Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poll Results: Your Favorite Labels Of The Decade

Asking for your favorite label isn't as obvious as asking for, say, your favorite artist. A lot of times, people don't even notice what label an album was released by. And it's harder to keep track of everything a label releases than to keep track of everything an artist releases. But, just like some artists are better than others, some labels are simply better than others. They release better music, more music, more interesting music, they have great packaging, etc.

For this poll, I gave options of some of the bigger independent labels because, well, they release the kind of stuff you all listen to. The winner was (again) a tie. This time, it was between DFA and Domino, with each getting 28% of the vote. Both labels are pretty awesome, I think. DFA is run by James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) and Tim Goldsworthy and has released a good chunk of the best dance tracks and albums this decade. It has a pretty defined punky-disco aesthetic that I and many other folks enjoy. Domino has less of a defined aesthetic, but it's still a great label. They release a lot of better known indie music, and I think they do a good job. Plus, they did both Merriweather Post Pavilion and Bitte Orca. Talk about a good year.

Sub Pop, Warp, and Arts and Crafts each got 14% of the vote. I like those first two a lot, and the third is good enough. Matador got no votes, which is funny because that's my least favorite of all these, too.

Okay. Now it's time to tell me your favorite song of the decade. I asked you for favorite pop song a while back, but now it's just your favorite song period that was released somewhere from 2000 to 2009. (Remember to comment if you click "other".)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Overlooked Artists #1

There's plenty of hype to go around, but, still, some great bands get overlooked. In "Overlooked Artists," I'll write a bit about artists and bands that don't seem to get the attention they deserve. They may have a cult following or something. Some may have been one-hit wonders and then were cast aside. Regardless, none of these artists get much attention from music publications--I'm talkin' anything from Rolling Stone to Pitchfork to whatever--or the general public. And they all should. Because they're awesome.

Modern English
Known for their awesome 1982 hit, "I Melt With You", and not much else, Modern English actually started as a great experimental post-punk band. They were one of 4AD's flagship artists at the beginning of the '80s, and their debut album, Mesh & Lace, is a crazy and experimental record. It sounds more like Joy Division than New Order, to put it simply. But it drones and breaks down into noise far more than any Joy Division record. The songs are long and disjointed, but in a good way. Ambience might turn into percussive post-punk which may turn into a catchy, bass-driven pop song which might turn back into harsh noise. Though their post-punk roots can certainly be heard in "I Melt With You," it's nothing like the stuff on Mesh & Lace. Modern English was a great band who had not only a great hit, but also made some original post-punk. But they're only known now for the hit.

Dexy's Midnight Runners
Like Modern English, Dexy's Midnight Runners are one-hit wonders. Like Modern English, their one hit ("Come On Eileen") is one of the better pop songs of the '80s. Like Modern English, their other music is very good, too. That's about it as far as similarities go. (Well, they're both British.) Anyways, Dexy's Midnight Runners got huge for their Celtic-y folk-y "Come On Eileen", but they had been putting out consistently great soul/ska/mod rock for a few years before that. Their album, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, especially, is a really great punky soul album. Horn-filled, jaunty soul blares beneath Kevin Rowland's snotty British singing. It's blue-eyed soul the way it should be. Aggressive and sarcastic, but completely devoted to making real soul music. Dexy's music is fun and exuberant, and it's unfortunate that they are known for just one song--and a song that's not really indicative of their style.

That's what I think. If you don't already like these people, I recommend that you do.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Q's Best Albums of 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Anyways, I stumbled upon this list from Q Magazine. It recounts their favorite albums of 2009. The list is a little silly in two ways: first, there is over a month left in 2009, and second, many of the albums on the list are quite bad. I haven't minded Q too much when I've read it, but this list is certainly questionable. Arctic Monkeys, Muse, and Kasabian are in the top 10. But, hey, they're British, and they're proud of it. (The top 10 is below, and the rest is here. I guess this means we'll start seeing a lot of best of '09 lists soon. Mine will come around the last week of December probably.)

10. Phoenix--Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I'm not a fan, but it could be worse.
9. U2--No Line On The Horizon
I don't like U2 regardless, but even people who love them didn't like this album.
8. Lily Allen--It's Not Me, It's You
It's not Alright, Still, it's bad.
7. Muse--The Resistance
Hmm. Interesting.
6. Arctic Monkeys--Humbug
Again: interesting.
5. Manic Street Preachers--Journal For Plague Lovers
I haven't heard it. Seems decent enough.
4. Animal Collective--Merriweather Post Pavilion
This feels oddly out of place. Nonetheless, it's a great album.
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--It's Blitz!
It's okay. Nothing special.
2. Florence And The Machine--Lungs
Never heard of this.
1. Kasabian--West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Go enjoy your turkey.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teenage Dreams, So Hard To Beat

Since I'm feeling full of teenage angst right now (and by "full", I mean like "10% full"), I thought it'd be nice to look at the best songs about being a teenager--namely songs with the words "teen" or "teenage" or "teenager" in the title. So here are my favorite songs about adolescence. (Choosing between the top 3 was next to impossible, by the way.) (And I recommend watching the videos. Some of them are very cool.)

9. DNA--Young Teenagers Talk Sex (no video)

I also feel it's necessary to mention the artists listed below, because they are all quite excellent at voicing the feelings that come with being a teenager, but they didn't have a song on the songs list.

The Modern Lovers
Weezer (first two albums, obviously)
Violent Femmes
The Replacements

That's what I think. This was a very emo post. Don't worry: I don't actually feel like most of these artists. I'm quite stable.

Poll Results: Your Favorite Artists Of The Decade

Picking a favorite artist of the decade is probably a little easier than picking a favorite album or a favorite song, but it's a daunting task nonetheless. What makes one artist or band better than another? Influence? Output? Consistency? I don't really know. Every album My Bloody Valentine released is amazing. That said, they only released two albums. Meanwhile, Sonic Youth has put out a ton of albums, and nearly every one is great. That said, several of them are not quite up to My Bloody Valentine standards. Both bands, meanwhile, are very influential. So who is the better band? Don't make me choose.

Anyways, for this poll, the options I gave were bands that have done a lot of work this decade and are very well liked by the kind of people that would be interested in this sort of thing. First place ended up being a (unsurprising) tie between Radiohead and Animal Collective. Both groups have put out at least four albums this decade, and basically every album by both groups is considered to be at least quite good, if not great. I like both bands, so I'm not going to argue much. (Though I certainly prefer Animal Collective.) There was a two-way tie for second place as well. This was between LCD Soundsystem and The Books. Once again, these are both groups that put out multiple very good albums this decade. (Wilco and Outkast both failed to get any votes.)

For the next poll, I'm going to ask you about your favorite record labels of the decade. I realize that a lot of people don't pay too much attention to labels, but, when it comes down to it, some labels are better than others. They release better music, they release more music, they release cool compilations, they do all around cool things, etc. So vote!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NME's Best Albums Of The Decade

Here's another decade list. This time around, it's from British music magazine NME, which stands for New Music Express. Or Exchange. Or something. I don't know, and I don't want to look it up. Anyhow, they recently published their list of their 100 favorite albums of the decade. NME is a big deal in England, and it's been around for a long time. While they certainly suffer a little from British magazine taste (Muse, Kings Of Leon, too much Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, etc.) at times, they make some nice selections. There's deserved love for Dizzee Rascal and Mclusky, among others. And, like most others, they neglect most 2009 releases. Overall, it's a decent list: it's slightly more in tune with my opinions than I would've thought, but I certainly have many qualms. (Top 20 are posted below, and the whole thing is here.)

20. Blur--Think Tank
Britons like Blur more than I do.
19. The White Stripes--White Blood Cells
This one's top 10 material.
18. The White Stripes--Elephant
Interesting juxtaposition, but White Blood Cells is way better.
17. Sufjan Stevens--Illinois
16. The Streets--A Grand Don't Come For Free
Nice to see appreciation for The Streets, but this might be too much appreciation.
15. Queens Of The Stone Age--Songs For The Deaf
I like them, but this is a little excessive.
14. Radiohead--Kid A
This is a pretty sensible selection.
13. The Shins--Wincing The Night Away
This is a far less sensible selection.
12. LCD Soundsystem--Sound Of Silver
I like it even more than this, but I'll take it.
11. At The Drive In--Relationship Of Command
I really haven't heard too much from them. They seem okay.
10. Radiohead--In Rainbows
A high reward for the band's weakest album this decade.
9. The Streets--Original Pirate Material
Great album--might be a bit high though.
8. Interpol--Turn On The Bright Lights
I'm not as crazy about this one.
7. The Arcade Fire--Funeral
This is sensible enough.
6. PJ Harvey--Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
I haven't heard this album, but I'm not a big fan of hers.
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs--Fever To Tell
4. Arctic Monkeys--Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Double eh.
3. Primal Scream--XTRMNTR
I like this album. But not quite this much.
2. The Libertines--Up The Bracket
To be fair, I haven't really heard this.
1. The Strokes--Is This It
Definitely overrated a bit.

UPDATE: NME stands for New Musical Express.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Poll Results: Your Favorite Albums Of The Decade

This week, I asked you all what your favorite albums of the decade is. (It's November 12, by the way, which means this decade is 98.7% over.) I gave choices that have been topping other end of decade lists and tend to be favorites among the "indie" crowd.

And now, for the winner. According to you, the readers of Il Buono, the decade's best album is, with 37.5% of the vote, Funeral by The Arcade Fire. It's hard to talk bad about Funeral; it had a huge impact on music, and it's just really freakin' good. So good choice to the people who voted.

Radiohead's Kid A, another great album, was runner-up with 25% of the votes. Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and LCD Soundsystem's Sound Of Silver each got 12.5%, and Sufjan Stevens's Illinois and The White Stripes' White Blood Cells finished the poll voteless. Too bad for them. Someone voted for "Other" but failed to comment and say what exactly that "Other" was, so I'll assume it was something good. Like Moon And Antarctica or something.

This week's poll asks for your favorite artist of the decade. So vote!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Favorite "Black" Bands

Obviously I'm referring to bands that have the word "black" in their names, not bands comprising of black people. Anyways, the color black is cool. Let's face it, there is no color cooler than black. Rock stars don't wear green leather jackets. They don't sport yellow lens sunglasses. Black is cool, and that's a fact.

So it's no wonder that a lot of bands decide to use the color in their band names. While many other trends in band names have popped up here and there (crystal, wolf, girls, fuck, whale, etc.), "black" has been a part of good band names for decades.

This list celebrates my favorite bands that deem themselves (and actually are) cool enough to use the world's coolest color (or shade--whatever) in their name. Sit back, and enjoy these really cool people.

1. Black Sabbath
2. Big Black
3. Black Francis/Frank Black
4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
5. Black Dice
6. Black Flag
7. Black Devil Disco Club
8. Black Nasty
9. Brightblack Morning Light
10. The Black Lips
11. Black Uhuru
12. Black Keys
13. Black Sheep
14. Black Star
15. Black Leotard Front

That's what I think. I'll try to do a list for "magenta", but it might be tougher.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poll Results: List Order. Also: New Polls

Okay, so this last poll was just investigating something that was bothering me. Turns out, 75% of you think I should keep ordering my lists the way I do. So I'm going to do just that.

Now, down to the reason I'm here: the end of the decade is dangerously close, and the end of the year ain't too far either. I've already asked you your favorite pop songs of this decade ("Hey Ya!" and "Ignition"), and now I'll be surveying you all on your favorite songs (not just pop), albums, artists, and record labels of the decade. I'll also ask for your favorite songs and albums of just 2009 later on. So get ready to vote, because Il Buono's end-of-decade/end-of-year madness has officially started, and it starts with you! Woo hoo!

Okay. Calm down. Every week, I'll have a new poll that asks about your favorites. Obviously, I'm not going to be able to give enough choices to satisfy everyone. So you're gonna have to use the "Other" option if you don't see a bubble for your favorite song, album, etc. If you check "Other," make sure you leave your response in the comments section of the previous Poll Results. I'm not sure if you all are as excited as I am for these lists, but I have a feeling some of you are. Let your voice be heard!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Paste's Best Albums of The Decade

I don't really read Paste, but I saw this list, so I had to post it. Paste seemingly covers a traditional array of indie music, with an emphasis on rock. They like their Americana and their buzz bands, and they have solid but uninteresting taste. There aren't any nice surprises, but there are some not nice surprises. Needless to say, this is an inoffensive yet unfulfilling list. Only three of the top twenty have a chance at making my personal top 20. The entire list is here, and the top 20 (with my criticism) is below. (To be fair, though, I haven't heard several of the albums. But they seem bad.)

20. The National--Boxer
Boring. Sorry, but it is.
19. Beck--Sea Change
Decent album, but by no means great.
18. Amy Winehouse--Back To Black
A boring and derivative soul album.
17. Kanye West--The College Dropout
His best effort, but it's still not that great or original.
16. Rufus Wainwright--Want One
I've never heard this album, but I'm not crazy about Rufus.
15. Patty Griffin--1000 Kisses
I know nothing about Patty Griffin, but still...
14. The Strokes--Is This It
An obligatory choice, but a great album nonetheless.
13. Josh Ritter--The Animal Years
I've heard only some of his stuff, and I was unimpressed.
12. Spoon--Kill The Moonlight
I just don't get their appeal. They make pretty boring music.
11. The Hold Steady--Boys And Girls In America
Same deal as Spoon: I just don't like them or their unoriginal music.
10. M.I.A.--Arular
Curious choice over Kala and a little high in the rankings in general. But still good.
9. The Avett Brothers--I And Love And You
I don't know them, but I think it's time to lay off the alt-country.
8. Outkast--Stankonia
Finally: a great album on this list. This should be even higher though.
7. Gillian Welch--Time
See explanation of #9. (But replace "them" with "her".)
6. The White Stripes--Elephant
A very good album, but I think White Blood Cells belongs here.
5. Bright Eyes--I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Bright Eyes are decent and nothing more.
4. Radiohead--Kid A
A necessary inclusion, but still slightly overrated.
3. The Arcade Fire--Funeral
See #4.
2. Wilco--Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
I'll say it again: I just don't like Wilco.
1. Sufjan Stevens--Illinois
I like this album. It's good. It's nice to listen to. But it's probably not even in my top 100.

That's what they think. I like the love for Chicago: Illinois and Wilco make up the top two.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Favorites From The First Part of The 20th Century

I don't have a ton of music from before the 1960s, which means I can't really make a "Best Albums of The '50s list" or something like that. But I do indeed love a lot of music that was recorded before 1960, so I thought I'd give you all a list of my favorite songs and albums (not in order) from that time period. This music stays mainly in the realms of rock n' roll, blues, and jazz, but I threw in some classical/experimental pieces that I like to keep it interesting. So this is basically my definitive guide to music I like from a long time ago. Enjoy.

Ornette Coleman--The Shape of Jazz To Come
Miles Davis--Kind of Blue
Cannonball Adderly--Somethin' Else
The Quintet--Jazz At Massey Hall
Charles Mingus--Mingus Ah Um
Howlin' Wolf--Moanin' In The Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf--Howlin' Wolf
Mississippi John Hurt--Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings
Blind Willie Johnson--Dark Was The Night
Tom Lehrer--An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer
Harry Belafonte--Calypso
Frank Sinatra--Songs For Swingin' Lovers
Original Cast--West Side Story
Buddy Holly--Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly & The Crickets--The "Chirping" Crickets

Songs (Limit 3 Per Artist)
Miles Davis--So What
Charles Mingus--Better Git It In Your Soul
Jimmy Smith--The Sermon
Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seve--Potato Head Blues
Duke Ellington--I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues
Duke Ellington--Take The A-Train
Scott Joplin--The Entertainer
Fats Waller--Ain't Misbehavin'

Julia Lee--Mama Don't Allow It
Mississippi John Hurt--Frankie
Mississippi John Hurt--Stackolee
Mississippi John Hurt--Nobody's Dirty Business
Blind Boy Fuller--Rag Mama Rag
Blind Roosevelt Graves--Crazy About My Baby
Jim Jackson--Kansas City Blues
Big Joe Williams--Baby Please Don't Go

Lost John Hunter & His Blind Boys--Cool Down Mama
Odetta--God's Gonna Cut You Down
Bessie Smith--Me And My Gin
Leadbelly--Goodnight Irene
Leadbelly--Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
Blind Willie Johnson--Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
Blind Willie Johnson--Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed
Big Bill Broonzy--When The Sun Goes Down

Howlin' Wolf--Smokestack Lightnin'
Howlin' Wolf--How Many More Years
Howlin' Wolf--Spoonful
Rosco Gordon--I'm Gonna Shake It
Muddy Waters--I'm A Man
Muddy Waters--I Can't Be Satisfied
Robert Johnson--I Believe I'll Dust My Broom
Robert Johnson--They're Red Hot
Robert Johnson--32-20 Blues

Big Mama Thornton--Hound Dog
Bo Diddley--Bo Diddley
Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats--Rocket 88
Barrett Strong--Money (That's What I Want)
The Coasters--Yakety Yak
Little Richard--Tutti Frutti
Little Richard--Good Golly Miss Molly
Little Richard--Keep A Knockin'
Screamin' Jay Hawkins--I Put A Spell On You

Chuck Berry--Johnny B. Goode
Chuck Berry--Roll Over Beethoven
Chuck Berry--Maybellene
Ray Charles--What I'd Say
Ray Charles--Mess Around
Elvis Presley--Jailhouse Rock
Elvis Presley--Hound Dog
Elvis Presley--Don't Be Cruel

Carl Perkins--Blue Suede Shoes
Eddie Cochran--Summertime Blues
Buddy Holly--Peggy Sue
Buddy Holly--That'll Be The Day
Buddy Holly--Everyday
The Wailers--Dirty Robber
Hank Williams--I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
Hank Williams--Lovesick Blues

The Carter Family--Wildwood Flower
Jonny Cash--I Walk The Line
Al Dexter & His Troopers--Pistol Packin' Mama
Tom Lehrer--Poisoning Pigeons In The Park
Tom Lehrer--The Elements
Harry Belafonte--Day-O
Josephine Baker--What Can I Say Dear After I Say I'm Sorry
Frank Sinatra--You Make Me Feel So Young

Cab Calloway--Minnie The Moocher
Cab Calloway--Everybody Eats When They Come To My House
Karlheinz Stockhausen--Gesang Der Junglinge
Karlheinz Stockhausen--Kontakte
Olivier Messiaen--Oraison
John Cage--4'33"
John Cage--Williams Mix
Vladimir Ussachevsky--Wireless Fantasy

That's what I think. I need more stuff from these eras though.