Archive for December, 2009

Happy Holidays!

December 25, 2009 1 comment

The WRBB Music Dept. would like to wish you all a non-denominative, equal-access, non-impositioning Happy Holidays!

Categories: Uncategorized

WRBB Statistics: Top 10 Albums of the Decade by Spins

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Alright, so now for the objective Best-of-the-Decade according to how often the album was played on WRBB in the past ten years. The albums below are ranked based on numbers of on-air spins from January 1, 2000 to December 19, 2009. These are NOT my opinion, but are ranked from our own Spinitron catalog.

  1. In an Aeroplane Over the Sea – – Neutral Milk Hotel
  2. Gimme Fiction – – Spoon
  3. In Rainbows – – Radiohead
  4. You Forgot It In People – – Broken Social Scene
  5. CROSS – – Justice
  6. Discovery – – Daft Punk
  7. I Get Wet – – Andrew WK
  8. In Case We Die – – Architecture in Helsinki
  9. Absolution – – Muse
  10. The Body, The Blood, The Machine – – The Thermals

There you have it, the most typical 21st Century college radio top 10 list ever.
In An Aeroplane Over the SeaGimme FictionIn RainbowsYou Forgot It In PeopleCROSS
DiscoveryI Get WetIn Case We DieAbsolutionThe Body, The Blood, The Machine

Categories: Roundups Tags: , , ,

And Thus Ends a Decade (Part 2 of 2)

December 16, 2009 2 comments

For those of you who read part one of this blog post thanks so much. For those who haven’t you can catch that here.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, this post is tough for me. I got cocky with my last post “Ooooh look at me… I’m soo important, there are only ten good albums blah blah blah”. Would somebody shut that douche up?  What, does he think he’s better than us? (Take notice how I have cunningly and craftily removed myself from the blame… ha-HA). Well as it turns out, there are lots of really great albums that came out over the last ten years, and now that it’s crunch time (and I already used up 5 of the 10) I’m finding the decisions tougher and tougher to make. Who am I to decide what albums are better than others? And besides, what is an album anyways… y’know, like in the grand scheme things… album is, like, just a label man… (Note to self, no drugs before blogging).

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is; these decisions were tough, but I just kept going with the criteria that I suggested in part 1 (that I should be able to listen to the album cover to cover without the urge to skip any songs).  There are some albums that didn’t make this list that I absolutely love, and some of my top 10 favorite bands didn’t make this list, but I have to knuckle down and be a man. Here are the last 5.

Mother Mother – O My Heart (2008)

If there was one band I was absolutely sure had to make this list, it is the canadian quintet Mother Mother. Originating in Vancouver, they have released two albums and have done several multinational tours. The band started when lead singer Ryan Guldemonde wanted to round out the sound of his music in a full band setting. He recruited his sister Molly, and before long Mother Mother was born. Now they have released 2 full length albums to high critical praise and are already working on a third. Their 2008 effort, O My Heart is without a doubt a weird album. It fuses elements of folk, jazz, rockabilly and even rap into the alternative rock genre. The focus with most of the songs is certainly the melodies. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are fun, but often heavily repeated (see Hay Loft). This album is odd, quirky and downright strange… but it’s also one of the most endearing I’ve heard. You can’t stay mad listening to “Ghosting“, “O My Heart” or “Body“.

Antoine Dufour – Existence (2008)

I first heard about canadian born folk guitarist Antoine Dufour almost by accident. I was watching a popular video on youtube called “Drifting” by one of his contemporaries (Andy McKee) and Antoine’s “Spiritual Groove” came up in the related videos section… the rest is history. This choice was not an easy one, for if you actually take a day to watch all of the videos on the Candyrat Records channel, you’d realize that there are literally 5-6 very talented and overly qualified artists all doing amazing things with the guitar. I decided upon Dufour’s Existence because there are so many beautiful and complex songs on that record. There is the musically entrancing “Catching the Light” and also the technically demanding “Song for Stephen” wherein he changes the tuning of his guitar mid-song. He is the winner of the 2006 Canadian Guitar Festival’s Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, and the winner of my attention. BRAVO (brav-ohs… also a new breakfast cereal.)

The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour (2007)

This Winnipeg based quartet is certainly not new to the music scene.  The Weakerthans have been making records since 1997.  This project was formed by John K. Samson, who used to play for the popular punk band Propaghandi.  This new project, however, was a departure from the heavy fast political punk of his old band.  The Weakerthans takes a step in a more mellow direction, which isn’t to say they can’t still rock out.  The fun blues and folk inspired punk riffs, however, are not even close to what makes this band worth a listen; that award goes to the lyrics.  The lyrics are introspective and insightful, like nothing I’d ever heard before.  Several of their songs are written from the perspective of Samson’s cat Virtute, and are often commentaries on the state of his owner.  The depth of meaning in Samson’s lyrics coupled with his nasal yet earnest and unimposing vocals makes this music to think about (and who doesn’t like using the old noodle?  Also, in addition to that noodle thing, who doesn’t like using their brain?).  Reunion Tour is their ten year anniversary album, and their fourth studio effort.

With lyrics like “My popcorn squeaks with the question, wonders why I’m not at home” and “Why can’t I draw right up to what I want to say?  Why can’t I ever stop where I want to stay?” it may be tough to tell he’s actually talking about the sport of Curling, but that’s exactly what “Tournament of Hearts” is about.  My other favorites include “Night Windows” and “Civil Twilight“.

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead  Before the Ship Even Sank (2007)

Modest Mouse is yet another band that has been around seemingly since the beginning of time.  Starting in 1993, they remained, for the most part, a second tier indie band throughout the remainder of the 20th century.  They really came into the public forum, however, with their 2004 hit “Float On“, which was so popular as to become overplayed and subsequently (and ironically) unpopular.  With the corresponding album Good News for People Who Like Bad News people began to recognize them as a serious indie contender.  With that kind of hype, however, there is almost always a tendency for the follow up record to be a large disappointment.  This is usually due to either the band being unable to handle the pressure, or because the record label sees an opportunity to make a quick profit and over-produces the album.  Modest Mouse’s follow up, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, did not fall victim to either of these pitfalls.  Aside from a suspiciously MIDI-enhanced sounding Dashboard (which even still is a really good song) the band sticks to it’s guns, keeping overdriven guitar and lead singer Isaac Brock’s gritty voice the focus.  The album showcases several great songs such as “Spitting Venom” and “Missed the Boat” as well as “Little Motel“.

Maritime – We, the Vehicles (2006)

Maritime, like The Weakerthans, formed after a prominent underground indie band broke up… actually two prominent indie bands to be precise.  In 2003 Maritime was formed by Promise Ring singer and guitarist Davey Von Bohlen and included the bassist from The Dismemberment Plan, as well as Promise Ring drummer Dan Didier.  Von Bohlen decided to take this project in a different direction from either of the bands from which it spawned.  This band was much more acoustically oriented and tended to lean away from the borderline emo lyrics from their early 21st century counterparts.  Maritime’s second album We the Vehicles is an orgy of power chords, fast strumming and melodic vocals.  I suppose in the grand scheme of things, they’re really not terribly important… they don’t stand out too much… they’re just like any other indie band from the last ten years.  So why pick this album?  Quite simply put, I’ve listened to loads and loads of these types of album: catchy, but nothing to write home about.  Of all of those albums, however, none have made me want to write home quite as much as this one.  Check out “Tearing Up the Oxygen“, “Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts” “We Don’t Think, We Know” and “No One Will Remember You Tonight

So… there ya have it…  There were soo many eligible albums to choose from.  When it came time to pick these last five, I found myself with a short-list of 14 albums that I consider to be great.  Unfortunately only 5 could make the list.  I’d list the runners up but I feel as though that would diminish the sense of mystery.  Maybe your favorite album just barely didn’t make it, ooooohhhh the mystery oooooohh.  Anyways thanks so much for giving enough of a shit about what I think to read this far into my post.  I hope at least I’ve helped you discover a few new artists you’ll like, if not validated your feelings towards a particular band.  Again, if you didn’t catch part 1, you can do so here.

P.S. Sorry, but have to give these guys some credit.  They did make my short-list, but overall I decided they just didn’t have quite the volume of songs I was looking for on their album.  This, however, does not diminish from their overall musical prowess.  Boston’s own Art Decade and their album Royalty (2009) definitely deserve an honorable mention.  They’re just a blast to listen to and really fun to talk to, as I discovered when I interviewed them on my show a few months ago.

Check them out on myspace.

(Also check out Audiophilia‘s Top 10)

Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Statistics for 104.9FM WRBB: Top Albums of 2009 by Spins

December 13, 2009 1 comment

So, before I go into my own sort of top ten, I figure I’ll let you know what albums WRBB has spun the most. The albums below are ranked based on numbers of on-air spins from January 1, 2009 to December 13, 2009. These are NOT my opinion, but are ranked from our own Spinitron catalog.

  1. Veckatimest – – Grizzly Bear (While I knew this would be up there, did NOT see it being #1!)
  2. Manners – – Passion Pit (Saw this coming, so deserved it)
  3. Merriwether Post Pavilion – – Animal Collective
  4. Idlewild South – – Allman Brothers Band (What the hell?! I wish I were joking when I put this up here, but this is literally #4!)
  5. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – – Phoenix
  6. Fleet Foxes – – Fleet Foxes
  7. Noble Beast – – Andrew Bird
  8. Fantasies – – Metric
  9. Monsters of Folk – – Monsters of Folk
  10. It’s Blitz! – – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So, as you can see, with the exception of #4 (which makes NO SENSE), it’s a pretty steady college indie rock lineup. Stay tuned for my personal top ten of 2009, since Judd already started nailing the decade.

Categories: Roundups, Uncategorized Tags: ,

El Ten Eleven at the Middle East Downstairs (courtesy of Matt Burton)

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

El Ten Eleven opens their Monday night show at the Middle East with an upbeat, punchy bass line, followed by a layering of melodic and harmonic lines that sounds like it would take three or four guitarists to handle. Yet El Ten Eleven is only two people, Kristian Dunn (bass) and Tim Fogarty (drums). Although fans are quick to recognize the iconic double neck Carvin guitar/bass that is responsible for many of the bands songs, Kristian says that he considers himself a bassist, “Most of what I do on guitar is just messing around,” having grown up working out songs from his favorite bands in his youth. “We didn’t have tabs back then,” he says, “I’d spend hours in my bedroom trying to figure out songs” from his favorite bands. As the band follows up their opening song (from their currently in progress next album) with two songs off of their second album “Every Direction is North”, it’s easy to see that this perseverance has paid off. The two-piece sounds as tight live as they do on the recordings, which is impressive considering the amount of material and gear they have to manage. But unlike electronica duo Ratatat, to whom the band is often compared, you won’t find any laptops on stage. While Kristian relies on looping pedals to achieve the band’s sound without additional members, Tim combines an electronic drum kit with his normal acoustic set, everything is done live and manually. Tim says that his electronic kit offers more diverse sounds than he can get from even a truckload of snare drums. El Ten Eleven combines electronic and pop influences into a tight, instrumental package.

While comparisons to the aforementioned Ratatat and other electronic acts such as MSTRKRFT, equally abundant are comparisons to post rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky (of Friday Night Lights fame). One website describes their sounds as “Justice meets Tortoise”, although when I asked Kristian if bands like Tortoise and Explosions were much of an influence, his answer was “No. Honestly, it [post-rock] bores me. Our songs aren’t like that, they’re more like pop songs”. This is especially evident if you listen to their latest album, “These Promises are Being Videotaped”. With bass-heavy techno-style tracks like “Jumping Frenchmen of Maine” and “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool”, any musical similarities to Tortoise begin to fade – in fact, the band recently toured with Justice. Although the change in style from their previous two albums may have alienated fans, Kristian says they have been generally supportive and excited about the new tunes. I myself was a little on the fence about “Promises” (being more of a Tortoise fan than a Justice one), but after a few listens it definitely began to grow on me, and seeing them – no, hearing them play the songs live was amazing. Their set consisted of songs from all three albums and a few covers, including Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, and a new cover of Joy Divisions “Disorder” in the encore, along with fan favorites like “I like Van Halen…” and “My Only Swerving”.

Although they say they are currently thinking about signing with a record label, they’ve released three albums now without the help of one – all available for download from the bands site. Taking another page out of Radiohead’s book, the downloads are priced at whatever you want to pay (CD’s are also available for about $10). While some might question the financial savvy of essentially relying on your fans’ generosity, Kristian says that “We actually started making more money when we started doing the tip jar thing”. “A lot of people still download it for free, but then they come to the show and feel kinda bad and buy a CD. I think it’s great – if they didn’t like it, they wouldn’t be at the show or buying a CD”. Looking at the cheering crowd packed into the Middle East upstairs, I would say it’s definitely paid off. Despite difficulties on the road, like having their van broken into, the band presses on. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend seeing them live, but at the very least you should download their albums, whether you pay or not – you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to love about El Ten Eleven.

-This review was provided courtesy of WRBB DJ Matt Burton

Categories: Interview, Review Tags: , ,

And Thus Ends a Decade… (pt. 1 of 2)

December 10, 2009 7 comments

Well it’s that time of century again… when the last few seconds of 2009 expire in just a few short weeks, it will be a new decade.  Seeing as it has been a popular topic for bloggers, music enthusiasts and, oh yeah, just about every radio station in the continental US… I thought it might be nice to reflect upon the last 10 years.

The 2000s were  responsible for introducing us to bands like The Jonas Brothers and Kanye West.  It was a time when phrases like “superman dat ho” and “sugar we’re going down swinging” were made to thrive.  I guess I can’t say it was all bad though… at least we managed to put out 2 Twilight movies, am I right?

Now I know you’re all thinking: Andy, there must be something you liked about the last 10 years?  You are correct.  Amidst all the Kelly Clarkson and Bronson Arroyo (better known for his being a red sox pitcher NOT A MUSICIAN DAMMIT), the music industry did manage to put out several albums that I consider to be worthy of the highest praise.  I’m the kind of guy who can barely pay attention to anything long enough to even tie his own shoes, so any album that I can listen to cover to cover and not get bored with any of the songs is really a keeper (to be said in the most wisconsonist of ways).  Here are a few that have been able to do just that (in no particular order… at least listen to the links if you’re not gonna read it haha):

Death Cab for Cutie – Plans (2005)

Death Cab’s album, Plans, came out in 2005 and was a huge success.  Death Cab was formed by lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard (also of All-Time Quarterback and the ever popular Postal Service).  This was the first record that they released on the Altlantic Records label.  They had experienced some indie success for their previous album Transatlanticism, which showcased the single “Sound of Settling”.  Yet as good a single as that was, they really hit their stride with their 2005 follow up Plans. On this album they boasted heavy hitting chart toppers with their singles “Soul Meets Body” and “Crooked Teeth“, both of which received extensive airplay.  However this is not what makes this album worth a listen.  If it only had two good songs, I would simply recommend you go out and download them and be done with it.  This album is however a masterpiece of songwriting.  Each song is an ebbing and flowing tribute to the beauty and simplicity of analogue sound.  You know a song is good when even the bass line is holding your attention; no song does this better than “Summer Skin“.  However, my favorite song on the entire album has to be “Brothers on a Hotel Bed“.  Death Cab later went on to make the personally dissapointing “Narrow Stairs”, and most recently a single called “Meet Me on the Equinox” which so far as I can tell, was written explicitly for Twilight’s sequel “New Moon”.  Come on guys.

Director – We Thrive on big Cities (2006)

What do Director, Bell x1 and U2 all have in common?  If you said they’re all bands, you’re right… and retarded.  The actual answer I was looking for was they’re all Irish.  In 2006 the young quartet from Malahide, Ireland released their first album We Thrive on Big Cities, which found a strong foothold across the Emerald Isle.  They were praised for singles such as “Reconnect” and “Big Cities“.  They then proceeded to win several accolades for the album, including a 2007 “Meteor Best New Band” award.  I like them personally because they have a style reminiscent of other art rockers, such as The Strokes, yet at the same time have a level of songwriting I’ve seen nowhere else.

Telefon Tel Aviv –Fahrenheit Fair Enough (2001)

During my freshman year at Northeastern, my friend Charlie introduced me to New Orleans duo Telefon Tel Aviv.  They are a part of a movement within electronic music known as IDM (Intelligent Dance Music), which tries to express complex beat structures and off-kilter sampling through the digital medium.  Their 2001 album Fahrenheit Fair Enough is certainly an interesting take on the electronic genre.  In the background they contrast the smoothest of synth melodies with the most random cacophony of any and every sampled sound, which serves as the beat.  The resulting mish-mosh is prickly,  frenetic, almost epileptic and yet oddly soothing .  This music is well suited to studying, and I’ve even found I study better while listening to it.  Also try driving and listening… whoaaah.  If you haven’t already, check out “Fahrenheit Fair Enough” and “John Thomas on the Inside Is Nothing but Foam“.  But wait, also try TTV.

The Slip – Eisenhower (2006)

The Slip have been around a while and have been kicking ass for almost as long.  They originally started off playing avant-garde rock in 1996 after dropping out of Berklee College of Music.  10 years later they released Eisenhower, which was, by far, their poppiest foray into the music business to date.  Their song “Even Rats” even made it into the first Guitar Hero game.  However, this album was certainly not about the fame.  Every song on this album is its own little world, with it’s own stories and its own ambiance.  One song might be a slow ballad showcasing the vocal talents of singer/guitarist Brad Barr, the next might be a heavily percussive funk inspired mostly instrumental piece.  This range is seen quite clearly between “Suffocation Keep” and “Airplane/Primitive“.  The one thing that makes this album so easy to listen to, is that it never, for even one second, gets boring… and yet it does so without resorting to heavy on/off, loud/quiet shifts.  My hat is off to the Boston based trio.

Kaki King – Dreaming of Revenge (2008)

Kaki Kings 4th studio album continues in the tradion of her previous efforts; amazing acoustic guitar.  This album however sees much more of her vocals than her previous albums, a huge step for the New York singer/songwriter.  She had been hailed as one of the best female guitarists of our time.  Over her short career she has managed to work with such bands as Tegan and Sara, Northern State, and oh yeah… THE FOO FIGHTERS.  The lead singer of whom is quoted as saying “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really fucking good. And then there’s Kaki King.”  She has also helped score such films as “August Rush” and “Into the Wild”.  But enough about her… the album “Dreaming of Revenge” was released in 2008 and showcases Kings talents as a guitarist, a vocalist and a songwriter.  She shows off her ability to play guitar on “Bone Chaos in the Castle“, her singing prowess in “Life Being What It Is” (song starts at 43 secs) and her ability to write a crowd pleaser with “Pull Me out Alive“.

I hope you’ve taken the time to read all of this, and if you have… THANKS GOMES.

Click here for Part 2