Monday, December 27, 2010

Songs Of The Year.

Album and song lists start surfacing a the beginning of the month but that doesn't work for me. I don't listen to music full time, only my favorite artists full time. I need the month of December to get through some of those albums I missed or didn't give enough time to. In fact, that alone doesn't really work which has altered my ranking. Last year I didn't include several albums that I should have. The issue was that I didn't get into said albums until after the new year. Take The Antlers, a wonderful band. I didn't listen to Hospice at all despite its place on many top 10 lists after the 09 music year. But when I saw them open for Editors I was blown away. I knew they would be good but not THAT good. I bought the CD and a T-shirt that night. Amazing album that I never gave love to. With that said not only do I accept that I'm no authority on music but that I am not even a true music generalist. I like what I like and spend perhaps too much time liking what I like! Its impossible for me to have a top 50 album list because I don't listen to 50 albums in a year. However, in defense I attempt to listen to lots and my shallow filter only allows so much through so what does make it tends to be very good, at least in my opinion. So here goes my favorite songs of 2010 (that I heard) From 20- 5 have no real order, they can change based on the day or mood. They are just great songs that differ greatly but result in the same end - joy.  From 5 -1 is as accurate as I can manage. The only certainty here is number 1. My favorite track of the year won't be touched and has immediately entered my top 10 tracks of all time. Albums will follow but for now, here are the tunes that touched me during this very dull year. I didn't duplicate any artists, that would have resulted in 20 songs by 6 or 7 different groups/singers!

20. The Drums - I Felt Stupid
- this song was on heavy rotation this summer. uplifting and a throw back to the 80's sound I love.
19. Arcade Fire -  Ready To Start
- maybe my fav song on the album but Sprawl II comes very close. Great melody, lyrics, and full of energy.
18. Warpaint - Composure
- The change after the intro is like Warpaints very own Paranoid Android. Hauntingly beautiful. 
17. Underworld - Scribble
- I love my melodic techno (even if this sounds more drum and bass) and this track was a constant through many workouts this year.
16. Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill
- Best song on Plastic Beach. Damon Albarn has one of the best voices in modern music and this song oozes happiness. A joy to listen to.
15. Superpitcher - Joanna
- Piano driven house music. Nothing big sounding, just a lovely melody that brought me back to 1995 and a hands in the air dancefloor. 
14. Stars - The Passanger
I love the way Amy and Torq bounce lyrics off each other. This is my fav from their new album.
13. Chemical Brothers - Swoon
- Tom and Ed, putting out masterpiece music for years. They transcend the dance music genre.  
12. Twin Shadow - Forget
- Its such a wonderful throwback to Nu Wave. Sounds of Tears For Fears, Echo And The Bunnymen, and early Depeche Mode. Love it.
11. Xiu Xiu - Gray Death
- Almost a top 10 and if I didn't burn myself out listening to it perhaps it would have been. Amazing song that reminds me of Morrissey. Love this album.
10. Niki And The Dove - Mother Protect
- This song really hit the spot this winter. Excellent Swedish pop music with a wonderful vocal.

9. Future Islands - As I Fall
- Excellent nu-wave influenced sounds. Lovely synths, drums and arrangement. The vocal delivery is so emotive and uplifting. Samuels voice is extreamly raspy and full of feeling, so much so that its difficult to only listen to one track. But this is the one that stood out for me. Really shines a light on my day. Check out the live version from KCRW.

8. Four Tet - Angel Echoes
- One of many standout tracks on the album, and one of the best tracks I heard this year. I love Four Tet's style of electronic music. Its real jazzy and dreamy. I can dance to this track and equally it can send me to sleep. The vocal repetition is euphoric. No youtube clip so soundcloud will have to do.
Angel Echoes (BBC session) by Four Tet

 7. Interpol - Lights
- The song and the album didn't favor well with the critics but from the second I heard Lights I loved it. It helps that I love Paul Banks vocals so much so when he opens his mouth I usually like it. This track however was the lead single and set the tone for what came on the album. Typical dark and moody Interpol, bringing so much joy into my life. 

6. LCD Soundsystem - Dance Yrself Clean
- I couldn't get past this opening track from the album. I just kept saying, one more listen. This track is like being in the middle of a crowd that is getting ready to do something really awesome. Its a gathering of friends forgetting their problems and coming together to dance. Its organic and despite the slow jam brings me back to the old rave days. When James Murphy raises his voice and changes the tone coupled with the drums and synths, its time to take off. Fantastic tune.

5. Crystal Castles - Not In Love
- There are two versions of this song. The original and then the version where Alice Glass has her singing replaced by Robert Smith of the Cure. The track is so beautiful, extremely emotional, and very uplifting. I don't know which version I prefer but I'll include the Robert Smith version here. He has such a unique voice and it works so well with the Crystal Castles sound. This song makes me bounce off the walls.

4. The Knife (ft. Mt. Sims and Planningtorock) - Coloring Of Pigeons
 - This is one of the most intense songs I heard all year. Its based around Charles Darwin's On the Origin Of Species. As the opening track of an Opera performed with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock the track spans all the epic space one would expect from a stage production. Terror meets fascination throughout the 11 minutes. It builds with romantic tones through different vocals and more dark and eerie sounds. And underneath it all there is so much beauty.

 3. Jonsi - New Piano Song
- This is such an important song for me. It wasn't featured on the album GO and I hadn't heard it until I stood in front of the stage at The House Of Blues in Boston. Things were far from good in my world and then I heard this. I love the piano and I love Jonsi's voice, and both sounded perfect. Despite not ever hearing the song before I knew it so well because it had everything I was feeling at that time. It literally blew me away that night. One of the most beautiful tracks I've ever heard.

2. Wolf Parade - What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had To Go This Way)
- It was touch and go whether or not Jonsi got the second spot but I couldn't pass over this track. The simple reason being that it was the first song I heard off the new album and when we saw Wolf Parade practice the songs in Toronto earlier in the year it stood out so clearly. I remember leaving the show and this was the song stuck in my head even though I only heard it one time in my life. Spencers humming at the end was swirling around in my head all night. When I finally heard the recorded version I immediately knew it. It was exactly the same with the Jonsi track above but Spencer Krug has a vocal that really hits me. Throughout the whole tour this song has sounded amazing and despite playing the album on repeat for months I never get sick of it.The guitars and synths sound really great together and the song captures Wolf Parade's sound so perfectly. Love it.

1. Moonface - Marimba and Shit Drums
- I don't know if this qualifies as a song per se. Its over 20 minutes long. However , as the title says, it has only two instruments (not counting the most important instrument - Spencer Krug's voice), a Marimba and some electronic, 8-bit sounding drums that could easily be thought of as Shit Drums. In the context of this song however they are anything but that. The song is by Spencer Krug under his solo alias Moonface and the 20 minutes covers a dream sequence. The imagery is very descriptive and powerful. Spencer released the song for free at the beginning of the year and when I listened to the track straight through I was indeed transported into dreamland. And even now almost one year later I can sit and listen to the twenty minutes and drift back to that dream state. The vocals are delivered with such emotion and the looping of the Marimba, Spencers backing vocals and the drums all create magic that is unlike anything I've heard in years. If you don't like Marimba (think wind chimes) you will hate the song. I happen to love the sound and with Spencer singing the way he does I find it very difficult to control my own emotions. At times I get angry and other times I feel so much happiness. If there is one perfect tune this year, Marimba and Shit Drums has to be it. It is broken into 2 youtube clips. Enjoy this track because you will find something in it. "and I've been here before, and I know your face from the last time I dreamt I was loosing control".
A quick story. When I told Spencer that this was my favorite song this year he said you mean your favorite song with Marimba? I laughed awkwardly because I knew he was being self deprecating. But he thanked me after.

Love Kel

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Radiohead For Haiti

The amazing Radiohead. Being cool again. Looking after fans and doing it for a good cause. So last January Radiohead played a concert in LA and the entire ticket sales, including all the auctioned off tickets, were given to the Haiti relief efforts. The band raised a lot of money and now as a Christmas gift they have approved a free download of the concert on DVD or MP4. A multi cam shot effort. In return the band want people to donate something to Oxfam. They have a specific site that allows you to donate any amount. Of course you don't HAVE to donate but with the band giving up the footage of this rare show you SHOULD donate. I will, not much, but something. The link to download the show is here
There are many options so be sure to avail of the quality you want/need. This is a happy day.

Peace and much love,

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh christmas tree oh christmas tree

We were driving through natick, ma listening to the radio. Frankie and I decided to hit up the various strip malls in the area to look for inexpensive higher end fashion. I just visited the Doctor in Waltham about my knee. Another MRI and Arthroscopic injection. The confusion over my knee pain continues. So we were driving, preparing to buy stuff we may want over need, and stuff to give as xmas gifts. The usual story. And then we stopped talking because NPR, specifically "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook had a story about kids that send Santa letters to USPS. These kids are from poor areas and the stories moved us both to that point where anger and tears meet. I can pretty much, with confidence say that I dislike Christmas. What its become and what it stands for are on either end of what I like about the holiday.

For me, Christmas is about family, friends and coming together. Its a reason for me to jump on the christian holiday to be with my Mam and Dad, my brother, nephew and my mates. Everyone comes together to celebrate the holidays. However I am not oblivious to its shortcomings or the result of the fairytale that create its very existence. The stories on Tom's show made me so angry. I am powerless to do anything about how I feel. Children, here in the USA that ask for so little. Things like, "I want for Christmas just the opportunity to see my Mom smile, she has been so sad", or " My sister and I just want some new shoes so we can fit in when we go back to school". One kid in his letter asked, " I want my mom to be happy because she has been so sad all year, and if you have room I would love a doll for my sister and a transformer toy for myself". How pathetic is this holiday when "Santa" brings some kids so much and yet other kids who believe in the same dream get so little? Its a another holiday of the haves and have nots and for that reason I move further to the dislike side of the holiday.

My Mam and Dad always provided for my brother and I. We got cool toys and gadgets. Only years after did I realize that my parents had to work hard and save for my toys, they had to bust their asses so I could feel like "Santa" brought me something that was as good as my friends. I have great parents but not everyone is that fortunate. These letters hit me so hard that forever my value of this holiday has diminished.  I can't imagine what it must be like to be a child asking 'Santa' for a pair of shoes or for happiness. In a society where we spend Billions on war and on the engine of capitalism no child should be left begging for a $15 dollar toy from 'Santa', because he is not going to bring that toy even though every kid in a wealthy neighborhood gets everything they want. It makes me so sad. On a purely secular level, just to be nice I wanted to answer some of these letters and yet I didn't. It is difficult to build programs to meet the requests. But it shouldn't be. I should be able to call up NPR and ask for a few letters. I saw a transformer toy in Nordstrom Rack that day, it was a large yellow car that turned into a bumblebee. It cost $15 bucks. Less than the round of Belgian beer and French wine I bought for Frankie and I a couple of hours later. Our drinks satisfied us. That toy would make some less fortunate kid who believes in 'santa' so happy. It would make their dreams come true and all I would miss is the taste of the first of many IPA's. Christmas, its hard to agree with what its become. And I make it my mission to look out for the less fortunate who believe in the reason for this holiday. Giving and helping does more for me than the personal celebration of the holiday. Kids don't know, they are indoctrinated to the reason for the season but they expect something from it none the less. And the fact that less fortunate kids ask for so little and yet receive even less is sad. I want for Christmas to see the needy have some happiness. To see poor children receive a gift from 'Santa'. And if he throws in a new knee or 2 for yours truly I won't complain.

I miss being at home this time of year. My friends Christy and Lynn are getting married in 2 days and I won't be there because of visa issues. Its not all bad though. I have Skype to talk with my family and friends. Frankie came down for a few great days. I went to a new pub tonight. I rode my bike for a few hours today. And I am still motivated to fix my knees. Its all good. And whatever my gripe about this holiday, I still like it. I was raised loving Chrimbo and I'm far from scrooge when it comes to the week. In fact I embrace it, only now I am going to give the gift to the less fortunate. I want to answer one of those letters. I want to know that I made a difference because someone likes this holiday more than I do.
My favorite christmas tune. Maybe the best christmas tune there is. Check it.

Peace and Love,


Friday, December 17, 2010

Lists Lists Lists

Its about that time again. I feel like I just finished 2009's best of lists. What a great year for music. Dare I say better than last year? So many fantastic albums and tracks, some of which were so good that it limited my ability to listen to so many other albums that could potential sit in my top 15. For example, I just got around to listening to Warpaint - Fool. I'll get to that in a second after I finish complaining about how much I hate being sick. This past week was a huge struggle and a constant sore throat, sore back and neck, and even a stomach issue, left me feeling very down. I managed to rally for a night out with Bob Schwelm and the crew but next day I was worse. Its amazing how even those of us that think we're so tough succumb to child like behavior when sick. It was the first illness I suffered this year so I can't complain. Outside of some bad allergy days I had a clean bill of health, from a systemic point of view anyway. Almost better, this weekend will surly have me back on top of my game.

So Warpaint, yes, fantastic. Four kick ass ladies from LA that create beautiful and very haunting art rock. I got the Exquisite Corpse EP earlier in the year and listened , enjoyed, and put out of my mind. Only the other day I saw The Fool on many a year end list and it triggered  with me that "of course", Warpaint was a band I fully intended on revisiting. So I bought the record and it's wonderful, hypnotic and full of emotive harmonies. Of course this is very much against the grain of what reviews say about the album but I see the emotion rather than the moody in this kind of music. This album is the post Joy Division sound that I love. It has Bat For Lashes elements, that same expansive sound with very intimate and direct lyrics. Songs that wash around in my head all day. Even though I acknowledge this album would be a grower for most people, its certainly without the explosion of a standout hit, for me it hit a chord. I've always had a penchant for female vocals and this filled my needs right way.  I love this album so much. Check out the track below its lovely,


Monday, December 13, 2010

Am I Still Ill

On Saturday morning I met up with the Arc-En-Ciel crew for a long, hard bike ride. It was about 75 miles and the pace was pretty up tempo all the way. These guys are all older than me by 15-20 years but they are animals. As one of them told me, if your still banging out the miles and races into the 50's your good because the weak have long since quit. These guys are some of the best in New England for their age and they have so much knowledge. We rode double pace line all the way and felt OK but a little off. On my second pull with Todd Buckley I decided to go a little harder to see if I could warm up. Todd was willing and since he is much stronger than I am he took it as a bit of a challenge and took it to me big time. Our pull ended up being 20 minutes hard effort. Warming up worked but my overall energy was still lacking. The ride finished up and I was wiped, more than I should have been. By Saturday night I was still cold and even though I tried to rally at a couple of Xmas parties I went to it was not happening. I didn't sleep on Saturday night and woke up Sunday with the cold/virus I have been fighting for months. Throat swollen up, chills, neck and back pain. The usual. No big deal, just a day in bed and a lot of fluids. Today was a little better but not great. I still went into work because the thought of sitting around my house all day was very unappealing. I need to kick this bug tonight because tomorrow I am heading to Philly for some dinner and beers with Bob Schwelm, which usually ends up messy......

Because of my dour mood and negative outlook (I'm a big baby and very angry when I'm sick) I decided that today I would listen to some easy, breezy pop music. I decided to revisit The Radio Dept. On first listen to this album about 3 or 4 months ago I was very much on the fence. I liked it but there was nothing to love. It wasn't fitting the bill given how much good music was knocking around this summer and the fact that everything I heard was being compared to Jonsi-Go and Wolf Parade - Expo 86. So today, with no sun in the sky, a very sore throat, and no energy at all I decided I needed some shoegazy, dream pop stuff. I remembered this album and listened through again. Lovely. This is the Radio Dept. 3rd album. They are a Swedish Indie-pop band with a very Cocteau Twins meets Kings Of Convenience sound. I am going to listen to this album a lot more. Its very enjoyable and melodic. Of course I should have been listening to it on those long hot summer nights but better late than never. Check out tune below. Its lovely.

I just want to take a minute and congratulate the Irish U23 XC team for winning the European Cross Country champs. Great performance that could have been even more dominant if Ciaran O'Lionaird  ran how he did at NCAA XC. I reckon he was under the weather. Even David McCarthy had a sub-par run given his recent road race at Manchester. They still battled and still won. Awesome.

Peace and Love,


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Importance Of Being

Already there are a lot of year end lists on the intertubes. I just looked through Rolling Stones top 30 Albums and top 50 Singles. Absolutely no imagination. Just straight down the line with the obvious choices, some good, most average. No Wolf Parade, no Interpol, no post-rock or anything left field. A disappointment for my first look. Not that I care about their opinions. I dislike the publication and for some reason I'm still getting free copies sent to me? Makes no sense.

Struggling big time today. I watched Liverpool clinic Aston Villa on how to play football and washed down the joy with some 60 minute IPA. We went to Trinity Brewhouse with the crew from Rhode Runner and tucked into more IPA. I forget how strong it is but quickly realized when I started slurring words and arguing about athletics. It wasn't a nice night to walk home but it had to be done. When I rode down to get my car this morning I was pretty sure I'd have a boot, be towed, or at the very least a nice ticket. None of the above. Happy days. Car was resting where I left it and I hit up the coffee shop to help alleviate the hangover. I felt pretty bad all day and was very busy so I didn't get a workout in. By the time I got home tonight it was almost 8 bells so no exercise. Saving it up for Cyclocross tomorrow night.

I have never heard of British band Little Comets but I heard the song Joanna on one of my daily blog reads and I love it. I've been listening non-stop. They are a pop - rock band from Newcastle who remind me of The Futureheads and a bit like Two Door Cinema Club. Anyway, the song Joanna is fantastic. It comes out in January as the first single off their upcoming debut In Search Of Elusive Little Comets which sees daylight on Jan 30th. These guys will be a band to watch for 2011. Fresh, British Indie Rock at its best. The single is in the youtube clip but they also have a Joannacapella stripped down version that is stunning. Check the soundcould player to hear it. I tend to have a bit of a meh attitude towards straight up indie rock but this song has hit the spot. Strong accent too. I do enjoy when bands sing in their accent.



Little Comets - Joannacapella by Mud Hut Digital

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Beautifully Illustrated

I was communicating via text with the Godfather the other day and he was telling me how much he loves post rock music these days. It got me thinking that I hadn't listened to much of the genre lately so I spent tonight digging through the archives and posted a couple of belting tracks that will get you thinking, Whether thats a good thing or not I don't know. But here they are.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Choose Life

I finally had a decent CycloCross race this morning. I finished third in my race which was cat. 4 and cat. 4 masters 35+. Technically I won the cat. 4 but since 2 guys crossed the line 6 seconds ahead of me I still came away feeling like I could have won outright and that I should have done better, worked harder and had more confidence. Of course its somewhat moot because there is cat. 3 and then Pro 1 -2, another 2 divisions higher than mine. With that said I am happy. I've been saying all year that my starts have been the reason for my not doing well so I made sure to register early for this race. I was placed on the third line out of about 7 lines so my position was great. I kind of squeezed into the second line right before the gun.  It was an uphill start which suited me and by the sharp turn I was in about 20th and feeling really comfortable. This course suited me because it had a lot of good riding and one section of beach running. After the first run I passed 5 guys and came into the middle of the course in about 12th. I slowly picked people off the rest of the way and ran out of track to catch the first 2. I don't mean to belittle the riders in front of me but I do think one more run on the beach and I would have got the lead. I'm pleased and looking forward to doing the cat. 3 races soon.

There is another race tomorrow but I can't do it because we are sponsoring the Downtown Jingle 5k so I'll be working that in the morning. However, if time permits I will head down to Goddard in the afternoon to watch the pro race and watch in awe at how easy they ride the course. Its interesting to find a new sport and I keep drawing parallels to running. My winning a cat. 4 race is basically like winning the JV race at college xc or running 18 minutes for 5K on the road and yet I am strangely happy. I will never be as good at cycling as I was at running so I need to reset my expectations and just enjoy it. Easier said then done but I'll try.

The duo Memoryhouse, out of Guelph, Ont. make wonderful music. They layer minimal drums, synths, and reverb under magical shoegaze vocals. I put their track To The Lighthouse on the blog here a year ago. I never really followed up because I wasn't really listening to much shoegaze sounds but this song is beautiful and I wanted to share it with my friends on the internets. Its a B-Side to their new single Caregiver. Enjoy,

Love Kel

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

More Hopelandic

It was 20 degrees colder in ATL this morning than it was in Providence. Bizarre. Free internet on the plane is really cool so big props to Delta for providing. The Jonsi "Go Live" DVD and CD was released 2 days ago which means my copy could potentially be waiting for me at home. There is a DVD of a Studio Performance from London last March and the live CD has a full concert recorded in Belgium and Brighton, UK over the last year. You can go to the website and get a free download of New Piano Song which is one of my favorite tunes he plays live. So much emotion and passion. For some reason it was left off the album. Maybe its a 'live only' song or maybe it just didn't fit. At least I get to hear it now as often as I want. The youtubes are alive with footage and I tried to avoid it but alas I'm weak and pretty much watched the whole show, despite the poor quality of sound. Check out the vid below.

Nothing else happening right now. Zero exercise in the last 2 days. This is where my longing for running really takes hold. I miss the convenience of going for a quick 40 minute run in the am or pm.  I can't do the hotel gym, the old skool elliptical trainer. No way, its just not satisfying and a cup of coffee with some Jonsi and my Chuck Palahniuk novel is far more appealing.

Peace and much love,