Watching George Carlin on YouTube and I caught this gem, now my new favorite Carlin quote, and I had to share it with you:
…followed up with “not every ejaculation deserves a name.” This whole nine minute segment is full of quotable tid-bits.
It’s that time again. Time to share the best songs flying under the radar for 2013. I begin with the best indie pop songs of 2013 because I love the electro. There’s too many delicious tunes to fit on one list so, as in years past, there will be a part one and two to each list.
If you’ve never heard of Pillowfight, you may be familiar with the folks behind it: Emily Wells and acclaimed producer Dan the Automator. “Used to Think” is a sultry torch song that makes me imagine Emily Wells as 2013’s Jessica Rabbit.
If you like the easy harmonies of pop music but want something a little more complex, check out Fur Trade’s 2013 album Don’t Get Heavy (I suppose there’s irony in my statement compared to the album title) . Remember that terrible Kanye video, where he and his gal are supposed to be making sweet sweet love while Kanye is riding a motorcycle? Remember how that song was all over the place, changing tempos and moods like some kind of mixed up montage? Fur Trade’s album is like that, except it actually works (sorry, Kanye). The breathy, dreamy “Don’t Get Heavy” is the album’s most straightforward pop song. I’m still getting to know this album, but I can say this title track is the one that made me buy it.
Is it just me, or is Crystal Fighters doing everything right? With their edgy but harmonized voices they have their own song, but each Crystal Fighters song is fun to dance to in a different way. “Separator” has African drums, or some digital approximation, that give this song a fun melody that will stand out in a long stream of electro.
Ansley Hughes has an interesting voice with a good dynamic range. This song has enough jangly guitars to have fit into the indie rock category, and lyrics that are interesting enough to pull me deeper into further listens. I liked it the first time I heard it. Best self-immolation song of the century.
Body Language has consistently been releasing chilled out indie pop for years now, and has yet to miss a beat. If you missed out on Social Studies or Grammar then now’s your time to get wise and get down. A band so up-and-coming they’re not even on Wikipedia yet…but trust, they will be. Continue reading Top Songs of 2013: Best Indie Pop 10-20
I love the latest article in The Awl, “I Am An Object Of Internet Ridicule, Ask Me Anything“. It’s about a typewriter busker who ended up getting labeled as a hipster in an Internet meme. For one thing, I dig typewriter buskers.
It’s this weird quirk of mine that I’m opposed to threats of violence against strangers, simply because of their fashion, beer and bicycle choices, no matter how strange those choices may be. The post in The Awl chronicles what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such threats, and reminds us that people doing weird things (like God-effing-forbid, taking a typewriter out in public) often do them for perfectly understandable reasons. Personally, I take an even more radical position that I don’t think people should be bullied for weirdness, even if there’s absolutely no rationale for their fashion crimes. If only the people posting their hatred of hipsters could devote that passion to fighting climate change or fixing the economy. But no, those are not issues they feel affect them personally, not in the way a guy with clunky glasses, shorts, and a typewriter does. I mean, WHO GAVE THAT GUY THE RIGHT TO SIT IN A PARK WITH A TYPEWRITER?
Before you call the lynch mob though, I ask that you please read the articles I’ve posted on this. Maybe some reason can be talked into you hipster haters before your pitchfork and torches army burns down the whole village.
Just wanted to share this photo of the parents from Freaks and Geeks. This was a screencap that I grabbed that just happened to be where the show was paused. I thought it was a great shot, each of the parents looking uniquely funny. Supporting cast never get enough love, you know?
This is from Episode 15, “Moshing and Noshing”.
Oh, I know, ya’ll are so spoiled you expect a music track on a silly little post like this. OK, fine, but only because Childish Gambino happens to have titled a song as a tribute to the show. Here’s a remix from Star Slinger, who is one of the hottest electro DJs to come on the scene in the past few years. There’s a free download too.
You know how when you learn a new word, suddenly you start hearing it everywhere? Well my new word is “Alan Watts.” Someone on Reddit mentioned this fellow, so all week I’ve been listening to his lectures on YouTube. New Age stuff isn’t generally my thing, but someone on Reddit linked to a video which had the line “What was it like to wake up after having never gone to sleep? That was when you were born.”
Having had my Sudden Clarity Clarence moment delivered to me (my actual thought was, “Like, whoa.”) I figured I’d give this guy a listen, even if he does advocate sitting really still and thinking about nothing.
A fun way to get the flavor of Alan Watts is with this Alan Watts animation from the makers of South Park.
…good stuff, though in fairness I don’t think these videos capture Watts’s sense of humor.
Anyhow, my intent isn’t so much to focus on Alan Watts as that feeling that “I bet now that I know who this guy is I’m going to see his name everywhere.” Kind of like how before I knew who Joseph Campbell was, he was never mentioned, and then suddenly I heard about him on a weekly or monthly basis.
So today I was listening through the most popular new releases in the blogosphere, and this chilled out little electro tune buzzed in my ears by Natural Animal. I didn’t pay it much attention, until Alan Watts started talking over it. I had a YouTube tab open and paused on one of his lectures so I figured it had kicked in it’s autostart. But it turned out to be embedded in the song. Which was pretty neat, because I got to feel in-the-know. And now that I’m feeling all in-the-know, I must praise Natural Animal for being in-the-know as well.
And here I just wanted to share that little moment of serendipity with ya’ll. So you can be in-the-know, because nothing screams “hip” like a Buddhist lecturer who died twenty years ago.So you can raise your eyebrows knowingly when they start selling Alan Watts t-shirts at Urban Outfitters.
Is there a name like that, or a word or a place, that once you learned about it you started hearing about it everywhere?
Here’s that song by Natural Animal, “Who You Are.” Also check out “Dance Alone,” just as dreamy but a bit more uptempo. If you dig “Who You Are,” you can download it for free.
Sadly I wasn’t able to get tickets to the Bag Raiders, Classixx and RAC show a few weeks back. So I’ve picked up tickets to Fake Blood an Alex Metric as a consolation prize. And as consolation prizes go, it’s sure to be better than a red ribbon.
While last month’s featured DJs are known for dreamy remixes heavy on synth, Fake Blood builds bangers. Continue reading Fake Blood and Alex Metric
A good friend just told me that June 1st three fantastic DJs—Bag Raiders, Classixx, and the Remix Artists Collective—are going to be at the Mezzanine. All three of these DJs should be on your must-see list, as they’re consistently putting out memorable remixes of indie bands you already love (or should). But don’t take my word for it, have a listen for yourself. Continue reading Bag Raiders, Classixx and RAC play the Mezzanine this Saturday
In a recent segment on The Daily Show Jon Stewart notes the contrast between hackers and potheads whom the DOJ targets and the big banks that continue to be prosecution proof. He leads into this with a segment that compares the Obama administration’s words to their action in their commitment to freedom of the press.
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
The LULz just keeping coming over a juxtaposition of news clips that no other news source would put together. You get news stories about: the prosecution of state-run marijuana shops, a man who faces twenty-five years for hacking a Taylor Swift article, and otherwise boring C-Span clips of the coverage of the DOJ’s attempts to find a bank they can prosecute. This isn’t news, it’s political commentary with jokes. What distinguishes political commentary from news is that it goes beyond stating facts, it combines facts to suggest new ideas.
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Priorities USA – Too Big to Jail|
Thirty years ago, Jon Stewart’s role would have been filled by a columnist, nestled below Doonsebury on the back of the Opinion section. But Jon Stewart doesn’t have to state his facts. With the power of video to show you, rather than tell you, the news-makers hang themselves with their own words.
Most of what he says are jokes; the commentary is in the juxtaposition itself. This is what The Daily Show does best. Where the newspaper columnist of yore would paint a picture with facts and statistics, they make a collage of news clips that, alone, would be the tripe of another news day but together emphasize the hypocrisy, folly, or failure of their target. He doesn’t have to say that the administration’s targeting of journalists and sources goes against their stated values, he can prove it by showing clips of Obama’s words contrasting with his actions. Likewise, by showing a bunch of clips wherein the DOJ passes out prison sentences to hackers and potheads while those who caused the bank crisis go free, he can let the condemnations go unsaid. The video clips say it all, leaving him to make a joke of the irony.
They don’t have to do this. Nothing about The Daily Show requires political analysis. When it began, it was little more than a half-hour competitor to Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update.” If you’re old enough to remember the show Not Necessarily the News you know that jokes can be thrown over a news show without giving analysis too. But it’s often the case that while Jon Stewart is making Jew jokes and funny faces, the clips his team puts together are making astute political arguments that can make you angry and make you laugh at the same time. Any given episode of The Daily Show inspires more pathos than an entire season of The Cosby Show. As it should, because you begin to think, hey I listened to CNN all morning and nothing hit me as hard as that four minute segment on The Daily Show.
Following this is an equally brilliant segment wherein Jason Jones interviews a conservative lobbyist who was a victim of the IRS’s recent political targeting. Then it’s a Physics chat with Morgan Freeman. Here’s the full episode: The Daily Show with Morgan Freeman 5-23-2013.
The unofficial tagline of this site is “It’s not Brittany, bitch.” But my hopes are that the days of such cornball kinderwhore are over. Why just you listen to these ten delicious pop songs from 2012 and you’ll find you’re beginning to feel much more optimistic about the future of pop music.
After drafting this list, I realized quite a few of these albums haven’t been released in the U.S. yet. Sorry for any aneurisms this inaccuracy causes in your tender, particular brains. But we gotta keep it up and coming around here.
1. We Were Evergreen – Baby Blue
“Baby Blue” was their only US single in 2012
“Baby Blue” is bliss, right from the little breaths that open the song. The slight echoes behind the harmonies and the one-up coin sound effect at 1:12 are nice touches but this would be an adorable song with just the pianos and playful harmonies. This is what sunshine sounds like.
This isn’t your standard remix. It begins with beautiful a capellas; next come the violins. The vocals are chopped in a way that somehow transcends the typical electronic song. It doesn’t have the structure of your typical remix either, which generally has a a minute long intro and outro and two or three climaxes. Instead, this starts out soft and lovely builds to a single gorgeous cacophony and ends swiftly. Empty Spaces is musically interesting from beginning to end, and when you’ve listened to it a few times the lyrics are fun to sink into.
There are some who would object to including a remix (or two) on this list because it takes credit from the original artist. But I see it as a way to give space for two acts. Oh No! Yoko makes some delightful songs of their own well worth checking out.
From the first second “Older Together” starts with a take-no-prisoners hook. The guitar and and throbbing synth compliment it perfectly. Instead of the standard motif of playing the hook with the chorus, that piano bit lets up for the vocals, so neither delight has to compete. Before you’re sick of the hook, the vocals come in. Before you can tire of the vocals, there’s that hook. His voice is unique but not quirky, and a subtle reverb gives it that extra little something. The second refrain takes it up a notch with a synth brass section.
It speaks to just how good this song is that I’ve been listening to it since the single was released last year and it still holds up to songs I’ve only been enjoying for a few months. It’s a sweet song with an irresistible melody. Fans of Peter Bjorn and John’s adorable ditty “Young Folks” will like this one. Shockingly, Amazon offers their whole album for under five bucks (right now Amazon is selling all five songs on that album for $2.99). Get it now before the cool kids catch on.
This would be a catchy song with just the vocals, piano and drums. But there’s a lot of little touches that make it more polished. The synth trills. Before the refrain there’s a two measure vocal sample that hints at the vocal layers to come. The layered and sampled vocals that make up the bridge are delightfully surprising. The drummer does little effects, just enough to keep it interesting but not enough to get self-indulgent. I’m happy to report that every other song I’ve heard from Gemini Club is just as nice as “By Surprise.”
Alt-J has put out one of my favorite albums of 2012, and it would be fair to put “Breezeblocks” on this list. But I want to be sure you hear this remix, which turned out to be one of my most-listened to songs of the year. Something about the vocal decay, like at the end of the phrase, “here I go,” just works. It reminds me of the way visual artists are working with distorted images, finding beauty in what’s broken. And the tremolo is subtle, but tickles the eardrums just the same.
Here they are at least, the Top Ten Indie Rock Songs of 2012.
While this is a list of songs, in some ways this is also the Top Albums of 2012. Most of these bands put out more than one great song this year. But if I included more than one song by each band there would have been less bands overall, and each of these bands deserves recognition. But I swore I would never do another Best Albums list so this is what you get: the best song by my top artists of the year. It is hard to rank songs this good, so as part of weighing them, I sometimes ranked a song higher if their album had many songs that were just as worthy of being on a Best Songs List.
As mentioned previously, I’ve used the phrase “indie rock” very loosely here. This blog is focused on underplayed gems, so you will find we keep it all indie here, whether it’s rock, pop, dance, hip-hop, or some genre that’s yet to be named. If you want to check out the top indie songs from other categories, they’re listed at the bottom of this post.
There’s a ton of bargains on this list; some of these full albums are selling on Amazon right now for less than four dollars.
As usual, to download the song, right-click on it and choose “Save as.”