Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 15 90's Alternative Songs

Driving down the freeway yesterday I heard a song that got me thinking about how good music on the radio was around the early 90's.  In recent years, the seemingly more significant artists ( I would argue) are falling more in to the indie scene and as a result seeing less airplay.  Now we could make the case that this has been partially driven by the internet and how it allows people to easily find what they want, but I certainly miss the days of being able to turn on decent radio station and not hear crap.

I'll get off my soapbox..

Trying to narrow down the top Alternative songs from the 90's, which is arguably the only meaningful decade for the genre, isn't an easy task.  Below are my favorite 15 tracks.  Thats right, Nirvana didn't make the cut, deal with it.

15. Primitive Radio Gods "Standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand"

14. Gin Blossoms "Hey Jealousy"

13. Reel Big Fish "Sell Out"

12. Dave Matthews Band "Ants Marching"

11. Beck "Jack Ass"

10. The Offspring "Self Esteem"

9. Green Day "Basket Case"

8. R.E.M. "Everybody Hurts"

7. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones "The Impression that I Get"

6. The Toadies "Tyler"

5. Pearl Jam "Better Man"

4. Live "Lightening Crashes"

3. Weezer "Say it Ain't So"

2. Smashing Pumpkins "1979"

1. Radiohead "Creep"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sweet New Mid Century Modern Desk

As we have been slowly weeding our house of the crappy ikea furniture we originally acquired when my wife and I first came together, we have been replacing it for the most part with stuff that we are making, or with pretty solid antiques from back when stuff was actually made in the USA.  The beautiful part is that we have been getting the bulk of it for way cheaper than anything we can get at any store.

We just scored this desk on craigslist for only $85 bucks, which is cheaper than I would have paid for the wood, solid walnut, had I been ambitious enough to try and build a desk myself.  It has sense left the garage, and is now being relegated to the home office.

The desk is from a company called "Mazor" from Washington Silver Springs, which I think is a suburb of the DC area, and that's all I can really find out about it, as there is really not much of an online record of the company.  Spending my childhood seemingly trapped in various antique stores, I suppose that I shouldn't be too surprised that as an adult I covet old things that smell of moth balls, ben gay, and the other various scents of old people.

The New Baby Room

Now that the baby is looming on the horizon, we've been getting the pressure from various family across the country to post some pictures of the baby room.  We are pretty close to being done with the exception of some additional artwork and the mural of Mack Brown I will be painting on the ceiling.  On a side note I am still completely frightened by the fact that someone like me can legally have a child...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Best of 2010 Part 3 (the last one)

As we are now almost half way through 2011 (madness), it's probably time for me to put the 2010 thing to rest.   There are obviously tons more great songs that I am leaving off the list, but alas there is not enough time in life to get to them all, and with the baby on the way, I don't see myself posting the other 80 some odd tracks out here, so these will have to do...

Jack Johnson "No Good With Faces"

Jack Johnson continues to kick ass with every record he makes. "To the Sea" was solid front to back, and for me "No Good with Faces" is the track that I couldn't get out of me head. Simply put, this is just a beautifully depressing song.

The National "Conversation 16"

For those of you unfamiliar with the National, this song is probably a good place to start. Off their record "High Violet", "Conversation 16" quite possibly wins the award for the most unique relationship metaphor of the year. The song tells the tale of going through the everyday events of one's family/love life and realizing how stale it has all become. Out of duty, the narrator is struggling through these mundane moments, trying not to "disappoint anyone"and secretly thinking his evil thoughts. As to what exactly those evil thoughts might be is not concretely spelled out, and they really don't need to be.  What makes the song really interesting is how it conveys this desire to say F- it all and leave it all behind through the comparison of being a zombie.  Yes Zombies go through the motions and are predictable, but they will also eat your gosh darn brains.

The Roots "Dear God 2.0"

Dear God 2.0 features the always awesome Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and kicks off with a question that I'm sure many of us have or will struggle with at some point in our lives. With everything that is going on in the world it's often hard to believe in a higher power, and ultimately asks the question, if god is indeed out there, why does he let us suffer so much?

Shout Out Louds "Fall hard"

Sweden's "Shout Out Louds" sound like they belong in the 80's, but the good 80's. The Devo and the Cure 80's, not the Adam Ant 80's.  This song will help cheer you up after having just listened to Dear God and questioned your faith.

Trampled by Turtles "Wait So Long"

What happens when you mix bluegrass and the energy of punk rock? You get Trampled by Turtles. Coming from Duluth MN (where the wife and I got engaged) you spend an awful lot of time indoors and apparently discover unique ways to mix genres.

Arcade Fire "Waisted Hours"

Probably the most critically acclaimed album of the year, Arcade Fire certainly broke more in to the main stream in 2010, and it would be a sin to leave them off the list. Waisted Hours is awesome as all hell.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Best of 2010 Tracks Part 2

Best of 2010 Tracks Part 2

Vampire Weekend "Giving up the Gun"

Perhaps no indie rock artist hit it bigger in 2010 than Vampire Weekend, with the exception of maybe Arcade Fire.  But when I first listened to Vampire Weekend's 2010 release "Contra" I was quite honestly disappointed by what I heard.  Their self titled debut was immediately catchy and infectious, like a modern day beach boys.  As the year went on however Contra kept growing on me, and it became apparent that Vampire Weekend had evolved.  The songs were great from the first listen, they just weren't initially what I had wanted to hear.  The addition of electronic bleeps, drum machines, and dance music style stop and start beats in certain tracks took some getting used to, and were a huge leap from their previous music.  But at it's core the songs, especially Giving up the Gun, are still very true to the sound Vampire Weekend has developed.  In 2010 they were nominated for a Grammy, annoyed the hell out of us with their song Holiday in the Honda commercials this past Nov/Dec, and even had a video featuring Jake Gyllenhaal (which youtube won't let me link to here for some reason, but worth hunting down).

Rogue Wave "Solitary Gun"

Rogue Wave has been making great music for years and is easily one of the most unappreciated bands out there.  They took a huge artistic leap forward on Permalight, and if you give it a chance, it's a very rewarding experience.  All around a fantastic record.

Aidan Knight - "Jasper"

Canadian Aidan Knight's first release "Versicolour" is 8 tracks of pure folky goodness.  The track "Jasper" is certainly one of the standouts, and is available for free on his website. The whole album can also be purchased on a name your own price basis, which you gotta love.  If you like the Weakerthans, Fleet Foxes, or anything modern folk, you'll love Aidan Knight.

She & Him: "I Can Hear Music"

She & Him first came together a few years back after Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward got together on a song for the soundtrack for the movie "The Go Getter".  While no one knows what the hell the movie is even about, it really doesn't matter, because it brought Zooey and Matt together.  This song was released as a B-Side to their album "Volume 2" this past year, and had to be obtained via the "in the sun" single released in February.  I can hear music, originally penned by the beach boys, is a great song, but after hearing the She & Him version, it becomes apparent that it is superior in every single way.  This song also gets bonus points for being played at our wedding - (Thanks Ben).

James and Robert Mercer - "Spanish Harlem Incident"

As I get further in to this list I am starting to notice a trend towards cover songs.  Like all songs written by Bob Dylan, Spanish Harlem Incident is brilliantly written, and better sung by someone else.  This is where James Mercer comes in (Shins, Broken Bells front man).  This track was available on the annual "Love Songs" album released on Valentines day of each year at Starbucks and it looks like 2010 was the last year, so be sure to hunt the 2010 version down while you still can.

Have anything that you feel needs to be on the list?  Stay tuned for the next 5.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Best of 2010 Tracks Part 1.

Best of 2010 Tracks Part 1.

For quite some time now I have been wanting to start a blog focusing mainly on music, DIY projects, food, and all other things awesome. Seeing that the primary focus will be music, I thought a good place to start (albeit a little bit late seeing that it is April) would be to go through some of my favorite tracks of 2010. Starting today, in no particular order, here are 5 of my favorites. Stay Tuned for the next 5...

Spoon - "Who Makes Your Money"

Spending my college years in Austin, the hometown of Spoon, it wasn't hard to stumble upon these guys.  You could hear them playing everywhere from the radio, to the bars, to local shops.  Where their previous couple of albums prior to this (GA GA GA GA GA & Gimme Fiction) were radio ready indie pop, the band returns to a seemingly less accessible, but every bit as catchy of a sound similar to their Kill the Moonlight tracks.  Who Makes Your Money for me was the stand out Track on the Transference record.

Avi Buffalo - "What's it In For"

I have always hated it when music critics refuse to compare the sound of one band to another.  For me there is nothing better than a conversation starting with someone saying if you like "insert awesome band here" than you will love "insert new band here.  In a year where we didn't get a release from the Shins, Avi Buffalo was the next best thing.  Taking LSD before watching the below video optional.

Kids of 88 - "Everbody Knows"

I really can't remember where I first heard these guys, but I do know that they are from New Zealand and that they are catchy as all hell.  Think Black Kids and MGMT.

The Morning Benders - "Excuses"

I absolutely love that everything from the 50's era is becoming cool again.  From mid century modern furniture, to graphic design to music.  Bands like camera obscura, vampire weekend, and now the morning benders are bringing back that retro sound that is every bit as relevant today as it was 60 years ago.  You might also recognizes the below track from a recent Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial.

My Morning Jacket "All the Best"

Jim James of My Morning Jacket has arguably one of the most unique voices right now in rock music.  Seeing that MMJ seamlessly blurs the line between many genre's (folk, rock, indie, country) they were a perfect fit to cover and breathe new life in to the song "All the Best".  The track is the standout amongst several other gems on the Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows compilation of John Prine Cover Songs that came out the past year.  Others worth checking out would be the Avett Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, and Conor Oberst Tracks.