Monday, November 30, 2009

TK #90: Spoon – Girls Can Tell (2001)

Spoon opened the decade by maturing from alt-rock also-rans to indie superheroes, and Britt Daniel emerged as a songwriter with few peers. With drummer Jim Eno providing a swinging backbeat, Daniel uses warmth and space as much as guitars and piano to sculpt ideas into songs. And on “The Fitted Shirt,” he fondly recalls his dad’s wardrobe over a low-key Led Zep riff.

TK # 91 - Romantica - America (2007)

Miss the Jayhawks? Think Gram Parsons could do no wrong? Long for a touch of pre-migraine Wilco? Then belly up to the bar for a taste of Romantica, led by Irish immigrant Ben Kyle and featuring moody, lilting Irish-American tales sweetened by the moving pedal steel of Eric Heywood. Album standout "The National Side"imagines Ryan Adams fronting Calexico for a lament of dashed dreams and hopeful schemes. Lovely.

Romantica - "The National Side"

TK # 92 - The Libertines - Up The Bracket (2002)

More famous for their in-fighting, myriad addictions and supermodel girlfriends, The Libertines also found time to make a couple of slam-bang rock records. Their debut, Up The Bracket, is a sloppy, exhilarating mess of shaggy power pop, arms together “lad” ballads and mod rock. A Faces Oasis.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

TK #93: Crooked Fingers – Dignity and Shame (2005)

After crafting one of the last decade’s best songs (Archers of Loaf’s “Web in Front” from 1994), Eric Bachmann scrapped his band and created one of this decade’s best, “Call to Love” under his new nom de rock, Crooked Fingers. The sparkling songs are cut by a creeping darkness that recalls Lou Reed in places (especially on “Destroyer”), and the title track is a duet for piano and broken heart.

TK #94: Amadou & Mariam – Dimanche a Bamako (2005)

African music accessible to American ears. Mali’s leading exporters of indigenous pop team with Manu Chao to produce songs with layer upon layer of rhythms, guileless guitar, and stacked vocals. Don’t fret that you don’t know the language. You’ll understand the music.

TK # 95 - A.A. Bondy - American Hearts (2007)

AA Bondy makes music that comes from the “old, weird America”, a term coined by Greil Marcus to describe The Basement Tapes. Bondy, a spiritual kin to the rickety folk rock of The Felice Brothers, picks at the scabs that threaten to bleed the demons and devils that lie just beneath the skin’s surface. His debut, American Hearts, is a ghostly, weary affair that examines faith and despair in equal measures of darkness and redemption.

A.A. Bondy - "Vice Rag"

TK # 96 - Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls - The Vain Horse of Hope (2008)

Mixing a down-on-his-luck everyman’s socially conscious worldview with a sly sense of humor, Jason Heath & the Greedy Souls debut sparkles with the same clean, effortless sound Uncle Tupelo captured on Anodyne, their magnificent swan song. Heath shoots (and scores!) for Petty and Springsteen territory, his sound sweetened with an alt-country stew of fiddle, accordion, standup bass and harmonica. I dare you not to fall in love with Heath’s “Anarchist Girl”.

Jason Heath & The Greedy Souls - "Anarchist Girl"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TK #97: New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (2001)

Not since peanut butter first slammed into chocolate has there been a confectionary collision as satisfying as the head-on smash-up between the spun sugar of Neko Case’s voice and the heavy syrup of Carl Newman’s songs. On this, the band’s first, jagged melodies swarm like fireflies, and none glows brighter than “Letter From An Occupant,” one of the decade’s great indie singles.

TK #98: Gorillaz - Demon Days (2005)

Damon Albarn spent the decade doing whatever he damn well felt like, and he did what he felt like damn well, especially on the second album by his band of cartoon warriors, which combines funk, dub and pop into a bubbling, propulsive and dark platter of anti-matter.

TK #99: Joe Henry - Blood From Stars (2009)

Yet more exquisite professional perfection from the world’s leading purveyor of folkjazzbluespop. Delicate, but not dainty, wistful, but not wispy, and by the time the album builds to its centerpiece “Suit on a Frame,” it gains a sort of momentum you never saw coming.

Monday, November 23, 2009

TK # 100: Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life (2008)

Resist your initial inclination to dismiss the work of the wayward scion of a troubled troubadour, because Justin Townes Earle delivers a high and lonesome debut album that traded on the old-timey sounds of Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, but still managed a fresh approach for ten original songs that mark him as an alt country star-in-waiting. Highlights include a jaunty romp of tough love (“Hard Livin”), a simple declaration of rootlessness in “The Good Life” and thoughts on “What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome”. Not to be missed in concert - JTE will be appearing at Johnny Brenda’s in March.

Justin Townes Earle - "Hard Livin"

Hard Luck Stories Out Today!

Ike Reilly is a long-time Teenage Kicks favorite. He returns today with Hard Luck Stories, ten songs about sex, drugs, returning vets, fucked up losers, fucked up winners, sex and drugs. Drawing on Dylan's deep, twisted phrasing and the feral gut punch of prime punk rock, Reilly is a master storyteller who's bringing back two things sadly missing in rock and roll - humor and swagger. The dude is a fist fight wrapped up in a three minute explosion of rock and roll, complete with pulsing, soaring chouses that imbed themsleves deep - you may not know it, but you need to hear Ike Reilly.

After our top 100 of the decade, we'll be bringing you more Ike Reilly, including an exclusive interview, but for now we'll leave you with this freewheeling duet with Shooter Jennings, "The War On The Terror And The Drugs", whose title seems to promise one thing but whose lyrics deliver, in the words of Monty Python, "something completely different". Meant to be played LOUD.

Hard Luck Stories is available digitally now at itunes and

Ike Reilly (w/ Shooter Jennings) - "The War on The Terror and The Drugs"

Teenage Kicks Top 100 of The Decade

There have been approximately 24,000 album released this decade. We heard less than 5% of those. But we know what we like and over the next few weeks we will bring to you, our loyal and content-starved Teenage Kicks readers, our favorite 100 records of the past ten years. We created a very comprehensive and scientific methodology to determine the artistic merit of each record. Some of the metrics included minus 10 points for any reference to an animal in your band name, plus 25 points for keeping all songs on the album under four minutes, minus 20 points if we could connect anything about your music to Dave Matthews, plus 5 points for any band including brothers and plus 15 points for bringing the rock.

And when we're done (or even before we start), feel free to tell us who we missed.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Avett Brothers - I and Love and You

[This post, written by Trip, originally went up a few months back. It is being reposted because of technicall gremlins]

Imagine a reverb-less Fleet Foxes with Ben Folds playing piano and harmonizing and then listen to this absolutely lovely new song by The Avett Brothers, the title track to their new Rick Rubin produced album, I And Love And You, due 9/29 from Columbia Records. This moves to the top of my "I'll keep hectoring you until you buy this in 2009" list.

The Avett Brothers - "Die Die Die" (from 2007's Emotionalism, available from Ramseur Records)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Rock of Ages - Part VI (The Hall at The Garden)

While we here at Teenage Kicks endeavor to cover as many musical events and happenings as possible, sometimes we're just proud to know people who are attending such rock and roll milestones as last night's Miley Cyrus concert (nice job Sherry), Pearl Jam's closing of The Spectrum, the Sir Rod tribute show at The Polish American Club in Clifton Heights on 11/21(Teenage Kicks gives this one our highest rating - at least the fab 70's first half of the show!). But then sometimes people who know people get to see rock and roll history unfurl right in front of them. Ace TK field reporter Scott McClatchy (aka Scooter) got to see The Rock and Roll 25th Anniversary concerts last week at Madison Square Garden. While Teenage Kicks initially cast a skeptical eye towards an event surely headed for major bloat (hello U2), could any rock show with Bruce Springsteen be a letdown? Our ace reporter says no, and files his report here.