Best of 2011 Lists

It’s December! You know what that means? ‘BEST OF 2011’ LISTS!!! If you’re worried that you might have missed something great this year, check out any of these lists.

PS: I’ll alphabetize these once the new year hits. I’m adding to the bottom of the list as I find new stuff.

jj releases Kills mixtape

jj kills

I’m no expert on jj. I’ve listened to jj nº1, nº2, and nº3, but I still don’t have a firm grasp on what it is that they’re doing. Maybe that’s the point. On one hand you have Ecstacy and on the other you have Let Go. Is it beautiful indie pop or is it beautiful indie pop covers of hip hop songs?

With the release of the Kills mixtape, the question changes again. Is it beautiful indie pop covers mashing up a bunch of hip hop songs? I don’t know, but it’s incredible. Genres, who needs ’em?


  1. STILL
  9. BOOM
  10. HIGH END

jj kills

Gossip – Jealous Girls (Live in Liverpool)

I was driving home from work today and had the Live in Liverpool album by Gossip on, and when this song came on, I remembered how badly I’ve wanted to share it with everyone every time I hear it. So here you go.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the bass line that stomps around in this song. And the snare hits make me think of someone marching around, stomping their feet and clapping like Mick Jagger in this clip (skip to :45).

Jealous Girls by Gossip

The Kills & The Horrors @ The Henry Fonda

Last Friday I went to see the Kills opened by the Horrors and Magic Wands at the Music Box at the Fonda Theater in LA. I didn’t care too much for Magic Wands (but they aren’t bad by any means), so here are my thoughts on the Horrors and the Kills (both of whom I’m enamored with).

The Horrors' lead singer Faris Badwan in LA at the Music Box
The Horrors' lead singer Faris Badwan in LA at the Music Box

The Horrors

What do you do after you are one of the most hyped bands of 2006 with the world on your fingertips? If you are the Horrors, you lay low for two years after touring and in the meantime record an album that is incredible but sounds nothing like your debut.

I was hooked after my first listen to the Horrors’ debut album Strange House three years ago. I loved that while there was something familiar in their songs, they sounded like nothing else I was listening to. Quite a bit has changed in the musical landscape since 2006, but the Horrors’ new sophomore album Primary Colors somehow instills the same feeling as Strange House.

The five piece put on a great show for being an opening band. Ferris, their lead singer, has a great presence on stage. After going from nothing to the cover of NME, he still seems pleased that people are interested in the music his band makes. Luckily, the Horrors are impeccable live and have no trouble recreating the dense punk sound that Primary Colors contains. There wasn’t much banter in between songs, they played pretty straight through their set.

As for the songs they played on this tour, you wouldn’t know that they ever had a debut album if you just saw the setlist. They essentially play Primary Colors start to finish save for two songs. It’s perfect – if you love Primary Colors; songs from Strange House are nowhere to be found.

Alison "VV" Mosshart, one half of The Kills
Alison "VV" Mosshart, one half of The Kills

The Kills

My new obsession. In the weeks leading up to Coachella 2009, I listened to their most recent album Midnight Boom start to finish and remembered how much I liked a few songs on their previous album No Wow. Since seeing the later half of their Coachella performance (and being completely mesmerized throughout), I’ve been watching/listening/reading everything I can get my hands on relating to the Kills.

The duo often gets compared to the White Stripes, but Meg White hasn’t got a single thing on Alison “VV” Mosshart. And since the White Stripes haven’t done much of anything lately, I’ll take the Kills without complaining.

Hotel and VV might be the most compelling people I’ve ever seen on stage. It might be VV’s long black hair as its own performace, or it maybe its the “chemistry” they have with each other while playing, or most likely, it’s just the fact that the two exude coolness. It’s not hipster snobbery; it’s a feeling of not giving a fuck, but having everything line up perfectly that reels everyone in.

Now that they have three LPs out, finding solid material to play isn’t much of an issue. Well over half of the songs on the setlist are hits with simple lyrics that can be sung along to. It was a great show all around (save for the tall ass with wiry blond hair who did nothing but instigate fights all night long). The last song of the encore was especially great as they invited the Horrors back out to do their 8+ minute version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You.” The song involved every wire on stage getting tangled around VV and the Horror’s guitar player as they lay on the floor rolling around. It was great.

All in all, the show proved to me that the Horrors aren’t going anywhere, the Kills are even cooler live than on record, and that I absolutely hate LA audiences.

photo credit goes to flickr user hazyskyline6

Nine Inch Nails – Lights In The Sky (over L.A.)

Note: This is the second half of my Nine Inch Nails – Lights In The Sky 2008 Tour. The first half (from Seattle) can be found here.

I love Nine Inch Nails. I love Nine Inch Nails so much that when their Lights Over North America Tour was announced, I went twice. Seattle was amazing because I had no idea what to expect save for a great light show; LA was amazing because I knew exactly what to expect. Maybe that makes some sense, just read on if it doesn’t (and if it does…)


the amazing deerhunter (w/ the awkward Bradford Cox)
the amazing deerhunter (w/ the awkward Bradford Cox)


+10 points for being LA when Deerhunter came around. Crystal Castles sort of bombed in Seattle because no one knew who they were. Admittedly, while they are getting pretty big in the indie world, I can’t really expect a bunch of metal-heads to be too interested with the 8-bit/electro/indie scene. I love both Crystal Castles and Deerhunter, and so do people in LA.

Bradford Cox is one freaking looking dude. The rest of Deerhunter looks fairly normal for an indie noise/ambient/rock group, but Cox stands out like a sore thumb. Luckily for us all, the music that roars out of the speaker towers makes you quickly forget any oddity that Deerhunter embodies. Their set was about 30 minutes long, just long enough for them to find a nice balance between their noise material and their more rocky/beat-driven songs. It went smoothly, and I think everyone enjoyed the set.

trent behind one of three massive walls of light
trent behind one of three massive walls of light

Nine Inch Nails

When I say that I fully knew what to expect the night of the concert, I honestly mean it. I wasn’t expecting anything new to come up. Maybe they’d tightened things up on the corners (not to say that the Seattle show was sloppy), but the show is so massive that it seems nearly impossible to change anything at all. Turns out I was fairly wrong.

Aside from the different set list (which I’ll discuss later), the light show had changed, and the performances were out of this world. In the Seattle post, I mention that this lineup is the best that NIN has ever had, but I said that because of how good they sounded. At the LA show, I realized that every member of the band brings something unique to the table besides their musical expertise. Whether being menacing, aggressive, staid, precise, or one of the many other things that each are on stage, NIN has captured what an over-the-top live show is.

One change to the light show from Seattle was the inclusion of a face morphing graphic during The Hand That Feeds. I don’t recall what was going on at that time in Seattle, but there certainly wasn’t a massive George W. Bush being shown. That night in Inglewood, the only graphic shown was Bush who seemed to be getting progressively older as the song went on. I thought it was weird, until I realized that Bush wasn’t getting older. He was morphing into John McCain. I say this with all honesty, I really thought he was just getting older at first…

The songs that were played throughout the night (+2 from the Seattle show) differed slightly from other tour dates. Unfortunately for me, The Great Destroyer was left out, so the insane spastic strobes and static that the song encompasses was greatly missed. God Given was played however, which almost makes up for the missed Destroyer. That song has a solid tech/glitch beat to it that makes me smile every time I hear it. The best part of the song though wasn’t the music at all, it was Finck. When the chourus dies, this creepy whispered line some in

i would never tell you anything that wasn’t absolutely true that hadn’t come right from his mouth and he wants me to tell you

and the song starts right up when the whisper ends. Finck was the guy who did the whispering live. Talk about something that comes straight from your nightmares. They had the light shining on his face like he was telling a horror story (and he might as well have been). Of course, they closed with Hurt & In This Twilight. It was a night that, when paired with Seattle’s date, makes up one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.

Now I just have to seen them in a festival setting…

Set List

  1. 999,999
  2. 1,000,000
  3. Letting You
  4. Discipline
  5. March of the Pigs
  6. Head Down
  7. The Frail
  8. Closer (The Only Time)
  9. Gave Up
  10. The Warning
  11. Vessel
  12. 5 Ghosts I
  13. 17 Ghosts II*
  14. 19 Ghosts III*
  15. Ghosts Piggy
  16. The Greater Good
  17. Pinion
  18. Wish
  19. Terrible Lie
  20. Survivalism
  21. The Big Comedown
  22. 31 Ghosts IV
  23. Only
  24. The Hand That Feeds
  25. Head Like A Hole
  26. Echoplex
  27. Reptile
  28. God Given
  29. Hurt
  30. In This Twilight

I have a love/hate relationship with Pitchfork. Their features and interviews are the best of any indie music blog, or maybe of any music blog in general, but their album reviews can be so off topic and elitist that I’ve stopped reading them. That’s all fine, whether or not I read their album reviews isn’t a big deal, what bothers me is the influence that one writer can have over the future of a potentially talented band. Leaving their album reviewing out of the picture and turning to their latest venture:, I’m thoroughly impressed. The site features many different high-quality videos about music and the artists that make it, here are the sections it’s broken down into:


The featured section serves as the most-recent/best-of content gathered from all the other sections. It it basically a collection of the week’s (or maybe more, it’s only been live for two weeks) videos. Because it’s pretty basic, the featured section should be used as the first place you go to see new content (and it’s the first place the website takes you to).


These “shows” are what make resemble a TV station rather than just a hodge-podge collection of music videos. Right now, the shows include Interview, Don’t Look Down, Juan’s Basement, Daytripping, and Special Presentation. Interview is self-explanatory; they interview an artist. For Don’t Look Down, an artist simply plays a few of their songs on top of a building roof. Juan’s Basement is both very similar and completely opposite to Don’t Look Down because here the artists are playing in… yes, Juan’s Basement. Daytripping is my favorite so far, it’s where a Pitchfork camera crew follow a band around for a day and engage in all the crazy things that go on. Special Presentation is just a section for Pitchfork to throw all their random features; there isn’t much organization here.

Pitchfork Live

For Pitchfork Live, you get to watch a concert at your desk. If you’ve ever bought a live DVD of your favorite band playing at some fancy (or grimy) venue and sat for an hour basking in the glory while wishing you were there, Pitchfork Live is the same thing.

One Week Only

While the other sections are cool, it’s the One Week Only section that really makes worth-while. Here you can watch a video that is SO special Pitchfork can only show it for one week. Thus far, the videos have been documentaries (one about the Pixies and the other about AIR), and both were amazing. I’m not sure if these videos are rare, but I am sure that these will all be high-quality videos worth your 30-60 minutes.

Music Video

You really don’t need an explanation for this section. It’s full of music videos.

In review, I love I’ve always loved watching interviews and other shows about artists (XLR8R TV anyone?), and this is just feeding my obsession. Even if you’ve never heard of the bands featured on the site, go check them out; you’ll probably begin to expand your musical horizons, which is always good.

The Smell is so sweet

The Smell ThumbnailLast night I decided that I wanted to go to a show in downtown at a tiny underground indie/noise/punk venue called The Smell. Why? Because two of The Smell’s brainchildren were performing: No Age & Mika Miko. Along with these two were The Strange Boys, Jay Reatard, and Disaster Bad Parents.

The night started around 8:30 when I caught the Metro 81 which was a straight-shot to where I needed to go. So I got off at my stop and started heading in what I thought was the right direction. I was able to make it in front of the No Age: Weirdo Rippers venue front, or back, as the real front is down an alley. It was apparent that I couldn’t get in there as there was no door-handles and a guy who didn’t look like The Smell’s normal cliental told me to go through the parking lot; great advice, if the parking lot was open. So I wound up walking around the block until I came to a small alley that looked like it’d lead to the back of the building, which it did.

So I walked inside and got my $8 wristband (no pre-sale tickets), went to the bathroom (which is covered in graffiti and band stickers), and walked into the main-stage area where Disaster Bad Parents were beginning to play. They weren’t really my taste of music, but The Smell is known for letting all kinds of music play, so no judgement passed. Next were The Strange Boys. I think that they have an average age of about 15, no lie. They were great, even though I think that they played a lot of covers. Their sound kind of bounced along without losing its classic punk sound.

Next up, to my surprise, was No Age. I figured that, since they are the biggest band coming out of The Smell, that they would be last. I was glad that they played third, because I had to leave at 11:40, and it was already around 10:30 (my bus left at midnight, and it wouldn’t come again until 5). They were amazing. The waves of feedback and crazy drums were exactly what I thought No Age would be. For “Everybody’s Down,” the guitarist came out into the crowd and just walked around playing the repetitive chord progression while the drummer stood on an amp and sang the song. Then they got back into position and the song hit it’s critical climax. All hell broke loose. It was a massive pit where no one was trying it hit anyone else. It was the nicest pit that I’ve ever seen. It was more of a pure enjoyment of the music instead of a violent collective.

Near the end of their set, some ass started yelling, “BORING…BORING…” So the drummer got pissed, and we threw him out of the club. Considering that No Age could fill venues many times this size, and they they come here because it’s home, they pretty much rule the place. Anything that they say, goes.

Sadly, I couldn’t stay for Jay Reatard and Mika Miko because I didn’t really feel like missing my bus. Beign stranded in LA at night isn’t very fun. Not that I know from experience, I just know how weird it is sitting at a bus stop while the homeless wander around behind you… So that was my night at The Smell. For $8, I’ll be back.

Edit: Changed Retard to Reatard, thanks hopkin.

The Horrors make me blend in

The Horrors

Fuckin hipsters. It’s their fault that I’m one who blends into the crowd. Too bad I listen to their music.

Just look at that picture for another second. Where do you get the idea to dress/do your hair/put on makeup/etc… like that?! It’s a damn good thing that The Horrors play amazing music, or else they’d slip under my hipster radar like so many others do. Maybe it’s something in the British blood. If that’s the case, I’m nothing but screwed.

So, back to the music. The Horrors play a mixture of lofi indie garage punk. The sound quality is equivalent to The White Stripes, but their style is closer to the punk bands of about 20+ years ago. Need something more recent as a comparison? Think Klaxons sans electro plus scenester clothing.

What makes the Horrors different from any other band in the British punk wave going on right now? For me, it’s the electric organs. Nothing is too complicated with the Horrors, and nothing about them pretends to be (other than their hair). Their chord progressions are repetitive, as are the organ riffs, drums, and vocals. They are simple, original, and … they have really tight jeans.

Success is coming to the Horrors as of now. Their latest (and first) LP Strange House has received very good reviews that basically agree with everything that I’ve said thus far. Check them out.