Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Teenage Kicks 2008 Readers Poll Results: Positive Dominance

They came. They saw. They constructed.

We asked, you voted, and The Hold Steady dominated the 2008 Teenage Kicks Readers Poll, taking the top spot in the album category with Stay Positive, and placing first and third on your list of the year’s top songs.

Dozens voted, 168 albums were nominated, and 138 songs earned mentions. The results speak to the impeccable taste of the best looking readers on the internet. Here are the albums and songs that received a critical mass of votes.

Albums of the Year
1. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
2. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
3. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
4 (tie). Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
6. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
7 (tie). Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal
Felice Brothers – Felice Brothers
9. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
10. She & Him – Volume One
11(tie). Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!
Kathleen Edwards – Asking for Flowers
13(tie). Blitzen Trapper – Furr
Hayes Carll – Trouble in Mind
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
17(tie). Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
R.E.M. – Accelerate
Santogold – Santogold
Teddy Thompson – A Piece of What You Need
21. Kings of Leon – Only By the Night
22(tie). Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
Shelby Lynne – Just a Little Lovin’
Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
25. Reckless Kelly – Bulletproof
26(tie). Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cardinology
Airborne Toxic Event – Airborne Toxic Event
The Baseball Project – Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
David Byrne & Brian Eno – Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Dr. Dog – Fate
Flogging Molly – Float
Joe Jackson – Rain
The Kooks - Konk
Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster
Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch
Pretenders – Break Up the Concrete
Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows
The Whigs – Mission Control
40. Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us

Songs of the Year
1. The Hold Steady – “Sequestered in Memphis”
2. The Felice Brothers – “Frankie’s Gun”
3. The Hold Steady – “Constructive Summer”
4. Black Kids – “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You”
5. Elbow – “Grounds for Divorce”
6(tie). Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”
R.E.M. – “Living Well is the Best Revenge”
8(tie). Alejandro Escovedo – “Always a Friend”
Los Campesinos! – “You! Me! Dancing!”
10(tie). Airborne Toxic Event – “Gasoline”
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!”
Nada Surf – “See These Bones"
13. Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire”

Monday, December 29, 2008

Solo Flight

Teenage Kicks isn't breaking up, and Trip and I aren't experiencing artistic differences. But I have embarked on a solo project, a place for content that doesn't fit neatly with what we do at TK (due to length and/or subject matter). The maiden post is here. Enjoy in moderation.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Playlist for a Weird Year

Instead of a ballot, our pal Dan Rubin supplies us with songs to hear during 2008's fade-out:

I wish we could just hit PLAY here, because this is a playlist, not a greatest albums or songs list. It's meant to move. To be honest, I didn't listen to albums that often in 2008. Or buy them, unless you count that Neil Young show from 1968 that just came out. So this is the best I can do -- a livable, listenable list of song recordings made or released this year. I have been hunting and gathering for several weeks, and am grateful for Largehearted Boy, who each year links all these blogger lists of the best this and that, and I have been waking up early and right-clicking merrily. Here's the result. It, like I, is rockist and unrepentant. It starts with murder, and features smoking guns, philosophy, Cleveland, `70's guitar licks, a two-cow-garage, truckers to drive by, a girl from Philly, and a remake of Ronnie Laine' s arrangement of a Derroll Adams song. And they say rock is dead.

Playlist for a Weird Year

Friday, December 19, 2008

Last Chance to Vote . . .

in the 2008 Teenage Kicks readers poll. Send your lists of your ten favorite albums and five favorite songs of the year to mwatchison@gmail.com by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 21. No need to rank them, but you may designate one album of the year and one song of the year. Results to be posted on December 31.

Here's the ballot submitted by juanita, one of our favorite readers:

Favorite 2008 CD’s
Calexico - Carried to Dust
Elbow - Seldom Seen Kid
Byrne/Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Los Campesinos - Hold on Now, Youngster...
Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
TV on the Radio – Dear Science
MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
Joseph Arthur - Temporary People
R.E.M. – Accelerate
Beck – Modern Guilt

Favorite 2008 Songs
Elbow - Grounds for Divorce
Calexico – House of Valparaiso
Decemberists – Valerie Plame
Firewater – Borneo
Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire
TV On The Radio - Family Tree
Los Campesinos – You! Me! Dancing!
Byrne/Eno - Wanted for Life
R.E.M. - Supernatural Superserious
MGMT – Time to Pretend

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm Grateful For Christmas This Year - Hayes Carll

I saw Hayes Carll perform this song two weeks ago at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live. Now through the magic of the internet and the kindness of Lost Highway Records, I get to share it with you. Carll has channeled his inner John Prine and written a saccharine-free, less goofy, take on Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From The Family".

And since it's that time of year, we've also got a holiday treat from Teenage Kicks favorite Jeremy Fisher, lamenting the lack of his own personal bailout.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bill McGarvey gives you a song for Christmas

Our pal Bill McGarvey has recorded a version of the contemporary classic "(Christmas) Baby, Please Come Home," and he wants you to have it for free. And we want you to check out Busted Halo, the online journal of faith and culture where Bill serves as editor-in-chief.

Bill McGarvey, "(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home"

Winter Wonderland

Where I live, the snow is piling up and the mercury is tumbling down, and thoughts naturally turn to Tom Jones.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Everyone At Pitchfork A Dork?

Pitcfork earlier today released the bottom half (51-100) of their top 100 songs of 2008. Now while I admit there are certain genres of music that I stay away from almost entirely (I'm looking at you jam band wankery and electronica), I spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down and digesting new music. Maybe I'm just too old, or maybe Pitchfork scribes are trying to out-obscure each other, but the 50 songs listed bear no relation to the music I heard this year. Yes, there's Los Campesinos! and Vampire Weekend (and even two from Lykke Li's refreshing debut), but then there's also Buraka Som Sistema [ft. M.I.A. and DJ Znobia] and WHY's "Fatalist Palmistry" (which, according to Pitchfork's Grayson Currin is "the torturous culmination of Yoni Wolf's cyclical neuroses.") Incredibly, that tune is nowhere to be found on my ipod.

You've also got "Poison Dart" by The Bug (ft. Warrior Queen) which PFer Matthew Murphy claims "seems broadcast from some post-apocalyptic future where little of the urban landscape remains intact but somehow dancehall culture has managed to survive and flourish." What!?

But my favorite bit is this description of "Enfants (Chants)" by Ricardo Villalobos written by Phillip Sherburne - ""Enfants" was essentially an extended edit of the introduction to "Baba Yaga La Sorciere", Chrisitan Vander's 1995 recreation of his group Magma's Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh, from 1973."

I totally knew that... but didn't the Vander recreation come out in 1994?

Check out this list and tell me how many songs you know:

Last Week for Balloting

Voting for the Teenage Kicks Readers Poll of your favorite albums and songs of the year closes this Sunday, December 21. Details here. A music enthusiast from Philadelphia gave us this list of his favorite albums:

1. Mates Of State- Re-Arrange Us
Having played this cd a thousand times, I've come to the conclusion it doesn't suck

2. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend
For all you cardigan wearing, ivy league attending, afro-pop referencing nerds out there...have I got a record for you.

3. MGMT- Oracular Spectacular
A younger, hipper Flaming Lips.

4. The Explorers Club- Freedom Wind
Delivers everything you loved about the Beach Boys, minus John Stamos.

5. The Raconteurs- Consolers of the Lonely
As side projects go, holds up much better than the "Meg White sex tape"

6. Attic Lights- Friday Night Lights
This being an obscure import release, I feel smugly superior including it in my top 10.

7. Santogold- Santogold
Santi White: hip hop hipster goddess.

8. Glen Campbell- Meet Glen Campbell
The shine came off a little when I heard he was spoon fed these songs. But c'mon, Glen Campbell doing a Mats cover!

9. Brazilian Girls- New York City
Though this is their third album, I've only recently discovered they're not actually from Brazil.

10. Tokio Hotel- Scream
Finding out the lead singer is really a guy...embarrassing. Still thinking he's cute...disturbing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Give us your lists!

The Teenage Kicks Readers Poll is coming. Send lists of your ten favorite albums of 2008 and your five favorite songs (no need to rank them, but feel free to pick an album and song of the year) to mwatchison@gmail.com by December 21. Add some commentary and we'll post it here for the world to see.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vanishing Act

You may have noticed that a couple of posts here, including Trip's recent effort praising new Nashville troubadour Jamey Johnson, have disappeared. It seems that Columbia Records has made a policy of asking Google (which operates blogspot, which hosts us) to remove posts that contain mp3s of copyrighted material. We're not going to complain (it's their music, they can do what they want), and we're not even going to comment on the wisdom of a tactic that prevents new audiences from being exposed to the company's products. We'll just spend more time describing music to you than playing it for you, though I'll continue to post mp3s that record companies ask us to share.

Lauren Chapin, 1958-2008

I have occasionally linked to the work of Timothy Finn, the very fine popular music critic for The Kansas City Star, and his Back to Rockville blog has been linked here since we first went on line. This week, Tim's wife, Lauren Chapin, The Star's food and restaurant critic, died unexpectedly after suffering a ruptured aneurysm. A finalist for a James Beard Foundation award in 2005, her weekly reviews of Kansas City restaurants - from barbecue joints to high-end cuisine - were required reading in my house. Survivors include two teenage daughters. Our condolences are extended to Ms. Chapin's family and friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sufjan Beat


Hat tip to our friend Lou for this one. Awesome.

Clark Griswold, circa 2008

My wife actually knows this guy. I am simultaneously impresssed and pleased that he is not my neighbor.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Fifty Years of Popular Songs Condensed Into Single Sentences

They've made a list over at McSweeney's. Some highlights:

Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On"
I want to do it with you.

Led Zeppelin, "Whole Lotta Love"
I want to do it with you.

R. Kelly, "I Believe I Can Fly"
I believe I want to do it with you.

Frank Sinatra, "Strangers in the Night"
I'm drunk and I want to do it with you.

Little Richard, "Good Golly Miss Molly"
I'm doing it with Miss Molly, and she's totally into it.

Pulp, "Common People"
I once met a stuck-up European who wanted to do it with me.

Radiohead, "Creep"
I'm filled with self-loathing, and, though outwardly I hate everything you represent, I want to do it with you.

Let's add some of our own, shall we?

Cheap Trick, "I Want You to Want Me"
I want you to want to do it with me.

KISS, "Rock and Roll All Nite"
I want to rock and roll all nite and party every day.

The Kingsmen, "Louie Louie"
I wanna mumja deesel aye-aye-aye.

Bruce Springsteen, "Born to Run"
I want to do it with Mary in the backseat of my hemi-powered machine and then die in a cloud of mist in the shadow of an amusement park.

The Vapors, "Turning Japanese"
I want to do it with myself.

Nick Lowe, "Cruel to Be Kind"
I want to do it with someone nicer than you.

Derek and the Dominoes, "Layla"
I want to do it with George Harrison's wife.

Barry White, all songs
I want to do it with you.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Vote Now . . .

in the Teenage Kicks readers poll. Make a list of up to ten albums and five songs from 2008 and submit them to mwatchison@gmail.com by December 21. No need to rank them, but you may select one album and one song of the year. Feel free to include comments, and we'll post some of them here. Some random entries thus far:

From anonymous:
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
Peter and the Wolf - Mellow Owl
Blind Pilot - 3 Rounds and a Sound
Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight
Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
The Tallest Man on Earth - Shallow Grave
Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst

Peter and the Wolf - "Bottle Rockettes"
Laura Marling - "My Manic and I"
Fleet Foxes - "Blue Ridge Mountains"
The Hold Steady - "Constructive Summer" (song of the year)
The Felice Brothers - "Frankie's Gun"

The Hold Steady-Stay Positive--album of the year
The Gaslight Anthem- The '59 Sound
Kings of Leon-Only by the Night
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals-Cardinology
Butch Walker-Sycamore Meadows
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-Dig Lazarus, Dig!!
Reckless Kelly-Bulletproof
Vampire Weekend-Vampire Weekend
The Streets-Everything is Borrowed
Two Cow Garage-Speaking in Cursive

The Hold Steady-"Sequestered in Memphis"--song of the year
The Felice Brothers-"Frankie's Gun"
Black Kids-"I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend . . ."
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-"Dig, Lazarus, Dig!"
Hayes Carrll-"Bad Liver and a Broken Heart"

Friday, December 05, 2008

File Under Quizzical

In a Best Buy store last night, I strolled through the classical music aisle and noticed something peculiar. Next to recordings of music by Ludwig van Beethoven was a section (albeit empty) for his long-lost cousin, Camper van Beethoven.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Reber - Stevie Starr!!

Sorry for the second non-music post in a row but my sister and I must have watched this clip -taped on a betamax video recorder (I've always been behind the curve) a hundred times before all those kids (not to mention husbands and wives) started coming around.

Apparently EVERYTHING is on the internet.

Paul Rudd Cuts Loose on Food Poisoning

From a 2004 Daily Show...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

TK Readers Poll: Todd Palmer

Ballots are starting to roll in for the Teenage Kicks readers poll (details here - be sure to vote!), and Todd Palmer, a longtime friend of the site, checks in with a list of his favorite albums of the year:

Here's the album list, no particular order.

The Gaslight Anthem
The '59 Sound
Thanks TeenKicks! A classic that will stand the test of time for me. For sure. Really great songwriting, and the band is as tight as last year's underwear. The drummer seems to eschew a normal drum kit in favor of a machine-gun, to good effect. Even the slow songs are excellent, which isn't always the case with the young punks. Drop the needle on 'Great Expectations' and you're off.

The Hold Steady
Stay Positive
You know it was coming, but they found another new way to come at you and surprise you with a totally different vibe and technique for song construction. This album seems to be built for live shows, but still works well turned up to 10 in the car as well. I have to say, it's also perfectly sequenced; it just flows.

Alejandro Escovedo
Real Animal
His best work as far as I'm concerned, 'Real Animal' was a gift that kept on giving this year. Every time I cued it up in the office I had people stopping by to ask about it. And every time I listened to it another song turned into my favorite, which is the mark of an classic with legs. Let's hope he keeps it up for another 20 years or so.

Two Cow Garage
Speaking In Cursive
I have a hard time being objective about these guys. One of my favorite live acts, I have real trouble separating their live and recorded stuff. I'll just say that this is a more diverse set of songs than they have displayed on any previous album, and all the songs hold up when played live. They beefed up their sound earlier this year with the addition of a keyboard player, and I think the addition takes a little pressure off the vocals, so there's less shouting and more singing. And playing. Buy this for God's sake, it's only $8.99 on their myspace page.

Girl Talk
Feed The Animals
OK, I lied. I do have one favorite album this year, and this is it. 14 songs, each made up only of samples from other songs, assembled by one guy (Gregg Gillis) and his computer. Pitches bent, beats sped up and slowed down, vocals from one song inserted over beats and melodies of other songs. Not for the kids, but I dare you to download it (www.myspace.com/girltalk), listen, and not be TOTALLY addicted. It's free to download (pay what you want), so there's no reason not to do it right now. You can thank me later. Possible top music moment of 2008: Girl Talk's 'Like This': Mya's 'Ghetto Superstar" into Diana Ross' 'Upside Down' into The Carpenter's 'Superstar' into Meallica's 'One'. Genius.

LL Cool J
Exit 13
Old school hip hop, from the guy who practically invented it. Tough, hard, begs to be played loud. If you ever liked his beats back in the day ('Radio', 'Mama Said Knock You Out', etc.) give this one a shot. Back to the roots of the genre.

She & Him
Volume One
Unexpected. Heard this one on NPR and was shocked at the depth of the whole thing. M. Ward is a genius arranger, and plays in a subtle manner that stays out of the way of Zoe D.'s soaring vocals. Great stuff, and gets better with repeated listening.

Kings of Leon
Only By The Night
I have their entire ouevre, but this is the first of their recordings that I loved right out of the box. It's a lot more accessable, with meoldies that flow and vocals that don't sound like nails on a chalkboard the first time through. It may help that I saw them live, where it became abundantly clear that every song on every album was built to play live. Once I got that, this album became a masterpiece. As with most of the other stuff on my list, this is an album that gives up more and more upon repeated listening. Get this one, even if you never liked their other ones, and please go see them play live if you get a chance. Stunning.

My Morning Jacket
Evil Urges
These guys are the new face of "southern rock", and as a longtime fan of the genre I'm OK with that. Their albums deliver that creepy, swampy feel that you got with the best albums from Wet Willie and The Dixie Dregs, while several songs sport those lyrical turns that you came to expect from Skynyrd or the Allmans. They are virtuoso players as well. Bonus: Lead singer Jim James is now Obama's national security advisor. Or at least that's what my friend Pete told me. We need more beards in the White House.

The Replacements
Sorry Ma, Hootenanny, Stink, Let It Be, Tim, Pleased To Meet Me
I cannot let the reissue of these seminal works pass by. Any one of them would belong on their respective year's best-of list, especially if the included bonus tracks were, well, included. Shining them up and adding songs makes this a great year to be a Replacements fan. These were the albums (along with REM) that turned it all around for me. I didn't think that it was possible to love them more than I did, but the bonus tracks are great additions that lift the curtain a bit on the process of writing and recording these gems, plus they add missing songs that probably should have been included in the first place. Now if they would just remaster "When The Shit Hits The Fans" and release it, their story would be complete.

Keep up the good work Trip and Mike.
Todd P

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Hayes Carll's Got A Gig

Hayes Carll plays Wednesday (Dec. 3) at World Cafe Live and Teenage Kicks East would like to see you there.

Check out his entertaining (read: kinda funny, low production values, hilarious acting) video for "She Left Me For Jesus" and mp3s of "Hey Baby Where You Been" from his 2004 release Little Rock and "Beyond The Blues" from the Peter Case case tribute A Case For Case.

His 2008 release Trouble in Mind is one of the year's best - laconic tales of hard living and hard loving all sung in an exaggerated drawl that lets you in on the secrets, jokes and battle scars. Let's say a hungry Steve Earle... with a sense of humor.

Hayes Carll - "Hey Baby Where You Been"

Hayes Carll - "Beyond The Blues"

Monday, December 01, 2008

The 2008 Teenage Kicks Readers Poll

Democracy has come to Teenage Kicks. Starting today, and running through December 21, you can submit lists of your favorite songs and albums of the year to be included in our year-end wrap-up.

Submit a list of up to ten albums and up to five songs from 2008 to MWAtchison@gmail.com. No need to rank them, but you may designate one album of the year and one song of the year that will get bonus credit.

We'd like to post some individual readers' lists, so feel free to include comments along with your lists, and let us know what name you'd like us to use (i.e,. your real name or a secret identity). If you don't want your list posted, or if you'd prefer anonymity, please tell us that, too.

Vote now!

2008 Tracks: Whigs, Weller & Wild Sweet Orange

The Whigs are a scorching three-piece formed at the University of Georgia. Their album Mission Control possesses an ominous sound and a sinister purpose, with all the right punk and post-punk touchstones represented: Husker Du, Gang of Four, Replacements, Nirvana. Turn it up.

The Whigs, "I Got Ideas"

Paul Weller is himself a walking rock and roll touchstone, thirty-plus years into a stellar career. His 2008 release, 22 Dreams, is a meandering, pastoral song-suite that shows off his broad range and a strong sense of restraint.

Paul Weller, "All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)"

Birmingham, Alabama's Wild Sweet Orange comes off like a southern Buffalo Tom, with gentle country colorings tempering their full-bore American rock and roll. Their album We Have Cause to Be Uneasy is one of my favorite indie releases of the year.

Wild Sweet Orange, "Either/Or"

Transmissions From the Moon

Our friend Mary Zajac takes a short break from writing about food to give us this profile of one of the last of the great old-school soul DJs.