December 27, 2009

Best Of Guest List: Jamie Cotton’s Top 10 Albums of 2009


 Jamie Cotton during an Ironclads gig ::: photo by Abbey Simmons

[editor's note:  Though he may not realize it, few people have played a more important role in my continued love affair with local music in 2009  than Jamie Cotton of The Ironclads. Jamie's complex character-driven pop songs have kept me engaged and enamored after a hundred plus listens and what seems like almost as many live shows. For me, there was no more pleasant surprise in local music than The Ironclads,  their devoted audience, and their continued growth as one of Seattle's most underrated bands. Few folks are crafting as smart and catchy pop songs as Jamie, though as his diverse Favorites of '09 show, there may be more than pop songs coming from him soon.  -abbey ]

Here are 10 albums that came out in 2009 that I really dug. I often had conversations this year about how boring pop/indie music was this year. Like everyone just wanted to “mellow out” and “chill” (a la The XX or Animal Collective). I felt it was really hard to put a list together of things that really got my blood pumping. But I gave it a shot, and while the albums below run the gambit of genres, they all have incredible and very honest songwriting, which is something I think most artists strive for, but few actually achieve.  Maybe, if you take each of those songs, layer them in garage band, you might end up with the next Ironclads single.

1. Baroness – Blue Record | band’s website |     Choice cut: “The Gnashing”  | listen to track |

Its like if Mastodon wrote songs as real people, not as ridiculous shamans. This album is triumphant. Makes me want to smash my head into something so it will crack open and more glorious riffage can be absorbed.

2. Future of the Left – Travels With Myself and Another | band’s website |      Choice Cut: “You need Satan More than He Needs You” | listen to track |

The most punk album I’ve listened to for probably 3 years. My girlfriend says it sounds like Avenue Q. I agree with her.

3. Girls – Album | band’s website |      Choice cut:  ”Summertime” | listen to track |

The saddest feeling/happiest sounding album I’ve heard in a long time.

4. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug |band’s website |     Choice cut:  ”Pretty Visitors” | listen to track |

These guys are so cool, and they do not give a fuck about what I think. They’re too busy boning supermodels. Lots of people hate them. I don’t know why. I envy them.

5. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below band’s website |      Choice cut:  ”Home” | listen to track |

“Home” is winner for cutest song of the year by far. If this band were a real cult, I would follow them into the desert and drink the Kool-Aid.

6. PJ Harvey and John Parish – A Woman A Man Walked By  | band’s website |     Choice cut: “Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen” | listen to track |

Move over Sun(O))), this is by far the scariest record of the year. It should have been the soundtrack to Lars Von Trier’s movie Anti-Christ. You always read about the lady that went crazy and killed her family when a demon possessed her. PJ Harvey is that lady.

7. akron/family – Set em Wild, Set em Free  | band’s website |      Choice cut: “Gravelly Mountains of the Moon” | listen to track |

I wish these dudes were my friends. Then I would just go over to their house and sit in on the most out-there jam sessions. Then I would be like, “That was good, but next time rock the clarinet for another couple bars.” Then they would be like, “Thanks Jamie! We really appreciate your fine songwriting talent.” And I would be like, “No problem guys.”

8. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches  | band’s website |      Choice Cut:  ”Bearing Witness” | watch video |

Oh man… This record… Bums me out in so many great ways. Everytime I feel like I’ve written a good old sad song, I listen to this record, and it turns my song into garbage. Stop raising the bar David.

9. Pelican – What We All Come To Need  | band’s website |      Choice cut: “The Creeper” | listen and download track |

On tour we played with a Portland metal band called Aristea. They were great, and the best part about them was that there wasn’t a shitty lead singer to ruin their songs like most metal bands have. Pelican is the same.

10. Atlas Sound – Logos  | band’s website |        Choice Cut: “Shelia” | download  track |

I hopped on this record really late in the game. Now I really like it.

September 28, 2009

The Daily Choice: Girls – Lust For Life


Okay, okay, Girls are the new sliced bread.  Girls are the new, drug-addled color television that sleeps with you

ng women and imbibes drugs like a youthful Stevie Nixs.  Girls are, quite honestly, the next big thing, rolled in cocaine and filtered through the sometimes sunny streets of San Francisco.

I implore you, like them now, like their hazy summertime pop and their long hair and just-un-stylish enough style.  See them in small venues uncrowded by drunken assholes.  Hear their music and revel in the fact, that just for a few more moments, this could be an undiscovered band.

Do it quick.

Girls – Lust For Life

July 29, 2009

The Daily Choice: Girls – Hellhole Ratrace


People tell me I’m experiencing what they refer to as a “typical SF summer.”  This means gray clouds and misty rain and a sort of a Fall-like gloom that usually leaves people gazing in to a sun lamp, bitching and moaning about seasonal depression.  Strangely, and I thank my first 27 years in Seattle for this, I’m ecstatic to be situated amongst the drudging grey, the sprinkling rain, the occasional chilly wind.  I’m all smiles in this gloomy environment.

It seems fitting that I’m so excited about this new Girls track “Hellhole Ratrace” as they’re residents of this fine city of mine, and the song seems almost built from the scattered bits of the current weather patterns.  This is a light, happy sounding song – a sort of a fuzzy drone of summery vocals and melodies – but dig deeper, open your ears to the message, and it’s all depression and gloom.  A toothy, Northwest smile amongst the rain-heavy mists of the Bay Area if you will.

Girls – Hellhole Ratrace