Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Review: Top 60 Albums of the Year (31 to 60)

365 days, 78 posts and 6700 visits later...2010 is about to wave goodbye and we're once again ready to see off another year in our time-honored tradition of counting down our favorite albums of the year.

Today we have the first part of a Top 60 list that could easily expand into a Top 100 as there was no shortage of good music in an otherwise troublesome year. As usual, I'm going to point out the fact that the order of the year-end list is not going to be finalized until I finally find the time to listen to all of the albums currently waiting in my busy player's queue. When this happens, the complete and thoroughly thought through list of 2010 is going to appear in Cool Music Database, the central hub of every yearly list I've ever compiled and more. To get a better idea about all the records I've listened to and appreciated in 2010, check out our Listening Habits posts from the past 12 months here.

Meanwhile, here's how the second half of our Top 60 Albums of the Year list currently looks like:

Top Albums of 2010: 31 - 60

31. Penny sparkle - BLONDE REDHEAD
32. Interpol - INTERPOL
33. Disconnect from desire - SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS
34. Cosmogramma - FLYING LOTUS
35. MAYA - M.I.A.
36. Brothers - THE BLACK KEYS
38. Congratulations - MGMT
39. Innerspeaker - TAME IMPALA
40. Halcyon digest - DEERHUNTER
41. Forget - TWIN SHADOW
42. The Drums - THE DRUMS
43. Avi Buffalo - AVI BUFFALO
44. 1000 years - THE CORIN TUCKER BAND
45. The monitor - TITUS ANDRONICUS
46. Phosphene dream - THE BLACK ANGELS
48. The optimist - NEW YOUNG PONY CLUB
49. Swim - CARIBOU
50. Latin - HOLY FUCK
51. This is happening - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
52. My beautiful dark twisted fantasy - KANYE WEST
53. How I got over - THE ROOTS
54. The Hundred In The Hands - THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS
55. Fire like this - BLOOD RED SHOES
56. Transit transit - AUTOLUX
57. Black noise - PANTHA DU PRINCE
58. There is love in you - FOUR TET
59. Stridulum II - ZOLA JESUS
60. The age of adz - SUFJAN STEVENS

Bubbling under: Broken Bells - BROKEN BELLS, The courage of others - MIDLAKE, Northern aggression - STEVE WYNN &THE MIRACLE 3, Blurry blue mountain - GIANT SAND, Together - THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS, I'm having fun now - JENNY AND JOHNNY, The five ghosts - STARS, Lisbon - THE WALKMEN, Absolute dissent - KILLING JOKE, 2 - RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR, Beat the devil's tattoo - BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB, Amsterdam throwdown King Street showdown! - SOLEX VS. CRISTINA MARTINEZ + JON SPENCER, Odd blood - YEASAYER, Mines - MENOMENA, The golden archipelago - SHEARWATER, Have one on me - JOANNA NEWSOM, Here’s to taking it easy - PHOSPHORESCENT, Possession sound - GUN OUTFIT, Nothing hurts - MALE BONDING, Romance is boring - LOS CAMPESINOS!, Plastic beach - GORILLAZ, Strange weather, isn't it? - !!!, Where did the night fall - UNKLE, Before today - ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI, Grey oceans - COCOROSIE

Next up: 2011 arrives and Cool Music Central spills the beans about the Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Cheers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

2010 Review: Top 100 Tracks of the Year (1-50)

So how was your Christmas weekend? I hope you all had a great time! C.M.C. started the celebrations on Friday with the unveiling of the first part of our Top 100 Tracks of the Year and we’re proceeding today with the presentation of our very own Festive 50.

The rules of this game were made clear in the previous post, so all that remains is to explain the difficult process of deciding our Single of the Year. In reality it’s a tie between two very different but equally loved tracks, The National’s "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and Dum Dum Girls’ "Jail La La". Both tracks were inducted in our Killer Tracks Hall of Fame in the first half of the year (see here and here respectively) and I still can’t get enough of either of them.

In the end, the decision for that all-important number 1 spot was not down to a flip of the coin but to the fact that I have yet to see a "Best of" year-end list with the Dum Dum Girls on top. One of C.M.C.’s many missions is, of course, to correct all music-related wrongs, so our Top 50 Singles list comes just in time to take care of that. Another factor that tipped the odds to Dee Dee and her band’s favor was the fact that if we didn’t have the rule of including just one track from each band in our Top 50, Dum Dum Girls would certainly have the most entries. Apart from their awesome Sub Pop debut 7 inch that claimed the top, the Girls released a series of ace singles in 2010 including "Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout" on Slumberland (included in the second half of our Top 100), "Stiff Little Fingers" on Hell, Yes! and a split with Male Bonding on Sub Pop with the excellent "Pay For Me". Not to mention the fact that each and every track on their great debut "I Will Be" would make for a first-class single release.

Without further ado, here’s our Top 50 Singles of 2010 accompanied with mp3 links where available and a player where you can hear and see videos for most of them:

Top Tracks of 2010: 1-50

1.   Jail La La - DUM DUM GIRLS
2.   Bloodbuzz Ohio - THE NATIONAL
3.   Bury Pts 2+4 - THE FALL
4.   Infinity Guitars - SLEIGH BELLS
5.   Written In Reverse - SPOON
6.   Worm Tamer - GRINDERMAN
7.   Ready To Start - ARCADE FIRE
8.   Barricade - INTERPOL
9.   Mirrorage - GLASSER
10. Proud Evolution - LIARS
11. Attack Music - THESE NEW PURITANS
12. Celestica - CRYSTAL CASTLES
13. Art Czars - JAPANDROIDS
15. Old Fangs - BLACK MOUNTAIN
16. Norway - BEACH HOUSE
17. Can’t Feel Born EP - HIGH PLACES
18. King Night - SALEM
19. IxC999 - WHITE RING
20. Intuition - LONELADY
22. Giving Up The Gun - VAMPIRE WEEKEND
23. Everybody’s Under Your Spell - THE DUKE SPIRIT
25. Semi-Precious Stone - WOLF PARADE
26. Odessa - CARIBOU
27. Water - PIT ER PAT
28. Here Sometimes - BLONDE REDHEAD
29. Let’s Get Out Of Here - LES SAVY FAV
30. Digging for Something - SUPERCHUNK
31. Glitter - NO AGE
32. Undertow - WARPAINT
33. Boyfriend - BEST COAST
34. Skinny Little Bitch - HOLE
35. Blue Blood Blues - THE DEAD WEATHER
36. C'mon - THE SOFT PACK
37. Sleep Forever - CROCODILES
39. Blue Blood - FOALS
41. Born Free - M.I.A.
43. Latin America - HOLY FUCK
44. Slow - TWIN SHADOW
45. Golden Haze - WILD NOTHING
46. Fool's Day - BLUR
47. Get Some - LYKKE LI
48. Next Girl - THE BLACK KEYS
49. Solitude Is Bliss - TAME IMPALA
50. Forever & Ever Amen - THE DRUMS

Listen to the Top 50 here:

Next weekend: All you ever wanted to know about C.M.C.'s Top Albums of 2010!

(mp3s, flvs via pitchfork, stereogum, KEXP or the relevant record labels)

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Review: Top 100 Tracks of the Year (51-100)

As usual, I started trimming down the long list of our favorite tracks of the year trying to decide what to include in Cool Music Central's Top 50, but it became obvious that I was leaving out too many great ones. Therefore, this year we're expanding our singles list to a Top 100 split into two parts: today we're presenting in no particular order the tracks between 51 and 100 and on the 26th we'll give you our Top 50 Singles of 2010.

As it is also usual, there are a couple of self-imposed rules in the compilation of this list: 1) All tracks included here were either released as singles in any shape or format (digital or physical) in the past 12 months or given away as free mp3s (which is a modern and more effective way of getting your music noticed than hoping that the radio will play your single). 2) Only one track from each artist/group is included in the Top 50 to ensure that a wider array of music is represented in our list. This rule is relaxed for the second half of the list which we are presenting today, meaning that some of the artists below will make a second appearance in a couple of days, when we'll unveil the Top 50. So, now that the rules are clear, let's get on with the show:

Top Tracks of 2010: 51-100

Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout - DUM DUM GIRLS
Tremel - GLASSER
AM/FM - !!!
Jezebel - ANNA CALVI
The Overachievers - LIARS
Scissor Runner - JENNY AND JOHNNY
Compliments - BAND OF HORSES
Let Them - JJ
Fixed - STARS
Romance Is Boring - LOS CAMPESINOS!
Found Love In A Graveyard - VERONICA FALLS
Natural Selection - UNKLE
Lemonade - COCOROSIE
Siberian Breaks - MGMT
Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums - MOONFACE
Rattling Cage - FOREST SWORDS
I Feel Better - HOT CHIP
Anyone's Ghost - THE NATIONAL
Month Of May - ARCADE FIRE
Heavenward Grand Prix - JAPANDROIDS
Ashes to Ashes - WARPAINT
Dear God 2.0 - THE ROOTS
Gold Guns Girls - METRIC
Tonight - THE BIG PINK
Real Live Flesh - TUNE-YARDS
Mind Eraser, No Chaser - THEM CROOKED VULTURES
Hearts (oOoOO EP) - oOoOO

Listen to a playlist including most of the above tracks plus the festive (?) "Merry Christmas, Baby (Please Don't Die)" by the Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls (hint: make sure not to miss the smoking hot last video on this player!) - enjoy:

(mp3s via or the relevant record labels)

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Review: Debut Albums of the Year

After giving props to the Old School of Rock, it's time to turn our attention to some of the most promising newcomers of 2010. As I've said before, the debut album is the all-important first impression that can make or break a young band's career. It’s the statement of intend that defines the path of new artists and even when they're not exactly hitting the bull’s eye in their first effort, their debut gives us those all-important clues as to what to expect for the future. And sometimes, in those special occasions when the newcomer actually hits the target in one go, the debut album can have the power to define a whole era (think Sex Pistols, The Smiths or, more recently, The Strokes and Interpol). Although we didn’t have any breakthrough debuts of such magnitude in 2010, we did have quite an impressive number of excellent first efforts that made their impact felt and hinted that greater things are on the cards. Some of them are definitely going to be among the top choices of our "Albums of the Year" list that's coming along nicely and you can expect it right at the end of the year.

Here’s the 15 debuts that impressed us the most in 2010, plus a few more recent discoveries:

Top 15 Debuts of 2010

  1. Ring - GLASSER
  2. I Will Be - DUM DUM GIRLS
  3. Treats - SLEIGH BELLS
  4. King Night - SALEM
  5. The Fool - WARPAINT
  6. Nerve Up - LONELADY
  7. Gemini - WILD NOTHING
  8. Crazy For You - BEST COAST
  9. The Soft Pack - THE SOFT PACK
  10. Innerspeaker - TAME IMPALA
  11. The Drums - THE DRUMS
  12. Avi Buffalo - AVI BUFFALO
  13. Forget - TWIN SHADOW
  14. The Hundred In The Hands - THE HUNDRED IN THE HANDS
  15. Nothing Hurts - MALE BONDING
More to explore: Dagger Paths - FOREST SWORDS, Untitled - FACTORY FLOOR, Relayted - GAYNGS, The Waves - TAMARYN, O Children - O CHILDREN

Check out our selections from the two previous years below:

Top 10 Debuts of 2009
Top 10 Debuts of 2008

Here's the video for "Treasury of We" from Glasser's "The Ring", C.M.C.'s Top Debut of 2010, which gives us an interesting inside look into the making of the record and how it's recreated live by Cameron Mesirow and her collaborators:

Glasser - Treasury of We

Listen to a Myspace playlist with tracks from our Top Debuts of 2010 here.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Review: Top 5 Albums from the Old School

I hope you’re not tired with lists just yet because we’re ready to start bombarding you with our very own. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll unveil our favorite singles and albums of the year as well as our customary "Best Debuts" list.

For starters, though, here’s a Top 5 of the best Old School Albums of the year. Who said that rock’n’roll is only for the young? These hardened veterans, with musical careers well over the two decade mark, have delivered the goods once again and are ready to drop some serious knowledge for the benefit of the numerous young hot shots that follow in their footprints. Notebooks out, the class is in session:

 Top 5 Albums from the Old School

1. Your Future Our Clutter - THE FALL
2. Grinderman 2 - GRINDERMAN
3. Majesty Shredding - SUPERCHUNK
4. Blurry Blue Mountain - GIANT SAND
5. Absolute Dissent - KILLING JOKE

Honorable mentions: My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky - SWANS, I'm New Here - GIL SCOTT-HERON

Grinderman - Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man (live)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, Dec.12. 2010)

Photos from the second visit of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan to Athens for a show at the Gagarin 205 club. The pair presented their third joint album "Hawk", along with selections from their two previous collaborations.

Here's the setlist:

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan Setlist Gagarin 205, Athens, Greece 2010

For a review of the gig, click here. Here's a video of the duo performing the uncharacteristically rockin' "Get Behind Me" - shake it!

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Get Behind Me (live @ Gagarin 205, Dec.12, 2010)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Listening Habits 11-12.10

Just before we start our review of 2010, let’s take a look at the latest batch of records that got our attention in the last couple of months of the year.

Two debut LPs, Salem’s "King Night" and Warpaint’s "The Fool", sit at the top of the album pile, sharing Cool Music Central’s "Obsessive Listening" badge. Salem is spearheading the burgeoning Witch House scene which so far relied on limited edition singles and obscure digital releases. The band started making waves a couple of years ago with a handful of under-the-radar singles and EPs, featuring dark, menacing electro tracks, steeped in gothic atmospherics, blood-freezing industrial noise and slowed-down hip hop beats - the blueprint of the sound which we now know as Witch House or Drag. With its first LP, Salem has stepped up its paranormal activities, launching a haunting sonic assault which threatens to possess our ears and turntables for many months to come. Have your exorcist on standby before attempting to listen to this record!

The modern witches' sicko electronica dance is not represented only by Salem's album in our Top 20. The brand new compilation "ISVOLT" is a first rate chance to get acquainted with several other Witch House practitioners, including Modern Witch (obviously), Mater Suspiria Vision (brilliant name), †‡† (Ritualzz) and White Ring. The latter's limited Disaro EP "Black Earth That Made Me" along with the oOoOO’s self-titled EP and Lake R▲dio's download-only LP "Planet Earth About To Be Recycled" (get it here) also took part in the haunting of Cool Music Central in these last few weeks.

Warpaint first got our attention with last year’s mini-LP "Exquisite Corpse". With its debut full-length "The Fool", the all-girl LA quartet explores further the possibilities of its expansive, psychedelic pop sound, delivering dense, multilayered songs where the rhythm section takes the driving seat and the guitars meander around creating a canvas upon which the soaring vocals deliver captivating melodies. Exquisite foolishness, indeed!

Other goodies we've enjoyed lately include Crocodiles' shoegazing, psychedelic stomp, Corin Tucker's return to music with her fine first solo effort that triggered this nostalgic Sleater-Kinney "Vintage Tracks" post, Deerhunter's demanding but rewarding idiosyncratic pop, Pantha Du Prince's minimal dance beats, Twin Shadow's imaginative '80s nostalgia, Tame Impala's trippy psych-rock, Giant Sand's unique mix of desert rock and alt-folk, The Walkmen's staggering, ruff melodies, Sufjan Stevens' latest, synth-saturated epic, the majestic, goth splendor of Zola Jesus, Berlin Bride's twisted "Athenien" electropop, It Sound's DIY lo-fi "hard pop" (read our interview here), the experimental prog-rock of Menomena and the unashamedly mainstream, lighters-in-the-air, epic rock of Kings Of Leon. Here’s the complete Top 20 list with something for everybody:

Top 20 Albums

1.   King night - SALEM
2.   The fool - WARPAINT
3.   Sleep forever - CROCODILES
4.   1000 years - THE CORIN TUCKER BAND
5.   Halcyon digest - DEERHUNTER
6.   Black noise - PANTHA DU PRINCE
7.   Forget - TWIN SHADOW
8.   Innerspeaker - TAME IMPALA
9.   Blurry blue mountain - GIANT SAND
10. Lisbon - THE WALKMEN
11. The age of adz - SUFJAN STEVENS
12. Stridulum II - ZOLA JESUS
13. Mines - MENOMENA
14. Come around sundown - KINGS OF LEON
15. Modern celibacy - BERLIN BRIDES
16. Planet Earth about to be recycled - LAKE R▲DIO
18. Black earth that made me EP - WHITE RING
19. oOoOO EP - oOoOO
20. Hard pop for blue trees - IT SOUND

Top 25 Tracks

1.   Not in love - CRYSTAL CASTLES feat. ROBERT SMITH

2.   IxC999 - WHITE RING
3.   King night - SALEM
4.   Undertow - WARPAINT
5.   Semi-precious stone - WOLF PARADE
7.   Heavenward grand prix - JAPANDROIDS
8.   Stoned to death - CROCODILES
9.   Hey cool kid - CLOUD NOTHINGS
10. Golden haze - WILD NOTHING
11. Revival - DEERHUNTER
12. Get some - LYKKE LI
13. Let them - JJ
14. Hit 'n' run - BERLIN BRIDES
15. Castles in the snow - TWIN SHADOW
16. Solitude is bliss - TAME IMPALA
17. Angela surf city - THE WALKMEN
18. Taos - MENOMENA
19. Fields of green - GIANT SAND
20. Jezebel - ANNA CALVI
21. Sea talk - ZOLA JESUS
22. The splendor - PANTHA DU PRINCE
23. Lights - LAKE R▲DIO
24. Walking (on a tall fence) - IT SOUND
25. I did crimes behind your eyelids - DEERHOOF feat. BUSDRIVER

(mp3s via pitchfork)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Plissken Festival 2010 with These New Puritans, Handsome Furs (Athens, Dec. 4, 2010)

The oddly titled Plissken Festival 2010 took place last Saturday in a warehouse located in a fittingly dilapidated, run-down industrial area of Athens. The all-day event featured These New Puritans (the main attraction) and Handsome Furs, two of C.M.C.'s current favorite bands, plus a bunch of others that ranged from the complete unknown (at least to your corespondent) to the slightly familiar.

These New Puritans, the recent winners of NME's album of 2010 and a firm favorite of this blog since early 2008, were the protagonists of the festival. The Barnett brothers brought the ambitious art-punk sound of "Hidden" to life with the help of all sorts of wind and percussive instruments, keyboards and guitar. "We Want War" got things started with its pompous, oppressive beat and for the next hour or so we enjoyed a big chunk of the future classic LP that got the young band from Southend-on-Sea at the top of many critics' year-end lists. "Attack Music", "Orion", "Three Thousand" and "Drum Courts-Where Corals Lie" where some of the highlights from "Hidden", while "Swords of Truth", "Infinity ytinifnI" and "Elvis" represented their equally awesome debut "Beat Pyramid".

These New Puritans, live@Plissken
Earlier in the evening we enjoyed a short (only 35 minutes) but very lively performance by Handsome Furs who combined material off last year’s excellent "Face Control" with a few new ones. Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry (or should I say Sailor & Lula - check out Dan's shirt), a couple in music and life, have an amazing chemistry on stage (and, I'm guessing, off stage as well) and with their combined keyboard-guitar attack delivered a sweaty, fierce electro-punk set that left us hungry for more. Let’s hope that we’re going to cross paths again sometime in the near future.

Handsome Furs, live@Plissken
The line-up of the festival also included Chew Lips who presented us the pleasant, dance-floor friendly, electro-pop of their debut LP "Unicorn", fun Canadian indie hip-hopers The Lytics and UK all-female trio Robots In Disguise who delivered an energetic but rather predictable mix of electro-pop and bubblegum-punk. Other acts that appeared before and after all this included The Longcut, Rykarda Parasol, 23rd Underpass, FM Belfast, Futurecop!, Alexander Robotnick, Danger, Mondkopf  and Poka.

Chew Lips

The Lytics

Robots In Disguise
Overall this new indie festival left us a positive first impression and although it failed to attract a larger audience (hardly surprising, given that headliners These New Puritans may be popular with critics and bloggers but their demanding, experimental sound is rather difficult to crossover to a wider public), we're hoping that it will return next year, as we definitely need an adventurous boutique festival for the winter.

These New Puritans - Attack Music, live@Plissken Festival, Athens (Dec. 4, 2010)

Handsome Furs - Talking Hotel Arbat Blues, live@Plissken Festival, Athens (Dec. 4, 2010)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Releases: November 2010

Round up of some of the most interesting releases of November 2010:


STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE 3 - Northern Aggression
KANYE WEST - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
KID CUDI - Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager
LAKE R▲DIO - Planet Earth About to Be Recycled
BLANK DOGS - Land and Fixed
BO NINGEN - Bo Ningen
OFF! - First Four EPs
MICE PARADE - What It Means to Be Left-Handed
MASERATI - Pyramid of the Sun
GANGRENE - Gutter Water
WEEKEND - Sports
FOREST SWORDS - Dagger Paths
THE 1900s - Return of the Century
ORANGE JUICE - Coals to Newcastle
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Rough Trade Shops Synth Wave 10

Singles & EPs 

WHITE RING - Black Earth That Made Me EP 
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS - I Lived My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart EP 
GRINDERMAN - Worm Tamer 
THE NATIONAL - Terrible Love 
JAPANDROIDS - Heavenward Grand Prix 
DUM DUM GIRLS - Bhang Bhang, I'm a Burnout
BEST COAST - Crazy For You
FOALS - Blue Blood
LYKKE LI - Get Some
JJ - Let Them
WOLF PARADE - Semi-Precious Stone
THE RADIO DEPT. - Never Follow Suit EP 
GIRLS - Broken Dreams Club EP
ZOLA JESUS - Poor Animal / I Can't Stand
!!! - Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass EP
DEERHOOF (with BUSDRIVER) - Hoofdriver
THE GAA GAA’s - Voltaire
THE THERMALS - Never Listen to Me
KILLING JOKE - European Super State
KURT VILE - In My Time
THE CORAL - Walking In the Winter
GORILLAZ - Doncamatic (All Played Out) ft. Daley
TRICKY - Ghetto Stars
KELE - On the Lam
MYSTERY JETS - Show Me the Light
LAURA MARLING - Blues Run the Game / Needle and the Damage Done
SHARON VAN ETTEN - I'm Giving Up On You
EELS - Baby Loves Me
MELISSA AUF DER MAUR - Meet Me On The Dark Side
SMASHING PUMPKINS - Teargarden by Kaleidyscope Vol. II: The Solstice Bare
THE WAR ON DRUGS - Future Weather EP

White Ring's limited edition vinyl EP "Black Earth That Made Me" was the first 12" for both the band and Disaro Records. It sold out almost immediately but you can get your digital copy here. Among its six tracks is "IxC999", one of the best I've heard this year from the rising Witch House scene. The track is also featured in Robot Elephant Records' compilation "ISVOLT" which will be released this Monday, December 6th. The 9 track compilation, also featuring †‡† (Ritualzz), Party Trash, Fostercare, //Tense//, Modern Witch, Mater Suspiria Vision, ///'HORSE MACGYVER\\\ and Raw Moans, is a collaboration with Disaro Records and you can find out more about it here.

Check out below the video for White Ring's "IxC999" and go here to listen to their brand new track "Felt U" from the still-untitled album they're preparing to unleash sometime in 2011:

White Ring - IxC999

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

You Say Party, Live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, Nov. 28, 2010)

You Say Party’s first ever visit to Greece had plenty of thrills to offer to the lucky few who turned up at the Gagarin gig on Sunday night. The band’s local fan base may be rather small for the time being, but its support was particularly vocal, offering a warm welcome to the Canadian five-piece. You Say Party reciprocated with a storming 75-minute set that kept a fine balance between the band’s newer, ‘80s new wave influenced material and the older, rawer, punk-inspired repertoire.

The band’s positive energy is truly remarkable, especially when you take into consideration what they’ve been through this year, with the tragic loss of their drummer Devon Clifford and the departure of founding member Krista Loewen. The performance we witnessed on this date, though, has made it clear that You Say Party’s dedication to their music has helped them overcome the kind of adversity that could easily crush a lesser band.

A light for Devon
The focal point of the band’s energetic stage presence is, of course, petite frontwoman Becky Ninkovic who possesses a truly remarkable voice that shines even brighter on the more melodic songs of their latest album "XXXX". She never stopped dancing throughout the set and at some point she even jumped over the barrier and ended up singing among the fans, honoring the group’s punk roots that dictate the elimination of the distance between musicians and audience. True to the band’s name, the gig quickly turned into a proper party, indeed!

The highlights of You Say Party’s fervent performance included "There Is XXXX (Within My Heart)", "Downtown Mayors Goodnight, Alley Kids Rule!", "Teenage Hit Wonder", "Monster", "Dark Days", "Lonely's Lunch" and "Laura Palmer's Prom" that closed the main set. The first encore included new single "Suck it", followed by an explosive "Like I Give a Care", and the night closed on a high note with a second encore brimming with the punk rock mayhem of "The Gap (Between the Rich and the Poor)" off their excellent debut "Hit the Floor!".

You Say Party - Suck it / Like I Give A Care (live @ Gagarin 205, Nov. 28, 2010)

You Say Party - Laura Palmer's Prom (live @ Gagarin 205, Nov. 28, 2010)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paramount Styles, Live @ An Club (Athens, Nov. 26, 2010)

"We were great, maybe not the greatest..."

Girls Against Boys was certainly among the greatest rock bands of its time, but Scott McCloud is obviously at a different place now. After 25 years of making noise rock, he clearly feels it's time for a little bit of peace and quiet introspection.

Paramount Styles, his new band which also features fellow GVSB alumnus Alexis Fleisig on drums, takes a completely different songwriting approach, with the acoustic guitar taking the spotlight and the cello playing as an important part as the electric guitar or the rhythm section. Not surprisingly, though, for a die-hard GVSB fan like myself, the highlights of this evening’s performance were exactly those Paramount Styles tracks that come closer to the old band’s sound, the moments were McCloud reconnects with his fury and Fleisig starts firing away behind his drum-kit.

Those moments came during "Desire Is Not Enough", "Come to New York" and "I Keep Losing You", reminders of the time when "we were great" as the lyrics to "The Greatest" go, but the rest of the set was a somber affair, with moody tales and acoustic melodies that sometime work ("All eyes are on you now my pet", "The Greatest") and sometimes don’t. Still, McCloud remains a captivating performer and it was certainly a pleasure to see him on stage once again performing his new material, even though this latest encounter has left us with a strong craving for the good old days.

 Paramount Styles live@ An Club

Here’s the set list of the hour-long performance which was equally divided among the two Paramount Styles albums, 2008’s "Failure American Style" and the brand-new "Heaven's Alright":

Race you till tomorrow
Take care of me
Desire is not enough
Stay alive
The girls of Prague
Come to New York
One last surprise
I keep losing you
Paradise happens
The greatest

Encore: Come to where you are

And here is a recent interview with Scott McCloud from MixGrill.

Paramount Styles - Desire is not enough (live@An Club, Nov. 26th, 2010)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Podcast: CMC on MixGrill MindRadio Show

If you've missed it last night, here's your chance to listen to MixGrill's webcast @ featuring some of C.M.C.'s current favorite tunes:

MixGrill MindRadio Show

 Here's the playlist:

1.   Holy Fuck - Latin America
2.   jj - Let Them
3.   Pit Er Pat - Water
4.   The Hundred In The Hands - Gold Blood
5.   Crystal Castles - Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith)
6.   Salem - Redlights (3:44)
7.   White Ring - Ixc999
8.   Glasser - Mirrorage
9.   Warpaint - Bees
10. Twin Shadow - Slow
11. It Sound - I Live For The Future (All Day!)
12. The Duke Spirit - Everybody's Under Your Spell
13. The Fall - Mexico Wax Solvent
14. Killing Joke - Change
15. Paramount Styles - Desire Is Not Enough
16. You Say Party! We Say Die! - Laura Palmer´s Prom
17. Anna Calvi - Jezebel
18. Lykke Li - Get Some
19. Wild Nothing - Chinatown
20. Dum Dum Girls - Stiff Little Fingers
21. Crocodiles - Stoned To Death
22. The Corin Tucker Band - Doubt
23. Sleater-Kinney - Get Up
24. Japandroids - Heavenward Grand Prix
25. No Age - Depletion
26. Autolux - Census

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CMC Radio: Get Some

A heads up, first - tomorrow (25/11) at 8 pm local time (that's 6 pm GMT) I'll be the guest DJ at MixGrill's web-radio show on selecting some of my favorite new tunes along with alegra and leo (hint: the track that lends its title to this post will be played, as well as several other entries from our previous playlists). To tune in, click here.

As for this latest CMC Radio web-broadcast (the sixth in our midweek series), I would say that overall it's more pop-friendly than usual, but it gets darker in places and a bit psychedelic. Click below to listen to our new 43:56-minute mixtape that includes tracks by Lykke Li, The Hundred In The Hands, Summer Camp, jj, Zola Jesus, You Say Party, Paramount Styles, Tame Impala, Cloud Nothings, Best Coast, Wavves and low-fi:

CMC Radio: Playlist 6 - Get Some

1. Get Some - Lykke Li

Excellent new single which you can download here by giving an email address. The video is pretty awesome, too, and you can watch it at the end of this post. Sample lyric: "Like the shotgun needs an outcome, I'm your prostitute, you gon' get some!!!" Wow!

2. Commotion - The Hundred In The Hands

The latest single from hot electropop duo The Hundred In The Hands from their self-titled debut. Check out also their website here, where you can read their THITH zine with reviews and features about the music they're into and some pretty cool mixes of their own on Radio THITH.

3. Why Don't You Stay - Summer Camp

Another boy-girl duo - Summer Camp are Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey and this sunny pop track is from their debut EP "Young" on Moshi Moshi Records.

4. Let Go - jj

From the EP "No.3" released earlier this year. It's their only track currently available on MySpace and I would strongly suggest going here to download their latest, Akon-sampling, single "Let Them", which would be my ideal choice for this playlist.

5. Poor Animal - Zola Jesus

New single from Nika Roza Danilova, not included in her latest album "Stridulum II"

6. Laura Palmer's Prom - You Say Party

The Canadian new wave punkers play their first ever gig in Athens this Sunday at Gagarin 205 and we're planning to be there.

7. The Greatest - Paramount Styles

From "Heaven's Alright", the just-released second LP from the new band of ex-Girls Against Boys singer Scott McCloud. They play here at An Club on Friday - looks like we're gonna have a very busy weekend!

8. Solitude Is Bliss - Tame Impala

From "Innerspeaker", the fine debut album by the Australian neo-psychedelic band.

9. Hey Cool Kid - Cloud Nothings

Catchy new track from the young and rising lo-fi band from Cleveland, Ohio, which started as Dylan Baldi's solo project. The self-titled debut album is expected January 2011 on Carpark and Wichita.

10. When I'm With You - Best Coast

One of the best songs of Best Coast and the bonus track of their excellent debut "Crazy for You" (more about it here).

11. King Of The Beach - Wavves

Wavves and Best Coast go hand in hand lately. This is the surf-punk title-track from Wavves' latest and greatest LP so far.

12. Something - low-fi

Finale with something from Italy. low-fi are from Napoli and play some really mean electro-garage punk. The track is from the rockin' 5-track "low-fi EP" which you can get from Octopus Records here.

Lykke Li - Get Some

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Vintage Tracks 7: The punk rock genius of Sleater-Kinney

We were recently celebrating Corin Tucker's return to the music scene with the release of "1000 Years", essentially her solo debut, which was recorded with The Corin Tucker Band that also includes Unwound's Sara Lund and Golden Bears' Seth Lorinczi. As much as I enjoyed the new material, I couldn't help but feel nostalgic about the amazing Sleater-Kinney, the band I have repeatedly praised as perhaps the most exciting rock act that the late '90s had to offer. Instead of trying to convince you of the validity of my claim with my clumsy writing, I'm going to let the music do the talking instead, and in this seventh edition of our Vintage Tracks posts, we'll have not one but three of my all-time favorite Sleater-Kinney tracks.

First off, it's "Dig Me Out", the title track from Sleater-Kinney's third LP, their 1997 breakthrough release for Kill Rock Stars which made Corin, Carrie and Janet known to a wider audience and convinced us that this band had much more to offer than riot-grrrl fire and fury. The video comes from a live a performance in New York's Central Park in the summer of 1998, a year before I had the opportunity to enjoy the band live myself, when I first saw them playing at the Reading Festival of '99 (from where the photo you see above) and then at Matador's Nice Weekend in London at U.L.U. (the label was celebrating its 10 years back then).

Dig Me Out (live in Central Park, July 12, 1998

The next choice is "Get Up" from 1999's "The Hot Rock" - a perfect single from my favorite album of that year and my top choice for the second half of the '90s. The video is directed by Miranda July:

Get Up

And, finally, another heartbreaker: "Jumpers", the final single from Sleater-Kinney's last album, the 2005 Sub Pop release "The Woods".


If the band is not reforming anytime soon, is it too much to ask for a joint Corin Tucker Band - Wild Flag tour in 2011? Just an idea....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It Sound interview

As someone who has recently invested on a new pair of hi-fi speakers, I have to admit that I do appreciate music with good production values. There is no denying, though, that some of the most gratifying music in rock history was made on the cheap, with beat-up instruments, in makeshift studios or even bedrooms, in glorious lo-fi.

The spirit of DIY is still going strong three and a half decades after the punk revolution and in this feature it is our pleasure to introduce you to someone who skillfully put the theory into action and crafted his own sound with nothing more than a Danelectro guitar, a Korg drum machine, percussion and a Tascam 4-track. Meet Jesse Damm, the New York-based creator of the experimental bop sound which you can hear in "Hard Pop for Blue Trees" his debut album as It Sound. Jesse talked to us about his background, where he picked up his first guitar, what are the basic ingredients of his hard pop sound and how he hooked up with Pascal Le Gras, the artist behind some 30-plus album covers for The Fall. I should also point out that the photo you see above is taken by George Seminara, director of several Ramones videos and producer of the documentary "It's Alive". Here’s our little Q&A:

"Hard Pop" is your first album as It Sound. Any previous experiences in music making you’d like to share? 

It Sound is the beginning, though there were seeds planted in the past. I played drums with Rob Vasquez of Night Kings and Dawn Johnson of the Gorls and the ManTeeMans, along with her brother Kim, in a short-lived band. And then Dawn and myself and their 6-year old girl had a band for a bit after that. Then, It Sound started in 2008. Seattle is filled with friends in bands. I did other things while they made music. Now, I make music and many of them do other things.

I’ve read that you were born and raised in Seattle, Washington, but you learned to play guitar in Varna, Bulgaria. What’s the story behind your travels and did you happen to visit Greece while in the Balkans?

I like a good shakeup. I decided to move on impulse to a place I knew nothing of. I wanted to consider seasons more often than seconds. I got this by living in Bulgaria, where I remained for 2 years. I wrote. I painted. I walked. I grilled mackerel and ate tomatoes and cukes. And I bought a guitar and began transferring philosophical ideas on processes and art and life to a musical instrument, a new mode of expression for me.

I made several trips to Greece. One of the most memorable was a spent alone in Kavala and onward to the island of Thassos, where I hiked and swam and ate fish every day for about 10 days.  This was after the tourist season, so by that time the island was mostly locals. I also spent some time in Thessaloniki, and Mount Olympus, plus the monasteries of Meteora. I’ve always wanted to live on Hydra for a year or so. Hopefully, this happens at some point in time. Greece is one-of-a-kind. Very special.

What are the basic ingredients of your "experimental bop" sound?

Instruments, mood and minimal takes. Where some people have guitar sounds in their head growing up, I definitely heard beats, and my music reflects this. But the sound originates in the instruments I use (Korg drum machine, Danelectro guitar, percussion), a willingness to push all the knobs to their extreme and taking a cue from the emotion I am feeling at that moment. Never is the aim to be esoteric. Quite the opposite, in fact. I want to make each song as catchy as a Tommy James song and then see where I end up. Usually, the song ends up in a very interesting place that’s entirely my own. I truly believe in rock and roll and its power. I’ve had so many experiences of pure elation by hearing a killer song. It’s transformative.

You’ve recorded the album on a 4-track recorder. Is this the choice of a lo-fi enthusiast or is it an economic necessity?

A friend gave me his Tascam 4-track. I started It Sound the next day. I recorded 20 volumes of work on it. Now, I’m recording digitally because the 4-track started acting up. I don’t prefer one over the other, really. I just like getting things done. I will add that Weasel Walter did a great job mastering my tunes for vinyl and digital.

Apart from a contribution from Rob Vasquez, "Hard Pop" is basically a one-man show. Does it ever get lonely writing and recording by yourself? Any plans on expanding It Sound’s line-up in the future?

By the way, having Rob Vasquez on the record came from an idea to have a scratch across the vinyl like you would find on a used record. But it would be by an artist. In this case, a punk, a misanthrope and a legend. More people need to hear the catalog of his from Night Kings to Nights and Days to Ape Lost to The Gorls to Right On to ManTeeMans to The Look to Pissed Off Zombies to Nice Smile. An original. That’s very hard to find in rock and roll. In regards to the question, I don’t ever feel lonely. Don’t know why. There are always people around. Perhaps a live It Sound will show up someday in the future though. I’ve got some ideas.

You have some very interesting collaborators in the art department. What’s the story behind the collaboration with Pascal Le Gras, a man responsible for some of my favorite Fall covers?

Pascal has been a part of my imagination since I was a teenager. His covers for  The Fall and Jazz Butcher seemed to meet the artists at a middle point instead of just decorating their music. They weren’t just cool, they satisfied me. I contacted Pascal and sent him my record. He responded positively and with a desire to work together. Ever since, we’ve been doing It Sound and some other projects, as well. It’s an honor, as I see his paintings and video work to be enormously forward thinking as well as primal. They resonate with people across borders and seemingly across time. Plus, they’re beautiful. I never dreamt of making a record as a kid, but I did think about interacting with Pascal Le Gras.

The album is available digitally and on vinyl but not on cd. Do you think the cd's days are numbered?

If I had to prioritize musical formats, it would be 1) vinyl 2) digital 3) a yet to be created method of distribution 4) cds. Nothing against them. I own lots. But vinyl does visual and sound better and digital does ease-of-use better.

Favorite albums and bands past or present? What would be your choice for Album of the Year?

Some favorite albums: All Leonard Cohen records. The Hook - "The Hook Will Grab You". The Chiefs - "Blues" 45. Night Kings - "Increasing Our High" LP. T. Rex - "The Slider". Plastique - "De-real" 45. Traveling Circle - "Handmade House". The Bizarros - self/titled LP. The Fall - "The Infotainment Scan" LP. The Apostles - "Hymn to Pan" LP. Felt - "The Strange Idol Pattern and Other Short Stories".

And my favorite album of the year would have to be Ariel Pink - "Before Today".

It Sound – "Hard Pop for Blue Trees" can be found on iTunes, eMusic,, Vinyl can be bought at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Live @ Six D.O.G.S (Athens, Nov. 10, 2010)

I always thought that seeing a band live it's a much better introduction to its music than listening to records. You may not know the songs very well (or at all), but you get a much better idea about the band's chemistry and energy. Of course the recorded output is the decisive factor for making or breaking a band and that's what will be left behind in the end to remind us of its contribution to music history, but a gig can be much more revealing of a band's true potential.

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club from Cardiff, Wales, have released a couple of albums so far, and judging by the latest, 2009's "Love On An Oil Rig" which I got right after the gig, they specialize in short, sharp, indie pop-post punk numbers, that they're usually over before they start. The best of them ("Parrot", "Bored In Belgium") leave a sweet melodic aftertaste thanks to the female backing vocals that make them far more catchy than you would expect from a noisy, shouty post-punk ditty.

The live experience, perhaps not surprisingly, turned out to be a much more noisy affair, where the pop element of their sound took a back seat and the punk rumble took the driving wheel. As a result songs like "Bored In Belgium" that need their pop "lalala's" to work, did not function as well live as they do in their recorded form, but overall the band showed us a heavier, more adventurous side that I wouldn't have expected had I listened to the album first. This adventurousness coupled with the live chemistry of Adam Taylor and Louise Mason, the band's front-line, made for a thoroughly satisfying performance and left me with the impression that perhaps we could expect even more interesting developments in the band's future (their third full-length is in the works).

The evening's entertainment started with a performance from local up-and-coming act The Callas. The three-piece played an energetic, power pop-art punk set behind some sort of a curtain (no idea what that's supposed to symbolize, but we did manage to get a photo from the side) with influences ranging from Pixies to Television Personalities. I should also mention that both of the evening's acts list The Fall as an influence, and that's always a plus in my book.

The Callas, live @ 6 D.O.G.S (Nov. 10, 2010)

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Parrot / Bored in Belgium,  Live @ Six D.O.G.S (Nov. 10, 2010)