Bag Of Songs Top 25 Albums of 2008 : 1 to 10

January 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
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Wrapping up the BOS top 25 albums of 2008 with the top ten. It’s the end of the countdown but stay tuned for some addtional thoughts on 2008 coming in another post real soon, plus lots of great music on deck for 2009.

10 Birds Fled From Me – Deeper Lurking [BUY]
It was just about a year ago when I named Birds Fled From Me the BOS Artist Of The Day and predicted this to be among the year’s best releases. It stood the test of time. Santa Cruz, California’s Rachel Williams is one extremely talented girl who independently recorded and released this record herself. With a voice most closely reminiscient of Fiona Apple or Bjork, this is a stunningly beautiful record that deserves so much more recognition than it received. You
can buy it directly from Rachel via her Myspace page.

Birds Fled From Me – Resisted
Bonus – Bird Fled From Me – I Love You (Live)

9 My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges [BUY]
Take MMJ’s catalog and throw it into a blender with a big batch of those K-Tel hits of the 70’s records and I imagine this is pretty close to where you’ll end up. Not as thematically consistent as some of their earlier records but the success level in the adventurousness pays off more often than not in what ends up sounding like and indie rock version of AM radio gold. Some of the highlights on the buffet include the weird funk experiment Highly Suspicious,the pure sugary rush of Two Halves, and what is one of the best songs of the year in the beautiful, acoustic, Librarian.

My Morning Jacket – Librarian

8 Blitzen Trapper – Furr [BUY]
More refined and focused than their breakthrough Wild Mountain Nation,Blitzen Trapper have taken the Grateful Dead meets Pavement mix to the next level on this one, solidifying their influences into thier distinct sound. The title track with it’s storytelling of a boy raised by wolves grappling with his human emotions is an instant classic.

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

7 She & Him – Volume One [BUY]
Who’d have thought this would work so well, actress decides to be singer is generally the making of a one off disaster(see Scarlett Jo) but this is an addicting listen steeped in a mix of California harmonies and sixties girl group sounds. Zooey Deschanel and M Ward cooked up a winner here for sure here’s hoping there’s a volume 2.

She & Him – This Is Not A Test

6 Black Mountain – In the Future [BUY]
Expecting more of the immediacy of songs like Modern Music  or No Satisfaction I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with the first couple listens to this, thinking it was more Black Sabbath than Black Mountain,not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s so much more. Picking up where songs like Druganaut left off and taking them to the next level, capped off by the epic 16 minutes plus, Bright Lights. The show I saw them do back in February with Bon Iver opening was probably the best show I saw in 2008.

Black Mountain – Tyrants

5 Ting Tings – We Started Nothing [BUY]
Sure this is probably more style than substance, but it is hands down the party record of the year, when was the last time you heard a record where every song had enough hooks to be a single. As they used to say on American Bandstand, “It’s got a great beat, and you can dance to it”. Catchy, fun, danceable, and just try not to sing along.

The Ting Tings – Shut Up And Let Me Go

4 Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping [BUY]
If you’re like me and only really had a passing interest in Of Montreal, now’s the time to change that. This album is a mix of sexual confusion,funk and dance music, and Sergeant Pepper like psychedelia all blended together in a dizzying mashup that makes Girl Talk‘s Greg Gillis seem like an amateur, yet it somehow all holds together as a whole. As a musician it leaves me amazed just wondering how someone can get that far out there for inspiration and then be able to realize it as a finished work.

Of Montreal – For Our Elegant Caste

3 Cheers Elephant – Here We Are(Demo) [BUY]
One Of Philadelphia’s best bands right now, this record best described is psychedelic folk music with and indie prog rock twist. Shimmers of  sixties and seventies folk and psychedelia are as prevalent as eighties and nineties indie rock. Like all great artists these are just touchstones in a clearly unique and individual sound. This was an early 2008 demo, Cheers Elephant releases their first official CD in a couple weeks watch for it to be turning heads early in 2009.

Cheers Elephant – Here We Are

2 The Dutchess and the Duke – She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke [BUY]
Stripped down and folky this album is all about the songs in their purest form. I’m going to quote my own review from July here:
The Dutchess And The Duke’s, debut full length She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke careens along in it’s lo-fi immediate glory like a combination of Bob Dylan, The Mamas & The Papas and early Rolling Stones swagger. With the familiar warmth of a lost 60’s classic and the jagged edge of a modern recording, everything old is new again and sounding better than ever. Kimberly Morrison(aka The Dutchess) and Jesse Lortz(aka The Duke) holed up last fall at Magical Basement Studios in West Seattle with Bryan Standridge behind the board of an 8- track and recorded a modern folk classic. It’s chock full of strummy acoustic guitars and percussion with more than enough pure pop melodies and sing along vocal harmonies to have you hooked after just one listen.

The Dutchess and The Duke – Reservoir Park

1 Mono In VCF – Mono In VCF [BUY]
The album I listenedd to more than any other this year, I was hooked on this from the first play back in June of this year and it’s still in the heavy rotation six months later. The name Mono In VCF is a combination of Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound(Mono) and Moog Synthesizer tones(VCF) and their music has been described as “Drifting in space between psychedelic Beatles and Massive Attack” by Tom Scanlon of The Seattle Times. It is music that is sweeping,cinematic and serenely lush sounding, all woven together by the silky smooth, soaring vocals of Kim Miller. What I previously described as “fearlessly futuristic and reminiscient of the great film soundtrack music of the sixties all at once”. It’s music with the power to take your mind to another place away from all the distrations around you, similar to the the sensation of flying in a dream but converted into sound.

Mono In VCF – Escape City Scrapers

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Christmas Song Of The Day 2

December 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Blitzen Trapper cracked it wide open with last year’s excellent Wild Mountain Nation and kept the streak going with Furr, one of my favorite songs of the year from the album of the same name. Here’s a nice softly strummed holiday tune for you today that goes all the way back to their 2003 self titled disc.

Blitzen Trapper – Christmas Is Coming Soon
Buy Blitzen Trapper


5 On A Friday (On Saturday)

October 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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John Lovrich behind the board at Snugfit Studios 10.03.08

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day to fit everything in. Since I spent too many hours at work yesterday, and last night in the recording studio with my band(more on that to come), there was not a lot of time left over to post. So here’s this week’s 5 On A Friday, on Saturday.

1: Beverly Washburn – Everybody Loves Saturday Night
Buy Growing Up Too Fast
2: Tony Joe White – Saturday Night In Oak Grove, Louisiana
Buy Best Of
3: Tom Waits – (Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night
Buy Used Songs (1973-1980)
4: Velo Deluxe – Saturday
Buy Superelastic
5: Blitzen Trapper – Saturday Nite
Buy Furr

Some Furr-y New Music

August 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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Some brand new music from Blitzen Trapper that picks up on the backwoods country rock vibe where Wild Mountain Nation left off. The title track from the upcoming album Furr due September 23rd on Sub Pop.

Blitzen Trapper – Furr


The Top 25 Albums Of 2007 – 1 to 10 And A Giveaway !

December 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Okay here it is the grand finale, my top ten of the year. The albums I listened to and enjoyed most this year. There was so much great music this year that a short list of twenty five doesn’t nearly it do it all justice. There’s obviously way more omitted than included.

And, as I promised I have giveaways. A copy of The SwimmersFighting Trees that most of you will need to wait until it’s March release to get your hands on, but I have it for you now, and a copy of The Broken West‘s I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On autographed by the whole band(Thanks Ross!)

Once again I’ll make it easy to win just leave a comment or send me an email to with “Top 25 Contest” in the subject line.
You don’t have to, but feel free to get creative in the comments – your top albums, what I missed, etc. If you leave a comment make sure you leave an email or some way to get in touch if you win. I’ll pick 2 winners at random on New Year’s Day from all the entries. Good Luck !

1:The Swimmers – Fighting Trees
Back in January of this year when I received a rather unassuming email from Steve Yutzy-Burkey, not so unlike a lot of other emails I receive everyday from bands, letting me know they had shows upcoming and that their new album Fighting Trees was
streaming from their website if I wanted to give it a listen. What I found at the end of the link was a record I would unabashedly call one of the first truly important releases of 2007. Now nearly a year later, I’ve seen the band live more than a dozen times and there is no single album I listened to or enjoyed more this year. It’s the perfect balance of catchy hooks,vocal harmonies and intelligent lyrics that I just can’t seem to get enough of. The record saw a limited Philadelphia area CD release this fall on Mad Dragon Records, who signed the band and will officially release their record to the rest of the world in March 2008. Watch out for it.

MP3: The Swimmers – Pocketful Of Gold

2:The Broken West – I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On
Guitar driven, smart, power pop. Reference points of Big Star,The Beatles,Cheap Trick and more come to mind but the sound ends up undeniably all The Broken West. A dozen songs here and each one could be a single in it’s own right, no filler here just great music.

MP3: The Broken West – Down In The Valley
Buy I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On

3:Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up
The best overlooked album of the year. Emotional, ragged and real with a sound that falls somewhere between fellow Canadians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Forget Feist you need this.

MP3: Julie Doiron – I Woke Myself Up
Buy Woke Myself Up

4:The Clientele – God Save The Clientele
Alasdair Maclean describes the band’s sound on this record: “The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most joyful and upbeat.” He’s dead on, it’s a perfect Sunday morning record, filled with smooth sixties overtones but never sounding retro or dated.

MP3: The Clientele – Here Comes The Phantom
Buy God Save The Clientele

5:Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
What Wilco could sound like if they didn’t sand all the edges off. The perfect mix of alt country and indie rock, they delivered one of the best live shows I saw all year.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – Sci-Fi Kid
Buy Wild Mountain Nation

6:Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
One of the best new songwriters of a generation, Josh amped it up a bit more than his earlier records for this one and created a new classic. And as good as this is, I somehow feel it’s still only hinting at the future greatness Josh has in him.

MP3: Josh Ritter – Right Moves
Buy The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter

7:Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
I’ll commit blogger heresy here and say other than a song or two,their debut Funeral did nothing for me. But with only one real clunker(Black Wave),this one is just shy of perfect. Anthmemic and engaging it grabs you right from the first listen. Openly embracing their Springsteen influences in their sound this time around didn’t hurt at all either.

MP3: Arcade Fire – Black Mirror
Buy Neon Bible

8:LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy obviously honed his ear for what works during his time as a bouncer at Trenton’s alternative rock club City Gardens all through the mid to late eighties and delivered an album that put all that knowledge together for something relevant right now. Their live show is phenomenal, hearing All My Friends live was one of most transcendent concert moments I’ve ever experienced.

Listen To The Whole Album Here
Buy Sound Of Silver

9:Creeping Weeds – We Are All Part Of A Dream You’re Having
One of Philadelphia’s most original sounding bands this manages to run the gamut from desolate spacey piano, to jagged edgy guitar rockers and all points in between, and it all works. And having seen them live like 8 or 9 times this past year I can tell you they’re an awesome live band as well.

MP3: The Creeping Weeds – Eternity Is A Long Time
Buy We Are All Part Of A Dream You’re Having

10:Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Twelve solid midtempo pop songs filled with hooks,violin, whistling and more, from th eopening notes of Fiery Crash it creates an alternate world and holds you there right through to the final notes of Yawny at the Apocalypse. One of the best sequenced albums of the year, each song perfectly setting up the next, just like a great mix tape.

MP3: Andrew Bird – Fiery Crash
Buy Armchair Apocrypha

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LIVE : 07.23.07 David Vandervelde,Blitzen Trapper,The Peekers at Johnny Brendas

July 25, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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So I headed out to Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia on a beautiful Monday summer night mainly to see the amazing Blitzen Trapper and ended up seeing a full night of great music. First up was Shreveport, Louisiana’s The Peekers, who turned out an inspired set of psyche-folk-indie rock somewhat similar to the sound of Park The Van label mates,Philly’s own Dr Dog, and The Teeth.
Blitzen Trapper’s country tinged explosion of sound, which they captured so well on their new record ,Wild Mountain Nation is even better live and should be on your do not miss list if they’re coming to your town. Hot, hot, hot. Get out and see them even if it is a school night, you’ll be glad you did.
Next up was my biggest surprise of the evening, David Vandervelde, an artist I knew absolutely zero about when I walked in the door came out and totally rocked the house with his glam rock meets power pop sound. Some of the the boys from Blitzen Trapper joined them for a number of songs adding additional guitar and vocals. I’m a believer.
Pick up their records and run, don’t walk to see these bands if they appear in your ‘hood.
Check their websites and myspace pages for upcoming shows.

The Peekers [MYSPACE]
Blitzen Trapper [WEBSITE] [MYSPACE]
David Vandervelde [WEBSITE] [MYSPACE]

The Peekers Blitzen Trapper

David Vandervelde

On Dasher,On Donner, On Blitzen Trapper !

June 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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photo by Jade Harris
Burning up the player this week is the amazing new disc from Blitzen Trapper, Wild Mountain Nation. A refreshing batch of songs that are an all out mix of country, rock, noise, psychedelia, and the kitchen sink, often all at once. Just when your ears think they’ve got the influence pegged, the whole sonic world shifts. Devil’s A-Go-Go lays out the plan with it’s scratchy guitars, prog rock drum changes and even a mariachi horn break and the album never lets up from there, a stylistic whirlwind that’s equal parts warm familiarity and disorienting juxtaposition. The title track’s Neil Young meets Pavement sound could easily be a long lost Wilco track,if Wilco hadn’t decided to play it safe and lose their edge. Wild Mtn Jam is the Louvin Brothers on an acid bender, while Murder Babe is a noisy pop gem that would make Alex Chilton proud. The lilting Summer Town and Country Caravan show they know how to slow it down as well.

Blitzen Trapper kicks off a summer tour this Thursday in their hometown of Portland, Oregon and is coming soon to melt the paint off the walls of your local rock club. Be sure to check them out when they hit your town.

Blitzen Trapper is:
Eric Earley – guitar,vocals
Erik Menteer – guitar, keyboard
Brian Adrian Koch -drums, vocals
Michael Van Pelt – bass
Drew Laughery – keyboard
Marty Marquis – keyboard, vocals

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
MP3: Blitzen Trapper – Summer Town

Tour Dates:
Jun 28 2007 5:00P Music Millennium on NW 23rd – FREE & ALL AGES! Portland, Oregon
Jun 28 2007 9:00P Holocene CD release w/ Shaky Hands & Pseudosix Portland, Oregon
Jul 11 2007 9:00P Bottom of the Hill w/ David Vandervelde San Francisco, California
Jul 13 2007 9:00P Spaceland w/ David Vandervelde Los Angeles, California
Jul 14 2007 8:00P Stinkweeds w/ David Vandervelde Tempe, Arizona
Jul 16 2007 9:00P Emo’s w/ David Vandervelde Austin, Texas
Jul 17 2007 9:00P The Loft w/ David Vandervelde Dallas, Texas
Jul 18 2007 9:00P Walter’s on Washington w/ David Vandervelde Houston, Texas
Jul 19 2007 9:00P Thirsty Hippo w/ David Vandervelde Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Jul 20 2007 9:00P Drunken Unicorn w/ David Vandervelde Atlanta, Georgia
Jul 21 2007 9:00P Bella Festa w/ David Vandervelde Wilmington, North Carolina
Jul 22 2007 9:00P Rock and Roll Hotel w/ David Vandervelde Washington, Washington DC
Jul 23 2007 9:00P Johnny Brenda’s w/ David Vandervelde Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Jul 24 2007 9:00P Great Scott w/ David Vandervelde Allston, Massachusetts
Jul 25 2007 9:00P Mercury Lounge w/ David Vandervelde New York, New York
Jul 26 2007 9:00P The Icon Buffalo, New York
Jul 28 2007 9:00P Empty Bottle Chicago, Illinois
Jul 29 2007 9:00P Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jul 30 2007 9:00P The Slowdown Omaha, Nebraska
Jul 31 2007 8:30P The Hi-Dive Denver, Colorado
Aug 1 2007 8:15P Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug 3 2007 9:00P Crocodile Cafe w/ Jennifer Gentle Seattle, Washington