Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top Ten favorite albums of 2011

So this a favorite albums of 2011 list I do not claim these as the end all be all of music that came out this year cause I don't claim to be an expert and am not trying to make that list just sharing my opinion on what my favorite albums I heard this year are...

10. Ha Ha Tonka - Death of a Decade

This album is just plain fun brand of rock n roll with an americana flair, that use some of the best harmonies in rock today. Plus everything just comes together on Death of a Decade, their third release, to make what is their strongest record to date from start to finish.

9. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

Does it really matter that their sophomore release was just more of the same from their debut album not when your harmonizing and songwriting is this strong you don't. Plus with that added extra layer of polish that comes from knowing what you are doing better the second time around puts Helplessness Blues as one of the year's best.

8. O'Death - Outside

It was great getting a new O'Death record this year and while not being what I expected it is every bit as good if not better than their older stuff. What is missing in aggression and pure strangeness is given a layer of melody and sophistication that I didn't know O'Death was capable of. But don't expect straight forward fair from this americana/punk/indie/country/altrock hybrid of a band that music defies single or simple categorization.

7. Judson McKinney - Drink the Wine

I don't know what I should say that I didn't put in my glowing review less than a month ago. But just to repeat this is some amazing folk songwriting that draws from the greats from the 60s/70s folk sound while clearly showcasing his own unique voice.

6. One Trick Pony - Try Not to Worry So Much

Wow this album blew me away that music this good and of a polished sound could come from a self-released indie band from the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Great hooks and catchy upbeat songs throughout make this a showcase of talented musicianship that I cannot get enough of.

5. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

I don't think their is much needed to say about Foo Fighters but I don't think their is a better band in the last decade and half at consistently putting out a great hard rock stadium anthem album that includes at least one classic tune on every release. Wasting Light does not fail to capture their same magic and really has more energy in the recording then usual which could be that this record was recorded to tape in Dave Grohl's garage giving this long-polished act a good raw quality in their sound.

4. Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground

This is longer just Chuck Ragan and his acoustic guitar doing his folk songs with his aggressive punk rock nature and energy infused in but this now a full band doing indie folk rock sure there is some of his punkrock roots still in this album but there is so much more on covering ground and just has an outstanding use of melodies in his great songwrinting.

3. Thrice - Major/Minor

While not the grand opus that was the experimental four E.P. Alchemy Index this latest offering from Thrice is probably the best regular album release from this band. Major/Minor takes all the elements that Thrice have been building towards throughout their career into a perfect showcase of who and what they are as a band highlighted by the track Anthology which reflects this directly.

2. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver

What can I say other than say that Justin Vernon outdid himself with his second album and with the added level of production and instrumentation to his second effort showed that he didn't want to just lean on his laurels and repeat what brought him success from his first album but to grow as a musician and make this album it's own unique experience.

1. Manhattan Murder Mystery - Manhattan Murder Mystery

If you follow my blog it should be of no surprise that I think highly of their music. No album dug into my psyche and stayed there like the debut from this explosive band from Los Angeles. If I have one complaint about this album is that coming in at nine tracks and just under 35 minutes that it runs a little short but I forgive them for this and make up for it by listening to it usually at least twice in a row in a sitting.

Honorable mentions in no particular order (all worth checking out in my opinion): Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones, Auditorium - Be Brave, Bright Eyes - The People's Key, Kevin Devine - Between the Concrete and Clouds, Maria Taylor - Overlook, Radiohead - King of Limbs, St. Vincent - Strange Mercy, Ryan Harvey - Ordinary Heroes, Tom Waits - Bad As Me, Tyler the Creator - Goblin, Into it. Over It - Proper, Kaustic - Kaustic, Adele - 21

Did not realize how difficult it would be to come up with my top 10, I left some great stuff off the list. Making this list I realize how arbitrary the order really is as I think I could have put any one of those ten in my top 3 albums of the year. I would love to know what any readers of mine think of my top ten favorite records this year, what did I completely miss on or just missing in general and even more important what did I have that you completely agree with. Also if this led you to any new music you hadn't heard yet I would love to hear wether you liked it or not...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday Dec. 19th 2011 - Manhattan Murder Mystery vs the Satellite

So I finally was able to make it out of the County of Orange to see some live music being played in LA again. It was the third night of Manhattan Murder Mystery's Decemeber residency at the Spaceland Satellite whcih I will get to but first to Judson McKinney who kicked off the night right with a solid set mainly consisting of songs off his new stellar album 'Drink the Wine' which I reviewed here. Judson musical stylings are definitely in the folk genre but don't let that fool you into thinking that he doesn't know how to rock the fuck out because that was exactly what Judson and the band did last night none more so than when they performed Tomorrow Blues that caused Johnny Seasons on bass to break a string. The highlight of the night for Judson was the older track, William Jennings Bryan, they pulled out to end their set highlighted by an extended rockout jam session in the middle of the song.

Next artist took me by surprise, Jonny Corndawg. Mainly because you don't get too many country artists out in these parts and this was a true to the bone country singer. This performance was only the Corndawg on an acoustic guitar and a friend on guitar who I can't for the life of me recall his name. With only the two of them up on stage performing it allowed Jonny Corndawg's voice strong singing voice really take center stage though throughout being upstaged by some really brilliant guitar playing by the other member of the outfit. The guitar parts just had a very jovial tone or quality to them which is quite refreshing and put a smile on myu face while listening. The other thing about Jonny Corndawg that really came through was the humor in his lyrics which shouldn't be surprise with a stagename like Corndawg. The last thing to take away from a live Corndawg performance is what a natural showman he is, you could just tell that performing on stage is where this man should be and I would gladly take in another show put on by The Corndawg.

If you have been to a Manhattan Murder Mystery show before you know the bring a raucous energy level that is magnetic and tonight's show topped it all. Bursting at the seems with friends adding to the bands lineup, a total of ten members to this use to be three piece now now actually four piece with the seemingly staple of Todd McLaughlin on guitar. They were a total of 6 people playing guitar for MMM tonight including Joey and Andy Siara from The Henry Clay People. This was a bigger and more blown out performance than I thought was possible, if your average Manhattan Murder Mystery live show takes it to eleven then this show was at least a twenty. And through it all clearly the center of this mayhem and the reason for all this chaotic love for music was Matthew Teardrop who had this ever growing gaggle of MMM zeolots moshing and crooning along with every song like nothing else in the world mattered than what was happening in the Satellite that night. The uninitiated in a Manhattan Murder Mystery show wouldn't think that the insane energy level could go up another notch, but like clockwork with the closing song Parking Lot does just so. Setting the stage for this new higher level of insanity is that the crowd is pulled onstage to join in with the show ending in a state of chaos that can only be witnessed to truly understand what happens when Manhattan Murder Mystery closes for the night.

Then I made my way over a few blocks to catch the College Kids with the nightcap at the Silverlake Lounge and they were as infectiously adorable in their performance as always even though I only made it for their last three songs. A good night was had and I can't wait for a repeat performance next week which is the last night of Manhattan Murder Mystery residency that also happens to include George Glass and One Trick Pony in the lineup so sounds like a special night to be had.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dylan Trees - Three Times A Day music video

Check out the new music video from the band Dylan Trees for their super fun song "Three Times A Day" which I cannot get enough of the the super adorable poppy and catchy chorus. The single will be released all over the internet and beyond 12/20 so look out for it...

Dylan Trees - Three Times Of The Day (official music video) from the Indie Workforce on Vimeo.

If you liked the video you can check out more from the people who made it at their website or on The Indie Workforce's Facebook page

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Judson McKinney - "Drink the Wine" review

Well Judson Mckinney's debut full length album has been up on his bandcamp for quite sometime to listen to and buy digitally. Though tonight at the Bootleg is his record release show presented by The 704 blog that if you can make it out to you can see one of the best singer/songwriters making music in the LA area right now. Listening to his album is like a trip back in time to the heyday of folk music of the 60's and wouldn't feel out of place with any record from that time. Though just because I keep throwing out the singer/songwriter term doesn't mean this album doesn't stop from getting Judson his wife and the rest of his band from getting their rock groove on like on the bluesy rock stomper "Tomorrow Blues". Also all the songs have big beautiful full arrangements that are driven by some very talented work on the guitar. Throughout the album are clever honest lyrics like the first few lines from the opening track, "Celia", song over piano:
The demons on the eastside are out marching, angels in the clouds all by the door. Standing in a local night of lightning and waiting at the gate hoping for more. Bums along the street are all out begging, blocking every point on the avenue. Tell me what you need I am pressed for something, well he tells me I've always been in love with you.
that set the table nicely for a record of songs of love, self-discovery and musings of a traveling man. "Drink the Wine" by Judson McKinney is a very strong debut effort that showcases a young artist that pays homage to the folk movement of the 60's while still having a distinct voice all his own. If he keeps making music this good that showcases his amazing talent as a singer and songwriter I wouldn't be surprised for much bigger things in his future and would love the privilege to listening to his music for years to come. I am going to leave you my favorite track on the album which also happens to be the title track, "Drink the Wine", as a little taste that I hope gets you to check out more of his work...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Manhattan Murder Mystery - "Women House" review

Well as I listen to Manhattan Murder Mystery's new release, Women House. I find a much more honed and mature sound to these six songs then what they put out on their last record, which might have to do with the addition of Todd McLaughlin's lead guitar and Matthew Teardrop adding in some harmonica to give a fuller sound to the band. What continues through all Manhattan songs is the earnestness and pure emotion that is invoked through their playing and especially in Matthew Teardrop's lyrics. Plus I don't think any band continually instills more emotion into their oohs and ahhs that they sing in songs which continues on this release on tracks like 'Women House' or 'Alington Cemetary'. The latter of which is a song that shows their is more to this band than their raucous and infectious live shows full of sweat, booze, love and rock n' roll with an emotionally bare arrangement that is all about Teardrop with just his guitar and the best story he has yet to convey in a song and I don't think I could convey my thoughts any better than Lord Growing over on his blog The 704 while writing his review for the album with an emphasis on that track in particular. You really should go read his work. Though that isn't to say this EP to didn't forget to let all out because the garage-punk stomper 'I've Got A Hole In My Head' is ready to get you jumping and acting the fool at their next live show which by the way is every monday in December at The Spaceland Satellite for free and it would be a crime not to make it out to see them play. I am going to leave you with a taste off the EP with the opening track 'Stadium Way' that showcases all the talent Manhattan Murder Mystery has in songwriting with a catchy as hell chorus and guitar hook on top the honest crooning of Mr. Teardrop that will have you yearning for more...