Music Video Theater: James Blake – “Retrograde”

God damn it, James Blake sure knows how to make music videos.

The video for “Retrograde”, the first official single off his upcoming LP Overgrown due April 8th, is as surreal and pretty as the song, which itself is fantastic. Props to Martin de Thurah for another great James Blake video.

(At Least) 7 Albums To Look Forward To In 2013

After reading Consequence of Sound’s list of their most excited releases for 2013, I was compelled to make my own list of albums I’m looking forward to listening (hopefully!) this year. A lot of the due dates and album artworks are not confirmed yet, so I’m working with what I got.

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My Bloody Valentine – TBD

Mention the band My Bloody Valentine to your hipster friend and he will become bubbly and ramble on about how their 1991 album Loveless is one of THE greatest albums of all time (no, like really, like, THE GREATEST). Teasing aside (Loveless is indeed worth looking into), the band’s sudden announcement of a new album in over 22 years is causing quite the ruckus. Expectations are impossibly high, but My Bloody Valentine is a band that could actually match those expectations.  This is already 2013’s most scrutinized album, but it could also be its best.

Release date – Apparently January, since the band has confirmed that the album is 100% completed.

 

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Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

I have no idea what to expect from My Morning Jacket’s lead man’s first solo album, but judging from the album cover I’d say he’ll cover a little bit of everything. Hey who knows, maybe It’ll attract more My Morning Jacket fans, and that’s always a good thing.

Release date – February 5th

 

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Atoms For Peace – Amok

The debut album from a band consisting of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea? Yes please.

Release date – February 18th

 

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Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

As fantastic as Nick Cave is, it seems that he and the Bad Seeds don’t have an accessible album for any newcomer interested in this living legend. Push the Sky Away might very well be that much needed album. Or it could be just another Nick Cave record, which would still be awesome.

Release date – February 19th

 

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HAIM – TBD

I first hear HAIM (pronounced like “lime”) last month from their single, “Forever”, and I immediately fell in love with these girls. A lot of comparisons to Fleetwood Mac are being thrown around, but that doesn’t quite do justice to HAIM’s well crafted indie pop that doesn’t feel in any way dated.

Release date – Sometime in March

 

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Phoenix – TBD

Their smash 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix grabbed the entire world’s attention with their French electro-pop that could sum up what indie rock sounded like in the late 2000s, but now it’s time for their much desired follow up. No word on the overall album’s sound, but apparently it’s very “experimental”, whatever that means…

Release date – April

 

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Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Vile himself described his new album as, “Just rock”. Good enough for me.

Release date – Spring

 

Here are some more releases that I’m looking forward to in 2013, but unfortunately I have almost no knowledge of release dates (some of these might not even be released this year).

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Arcade Fire

Cloud Nothings

Daft Punk

James Blake

Lady Gaga

Vampire Weekend

 

Here’s to 2013!

Music Journal: Music I Bought In Broad Ripple

Where do young people go to retire?  No, I’m not talking about Portland (though all of the hot girls do wear glasses), I’m talking about Broad Ripple, Indiana.  With a plethora of local organic stores, the monon trail for bikers and runners, and a lust natural landscape that blossoms in the Spring, Broad Ripple is one of the coolest places in the Midwest, and it’s where I spend my Easter weekend.  While down there I did some shopping at the Indy CD & Vinyl store and splurged on some quality music.  Here are some of the albums I got.

Television – Marquee Moon

I now know what Niles Cline listened to as a kid.  This is a guitar player’s album, full of tasty licks courtesy of Tom Verlaine that has more guitar freak outs then conventional solos, making Marquee Moon a more unique guitar study.  This album came out of the CBGB era but it still sounds great in 2012.

 

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

After seeing her last week with the War on Drugs I had to buy something of hers, so I went with this year’s Tramp, which is shaping up to be her most accessible album.  It’s not as intimate as Because I Was In Love, but the production is top notch (courtesy of the National’s Aaron Dessner) and Sharon is growing into a confident songwriter and singer.  This is someone you’ll want to be on the lookout for in the near future.

 

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

I’ve been meaning to get this album for sometime, and now it’s finally apart of my ever growing Dylan collection (it would probably take me a could of years to find ALL of his albums).  I love this album for the simplicity and how direct his lyrics are.  This, along with Bring It All Back Home, contains some of my favorite lyrics, and I especially enjoy the large Woody Guthrie influence shown throughout this album.

 

BADBADNOTGOOD – BBNG2

I always dig what this jazzy trio is up to, and I love their second album.  All these guys are under 21, but they have some serious chops.  BBNG2 makes for some chill listening that is combines jazz elements and modern hip-hop.  Their cover of James Blake and Kanye West is essential listening.

Music Journal: January Recap – Lana Del Rey Fizzles, Mickey Mouse Teams Up With Joy Division, And More

Well it’s the end of the first month of 2012 (supposedly the last January of our existence?!), and there was plenty going on in the music world.  Here were some notable stories from the past month, along with my favorite album of January.

Lana Del Rey’s Debut Finally Drops…And There’s Nothing Much There.

With an official debut coming out and tons of hype behind her, Del Rey had nearly impossible expectations to meet in January, and of course she failed to meet them.  She bombed her performance on SNL – it sounded like a bad American Idol audition – and her debut album didn’t match the excitement that the hype had created about her.  Looks like we have another victim of the Internet Hype Machine.  I’ll always love “Video Games” though.

 

Disney Starts Selling Joy Division Shirts…Then Takes Them Off The Market

Disney finally started listening to their post-punk demographic and began selling Disney shirts with the famous Unknown Pleasures‘s album cover in the shape of the famous Mickey Mouse head.  However, the shirts created quite a stir among some people, and they were quickly removed.  It’s a shame – now what am I supposed to wear on Space Mountain?

 

RIP Etta James

Etta James left us in January, and she took with her one hell of a voice.  She will be greatly missed.

 

My Album of the Month: Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

Cloud Nothings third album, and the first with a proper producer, is a short but sweet kick in the ass.  Much like Yuck’s debut last year, Attack On Memory will take you back to the good old days of the Lo-Fi 90s.

 

The Song I Listened To The Most: James Blake – “A Case of You”

This Joni Mitchell cover was released in October, but it was all I listened to in January.  After hearing James Blake on piano without any electronics, his excellent debut album sounds more like Blue than Kid A.

Music Journal: My Favorite Albums of 2011

In 2011 the album became cool again.  This year I actually got excited for the release dates of many albums, something that hasn’t happened in a long time.  Though there wasn’t one huge album that towered over the rest, except maybe Adele’s second album in terms of album sales, there were a lot of great albums for almost every kind of music fan in 2011.  Here are my favorite albums released this year and then some honorable mentions.

James Blake – James Blake

One of the most powerful album I’ve heard in a long time, this will be the album that I’ll remember the most from this year.  The album is soulful and minimal, using post-dubstep electronics that are usually anything but minimal.  James Blake should be someone to look out for in the future, but his proper debut album has already established his place in music.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Before this album came out, Justin Vernon was known more for the story of his debut rather than the music itself (loner musician is sad, goes to a cabin in the winter woods, makes a record, becomes friends with Kanye West).  However with Bon Iver, he is no longer confined to his own myth.  Now he is, to me at least, the Peter Gabriel of our generation, a creative artist who is defining his career with such great songs such as “Calgary” and “Holocene”.  If For Emma, Forever Ago is his winter record, then this is his spring record.

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

My favorite singer-songwriter finally released an album after a three year drought, and it did not disappoint.  It sounds like a classic Neil Young record, and it is stacked up there with Heartbreaker and Gold.  It’s good to have you back Mr. Adams.

Wilco – The Whole Love

Wilco had nothing to prove in 2011, but Jeff Tweedy and his most consistent lineup created a fantastic album anyway.  The album keeps the weird dream-pop of Being There and experimental of A Ghost Is Born, all while being one of Wilco’s most accessible albums.  Every song is great, but “One Sunday Morning” could be a top five Wilco song.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Where as their first album sounds medieval, Fleet Foxes’s second album sounds timeless.  This was the album I kept in my car the longest this year, it was the perfect driving album.  This album stopped this band from becoming a one-album wonder and shows a promising future from this band.

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The album I didn’t expect to love so much, especially considering the past work of the band that is the closest thing to a modern day Smiths.  Simple lyrics, stripped down production, lovable songs, what more do you want from an album?

Honorable Mentions (Albums You Should Still Check Out)

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Drive Motion Picture Soundtrack

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

The Strokes – Angles

This is an awesome album collection, and I am excited to see what I’ll be buying in 2012.

Grammy Nominations: Who Should Win, Who Will Win, And Who Got Snubbed

The Grammy nominations have been announced, and there were a lot of pleasant surprises.  Some things I expected (Kanye West and Adele with the most nominations), but there were some genuine shockers (Bon Iver getting so many nominations, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not up for Album of the Year).  Here is the list for the most prominent awards and their nominees along with who I think should win, who will probably win, and who I believe got snubbed out of a well-deserved chance at this year’s Grammys.  Also to clarify, Song of the Year means that it was the best written song and the award goes to the songwriters.  Record of the Year is the best sounding song and goes to the performers and producers.

Album of the Year

Adele – 21

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Bruno Mars – Do-Wops & Hooligans

Rihanna – Loud

Who Should Win: None of these.  I’m very unimpressed with this selection.  The only album here I’ve heard is Wasting Light which is a great album, but there were much better albums that came out this year.

Who Will Win: 21, because that’s what most people heard all year.

Who Got Snubbed: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This was truly the album of the year.  It was commercially successful while still being artistically strong.  The Purple Rain of our generation (might not be a good comparison musically, but hopefully you get what I mean).

Record of the Year

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Katy Perry – “Firework”

Who Should Win: “Holocene”.  The production of this song is gorgeous and is matched with an equally gorgeous vocal work from Justin Vernon.  A highlight from a truly great album.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  It was impossible to escape this song, and unfortunately I bet most people have never heard “Holocene” (for those people, please click here).  But then again, I said the same thing about Arcade Fire at last year’s Grammys.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”.  Listen to the song here and see if you agree.

Song of the Year

Kanye West – “All of the Lights”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Who Should Win: “The Cave”.  This is such a great and uplifting song, something that has been missing from popular music for a long time.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  Same reason as why it’ll win Record of the Year.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart – “Down In The Valley”.  A simple yet powerful song.  Click here to make up your mind on it.

Best New Artist

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

The Band Perry

Who Should Win: Either Bon Iver or Nicki Minaj.  Both have been around for a decent time making quality music, but they are now getting due credit.  I’ll be happy just as long as J. Cole, Skrillex, or The Band Perry doesn’t win the award.

Who Will Win: This is a tough call.  Probably Nicki Minaj but there’s a decent chance for Bon Iver.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart.  I’m not sure if they would be eligible, but this is a solid band with a promising future.

Best Rock Album

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jeff Beck – Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Wilco – The Whole Love

Who Should Win: The Whole Love.  I’m so glad Wilco gets recognition from the Grammys.  This was by far my favorite album out of all of these, and I actually listened to all of these (expect Jeff Beck).

Who Will Win: Wasting Light.  The album did well commercially and it really is a great album.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – Angels.  This might not be the band’s best album, but it was better than most of the albums on this list.

Best Alternative Album

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

Foster the People – Torches

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Who Should Win: Bon Iver.  For goodness sake please give Justin Vernon a Grammy.

Who Will Win: No Idea: This is a hard call because all these albums did equally well commercially.  Radiohead is probably the most well known band here, but they don’t deserve this Grammy.

Who Got Snubbed: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues.  This album had my vote for the best album of the year so far.  Though my opinion may have changed, this album still deserves a Grammy.

Best Rap Album

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  The least the Grammys can do for Kanye is to give him this award to make up for not being nominated for Album of the Year.

Who Will Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I have faith that the Grammys won’t screw this up, but anything can happen.

Who Got Snubbed: Nobody.  That’s because MBDTF deserves this award.

Other Thoughts On This Year’s Grammys

James Blake should have been nominated for Electronica Album of the Year.

Congratulations to Fleet Foxes for being nominated for Folk Album of the Year.

So how did I do?  Are my predictions accurate or way out of line?  Comment below or Tweet at me (@BradyWGerber) and let me know who should bring home the big trophies at this year’s Grammys.


Music Journal: The Best Albums and Songs of 2011 (So Far!)

Well it’s finally August and it’s the halfway point of the year (ok technically July is the halfway point, but I just got around to doing this; better late than never right?)  So far 2011 has been a pretty good year for music.  There were plenty of great albums that have come out, but I will say that there isn’t one album that towers over the rest.  Here are the albums and songs that I feel are the best ones to have come out this year so far.

Please remember this is all subjective!  I can only give my opinion and I’m sure people will disagree with me on some of my opinions.  Also, there were plenty of albums that came out this year that I haven’t gotten around to listening (Cut Copy, Ty The Creator, etc).  These awards only reflect my music taste and what I have been listening to this year so far.

BEST ALBUM

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

For a long time I was torn between picking Bon Iver or James Blake for this year’s best album so far.  These were the two albums I was most looking forward to, and in no way did these albums not match my expectations.  However, for every great moment on both of these albums there were plenty of filler, and sometimes I caught myself becoming bored.

Helplessness Blues completely caught me off guard.

This album is such a pleasure to listen to, and it works well as an album – all the songs complement each other and it rarely drags on (though “The Shrine / An Argument” is pushing it with its eight long minutes).  This album does not abandon the band’s freak-folk style that made them such a hit in the beginning – you gotta love those harmonies – but they are more confident this time around and they greatly expand their creativity without sacrificing the songs.  Compared to their debut album Fleet Foxes (which is still worth checking out), Helplessness Blues is more colorful, as shown by its beautiful album cover.  This album turned a former skeptic into a fan, and now I believe this band is worth following.

Honorable Mentions (aka you should still buy these albums)

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Yuck – Yuck

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead

The Strokes – Angels

James Blake – James Blake

BEST SONG

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

The highlight to an excellent album, this was the song that turned me into a fan.

Honorable Mentions

The Head and the Heart – “Down In The Valley”

Yuck – “Shook Down”

James Blake – “Limit To Your Love”

Bon Iver – “Calgary”

The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”

Death Cab For Cutie – “You Are A Tourist”

Well how did I do?  Were my opinions not good enough for you, or did I hit the nail on the head?  Comment to let me know and also tweet your favorite albums and songs so far released this year @BradyWGerber.

Stay tuned for more music awards!