Friday, December 31, 2010

Dedicated Ears 2010 Most Listened To List

 This year I am sticking with just 2010 release for my most listened to list. For me,  listens is the best way to figure out what the best albums of the year are.  It was a really good year for hip hop and rap and that is reflected below.  If I were to include some other albums I have listened to as much as these, but don't fit the 2010 release date those would be The Black Atlantic, Manipulator Alligator and Turtle Ambulance.

1)  Pretty Little Empire - Reason and Rooms  Second year in a row that this St. Louis four piece is my most listened to album. All they did since last year was add an amazing drummer, delve into indie guitar circa 1990 and crank up the harmonies. Superb song-writing again and  3 of the four members sing lead vocals admirably. That doesn't happen every day does it?

2)  Hemmingbirds - Death Wave Yoo Soo Kim of the Chicago indie band Hemmingbirds  plays everything on this album save for a few drum tracks. Great pop songwriting. The music draws from everything from Pink Floyd to Decemberists.   Non- conventional pop song structures give this album its own sound that keeps you invested in these songs. 

 3) Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy   (Roc A Fella) Amazing that Kanye is continually topping his last album and this album is no different. Less of the club centered songs and more story telling going on here. This gets better with every listen.

4) Carlos Mendez - Depie 
 Folk from Panama that uses Latin rhythms and indie pop as well to make for a relaxed vibe. This album was stuck on repeat for me throughout this past summer.  If you didn't think you liked music in languages other than English this may convince you otherwise. 

 5) The Juliets - The Juliets   (Flat Response Sound) Chamber pop from Detroit that is heavy on the strings.  With influences of Brit pop and indie rock this album also has a bounce on the bottom end that is an interesting mix within the realm of chamber pop. Well thought out lyrics and great production

6) Bullets In Madison - We Became Your Family When You Died
 Chicago bands best to date.  Equal parts ambient and shoe gaze with a touch of post-rock. These songs help to make a cohesive album that is flush with emotive arrangements that demand to be heard over and over again.

7) Grinderman - Grinderman 2  (Anti/Epitath) Thanks God for Nick Cave's relentless drive as Grinderman is what he does in his "off" time. This time around it's less punch you in the face and more drag you on the floor. I am very careful not to say this is a more mellow album than their first but it does rely on a groove more and has less of the loud punches.  He has separated himself from many of his peers with the improvement in quality as well as keeping the sound very relevant.

8) Horse Feathers - Thistled Spring (Kill Rock Stars) What a beautifully sorrow sound this album has. The strings are are used to make washes of emotion that are so addictive to listen to. The vocals and lyrics come from  an honest place and make for such a full sound with the strings.

9) Angelique Kidjo - Oyo  (Razor & Tie) Benin artist Kidjo commands presence not only with her big voice but with her ability to seamlessly wander between American soul and traditional African music. Even an appearance by Bono on a track could take away from this album's goodness.

10) Pelican - What We All Come To Need  (Southern Lord)   Chicago instrumental metal stalwarts make grown up metal that both headbangers and casual listeners can listen to and enjoy.  The build up on some of these songs is pretty heady stuff.

11) Cassis Orange - Kashisu Orenji  (Grip Tapes)  Autumn Ahinger is Cassis Orange who is based in Chapel Hill.  This EP of electronic pop gems reminded me a bit of Tune - Yards the first time I heard it.  The vocals are spot on and the keyboards are great. 

12) Crash Collect (formerly Elle Lefant)  - Pulse Short and sweet EP by Poughkeepsie based duo that is a powerful brand of electronic soul. Out-sized vocals and playful electronic pop make for quite a pairing.

13) Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid    (Bad Boy) I got this album a bit late in the year. I suspect that if I listened to it for another month that it would jump into my top 5. This is genre bending at it's best. Janelle manages to wear many musical hats and wear them all very well. 

14) We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls (Fat Cat Records)

 Sublime Scottish indie rock that is so damn catchy.

15) Joe Harbison - Traditions  ( Joe is from Kentucky and is quite a prolific musician.  He has unique vocals that I enjoy. He is another one man band and plays everything you hear as well as writes composes these songs.

16) Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer (Radiculture/Elektra) Another album I got later in the year that could have climbed much higher. Awesome horns, the "F# You " song that is a viral video hit and a really good Band Of Horses cover ("No One's Gonna Love You) . Cee Lo gets it right and doesn't take himself too seriously and that is a page other hip hop acts would be well served to embrace.

17)  Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two : Return Of The Ankh (Mowtown) I like her as a neo soul artists originally and now enjoy her even more as an experimental soul songstress. Though not as experimental as Vol. 1 this album is really good.

18) Magic Man - Real Life Color (Arcade Sound LTD.) Lo fi electronic pop from Boston. So, so addictive these songs are.  

19) The Roots - How I Got Over  (Def Jam) You can almost get complacent in thinking every new album by the Roots is going to be a great album. It does seem to work out that way doesn't it? So this is another album long and beats and thoughtful raps by guys who know who they are, Philly's finest.

20) Yawn - Yawn EP   Chicago psyche-pop loaded with hook and a wide array of sounds.  Do you like your tribal beats with your psyche rock? Then you will love this.

21) Yellow Ostrich - The Morgan Freeman EP  Oddly enough, The Morgan Freeman EP was written all about... Morgan Freeman, well his Wiki page anyways. With such irrevrant beginnings is it any wonder that this is actually very good? Quite an ear the band has for melodies.Thanks to The Waiting Room Radio Shows web-cast for the tip!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tom Schraeder - Once Lace Now Cotton (2010 Township Records)

 Once Lace Now Cotton find Tom adding a more textured sound than his 2008 album Lying Through Dinner, which was really good but more of a straight ahead folk sound. Once Lace Now Cotton invites visions of the ol' wagon trail, like on the whistle in and wandering guitar on the album opener "to you my friend...' that also finds Tom's vocals heartfelt and aching.  This will be the one track you will whistle and hum over and over again.

"Should Have Stuck With Cotton"  features loose percussion and some effective harmonies. I like how this song swells toward the end and incorporates an accordion as well as female vocals.

"Carry On" is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album with it's alt-country sound, a full band and more straight ahead song construction. The song also finds Tom letting his vocals out and I imagine it will be the highlight of this album played live. His vocals have a chameleon quality where he seems every bit at home singing this as well as his lo-fi sounding songs.

Tom's vocals have a bit of a magical quality that can be incredibly emotive without the big bombastic displays. They are restrained and nuanced to give his storytelling lyrics a proper voice. These songs have an old soul feel. There are some songs with lo-fi production like "Don't Take My Woman" here as well as others that are cleanly produced but still feel lo-fi. I think this lo- fi effect goes great with Tom's storytelling and vocal style. The overall tone of this album has an updated vintage feel to it. Please check this album out because it deserves to be heard.

Along those lines, Tom will be playing at Schubas tomorrow night, Tues Dec 28th. I plan on being there and look forward to seeing these songs live. Until then here is a bit of promotion for that show by Tom.

Tom Schraeder & His Ego - 'Egoiste Ball' from BAILOUT Pictures on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Betta's Beats and Blogs - Wow (Subterranean Dec 18)

Rebecca's vision of this show came off to a T.  Thanks again to Rebecca and all of the folks at Betta as well as the other bloggers for making this show memorable. It was a full house and Rabble Rabble, Radar Eyes, Hollows and White Mystery all killed it.  White Mystery's set was one big happy wave of guitar and drums. Wow!   It was great to meet some of these bloggers that had been just names before. The house was full of band members too. I met quite a few enthusiastic musicians like the guys in Pinto and The Bean. It was great catching up with Rebecca and also Yoo Soo from Hemmingbirds. I love seeing shows at Sub T. Great sound, balcony and reasonably priced beer makes for great shows there.

 Keep an eye out for Dedicated Ears Presenting a show on Jan 18th for Betta Promotions at Double Door with Mutts, Brontosaurus and Zach Pietrini and The Broken Bones. Its a FREE show and you will not want to miss this line-up.  Betta has quite a few great shows in Jan so keep an eye out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Betta Beats and Bloggers Show Sat Dec 18th Subterranean

 Rebecca over at Betta Promotions keeps coming up with great ideas for promoting shows. This time around she has invited Dedicated Ears and 16 other blogs that are based here in Chicago to be a part of her Beats and Bloggers Show this Sat at Subterranean.  Rebecca has done interviews with the bloggers and is using them to promote this show see it below.  Thanks to Rebecca and Betta for the invite. I will be at the show it will be a great time. Come hang with people who love music and see a great show.

Check out the band links below for the awesome bands that will play this show.

White Mystery


Rabble Rabble

Radar Eyes
Betta Promotions and Loud Loop Press present...
Beats & Blogs; A Musical Hotspot

Saturday December 18th, 2010
Subterranean 2011 North Avenue
17+ | doors @ 10pm | $10 flat



Monday, December 13, 2010

Dastardly Shines at Schubas

(thanks to Matt Ginger for the cool photos)

 Jared Bartman opened and used his unique delivery of his storytelling in song form. It was interesting contrast to seeing him do a singer songwriter set alone. The songs as played on this night were true to his album, Jersey Shore.  It's always a pleasure to see and talk with Jared.

Chaperone was on next, as I promised in my preview post of the show, they kicked ass 2 minutes at a time. I was talking with them before the show and they were discussing a play list that some of the band members thought may be too long and they finally decided that they would just figure it out. They have a relaxed vibe live while ripping through their songs at a break neck pace. That comes from them playing off one another  very well and the overall sound has a thunderous balance of bottom end of tom drums, played by Thom coincidentally. The group jam with Dastardly's band almost broke the fire code limit on stage, but was a really sweet moment on the ears. Thanks to Chaperone for the press pass BTW! They may play like rock starts n=but don't act like it. Very good folks they are.

Glittermouse was next and gave a high energy performance that was eaten up by the crowd.

 It was time for the headliner (for the first time) Dastardly took the stage and played with the frenetic energy that is the hallmark of Dastardly's shows. The band is really settling in to playing these songs   May You Never....their awesome new album which is available at their live shows.

A list of things that happened during their set :

1) Cover of the Jeff Buckley song "Lover You Should Have Come Over"which showcased Gabe's vocals and the band's ability to do justice to a great musician.

2) Gabe threw a tambourine to the crowd. Aggressive Western music indeed.

3)  There always seems to be vocal drunk folks who follow the band around, but they handle it with aplomb. It helps that Gabe and company seemed very well plied themselves. That always adds to the interesting factor but I have yet to see it detract from the sound.  Just as it should be.

4) Toward the end of their set there seemed to be 30 people on stage. Maybe that's how they get those big sounds.

In short follow their exploits on Facebook and you can alert others on the East coast about the bands impending invasion/tour.

It was a bunch of fun hanging out with my friend Paul and his friends as well as Rebecca from Betta Promotions and August from Novo. This was a happening place to be as I saw so many familiar faces and got to talk to almost all of them. 

Next up for me Betta Promotions forward thinking show Beats and Bloggers Show on Dec 18th at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dastardly Record Release Show for This Thur at Schubas

Dastardly will be leaving Chicago soon to tour the states, so catch them now! They won't play here again until March! This will be their first headlining show and they are also releasing their record May You Never... They put on an excellent show and Gabe will tell you the "sweatshirt " story if you ask him nice, just be sure to specify if you want the adult version of the story or not. I am lucky enough to have booked Jared Bartman for a songwriter showcase and his nuanced vocal delivery that gives heft to the "old Soul" feel to his music. Chaperone will kick your ass 2 minutes at a time. They are a must see live. I have seen Glittermouse play and their show is a high energy one. So you cannot lose with this line-up. After seeing these bands play live I suggest you get tix before hand.  Welcomes
Jared Bartman

Schubas, Thur Dec.9  at   8pm      18+     advance tix for $6  HERE