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 →
Oregon Bike Trails has created the ideal soundtrack for any summer. If “Cayucas” doesn’t get you in the mood for warmer weather, open air, some polluted water-way, and good friends I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with you.
After seeing Yuck play Radio Radio this year I’m at a stalemate between an intense love for songs like “Automatic“/ Oupa’s “Forget” and the absolute energy of the more upbeat songs like “Cousin Corona” and “Georgia” which develop into a whole other animal on-stage.
This song stirs emotions hiding in the back of my consciousness that occasionally need to be brought to the surface like a realized musical accompaniment to Bukowski‘s “Bluebird“. There’s a time and place for every great song. When the moment comes for this one to be fitting you’re thankful as you listen that a friend has created something to sing along with which aligns perfectly with those feelings.
The People’s Key is an album that grew on me gradually this year. I’m not sure what I was expecting but what at first felt like a let down developed into an absolute returned love for an artist that will always seem underated to me. Conor Oberst is the catalyst for an entire shift from mainstream to indie in the collective psyche of all things brilliant and “cool.”
The way he expresses himself in each song on The People’s Key was fashioned more along the lines of Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band than it was traditional Bright Eyes in that the lyrics are personal yet more metaphoric than personally descriptive but the same message is there, “Jejune Stars” is probably the best example.
“[Riding Coach] further expands the band’s musical palette. They’ve rocked out plenty thus far, and they’ve done the retro-soul vibe remarkably well, too. With ‘Riding Coach‘, Sickels pounds out a slow, steady beat and Nic Snyder’s near-falsetto vocals massage the ears with rhythm and soul. About two-thirds of the way through, there’s a funky little guitar riff before the pair chill out again. Absorb the cool … “- The Wounded Jukebox
“Catchy melodies blend and come apart in a swirling psyched-out pop frenzy. Seeing two colors together and apart at once. Happy, frustrated, and sad all at the same time. Messy Sparkles not only make sense of such calamity, it seems to be their essence.” – Zen Tapes
If Lana Del Rey sticks with the sound she’s given us in 2011 I confidently believe our generation may have it’s new Sinatra. She’s got the sound, she’s got the look, and she followed the ideal format this year in laying the groundwork for a shift towards huge commercial success. Who knows how we’ll feel about Lana Del Rey in a few years time but for now it’s hard to find anyone whose opinion I appreciate that doesn’t respect the songs she put out this year. “Video Games” was the song that took me from listening timidly to becoming a fan.
Unless it’s Merle Haggard there isn’t much “country” that I get into, which is what caught me off guard with “Rust“. I’m not even sure which blog I picked it up from when I downloaded this track yet I clearly remember when it came up on shuffle just stopping what I was doing and listening so intently that I played it three times in a row. There’s no doubt in my mind the place Nathan Bell was at when he wrote this song, although I may be wrong, I get the feeling that this song must have been a huge release for him when it was finished.
“Rust” reminds me so much of coming home from shows I’d play six hours away and driving all night to make it to work at 8 in the morning, wondering about the kind of things you wonder about on rides like that. One show in Michigan in-particular stands for me.
Late night, the window down, I had a cigarette lit and Blake Skidmore‘s “August Breeze” was playing on my 5th generation. I remember being overwhelmed by that feeling of age and time, the way those things feel when you are young, and just wondering if anything we ever do is worth the effort. It was one of the best shows I’d ever played and still there was an emptiness in me that I thought a show like that would dissolve. Each time I hear this song I’m so vividly transported back that I can feel the fall night wind and the uneasiness inside all over again. There’s definitely a reason for songs like this to be important…that’s mine.
When I posted the Best Albums Of 2011 list I added a link to it on Scott Orr‘s Facebook page he left a comment saying ” Thanks, very honored. But there’s no way I should be ahead of that Real Estate record. “
This was my response, ” If you go by lyric content and which artist feels more honest you should.”
For the same reason as the Nathan Bell track “Nobody’s Someone” deserves a place on this years list. Although this song is much more present than “Rust,” like a snapshot of the here and now looking towards the future as a response to the past rather than the inverse.
“More beauty in minimal pop simplicity courtesy of Boston’s Conor Maier who recorded his debut Memory EP under The Tao of Con moniker.
There is an unmistakable stripped-down fragility which pours through both his music and his vocals — an element that takes this bedroom pop to an entirely new wavelength. It’s sincere, it’s raw and it comes across as completely genuine. While the EP may play on the short side, it’s best to enjoy this as a single entity as the tracks all flow seemlessly together as one.”- Birp!
There’s something about songs giving an upbeat feeling to downbeat lyrics that gets me every time. This song makes me think of the Lewis Blackskit about George Jr. always talking about the war with a smile on his face. Only in the case of “Shoelaces” it’s a welcome alignment of mixed feelings.
The Submarines deserve much more accolades for what they’ve done this year. I can only hope that 2012 is the year they finally reach a level of recognition fitting for their ability. They are so talented (and catchy) that it’s hard for me to grasp how little buzz has gone their way this year.
Princeton continues to give us new music two tracks at a time. This is the title track from the 7″ they just put out. I love their style of minimalistic brit-rock, especially since they sound like they could be Morrissey‘s younger brothers and yet they are from Santa Monica.
Princeton has always had a sixth sense about knowing how to keep from doing too much and everything fits and falls into place without it feeling empty. This is my favorite Princeton track as far as lyrics go but in all honestly it would be worth the listen just for the use of the word “clamoring” in a song.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that it’s long overdue for Princeton to give us a full length. Don’t get me wrong, having this as the second 7″ this year has been nice but it’s been nearly three years since “Cocoon Of Love,” and that’s way too long. – My post on Listen Before You Buy
My father was always a big Jackson Browne fan growing up which has carried over into a life long love on my part for his music. Each time I listen through one of Browne’si songs I find myself asking, “Why isn’t anyone doing this NOW,” thanks to the new Dawes album I can confidently say someone is.
There’s a big shift in music going from that folk sound that’s been up front over the last few years to a more seventies sound; Bands are bringing in larger sounding solo’s and traditional storytelling lyrics are making a comeback. Outside of being a great stand alone track, “Little Bit Of Everything” is a prime example of what I’m saying. Change is always good… even if I did hate the new Blitzen Trapper album Dawes has shown us the sound can be done well.
Hi Ho Silver Oh brilliantly wrote Showers Without Warning based on the Friday The Thirteenth moves. I’m both a huge fan of this song and those movies (half of them anyways, some are unwatchable ie Jason X). So if the lyrics seem a bit psychotic it’s good to understand what they are about.
If I didn’t hear this song everyday at work would I think higher of “Helplessness Blues” and for Fleet Foxes In General?
I ask myself this often. I mean, it’s not like the band has control over who does or does not like their music. Yet we live in a time when the reality is that your current fans and the amount of radio play you get is just as important as the music itself. It’s the masses that want a single song played ten times a day for months on end and unfortunately the same people who destroyed Kings Of Leon, The Black Keys, Mumford And Sons and Florence And The Machine have been swaying towards Fleet Foxes.
Kings and Florence brought it on themselves so I have no sympathy for them, I’m not sure about Mumford until their next album comes out, but Fleet Foxes and The Black Keys haven’t really done anything other than play a lot of shows to get where they are. Hard work should work for you not against you, unfortunately that’s not how things go anymore. So for those of us who still want to stay on board we might as well get use to getting chaffed at their shows from rubbing against Hollister polo’s and being asked if we’ve ever heard of Arcade Fire.
“Out Of Tune” is by far my favorite Real Estate track. It’s the perfect balance between chill-wave surf rock and early 90′s garage alternative. This song is one of the main songs I plan on listening to next month when I leave Indiana behind and finally move out to Austin. This is a side-one track one when soundtracking that sort of moment.
“This is a new song slash really really old song, because I think I wrote this when I was 17,” Zach Condon said when introducing “East Harlem” during a 2009 performance at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. Of course, the songs Condon makes as Beirut, while fresh and new to most audiences ever since he debuted with 2006′s Gulag Orkestar, also happen to be at least partly rooted in European folk traditions reaching back to who knows when. What’s been more interesting to watch, though, is how the handful of years since 2007′s The Flying Club Cup have made that still relatively recent record’s songs come to sound like old, familiar friends, even to those of us who didn’t quite know what to make of them at first.
As recorded for a new Beirut single, “East Harlem” looks poised to undergo a similar sort of ripening as it becomes more and more familiar. The lyrics are sparse and rooted in classic, instantly communicative tropes: “Another rose wilts in East Harlem,” Condon croons, as he wastes no words in vividly describing an intra-Manhattan relationship that feels like it’s separated by “a thousand miles” (have you tried getting from downtown to East Harlem lately?). The stately backing is what we’ve come to expect from Beirut, with swaying accordion, rich brass, lively piano, and trebly strums, all in all more like a 2010 Williamsburg performance. By the time Condon switches things up, repeating, “Oh, the sound will bring me home again,” over wordless backing vocals, he might as well be describing the warm, cozy but still distinctive feeling “East Harlem” has achieved. – Pitchfork
… It seems every time I’m about to go out I’m throwing this on the playlist to set my mind right. YATA’s the first band coming out of Chicago in quite some time that has impressed me. I think what is so damn attractive about Yourself And The Air is that they come across like a band that allows themselves to just play and are solid enough to do it anywhere.
Their being from the midwest does get me excited since it makes it much more likely for us in Indy to get a chance to sweat with them, my fingers are crossed. (Via)
“Shell Games” is the first Bright Eyes song I can ever remembering wanting to hear while around other people. Normally the music is so personal the idea of experiencing it without headphones on while participating in my own existence just feels off, maybe “Lover I Don’t Have To Love” comes close but it’s a different kind of collective cognizance when that one comes on.
The Guitar/Key combo throughout this song is such a change of pace for Conor and company it’s still hard for me to believe the shy emo kid I fell in love with years ago has developed into a presence and confidence that is put on display in “Shell Games.” Not to mention, for how epic sounding this song is the lyrics are more revealing than just about every other song on the album… you just have to follow along.
I could easily pretend like I’ve been a lifetime fan of Nillson, that his influence over modern music is constantly in the back of my mind with every new band I hear, but that wouldn’t be true. What’s the point of what I’m doing here at Heycoolkid! if I’m not being honest. If it hadn’t been for the documentary Who Is Harry nillson (And Why Is Everyone Talking About Him), and if Dodge over at My Old Kentucky Blog hadn’t posted a link for it on facebook I would still be as clueless as I was a year ago, more importantly I never would have given the Netherfriends cover album as much of a chance as I have.
As a huge Netherfriends fan I feel almost ashamed about this being my favorite song he has put out, I’m not though and one listen through you’ll understand why.
Certain songs just hit home and this is a perfect example. Having the days pile up one on the other, the looking back and seeing where I thought I would be at this point in my life, remembering the friends and the hope, feeling that weight and stepping back from the moment and just saying there’s still a chance, there’s still possibilities, let’s live for tonight, let’s live for a change and forget about the past, I understand this, I connect with it. Hurricane Bells definitely did this one right. (Via)
All songs are for promotional use only. If you or an artist you represent would like content removed email me at Heycoolkid@yahoo.com
If you haven’t been downright impressed with the overflow of incredible genre crossing music this year you are either a huge Nickleback fan or you are Amish, there’s no other logical excuse to complain about the status of music.
Last year when I put the “Best Albums” list together it was one of the first Heycoolkid! posts ever and with all honesty I was ill-prepared. This year I’m putting these albums up with complete confidence. Sure there’s an album or two that should have the made the cut and somehow was overlooked but all excuses aside here are the albums which I thought were the best of 2011: