Music I’m Digging Friday: Susanna Hoffs “Someday”

Yes, that Susanna Hoffs.

Those who might know her solely from “We Got The Beat” would do well to check out her powerpop excursions with Matthew Sweet on their two collaborations “Under The Covers” volumes one and two, featuring covers of such pop classics as “Cinnamon Girl”, “You’re So Vain” and “The Kids Are Alright”.

Anyway, her new album “Someday” falls squarely into the Suzanne Vega / Sam Phillips style of girl singer/songwriter sounds with close harmonies, confessional lyrics and a bright clean sound.

Yeah, its basically Music For Gilmore Girls. In a good way.

Recommended single: “This is the Place”

Learn More: Official Site | Facebook


Music I’m Digging Friday: new Freelance Whales!

There’s something really important about having a balance of production and consumption in life.  Whenever I find myself too much on either side of that ratio, my life takes a stagnant turn.  Thusfar in 2012, between Deeper Context needing a bit of a revamp and our move to Atlanta taking up a lot of my mental energies, the balance has taken a turn for the worse.  I know I’m not the most prolific blogger, but I’d like to be sharing more with you.

I used to do a music podcast called Sounds From My Drawers, which some of y’all may have listened to.

As with many things, life started getting in the way of that production, and it turned out to not be as fun as I thought it would be.  I’m thinking about bringing it back with a partner, since the back-and-forth of music geeks is something that can make for compelling listening.

In the meantime, for the sake of people who sometimes ask me for new music recommendations, and in order to start putting more content out there into the world (which I’ve slacked on lately, and am really feeling the effects of), this is the first of what I’m committing to do as a weekly post.  Behold, “Music I’m Digging Friday!” (because Music Monday is too much alliteration for me).

This Week: Freelance Whales – “Spitting Image

I’m a big fan of a certain brand of indie pop, which is typically filed under ‘baroque pop’.  Music that fills the room, with delicate, unusual-for-pop-music instrument combinations (things like cello, violin, flute, etc) is a welcome respite from the slick robotic pop of the 2000s and 2010s (not that I’m not also a fan of robotic pop, of course).

Bands like Camera Obscura, The Helio Sequence, The Format (now better known as Fun.), and yes even Florence + The Machine (their first album, anyway) are never far from my iPod.

Freelance Whales is in a similar vein, featuring la-la-y overdubbed-to-sound-like-a-small-amateur-choir backing vocals and joyful melodies.

This song would be great for a giddy montage.  Their second album comes out in October.

This Track Discovered via:
Learn More: Official Site | Facebook | SoundCloud

My Top 10 Albums of 2011

I’ve done my “top 10 albums of the year” every year since 1999 (Ever since we made it an official tradition at TVT Records).  It’s a great way to keep track of and remember the music that made a difference to me throughout my life.

Of course, a few problems arise whenever one is making lists, and I’d like to list some of those here:

  • Inevitably, as others release their lists, I will find myself panicked around December 15th when there are an additional 40-50 albums that I’ve never heard of that others say were their favorites that I have to listen to before finalizing my list.
  • No matter what I do, I will realize 5 minutes after I hit “send” that I forgot an album I loved in favor of one I really liked but haven’t gone back and listened to that much.
  • In February I will hear an album I completely missed out on but would have been on my list.

I keep all my lists here on the site (yes, RSS readers, you will have to actually click through), and I’ve helpfully created Spotify playlists for all the albums that are available for each year (because I love you!).

So without further ado, here’s the final Top 10 of 2011 list. (you can see the unedited version in the sidebar)

You can also Listen on Spotify.

In no particular order:

A.A. Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum) – Late contender, but totally glad I didn’t miss this one.  Moody indie/garagey rock and balladry from the former Verbena singer.
Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Faithful (ECM) – Delightful melancholic european jazz.
Frivolous – Meteorology (Cadenza) – Clever and playful tropical jazzy IDM-y house music
Dustin O’Halloran – Lumiere (FatCat) – Mournful, lovely, cinematic piano + string ensemble (featuring the ACME Ensemble, who guested on the latest Grizzly Bear and Owen Pallett records) from the composer of Marie Antoinette
Peter Bradley Adams – Between Us (Mishara) – My favorite guy-with-guitar album of the year.
Ezekiel Honig – Folding In On Itself (Type) – Organic, found sounds, intimate, rhythmic, pulsing, wood-y (not wooden). My favorite from the uniformly excellent Type label (sorry, Nils Frahm)
Noah and the Whale – Last Night on Earth (Mercury) – My favorite ecstatic pop/indie/rock album of the year (think random strings and brass). Wears its Tom Petty influence on its sleeve.
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky) – Just epic. The “biggest” record here.
Ellie Goulding – Lights (Polydor) – My favorite pure dance-pop album of the year.  Great synths (sorry chillwave).
Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow (ANTI-) – The sexiest she’s ever been. The sexiest Stephen Fry has ever been. There’s a song about seducing and bedding a snowman.  Yeah.
Mountains – Air Museum (Thrill Jockey) – The best electronic droney post-rock album of the year.
Ari Hest – Sunset over Hope Street – His best since “Someone to Tell”, but i didn’t end up going back to it much
Dela – Translation Lost (Drink Water Music) – My favorite hip-hop album of the year
Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down (Sugar Hill) – Who thought that a bluegrass album could make the list? Not I, but the songwriting is super strong.
Does It Offend You, Yeah – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You (Cooking Vinyl) – Great stoopid party album. (Sorry, Justice)
Starfucker – Reptilians (Polyvinyl) – Another 80s-synth influenced pop album. Very fun but didn’t have the replay value to keep it on the list)
Arnaud Rebotini – Someone Gave Me Religion (Blackstrobe Records) – 1/2 of Black Strobe delivers one of the most interesting IDM-y house records of the year. Worth it for the 13 minute shiny

M83 – Like a “Kim and Jessie” covers record that just won’t end.

Jeremy’s Top Albums Of 2009

Noah and The Whale* – The First Days of Spring <>*
Fukkk Off* – Love Me Hate Me Kiss Me Kill Me <>*
J. Tillman* – Year in the Kingdom <>*
The Field* – Yesterday & Today <>*
Lisa Shaw* -Free <>*
Raul Malo* – Lucky One <>*
Lady Sovereign* – Jigsaw <>*
Metric* – Fantasies <>*
Louderbach* – Autumn <>* (recommended for Depeche Mode fans)
Kasabian* – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum <>*
Major Lazer – ***Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do <>
*The Veils* – Sun Gangs <>
*David Moore*<>My Lover, My Stranger <>
*Jon Hopkins* – Insides <>

Most played album this year that didn’t come out this year:* Crowded House – Recurring Dream (every year)*
Rediscovery of the year: Suzanne Vega – Solitude Standing (truly one of my favorites, one of the best produced albums of all time)
Most Life-Altering Podcast (non-musical): Tara Brach’s weekly Insight Meditation Center talks (recommended even if you’re not into the whole Buddhism thing, a great way to learn about a possibly different way to think about life and your own habits)

My Top 10 Albums of 2008

Good year for music, had trouble paring down to 10

In no particular order:

1. Johann Johannsson – Fordlandia (4ad) (just insanely gorgeous)
2. Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect (hydrahead) (the denser more active counterpart to JJ)
3. Dear and the Headlights – Drunk Like Bible Times (EVR) (second time this band has been on my list… great The Band-influenced indie rock)
4. The Weepies – Hideaway (Nettwerk) (Now one of my favorite indiepop/singer-songwriter albums of all time)
5. M83 – Saturdays=Youth (Mute) (lush and beautiful in that 80s shiny way.  nostalgia that’s also a reinvention)
6. Santogold – Santogold (downtown) (Everything that I dont see about M.I.A. I see with Santi)
7. Sun Kil Moon – April (Caldo Verde) (Every top 10 list needs a somber poor-me album for depressives.  Nobody does it better than Kozelek. Meditative)
8. Robyn – Robyn (EMI) (best pure pop record this year)
9. Ida – Lover’s Prayers (polyvinyl) (another pretty m/f duet indiepop record, this more melancholy than The Weepies but equally worthwhile)
10. The Hush Sound – Goodbye Blues (decaydance/fueled by ramen) (gets the Nellie McKay schizophrenic-influence indierock award, and a great way to come out of the meditative/depressive coma of some of my other records.  Also a heavy Carole King influence which is awesome.)

Kylie Minogue – X (one of her strongest outings in ages, not as much replay value as Robyn tho)
Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster (i remember this being a great record, haven’t listened to it since it came out)
Raphael Saadiq – The Way I See It (Columbia) (great record)
Mercury Rev – Snowflake Midnight (awesome awesome sparkly record, sadly only room for 10.  if you haven’t heard it, hear it.)

Most disappointing: Ben Folds … dude… wtf.
Best early 09 record i’ve heard because i work here: Derek Trucks Band (seriously funky stuff)
Albums I’m looking forward to in 09: Paper Route, the inevitable Amy Winehouse disaster breakup album, NEW A CAMP RECORD OUT ON MY BIRTHDAY VIA NETTWERK.
Best album from 07 that shouldve been on my list but i didn’t hear until 08: Lucky Soul (ruffa Lane) (insanely catchy Cardigans-meets-
Best album I’ve rediscovered from my collection: The Autumns – The Autumns
Music-related thing i’m most proud of having done in 2008: Tie between Thrillercast and 60 Second Soundtracks