Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

10. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue 
Already reviewed by me earlier, this album is personal and rich. It is Jenny Lewis finding her voice, and a beautiful voice it is.

9. The Knux - Remind Me In 3 Days...
These guys are bringing hip-hop back to where I like it most. Unbeatable old-skool beats, guitar riffs, and a goofy flow that would make the Beastie Boys proud. I heard a music critic say "these guys aren't cool, and they know they aren't and that's what makes the great." Well, that's all well and good, but I happen to think they're pretty cool. "Bang! Bang!" is the best song, but watch out for some crazy dirty lyrics through the later half of the album.

8. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
This was a new band to me this year, and they really impressed me. "Grounds for Divorce" is probably one of, if not my hands down favorite song of the year. This band captured all the guts and gusto of a Zeppelin tune in that song on the same album that brings joyous chorus of redemption on songs like "One Day Like This."

7. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
In many ways this was a year of the vampire. Twilight held tweens in it's campy seductive spell, and Vampire Weekend held hipsters and non alike in their afro-beat pop music spell. This album could be classified as the feel-good album of the year with it's upbeat and catchy tunes. A must for anyone who loves Paul Simon or Peter Gabriel.

6. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
These guys are always pushing the bounds of music and sound. Their debut album last year was fantastic but in some ways lacked a melodic listenability. This year's Dear Science upped the anti and brought out a true rock sensibility in the Brooklyn band. This album captures the feeling of hope and newness that year has borough, and is certainly one of the best albums this year.

5. Adele - 19
At 19 years old, this girl
 has out shown all her neo-soul counterparts to make one of the best albums of the year. It spawned the hit "Chasing Pavement," and most of the songs on the album share in the same story of a feeling of sweet loss.  This album grew on me and worked its way more and more into my rotation towards the end of the year, causing me to now attempt to sing like her constantly, but alas to no avail. This chick has chops.

4. Kings of Leon - Only by the Night
This is a huge break through album for this 
band. Having only been known before by the song "Molly's Chamber," King of Leon created a full album of great, sexy, memorable songs. Their lyrics have matured greatly, even if one of their songs is unapologetically called "Sex on Fire." How can you not love that?

3. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes 
Not since the Beatles, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Simon & Garfunkel has harmony meant so much to a band. These songs sound timeless, and yet like they've been buried in time and unearthed especially for you. This album added an ethereal layer to my already magical summer.

2. Black Keys - Attack & Release
Just now when I looked at the album cover again, the songs started going through  my head. "Lies" has been one of my most played songs since this album came out, and the entire album heavy with songs that are just as wonderfully bluesy, murky, and oozing with sticky sweet sex, or pounding hard with pure unadulterated rock'n'roll.

1. Santogold - Santogold
I don't really know why this ended up being my favorite album this year other than it's the one I seemed to obsess over the most. I had to find out everything about Santi White, the woman behind the one woman band. These songs made me feel like a kid again, just soaking in the pure joy of a fantastically written pop song with a soul behind the lyrics, and unmistakable magic in the music.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Adele In '88

I loved Adele's album 19 that came out this year. It is a contender for my albums of the year list. She is my favorite of all the neo-soul singers of late. Duffy be damned! I just stumbled upon Mick Boogie's remix of the whole 19 album reimagined for the year 1988! Crazy hip-hop beat and mixing abound! You can download the entire album for free! I am going to get to enjoy the album all over again! I love it when people so this stuff, the internet is so bad ass. Right now I am diggin on "First Love." So good!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kristin Chenoweth - A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas

(Full disclosure here, both my boyfriend and I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Kristin Chenoweth because of her unbelievably divine turn as Olive Snook on the show Pushing Daisies. Seriously, we are weekly made weakly by her insane cuteness.)

Are you looking to have a relaxing, warm, hauntingly nostalgic holiday season? If so, Kristin Chenoweth, of Broadway and currently Pushing Daisies fame, is probably who you want to be spending Christmas with. She has an earnest spunk and undeniable cuteness and likability that comes through unmistakably, even in audio recording. 

Her voice has the clarity and tone of a seasoned musical theatre actress, but her charm somehow allows her to pull off even lighter fluffier songs without crossing the line into cheese. Songs like "Christmas Island," with its hula-like vibe might have been disastrous in less adorable hands.

She shines the most however on the more classic carol songs. Her silky rendition of "I'll be home for Christmas" is as warm and soft as a pair of fuzzy slippers, and "Do you hear what I hear?" rings with all the clear purity of bells on Christmas morning.

This woman can do it all, act, sing, dance, and make me feel a little bit more like a kid again, entranced by the sounds of holiday magic.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Am Gonna Do It - I Swear! (PREPARE FOR.... THE LIST)

Ok while I am weighing the pros and cons of squishing all my blogs together into one gooey blob of blogginess, I thought I would state as point of fact that I am going to make a "Nina's Best Albums of 2008" list this year, and I want to make it a yearly thing.

This year I am tried to immerse myself in as much new music as possible, and I really want to shed light on some of the lessor known really great bands out there. The criteria for my list is going to be part objective and part brutally subjective. I will take into account popularity, overall appeal, originality, and production value to a point, but really it's going to come down to whether or not an album rocked my world or not. Or popped my world, or rapped it, I try not to discriminate. Good is good.

So I have a lot of work to do, and maybe I will end up with one master list, maybe I'll end up making sub categories or some overly nerdy thing like that, but I will enjoy in greatly either way. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My One Good Picture From Neverender

This is really the only semi-good picture I got on my phone at the Coheed & Cambria concert I went to at the Riviera the week before Halloween. (I know I am way tardy.)

Ok, that looks kind of cool, maybe I should post the other ones. Wait, sorry, this is the only other one where you can actually see the stage a little, not just people getting drunk.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


M.I.A is out with a new E.P. called How Many Votes Fix Me! I haven't actually got to listen to any of it yet because I just found out about it now, and I'm at work, toiling away in the underground sugar mines for my evil ant overlords

Ok, right M.I.A. The new E.P. is available on iTunes right now, and here is a link to Shells a new track of of it. I hear it's "bangin!" That it sounds like something off her first album, Arular, which I totally agree with based on the two seconds I heard of it before I had to stop it because it was blaring from my sugar mine speakers and the head ant was lurking.


No, I Am The Walrus!

Put all your arguments over who is the fifth Beatle to rest ladies and gentleman, because the correct answer is now: You! Get ready to rekindle your Beatles love! MTV along with the remaining Bealtes and their wives, are teaming up to make a Rock Band style game using Bealtes music!!

I know! I can't believe it either, I was near shaking with anticipation at just reading at the prospects of such a thing. It turns out though that I will be near shaking for quite awhile, as the game isn't scheduled to release until holiday season '09. Boooo! I want it now! Don't tease me with clearly the awesomeest news ever and then throw it back in my face with a realistic timeline! I demand instant gratification! And I do warn you that now I am expecting something amazing.

I will keep your updated on all new info made available on this, so remember to stay tuned! (Or, Ummm... Bookmarked?)

Monday, October 13, 2008

M.I.A. Spawn

OMG! I had no idea M.I.A. was pregnant!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Current Albums

I have a few albums in rotation that I may review in the coming weeks. Jenny Lewis is still getting play, I often have one of her new songs stuck in my head. 

Other albums I am listening to:

"Carried To Dust" By Calexico - An excellent album. Lush twilight- in-the-country music. This should be the first I review.

"Life Like" By The Rosebuds - They're back to guitar rock! Also shaping up to be a great album, only listened at work so far.

"Feed The Animals" By Girl Talk - A free album, comprised mostly of samples of very well known songs. Very weird, very interesting.

The critics darling. Honestly haven't heard much stand out from it yet,  but it got excellent reviews and I haven't given it that much of a chance. I'll try to give it some attention this week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

"Acid Tongue" By Jenny Lewis - A Review

"Acid Tongue" by Jenny Lewis is the album I've been waiting for from the Rilo Kiley singer. Her voice shines soulfully through each song, accompanied by surprisingly spot on sonic noise, scratchy guitars, strings, and pounding bluesy bass lines.

The song opens with "Black Sand" a sweet soft song of a girl and boy on the sand. Her voice rises over a classic piano lead melody and swells into orchestral drama. It's the next song, "Pretty Bird" however, that really gets the album going for me. It melts into a dark groove with her voice floating over and around the beautiful and sad structure of sound.

It moves seamlessly into "Next Messiah" which may just be the masterpiece of "Acid Tongue." At a surprising nine minute length, it runs the gamut of guitar rock, feeling funky, rocking, and timeless. It's "actually three different songs that Johnathan Rice and myself wrote together," Lewis recalled to the Chicago Tribune. Calling the song an "ode to Barbara Streisand and the devil," she says it was "tracked completely live, with all the transitions, and it's the most exciting thing I've ever been involved with in the studio. I wish the rest of the record had been more like that." 

While the rest of the album may not feel as immediately stand out as "Next Messiah" it leaves nothing wanting. She seems to be letting go of the simple break-up song, alt-country-pop feel of Rilo Kiley and moving into uncharted territory. 

While "Bad Man's World" lurks in a sultry dark place, the title track feels sad yet redemptive and uplifting, while giving us a glimpse in to Lewis's world. "I've been down to Dixie, and dropped acid on my tongue, tripped upon the land, until enough was enough." 

"See Fernando" in an upbeat rocker. Probably one of the few songs on the album that might get your body moving, or at least your foot tapping. 

'Godspeed" really surprised me in that it almost has an R&B feel for part of the song, and Lewis sounds almost like a Nora Jones or Alicia Keys at parts. I found this a nice change of pace and a interesting study of her voice although not everyone may feel this way. The chorus slightly jarringly heads back to a more pop feel. 

"Carpetbaggers," a duet with Elvis Costello, is another toe-tapper. Costello's voice is unmistakable and adds to the songs driving fun quality.

While "Trying My Best To Love You" is a sweet gospel song, "Jack Killed Mom" sounds to me like what the White Stripes are always trying to create. A real southern rock n' roll song. "In your honor, I'm going to cut that man in half." It builds to a full on revival tent hootenanny.

The albums ends with the beautiful piano ballad "Sing a Song for Them." Inviting us to sing a song for all "the brick-a-brak finding housewives, losing their minds" "If you sing a song, sing a song for them."  

There's something inviting and comfortable about "Acid Tongue." It has a definite voice and a rich live feeling to the recording. Zooey Deschanel's soaring back-ups throughout only add to the already formidable vocal prowess. The vocals do take center stage on this album and rightfully so, Jenny Lewis has a wonderful voice and this album thoroughly shows off her range and talents. "Acid Tongue" is a welcome addition to any collection, especially fans of alt-country, blues, and rock n' roll.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First Black First Lady

This song is surprisingly catchy. I am totally whipping it out after election day. Let's hope by then, The Lady Tigra will be proven right, and we'll know we get to have our first black first lady in January. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

That's Not My Name - Who Did It Better?

"That's Not My Name" by The Ting Tings has been a guilty pleasure of mine for the last few weeks. It's up beat in an off beat way, and it builds to more than it begins with. 

The rest of their album, "We Started Nothing," is ripe with a few good songs. "Shut Up And Let Me Go" is a great song, and I believe it also provides the soundtrack to one of those ultra hip ipod commercials.  "Great DJ" is another good song, but nothing has stuck in my head like "That's Not My Name." It's clearly the gem.

I was looking for a place to download it for free so that I could share it, and stumbled across a cover by Dizzee Rascal, a crazy British rapper who I love. I think I like the original better for it's almost cheerleader like spirit. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rhymefest Hearts Michael Jackson

It's true. Rhymefest loves Michael Jackson. He's his biggest fan. He says so himself in his tribute to the man behind the germ mask, Man In The Mirror. Now I like to poke fun at Michael Jackson as much as the next guy, and don't get me wrong, there is plenty of fun being poked in this album, but it's all out of the respect that Rhymefest has for someone who was obviously a big influence in his own life.

I didn't know what to expect from this album. I did notice that it was produced by Mark Ronson, the man at least partially responsible for the fame of acts like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse, so my expectations climbed a bit. I didn't know I was in for a heartfelt, fun, and sometimes hilarious mix tape. I became of fan of Rhymefest instantly. 

Now the best part is that he's not making a dime off this, which explains why he gets away with using Michael Jackson's voice and likeness. Any man doing this shit strictly for the love of it is okay in my book. Check out this album, (go here to download it all for FREE) and be sure to listen to the last track "Man in the Mirror," the original song is great but Rhymefest's take updates it and takes it to a new level.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Music Mission

There have been a lot of things that I wanted to write about that just didn't seem to fit into what has been turning out to be a very political leaning blog, Contrary To Popular Belief. This is the space I have devoted now to music and album reviews. I don't know where I'm going to get the time to do the many things my mind wants to branch out into right now, but I can try at least!

The music on my mind right now is all from Rock Band 2. I just downloaded all the songs from the game that I'm not familiar with. I have to learn "Round and Round" by Ratt better for our next big gig! Watch out for Doughboy and the Nail Bunnies coming to a digitally rendered stage near you!