Favorite Albums and EPs of 2011

"There was time now..."

It seems as though what once was a weekly (or bi-weekly) posting schedule is now an annual event. Life moves fast but music moves faster. I haven't lost touch yet!

These are my favorite albums and EPs that came out this year. In no particular order:

Favorite Albums (Yes, a Top 11):

Smith Westerns - Dye it Blond
- These guys are young but they made one hell of an album. Saw them at FYF Fest and they were fantastic live as well.

Male Bonding - Endless Now
- If Blink-182 understood that growing up doesn't mean making boring music, it just means understanding the science of power pop. I probably listened to this album the most.

400 Blows - Sickness and Health
- Makes you want to throw Molotov cocktails at strollers.

Future Islands - On the Water
- Lush synth landscapes

Atlas Sound - Parallax
- Whether it's with Deerhunter or as Atlas Sound, Bradford's genius always makes him a fixture on most end-of-year lists.

Wilco - The Whole Love
- It's Wilco.

Yuck - self-titled
- If you love 90's indie, this is a must have.

The Kills - Blood Pressures
- Aside from The Black Keys, maybe the best duo in rock.

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
- Girls continue to put out melodic records that are a joy to listen to. with a retooled line-up, I was looking forward to the next album as soon as I was done listening to this one.

My Morning Jacket - Circuital
- The best live band touring right now.

The Rapture - In the Grace of Your Love
- Dance your ass off then dance some more.

Favorite EPS:

DOM - Family of Love EP
- I think this was the best under-the-radar album this year. Extremely melodic and completely blissed-out.

Wavves - Life Sux EP
- While the beachy-rock imposters continue to fall to the wayside, Wavves gets better.

Radiohead - King of Limbs EP
- Despite what several people have said, this was a great EP. Watch their 'From the Basement' special if you are not convinced.

Biggest Disappointment:

Mastodon - The Hunter ('dad metal' - see 'Blasteroid')


Review: Autolux – 'Transit Transit'

Image credit: Autopia

Six years in coming, it's needless to say that Autolux fans have been waiting for the 'Future Perfect' follow-up with the patience of a saint. Though always appeased by new songs at their live shows, I don't know if I'd consider that more torturous or a gifted taste of things to come. But, if patience is a virtue, indulgence is the tastiest sin.

'Transit Transit' delivers a balanced attack, showcasing all sides of the band and taking on the expert track placement of albums like Kid A or OK Computer where the mellow tracks are balanced out by the songs 'with teeth'. The album lacks no showcasing of Carla Azar's spectacular drumming, Greg Edwards' trance inducing and post-rock melodies nor Eugene Goreshter's gliding vocals and rhythm appurtenant bass playing.

Where 'Spots' and album closer 'The Science of Imaginary Solutions' (here Azar assumes lead vocals) take on the Radiohead feel that is synonymous with the afore mentioned albums yet, seemingly more in the vain of Thom Yorke's solo work with a textured, aural display that takes the listener out-of-body for a moment, songs like 'Census', 'Supertoys' and 'Kissproof' reaffirm that post-rock assault that Autolux listeners were first smitten by.

Even if it takes another six years for the next Autolux album, the band has produced an assuredly solid and satisfying follow-up to 'Future Perfect' while providing a blueprint for where they are headed but, also where they've been.

Rating: 9.4/10

Key tracks: 'Census', 'Kissproof'

VIDEO: Autolux - 'Supertoys' (Live @ From the Basement)


Show Review: LCD Soundsystem @ The Palladium

(photo courtesy of Ben Wener, OC Register)

For as much as LCD Soundsystem is a New York band, they are as much a Hollywood one with their Sunset Blvd. special ability to get hipsters and middle-aged men alike shaking their ass on the dance floor.

Bringing the party to the Palladium on Friday night, DFA label mates Holy Ghost! set the vibe with a handful of retro-dance tracks before the crowd energy swelled and LCD took the stage.

Starting things off with 'Us v. Them', the band was on a steady roll until one of Nancy Whang's keyboards died as 'Get Innocuous!' started to build. After aborting the song and retooling with a Wurlitzer, they launched into the track again treating us to a version that lent itself to an acid-lounge feel - it worked.

The rest of the evening saw the band equally visit all of their albums. Highlights of the night include an extended play cut of 'All My Friends' which seemed to re-energize the crowd, though there never seemed to be a lull all night. Additionally, 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House' turned the entire floor and the mezzanine area into a mega dance floor.

Ending the main set with the hypnotic 'Yeah' before a three song encore which included 'Losing My Edge', the night concluded with their favorite show closer 'New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down'.

Another great LA visit from James Murphy and gang that as always, left us wanting more.


Us v. Them
Drunk Girls
Get Innocuous!
Yr City’s a Sucker
Pow Pow
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
All I Want
All My Friends
I Can Change


Someone Great
Losing My Edge
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

VIDEO: 'Daft Punk is Playing at My House' @ Palladium

(Thanks to weilub106 for the nice vid.)


Your Ten Desert Island Albums?

Inspired by something Bender said on Futurama, what are your ten desert island albums?

I'm sure this list will probably change next week but, here's how it stands as of today. And of course, I'm making it more complicated by trying to take into account my mindset and moods while being stranded on an island - don't overthink your own list.

QOTSA – Rated-R

While it's not my favorite Queens album, the variety on it seems like something that would give me an even slice of that robot-rock sound.

'Auto Pilot'

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
Good for both licking mysterious toads and eating random plants on the island.

Built to Spill - Keep It Like a Secret

This BTS album would pretty much make any list I was putting together for anything.

My Morning Jacket – Z
Yim Yames is coming with me to the island whether he wants to or not!

Radiohead - The Bends
Kid A or Hail to the Thief are probably my favorite albums but, like the Queens selection, the variety on this LP lends itself to well, life alone on an island.

'Planet Telex'

Pavement – Crooked Rain Crooked Rain
What's a desert island existence without some jangle-pop goodness? Plus, I can go insane singing 'I'm just a boy with a new haircut' over and over. Check annnnd check.

Smashing Pumpkins - Pisces Iscariot
By now, we're all sick of Corgan and his bullshit but, this album is amazing and way before he became too annoying to talk about, look at or listen to.

'Hello Kitty Kat'

The Beatles – Revolver
If you aren't taking your favorite Beatles album with you then, wow.

The Black Crowes – The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Just like Yim Yames, Marc Ford is coming with me to this goddamn island! But, this is the Crowes' best album, too.

The Velvet Underground and Nico – Self-Titled
Jimi, The Beatles and Velvet make up the holy island trinity.


Show Review: Japandroids @ The Echoplex

Brian King, (photo courtesy of sleepydoll)

I think my buddy Kevin described Japandroids best when he said 'time to watch two guys make four guys worth of sound'.

After sets by electro, grind-core rockers All Leather and rabbit-accessory clad surf(?) band NoBunny (who's set will forever lurk in the dark corners of my mind), Vancouver garage-rockers Japandroids took the stage to a warm, LA reception.


Starting things off with 'The Boys Are Leaving Town', the band ferociously ripped through their entire album and then some with my favorite track 'Wet Hair' being played a time and a half due to a 'we effed up' moment.

The crowd was extremely active and really hit their peak during the desert-groove track 'Crazy/Forever' starting a mini-mosh pit which saw several small, hipster girls get carried away in the swirl of humanity.

Dressed in all white, guitarist/vocalist Brian King was his usual energetic self, 'exploring the space' and taking many of his normal drum-kit perches as he and drummer David Prowse traded vocals over most of the set.

Concluding at a peaked energy level but noticeably drained after really given it all out and leaving it on the stage, Japandroids thanked everyone for coming out and ended things.

As my buddy Randol said, it is nice to see that not all bands feel compelled to play an encore especially with the performance level these guys put out. He was right, too. An encore would have seemed like taking the foot of the throttle. I'm glad they took us all off the cliff.

VIDEO: Japandroids - 'Wet Hair'

Website: www.japandroids.com