Thursday, December 31, 2015

No Hiearchy for Old Men

My only criteria: these are albums I listened to repeatedly and all the way through without skipping tracks. I'm not claiming these are necessarily the best pop albums of 2015, but they are the albums of 2015 that I remember so well that I only had to doublecheck the labels that released 'em.

Will Johnson - Swan City Vampires   Undertow, i.e., Self-Released sometime in October 2015.
Chews up and spits out the on-again-off-again tedium of a lot of Centr-O-Matic and his previous solo work for a set of Americana-folk-rock songs that are accessible, memorable, singalongable and produced without the sort of sonic clutter that typically masks a dearth of honest feeling. Some nice stabby 'lectric gitar work, too. A sweet album written and performed by a puss-emitting anus who never replied to my email about it.

The Decemberists - What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.    Capitol.  Released 1/20/15
Reviewers who really ought to know better crapped all over this album for being too long (because obviously concepts like art and value-for-dollars-spent cannot share a point in timespace) and "underambitious" (because no real fan ever wants his favorite band to actually sound like his favorite band). Still and all, and despite Colin Meloy's liberal arts grad student vocabulary, What a Terrible World is genuinely likeable and byandlarge enjoyable start to finish. And just so you'll know, I wouldn't hit a dog in the keister with most Decemberist albums, so there's that, too.

Low - Ones & Sixes.   SubPop. Released  9/11/15
Contrary to popular opinion, Jeff Tweedy really didn't do Low any favors on 2013's Invisible Way, but happily he also didn't turn them into the Wilco cover band of his dreams. (Not that there would be anything wrong with a Wilco cover band, but one really is enough, and Parker and Sparhawk's voices, together or apart, are simply too good for that sort of treatment.) I became an instant Low fan at the first sound of their harmonized "And I can hear 'em" on I Could Live in Hope [1994]. 20some years later and those voices are as lush and affecting as ever. And Low, at its best, has to be about those two voices, not extra instrumentation or whateverinhell "emotional generosity" is supposed to be.

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear SubPop.  Released  2/10/15
Considering the lyrical content of a number of the tracks on this album, I'm guessing that Josh Tillman has piercings that I want to know nothing about. I also can't shake the feeling that—assuming Tillman is as snobby, meanspirited, and self-involved as the persona constructed by his lyrics—I'd push the li'l pischa in front of a speeding tractor trailer if I actually knew him. Nevertheless, the songs on Honeybear are simple but nicely crafted, the production slick & grand but not Billboard-hokey, and the lyrics consistently interesting if not witty or downright funny. And, yeah, people are kinda boring, if I'm honest. It's just the cute ones make up for that, is all.

I also remember liking ... Beirut - No No No (even tho' it didn't sound like Beirut), Deerhunter - Fading Frontier (altho' the best track, "Snakeskin," doesn't really fit), Kurt Vile - Believe I'm Goin' Down... , Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell (just not something I can take a steady diet of), Wilco - Star Wars, Beach House  - Depression Cherry, Destroyer - Poison Season, Waxahatchee  - Ivy Tripp (or so I'm told), Jennylee - Right On!, Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style, Schlomo - Deep Red, El Vy - El Vy (even if it does sound like a National parody), and Swervedriver - I Wasn't Born to Lose You (despite the evident age-related drop in testosterone). Been there...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shifty's Favorite Albums of 2015

Shifty's Favorite Albums From The Year 2015!!!! Hey That Was This Year!!!!!! 

This was a great year for music. Probably the best year since 2012. I listened to more than 300 (maybe 400?) albums that came out this year, and I made a list of the 50 that I liked the most. This isn't a list of the best albums that came out this year. This is a list of my favorite albums that came out this year.

My Top 15 Albums of 2015 


  1. Ought - Sun Coming Down
  2. Viet Cong - Viet Cong
  3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
  4. Vince Staples - Summertime '06
  5. Jimmy Whispers - Summer in Pain
  6. Tobias Jesso Jr. - Goon
  7. Jamie XX - In Colour
  8. Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect
  9. Pinkshinyultrablast - Everything Else Matters
  10. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
  11. Deerhunter- Fading Frontier
  12. Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire
  13. Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
  14. Waxahatchee - Ivy Tripp
  15. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order)

  • Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
  • Arca - Mutant
  • A$AP Rocky - At.Long.Last.A$AP
  • Baroness - Purple
  • Beach House - Depression Cherry
  • Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars
  • Blur - The Magic Whip
  • Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Style
  • Cloakroom - Further Out
  • Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
  • Czarface - Every Hero Needs a Villain
  • Death Grips - The Powers That B
  • Destroyer - Poison Season
  • FKA Twigs - M3LL155X
  • Freddie Gibbs - Shadow of a Doubt
  • Girlpool - Before the World Was Big
  • Grimes - Art Angels
  • Hop Along - Painted Shut
  • Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
  • Joey Bada$$ - B4.da.$$
  • Julio Bashmore - Knockin' Boots
  • Krallice - Ygg huur
  • Krill - A Distant Fist Unclenching
  • Kurt Vile - b'lieve i'm goin down
  • Leon Bridges - Coming Home
  • METZ - II
  • Royal Headache - High
  • Sleater Kinney - No Cities to Love
  • Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer
  • Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
  • Sun Kil Moon - Universal Themes
  • Tame Impala - Currents
  • Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy
  • Tribulation - The Children of the Night
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
  • The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Harmlessness
How many of these albums have you listened to? Did you have a favorite album this year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Kayla's Top Five Albums of 2015

Our newest employee Kayla has brought a fresh musical perspective to our Von's staff, and with that she has compiled a list of her top five albums of the year.

1. Life in Real Time by Paradise Fears

2. Badlands by Halsey

3. Old Bones by Broadside

4. Tell Me A Story by Skylar Kergil

5. Positive Songs for Negative People by Frank Turner

Monday, December 21, 2015

Alex's Top of the Year Music List

2015 has been an incredible year for music, which makes choosing my top albums incredibly difficult. I have managed to narrow it down to 10 albums that have made a particularly strong impact on me, with a few eps and honorable mentions. So, uh, here we are:

Top Albums In No Particular Order

1. Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Courtney Barnet: Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just 
3. Sufjan Stevens: Carrie and Lowell
4. Hop Along: Painted Shut
5. Beach Slang: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
6. Decemberists: Oh What A Terrible World, Oh What A Beautiful World
7. Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear
8. Tobias Jesso Jr.: Goon
9. Natalie Prass: Natalie Prass
10. Girlpool: Girlpool

Top EPs In No Particular Order

1. Diet Cig: Over Easy
2. Mac Demarco: Another One
3. Decemberists: Florasongs
4. Open Mike Eagle: A Special Episode.

Honorable Mentions In Every Particular Order
1. Eugene Mirman: I'm Sorry (You're Welcome)
2. Alabama Shakes: Sound and Color
3. Sleater-Kinney: No Cities To Love
4. Belle and Sebastian: Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
5. Chvrvhes: Every Open Eye
6. Joey Badass: B4.DA.$$.
7. Eskimeaux: OK

Friday, October 30, 2015

Alex's Employee pick for Friday 10/30/2015: Beach Slang's The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us.

Beach Slang's The Things We Do is the music in your head that you wish shared with everyone else. Alex James sings with the honesty of a drunken confession, the wit of a shower argument, and the earnest energy of someone who is no longer afraid to yell those words sober and in person. If you're young and alive, or maybe need to re-learn what that means, pick up The Thing's We Do.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I've lost all faith in Lana Del Ray: a tragic story of love lost, betrayal, and the hip new kid on the block that's stolen my gay heart

Okay kids. So recently Lana Del Ray, wannabe crack whore and glam-pop star released a much anticipated album. If you are a Lana fan you can imagine my excitement- suddenly there would be even more of this lovely lady to listen to, however it was not to be.....

Do not be fooled by the lovely red, white, and blue cover art. Honeymoon, is a far fall for the redhead. It's like she was listening to sound music, Bond orchestral, and taking her vocal cues from Gregorian choir boys meowing when the inspiration for this album struck her. 
"Cute Choir Boys Meowing Soulfully" 
Now. I can't completely bash Honeymoon. It has some merits, I'm personally fond of "Art Deco" and the following interlude "Burnt Norton." But on the whole I've seen burnt tortillas that are more interesting than most of the rest of the album. I mean if you were going to get stoned to it (not that I'm promoting getting stoned, but to each their own), then maybe it would be okay. But from the woman who brought us this: 
"Blue Jeans" 
And Ultraviolence, with tracks like "Florida Kilos", "Brooklyn Baby", and "Shades of Cool"- to name a few-- 
I am vastly underwhelmed. 

But it does not do to dwell (but I'm totally going to anyway, because I feel personally betrayed by Lana), when there are much better albums recently released to be psyched about. I am of course speaking about Halsey, the beautiful blue haired angel that has graced us with her first big album: 

Badlands is prolific, on several scales. The production scale to start. Not only does it have its own teaser trailer, which was released a few weeks before the album, but the videos that we've seen so far are stunningly beautiful: 


"New Americana" 

And the music itself is dynamic and edgy. It's fresh and relatable, And it's all distinctly Halsey. Her sound is unique and fluid, with a hard edge of truth and reality. If you liked Blurryface or American Beauty/American Psycho you'll love BADLANDS. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Six SHOCKING Examples Of Brand New Band Jr Jr Stealing From Indie-Pop Legend Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr

Last week I discovered the band Jr Jr and fell in love instantly. I was listening to them all the time. I mean, how often do you find a band that's good at beep-booping and guitar?  And I was so excited for their album coming out on September, 25th! But then I realized how similar it sounded to my other favorite band, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. That's when it hit me, and boy was I floored. Jr Jr stole all of their songs! And even worse Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr isn't even on spotify or iTunes anymore, which must mean they were so hurt by this that they quit music altogether! I decided to compile this list of all the times Jr Jr ripped off Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. 

1. Their Sound!

Just listen to that! Those beep-boops and guitars and heart melting guitars are classic Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr. They literally invented that music style. I tried to email Jr Jr's college professors to get them expelled for plagiarism, but kept coming back as some sort of mailer-daemon, which sounds to me like Jr Jr is also tied up in Satanism. I'm telling you, they are pure evil. 
What the Hell, Jr Jr?

2. Their Lyrics!

This is where the theft starts to get blatant. Jr Jr is stealing the words straight from Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr songs!

 Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr (original)                                                                Jr Jr (stolen)

Dale Ain't Too Happy Right Now

3. Their Album Covers!
Look at these side by side comparisons and tell me they aren't stolen! They just crudely photoshopped their names on! Jr Jr even stole the font!

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr (orginal)                                                                Jr Jr (fake)

You think I don't see what you're doing, boy?

4. Their Name!

They thought they could away with something so heinous as stealing the name of an indie darling like Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr, but I noticed. I am calling you out, sickos. I am tracking you down and bringing you to justice. Just wait and see. 
You're getting what's coming to ya, Jr Jr

5. Their Band Members!

Here is where it gets truly SHOCKING! Jr Jr wasn't content just leeching off of the genius that Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr worked so hard to cultivate. They could have just stolen their sound, lyrics, albums, and their name and gotten by, but no. They had to steal the band members themselves. I don't know what kind of held-at-gunpoint stuff is going on here, but somehow Jr Jr is forcing them to perform like some sad group of organ grinder monkeys. 

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on Jr Jr. At least they steal from the best. And now that Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr doesn't exist anymore, where else will I get my beep-boop/guitar/dreamy vocals that I love so much? I hate myself for it, but I might have to buy their new album on September, 25th. I hope the cashier accepts tear soaked bills. 

 I guess if you can't beat em, join em.