

related: Parent mad 6-year-old didn't like Peanuts special

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If you need help using the rest of your 25 free downloads, we recommend our favorite EP of 2006, Sparrow House's Falls, also brand new on eMusic.

Sparrow House When I Am Gone mp3


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elsewhere:

Beautiful photos/review of Peter and the Wolf's Salt Lake City show.

After the jump, we take issue with an article that appeared in the Calendar Live section of Sunday morning's LA Times. The article, entitled "Buzz Vertigo," addresses the issue of the "non-stop spin cycle" of pop music's "blog hype machine." There are some specific quotes from the article that we have a problem with, but before you read on, I'll let you know that most of you probably won't care about this. Further, I'm a little under the weather, so I'll warn you now that this little rant will likely be disjointed, uneven, and probably even boring. So don't tell me about it in the comments, k? Continue reading...

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"Bands such as Birdmonster, Cold War Kids and Sound Team are relentlessly marketed to bloggers, just this never-ending stream of e-mails from flacks. It's depressing that all you need to catch on among the newer MP3 blogs is to barrage them with PR emails."
--Matthew Perpetua, Fluxblog

Okay, I like Fluxblog, he's a nice guy and he runs a truly great blog and all that, but this irks me to no end. The blanket insinuation made by Perpetua that all "newer mp3 blogs" are PR lackeys is insulting, not only to the newer bloggers, but to anyone who reads them and might actually like Birdmonster, Cold War Kids, and Sound Team. Yeah, we get it, Perpetua's a pioneer, he invented the internet, his is the only opinion that matters, whatever. But his comments reek of someone trying to assert his relative importance and relevance over people he thinks he's smarter than. Also, he's been known to get irritatingly smug and even gleeful when a band he deems "uncool" gets a low Pitchfork rating, so take that for what it's worth.

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"Are blogs really an independent medium to express a voice? It's hard to know what's genuine, or what is being paid for."
--anonymous publicist

"But bloggers don't always mention the extent to which they are comped and courted. About two years ago, I started noticing quotes from blogs on publicity one-sheets. All of a sudden, indie labels were like, 'This is our press.'"--Glenn Peoples of Coolfer

There's a real simple remedy to this one: if at any point you suspect that a blogger is allowing anything other than personal taste to dictate their content, stop reading their blog. I can only speak for myself, but I'll admit that it can be frustrating when my enthusiasm or love for a band is misinterpreted. I'm never intentionally attempting to generate superficial "buzz" for what I write about on this blog, or in any way trying to establish myself as some kind of tastemaker, and I would wager that most bloggers feel the same way. If at any point you feel my (or any other blogger's) enthusiasm is manufactured or somehow insincere, please stop reading.

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"At one time you had Creem and Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone; now you have MySpace and Pitchfork and blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear..."
--Andy Slater, President of Capitol Records

Sorry, had to throw this one in there. Because we all know that I started this blog so that I would one day be name-checked by the President of Capitol Records. How else to explain the incessant posts about the Detroit Tigers or that time I live-blogged the Pistons playoff run?

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Friday, December 15, 2006

we shot jr

Tonight:



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also:

Shapes and Sizes play at the Cavern.

Shapes and Sizes Island's Gone Bad mp3

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new voxtrot demo



Voxtrot frontman Ramesh Srinastava (aka the Voxtrot Kid) reports that the band has entered the studio and is preparing to record their debut full-length, due sometime next year. Ramesh also hooked us up with a stripped-down version of what is quickly becoming my favorite Voxtrot song, "Sway." Gone are Jared Van Fleet's elaborate and gorgeous string arrangements, leaving behind the delicate piano line and Ramesh's fragile vocals.

Voxtrot Sway (demo version) mp3

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shows of 2006

We were lucky enough to see a ridiculous number of amazing shows this year, so it was a daunting task to narrow it down to a top 14, but we did it anyway. Because again, I'd like to reiterate, lists = fun. Anyway, we ended up leaving off a bunch of memorable performances (notably, the Flaming Lips with Peaches at SXSW, Band of Horses, Sunset Rubdown, Os Mutantes at the P-fork fest, MF Doom, Cat Power's ACL taping, Spoon, etc.) that just didn't resonate with us like these. In the end, these were the shows that stuck with us.

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gorilla vs. bear's favorite shows of 2006



14. Ghostland Observatory: ACL Festival
(original post)



13. Beck's surprise "Beck Jam": Gypsy Tearoom (Dallas, TX)
(original post)

love is all

12. Love Is All: SXSW '06
(original post)



11. TV on the Radio + Celebration: Gypsy Tearoom (Dallas, TX)
(original post)



10. Beach House: Amsterdam Bar (Dallas, TX)
I had never been to the Amsterdam Bar before and, in fact, I wasn't even aware it was a venue. The fall was in full strength. The band and audience spent the night in coats with the colorful bulbs overhead creating an amazing experience. The band's chemistry was evident, and the tones of the record were well suited for keeping us warm on the brisk Texas night. (original post)




9. gorilla vs. bear showcase: The Cavern (Dallas, TX)
Possibly the most memorable show on my list, for numerous reasons. We worked really hard, in retrospect, to put this thing together, and the night couldn't have been more perfect, from the amazing bands to the enthusiastic packed house. The bill was a serious fantasy and the performances only made it reality. The only thing keeping this from being much higher on the list is the fact that the whole night is sort of a blur to me at this point. (original post)



8. CSS: Pitchfork Festival (Chicago, IL)
The most electric set I saw at the all-around-stellar P-fork Fest, it was nearly impossible to leave the Biz-3 tent not completely drenched in sweat (most of it your own, some of it Lovefoxxx's). From the stagediving and bizarre stage antics, CSS' performance was equal to a house party at its very peak. (original post)



7. St. Vincent + Peter and the Wolf: SXSW '06
By far the most goosebump-inducing show of the year. Red's loft (of all hundred or so venues) housed the best show of the entire festival. The furniture-less apartment forced audience members to sit on the ground; it was like a campfire performance set inside. Seeing Annie live, especially in a context so intimate, will solidify anyone's interest for her music and performance style. (original post)



6. Joanna Newsom: The Parish (Austin, TX)
This show was extremely different than the show we saw earlier this week in OK. Far more intimate and personal, and benefitting from the buzz of being a last-minute "secret" show, Joanna and her harp had the packed house captivated for the extent of the evening. (original post)



5. Sufjan Stevens: Paramount Theater (Austin, TX)
The second night (of three) in the same week I'd seen Sufjan, and this performance topped the previous. He is such a magnetic performer; often telling stories of song origins that might be just as fictional as the songs themselves, your attention has no possiblity of being divided. And the performance of "Majesty, Snowbird" that night was one of the best things I heard all year. (original post)



4. The Polyphonic Spree: Emo's (Austin, TX)
There was a point during this performance, and I'm not exaggerating, when I thought Emo's ramshackle outside ceiling was going to collapse from the dynamic power and energy created from a band connecting with its audience. When the band launched into their soaring cover of "Lithium," the place was literally shaking from its foundation. (original post)



3. Sufjan Stevens + The Raconteurs: ACL Taping
I'm not ashamed to admit that this show was about the unique experience as much as anything. In fact, I watched Sufjan's performance on PBS recently, and it wasn't nearly the grand spectacle that I remember. Perhaps I was overwhelmed with how surreal it was to see Jack White and Sufjan perform from about 10 feet away, with (multiple) cameras rolling. (original post)



2. Sigur Ros: Bass Performance Hall (Fort Worth, TX)
After leaving this show, the car was quiet. At the risk of sounding cheesy, Sigur Ros inspires their audience and after leaving their show, you realize this and reflect. It's nearly frustrating how tranced you are watching this band, and it was the most thoroughly visceral musical experience of the year for me. Their massive tones ricocheted around this beautiful venue, leaving everyone in awe. (original post)



1. Joanna Newsom: Meachum Auditorium (Norman, OK)
This show had a couple things working against it: it was in Oklahoma, the auditorium reminded me of my middle school auditorium, and we'd just driven 3 hours to get there. But once in our seats, all those issues quickly dissolved. Ys took on new life as the record's beautiful orchestration was matched perfectly by the minimized 5-piece. When listening to the record, the squeaks in her voice seem like mild flaws instead of what they are -- as this show proved -- distinct, highly-controlled and intentional vocal characteristics. Again, this show was like witnessing a master work at their craft, and thankfully, share the process with you. (original post)

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

new Arcade Fire

Call 1-866-NEON-BIBLE ext. 7777 to hear the new Arcade Fire song, "Intervention." The message was sent (sort of) through a cryptic spam-looking email from a dude named F. Murray Conscription. Here's a snippet:

Subject : is it ne0n Bi*ble? She likes it

You and her both are looking for NE0N BIB*LE; Revolutionary safe new Program really works. Count on Time to work it out. *wink* *wink*

1-866-NEON-BIBLE ext. 7777


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p.s. I've had the live version of "Intervention" for quite a while, and the studio version is everything I'd hoped and more. The power of those church organs is something. Here's the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic live version:

mp3:
The Arcade Fire Intervention (live on KCRW)

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prelude for time feelers


Eluvium

We're diligently working to get our "Top Shows of 2006" list up sometime today, but in the meantime, here's a beautiful new track from the forthcoming Eluvium record, Copia, out Feb. 20, 2007. That'll be a big day for Temporary Residence, as the new Explosions In The Sky album is released the same day:

Eluvium Prelude for Time Feelers mp3

bonus:

Explosions In The Sky Welcome, Ghosts mp3

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elsewhere:

Possibly my favorite Top Albums list thus far (besides my own, of course): Prefix's Top 50 Albums of the Year.

Holy Fuck, who begin mixing their new record with Broken Social Scene's Dave Neufeld next week, have made a couple of new live songs and other various rarities available for download here.

If you didn't win our Beck contest, Dodge is offering a second chance.

Bill Baird of Sound Team stopped by our SIRIUS Blog Radio show last night, and played some beautiful stuff from his new solo release(s). View the entire playlist from last night's show after the jump...


gorilla vs. bear SIRIUS Blog Radio playlist:

1. RJD2--1976
2. Ghostface--Block Rock
3. Clipse--Ride Around Shining
4. Pase Rock--Lindsay Lohan's Revenge
5. The Knife vs. The Pack--You Make Me Like Vans (hoop dreams mashup)
6. Menomena--Muscle n' Flo
7. Tacks, the Boy Disaster--Frozen Feet
8. Beck--Cell Phone's Dead
9. White Denim--Wet Sand
10. St. Vincent--Now Now
11. Shapes & Sizes--the taste in my mouth
12. Susan Christie--Paint A Lady
13. Marissa Nadler--Diamond Heart
14. Karen Dalton--Same Old Man
15. Ola Podrida--Instead
16. The Early Tapes--Betty and Thomas
17. Bill Baird--Dear friend (collapsing dominos)

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Bill Baird of Sound Team: Live on SIRIUS

18. Bill Baird--New York Love (live on SIRIUS) mp3
19. Bill Baird--Sunset's Bathtime (live on SIRIUS) mp3
20. Bill Baird--Your Eyes Are Mirrors (live on SIRIUS) mp3

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21. Grizzly Bear--Colorado
22. Beach House--Lovelier Girl
23. Panda Bear--Bro's
24. The Knife--Reindeer
25. Sufjan Stevens--Get Behind Me Santa!
26. Darlene Love--Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

new Apostle of Hustle



Tripwire informs us that Apostle of Hustle (who put on one of the best shows we saw at SXSW '05) are back with a track from their upcoming album, National Anthem Of Nowhere, due out in March. Apostle of Hustle, who happen to have one of the coolest band names ever, is one of the many Broken Social Scene-related bands on Arts & Crafts.

Apostle of Hustle My Sword Hand's Anger mp3

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Also:



P-fork is quickly turning into the "best mp3 blog that won't admit that they're turning into an mp3 blog". Today's offerings include a Japan-only bonus track from Grizzly Bear's Yellow House, and the Knife's holiday offering that we told you about last week.

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beck contest winner and SIRIUS



Our Beck Contest Winner, as chosen by Ms. Beck Wheeler herself, is Santorio Santorio. You have been emailed, sir.

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also:



Tonight on our SIRIUS show:

Bill Baird of Sound Team will stop by to play a few songs (with Nathan of the Early Tapes/Tacks, the Boy Disaster) and talk about his current solo tour.

Bill Baird My Woman Hates My Guts mp3

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

lon gisland

Beirut's new EP Lon Gisland (the first Beirut release with Zach Condon and his full band) will be released on January 30, 2007. However, it was released today for your downloading convenience exclusively on eMusic. Here's the album's lead track, which eMusic is offering as a free download:



mp3:
Beirut Elephant Gun

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track listing for Lon Gisland:

1. Elephant Gun
2. My Family's Role in the World Revolution
3. Scenic World
4. The Long Island Sound
5. Carousels

Download the whole EP here for free with your 25 Free Download Trial offer. We also recommend picking up the Dipset X-Mas album while you're there.

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Joanna Newsom: Live in Oklahoma



I decided somewhere around 2 a.m., on the drive back to Dallas from Norman, OK, that last night's Joanna Newsom show at Meachum Auditorium was hands down the best show I've seen all year. I'll elaborate when I post my "Best Shows of 2006" list later this week, but a quick recap: Joanna played Ys in its entirety, and her 5-piece band did a remarkable job of interpreting the lush and elaborate orchestration present on the record. She began the show alone on her harp, and I shot this video of Ms. Newsom singing what she identified only as "an old Scottish song." (I believe the song is a traditional Scottish hymn entitled "Ca' the Yowes") Breathtaking song, and it may even appeal to those of you who can't get into Joanna's unique voice:




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Normally we wouldn't post so many similar photos, but when the photos are Joanna Newsom, we make exceptions. Click for larger image:






view more photos after the jump...








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