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Or, take your Valentine to this! I know I would.

5. Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley 

Jenny Lewis’ solo album grew on me and continues to do so to this day. Just a few weeks ago on Nip/Tuck, “Rabbit Fur Coat” accompanied Kimber Henry on a path of destruction and while my soul was crying for help from the evil I was putting it through by watching Nip/Tuck (And really, you’re not? Get on it.), I couldn’t help but think that that is one hell of a song. When I first heard Under the Blacklight, I had a similar initial reaction that I did to Rabbit Fur Coat, somewhat boring and uninvolving. UTB sounded a lot like the full band tracks from RFC. Yeah, it was good, she’s got a voice like an angel, but I couldn’t see myself giving it any sort of heavy rotation or finding something unique and inviting. Well, in Rabbit Fur Coat fashion, Under the Blacklight grew on me, and fast. A random shuffle one day on the iPod threw down “Silver Lining,” which is a sing-a-long, dance-a-bout, get-stuck-in-your-head-for-days piece of pop goodness if I’ve ever heard one. This album is stuffed to the gills with catchy melodies and biting lyrics that create beautiful musical contradictions. If you like a little spice with your nice, get your paws on this one.  

4. Our Love to Admire, Interpol

There a few albums that I am compelled to put on my favorite album lists year after year, because most times I listen to those more than anything that’s new. Interpol’s 2004 release, Antics, is one of those consistently amazing albums each and every time I put it on. I was nervous about Our Love to Admire before its release, but about 3 seconds into hearing the first single, “Heinrich Maneuver”… Nerves, be gone! This is a band that continues to evolve and enhance their sound with each album they put out. Sure, there’s still that basic dance-ridden Interpol sound that I absolutely adore and those lyrics that are poignantly sharp, but listen closer. It’s like this massive Interpol Renaissance happening right there in your speakers! It’s fresh, without being too out there and captivating time after time. With each listen you notice a different layer or sound that only prompts you to hit the repeat button just one more time. Carlos D, per Antics, carries this albums with his bass lines that give your toes a tap and Paul, my dear, loving, wonderful Paul, haunts you with his delivery of more strife-filled relationship-riddled lyrical goodness. “Heinrich Maneuver” will reel you in, but the five minutes plus “Pioneer of the Falls” will keep you. 

3. The Girl That Killed September, Garrison Starr

Garrison Starr is not a real person. Clearly, she’s some mythical creature who finds herself capable of putting out two of the best albums I’ve ever heard in back-to-back years, on top of an endless touring schedule and putting together a nice little collection of live studio tracks of songs most requested by fans. Rachael Yamagata: Take note. When she first gave a hint of this album’s release, I didn’t think it would ever see the light of day as she described it as an album without a home and those stories don’t usually have a way of turning out in our favor. But, damnit, Garrison. Bless you and your determination, because this year you bestowed upon us the gift of The Girl That Killed September, and from what I’ve heard it’s some of your most brutally brilliant and amazing stuff yet. I still haven’t gotten over hearing this album for the first time and each time I listen I find a new track that pops out of the speaker and clings to me for days at a time.   That being said, it’s impossible to pick just one or two favorites, but “Understood” gets me every time with rock, rock, rock and a voice that conveys emotion better than the actual words she’s singing. “Goldrush Heart,” is like nothing I’ve heard before and the title track has a permanent chokehold on my heart. Just do all of us a favor: Grab some Garrison, and spread the love. 

2. Begin to Hope, Regina Spektor

How can you make a Best of 2007 list and not include Regina? That’s just it, you can’t. This album was everything it needed to be to create that alternate listening universe that so many of us long for when popping in some new tunes. The poppy melodies, snarky lyrics and inventive songwriting styles makes Begin to Hope one album that is good to the last drop and packs some serious punch.  My instinct is to feel that when two of my favorite femme fatale songwriters are almost always MIA (Miss Yamagata and Miss Apple), I’m relieved to have some other incredibly talented women filling this void left behind. But, saying that does no justice and is in fact an insult to Regina as she’s in a league of her own and needs to be recognized as such. I love singers whose voices create an entire new element and are a unique instrument of their own, and Regina is just that. She’s more than a gorgeous voice; she’s a completely separate entity.   So, if and when Rachael and Fiona decide to get down to it, I’m really hoping that Regina is still rocking out the good tunes to deliver some more of these addictive and fantastic pop songs. And it’s worth mentioning, that all the videos for this album are equally awesome and cool and should not be missed (Namely “Fidelity”). Check ’em out. Notable tracks: “Fidelity”, “Samson” and “On the Radio” 

1. The Reminder, Feist

O, Canada! O, Leslie! When I first heard Feist a few years ago with her smooth, stellar and saucy album, Let it Die, I was impressed, especially considering that I counted on not liking her at all due to her direct involvement with Peaches. However, Let it Die was a not to be missed album of 2005. “Even with a Bee Gees cover?” Yes. Even with a Bee Gees cover. Trust me, her version of “Inside and Out” is white hot. But, we’re not talking about Let it Die, 2007’s release of The Reminder introduced Leslie to the masses as the single “1234” made everyone under the sun want a fancy new iPod Nano and/or the opportunity to put on (and look hot in) bright colored spandex and dance around a warehouse for hours. This is the album I could not turn off and couldn’t even begin to try and get out of my head. Starting off with the sweet and bewitching “So Sorry,” Leslie introduces us to her honest understanding of those things that often lack explanation. So many lyrical instances on this album had me crying out to my stereo in pain and elation, “Leslie! How did you know?” Too many favorite tracks to list, but if you must take a suggestion, pick up “Brandy Alexander”, “My Moon My Man” and, of course, the sweet, endearing and gentle melody of “The Park.”  

EXTREMELY HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Nighttiming, Coconut Records and B-Sides and Rarities, Cake 

This is one of the best written articles ever. And it makes me twenty times more excited that I am seeing F.H. Jon Brion in no time at all.

This is my favorite part in the history of favorite parts, ever:

“In a town that has over-commercialized nearly everything that made it so wonderful in the first place, it’s comforting to know that there’s still a place out there that remembers where its true meaning lies.”

Goodness gracious, Gremlins! Where have I gone?

In case you haven’t heard, I got a job working here. I still work for The Siren, so as you can imagine my work week is getting in the way of time to report back here on all things fun, wonderful and interesting. Though to be fair, there hasn’t been much.

So! Here’s a little FYI on all things blog-worthy

1. We’re going to talk about last week’s Office tonight. I’ve managed to get three hours of sleep in the last 48 hours, but I can’t let that sit there any longer.

2. Happy Birthday yesterday to John!

3. One week from tomorrow I’m leavin’ on a jet plane to attend The Office Convention in Scranton, PA with the lovely Tracy Kay! Pretty much, it’s going to be the most exciting week on the blog, ever. Can’t wait! See ya there!

4. I’ve got a crap ton of photos to get up on Flickr, so when they’re there, I’ll holler and you can check it out.

5. Garrison Starr’s new album. Seriously. Get on that. Discussion coming soon.

One of the things I miss most about Los Angeles is Largo. Anyone who’s been, myself included, will stand by the fact that there is nothing better to do in L.A., Monday to Saturday, then attend every one’s favorite friendly Fairfax venue. The food is spectacular and so is the company and no matter what night you’re there, you’re destined to be in for a treat.  Anyone worth your ear is familiar with Flanagan and his fine establishment and seeing them perform in this kind of place is like nothing you’ve ever experienced.  There was a good chunk of time there where my friend Eric and I were making the trip almost every weekend to see our favorites in action. Anyone who has been can tell you, Largo cannot be beat.

Not convinced? WELL!  There appears to be a film coming out on this most hallowed of grounds and the website offers quite a good sampling of what’s so awesome about the whole experience, with short video clips of Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, Amiee Mann, Zach Galifianakis, Grant Lee Phillips and many more. Actually, if you’re at all a fan of Brion, and really, you should immediately ensure that you are, watch his clip. His Largo sets are the stuff of legend and being that if you even thought of taking out a video camera during the performance, you’d be slaughtered, you’ve never seen anything like this. And it’s just a taste. Check it out: www.largofilm.com

More on this as the information becomes available!

I could totally go for some Baked Honey Chicken right now.

Any self-respecting music appreciator should immediately direct their attention here.

If you don’t, I’ll smash you with a hammer.  

One of the most talented women rockin’ her shit in the music industry today is Garrison Starr. Once you start listening, there is no stopping. I’ve yet to hear one of her songs that wasn’t catchy, thoughtful and pure rocket powered rock n roll. And! She’s hilarious! And gorgeous! And incredibly sweet and kind!

 

If you haven’t checked her out, please do. Her 2006 release The Sound of You and Me is, from start to finish, one of the greatest albums ever. And since then, she’s been touring, recording a Fans’ Greatest Hits album and writing and recording another studio release! She is a Superhero, these days.

And ever since the first whisper of this next album, it’s been riddled with drama of not having a home and not having the support it needed (Meanwhile, I’m having a hard time finding anything else that’s being released that’s worth my fifteen bucks. ANYWAY…).

Update! I did research. Forget what I said earlier. Except for going to the show in Nashville. That part is still true. But. It looks like the album is due out on Thursday, October 18.  But, check this out. It looks like the 18th will be this “social networking release only” and then possibly sometime later in October (or maybe even December as previously reported) will have an actual hard copy release. Maybe it’ll be like Fiona’s MySpace release of EM? Stay tuned, gang.

One thing that I find so cool about this album is her will to get it released. I can only wish and hope that some artists *cough* Rachael Yamagata *cough* would take a cue from Ms. Starr and GET THEIR FRIGGIN ALBUM RELEASED! It’s that kind of dedication to her craft and her fans that once again, makes Garrison one in a million.

 For some GStarr tunes to get you hooked and all other sorts of media to send your senses in a flurry, check out her MySpace. The song “Unchangeable” which is slated to be on September, is totally awesome. And, when I saw her at Hotel Cafe a few months ago she played the song “Fireworks” which is brutal, and honest and wonderful. I lub it! And I hope you will, too.

I didn’t watch the VMA’s.

But, I’m not quite immune to the buzz surrounding Britney Spears’ performance last night at the awards show that took place in Las Vegas. Though I wish I was.

Here’s the video.  You decide. You’ll either laugh, or cry, or lose your breakfast. I guess the spectacle of it all is kind of enjoyable. But only if you’re deaf. And have really bad eyesight.

And really, if you watch a few of the videos that come on after Britney’s Bomb, it’s pretty on par with the rest of the evening.

UPDATE: Again, I didn’t watch the show. But. Really? The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? “Her?” I’m not crazy about it.

UPDATE: PART TWO: I did a little Wikipedia action on “Crystal Skull” and here‘s what we came up with. So, I feel a little bit better about this whole operation. I still wish it was Indiana Jones and The Chelsea Graham Caper.

The good news is that this video from the Air Guitar World Championship might redeem your Music Monday.

 

I’ve had this weird crush on Jason Schwartzman ever since I saw Rushmore. The kind of crush where all you want to do is sit over a bottle of wine and talk for hours about anything. It doesn’t help that he’s terribly handsome, a great actor, and as were going to see in September, a wonderful writer, too. I never really got into Phantom Planet, though I was always sure his musical abilities were stellar, just like everything else he does.

WELL! Proof that he’s freakin’ totally talented and worthy of my undying love and affection!

 Check out this interview with Jason. First thing that should pop out to you is the grace and intelligence with which he discusses Darjeeling.

“Years ago, Wes said to me, “I’d like to do a movie about brothers on a train,” and he wanted me to be one of the brothers. We ended up living together in Paris when he was promoting “The Life Aquatic” and I was filming “Marie Antoinette,” and the story crystallized. We’d walk around and tell each other stories about our lives, and we’d ask each other what these brothers were doing on the train and where they were going. It felt like a murder mystery that we were trying to figure out.”

I think one of the coolest things to hear about a movie before you watch it is the writing process. I love hearing about the things that inspired the wit and humor or the soul crushing drama. It’s good to see the enthusiasm on their end and see how well it translates to the finished project. I’ve seen too many movies with lazy and careless screenplays, it’s refreshing to know that there’s still a writing process out there, somewhere.

But! What I thought was cooler than cool about this whole thing, was the revealing of his solo-project, Coconut Records!! His multi-tracking is freakin’ awesome and all the songs I’ve heard so far are just super catchy (“West Coast” is my favorite!). I smell a ‘One Track Mind’ post in our near future…

Love it. Can’t wait to get the album and listen to it on my way to the theater to see The Darjeeling Limited!!!!

(Also! If you go to the official site for the movie, you can get eyefulls upon eyefulls of behind the scenes videos from shooting! Watch them! And then don’t tell me what happens.)

 

I do love you, Rachael, really, I do. But I must admit that I’ve become very tired of waiting for your next album to come out. I know it’s going to be wonderful, and I know it’s going to be fantastic, I just wish it wasn’t taking so long. I’m not pointing fingers, I’m just expressing my feelings on the matter. In case you were interested.

So, while we may be coming up on year 4 of waiting for the follow-up to her 2004 album, Happenstance (that still kicks my ass every time I listen to it), she has been touring. Very, very, very sparingly and as of very soon, you’re going to be able to catch Ms. Yamagta on tour with none other than Ms. Mandy Moore, who was most recently caught sharing the sack with my Main Man and Future Husband, John Crushinski in License to Wed (Which I still have to see. I’m the worst Future Wife ever. I’m waiting for Dollar Theater.).

Mandy’s a doll. I wish she didn’t have to sing in her movies, but there is no part of me doubts that she’s an absolutely wonderful person.

Mandy and Rachael have written together on many occasions and actually, when I most recently saw Rachael at Hotel Cafe back in L.A., Mandy was there in the audience and she really is that beautiful.

So, here’s a link to the tour dates. Like I said, I really don’t think that any of us are able to check ’em out, with an exception of Katy, but it’s good to know that Rachael is doing something substantial with her life and talents. Whoops, did I say that out loud?