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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

R.I.P. Stylus, You Will Be Missed

Man, talk about one of the biggest bummers I've had in a while. I went over to check Stylus Magazine -- one of my favorite daily reads -- only to discover that they're shutting their doors as of today. Suck!

Stylus was always seen as a RC Cola to Pitchfork's Coke-style dominance of online music-crit sites. Really, I think I liked Stylus better. They were never quick to go full steam ahead on a trend the way PF often does. They covered music that wasn't under the safe umbrella of "indie", and turned me on to quite a few records that I never would have checked out otherwise (Avett Brothers, The Field, My My, etc). I am shitty at this news.

If there is anything good to come of it, readers get their first glance at the Best records, songs and films of 2007. Go check'em out.

Here is one of my personal favorite Stylus articles ever: Back to the Future vs. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Deal of the week!

Don't pass this one up. They are in excellent condition after all.

RegnYouth Back in Action

After nearly a month MIA, one of the better MP3 Blogs, RegnYouth, is back in a big way. I think dude posted a good 30 albums in the last two days. He's got a truckload of 2007 releases worth a listen:

Radiohead: In Rainbows
Tuung: Good Arrows
Kanye West: Graduation
Beirut: Flying Cup Club
Fiery Furnaces: Widow City
Jens Lekman: Night Falls of Kortedala
Band of Horses: Cease to Begin
Sunset Rubdown: Random Spirit Lover
The Go! Team: Proof of Youth
Enon: Grass Geysers, Carbon Clouds

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hold Steady Live on KEXP

And on to bands that certifiably rock. Here's a live performance that the Hold Steady laid to tape for KEXP in Seattle.

Even better, there's talk of a new album in the Spring or Summer of 2008. Hells yes. In the meantime, Meg and I have tickets to go see them a week from today on, you said man, Halloween. It's on.

LINK: Hold Steady Live on KEXP

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Black Kids, Shmack Kids

So these guys, Black Kids, are everywhere. Jan Parales -- NYTimes critic, and quite possibly the single most powerful music writer in print today -- used the band as a centerpiece in his article about blog buzz at the recent CMJ in New York. Pitchfork bestowed their exalted "Best New Music" tag on their still unreleased EP.

So far, I'm not getting it, but with hype like this you can't NOT listen. Talking points: (1) they don't have a label, (2) they're giving away their EP for free on MySpace, (3) they're name is "Black Kids". Go.

LINK: Black Kids: Wizard of Ahhhs EP

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Besnard Lakes: ... are the Dark Horse

Sorry for the delay on posts -- been really busy at work this past week. Here's a great album from 2007 from Canadian outfit The Besnard Lakes. The formula for this one is something along the lines of Steve Miller Band + Sigur Ros + Steppenwolf, with a smidge of Beach Boys thrown in for good measure. It's a solid rock disc, and one of the best debut albums of the year. Check out the track "Devestation" for a sure-fire mix CD opener.

LINK: The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dick Vitale's ESPN Page

Can we just talk briefly about this page? In the midst of all the ESPN page overhauls this one some how got left in 1997. Look at the old school link stylings on the left. Look at the amazingly pixelated photo at the bottom of the left sidebar! Is this a joke? And the "you are getting verrrry sleeeepy" graphic in the header? This whole page design is one gigantic pile of WTF, and I'm not even talking about the content.

And just in case you think I'm kidding about this looking 1997, here is a CNN page from that year. I love how CNN retains the look of their pages when they're archived.

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Kevin Drew: Spirit If

Here's the new solo joint from Broken Social Scene's (frontman?) Kevin Drew. Most the reviews say it sounds like a BSS album, which is accurate. Honestly, I think he could have cut out a couple of the tracks and gone EP instead of full-length. If I had it my way, I'd rather see the better tracks make their way on to the next BSS album, especially since the band is playing on them anyway. Alas this album is still pretty solid anyway. Favorites are "Farewell to the Pressure Kids", "Lucky Ones", and hard rock-gone-dance stylings of "Backed Out On the..."

Link: Kevin Drew: Spirit If

Here's the video for "Backed Out On the...":

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Roundup / 20 Worst Songs Ever

First up, you gotta love this collection of the 20 Worst Pop Songs ever recorded. Sure, that's a highly debatable topic, but there are at least 3-4 that I would include on my list. Noticeably absent: "Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane (formerly of the Canada band Red Rider, who had a decidedly under appreciated hit with the song "Lunatic Fringe"). That song is quicksand of the mind, but you know what's worse? Snow's "Informer." Both would make my list.

Aside from that, here are a few links I found lying about for discs worth checking out, if you haven't already.

Ween: La Cucaracha
Blitzen Trapper: Wild Mountain Nation
Mastodon: Leviathan
GZA: Liquid Swords
The Hold Steady: Live at Fingerprints EP
Midlake: The Trials of Van Occupanther
Justice: (cross)
Beach Boys: Pet Sounds


Friday, October 12, 2007

Love Is All: Nine Times The Same Song

A good portion of the most interesting music coming out of Europe in the last few years seems to have one thing in common: it all sounds really dirty. Take for example Dizzy Rascal, Justice, The Go Team, and this group: Love Is All.

Unlike the others, Love Is All play dirty inside the confines of a classic guitar/bass/drums/vox rock band. The songs here have a lo-fi, overdriven quality that makes the entire album sound like you're listening to it through a stereo system with a couple of blown speakers, and that somehow, that's a good thing.

As for style, they're really quite difficult to describe. I would say they are equal parts: The Rapture, The Mamas & the Papas, Cyndi Lauper and Husker Du. I know that sounds crazy, but you'll see what I mean.

This was one of my Top 3 of 2006. Hopefully you'll like it just the same.

LINK: Love Is All: Nine Times The Same Song

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

First Thougths on In Rainbows... after 2 listens

I'm not going try to tie these all together, so here we go with the list:
  1. They're dont' seem to be any huge stylistic left turns -- the bands sounds like they've settled in a little bit -- but you can tell here that Thom's songwriting continues down the path of abstract and experimental. The best thing about listening to a Radiohead album for the first time is trying to predict which direction a feel or melody will go in. So far, I'm zero for, like, 500 on that. You cannot predict how Thom will write a line or how the band will fall in behind it, and that's what makes this group so artistically significant (and so commercially negligible).
  2. I love that the album is only 10 tracks because that really helps the sequencing and flow of this disc tremendously. There are strong juxtapositions from one song to the next, but nothing sounds out of place.
  3. When things do sound off -- for instance the way the drums and piano fight against each other on the final track, "Videotape" -- they're off in a way that seems original, organic and I don't know... intellectual?
  4. Thom really hits some high notes on this record.
  5. These songs are in no way whatsoever "catchy", even by Radiohead standards. The writing seems to wander quite a bit, but usually builds toward some kind of peak. This will probably change as the album soaks in. Kid A felt the same way the first time (and still does kinda).
  6. As usual, Nigel Godrich has done amazing things with the drum and bass production. They sound more crisp than ever on this record.
  7. And speaking of production, thank you for the strings, they make some of the more simple tracks sound absolutely huge. I wonder who wrote these arrangements.
There's more, but those are just a few of thoughts I had while listening last night. Those who've heard it, chime in with your impressions.

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The Best of Fela Kuti

In terms of social, political and musical influence and impact, Fela Kuti belongs on the shortlist with artists like John Lennon and Bob Marley. He is the father of Afrobeat, a style that incorporates traditions like call-and-response and polyrhythm often found in African Highlife and Juju music with sounds coming from American bands like the Funky JBs. Toss in a horn section that's heavy on sax, particularly baritone, and you've got some of the most potent tracks ever recorded.

This particular offering features some of his most popular work; tracks like "Lady" and "Zombie" that would go on to influence groups like Tower of Power, Earth, Wind & Fire and Antibalas.

If you don't know Fela, this set of tunes is a great intro. I'd recommend reading his Wikipedia if you have a chance. Also check the film "Music is a Weapon". I have a copy I'd consider loaning to anybody (I know) in Chicago.

LINK: The Best of Fela Kuti

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Radiohead Comes out Today

Just a reminder that the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, is available for download as of today. Yes, you can still pay whatever you want for it. To access the tracks, sign up for Radiohead's W.A.S.T.E. email list to receive a link to the download site (I don't have mine yet, so I guess that means be patient).

Early buzz is that it's more OK Computer than Kid A, and of course, great. (Though I wouldn't expect bad reviews to come from anyone over at Stereogum.) Happy listening.

UPDATE: It looks like you might be able to go to to download it, but I can't even get the page to load, so I can't verify. Maybe the server activity will cool down tonight long enough for me to jump on and get that mother.

In the meantime, I'm shitting myself with excitement to listen to this. Unfortunately I have to go play in my euchre league so it's going to be at least 10pm before I get back, track it down and listen.

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Digitalism: Idealism

Thanks to Mike C. for hunting this one down and sending it over. Digitalism is drawing a lot of comparisons to Justice for their similar "garage" approach to dance music, and to Hot Chip for the live sound, and full-band scale of their performances. Scope it.

Sorry, I haven't listened enough to write more. Check out the AllMusic review for guidance.

LINK: Digitalism: Idealism

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ryan Adams: Cold Roses

Recently I was aghast at the news that a good friend had not only never heard, but had never heard of Ryan Adams. For that poor soul I present disc one of Cold Roses, one of Ryan's more artistically developed (sounds like the Dead), and critically well-received (unlike the Dead) albums of late. Enjoy.

Ryan Adams: Cold Roses

For everybody else who already owns this one, be sure to check out the Internet Archive for a ton of great-sounding Ryan Adams live shows. I would recommend this show from Ludwigshafen, Germany in 2006.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

New Bat For Lashes Video

Here's a new video I spotted over on Dick Darlington. He's right, this is great stuff -- a must for any fan of BMX. :)

Man, this one takes me back. Does anyone remember the old Nintendo cart called "California Games"? The BMX level? Man that was the shit. I was pro at that level and the hacky sack. Never could get down the half pipe level though -- that was nearly impossible. Rollerskating was another favorite.

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Still Here

Thanks for checking back. I'm still here. Some new stuff coming soon.
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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