Music Blogs - Blogged Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, November 30, 2009

Best of 2009: Top 5 Debut Albums

You know, I was just sitting here thinking about how 2009 was kind of a lame year for music. Well, that's not entirely true because as it turns out, 2009 was a great year for new artists. Whittling down this list from the list of potentials was difficult, and some really good albums got cut in the process. The list below is made up from what I feel are the Top 5 Debut albums of 2009. Enjoy!

#5. Monsters of Folk: Monsters of Folk - This is one of those albums that only come around once a decade or so. You get 4 powerhouses of indie music together and hit the record button. Voila! Instant magic! Chances are, Monsters of Folk will never record an album again and if they do, it won't be this solid. Jim James is glorious, Conor Oberst the same, M. Ward is fantastic, and Mogis…well, he's Mogis, you know? Any doubts I had about this album were cast away in the first few seconds of "Dear God." It's like The New Pornographers, but more folksy. That's the best complement I could possibly level on this album. So there.

#4. Clues: Clues - Man, I can't begin to explain to you how upset I was when The Unicorns disbanded half a decade ago. I was still new to the whole "indie rock" thing, and that band in particular was extremely influential in my life. Enter Clues, the newest band from ex-Unicorns singer Alden Penner. While not nearly as solid as The Unicorns (it is literally nothing like the band), Clues does hold its own quite well. There are songs on here that are slow slow and methodical, others that are fast and maniacal. It is a very well-rounded record, with hints of that old, zany Unicorns flare ("Remember Severed Head"). It's definitely worth repeat listens.

#3. Discovery: LP - LP shows many of the flaws of a debut album - the inconsistencies, the unfocused approach - but makes up for it with some crazy arrangements and catchy hooks. Today I've had "It's Not My Fauly (It's My Fault)" stuck in my head all day. Yesterday it was "Swing Tree." There! Proof that this is a great album. Cale out.

#2. Passion Pit: Manners - Well, not just yet I guess. Passion Pit's debut album is easily one of the top debut albums of 2009 (ok, just top, period) because it shows the musical maturity of an artist's fourth or fifth album. I mean, think about it. Look at Metric. Fantasies was the group's 4th album, and by almost all accounts, Manners blows it away on all fronts. Not to knock Metric because I've already established what a solid album Fantasies is, but Manners is pound for pound a better piece of music. So yeah, if an album THIS complete and THIS masterful comes out THIS early in a band's career, you better believe it's going to get a spot on this (THIS?) list.

#1. Wallpaper.: Doodoo Face - The date that I'm writing this piece is October 8th. Doodoo Face has barely been out a few weeks, but placing it at the top of this list (and the others) seems like a no-brainer for me. I just went on and on about the solidity of Passion Pit's debut, and Wallpaper has that and more. What more, you ask? Well, character, for one; but also, the best production I've heard in years, a sense of humor, and honestly, a lead singer that doesn't sound like a whiny girl. So yeah, that's how Ricky Reed locked down the top spot on this list.

Click to

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Giveaway!

Oh sure, you can go brave the horrendous checkout lines and brutal parking lots for a $5 discount on some really neat mittens that your aunt Edith will just looooove, or you could just keep reading for a chance to win a free CD of your choice.  More or less...

If you've been to the blog in the last month, you're well-acquainted with the above image.  All you have to do win this giveaway is tell me the artist and album title of all 20 albums in the image, clockwise starting from the top left corner.  The first person to send a private message to my twitter account with all 20 albums correctly listed will win: Reader Gary was kind enough to point out all the ways Twitter sucks.  The first person to send me an email with all 20 albums correctly listed will win:

  • 1 copy of an album from Audio Overflow's Top 15 Albums of 2009.  Your choice!

Clearly, this also means that you'll get a sneak peak at what the Top 15 will be (only half of those albums in the picture are in the Top 15).  The tension is killing you, I know.

So go ahead and shoot a PM @audiooverflow an email to with your guesses.  Submit your answers even if you don't know all 20.  If by this time next week, no one has guessed correctly, I'll pick the person with the highest correct answers.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Click to

Thursday, November 26, 2009

29 in 2009 - Sonic Youth: "Daydream Nation"

Sonic Youth:  Daydream Nation
Originally Released:  October 1988
Genres:  Indie, Rock, Alternative
Rating:  2 out of 10

I'm totally okay with admitting that I don't "get" what the big deal about Sonic Youth is/was.  The first time I ever hear the bad is when they covered The Carpenters' song several years back.  I didn't get it then.  So I ignored them.  Later on as I got more and more into indie music, the band's name kept on creeping up.  I finally downloaded Daydream Nation to see what all the fuss was about.  I listened for about 15 minutes and decided that what I was hearing was entirely too shitty for words, and went to listen to some decent stuff instead.

So a few years pass.  "Juno" comes out and Diablo Cody perfectly expresses my sentiments toward the band through a fictional high school girl.  Finally!  I'm not alone!  But tastes change, people.  My musical preferences go through phases.  With that in mind, I happily nominated this album for this series and you all voted it in.

Why?  I'm not sure because this album still sucks a fat one.  Granted, "Teen Age Riot" is much more pleasant to my ears these days than it used to be, as are a few others (like the first two parts of "Trilogy"), but the last time I checked there isn't a single person in Sonic Youth who has any sort of vocal talent whatsoever.  Thurston Moore is least guilty for crimes against humanity ('s ears), as his tunes are at least listenable.  Ranaldo is a little more flagrant in his lack of vocal abilities, most notably in "Hey Joni." 

But let's focus for a second on Kim Gordon who more or less vomits into her hands and then flails that at the microphone.  Her singing is not bad.  It's atrocious.  When she sings "I wanna know/should I stay or go," I literally cringe.  It is something that has no place in the world, much less a music record.  Her voice absolutely ruins "Trilogy," which until she stepped up to the mic was becoming one of the album's best tracks. 

The guitars, bass, drums and all that sort of stuff?  It's passable; definitely much more acceptable to me now than it was with my first listen to this album all those years ago.  However, when it comes to music, the whole is usually the sum of its parts, so my feelings about this album are abolutely weighed down by the vocals that are far too distracting for me.  It's a shame, really, that my opinions are more in line with a fictional high school girl than with the majority of the fawning music press.  But Juno was more or less right.  Sonic Youth is "just noise" most of the time.  The rest of the time they are amateur at best and not worth my time.

Verdict:  Overrated Crap

Click to

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Top 31 Songs of 2009

Why delay things with a long and drawn-out introduction that you probably won't read anyway?  Readers, it's been a long year here at the ol' A/O, and I'm glad it's coming to an end.  Let's celebrate 2009 with a look back at the 31 songs that made it unique!

#31. "Get it Right Now" - Del the Funky Homosapien - Saying this is Del's best song in years isn't a difficult thing to do. Pretty much everything he's done since Both Sides of da 'Brain has been pretty poor. With that said, "Get It Right Now" is an awesome track, and one that was going strong on my iPod for months. It just may be the best rap track of 2009.

#30. "The Ruminant Band" - Fruit Bats - The title track to the new Fruit Bats album is a charming song, both lyrically and musically. It towers above the rest of the album and was its only song that I have listened to for more than a week.

#29. "I Belong to You" - Muse - Muse's most-recent record is a big ol' pile of hit or miss despite the fact that some of the band's best songs are contained on it. "I Belong to You" happens to be one of those tracks. It's got a danceable, "Supermassive" feel to it, plus a little bit of orchestration a-la "Butterflies & Hurricanes." And it's perfect. So there's that.

#28. "Black & Blue" - Miike Snow - The catchiest song on Miike Snow's self-titled album is also its greatest asset. The rest of the album? Meh, it can be good sometimes.

#27. "Daylight" - Matt & Kim - It's relentless in its awesomeness, despite Matt's sometimes grating voice. Once the drums kick in, I can't help but break out in a slightly-embarassing groove.

#26. "El Caporal" - My Morning Jacket - The only song on Dark was the Night''s second disc that is any good, "El Caporal" is actually reeeeaaaally good, which is nice in a year without a proper MMJ record.

#25. "Swing Tree" - Discovery - In my time with this great album, there have been multiple songs that have slid in and out of my "favorite song on the album" spot. "Swing Tree" currently resides there, where it has for the last month.

#24. "Give It Up" - Datarock - I first listened to Datarock's Red about 3 months ago. I stopped listening to it about 3 months ago as well. However, about a week ago, this song started playing on my iPod. I've been hooked ever since. Is a week enough time to determine whether a song deserves a spot on this list? That's debatable. What isn't is the greatness of "Give it Up." It rocks.

#23. "Little Bribes" - Death Cab for Cutie - I usually stay away from EPs, opting instead for a full LP for my musical enjoyment. But "Little Bribes" is a great song, and The Open Door EP is pretty good too.

#22. "I'm On a Boat" - The Lonely Island f/ T-Pain - For as goofy and bizarre as this song is, it's also pretty damn catchy. It's been stuck in my head multiple times in 2009, and chances are it'll still be getting some plays in 2010. Not bad for a bit of musical comedy.

#21. "Ray Gun" - The Bird & the Bee - The Bird & the Bee's latest is filled with some outstanding pop gems, "Ray Gun" just happens to be the best on here. If you have yet to listen to it, you owe to yourself. Trust me. I'm Cale.

#20. "Waters of March" - Anya Marina - This is the second-best cover song of 2009. The first? Keep reading.

#19. "Young Adult Friction" - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Young Adult Friction" has the uncanny ability to sound like both an early 90s indie rock song and a song off of an 80s John Hughes movie. How that works is anyone's guess, but it does, and it's a beautiful song.

#18. "Remember Severed Head" - Clues - This song almost sounds like a Unicorns song. Almost. Sometimes almost is good enough.

#17. "Take On Me" - A.C. Newman - I was in love with A-Ha's "Take On Me" long before Newman decided to cover it for the Sweetheart Compilation this year. It's one of the best pop songs of all time, in my opinion. What he does to it here is slow it down and make it a bit more somber, which suits the lyrics perfectly. It's a new spin on an old classic. I love it!

#16. "11th Dimension" - Julian Casablancas - Under the Radar magazine called this song "the best 80s jam of 2009," which I totally agree with. Casablancas' synth-heavy grooves can get repetitive if you focus too much on that aspect of it. I choose to focus on the coolness of it all, and "11th Dimension" is the coolest track on the album.

#15. "1901" - Phoenix - It's a minor travesty that I did not include this song in my first draft of this list. Problem solved. This album isn't just good, it's fantastic. It's the Mercedes of indie rock songs, which may or may not be a subtle reference to its use in a car commercial. Okay, it is.

#14. "Actor Out of Work" - St. Vincent - My first time through Actor, I was all but convinced that "Marrow" would be my favorite track from the album. Rip a couple months off the calendar and it's actually "Actor Out of Work" that receives that honor. It could be the lyrics, which are a cut above, though it's probably due to the absolutely genius music video.

#13. "The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing" - The Decemberists - Shara Worden's work on The Decemberist's Hazards of Love is a priceless contribution to the music world. Case in point: this brilliant song from the album that not only captures the essence of her talent, but the awesome energy and storytelling that made the album such a true work of art.

#12. "Sleepyhead" - Passion Pit - 2009 may be the year of the commercials featuring indie-music, as I just saw a Palm Pixi commercial featuring Passion Pit's most-popular song. Personally, I don't think it fits in the ad at all, but I still love the energy of this song.

#11. "Stillness is the Move" - Dirty Projectors - Having 3 songs from one artist in this list is in achievement in and of itself. The fact that Dirty Projectors' first appearance here is at #11 should tell you a lot about the kind of year they had. "Stillness is the Move" is a perfect example of what made Bitte Orca such a great album: bizarre compositions and vocals mixed with pop sensibilities.

#10. "French Navy" - Camera Obscura - I've been singing along to this song in my vehicle for weeks now, and I'm pretty sure I look pretty ridiculous doing it. The joy captured in this song makes the embarrassment worth it, though. So if you ever see a tall ginger kid freaking out in his white Ford F-150, chances are that's me listening to this song.

#9. "I Got Soul, I'm So Wasted" - Wallpaper. - The genius of this song will be expounded upon in future articles. For now, just listen and enjoy everything that it has to offer.

#8. "Harm/Slow" - Loney, Dear - The imagery of solitude and loneliness in this song is absolutely heartbreaking. It's one of the most depressing songs I've heard in a while. Clearly, it's also one of the best. Sometimes there is beauty in darkness.

#7. "Gimme Sympathy" - Metric - There was a time that I thought this song would end up in the #1 spot on this list. It is a perfect pop/rock song and easily one of Metric's greatest tracks. How it slipped to #7 is anyone's guess, but still…7 ain't bad.

#6. "Temecula Sunrise" - Dirty Projectors - Song #2 from Bitte Orca is the album's most-impressive track. I love singing along to songs when I'm by myself. It gives me something to do. Learning the melodies to this one was tough, but worth it. I listen to it at least a few times a week, and have been doing so for most of the year.

#5. "I Ain't Most Dudes" - Wallpaper. - Coming up with what Wallpaper. songs would be on this list was difficult. It was even more strenuous figuring out which one would be ranked highest. In the end, "I Ain't Most Dudes" is my favorite song from Doodoo Face because it is the most timeless of them all, and has one of the most infectious melodies of recent memory.

#4. "Everything Turns to You" - Loney, Dear - On a perfect album like Dear John, narrowing down a top song is usually a chore. Not for this one though. For as great as every song on that album is, "Everything Turns to You" is still a shoe-in for its greatest track.

#3. "Knotty Pine" - Dirty Projectors f/ David Byrne - And the award for "Song that's been stuck in my head for pretty much all of 2009" goes to…

#2. "The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)" - The Decemberists - Some may knock the closing track to The Decemberist's masterpiece as a sort of Titanic-esque ending, but it is one of 2009's most beautiful and poignant songs when taken in the context of the remainder of the story. Any song that brings me close to tears has to be something worth remembering.

#1. "Little Secrets" - Passion Pit - No song has brought me more joy in 2009 than Passion Pit's "Little Secrets," the second track on their debut LP. Sure, it may be about doing drugs or whatever, but every time those kids sing "higher and higher" I can't help but have the biggest smile on my face. This song is great, in almost every aspect and if someone came up to me with a Men In Black mind eraser thing and said, "Hey, I'm going to erase all of 2009's music from your head, except for one song. What song would you like to keep?," I wouldn't hesitate in my response. It'd be this one. Not the live version, mind you. The real thing. The live version sucks, mainly because…well…dude can't sing.

Click to

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

29 in 2009 - David Bowie: "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"

David Bowie:  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Originally Released:  June 6, 1972
Genre:  Glam Rock
Rating: 8 out of 10

David Bowie has always been an artist that I've known I needed to listen to, but never took the time to do so.  I got into Queen in high school (one of the few classic rock bands that I feel completely familiar with), and one of their best songs - one of my favorite songs - is "Under Pressure" with Bowie.  In fact, up until the release of the video game Rock Band, that was all I had heard of the guy.  Rock Band got be acquainted with "Suffragette City,"  which I instantly fell in love with.

On Ziggy Stardust, "Suffragette City" remains the highlight, but is surrounded by a tracklist that is almost as impressive.  Simply put, there ain't a bad song on this album.  Not one.  My personal favorites include "Five Years," "Ziggy Stardust" and "Soul Love."  I had my iPod on shuffle yesterday and "Soul Love" came on.  I had never really, really listened to it, but damn, that song and those lyrics are in a class above most everything else I've listened to for this series!

I spent all of about 5 minutes trying to figure out the vague storyline or meaning behind the album, as it is a concept album.  However, it fails in the way that most concept albums do:  it tries to fit the story within the framework of the songs and it ends up watering down the lyrical punch in the process.  Would the songs on Ziggy Stardust be better if they were about fact rather than fiction?  Almost assuredly.  But Bowie is compotent enough to make it work, and "Starman" and "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" are great songs with or without the story of Ziggy.

I definitely enjoyed the time I spent listening to this album, the problem for me was finding time that I actually wanted to do so all the way through.  Sure, if  "Suffragette City" or "Soul Love" started playing, I'd listen to it, but I never really wanted to listen to the album as a whole during the 4 weeks or so that I've had this album.  Nevertheless, Ziggy Stardust is a great album, and one that I would say everyone should probably listen to at least once in their lives.  I'm officially a Bowie fan.  What should I listen to next?

Verdict: Classic

Click to

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Win a Copy of The Eastern Sea's "EPII"

Long-time readers of the blog should know that I'm a big fan of Austin-based The Eastern Sea.  I first profiled the band in the now-defunct "mmm" feature almost two years ago, and reviewed a copy of the band's debut EP back in July of 2008, giving it a rather-impressive 8/10 rating!

Well The Eastern Sea is back with a just-released EP, simply titled EPII (iTunes Link), and Audio Overflow has not one, but TWO copies to give away to our faithful readers (ok, and anyone else who decides to enter the contest).  This contest will work exactly the same as Audio Overflow's Wallpaper Giveaway a few weeks back.

All you have to do is send an email to with "The Eastern Sea" written in the subject box.  Include in the body of the message your Name and Mailing Address where I can ship the EP to you if you win.  Two winners will be drawn from a hat, bag, or other convenient receptacle at random Monday, November 16.  You have until midnight on November 15 to enter.  The full, legal nonsense is below if you must read.

Good luck everybody!

Audio Overflow's The Eastern Sea Giveaway!

What's Up for Grabs?
1 copy of The Eastern Sea's EPII on CD
Official Rules:
  1. To enter The Eastern Sea Giveaway Contest, send an email to with the following information:
    • Your First and Last Name
    • Mailing Address where we can send you your prize if you win
    • Be sure to enter "The Eastern Sea" in the Subject Line of your E-mail
  2. The contest will end at 11:59p (Central Standard Time) on Sunday, November 15, 2009.  You will be initially contacted on Monday morning (please provide an E-Mail address to which you can be reached at this time).
  3. The winner of the contest will be chosen at random by the Audio Overflow staff.  Only one entrant will win this contest.
  4. Upon winning the contest, you will be contacted by a member of the Audio Overflow staff via E-Mail.  Should we be unable to contact you after a reasonable amount of time, we will move on to the next person selected at random.
Privacy Policy:
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will Audio Overflow provide your E-mail address to third parties.  In fact, we'll probably delete it it from our E-Mail after this is all over with.  We will have access to the mailing address of the winner of this contest, and for the sole purpose of getting the prize to the intended recipient.  Trust us, your personal information is of the utmost importance to us.  It's not going anywhere.

Click to