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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the Decade

The past decade has been good to us, beginning with the question that prelude's every decade:  what music will define this decade?  For me, the 2000s were absolutely the decade for indie rock!  I'm not alone in this thought either.  The genre exploded into mainstream consciousness over the course of the last 10 years, thanks in large part to the internet, iPods, and digital music in general.  I probably consumed more music in a single year of this decade than I had in all my years prior to it!

But the list below isn't just a list of indie music.  It is simply a list of my favorite albums, and the memories that each one of them bring to mind.  I hope you find some enjoyment in my reflections on the greatest decade I've yet to live through, and I hope that this next 10 years is just as kind to us.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the Decade - Honorable Mentions

Those of you keeping up with my Twitter feed (@audiooverflow) should be aware that when I decided to compile my Top 50 Albums of the decade for Audio Overflow, I narrowed down the decades huge collection of great music to 118 album that I thought deserved to be nominated.  Then came the difficult task...narrowing that list to 50.  In the process, a lot of great albums that I though for sure would make it in the Top 50 got cut.  But I love these albums!  So in the interest of honoring properly, here are albums 70-51 in my best of the decade list. The honorable mentions, if you will.

#70.  Of Montreal:  Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies:  A Variety of Whimsical Verse (2001)
#69.  System of a Down:  Toxicity (2001)
#68.  Fiona Apple:  Extraordinary Machine (2005)
#67.  A Perfect Circle:  Thirteenth Step (2003)
#66.  LCD Soundsystem:  Sound of Silver (2007)
#65.  Sufjan Stevens:  Seven Swans (2004)
#64.  Fleet Foxes:  Fleet Foxes (2008)
#63.  Midlake:  The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006)
#62.  Tilly and the Wall:  Bottoms of Barrels (2006)
#61.  Tegan and Sara:  The Con (2007)

#60.  Rogue Wave:  Out of the Shadow (2003)
#59.  My Morning Jacket:  Z (2005)
#58.  The Flaming Lips:  Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots  (2002)
#57.  My Brightest Diamond:  A Thousand Shark's Teeth (2008)
#56.  Conor Oberst:  Conor Oberst (2008)
#55.  The Shins:  Wincing the Night Away (2007)
#54.  Rogue Wave:  Descended Like Vultures (2005)
#53.  Mates of State:  Bring it Back (2006)
#52.  Jaymay: Autumn Fallin' (2008)
#51.  Bright Eyes:  Cassadaga (2007)

Just a little something to hold you over until the full list, complete with photos and commentary, is posted sometime in the next week.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Top 50 Albums of the Last Decade - A Teaser

Oh sure, everyone else was posting their "Best of the '00s" list months ago.  Not me, though.  I like to wait things out, let things settle, and meditate on all the wonderful music that the last decade hath wrought.  How long does such an endeavor last?  About 20 days apparantly, because I just finished compiling the Top 50 Albums of the Last Decade!

As a teaser to the reveal of the list (which should appear as soon as I write 50 paragraphs about said albums), I've included this modified version of the Top 10 to whet your appetite.  Any guesses as to what these 10 albums may be (#5 should be easy to guess)?  Include your guesses in the comments, and we'll see who gets what right when the final list is revealed soon.

Until then, peace out! 


#  Artist Name:  "Album Name"  (Year Released)

1.  ___ ______ _______:  "____ __" (2003)

2.  ______ _______:  "________" (2005)

3.  ___ _____: " ______ ___ ______" (2003)

4.  ___ _______:  "____ ______" (2002)

5.  _________:  "___ _" (2000)

6.  __ ________:  "_______ _____ __ ___ _____" (2004)

7.  ___:  "_________ _ _____" (2008)

8.  _____ _____:  "_____ __ ____" (2007)

9.  ____:  "__________" (2003)

10.  ___ ____ _____:  "_______ ___ ____" (2005)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

29 in 2009 - Tom Waits: "Rain Dogs"

Tom Waits:  Rain Dogs
Originally Released:  September 30, 1985
Genres: Rock, Folk, Avant Garde
Rating: 6 out of 10

Hey, the rest of the world may be a few weeks into 2010, but it's still 2009 here at Audio Overflow!  Just two more albums to get through and then I can wash my hands clean of this long-winded series and maybe get a chance to post a "Best of the Decade" list or a review of a new album.  But first, there's Rain Dogs.

Truth be told, I've been listening to this album since the last few weeks of 2009.  It's a tough one to get through, what, with 19 tracks, all of which are teetering on the line of the "weirdest shit I've ever heard" classification.  Tom Waits is a weird dude, and if this album is any indication, a pretty messed up one at that.  Rain Dogs sounds like nothing else I've heard in my life; like something I would hear playing out of a New Orleans voodoo shop or soundtracking a really demented Don Bluth film.  He paints a very vivid picture of desolation, despair, and filth through the tales told on this album.  While impressive in that regard, musically, this album just doesn't do it for me.

Not even a little bit.  Rain Dogs came off as a lesson in tedium rather than a legitimate musical expression.  I'm not familiar with Wait's other music, but the album sounds more like blatant experimentation.  Like I said, the album's nothing to scoff at, and I suppose it's quite impressive if taken at face value.  But listening to this album was a chore.  That's part of the reason that it took me so long to write this simple, short article on it. 

I have nothing else to say, really.  Waits is a talented guy, but Rain Dogs is just an album that I could never get into and will probably never listen to again.  Bring on the Beach Boys!

Verdict:  Tedious

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Today's Twitter Updates (1/5/10)

What's that?  You say you're not following @audiooverflow on Twitter?  Well here's what you missed today:

  1. Vampire Weekend News: Listen to Contra web

  2. New Album News - Of Montreal Progress Report on Strereogum web

  3. Polyvinyl Record Co. News - Headlights on Daytrotter web

  4. @warehouselive Sonya Westcott Evan Farrell, and Gram LeBron for Rogue Wave. Great band btw!from Twitterrific in reply to warehouselive

  5. See (Pretty) Girls and Lasers in the East Village tomorrow and get a free mp3 of their Refina Spektor mix. Tell em Cale sent you! :)from Twitterrific

  6. Free Download: Growing - "Hormones" Twitterrific

  7. Tour Dates - Vampire Weekend Announce Tour web

  8. Peaches News: NEW video for RELAX.. web

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Album Review - Ke$ha: "Animal"

There was a time, you may recall, when pop music and dance music were two separate things; when it didn't pander to the lowest common denominator; when pop stars were actually artists and not just fashion models with voices.  Not today, though.  Today it seems as if the mainstream music, money-making machine chooses style over substance almost always.  Ke$ha is no exception to this trend.  Her music, while containing a few catchy songs (such as the suddenly everywhere, "TiK ToK"), doesn't really bring anything new or exciting to the music world.  As such, Animal, is definitely not an album to purchase as a whole, but one to pick apart and download; again, a trend that has only grown more prevalent over time. 

Around a month ago, I'm spending time with friends when one girl starts playing "TiK ToK."  I immediately dismiss it as crap, not to mention a stylistic rip-off of Paris-based, Uffie (granted, not an Owl City-Postal Service sized rip-off, but enough for me to notice).  A week later, I'm severely inebriated at The Beach, a club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, when the song once again starts playing.  Without me even knowing, the song hooked me; so much so that a few days later I'm downloading the song on iTunes and declaring it the best mainstream female pop song since Britney Spears' "Toxic."  What "TiK ToK" has going for it is its amazing production, an infectious chorus, well-written melody, and enough edge to make it sound fresh.  It is a great cog in the machine, and according to the end of '09's pop charts, I'm not alone in this assessment.

Unfortunately, the large majority of Animal plays things by the book.  Sounding more Rihanna than Gaga, Ke$ha's debut is full of a lot of tracks that mimic every other pop song from the last 5 years.  Very few of them stand out as genuinely unique.  "Blah Blah Blah" is fairly solid track, with Ke$ha singing about how she'd rather a guy just make a move than have him talk her up for half an hour.  The worst part of the track has to be the inclusion of the always-annoying 3OH!3, who guests on the song's bridge.  "Hungover" is even better.  Its retro-dance vibe is enhanced by it's totally catchy chorus about the morning after.  If I had to pick a second single, it'd be this one.

In reading interviews with Ke$ha, she sounds like the kind of person who tries to get a rise out of people, who tries to be edgier than she is.  That's not necessarily a bad thing; everybody has their role to fill.  But Ke$ha's "edgier" stuff doesn't necessarily push any new boundaries.  Pop's cherry was popped decades ago with Madonna and Prince.  If you can't do it better, at least do it justice.   Her "edginess" is primarily relegated to the occasional dirty word or sexual innuendo; not necessarily groundbreaking.  Does she get some credit for at least writing a large portion of her songs herself?  Absolutely, that's much more than the average pop star.  But again, there's nothing particularly new or exciting about a lot of this stuff.

For example, most of the album is spent mimicking the styles of other established artists.  Album opener, "Your Love is My Drug" sounds like a decent Kelly Clarkson song, "Kiss N Tell" is out of the Miley Cyrus playbook, and "Animal" is like an Alanis Morissette song set to a completely worthless dance beat.  Granted, all of these songs could be considered highlights on Animal,  but she gets 0 points for originality.  The album's most nauseating song is "Boots & Boys," which showcases Ke$ha's affection for...well, I'm sure you can guess.  It's filler at its worst, with its double entendre lyrics and easy melody.

All this to say that, yes, Ke$ha's Animal has some good songs on it.  Some, like "TiK ToK" may wind up being remembered long past the album's shelf life.  However, when the pop-star roll call is taken five years from now, Ke$ha probably won't be in class; which is to say that she's just as disposable as any of the industry's other forgettable pop stars.  There are signs of talent and longevity in this album that are hard to deny, but Ke$ha has to find some way to set herself apart if she plans on surviving in the minds of the fickle OMG-ers of the world who will consume this album and then move on to the next big thing.  In the meantime, we can all enjoy the 4 or 5 good songs that Animal has to offer and wish her the best of luck.

Key Tracks:
1. "Your Love Is My Drug"
2. "TiK ToK"
3. "Take it Off"
4. "Blah Blah Blah (f/ 3OH!3)"
5. "Hungover"

5 out of 10 Stars

Elsewhere on Audio Overflow:

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