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04-01-2012: Small Houses - Anywhere But Far From Me / Late July

I admit it. I'm still too much into the great music I've heard in 2011 to be really heading forward. Although I've discovered some great new artists over the last few days (all 2011-releases though) for now I still prefer to post some new tracks from those that have gathered my respect and love over the 12 months that are now the year behind us.

Somewhere near the end of that year I saw this video passing by of Small Houses doing a little solo show for (click that link to see & download all 4 great songs). It is more proof of the subtle finger-picking that supports his sharp and somewhat raw voice. Which seems to be custom-made for the sweet songs Jeremy Quentin writes.

(I was gonna leave it with that, you could've found the rest of the songs on your own, but this version of Late July is painfully beautiful. I couldn't not include it..)

04-01-2012: Conveyor - Mukraker

Conveyor - Mukraker

Among my favourite 5 EPs of 2011 was Conveyor's "Sun Ray EP". It was creative, a little different but it contained 4 great songs, with Milkman being one of those songs I could sing for days in a row all day @work. They're working on their debut album at this very moment and they were so kind to send me the 1st single they'll be releasing soon. It's a great track, that instantly sounds like Conveyor, mainly due to the easy-to-reckonize vocals. And just like the tracks on that 2011-EP it is highly contagious. It's a great start of any day, aswell as another cool preview of the album to come.

Btw, if you click here you can see the band do a live version of this song played in a kitchen(!). I prefer the album-version, but the vocals contain more emotions in the live-version (if that makes any sense..).

04-01-2012: FOE - Ode To Janey Lou / The Fox (acoustic)

(please click on the title of this item to watch, as the autoplay-commercial drives me insane)

That's 2 times FOE in one night, can it get any better? Told you I'd start off the new year with some great stuff, so here's FOE performing 2 songs live & acoustic for DIY TV and she's doing a great job at it. Also pay some attention to the guy doing a bit of backing vocals while working that tambourine, he's hilariously numb. But FOE's voice & the easy way the songs work acoustic is what truly amazed me the 1st time I heard this. Great little set!

03-01-2012: FOE - Cold Hard Rock

Welcome to 2012. I wanted to make this 1st post of the new year a little of a special one and FOE is the perfect artist for something special. I can't figure out what it is about her that gets my attention all the time, probably cuz she is so different from your average (rock-)girl. This new track, which is being released next week, is the last single before her debut album (finally) drops on January 16th. The track is really nice, but after the great things we've heard so far and the killer advent calender she created in December I find myself a little unsatisfied with this track. It's a bit too much Lady Gaga for my taste, it doesn't have that edge FOE overwhelmed me with on that epic "Hot New Trash"-ep. Still a nice song, maybe it'll grow on me & nonetheless I simply can not wait for that album to drop. Could be the 1st great album of 2012, if someone doesn't beat her to it.. Check the vid below, see and hear for yourself.

31-12-2011: Album 2011s Finest: Albums

On the break of the New Year here's a list that'll warm your heart. My personal album favourites of the year 2011. Twenty in total, with a little story to express my love for the numbers 1-10. Please enjoy (although most people will read it next year, as I'm kinda late) and have a great 2012! With hopefully more great albums!

20. Lavalier - Lavalier
19. Josh Oliver - Troubles
18. Trotting Bear - Morning
17. James Hoffman - The Union
16. Jhameel - The Human Condition
15. Lou Canon - Lou Canon
14. The Willow & The Builder - The Willow & The Builder
13. Nils Frahm & Anne Muller - 7Fingers
12. Matt Stalker & Fables - The Man Who Said This Died Of Alchemy
11. Mother Mother - Eureka

10. Small Houses - North
A beautiful soft record for the dark hours of the night. Singer Jeremy Quentin has a fine voice that is made for whispering. The whole album is nicely made around him, with fine harmonies & great backing intrumentations. Which are never too wild, but it’s perfect in synch with the rest of this truly amazing record. Also great for staring across the water in a sunny day with a cold beer & nothing else on your mind. Perfect little sweet whispering folk-record as they are rarely made.

09. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
Actually never even mentioned this album on the blog, despite typing over 400 items this year, I should be really ashamed of myself. The thing is, I never really was into The Decemberists and received this album as a gift from someone. It ended up on my iPad and all of a sudden I realized that it’s a great almost-asleep album. That may sound bad, but I actually fell asleep to this album for at least 4 months straight this year and still know all the lyrics to the last song on the album. This record does something special, probably because I’ve never really listened to it outside of my bedroom, but it definitely deserves a place on this list. Not only because I know the lyrics and it’s among the most played records on my iPad, but mainly because it is really a fantastic album. For sure gonna fall asleep to it later tonight.

08. Bryan John Appleby - Fire On The Vine
A bit of a late bloomer is this album as I really enjoyed it for a few days when I 1st ran into it, but then it slowly faded out in the huge stream of great music I was encoutering. But these last few weeks of re-listening all my albums to find the best I’ve heard I have renewed my love for it and that love grows everytime I hear it. And I’ve been hearing it A LOT this month. Bryan John Appleby has a great voice and writes beautifully crafted songs. The more powerfull tracks like “Boys” are as great as broken hearted lovesong “Honey Jars”. His voice does it all. Simply beautiful!

07. Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver
Probably the hardest album to review in a few lines, because everyone has an opinion on it. Without a doubt Bon Iver has recorded one of the best albums of the year, yet I had a hard time letting it into my head and heart. After being hyped the f*ck out & getting 5-star-reviews all over the globe I just find it hard to listen to something that is basically a little off.. I never really got that “King of Limbs”-hype, Radiohead made another freakshow album & the whole world wanted to have their babies. But let’s focus on the album at hand here, cuz I was extremely sceptical but I have to admit that this is a phenomenal work of art. There is nothing new to be said about this album, everything has been said before, so I will just acknowledge what all the music bloggers/reviewers/fans all over the world have said before me: Great! F*cking! Album!

06. Real Estate - Days
This is an album everyone could love. It’s not the best album of the year, but it’s just impossible not to like this album. It’s 40 minutes of complete careless music, the sun is always shining in the universe of Real Estate. This is probably the perfect feel-good album of 2011 for every music lover out there, I just cannot not sing along to this and just when I feel a little sad the last track has started, I remember that it actually lasts for 7 brilliant minutes. It’s a common thing to end an album with a loooong track, trying to recap the previous songs, it’s not that common that this last track is actually very good and probably the best song on the entire album. An album that excists of highlights only!

05. The Antlers - Burst Apart
The only band/artist in this entire list I’ve seen live, I should be so ashamed, although not all bands visit my country (unfortunately). Burst Apart is one of those albums being mentioned in all the Best-of-2011 lists I see poppin’ out all over the web. And why shouldn’t it be, it is simply of an extreme high quality, from the 1st seconds of ‘I don’t want love’ to the instrumental closing minute of ‘Putting the dog to sleep’ (which should get a nominee for best title of a closing track). I was very curious if they were able to play these songs live as good as on the album and they were, it was a great performance! At least as good as the album, which is amazingly good. It was over before I know it, also just like the album, but luckily I can just start that one over again..

04. Feist - Metals
She has the best voice of the year, that she can use for sweet little whispering and strong powerfull screaming. And with this beautiful album she finally shows the world what she’s capable of. Metals is an album where she goes all out and then crawls back into a tiny corner of the world with just an acoustic guitar. But that voice is always with her & it sings the finest songs. Florence & the Machine eat your heart out, this is how you make an album in 2011. 12 songs of pure beauty, that’s Metals.

03. Jalin Roze - The Brilliance
There was not a lot of great hiphop in the year that has almost passed. Watch The Throne was not as good as we all hoped it would be, and also other big names didn’t surprise us with brilliant albums. But when the esthablished names disappoint it’s always good to look somewhere else. Shabazz Palaces & Kuhlamity released some nice things, but by far the best album comes from Jalin Roze. The Brilliance is a fresh hiphop-album that’ll keep you focussed on the great lyrics & fantastic beats from start to finish and you’ll be loving it. Jalin Roze has a great flow & is working on some new things, can’t wait to hear it, but untill then I’ll be listening to The Brilliance on a daily bases.

02. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes did it again. After their beautiful 2008-debut they took their time, but once Helplessness Blues hit the shelves it was clear they met all expectations and more. Helplessness Blues sounds familiar, but is definitely a step forward from the debut album. The songs are more powerful and have more diversity within them, which also goes for the entire album. With ‘The Shrine/An Argument’ being the perfect 8-minute example here. But as it works with the best albums over 365 days, they have to be amazing from start to finish, Helplessness Blues does that without question, once this album starts, it’s one beautiful trip towards the unevitable ending. It’s (only) 50 minutes of pure bliss.

01. The Deloreans - American Craze
The best album of 2011. Although competition was tough and there were moments I thought other albums deserved this title, I always ended up putting this record on top. It’s the most original record I’ve heard this year, it is impossible to compare with anything else I’ve ever heard. ‘Buffalo’ is among the best songs of the year, monsterrocksong ‘Leviathan’ always wakes up the neighbourhood, because it’s best enjoyed LOUD, and the tender ‘Dear’ is a surprizingly sweet, yet perfectly suitable ending to this fantastic record. And these are just 3 of the 10 highlights this 10-track album contains. Not a single second is wasted when you’re listening to this album. Guaranteed!

29-12-2011: Big Scary - Cool Kids

Big Scary - Cool Kids

Last week Australian sweethearts Big Scary released this free track via their facebook-page and it's an addictive little noise-track. It's a 2,5 minute andrenaline pumped track that's very well in balance though. For the next 12 hours I'll be working my ass off, but this track every few hours will help me keep going for the day. Nice little X-mas present from one of my favourite 2011-discoveries!

29-12-2011: EP 2011s Finest: EPs

Have to admit I had to Google it, but I finally know what EP means: Extended Play. Not a clue why yet, but I felt enlightened anyway. After finishing the 2011-interview last night I figured there’s no reason not to post the 2 lists I’ve been spending way too much time and words on over the last 2 weeks, I’ll start off easy with the 15 best EPs of the year that has only 60 hours to go. It’s a very random list of albums, but it makes perfect sense to me, as I mostly focussed on the albums I kept coming back to and will continue to come back to in the coming year. There’s a bit of a gap between the 1st nine EPs and the ones beyond that, because those 1st nine really take the cake. There’s days that I listen to all of them multiple times, and days without any one of those EPs being replayed for some time are scarce. 10-15 really do add something to the list though, as all of these ruled my mp3-player over the last year for some time and I really enjoy these albums. The list kinda made itself, I just browsed the blog and it kind off wrote itself. Click an artist’s name to visit their website, listen to their music and support those you really enjoy. So that they can continue to make great music in 2012.

15. Digits - Lost Dream
14. FOE - Hot New Trash
13. Airlines - Visions
12. Haruko - Bird In The Snow
11. Elenne May - Lilies and Blue Veined Hands
10. Megan Bonnell - MAPS
09. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
08. Jon DeRosa - Anchored
07. Hip Hatchet - Coward’s Luck

06. Dry The River - Weights & Measures
05. The White Album - The Album
04. Conveyor - Sun Ray

03. Danny Deleto - Conversation
02. Alabama Shakes - The Alabama Shakes
01. Ruby Randall - Untill The Dust Settles

28-12-2011: interviews Interview with The Deloreans

As a "Farewell 2011"-series i have tried to get a little interview with the bands/artists that have made this a memorable musical year for me (and hopefully for you). Most of the bands i got in contact with responded very sweet and they have been so kind to answer a few questions about their 2011 and off course about their plans for the year to come, these will be posted in December every few days.

The last interview of this enjoyable series is with the band that has had the most airtime here in my messy kitchen littered with Christmas-dinner-leftovers. The band responsible for my favourite album of the year: The Deloreans. I have to go back to January 9th to find the 1st item i wrote on this amazing band. I had just fallen in love with their track "Buffalo" and a few weeks later i had the same experience with the entire album "American Craze". All throughout the year i have enjoyed this album on a weekly bases and I still get a huge smile on my face while 'singing' along to the 10 highlights this album holds. "2011's Finest: The Albums" will be up probably on Friday, but I don't mind revealing the number 1 spot: American Craze. Have a listen, while you read the interview about the year behind us and their plans for 2012.

If you had to name one moment, what would you consider your highlight of 2011?
There were many incredible moments for us this year; from playing it cities in which we’ve never before been, yet people knew our music, to sharing a stage with They Might be Giants with thousands of people in attendance to making many, many new friends at concerts and through the web. But the ultimate highlight for our group this year must be experiencing so many people around the world listening and responding to our music. Our album American Craze, and especially the single Buffalo has had quite a reach for our group and it has created many excellent opportunities for us for which we are endlessly pleased and thankful.

What are you doing at the moment?
Right now were are taking what feels like our first breath since longer than a year and concentrating on creating new material for our third album. We are also very excited to be completely remixing and remastering our 2009 debut album Love Outrageous for (re)release on vinyl – something that we are now able and quite pleased to do. Also, we are either planning, waiting for them to be edited or preparing to release music videos. Right now we are preparing to release in the coming weeks a video for our song “Non” from American Craze.

Which great band or artist did you discover yourself in 2011?
It was an interesting year for music and I know that all of us have heard some quite interesting material. Though I believe it’s from 2010 I first heard the song Excuses by The Morning Benders in 2011 and find it to be very nice. Enjoyed On my Honor by Eternal Summers. Again with 2010 tracks, addicted to First Date, the B-side to Toro Y Moi’s Leaving Everywhere single. Allah-Las out of San Francisco are very cool. I like the string arrangements for St. Vincent’s Cruel. Some of the more out-of-the-way things would have to be a song titled Abreast Abroad by a small group that goes by the name of The Clams that we played with in Chicago. I also very much enjoyed the music of a band from Ohio by the name of Sohio.

Any favourite albums?
Ah, if only I would’ve had time to listen to and absorb a full album - it takes long enough for a single song to go through my system.

How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
You mean you’re not inviting us to your place in the Netherlands?! Hah, seriously, this, please ask us on New Year’s day – and it will have been something good if we can’t, for lack of memory, answer you.

What are your plans for the new year?
I mentioned already the vinyl re-release of our debut album and music videos but also we will be, in the US Summer months, releasing a new single for, to our infinite excitement, a third album later in 2012. Also, we plan on revisiting many of the cities we performed in during 2011 plus several more as it is crazy fun to travel around and perform.

- Thank you The Deloreans for this interview, wish I could invite you over for New Year's Eve, but i'll surely check in on you on January 1st to find out how you spent it.

26-12-2011: interviews Interview with Bryan John Appleby

As a "Farewell 2011"-series i have tried to get a little interview with the bands/artists that have made this a memorable musical year for me (and hopefully for you). Most of the bands i got in contact with responded very sweet and they have been so kind to answer a few questions about their 2011 and off course about their plans for the year to come, these will be posted in December every few days.

This next interview is with Bryan John Appleby. This Seattle songwriter released "Fire On The Vine" in July of this year and it is truly on of the most albums that the year has seen. I'm aware of the fact I keep saying similair things throughout these series, but in my defense I can say that I've only contacted the artists responsible for the best stuff I've heard. The album is beautiful from start to finish, with some heavier stuff, but also with a heartbreaking lovesong about losing the one he loves (listen to 'Honey Jars' down below). It's an album I can spend an entire evening listening to and still not get bored. Listen to my 2 favourite tracks of his album and read what Bryan John Appleby has to share about the year that is over by the end of the week.

If you had to name one moment, what would you consider your highlight of 2011?
The year was split in two halves. The first half was spent making the record and the second half was spent playing it. There was a small window of time that came late in the summer, when these two halves converged. In this time, we unveiled the album to the sold out room of the charming, ghost-filled theater in Columbia City, an out-skirted neighborhood in Seattle. A week later, we had the chance to play a show on the remote Puget Sound Island of Orcas for DoeBay festival. Our set had included bloody hands, broken glass, and blown out speakers. Pretty good for folk music. Then we hit the road. The band played shows and saw friends all over the west coast. And once we hit San Diego, I split off with Annie and we drove through the southern dessert, through the Midwest and out to Chicago. Came back through Denver Mountains and the wastelands of Utah.

In those two months, I had some very rewarding, meaningful, lovely, and exciting experiences. Not just for 2011, but ever.

What are you doing at the moment?
I'm working at a restaurant and enjoying winter with the people that I love around me. The band is working hard and playing shows. We are trying to get our van fixed. I’m sitting in the warm basement reading and writing as much as I can. It’s busy though. Lot of stuff this year that didn’t exist last year. A manager would be nice. Maybe a booking agent soon too. We’ll see what comes.

Which great band or artist did you discover yourself in 2011? Any favourite albums?
A band called Little Scream is doing it for me right now. Also Kelli Schaefer, from Portland is up there on the list. Grand Hallway from Seattle is so beautiful. I’ve enjoyed Bill Callahan this year a lot.

How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
I’ll kiss Annie and raise a glass with my friends. Not sure about the specifics. In my imagination we would all be wearing turtlenecks and holiday sweaters, playing board games by the fireplace in a cabin on the coast. Going into the snow at midnight with cups of coffee and whiskey and cider. Lighting sparklers and smoke bombs. Spotting a lone bear in the meadow by the moonlight.

We’ll probably just stay in town. Stay at the house.

What are your plans for the new year?
I want to record an EP with the genius that produced my last two records, Kevin Matley. I love working with him. I hope to have written an EP and full length by this time next year. The full length will come out in 2013 if the world still exists. I’m working on these now. We will be touring all next year. I really want to come out to Europe and play by the end of the year as well but I don’t have the resources yet. I hope this interview helps.

- Thank you Bryan John Appleby for taking the time to answer these questions & hopefully see you in Europe next year!

26-12-2011: EP Lykke Li - The Lost Sessions Vol.1

Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers

As a little Christmas present Lykke Li released a free EP with 3 tracks under the name The Lost Sessions Vol.1, which makes it sound like there's more cool stuff to come. Listen to "I Follow Rivers" and it's clear why you want to download this nice little gift. Click the image to download the 3 tracks and enjoy.

24-12-2011: interviews Interview with Ruby Randall

As a "Farewell 2011"-series i have tried to get a little interview with the bands/artists that have made this a memorable musical year for me (and hopefully for you). Most of the bands i got in contact with responded very sweet and they have been so kind to answer a few questions about their 2011 and off course about their plans for the year to come, these will be posted in December every few days.

Christmas Eve calls for something special, even if I don't really care about this evening and it's mostly just Saturday night. It's pretty much impossible not to make Christmas a little special these days and I don't mind spending my next two days with family & good friends, so it's all good. Just like the EP "Untill The Dust Settles" Ruby Randall released this year, it's all good. Although I'm planning on posting my Best EPs of 2011-list somewhere this weekend, I don't mind spreading the word on that number one spot that Ruby Randall has had for most of the year. She has written 4 extremely relaxing songs that'll suit any moment of the day, night,week, month or year. This is one of those albums that doesn't ask for a moment to fit into, it creates that moment. Without a doubt the finest EP i've heard this year & that makes it extra special to have a little interview with Ruby Randall about what the previous year has brought her.

If you had to name one moment, what would you consider your highlight of 2011?
Firstly, just having the courage to get up and play my music for people. Prior to this year, i'd sang harmonies with friends of mine live, but was always too afraid to play any of my own stuff.

Also - meeting with Scott and Jeff at the Second Cup in Guelph for the first time. They told me that they wanted to record me, and have me join the othersongs family. I felt really good about both of them, and knew that I wanted to make music with them, too. After we finished the recording process, Scott took me for a drive in his car, and we listened to the EP. Definitely a highlight for me. I felt both humbled and grateful that everything in my life had lined up just so, leading me to that moment.

What are you doing at the moment (november 2011)?
Currently, I am hanging out in Tapotzlan, Mexico - studying yoga with a few friends of mine. Heading home in a short 5 days!

Which great band or artist did you discover yourself in 2011?
Discovered this year, and fell in love with Austra, Qauntic and The Boom Boom's.
Any favourite albums?
Currently have Feist's new album on repeat. Also the soundtrack from Brother Where Art Thou.

How will you celebrate New Year’s Eve?
Not sure yet. Would love to be at my cottage, with family and friends - drinking wine in a tealight-lit snowfort.

What are your plans for the new year?
Planning to move to Toronto in January and am hoping to be playing shows with friends in the new year. Have written a few new songs over the past 6 months, while hanging out on the West Coast and in Mexico. Am excited to see how they evolve. Ideally, i'd like to be playing as many live shows as possible, lots of collaborating, and perhaps exploring other sides to my musical personality, beyond folk.

- Thank you Ruby for granting me an interview with the artist responsible for my favourite EP of 2011. Hope there will be more great music in 2012!

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