2011 Half-year best albums by Amarillo

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
6 meses han transcurrido en este 2011, un año del que musicalmente no nos podemos quejar, una gran cantidad de discos y sonidos nos han acompañado durante esta primer mitad, muchos de ellos verdaderamente sobresalientes, todos se agradecen. Para mí estos 4 discos que no colocaré en ningún orden en esta lista han sido definitivamente mis favoritos. Fleet Foxes con su hermoso "Helplessness Blues" que cumplió con las enormes expectativas que teníamos de la segunda producción de los de Seattle, y que para mí armónicamente siguen siendo insuperables, además de dejarme una canción para siempre, de esas que sobresalen entre las miles que escuchamos al año, "Sim Sala Bim". 

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Bon Iver con su segunda producción, un disco homónimo que se entiende perfectamente porqué Vernon y compañía decidieron llamarlo así. Un disco del que seguramente están muy orgullosos, no solo por la belleza musical y la perfección de su estructura, sino por la valentía y libertad artística que es notable y que engrandece la figura y el genio de Justin, "Perth" me parece épica, pocos ejemplos de percusiones tan perfectas y tan elocuentes. 

The Antlers - Burst Apart

The Antlers con su increíble "Burst Apart", una obra completa en donde no falta ni sobra un solo track, una obra que te mantiene hipnotizado, un disco difícil de superar para ellos mismos, una notoria evolución como grupo similar a lo ocurrido con Bon Iver, así suenan los Antlers, ya no es más el hermoso lamento de Silberman y su Hospice. "Every night my teeth are falling out" es un claro ejemplo de esa elocuencia que persiste, pero que cada vez se aleja más de la melancolía. 

Yuck - Yuck

Yuck, con su disco homónimo, con algunos miembros de los extintos Cajun Dance Party, un disco que en verdad no me ha soltado por meses, lleno de tracks que emocionan, y que recuerdan absolutamente todo lo bueno del sonido de los 90's, que de haber evolucionado así persistiría de manera más importante incluso hoy en día. Para mí es la mayor sorpresa del año, un disco que nadie lo esperaba ni lo anticipaba, menos basando su sonido en el hoy mal visto grunge, un disco de amor completamente a pesar de su increíble estridencia, "Shook Down" desde mi punto de vista es otro de los tracks del año.
Para mí estos 4 discos son imperdibles y han marcado esta primer mitad del 2011, pero además hemos tenido muchas otras obras para recordar, les dejo otras 16 recomendaciones ahora si a manera de lista, complementando con esto mis 20 discos favoritos de esta primer mitad.

5.  James Blake - "James Blake"
6.  Radiohead - "The King of Limbs"
7.  My Morning Jacket - "Circuital"
8.  Wild Beasts - "Smother"
9.  Destroyer - "Kaputt" 
10. The Felice Brothers - "Celebration, Florida"
11. PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
12. Smith Westerns - "Dye It Blonde"
13. Elbow - "Build a Rocket Boys"
14. Cults - "Cults"
15. The Decemberists - "The King is Dead"
16. Kurt Vile - "Smoke Ring for My Halo"
17. Son Lux - "We Are Rising"
18. TV on The Radio - "Nine Types of Light"
19. Metronomy - "The English Riviera"
20. Helado Negro - "Canta Lechuza"


2011 Half-year best albums by MM

Every year, around this time we provide a partial list of what we consider to be worthwhile in music. More than that, we attempt to describe what has happened to us, we attempt to tell our story and the sounds behind those moments that made it interesting, sad, happy, intense etc., for the first half of the year. Some of us share deep moments often, laugh together, dance, and why not cry from time to time. In all cases though, music remains the main avenue that connects us, defining time, age and many times distance. Thousands of miles are easily beaten with new sounds, new or old friends and the occasional tear that refuses to stay in after a powerful song.

We started this blog some time ago now, with exactly that idea. So far we have kept our word and we share our music almost in a religious manner. The half-year post is for me a special one. Although I enjoy the similarities, I seek for the differences, the bands I’ve missed, the albums I have not heard, plus the opportunities I had already let go. This year, only a few albums on the top in my list represent new artists, and for the most part, I have focused more on new releases from some of my previous favorites. Not sure if this says anything, I am sure it does… Am I getting old? Too picky? Am I drifting away from where music is evolving to?

On the top, I have 3 albums that I refuse to rank, at least for now. Early in the year, Radiohead came up with their unexpected, early released “The King of Limbs”, full of ideas and conceptual approaches that only Radiohead is capable of and willing to attempt. The album is strong from start to finish, making it clear who is the biggest band of all. A few months after, Fleet Foxes released their “Helplessness Blues”, a delightful album, crafted in a simple manner, making use of traditional elements and relying on magnificent vocals, a jewel. And just to complicate our rankings even more Justin Vernon has shared with us another gorgeous Bon Iver album, a self-titled masterpiece that although invoking elements of his “For Emma, Forever Ago” is filled with distinct and innovative concepts, making it unique and reinforcing our admiration for Vernon’s music genius.

Two extremely good albums complete my top 5 selection. “Burst Apart”, a magnificent album from Brooklyn’s band The Antlers. As powerful and aching as their previous album from a band that without a doubt has become one of my true favorites. Finally, “Smother” from Wild Beasts is a very mature, well-balanced, beautifully engineered album. Wild Beasts, certainly not a new band, but “Smother” represents my first approach to their music, certainly an exciting beginning.

The second part of my list includes the new “Circuital” from My Morning Jacket; “Celebration Florida”, the newest fun though interesting release from the Catskill NY Americana band The Felice Brothers; “The Big Roar”, which just as its name suggest is a rough classical rock album from The Joy Formidable. The latter, a London-based band led by a strong character, powerful though petite front woman (who would not like this??). The list continues with the magnificent debut self-titled album from James Blake, a favorite of many, which above all is a promise of wonderful music to come in the future. Spot 10 is filled by “The King id Dead” a certainly different album released by The Decemberists early in the year.

Finally, just for fun I add some suggestions that should certainly need to be considered if you are looking for new music. My choices here include local Philadelphia music hero Kurt Vile with his extremely good “Smoke Ring For My Halo” released early in the year, plus new releases from the Rural Alberta Advantage, tUnE-yArDs, Fucked up, Smith Westerns, Noah and the Whale and Cults. Most of which have received significant critic attention.

Below, the complete list, let’s see how it changes for the end of the year.



1. The King of Limbs – Radiohead
1. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
1. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
4. Burst Apart – The Antlers
5. Smother – Wild Beasts

6. Circuital – My Morning Jacket
7. Celebration Florida – The Felice Brothers
8. The Big Roar – The Joy Formidable
9. James Blake – James Blake
10. The King is Dead – The Decemberists

11. Smoke Ring For My Halo – Kurt Vile and The Violators
12. Departing – The Rural Alberta Advantage
13. w h o k i l l– tUnE-yArDs
14. Dye it Blonde– Smith Westerns
15. Last Night on Earth–Noah and The Whale
16. David Comes to Life – Fucked up
17. Cults- Cults


The Antlers @ "The Tonight Show"

The Antlers, una de las bandas consentidas de este blog, y que tendremos la suerte de disfrutar en México en octubre, presentó ayer en "The Tonight Show" la versión en vivo de su increíble track "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out", parte de su aclamadísimo disco "Burst Apart" Les dejo el vid, enjoy...


Bon Iver - Holocene - Jimmy Fallon

Justin Vernon y su Bon Iver interpretando "Holocene" en Jimmy Fallon, uno de los tracks mas aclamados de lo que para muchos, incluyéndome, es de los discos del año. Profunda admiración y respeto por su música, "Bon Iver", su segundo álbum, el primero desde mi punto de vista ya como una banda y no como un proyecto personal, me parece una obra magistral, en muchas ocasiones perfecta en su ejecución y sobre todo en su secuencia, en donde todo inicia en "Perth" y termina en Beth/Rest, canción polémica que creo que nadie podría definirla mejor que Mark Richardson, editor en jefe de la revista Pitchfork... "As a closer, "Beth/Rest" is more about finding comfort and resolution after a musical experience that asked more questions than it answered. The song draws a line in the sand for anyone with a deep investment in cool, and Vernon stands behind it with confidence. His belief in himself and in the power of his music is something that encourages us to transcend labels and preconceptions."
Link al review completo de Pitchfork


Arcade Fire on Sound Opinions

Rarísimo ver que Arcade Fire haga este tipo de sesiones hoy en día, sin embargo la WBEZ de Chicago lo logró. Los canadienses incluso tuvieron la cortesía de tocar los tracks con algunos arreglos distintos. Les dejo los dos que se han publicado hasta el momento, ya que la sesión completa se transmitirá la próxima semana... enjoy....

Arcade Fire performs "We Used To Wait" on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.

Arcade Fire perform "Sprawl II" on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.


Bon Iver - Calgary (Official Music Video)

Les dejo el video oficial de "Calgary", primer sencillo del disco homónimo de Bon Iver, joya que definitivamente estará entre los discos favoritos del 2011. Les dejo además lo que escribe Michael Perry para JAGJAGUWAR (disquera en Estados Unidos de Bon Iver, Okkervil River y The Cave Singers, entre otros buenos artistas), buenos comentarios sobre esta joya que sale a la venta de manera oficial el próximo martes. En verdad es importante comprar el disco, si respetan al artista y les gusta tanto busquen la mejor opción, digital, cd, vinyl, pero apoyen a genios como Vernon... enjoy.

Bon Iver CD / LP (JAG135, released: 06/21/11)
First it was For Emma, Forever Ago. The soul in a refraction of icicles. A moment hanging like breath on air. And yet life – even still life – is not still. The story is not a story if it does not unravel. Your eyes you may cast backward, but the heart is locked in the chest and must beat forever forward. Bon Iver, Bon Iver is the frozen beast pressing upward from a loosening earth, one ear cocked to the echo of the ghost choir still singing, the other craving the martial call of drums tumbling, of thrum and wheeze. The desolation smoke has dissipated, cut with strips of brass. Celebration will not be denied, the cabinet cannot contain the rattle, there is meat on the bones.

It's there right away, in the thicker-stringed guitar and military snare of "Perth," and "Minnesota, WI." Anyone who had a single listen to For Emma will peg Justin Vernon's vocals immediately, but there is a sturdiness – an insistence – to Bon Iver, Bon Iver that allows him to escape the cabin in the woods without burning it to the ground. "Holocene" opens with simple finger-picking. The vocal is regret spun hollow and strung on a wire. Then the snare-beat breaks and drives us forward and up and up until we fly silent through the black-star night, our wreckage in view whole atmospheres below. The vocals in "Hinnom, TX" ease to the muffled depths, while the instrumentation remains sparse and cosmic. "Calgary" is a worship song to everything For Emma mourned, and at the point in the final track "Beth/Rest" when Vernon sings, "I ain't livin' in the dark no more" it is clear he isn't dancing in the sunshine, but rather shading toward a new light.

"Bon Iver is often equated with just me," says Vernon, "but you are who surrounds you, and for Bon Iver, Bon Iver I wanted to invite those voices as musical catalysts." Thus on the track "Beth/Rest" and throughout the album, we hear the pedal steel of Greg Leisz (Lucinda Williams, Bill Frisell), the uniquely layered low end of Colin Stetson's (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire) saxophones, the riffing of Mike Lewis' (Happy Apple, Andrew Bird) altos and tenors, and the lush horns of C.J. Camerieri (Rufus Wainwright, Sufjan Stevens). Bon Iver regulars Sean Carey, Mike Noyce and Matt McCaughan contributed vocals, drums and production, Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons, The National) helped with arranging and added strings, and fellow members of Volcano Choir, Jim Schoenecker and Tom Wincek provided processing.

Bon Iver, Bon Iver was recorded and mixed at April Base Studios, a remodeled veterinarian's clinic located in rural Fall Creek, Wisconsin. The main recording space is constructed over a defunct indoor pool attached to the clinic. "It's an unique space and destination; it's our home out here," says Vernon, who purchased the structure with his brother in late 2008 with the sole intention of converting it into his ideal recording studio. "It's been a wonderful freedom, working in a place we built. It's also only three miles from the house I grew up in, and just ten minutes from the bar where my parents met." The creation of Bon Iver, Bon Iver was a three-year process, and Vernon says the completion of the studio paralleled the completion of the album. "I was writing and recording in the windows of time snatched between tours in support of For Emma," he says. "When I finally came home to hunker down for a solid stretch there was a feeling of solid ground and an opportunity for liberation waiting in the space for me."

In the absence of solid ground, the whirlwind becomes a whirlpool, and Bon Iver, Bon Iver is Justin Vernon returning to former haunts with a new spirit. The reprises are there – solitude, quietude, hope and desperation compressed – but always a rhythm arises, a pulse vivified by gratitude and grace notes, some as bright as a bicycle bell. The winter, the legend, has faded to just that, and this is the new momentary present. The icicles have dropped, rising up again as grass.

- Michael Perry


My Morning Jacket - UNSTAGED + VH1

En la semana del lanzamiento de su increíble sexto álbum de estudio "Circuital", My Morning Jacket, el orgullo de Louisville Kentucky, se presentó en varios lugares. El martes 31 realizaron un UNSTAGED, que son estos conciertos que se transmiten en vivo patrocinados por American Express en conjunto con VEVO y You Tube, y que en esta ocasión fue dirigido por Todd Haynes (director de "Far From Heaven" y "I'm Not There" entre otras). El viernes 3 de junio hicieron un Storytellers para VH1 que se transmitió en directo desde su website, pero que desgraciadamente no está disponible para su retransmisión en México por el momento. Les dejo algunos vids de su UNSTAGED, no se pierdan la versión live de "Holdin on to Black Metal", joya de track. Les dejo además el vid extraído de la página de Pitchfork de la increíble versión live de "Circuital" para VH1... enjoy... no olviden apoyar al artista y comprar al menos una canción.



Beirut - East Harlem

Beirut is planning to release a new single this coming Monday June 6. The new single "East Harlem" b/w "Goshen", will be released on Pompeii, Beirut's frontman Zach Condon's label.

Although not a new song for those of us following Beirut through the years it is certainly exciting to see what will follow their previous albums, all magnificent.

The band has recently released tour dates, including an expected performance in Austin City Limits...sigh.

Listen to the new single below.



Beirut - East Harlem by Revolver USA


Fleet Foxes at Tower Theatre - Philadelphia

I apologize for this truly overdue review… Life moves fast these days.

On May 21, 2011 the world was supposed to end. According to Harold Camping, a multitude of natural disasters would start what was supposed to be part of a new era in human kind, an opportunity for redemption and salvation. In the end, of course, nothing happened.

The same night the Fleet Foxes performed live at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby-Philadelphia. That night, my wife and I decided to go to the Fleet Foxes concert, daring Camping’s predictions, thinking that in the end this was a great way to finish it all.

Certainly, more than an end, what we found that night was a reassurance of the beauty and power of this band’s music. “Helplessness Blues”, the band’s new album, follows the same formula as their beautiful self-titled debut album, though it provides clear evidence of a dramatic growth of the band at a musical and personal level. Songs like “Montezuma”, “The Shrine/An argument”, “Lorelai” and “Helplessness Blues” display this clearly. This album will for sure remain high in my list for 2011.

In this and many other blogs, we tend to focus on the search for novel sounds, new faces, new ideas or rhythms that propose something different, something that catches our eyes through change. Sometimes though in this continuous quest for differences we tend to overlook the beauty of simple elements. The music from the Fleet Foxes is exactly that, it relies in powerful vocals, simple sounds, harmonies and choral arrangements. At the same time, their live show is flawless and front man Robin Pecknold’s voice is perfectly embellished with horns, guitars, saxophones, piano and violins that all together bring their performance to a different level. Certainly, a must-see show.

This was our third time, and without a doubt we look forward to hearing them again soon.

I leave you with the beautiful and well-served setlist plus a video of "The Shrine/An argument”, as they performed it that night.

Fleet Foxes Set-list-Tower Theatre - Philadelphia May 21, 2011

1. The Cascades
2. Grown Ocean
3. Drops In The River
4. Battery Kinzie
5. Bedouin Dress
6. Sim Sala Bim
7. Mykonos
8. Your Protector
9. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
10. White Winter Hymnal
11. Ragged Wood
12. Lorelai
13. Montezuma
14. He Doesn't Know Why
15. The Shrine/An Argument
16. Blue Spotted Tail
17. Blue Ridge Mountains
18. Oliver James
19. Helplessness Blues