Monday, December 30, 2013

Dedicated Ears 2013 Most Listened to Albums/EP's

This past year I downloaded some 500 albums and have listened less and less to the big labels. Love the lo fi production and DIY attitudes. No big surprise that Pretty Little Empire is at the top. I love the way their sound grew. I want to say thanks to all the acts for playing such great music, and also all of the bands that have legal free downloads, I appreciate it. I was fortunate to continue my friendship and musical exchange program with DC and the fine people at The Waiting Room. Also, a big thanks to Tom Schraeder for including me in his Chicago, I love You festival. Also, thanks to August and the people at NOVO for the recommendations as well.
1.  Pretty Little Empire - Pretty Little Empire St. Louis four piece driven by Justin Johnson's every man song-writing and backed up most excellently by William Godfred,  Wade Durbin and Evan O'Neal. My favorite song keeps switching, as it should when dealing with a masterful album. As of late "You Are The One" is my jam. 
2. Lapland - Lapland   Josh Mease vehicle that taps into Josh's jazz influences and dream folk, but as well a electronic touches which work to great effect with his signature style as on the track "Overboard".
3. Ant The Symbol - Anthony Part G: Hardlyworking Truly "alternative hip hop"  is what Richmond based Ant The Symbol is selling, and I am buying. This is the quintessential "set to repeat" album. So many hooks, so little time. "Enter The Symbol" is so, damn, good!
4. Sheep, Dog, Wolf - Egospect  Daniel McBride is Sheep, Dog and Wolf and he hails from New Zealand. Headphones are essential on this album. So many layers, so many instruments and so beautiful melodies as well.  "Egospect", with it's soaring vocals, is my favorite track.
( A TWR Recommendation)
5. Car Seat Headrest - Nervous Young Man  Prolific Car Seat Headrest hails from Williamsburgh and plays quietly as well as extremely loudly. You can hear both kinds in the 15 minute opener "Boxing Day".

6. Queens Of The Stone Age - Like Clockwork  QOTSA can always be counted on to put out a kick ass rock album with very little filler.
7. Clones Of The Queen - Moonlight  Haunting electronic music. Be sure to check out the pretty title track.
8. Ego Ella May - The Tree Jazz influenced R & B from London's Ego Ella May. The hypnotic, swaying track "Rush Hour Crush" is my favorite track.
9. CRTVTR - Here It Comes Tramontane!   The opener "Workers" is a hell of a raucous and melodic song. Genova,  Italy based CRTVTR feature Mike Watt again which is fitting because the sound of this album so resembles those indie/alt guitar albums from the 90's.
10. Not Right - Shut The Fuck Up At The Back (live) Lo, lo, lo fi that is so, so, so right. You won't be able to NOT smile whilst listening to "Anti Social Media". Not you father's punk music. Not Right is Coventry based. 11. Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady  Though not the powerhouse of her last album,this is still a really good album.  How awesome is "Primetime (feat Miguel)".

 12) The Black Atlantic - Enshrine Pretty songs from Geert and the guys. "Amor Fati is my favorite on here.

13. La paloma de fidel - Esperando a Gazotti  Pretty folk songs from Buenos Aires based La Paloma de Fidel. "Las naves" is really nice.
14. Mutts - Object Permanence Mutts are back again with another album you have to listen to. "Prizefighter" was on a permanent loop in my head for many a moon this year. There is a stellar video that they did for the song as well. This song should be on a movie soundtrack. Someone get on that!

15. Kristin Hersh - Spark Meet Gasoline (WorkInProgress) I have been a fan since her Throwing Muses days. I became heavily addicted to her album "Hips and Makers". Love her tone. Check out the goodness that is ""Guadelupe".
16. Curt Oren - Home  If you like your saxophone played in a experimental way, like I do, then you will love  Iowa City based Curt Oren's opening track "No Exit".
17. Baik Eun Sol - A Day's Work  Punk (check), fuzz (check), female vocals (check), South Korea (check?!) Baik Eun Sol is all three.  "나쁜 남자" is my favorite track.
18. Dylan Campbell - Magic  Written and recorded in Mozambique. Quite a few musaical influences on this album by New York based Dylan Campbell. Love the title track.
19. Alex Cook, Hler Kristjansson - The Deacon of Myrka  Ambient, Beautiful classical, contemporary. The strings make the album.  Iceland based Alex Cook, Hlér Kristjánsson and Ensemble have made quite an album here.
20. Rachel Anne - Let The Devil Drink  Dark country, gypsy...  I'm there! Sad and longing tales from Alaska's  Rachel Anne. "Wait For The Sun" is my favorite track.
21. Collage - Pixel Swap Century  Electronic pop from Chicago's Jesse Bustamante. An artist I think more people should check out. With influences of island music and electronic experimentation there is never a dull moment!
22. Laurence Made Me Cry - The Diary Of Me Such beautiful songs. Cardiff is home to Laurence Made Me Cry (aka Joanna Whitby).  (TWR Recommendation)
23. Space Ghost Cowboys - Porcupine  Aaron Maine mines the wheel for Space Ghost Cowboy, as the Reilly Brothers, Sex God and his self titled work.  Off kilter is his music and his plainative vocal style is something I really enjoy. "Memory" is my favorite song here.
24. (the gals of) Redbook - the gals of) Redbook  Girl group of the punk variety from Seattle. (the gals of) Redbook pummels along with a lot of bottom ended.
25. Los Animales Superforros - Copla del Pensamiento   Folk, indie, world, pop and island themes are evident in the nice album by Buenos Aires based Los Animales Superforros.
26. Lizard Kisses - Loving Creatures Feels like i've been listening to Brooklyn duo Lizard Kisses forever. The duo sent me their first EP Sleeping In  2010 and I've been a big fan ever since. The dreamy track "Over and Over" is my favorite.
27. Open Attic - The Manderin EP  Chicago's Open Attic write witty songs that would have been on that underground 90's artist you loved. The honest story telling in 'Manderin' is on my short list for best tracks I've heard this year.
28. Sentidor - doismiletreze  Belo Horizonte based Sentidor play glitchy, triphop. The "Kid A" cover was done nicely.
29. Video Ranger - Cassette Tape 3/13  Punk, Lo fi punk, noise goodness from Omaha's Video Ranger. They had me at trombone. "6:8" is my favorite. 
30. Geronimo! - Buzz Yr Girlfriend Vol. 3   Fuzz, math rock, punk from Chicago based  Geronimo! "Genius Is Dead" is my favorite track. On the excellent label Exploding In Sound.
31. Cold Country - Missing The Muse   Been another great year for Chicago acts. I was introduced to the folk,/country, band Cold Country this year.  And I am glad I was. Check out "What It Takes" for sure.
32. Kelly Latimore - Vinegar and Honey   Experimental, First came across Athens, Georgia based Kellya few years back on the now(sadly) defunct site CLLCT. Beautifully done this album is. "Keeper Of Bees" is my favorite.
33. Вкус Киски - Mokroshelky
What's not to like about punk, grunge,  stoner grrrl group music sung in Russian? "Вуду-сука" is my favorite.
34. Memorygardens - Wavelengths  90's alt rock, shoe-gaze, stoner from Pennsylvaniawith love from one man band ( Tyler Pursel ) Memorygardens.
35.  Los Buscadores del Movimiento Perpetuo - Rendiran Culto ala Muerrte  Metal, slugde, stoner rock fsunf in Spanish from Los Buscadores del Movimiento Perpetuo. Quite a few catch loud tracks on here.
36. Judd Madden - Glacial  More stoner rock, desert doom from Melbourne based Judd Madden.
37. Pure Wild - This Night Is Long My Love Is Strong Alt-folk, alternative from New York based Pure Wild.
38. Tres Von Dingo - Basement Depths Tour Split  Bismarkck based Tres Von Dingo plays alternative, lo fi, fuzz pop.
39. Better Or Best - Something of a Reverie  Alternative, indie, dream pop, electronic from San Diego based Better Best. Thanks to Better Best for the download!
40. Teenage Rage - time to turn the page on teenage rage  My favorite Chicago based vaud-ville, county folk act is back with a short and sweet set of songs.They are truly one of a kind.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lilly's, Chicago, I Love You and Dedicated Ears Present A LIVE MIXTAPE 10. 19. 2013

LILLY'S // CILY and Dedicated Ears present:  A LIVE MIXTAPE 
Show Details In Full HERE 
1:30 -- Flo Res
12:45 -- Girl Detective
12:00 -- Magicks
11:00 -- Bassell & The Supernaturals
10:25 -- Doomsday
 9:45 -- Dirty Pigeons
9:00 -- Chris Anderson 
8:00 -- Penthouse Sweets
7:00 -- Woodrow Hart and The Haymakers
6:00 -- Matthew Kerstein
5:00 -- Kate Adams
4:00 -- Roe & Coffey

This Saturday the 19th I am proud that Dedicated Ears will be hosting a Chicago, I Love You event at Lilly's. We've got a great line up of performers. Some I have seen and some I have not. Their is a mixed bag of musical styles as well. I am really looking forward to seeing this show. It's a free show, so come on out!  Thanks once again to Tom Schraeder and CIYL for putting this 10 day long artists display on. And thanks as well for the invited to be a sponsor!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pretty Little Empire - Pretty Little Empire (Extension Chords Records) Release Show Sat Oct 19 at Off Broadway

Pretty Little Empire have seamlessly blended ambient and post punk elements into their tried and true formula to remarkable results on their third, and self titled release, out on Extension Chords Records. The band members only want to make the best music they can. So egos are set aside and allow for multiple people to sing lead and form songs. This isn't always the case with bands. I have been fortunate to have seen PLE play shows (since 2009) for all three albums. I have also got to talking to them at the shows and ask about their growth as a unit.  So the maturity on Pretty Little Empire is not surprising one bit. They are achieving sounds on this album that would be impossible if this were a "one man band".

The post punk punch of "Talking Loud"  features some lyrics we all would like to utter to someone we know, "I don't want to waste another day, contemplating all the shit your saying, you have proven to me once again, that we never were the best of friends..." . The break two thirds of the way through the song add some depth to this song.

The guitar parts on "Master Plan" is like a long lost friend from the late 80's. I've been singing this songs lyric "There's no master plan, for the things we don't understand" for weeks now. The organ they have on this track is a really effective for the mood of this song.

As a personal patron of waltz timed songs, I wholeheartedly endorse the simple and effective beauty of "Patina".

The Latin accents on "Out Of Control" are a great counter point to the crashing guitars in the song. Best of both world!

Evan sings lead on the country tinged "Nest" and makes you when he will have an album of acoustic originals up on bandcamp?

 The guys picked a great album closer with "You are the one", a sprawling song that features a blissful buzz and catchy melody and heartfelt singing by Justin that sums up the band's sound at this time.

 I scheduled a family vacation earlier this year to St Louis and our whole family got to see PLE play at the art museum there. Even outside in the hot sun the songs were something to behold live! So I implore you to g to their album release show this Sat Oct 19 at Off Broadway. Get tix HERE.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chicago, I Love You and DO 312 Presents 2013 Version, October 10- 20

Tom Schraeder is back again with Chicago, I Love You, another fine musical love fest that will play out over 22 venues. There is something for everyone in this years show.  CILY is FREE 10-day arts & culture festival between Oct 10-20 celebrating Chicago's music, art, photography, film, literature, & comedy. Some of my favorite Chicago acts of the past few years are playing Tom Schraeder, Teenage Rage, Sarah Holtschlag and The Crosscuts, Magicks, Gia Margaret, Rows of Arrows, Angelina Lucero, Woodrow Heart and so many more acts I am looking forward to seeing for the first time. I'll have another post covering the Chicago, I Love You show that i'll be a co sponsor of. Thanks again to Tom for including me and putting on this testament to the vibrant and varied nature of the Chicago arts scene! Linked above is the  CIYL facebook page, follow along there or on twitter to keep up an all of the shows going on this year!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Lapland - Lapland (album review) (Lapland plays Schubas tomorrow night!)

Lapland's self titled album is awash with great melodies and jazz influences, which comes as no surprise seeing as Josh Mease is Lapland. Josh's great first album, Wilderness made it on my year end list in 2009. This Lapland release shares similarities to Wilderness with respect to the melodies and jazz influences and dream like state of the music, but on Lapland Josh has branched out with some electronic touches which work to great effect with his signature style.
  Some electronic bright sounding parts show up right away on album opener "Unwise". Like a lot of Josh's songs,"Unwise" goes for a bigger picture sound. Less is definitely more and the chord changes really make the difference.
 "Overboard" showcases Josh's vocal style, featuring some sweet harmonies and a lounge instrumentation.
 The slow waltz  creeper "Aeroplane" is an addictive little track, whose melody will stay with you for quite a while. A true accomplishment for a song.
 The experimental waltz timed instrumental "Fountains" is Josh's new experimentation at its best. A perfect off kilter change up that is perfectly placed.
  The chord changes on "Metal Lung" are great. Have you ever heard a Sergio Leone influenced jazz pop song? Love this song a bunch.
 Lapland marks some departure of sound for Josh Mease while still retaining the core that makes me love his songwriting, musicianship and singing/melodies. This album will be on my year end list again!
Come see Josh tomorrow night (18+) show at Schubas Chicago. He will be coming in from New York. See him tomorrow, I will be there!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Black Atlantic return TOMORROW at Beat Kitchen

The guys are back again and will be playing Beat Kitchen tomorrow night. Here's the official EVENT. I have been over the moon for their music for many years now and am fortunate to call them friends. Their newest release Darkling. I Listen finds their sound expanding and becoming more layered. They are fun guys to talk to and you can maybe ask them about the photo above, which I requisitioned from the fb page. They are coming from The Netherlands so by all means see them tomorrow, don't wait till next time! Also on the bill are Imaginary Cities and The Great American Canyon Band.

Doors at 7:30 (*pm start), 17 and up to enter, $10.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Dedicated Ears Most Listened to List

For me, the most effective means of making a year end list is to put up the albums I listened to the most.  So here those albums are. As a voracious down-loader of Creative Commons releases I say thanks to all those artists for releasing those albums as a CC release.  Most of the albums on this list are CC albums and are featured on Dedicated Ears Legal Free Album/EP List. Thanks to all of those who follow me on FB and Twitter and check out my posts.

Thanks to D. C from The Waiting Room Radio Show for his tips (some on this list) over the year!

1. Santigold -  Master Of My Make -Believe (Atlantic, April 21, 2012)(Philly)
Wildly addictive songs. Have had this on repeat since it's release. This album is loved by my 5, 4, and 1 year old kids who asked for it again today in the car and sang and danced.

2. The Black Atlantic - Darkling , I Listen (January 13, 2012)(Beep Beep)(Netherlands) Fell in Love again with this band all over again with this album. Geert, Simon, Kim and Mathijas have stretched their sound in more aggressive and louder ways while still maintaining the beautiful melodic core that makes the band's sound pretty unique.

3. Hemmingbirds - The Vines Of Age (September 25, 2012)(Chicago, Illinois) This time around there are more nuanced sounds that comes from having a full band who all contribute to the overall sound.  There are the dalliances with experimental and psyche rock and sometimes straight up noise that add quite another element to the bands core of hook laden pop songs.

4. Jump Starts - What Hides Inside (November 10, 2012)(The Loud Label)(St. Louis Missouri) The overall sound on What Hides inside has added new musical flavors, country, Latin and post punk, without losing the tight identity that this Jump Starts duo has crafted.

5. Lupe de Lupe - Sal Grosso (Popfuzz Records, August 20, 2012)(Belo Horizonte, Brazil) Makes you yearn for the 90's again. Such big guitars as on "Há Algo de Podre no Reino de Minas Gerais" , a punk infused riot of a song. 

6. Adrian Jaurez -Marimba (June 21, 2012)(La Plata, Argentina) An ideal electro-pop release. Layered at times and simpler at others but always keeping a pulse on an indie ethos. The buoyant track"Festin" is on of my favorite tracks of the past year.

7. LATRISTIC - The Greyest Shade (March 8, 2012)(Washington) From the up tempo crunchy guitars in the opening track "It's Alright"  to the beautiful title track with it's strings this album has really good song after really good song.

8. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange (Def Jam Records, July 17, 2012)(New York)
R&B singer who oozes sexuality while breaking R&B taboo about the subject matter of some of these songs. 

9. Brendan Losch - Low (April 10, 2012)(Chicago, Illinois) Woozy indie folk songs. "Son Of A Gun" is on of my favorite tracks of the year.

10. Rex or Regina - Attractors (February 8, 2012)(Gainesville, Florida) Old school styled shoe-gaze. "Climbing Trees" is my favorite track.

11. THORN AND SHOUT - Thorn and Shout (September 17, 2012)(Maine) Primitive outsider folk music that is striking. "Name & Noise" is raw and immediate sounding. So very good.

12. Mutts - Separation Anxiety (August 2, 2012)(Chicago, Illinois) Bottom end fueled  experimental blues on acid.  Mutts expanded their sound with this album and better for it.

13. The End Of The Ocean - "In Excelsis"( June 29, 2012)(Columbus, Ohio) Dense post rock. Love their guitar tone and the change of tempo.

14. Dastardly - Bury Me in the Country (January 21, 2012)(Chicago, Illinois) My absolute favorite, antagonistic vaudeville punk release from Chicago, this year! Uplifting this lot of songs is not. You will smile though.

15. dusthoney - Coma Home  (March 31 2012)(Philly) This is one of 4 full lengths she released this year. Of her album she says on her Jamendo page "as if written by a girl with a head injury that made her sad all the time."  Then I must have brain damage too because I love this album.

16. Lobo Marino - Kite Festival (June 25, 2012)(Richmond, Virginia) Cathy group of songs. The melody from "Golden Flea" still will randomly come to my mind.

17. Yo maté a tu perro - Yo maté a tu perro ep (February 24, 2012)(Mexico) Noisy shoe gaze. "Casa" is my favorite track.

18.  Big Blood - Old Time Primitives (April 5, 2012)(Maine) More beautifully haunting experimental folk music from Big Blood. The bands from the Maine area have made this style of folk their own. "Leviathan Song Pt.1" is my favorite track.

19. swarbles - the hoursongs (July 25, 2012)(Maine) Pretty folk songs featuring a banjo. "perigee love song in three quarters time"is a wonderful song.

20. Collages - Memory Trash (July 7, 2012)(Chicago, Illinois) Electronic pop with island flavors. "What Is Now." is the standout track for me.

21. Blake Fleming - Time's Up (September 18 2012)(New York) Percussionist Blake Fleming recorded this all percussion album that keeps these songs to 3 and 4 minutes long. Awesome idea and some great African inspired playing.

22. Nadine Carina - Little Bits EP (September 1, 2012)(Liverpool, U.K.) Experimental midi pop.