Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Listening Habits 04.2009

After presenting our album of the month last week (Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ blitz declaration), it’s time to unveil all the fine albums and tracks that dominated the playlist of our cd/mp3 player in April.

Metric, who had already claimed the top of the March playlist, remain in the Top 3 as we haven't stopped listening to their superb “Fantasies” - this time around, from the cd that just arrived in the mail.

The third outstanding release of this month comes from Bat For Lashes, a.k.a Natasha Khan, who presents her sophomore effort, "Two Suns". We discovered her two years ago with "Fur and Gold" and the excellent single "What's A Girl To Do" and now it's time for her return with a superior work, where she collaborates, among others, with the legendary Scott Walker (vocals on "The Big Sleep") and members of Yeasayer. "Daniel" is simply one of the singles of the year, but really all 11 tracks on the disc are excellent and work seamlessly as a whole, creating a unique, mystifying atmosphere. Other highlights include "Glass", "Sleep Alone", "Two Planets" and "Pearl's Dream".

The Los Angeles scene is well represented in our Top 10 as we have selected three, quite different albums from bands out of the City of Angels: "A Certain Feeling", the 2008 second LP from Bodies Of Water (which, among other things, reminded me of the big sound of Arcade Fire with its impressive vocal harmonies and all its trumpets and trombones), "Take It Personally", the 2008 fourth LP from The Starlite Desperation (an ace, criminally underrated, garage-punk band that started making fiery rock’n’roll at the end of the '90s with great singles such as "Hot For Preacher"), and the brand new "Swoon", the second album from the up and coming Silversun Pickups, who follow in the footsteps of early Smashing Pumpkins. The band is scheduled to play here in Athens on June 24 and, of course, we plan to be there.

One of the most remarkable debuts of the year so far comes from Gun Outfit, from Olympia, Washington. We first encountered the band in the fine "Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture 08" compilation with the track “Your Will”. Their debut mini-LP is entitled "Dim Light" and is filled to the brim with the buzzing sound of guitars exploding in lo-fi. It brings to mind the heroic days of the '80s underground scene and makes me wanna shout "just gimme indie-rock!", as Sebadoh once did. It's released on PPM, a label connected to No Age. I hope they get bigger than Nirvana, as the good folks at Rough Trade Shops like to say.

The folk albums of the month come from our old pals Bill Callahan (ex-Smog) and Will Oldham, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Billy, stalwarts of the americana sound for the last couple of decades. With "Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle" and "Beware" respectively, the two singers-songwriters will not disappoint their die-hard fans, but they are not going to earn any new ones either.

And finally, a lesson in music history - the 4-cd collection "Factory Records Communications 1978 - 92" consists of tracks throughout the history of the legendary Manchester label, where next to Joy Division, New Order or Happy Mondays you can find a multitude of lesser-known or plainly forgotten names who, nevertheless, have contributed to the creation of the alternative sound of an era that has not ceased to inspire countless new bands. Never before or after Factory Records has the economic failure of a company generated such a spectacular triumph!

Top 10 Albums

1. It's Blitz! - YEAH YEAH YEAHS

2. Fantasies - METRIC
3. Two Suns - BAT FOR LASHES
4. A Certain Feeling - BODIES OF WATER
5. Dim Light - GUN OUTFIT
8. Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle - BILL CALLAHAN
10. Factory Records: Communications 1978 - 92 - VARIOUS ARTISTS

Top 20 Tracks

1. Sacred trixter - SONIC YOUTH
3. Daniel - BAT FOR LASHES
4. Gimme sympathy - METRIC
5. Under the pines - BODIES OF WATER
6. I want you to know - DINOSAUR JR.
7. Misfits & mistakes - SUPERCHUNK
8. Panic switch - SILVERSUN PICKUPS
9. Legal tender - HANDSOME FURS
10. Work experience - GUN OUTFIT
12. Idiot heart - SUNSET RUBDOWN
13. My friend - BILL CALLAHAN
14. I don’t belong to anyone - BONNIE PRINCE BILLY
16. Pop lie - OKKERVIL RIVER
17. Lisztomania - PHOENIX
18. Stillness is the move - DIRTY PROJECTORS
19 . Dressed in Dresden - THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS
20. Supply and demand - FISCHERSPOONER

And finally, here's another addition to our Killer Tracks hall of fame: Gun Outfit's "Troubles Like Mine" from "Dim Light". The video comes from a show at this year's SXSW festival.

Gun Outfit - Troubles Like Mine

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