It’s hard to believe but it’s been over two years since HCK!’s first offering. We’ve come a long way, the growth is apparent, looking back at those first posts is a rad experience realizing just how tangible of a difference between then and now there is and how many people have helped to make this one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This also marks the 100th post for HCK! making today’s mix all that more important for me to get right. Continue reading →
Making theBest Albums list was relatively easy compared to nailing down the 100 best songs of 2011. The level of incredible music to surface this year is unbelievable. What’s more difficult is trying to create some sort of order when laying these songs out, what makes one great song better than another great song? Nothing. Keep that in mind as you go through this list, hopefully there will be a few new tracks you haven’t heard before and if a song stands out to you which should have been included, make use of the comments section If I haven’t heard it before or haven’t given my full attention to a song that may have been lost in the midst of the unorganized shuffle that is my “new music folder” know I will take full advantage of the opportunity to check it out.
I’m going to space these out in hopes that the artists get more of a focus per song than if I put them all up at once, with art as good as this they deserve it.
This Rollo And Grady Session was the first I’d ever heard of Lord Huron. These Michigan via L.A. natives are killing it with potential, I can’t imagine anything other than HUGE things from these guys in 2012.
The strength of “Street Joy” lies in the fact that it’s a nice change from what we’ve come to expect from an A-typical White Denim track which is precisely why it stands out as being worthy of this year’s list over the other solid tracks off of “D” .
Real Estate seem poised for scene domination in the wake of the incredible “Days.” Without a doubt they’ve got the sound and talent yet it’s the band’s universal acceptance from every demographic other than mainstream that allows me to write that with full confidence, which would probably seem blasphemous to the hipster crowd but they seem to be staying loyal which is a feat in itself. “It’s Real” was the first single from the new album and is just chill enough to remind us these guys are from Brooklyn but clean enough to make those of us in the mid-west not feel neglected by their coolness.
I’ve always felt the conviction that if a band or artist is going to do a cover it should be an entirely new take on it. Any thirteen-year-old with some free time can learn to play a song identically with the original, if you need proof just look at forty percent of the videos on youtube.
Needless to say this take on “Barely Legal” may go down as my favorite cover of the year. Brazil’s Cicero strips this song completely back and has rebuilt it in a way that feels as if I’ve never heard it before. For some it may seem blasphemous but I truly like this version better than the original, sorry Julian.
Real Estate put out there own version of this track earlier this year and although the two re-envisioned versions are similar Real Estate was able to keep the arrogance that IS The Strokes still slightly attached where Cicero is able to discard it completely and make this song actually sound like a soul baring piece of acoustic indie. As a fan of The Strokes the fact that they never wrote a song that didn’t sound pretentious is basically the underlying theme of the band we once loved, for someone else to take the exact same song and deliver a feel that is anything but impresses me.
The line “these places your therapist fears to tread, well I bet you knock em dead” is an ideal example of the clever and surprisingly original lyrics that set this song up for necessary repeat listening. (Via)
There have been a few times this year when I’ve had to ask myself whether I’m writing music reviews or heading the Jhameel fanclub (Example 1, Example 2) . If you haven’t noticed lately, I’m not the only one getting all band-crush on his music either. “Waves” is the more “pop” style track he’s put out this year and shows why it’s the title track from his most recent project.
“…Dystopia is their supercharged, post-apocalyptic anthem, virtually a warrior’s cry warning of the impending inferno of mother earth; all the while beating the drums of self-empowerment in the face of doom and leading the listener towards the kinetic potential within. It’s a tall order, but these dance-punk emissaries have an intergalactic belief system to back up their call to the altar of their disco floor…” – My Old Kentucky Blog
“I caught a video a few weeks ago from Oh land and immediately was attracted to what this band is doing. Like a chill Florence and the Machine or Coco Rosie with pop sensibility. Each song breathes exceptionally well ‘Perfection‘ is a solid example of that.” (Via)
“Mike Tucker is Canadian video game design student who goes by the name of Blood Diamonds when he turns to music production in his spare time. Recent track, “Dreams” is an explosive cocktail of R&B-inspired high pitch vocals, dreamy synth melodies and repetitive beats that sounds something like Beach House with a hint of The Weeknd and a little Animal Collective” - Onomatopoeia
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan (a.k.a. The Milk Carton Kids) have made one of the most sing-alongable songs with Girls, Gather Round. This one shows what strengths these two troubadours are working with. A tinge of classic bluegrass that makes you want to swing a mug and belt along with the chorus and what’s even better is that such a full sound is created by two guys playing live. (Via)
Although I think for most people “Girls Gather Round” is the more worthy songs for this list, I’m starting to think I should have included the haunting “Michigan” higher up on the list, here’s a video for it if you haven’t heard it yet.
And while some of the imagery has drawn specifically on Alberta, from where frontman Nils Edenloff hails, Cole loves the universality of the music. “I’m from a small town, too, and I feel an emotional connection to the themes cause I think it’s something everyone goes through,” she says. “Like, you leave your small town and move to the big city, leaving things behind, ending relationships. You don’t have to necessarily come from Alberta to understand it.”
“North Star” finds Edenloff singing about driving in a friend’s car, with the north star guiding them home. He croons over sparse electric piano and a skittish drumbeat, before the song finally swells into a organ-led crescendo that comes on like the first hints of a sunrise after an all-night adventure. – Spin
“Kaputt“ has shown us once again how phenomenal Dan Bejar is. It’s not like he had anything left needing to be proved but he took his art to a whole other level this year. He’s so relaxed in his delivery we can’t help but turn the volume up in awe of the ease he portrays.
Pat Grossi first came onto the scene last year with his highly praised “Curtis Lane EP” that bloggers couldn’t get enough of, myself included. When Active Child’s debut album “You Are All I See” came out it basically perpetuated what he started a year ago. This is how good electro-pop can be and indie at it’s finest.
Every day this week when riding my bike to work I have started off with “Cosmonauts”. This may not seem like something worth mentioning but it really is because I never repeat listen. My ride to and from work is the only time I get to relax while listening to the songs that i’ve enjoyed each day, the only chance I get to really experience them. I noticed on day one that this song gives off that eighties movie vibe that is in the action/music scene which is a great way to get you motivated about going into work (think Iron Eagle when Pappy gets told to shove his rules “I’m doing it my way” and slips the cassette in, the opening scene with the feet from footloose, or I’m trying to think of a good dirtbike/bmx scene from a movie but have drawn a blank- you get the idea though). I guess what i’m trying to say is Kites With Lights have created a song which is a perfect track for doing shit.(Via)
With how incredible Mr. Plastic was I’m practically offended by the lack of hype going towards Glowbug. The album was the most addicting of any to come out in 2011. Secrets aren’t always good to keep and Glowbug is the ideal example, so quit keeping them to yourselves and start mixing up some cd’s for your friends, these guys are too good to be floating this low under the radar.
Try “Generation Handclap” — a track from Canadian indie-poppers Library Voices. It features just the right doses of New Order guitar freakouts, surfy drums, power pop harmonies and even those saxophone accents that make you do a twisty dance without caring what others think. – Rcrd Lbl
Slothpop are the best local export we have here in Indy. As with most great bands you really need to see them live to grasp the fire to understand all the smoke surrounding them in this town. “Kokoro” comes close very close to delivering on the hype but given the chance to see them sweat on stage in the coming year make it point number one not to pass it up.
If the feel-great lyrics and handclaps don’t bitchslap a smile across your face, perhaps the punchy piano and crip-walking bassline will. This is like that random Cults song meets Panda Bear’s collab with Atlas Sound, except not something you’re ridiculously sick of hearing at Urban Outfitters. Savor it, folks, before it winds up in a Nissan commercial. - I guess I’m Floating
Like an upbeat Quick Said The Bird, Mother Falcon are incredibly talented musicians who understand the importance of being part of a whole. Nothing escapes from the ether yet at the same time every note in this song is astonishingly fitting. The vocal round-about does me in more than any other aspect of “Fireflies” reminding me of a mature Lydia who at one point in time I was obsessed with. (Via)
The best news I’ve heard in the last few weeks is that Mat Cothran will be continuing on with his recently acquired Elvis Depressedly moniker.I’m a huge fan of artists who place art before self. By putting out music under a band name it throws all pretensions aside and allows us to take in the music without the unnecessary distraction that comes with solo artists.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from following Cothran’s musical endeavors is that this guy has absolutely no clue what he’s going to do next. One day Coma Cinema is done the next day he’s saying it’ll be around until his death and pretty much copying the same format at the same time with Elvis Depressedly.
His work as Elvis Depressedly feels more truthful than what he’s given us before reminding me immensely of early Bright Eyes with its raw honesty and unrelenting emotional heart-on-sleeve sound.Wherever Cothran chooses to take his music I’m sure we’ll be thankful for it and thoroughly enjoy whatever sounds he gives us, I’m hoping for much more Depressedly it’s too real to just throw to the way side. (Via)
“While We’re Young” is the new single from Californian musician Max Greenhalgh, who has recently finished the recording of a solo album dubbed ‘Teenager’. Yeah, there’s a bit of a trend here. Naturally, the song is a melodic lofi pop number, but instead of being cliched it’s actually a fantastic example of summer music done right. With the warmer weather obviously on its way, we could all do with a bit more music like this. -And Pluck Your Strings
The Speed Of Sound In Seawater is one of the bands that, after taking some time to grasp, have worked their way into just about every personal playlist I’ve made this year. Something about their Maps And Atlases meets early 2000′s emo mixture elevates them from being merely another overly talented band to one of the key lines of defense I use to defend the state of music when combating friends who believe there hasn’t been instrumental talent since the seventies, those friends are also idiots.
For how much I enjoy promoting new songs and great bands I feel a confession is called for; I have a secret stash . With the ease that artist get tossed around and discarded (I’m part of the problem), with terms like “buzzband” often times doing more damage six months down the road than it helped, and the way that “great music” can become “generic music” just through album sales and the amount of people we are crammed between when going to a show I feel justified in having a few secrets.
I love the feeling of having a band to myself as much as anyone else, to know that a song I love is “my” song instead of everyone’s song. That amazing feeling that lingers all night after standing in some small sweaty basement with thirty-five people when there is only room for about ten with that constant fear of knowing if there is one spark, one faulty wire in an amp, we will all burn to our death before we have a chance to react. These are the things that I love about music and sure it’s not fair to the bands I choose to keep to myself but I need that personal connection and sometimes I make a conscious effort to keep certain bands that way.
I got nervous when the whole surf rock thing started trending that Teenagers would get chewed up and spit out by the hype machine (the actual machine and not the blog) so I kept my mouth closed. Unfortunately/fortunately the music which Travis Keymer creates using the Teenagers moniker is far too great to keep hidden beneath a bushel…. (Excerpt from my Listen Before You Buy post)
The opening guitar lick to this track just radiates sunshine, immediately transporting me to the top of a sand dune watching a hazy sunset fade away into the horizon. Featuring Mississippi’s premiere ukulele-maestro Dent May and Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere as guests, this song is a case of beer and a few mermaids away from a summertime blast. If you’re suffering from seasonal depression or need a good soundtrack to watch sea turtle babies crawl back to the ocean, spin “Killin The Vibe”! – I Guess I’m Floating
All songs are for promotional use only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com
.What a great week it’s been for music in Indy. Bright Eyes on Thursday, the Head and the heart on Friday (both in-store at Luna and then an impromptu show at The Earth House after the decemberists cancelled) and then My Morning Jacked at white river on sunday. Unfortunately, my card reader has decided to be of no use whatsoever to me and stopped working completely so it’s going to be a minute until i post pictures and reviews from said shows, i’ll try to get motivated and pick one up early in the week. Until then here’s what i’ve found worth listening to lately:
YES! This is the the first song i can ever remember instantly wanting at the same time to both dance and destroy everything within arms reach. Could the vocals possibly get any dirtier? I’ve downloaded the rest of the album but have yet to check it out, if it’s half this good go ahead and count my vote for album of the year. How many genre’s can one person combine in a song? i count four. If you can’t tell i’m impressed and that doesn’t happen often. Like an intense Fyfe Dangerfield mixed with a more pop sensible Gobble Gobble this guy has confidence and craft just sweating from the speakers… i can’t imagine how someone could not instantly dig this song. Get the album free here.
I’ve shifted this playlist around twenty times and there’s just no way to smoothly follow jhameel, not without pulling something that’s years old and sitting on a shelf somewhere, so rather than force it i’m just going to keep moving forward. Icona Pop have that pop (no pun intended) driven chorus hook typical of Swedish artists,instantly catchy, works in any upbeat mix and always feels good.
We’re heading into my favorite time of year…fall. When night drives, hooded sweatshirts and solid lyric driven laid back songs are a mainstay. This song helps me look forward to it because it’s an obvious choice to listen on the way to any late-night relaxed excursion. It’s also well fitting when making up a mix for a new crush to slip I think i’ll call you mine onto the later parts of the playlist.
There is something that stands out about Dayve Hawk created tracks which i have a high respect for. He seems to have a clear vision of how to create a piece of art that has a highly complex dynamic without them ever feeling cluttered or rushed. Comparisons are inevitable to washed out but i don’t see that as being an overshadowing tangent. Memory Tapes has it’s own (well earned) place in the annals of chillwave and i’m glad to see the music popping up more and more around the scene.
The imagery Phil Marsalona uses throughout this song is vivid and personal. I’ve gotten down on The City’s Face since the very first listen. I feel this would be a strong fit for a well directed indie film, it’s just got that sort of vibe to it. Get the ep for free here.
It’s not much of a secret how in love i am with Sun Airway. At first listen SA tracks sound like they are merely solid electronic tracks but when you take the time to catch what’s being said it’s immediately clear that Sun Airway have true depth and creative brilliance when it comes to writing. I honestly cannot get enough of this album and am looking forward to all things that this duo have to offer us in the future.
Winter Villains are a band that has yet to define itself in any set way. They haven’t even released an actual album, as a matter of fact outside of their being from south Whales nothing else is clear about them.So here’s your chance at getting to know a band early on. I expect big things from Winter Villains in the coming months, they truly have something to offer with an undercurrent of longing and calm self-realization similar to bon iver and fleet foxes which is something i can’t get enough of and it’s hard to imagine i’m the only one who feels that way.
This song is an example of why this mix is one of my favorites in recent months for its lyrical content. The guitar work in this may be the best on this weeks collective as well with it’s catchy upbeatness that keeps Puddle Jumpers from falling into a simple song of sad contentment. The instrumentation nearly says as much as the lyrics do and both are honest and nothing short of complete. This one will be getting alot of use on my ipod.
M. Ward may quite possibly be the most underrated artist in music today. I would have thought that his work with Monsters of Folk would have helped finally elevate him beyond the subtle niche he fits so nicely into but his place seems to be constantly unchanging. This is good for those of us who like when our favorite artist keep that feeling of being our own little secret yet at the same time i can’t remember another artist who has maintained that status while steadily creating better and better music as they go along. I think ideally most people who feel passionate about the art they create kind of set out with a goal of being where M. Ward consistently is, i just feel like with music this good he deserves more.
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have made one of the most sing-alongable songs with Girls, Gather Round. This one shows what strengths these two troubadours are working with. A tinge of classic bluegrass that makes you want to swing a mug and belt along with the chorus and what’s even better is that such a full sound is created by two guys playing live.
The Temper Trap meets Los Campesinos in the most infectious way imaginable. This is probably the strongest showing from the band thus far and is just another example of the range of genre’s Oh No! Yoko are capable of covering.
What i like most about Library Voices is that they’ve found a way of channeling that resurfacing 60′s surf rock sound without the Low-fi angle other bands are annoyingly hiding behind. I think it’s obvious that i’m not anti-low-fi but i’m getting more and more irritated as bands come out with that being their only strength which just adds fuel to the argument i hear regularly that less talented bands are hiding behind it to cover up their own short comings. Library Voices remain uninhibited by that crutch and instead have allowed their own indie touch to a throwback sound. Whereas so many other bands can only be described by using the influences they choose to channel LV are much harder to do anything other than give a vague description of my own impression of there music ending in the ultimate suggestion that really one should just listen to them for yourself and get a first hand opinion.
Gary Clark Jr. is the first artist i can think of in my lifetime that has actually gotten the blues right. He has something to offer rather than just choosing some rote format to follow. Using common references he falls between Jimmy Hendrix and The Black Keys and has really made me reevaluate my own misconceptions about blues music in general. When i was much younger i was immersed in the blues and then one day the light just went out. Gary Clark Jr. didn’t just get the light to flicker back on he has the kicked the door open and let natural light blind me as he said with cold steel confidence “your going to know my name.”
I can’t get enough of Stefanie Franciotti’s laid back yet full on orchestral songs. For as subtle and passive as this song in-particle presents itself it pulls itself out of the ether most chillwave/electronic songs float in and rises directly into focus. To throw any Sleep ∞ Over song onto a mix meant to be played only as background music is a huge mistake, this is great art which is much better than the vast majority of music Sleep ∞ Over share a genre with.
As a lifelong fan of Dashboard Confessional and a fan of this Cory Branan song i can’t be more content with a cover. I have caught sh*t for years that DC is tied for my all-time favorite band. Many people have misconceptions about Chris Carrabba, and the music he creates, they just can’t shake. It’s their loss and i’m over defending myself. I know great music when i experience it, I know perfectly written highly personal lyrics when i hear them and as far as my love for music goes that is all that matters. Maybe this cover might sway some people to hear something other than what they are so quick to label as “emo”.
As i continue to lose respect for Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti I’m gaining more and more of it for John Maus and his abilities not only as an artist but also as a producer. Some musicians just cannot record themselves without things sounding too forced and constricted yet on the other end of the spectrum those who can do it successfully end up with songs such as this one where that additional time to focus per track turns into a full sound of layer upon layer of well placed instrumentation.
For those handful of people who follow the usual make up of my playlists you may be surprised to see a song like Everything is Dancing closing the mix out. Typically i like to open things up with energy and rather than try to sustain that energy i design playlists with the ideal situation of a late night drive where i would be listening to it deep into the night in mind, so i usually save the more relaxed acoustic based tracks to close out the night. When i first heard this song from Fair Ohs I knew this was the kind of song i would love to be the last i hear before calling it a night. Where in most cases i could put into words why that feeling comes across for me this is an exception. It just works. This is also one song i am really excited to see get played live, i have a feeling this one has an energy in-person that’s hard to contain. Hopefully i’ll get to find out first hand in the near future whether that holds true or not.
my unnecessary rant:
One of the more irritating things to happen in conversation is talking to someone with taste that reflect only the scene they are a part of. I get that you and the twenty kids who show up at the same places are passionate about “music” (really the majority of the group are merely passionate about getting wasted, looking cool, and sleeping with someone new ( i am not above this)) but how many new bands are accepted into this little circle of pretension you are in? I’m always amazed how these kids hold so tight to five shitty bands and refuse (REFUSE) to believe that there are actually other good bands outside of what they have already experienced and allowed onto their list of “scene approved” bands.
There are always three waves that go with these inclusive lists; you have the new bands, these are rarely local but lets say if you were to look at the dynamic of four bands that would be named dropped two will be from the region, one will be from brooklyn, and the other either austin or oregon, as far as the Indy kids go, recent bands to be included onto this list are pomegranates, white denim, harlem, and sleeping bag (all are decent bands but hardly ground breaking). The second type is the “band that was never that cool which makes them cool” section which are the easiest to spot seeing how only one, occasionally two but never three, make it into the general zeitgeist of a scene, two obvious examples would be the talking heads as well as Hall and Oats which get way more credit than they deserve and sure they made good music but there has been so much great music in the last, i don’t know, fifty years why only those precise ones? And the third wave, which is the one i always find irritating, is the one that get’s brought up in a sentence like ” i can’t stand anything mainstream but i can’t help but like…” here are where the most awful, image mongering, self-righteous, completely mediocre pieces of wasted disc space who cause my throat to burn with the taste of my own vomit fit into any conversation i’d rather not be in… obvious mentions on this list are lady gaga and kanye west ( when someone does this i try to say something like “oh i totally understand, i’m the same way about 3 doors down” and rarely does anyone get my sarcasm which i love even more).
Now i’m fine with all of these things, it’s easy to understand why at 20 years old you have limited musical knowledge. The fact that you’re making the effort to even be at shows and care about something other than what’s popular with ninety five percent of the soulless, flavorless, luke warm people around us is novel in itself. The only time i have a problem with it is when you name drop a band like it gives you street cred and then go and get all republican on me when i, with a fair amount of knowledge about the band we are speaking, disagree with you. my opinions may not be any more important than yours (and i firmly believe they are not) but what you arrogantly seem not to consider is that they are not any less important either.
The recent conversation that has brought about this stream of anti-scene-kid criticism happened outside of the Bright Eyes concert where i was doing my best to smoke and look cool when some girl was talking shit about conor oberst and his musical relevance. I was biting my tongue for maybe two minutes as her friend, who had obviously paid for both their tickets, kept attempting to contribute his opinion to the conversation as she continued with her never ending rant and wouldn’t let him get a word in. Finally i turned and very quiet and calmly asked her “so you obviously feel a negative conviction about Bright Eyes which bands do you feel positive about?” she looked at me shocked for a second ( i know…. who am i to butt into her loud conversation she is having two feet from me?) then she said with complete condescension “well i guess the most obvious bands would be destroyer and portugal, the man.” If this girl does not work for pitchfork i think i will have a fucking heart attack. Of all the bands in the world you are going to mention as being more relevant than Bright Eyes those are the two you say out loud? She must have panicked right? i mean there’s no way real thought could have gone into that statement. Portugal the man? I initially did a “hmmm” thing, took a drag from my american spirit (just kidding they were camel lights), and really couldn’t help myself when i said ” portugal, the man. They’re definitely talented guys, i just wish they’d spend more time writing music than standing in front of the mirror, i firmly believe they could give us one of the best albums of our generation but i’m still holding out for a relevant one,” a heated little conversation ensued but i felt good about myself.
Arguing over music is like arguing with someone who digs fox news it’s pointless, opinions never change, and the other side will always have a bitter taste towards the artist you are defending as a result. But that’s kind of the point. I don’t want to be standing at the concert listening to you mention tweeting seventy five times in two minutes and then rip on the band that i’ve paid to go see. If you and your friends would like to talk shit about bright eyes while watching jersey shore later on in the night that’s fine and fitting but destroyer and portugal the man? those are the best examples you can come up? heycoolkid-1 scene girl-0
All songs are for promotional purposes to help the artists involved find new fans that they may not have been presented to before. I understand that in order to continue making music those bands have a need to make some sort of compensation for the art they create. One of the goals in the general ethos of heycoolkid! is that through the free distribution of these songs the bands will inevitably spark interest in the listener that will cause them not only to want more songs from the bands but also get them motivated to check these bands out live when they come to play in there own city. If you or an artist you represent has a song on this page that you would like removed i understand and will take it down upon request. Just know that i will no longer recommend that music in a positive light and will make the same amount of effort in the future to get people not to like the music as i did before in promoting them.
If there’s any music i’m missing or missing the point of let me know.