Playlist: 20 Songs For January 2015

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My first monthly playlist of 2015 includes new music from Sleater-Kinney, Viet Cong and The Decemberists along with some deep tracks from St. Vincent, Can, Nick Lowe, and more.

Here are my 20 songs for January 2015:

1. Cat Power – “The Greatest”

2. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”

3. The Breeders – “Drivin’ On 9”

4. Bully – “Milkman”

5. Madonna – “Hung Up”

6. Thea & The Wild – “Strangers and Lovers”

7. St. Vincent – “Champagne Year”

8. Nirvana – “Oh Me”

9. Arctic Monkeys – “Dance Little Liar”

10. American Football – “Never Meant”

11. Sleater-Kinney – “No Cities To Love”

12. Viet Cong – “March of Progress”

13. The Decemberists – “Philomena”

14. Jose Gonzalez – “Leaf Off / The Cave”

15. Sharon Van Etten – “I Don’t Want to Let You Down”

16. Can – “Vitamin C”

17. Belle & Sebastian – “Nobody’s Empire”

18. Daniel Johnston – “Life In Vain”

19. Nick Lowe – “The Beast In Me”

20. Cloakroom – “Outta Spite”

 

Week In Review (1/23/15)

Get excited for the new Toro Y Moi album.

What For? comes out April 7th via Carpark Records.

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Daniela Andrade does Childish Gambino right with this acoustic cover of “Telegraph Ave / Sober”

https://soundcloud.com/danielasings/childish-gambino-telegraph-ave-sober-cover

A great acoustic cover of a rap song is a beautiful thing.

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Another great Title Fight song to get you excited for their upcoming new album…

Listen here via Stereogum.

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…And another great Quarterbacks song to get you excited for the American Football-inspired emo revival (which isn’t a bad thing).

Listen here via NPR.

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Gengahr – “She’s A Witch”

How do you pronounce it? Eh who cares, I dig this song.

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Sharon Van Etten already rules 2015

As if 2014 wasn’t a big enough year for her. Hopefully “I Don’t Want to Let You Down” is an indication of a new album in 2015.

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The first album of 2015 that I love is a 4-way-tie between Viet Cong’s debut, Sleater-Kinney’s reunion, Belle & Sebastian’s dance-party, and Cloakroom’s shoegaze

Do yourself a favor and listen to all these albums (they’re all up on Spotify). The Sidekicks also get a shout out for their great new album that you should also check out on Spotify.

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Little Daylight – “Be Long (Twice As Nice Remix)”

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Imagine a less annoying, but still strange, Death Grips song that you really liked and you get Liturgy’s “Quetzalcoatl”

The Ark Work comes out March 24th via Thrill Jockey Records.

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Alex Winston – “We Got Nothing”

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I have no idea how to describe this new Ava Luna song but it’s so great and unique that you should really listen to it like right now

New album coming out this year!

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With a song this catchy, Allie X is allowed to make its music video as trippy as possible

But seriously, where do you get those glasses?

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If this song sounds like 1960’s garage psychedelics, it’s because this band is one of the founders of 1960’s garage psychedelics

The band that brought you “Strychnine” still kicks ass after all these years.

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The Rotaries – “Town Light”

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Roy English – “Julianne”

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One Sentence Reviews Of Headphone Nation’s 40 Favorite Albums Of The Decade (So Far): 2010 – 2014

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Congratulations – you made it halfway through the decade. How does it feel? Did you come up with a good nickname for this decade yet? Is it as catchy as “The Noughties”? What were the highlights?

It’s easy to get caught up looking back at a particular year (or years) and try to pick out the few highlights that defined the year out of all the countless events. For any pop culture publication, it’s a cheap, bias way to get more hits, and it usually doesn’t do the year justice to what it was actually like.

But hey, we all love to make these lists, and we all love to read these lists.

One of the ways to define a decade is by the most popular (i.e. the easiest to define) musical trends of the time: the 60s were the age of Psychedelia, the 70s saw the height of Big Hair Music (heavy rock and disco), the 80s were the dawn of Indie and MTV, the 90s the mass takeover of Pop music (Grunge-Pop, Britpop, Rap-Pop, Noise-Pop, Trip-Pop, Boy Band-Pop, Riot Grrrl-Pop, it goes on), and the last decade saw the boom of the streaming revolution that we’re still in the middle of. Obviously there were more to these decades than those broad themes, but it gets the job done.

So what is the trend that will define this decade? Is this the age of Doomsday Disco (EDM, Reflektor), Mumblecore (what much of “Indie Rock” has become), or Black Stadium Rock (Kanye West and the realization of his Thriller-sized ego)? Or will we just clump together all this music, much of it angry and noisy, and call it “Great Recession Music”?

It’s too early to tell – we’re only halfway through this decade. There’s no telling to what we’ll be listening to within the next five years and what albums will come to define this decade. So to try and find any sort of pattern in the beginning of 2015 is challenging and probably not necessary.

But like I said, we all love these lists – so let’s have a little fun.

Below is a list of my 40 favorite albums released between 2010 and 2014 and the albums that have defined this decade for me so far. I tried to make things more interesting by describing each album using only one sentence. Of course you cannot properly sum up an entire album in one sentence – but it’s fun to try to anyways!

Please note – this is NOT a list of the GREATEST albums of the decade. This is just a list of my personal favorites, and I hope I introduce you to some great albums that you might have missed in this decade. If this were a GREATEST list, then there would be some albums that I wouldn’t have omitted and some that I would have taken off. For example, Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 good kid, m.A.A.d city is without a doubt one of the best quality albums of the decade, but I have no personal attachment to it – I just like it because it’s good.

There are also lots of albums that I’ve heard are great but I’ve never sat down with and listened to all the way through (Frank Ocean, Grimes, Tame Impala, etc). When I do my inevitable End-Of-Decade list at the end of 2019, some of those albums might appear after I listen to them more.

Also, some of these albums on this list aren’t necessarily “good”, but there’s something about them that I absolutely love or can relate to. Maybe it’s because it’s from a favorite artist, or maybe I have a strong association with that album and where I first heard it or who/what it reminds me of. No matter the reason, these are the albums that I loved the most in this decade so far.

And yes, there’s a good chance that I left out one of your favorite albums. Please forgive me.

This list is in alphabetical order, and click on each album cover for a link to a song from the album.

 

Alright, let’s begin.

Headphone Nation’s Year In Review: 2014

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What better way to end 2014 than to give out some superlatives? As with any sort of end-of-year review, these awards reflect my personal taste and shouldn’t be taken as the final say on the year. Really my hope is that you’ll check out some new music that that you’d otherwise miss.

Also, make sure to click on the album cover for a link to a song off that album.

Alright, let’s begin.

 

Continue reading “Headphone Nation’s Year In Review: 2014”

My 25+ Favorite Songs of 2014

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Another year, another playlist of my favorite songs of the year. This year’s playlist has a particular mix of random greatness, from gloriously loud guitar rock to jazzy electronics and everywhere in between. This year wasn’t as full of epic pop songs as last year, but there are still plenty of quality songs to hear from 2014.

Enjoy!

 

*p.s., as time goes on I’ll add other great songs from this year to this playlist that I forgot to include, twenty-five is just a good starting point.

 

 

Against Me! – “True Trans Soul Rebel”

Alvvays – “Adult Diversion”

Cloud Nothings – “I’m Not Part of Me”

Flying Lotus – “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”

Gerard Way – “No Shows”

Hamilton Leithauser – “Alexandra”

The Hold Steady – “Spinners”

Honeyblood – “Super Rat”

Lana Del Rey – “Brooklyn Baby”

Mastodon – “The Motherload”

Matt Kivel – “You and I Only”

The Men – “Another Night”

Modern Baseball – “Fine, Great”

Parquet Courts – “Sunbathing Animal”

Real Estate – “Had To Hear”

Reigning Sound – “My My”

Ryan Adams – “When The Summer Ends”

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – “IMF”

Sharon Van Etten – “Tarifa”

Spoon – “Do You”

St. Vincent – “I Prefer Your Love”

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Lariat”

Strand of Oaks – “Goshen ’97”

Sun Kil Moon – “Micheline”

The War On Drugs – “Red Eyes”

AND MORE!

Four Things I Didn’t Expect To Happen In 2014 (From Someone Who Missed It All)

Five months is a long time to be away. Without a working cellphone or laptop, I was blissfully out of touch with the world of music save the few english music magazines I managed to find. Our reliance on the Internet for most of our news is bittersweet; it’s bitter because it feels like at times you either have too much information or none of it at all, but it’s sweet because I can google all the news and music that I missed.

Last year was great for music because it seemed that every popular artist in the world decided to release music all at once (My Bloody Valentine released an album for goodness sakes). Most albums in 2013 were a lot of fun to talk about (how many arguments have you heard or partaken in for or against Yeezus?), but a lot of those albums I rarely go back to and listen for pure enjoyment.

It seems that, for me at least, 2014 has been more about quality than quantity. The War On Drugs made their best album, The Hold Steady are still alive, a few of my other favorites released music (Sharon Van Etten, Cloud Nothings, Beck, The Men) and I’ve become acquainted with Real Estate, Parquet Courts, How To Dress Well, St. Vincent, and other musicians I knew about before but whom all have converted me into true fans this year. This year has been the year of rookies, redemptions, and breakthroughs, and I think this year, more than other years, we’ve all discovered a few new favorite bands.

Of course this could also mean that 2014 is, if nothing else, just more in tune with my personal taste, the taste of a 21-year-old Midwest music lover who has to rely on the Internet for most of his music. The following are just a few particular things that I’ve noticed about the music that I missed in 2014. Many of these things won’t seem like a big deal to you. Maybe because you’ve seen this year slowly unfold and none of this seems sudden, or maybe you just disagree with me. But it’s fun to write about the halfway point of 2014 with a different perspective. Plus, I need to do a “halfway through 2014” post anyways, so here we go!

 

1. Guitar Rock Music Is Alive And Well

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Just to clarify — great guitar music, in all of its wonderful and diverse forms, has never died. There will always be great music made with Fender guitars plugged into Marshall amps with the occasional tremolo and delay pedals. But in 2014, more than most recent years, it seems that guitar music is not only getting by but actually thriving among popular music.

Whether it’s 90’s nostalgia (Cloud Nothings), Alex Chilton approved classic rock (The Men), Paul Westerberg approved melodic punk (Against Me!), 70’s New York City cool punk (Parquet Courts and Thee Oh Sees), or metal that Foo Fighters fans would like (Mastodon), every type of guitar player had an album to like in 2014.

 

And I don’t know if I can categorize the excellent new The War On Drugs album Lost In The Dream. The band’s previous album, the also excellent Slave Ambient, was a unique marriage of Tom Petty Americana with hints of dreamy guitars that aren’t quite shoegazing but just as pretty, and Lost In The Dream is just an overall improvement of that sound.

 

As of now, my favorite album of 2014 is Real Estate’s Atlas. In addition to having some of the best lyrics of the year, it’s also a great guitar album in the sense that any person just learning guitar can learn all these songs fairly easily, which makes the point that you don’t have to be a virtuoso to make excellent music.

 

All of a sudden, a guitar band doesn’t feel retro, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Also, because I love The Hold Steady, I really think the new album got a lot of undeserved panning.  Teeth Dreams, for all its flaws, is worth another listen.

 

2. No One Seems To Like Jack White Anymore

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Speaking of guitars, I was excited to come home and check out Lazaretto, the newest album from one of rock music’s most dependable crusaders, until I began reading all the mixed reviews on the album which then led to a widespread analysis on White’s legacy (Steven Hyden’s Grantland article is especially good concerning this).

The mixed reviews, along with some interesting interviews in which White attacked The Black Keys and other nice people, made me less thrilled to call myself a Jack White fan. I’ve always liked the idea of Jack White — a musician who takes inspiration from the past and tries to make it new in a way that tributes to the old ways while moving forward. But when I went back to all my White Stripes albums, I realized that most of these albums are, well, just ok. Yes, I know Elephant is a classic album and “Seven Nation Army” is an anthem of a generation and “Ball And Biscuit” is the sound of a guitar having sex, but the rest of the album? This is one of the few times where I 100% agree with a Pitchfork review. As for White’s many side projects — The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, etc — each band has, at the very most, a handful of great songs that’ll remind you how much you miss The White Stripes.

I’ve listened to Lazaretto a couple of times and I agree with many of the reviews that I’ve read — it’s a more high-maintenance Blunderbuss with a few truly great songs hidden among mostly ok to good songs, much like every album Jack White has made after White Blood Cells.

But with all that said, Jack White is still, and will probably always be, the go to guitar champion for much of our generation. I still say that I’m a fan (De Stijl and White Blood Cells still sound great). Plus, in the end, White might have the last laugh.

 

3. 2014 Pop Music — The Ultimate Hangover Year

2013 was one of the greatest years for music in terms of how many popular and established bands released new music. 2014 didn’t have a chance from the start, and halfway through the year that still stands to be true.

The only major bands I know that everyone knows and loves (or at lest loves to hate) that released music this year was Coldplay and The Black Keys, and those albums are less than stellar. Lana Del Rey and Jack White are also more established names in popular music (for very different reasons), but I wouldn’t consider them in the realm of David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, and Kanye West popular, all of whom released new music last year. EDM and electronic pop still seems to be the dominate genre of throwaway hits on the radio, but it feels like the genre is losing momentum, especially after this and this.

There’s still plenty of time for pop music to figure something out, but until then it seems that the only man putting pop music on his back is…

 

4. Pharrell Williams Is Still Ruling The World

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When I left the states, everyone was still listening to “Get Lucky” every single day. Now it’s “Happy”, another product from the man who pretty much had the best year in 2013. Yes, most of you passionately hate this song by now, but this was the only universal hit that I seemed to missed. Also, G I R L is not a bad album, and I say that because I assume no one else has listened to the album after hearing “Happy” so much.

 

So so far so good for 2014. With the recent news of a new Ryan Adams album later this year, I’m already giddy to think of what my end-of-year best lists will consist of. Below you’ll find a Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot more great music in 2014, so let me know if there’s anything else I need to hear!

 

Mid-Year Review Part 2: My Favorite Songs Of 2012 (So Far)

Pump out the jams people! Below are my 20 favorite songs of 2012 (so far) with a Spotify link at the bottom to all the songs.

Enjoy!

Sharon Van Etten – “Joke or a Lie”

Bruce Springsteen – “Wrecking Ball”

Lambchop – “Gone Tomorrow”

The Men – “Candy”

M. Ward – “Clean Slate”

Rufus Wainwright – “Sometimes You Need”

The Dig – “I Already Forgot Everything You Said”

Glen Hansard – “You Will Become”

Fiona Apple – “Valentine”

The Henry Clay People – “EveryBandWeEverLoved”

Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”

Sonny And The Sunsets – “Pretend You Love Me”

Beachwood Sparks – “Forget The Song”

Keaton Henson – “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are”

River City Extension – “Slander”

Cloud Nothings – “Stay Useless”

King Tuff – “Wild Desire”

Jack White – “Sixteen Saltines”

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – “Man On Fire”

Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”

And of course, here’s a Spotify mix of my favorite songs of 2012 so far.

Mid-Year Review Part 1: My Favorite Albums of 2012 (So Far)

Well it’s halfway through 2012 and there have been some great releases this year so far. All the albums we thought were going to be great (Lana Del Rey, The Shins) fizzled out. So it was up to the underdogs to step up and make 2012 a surprisingly great year for music.

Here are my favorite albums of 2012 so far.

Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

The 90s guitar revival is still alive and well (at least in the indie world). Cloud Nothings’s breakthrough hit is so far the best guitar rock album of 2012.

 

The Men – Open Your Heart

The Foo Fighters ain’t gonna last forever, and when they go The Men will take their place as the kings of hard rock…well, I mean as long as they make great albums like Open Your Heart.

 

Jack White – Blunderbuss

Mr. White’s debut solo album is already considered a classic, and I would have to agree. The album blends all of White’s favorite styles into an organic mix of what we can now call that signature Jack White sound.

 

Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

The Boss literally does not have to make any more music for the rest of his life, and yet he and the E Street Band are still chugging along. Wrecking Ball is a genuinely great album that actually may catch you off guard with how folky it sounds. With songs addressing the Occupy Wall Street movement, this is an album for a specific era of American history.

 

Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

How I stumbled across this album I’ll never remember, but I’m so glad I found it. Etten’s voice can scare the hell out of you and also break your heart, all at the same time. She’s even better live.

 

John Mayer – Born and Raised

I was surprised with how little buzz John Mayer’s fifth album got, but it doesn’t really matter – the music will stand the test of time. Mayer’s country-rock influences come across naturally and combines well with his pop smarts. Be prepared for this being his last album that he’ll ever sing on due to issues with his throat.

 

River City Extension – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger

This album is still very fresh in my memory, but I can tell you now this album will be one of my favorites by this year’s end. A beautiful mix of alt-country and noise rock with lyrics as good as the harmonies. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, this is the album for you.

 

The Henry Clay People – Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives

This album clocks in just under 28 minutes, but you’ll be too busy banging your head to notice. This album is fast and furious, yet it’s melodic and sweet. Imagine if Big Star were more of a punk band.

 

Frank Ocean – Channel Ocean

The story of the year goes along with the album which I assume will top every music publication’s list as the best album of 2012. This isn’t so much a rap record as it is a soulful and beautiful portrait of an artist as a young man. There were times I thought I was listening to Stevie Wonder, and that’s a huge complement.

Playlist: 15 Songs For April 2012 (Via Spotify)

Time for some April showers – of good music that is.  This month’s mix is a little more on the rocking side, but there’s something here for everyone.  I even threw in a classical piece for all my sophisticated viewers out there.

Here are my 15 songs for April 2012.

And The Lollapalooza 2012 Lineup Is….

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you this year’s Lolla lineup!

The top acts are the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Black Sabbath, and Jack White.  The other major acts include Florence and the Machine, The Shins, M83, Sigur Ros, Frank Ocean, Wale, J. Cole, and Guy Clark Jr.  Some hidden gems include Sharon Van Etten, Washed Out, The Weeknd, and plenty of other up and coming acts.

To see the full list, click here.