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Brad’s Top 10 Albums Of 2012

December 19, 2012

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2012 – the year in which the Mayans saw it fit to end all days would make a pretty nice conclusion to all things, or well when it comes to music at least. I would gesture it’s been a good year from the fact that I had particular difficulties in narrowing down my favorite releases, and it really has been a good year. Never mind even ranking them, just whittling down to these 10 was a challenge enough. This past year was great in that it saw plenty of newcomers take hold, and even better, the new guys from last year firmly held their places and graduated from being promising newcomers to established powerhouses. Throw in some seasoned players, and you’ve got a year that had one hell of a variety to offer. Yes, it was a good year. Here are my choice choices. In no particular order, of course.

:Beach House – Myth:

:Divine Fits – Would That Not Be Nice:

:Django Django – Life’s A Beach:

:Fanfarlo – Feathers:

:Japandroids – The Night Of Wine And Roses:

:Kids Of 88 – Feel The Love:

:Purity Ring – Fineshrine:

:Tame Impala – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards:

:Tennis – Petition:

:Yellow Ostrich – Marathon Runner:

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Mikela’s Top 5 Albums Of 2012

December 10, 2012

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Picking 10 albums from an entire year’s worth of music is no easy feat. Picking 5? Nearly impossible. So in order to offer up my handful of favorites from the Mayan calendar’s final year, I thought long and hard about what impressed me in 2012. And while I could easily have put 25 albums on this list, here are 5 that consistently made their way into my catalog almost instantly. So sit back and listen, and maybe you’ll find some music to help you tune out your family this holiday season.

1. alt-J – An Awesome Wave

I joke about avoiding buzz bands because I’m afraid to be disappointed, and alt-J fell victim to my prejudice. But since discovering this album a few months ago, it’s been a permanent fixture in my repertoire. Sleek, sexy, and Radiohead-esque, this is an album best enjoyed through headphones.

:alt-J – Breezeblocks:

2. Japandroids – Celebration Rock 

It’s hard to argue an album that was more fun than Japandroids’ most recent release. This scream-every-lyric, can’t-help-but-dance-around collection of songs is an instant anti-depressant, turning every gray cloud into a gritty and loud ray of sunshine.

:Japandroids – The Night Of Wine And Roses:

3. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

First off, I’m not a hip hop girl. But with the sweet and soulful gay marriage anthem Same Love, this Seattle rap/producer duo reeled me in. It was their infectious hooks and slew of guest collaborators that kept me around for more.

:Macklemore And Ryan Lewis – Same Love (Featuring Mary Lambert):

4. Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

I gotta hand it to my girl Sharon Van Etten. She does angst in a heartbreaking way. And while her freshman release was near-perfect, her sophomore release expanded her ability and broke my heart all at the same time.

:Sharon Van Etten – Give Out:

5. Father John Misty – Fear Fun

It has to be said that of all the shows I saw in 2012, Father John Misty was one of the most surprising. A former Fleet Foxes member, Josh Tillman struck me as the kind of guy who would put on a bit of a snoozy show. Yet when he took the stage dancing and prancing, I was sold. His first solo effort is solid, from folky tunes to the foot-stomping Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.

:Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings:

Honorable Mentions:

Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard

A hauntingly beautiful effort from this Canadian singer-songwriter.

:Patrick Watson – Words In The Fire:

Tame Impala – Lonerism

An album that feels like it should have come out years ago. 1/2 Beatles, 1/4 Miike Snow, and 1/4 Dr. Dog, I loved it.

:Tame Impala – Elephant:

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Top 25 Albums Of 2012: Part 5

December 7, 2012

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And then it was the end.  You guys now have my Top 50 Songs of 2012 and my Top 25 Albums of 2012.  Hooray for sharing!  Anyhow, I’m off to take a break.  The rest of the SOTO staff will be posting their 2012 favorites next week, so if you’re not listed out, come on back by.

For good measure in regards to my album list, I easily could have spewed out 50 releases, but I realized that half of those would have been albums that I only listen to when I’m in a particular mood.  In other words, they’re not immediately accessible, and that to me knocks them down a notch.  So, if you’re looking for 25 releases that you can immediately dive into and love, this is the place to be.  Enjoy.

05) The Sword – Apocryphon

I thought the Sword’s last release, Warp Riders, was pretty fantastic, but Apocryphon is worlds better.  The album isn’t even what I’d consider metal, it’s just high quality rock n’ roll, and we all need that in our lives.

:The Sword – Eyes Of The Stormwitch:

04) Terry Malts – Killing Time

Slumberland put out a lot of nice albums this year, but the one that I felt stood above the rest was Terry Malts’ Killing Time.  It’s awesomely overloaded with fuzzed-out, two minute-ish punk jams that make you want to get up and go.

:Terry Malts – I Do:

03) Purity Ring – Shrines

I had very high expectations for Shrines, and Purity Ring actually managed to meet them.  Even after what seems to be a million listens, this album still sounds fresh and futuristic to me.   Wear headphones, friends.

:Purity Ring – Belispeak:

02) Japandroids – Celebration Rock

If you can listen to Celebration Rock and not immediately want to set out on a drunken, caution-free adventure with whoever happens to be around you at that moment, then you’re dead.  No one inspires like this duo does.

:Japandroids – The Night Of Wine And Roses:

01) Lace Curtains – The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness

Well, this is it.  We have arrived at my favorite album of 2012, and it comes via a side project of Michael Coomer (from Austin’s Harlem).  The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness is full of fantastic songwriting, and I’ve spent a lot of time just lost in each of its 10 tracks.  If only all pop music was this memorable.

:Lace Curtains – High Fantasy:

PS – I had a few other albums floating around in my head, so I made some mini-lists for fun.

5 Albums That Would Have Made The List Had I Done A Top 30
Dan Deacon – America
Reptar – Body Faucet
Titus Andronicus – Local Business
Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
Frankie Rose – Interstellar

5 Great Albums That Require Patience
Mono – For My Parents
Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
Beach House – Bloom
Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t
The Walkmen – Heaven

5 Great Austin Releases That Didn’t Make The Top 25
Dana Falconberry – Leelanau
The Calm Blue Sea – Arrivals And Depatures
Heartless Bastards – Arrow
Shearwater – Animal Joy
Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Untogether

Top 5 EPs
Icona Pop – Iconic
MS MR – Candy Bar Creep Show
Dum Dum Girls – End Of Daze
Rubblebucket – Oversaturated
FIDLAR – Don’t Try

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Top 50 Songs Of 2012: Part 5

November 30, 2012

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It’s Friday, which means we have arrived at the end of my Top 50 Songs Of 2012 list!  I hope you’ve had a good time perusing the previous 40.  In case you somehow missed this little bit of info, I chose the songs from the 400+ tracks that I shared around here throughout the last 11 months.  Enjoy.

10)  :Icona Pop – I Love It:  Much of my 2012 was spent looking to this electropop number for a burst of fun.  I just kind of adore how obnoxious it is.  From the Nights Like This EP.

09)  :Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built:  I think it’s safe to say that with this song, Japandroids are now officially the band everyone looks to when they’re in need of an anthem.  From Celebration Rock.

08)  :David Byrne And St. Vincent – Who:  This track is focused pop madness, and to be honest, that’s exactly what I was hoping the David Byrne/St. Vincent collaboration would unleash onto the world.  From Love This Giant.

07)  :Ellie Goulding – High For This (The Weeknd Cover):  Every year there’s a cover that I can’t get enough of, and in 2012 it was Ellie’s sensual take on this Weeknd track.  I highly recommend headphones.  And booze.

06)  :TV Girl – I Wonder Who She’s Kissing Now:  There’s going to come a year where I don’t get an incredibly catchy and charming retro pop track from TV Girl, and then I’ll immediately become cranky and constantly reference the “good old days.”  From The Wild, The Innocent, The TV Shuffle.

05)  :Tame Impala – Elephant:  Of the 50 songs on this list, this is my favorite to try and ruin my speakers with.  It’s actually flaunting some attitude, which is something I didn’t think Tame Impala had in them.  From Lonerism.

04)  :MS MR – Hurricane:  2012 featured a ton of good music that was 90s-enthused, so you know it means something when I say that I found this MS MR song to be the best of the bunch.  From the Candy Bar Creep Show EP.

03)  :Dum Dum Girls – Lord Knows:  This band is so very good, and it’s all because Dee Dee continues to be one of the best songwriters around.  Just listen to the lyrics in this incredible song for proof.  From the End Of Daze EP.

02)  :Twin Shadow – Five Seconds:  I wanted to not use the word “infectious” anywhere in this list, but that’s just exactly what this 80s throwback is.  Good luck trying to ever escape its grasp.  From Confess.

01)  :Purity Ring – Fineshrine:  When I sat down to map out this year’s 50 songs, I already knew what would be in this spot.  That’s actually never happened before, and I give all the credit to Purity Ring, who created a song that’s as fantastic as can be on all fronts.  I will love this track forever.  From Shrines.

PS – You can check out the entire list on one page here, or the majority of the songs here on Spotify.

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10 Artists You Need To See At Fun Fun Fun Fest

October 29, 2012

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Fun Fun Fun Fest takes over Auditorium Shores this weekend, and I’m pumped.  Like every year, the festival is packed with a large variety of acts that must been seen.  Refused, Santigold, Explosions In The Sky, Run DMC – these are just a few of the big names that will be delighting the masses.  As I noted, though, the lineup is stacked, and that means there will also be quite a bit of good music going on during the afternoon.  Below you’ll find the 10 bands that I think you should head out early to see.  Enjoy.

PS – Tickets are still available!  Also, the FFF Nites are going to be killer.  Check out the list of acts here.  The shows are free if you have a Fun Fun Fun Fest wristband.

Japandroids

Celebration Rock is quite possibly the best rock release of the year, and I know these two guys put on a great show.  Combine those two things with the rowdy attitude (from the artist and the crowd) that tends to come with the Black Stage, and it’s possible that the world will catch on fire.  I can’t wait to see what happens.

:Japandroids – The Nights Of Wine And Roses:

Japandroids play the Black Stage at 4:20pm on Sunday.

Icona Pop

This pop duo put out one of the year’s catchiest tracks, and they’re riding a fairly large wave of buzz.  Time to see if they’re worth all the attention.  I’m hoping they are, as it could make for a really entertaining show.

:Icona Pop – I Love It:

Icona Pop play the Blue Stage at 1:50pm on Friday.

Bleached

I saw this band at SXSW, and I came away fairly impressed.  Their sound is of the simple, straightforward retro pop variety, but they work it and put on an upbeat show that will surely play well amongst the chaos of Fun Fun Fun Fest.

:Bleached – Searching Through The Past:

Bleached play the Orange Stage at 2:10pm on Sunday.

Fidlar

This list isn’t in any particular order, but if it was I’d probably put Fidlar near the top of it.  They’ve released so many good songs in 2012, and I must hear them all live.  Or, if anything, I at least want to hold a drink high in the air as the band plays Cheap Beer.

:Fidlar – Cheap Beer:

Fidlar play the Black Stage at 1:05pm on Friday.

Baauer

To be honest, I don’t know much about this act.  I can only say that Harlem Shake is one hell of a banger, and I have to see how the crowd handles it.  I predict a dance party that will be spoken of for years to come.

:Baauer – Harlem Shake:

Baauer plays the Blue Stage at 1:45pm on Sunday.

Yellow Ostrich

This band has been mentioned so many times around here that I’m sure you already had plans to see them.  RIGHT?  If for some crazy reason you didn’t, be sure to go.  They have a large handful of stellar songs in their repertoire, and I always find their live sets to be very good.

:Yellow Ostrich – Marathon Runner:

Yellow Ostrich play the Orange Stage at 12:30pm on Friday.

Fang Island

I’ve been wanting to see these guys play for a long time.  Their recorded stuff is full of energy, and they seem like a band that will own the festival setting and do something fun.

:Fang Island – Asunder:

Fang Island play the Orange Stage at 1:35pm on Sunday.

The Helio Sequence

I imagine that many of you are already very aware of the Helio Sequence, but they’re playing so early in the day that I wanted to make sure to highlight them.  Also, their latest album, Negotiations, is a good one, and I can’t wait to hear the new songs live.

:The Helio Sequence – Hall Of Mirrors:

The Helio Sequence play the Orange Stage at 2:10pm on Saturday.

Astronautalis

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this guy twice, and both times I wanted to find him after his set and give him the best high five possible.  He’s an absolute blast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out of Fun Fun Fun Fest with a new legion of fans.

:Astronautalis – Dimitri Mendeleev:

Astronautalis plays the Blue Stage at 4:55pm on Friday.

Torche

I’ve grown to like Torche because of their most recent album, Harmonicraft.  They do catchy, anthemic metal tunes that are fun to sing-a-long to, and I expect they’ll make for a nice change of pace on the Black Stage.

:Torche – Letting Go:

Torche play the Black Stage at 2:15pm on Friday.

HONORABLE MENTION – The Midgetmen

Because sometimes the world is just crazy enough that covering Weird Al’s Dare To Be Stupid will land you a spot at a large festival.  Nailed it!  I’m super excited for these local guys to be playing (and kicking off, actually) Fun Fun Fun Fest.  I’ve seem them do the aforementioned covers before, and they’re actually pretty good.

On a related note, tomorrow I’ll be premiering a downloadable track and a full stream of the Midgetmen’s cover of Dare To Be Stupid!  Be sure to drop by and check it out.

The Midgetmen play the Yellow Stage on Friday at 11:50am.

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