2011 Albums Of The Year (25-1)

25. The War On Drugs - Slave Ambient

The War On Drugs second full length album is a marked improvement over an already good debut album. Through two albums and two outstanding EPs, The War On Drugs are starting to creep their way into the bands I've listened to most in the past year or two.

The War On Drugs - 'Baby Missles'

24. Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne

This album is pretty much what everyone expected it would be, but isn't nearly as good as either artists solo albums. There are a handful of really great tracks here but also a few complete duds. Still one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.

Jay-Z & Kanye West - 'Murder To Excellence'

23. Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Other Lives debut album got some comparisons to the orchestral side of Radiohead. Coincidentally, they'll be opening up for Radiohead in Kansas City this March. This album can be a bit top heavy loaded with the better tracks but the first half is so strong it makes up for the second half.

Other Lives - 'Tamer Animals'

22. Fool's Gold - Leave No Trace

The best way to describe Fool's Gold would be a mix of Vampire Weekends and DeVotchka. This is one of my favorite band discoveries of 2011 and I still need to get a copy of their debut album. Leave No Trace has such a polished and well produced sound it's hard to believe it's only the band's second album. This one is definitely worth checking out.

Fool's Gold - 'Balmy'

21. My Morning Jacket - Circuital

Even though My Morning Jacket's six album Circuital is only their 5th best album, I love this band so much that their slightly average stuff is still better than many bands best stuff. A big improvement over the lackluster Evil Urges, it's nice to hear a bit of a return to form for MMJ.

My Morning Jacket - 'The Day Is Coming'

20. A.A. Bondy - Believers

I didn't love the new A.A. Bondy album on first or second listen, but after giving it some time to grow on me it's one of my top 20 of the year. There is much more depth than his previous two albums, even if the songs aren't quite as immediate.

A.A. Bondy - 'Surfer King'

19. Beirut - The Rip Tide

Better than the last Beirut album, but still not their best. This band is near the top of my list of bands I want to see live, but as far as I remember they haven't been through Kansas City ever. Hopefully that changes soon.

Beirut - 'Port Of Call'

18. Washed Out - With And Without

After the initial swell of the "Chillwave" genre bands subsided, a few bands that had actual talent seemed to keep going while the other ones faded away. Washed out is one of those bands. I loved their debut, but the songs and production are just so much better on With And Without it's not even close.

Washed Out - 'Before'

17. The Black Keys - El Camino

I agree with the sentiment that anyone that criticizes The Black Keys for selling out recently doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. The Black Keys haven't really changed their sound much from day one, withe exception of adding a couple of addition members on instruments. For better or worse, they play the same blues-rock hybrid they always have, and they do it really fucking well. El Camino is another in a line of brilliant albums from the Akron (former) duo.

The Black Keys - 'Nova Baby'

16. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

I'll never understand why some of the watered down pop stars all over radio are so popular but artists like Lykke Li aren't. She does some of the same things that ladies like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga do, but she does it far better in my opinion. Plus neither of those previous ladies have released and album as great all the way through as Lykke Li did with Wounded Rhymes.

Lykke Li - 'Get Some'

15. Mastodon - The Hunter

Although they're slowly morphing from a metal band into a hard rock band, Mastodon are he best hard rock band around. There even sounds like a song or two from The Hunter that could be played on mainstream rock radio. For a hardworking band like Mastodon you hope it happens as well...even if it means their killer shows are a little more crowded.

Mastodon - 'All The Heavy Lifting'

14. Future Islands - On The Water

The last Future Islands album made my top 5 albums of the year in 2010, so I had high hopes for their follow-up On The Water. This album might not be as catchy or as instantly loveable, but it's definitely a grower that rewards repeat listens. It's a crime too that I still haven't caught them the couple of times they've came through town.

Future Islands - 'Before The Bridge'

13. Wilco - The Whole Love

I'm really running out of things to say about Wilco because I feel like I'm always writing a few words about why their album made my top albums of the year list for that particular year. The new one, The Whole Love, is a return to form over a somewhat disappointing Wilco, The Album.

Wilco - 'I Might'

12. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Here We Rest

It's official that Jason Isbell's solo output since leaving the Drive-By Truckers is far greater than the output of DBT in the post Isbell era. His newest album, Here We Rest, is probably Isbell's strongest album to date. Songs like 'Alabama Pines', 'Codeine' and 'Daisy Mae' just prove that Jason is still a top notch songwriter of the highest caliber.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - 'Alabama Pines'

11. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

M83's newest double album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming falls into the trap of most double albums and that's just a record that tends to run on too long. Trim these down to one record full of songs and it might be the best M83 album ever. Still, however, it includes one of the best tracks of the year in 'Midnight City'. I look forward to catching them at the Granada next May 5th at the Granada in Lawrence.

M83 - 'Midnight City'

10. Cut Copy - Zonoscope

So, Cut Copy have pretty much taken over for New Order these days. No one has been able to do New Order dancey-synth hooks quite as well until Cut Copy came along with their third brilliant album in a row. I got to see them play an amazing show at the Record Bar in KC few years back and have been itching for them to come back through town again.

Cut Copy - 'Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution'

9. Wye Oak - Civilian

One of the highlights of my concert season was the Explosions In The Sky show at the Uptown. Not only because they're one of the best live bands around but also because the fantastic Wye Oak opened the show. I've been a fan of Wye Oak since their first album, but didn't completely fall in love until Civilian came out. I could go on and on about how great the songs are or how solid the music is or how perfect her voices is but you should just check it out for yourself.

Wye Oak - 'Civilian'

8. Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Speaking of Explosions In The Sky...another band that really does no wrong in my eyes. This is the first album from the band that sounds like they made an effort to expand and switch up their sound just a bit. Yet it still sounds completely like only Explosions In The Sky can. Like I said before they are also responsible for one of the top five concerts I saw in 2011 as well.

Explosions In The Sky - 'Postcard From 1952'

7. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

There were a lot of high hopes and expectations from Fleet Foxes and their sophomore album after the indie success of their debut. The band came through with an album that not only grew their sound from the debut album but also improved on it at times. The title track from Helplessness Blues also gets an easy spot in the top five songs of the year without a doubt.

Fleet Foxes - 'Helplessness Blues'

6. Real Estate - Days

Real Estate's debut album hinted at a band that could do great things but I never expected an album I love so much. Days is the perfect summer album, so it's a shame it didn't come out till the fall, but this is an album that will get continuous plays into the next few years. I got to catch them in Chicago in 2010 open up for Deerhunter and they're an excellent live band as well. If they keep putting out albums of this level of quality expect them to get big quick.

Real Estate - 'Green Aisles'

5. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Bon Iver's debut album was number two on my favorite albums of the 2008 list behind the debut Fleet Foxes album, but in the years since then I definitely think For Emma, Forever Ago is the far superior album. Regardless, no one really knew what to expect with Justin's follow-up and most people weren't expecting this. The sound is a complete sonic left turn from the acoustic debut with even a smooth rock jam thrown in for good measure. Bon Iver also would make my list of top five shows of 2011 with his performance at the Uptown.

Bon Iver - 'Beth/Rest'

4. Toro Y Moi - Underneath The Pine

The best of the Chillwave bands in my opinion is Toro Y Moi. Not only do they have one of the best Chillwave albums with their debut Causers of This, they've abandoned the genre almost completely with the follow-up Underneath The Pine. Their disco-esque jams blew the doors off the Riot Room when they played there earlier this year.

Toro Y Moi - 'New Beat'

3. Tom Waits - Bad As Me

Waits is pretty much a God and the man can do no wrong in my eyes. His albums are always a messy carnival of characters and adventure in themselves and Bad As Me is no different. Waits took his wife's advice to keep the songs and the album at a short clip and it pays off with an album that never gets stale.

Tom Waits - 'Hell Broke Luce'

2. Atlas Sound - Paralax

I had a text message conversation recently with a friend where we both came to the agreement that Bradford Cox is one of the few musical genius in rock music today. He's certainly without a doubt one of the most prolific as well, and almost everything he makes is utterly amazing. His albums under the Atlas Sound moniker tend to be a bit more pretty and mellow, but they're also more lush and sweet. There are very few people around today that I would say can write a truely great pop song as well as Bradford Cox.

Atlas Sound - 'Te Amo'

1. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo

I had to search back through my blog archives to realize that I have written very little about Kurt Vile. Really though, I'd recommend him highly enough to just say that you should pick up this year's Smoke Ring For My Halo and 2009's Childish Prodigy immediately. It's hard to describe but Kurt Vile's music has an unexplainable vibe about it that I absolutely love. I really can't say enough about this album, it's one I'll sometimes play three or four times in a row because I don't want to listen to anything else...just check it out.

Kurt Vile - 'Babys Arms'



2011 Albums Of The Year (50-26)

I apologize for not putting as much time and effort into my albums of the year post this year. I'm only actually writing a bit on the top 25, but still want to include 50-26 because these are all really, really good albums. It was a fairly good year for music when there are albums not even in my top 50 that I genuinely enjoyed as well in 2011.

Here are my 50-26 favorite albums of 2011:

50. William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs
49. The Dodos - No Color
48. Cass McCombs - Wit's End
47. Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
46. Roadside Graves - We Can Take Care Of Ourselves
45. The Weeknd - House Of Balloons
44. Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital
43. The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh
42. Cults - Cults
41. Battles - Glass Drop
39. DeVotchka - 100 Lovers
38. Radiohead - The King Of Limbs
37. Sole and the Skyrider Band - Hello Cruel World
36. Neon Indian - Era Extranifa
35. Junior Boys - It's All True
34. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
33. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire
32. Childish Gambino - Camp
31. The Antlers - Burst Apart
30. Wild Beasts - Smother
29. TV on the Radio - Nine Types Of Light
28. The Roots - UNDUN
27. Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
26. Russian Circles - Empros

Stay tuned for 25-1 in the next few days.



Concert Announcements: The Hold Steady, Mastodon & more

A few concert announcements that I wanted to throw up here quickly. First off is The Hold Steady will be appearing at the Midland Theater in KC for 96.5 The Buzz's Halloweenie Roast show on Thursday, October 27th. Headlining the show is the always great Social Distortion. Also on the bill are Viva Brother and local favorites The Architects.

Here are the rest of the shows I'd recommend that have been announced over the past week or so:

Tue 10/25 Helmet @ The Riot Room, KC
Thu 11/03 Future Islands @ The Jackpot, Lawrence
Sat 11/12 Guns N' Roses @ The Sprint Center, KC
Mon 11/14 Mastodon/The Dillinger Escape Plan/Red Fang @ The Beaumont Club, KC
Sun 11/27 Peter Murphy/She Wants Revenge @ The Beaumont Club, KC



New Song: Lana Del Rey - 'Video Games'

Lana Del Rey is the moniker of 24 year old New Yorker Lizzy Grant. I heard this song for the first time tonight and now I've listened to it about a half dozen times in a row. The song is reminiscent of a mix between Stevie Nicks and Chan Marshall and will be featured on a digital single and a limited 7" out on October 9th. Lana Del Rey is currently working on a full length that's expected to be out early next year. Check out the video for the hauntingly beautiful track below:



Concert Announcement: Wilco

Another JoC all-time favorite Wilco will be making an appearance in Kansas City this winter. They'll be at the Uptown on Saturday, December 3rd. They drew over 3000 to the Crossroads back in 2009, so this will certainty sell out in minutes. No word yet though on when tickets go on sale. Wilco's 8th studio LP, The Whole Love, will be out on September 27th.



Sigur Rós Live Album & Film

If I had to make a list of the top 20 bands making relevant music today, it would no doubt include Sigur Rós. I'm constantly listening to music at my job and time after time I return to the Sigur Rós discography as I never tire of their albums. They also happen to be one of the best live bands around. Their concerts are really emotionally intense events and if you haven't been lucky enough to see them, you'll get close when they release the live DVD/CD Inni in November.

Filmed by Vincent Morisset, who directed Arcade Fire's Miroir Noir, it contains footage a London show at Alexandra Palace in 2008. Where Sigur Rós' 2007 DVD Heima was very lush and beautifully shot, Inni appears to be much darker. This is due to Morisset first filming the shows digitally but refilming the digital footage on 16mm. Morisset then re-filmed the footage a third time “sometimes through prisms and other found objects.”

Check out the short teaser trailer for 'Inni' below:



David Bazan Ticket Giveaway!

We're happy to announce another ticket contest here as the kind folks at Barsuk Records are letting us give away two tickets to see the incredibly talented David Bazan. The coolest part about it is the show will be held in about the most intimate setting possible: a living room in Topeka, KS. That's right, someone has volunteered to open up their home to a small audience to hear David perform mere feet away from you. The show takes place on Thursday, September 8th and will be one you won't want to miss.

If you aren't familiar with David's solo work or his work as the leader of Pedro The Lion, you need to remedy that immediately by picking up his second solo LP, Strange Negotiations (which you can purchase here). You can also hear the first track from Strange Negotiations by clicking on the MP3 link below.

If you want win tickets to the house show in Topeka just shoot me an email at jeopardyofcontentment(at)gmail.com with your favorite David Bazan song. Make sure to reference David Bazan in the subject line. Anything will count whether it's a solo track or something from the Pedro The Lion catalog. The contest will end on Saturday, September 3rd so get your submissions in as soon as possible. We'll notify the winner via email with a pair of tickets as well as the location of this living room show.

Good Luck!

MP3: David Bazan - 'Wolves At The Door' (from Strange Negotiations)
MP3: David Bazan - 'Cold Beer and Cigarettes' (from Fewer Moving Parts)



Upcoming Show: The Low Anthem & Balmorhea

I would have posted this a while ago if I hadn't been on an unexpected hiatus for a few months. Rhode Island's The Low Anthem will be at The Record Bar in KC this Monday, August 29th. They've been a favorite of mine for a while but I haven't had a chance to see them live until now. With orchestral, post-rock Austin band Balmorhea opening the show, this should be unforgettable.

I'd definitely recommend picking up The Low Anthem's most recent album, Smart Flesh as it's one of my favorites of 2011. You can watch the video for 'Boeing 737' below.



Concert Announcement: HUM

One of the main reasons I am such a big music nerd is because of my two older sisters. There are a ton of bands that I never would have heard of as a kid if not for my them and one of those bands is HUM. Certainly most people older than 25 that have ever listened to alternative radio have heard the song 'Stars'. The album that song came from is a classic and is definitely one of my top albums of the decade. HUM has reunited and according the the Record Bar's facebook/twitter feed, they'll be in KC on Friday, November 4th. Ticket info has yet to be posted but this could be one that sells out quickly.



Upcoming Show: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

Jason Isbell continues his fantastic solo career with a third really solid album in Here We Rest. Isbell has probably written at least a dozen songs between his solo stuff and the Truckers that I would consider classic tunes of the last ten years. The last time he came through town he played a killer show at the Bottleneck in Lawrence. This time he'll be playing at Knuckleheads in KC on Friday, September 16th. This is a show I'd highly recommend checking out if you can.


Covers: 'I Can't Make You Love Me'

Some might consider it a guilty pleasure but I genuinely love Bonnie Raitt's 1991 single 'I Can't Make You Love Me'. It's without a doubt one of the best songs about unrequited love written in my lifetime. When I heard Bon Iver would cover it for a b-side of a single, I knew it was a perfect choice for Justin. Although not included on the new Bon Iver album (Bon Iver, Bon Iver) their second full length album is one of my favorites of the year so far. If you haven't checked either Bon Iver album out, do so immediately.

Also, Bon Iver will be at the Uptown on Friday September 9th. The lady and I drove to Omaha to see him a few years ago and drove back that same night. It was miserable and completely worth it. Don't miss it.

Here's Bon Iver's cover of 'I Can't Make You Love Me':


Let's Try This Again...

I haven't posted in over six months and the thought of putting the blog to rest permanently has crossed my mind. I've been updating the concert calendar regularly, so keep checking that out regardless. I don't think I'm going to kill this off quite yet though. I'll definitely continue to post my albums of the year every year. I haven't decided how heavily invested I'll be in this otherwise, but I hope to post some stuff on at least a semi-regular basis.



Concert Announcements: The Black Angels, The War on Drugs, Foals, Interpol and many more

I've once again been really, really bad about updating this blog. There have been a ton of great concert announcement in the past month and toping the list is news that The Black Angels are returning to Lawrence. They are a favorite of mine and they've killed each time I've seen them live. They also put out one of my top 10 favorite albums of 2010 with Phosphene Dream. They'll be at the Bottleneck on Saturday, April 23rd.

Here's the long list of shows I've missed posting about in the last month:

Thu 02/17 Tennis/Holiday Shores/Soft Reeds @ The Jackpot, Lawrence*
Mon 02/28 The Forms/Soft Reeds @ The Record Bar, KC
Thu 03/10 Merle Haggard/Kris Kristofferson @ The Music Hall, KC
Sat 03/12 The War On Drugs @ The Riot Room, KC*
Tue 03/14 Middle Brother/Deer Tick/Dawes @ The Granada, Lawrence*
Sat 03/19 DeVotchka @ The Midland Theater, KC*
Mon 03/21 The Dodos/Reading Rainbow @ The Record Bar, KC
Wed 03/30 Das Racist @ The Granada, Lawrence*
Fri 04/01 Toro Y Moi/Adventure/Saharan Gazelle Boy @ The Riot Room, KC*
Sat 04/02 The Smoking Popes @ The Riot Room, KC
Sat 04/09 The Raveonettes/Tamaryn @ The Record Bar, KC*
Tue 04/12 Phosphorescent @ The Jackpot, Lawrence*
Thu 04/14 Justin Townes Earle @ The Bottleneck, Lawrence*
Wed 04/20 Mike Watt & The Missingmen @ The Bottleneck, Lawrence*
Fri 04/22 Foals/Freelance Whales/Naked and Famous @ The Beaumont Club, KC*
Sat 04/23 The Joy Formidable/The Lonely Forest @ The Riot Room, KC
Sat 04/23 The Black Angels/Suuns @ The Bottleneck, Lawrence*
Sun 04/24 Interpol @ The Beaumont Club, KC
Tue 04/26 The Black Lips/Vivian Girls @ The Beaumont Club, KC
Tue 05/03 Social Distortion @ The Beaumont Club, KC*
Sat 05/07 Of Montreal @ Liberty Hall, Lawrence
Sun 05/15 S. Carey (of Bon Iver)/Other Lives @ The Record Bar, KC*

*Highly recommended



New Music: Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde

Out of the albums slated for the first month of 2011, none so far are as good as the second album from Chicago trio Smith Westerns. Dye It Blonde gets it's influences from all the right places. A little garage rock, a little psych rock, a little T-Rex and a little Bowie. As young as these guys are, they're pretty great songwriters. Each song on the album is catchy enough to still be stuck in your head hours later. This album had been dominating my headphones for the week or two and I don't see it stopping anytime soon. The album is out officially on Fat Possum on Tuesday the 18th, I highly suggest picking it up.

The group will be at the Record Bar in KC on Tuesday, February 22nd. Don't miss it.

Here's a video for the first track of the album, 'Weekend':



2010's Most Overrated/Disappointing Albums

I did one of these posts back in 2008, but skipped last year for some reason. Not all of these albums are bad per say, some are just weak albums from bands/musicians I usually enjoy. Except that Sleigh Bells album...that one is just bad.

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

I absolutely adore Midlake's second album, 2006's The Trials Of Van Occupanther. The placement of Midlake's most recent effort on this list is mostly due to how much I loved the last one. There isn't anything wrong with this album and, in fact, the tone is very similar to Van Occupanther, but this album just bored me. There are two or three stand out tracks, but the rest of the album is unfortunately very forgettable.

Sleigh Bells - Treats

The debut album from the duo of Sleigh Bells gets it's placement here because it got a ton of praise from all over the place and I really don't get it. I tried listening to this album the whole way through on multiple occasions and just ended up with a headache. I'm sure there is someone out there that loves this album and I'm sure they can find something on my best of list that doesn't suit their tastes as well, so to each his own. Personally I think that The Go! Team pulls off this sound so much better than Sleigh Bells ever could.

Jenny and Johnny - I'm Having Fun Now

There might not be a more misleading title of any album released in 2010. As someone who really enjoyed Jenny Lewis' work with Rilo Kiley and loved her first solo album, I'm starting to worry. Pair this utter disappointment with a lackluster second solo album and it's starting to seem that Lewis might be losing steam. I can't lie, I'll still go see her play live whenever she comes through town but giving my time to another effort from her might not be in the cards.

Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz

Like the Midlake album, Sufjan's recent effort isn't a bad album at all, but it's not up to the quality of his three full length albums before it. Stevens said recently in concert that he quit writing songs and is now working more with sounds and sonic textures. It certainty is clear here that songwriting wasn't the main focus at all. So much of this album seems unfocused and half baked. I'm not against any band changing up their sound, but this album just never clicked for me at all.

The Whigs - In The Dark

Athens, Georgia trio The Whigs were set to inherit the pure rock and roll throne that The Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers have partially abandoned in the last few years. Instead, after hearing In The Dark, it seems they are now going down the path of a band like Kings Of Leon. I can't fault a band for cleaning up their sound and trying to make it more radio friendly, but In The Dark is just horrible.