Tag Archives: I’m From Barcelona

The Best Music of 2008

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2008 was a pretty good year for new music.

The Best albums released in 2008 (Album –  Artist):

  1. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark –  Drive-By Truckers
  2. The Evening Descends –  Evangelicals
  3. The Chemistry of Common Life –  F**ked Up
  4. At Mount Zoomer –  Wolf Parade
  5. HLLLYH –  The Mae Shi
  6. Hold On Now, Youngster… –  Los Campesinos!
  7. Liver! Lung! FR! –  Frightened Rabbit
  8. Ice Cream Spiritual –  Ponytail
  9. Jim –  Jamie Lidell
  10. Heretic Pride –  The Mountain Goats

“You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos!, from their debut album, Hold On Now, Youngster… (also found on the 2007 EP Sticking Fingers Into Sockets)

The rest of the best (in no particular order):

  • 808s & Heartbreak –  Kanye West
  • Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
  • Third –  Portishead
  • We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed –  Los Campesinos!
  • Vivian Girls –  Vivian Girls
  • In The Future –  Black Mountain
  • Distortion – The Magnetic Fields
  • Ferndorf –  Hauschka
  • Life…The Best Game in Town –  Harvey Milk
  • Cities of Glass –  AIDS Wolf
  • Microcastle –  Deerhunter
  • The Odd Couple –  Gnarls Barkley
  • Skeleton –  Abe Vigoda
  • The Midnight Organ Fight –  Frightened Rabbit
  • The Twilight Sad Killed My Parents and Hit the Road –  The Twilight Sad
  • Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Silver Jews
  • Methods: (EP) –  Imperial China
  • Sing Along (EP)  –  Caverns
  • Kittens! (EP)  –  Caverns
  • Music Needs You –  Ryan Blotnick
  • Red, Yellow & Blue –  Born Ruffians
  • A Certain Feeling –  Bodies of Water
  • Nouns –  No Age
  • Smile –  Boris
  • Pop-Up –  Yelle
  • Made In The Dark –  Hot Chip
  • Lost and Found –  The Dexateens
  • Long Gone And Nearly There –  Julie Ocean
  • Litany of Echoes –  James Blackshaw
  • Arm’s Way –  Islands
  • Magnificent Fiend –  Howlin’ Rain
  • High Places –  High Places
  • Flight Of The Conchords –  Flight Of The Conchords
  • Christmas On Mars (Soundtrack)  –  The Flaming Lips
  • Street Horrrsing –  F**k Buttons
  • Visiter –  The Dodos
  • Nothing Is Precious Enough for Us –  Death Vessel
  • Drippers and  Bonus Drippers –  Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • Rip It Off –  Times New Viking

Best Re-issue of 2008:

  1. Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul –  Otis Redding

– R.H.

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The Best Albums of 2008 :

1. Is it the Sea – Bonnie Prince Billy : Our favorite melancountry superstar delivers a live album that reminds one of his greatness while examining it in a whole new light.

2. Stay Positive – The Hold Steady : Working class is not a label that readily describes Craig Finn and co but their tales of townies and misguided teenagers are just as funny, touching and perfect in their own scrappy way as ever. The world’s best bar music as interpreted by indie elitists.

3. Glasvegas – Glasvegas : Melodic catharsis in spades delivered by four Glasgowians. This young band is not infallible as a whispered poem over Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata suffers in comparison to the original but they got spirit, energy and stories of absent fathers, wounded teens and overall angst that really should not work as well as they do.

4. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed – Los Campesinos : Cheeky and clever but much more than that. Nihilists on the outside but pop craftsmen at heart, their ruminations on youth’s assured end in dejected failure are all good fun until you stop and realize they’re telling you the party’s going to be over and there’s nothing you can do.

5. Microcastle – Deerhunter : There’s something ethereal about this band and especially this album. Playing with avant garde ideas without sacrificing listenability, these ambassadors of indie keep winning.

6. You and Me – The Walkmen : The Bob Dylan comparisons become ever more pronounced especially with frontman Hamilton Leithauser affecting nasally intonations. Still, their chief appeal is heartfelt, esoteric storytelling, aged and cackling.

7. Skeletal Lamping – Of Montreal : The hype machine finally broke down and Kevin Barnes began to tumble critically while selling out shows. The music, however, is just as inventive and grand as it ever was. Though lacking the darkness of Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, Barnes’ latest is rife with the new ideas he keeps discovering and surely will stand more prominently in the cannon once the sobering influence of time takes hold.

8. Modern Guilt – Beck : The dream team of Beck and The Gray Album mastermind Dangermouse creates surprisingly ignored quality tunes. Beck is still haunted by his demons from Sea Change but he still finds time to offer Dangermouse jubilant, sampled pop ditties to wash down the depression.

9. Saturnalia – The Gutter Twins : An album that abounds with apocalypse throughout as two musical legends push each other to the limits of their sensibilities, one high the other low.

10.That Lucky Old Sun – Brian Wilson : A musical legend who seems to be experimenting with the harmonies and arrangements that have fascinated him throughout his career not for the audience’s benefit but his own. The results are as reliably stunning as ever.

Honorable Mention: 808s and Hearbreak – Kanye West, Untitled – Nas, A Larum – Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, The ’59 Sound – The Gaslight Anthem

– Vman

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Review: ‘Who Killed Harry Houdini?’ by I’m From Barcelona

Who Killed Harry Houdini? Mammoth-size rock band I’m From Barcelona try to answer that question on their second album (named after that particular question). Or, rather, they don’t. They just thought it would be a good title.

In any event, the question is irrelevant. I’m From Barcelona delivers another enjoyable record, even though it is considerably less happy and joy-filled than their first.

I’m From Barcelona broke out on the scene with its 2006 twee-pop debut, Let Me Introduce My Friends. And friends they have. Singer/songwriter Emanuel Lundgren leads the group, which had 29 members play on the band’s debut, a self-released EP made all in the name of fun. And none of the members of the Swedish group are from Barcelona (far as we know).

Let Me Introduce My Friends is a record that can simply and easily be described as a delight. After all, it is a (quality) twee record. Who Killed Harry Houdini? is also an enjoyable record but…the twee is gone.

Unlike its predecessor, Houdini has no songs about treehouses or chicken pox or oversleeping. Possibly, for just this reason (the lack of happy), Houdini is not as good a record as Friends. But to be fair, it is a good album that stands on its own.

Starting off a bit spookily, album opener “Andy” evokes Halloween imagery. These images are not a result of the lyrics but of the atmosphere of the song.

The song asks the Andy in question to join the already huge band: “Andy, you really want to go there?/They’re messing up your hair…/We could need someone like you in our band/Andy/No audition and you don’t have to pretend.” These lyrics display the classic silliness of I’m From Barcelona (so long as you translate “They’re messing up your hair” as a silly line in a serious-sounding song).

The happy that fans of I’m From Barcelona were so enamored with from the first album still exists in Houdini; it is just not as abundant.

“Paper Planes” sounds joyous with a cavalcade of voices singing (albeit about being surrounded by strangers). The song does not promise to take your money but rather dissects the art of “throwing paper planes to clear [one’s] head.” Sounds like therapy we could all use.

The somber side of the album shines on “Gunhild,” featuring vocals from French singer and actress Stéphanie Sokolinski, known in the music world as SoKo. A sweetly melancholy song, “Gunhild” is the first track in I’m From Barcelona’s catalog to really spotlight the sincerity in Lundgren’s kind voice. SoKo’s backing-into-lead vocals are a nice addition and play well alongside Lundgren’s vocals.

“Mingus” is an obvious album highlight with its bouncy use of the glockenspiel (a favorite instrument of the band).

On “Houdini,” there’s more darkness. Or at least, it sounds that way. To the undistinguishing ear, we hear “You’re like a demon!” when really, it is “You’re like Houdini!” Or maybe it is all a trick, and we cannot distinguish the truth any which way.

While the album is darker than I’m From Barcelona’s first, this does not detract from the record a great deal.

I’m From Barcelona is still sweet. But there is no need to brush your teeth.

– R.H.

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Recap: Best Of 2007

If you haven’t noticed, it’s unlikely we will post any more detailed, comprehensive, elaborate posts about the media that appeared in 2007. But there’s this post. Which is slightly comprehensive (at least on the music side of things).

Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters by the Twilight Sad is the best album of 2007. Original, new, brilliant, meaningful, emotional, real, great. Great live performers, as well.

UPDATE: Curses by Future Of The Left is the second best album of 2007. It is a great record.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is probably the best 2007 film I have seen. It is the most enjoyable film of the year. UPDATE: Hot Fuzz is a pretty fantastic film.

Some of my favorite tracks of 2007 include (there are some covers here):

  • “Furwinked The Lion/Bear Song” by Tereu Tereu, from Feline Ambition
  • “Ed Is A Portal” by Akron/Family, from Love Is Simple
  • “City Of Echoes” by Pelican, from City Of Echoes
  • “The Opposite of Hallelujah” by Jens Lekman, from Night Falls Over Kortedala
  • “We’re All From Barcelona” by I’m From Barcelona, from Let Me Introduce My Friends
  • “I Love The Unknown” by Eef Barzelay, from the Rocket Science motion picture soundtrack
  • “Grizzly Jive” by Georgie James, from Play
  • “Pretty in Pink” by The National, from their Daytrotter Session
  • “Pinklon” and “Ethiopians” by the Mountain Goats, from their Daytrotter Session at SXSW
  • “Pom Pom” by Matthew Dear, from Asa Breed
  • “Daughter” by Loudon Wainwright III, from Strange Weirdos…
  • “Conqueror” by Jesu, from Conqueror
  • “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, from For Emma, Forever Ago
  • “Brand New Kind Of Actress” by Jason Isbell, from Sirens Of The Ditch
  • “Statues” by Foo Fighters, from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • “I Was Zapped By The Lucky Super Rainbow” by The Flaming Lips, from Good Luck Chuck Soundtrack
  • “In Our Talons” by Bowerbirds, from Hymns For A Dark Horse
  • “Not A Problem” by Black Lips, from Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo

And of course, the standard indie rock singles were all nice and fine:

  • “The Underdog” by Spoon, from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  • “Keep The Car Running” and “Neon Bible” by Arcade Fire, from Neon Bible
  • “Thrash Unreal” by Against Me!, from New Wave
  • “Dashboard” by Modest Mouse, from We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
  • “D.A.N.C.E.” by Justice, from † (yes, it’s a catchy song)

Some of my favorite albums of 2007 include (key track/s. If no key tracks that means the album is really, really good.):

  • Let’s Stay Friends by Les Savy Fav
  • A Place To Bury Strangers by A Place To Bury Strangers
  • In Rainbows by Radiohead
  • Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird
  • Challengers by The New Pornographers ( “My Rights Versus Yours,” “Myriad Harbour”)
  • Sing the Greys (2006) by Frightened Rabbit ( “Be Less Rude,” “The Greys”)
  • Era Vulgaris by Queens of the Stone Age ( “Turnin’ On The Screw,” “I’m Designer,” “Misfit Love,” “3’s & 7’s”)
  • Places by Georgie James ( “Cake Parade,” “Need Your Needs”)
  • Casually Smashed To Pieces by the Six Parts Seven ( “Falling Over Evening” <great, great song)
  • From Beale Street To Oblivion by Clutch ( “You Can’t Stop Progress,” “When Vegans Attack”)
  • Graduation by Kanye West ( “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Stronger”)
  • Mirrored by Battles
  • It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land by Soulsavers ( “Revival,” “Paper Money,” “Kingdoms Of Rain”)
  • In Our Nature by José González

Notable Albums of 2007 include (they range from good/okay to excellent):

  • Friend Opportunity by Deerhoof ( “+81,” “Believe E.S.P.”)
  • Holy F**k by Holy F**k
  • Nothing Is Underrated by Joe Lally
  • Myth Takes by !!! ( “Must Be The Moon,” “Heart Of Hearts”)
  • HEALTH by HEALTH
  • U.F.O.s At The Zoo – The Legendary Concert In Oklahoma City by The Flaming Lips
  • VI by The F**king Champs
  • All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone by Explosions In The Sky
  • Legendary Demo by Clouds
  • Play Drums + Bass by C.O.C.O.
  • Here Come The Waterworks by Big Business
  • Adrian Orange & Her Friends by Adrian Orange & Her Friends
  • Good Bad Not Evil by Black Lips
  • The Last Days of Rome by Snog
  • Harmonic Tremors by Zozobra
  • Tears of the Valedictorian by Frog Eyes

– R.H.

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