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 →
My original plan was to put up twelve songs worthy of a Valentine’s Mix … I have narrowed it down to 32, hope you dig and hopefully there’s someone in your life worth sharing these with, if not check back on HCK! in a few hours, there is another mix on the way for you and I to share. 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
Don’t take this lightly when I tell you to go over to Glowbug’s Bandcamp page and download this (free) album! That way when everyone’s talking about the best albums to come out this year you’ll fully understand why “Mr. Plastic” is on every-ones list (or by god it should be). I just did a post on Listen Before You Buy that is a little more verbose about my feelings for them check it out here.
It’s no secret that Heycoolkid! has an indescribably teenagish infatuation with Neighbors, not my neighbors per say who are an eclectic group I’d be more than happy to bid farewell to, one has night terrors and collects zip lock bags the other I’m pretty sure is on that crack and spends an hour a day intently staring at my bushes (creepy doesn’t scratch the surface on that one), but the other kind of Neighbors whose music is phenomenal. “Ophelia” is jut one more example of why.
For “Ellery,” being the first song from Conveyor to cross my path, the only word that comes to mind is impressed. It’s a song that captures you immediately, like a friend throwing their arm around your shoulder pulling you in closer to draw focus on what they have to say. You feel comfortable there in the intimacy and the lighthearted feeling of togetherness knowing in the back of your mind that this will be the last time you will feel such closeness because your bags are packed and the future is waiting. This is a song about hope and the things we leave behind in pursuit of it, about being alone and content and overall finding optimism in such contentment. No matter how I try to explain this song at the bottom of everything I’m trying to get across is that “Ellery” is an amazing track from a band I’m immediately going to get to know better. You probably should too.
“Summer Home” is a very autobiographical song of childhood longing and standing in that pivotal moment of wondering if we’ve left our happiness behind us or if the future could really bring hope even when it doesn’t look that way. As far as instrumentation goes there is a lot going on that’s absolutely fantastic, unfortunately the lyrics just steal all attention from it. This is a good thing…
“In my peripheral sight I reach out for you but when I turn my head I’m in an empty room. A faceless clock with hands unmoved before a layer of dust a cobweb or two. In a broken mirror with my broken truths now when I comb my hair I pull the gray ones loose. My old house my childhoods tomb it is a failing light but it will come back soon.”
This is a long overdue Alex Drumm addition. I downloaded the album at the beginning of July and somehow forgot about it (just being honest). I sat down last week and really went through the tracks and found it to be a very solid start for what looks to be a strong and positive career. “Sparks In The Grass“ still remains my favorite track thus far. I just did a write up for this song over onListen Before You Buy, if you’ve got the time check it out.
There’s always an amount of respect I reserve for individuals that create solid fully developed music on their own. Jonathan Visger exceeds that for being able to not only create music on his own but to develop something that is upbeat and so exceedingly well-rounded that most full bands can’t come up with what he does. “Feathers (Don’t Change On Me)” is a perfect example of this with it’s head nodding catchiness, not to mention the guitar hook that’s been stuck in my head for days, I’m looking forward to seeing what Absofacto gives us in the future.
Oregon Bike Trails – “Cayucas”
I thought of Oregon Bike Trails while writing about Absofacto so it just seemed fitting to throw one more Kevin Arnold track up since he has basically been the soundtrack to my summer. His music seems angled that way so it works out for both of us. Not to say he won’t put out something great before I’m done bitching about another Indiana winter but if he doesn’t things will be alright we’ll be friends again when the weather feels a bit more hopeful.
With how phenomenal of a year this has been as far as great music is concerned I can’t believe the lack in solid old fashion rock music right now (I’m pretty sure I was saying the same thing last year). It seems like every band I get an email from that could fall into the “Rock” category fits into the “Crap” category as well. It’s nice to hear a band like Young Circles who focus on creating music and only on creating music, it seems like the other guys put all of their focus into what clothes they should be wearing, copying another guys guitar set-up and sitting around sipping Miller Lite and trying to convince themselves they will be needing a tour bus by this time next year. Young Circles-1 Crappy bands-0
I’ve had this one slated for a specific playlist that is in the works but I’ve got the feeling it will be a while before I finally put it up. Since I’ve really been digging this 60′s garage influenced track now is as good of time as any to put it up. King is somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades in the Indy scene filling in on multiple instruments for multiple bands. Up to this point he hasn’t had the big push he deserves around town but it’s undoubtedly coming. I feel like the overall consensus is that he hasn’t yet fully figured out what direction he’s going to go in so everyone is basically waiting for it to happen, as long as he’s putting out songs like “Fireflies” that is completely fine by me.
Ducktails is an artist where you are either a fan or you are not, there isn’t much middle ground. Sure he could easily be some random dude playing at a party but if in fact he were some random dude at a party I would love it all that much more, not less. “Sit Around With Ya” is the bonus track from Arcade Dynamics, I think it came as part of the digital package but I’m not positive. This is number two on my list of favorite ducktails songs, “Killing The Vibe” being number one.
“You’re always telling me all the negative things that I know I could change but it takes a long time to change. You always say that I’m driving you mad but I think you got it backwards cause you’re driving yourself mad“
Off the top of my head I could list more girls than there are songs on this playlist that if I had a little more to drink tonight would be receiving this song as a personal message, nothing else typed just the link to the this song, maybe the message would have a cute little title like “Here’s a song that made me think of you ” thanks Little Jungles for saying what needs to be said. Name your own price on the “Wuts Goin Thru Yer Head” album over on Little Jungles Bandcamp page.
I Break Horses – “Hearts“
Where are you heading? Wherever you are going take this song with you! With it’s everything will be alright vibe, the optimistic tone, the racing drum beat, “Hearts” is constantly pushing forward in a steady development of sound that sinks deeper and deeper, share “Hearts” collectively, preferably while driving into the sunset with friends.
I came across “One More Time” as part of my blog feed and from the first listen I was in. Without knowing anything about Stroik this song has made me an instant fan with his relaxed vocals this song does it for me (whatever it is). He’s just spotting up right now but in a few months we’ll all be familiar.
This is my favorite Seapony song, I’ve been trying to keep it to myself but since I’ve noticed that only “Dreaming” has been getting the sort of attention that all of Seapony‘s music deserves it seemed only right for me to share “Late Summer” with anyone who hasn’t heard it yet. Not to mention there probably wouldn’t be a more fitting time to share it than now.
Gem Club have completely stolen my heart! As long as they continue creating amazing art like this they can keep it. I realize I already posted this over on LBYB and recently put up “Breakers” on my “Definitive(ish) Hooded Sweatshirt Playlist” but one of the perks of running a website is that I get to make the rules myself and personally I think it would be worth it to put these guys up every day until a Gem Club monument is erected. These are how words can feel, this is how a song is supposed to feel, REAL!
I’m just another voice in the sea of Bon Iver praise, I know this, but when I thought I had finally come to realize how amazing Justin Vernon is and how grateful we should all be to have one of the greatest songwriters of all-time creating music right before us he goes and and puts out this version of “Beth/Rest” and makes it crystal clear that he has barely even begun to show what he can create with his troubled soul. This song is the absolute, the pinnacle of greatness, emotion at its truest rawest form, sadness shaped into a mountain of understanding, this is everything, EVERYTHING, that I love from music and am thankful each and ever time I replay this song to have it in my life.
All songs are for promotional use only. If you or an artist you represent on this page would like something removed or corrected just let me know either in the comments or by sending me a direct email (the address can be found in my “About Me” section.
Also if there’s any music you think I’m missing or missing the point on let me know.