pop levi

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I timed this wrong, and now I’m going out of town till after New Years. So here you go, in brief.

Sea Wolf
Leaves In the River
Winter Windows

This album has its weaknesses; it’s not perfect by any means. As a first album, it’s not as cohesive as it might be and sometimes the songwriting is overblown. Still and all, I spent most of the year fangirling Sea Wolf (ie., watching Alex Church on Youtube and squealing like I was fourteen). Typical comment to friend: “Try Sea Wolf. I love it, even though it’s 100% indie!” But hey, cute guys who play guitar and know how to wield a metaphor are my weakness. Even though Sea Wolf likely represents that hated genre of music that “has no soul,” I have a deep fondness for its simplicity and hidden quirks.

I spent a lot of time listening to Church’s understated but complicated music, admiring the bluesy strain of “You’re A Wolf,” the deep beat of “The Cold, the Dark, & the Silence,” and concrete lyrics like the ones from “Black Leaf Falls”: I saw you outside the bathroom stalls / you were just standing there out in the hall / You leaned your hip against against the wall / I’d love you anywhere but Black Leaf Falls.

Pop Levi
The Return To Form Black Magick Party

Pick-Me-Up Uppercut

Hands down, best dancing record of the year. You all can have your daft punk and your lcd soundsystems and your justice, but I want my dance music to have soul. Pop Levi catapults the listener back to the 70s, the 60s, wherever he wants to go, drags you dancing along with him to the days when you could plant a boombox in the middle of an intersection and stop the cars and get the whole block dancing.

Call it “classic,” call it psychadelic, call it whatever you want. It’s definitely a variable sound, sometimes sampling a marching band, sometimes piano and sitar, sometimes a fuzzy bass with handclaps, and above it all is Levi’s voice, which will not appeal to everyone. For me, it recalls the era of Page and Clapton and Hendrix, without being derivative in the least. Levi segues from the jazzy introspective “See My Lord” to the wicked sexy “Pick-Me-Up Uppercut” to the blues in “(A Style Called) Crying Chic” and “Dollar Bill Rock”: your money’s on fire so you can call me a liar for free / so talk to your lawyer, talk to your lawyer for me. It’s a great blend of everything, and continually surprises the listener; and Levi seems to be having a lot of fun with it. Fun! You remember it, right? It’s the opposite of having your heart broken. Go out and have some aural fun with Pop Levi; you won’t regret it.

Josh Ritter
The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
Empty Hearts

Cue the sound of my sister squealing like she’s at a Timberlake concert. FINE! I hope you’re happy, Miss J! Though I never could understand the appeal of the lugubrious “Animal Years,” Ritter has created a beautiful album here. I seem to always save the #1 slot for the perfect songwriter, and Ritter is definitely that. I was captivated from the very first line of the first song, and I’m not really sure how Ritter fits that many words into a song like “To the Dogs Or Whoever”: Joan never cared about the inbetweens / combed her hair with the blade did the maid of Orleans / said, “Christ walked on water, we can wade through the war. / You don’t need to tell me who the fire is for.”

And the whole album is chock full of it; imagery that gave me chills, backed by a breathing piano and frenetic drums. Ritter switches from the bitter to the wry to the outright funny with equal facility, and he never descends to infantility; he’s always a grownup (which doesn’t sound like much to you, I bet, but I so much prefer a man to a boy). In “Rumors,” he entwines a broken heart with what all of us do when we are unhappy: turning the music up. Decibels in the belfry / hey what the hell if it helps me / I put a whip to the kickdrum but the music’s never loud enough, backed by these totally swinging saxophones and the edge of desperation in Ritter’s voice. This is the album I listened to the most this year, the one that satisfied the most of those yearnings an audiophile can never be free of. Congratulations, number one album! I salute you!

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Paid Off Mix

This one’s for my sister Juliette. Notwithstanding my previous driving mix, I think if you make a driving sing-along mix and you don’t include some Pet Shop Boys, you have no cachet whatsoever. As with my previous mix, this is intended to be played in the order given. I have however included single links for those persons unable to listen to mixes (*shakes head*).

JCarmix cover

Juliette’s Paid Off Mix (.rar file)

01. Madonna — Hung Up
02. The Beatles — Back In the USSR
03. Cake — Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
04. Nelly Furtado — Maneater
05. Bodies of Water — Doves Circled the Sky
06. The Ballet — In My Head
07. Pet Shop Boys — It’s A Sin
08. US3 — Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
09. The Strokes — Modern Girls & Old Fashioned Men (f. Regina Spektor)
10. Amadou & Mariam — Chantez-Chantez
11. Pop Levi — Blue Honey (Hollywood Version)
12. Sinead O Connor — You Made Me the Thief Of Your Heart (12″ mix)
13. Patrick Wolf — The Magic Position

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Before I start, check out Blender Mag’s list of the best music cameos on the Simpsons. Maybe you agree and maybe not — but heck, it’s a ton of awesome clips (Barry White on Whacking Day, anyone?). YouTube proves its usefulness once again.

And now! Music. I was cleaning out some of my old folders and found some good stuff. Download it all … every single one is worth at least 30 seconds of your listening time.

[ed note – tracks removed. contact me or drop a comment for a copy.]

01. Fujiya & Miyagi – Collarbone
02. Yo La Tengo – Tears Are In Your Eyes
03. Okkervil River – He Passes Number Thirty-Three
04. The Real Tuesday Weld – I Love the Rain
05. Veruca Salt – Forsythia
06. Peter and the Wolf – Silent Movies
07. Pop Levi – Dollar Bill Rock
08. The Bees (aka A Band of Bees) – Love In the Harbour
09. Cafe Tacuba – Ojalá Que Llueva Cafe (Juan Luis Guerra)
10. Gillian Welch – Elvis Presley Blues

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