Nick's Blog

I’m From Barcelona - Charlie Parker

Bouncy new track from the 29-member, indie-pop band from Sweden.

Tune-Yards - Bizness

Weird and wonderful. Reminds me of Dirty Projectors. Off the album W H O K I L L. Maybe my favorite release so far this year?

Alt Country Playlist

So, first of all, if you haven’t tried out yet, do it! Great way to stream pretty much any song you want instantly and for free, and even make playlists of your favorites.

I was trying to come up with a theme for my first playlist on there, and a song by Justin Townes Earle came up on my shuffle (definitely check out his latest album, Midnight at the Movies). So I decided to stick with that theme and do a sort of “country” or “alt-country playlist.” I grew up hating country music, but I’ve recently been finding that there’s a lot of good music under that umbrella once you wade past the Toby Keiths and Faith Hills of the world. And I may be stretching the definition of the genre with some of these songs… but that’s kind of how it goes.

Check it:

New blog!

With two other music nerds.

Over here:

Top 10 of ‘10 (So Far)

This is subject to change by the end of the year. But since everyone else is doing it…

10. Fang Island - Fang Island

Fang Island - Daisy

09. The Society Islands - Last Hero of the Western World

The Society Islands - Free Ride

08. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

The Radio Dept. - Heaven’s on Fire

07. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Before Today

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti - Round and Round

06. The New Pornographers - Together

The New Pornographers - Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk

05. The Black Keys - Brothers

The Black Keys - Tighten Up

04. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem - All I Want

03. Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo

Avi Buffalo - What’s In It For?

02. The National - High Violet

The National - Afraid of Everyone

01. The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt

The Tallest Man on Earth - Burden of Tomorrow

Top 25 Albums of the 00’s

I just did one of these for this year… but this one is even tougher.

Here’s my Top 25 for the entire last decade in music. Again, complete with sample tracks, this time much more organized at

Limit one per artist for variety’s sake. I also excluded rap albums because that would have just made it harder. (Apologies to Eminem, Jay-Z, Outkast, etc.)

1. Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
2. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
3. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
4. The National - Alligator (2005)
5. Modest Mouse - The Moon and Antarctica (2000)
6. The Strokes - Is This It (2001)
7. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary (2005)
8. The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic (2000)
9. The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas (2002)
10. The White Stripes - De Stijl (2002)
11. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009)
12. The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006)
13. Menomena - Friend And Foe (2007)
14. The Unicorns - Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2004)
15. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2005)
16. Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Lie Down In the Light (2008)
17. Okkervil River - Black Sheep Boy (2005)
18. Spoon - Gimme Fiction (2005)
19. The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
20. Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
21. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)
22. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - The Tyranny of Distance (2001)
23. TV On the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
24. of Montreal - Satanic Panic In The Attic (2005)
25. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2004)

It’s tempting to throw honorable mentions on here… I’m resisting the urge though.

Top 25 Albums of 2009

Here are my top 25 albums from this year. I’m really stepping up and totally nerding out this year, so humor me. I wrote a little blurb for each album, and included a link to a song. (Most of the links are to You have to sign up to hear the songs but its free and really quick… The rest are youtube links).  Hopefully the five of you that end up reading this will enjoy it!

EDIT: Found a sweet website that made it easy to group these 25 songs together into one playlist!

25. Local Natives - Gorilla Manor

They’ve been compared to Fleet Foxes, and while I can see similarities in the voice and harmonies, I would not call this folk music. Then again, is a comparison to Fleet Foxes really a bad thing anyway? If every song on Gorilla Manor was as good as “Airplanes” this album would rank even higher…


24. Matt and Kim - Grand

These are songs that are hard to get out of your head. You might have heard “Daylight” or “Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare” if you have watched any of the new show Community. (If you haven’t, look into that as well).

Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare

23. Boat - Setting the Paces

This is the definition of indie-pop. Catchy melodies, clever lyrics. Sort of like The Format if you know who that is.

Lately (I’ve Been On My Back)

22. Dan Deacon - Bromst

This Baltimore-based electronic musician may be a little out of his mind, but he sure makes some interesting music. He’s also a pretty funny dude. At this point most people have seen "Drinking Out of Cups." Also worth listening to is a similar “piece” called, "World of Hair," off his last album Spiderman of the Rings.

Paddling Ghost

21. The Mountain Goats - The Life of the World to Come

John Darnielle’s Mountain Goats have been around for a long time, and this album wouldn’t even rank in my top 5 of his. (Check out The Sunset Tree or All Hail West Texas if you are interested). Even still, this album deserves a place in the top 25 for 2009. Oh, and all the tracks on this album are named after Bible verses… don’t let that scare you off though! I don’t think anyone would call the Mountain Goats “christian-rock”…

Genesis 3:23

20. Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth

This is an album that is kind of hard to label. It’s experimental, atmospheric, synthy, tribal… I don’t know, go to a real reviewer if you care about that kind of stuff. I just know it’s good. Listen to it!

Lovesick Teenagers

19. Silversun Pickups - Swoon

Probably the only album on this list that got play on any major radio stations. Because of that Silversun Pickups are going to get some of that “Kings of Leon backlash,” but this is still a really fun album. I respect any band that is doing their part to keep respectable rock music around. (Also, yeah I know they sound like The Smashing Pumpkins… but like the Fleet Foxes comparison, is that really a bad thing?)

Panic Switch

18. Brendan Benson - My Old Familiar Friend

Best known for being one of the Raconteurs, Benson is a pretty accomplished song writer in his own right. My Old Familiar Friend features one catchy little tune after another. It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but it’s still a lot of fun to listen to!

Eyes on the Horizon

17. Passion Pit - Manners

The second “electronic” band to show up on the countdown, Passion Pit got some Vampire Weekend-esque hype for their debut album, and it’s hard to say it is totally undeserved. But you get the feeling from these songs that Passion Pit just want to dance!

Little Secrets

16. Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light

Antony Hegarty has one of modern music’s most unique voices. It’s crooning, emotive, quivering, and just… different. Some people find it offputting, but if you can embrace his voice it really is a fascinating listen. See what I mean…

Kiss My Name

15. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Ah… the french. Their English may not be perfect, but those damn Euros sure can write a good pop song. Both “1901” and “Lizstomania” are candidates for song of the year.


14. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

Dinosaur Jr. have been around for decades, so their last two albums being as good as they are is really quite impressive. This is grungy, old-school indie rock with actual guitar solos and a singer who sounds like he doesn’t care. And like I said for the Silversun Pickups, it’s nice to see some actual “rock and roll” still left in the world.


13. JJ - JJ N° 2

JJ is a Swedish electronic-ish group that not much is known about. Like, literally, no one knows who they are. But this album, released only digitally of course, is an incredibly fun 26 minutes.

From Africa to Malaga

12. Morrissey - Years of Refusal

The former lead singer of the Smiths has been on his own for years, and he’s still got it. He puts that brilliant voice on display once again here.

Something Is Squeezing My Skull

11. Girls - Album

This album is about as hipstery as it gets, but I won’t hold that against them. Just your everyday indie-rock group… Well, except the lead singer, Christopher Owens, grew up in the Children of God cult. His dad left, his brother died because the cult didn’t believe in medicine, and his mother was sometimes forced into prostitution. Eventually Owens ran away, was taken in by a local millionaire, and finally moved to San Francisco where he formed Girls. I guess he’s got a lot to sing about.

Lust For Life

10. Ramona Falls - Intuit

Ramona Falls is a side project of Brent Knopf of Menomena. I love Menomena, and although this isn’t quite a new Menomena album, it’s still damn good. This album isn’t on lala, so this is the link to a pretty freaky animated music video. I’d watch it if I were you!

I Say Fever

09. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms

Psychic Chasms is a collection of catchy little electronic jams that never outstay their welcome. Just listen to “Deadbeat Summer,” one of the year’s best songs… Because I said so!

Deadbeat Summer

08. Various Artists - Dark Was The Night

Dark Was The Night is a compilation album put together by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National. Two discs of indie music giants performing new tracks and covers. It drags at times, especially on the second disc, but with strong contributions from the The National, Sufjan Stevens, The New Pornographers, Iron & Wine, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Spoon, and Arcade Fire there is a lot to like.


07. Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The Young

The lead singer of The Strokes resurfaces with his first solo album. At only eight songs, each track is fleshed out, resulting in an infectious and interesting album from end to end. A lot of people will be put off because it’s less grit and more gloss than the Strokes were famous for, but for what it is, it’s great. It loses a little steam after the first three tracks, but picks back up at the end to go out strong.

Left & Right In The Dark

06. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Veckatimest is going to get a lot of love in the top 5 of a lot of end of years lists in 2009. And it really is incredibly intricate and beautiful. “Two Weeks” is one of the best tracks of the year, no question. All that said, I can’t help but feel that it’s just kind of… sleepy. That’s not necessarily the worst thing, but for me, it also keeps it out of the top 5.

Two Weeks

05. The Thermals - Now We Can See

I’ve got a soft spot for these indie punk/rockers from Portland. 2006’s The Body, the Blood, the Machine, is one of my favorites of the decade. The Thermals are noisy, but they’ve got something to say. The theme of Now We Can See is “songs from when we were alive,” from the point of view of someone who died. Because why not? I dare you not to sing along with the “oh-ay-oh-ay-oh-oh” chorus of this song…

Now We Can See

04. St. Vincent - Actor

Annie Clark’s haunting voice is really what makes this album. Some songs immediately stand out, while others take longer to grow on you, but they can all get under your skin. With titles like “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood” and “Black Rainbow” (and lyrics and music to match), St. Vincent manages to be equal parts creepy and irresistible.

The Strangers

03. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown is just one of Spencer Krug’s many bands (including Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, and Swan Lake) but as Krug’s “solo-project” I have to think that Sunset Rubdown is most distinctly his. And Dragonslayer definitely shows off Krug’s trademarks: complex melodies, intriguing, often indecipherable lyrics, and that unmistakable voice.

Idiot Heart

02. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

The most striking thing about Dirty Projectors is this: there’s nobody out there doing what they do. That’s easy to say, but in this case, it really is true. Frontman Dave Longstreth has released a lot of crazy, experimental stuff, but on Bitte Orca it finally all forms together into something accessible and entrancing. Lead single “Stillness Is The Move” sounds like it could be a Mariah Carey song from an alternate dimension, and the rest of the album is even weirder and just as wonderful.

Stillness Is The Move

01. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

Like fellow Brooklyn-ites Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective come from a very experimental background. Some of their earliest recordings are almost unlistenable recordings of screaming, samples, and other assorted noise. But over the years Animal Collective has slowly refined their sound, merging experimental music with Beach Boys-like pop. What has resulted is a one of a kind masterpiece of a record that will pull you in and not let go. And if recent EP Fall Be Kind is any indication, they are at the top of their game and aren’t going anywhere. Not to mention, they grew up in the Baltimore area and named their album after the Columbia, Maryland concert venue where I graduated from high school. Cool, right?

My Girls