Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flagpole: 25 of Our Favorite National Releases of 2009

I had the privilege of contributing to Flagpole's best-of list this year! Other fantastic writers (who also happen to be friends of mine) weighed in, so check it out!

One of my blurbs:


Deerhunter's Bradford Cox took a break from all his Internet micro-releases to record his second full-length for solo project Atlas Sound. Logos, according to Cox, was made up significantly of first-takes, a fact that only proves how fantastic he is at retro song structure; for him, it has become almost effortless. Joined by other indie luminaries like Animal Collective's Noah Lennox (Panda Bear) and Stereolab's Leititia Sadier, Cox explores all his facets as a songwriter and puts forward an almost stream-of-consciousness statement on his place in the musical world. [JR]

I also wrote short summaries about the awesomeness of albums by Here We Go Magic, Animal Collective, Bear In Heaven and Grizzly Bear. Read the whole thing here.

All of Flagpole's best-of coverage is definitely worth a read. They touch on content from just this year and the whole decade, and they do it on both a local and national scale.

Flagpole: The Five Local Bands of the Decade

Flagpole: Cream of the Local Crop (2009)

Flagpole: The Decade You Listened To Too Much Music: The Rise of Digital Distribution in the '00s

Decade Trends: Ups and Downs in the Local Music Scene

Oh, and that last one uses this picture of Lazer/Wulf at the Morton Theatre, which is awesome....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Record Review: Alec Ounsworth - Mo Beauty

For Stomp and Stammer:

Alec Ounsworth
Mo Beauty


There's never been a voice quite like Alec Ounsworth's, one part slippery like a mud wrestler sliding around on himself, one part crunchy like rusted gears grinding to a halt. When I first heard his debut LP with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, his vocal style was so idiosyncratic that part of me thought he must be kidding. Then I realized how dead serious he was about songcraft. The two full-lengths CYHSY put out were simple post-rock at its finest, two-chord-based walls of sound, moving bass lines and Ounsworth's ridiculous howling soaring and ululating above it all. Lovely. Though the band hasn't made it clear whether the Clap Your Hands project has ended permanently or is just on hiatus, Ounsworth branched out this year with two releases on his own, one with a band called Flashy Python and one under his own name.

Released in October and recorded in New Orleans, Ounsworth makes it very clear that Mo Beauty isn't CYHSY and he doesn't want it to be. Leadoff "Modern Girl (With Scissors)" has certain things in common with Ounsworth's compositions as a member of CYHSY, yes. It's lyrically oblique; the melodies build upon themselves like layer cakes, each verse getting more topically specific as his voice rises higher and the tune winds tighter. "What Fun" and "Obscene Queen Bee #2" feature vocal lines that, characteristically for Ounsworth, rock back and forth like waves on a ripply pond. But the wall of sound is missing. Instead of a wash of guitar and bright keys and that glorious, kinetic bass, all the instrumentals have been provided by venerable New Orleans musicians. It's more like classic rock, more like jazz, more traditional. It's brass-heavy and masculine like a blues band, not shiny and euphoric like CYHSY...[Read more]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Record Review: Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Beast Rest Forth Mouth is one of the best records of the year! Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

For Flagpole:

Bear In Heaven
Beast Rest Forth Mouth

Blessed with one of the best leadoff tracks in recent history, replete with driving percussion and reverberating keys, Bear In Heaven’s sophomore full-length barrels into existence from a silence that never knew what it was missing. Sounding like the love child of Tears For Fears and Yeasayer (just listen to single “Lovesick Teenagers”), Beast Rest Forth Mouth stretches out wagging fingers in all the cardinal directions its name would obliquely suggest.

Led by Georgia native and Brooklyn resident Jon Philpot, Bear In Heaven recently congealed into a full-fledged four-piece after years of lineup changes and members’ relocations. The result is an album with hips, high heels tapping at 100 bpm, a throwback that, like recent luminaries such as M83, references new wave without keeling over into it...[Read more]

Paste Best of What's Next: Carnivores

These ATLiens certainly deserve to be Artist of the Day!

Paste Artist of the Day:
Best of What's Next: Carnivores

Hometown: Atlanta
Band Members: Tauseef Anam (drums), Philip Frobos (bass, vocals), Nathaniel Higgins (guitar, vocals), Caitlin Lang (keys, vocals)
Album: All Night Dead U.S.A.
For Fans Of: Abe Vigoda, Black Lips, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

With a jangly guitar lick and a far-off, echoing vocal line, Carnivores stealthily prowled into their hometown’s heart this summer via local college radio station WRAS.
The song getting repeated plays, “A Crime,” sounded almost familiar but also brand new, a lo-fi, noisy punk take on a sunny surf jingle that veers for a too-brief moment into a tropical groove before coming to an abrupt end. It offered a view into some manic, nostalgic world, one where everything reads in second-person and problems can be danced away at either sock hops or in mosh pits.

It seemed like Carnivores snuck up from nowhere, claws bared, and strolled right into considerable local notoriety. But for the quartet, the journey has been long and any recognition they’ve received has been hard-earned. And if their scattered, precocious debut LP, All Night Dead U.S.A. (released locally in July on Atlanta startup Double Phantom Records) proved worth listening to over and over again, it’s because the band tried over and over again to make it so. All of them former members of another local group called Chainestereo, the four Carnivores reinvented themselves into their gloriously noisy current group in 2008, after a lineup change and a philosophy adjustment. “You know how you pay your dues and play all of those awful shows, and do the stuff that nobody wants to do, and build whatever it is that you have, locally?” says bassist Philip Frobos. “We did all that with [Chainestereo], and then once things made the transition, they were a little more exciting. It was like everybody was there waiting. It was good to go.”...[Read more]