Top 40 Albums of 2015

40. New Alhambra by Elvis Depressedly Melodic. Rough around the edges. Biblical motifs. For the win.   39. The Helio Sequence by the Helio Sequence Percussive yet ambient. Perfect work music.   38. Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes Alabama Shakes keep marching forward with an excellent sophomore release. Bluesy, snarly, overdriven.   37. The Shape of Colour by Intervals Technical and punishing instrumental metal.   36. Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner Tunes best suited for the bar on a Friday night.   35. All Your Favorite Bands by Dawes Guitar rock for the indie inclined. I do hope all my favorite bands stay together.   34. The Bearer of Bad News by Andy Shauf Why can’t… Read More →

Album Review: Life Stories: The Choral Music of Eric William Barnum

Life Stories – The Choral Music of Eric Barnum by Robert Bode, Choral Arts, and Eric William Barnum (Gothic Records, 2014) Dr. Eric Barnum is Director of Choral Music at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. He holds a DMA in Choral Conducting from the University of Washington, an advanced degree in conducting from Minnesota State University as well as BA degrees in Composition and Vocal Performance from Bemidji State University (MN). Robert Sparks assembled Choral Arts from Seattle’s best singers for a choral concert directed by famed Swedish conductor Erik Erikson. Following the concert, the group decided to continue under Sparks’ leadership, quickly becoming Seattle’s premiere choral ensemble. In 2007, Robert Bode became Artistic Director, and in 2010 Bode and… Read More →

May Playlist 2014

Not too indie these days, but here’s what I’m spinning. Beck — Morning Phase Melodic. Bluesy. Layers upon layers of vocals. Americana. Textured. Reverb-drenched. Morning Phase is the record that finally harnessed my attention on Beck’s work. Standout tracks include “Waking Light,” “Say Goodbye,” “Wave,” and “Blue Moon.” The Hold Steady — Teeth Dreams Musically, The Hold Steady has always felt at home near the angsty rock of my teenage years. Loud overdriven guitars meet energetic drum beats. What sets the band apart is the storytelling of vocalist, Craig Finn—more spoken word than melody. Teeth Dreams sees the band focus on the melodies, even adding some chorus every once in awhile. “Spinners” is a keeper. S. Carey — Range Of… Read More →

February Playlist 2014

As a disclaimer, this list doesn’t necessarily mean music released in February 2014; it’s just a reflection of what I’ve been listening to.  Without further ado! Mogwai — RAVE TAPES Early adopters of the post-rock genre, Mogwai have been a high-output act for years. They’ve mastered the difficult balance of releasing albums with distinctive elements yet maintaining a proper “Mogwai-sound” throughout. RAVE TAPES adds some electronic elements to the band’s sound, as well as a fun vocodor in “The Lord Is Out of Control.” RAVE TAPES is perfect work music. Damien Jurado — Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son Damien Jurado is one of those artists that have orbited on the periphery of my conscience for years. Every year,… Read More →

January Playlist 2014

In an effort to switch things up and keep better track of my listening habits, I have decided to shift music reviewing strategies. Instead of trying to unpack an album and try my best to make sense of its artistic milieu, I will instead track music in short snippets on a monthly basis. Hopefully this direction can help get me out of the writer’s block I often experience when it comes to music criticism. As a disclaimer, this list doesn’t necessarily mean music released in January 2014; it’s just a reflection of what I’ve been listening to. Neko Case — The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You An indie-rock veteran,… Read More →

Album Review: Post Tropical

Post Tropical by James Vincent McMorrow (Vagrant, 2014. 42 minutes) James Vincent McMorrow (b. 1983) is an Irish singer and songwriter. His debut album Early In The Morning was released in Ireland, February 2010, and in US/Europe in 2011 to widespread acclaim.  Suited for Winter Despite what the title may indicate, McMorrow’s sophomore release Post Tropical is an album perfectly suited for the winter months. Lucky for McMorrow, much of the country has been under blankets of snow and vortexes of polar doom. There is something of the stark calm of winter that McMorrow adheres to inherently, something which begs us naturally to move forward after a much needed season of calm. McMorrow, through his haunting falsetto voice, finds a way to communicate music in a way few… Read More →

Andrew’s Top 20 Albums of 2013

I have a theory, even if it is slightly unfounded, that when Arcade Fire took the Grammy win for Album of the Year a while back, the entire music industry changed. Suddenly loner acts and those without a record label signing them became viable artists doing more than just breaking even. I tried to limit my choices to a mere ten, but couldn’t do it. There’s a lot of good music out there. So, here are my top twenty for the year. Every day the order changes, but this is where I’m at now. 20. Lady Gaga — Artpop I have always loved Lady Gaga. Her performances border on depraved artistry, wearing meat coats and the like. Nevertheless, her music is a constant… Read More →