Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Pandarosa's Top 10 Albums of 2006

You know how on multiple choice test, you're told to read ALL of the answers before choosing which one is most correct?

"What was a cornamuse?"

A. Armor for the Elbow
B. A Hat
C. A Musical Instrument
D. A Tax

Well this year, I feel like the dunce who didn't do that. I'll admit it, there are some albums this year, albums that people have said are great albums, that have been popping up on peoples top 10 all over the place, that I just did not get around to listening to. There are some that I've only recently got around to listening to, solely for the sake of this column. I feel like I just picked some, at random, out of the slew available, and just listened to the ones I already knew about, or had heard a little of, or ones that had interesting covers etc etc etc. But the thing is, isn't that what we, the average listening public, normally do? I don't work at a record store, and I don't get paid to write this column. Barring those two professions, who listens to every single new album of the year? Who listens to music upon the basis of critiquing it? I mean, I work in the music industry. Every album on my list has been listened to critically, and with a discerning ear, but that's not why I bought the album. I'd like to think that instead, we, the average listening public, listen to music out of an inherent need, and because of that need, we don't seek music for music or the musician's sake, but rather, for our own. Music is for us, not the other way around; it is anthropomorphic, made by man, for man (or, possibly, by God, for man, but that's another topic altogether). In that respect, we shouldn't be out there, listening to albums just to critique that album or the band or what not. We should be listening to albums for ourselves, finding the ones that speak directly to us, or inspire us to produce art of out own. So forgive me for not combing through every new album of the year, for only adopting a scant few out of the thousands released. Have I more than likely missed out on an AMAZING album, one that might have changed my life? Probably. But that doesn't diminish how much I enjoyed these ten albums. And hey, there's always next year. By the by, a cornamuse was a musical instrument.


The first life changing album I've had the privilege of listening to in a long time. And I don't just mean to say that in the butterfly-effect-chaos-theory-every-action-has-a-reaction kind of way. Instead, I mean to say that this album has shaped the way I think about music, and life; Who knew such art could be produced so late in life? Who knew a rap/heavy metal producer was able to, time after time, milk such beautiful performances out of the godfather of honky-tonk? Who knew three chords could still sound so good?


I had to think hard about whether or not this album was released in 2006, but the decision to put the album on this list was really quite simple. Hands down, some of the most beautiful music made, either by Chan Marshall or any other artist this year.


Brilliantly crafted, Midlake's newest album is a surprising departure from: A.) their last album, and B.) modern indie music. It's an amazing album, reminiscent of classic rock and early 90's indie, and is made even better by a rumor I heard, that it was produced by a member of Fleetwood Mac? Please, correct me if I'm misled.


While some bands reinvent themselves by moving away from what they've already done, others seem to achieve the same effect while deepening themselves in the style they've already established. For Matt Ward of M. Ward, this album does exactly that.


So cool.


Not only thrilling to listen to, but thrilling to think about; Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke made this on their laptops? Man, how awesome are computers! Also my pick for best album artwork of 2006


This is my "something completely different" pick. For you guys and gals out there who haven't yet heard some of her stuff, I highly recommend it. It is a bit poppy, yes. It is also enthralling, soulful, and surprising (she wrote all the songs herself! Take that rest-of-billboard-top-10!)


The most innovative album of 2006. Which, if you've followed any of Joanna Newsom's previous work, shouldn't come as a surprise. Even still, prepared as I might have been for this album, I could never have imagined such melodies and fluidity. I wish I had listened to it earlier, it might be higher on my list.


I was in denial for a long time: "I loved The Unicorns. Islands just won't be as good as they were. Sorry Islands, you're not making the list." But I had once of those Scrubs moments, you know, where I watch other people coming to terms with their own love for Islands, and realize that, deep down, I loved Islands too, and that I shouldn't take my Islands for granted. All Islands ever did was love me, right? It'll be tough, learning to love again, but in the end, I think we're all gunna be ok. Roll Credits.


I just got this album (Christmas gift, thanks to my brother Joseph) but it's already made it onto the top 10 of 2006. Why? Because it's heartening to hear an album like this, and to see a band like this start to pick up momentum and gain indie recognition. As a musician it gives me hope (cue cheesy music). I wanna be like Pete.

Check back soon to see my Top Album Artwork and Honorable Mentions of 2006. Until then, enjoy your new year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Pensees' Ten Favorite Albums and Songs of Aught Six

I was driving to meet a dear friend the other day. I knew that my top 10 list would come up in conversation; she was one of those friends. While preparing myself for discussion, I discovered the hidden criteria for this list, latently guiding the compilation of these albums.
This list is of the releases this year that I would univocally want to share with anyone. There are certain albums that didn't make my list this year that topped many year-end lists because I couldn't recommend them universally. I wouldn't be confident that Person A of good taste would like The Air Force or that they should ever hear Return to Cookie Mountain. But, these 10 well-crafted efforts of 2006 are made to be universally enjoyed and are approachable on any level. If you want to talk about Best, that's a different story, which requires a lot more listening for which I don't have the time. These are favorites, and they're mine. I hope they become yours, too.

10. Cat Power - The Greatest

9. The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely

8. Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

7. Peter & the Wolf - Lightness

6. Thom Yorke - The Eraser

5. M. Ward - Post-war

4. Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther

3. Johnny Cash - American V
2. Destroyer's Rubies

1. Joanna Newsom - Ys

Top Ten Favorite Songs of the Year
10. Van Occupanther - Midlake - The trials of van occupanther
9. For The Actor - Mates of State - Bring it Back
8. Alibi - The Mountain Goats - Babylon Springs EP
7. The Mistress Witch from McClure (or, The Mind That Knows Itself) - Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
6. People - Animal Collective - People EP
Post-war - M. Ward - Post-war
4. Videotape - Radiohead - Unreleased
3. Sawdust & Diamonds - Joanna Newsom - Ys
Sons and Daughters - The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
1. The Greatest - Cat Power - The Greatest

This is my inaugural post. I am glad to be contributing to this blog and hope that it finds interested readers and supporters. Pensees means "thoughts" and is pronounced "pawn-say." It is the title of Blaise Pascal's fragmented notes for an apologetic work explaining the relationship between the account of man as a rational animal and the idea of God. I enjoyed it this semester and I find that all that we do and say is fairly characterized as coming from what we think.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, God bless you.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Grizzly Life's Top Albums and Live Performances of 2006

Trent's Top Albums/ EPs :

1.Xiu Xiu - The
Air Force
-The secon
d I heard about this album being made, I had to find out everything about it. The second I got it, I stopped everything and sat down to listen to it all the way through, with no interruptions. I wouldn't listen to it until I got the full amount of time set aside that it would take to listen to it. Xiu Xiu never ceases to amaze me with what they can create. "The Air Force" take their music to a new place that I haven't heard it go before. They just exceeded all expectations with this album. It shows a different side of them and that's really what I enjoy when listening to a band, album to album. Their last full album, "La Foret" seemed to be quite the dark album, and it feels like "The Air Force" came from different place. Xiu Xiu also created one of my favorite music moments of 2006, when I was able to interview Jamie Stewart a few months ago.

2. Animal Collective - "People EP" aka the Australian tour EP
-After "Feels", I
couldn't have expected things to get better. It was one of my top, if not the top album of the year last year, and I wasn't sure if they could top themselves. Now, I think I was wrong. The "People EP", as limited as it is, with four songs (including the live version of "People"), makes me very excited to see what they release in 2007. Whatever they do, it is safe to say that after hearing the "People EP", that it will be huge.

3. (tie) TV on the Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
-TV on the Rad
io has made a huge impact on me this year. This being their first "major label" record, one might expect things to change with their music, but not with these guys. Things have only gotten better, and I'm excited to see where they take their music. Its interesting to point out that David Bowie makes an appearance on the track "Province". Most people that hear the song and don't know that he's on the song, still don't know it after they hear it. I love that.

3. (tie) Islands - Return to the Sea
- Now keep in mind that I haven't even heard much of The Unicorns. I first heard Islands on a mix that my ex-girlfriend made me while we were dating, and I think that may be one of the greatest things to come out of that relations
hip (besides the growth and memories and learning and all of that). The song "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby" was one of my favorites on the mix, and due to the lack of tracklist, I didn't even really know it was them until I looked them up. This album is unlike most of the things that I've heard. I missed them when they came through Denton due to my California trip, and I'm still a little upset. I'm almost glad that The Unicorns are no longer, because "Return to the Sea" is insanely good. Check out John's interview with their drummer, Aaron "America" Harris.

4. (tie) M. Ward - Post-War
-I honestly can't believe that I hadn't heard M. Ward before this album. The only reason that I was introduced to him, was
because he came through Denton and I heard that he was good. I decided to go to the show, and John gave me this album to listen to before going. I don't think I listened to anything the weeks before, or after the show. This album has some of the greatest guitar work, lyrical song writing, and overall feel of the year.

4. (tie) Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
-It amazes m
e that I hadn't heard Midlake before this album. I actually first started listening to them in California, when we would drive to town in Frank's car, yet I didn't realize that it was them until I started listening to them back in Dallas. The album has such a different feel to it. A lot of people have described it as something in the vein of old classic stuff like Fleetwood Mac, and music that came out that time period. I think that's pretty accurate (for obvious reasons), yet it expands on that 1,000 fold. Their show will probably be in my Best of 2007 list.

5. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Etiquette
-I'm not ex
actly sure how I found Casiotone, but I'm glad I did. The stories on this album are some of the best. I think everyone can find someone to relate to, and if you can't, you just haven't been living! The music is so simple, but the way its executed, gives it all that it needs.

5. (tie) Sunset Rubdown- Shut Up I Am Dreaming
-It seems that Spencer Krug can do no wrong. I haven't heard Swan Lake (Joe does have it so I should probably be hearing it soon) but Wolf Parade's last album is one of my top favorites from 2005. This album wasn't really going to show up on the list, but the more and more I have listened to it through these past couple of weeks, its started sounding better and better. These couldn't really make it as Wolf Parade songs, and I'm glad that he has put them out there. Sunset Rubdown started off as a solo-side project, but it has evolved into a full band. It will be interesting to see where they take it when they record another album or EP, or play live.

6. The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
-Every time I had heard the Fiery Furnaces prior to getting this album, I would always ask "Who is this?". Their sound was so intriguing. Now that I've actually heard what it was that I was asking about all those times, I like it even more. The way that they use different effect, like backwards-tracking on the vocals, and things like that, all add to why I really enjoy this album. At first, I wasn't quite sure what to think of it all, but the more and more I listen to it, the more and more I want to hear. I really need to get more of this brother-sister duo's music.

7. Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways
-They say that this is his last album, and I don't want to believe them after hearing this one. He recorded all of the vocals before he died, and we should all be thankful that he got the time to do that. I can't really imagine it. This material of his is some of the most profound that I've heard from him. You can tell that he was writing these, maybe if this was all he had left in him.

8. Jose Gonzalez - Stay in the Shade EP
-This EP en
ds up on the list, because he just had to. "Veneer" has been out for what seems like forever now (New album in '07? Fingers crossed!). He deserves a lot of recognition and I don't think he's gotten what is due for him. The way that he covers songs, like "Hand On Your Heart", is amazing. The two songs do not sound like they could co-exist at any point in time.

9. Liars - Drum's Not Dead
-The two Liars albums that I have are from completely different bands. Whenever I play both of them back to back for someone, they find it hard to believe that its the same band. That's what makes them so good. "Drums Not Dea
d" is a huge departure from their first album, the disco-punk-esque "They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top". "Drums Not Dead" is much quieter,more climactic, and for a different person. It would be easy to see how someone could have not liked them at first, and love them now (or just the opposite) but I enjoy them both, two different sounds.

9. (tie) Vetiver - To Find Me Gone
-Vetiver has also been one of my favorite finds of 2006. Thanks to a mix from Melissa, I found Vetiver. She also lead me to a lot more, but that's not for now. Devendra Banhart's friends, and sometimes collaborators, write some of the best music for their genre. What that is, I'm not entirely sure of, but I know I need to listen to more of "To Find Me Gone".

10. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
-Sufjan Stevens had 43 songs for the Illinois album?! It seems so, with the release of The Avalanche, his "outtakes and extras" album. Who has that much time to compose all of these songs, yet alone that much time in the studio. I guess the studio aspect would make sense, due to his lack of touring (I'm not complaining). I guess that's how this album might have found its way on this list, besides its good music. Some of it does sound like Christmas music, which explains his latest project.

Trent's Top Live Performances:

1. Explosions in the Sky @ ACL
2. Wolf Parade @ ACL
3. Broken Social Scene/ Do Make Say Think@ The Gypsy Ballroom
4. (tie) TV on the Radio @ ACL

4. (tie) Sufjan Stevens/ My Brightest Diamond @ The Lakewood Theater

5.The Mountain Goats @ Rubber Gloves
6. The Flaming Lips @ ACL
7. M. Ward @ Hailey's


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Who said bears hibernate?

1. Octopus Project @ Hailey's- 2/9/07
2. Of Montreal/Elekibass @ The Gypsy Ballroom- 2/18/07
3. Deerhoof/Experimental Dental School/ Macromantics @ The Gypsy Tea Room- 3/8/07
4. Someone very special (soon!) - 4/2/07
5. John's Birthday Show in McGregor, this Friday (12/8/06)
6. SXSW (Music) March 14-18

Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?- Of Montreal (January 23, 2007)
The entire album can be streamed at their website (see above)

2. Friend Opportunity- Deerhoof (January 23, 2007)

3. All of a Sudden, I Miss Everyone- Explosions in the Sky (February 20, 2007)
Listen to the song "Welcome, Ghosts" here

4. The Animal Collective recording that should be put out in 2007 (I think)

Coming soon: Our Top Albums and Shows of 2006

Asobi Seksu and Mates of State @ Sons of Hermann Hall

This past Friday, Asobi Seksu and Mates of State played at Sons of Hermann Hall in Deep Ellum. Let me first say, that I think 'Sons' is my new favorite venue in Dallas. The one real choice for the bigger touring bands, has been The Gypsy. If a band is going to tour through North Texas, they either go there, or to Hailey's or Rubber Gloves in Denton. I love those two places, but Denton is pretty far for someone living in southern Dallas County. I've already voiced some of my opinion about The Gypsy on an earlier post. I do like the place, its just some of the ways that I have seen things done. Some good bands tour there so I won't complain too much. Anyway, it was good to have a new setting.

I'm someone who can't really enjoy a show if I'm not on the front row. Really, I need to be up there because taking photos at shows is something I need to do. Having said that, I wasn't too happy when I saw the line when John, Mary Anne, and I got inside. Despite it, Mary Anne and I worked our way up to the front, and John was on the second row to our right. John doesn't seem to care where he is at a show. I like that about him, but I need my front. Everyone we had gotten in front of, was shooting daggers. Oh well.

While we were waiting for everything to get started, I spotted Mike. It was good to see the guy. I hadn't seen him since Broken Social Scene. He just barreled through the crowd, which was easy to do with those kids. Dallas has its people that won't talk to you, and I think those are the same people that will also tell you not to get in front of them.

Asobi Seksu was quite the surprise. I listened to them for a couple of days leading up to the show, and I liked their recordings, but did not expect as much energy from them in a live setting. They really brought it though, and I'm glad they did. Some of her lyrics were in an Asian dialect, which I think was Japanese, but I don't want to say one way or the other. She said that they had been trapped in Oklahoma, forcing them to cancel those dates. She also said that she was thankful for how we received them, because it was nice to come back to after not playing. They tried to get the lights turned off on the stage, but Sons of Hermann is run by volunteers, I think, and they couldn't make it happen. We found why when they got into their set. The bass player has a pedal that triggers a strobe light, which does tend to look best with the lights off. Either way, they still used it, and it wasn't bad. They sounded very tight live (and no, I don't mean tight as in 'cool'). They play very nicely together and it will be good to see them further on down the road.

Note to fan-girls/guys: sound check does not me
an that the band is starting to play. As soon as someone hits a drum or plays a few notes on a keyboard, do not start to freak out. They will start soon enough. I'm glad I got that out of the way. It seems that the Mates of State crowd that was near me, was their VIP "We Love You" section. Anyway, I hadn't ever really listened to that much material from Mates of State, but I was surprised as to how much I knew. I think catchy music has its place, and if it has some meaning behind it, it is even better, and I don't think that Mates of State fills those requirements for me. John said after the show, that he had a hard time distinguishing his vocals from hers. I would have to agree with him on that. Granted, we were at the very front and sound does tend to be better if you are away from all that, but I think his observation was correct for the most part. All in all, I didn't hate their set. I think if they came around, I wouldn't go again, but I don't mean to be too harsh. It just isn't something that I would listen to everyday. They played a Kenny Loggins song as their next to last song. They said they knew most of his songs and that they would like to play one with Asobi, so they brought them all up and they played the song with the line "Even though we aint got money..." (sorry, I'm not to familiar with my Loggins). Mates of State certainly has a following, and I won't deny them that.

(Note: Asobi Seksu is not just two people, as it may seem from my photos. It was just hard to get them all. I have about 100 more photos)