Monday, May 30, 2011

Best Music of 2011 (halfway edition)

June signals the halfway point of the year in music, so how about an official midterm? Here are my top 10 favorite albums of the year so far. Tune into my CHIRP show tomorrow (1opm, PST) to hear tracks from these fine works of musicality.

10. Friendly Fires - Pala

This band opened for Lykke Li on her first North American tour a couple years ago. Their stage presence was huge, so much greater than Lykke Li's. I'm still waiting to see a band with more positive energy. Maybe it's because it's 90 degrees out again, but this is the best warm weather music I can imagine right now. Dance. Shine. Live. It's all summery on Pala.

9. Parts & Labor - Constant Future

I've always been a pretty huge Parts & Labor fan, but even for me, this newest album feels under the radar. But, almost every time I go to the gym, I'm tempted to put this album on for lifting. It's just as high on energy as anything they've ever done, but much more melodic. It's their pop album, and it deserves a little more buzz before the year ends.

8. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong

My inner teenager hearts this album 4ever. It's so catchy and angsty, like pop punk meets Morissey. Yes, I'm still a sucker for this sappy nonsense. I don't care. I'm listening to it on repeat, because every song on the album is stuck in my head.

7. TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light

It isn't ever their strongest release, but TV on the Radio can't make a bad album. On this one, it sounds like they're accepting their role as the best rock band in the world. Remember Coldplay? Psh.

6. Hauschka - Salon des Amateurs

Of course an instrumental album would be in here somewhere. Hauschka sounds like John Cage in a Wes Anderson movie. It's quirky but smart. Compelling but not too heavy handed. Classical music doesn't have enough of this kind of stuff.

5. Thao & Mirah - Thao & Mirah

Of the two, Mirah was always my preference. But after hearing this album, I never want to hear these two ladies separate. They're perfect for each other. 'Hallelujah' is my favorite song of the year so far, and it's totally because of their harmonies.

4. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

It's the soft rock revival. The cheesy sax wasn't just a Gayngs thing. Justin Vernon brought it over to his main project too. This Bon Iver album is not nearly as somber as For Emma, but it isn't exactly loaded with optimism either. The songs are kind of silly, but oddly addictive.

3. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

This is what a singer songwriter sounds like. Kurt Vile hits his stride here, and now I really can't wait to hear what he does next for The War On Drugs. Bruce Springsteen should be proud of music like this. Damn it, I sure am.

2. Washed Out - Within and Without

I have a feeling that this could define chillwave. If someone wanted to put glo-fi into a time capsule, Within and Without is probably the best choice. This record hits all the main stops. The ethereal, the disco funk, the reverb and echo. It's the sound of silver, not talking, but singing sexy love songs.

1. Destroyer - Kaputt

The fun part of being a music lover is that you never know where you'll take pleasure from next. To be honest, I never even really enjoyed Dan Bejar's music. But Destroyer's Kaputt is such a daring dream of an album, it ultimately reminds me of why I work in this business. And since it came a few months prior to Bon Iver, Destroyer is obviously on the cusp of a budding trend in 2011. Saxophones are here. I don't know if they're here to stay, but they're definitely one of the highlights on the best album released so far this year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CHIRP playlist (5/25/11)

Hello, my name is Dylan Peterson. I DJ a weekly live shift for the Chicago Independent Radio Project every Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. You can stream CHIRP for free if you'd like to hear it. It's a non-commercial community station, and we play the best music in town. Here's what I played last night:

12:01AM Sondre Lerche Ricochet from Sondre Lerche (Mona)

12:06AM Billy Bragg The Internationale from The Internationale (Elektra)

12:09AM The Magnetic Fields Famous from Get Lost (Merge)

12:14AM Akron/Family Before And Again from Akron/Family (Young God)

12:18AM David Bazan Virginia from Strange Negotiations (Barsuk)

12:23AM The Tallest Man on Earth The Blizzard's Never Seen The Desert Sands from Shallow Grave (Gravitation)

12:26AM Desert Soap Thinking About the Girl I Love from Thinking About the Girl I Love 7" (self-released)

12:29AM Neil Young Danger Bird from Zuma (Reprise)

12:36AM Art Brut Is Dog Eared from Brilliant! Tragic! (Cooking Vinyl)

12:43AM The Dismemberment Plan The Face Of The Earth from Change (DeSoto)

12:48AM The Sea and Cake Monday from The Moonlight Butterfly (Thrill Jockey)

12:53AM Red House Painters Byrd Joel from Old Ramon (Sub Pop)

1:01AM Eleventh Dream Day Bite The Hand from Stalled Parade (Thrill Jockey)

1:06AM The Bird and the Bee I'm A Broken Heart from The Bird and the Bee (Blue Note)

1:10AM Nathaniel Rateliff Early Spring Till from In Memory of Loss (Rounder)

1:15AM Billy Green Gravediggers from Stone (Finders Keepers)

1:19AM Nat Baldwin Real Fakes from People Changes (Western Vinyl)

1:27AM Austra Spellwork from Feel It Break (Domino)

1:32AM The Faint Agenda Suicide from Danse Macabre (Saddle Creek)

1:37AM tUnE-yArDs You Yes You from whokill (4AD)

1:40AM They Might Be Giants Hide Away Folk Family from They Might Be Giants (Restless)

1:44AM Randy Newman Suzanne from 12 Songs (Reprise)

1:48AM Seapony Go Away from Go With Me (Hardly Art)

1:54AM Tapes 'n Tapes Insistor from The Loon (Ibid)

1:55AM White Mystery 1985 from Blood & Venom (self-released)

2:00AM David Axelrod The Shadow Knows from David Axelrod (Mo' Wax)

2:08AM Jean-Claude Vannier L'Enfant La Mouche Et Les Allumettes from L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches (Finders Keepers)

2:13AM The Rolling Stones Monkey Man from Let It Bleed (Decca)

2:17AM The Reatards Memphis Blues from Teenage Hate (Goner)

2:20AM Let's Wrestle I'm So Lazy from Nursing Home (Merge)

2:26AM Mountains Sequel from Air Museum (Thrill Jockey)

2:31AM Pit Er Pat Brain Monster from Pyramids (Thrill Jockey)

2:37AM Bon Iver Calgary from Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)

2:42AM Antony & the Johnsons Hope There's Someone from I Am a Bird Now (Secretly Canadian)

2:47AM Chrissy Murderbot Nice Looking Bwoy (featuring Warrior Queen & Mungo's Hifi) from Women's Studies (Planet Mu)

2:51AM Hail Mary Mallon Garfield from Are You Gonna Eat That? (Rhymesayers)

2:55AM The Knife Heartbeats from Deep Cuts (Rabid)

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Missed Out: Bonnie Prince Billy

(published at

Will Oldham led Chicago in a collective sigh of relief to kick off the 2011 Downtown Sound free concert series on Monday night at Millennium Park. Bonnie Prince Billy and the Cairo Gang performed for a crowded but comfortable Pritzker Pavilion, officially reminding us why we have such strong pride and love for this city. It was mid-70 degree weather, the sky was clear-blue, and the grass was so miraculously cushiony. Thank God I wasn't raptured on Saturday, because this was a beautiful evening I would have hated to miss.

Friends and families gathered on the lawn with wine and/or beer. Young parents brought picnic baskets and dancing toddlers. Girls wore summer dresses. And most importantly, Bonnie Prince Billy played music. This is why we put up with half a year of awful weather. Smiles were all over the place, and by the end of the night strangers on the sidewalk were reaching their hands out into the street for high fives as I rode my bike past them. Yes, happiness is finally back in Chicago.

It was an ideal first concert for Downtown Sound. Certainly not the biggest crowd we'll see this year (Iron and Wine or Glen Hansard/Low will set that record), but Bonnie Prince Billy started things off right. It was mostly a quiet folk concert, with upright bass and grand piano keeping the Americana classy.

With the exception of the Kings Go Forth, it feels like the dancing will probably be kept to a minimum at Millennium Park this year. Will Oldham set the tone by not talking between songs and simply playing the soothing soundtrack to our beautiful summer night. His set seemed to start off at a low volume, but slowly built energy as the night went on. By the time Go Folks Go came on, the sun had set and the colored spotlights shined warmly on the pavilion. Wine glasses and beer bottles were clinking all over the park, in celebration of what's sure to be another wonderful summer in Chicago.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CHIRP playlist (5/18/11)

Don't miss out on Bonnie Prince Billy this Monday at Millennium Park. It's the first Downtown Sound concert of the season, and we'll be on the lawn with individual wine boxes and slightly warmer weather. Oh, I played Bonnie Prince on my show last night. And other songs:

12:03AM Chad VanGaalen No Panic/No Heat from Diaper Island (Sub Pop)

12:07AM Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang Go Folks, Go from The Wonder Show of the World (Drag City)

12:15AM Talking Heads Crosseyed and Painless from Remain in Light (Sire)

12:19AM TOKiMONSTA Day Job from Creature Dreams EP (Brainfeeder)

12:25AM Jim O'Rourke Movie On The Way Down from Eureka (Drag City)

12:32AM Thao & Mirah Little Cup from Thao & Mirah (Kill Rock Stars)

12:37AM Cass McCombs Hermit's Cave from WIT'S END (Domino)

12:41AM Cameron McGill & What Army Sad Ambassador from Is a Beast (Post-Important)

12:48AM Led Zeppelin I Can't Quit You Baby from Led Zeppelin (Atlantic)

12:53AM Mudhoney Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More from Superfuzz Bigmuff (Deluxe Edition) (Sub Pop)

12:56AM Blind Joe Taggart Take Your Burden To The Lord (-50) from Vol. 1 (1926-28) (Document)

1:01AM Boards of Canada Turquoise Hexagon Sun from Music Has The Right To Children (Matador)

1:06AM King Midas Sound Surround Me from Box of Dub: Dubstep and Future Dub (Soul Jazz)

1:12AM Fugazi Long Distance Runner from Red Medicine (Dischord)

1:16AM Okkervil River White Shadow Waltz from I Am Very Far (Jagjaguwar)

1:20AM Grinderman Depth Charge Ethel from Grinderman (ANTI-)

1:25AM 13 & God Beat On Us from Own Your Ghost (Anticon)

1:30AM Sweep the Leg Johnny Skin from Tomorrow We Will Run Faster (Southern)

1:37AM Matt Pond PA Sugar Bush from Spring Fools EP (Altitude)

1:41AM Lake Skeleton Costume from Giving and Receiving (K)

1:45AM Algernon Timekiller from Ghost Surveillance (Cuneiform)

1:53AM Zombi Shrunken Heads from Escape Velocity (Relapse)

1:59AM Sigur Rós Glosoli from Takk... (Geffen)

2:05AM Low Time Is The Diamond from Trust (kranky)

2:12AM Old Time Relijun Mystery Language from Witchcraft Rebellion (K)

2:16AM Ryley Walker Sturgeon Bay Drifter from The Evidence of Things Unseen (Plustapes)

2:23AM Amor de Dias Burnhill Fields from Street of the Love of Days (Merge)

2:26AM Errors Germany from Come Down With Me (Rock Action)

2:30AM Dianogah Flat Panda from Millions of Brazilians (Southern)

2:37AM Friendly Fires Hurting from Pala (XL)

2:42AM Lawrence Precious Hall from Laid Compilation (Laid)

2:51AM Helado Negro Calculas from Canta Lechuza (Asthmatic Kitty)

2:55AM DOOM Gazzillion Ear from Born Like This (Lex)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

DJ dylanclub: Dougie in the Air

M. Bone was shot and killed, so I made a mashup in his honor. His song with Cali Swag District, Teach Me How to Dougie, is mashed here with Alpha Beta Gaga from Air. Because he's up there, teaching angels how to dougie.

Dougie in the Air by dylanclub

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hasn't Come Out Yet: Washed Out- Within and Without

This whole chillwave thing emerged a few years ago. Bedroom-pop. Glo-fi. Whatever you call it, Sub Pop is now cashing in. That is, they're about to cash in once this new Washed Out album leaks. It's gorgeous stuff.

Despite the deep beats, the music is nothing you'll really want to get up and dance to. It will, however, give you a feeling that you had already been dancing for hours. Within and Without emits a drag and haze like the end of the after-party. You don't want to leave yet, even though every one else is gone.

It's hard to call this music fashionable, but I'm actually not sure what phase music is in right now. Then again, I don't believe in good or bad music anymore, just interpretations. I've DJed enough weddings to know that a lot of people think Miley Cyrus is "good". And yeah, nothing is objectively "bad". Right and wrong and neither here nor there because it is what it is and whatever works.

So why did I choose to write about this Washed Out album all of a sudden? Why not the latest Plustapes artist? Why not Wild Beasts? Obviously I don't have an answer here. But this new Washed Out album keeps calling me back. It is music that I want to hear. So why not share my feelings on my internet blog, right?

I think it's similar to the way we grow older and (at least those of us who grew up in religious families) start to see where we misunderstood our spiritual upbringing. What was once black and white blends together until contrast no longer exists. We don't have hard answers anymore, nor do we crave them as we did in our youth. But that which brings comfort, that is what we do not turn away.

When we were young, we didn't have problems. We only had emotions. Now that we're adults, we don't have time to be worried about how smart or fun or popular we are. We have to pay the next bill. We have to keep our significant other happy. We have to keep our dogs fed. It's all real.

Sure, atheism is easy now. The logical answer is the best answer when you're strong of mind. But what happens when the mind goes? Do we hold tightly to the dread? And if so, for what benefit? Is it a matter of integrity? God doesn't exist, but what if I'm dying of cancer and I need some comfort? Will I be allowed some intellectual leeway at the end? Or do I have to just die alone, accepting my cursed fate as a highly evolved self-aware mammal?

Why is a Washed Out album raising all of these questions? Damn. Within and Without must be something special.

Music is abstract. It is an indirect form of human communication. But here's the key (seriously, this is it right here): miscommunication is always a factor. Authorial intent is bullshit for this very reason. You will never experience absolute communication. Everyone comes with a different pair of glasses through which they view the world, and miscommunication is unavoidable. Ambiguity is vital in art because it allows for multiple interpretations of one subject. Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is one of the all-time greatest works of art. The Holy Spirit is something Christians call their conscience. Everyone has it, but you and I might call it something different.

Whatever glasses you're wearing, leave them on. Communicate by using languages you have learned. The other languages are not "wrong," you just don't understand them. Thing is, they're saying the exact same things you're saying.

When we hear music, we react on a personal level. Sometimes our emotions get the better of us, and we dance (well, I don't. But a lot of other people do). Reactions to art are sacred. As long as we don't settle for "good or bad" or "right or wrong" we will experience the Holy Spirit. We will make the decisions God predestined us to make. We will have hope and love and peace.

Is this an album review? Who cares. I love this Washed Out record and I hope you listen to it when it comes out. This is the internet. Nobody's paying me to write this. Who the hell knows why you read this anyway. Nobody paid you either.

Therefore go out and make disciples, and do not forget the interpretation you have taken from this blog post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CHIRP playlist (5/11/11)

I haven't posted here in over a week. And since I love excuses, I'll blame it on a monstrous mouse that invaded my bedroom, preoccupations with Bulls games, and the removal of my wisdom teeth. But I have been keeping up with CHIRP. My show last night was something you should have listened to if you were up past midnight. You'll have another chance next week.

12:02AM Here We Go Magic Song in Three from January EP (Secretly Canadian)

12:07AM Tame Impala Alter Ego from InnerSpeaker (Modular)

12:12AM Bonobo El Toro from Black Sands (Ninja Tune)

12:16AM Beastie Boys Make Some Noise from Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol)

12:20AM Daft Punk Human After All from Human After All (Virgin)

12:26AM The Lonesome Organist Cranked Up Too Hard from Cavalcade (Thrill Jockey)

12:30AM Anathallo Dokkoise House (With Face Covered) from Floating World (Artist Friendship)

12:35AM Man Man Bangkok Necktie from Life Fantastic (ANTI-)

12:40AM Wild Beasts Plaything from Smother (Domino)

12:44AM Arthur Russell Calling Out Of Context from Calling Out of Context (Audika)

12:52AM Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi Season's Trees from Rome (Capitol)

12:55AM Pink Floyd Astronomy Domine from The Piper At the Gates of Dawn (Capitol)

1:00AM Hum I Hate It Too from You'd Prefer an Astronaut (RCA)

1:06AM Thurston Moore Female Cop from Psychic Hearts (Geffen)

1:12AM Chin Up Chin Up Water Planes In Snow from This Harness Can't Ride Anything (Suicide Squeeze)

1:16AM A Lull Weapons for War from Confetti (Mush)

1:20AM The Octopus Project Bees Bein' Strugglin' from Hello, Avalanche (Peek-A-Boo)

1:26AM Psychedelic Horseshit Revolution Wavers from Laced (FatCat)

1:32AM Young Widows Young Rivers from In and Out of Youth and Lightness (Temporary Residence Ltd.)

1:39AM Austra The Choke from Feel It Break (Domino)

1:43AM DELS Violina/Bread Before Bed from GOB (Big Dada)

1:47AM Stevie Wonder Love Having You Around from Music of My Mind (Tamla)

1:55AM The Books Take Time from The Lemon of Pink (Tomlab)

2:02AM Bad Lieutenant Sink or Swim from Never Cry Another Tear (Triple Echo)

2:04AM New Order Leave Me Alone from Power, Corruption & Lies (Qwest)

2:08AM Joy Division Shadowplay from Unknown Pleasures (Factory)

2:13AM Stereolab Tone Burst from Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (Elektra)

2:19AM Gang Gang Dance Thru and Thru from Eye Contact (4AD)

2:25AM Booker T. Jones Everything is Everything from The Road from Memphis (ANTI-)

2:30AM J. Rocc Malcolm Was Here (Part 1+2) from Some Cold Rock Stuf (Stones Throw)

2:37AM The Antlers No Widows from Burst Apart (Frenchkiss)

2:42AM BOAT (I'll Beat My Chest Like) King Kong from Dress Like Your Idols (Magic Marker)

2:45AM The Ponys Fall Inn from Laced With Romance (In the Red)

2:50AM Directions Untitled 4 from Directions In Music (Thrill Jockey)

2:55AM British Sea Power Carrion from Decline of British Sea Power (Rough Trade)