ear orgasm

the first great album of 2007 is here. get it now, kids.

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January 25, 2007 at 6:30 am 1 comment

best of ’06

To anyone who actually kept up with b-sides, i sincerely apologize for the lack of posts. I really just haven’t had time to keep up with everything at school and still blog at the same time, but my first semester at Cal is finally coming to a close, and what a wild ride it’s been. I wasn’t able to go to as many shows as i hoped, but I still managed to catch Sufjan at Zellerbach and Mates of State and Voxtrot in the city. Here’s to hoping for more next year. Anyways, I guess I’m here to do my annual top 10, but for once, it probably won’t match the top 10 lists over at Metacritic or Pitchfork. I simply haven’t had time to keep up with reviews, so don’t flame me if you dont see M. Ward or Bonnie “Prince” Billy on this list (you won’t). I’ll get around to them eventually and I’ll abridge this as I see fit. Anyways, without further ado, Albert’s top 10 of 2006:


10. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

OK, so they’re a bit overhyped and they do get kind of tedious to listen to after the 1000th spin, but there is no denying that they put out one of the most energetic rock albums of this year. They hit hard and fast, and they’re so damn catchy. There’s a reason that this album became the fastest selling rock album in British history. (And yes, that means they beat the Beatles.)


9. Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV

Put in the best of Kasabian and the Kaiser Chiefs into a blender, throw in some good ol’ rage and frustration, and you get Hard-Fi. Hard-Fi captured perfectly the angst of growing up in suburban England with their snappy lyrics and finger-licking good synth beats.


8. The Album Leaf – Into the Blue

In a year with forgettable post-rock albums and merely ok trip hop records, The Album Leaf got it right. The subtle bleeps and bloops drifting over the huanting melodies are at once poignant, beautiful, and absolutely riveting.


7. Mates of State – Bring it Back

Maybe I’m a bit biased, because I really didn’t give this album a chance until I saw them live, where they put on one of the best shows I have ever seen. Regardless, this Nor Cal duo’s trippy hooks and fun beats shouldn’t be missed. Their fourth album sounds fuller, richer, and catchier than their previous ones, making for a complete and utterly enjoyable listening experience.


6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones

I’m a bit afraid to admit that I didn’t like Fever to Tell, out of fear that I might be jumped by a raving band of indie-hipsters, but it’s true. For some reason, the YYYs previous album seemed inaccessible to me, and I couldn’t deal with Karen O’s jittery voice. Somehow, all of that has changed, and in my opinion, Show Your Bones trumps Fever to Tell in every possible way. Perhaps it’s the fact that they sound more mature and laid back. Regardless, this is one damn good album.


5. Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, and Wives/Raised by Wolves

Alright, Voxtrot didn’t release a full album this year, but they released two awesome EPs, three including Your Biggest Fan. One listen is enough to convince anyone that they may be the hottest indie band from Texas since Spoon. I was almost convinced that they sounded just like a band I would’ve gone to school with (this is a good thing).


4. Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/LoveSounds

Please, hold the laughter until I’m done. JT’s newest album happens to be one of the finest incarnations of modern pop I have ever heard. The wicked synth beats are enough to lose yourself in, and Timberland has truely outdone himself in producing this album. Some have compared this album to Prince and Michael Jackson, and i must say, those comparisons aren’t unwarranted. I have no idea what the album title means, but i do know one thing: this album is hot.


3. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere

Really, what more needs to be said? We’ve all heard Crazy 1,239,324,294 times. DangerMouse has done it again – another fresh and impeccable album.


2. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife

How often does an indie band jump to a major record label and put out their best album yet? Almost never, but the Decemberists have managed to do it. Theming the album from a Japanese folk tale, the Decemberists have managed to take their sound to the mainstream with stunning success, albiet with a few less pirate hooks. Hopefully this album will draw some well deserved critical acclaim and a few more fans.


1. Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

I’m sure I’m going to get more than a couple protests for this one, but I don’t think I had as much fun with an album this year than with this one. Snappy and catchy as ever, Belle and Sebastian roll on with their 7th album. Even after so long, Belle and Sebastian manage to stay fresh, blending their retro ’60s pop influences with candy coated pop perfection.

Honorable Mention:
Asobi Seksu – Citrus
Ratatat – Classics
Junior Boys – So This is Goodbye
Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia…
Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Flaming Lips – At War With the Mystics

Bomb of the Year:
The Killers – Sam’s Town
This one was tough… the year was filled with what I thought were merely mediocre albums, but I think this one topped them all just because Brandon Flowers claimed that this was “the best album of the past 20 years”. It isn’t.

December 18, 2006 at 10:00 pm 1 comment

still out-coldplaying the competition

Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

I will be honest, I didn't really know what to expect from this album. Their last release, Final Straw, was a brilliant album that made my top 10 for 2004. I was hooked by its lush anthems, and I believe I called them, "the band that out-coldplays Coldplay." Well, for Eyes Open, you can throw those Coldplay comparisons out the window. I mean that in a good way.

Snow Patrol has embraced a mainstream approach on the new album. Gone is the quiet procession of chords, replaced by a much more bombastic attitude. Think of Goo-Goo Dolls meets Britpop. Again, I mean this in a good way. Fans of Final Straw may find the new sound rather startling, but give the album some time. You will thank me later.

May 21, 2006 at 4:38 am 3 comments

knocked off my feet

spinto

the spinto band – nice and nicely done

it's rare nowadays that i'm caught off guard when it comes to awesome bands, but that's exactly what happend when i first heard the spinto band. they kinda sound like a poppy we might be giants, without the insanely jerky vocals. i should be studying calculus, so i'll just a hijack a review from amazon. he probably says it better than i could anyways.

"Nice and Nicely done is that perfect mid ninties indie album you never heard because it came out ten years later. Catchy hooks, smart choruses and a marching rhythm section lead you through a world of backyard gnomes, WB reruns, and of course, Atari. Utilizing two main singers, Nick Krill and Thomas Hiughes (who play guitar and bass respectivly), and led by Krill's Stephen Malkumus style vocals, the Spinto Band deftly manuever the indie rock totem pole without ever getting stuck in the same place. Oh Mandy, a beautiful mandolin driven tribute perfectly captures the bands irresitably poppy sound, while current single "Direct to Helmet" jitters its way into your brain thanks to Jeff Hobsons impecable marching drum beat, Hughes' matching bassline, and group harmonys that would make even Brian Wilson crack a smile. Forget Pavement reissues, catch it before the hype and see a band that is right now making music to live by. Nice and Nicely done does not disappoint."

sample track below. check it out.

the spinto band – oh mandy

March 29, 2006 at 4:43 am Leave a comment

i’ve got a hole in my pocket

hard-fi – stars of the cctv

so i was flipping through channels last night and i caught hard-fi playing on jimmy kimmel. i’m seriously impressed with the music on late night shows now. i remember discovering death from above 1979 and kaiser chiefs on late night tv too. anyways, hard-fi has been a band i’ve wanted to check out for a while now. they were a finalist on the mercury prize shortlist, and after listening to stars of the cctv, it’s obvious that the nomination was well deserved. they are easily one of the most energetic bands i have heard this year. with smart lyrics and heavy synth, they will probably attract many comparisons to the kaiser chiefs and kasabian, both of which are not without merit. they’re already huge in england, and judging by the kasier chiefs’ sucess last year, i won’t be suprised if they start making waves on this side of the pond as well.

hard-fi – cash machine
hard-fi – hard to beat

March 17, 2006 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

i need a time machine

so school is getting pretty hectic with graduation around the corner. i’m thinking about getting a job as a deejay for the college radio station next year. we’ll see how that goes. for those who may have the time to go, SWSX (south by southwest) is being hosted in austin this year. i think it’s the 20th anniversary and there’s something like 1600 bands playing. once again, i am stuck here. PISD always manages to have spring break the week before SWSX. mark my words, i will be going to ACL this year! it will happen! anyways, i promise i’ll leave a full post soon. in the meantime, i’ll just leave a little playlist of what i’m listening to this month.

doves – the last broadcast
beck – sea change
hard-fi – stars of the cctv
maximo park – a certain trigger
antony and the johnsons – i am a bird now
the magic numbers – self titled album
death from above 1979 – romance bloody romance

March 16, 2006 at 6:56 am 1 comment

guilty pleasure

embrace – out of nothing

the first thing i will admit: there is nothing groundbreaking here. if you're looking for the cutting edge or if you're an indie hipster who scoffs at listening to albums more than 3 months old, embrace is not your cup of tea.

i am a sucker for all things british. even a decade after their releases, oasis and radiohead still top my playlists. embrace takes the tried and true and perfects it. it may be a bit formulaic, but boy does it sound good. add a touch of melancholy, anthemic riffs and ballads, and slow, deliberate drumming, and you get out of nothing. coldplay, take note. this is what britpop is supposed to sound like.

embrace – ashes

February 25, 2006 at 7:26 am 1 comment

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