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Monday, November 24, 2008

Our 5 favorite bands, November 2008

Scott's favorites:

I'm almost embarrassed to admit where I first heard these Icelandic weirdos - one of their songs was on an Urban Outfitters compilation CD I ran across several years ago. That caused me to buy their 2002 album ( ), the pretentious record with no title, which contained 8 songs with no titles and no lyrics. It was stunningly beautiful, and so was their concert film Heima, released last year. They've continued their artistic growth this year with Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which features a handful of accessible, up-tempo tracks, and even a song in English, their first ever.
MP3: Njosnavelin (from ( ) )

It's pretty much universally accepted now that MGMT suck live. Ok, that's correctable. And forgivable, as long as they keep cranking out masterpieces like Oracular Spectacular, which features a number of brilliant psychedelic synthpop gems. My favorite changes almost every day, but right now it's "Kids," which sounds almost as deliriously Nintendo-ish as "Time to Pretend."
MP3: The Handshake (from Oracular Spectacular)

For the first time since I started doing these bi-annual 'favorite band' posts, the Dresden Dolls are not #1. But they couldn't be, since they broke up, or are on hiatus, depending who you ask. Amanda Palmer is now flying solo, but the Dolls' singer still crafts the same gripping and humorous lyrics. Her new album ranges from the poignant balladry of "Ampersand," to the whimsical doo-wop of "Oasis," to the furious energy of "Runs in the Family."
MP3: Leeds United (from Who Killed Amanda Palmer?)

Having seen Okkervil River live 3 times this year, I'm in awe of Will Sheff's punk energy onstage. But his eloquent stories are what make this band special - like the vivid pictures he paints in "The President's Dead" and "Lost Coastlines." Tunes like "Plus Ones" show off an impressive level of lyrical creativity - and just for the record, I do want a tune about the 100th luftballoon.
MP3: Lost Coastlines (from The Stand-Ins)

America's favorite bar band continues to win me over with their clever tales about parties and scenes, which sometimes seem sincere and sometimes seem sarcastic - I often can't tell. Their latest, Stay Positive, offers plenty of great sing-along moments, notably the title track and "Sequestered in Memphis." Craig Finn and his band somehow keep getting cooler as they age.
MP3: Chips Ahoy! (from Boys and Girls in America)

Others earning consideration: Radiohead, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Taylor Swift, Girl Talk, Architecture in Helsinki

Deena's favorites:

Although their new album, Perfect Symmetry, is a bit of a mixed bag (starting strong with the insanely ear-catching single "Spiralling" along with a few more groovy synth-pop sounding tracks, it sort of trails off and is less inventive towards the end), it was still enough to project this British trio to the top of my list. What some of their music lacks in creativity it makes up for in sheer beauty and simplicity. I would listen to Tom Chaplin sing the phone book.
MP3: Spiralling (from Perfect Symmetry)

One of the best bands I saw all year, I didn't even know who this Canadian funk-tronic duo was until I started researching bands before Lollapalooza. I absolutely love their tongue-in-cheek lyrics and throwback '80s synthesizer effects. I put Chromeo in when I want to dance--and laugh. Their recent performance of "Mama's Boy" on Jay Leno was totally creative, abandoning a good bit of the rocking electric guitar from the track and substituting it with a small but equally rocking orchestra--I highly recommend looking it up.
MP3: Tenderoni (from Fancy Footwork)

I dig the way Alkaline Trio can wrap the most morbid themes around a good pop/punk song. Who doesn't love catchy singalong choruses about love, alcoholism, depression, drugs, and/or death? My favorite chorus to date is off their July 2008 release, Agony and Irony: "Love, love, kiss, kiss...blah, blah, blah." They stay consistent with their goth-tinged lyrics on every album but manage to also grow just enough musically on each release to keep things interesting.
MP3: Private Eye (from From Here to Infirmary)

Yes, a band that hasn't been together for over 20 years can still make a top 5 list. Blame it on Mama Mia!--the movie (which I saw when it opened in August) and the musical (which I just saw on its tour through Pittsburgh the other week), which reminded me of the tuneful work of this Swedish quartet. They actually have a nice body of work that ranges from disco ("Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!") to rock n' roll ("Does Your Mother Know"), even songs with a latin flair ("Chiquitita"). Their harmonies just seem to melt together. I really dig the songs with the gutsy, often quite low, female vocals like "Money Money Money" and "The Winner Takes it All."
MP3: Super Trouper (from Super Trouper)

Since my default "favorite band" hasn't had a new album in over three years, Shirley and the boys have gotten pushed to the bottom of the pile. Only a few stray singles have escaped lately--in August, "All The Good in this Life" (a B-Side from 2007 previously only released digitally) appeared on the Songs for Tibet charity album, and a new track called "Witness to Your Love" is available on a charity compilation that I'm told is being sold by Urban Outfitters until January 31. Guess the best way to get my Shirley fix these days is by watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
MP3: Tell Me Where It Hurts (from Absolute Garbage)

1 comment:

Scott said...

Good call, I love Abba!

I'll have to check out some of those other bands... I've never given Keane a chance since I just tossed them into the generic Britpop pool.