Friday, May 27, 2016

A Surprise Review of the New Surprise Strokes EP

By Shifty (Employee Person)


I like surprises. I also like The Strokes. They are my favorite band, and they have been my favorite band for the past 10 years. I feel like I am fully qualified to make a review of this new Strokes EP. Or not..... who knows??????

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Shifty Picks for the First Quarter of 2016 Clickbait Title

BIG NEWS GUYS AND GALS!!!!! Our prodigal son Shifty has decided to resume his award winning (I give myself pats on the back after I write each one. Does that count???) series of picking albums that he likes. Wow!!!!!!!!! This is good news. The rules of this beloved series are a little bit different this time around. Shifty is only going to do this for every quarter of the year. He doesn't have time to make a list once a month. He also ran out of Seals of Approval to give out. Gasp. All of these Shifty Picks came out in the months of January, February, and March. Without further ado, here are my music picks.


Anderson .Paak - Malibu
-This album is a very interesting fusion of PBR&B, Jazz, and Hip Hop that reminds me a lot of the sound that Kendrick Lamar achieved on To Pimp a Butterfly. That's very high praise, and Mr. .Paak has definitely earned it with this album. Very upbeat, warm, and uplifting. Perfect Summer music.




Big Ups - Before a Million Universes
-This is the second album by the band Big Ups, and this album goes in more complicated and unexpected directions than their previous album. Big Ups sounds like a toss up between Slint (Post Rock) and Fugazi (Post-Hardcore). They have a very unique take on being disappointed at the world around them. Check em out.



David Bowie - Blackstar
-David Bowie's latest and last album is a triumph. The Goblin King himself continues to show that he has more tricks up his sleeves on his 27th album. Apparently this album was inspired by the experimentation that modern rappers and rap groups have been doing over the past decade. One article I read said that Bowie was heavily inspired by the raw power and lyricism of the band Death Grips (check them out if you haven't already). This album may not be for every Bowie fan due to how experimental it is, but I believe that this is his best album since 1980.



Diiv - Is The Is Are
-This is the second album by the shoegaze/indie rock band Diiv (pronounced like dive). Is The Is Are is the result of a lot of turmoil by lead singer Zachary Cole Smith, and this turmoil results in a lot of emotions that are present throughout the entire album. This album reminds me of thunderstorms for some reason. Not the spooky scary kind though. It's more like the calmer kind that you want to hang out and dance in. It's very dreamy and before you know it, the storm is over and a new different kind of calm takes over. Definitely my favorite album of the year so far. LISTEN TO THIS IF YOU LIKE WEATHER STORMS!!!!!!!!



Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered
-Kendrick Lamar is on a whole 'nother level. His leftover songs are better than most people's none leftover songs. King Kendrick decided to let a 5 year old produce part of one of his songs, and it's one of the best parts of the album. We are not worthy.

Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
-This is a country album that is about overcoming challenges and trying to make a good enough album so that you can make money and buy your dad his farm back. Margo honed her skills in Honky Tonks all across Nashville until Jack White heard her sing, and then he immediately signed her to his label. Margo Price does a fantastic job of putting you into her world. This album is the bees knees and it totally isn't just for country fans. It's for music fans. Definitely a standout singer, and a fine addition to the current wave of country singers who actually write their own songs (e.g. Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, & Kacey Musgraves)The first song on the album tells you everything you need to know.



Nap Eyes - Thought Rock Fish Scale
-My coworker Alex put it best by saying that this is the best Lou Reed album in years. Very accurate.

Pinegrove - Cardinal
-They sound like a more emo Wilco. Great album about feelings and other stuff. The band describes their music as, "Music for the promotion of introspective partying!" That sounds about right.



Savages - Adore Life
-Savages has made another great revivalist post-punk album. This new album features the same intensity that was on their previous album, and perhaps a little bit more. This album is filled with sweet bass lines that sound real nice on my ear holes. Overall I feel like this album is a little more varied than their debut album.

Sheer Mag - III EP
-Fantastic album that reminds me of the glam rock band T.Rex, but with a harder more punky side and a female singer. Very catchy guitar driven music that is just a ball full of fun. Truly all that and a bag of potato chips. It's only about 14 minutes long, and it's definitely time well spent. Check it out on their bandcamp page. https://sheermag.bandcamp.com/

Honorable Mentions:
-Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution
-Julia Brown - An Abundance of Strawberries
-Mothers - When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired
-Porches - Pool
-Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive 
-Wild Nothing - Life of Pause

A lot of good music has come out this year. I'm looking forward to a lot more music that is coming out. Thanks for reading. 


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.