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.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hits Don't Stop

With the exception of the Jack White EP, all of this stuff is new or pre-new, so be sure to give it a listen. The one song I've heard from the new Prefuse 73 disc sounds like a return to form after a couple of sub-par (in my opinion) recent outings. Beirut should be an interesting listen at all, for anyone who loved the more developed full-band sound on the recent Lon Gisland EP.

I also posted the new Common, as I figure some of you folks might be interested in hearing that. I just can't get over the fact that Common refers to himself as a "socially-conscious love artist." I mean jesus, talk about over-indulgent self-awareness. Where do people come up with shit like this?

Beirut: The Flying Club Cup
Jack White: Cold Mountain EP
Liars: self-titled (2007)
Prefuse 73: Preperations
Common: Finding Forever
Los Campesinos: Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Out of the Office

I've been out of town and working late, so I haven't had much (additional) opporunity to sit in front of the computer and post new shit for you people. Soon!

I am happy to note that there appear to be about 20 regular visitors to this blog. I've been keeping an eye on my Google Analytics. Thanks for continuing to check in. I promise this blog will not die. Don't be a afraid to leave a comment every once a while.

I'll post more stuff soon, including an early list of favorites from 2007.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala

The new Jens Lekman album could be described as "cuter than a button" which is an expression my grandma used to use, and one which never made much sense to me. Speaking of Grandmas, yours would probably dig Night Falls Over Kortedala because Jens is only one or two degrees removed from Frankie Valli or Barry Manilow. Jens has a clear knack for pop melodies, but he's soft and buttery.

That's right, if Jens continues his successful career, it's entirely likely that your grandkids may one day wonder how you ever liked "that kind of music" and why it was cool in it's time (though it's really not at all).

People are either going to love this album or say to themselves, "Wow. I didn't realize it before, but this guy is kind of a puss." I mean, just look at the cover. Who cares though, there are some great songs, and some cheesy songs, and some cheesy songs that are great.

Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala

For good measure, I'm throwing in a couple bonus links. Check out the new Jose Gonzalez and a full discography from The Knife.

The Knife: Complete Discography
Jose Gonzalez: In Our Nature

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Animal Collective: "Peacebone"

"Why again do people like this band?" That's been my primary impression of Animal Collective since purchasing their Here Comes the Indian album on a recommendation. That was both scary, and really really boring. Noise collages just aren't for me.

But, their new album, Strawberry Jam is nice and accessible -- almost campy for a band that has enjoyed most of their success on the predication that they are difficult to listen too, and therefore uniquely hardcore in their own right. Anyway, the new album isn't quite easy listening, but's a real gem of modern psych-rock. There's definitely a quirky, circus-style Beach Boys-thing, with a wall of electronic noise happening throughout the disc.

Here's the first track off the album, called "Peacebone". If you like this song, you will like Strawberry Jam.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Click on each cover for the corresponding All Music Guide review.

Television: Marquee Moon
Miles Davis: Kind of Blue
The Beatles: Abbey Road
Daft Punk: Homework


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Roundup

Here's a bunch of links I gathered from the furthest reaches of the information superhighway, including a bunch of highly anticipated new releases that just hit. I'm especially stoked to check out the new Rogue Wave and Jens Lekman discs when I get home this evening.

Rogue Wave: Asleep at Heaven's Gate (2)
Jens Lekman: Night Falls over Kortedala
High On Fire: Death is Communion
Okkervil River: The Stage Names
Iron & Wine: Shepherd's Dog (+ 2 others)
Chromeo: Fancy Footwork

Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer
Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
Traveling Wilburys: Volume 1
Beirut: Lon Gisland EP
Pinback: (self-tited)
The Stone Roses: (self-titled)
Art Brut: Bang, Bang, Rock'n Roll
M.Ward: Transistor Radio

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Alpha: Stargazing

We're overdue for a couple of new posts around here, so here goes a couple of favorite discs from the early '00s.

First up, a truly under appreciated gem from 2004, Alpha's Stargazing. There aren't enough great things to say about this album, if you're got a think for lush, low-key, vocal electronic.

The songs here are almost all downtempo, and many of them feature some gorgeous, and very understated vocal performances (see: "Once Around town", "Lipstick at the Asylum" and "Saturn and Rain"). If you played this album in a dentist's office, no one would need novicaine. It's just straight-up relaxation.

Alpha: Stargazing

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Earlimart: Treble & Tremble

Aaron Espinoza sounds even more like Elliott Smith than usual on this excellent disc from 2004. Therefore, common sense tells me that fans of Elliott Smith may enjoy listening to this.

I wonder if anything has ever been written about these guys that did not mention Elliott Smith. Anyway, this is a great batch of sad songs with pretty melodies and nice lush instrumentation.

Earlimart: Treble & Tremble

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I'm Not There Soundtrack

This soundtrack for the forthcoming Bob Dylan biopic, I'm Not There, looks mighty tasty. I'm excited to hear Cat Power take on "Stuck Inside of Mobile", Black Keys' "Wicked Messenger" and Steve Malkmus on "Ballad of a Thin Man."

Also, this backing band assembled for the soundtrack -- The Million Dollar Bashers -- looks unreal, with John Medeski and members of Sonic Youth and Wilco all pitching in.

If you haven't seen it, be sure to check out the scene that leaked, with Cate Blanchett playing Bob.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Odds & Ends for Friday

Here are a few discs I found via other blogs that might be of interest.

Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation
Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This
Sepultura: Best Of...
T.Rex: Electric Warrior


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Metallica: Master of Puppets

Disagree if you must, but Metallica was probably the most important metal band of the 80s and 90s. They cracked the Top 30 on the charts with Puppets in 1986, with absolutely no radio airplay or MTV. But who cares about charts, these guys were bringing serious shit on every album they made between 1982-1992. They were reinventing metal with each new album -- making it truly epic for the first time -- and all this in an era when bands like Cinderella and Poison were most listeners idea of metal. They weren't the first band to play thrash, or to stretch a song past the 8-minute -- but they pieced it altogether on this album. There are so many compositional tricks the band empoys on Puppets -- Hetfeild's rhythm playing, the beats Lars picks to hit his cymbals, etc -- but they all sound commonplace because this album influenced everyone that ever played metal after it.

Metallica: Master of Puppets

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Girl Talk: Secret Diary

This is Girl Talk's first album. That's about all I can say about that. Enjoy.

Girl Talk: Secret Diary

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Summer Photo Blowout

Outside of First Avenue in Minneapolis. Lots of cool bands have played here.

The docks just outside the University of Madison's student union. I love that people were swimming in the lake and sunset while there was a live band and half the town drinking a few feet away. Madison is a great town.

Hanging with Megan's friend Claudio, at her high school reunion. Anyone ever seen MTV Mexico? Claudio is a VJ there. Don't you think he looks like a VJ. I look like a midwestern kid taking photos outside a bar.

The swings at the Peoria fair actually had tandem seats. I've never seen that before. To me, the swings are clearly the only spinning ride at the fair that is in any way rideable.

At the Decemberists show at Pritzer Pavilion. They played with a full orchestra. A full orchestra people. It was free too. Free. But it rained. Rained.

John and I in the shade at Pitchfork this year. Forget about the music altogether -- Pitchfork fest is the most well-run ticket ever. Lots of Porto-Potties (last year they were literally called "Drop Zones"), cheap beer and short lines, $1 waters, plenty of shade, plus they don't oversell it (though this year they were pushing it). It's the most fan-friendly festival out there.

Meg and I waiting for Cool Kids to get the party started.

I went up to Maine to visit family and got to go out on this sweet lobster boat. I often thought to myself, "I am aboard the Forrest Gump boat right now, " even though Forrest caught shrimp.

My first real rock climbing experience, aside from the fake walls. The cliffs along the coast in Acadia National Park are amazing. If you climb, you really need to check in to Maine.

Teaching my dad and step mom the time-honored tradition of flippy cup.


Top 25 Albums Ever (or whatever)

One of the better download blogs out there, Peanut's Playground, has a user-generated Top 25 list out today. The best part: each and every record is posted for your listening pleasure. Click here to check it out.

The Top 25 Albums of All-Time according to the readers of Peanut's Playground are:
  1. ???
  2. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
  3. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991)
  4. Portishead – Dummy (1994)
  5. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
  6. Radiohead - Ok Computer (1997)
  7. The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)
  8. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005)
  9. Death Cab For Cutie –Transatlanticism (2003)
  10. Interpol –Antics (2004)
  11. Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
  12. Pixies – Doolittle (1989)
  13. The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)
  14. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
  15. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
  16. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)
  17. The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)
  18. Depeche Mode – Violator (1990)
  19. Grandaddy - The Sophtware Slump (2000)
  20. Jeff Buckley – Grace (1994)
  21. Joanna Newsom – Ys (2006)
  22. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (1979)
  23. Joy Division – Closer (1980)
  24. Manic Street Preachers - Holy Bible (1994)
  25. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Annuals: Be He Me

Anybody catch these guys at Lollapalooza this weekend? I skipped the festival this time out, but Annuals definitely would have made my schedule. This is their debut, and only (so-far) full-length release. Even though it does, I hate to say that this disc "shows promise" because really, it's better than that.

In terms of songwriting maturity, this could already be the band at their peak. Tracks like "Brother" and "Complete, or Completing" show their knack for fusing multi-section tunes, production tricks, and a dose of youthful excitement. You can tell they're having a great time with these songs (check out the yelling that kicks off "Carry Around"). One of unfortunately overlooked discs of 2006.

Annuals: Be He Me

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Final Score -- Top 50 Drummers

Final Sc0re: Byron 234, Mike 241. Damn you Phil Collins!

So yeah, more than a couple of surprises in the Top 10. And to think I almost went with Dave Grohl.

Byron's Picks ::::
Mike's Picks ::::
Neil Peart22ndNeil Peart22nd
John Bonham1st
John Bonham1st
Keith Moon2nd
Keith Moon2nd
Mo Tucker9th
Ringo Starr26th
Carl Palmer--Lars Ulrich--
Stewart Copeland8th
Stewart Copeland8th
Ginger Baker16th
Mitch Mitchell18th
Bill Bruford23rdPhil Collins--
Mark Portnoy--Dave Lombardo11th
Terry Bozzio--Alex Van Halen--


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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