Friday, December 31, 2010

You Missed Out: Yeasayer

If you're planning on seeing Yeasayer tonight for Metro's New Year's Eve party, then I guess you didn't miss out. And you'll probably get balloons and confetti too. That's why you paid the extra 20 bucks after all, isn't it?

Last night was the second time that I've had the pleasure of seeing Yeasayer live. The last time I saw them was two years ago when they went on that co-headlining tour with MGMT. And they played Schubas. I always get excited when a band I saw at Schubas ends up playing a NYE show in Chicago just a couple years later. The rookie's potential usually blossoms bombastically in that time.

As for Yeasayer, I had high expectations. I wanted them to come out fearsome like Rooster Cogburn shooting two pistols, holding the reins in his teeth. The crowd wanted it too. Drunk people were spilling their drinks on me before HEALTH ended their set. It was New Year's Eve Eve, and these people were anxious to party.

An interesting thing happened though. Yeasayer's slower, weaker-on-album songs were transferring into their live show surprisingly well. "Red Cave" was a gorgeous lullaby, showcasing the band's vocal harmonies and knack for restraint. But unfortunately, their big singles seemed to fall a bit flatter. "Sunrise" and "Wait for the Summer" were boring, as if half of the instrument tracks had been removed from the songs. And their best recorded song to date, "ONE" wasn't much better either. The only song that really kicked the energy level up was "Ambling Alp," the last song of their set.

With one extra player on stage since they played Schubas, and a percussionist at that, I'm still having a hard time understanding this phenomenon. My best guess is that instead of adding a player to increase the intensity, the choice was made so that their old drummer doesn't wear himself out.

If you've ever seen Menomena, you know how valuable an energetic drummer can be. Even though Menomena's songs don't sound as big live as they do on record, the near breakage of Danny Seim's drums more than makes up for it. "A for effort" goes a long way in indie rock.

I think Yeasayer could've put in a little more effort. Then again, I did just see Delorean a month or so ago. And that band constructed a mountain of sound unlike anything I've heard before. I could still be reeling I suppose.

So that potential I saw from Yeasayer two years ago at Schubas, I guess it hasn't been squandered, but it certainly hasn't come to full fruition yet. And they still have time. Yeasayer only has two full length albums out. I'm expecting AOTY-effort with the third LP. And those percussionists need to break a sweat. Maybe (hopefully) they were saving it for tonight.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (12/29/10): Best of the Year show

It was nothing but new music for the Best of the Year show. I packed all of my faves in (except for Sufjan's I Want To Be Well, which just has too many f-words for radio), and my last show of 2010 avoided any and all requests. Here's what you missed:

12:02AM Robyn Dancing On My Own from Body Talk (Konichiwa)

12:06AM The 1900s Lay A Ghost from Return Of The Century (Parasol)

12:09AM Arcade Fire Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) from The Suburbs (Merge)

12:17AM Yeasayer ONE from Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)

12:22AM Big Boi Daddy Fat Sax from Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

12:26AM Girls Carolina from Broken Dreams Club EP (True Panther Sounds)

12:33AM Owen Pallett A Man With No Ankles from A Swedish Love Story EP (Domino)

12:40AM Gayngs Cry from Relayted (Jagjaguwar)

12:45AM Cee Lo Green Bright Lights Bigger City from The Lady Killer (Elektra)

12:51AM LCD Soundsystem Home from This Is Happening (DFA)

1:00AM Real Estate Out of Tune from Out of Tune 7" (True Panther Sounds)

1:05AM Sun Araw Midnight Locker from Off Duty + Boat Trip EP (Woodsist)

1:14AM Stornoway Zorbing from Beachcomber's Windowsill (4AD)

1:18AM The Autumn Defense Allow Me from Once Around (Yep Roc)

1:22AM Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Worden, and Signal Nausicaa from Penelope (New Amsterdam)

1:27AM Joanna Newsom Good Intentions Paving Company from Have One On Me (Drag City)

1:34AM Sharon Van Etten I'm Giving Up On You from I'm Giving Up On You 7" (Polyvinyl)

1:40AM Baths Hall from Cerulean (Anticon)

1:42AM Janelle Monae Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) from The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy)

1:47AM Gold Panda Marriage from Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)

1:53AM Stereolab Two Finger Symphony from Not Music (Drag City)

1:58AM Wolf Parade Yulia from Expo 86 (Sub Pop)

2:02AM Here We Go Magic Collector from Pigeons (Secretly Canadian)

2:07AM The National Bloodbuzz Ohio from High Violet (4AD)

2:14AM DJ Diamond Freakazoid from Bangs & Works Vol. 1: A Chicago Footwork Compilation (Planet Mu)

2:16AM Syl Johnson Kiss By Kiss from Complete Mythology (Numero Group)

2:19AM The Concretes My Ways from WYWH (Friendly Fire)

2:24AM Laura Veirs Wide-Eyed, Legless from July Flame (Raven Marching Band)

2:26AM The Books Free Translator from The Way Out (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

2:30AM Beach House Norway from Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

2:37AM Surf City CIA from Kudos (Fire)

2:40AM The Greenhornes Underestimator from **** (Third Man)

2:42AM Menomena Taos from Mines (Barsuk)

2:49AM The Tallest Man on Earth Like the Wheel from Sometimes the Blues is Just A Passing Bird EP (Dead Oceans)

2:52AM Delorean Grow from Subiza (True Panther Sounds)

2:57AM Kanye West Power from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 10 Songs of 2010

If you prefer a good song to a good album, then this is the TDvsBL post for you. Listen to the ten best songs I heard in 2010 with a glass of champagne. It's the end of the year and we should only listen to the best music until 2011 (then the list-making process starts all over again).

LCD Soundsystem - Home

If This Is Happening is indeed the final LCD Soundsystem album, James Murphy found the perfect song to close out a career. It does what all of the best LCD Soundsystem songs do (Get Innocuous, Losing My Edge, All My Friends), it builds and build and builds and builds until you look down and realize that you've been dancing and you're not how sure how long this has been happening.

Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving Company

Joanna Newsom was one of many artists who took her ambitious tendencies to new heights in 2010. It paid off for Newsom if only for Good Intentions Paving Company. With this one she transcended her indie quirkiness with soulful singing and toe-tapping orchestration. Who ever thought it would be possible to dance to a Joanna Newsom song? Not me. But it's a smart move for the voluptuous harpist.

Sufjan Stevens - I Want To Be Well

Rather than bringing fans and critics together in universal adoration as he did in 2005, Sufjan has decided to divide in 2010 with a noisy experimental EP and album. But I've been hard pressed to find a music fan who didn't adore I Want To Be Well, the second-to-last track on Age of Adz which debuts Sufjan's first F-word in song. Not only is it the best track on the album, it's one of Sufjan's best songs, period.

Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Maybe it's because the first hour of The Suburbs was a chore compared to this late-album marvel, but Sprawl II sounds like a revelation. The song is the Arcade Fire at their very best, but also a bittersweet thing too. Every time I hear Sprawl II I audibly cry, "why the hell doesn't the rest of the album sound like this?".

Baths - Hall

I first played Hall on my radio show simply because it was one of the tracks in our station's "heavy rotation" playlist. I hadn't heard of Baths before it. But I've since made a point to play the song during my shift every few weeks. For music fans looking for that exciting new 2010 sound (which wasn't witch house), Hall provides the goods.

Here We Go Magic - Collector

My little sister is one of those girls you see at outdoor music festivals dancing with the hula hoops. She assured me that the best "hooping" music is Here We Go Magic. I'm not surprised, especially with all of those dizzying loops and chants on Collector. This song spins outward like a centrifugal kaleidoscope. By the end you feel so good you can't help but play it again. ("You find the love in repetition")

Stornoway - I Saw You Blink

I knew that a Stornoway song had to be on this list, but I had a really hard time deciding between I Saw You Blink and Zorbing. But English folk pop doesn't get any better than this. These two songs were probably stuck in my head more than anything else I'd heard this year. If only Americans weren't so daft... these are such charming songs.

Gayngs - Cry

I think this is the only cover on the list. Gayngs didn't even do much to alter the Godley and Creme original, but after I heard Cry, I didn't know if I wanted to laugh, or die. It's so bad it's good, except I secretly don't believe it's bad at all. Gayngs' Last Prom On Earth is equally as awful/amazing.

Real Estate - Out of Tune

It's possible that we rode our last chillwave in 2010, but Real Estate rode it to perfection with Out of Tune. A humble single, but a song that demands its listener either get high or just take it easy in the afternoon. I generally opt for the latter, because this song is cool enough without the aid of self-medication.

Yeasayer - ONE

Yeasayer seems like they have problem making albums with no more than two or three standout tracks and a majority of filler. But the stronger songs on their albums are separated so far from the pack, the band is on their way towards one hell of a 'greatest hits' album (as long as they keep pace for another decade). ONE speaks for itself though. This is as good as "indie" can sound in 2010.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (12/22/10)

Some Christmas music on CHIRP. And next week you'll hear tracks from my favorite albums of the year. And maybe if I feel like it I'll play something from The Suburbs too.

12:00AM Fol Chen The Believers from Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made (Asthmatic Kitty)

12:02AM Steve Reich Double Sextet - 3. Fast from Double Sextet/2X5 (Nonesuch)

12:09AM State Bird An Accident in the Woods from Mostly Ghostly (Record Machine)

12:17AM Over the Rhine Only God Can Save Us Now from The Long Surrender (Great Speckled Dog)

12:19AM Kisses Lovers from The Heart of the Nightlife (This is Music)

12:25AM Sleeping at Last Silver Bells from Silver Bells (self-released)

12:28AM Randy Newman Christmas in Cape Town from Trouble In Paradise (Reprise)

12:33AM Julian Koster The First Noel from The Singing Saw at Christmastime (Merge)

12:36AM Weekend Age Class from Sports (Slumberland)

12:41AM Mirah Love Minus Zero from Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan's 'Bringing It All Back Home' (ReImagine)

12:45AM Dustin Wong Infinite Love 19 from Infinite Love (Thrill Jockey)

12:48AM Daft Punk End of Line from TRON: Legacy (Disney)

12:51AM Hauschka Tanz from Snowflakes and Carwrecks (Fat Cat)

1:02AM Luscious Jackson Don't Look Back from Fever In, Fever Out (Capitol)

1:05AM Passion Pit Seaweed Song from Manners (Frenchkiss)

1:09AM Pinback Good to Sea from Autumn of the Seraphs (Touch & Go)

1:15AM No Kids The Jazz Singer from Judy at the Grove EP (Tomlab)

1:18AM Shigeto Escape From the Incubator from Full Circle (Ghostly International)

1:21AM Aurelio Weibayuwa from Laru Beya (Sub Pop)

1:27AM Wyatt, Atzmon & Stephen Maryan from For the Ghosts Within (Domino)

1:32AM Andrew Bird The Trees Were Mistaken from Soldier On (Fargo)

1:40AM Chris Schlarb White Dove in the Psychic Temple from Psychic Temple (Asthmatic Kitty)

1:48AM Gregory and the Hawk Olly Olly Oxen Free from Leche (FatCat)

1:53AM The Stooges 1970 from Fun House (Elektra)

1:58AM The Arrivals Simple Pleasures in America from Volatile Molotov (Recess)

2:01AM The National Apartment Story from Boxer (Beggars Banquet)

2:05AM David Bowie Always Crashing In The Same Car from Low (RCA)

2:08AM Midlake Van Occupanther (live) from Fortune EP (Bella Union)

2:15AM Louis Armstrong Georgia On My Mind from 1931-1932 (Classics)

2:17AM Plearn Promdan Wan Maha Sanook from The Sound of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thang, Jazz & Molam in Thailand 1964-1975 (Soundway)

2:21AM Jed & Lucia April Showers from Superhuman Heart (Ubiquity)

2:26AM T. Rex Cosmic Dancer from Electric Warrior (A&M)

2:31AM The Liminanas Funeral Baby from The Liminanas (Trouble in Mind)

2:36AM James Blake Measurements from James Blake (Atlas)

2:40AM Sundance, Nomis & Jerimiah Bonds At It Again from Night Owls 5: Bird Flu (Syntax)

2:44AM DVAS Society from Society (Upper Class)

2:51AM On Fillmore Master Moon from Extended Vacation (Dead Oceans)

2:58AM Rosie Thomas All the Way to New York City from These Friends of Mine (Nettwerk)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Darkwing Duck and Joseph Campbell

I used to watch Darkwing Duck every day when I got home from school. It was easy enough for a boy to enjoy; a cartoon about crime-fighting animal characters. Fun stuff, right? Darkwing Duck also wore purple and turquoise, the most mind-blowing color combination seen up until that point in history (For further proof, see the beloved 90s' team, the Charlotte Hornets).

What I didn't realize at 8 years old was that this cartoon was created by adults. Now that I'm older, I can appreciate Darkwing Duck on a completely different level. Now I can see story structure and character psychology that wasn't apparent to me before. The adults who made this cartoon weren't stupid, and often infused modern psychology and philosophy into their stories.

Take, for example, The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck. This episode was unorthodox, even for the usually silly Darkwing Duck show. It's a meta-mythological homage to archetypal heroes for all time. Darkwing even makes his famous entrance saying, "I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the hero that every culture in every world needs! I... am Darkwiiiing Duck!"

The writers of this episode obviously borrowed greatly from Joseph Campbell's Hero with A Thousand Faces. Honker even takes from a proverbial psychology textbook when he notes in the intro of the show that "Hero worship reflects the hero worshiper's feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and inability." Darkwing Duck is presented as a myth in this episode, something we look up to because of the character's ability to overcome all challenges. He inspires us. His stories are exciting because he accomplishes that which we do not have the ability to accomplish.

Tributes to the monomyth and heroes are made throughout the episode. Darkwing is introduced as "a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths" (Jesus Christ, check). He comes from a faraway world and is sent into the current world (Superman, check.). He is trained by an Eastern sensei in the mountains (Batman, check). And by the end of the origin story, Darkwing encounters his "shadow"/Negaduck and becomes a hero (Star Wars? Sure. Check.).

Darkwing answers his call to adventure as an amateur, but by the time he utters "let's get dangerous!" he's a pro. A hero for the ages. He is even rewarded with various tools and powers by those who come along to help him on his journey. His mask, cape, smoke, and name are all given to him. This is important, because the mythological story of the hero can never be purely existential. Even Superman needed his adopted parents. Luke Skywalker obviously needed Yoda and Han Solo.

By the end, even Honker comes around. He admits, "Well, uh, I suppose every myth has some basis in reality." What a moral. What a thing for a child to learn from a cartoon. That even though our heroes are not "real" in the same sense that our family pet is real, a story (or myth) can be even more meaningful to a culture than a "real"/true story.

And I just love the concept of Negaduck in this show. Negaduck is especially Jungian. The character is altogether selfish, evil and opposite of what Darkwing Duck stands for. They appear similar, but the two are opposing necessities. Negaduck receives his income by stealing, his pleasure is a result of causing harm to others, and he works best alone. Darkwing (the hero) is virtuous because he is not selfish. He gives of himself for the betterment of the community (the city of St. Canard).

Psychologically, we can learn a lot from these two characters. Within our selves are dualistic desires, that which presents a difficult journey towards happiness or heroism, and the shadow which is inclined towards brevity of effort. When we give into weakness, it's similar to taking a job that pays more but involves work we don't believe in. Or buying an infomercial weight loss supplement instead of exercising and eating healthy. But if we want real happiness and peace of mind, we can't give into our shadow. The shadow always goes for shortcuts, for vice, and for instant-gratification. Ultimately, this can result in a psychological issue, usually depression.

As individuals, we can learn how to be content with our own talents and abilities. If we go the route of the hero, we will receive assistance from those who will fight for the greater cause we're inspired by. But if we give in to our shadow, it means self-centeredness and villainy.

Did a kids' show like Darkwing Duck plant a seed for me to take interest in Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung? Is the psychology of a cartoon capable of speaking to a child's subconscious the same way a lecture speaks to a college student? I can't be sure of either, but I appreciate cartoons now as an adult almost as much as I did when I was a kid. The adults who create these kid-friendly stories are just as intelligent as any other adult, they simply opt to create products that both children and adults can enjoy. You see, the monomyth isn't ageist either.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (12/15/10)

Come to the Burlington tonight at Kimball and Fullerton to hear a mediocre set of weeknight winter music. It's the Peterson's Christmas party. No gifts please. Just drink and mingle. Here's what I did last night on CHIRP, but tonight won't be similar:

11:59PM The 1900s Kidnap Runaway from Return of the Century (Parasol)

12:02AM Jay Reatard There Is No Sun from Watch Me Fall (Matador)

12:05AM Old Time Relijun Mystery Language from Witchcraft Rebellion (K)

12:08AM Pedro the Lion Penetration from Control (Jade Tree)

12:14AM Lia Ices Daphne from Grown Unknown (Jagjaguwar)

12:20AM DJ Shadow Hindsight from Preemptive Strike (Mo' Wax)

12:30AM Hum Stars from You'd Prefer an Astronaut (RCA)

12:33AM Ryan Adams Breaking Into the Resolve from III/IV (Pax AM)

12:38AM Birds & Batteries Strange Kind of Mirror from Panorama (Velvet Blue)

12:43AM Pan American Amulls from For Waiting, For Chasing (kranky)

12:54AM Robyn Time Machine from Body Talk (Konichiwa)

12:57AM Sly & The Family Stone Runnin' Away from There's A Riot Goin' On (Epic)

1:02AM Okkervil River Unless It's Kicks from The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

1:07AM Creedence Clearwater Revival Lodi from Green River (Fantasy)

1:10AM The Handsome Family Our Blue Sky from Last Days Of Wonder (Carrot Top)

1:14AM Gorillaz Empire Ants (featuring Little Dragon) from Plastic Beach (Virgin)

1:19AM Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra Peter and the Wolf from Hooked Up Classics (Ubiquity)

1:21AM Sneaker Pimps 6 Underground from Becoming X (Virgin)

1:27AM Reading Rainbow To My Gemini from Prism Eyes (HoZac)

1:32AM Toro Y Moi Still Sound from Underneath the Pine (Carpark)

1:38AM Agalloch Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires from Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Love)

1:47AM STNNNG Slow Water from The Smoke of My Will (Modern Radio)

1:52AM Giant Sand Better Man Than Me from Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire)

1:57AM Cameron McGill & What Army Not On My Side from Warm Songs For Cold Shoulders (Parasol)

2:02AM R.E.M. Good Advices from Fables of the Reconstruction (I.R.S.)

2:05AM Spoon I Turn My Camera On from Gimme Fiction (Merge)

2:08AM Cadence Weapon In Search of the Youth Crew from Afterparty Babies (Anti)

2:14AM cLOUDDEAD Physics of a Unicycle from Ten (Mush)

2:18AM Botany Waterparker from Feeling Today EP (Western Vinyl)

2:21AM John Roberts Glass Eights from Glass Eights (Dial)

2:29AM Darling Heart Attack from Mustache Music Volume I (Commune)

2:32AM The Mountain Goats Genesis 3:23 from Life Of The World To Come (4AD)

2:37AM John Vanderslice Convict Lake from White Wilderness (Dead Oceans)

2:41AM Soft Circle Nerve Of People from Shore Obsessed (Post Present Medium)

2:46AM Deerhunter These Hands from Microcastle (kranky)

2:53AM Boy King Islands Math is Christ from Fall (Plustapes)

2:56AM Hank Snow I'm Movin On from I'm Movin On & Other Great Country Hits (self released)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You Missed Out: Sybris

I've been in Colombia for over a week, doing drugs and coffee. But I'm back to update this blog with music messages and mayhem. Useless alliteration has been aching to return to TDvsBL. It feels great to be telling you what you missed out on again.

Last night I strolled over to the Empty Bottle for their free Monday night show. This time around it was Sybris, and I've actually heard rumors that this was their final show as a band. Period. Of course, nothing is official, but Sybris has been one of those local Chicago bands who were somewhat regarded nationally but nothing compared to their status around town. They're a mediocre band in almost every regard, and we probably won't miss them much once they're gone. But one thing I always appreciated about Sybris was how ever-present they were in Chicago. And I don't mean that they just played a lot of shows, but you'd see them all over town watching other shows, riding their bikes, grocery shopping, and participating at pot luck parties. Sybris was a local band through and through, and I'll miss them for that.

No longer will I say, "Oh, there's that tall guy from Sybris" when I see him around town. Now it must be, "Oh, there's that tall guy who used to be in Sybris... I wonder what he's doing now."

The show last night was just another Sybris show. They played their songs. Nothing is offensive about Sybris, they're generally pretty easy to enjoy. Especially when there are buck fifty Pabsts at the bar. Chicago has been comfortable with this band for years. They've been one of our own. They get the job done up on stage, usually with a adequate drunkenness and ease.

Yesterday I was more interested in digging into some of the other music I had been sent while I was out of the country. Listen to my CHIRP show tonight to hear new music from John Vanderslice and Lia Ices. I also received a promo of the new Danielson, but I'm gonna wait a few weeks before I play anything from that one.

And a reminder to all Chicagoans: Come to the Burlington on Wednesday. I'm DJing and I want to see people drinking while I play music. It's more fun for everybody that way.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

You Missed Out: Positive Beat Recordings at Viaduct Theater

One of the Chicago venues I work with in CHIRP's promotions department is the Viaduct Theater. We've given away tickets to plays and concerts at the Viaduct (tune in next week if you'd like to go there to see Black Bear Combo for free), but I had never been there myself. So last night I stopped in. It was one of those on-a-whim shows where I coincidentally ran into more than a few old friends and acquaintances. Chicago became very small inside of the Viaduct, and it felt really comfortable.

The show was a sort of release party for Positive Beat Recordings, a new record label that isn't too big on the whole digital music thing. They like LP's over there. Chicago indie-folk band Cains & Abels headlined the show by performing every song on their debut album. Even though Call Me Up has been out for over two years, it only just now received the vinyl treatment.

But before the headliner, two duos opened the night with much more interesting music. The first band played up in a hidden room above the bar lobby. YNGR is Matt Joynt (Anathallo) and Ryan Hammer. If you know Matt, you won't be surprised at all by this idea. I interviewed him a couple years ago when he was working at a coffee shop, and he insisted that I conduct the interview while he was working. So we were constantly being interrupted by customers asking for refills and pastries, but Matt smiled madly throughout the recording. Matt's brain just works for the unpredictable. If it's been done, Matt won't do it.

It's hard to say exactly what Matt and Ryan do to create their music, since you can't see them, but their ambient sounds were warm and inoffensive. YNGR doesn't have music available online. That's just how they roll. But Matt told me after the show that he'd get me something so that I could play YNGR on my CHIRP show. So you'll hear it here first. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if they have a cassette tape out there somewhere.)

Talons was the highlight of the evening. A young mustached man and a pretty brunette quietly cooed while a looping video of a forest bonfire played behind them. Near the end of the set, my friend whispered at me (anything more than a whisper would have been rude) "sounds like Sun Kil Moon." A great compliment for sure. You can judge for yourself though, because this band is actually on the internet.

Cains & Abels left the bonfire on, but their rowdy alt-country-rock deserved a larger blaze. They're a promising band to be sure, but something's still missing. Even with occasional cellos and Matt and Ryan shouting backup vocals, the band has a lot of room to grow. Let's hope they do. They obviously have talented enough friends surrounding them.

But the biggest winner of the night was the venue itself. I gained a new excitement to be working with the Viaduct. I'm going to try to get CHIRP some giveaways to January's Hot and Heavy Burlesque performance of The Wall. Sounds fun, right? It's not the sort of place to see a typical concert, but that could definitely be an advantage for the Viaduct. We should all go see a play there sometime too.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (12/1/10)

My show might be changing time slots. I'll let you know for sure when/if it happens, but it's possible that I may get an earlier shift. That would mean that all of you responsible types can listen before you go to bed. But for the next month, it's the midnight shift as usual.

12:06AM Can Father Cannot Yell from Can Anthology (Warner)

12:08AM Brian Eno Calcium Needles from Small Craft On A Milk Sea (Warp)

12:13AM Q and Not U No Damage Nocturne from Different Damage (Dischord)

12:16AM Matt & Kim Silver Tiles from Sidewalks (Fader)

12:20AM Beastie Boys Shadrach from Paul's Boutique (Capitol)

12:26AM Flying Lotus Comet Course from Los Angeles (Warp)

12:28AM Daft Punk Derezzed from TRON: Legacy OST (Walt Disney)

12:30AM Royksopp The Alcoholic from Senior (MB3)

12:36AM Steely Dan Charlie Freak from Pretzel Logic (ABC)

12:39AM Bowerbirds In Our Talons from Hymns For A Dark Horse (Dead Oceans)

12:43AM DeVotchKa The Enemy Guns from How It Ends (Cicero)

12:49AM Simian Mobile Disco Ortolan from Delicacies (Wichita)

12:56AM James Brown Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved from Revolution Of The Mind: Live At The Apollo Vol. 3 (Polydor)

1:02AM At the Drive-In Hourglass from In Casino Out (Fearless)

1:05AM The Fall Last Nacht from I Am Kurious, Oranj (Beggars Banquet)

1:09AM Titus Andronicus My Time Outside the Womb from The Airing Of Grievances (XL)

1:13AM Camera Obscura Happy New Year from Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi (Merge)

1:17AM The Liminanas Down Underground from The Liminanas (Trouble in Mind)

1:20AM Bikini R.I.P. from RIP JDS EP (Lefse)

1:28AM OOIOO Honki Ponki from Armonico Hewa (Thrill Jockey)

1:30AM Charles Mingus Roland Kirk's Message from Mingus Plays Piano (Impulse)

1:33AM Hector Zazou Dju Ya Feza from Noir et Blanc (Crammed Discs)

1:42AM Purling Hiss 1976 from Public Service Announcement (Woodsist)

1:46AM Weekend Untitled from Sports (Slumberland)

1:54AM Orange Juice Breakfast Time from Coals to Newcastle (Domino)

2:01AM Josiah Wolf The One Sign from Jet Lag (Anticon)

2:04AM Casiotone For the Painfully Alone Cold White Christmas from Etiquette (Tomlab)

2:09AM Low Two Step from Secret Name (kranky)

2:17AM Allá vs Basokin Mulu(me) from Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics (Crammed)

2:22AM Massive Attack Risingson from Mezzanine (Virgin)

2:29AM The Concretes Sing for Me from WYWH (Friendly Fire)

2:32AM Radio Citizen World from Hope and Despair (Ubiquity)

2:36AM Gangrene Ransom from Gutter Water (Decon)

2:43AM Iron & Wine Walking Far From Home from Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Bros)

2:47AM Paul Simon All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints from Graceland (Warner Bros.)

2:52AM TS & The Past Haunts Caveman Rock from TS & The Past Haunts (self-released)

2:55AM Jawbreaker Indictment from 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (Tupelo)

2:57AM William Shatner Real from Has Been (Shout! Factory)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Missed Out: Stornoway

While waiting in the back of Schubas for Stornoway's first ever show in Chicago, I had a different band's song in my head. Blind Pilot's "Story I Heard" was right in there where a Stornoway song should have been. In fact, I couldn't even remember what Stornoway sounded like, but I had a feeling it must be something like "Story I Heard." By the time they played their first song, I understood why I was confusing the two. They do sound alike, with their mid-tempo folk melodies delivered with sentimentality and sincerity.

In fact, by the time Stornoway's set ended tonight I heard at least four songs that were much better than any Blind Pilot song. Both bands excel at indie folk pop, reminiscent of The Decemberists on their best days. But Stornoway easily beats The Decemberists at their own game. Since they're actually British, Stornoway doesn't have to try nearly as hard to appear bookish and refined. To them it's natural. The Decemberists wish they were British. It's kind of embarrassing.

Stornoway songs such as Zorbing, I Saw You Blink, We Are the Battery Human and The End of the Movie could all end up on a year-end list of 2010's best tracks. The Oxford quartet performs flawlessly in the live setting, offering brief, single-track surprises like looping violins (a la Andrew Bird), and cellos and banjos for the encore only.

But the best moment of their set tonight may be credited to the natural intimacy of Schubas' warm interior. Two songs were performed unplugged, with lead singer Brian Briggs turning his guitar amp all the way down while singing at the very front of the stage. If you've been to Schubas, you know how good it can be to hear a man step away from the microphone with only his acoustic accompanying him. Everybody can still hear him clearly, even from the back of the room. And the setting becomes all the more charming when Schubas puts up their big Christmas wreaths and white lights on the walls.

Or if you haven't been to Schubas for an unplugged experience like this, imagine that scene in Once when they're sitting in that house harmonizing and playing Irish folk songs in a big group.

Stornoway probably released the best album you didn't hear this year, but it's not too late to include Beachcomber's Windowsill on your "best albums" list. Schubas was far from sold out tonight, but don't be surprised if you have to pay a little more to see them in a larger venue come 2011. I'd be shocked if they didn't open for The Decemberists in America at some point. Of course, Stornoway deserves to be the headliner. And I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they were in 2012. Because, yes, they are better than The Decemberists.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (11/24/10)

The most important part of last night's show was my first official interview for CHIRP. I talked to Jim Cicero of the buzzing local band, Light Pollution. You can stream or download that podcast now (or anytime, anywhere). It marks my triumphant return to audio production. Call your sons call your daughters, call your friends call your neighbors. Here are the other songs from my show:

12:01AM Cee Lo Green Love Gun from The Lady Killer (Elektra)

12:05AM Justice Dvno from ✝ (Vice)

12:09AM Callers How You Hold Your Arms from Life of Love (Western Vinyl)

12:27AM Cave Hot Bricks from Pure Moods (Drag City)

12:32AM Generationals Trust from Trust EP (Park the Van)

12:38AM Ramona Falls The Darkest Day from Intuit (Barsuk)

12:41AM Warpaint Shadows from The Fool (Rough Trade)

12:46AM Blue Water White Death This is the Scrunchyface of My Dreams from Blue Water White Death (Graveface)

12:49AM Cut Copy Take Me Over from Zonoscope (Modular)

12:53AM Fops Black Boar from Yeh Yeh Yeh (Monotreme)

12:55AM Les Sins Lina from Lina (Carpark)

1:02AM Head of Femur By the Red Fire from Great Plains (Grey Day)

1:05AM Peter Wolf Crier Place To Be from Place To Be single (Jagjaguwar)

1:09AM Japandroids Shame from Heavenward Grand Prix (Polyvinyl)

1:13AM The xx Basic Space (Pariah remix) from Basic Space (self-released)

1:17AM Gold Panda Snow & Taxis from Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International)

1:22AM Gus Gus Polyesterday from 15 Ara (Smekkleysa)

1:28AM Sun Araw Last Chants from Off Duty + Boat Trip (Woodsist)

1:37AM Bear In Heaven Fake Out (Glass Ghost remix) from Beast Rest Forth Mouth (Hometapes)

1:41AM Teebs Humming Birds from Ardour (Brainfeeder)

1:46AM Depeche Mode Master and Servant from Some Great Reward (Mute)

1:51AM Ben & Vesper My Father's Eyes from Honors (Sounds Famlyre)

1:53AM Tyvek Underwater 2 from Nothing Fits (In the Red)

1:57AM Minutemen Spillage from Double Nickels On the Dime (SST)

2:00AM Russian Circles Harper Lewis from Station (Suicide Squeeze)

2:07AM The Flaming Lips Fight Test from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Warner Bros.)

2:13AM Elvis Costello My Lovely Jezebel from National Ransom (Concord)

2:15AM The Luyas Tiny Head from Too Beautiful to Work (Dead Oceans)

2:19AM Eux Autres You're Alright from Broken Bows (Bon Mots)

2:25AM Sufjan Stevens Woman at the Well from Woman at the Well (self-released)

2:28AM Giant Sand Thin Line Man from Blurry Blue Mountain (Fire)

2:32AM Scott Walker Mathilde from Scott (Fontana)

2:36AM Deerhoof Super Duper Rescue Heads! from Deerhoof vs. Evil (Polyvinyl)

2:38AM The Good Ones Egidia from Kigali Y'Izahabu (Dead Oceans)

2:42AM Animal Collective People from People EP (Fat Cat)

2:48AM Small Black Goons from New Chain (Jagjaguwar)

2:51AM Black Dice The Dream Is Going Down from Beaches and Canyons (DFA)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

My favorite albums. (That's really the only way to honestly categorize this thing.) Before you go and say what I know you're thinking, I only liked one song on The Suburbs, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). The same goes for LCD Soundsystem (Home). So don't even give me that business. Sufjan disappointed me too. I'm not even giving him nostalgia points. So that's that.

As usual, if you want to hear any of these albums just message me and I'll send you a download link.

15. The National - High Violet

Sometimes you just want to drink some neat whiskey in a downtown jazz lounge. I know The National isn't jazzy, but there's something so classy about Berninger's baritone. If you're an adult in 2010, you need High Violet. There's something reassuring about it, something that sounds like foggy skylines and the silence in your apartment when you get home too late.

14. Baths - Cerulean

Anticon is never quite on the cusp of electronic music, but always a half side-step over (not saying that's a bad thing though). Baths, on the other hand, is either completely lost on a deserted island or too far ahead of the group to even compare. The glitchy-breaky beats on Cerulean combine with found sounds to create the closest thing to Prefuse 73 Reads the Books since the EP that went by that title.

13. Big Boi - Sir Luscious Left Foot

I always thought my favorite half of Outkast was Andre 3000. Now I'm not so sure. Big Boi's 2010 release is just the right mix of weird fun and street rhymes. For me, this is the only kind of hip hop that's worth anyone's time. Just imagining a new 50 Cent album being released in this decade is cringe-inducing.

12. Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner

Lucky Shiner is exactly what I hope to hear whenever I put on a new electronic album. Part of it is the dubstep/chillwave residue, but Gold Panda works best because of its clarity. There aren't any lyrics mucking it up, just a bunch of beats shining brightly from start to finish. The melodies are phantoms, yet the album is totally engaging and listenable.

11. Robyn - Body Talk

Robyn wins best live performance of the year. On a 90+ degree day at Pitchfork Fest, she moved her body more than I thought was possible in such temperatures. All three parts of Body Talk make up ranking number 11, because they all came out this year, and they are all equally as fun and poppy when listened to together. After hearing this music, I'm amazed that anyone can care about Lady Gaga.

10. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid

Like a good Kanye West album, Janelle Monae created something paradoxically eclectic and accessible. The ArchAndroid doesn't follow the formula of a typical pop record, and that's why we love it. All of the hooks and melodies are there for mainstream radio success, but the unpredictability of the album is what earns Janelle heaps of respect from critics and the more stingy listeners like me.

9. Wolf Parade - Expo 86

If Canadian power pop could be epitomized, it is Expo 86. By LP number three, Wolf Parade sounds less interested in proving themselves, and more apt to just rock out. It's the Wilco effect, for Canada. Whereas Arcade Fire felt the same old pressure to create a powerfully anthemic album for their day in age, Wolf Parade simply turned their dial up to 11. In my opinion, it's much more enjoyable to simply rock well, for wisdom knows that even grandiosity can become monotonous.

8. Laura Veirs - July Flame

July Flame is one of those nearly perfect albums that nobody will remember in a few years. But whenever it comes back on in the shuffle we'll still smile. It's an example of songwriting as king. There is no marketing tactic, no hype machine that can compete with a skilled songwriter. Veirs is one of the best working today, and even if no one recognizes it, the music gods will remain with her and keep her listeners at peace.

7. Here We Go Magic - Pigeons

We're too suspicious of musicians. We see talented players, and we condemn them for not having enough heart. But when I listen to Here We Go Magic, I set aside my suspicions. These talents are well placed, like the best Frank Zappa or Radiohead albums. Patience and intelligence are epicenters of Pigeons, prophesying a world of auditoriums and amphitheaters for future Here We Go Magic concerts. And the bigger the better. This is the sort of band I wouldn't mind becoming more popular than Coldplay. They have what it takes too.

6. The Books - The Way Out

One of my favorite bands remains. I trust the Books. I can't imagine this gimmick's effect wearing off anytime soon either. The staple that will always keep the Books interesting is their humor. As long as they're funny, and not topically so, we'll remember this music. A surreal absurdity blesses their music in the same way Monty Python had the good graces of silliness. The effect is universal and timeless, and occasionally a laugh riot.

5. Beach House - Teen Dream

I'm still surprised by this ranking. I never really cared about Beach House, but I can listen to Teen Dream at any time of the day, during any season, and I won't skip a track on the album. There's a quiet magic in this music, something simple but something that plunges deep into my psyche. It doesn't transfer over to the live setting very well, but if I can enjoy an album for 12 months out of the year it automatically gets a spot in the top 5.

4. Menomena - Mines

I didn't expect a "grower" for the new Menomena album, but in retrospect, I guess they were due for one. The band's first three albums hit immediately and satisfyingly. Mines is different. It requires repeat listens. Its beauty is subtle, but possibly more potent than any other Menomena album.

3. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt and Sometimes the Blues is Just A Passing Bird EP

The Wild Hunt alone is enough to garner a top three spot, but a five song EP never hurt anybody either. The Tallest Man On Earth stretched just a little bit from his acoustic finger-pickin' debut, Shallow Graves, playing more electric guitar and even a little piano in 2010. But the strongest skill of the artist isn't his playing style, which can be heard by the most boring classical guitar virtuosos of the world, Matsson is first and foremost a songwriter. His songs have a timeless quality that seem neither old or new, but just right for whatever time they're being heard.

2. Delorean - Subiza

Subiza is the soundtrack for summer days at the city beach, dethroning whatever Beach Boys album that was there for the past 40 years. I had the pleasure of seeing Delorean live this year, which is always a helpful way to more fully understand a recorded album. After seeing their show, I realized that the purpose of Delorean's music is pure enjoyment. Subiza is a bringer of happy thoughts and pleasant dreams, whether it's heard in headphones or a live show.

1. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A lot of great albums came out in 2010, but none with quite as much hype as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In an age when downloading a zip file is the primary means of adding to our music collection, Kanye took advantage of our eager-to-download habits instead of pretending it's still the 1900s'. He says it best in Power: "I'm livin' in a 21st century, doin' something mean to it, do it better than anybody you ever seen do it." He's still just as audacious as he was on College Dropout, and the bravado is as entertaining as ever. The marketing alone clued us in that this album was going to be huge. Releasing a free song download on his website every week. Directing his own short film. Orchestrating the most memorable live music performance on TV this decade. By the time we're able to even hear the album, it's a miracle we're not underwhelmed. But great albums deserve a lot of hype. Over the last decade, I almost forgot that truth. Kanye made me anxious for an album in 2010. I can't remember the last time I felt that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Missed Out: Delorean

(photo by Ryan Zeller)

Sometimes, you just miss out and it's not that big of a deal because you'll have another chance to make up for it. But if you missed Delorean at Lincoln Hall last night, you really missed out. This is one of those shows to stay up late for, even if it's a weeknight. Big deal if you have work in the morning, Delorean is more important. Because they're going to make life better on a deeper level. They'll make you move around, without a care for work or anything else in the world except for what's happening at the present moment.

Lincoln Hall is the perfect venue for a band like Delorean. It's not a massive cave with echoey sound, but it's not so tiny that it feels like a hole in the wall. The acoustics at the venue are perfect, especially when you're on the main level. Delorean goes heavy on the samples, but blends them with live drums, guitar and vocals.

The four musicians on stage almost performed like four DJs. Animal Collective's live show comes to mind at first, although the two bands don't sound anything alike. But like Delorean, Animal Collective are made up of four guys, mixing samples and electronic sounds with more traditional instruments. And the pulse gets remarkably heavy. It's never quite a dance party at an Animal Collective show, but the music occasionally gets into rhythm with your heartbeat, scaring the hell out of your respiratory system.

But where Delorean differs from (and exceeds) the Animal Collective show is in their ability to crescendo a song to such a level that the crowd feels no other choice but to jump up and down. The band piles on the layers of intensity higher and higher, until we feel like we should all be at the ceiling of the venue, looking down at the spotlights on stage while we spin the disco ball with our fingertips.

If you're not from Spain, you might have to wait for your next opportunity to see this band perform live. Those Europeans have plenty of options on their side of the world, they don't need conservative Americans to tell them how to party.

But if you like Delorean's recorded music at all, you'll be amazed at what they do with it live. It's much less about performing the song exactly as it's heard on album, and more about elongating the music, building tension for the live experience. Some of the songs seem twice as long when performed, but 10 times more intense and overwhelming. My ears aren't even ringing, because the levels last night were just perfect. Even though I felt surrounded by the bright beats and pounding bass, I never wanted to escape. I didn't have to look back at the sound guy once.

My wife had to wake up at six in the morning today, but Delorean hit the stage well after 11 PM last night. She stayed for the entire show, and today admitted that she felt less stressed and more energized than she's felt all week, despite getting considerably less sleep. This is just what a great show will do though. Good music is uplifting to our emotions and psyche. If you needed a pick-me-up, Delorean would have done the job and then some. But hey, if you missed out... just don't make the same mistake next time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CHIRP Playlist (11/17/10)

I played some Light Pollution because I'm interviewing the band today for CHIRP (and an extra for Jettison). They're opening for Delorean at Lincoln Hall tonight. If you want something to do this evening, make sure you get to this one now. Delorean is from Barcelona and doesn't come to the US as often as I'd like. Here's the playlist for an all-around enjoyable late-night independent online radio show.

12:03AM The Autumn Defense Back of My Mind from Once Around (Yep Roc)

12:06AM Kanye West Dark Fantasy from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella)

12:10AM Charles Bradley No Time for Dreaming from No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

12:14AM Light Pollution All Night Outside from Apparitions (Carpark)

12:19AM Aphex Twin Windowlicker from Windowlicker EP (Warp)

12:28AM Bob Dylan Jokerman from Infidels (Columbia)

12:34AM Björk Brestir Og Brak from Gling-Gló (One Little Indian)

12:39AM DVAS Questions from Society (Upper Class)

12:43AM Slaine Night After Night from A World With No Skies (Suburban Noize)

12:47AM Shigeto Brown Eyed Girl from Full Circle (Ghostly International)

12:51AM Regina Spektor Samson from Begin to Hope (Sire)

12:55AM Spiritualized Cool Waves from Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Dedicated)

1:01AM Ratatat Loud Pipes from Classics (XL)

1:04AM AfroCubism Al Vaiven de Mi Carreta from AfroCubism (Nonesuch)

1:13AM The Album Leaf Broken Arrow from Into the Blue Again (Sub Pop)

1:17AM Dustin Wong Infinite Love 5 from Infinite Love (Thrill Jockey)

1:19AM Eluvium Prelude for Time Feelers from Copia (Temporary Residence)

1:26AM Peter Gabriel San Jacinto from Security (Charisma)

1:33AM Syl Johnson Concrete Reservation from Complete Mythology (Numero Group)

1:35AM Jonsi Sinking Friendships from Go (XL)

1:42AM Sarah Kirkland Snider, Shara Worden and Signal Baby Teeth, Bones, and Bullets from Penelope (New Amsterdam)

1:49AM Why? Fatalist Palmistry from Alopecia (Anticon)

1:53AM Gregory and the Hawk Landscapes from Leche (FatCat)

1:57AM Prefuse 73 Minutes Away Without You from Surrounded By Silence (Warp)

2:02AM The Books An Animated Description of Mr. Maps from Lost and Safe (Tomlab)

2:06AM Steve Reich Double Sextet - 3. Fast from Double Sextet/2x5 (Nonesuch)

2:15AM M. Ward Shangri-La from Hold Time (Merge)

2:17AM Yeah Yeah Yeahs Maps from Fever To Tell (Interscope)

2:21AM The Byrds Wasn't Born to Follow from The Notorious Byrd Brothers (Sony)

2:24AM Kisses Bermuda from The Heart of the Nightlife (This is Music)

2:28AM Motion Plus Family Tree from Night Owls 5: Bird Flu (Syntax)

2:32AM The Whitest Boy Alive Dead End from Rules (Bubbles)

2:37AM Dntel Flares from After Parties 2 (Sub Pop)

2:41AM Surf City Kudos from Kudos (Fire)

2:44AM Wire Outdoor Miner from Chairs Missing (Pink Flag)

2:49AM Wooden Wand I Wanna Make A Difference from Death Seat (Young God)

2:53AM The Wind-Up Bird Till They Touched the Birdbread, Thus Combining Wheat and Chaff from The Wind-Up Bird (Alone)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

2011 NBA Predictions

Every now and then a weird blog post appears on TDvsBL about basketball. I make no apologies though, because I still love this game. To make things a little more fun, I've compiled a mix for the top 16 teams in the league this year. This way you can read my descriptions for each team while listening to the appropriate jam on your computer speakers.

Download HERE

After two entertaining weeks of watching various clips and games on League Pass, here are my predictions for what the playoff rankings will look like a few months from now:


The power shift is complete. This year, the east is top heavy. The three best teams in the east can all beat any team in the west. I'm pretty confident that these are the eight teams we'll see in the playoffs. The order might change, but these are the best bets right now.

1. Boston Celtics

This feels like the last dance for Boston. They looked old last year. But after we saw what real veterans could do last year, it just feels like the Celtics are mature enough to steal the crown from the Lakers. And Rondo is now the best player on the team. Which is terrifying.

track 1: The Cool Kids - What It Is.
(Old school hip-hop with 2010 style. Yeah... yup. Boston is a brotherhood.)

2. Miami Heat

Yeah, they won't win 70 games. But they'll probably get 60. Which is awesome. LeBron and Wade will combine for the most highlights this season. They'll be way too much fun. They are capable of beating anyone. But will they? I don't think they'll get a championship this year, I see at least one year of growing pains. But after 2010-11, watch out...

track 2: Foals- Miami
(easy going rhythms to 60+ wins)

3. Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard is the best center in the league, and he has a lot of talent around him too. The Magic have enough to make it to the finals again, but there's still a glimmer of immaturity in this team. Especially compared to the Celtics, the Magic kinda look like kids on the basketball court.

track 3: Tobacco feat. Beck- Fresh Hex
(Magic = Hex.)

4. Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose's confidence is out of this world. He has the ability to become the most improved player, even though he was excellent last year. When Boozer comes back, he really will add a lot to the team, pushing them into the top four of the eastern conference. Joakim Noah will be an All Star this year. The team will easily make it to the second round of the playoffs.

track 4: Kanye West- Take One For the Team
(Chicagoans Yeezy and D Rose, great team players and even better individual leaders in their respective games)

5. Atlanta Hawks

Almost exactly the same as last year, the Hawks are one of the most talented teams in the league. I don't know what it's going to take to push this team into the championship discussion, but they just don't have it. They'll give any team in the east trouble though, and might even upset one or two of the top four teams.

track 5: Robyn- Hang With Me
(Josh Smith gets hang time.)

6. Milwaukee Bucks

This team will challenge the Bulls for the central division, but they won't pull it off. They have more depth than the Bulls, but not as strong a leader. Jennings and Bogut will orchestrate some of the sickest plays of the season together, but this team still doesn't have that killer instinct. They won't get out of the first round again.

track 6: Bumblebeez 81- Pony Ride
(Ponies. Deer. Animals with hooves. They kick ass apparently.)

7. New York Knicks

Amare Stoudamire is arguably the best power forward in the league. He doesn't have much help around him on the Knicks' roster, but he makes them better this year. And with a still weak eastern conference, he's got more than enough to lead his team to a lower spot.

track 7: Yeasayer- ONE
(Brooklyn band, Amare's number. It works.)

8. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs have something to prove this year. For the simple reason that they hate LeBron, they'll will their way into the playoffs. Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams are good basketball players, and will help this team win enough games during the regular season to get swept in the first round. Of course everyone will want a Heat/Cavs playoff, which is very possible actually (and would be a lot of fun).

track 8: Lee Dorsey- Yes We Can
(soulful, hopeful, and jammin'.)


The west is much more difficult to predict. I didn't even include the Suns or Nuggets in the playoffs this year. Crazy? Maybe. But things were shaken up so hard this year I just don't see them pulling it off. I also feel the Nuggets will implode the day Carmelo leaves. If he sticks around, of course they'll make the playoffs, but who knows where or when he'll go (and he will go at some point). He's definitely the wildcard difference-maker for a lot of teams this season.

1. LA Lakers

Defending champs until dethroned. They've still got all of the elements of a winning team, and they might even do it again. But the Lakers have the toughest road ahead of them this year. The Thunder could do them in this year, as could any of the top teams in the east. But irregardless, the Lakers still have what it takes to three-peat.

track 9: Big Boi- Daddy Fat Sax
("Niggas wish [Kobe] would retire.")

2. Portland Trailblazers

This is aiming high, but the Blazers should've been the second-best team last year too. Remember all of those injuries though? It was uncanny. It won't happen again this year. And they'll be more determined to make up the ground they lost. Watch Brandon Roy closely, because he'll be the stealth killer this season.

track 10: Mos Def- Quiet Dog Bite Hard
(It's the stealth connection. Nobody expects Portland, but that's when they'll bite the hardest)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

The country's favorite team (and for good reason) is the Thunder. They remind me of the old Charlotte Hornets when they emerged in the 90s' with Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson (Grandmama), and Alonzo Mourning. Kevin Durant can possibly snag the MVP award this year, and Russell Westbrook is very likely to get his first all-star nod. They'll make it out of the first round of the playoffs, and (like last year) give the Lakers a major challenge.

track 11: Kasper Bjorke- Thunderstorm

4. Dallas Mavericks

Basically the same strong team Dallas had in the second half of the season last year, Dallas won't be a surprise this year. They won't be better or worse. They won't win a championship. They'll be respected around the league as one of the top 10 teams and they'll play solid basketball all season long. For some reason, I still feel bad for Mavs fans.

track 12: Sleigh Bells- Tell 'Em
(the Mavs walk the talk)

5. Utah Jazz

Losing Carlos Boozer, and a couple other Jazz players, shook the team up over the post-season, but D-Will is the best point guard in the league. By the end of the season, he may be dethroned by Rose or Westbrook, but for the moment, Williams is capable of getting his team to the second round by himself.

track 13: Broken Bells- High Road
(It's a joke about Mormons)

6. San Antonio Spurs

I think this is the last year for the Spurs, but they'll make a go at it regardless. Duncan, Parker and Ginobli are still there, playing well. These guys are champions, and they'll play like it.

track 14: Vitalic- Second Lives
(More like "last life," but it could be the championship we never expected in 2011)

7. New Orleans Hornets

Chris Paul got his team off to the best start of the year, but I honestly can't see him sustaining it for 82 games. Trevor Ariza is already starting to gel with his new team, and their energy will propel them into the playoffs with a lot of confidence. As long as they don't get the Lakers in the first round, they might even make it to the Western Finals.

track 15: Maximum Balloon with Theophilus London- Groove Me
(CP3 grooves. Oh yes.)

8. Memphis Grizzlies

Z-Bo, Rudy Gay, and OJ Mayo. If these guys continue to grow together, Memphis could have their own organic version of the big three. The talent is there, they just have to push harder this season if they want to make the playoffs.

track 16: Slim Thug, TI and Bun B- Three Kings, Ratatat Remix
(Three kings in the south. This is how it sounds in Memphis)