So it looks like I let something slip by without celebration that I promised I would not let slip by… the second birthday of Burgo’s Music Blog! That’s right, on the 17th of September 2009, this here music blog turned 2. Over the past few years, this music blog has had its ups and downs, and I’d like to thank those of you who have stuck with me through it for your tenacity… heaven knows the support has been undeserved at times, but that does not mean by any means it has ever been unappreciated.
So, while for the 1st birthday post I gave some stats, this time around I thought I would share with you some of my favourite posts from the last year. Keep in mind, these weren’t necessarily the most popular posts with readers, in terms of comments left and engagement, etc… heck, some of these posts didn’t even get a single comment. They’re simply the songs/moments that stood out to me as… well… flat out awesome. And I thought you might like to relive some of the memories :)
3. “The Damnwells… still the world’s most underappreciated band” post. Purely because this post led to contact from Alex himself, and a slight involvement in the official Damnwells site (ignore the tribute site talked about in that post, I haven’t touched it since). Really, it’s nice to look on that post too, considering just how well Alex and The Damnwells are doing now.
4. Dead Man’s Bones – In Your Room video post. Damned if this isn’t one of my favourite tunes of the last year. Not sure many others shared my love for the track, but still… it’s awesome.
5. The Bon Iver, live at the Tivoli in Brisbane post. There were a fair amount of comments on this one, and I think it showed just how much the gig touched each of us that were there. While I still cannot fathom what some people have against Justin Vernon and Co (ahem, Dave, ahem), I was glad that other readers seemed to share the love for the tunes that I did. I was also suitably proud of myself for actually getting some reasonable quality videos of the night, instead of my usual crappy phone quality ones.
10. Joe Raciti – Love Love post. Joe doesn’t know this, but he’s my tether when it comes to music blogging. When I lost sight of why I started this thing, it’s Joe’s enthusiasm that brings me back.
11. Dave Smallen – I Think It’s Getting Better post. It’s no surprise this makes the list, as it’s my most recent post. But it’s not simply showing up here as it’s the “flavour of the month” round these parts still. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this song is going to have some serious staying power, and deserves its place here.
… and that’s it, for now. Stick around for another year, won’t you?
… I know, I know, it’s been a while since I posted here with any regularity, and for that, I apologise. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure why that is. Part of it, I know, is that work has been ridiculously busy the last few months, and as such my mind hasn’t really been in the right mindset to post all that often.
Another reason could also be the dreaded “twitter bug”. After close on two years using Twitter (follow me here, by the way, if you’re into that sort of thing), it’s become clear to me that it’s having a noticeable effect on my posting habits. For example, where I would have thrown up a quick post in the past discussing a song I’d just come across, nowadays it’s far easier to just twitter about it… which is a problem when you should be blogging.
Anyway, this is just a post to let you know that I’m going to try get the posting back on track. There’s a few bands I’ve meant to mention lately, and over the next week I’ll try to put some short posts up about them. It’s not really fair to the bands that they only get short posts from me, but at this stage I think it’s more important that I get the posts out there before they fade into the background.
– Most downloaded mp3s from the site in 2008:
Without a question, it was the mp3s located at the “Live Music Friday – Coldplay, live at London’s Brixton Academy” post. The amount of other sites that were hotlinking to these mp3s was simply staggering, and it prompted me having to move from my old host to another. Yeah, we’re talking gigs of bandwidth here in an incredibly short amount of time, which wasn’t exactly appreciated by my previous host. While it’s great that it was popular, hotlinking directly to another site’s mp3s on your own site without linking to the original post is just a lack of plain old manners. Let’s remember kids, common courtesy is our friend…
Other highlights? Well, the blog finally led me into communication with some of my musical idols this year. My “Live Music Friday – Pete Francis, live at The Woodstock Opera House” was actually featured by Pete himself on his own Myspace blog (you can see it here) which blew me away, and my constant rambling about The Damnwells led to some communication with Alex Dezen. Related to that, it also led to me launching another site, The Damnwells Music.com… don’t worry all those who offered to help with that site, I haven’t forgotten about you just yet; it’s just that Alex and I are still discussing how best to use that site to help the Damnwells word get out there.
We also had our first guest post featured on the blog this year, with this post from Rachel Morris about Josh Moore. Personally, I think Rachel did a great job with the post, and encourage anyone else out there who might feel like trying their hand at guest posting to get in touch with me (email address listed in the sidebar, to the left there).
Late December Update:
Unfortunately, after months of fighting with the RIAA amongst others, Mixwit, the site that I used to embed the below playlist, has had to close down. This means that the below playlist is no longer operating, but you can still read about the bands and follow the links to their individual posts below that. Sorry about that, but hopefully Mixwit will be back up and running someday. When I have a chance, I’ll look into using another program to embed the playlist again…
Yes, it’s that time of the year… the dreaded “lists month”. And, even though I’m sure you’ve had roughly a gajillion of them to read through, here at Burgo’s Blog I’ll be adding to the clutter with one of my own.
A few asides, first:
As I’ve said before, any time I put together a list post: Any list like this is subjective, where personal choice rules as king with an iron fist. I don’t dare presume to have heard every album put out this year, and obviously there will be some choices/omissions here that you don’t agree with. For that reason, I’ve restricted this list to songs that I’ve actually featured on this blog in the last year… it’s a retrospective look at songs posted on Burgo’s Blog over 2008 (with one or two additions that I just haven’t got around to posting in December)
Heading this argument off before it gets started: despite Jagjaguwar rereleasing Bon Iver‘s “For Emma, Forever Ago…” this year, it’s actually a 2007 release, and as such doesn’t feature on this list. Don’t complain.
I’ve tried to be ruthless and keep this selection down to songs/artists that I featured on the blog in 2008, that were released in 2008. This means that some of my favourite songs from 2008 posts, such as BARR’s “Untitled” don’t feature below, simply because I was too late in picking it up. That said, one or two might have slipped through. But only one or two.
Anyway, enough justification… I’ve embedded the playlist below. Click on the tape to begin playing. Below the tape, I’ve listed the tracks, with a word or two about each. I’ve linked through the artists names to the relevant posts, where applicable.
Listen. Love. Support.
1. Alex Dezen and Angela Dezen – Like it Is
It’s no secret: Alex Dezen and The Damnwells are probably my favourite band of the last two years, so an inclusion from them was a no-brainer. In the end though, I ended up plumping for this track… a youtube release, featuring Alex and his wife Angela performing a song with, quite frankly, heart-breaking beauty. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve replayed this video (which I’ve also included below)
3. Flobots – We Are Winning
The Flobots release, “Fight With Tools”, was one of those albums that seemed to stick with me throughout the year. Even though they excited me when I first heard them, I have to admit, I didn’t expect this album to have the staying power it did for me. This track, “We Are Winning” captures that excitement.
4. Frightened Rabbit – Heads Roll Off
Unquestionably one of my favourite albums of the year, Frightened Rabbit’s “The Midnight Organ Fight” spawned many killer tracks. This is just one of them.
5. The Gaslight Anthem – Great Expectations
Undeniably fun, The Gaslight Anthem kicked ass in 2008. The ’59 Sound was one of those albums that you could pop on and instantly get jiving. This track was the opening track from that album; one of my most played of the year.
6. Joe Pug – Hymn #101
It’s no secret… if there’s one artist that I wanted to help crack it in 2008, that artist was Joe Pug. The guy simply deserves to be heard. His “Nation of Heat” EP was my top EP of the year, and this track, Hymn #101 one of my favourite tunes. A bit of Dylan, a bit of Prine, and a dash of Whitmore = a whole lot of awesome.
7. The Sand Band – The Secret Chord
As I said back in my original post, “A wistful, world-weary tone permeates David McDonnell’s lyrics in this EP, which is washed over by spacey echoes, pedal steel guitar and an acceptance that comes to us all.” If that wasn’t clear enough… listen to this track.
8. Motel Motel – Coffee
Heh. Looking back at my past post about these guys, I described their tune, “Mexico” as
“… dirt-covered folk at its best. It’s a shot of Jack Daniels and well worn denim.“. I like that, looking back.
This song, Coffee, highlights their effortless bar-room swagger; surprising to hear from a band that only formed in 2006.
10. Matt Bauer – Don’t Let Me Out
An ominous, weary beauty that unfolds its dark shadows into your soul, this track from Bauer’s release, “The Island Moved in the Storm“, deals with an unsolved murder. “I killed you and thought that was that…” starts off Bauer, and then leads you on a tale loosely based on his childhood area. Chilling.
11. Let It Be Me – Ray Lamontagne
From the moment that you hear that breath at the beginning of the song, you know that “Let It Be Me” is going to be something special from the always impressive Ray Lamontagne.
And it is. Smoke-filled, seductive, and soulful… it’s Ray.
12. Yeasayer – 2080
I have to admit, it was really seeing this “Yeasayer Takeaway Show” that finally sold me on Yeasayer.This song largely makes it into this list based on that live performance.
13. Langhorne Slim – Restless
Langhorne Slim’s sophomore self-titled disc came out at a time when I was feeling really.. .well down, about the music output of 2008. Thank god it did, as the entire album was filled with such raw, unbridled passion that it kicked my ass into gear again. This song was a large part of that.
15. The New York Fund – Going To New York
Although most of the New York Fund’s songs throw dirty, vintage-soaked guitars and bar-room swagger at you (and, don’t get me wrong, they do that oh-so-well), this track has the London town band sounding reminiscent of The Damnwells. Wistful, and with one of the catchiest choruses this side of… well, this side of anything, those handclaps tipped this one onto the list for me.
17. Destroyer – Foam Hands
Dan Bejar, aka Destroyer, puts out one of his more accessible tracks… and knocks it out of the park.
18. The Republic Tigers – Buildings and Mountains
This track, “Buildings and Mountains” is taken from the Republic Tigers’ debut album, “Keep Colour”. It still completely blows my mind that such an accomplished sound could come from a band’s debut album. One of my top singles of the year.
“There’s something about this track, “Your Sky Is Falling“. The sense of urgency that Tin Bangs convey is certainly undeniable. In fact, I’ve heard it described as a sense of “god damn urgency”. That said, there’s something else hiding behind that urgency, to me. It’s not only urgent; it’s a sense of desperation. A sense of clutching at straws. A sense that this is our last chance. And the ultimate question… what have we done with it?“
Phil from the band was nice enough to stop by with a comment that confirmed this for me:
“You nailed it – feeling chased, trapped, desperate, frantic… foreboding, and ultimately floating by belly up for all to see, bloated and cold from the long soak.” Damned if that isn’t powerful.
20. David Vandervelde – Nothin’ No
I think this might be one of the ones that slipped through the “2008” criteria here, as I suspect this track actually came out in 2007… but it’s a damn rollicking tune, so I’m including it anyway. My top played track of January 2008.
21. War on Drugs – Arms Like Boulders Just scraping in to the 2008 category, Secretly Canadian released the “War On Drugs” EP “Barrel of Batteries” in January of 2008. This track from the EP, “Arms Like Boulders” sold me on the band. There’s a raw abandon to their tunes, and that makes me love them all the more.
23. Mystery Jets – Flakes
You know, Mystery Jets are in Australia at the moment (I think), but they left Brisbane off their list of stops. Next time, come to Brisbane, ‘eh lads? This track, “Flakes”, is the track that initially interested me in the band.
As I said back then, “The below song, “Flakes“, is a great introduction to them for those who haven’t heard them before. There’s something about lead singer Blaine Harrison’s vocals here… they seem to recall early shades of Mark Mulcahy (and come on; when isn’t that a great thing? Miracle Legion and Polaris… we miss you!). And then when that choral chorus of “oohs” kicks in? Man… killer.“
24. The Heavenly States – The Race
One of those tunes that just gets into your head, “The Race” from The Heavenly States really excited me. The hummable, angst-laden, and extremely catchy hooks of singer/guitarist Ted Nesseth’s lyrics, and violinist Genevieve Gargon’s complementary, darting chords. In short, it’s pop-rock perfection.
25. Matt Pond PA – Amazing Life
This is one of those tracks that I haven’t managed to find time to post about in December, but consider this a micro-post. Matt Pond PA recently released a free EP, entitled “The Freeep” (get it?) which you can download for free on their site. 9 tracks in all (6 full songs and 3 instrumentals), it’s all dreamy, wishful tunes that are perfect for an end of year reflection time, and I’m loving it more with each listen. In other words, go get it. Ok?
This track, “Amazing life”, is just a taste of the wonder that Freeep is.
26. Cost of Comfort – Golden Bones
I didn’t really post about this track so much as point you towards another post, but Cost of Comfort’s “Golden Bones” was a track that steadily grew on me over time. The repeat button was well-worn on this one.
27. The Enright House – Scattering the Sun Like Gunshot (acoustic) Another song that I haven’t managed to post about, this acoustic rendition of The Enright House’s “Scattering the Sun Like Gunshot” is simply beautiful. Largely an instrumental piece, it’s that kind of heart-breaking beauty that makes a song stay with you for days after you’ve heard it. From what I gather, The Enright House don’t normally put out much acoustic work, but based on the strength of this track, I really wish they would. You can download the rest of their EP, “6 Acoustic Renditions” on their site.
28. Questpoetics – Tonight
A bit of a guilty pleasure here, this track from Questpoetics “A Sound Campaign” shows the versatility of Questpoetics’ music. There’s actually a bit of a roundabout story to my discovery of this album. I was on the Youtube, surfing Ryan Adams videos, when I came across some Ryan Adams guitar lessons. I was so impressed with the quality of those lessons, that I ended up surfing around to see what other guitar lessons were on the tube. Long story short, I eventually came across some guitar lessons videos posted by Randy from Questpoetics, and from there found their tunes. And it turns out good things do come when you least expect it. A mixture of hip-hop/acoustic/reggae, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more of a buzz about these guys. They deserve more exposure.
29. Ben Nichols – The Kid
Stripped-down, dusty guitars and a plaintive, world-weary, yearning voice? Yeah, I’m sold. Listen to this. ‘Nuff said.
30. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Fix It (live on Letterman)
So Cardinology was released this year, and there were some mixed reactions. Despite what you think of the album, however, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a Ryan Adams fan who didn’t love “Fix It”, the lead single from that album. And, for my money, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better version of that song then this one, taken from The Cardinals performance live on Letterman. Filled with passion, I think it’s everything Ryan Adams fans were hoping we’d one day see from Ryan again. I’ve included the video below. If you don’t get excited by the emotion you see at the 1:35 mark… well, I salute you as our robot overlords.
31. William Fitzsimmons – You Still Hurt Me
As I wrote recently, “William Fitzsimmon’s music has that heart-string-tugging, ever so fragile quality to it that makes for the best of tunes. When you hear his voice, there’s almost a caution there; as if you exhale too loudly, you might frighten this wonder away.” If you listen to this track from Fitzsimmon’s “The Sparrow & The Crow” album, entitled “You Still Hurt Me”, you’ll be able to see what I mean.
32. a King – Safe as Houses
A song that so excited me about South African music, I instantly proclaimed them “South Africa’s Next Big Thing”. Do I regret making such a hyperbolic claim? Not on your life, buddy.
33. Peasant – Impeccable Manners Man, another one I haven’t managed to post about in the past month. Shows how busy things have been around here. But Peasant‘s release, “On The Ground” is nonetheless a striking release. Recalling hints of Elliott Smith and Iron and Wine, the guy simply is a master story-teller. I’ve had a few emails from Peasant’s publicity team, but somehow let a post slip through the cracks (sorry Bryan!).
Anyway, in the meantime, I see that Daytrotter have put up a post, so I don’t see much point in putting my own rehash out there. I’ll just point you there, and quote their lines of “What becomes so beautifully clear in listening to Derose sing – in that clear mountain stream, weepy-voiced way of his – is that none of his characters and none of us are ever rid of any of the people that we’ve shared the dark or a kiss with.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. “Impeccable Manners”, the song I’ve included in this mix, is just one of the great tracks off of Peasant’s release.
34. The Tallest Man On Earth – It Will Follow The Rain
I think this one might have slipped through the cracks from the 2007 releases, but I think I’ve done fairly well containing this list to 2008 releases, so a slip-up here and there can be overlooked. As I said about The Tallest Man On Earth (aka Swede Kristian Matsson) when I first posted about him:
“… is exactly that sound that I love… scratchy and warm. It honestly feels as if Matsson is performing these songs live in your kitchen, with every breath and every crack is his warm rich voice present. There’s nothing forced here. It’s natural, and tumbles from The Tallest Man On Earth in a way that’s impossible to resist.“
35. Elvis Perkins – Weeping Pilgrim
Quoting myself, talking about the track “Weeping Pilgrim” from Elvis Perkins, “What do you need to know about it? Not much… save for the fact that it’s a cracking tune of longing and struggle, that is everything music should be. Seriously. There’s an indomitable spirit to this song that simply cannot be beaten down. Listen to this and love it.“
36. Samamidon – Saro
And so we come to the end of this mix. And what to say about this final song, “Saro” by Samamidon? Well…
“Saro, like the majority of the songs on Samamidon’s upcoming new album, “All Is Well”, is actually a retelling of a traditional folk song, “Pretty Saro”. There are countless covers of this song, performed by such great names and Judy Collins, Bert Jansch, and Doc Watson, among others; Samamidon’s version is the most haunting and beautiful I have heard… There truly is nothing else to say, except that Samamidon is on the cusp of greatness. Without question, his will be the definitive version of this song“.
So if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’d like to thank you for sitting through another “Best of 2008” round up. On a related note:
I really want to thank all the readers of this blog. Honestly, at times it’s not easy to keep running this thing (what with other commitments, running costs etc)… but every time one of you leaves a comment, or drops me an email, it reminds me why I do this thing. So, my very best thing of 2008? Why… it’s you, of course. Yes you. No need to look around.
Wow. So, something was just pointed out to me. It was officially one year ago today, that “Burgo’s Blog” was born. Not on this domain, of course… it’s only had it’s own domain for just over half a year, by now. But, before that, it started it’s life hosted on WordPress.com as a free subdomain.
It’s been a great ride since a rather inauspicious start, with the first post being (so help me) “Just a quick thought on the “RRS vs God Squad” debate“.
In the time since that first post, 145 other posts have been written, 211 comments have been left, and – according to Google Analytics (which unfortunately I only installed at the end of November, so I’m missing a few months worth of figures) – just over 25,000 unique visitors have stopped by Burgo’s Blog, with around about 40,000 pageviews; with the most popular post being “30 South African Bands you NEED to hear!“, with just over 4,000 pageviews. Yeah, ok… so I’m no Stereogum or Pitchfork in terms of visitors (although, after this, I’m kinda glad I’m not Pitchfork at the moment; good on you Airborne Toxic Event for saying what most of us have been thinking for a while about their reviews), but I like to think that people are hearing what I’m saying, you know? I mean, really this blog has always been about exposing readers to new music… if it wasn’t for the readers, and the community you guys have formed here, there wouldn’t be much heart left in Burgo’s Blog.
So, I guess this is a “Happy 1st Birthday” post to not only Burgo’s Blog, but also to all you readers. Here’s hoping to many more to come.
So, I realised the other day that this blog has now been live for over 6 months on this domain (not including the few months I was on a WordPress hosted domain), and I thought now was as good a time as any to take a step back, and look at some of the tunes we’ve heard in that time.
I like to think that in the past few months, I might have possibly introduced you to a tune or two that might have struck a chord with you; that did something for you. And, seeing as I recently came across the Mixwit site, I thought… why not? It’s mixtape time.
Below I’ve compiled a mix tape of some of the songs I’ve featured on the blog over the past few months. Please note that, of course, it’s not all the songs, as that would be ridiculous. In particular, I haven’t included many (if any) songs from my “South African Bands you NEED to hear!” post, or the “Things I should have told you in 2007” post – as both of those would deserve a few hours on the mixtape themselves – so I suggest you give both those posts a separate read, as there are some real pearls tucked away there.
That said, I hope that the playlist below gives some kind of overview to the past few months here on Burgo’s Blog. I’ve included the playlist, with links through to the individual posts, underneath the “tape”. Just click the “play” button on the tape to start listening… it’ll stream from there. I hope you enjoy.
Most importantly, I’d like to thank all the readers who come by this blog. Thanks for the comments, thanks for the emails. They keep me going.