The Last Drop

Reviews and Clues on Music That Matters (to me)

Archive for January, 2009

New Issue: TV on the Radio

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TV on the Radio, Dear Science – This one’s for Diana. See, I’m trying. This is the country of second chances. And I don’t need an Obama speech to solidify this sentiment. Even after I professed my great ignorance of TV on the Radio, Diana stood by my side to teach me their joys. I gave Cookie Mountain another listen, started to nod along, and generally wrapped my head around the seeming cacophony and respected it as art. Still not my favorite art, but I could appreciate it (Return to Cookie Mountain: music :: Jackson Pollack : painting, for me). But to go for the next album…what to do?! Well, given my new year’s music resolution, it would only be democratic for me to give them another shot. Add to it that most music critics worth their snuff had this album somewhere in their top 5, my wavering on listening to Dear Science started to crumble. Lastly, add a few convincing and logical arguments from Diana, and here I am with a blue cardbard case and the whole band staring obliquely into the distance. Which may be the closest I come to fully understanding TVOTR.

So as much as I tried to believe in them, I just don’t get it. The album felt sonically more pulled together than the rawness of Cookie Mountain. But I often couldn’t get the vocals and the music to ever match in my head. What most take for passionate I took for grating. Even the most charming and inspiring lyrics were subjugated under the literal whine of Mr. Adebimpe and permanent shrill falsetto octave of Mr. Malone. And does everyone just overlook the fact that vocally every song sounds the same? Yes, the artists are the same so there is a certain level of continuity. But the nasal full voice backed by impossible falsetto combination is more than just a trademark and is in dangerous contention for abuse. Nonetheless, I did like the music enough to play the album multiple times. And maybe it will take many more listens to fully appreciate this band. I remain open minded, but still worried that this one will always pass me by. Diana, I tried honey. I gave a post racial Black American indie rock band a second chance. Still, TVOTR is change I couldn’t believe in.

Written by TopDrop

January 21st, 2009 at 3:30 pm

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New Issue: Boyz Noise

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Boys Noize, Oi Oi Oi Oh, Berlin. I’m still in love (heavy sigh). It seems I can’t shake this infatuation with the most beautiful ugly city in the world. Harbor the most dangerous dictator ever recorded, build the most inhumane wall in the modern era and watch my heart strings pull. Twisted, I know, but the aftermath from all of this carnage and self destruction is an intensely artist driven society that takes pride in diversity. Mix that in with a low cost of living, abundance of space, and a central location to the rest of the world and now you see where all of the good music comes from. And why I’m still in love. Long distance relationships suck.

Adding to my love affair is Boys Noize. Ok, you’ll have to pardon the horrible artist name. The Germans can’t help it. A small concession to make for a killer dance album (from 2008 – really, what was I doing last year? Twiddling my thumbs? Staring at Jamie Lidell?) that puts even Justice in it’s place. You heard me, #7 from 2007 has nothing on Oi Oi Oi. Well, not nothing, but the overall consistency, listenability, and pure thrill goes to the Berlin boy ( just one boy making all this noise ironically). Added benefit that is of no use to others – this one album can last me for an entire 8 mile run. Sweet.

Written by TopDrop

January 15th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

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New Issue: The Dodos

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The Dodos, Visiter – The first in a long line of “Why Didn’t I Get This in 2008?”. And probably one of my favorites. Given that Elodie intensely pitched them as a band that I absolutely have to listen to, I am a bit disappointed that it took me almost 6 months to pick up the album. Plus, they are hometown (as in my most current one) heroes. What more can you ask for? Well, for starters, more music. Visiter is amazing – unique, inspiring, intense, playful, and just plain good. Little did I know I was waiting for a more rhythmic interpretation of the blues in a rock setting with outstanding vocal interplay from Drew and Kathy. Vampire Weekend take notice – there are better ways of incorporating “African rhythms” outside of smug Ivy League references to the plight of the upper middle class. The Dodos have stumbled on a winning formula that is bound to keep me listening for many albums to return. Maybe they will work on their spelling skills in the meantime.

Written by TopDrop

January 15th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

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Build a 401k of Music

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In continuing the tradition of upending the current record industry model of label to artist to consumer, Bandstocks says why not have consumers go directly to the source. You want to support someone? Buy stock in them. So far, there don’t seem to be an Madoff-like schemes involved. Plus, there seems to be some momentum in this movement across the entertainment sector ( like IndieVest for film).

I’m in. Literally. I enjoyed Patrick Wolf’s earlier creations. Why not get a piece of the action directly?

Buy low, sell high, and please don’t stop the music.

Written by TopDrop

January 15th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Top Drops: 2008

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After much (unneeded) suspense, I’ve made up my mind. Here’s to the year that brought on my unabashed love of folk and dance music. Good music lives on. However, I will openly admit I missed out on a lot. So much so that there will be a heavy addendum of postings in early 2009 of all the albums I should have bought in 2008 (nice doing business again, Amoeba!). Furthermore, some of them would have easily made the list. I was just too stubborn to give in to popular demand (funny, I can dish out the peer pressure, but I guess I can’t take it…). This year, I didn’t have an abundance of “fall in love with” albums. Thus the list is kept to just five. However, the five on the list were in such super rotation, I would have easily worn through the grooves if they were vinyl. Again, hold that dial for the follow up posts for 2008 Best Buys I Should Have Bought.

Notable Mentions:

Panda Bear, Person Pitch – A Best Buy I Should Have Bought from 2007. One of the linchpin moments where music from the ’60s actually made sense to me (see also Natalie Portman’s boyfriend). While I may find it difficult to stray into Animal Collective’s realm, I fully support Mr. Lennox as a psychedelic Brian Wilson impersonator. And Panda Bear’s are so cute.





Beyonce, B’Day – Yet another relic – from 2006! – that did not see the backlight of my iPod until Feb 2008. But what a showing! By far, the best workout album one could ever own. 8 absolute bangers of upbeat, ridiculous funk and 2 ballads that manage to fit in with the “sweat out your perm” tempo. Or should you just pat your weave…Before Sasha Fierce represented all of the single ladies, she snuck out early, took over Beyonce’s body, put on her Freak Um dress, and hit the town to B’Day.





5. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago – Technically a 2007 release, but people really didn’t start digging him until ’08. If only isolation could always sound this good. I’m thinking about locking myself in a cabin this year just to see if I can come up with anything even a tenth as good as this album. Album Memory Moment – 3 days of rain in Istanbul. Being cooped up in a hostel with no where to go makes an irreplaceable atmosphere for enjoying Bon Iver. That’s not to say that he can’t do happy songs (Lykke Li can drag it out of anyone I guess). But his take on a bad end to a relationship is not to be missed.



4. Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple – Controversial, yes, I know. The sophomore album that took a turn to the dark side. But the turn made the album (and the artists) more accessible. Sure, I would love another “Crazy”, but I sure didn’t mind “Who’s Gonna Save Your Soul”. As cliche as it is, I enjoyed the maturation of the duo. Not everything has to be a sizzling upbeat funk head rush. Furthermore, I actually found solace from the lyrics this time around. Album Memory Moment – Being robbed in London. The first album I listened to after my laptop was taken. I think I hit repeat on “A Little Better” 10 times. And it made me feel that way.



3. Jamie Lidell, JimYou knew it was going to happen. I don’t even know if I have to explain this. Alls I can say is that he’ll probably end up being my baby’s daddy. I saw the tour for this album twice. Twice. I saw Jamie Lidell more than I saw my own parents last year. It’s just not right. But if it’s wrong, then I don’t wanna….you know the rest. Album Memory Moment – Lake Windemere, Lakes District, England. I had Jim on blast the entire weekend of hiking. Note – hiking in England apparently means walking through farmers’ backyards. All of the “trails” looked like cattle paths. Y’all best get that sorted. Talk to Jamie, he’ll Figure it Out.



2. Fleet Foxes, Fleet FoxesThe nail in the folk coffin. If “White Winter Hymnal” hadn’t ruined my life last year, I might have never bought this album and left this group off the list altogether. All the hype was building to a Vampire Weekendesque burn out. But (and I repeat) then there was “White Winter Hymnal”. By far, the most delicious song of the year, full of resplendent harmonies and a meandering yet hopeful melody. The kicker – an entire album of loveliness. This was a well deserved buzz band with extreme potential. Album Memory Moment – My first 10 miler. Listening to folk. Yeah, it’s that transcendent. I normally need a red bull and a swift kick in the butt but the folksy glee from these boys was enough to carry me (at least half way – I’m way too slow).



Top Drop. Girl Talk, Feed the Animals – Annie Clark’s charming yet thick melodies owned my heart last year, but I became a sucker for this mashup masterpiece. Truly, the most frequented album in my collection of last year. There are countless moments when I just ruminate on a particular bit of cleverness (Lil Wayne over Sinead O’Connor is just touching, Kelly Clarkson over Head Like A Hole actually creates the angst KC was looking for). The fact that a mashup artist can make a compelling album is a pretty amazing feat, particularly an artist who’s live shows are outrageously inventive and interactive. And it ends with Journey. Seriously, what more do you want? Album Memory Moment – Don’t touch his Nike Air Force Ones. He stripped down to his skivvies when I saw the show in London. Rather, people clawed at him and tore off all of the appropriate bits until he was left with just his briefs and his Nikes. One kid tried to be clever and take his shoes. Not wise. Greg jumped on his back, put on a mean half nelson, and wrestled the onlooker to the ground until he got his shoe back. We all have are limits. Thank God Greg Gillis’ are few.

Written by TopDrop

January 12th, 2009 at 6:38 pm

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Another New Year/ 2008 Round Up

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2008 brought a lot of new (old) changes: a move, a job, a hike, and of course music. A full year, if not tumultuous. And it stirred the pot for more change in 2009 (a marathon, another mountain, and maybe a big music festival). Maybe it’s the inner Oprah coming out, but I am trying desperately to embrace change and become a better me. Which also means I will need to listen to a lot more music. Particularly stuff I know nothing about. I did not find nearly as many dogs last year as I should have. Well, not that I want to give in to purchasing bad music (see further down on the top sellers of last year) but I don’t experiment nearly enough. If I can commit to the Himalayas, the least I can do is buy more albums from rock bands with animal names (Foxes and Bears, oh my). So here’s to the never ending pursuit of musical perfection.

Oh, and here’s to a look back at 2008. The top selling album – who else but the original Cash Money Millionaire (not to be confused with a credit card millionare or a Madoff/Ponzi scheme millionaire). Notable mentions – Kid Rock. For real. Yeah, I didn’t know he had an album out either.

Top Ten Highest Selling Albums of 2008

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January 2nd, 2009 at 1:20 pm

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