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Listening To: Broken Bells

1 Mar
James Mercer and Brian Burton are Broken Bells

The Shin‘s front man James Mercer and super-producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) have joined forces as Broken Bells. Broken Bells is touring as a band and their album will be released on March 9. Until then, you can listen to the entire album thanks to NPR Music.


Top 10 Albums of 2009

9 Jan
Bon Iver– Blood Bank EP
Justin Vernon made a hermetic retreat into the Wisconsin backwoods romantic with his tender masterpiece, For Emma, Forever Ago. Blood Bank is another triumph of the melancholic, the weight of which is permanently etched across my heart.
Dan Auerbach– Keep It Hid

I loved The Black Keys‘ minimalist, stripped-down, bluesy Danger Mouse produced album, Attack and Release. These guys are good. Did you know Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney released a hip-hop album this year under the name BlakRoc? It should come as no surprise then that Auerbach’s solo debut is nothing short of wonderful. He’s changing the game and proving that you can go home again.

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse- Dark Night of The Soul

Danger Mouse (one-half of Gnarls Barkley with Cee-Lo Green) and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous wrote and produced the tracks on this haunting and cinematic album. Dark Night of the Soul features contributions from The Pixies, Iggy Pop, the Shins, and the Flaming Lips, among many others. If that’s not enough, director David Lynch is involved (and he sings!). For legal reasons, the CD was never officially released, but thanks to NPR Music, you can listen to the whole album here.

Fanfarlo– Reservoir

The dreamy and melodic instramentals of this London based band, coupled with the obscure lyrics of Swedish songwriter Simon Bathazar, ensure that this multi-layered album reveals more with each listen.

Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest

If you like Fleet Foxes, you will love Grizzly Bear. Listen and enjoy!

Heartless Bastards– The Mountain

The title track of this album was one of my favorite songs this year. Erika Wennerstrom’s commanding vocals are like nothing I’ve ever heard, though she is often compared to Neil Young and Robert Plant.
Iron and Wine– Around the Well

While I’m still searching for a copy of my favorite Iron and Wine song, a cover of The Marshal Tucker Band’s AB’s song, Around the Well fits the bill with great Sam Beam rarities (B-sides, demos, outtakes). This album serves as a testament to how truly amazing Iron and Wine’s discography really is.
K’naan- Troubador

When I first heard the recording of K’naan at SXSW last spring, I fell hard. The first three minutes, a cappella, of Wavin’ Flag are met with stunned silence and bated breath until the audience recovers enough to join in the chorus. This is powerful music with a rare honesty and heart that invokes Bob Marley.

Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

It’s no wonder Phoenix reminds me of Air- they formed as part of a backing band for the French electronic group and both shared space on Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation soundtrack. This is pop music at its best- light and utterly infectious.

Various Artists- Dark Was The Night

The Red Hot Organization‘s latest compilation, Dark Was The Night, raises awareness and funds to combat HIV/AIDS. With contributions from some of today’s best musicians, including Andrew Bird, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, The National, Conor Oberst, and Spoon, among so many others, there is no end to what this multi-disk album has to offer.