>Top of the Half-year

> Alternately Titled: Half-way Through Another Year of the Dog Report

I have been repeatedly contemplating this post since after a few seconds of this music blog’s being started. I thought of it being a lot more formal, and posting my favorite song for each album. I decided to be more complex, and much simpler at the same time (the twain converged). As to not bore you, I won’t explain the system until the bottom of the post. So listed from top (favorite) to bottom (relatively least favorite, but still respectable).

Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat (download there)
Daniel Johnston – Welcome To My World (buy there)
Neil Young – Living With War (listen there)
Tilly & the Wall – Bottoms of Barrels (download full album)
Kimya Dawson – Remember That I Love You (buy there) (download 12/26 here)

David Bazan – Fewer Moving Parts
Morrissey – Ringleader of the Tormentors
Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit
Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Élan Vital (listen to a video of the album there) (The Nocturnal House mp3)
The Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia (Dirty Business mp3)
Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (listen to two songs there)
The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics (click on “Audio” to stream)
The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers (click, then “M”, then “A”, then 1 or 2)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Show Your Bones
Calexico – Garden Ruin
Alexi Murdoch – Time Without Consequence
The Streets – The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Charles Manson – Sings (Album/Manson review here)
The Sounds – Dying To Say This To You
Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat

Other 2006 albums that I need to listen to much more of: The Dagons, The Elected (just bought), Keane, Mates of State, and Snow Patrol
Other 2006 albums that I am looking forward to (sometimes wary of, though): Eric Machmann, Bright Eyes, Cursive, Bob Dylan, The Kiwis, The Polyphonic Spree, Sufjan Stevens, and others.

If you want to recommend any unlisted albums, feel free to comment.

So, as I said, the system would be posted at the bottom. Basically I would rank how well I liked the vocals on a scale of 1 to 5 and multiply that by 2.7. I would then multiply the ingenuity of the vocals (1 to 5 scale) with 1.8. I would add those two. I would then multiply their overall vocals by 3, and add that number. I would then add how well I liked their instruments (1 to 5) multiplied by 1.5, on top of the ingenuity of their instrumentation (1 to 5) multiplied by 1. The maximum for this half was 50. I would then give the album an overall ranking from 1 to 50 (usually the two numbers were pretty close). Adding the two numbers (leaving the highest possible score at 100, but the highest attained score at 92.3) would give me the total. I only put albums into the equation that I felt I had listened to enough to do so.

Example: ([Overall lyrics x 2.7 + ingenuity of lyrics x 1.8]+ [overall vocals x 3] + [overall instrumentation x 1.5+ ingenuity of instrumentation x 1]) + (Overall Opinion) = Total.
Specific Example – Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere:
([3 x 2.7 + 3 x 1.8] + [3 x 3] + [4 x 1.5 + 3 x 1]) + (36) =
([8.1 + 5.4] + 9 + [6 + 3] + 36 =
(13.5 + 9 + 9) + 36 =
31.5 + 36 = 67.5

Pardon any mistakes in the formatting of the equation. If I can get a scanner to work, I will post to what a messy degree those sheets in my notebook are.

2006 Artist’s whose CD’s I need to get ahold of: David Bazan, Calexico, Kimya Dawson, a few more tracks from Ganrls Barkley, Keane, Mates of State, Alexi Murdoch, Snow Patrol, A few more tracks from The Streets.

Also, it would be great if you commented if you listened to any of the streams, or downloaded any mp3’s listed here. Also, those are not the only albums that Team-Love lets you download from their site. Go to www.team-love.com for more.


>Two Pocket Mixes

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Richard is referred to as Pocket, at least when it comes to mixes. What’s also unusual, but just as great, are his mixes – as well as the originals that he picks to remix. After Antony Hegarty’s latest full-length release, I Am a Bird Now, you probably thought Antony couldn’t get any more techno than he already was (which was, in my mind, not at all). But then just a small amount of the My Lady Story Pocket Mix rids that idea away. I appreciate most the way that everything explodes into song along with Antony’ voice when the vocals come in.

Joanna Newsom’s Bridges and Balloons was fancy and beautiful. Now it is dancy…and still beautiful. Harp remixes like these are probably as unusual as remixes this good.

Joanna Newsom – Bridges and Balloons (Pocket Remix)

Antony and the Johnsons – My Lady Story (Pocket Remix)

(You) Right-click, Save Target As… these. And please, please, comment after/if you download either of these remixes. Seeing any number of outside downloads on these songs brings satisfaction, from the sharing of music (which is really the point of a music blog, isn’t it?).

To non-financially support the artist, go to the site (more mixes available there).

For more information, go here.

I decided to e-mail, due to the encouragement at the bottom of the website to do so if you enjoy the mixes (which I, tellingly, did). You should do the same.

—–Live Concert Update – Tonight: Ali Harter


>A Literary Bright Eyes

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Chronologically (click on the song to download it):

“And like Neely O’Hara, you swallow your sleep.”

– Bright Eyes, “Neely O’Hara” (from Every Day and Every Night)

Valley of the Dolls was written by Jacqueline Susann. Neely O’Hara was one of three main characters. Neely became addicted to pills (she calls them “dolls”), including sleeping pills.

“‘I want you to stay next door forever.’ ‘I can’t,’ said Mitchell.”

– Bright Eyes, “A Spindle, a Darkness, a Fever, And a Necklace” (from Fevers and Mirrors)

In typical Bright Eyes-first-track-fashion, there is an interesting introduction on the first track (this has happened on all of the full-lengths, from A Collection… to I’m Wide Awake… (Motion Sickness intentionally excluded). On Fevers and Mirrors, the opener happens to be a seemingly Mexican boy reading from “Mitchell is Moving”, a ready-to-read children’s book. Allegedly, Oberst would teach Hispanic children to read English at a center in Omaha, NE.

“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…”

-Bright Eyes, “The Night Before Christmas” (from A Christmas Album)

I considered not adding this one for obvious reasons. Is Conor Oberst doing anything on this track? Who originally wrote this book? Literary? Yes. Bright Eyes? Yes.

“I heard you fell into a rabbit hole…”

– Bright Eyes, “Down in a Rabbit Hole” (from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn)

“The next song’s like Alice in Wonderland,” allegedly said Conor Oberst at a June concert in Germany – before playing “Down in a Rabbit Hole”. Also, the first chapter oof Alice in Wonderland is entitled Down the Rabbit Hole.

“It was Don DeLillo, whiskey, me, and a blinking midnight clock.”

– Bright Eyes, “Gold Mine Gutted (James Figurine Remix)” (this version is from the European “Easy/Lucky/Free” CD Single, the James Figurine remix. Originally, it is from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.)

Don DeLillo is an author, mostly known for having written White Noise and Underworld. I am assuming that Oberst was just reading a DeLillo book, and not actually hanging out with Mr. DeLillo, though the latter is possible.

The music:

Bright Eyes discography for sale on Saddle Creek

The books on Amazon:

Valley of the Dolls
Mitchell Is Moving

The Night Before Christmas
Alice In Wonderland
Don DeLillo’s Books


>Bob Dylan’s Beard

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“So my mom she brushes her hair,
And my dad starts growing Bob Dylan’s beard.”


– Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins – The Charging Sky (album version)

“And things got weird,
when I started growing Bob Dylan’s beard.”

– Wilco – Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard

Test: Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard


>Females That Changed My Idea Of Music

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Interchangeably Titled: Females That Are Still Changing My Idea Of Music

Au Revoir Simone – A band made up of three women, each being keyboard-equipped. The story goes ARS was formed (and pop music was reformed) when four girls were on an underground train, and somewhere between departure and arrival, the thought was settled among the females that they each wanted to be in a keyboard band, playing keyboards. One girl less, and years later, the album Verses of Comfort, Assurance and Salvation came out, including the lack of the optional last comma, uniquely beautiful album art, and the song Through the Backyards. I love the idea of an all-girl band, and who wouldn’t, with such results as these? Buy the CD from their label’s shop.

CocoRosie – Being a newly born fan of CocoRosie, I am without an expert opinion, and cannot produce a fact-like opinion on the band. I do, however, completely know that the song “Beautiful Boyz”, featuring expert vocalist Antony Hegarty is close to my heart, which cannot be disproven, despite one’s deep and wide, vast, oceanic amount of music knowledge. Judging by the pictures this is an all-girl band as well, involving Sierra (vocals, guitar, flute) and Bianca (vocals, percussion). Beautiful Boyz has deep-contrasting vocals, from the female version of scratching vinyl to Antony’s gorgeous translation of Tongues-to-English. Check out their website and buy their albums here.

Girls Doing Embroidery – Despite the façade of the plural “girls”, the band is Olga Lakomsky, who does it all, including playing knitting needles and singing, and something more normal, such as guitar. She has a small discography of zero albums, but I download each song I can from her often-updated MySpace, where I found this Neil Young cover of Heart of Gold. The reason why she is number three on the list is because it is an alphabetical list, and the “G” is third, alphabetically, on this list. Why she is on this list at all is due to her bravery, to start making music without the ability to play any instrument incredibly well, but only with creativity and a desire to do so. Thank you Olga, for the inspiration.

The Honey Trees (alternately calling herself Becky Filip) – Becky is the frontgirl of The Honey Trees (full band video and songs on her MySpace). I have a hard time comprehending how she does it all so well before the age of twenty. Beautiful all around, including my favorite cover of “Leaving On A Jet Plane” (check her MySpace), Becky is an impressive girl. Buy her live EP on her MySpace.

Au Revoir Simone – Through the Backyards

CocoRosie – Beautiful Boyz

Girls Doing Embroidery – Heart of Gold (Neil Young Cover)

The Honey Trees – Don’t Fear


>Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man

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“But on the back deck, you admit that you haven’t felt much like laughing lately anyway. And so I say, ‘That could change.’ “

Although the title hints at amateur songwriting, the song is not so. The lines meet the Bright Eyes standard of beautiful, while having an atypical conversational feel. Below is a link to three live versions of Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man, two sounding the same, but one of the two being of video.

Michael Huff, a good friend, mentioned the other day that a sign of a great songwriter is when they forget their own lyrics while performing. This same sign is evident in the version recorded in a basement, where Oberst gets lost in the second-to lost stanza. The visual version can be found in the special features on the Spend an Evening With Saddle Creek DVD, and this song was originally released on a 7″ record from Blood of the Young, entitled “Motion Sickness” (hopefully that name for a Bright Eyes release sounds familiar to you).

Bright Eyes – Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man

Spend An Evening With Saddle Creek DVD
Motion Sickness 7″

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>Architecture in Helsinki

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Here is an Architecture in Helsinki track off of their Spring 2005 album, Fingers Crossed. From what I hear, and have seen in music videos (see website below), it is a large band, including some people fulfilling the sole role of hand-clappers. This is one of their relatively mellower tracks, while staying poppy and enjoyable. Being a fun group all around, their website is visually pop-up-bookish, even while on flat screen.

Architecture in Helsinki – Like A Call

The AIH Website
The AIH Store