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The CHIRP Blog

Peter Zimmerman writesPete Zimmerman’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members’ top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Pete Zimmerman.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members’ picks.)

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The record that I listened to the most this year. Sure, the comparisons to early Bob Dylan are inevitable, but I don’t mind since I love early Bob Dylan. The record also made me sign up for guitar lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music so be afraid, ears of people who know me.
  2. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (Virgin/DFA)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Not only did James Murphy put out an awesome record but he also made an appearance on The Soup with Community’s Donald Glover and that is pretty cool.
  3. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (Drag City)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I hate you, Andy Samberg.
  4. Janelle Monáe – The Archandroid (Bad Boy)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The only negative to this record is that it makes me want to dance and nobody should be subjected to that.
  5. Aloe Blacc – Good Things (Stones Throw)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Thank you to HBO and “How to Make it in America” for introducing me to Mr. Blacc. Sometimes watching too much TV pays off.
  6. Girl Talk – All Day (Illegal Art)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Two words: Spacehog. Toadies.
  7. Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’ (Fortuna Pop!)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Having a bad day? Need to feel better? I first put this record on 3 months ago and still have a smile on my face.
  8. Robyn – Body Talk (Konichiwa)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    See description for #4. Robyn’s show at Pitchfork was one of the highlights of the summer and she ends the year with a bang.
  9. Wild Nothing – Gemini (Captured Tracks)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sometimes being reminded of high school is okay.
  10. Orgone – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If my guitar lessons don’t work out, I’m totally taking up the trombone.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Local Records of 2010
1. In Tall Buildings – In Tall Buildings (Whistler)
2. Gold Motel – Summer House (Good as Gold)
3. Disappears – Lux (Cranky)
4. Canasta – The Fakeout, The Tease, and the Breather (RWIM Chicago)
5. White Mystery – White Mystery (Self-Released)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

Andy Weber writesAndrew Weber’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Andy Weber.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

For me personally this year has been such a great ride! Being a CHIRP DJ has broadened my musical horizons and challenged me to go way outside that proverbial box everyone is always talking about. Last year I took this forum to go on some sort of diatribe about how I only listen to songs and not full albums. Boy was that guy stupid, I am referring to the “last year me” of course. The full album is back in my life and I think it is time for rejoicing!

  1. Polar Bear – Peepers (Leaf)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The future of Jazz is in good hands with the London outfit Polar Bear. Coffee and Peepers will start any day off on a the right foot. This record has become my most listened to release in 2010.
  2. Calibro 35 – Ritornano Quelli Di (Nublu)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If my life was a Chinese calendar 2010 would be known as the “Year of the Funk!” Now if that said year were to be conceptualized into a movie, Calibro 35 would score the soundtrack. The straight funk, mixed with 70’s action film chase scene fun, filled my summer with plenty of windows down car driving material!
  3. White Mystery – White Mystery (Self-Released)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    When I want no frills, stripped down, fuzzed up rock nothing beats White Mystery. The pure energy and quick pace of this album makes this band a Chicago treasure.
  4. Gonjasufi – A Sufi and a Killer (Warp)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    I had a transcendental experience with this LP on a flight to New Orleans in April. It took a few listens for the album to speak to me, or even make sense. But when it finally does it will hook you.
  5. Mike Reed's People Places and Things – Stories and Negotiations (482 Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Here is the second local act to make this list. This album was recorded live in Millennium Park which features Chicago music icon Mike Reed. This album is a celebration of new sounds to old Chicago jazz songs. For me the album is downright mood altering. In a good way!
  6. David Karsten Daniels and Fight The Big Bull – I Mean To Live Here Still (Fat Cat)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    On paper this collaboration should not work. You take one part folk artist from San Francisco and mix in a 9 piece avant-garde jazz collective from Richmond, VA. what you come up with is one outstanding fusion LP.
  7. Stephen Paul Smoker – Violent Sun/Violent Fun (EP)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Clocking in at just 27 minutes long there is not one second wasted on this EP. This Chicago artist displays an incredible wide range of styles and influences packed into this little package.
  8. Jack Rose – Luck In The Valley (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The blues had to represent somewhere on this list for me. This new release from the late Jack Rose is very fitting for my blues pallet which is predominately acoustic and all instrumental.
  9. Dissapears – Lux (Kranky)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The fourth and final Chicago representation on my top 10 is the Disappears. The raw guitar and haunting vocals spoke to me in a way that few albums did this year. There was plenty of garage style rock to choose from in 2010 but this one stood out from the pack.
  10. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast (Kanine)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    So for my money “Swim” is the feel good song of the year. In my mind every year needs a good “drinking beer on a boat under the hot sun” song. This album delivers just that!

Honorable Mentions

  • 3 more albums just missed my list and ironically the bands all start with the letter “C” and are from the city of Chicago:
    Canasta – The Fakeout, The Tease and The Breather (RWIM Chicago)
    Cave – Pure Moods (EP) (Drag City)
    Chaperone – Cripple King (EP) (Self-Released)

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Mike Gibson writesMike Gibson’s Best Of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ & Director of Online Media, Mike Gibson.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

The first version of this list inadvertently included Why?'s Eskimo Snow, which came out in 2009. The list has now been corrected.

  1. Fight Like Apes – The Body of Christ And The Legs of Tina Turner (Model Citizen)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The second album from this Dublin quartet is exactly what I was hoping for: sugary sweet melodies with a sinister underbelly, all driven by MayKay's foul mouth that's always on the cusp of breaking into a blood curdling wail. I'll be planning my next trip to Europ around finally seeing them play.
  2. Iron Chic – Not Like This (Dead Broke)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Rarely do I want "ex-member" bands to sound like the band they used to play in, but when Latterman broke up things were different. I wanted ALL of the members' new bands to sound like them. Iron Chic is the first that truly picks up where Latterman left off, with plenty of anthemic courses wrapped up nicely in a gooey, passionate, unrefined blanket.
  3. Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (French Kiss)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Count me in with the crowd that thought Les Savy Fav had lost it. Root For Ruin is the smack in the face I needed to pay attention again. They're back in all their spastic, sweat-filled glory.
  4. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! This is the album that the 18 year old version of myself expected to hear as a follow up to Here's Where The Strings Come In.
  5. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks (Matador)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While the album art was a major letdown (listen, I care about these things) the songs contained within are all the proof that even after almost 25 years of writing music a good songwriter will always be at the top of their game.
  6. Off With Their Heads – In Desolation (Epitaph)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    High energy, no frills, rough around the edges punk. It's a dime a dozen nowadays, so what allows Minneapolis' Off With Their Heads to stand out from the rest? It's their ability to find inspiration in the bleakest situations. It's hard to feel bad in a crappy situation when you're screaming along with a hundred strangers at the top of your lungs in a darkened club.
  7. Auxes – Ichkannnichtmehr (Gunner)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Few musicians have a track record as impeccable as Dave Laney's. Having spent time in Milemarker, Challenger & Griver, I've had Dave's voice screaming in my headphones for the better part of the past 15 or so years. Auxes fits the lineage perfectly.
  8. Los Campesinos – Romance Is Boring (Arts & Crafts)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    If it weren't for the absolute snoozer of an opening track this would've been a bit higher on the list. Still, there's nothing like a huge helping dose of childlike recklessness when there are a bunch of instruments lying around and microphones to record the results. Los Campesinos is perfect in their sloppiness.
  9. Leatherface – The Stormy Petrel (No Idea)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    While a household name in the UK, Leatherface has been living in the shadow of everyone they've influenced here in the states for the better part of the past two decades. Leatherface has been directly cited as the influence that led Hot Water Music to start their band, No Idea Records to start their label and countless fans of punk to find the sound to begin with. The Stormy Petrel sees the bnd in some of the finest form they've ever been in.
  10. The Measure [sa] – Notes (No Idea)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Measure [sa] utilizes several elements that win me over every time. Dual male/female vocals, songs that are played either fast or faster, and honest/heartfelt lyrics that paint their hearts on the outside. I'm still a bit torn on the band's production decisions, but hopefully they'll get that sorted out for LP3.

Honorable Mentions:

  • "Supergroup" of the year
    Forgetters – Forgetters 2x7" (Too Small To Fail)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker/Jets To Brazil), Caroline Paquita (Bitchin'), and Kevin Mahon (Against Me!). I so wish Blake would have skipped Jets To Brazil and just gone here.
  • Most successful exploitation of the exclamation mark
    Bomb The Music Industry! – Adults!!!… Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing!!!!!!! (Quote Unquote)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    17 exclamation marks is not enough to properly convey the happiness I felt when I listen to this EP.
  • Best collection of songs that were better than what actually got released
    Weezer – Death To False Metal (Geffen)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Sure, while Hurley may be the Weezer album the everyone talked about this year, everyone should be listening to Death To False Metal. The album compiles songs that the band wrote and recorded throughout their career and for some reason scrapped. Not just B-Sides, these are fully worked studo tracks from all of the band's sessions, including some hiatus era post-Pinkerton/pre-Green album stuff that is just superb. It's almost enough to make me forget about Make Believe.
  • Best album of 2010 that was recorded in 1985
    Dag Nasty – Dag With Shawn (Dischord)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Back in the mid-80's there was a band in DC named Dag Nasty. They were pretty awesome. They went and recorded a supposedly great demo, but then they all got cranky and the singer, Shawn, left the band (and then formed Swiz, which is a whole other awesome story). Not to be deterred, the rest of the group found a friendly boy named Dave Smalley to take his place. They went and re-recorded all the songs on the demo (along with some others), released their debut album, Can I Say, and the rest is history. This is the release of that supposedly great demo, finally seeing the light of the record shelf 26 years late.
  • Collaboration of the year
    Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)

    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Nick Hornby writes the words. Ben Folds writes the music and sings Nick's words. Only thing left to say is that it's obvious that Ben works best when he's working with others.

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

Matt Garman writesMatt Garman’s Best of 2010

Throughout December CHIRP Radio presents its members' top albums of 2010. The next list is from CHIRP Radio DJ Matt Garman.

(Click here to get the complete list of CHIRP Radio members' picks.)

  1. Spoon – Transference (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The reason Spoon is my favorite working studio band today: sharp, clean pop songs; a skewed, restrained approach to recording; lyrics that emotionally resonate without being trite; and Britt Daniel's enviably raspy voice. I love Spoon, and on a certain level wish I were their bass player. ("Who Makes Your Money")
  2. Menomena – Mines (Barsuk)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The fourth (or third) album from this Portland experimental pop trio is what resulted from a dark period in the personal lives of all the members. Ruptured relationships abound. Their eclectic approach to songwriting and instrumentation is magic in my ears, topped by huge, thumping, walloping drums. ("Taos" and "Five Little Rooms")
  3. Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin (Frenchkiss)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The NYC band's fifth album of accessible post-hardcore is rife with meaty hooks, compelling shout/singing, and eloquent lyrics. While it's just weird enough to keep the normals at bay, Root For Ruin is the group's straightest shot at success thus far, and whether they break through or not, it sure is extraordinary fun. ("Excess Energies")
  4. The Ruby Doe – Getting Ahead In The Music Business (Hometown Tragedy)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This uncompromising Seattle trio delivers powerful, heavy music incorporating elements of math rock, thrash metal and hardcore punk. Standing at the peak of their powers and perhaps a little pissed, the band's 4th LP hits like a merciless lahar of mud and lava. It's a wonder they're not from Chicago. ("Papermate")
  5. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone (Anti)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    An instant Chicago classic from a soul-music legend, produced by an indie rock hero, Jeff Tweedy. The songs here are heavily gospel-oriented with an eye toward the blues. Staples' voice is warm and relaxed, the instrumentation balanced and subtle, and the performances are sensitive. Open up, this is a raid. ("You Are Not Alone")
  6. Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (Merge)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Taking a decade-long hiatus brought this NC band full circle to a sonic space familiar to their fans: melodic, crunchy power-pop built atop a punk ethos. Where they had been gradually softening their tone as of ten years ago, Majesty Shredding is a blistering return to form that shows no signs of lag. Many bands have ripped Superchunk off; none have done it better. ("Digging For Something")
  7. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Let It Sway (Polyvinyl)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Exuberant pop from the Springfield, Missouri quartet makes the strongest effort in their ten-year history. The band's exhilirating choruses and catchy hooks recall pop stalwarts Big Star and classic Fountains Of Wayne, while the mid-tempo numbers evoke The Smiths' maudlin Britpop. Plus, indiecelebrity Chris Walla from Death Cab co-produced! ("Sink/Let It Sway")
  8. The Bismarck – Great Plains (Pride of Dakota)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Loud, angry Midwestern post-hardcore from a band of ex-North Dakotans. Their dark, blistering, snarky rock, full of vitriol and relentless heat, screaming vocals and frenetic guitars awaken my repressed inner punk. The Bismarck are named after a battleship, a city, a statesman, a delicious pastry, all of the above, or nothing at all. ("Poor Born")
  9. Devo – Something for Everybody (Warner Bros.)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    DEVO's 9th studio album, their first in 20 years, market-tested to fans before release, is a solid comeback worthy of their enduring cultlike influence. Using signature robotic blips and distorted guitars, DEVO builds concise new-wave pop jams, cleverly packed with their reliably cynical, political lyrics. Crack that whip! ("Fresh")
  10. Rusty Willoughby – Cobirds Unite (Local 638)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Acoustic, roots-tinged pop from one of the Pacific Northwest's most gifted, underrated singer-songwriters. Willoughby crafts gentle, irresistibly hummable, dark country-folk tunes with honeyed vocals. You may remember him as the lead singer of Seattle power-pop bands Flop and Pure Joy, but here he strikes a chord that sounds closer to the heart. ("Wrecker of Hearts")

Top 3 EPs of 2010

  1. The Lonely Forest – The Lonely Forest E.P. (Trans-Atlantic)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    Crisp, buoyant pop from this Anacortes, Washington band's s/t EP, polished and grounded, permeated by catchy choruses and a defiantly small-town outlook in the lyrics. The band's fiendishly earwormy approach to pop songwriting is augmented by lifelong friendships between the members. (Turn Off This Song And Go Outside")
  2. Future Islands – Undressed (Thrill Jockey)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    The Baltimore synthpop band performed acoustic versions of their songs in an art gallery, and decided to release the result as an EP on vinyl. These organic renderings display a warmth ordinarily hidden behind a chilly, computed exterior. I also enjoy the striking resemblance this recording bears to The The! ("In The Fall")
  3. Sóley – Theatre Island (Morr Music)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This Icelandic singer-songwriter's debut EP is pretty, delicate, and a little bit weird amorphous in places. Being a fool for sprightly piano pop, this release pushed all my happy buttons. Sóley has that classic elfin quality you expect from all Icelandic people: childlike but somehow sophisticated at the same time, and maybe a little magical? ("Theatre Island")

Top Series of Monthly Singles of 2010

  • Half Acre Day – Lunar Singles (Right Mind Media)
    BUY: Amazon / Insound / iTunes
    This indie pop band boasts five songwriters who each bring a distinctive style to the table, while contributing to one another's work in a way that allows Half Acre Day's overall sound to gel. Their challenge for the year was to write, record and release a new song each month (on an unsigned band's budget, with day jobs), and the result is an album's worth of confident, nuanced, catchy rock. Get one, or get them all. ("Skeletons")

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2010

Karin Fjellman writesTONIGHT! CHIRP Night at the Whistler with Ken Camden & Magical Beautiful!

Join CHIRP tonight, Monday, December 20, at the Whistler for an ethereal evening with improvisational guitarist Ken Camden, accompanied by the experimental DIY rock explosion Magical Beautiful — both local acts you won’t want to miss. CHIRP receives a percentage of bar sales from the evening, and CHIRP DJs spin after the performance.

Released in March of this year, songs from Ken Camden’s debut album “Lethargy & Repercussion” promise to be powerfully enchanting. The album title alone sets the mood for a single malt of melody. ‘Birthday’ opens the album with carefully plucked guitar solos that sound like stars and the album ambiently moves to rusty experimental techno. Expect to hear live variations of songs from the album or new improvisational experiments. The guitarist will most likely navigate his way through warmth of new texture and sound in the presence of an active audience.

Magical Beautiful is sure to continue to lend trance-like live music manipulation to the scene. Formally trained and performing from the ground up, the quartet has a penchant for innovation and ritualistic sound. Songs like ‘Ghetto Tourist’ bring both synth and reggae into the band’s tinny, heavy soundscape. Well-known in the Chicago improvisation scene, Magical Beautiful will impressively add to the dream-like sequence of upbeat electronica, percussion, and acoustic experimentalism. With never a dull moment in its search for rhythm and a history of improvising with some of Chicago’s most well-respected musicians, this band can’t help but enchant you.

A perfect pairing for CHIRP and the Whistler, the combined sequence of Camden and Magical Beautiful will certainly lend to a low-lit evening of listening, mixology, and sound.

-Sondra Morin

Ken Camden (http://www.myspace.com/kencamden)

Magical Beautiful (http://www.myspace.com/magicalbeautiful)

The Whistler (http://www.whistlerchicago.com/)
9:30pm – 2am
No cover
Percentage of bar sales benefits CHIRP

CHIRP DJs spin before and after bands!
Raffle tickets sold throughout the night — win killer prizes!

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Categorized: Event Previews

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