Archive for the ‘Favorites’ Category

So Emo’s in Austin is moving locations. That gives me an excuse to list my ten favorite shows there:

  1. March 14, 2003 – Death Cab For Cutie, Pinback, Quasi, John Vanderslice, Britt Daniel @ Emo’s Outdoor (SXSW) (poster) (recording)
  2. May 1, 2003 – Cursive, The Appleseed Cast @ Emo’s Outdoor
  3. October 9, 2000 – At The Drive-In, Murder City Devils @ Emo’s Outdoor (poster)
  4. September 22, 2000 – The Get Up Kids, The Anniversary @ Emo’s Outdoor
  5. February 13, 2001 – Death Cab For Cutie Cute, The Jealous Sound, The And/Ors @ Emo’s Indoor (review) (set list)
  6. March 21, 2001 – Propagandhi, Avail, Hot Water Music, Small Brown Bike, Leatherface, J Church @ Emo’s Outdoor (poster)
  7. November 1, 2001 – The Anniversary, Mars Volta, Mates of State @ Emo’s Outdoor (recording)
  8. January 16, 2001 – Spoon, Cursive, Recover @ Emo’s Outdoor
  9. October 10, 2001 – Q and not U @ Emo’s Indoor
  10. April 3, 2004 – Pinback, American Analog Set, The Rhythm of Black Lines @ Emo’s Outdoor

2011 – My Favorite Songs*

Posted: December 29, 2011 in Favorites

It’s the same deal as last year, I’m using an asterisk because I am treating this like a consolation prize for bands who had good songs but whose albums I didn’t enjoy as a whole or I just didn’t listen to enough. This list doesn’t include bands I mentioned in my list of favorite albums so I can avoid redundancy.

My Favorite Songs of 2011

Here we go:

“Nomad By Fate” by Chuck Ragan

“Two Against One” by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi (featuring Jack White)

“Level With Yourself” by David Bazan

“This Is Why We Fight” by The Decemberists

“Helena Beat” by Foster The People

“Scottish Winds” by Frightened Rabbit

“Our Hearts Are Wrong” by Jessica Lea Mayfield

“Far To Go” by Nothington

“Stick Figures In Love” by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

“Car Crash” by Telekinesis

2011 – My Favorite Albums

Posted: December 29, 2011 in Favorites

I didn’t listen to as many new albums as I did last year (I blame all those reunion shows) but 2011 still had some good ones.

My Favorite Albums of 2011 (alphabetical order by band)

The Antlers – Burst Apart

This was the highly anticipated follow up to Hospice (2009). I saw them play this entire album live at the NPR show at SXSW. It’s much less depressing than their previous album, but it’s still good. This time around the Antlers go for a slightly poppier sound. At times this reminds me of Radiohead and also the Notwist. The Antlers manage to keep it interesting mainly because of Pete Silberman’s haunting falsetto vocals.

Deer Tick – Divine Providence

I’ve been a fan of Deer Tick for a few years now. I really loved the alt-country sound of their first two albums, War Elephant (2007) and Born On Flag Day (2009). However, when I saw them in 2010, they were going for a rowdier, faster, rock sound. Apparently, John McCauley put down the Hank Williams and picked up the Replacements. At first, this caught me off guard and I tuned them out for a while. Their latest album Divine Providence does a great job at taking that energy and refining it. I haven’t seen them since this came out, but after this album, Deer Tick is definitely on my radar again.

F*cked Up – David Comes to Life

I kind of missed the boat on this one. I’ve seen F*cked Up live before and they put on an entertaining show. I wasn’t really into their recorded music. I remember hearing about how these guys were putting out a hardcore rock opera and I kind of laughed it off. I finally gave it a listen about two months ago and I was blown away. If you like hardcore, you’ll like this album. Even if you don’t like hardcore you should at least set aside 80 minutes of your day and give it a listen.

The Lonely Forest – Arrows

Arrows is the third album and major label debut of this Anacortes, WA band. It’s no surprise this this it their most polished album to date. The album is also much poppier than their previous releases, most likely due to the production work of Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla. This album came out back in March so I’ve given it many listens. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s good, solid indie pop.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – In The Pit Of The Stomach

This is the second album from these boys from Scotland. It’s a little more aggressive than their first album but it’s not a major departure. It’s another dose of fast-paced, rhythmic post-punk. Basically, if you liked the first album, you are going to like this one.

Wild Flag – S/T

This is the debut album of Carrie Brownstein’s latest band, Wild Flag. Wild Flag are great live and this album does a nice job at conveying that energy. If you were a fan of Sleater-Kinney’s later albums, you are going to like this album. Although, Wild Flag’s sound comes off as much more playful than S-K. My favorite songs on here are “Romance” and “Boom.”

[Editor’s Note: It’s only fitting that my friend Audrey should share her favorite THS songs on here. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be such a diehard fan. It was her idea to see them at the Riviera back in ’08. It was a freezing cold night, the show was sold out, and we didn’t have tickets. We hung around, met some interesting characters, and somehow managed to get in. The show was amazing. Thanks Audrey.]

Picking my favorite Hold Steady songs is not an easy task as they’re a prolific band. They’ve put out 5 albums in close to 5 years.  Not to mention b-sides and live albums. While I don’t disagree with Oscar’s list, he does miss some stellar Hold Steady songs that deserve some love. Also, I’m pretty sure that I got Oscar into this band, so I gotta have the last word. Here it goes…

“Party Pit”

Let’s start out with a jam, man.  I really vacillated between this song and Massive Nights. They’re both songs from my second favorite Hold Steady album, Boys and Girls in America (2006) and they’re both songs that will get you fist pumping and dancing. They’re just good fucking jams that you’d want to play when you’re out with your friends throwing back some brews and having an all around good time. Party Pit wins out slightly because who doesn’t want to shout along to “gonna walk around and drink some more” as you’re drinking, dancing and touching people you don’t even know at a Hold Steady show.

“First Night”

Excuse me while I weep and talk about Jesus. This song is also off of Boys and Girls in America (2006). You’ll want to slow dance to this one after you talk about your feelings and slap someone silly.  When the piano chords kick in and everyone’s shouting “boys and girls in America” you’ll imagine you’re driving in your 10 year old Chevy Cavalier with a window rolled down that may or may not roll back up with the speakers as high as they’ll go, the fall wind in your face, as you drive across that grain belt bridge into bright new Minneapolis to visit your shitty second rate musician boyfriend who doesn’t love you. They do spit white noise, Craig. Yeah, they do.


This is one of my favorite songs off of one of my favorite albums ever, Separation Sunday (2005). It’s hard to pick favorite songs off this album because it’s a concept album. Each song is a chapter in the story of Holly. How can you not love Holly when she’s crashing into the Easter Mass shouting, “Father, can I tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?” It’s also hard not to go completely insane when “walk on back” starts being sung all gospel-like and Craig Finn works himself up into a shouting, spitting, sultry frenzy and sings out, “She said don’t turn me on again. You know I’ll probably just go and go and go and go gogogo and get myself all gone again.” I want to be on a stage gospel style sing-shouting that to an audience.  Amen. This song was meant to be sung live. It’s everything The Hold Steady stands for: second chances and new beginnings. You might have a shady, sordid past, but there is hope and joy right around the corner, if Finn doesn’t kill you off in the next album George R. R. Martin style.

“Multitude of Causalities”

She drove it like she stole it. How does Craig Finn know how I drove when I was 16? Also off Separation Sunday (2005), I love this song because it’s before the band got all “we need to grow artistically and learn how to sing and shit.” This song makes me think something amazing and inspiring and life changing and terrifying is about to happen in my life. At the end you want to shout at the top of your lungs, “YOUTH SERVICES ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO GET THEIR BLOODY CROSS INTO YOUR BLOODY LITTLE MESSED UP TEENAGE LIFE.” That shit is deep.

“Your Little Hoodrat Friend”

Suburban Minneapolis Craig Finn gets all ghetto thug in this song by talking about Hoodrats. Like, where the hell did that come from? Where did he learn that word? And how many people do you think got tattoos scratched into their lower back with the words “damn right he’ll rise again”? Another song off of Separation Sunday (2005).

“Hurricane J”

Craig Finn gets all fatherly on this song. Hey ladies, he doesn’t want you to settle, he wants you to grow. For some reason I find these lyrics awesome and enraging at the same time. Like if someone actually said this to me in person I’d tell them to go fuck themselves. This is off their latest album, Heaven is Whenever (2010).


For the devote Hold Steady fan that overanalyzes lyrics and songs and follows characters, this song is satisfying because it references past songs and further develops the Sapphire character. Sapphire seems like a cool chick. She’s clairvoyant. She has secrets. Some crazy shit has gone down that only Sapphire and her girls know.  I love this song, but it also makes me a little sad. Like Craig’s getting all Coen brothers on us with the “no one learns a lesson this isn’t a romantic comedy” shit at the end. I really dig the guitar work by Tad in this song. This is also off Heaven is Whenever (2010).

“Slapped Actress”

This is off Stay Positive (2008), which is actually one of my least favorite albums. I know — blasphemy.  Heaven is Whenever got a lot of criticism and even though it was a departure from the rant and rock that dominated before and drew me in as a Hold Steady fan, I actually think it’s a better album.  That being said, Slapped Actress on Stay Positive is a damn good song, but I probably like it because it’s more like a Heaven song. I’ll be your Gena Rowlands, Craig.

“Sweet Part of the City”

I dig it. It’s a great opener. It’s a great closer. Makes me feel nostalgic.  I’m a sucker for the Pray, Play word play at the end.  I thought about putting “Joke About Jamaica” or “Lord, I’m Discouraged” here instead. They’re darker, meatier songs, but this song is a departure from their old stuff and it’s worth a mention.  It’s sweet. It’s chill. This is another one off of Heaven is Whenever (2010).

“Killer Parties”

Remember when they used to close every show with this song? Yeah, I do too.  “We were young and we were so in love…” This is off their first album, Almost Killed Me (2004).

This has been a guest blog post by Audrey Avila. Follow her on twitter @avilaudrey.