Here's a short list of artists I've been listening to over the last week or so. Click for additional stats on what else I like lately.

On the upstairs porch, at the Mansion on Judges Hill, Austin, TX, 11/9/07. Lonestar beer is the local swill, and is comparable to a Pabst, Stroh's, etc.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Peter, Bjorn & John - Writer's Block

It's true, this dude (Peter) sounds exactly like John Lennon sometimes. That might be enough for some, but it's not even the best part of this album. There's a reason people everywhere are falling in love with this band. First, they're one of the largest-sounding power trios I've heard in some time (check that wall of guitars on the 2nd track, "Objects of my affection"), but beyond that PB&J know how to utilize all available resources (double-tracking, percussion, guest vocalists, etc) to realize their sound.

This album is an instant classic. So get it now.

Peter, Bjorn & John - Writer's Block

Objects of My Affection
Young Folks
Up Against the Wall
Paris 2004
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime

Currently listed on Metacritic as the #1 most well-reviewed album of 2007 (and, unbelievably, the 5th best score since 2000) this new release from The Field is being heralded as a new direction for ambient techno. From Here We Go Sublime is dense, yet minimal, and in manages to liberate itself from the typical fleshing-out of techno music, while also restraining the formula that often makes the genre so predictable.

If you only listen to one electronic record in 2007... this might be the one. It's only April though.

The Field - From Here We Go Sublime

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Fujiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things

Thanks to Mike C. for uploading this one and sending it over. I haven't heard all of it yet, but I like so far. The muted vocal delivery and guitar tones remind me that Pinback is also a really kickass band, and that these guys sort of sound like them.

Fugiya & Miyagi - Transparent Things

REVIEWS: (4 Stars)
Pitchfork (8.3)
Stylus (B+)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

Remember when Macy Gray broke out? I feel like the same thing is happening with Amy Winehouse -- who's success so far seems to be rooted in her amazingly unique voice. Unlike Gray, there's an air of nostalgia that definitely players in her favor -- namely her rasp, which owes a debt to 1940-50s jazz singers like Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. Time will tell how "sticky" this kind of retro can remain -- assuming that most of the listeners pushing her up the charts (so far peaking at #7 on the Top 200) are likely only casually familar with vocal Jazz.

Back to Black is an interesting listen nonetheless. For me it's exciting to see public support for an act so deeply rooted in the kind of rhythm & blues your grandma would probably dig.

Amy Winehouse - Bank to Black

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

LollaPalooza - No Service Charges!

So the prelim line-up for Chicago's Lollapalooza was recently announced. I think I'm out this year. Not because I'm getting old, or because the lineup is more "meh" than usual, but because tickets are a steaming pile of $195 a pop. Get 'em early and catch a cool $165 "deal."

My favorite part is how they mention pricing on their website. Laughable:
"The Regular price is $195. No service charges. No surprises. No lie. You can even print at home for free. Yes, for free."
Are you fucking kidding me?


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Feist - The Reminder

First off, Feist's voice sounds incredible on this album. It might lacking a style or two found on 2004's Let It Die -- most noticeably the soft rock / AM gold flavors on tracks like "One Evening" -- but it makes up for it with some rollicking stomps and agonizingly beautiful ballads. She got the goods.


Feist - The Reminder

I Feel It all
The Park

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Here's a quick roundup of some good albums posted elsewhere, including new and upcoming release from Modest Mouse, Panda Bear and Arctic Monkeys. I tell ya... not a huge fan of that first Arctic Monkeys disc, but this new one is rockin' as shit.

Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Frank Zappa - Lather
Panda Bear - Person Pitch***

Serenity Now:
Arctic Monkeys - My Favourite Worst Nightmare ***
Belle & Sebastian -- Push Barman...
Bright Eyes - Cassadega

An Aquarian Exposed:
Ghostface - Supreme Clientele***
Clipse - We Got it For Cheap vol. 2
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World


Monday, April 09, 2007

Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

So finally The Boss is getting his just due. Suddenly it's cool to emulate the Bruce, and it's high time that Bruce found a path alongside Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Dylan as a definitive songwriter of his time. And if you ask me, Nebraska is a HUGE part of the Boss' lore.

Key info from the wiki:
Initially Springsteen recorded demos for the album at his home with 4-track cassette recorder. The demos were sparse, using only acoustic guitar, electric guitar (on "Open All Night"), harmonica, and Springsteen's voice.

Springsteen then recorded the album in a studio with the E Street Band. However, he and the producers and engineers working with him felt that a raw, haunted folk essence present on the home tapes was lacking in the band treatments, and so they ultimately decided to release the demo version as the final album. Complications with mastering the low-peak tapes ensued but were then overcome.
Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska

More info on Nebraska from All Music Guide

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Mastodon - Leviathan

Here's some future-classic metal combining early Slayer-style thrash with the melodicism of 80s Metallica and dose of modern grindcore. Look out for some highly intelligent melodies and time changes and some brutal drumming.

Yuppie-ified as it may be, I've been listening to this record when I jog, and I feel like I'm being chased by something.

Mastodon - Leviathan

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Field Music - Tones of Town

This new record from Field Music is an excellent breather from the "Angular" styles that have dominated (indie) rock over the last few years. Plenty of luscious vocal harmonies and crisp syncopation, with the occasional '70s guitar lick (see the 0:50 mark of opener, "Give it, lose it, take it") thrown in for good measure. One of 2007's best so far, and a great soundtrack for the sunny days ahead.

DOWNLOAD: Field Music - Tones of Town

Give it, Lose It, Take it
Working to Work
In Context
A Gap Has Appeard -> Closer at Hand
She Can Do What She Wants

Info on Field Music from All Music Guide

Similar artists:
Apples in Stereo, New Pornographers, Futureheads, The Police

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This blog hosts original music and recordings by Mike Hicks.
Click here to access all of the the songs that have been posted thus far. Please feel free to comment, or email me.

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