Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best of 2008 - A Few Last Minute Additions

As is tradition, I got into a number of albums that weren't on my radar until these final weeks of 2008. Here are three great additions to the best of 2008.

Arthur Russell
Love Is Overtaking Me
A truly unique brand of folk music with progressive hints of CAN.

I Couldn't Say It To Your Face
Hey! How Does Everybody Know

Will Sheff from Okkervil River is behind those Antony-like vocals on this strange, majestic release.

The Snow Leopard


Sic Alps
A Long Way Around To A Shortcut
A refreshing new take on distorted garage punk.

Message From The Law
Dr. Bag And The Pomade Nature Giants

Friday, December 12, 2008

Butch Slap's Best Albums of 2008

1. Elbow
The Seldom Seen Kid

Grounds for Divorce

2. Lightspeed Champion
Falling Off The Lavander Bridge

Galaxy of the Lost

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Dig!!!Lazarus Dig!!!

We Call Upon The Author

4. TV On The Radio
Dear Science


5. Bon Iver
For Emma, Forever Ago

Skinny Love

6. Spiritualized
Songs in A&E

Borrowed Your Gun

7. Wire
Object 47

Mekon Headman

8. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Real Emotional Trash

Cold Son

9. Black Mountain
In the Future

Wild Wind

10. The Magnetic Fields

Drive On, Driver

11. Raveonettes
Lust Lust Lust

Black Satin

12. The Black Keys
Attack & Release

Oceans & Streams

13. The Walkmen
You & Me

Four Provinces

14. Tindersticks
The Hungry Saw

Yesterdays Tomorrows

15. Elvis Costello & The Imposters
American Gangster Time

16. Devotchka
A Mad & Faithful Telling

Along the Way

17. Primal Scream
Beautiful Future

Beautiful Future

18. Damien Jurado
Caught In The Trees

Gillian Was A Horse

19. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Lie Down In The Light

I'll Be Glad

20. The Mountain Goats
Heretic Pride

So Desperate

21. Silver Jews
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

San Francisco B.C.

22. Stereolab
Chemical Chords

Three Women

23. Sun Kil Moon

The Light

24. The Kills
Midnight Boom

Tape Song

25. Of Montreal
Skeletal Lamping

Gallery Piece

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Verlaines

The Verlaines are one of my favorite New Zealand bands from the storied days of the Flying Nun label. Founded and led by classically trained guitarist Graeme Downes, the band is known for their literate vocals and complex song structures—not surprising, given Downes actually attained his PhD between recordings, and has maintained an academic life with regard to his day job.

Here I’ve posted some of my favorite cuts, which spans through much of their material from their first notable single, 1983’s Death and the Maiden, to a track off their forthcoming release Pot Boiler, which was apparently recorded at the end of 2007. Enjoy!

Death and the Maiden

Joed Out


Take Good Care of It

Bird Dog

All Laid On

Don't Send Me Away

Jesus What A Jerk

Damn Shame

This Train

Hanging By Strands

Gloom Junky

It's Easier To Harden a Broken Heart

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Best of Bonnie “Prince” Billy

From the many incarnations of Palace Music, Will Oldham settled on the Bonnie “Prince” Billy moniker about a decade ago, and has quietly continued tinkering with permutations of American music—country, folk, roots, and the like—but approached with a modern sensibility.

He’s frighteningly prolific and in the enviable position of being able to basically put out whatever the hell he wants to an adoring, yet surprising modest fan base, given the quality of his output. He has a live album called Is It the Sea scheduled for release sometime in October, so I thought it an opportune time to share some of my favorite tracks.

Big Friday

A Minor Place

I'll Be Glad

I Called You Back

My Home is the Sea

For Every Field There's a Mole

Just To See My Holly Home

Friday, September 19, 2008

TV on the Radio – Dear Science

TV on the Radio open the new album with a nod to 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain, and never look back. Their cauldron of sound just keeps pleasantly surprising you with subtle influences and innovative production. A great effort.

Halfway Home


Shout Me Out

Monday, September 15, 2008

I’m finally on board with Of Montreal and The Walkmen

I intentionally avoided Of Montreal after their splash at the SXSW a ways back. Something about their screechy 80’s-influenced art rock just kind of annoyed me. But early this year, I finally gave 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? a fair listen, and it all kind of clicked into place for me (their cool album art doesn’t hurt either). Their latest, Skeletal Lamping is a funkier endevour indeed, and as a new convert…I dig.

Of Montreal - Mingusings

Of Montreal - Gallery Piece

Ignoring the The Walkmen was far easier because I didn’t have to do it consciously. I was a big Jonathan Fire*Eater fan in the day, so you think I might have followed along with the remnants, but I just didn’t hear anything that really interested me. That was until I was in the throes of a Dylan discovery phase, and I heard “Louisiana.” The connection was made. I really quite like the new one, You & Me, it’s good enough to shake any Dylan knock-off hostility.

The Walkmen - The Blue Route

The Walkmen - Four Provinces

Friday, August 22, 2008

Railroad Jerk

The band Railroad Jerk got together around the turn of the 90’s. They put out a couple records on Matador that got some attention, but their third release, 1995’s One Track Mind, is the one that got mine. Loved their brand of lo-fi, shit-can, delta blues-rock. Their follow up Third Rail tightened up their sound and was their best effort yet…unfortunately it was to be their last, although I have read rumors about an unreleased album.

Clean Shirt

Dusty Knuckle


Bang the Drum

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Brian Jonestown Massacre

One of the most perplexing things about The Brian Jonestown Massacre is how good they can be despite their rotating cast of characters, spats, freakouts, and other drug-induced theatrics. Their latest, My Bloody Underground, is unfortunately not one of those things.

The new release is a challenging listen—largely unfocused, psychedelic garble. But nevertheless, with some patient listening (or at least a few bong hits), you can almost see where Anton Newcombe was going with this whole mess. In the end, there are few bright spots, but you can’t help feeling a little let down. So the best one from the new BJM, and the rest the kind of stuff you were hoping for.

Bring Me The Head Of Paul McCartney On Heather Mill's Wooden Peg (Dropping Bombs On The White House)





That Girl Suicide


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Primal Scream - Beautiful Future

Give Primal Scream credit for keeping you guessing. Look across their discography, and you’d have a bit of trouble cramming them into even a generous-sized box—from the acid-house induced Screamadelica to the kinetic XTRMNTR to their dalliances with southern-fried Stones-influenced rock (which I’ll be the first to admit a strange affection for). And now with Beautiful Future, they’re gone downright poppy. As with any of their records, there are a few clunkers, but I think it all works well for the most part. Bring on the future!

Suicide Bomb

Glory of Love

Friday, August 08, 2008

Stereolab - Chemical Chords

With the release of Chemical Chords, I’m sure there will be the inevitable comparisons to their previous work along with criticisms that there’s not a whole lot new going on here. But you can’t run away from yourself, and that’s a good thing in the case of Stereolab. Take a good listen, and there is indeed a bit of evolution in their meticulously-crafted sound, albeit with subtle instrumentation and structures.

The band is working well again with Sean O’Hagan—his influence adds without overwhelming. This enjoyable recording is decidedly upbeat, and has me at least as excited as that “brown” album they put out years ago.

Three Women

Daisy Click Clack

Friday, July 25, 2008

Luna: My Former Favorite Band

Underrated and under-appreciated, Luna were indeed "my favorite" band through the late 90's—from Bewitched to Penthouse to Pup Tent, which most point to as their finest hour. That's with good reason, since those first two are flawless masterpieces in my view.

The rest of the catalog is also astonishingly good, with Romantica being the weakest offering of their seven full-length albums. I'm glad they finished on a high note with Rendezvous before calling it quits a few years ago. I’ve posted eight of my favorites, which was a tricky exercise, because there’s so much good material to choose from.

Tiger Lily



23 Minutes in Brussels

Dear Diary

I Know You Tried

Ride Into The Sun

Still At Home

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wire – Object 47

Always reinventing itself, Wire is truly in it for the art. They’ve proved to be one of the most innovative and influential bands in modern rock. And now that their new full-length, Object 47 (the 47th object in their catalogue) is out, I’m falling in love with the band all over again. Hints of early material abound, but it all sounds remarkably fresh and forward-looking.

One Of Us

Mekon Headman

Monday, July 14, 2008

80’s Hardcore Flashback

Ahhh.. I remember it like it was the day before yesterday... somewhereabouts 1984. Definitely caught wind of the Connecticut hardcore scene even though I grew up across the border in NY State. Cassettes, moshing, and feeling like I was a part of something. Funny that I actually became friends with some of the guys in the CT bands many years later like 76% Uncertain. Here are some of the songs that fueled my youth. Is it weird that I still dig them?

Clitboys – No Such Thing

Vatican Commandos – Do What You Want To

Black Flag – I Love You

76% Uncertain – Coffee Achievers

GBH – Big Women

X – Soul Kitchen

The Vandals – The Legend of Pat Brown

Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk to Fuck

Suicidal Tendencies – I Saw Your Mommy

Anti-Nowhere League – I Hate People

Friday, June 20, 2008

Spiritualized - Songs in A&E

After a bout with double pneumonia, Jason Pierce is back after a five year absence with Songs in A&E...not chords mind you, but a reference to the ER, which is called Accident & Emergency in the UK.

This sobering brush with death seems to have inspired a truly great record that radiates with palpable urgency. Though Pierce's vocals are cracked and weary, Spiritualized hasn't sounded this strong in a decade.

Borrowed Your Gun

Sweet Talk

Monday, June 09, 2008

Obscure 80's Nuggets

I used to DJ for a college radio station through the 80's and 90's, which means there are a lot of cataloged songs from that period that live in deep recesses of my mind. Some have been a bit elusive to find. But with a little tenacity and time, I've managed to unearth many of them over the years. Here are six gems that not only transport you back in time, but still hold up as just good music.

Trio - Broken Hearts for You and Me

Stereo MC's - Bring It On

Medium Medium - Mice Or Monsters

Winter Hours - The Confessional

James - Really Hard

John Moore and the Expressway - Friends

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Elvis Costello And The Imposters – Momofuku

It appears Elvis Costello has plenty of bile for the record biz, choosing to release his latest as either a digital download or vinyl. At least he thought better of the idea of not recording at all anymore.

Being a longtime fan, I’ve given the new record a quick listen and quite like what I hear. Nice diversity, drawing on different styles—from vintage angry-young-man-era organ rockers to even a bit of tropicalia.

The Imposters lineup is embellished with some help from Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice. He actually writes an interesting bit about the process of recording the album on

American Gangster Time

Go Away

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good New Stuff

Too little time and too much good music to post, so here are some of the albums that I’ve been obsessing over for the past few weeks. Not exactly a mix, per se, but great tracks all. Enjoy... and leave me a freggin’ comment of thanks.

Man Man - Big Trouble

Clinic – The Witch

The Black Keys – Oceans & Streams

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Cold Son

The Kills – Tape Song

Silver Jews – Candy Jail

Elbow – Grounds For Divorce

Tindersticks – The Hungary Saw

Monday, March 31, 2008

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Well Mr. Cave…I’d say you’ve been on a creative tear in recent times. Between the expansive, pretty-at-times Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Grinderman, which was a refreshingly gritty affair—as well as the apparent jump-off point for the new recording with the Bad Seeds.

Now with Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, Nick Cave keeps proving he’s got something interesting to say into his 50’s (as if we had any doubt). He’s aging and a little pissed off, which suits him perfectly. Although the reality of the situation is that he sounds renewed and Bad Seeds are as tight as ever. The album is simply a great effort.


We Call Upon The Author

Monday, March 17, 2008

Silver Jews

After breaking his long-standing moratorium on playing live, I had the pleasure of seeing David Berman and company live in March of 2006 at Webster Hall in NYC (snapped this picture with my cellphone). They most certainly did not disappoint. And being on the receiving end of all that pent-up fan love seemed to have medicinal powers in healing the fragile psyche of Dave.

That tour went well from all accounts, and now there’s a bunch of upcoming European dates that will support the release of the Silver Jew's sixth release called Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea due out from Drag City sometime in late April. No rogue tracks from the record yet, but here’s a listing of the goods to come, and 4 of my favorites from albums past:

TRACK LISTING: Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea

01. What is Not But Could Be If

02. Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer

03. Suffering Jukebox

04. My Pillow is the Threshold

05. Strange Victory, Strange Defeat

06. San Francisco B.C.

07. Open Field

08. Party Barge

09. Candy Jail

10. We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing

Starlite Walker - Trains Across the Sea

Bright Flight - Slow Education

American Water - People

Tanglewood Numbers - How Can I Love You (If You Won't Lie Down)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gary Numan & Tubeway Army – Replicas

To celebrate Gary Numan’s 30th year in music, Beggars Banquet has just re-issued Tubeway Army’s 1979 synth masterpiece Replicas as Gary Numan & Tubeway Army – Replicas Redux. What’s more, Gary Numan has set off on a 15-date UK tour through March where he’ll be performing the album in its entirety.

I can only hope he’ll throw in some US dates, like NYC, because I’d be so there. Here are a couple of my favorites off the original Replicas. But apparently there’s extra stuff on the re-issue, so a great time to snag this incredible album if it’s not already in your collection. It still completely holds up 30 years later.

You Are In My Vision

Are Friends Electric?