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2014 SOTO Staff Picks

December 11, 2014

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I’ve rambled on long enough about the music I liked in 2014.  Here are the staff’s picks.  Enjoy.

Turns out that aside from the crippling bodily ailments and the inability to control my bladder, getting older has made me absolutely awful at listening to music. Don’t hate haters, I’ve just gotten over the hump of 30 and all of sudden I just can’t focus enough to listen to a whole album. Blame it on the SNES I brought home for my girlfriend’s birthday, blame it on the imposition of real life, blame it on the encroaching approach of a potent mix of early onset dementia and Adult ADHD – I’ve just been really bad at music listening this year. Thus, my teensy tiny list of music is culled from a pond not nearly as large as I’d hoped it to be. That said, the music I liked, I loved and that’s the music that ended up below.

Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Caribou – Our Love
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Perfume Genius – Too Bright

Since 2010, rock music hasn’t changed all that much. There’s presently a general look back to past niche musics from the 1960′s onward. But through the nostalgia haze, there are a great deal of both old and new artists finding new latitudes. Here’s my major jams this year.

1. Thurston Moore – The Best Day (Matador)
2. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – End Times Undone (Merge)
3. Steve Gunn – Way out Weather (PoB)
4. Datashock – Keine Oase in Sicht (Dekorder)
5. William Tyler – Lost Colony (Merge)

I’ve been staring at my 2014 list like a student procrastinating on their end of the semester term paper.  I go back and forth on who to include, who to leave out, and recalling releases (d’oh!) I never got around to checking out. There are also the nagging doubts such as wondering if I gave an album enough listens to put it on my list. Like last year my list focuses on my local Austin favorites. Narrowing it down to the Top 5 wasn’t easy but I stand by my choices of my faves that earned multiple listens. So many good bands to choose from but oh what a problem to have, right?

In no particular order, I present to you :

The Sour Notes – Do What May
Abram Shook – Sun Marquee
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
She Sir – Go Guitars
Shivery Shakes – Three Waves and A Shake

Honorable Mentions: The Ugly Beats – Brand New Day, Roger Sellers – Primitives, Genuine Leather – Losers

Compared to last year, 2014 left much to be desired when it comes to the sheer number of amazing releases. 2013 offered probably 15 to 20 “crap your pants while listening best record of the century” type stuff but then after that it sort of fell short in the real meat of the pack by not having a lot to deepen the core of metal. The reverse of which is true this year, I have attached to a few records as rising to the tippy top of the heap, but the real glory came in the form of the fat of the genre, so many decent albums from so many artists, many debuts, but several just continuations on great careers, but few to get all wigged out about.

My Top 5 you can see here are pretty clear choices though when you look at what they accomplished on these albums, Devn Townsend Project made two albums into one, and continued the story or Ziltoid the Omniscient, Anaal Nathrakh did what they do, but better, Job for a Cowboy somehow made bass a relevant instrument in death metal, At the Gates reunited after 900 years and proved they still have it, and Black Crown Initiate stole the show with their debut mixing death metal and melodic anthems into something technically proficient and sufficiently mind blowing. I was not let down this year, but I know I will be surprised in a few years with what I actually retained from 2014, not sure if you would agree, but that’s how I see things …

5. Devin Townsend Project – Ziltoid 2 (Century Media)
4. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum (Metal Blade)
3. Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade)
2. At The Gates – At War With Reality (Century Media)
1. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage Of Stars (eOne Entertainment)

I guess I’ll start by saying that 2014 hasn’t been an amazing year for hip hop, but it hasn’t been a completely terrible one either.  Here are my choices for the best releases this year, in no particular order:

Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majaesty

T’was a solid year for melancholy songs. Albums that truly destroyed the center of the cardiovascular system were aplenty. We’re living in a golden age of audio misery! There were SO MANY great releases that dehydrated our tear ducts but since you, the readers, are demanding a definitive ranking of the saddest albums of the year, so be it. I’ve done the requisite soul searching and came up with this predominantly lady-heavy list of my fav weepers of the year. They are full of gut wrenchers, soul crushers … and they are all fantastic. Way to bring the pain this year, ladies!

1: Beck – Morning Phase
2. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
3. Divorcee – Self Titled
4. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Best Reissue: American Football – Self Titled

Narrowing down my top albums is a tortuous process. I’m an old-school guy. I still listen to entire albums from start to finish and only occasionally opt for a playlist of singles. Immersing yourself in an album is the most satisfying way way to connect with the music. So I get really dialed into my favorite albums each year, which makes narrowing down the lot a difficult task.

Before we get to my top five, let’s take a minute to recognized the amazing amount of quality music released this year by 12XU. It was far and away the top Austin label in 2014. They featured not only one of my top artists (The Dead Space) and but also three others in my top 10 (Flesh Lights, Jonly Bonly, The Gotobeds).

1) Ghetto Ghouls – Self Titled
2) The Dead Space – Faker
3) Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right
4) Ex Hex – Rips
5) OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm

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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 2

December 10, 2014

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Here are the final 10 selections for my Top 25 Albums of 2014 list!  Be sure to check out PART ONE if you haven’t already.  Enjoy.

10) The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream is as dad-rock as it gets, but it’s also the most compelling album of 2014.  Grab some whiskey and give it all your attention.

:The War On Drugs – Red Eyes:

09) Tycho – Awake

Tycho’s Awake is a must-have for fans of instrumental music.  I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent with its post-rock-leaning sound swirling around in my headphones.

:Tycho – Awake:

08) Spoon – They Want My Soul

They Want My Soul is the latest high quality release from Spoon.  I advise that you take a moment to fully appreciate the fact that they’ve been consistently good for roughly TWENTY years.  Wow.

:Spoon – Inside Out:

07) Cloud Nothings – Here And Nowhere Else

I’ve listened to a lot of people ramble on about how “their last album was better” but Here And Nowhere Else is the first time I’ve truly loved something from Cloud Nothings.  There’s not one bad song on the thoroughly 90s-enthused effort.

:Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me:

06) Solids – Blame Confusion

From start to finish, Solids’ Blame Confusion is just one lo-fi indie rock gem after another.  It seems unlikely that I’ll ever tire of the album.

:Solids – Traces:

05) Lace Curtains – A Signed Piece Of Paper

With A Signed Piece Of Paper, Michael Coomer (aka Lace Curtains) has further cemented himself as one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  We just get each other.  Or something.  Anyways, have you heard his debut, The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness?  It was my #1 album back in 2012.

:Lace Curtains – The Fly:

04) St. Vincent – Self Titled

I’m just about out of ways to praise Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent).  This is the fourth time she’s landed in the Top 5 of my year-end album list.  Is she even capable of putting out something that’s not utterly fantastic?

:St. Vincent – Digital Witness:

03) Tony Molina – Dissed And Dismissed

12 songs, 11 minutes.  Tony Molina’s Dissed And Dismissed may not seem like it has a lot to offer, but it’s actually home to some of the best pop hooks I’ve come across in a long time.  Talk about infectious.

:Tony Molina – Nowhere To Go:

02) Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

There was a sizable stretch this year where I found myself listening to Parquet Courts’ Sunbathing Animal at least twice a day.  I really think the album features some of the best songs that the band has ever written.

:Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly:

01) Run The Jewels – RTJ2

OH MY.  Here in the #1 slot of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 is none other than Run The Jewels’ RTJ2!  The explosive duo of Killer Mike and EL-P really hit a home run with their sophomore effort, and we should all celebrate accordingly.

:Run The Jewels – Oh My Darling Don’t Cry:

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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 1

December 9, 2014

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Well friends, I’m just about done with posting the site’s year-end music lists.  Today I have the first part of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 (25-11, plus various Honorable Mentions), tomorrow I’ll have my Top 10 selections, and then on Thursday I’ll have Top 5s from each of SOTO’s contributors.  Whew!  Anyhow, on with the rambling.  Enjoy.

PS – This year’s list is very heavily influenced by how often I revisited an album.

25) Swans – To Be Kind

There’s nothing about Swans’ To Be Kind that’s easy (or it would be ranked way higher), but if you can fully immerse yourself in its sprawling sound, you’ll find that it’s a rather rewarding album.

:Swans – A Little God In My Hands:

24) Interpol – El Pintor

While it’s no Turn On The Bright Lights, I do think that El Pintor is the best thing to come from Interpol in a long while.  Who knew that parting with Carlos D would turn out to be good for the band?!

:Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:

23) Future Islands – Singles

Future Islands’ Singles is one of those albums that I burned out on and then ending up excitedly coming back to.  It’s a pretty great effort, especially if you need something to dramatically dance to.

:Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You):

22) Sylvan Esso – Self Titled

Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut is an easily accessible effort that’s loaded with some of the year’s best electronic pop songs.  I often just put it on and let its warm sound fill the room.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee:

21) Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Just when it looked like Thee Oh Sees were going to take a lengthy break, they released the lively Drop.  I approve of such indecisiveness.  Here’s hoping they continue on maybe going on hiatus.

:Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye:

20) Ty Segall – Manipulator

Manipulator is the culmination of all the various sounds that Ty Segall has churned out over the last few years, and it’s great.  Way to bring everything full circle, Mr. Segall.

:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb:

19) Phantogram – Voices

I can’t say that Voices dominated my time the way that Eyelid Movies did (way back in 2010), but it’s definitely a high quality effort.  Phantogram craft great hooks.

:Phantogram – Fall In Love:

18) S – Cool Choices

Jenn Ghetto (formerly of Carissa’s Wierd) is S, and Cool Choices is her very sincere, introspective album.  She’s got the sort of voice that I can’t help but get hung up on.

:S – Vampires:

17) Mono – Rays Of Darkness/The Last Dawn

Technically, Rays Of Darkness and The Last Dawn are two separate releases, but I still consider them to be a two-disc effort.  As for the actual LPs themselves, I really dig how neither of them feel like the Mono that made the over-orchestrated For My Parents.

:Mono – Recoil, Ignite:

16) Jack White – Lazaretto

I can’t ever make any sense of the things that Jack White says and does these days, but I sure do like his music.  Lazaretto is a boisterous experience.

:Jack White – Lazaretto:

15) Abram Shook – Sun Marquee

Austin’s own Abram Shook put out the immensely pleasing Sun Marquee back in January, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.  It’s the kind of breezy, relaxed pop music that’s impossible to not get lost in.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:

14) Tune Yards – Nikki Nack

Nikki Nack is exactly what we’ve all come to want and expect from the talented Merrill Garbus (aka Tune Yards) – it’s creative and a whole lot of fun to listen to.

:Tune Yards – Real Thing:

13) Ex Hex – Rips

I miss Wild Flag, but their disbandment delivered Mary Timony’s equally catchy and rocking Ex Hex AND put Sleater-Kinney back together.  I’ll take that deal any day.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:

12) The Dead Space – Faker

If you are even the slightest fan of post-punk, then you need The Dead Space’s Faker in your life.  There’s not a track on it that isn’t rad.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:

11) Tacocat – NVM

I didn’t pay much attention to Tacocat’s NVM until kind of late in the year, but once I “discovered” it I was forever hooked.  It’s total surf-rock bliss.

:Tacocat – Crimson Wave:

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 Albums of 2014!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

To be honest, I could have easily detailed 50 albums this year, but since the bottom 25 slots would have been occupied by the various releases that I liked but didn’t listen to a whole super lot, I figured it was best to hold back.  For fun though, here are the LPs that more than likely would have made an expanded list.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
Alvvays – Self Titled
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Coathangers – Suck My Shirt
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Equals – Tracts
Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath
FKA Twigs – LP1
Flesh Lights – Free Yourself
Literature – Chorus
Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm
Owls – Two
Pompeii – Loom
Ramesh – The King
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Tontons – Make Out King And Other Stories Of Love
Warpaint – Self Titled
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Wye Oak – Shriek
Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos

Also, for even more fun, here are my five favorite EPs of 2014.

Speedy Ortiz – Real Hair EP
Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield EP
White Reaper – Self Titled EP
Otis The Destroyer – Dark Arts EP
Whiite Walls – Self Titled EP

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 5

December 5, 2014

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The end.  If you missed any part of this countdown, I’ve neatly arranged all of the tracks on one page right HERE.  Enjoy.

10)  :Run The Jewels – Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) (Featuring Zack De La Rocha):  Killer Mike and El-P each turn in rad work here, but it’s actually Zack Del La Rocha that makes this Run The Jewels track something worth championing forever.  From RTJ 2.

09)  :FKA Twigs – Two Weeks:  Despite listening to this an enormous amount of times, it’s still a song that forcefully grabs and holds my attention.   FKA Twigs is one of music’s best new voices.  From LP1.

08)  :St. Vincent – Digital Witness:  Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) is steadily pulling in a more mainstream audience, and I’m all about it.  The world is a better place with avant-pop gems like this one challenging the ears of the masses.  From her self titled album.

07)  :Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:  After Interpol released a couple of mediocre LPs and lost bassist Carlos D, I just knew I was done with them.  Or not.  This track is an inspired effort that has me once again confidently perched on their bandwagon.  From El Pintor.

06)  :Leon Bridges – Coming HomeLeon Bridges has yet to “officially” put out anything, but he’s already one of my favorite soul artists.  That’s just how amazing this song is.  Keep an eye out for him in 2015.

05)  :Sharon Van Etten – Every Time The Sun Comes Up:  There’s something about Sharon Van Etten being blatantly snarky that I can’t help but find endlessly pleasing.  I’ll never get tired of this slow-burner.  From Are We There.

04)  :Ought – Habit:  Admittedly, this wordy, vocally uneven slice of art-rock is a a bit odd, but if you give it a real shot you’ll find that it’s one of the most engaging experiences of the year.  From More Than Any Other Day.

03)  :Speedy Ortiz – American Horror:  If you ask me, the best of the 90s revivalist bunch is most definitely Speedy Ortiz.  I mean, just listen to this song, it’s perfect.  From the Real Hair EP.

02)  :Parquet Courts – Instant Disassembly:  I know Parquet Courts are adored for blistering faces, but I think this lackadaisically-paced track is the best thing they’ve ever done.  I love the rambly vocals and brainy lyrics.  From Sunbathing Animal.

01)  :Spoon – Inside Out:  Here it is, my #1 song of 2014.  Congrats to the mighty Spoon!  They have a ton of great music in their repertoire, but this immaculate track really is some next level stuff for them.  Good on the two-decade old band for still pushing themselves to evolve and get better.  From They Want My Soul.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 4

December 4, 2014

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We’re nearing the end of my Top 50 Songs of 2014 list!  Look for the final ten songs tomorrow.  For fun, here’s parts ONE, TWO and THREE.  Enjoy.

20)  :Cherry Glazerr – Had Ten DollazCherry Glazerr are a really young trio (two of them aren’t even 18) who are already way cooler than any of us will ever be.  If you don’t believe me, just listen to this attitude-laced gem.  From the Had Ten Dollaz single.

19)  :Deleted Scenes – You Get To Say Whatever You Want:  This song is so emotive that it’ll either pull you out of a funk or completely toss you into one.  I love it.  Deleted Scenes are the best.  From Lithium Burn.

18)  :Dana Falconberry – Palmless:  Austin’s own singer/songwriter extraordinaire Dana Falconberry collaborated with Spoon’s Jim Eno on this track.  It’s a pretty spectacular listen on all fronts.  From Public Hi-Fi Sessions 02.

17)  :Little Big League – Property Line:  I’m all about the 90s revival that’s currently underway, but even if I wasn’t I think I’d still dig this Little Big League track.  It’s just about as sincere as can be.  From Tropical Jinx.

16)  :Diarrhea Planet – Spooners:  ”It’s all about the drugs, money, power, and getting off.”  Well said, Diarrhea Planet.  Well said.  From the Aliens In The Outfield EP.

15)  :Sheer Mag – What You Want:  I stumbled across this riffy piece of retro rock back in October and I’ve been jamming it (probably too much) ever since.  If you’re not on Sheer Mag’s bandwagon, you should be.  From the band’s debut 7″.

14)  :Tune Yards – Real Thing:  This track is Merrill Garbus (aka Tune Yards) throwing everything at a wall and somehow having all of it stick.  Hard not to be impressed, you know?  From Nikki Nack.

13)  :Dum Dum Girls – Rimbaud Eyes:  I have a variety of mixed feelings about the latest Dum Dum Girls’ album, but I can’t really complain since it features this immaculate pop tune.  From Too True.

12)  :Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me:  Here’s my favorite single off of the album that Cloud Nothings put out earlier this year.  The 90s-rock lover in me just can’t get enough of it.  From Here And Nowhere Else.

11)  :Mikal Cronin – Soul In MotionMikal Cronin knew that not putting out any new music in 2014 would hurt my feelings, so he contributed this fantastic song to Famous Class’ 7″ series.  What a guy!  From LAMC #11.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 3

December 3, 2014

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We’ve now arrived at the middle section of my Top 50 Songs of 2014.  Check out Part ONE & TWO if you haven’t already.  Otherwise, get on with cruising today’s list!  Enjoy.

30)  :The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:  Pretty much all of my dark-corner-brooding in 2014 was done while listening to this stellar piece of post-punk from Austin’s own The Dead Space.  From Faker.

29)  :We Were Promised Jetpacks – I Keep It Composed:  This swirling song reinvigorated my love for We Were Promised Jetpacks.  I’m honestly not sure they’ve ever sounded as good as they do here.  From Unraveling.

28)  :Angel Olsen – Forgiven-Forgotten:  While I like Angel Olsen’s slower and more intimate material, I found myself coming back to this little rocker of hers the most.  From Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

27)  :Shannon And The Clams – Mama:  This Shannon And The Clams song is splendid and permanently on my go-to list for whenever I’m in the mood for soul/doo-wop-enthused music.  From the band’s split with Guantanamo Baywatch.

26)  :Saint Pepsi – Fiona Coyne:  My “song of the summer” this year was definitely this Saint Pepsi track.  It’s immensely catchy.  And danceable.  And super fun.  From the Fiona Coyne single.

25)  :Tennis – I’m Callin’:  I love this song for two reasons.  1) It’s wonderfully easy on the ears.  2) It fully completes Tennis‘ transition from lo-fi indie band to full on pop act.  Not sure they could have done it any smoother.  From Ritual In Repeat.

24)  :Screaming Females – Wishing WellScreaming Females usually go right after your face, but for this track they decided to dial things back a bit.  It worked.  In fact, I think this is probably their best song.  From the Wishing Well single.

23)  :Phantogram – Fall In LovePhantogram blew up in 2014, and it was partly because of this single.  To be honest, I think it ranks a little lower than some of their older songs, but I still love it.  From Voices.

22)  :The War On Drugs – Red EyesThe War On Drugs really got me with this track.  I had only ever just appreciated them and their Springsteen-ish ways, but this is so damn good that they’re now a favorite of mine.  From Lost In The Dream.

21)  :Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You):  This fantastic synth-pop song totally helped Future Islands wrangle in just under a bazillion new fans.  Good for them.  They deserve it.  From Singles.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 2

December 2, 2014

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Boom.  Here’s part two of my Top 50 Songs of 2014.  If you missed the first installment, check it out here.  The other parts will arrive each day this week!  Enjoy.

40)  :Braid – No Coast:  It was the arrival of this anthemic track that pushed me from curious to excited about Braid reuniting for a new full length (their first in 16 years).  From No Coast.

39)  :Eternal Summers – Gouge:  I’ve had this shoegazey number on repeat for just about the entirety of 2014.  I definitely think it’s Eternal Summers’ best song (so far).  From The Drop Beneath.

38)  :Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Wrapped:  This fantastic slice of dream pop is from one of my favorite bands in Austin, Letting Up Despite Great Faults.  It’ll make you dance (and maybe cry a little).  From Neon.

37)  :Mas Ysa – Shame:  Thomas Arseneault (aka Mas Ysa) churns out some really interesting stuff.  For instance, this synthy gem is somehow both very calculated and super raw.  From The Worth EP.

36)  :Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me:  Sure, Alvvays is a pretty silly name, but that doesn’t mean this song isn’t one of the best lo-fi pop efforts of the year.  From the band’s self titled album.

35)  :Pillar Point – Eyeballs:  I’m not sure that Scott Reitherman (formerly of Throw Me The Statue and now the main brain behind Pillar Point) has ever made a song that I didn’t like.  The guy sure knows how to craft quality pop music.  From the band’s self titled album.

34)  :Cymbals Eat Guitars – Chambers:  If you’ve ever wanted to hear Cymbals Eat Guitars as a full-on accessible rock act, then this is the song you’ve been looking for.  It’s a good sound for them.  From Lose.

33)  :Ariel Pink – Put Your Number In My Phone:  When it comes to Ariel Pink, I’m always impressed with the way he’s able to craft that one single every release that’s a total ear-pleaser.  I think he does it on purpose so it’s easier to dive into the bizarro creations that usually fill out his albums.  From Pom Pom.

32)  :Sylvan Esso – Coffee:  For a while I thought MS MR’s fancy remix of this track was unbeatable, but in the end I found myself partial to the minimalistic sound of Sylvan Esso’s original take.  From the band’s self titled album.

31)  :Weaves – Shithole:  Every time I listen to this song I immediately want to travel back to the 90s so that I can be angsty about having to exist in the 90s.  Thanks for that, Weaves.  From the Shithole single.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2014: Part 1

December 1, 2014

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Hey there, let’s begin running down my Top 50 Songs of 2014 (there will be one part each day through this Friday).  As is always the case, the list is comprised of music I’ve shared here at SOTO throughout the year.  Enjoy.

PS – If you missed my 2014 Austin Essentials, all three of those volumes are now on one page right HERE.

50)  :Lana Del Rey – West Coast:  Yeah yeah, I know, Lana Del Rey has big lips and no one (publicly) likes her, but I don’t care, this Dan Auerbach-produced track is great.  Total smokey, moody goodness.  From Ultaviolence.

49)  :Slow Magic – Hold Still:  This one from Slow Magic features what’s probably my favorite “wait for it” moment of 2014.  If the final 30 seconds don’t make you want to move, then you might be dead.  From How To Run Away.

48)  :Joanna Gruesome – Psykick Espionage:  Noisy and infectious.  That’s definitely the best way to describe this track from the one and only Joanna Gruesome.  From the band’s split 7″ with Perfect Pussy.

47)  :White Reaper – Half Bad:  There’s so much energy and enthusiasm packed into this ripper from White Reaper that it’s become one of my go-tos for whenever I need a pick-me-up.  From the band’s self titled EP.

46)  :Sleater-Kinney – Bury Our FriendsSleater-Kinney are back and they’ve still got it!  Not that I’m in any way surprised, of course – Corin, Carrie and Janet are pure magic when they’re together.  From No Cities To Love.

45)  :Perfume Genius – Queen:  While I didn’t find Perfume Genius’ latest album to be for me, I do love this song.  It’s a powerful listen that grabs you and never lets go.  From Too Bright.

44)  :How To Dress Well – Repeat Pleasure:  This impeccably crafted track is no & It Was You, but I do think it’s the most accessible that Tom Krell (aka How To Dress Well) has ever been.  From What Is This Heart.

43)  :Sophie – Lemonade:  Of all the songs that will appear on my Top 50 list, this pop blip from Sophie is the one I expect to divide people the most.  It’s a weird and obnoxious earworm.  From the Lemonade/Hard single.

42)  :New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers:  There was a stretch this year where I just about wore out this gloriously upbeat track from New Pornographers.  Talk about power pop perfection.  From Brill Bruisers.

41)  :Terry Malts – Let You In:  Another year, another fuzzed out track from Terry Malts that’s really difficult to get out of my head.  Things could be worse, I suppose.  From the Insides EP.

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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 3

November 26, 2014

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Well, here it is, the third and final volume of my 2014 Austin Essentials.  In total I’ve shared 65 local acts over the last three days (Volume 1 is here, Volume 2 is here).  Hopefully you found some new stuff!  Enjoy.

PS – If I missed anything (and I’m sure I did), feel free to ramble away (or just scold me) in the comments.

:Roger Sellers – Steps:  Roger Sellers is not a DJ, but he does craft some particularly good electronic music.  Primitives is the title of his latest album.  Grab your headphones and go give it a listen.   Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Ghetto Ghouls – Simple C:  Ghetto Ghouls’ self titled debut is a furious effort that punk fans have been all over for most of the year.  Oddly enough though, I think the best song on it is actually this plodding album-closer.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Pollen – Not A Test:  Pollen were just getting going last year, so it’s not really a surprise that they took a nice-sized leap forward in 2014.  Their self titled EP features four rather good garage pop tunes.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Ghost Wolves – Gonna Live:  Carley and Jonathan Wolf are the duo behind The Ghost Wolves, and their latest album, Man, Beast, Woman, is loaded with quality bluesy, garage rock tunes.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Holy Wave – Wet And Wild:  You’re doing something wrong if you’re a psych rock fan (in Austin or anywhere else) and you don’t adore Holy Wave.  Seek out their latest album, Relax.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Megafauna – Time To Go:  Fronted by the versatile Dani Neff, Megafauna have a sound that’s big, loud and a lot of fun.  Don’t be afraid to let the album Maximalist rattle your walls.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Chipper Jones – Scout:  A new favorite of mine this year has definitely been experimental rockers Chipper Jones.  This rad song comes from a cassingle that was released via local label Graveyard Orbit.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Love Inks – Shoot 100 Panes Of Glass:  Back in September Love Inks released Generation Club, a nice effort full of minimalist pop tunes.  Listen to it and I promise you’ll fall in love with Sherry LeBlanc’s voice.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Night Drive – Young Rivals:  If you’ve been waiting to get something immensely dance-worthy out of this year’s Austin-centric list, then this gem of a single from Night Drive is for you.  Have fun.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Pure X – Heaven:  You know, somehow I’ve still never managed to see Pure X live.  It’s weird.  Anyways, Angel is a beautifully constructed album that’s really easy to get lost in.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Molybden – Woman Who Left Behind: Singer/songwriter Molybden has a fantastically solemn voice, and I hope her upcoming full length gets released early in 2015.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:John Wesley Coleman – The Love That You Own:  I’m forever a fan of John Wesley Coleman because he once wrote a SOTO theme song for $10, but you should applaud him for The Love That You Own, which is the album he put out on Burger Records this year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:East Cameron Folkcore – In The House Everything Dies:  East Cameron Folkcore really worked it in 2014, and I don’t just mean around Austin – the band toured Europe and played CMJ.  They also put out this snarling single.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Jonly Bonly – Too Many Things:  SOTO’s resident super punk fan Dan was all about Jonly Bonly this year.  The band is fronted by Jason Smith (formerly of OBN IIIs) and their debut, Put Together, is one you should own.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Emily Wolfe – Swoon:  This year Emily Wolfe played ACL and released a very solid EP titled Roulette.  If you love sultry voices, then she’s the one for you.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Other Lovers – Let Me Go:  Other Lovers are a folk rock/country/whiskey-fueled act that spent 2014 really honing their craft.  Hoot is the sort of album that will make you move even when you don’t want to.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:She Sir – CondensedindentsGo Guitars is the name of the rather enjoyable dream pop effort that She Sir released this year.  They’re apparently already in the midst of putting together a follow-up, which is exciting.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Ruby Fray – Photograph:  K Records artist Ruby Fray, who accurately describes her sound as witchy chamber folk, released her sophomore LP, Grackle, this year.  You should listen to it.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Clouds Are Ghosts – 54:  This nicely textured track is a favorite of mine from The Clouds Are Ghosts’ Fractures.  Slap on some headphones before you hit play.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Whiite Walls – June 9th:  Whiite Walls followed up last year’s teaser tracks with a disco-enthused self titled EP.  It’s a total must-listen if you’re looking to softly dance the night way.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Gloves – Hot Checks:  Dance punk isn’t exactly a big thing in Austin, so I appreciate that Gloves are giving it a go.  I think this particular track of theirs is super catchy.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Holiday Mountain – My Body:  Holiday Mountain are total sensory overload, and I love them for it.  Here’s hoping their new album gets released soon.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Feral Future – No Means Nothing:  For those of you who like your punk rock to be both loud and loaded with a worthwhile message, there’s Feral Future.  The band’s debut, Haematic, is a good one.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Orthy – Night Touch:  If you didn’t indulge in Orthy’s E.M.I.L.Y. EP earlier this year, then you need to get your act together.  It’s a really well crafted electronic effort.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Basketball Shorts – Candy Boys:  If you ask me, Basketball Shorts are Austin’s version of Diarrhea Planet.  Get on their bandwagon.  The Houston Sessions is the name of their latest release.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 2

November 25, 2014

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Hey!  Here we are with the second volume of my 2014 Austin Essentials.  Dive in.  But don’t tire yourself out, as there’s still a third volume coming your way tomorrow.  Enjoy.

:Alex Napping – Weak Knees:  Alex Napping popped out of nowhere this year and instantly impressed.  Their debut, This Is Not A Bedroom, is the kind of introspective indie pop that college me listened to too much of.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Hundred Visions – You’re Gonna Cut Me Loose:  The fuzzy garage rock ways of Hundred Visions have been on point in 2014.  You’d be crazy not to check out their sophomore album, Spite.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Flesh Lights – Just About Due:  My passive appreciation of the punk trio Flesh Lights ended with Free Yourself.  The album features some great songwriting.  And it rocks.  If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Sweet Spirit – Let Me Be On Top:  It was a bummer when Bobby Jealousy called it quits, but at least Sabrina Ellis, who is one of Austin’s most dynamic performers, quickly landed on her feet in Sweet Spirit.  Eventually the band will officially release an album and make the world a better place.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Shivery Shakes – Hold On:  Shivery Shakes put out their debut full length, Three Waves & A Shake, this year.  You pretty much have to listen to it if you consider yourself a fan of indie pop.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Gentlemen Rogues – Mocking Love Out Of Nothing At All:  Jennifer, SOTO’s purveyor of local music, was adamant that this slice of power pop from Gentleman Rogues make the cut.  Look out for a new album from the band soon.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Grape St. – Wallpaper:  Last year Grape St. released the excellent A Date With You, and just recently they followed it up with the equally fantastic Free Stuff EP.  The band just can’t miss!  They’re a must-listen for fans of jangly garage rock.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Sour Notes – Cutthroat:  Earlier this year The Sour Notes put out a really solid album (their fifth overall) by the name of Do What May.  It’s worth your time if you dig hooky indie rock.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Ramesh – The King:  For those of you that don’t know, Ramesh was once a part of Voxtrot.  His debut solo album, The King, is a well crafted alt pop effort that features a lot of great vocal work.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Coeds – Sensitive Boys:  I haven’t seen Coeds play and this is the only song of theirs I’ve heard, but that’s not stopping me from being into the duo.  Make a note to keep an eye on them and their synthy ways once 2015 rolls around.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Young Tongue – Heavy Metal Thunder:  Once known as The Baker Family, Young Tongue have a sound that’s a pleasant mixture of indie rock and pop.  Recently they released an album titled Death Rattle.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Jess Williamson – Snake Song:  Jess Williamson spent 2014 fully establishing herself as one of the best singer/songwriters in Austin.  If you haven’t already checked out her album, Native State, then you should do yourself a favor and seek it out ASAP.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:A. Sinclair – Shiny Things:  Indie rockers A. Sinclair (formerly known as Frank Smith) had a nice year.  They signed with Dangerbird Records and churned out a good album, Pretty Girls, for all to indulge in.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Boyfrndz – Design:  When it comes to experimental rock in Austin, not many can compete with Boyfrndz.  Their sophomore LP, Breeder, is a daunting, but rad listen.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:OBN IIIs – No Time For The Blues:  OBN IIIs are a loud, good ole fashioned rock n’ roll band, and their latest release, Third Time To Harm, is further proof that you should be giving them all of your attention. Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Spray Paint – Rest Versus Rust:  Many would argue that Spray Paint are Austin’s premiere punk act, and I think I’d have to agree.  Their album, Clean Blood, Regular Acid, is one you need to hear.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Polio Club – Poison The Well (Demo):  I just recently came across Polio Club, and I’ve already pretty much worn out the demos on their Bandcamp page.  I’m looking forward to whatever is the post-punk act decides to do in 2015.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Wolf – In Waves:  SOTO’s own Dan said that I should include psych-rockers The Wolf.  He’s apparently a big fan of the noisy, distortion-filled sound that’s all over their latest release, Ride.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Christian Bland And The Revelators – Brian Wilson:  Back in September Christian Bland (of The Black Angels) released his third album, The Unseen Green Obscene.  Naturally, it’s a gloriously hazy psych rock experience.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Scuare – Mind States:  SOTO’s own hip hop expert Leah recently recommended Scuare to me, and he’s been firmly on my radar ever since.  This song in particular is pretty fantastic.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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2014 Austin Essentials: Volume 1

November 24, 2014

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It’s taken me a couple of weeks, but I’ve finally manged to get my 2014 Austin Essentials list all perfectly hammered out  And by perfectly hammered out, I mean “I’m pretty sure I got 91% of it right.”  Anyways, it’s 60 or so bands long and it’s divided into three volumes (part two is tomorrow, part three is on Wednesday).  In case you’re wondering, my only real “guideline” for the list was that the artist must have put out something new (no re-releases, man) in 2014.  So, get to sampling!  I hope you find some new local stuff to love.  Enjoy.

PS – For the sake of not making the list even longer, I left out super familiar names like Spoon, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, The Black Angels, Shakey Graves, Balmorhea, Ume, Quiet Company and I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness.

:Major Major Major – God Doesn’t Want Us:  Throughout 2014 Major Major Major have been increasingly impressive.  Their shows are a blast, and then there’s also the way the duo can’t seem to write anything that isn’t infectious.  Look out for their debut full length next year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:  I really love Abram Shook’s Sun Marquee.  The album is one of those pop efforts that’s both wonderfully crafted and super accessible.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Tele Novella – Trouble In Paradise:  Tele Novella spent much of the year further establishing themselves (singles, videos, lots of shows), and I think 2015 is now set to be a big one for them.  Jump on the bandwagon now.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:  The Dead Space’s Faker is probably my favorite Austin album of 2014.  It’s a fantastic collection of post-punk tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Magna Carda – Every Weekend (Featuring Olivia Applegate):  Magna Carda are no longer just one of the best hip hop acts in Austin, they’re one of the city’s best overall acts.  Here soon they’re releasing an album, and I can’t wait to check it out.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Dana Falconberry – Palmless:  Dana Falconberry and Jim Eno (from Spoon) crafted this song together for a Record Store Day release.  I want a lot more of the same.  Please.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Borrisokane – God Doesn’t Want Us (Major Major Major Cover):  Borrisokane’s Versus Project (a box set that features them and a variety of guests doing covers and original tunes) is probably the most ambitious thing that popped out of Austin in 2014.  Check it out if you haven’t.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Letting Up Despite Great Faults – WrappedNeon is the name of Letting Up Despite Great Faults’ latest (and maybe final?) album.  You should pick it up just so that you can own a physical copy of this absolutely stellar song.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Summer Salt – Sweet To Me:  Phil and Eugene (from the now defunct Yum) are two-thirds of Summer Salt, a retro pop act with a knack for providing rather hooky, breezy tracks.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Otis The Destroyer – You’re The Wealth:  The Couch are no more, but that’s OK because some of its former members started the equally loud and glorious Otis The Destroyer.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Equals – Glistener:  If you’re a fan of instrumental rock, then Equals’ Tracts is an album that you need to seek out.  I’ve been jamming it for most of the year.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:BLXPLTN – Start Fires:  With music that’s all at once danceable, mosh-worthy and inspired,  BLXPLTN are an Austin band that has dominated in 2014.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Future Death – Basements:  Future Death play like maybe there really won’t be a tomorrow, and I like that.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Genuine Leather – The Enemy:  For those of you that love clever pop tunes, there’s the Genuine Leather album Losers.  Snatch it up.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Phil Ajjarapu – Sing Along Until You Feel Better:  SOTO’s own Jennifer made sure I included Phil Ajjarapu on the list, and it’s not hard to see why – the guy has some really good pop songs in his repertoire.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Lowin – Heave Ho:  Sara Houser’s soaring voice is now front and center in her own band (and no longer as part of The Couch), and the results so far have been pretty great.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:SHMU – She’s Leaving:  Sam Chown, who is also one half of Zorch, is the man behind SHMU.  Give the guy a listen if you like experimental electronic pop.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Pompeii – Blueprint:  After a solid five years or so, Pompeii finally rallied up a new album.  Loom, if you ask me, is fantastic and totally ended up being worth the wait.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Growl – Jackie:  I don’t remember many local music convos this year where someone didn’t excitedly bring up Growl.  This song is from a compilation, but you should also spend some time with the band’s EP, No Years, that was put out back in January.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

:Crooked Bangs – Ce Type:  This year Crooked Bangs put out this attitude-laced gem (it’s from a split with Houston’s Secret Prostitutes) and played Fun Fun Fun Fest.  Solid.  Provide Facebook love HERE.

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Hip Hop Hooray (Leah)

November 21, 2014

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Alright, Austin readers, we have a big run-off election going down on December 16, so you better get out and vote at least one more time this year – no excuses.  Also, if you’re at all involved in the music industry, fill out this survey to have a stake in the way the new council approaches live music.

Besides yours truly creating a custom party mix for this comedy show right here (come out!), there are a lot of good things to look forward to this month: a new Big K.R.I.T album, Thanksgiving, and giving thanks for a new Big K.R.I.T. album.  So, that’s nice.  And, here’s your mix for November.  Don’t get too crazy dancing and rip your headphones out of your ears by accident, because that is the worst.

SONG OF THE MONTH:

:Sugar Hill Gang – Rapper’s Delight:  Hip hop lost the amazing Big Bank Hank last week.  RIP.

NOVEMBER MIX:

:Magna Carda – Game Like Jimmy:
:Lifesavas – Government Cheese (Featuring Declaime):
:Cormega – MARS (Redeem Team) (Featuring AZ, Redman, Styles P):
:Vince Staples – Blue Suede:
:Lil Wayne – Gotti (Featuring The Lox):
:Wiley – On a Level:
:Run the Jewels – Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) (Featuring Zack De La Rocha):
:Fashawn – Golden State of Mind (Featuring Dom Kennedy):
:Zeale – Forty Acres (Featuring Hyro Da Hero):
:Action Bronson – Easy Rider:
:Busdriver – Eat Rich:
:Statx – Space Trippin:
:AnnaLove x Cory Kendrix – Wax On (Payton Long’s WE DA BEST Remix):

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Stream This

November 21, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Ariel Pink – Pom Pom

Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood
Flake Music – When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return
Your Old Droog – Self Titled
Gala Drop – II
September Girls – Veneer EP
Squrl – EP #3
Sunbeam Sound Machine – Wonderer
Cursive – The Ugly Organ (Deluxe Edition)

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Run The Jewels

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Colleen Green

November 20, 2014

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I’m just about ready to completely enter year-end list mode, but before I do I want to share an awesome new one from Colleen Green.  The track is a sugary little number, and I think it might be the most accessible thing she’s ever done.  Maybe 2015 will be her year?  Guess we’ll see.  Enjoy.

:Colleen Green – Pay Attention:

I Want To Grow Up will be released on February 24 via Hardly Art.

Bonus Video:

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Ice Cream (Noah)

November 19, 2014

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You expect a certain sound when you hear of a band called Ice Cream. You expect the sound of summer, or maybe you expect bubbly, refreshing pop ‘n’ roll or maybe you just expect it to be a bunch of teenage girls in sparkly pantsuits dancing to a pre-recorded beat. Ice Cream is just about none of these. Yes, on their debut self-titled album, they jig about on the poppier side of rock ‘n’ roll and there’s a little bit of bubble behind everything they do, but this is messy, gritty rock ‘n’ roll pulled smiling from the back-end of the 60s. Even when the sound feels reminiscent of a garage rock version of David Lee Roth (Wild) there’s a little bit of lip curl and broken glass to drag it back to something with a little more attitude. Even more impressive, Ice Cream manages to ride the wave of fuzzed out guitar and dark sunglasses and still inject it with enough good times to make it entirely approachable. You’d be entirely happy to have this blasting out of your 8-track on a sunny day in the park or just as happy to be in a dark urine-smelling basement with these lads throwing it down for a crowd of tattooed audience members. This is the best kind of fun music, that kind that’ll make you shuffle your feet without the fear of looking like a moron.

The band’s EP is available for free over on their Bandcamp page.

:Ice Cream – Wild:

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