Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of 2013

With the close of another year, it’s that time once again to reflect on accomplishments, areas of improvement and generally - things that were most enjoyable. For me, I set off last January with a handful of goals in mind...some were realized, others will rollover to next year. But for the purposes of this here 2013 wrap up, I’m going to focus on two of them.

Running a full marathon has been at the top of my bucketlist for quite some time and I’m happy to report that I accomplished said feat soon after the new year.

Secondly, I wanted to further develop the level of my other physical pursuit...surfing. And, I’m also quite satisfied with my results following a regimented - couple sessions a week - schedule.

Now, you might be thinking to yourself - why the hell do you bring this up in a year end best of tunes list? Well, I’ll tell you.

Music (playing, listening, watching, writing, etc.) takes up a vast amount of time in my life. Additionally, running and surfing also take up a lot of my time... And, though not overtly musical by nature - both activities are enhanced by all that I listen to (while not actually listening).

How does that work?

First, a little background…

I’m one of those old school runners - no iPod, no earbuds, no pump-up playlists. Just the road and my thoughts. I use it as a time to clear my head and ponder what’s going on. Surfing of course, doesn’t offer much by way of water friendly electronic devices. Waves, sea beasts and sun...a total communion with nature (and, I hope it stays that way).

However, with that said (and here it comes full circle), I find myself constantly thinking about, humming, whistling, singing and consuming music - aside from the actual listening bit - while occupying my time with both of these activities. Basically, music is an inescapable aspect of my life and proves to inspire and complement all that I take part in, day-to-day. Whether it be crossing the finish line at mile 26.2 with an earworm melody in my head or waiting for a set of waves while whistling a Kurt Vile happens subconsciously, precipitously and without question - heightens the experience.

Apparently I’m not the only one…

Photographer Ansel Adams: “I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music…”
Philosopher Thomas Carlyle: “If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music…”
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Music causes us to think eloquently…”
Philosopher Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and life to everything…”

You get the idea.

Music has the ability to aid any pursuit, no matter what that may be. Painting, writing, cooking, brewing, name it.

I can’t think of another art that so freely inspires, while allowing one to accomplish something entirely unrelated.

Anyhow, lest I get carried away talking about trivial things without mentioning that the music this year was pretty damn outstanding. Some big hitters stepped up to the plate and (for the most part) delivered. There were a a couple big surprises, too (see: Vampire Weekend)...hell, even those My Bloody Valentine folks woke up after a 20 some-odd year slumber. They along with Arcade Fire created a communal listening experience that connected people across the world in a manner that just doesn't happen very often these days.

I am completely amazed by the way artists continually push the boundary on methods of connecting with their audience. Interactive videos, purposeful album leaks, NSFW this and that, novel live shows and settings...the list goes on and on.

It’s a ripe time, y’all. Let’s soak it up.

Let me know how music accompanies your day-to-day life and what inspired you this year.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2014.



Now, without further ado…here’s the soundtrack that followed me around this year (whether I was listening or not).

Top 10 Songs of 2013

(in order 10 to 1)

Best Albums of 2013

10) Ex Cops - True Hallucinations

9) Bill Callahan - Dream River

8) Paul McCartney - New

7) Arcade Fire - Reflektor

6) Ty Segall - Sleeper

5) Arctic Monkeys - AM

4) Phosphorescent - Muchacho

3) Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze

2) The National - Trouble Will Find Me

1) Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

Honorable Mentions

Local Natives - Hummingbird
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Hanni El Khatib - Head In the Dirt
Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Haim - Days Are Gone
Deerhunter - Monomania
Mikal Cronin - MCII
Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
Darkside - Psychic

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful Vines

A Thanksgiving playlist for you and yours...enjoy.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack

A double dose of Paul never hurt anyone...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Morning (Soundtrack) - RIP Lou Reed

We lost an influential one today. Rolling Stone reports Lou Reed has passed away.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - Monday Edition

Man, I've been slacking. Many apologies. Let's listen to some new music, shall we?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Woodsist Festival - Pioneertown 2013

Tucked into the dusty environs of Pappy & Harriet's...the Woodsist crew rolled through the desert like a peaceful posse. Pitching camp in the perfect of settings, for a musical lineup that included: Ducktails, White Fence, The Babies, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, The Fresh & Onlys, Woods and Real Estate.

Amongst the performers, Alex Bleeker proved the most dynamic. Pulling from his shiny and happy recent realease, How Far Away, he brought the sun down against the Joshua Tree laden backdrop...inspiring a crowd-wide dance party to a well timed cover of, Walking on Sunshine. But, his duties didn't end there. He showed up for a track with Woods (which was one of the best moments of the evening...more on that below) and then sticking around to wrap up the outdoor portion of the festival with his day job, as bass player for Real Estate. Very talented (and friendly) dude.

San Francisco's The Fresh & Only's set the tone for the moonlit portion of the show with a hooky, straight-ahead performance. Their full and catchy catalogue was an ice-cold PBR to the whiskey chaser of Woods.

The festival's namesake band, Woods - paired so well with the vibe and ambience, that it will go down as one of my personal favorite musical memories. If you are unfamiliar with their campfire brand of jammy folk rock ... start with their album, Bend Beyond. Following a meticulous (and admittedly exhausting soundcheck), the band roared into their set. Weaving Jeremy Earl's signature falsetto with layered reverb, keys, stringy guitar lines and buoyant rhythms - their sneaky melodies rose to the surface and blanketed the audience. From crescendoing, freaky jam-outs to taut sing-alongs...the band honed in on the setting and the setting honed in on the band. In fact, with Alex Bleeker in tow - Woods wrapped things up, asking the dusty landscape of Pioneertown, CCR's age old question - Have You Ever Seen the Rain? A proper segue to the coastal vibes Real Estate would bring to the stage.

Real Estate zigzagged through a set of their signature laidback, breezy tracks. Inspiring the occasional crowd surfer and hands-in-the-air dance party. It felt good and thanks to the friendliest of audiences, it also felt like your friend's backyard party. In fact, it was lead-singer Martin Courtney's birthday...he blew out the candles and the crowd's expectations of how a tight-knit community of artists should perform and commune with an audience.

The whole event was a wonderful celebration that had us drinking every bit of Cali in a Cup.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumnal Equimix - 2013

Tunes for the beautiful season. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Premier League in the Modern Rock Lexicon

Outside of music there are a couple other hobbies that make me tick. Surf being one of them...which from time to time has crossover here. But, another big one, is my love for the beautiful game. To that end - I compiled a music to English footy converter (some of the references are pretty inside to the nuances of the league, but even if you aren't a fan, should be fun). Happy Premier League (here's an accompanying playlist).

Arsenal = Phoenix. This band plays to economies of scale…you know what you’re going to get: lively, entertaining, contagious French-tinged pop. Consistent enough…these guys have the ability to knock you off your feet and will make sure -you never forget they’re around.

Aston Villa = The Strokes. At one time, the absolute coolest kid in the room…but in the past few years have fallen far from grace. Their debut, Is This It? proved to be such an influential record that you never want to wish ill will on em…but c’mon get your shit together!

Cardiff City = Tame Impala. Where did these guys come from? Their sophomore release jettisoned them to the top. Swirling, hazy and damn catchy psych tunes have them playing just about every major music festival and now, the eyes of the world are seemingly fixed on what’ll happen next. I predict they back it up.

Chelsea = Vampire Weekend. We know their story. Privileged, well-heeled, Ivy League educated kids from the Upper West Side. After you get over that – they have the chops to back up all the shit talking you might spew to your bestfriend that loves them. Their third album debuted at the top and proved to be a musical shift for one of indie-rocks heavyweights. These guys will be at or near the top for the foreseeable future. Accessible to the masses with a desire to always produce tunes true to their history and environs.

Crystal Palace = Ryan Adams. The only singer/songwriter on the list. Adams has had career full of the highest highs and lowest lows. He’s all cleaned up and sober these days and after swearing the whole damn thing off - he’s inched his way back to the top of the fold of his craft and even snagged the pretty girl while he was at it (Mandy Moore).

Everton = Wilco. Been around so long your dad loves them and with achievements like their near-perfect release, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, you can understand why. They’ve released a couple average records that somewhat dilutes their catalogue but sturdy and hardworking are adjectives that come to mind…one of the stalwarts in the music scene.

Fulham = Spoon. These guys have been pumping out straight-ahead indie rock n roll for years. No frills but hailing from uber-hip Austin…they count youthful fans and veteran hipsters among their fold. With the up and down trends that occur in music these days – you can always rely on a Spoon album. Steady like a historical landmark that continues to stand the test of time.

Hull City = Twin Shadow. The buzzy and handsome, George Lewis Jr creates tightly wound pop music that has been a success at the clubs and on the airwaves. But is his sound too derivative for his own good? We’ll see…

Liverpool = Mumford & Sons. Led by a pudgy little man…you personally can’t stand them but you have friends that are obsessed with ‘em. Confused that they are considered one of the big draws with only a couple albums of stomp and clap music you hear down the street at O’Briens pub. You want to slit your wrists when ‘that guy’ tells you (sloppily drunk) about his transcendental experience when he saw them at The Gorge.

Manchester City = Arcade Fire. A band at the top of the world that has studios (bought a Church to record in), collaborators (David Byrne), producers (James Murphy!) and headlining festival slots at their disposal. These guys have maintained their thoughtful, orchestrated sound on all of their records and collected hardware along the way. Call ‘em a juggernaut.

Manchester United = Radiohead. The most storied band on the list and certainly owners of the biggest name power…a global brand if you will. Everyone you know tunes in when there is something to listen to and you can’t help but be amazed at their success and how incredibly talented they are. A universal fan-favorite.

Newcastle = M83. This Frenchman bounces between fast-paced dancehall ready tracks and all out epic orchestral scores. Had incredible success two years ago but has been quietly at work on a follow-up with hopes of returning to the fine form that got people talking.

Norwich City = The xx. The London band’s self-titled debut album left them on critic’s end of year lists and catapulted them into the spotlight. However, their follow up gave listeners basically the same thing and fell a bit flat…leaving them in the same place they were before. Will their 3rd album break the mold? Can they start punching above their weight?

Southampton = Local Natives. Buzz-worthy newcomers with something to prove and a body of work that makes you think they’ll be around for a while. Youthful energy, musical chops and style for days…these guys have shown flash and have a handful of critically acclaimed performances under their belts.

Stoke City = Fleet Foxes. These guys stick to one thing and that thing is folk music. Some people think it’s boring but they’ve enjoyed a run of success over the past few years. One thing to note – drummer and vocalist, Josh Tillman – now known as Father John Misty - has left the band…was he an integral part to their gameplan?

Sunderland = Arctic Monkeys. Blue-collar rock n roll that has equal parts sass, flair and garage-grit. Enjoyed incredible buzz and success right out of the gates but have since leveled off to an act that everyone is generally fond of. After the new car sheen wore off they sorta just started to ‘exist’ rather than continually impress.

Swansea = Grizzly Bear. Tidy, intricate, and at times, challenging. But, most every music fan you know – enjoys them. Sophisticated with flair for melody. Love to listen to them on record and live.

Tottenham = The National. Rock solid, beautiful and dependable. This band is always at the top of the bill and knocking on the door as a big powerhouse headliner. They’re tenured with a touch of youthful spark. Matt Berninger’s lyrics are deep and sometimes dark…leaving their fans feeling a bit morose and reflective at times.

West Bromwich = The Black Keys. Hardworking garage rock heroes that have enjoyed a few years of success - after earning every bit of it. From their first album to their seventh, you know what you’re gonna get cruncy, hooky, bluesy bar rock… and, though they don’t change the sound up all that often – you know it’ll be good.

West Ham = Nine Inch Nails. The on-and-off again ear-bruising band punches you in the mouth with studio sonic tricks and a strong rhythm backbone. Also, their hardcore fans will probably scare the shit out of you.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - Lollapalooza 2013 Edition

As an LA resident, Coachella has become somewhat of an annual regional holiday. I don't always attend but like a friend's yearly holiday party, the option is always there. Lollapalooza on the other-hand has always seemed distant, mis-understood and definitely awesome. Therefore, it was with little convincing that a group of west-coasters head back and shack up with some third coasters for a weekend of Grant Park musical exploration.

A few quick hits...

- Grant Park provides a near perfect backdrop for a festival of this size. The skyline, the foliage but...
- ...bring comfortable shoes. At nearly a mile, cruising from main stage to main stage is a HAUL.
- The seen or be seen vibe of Coachella makes way for hmmm...questionable dressing decisions and generally a friendlier, 'lake-hippy' attitude. It's a festival full of people just like that one kid from Wisconsin that lived a couple doors down in your freshman dorm.
- Trees are the best form of group leadership. I can assure you that you'll never lose your friends.
- Phoenix have completely transformed themselves to a festival headliner...this is a good thing.
- Back to the long haul. Don't sacrifice a great time you're having in justice of what's going on at insert band's set across the way...we'll call this the FOMO syndrome.
- Two 'under-the-radar/see these guys now' sets: Lianne La Havas, Palma Violets.
- Four 'these guys are total pros' sets: Phoenix (see above), Grizzly Bear, Hot Chip and The National (missed 'em but the good word was passed along...and yeah, it's the National at a festival).
- That's about it. Chicago is a great city to host a festival. It's easy to get to, the food/drink in the city is a great jumping off point for a day full of music. And a weekend like this provides nothing more communal and healthy for maintaining long-distance friendships. The general let's forget about what we do Monday through Friday mentality, doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th o' July!

Kick back and enjoy America's fruits!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstlist - 2013

Beats for the heat.

Enjoy yerself!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know?

The snarling Brits are back with a new one. I dig.

More goods, here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack

Vampire Weekend - Ya Hey
The National - Sea Of Love
Hanni El Khatib - Loved One
Phosphorescent - Ride On/Right On
Kurt Vile - Never Run Away

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May Daze 2.0

Time for open roads & dusty toes.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack

Play this track 5 times in a's the only jam that matters right now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Phoenix - 4/8/13

On the heels of a Saturday Night Live performance and in the lead up to a headlining Saturday stint at Coachella... Parisian mainstays, Phoenix dusted off the cobwebs and took to the Marquee theatre in Tempe.

New single Entertainment served as the kickoff to the eve and they didn't let up til they had to close it down due to curfew. Bankrupt! marks their return to the spotlight - and following the career defining success of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - it's as direct and hot as the sun.

Touching on material primarily from It's Never Been Like That and Wolfgang, Thomas Mars kept things fresh by changing up lyrical phrasing and octaves...creating nuance to their very familiar material. But what we really wanted were the new tunes. I managed a sneak listen of the album - so I had a decent idea of a few tracks I was anxious to hear live and without a doubt, they land so tight and polished that you'd think they've been touring this material for a few months now.

S.O.S. In Bel Air is crunched and styled with banging synth and guitar lines; Trying To Be Cool lilts along with an almost Talking Heads like approach and Bankrupt! serves as a mid-way resting point (literally, Thomas still does that lay on the stage thing) in the vein of Love Like A Sunset.

The new songs fit so well into their already impressive catalogue that it's hard to imagine their stranglehold on festivals, album charts and as ambassadors for the 'we are crossovers that make music on our own terms' title will let up.

Plain and simple these guys are pro and while I imagine there might be a few naysayers for their new album - I think it's a welcome addition to their arsenal and hones in on their musical chops, production skills and knack for creating catchy jamz that evolve record to record.

Bankrupt! drops April 23rd via Glassnote Records

Enjoy a stripped down version of Entertainment.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - SXSW Edition

Saddling up and heading on out to Austin this week.

Check the YKTAM Spotify SX playlist if ya want...and below are a couple other jams I'm hoping to see.

I'll be posting some coverage on KCRW's SXSW if ya want to see/hear the happenings - head on over there.


Mikal Cronin - Shout It Out
Parquet Courts - Borrowed Time
SKATERS - Are We Just Doomed?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Smith Westerns - Varsity

Chicago young'uns, Smith Westerns released the first single, Varsity, from their upcoming summer release, Soft Will. The album drops June 11th via Mom+Pop Records. Track is very bright, catchy and shows promising growth...keep a look out.

They've also got a date at The Echo between Coachella Weekends.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tacos & BBQ & Beer: A SXSW 2013 Playlist

It's exhaustive (much like SX). See you in two weeks!


Monday, February 18, 2013

Atoms For Peace // AMOK

Stream the debut album from Atoms For Peace below...Also, through their website they are inviting fans to share the stream - creating a collage of sites for a visualizer. Very Yorke-ian.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack

A few presidential jams...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweetheartunes 2.0

The xx - Angels
The Smiths - This Charming Man
George Harrison - What Is Life
Tame Impala - Feels Like We Only Go Backwards
Foxygen - San Francisco
The Zombies - I Want Her She Wants Me
Ex Cops - Separator
Ty Segall - Girlfriend
The Velvet Underground & Nico - I'll Be Your Mirror


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - Foxygen Edition

I can't stop this tune...

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic drops 1/22 via Jagjaguwar...early fav.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Morning Soundtrack - Eyes on 2013 edition

A smattering of artists you should keep an eye out for in 2013 and tracks from anticipated releases.