Top 5 albums of the year (thus far)

It’s that time of again, kiddies!

Time for all sorts of “best of” lists to start popping up all over the place. You know, the ones that wrap up the year and give you a chance to check out some truly spectacular tunes, films, etc. that you may have missed out on.

With that, I give you the countdown of 2010’s top five albums (thus far).

5. Maroon 5’s “Hands All Over,” released on Sept. 21, 2010

Don’t even try and tell me that Maroon 5 isn’t cool anymore. Have you heard their new album? I can honestly say I was completely sick of Adam Levine and company after hearing “She Will Be Loved” every second of every day of my life for approximately five years, but this album is seriously magic. If you haven’t yet, check out the saucy video for their first single, “Misery.” However, if you’re only going to take the time to listen to three tracks, please let them be “Stutter,” “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” and “Just a Feeling.” This album is so good that after talking about it, I’m going to have to stop writing this list and go listen to this bad boy in its entirety before I continue…

4. Robyn’s “Body Talk, Pt. 2,” released on Sept. 7, 2010

If you’re unfamiliar with Swedish pop singer Robyn, you need to change that. She has released three, count ’em, three, albums in 2010. Her “Body Talk” trilogy is awesome, but part deux is by far the best. Check out my review of “Body Talk Pt. 2” on Spartanedge and if nothing else, be sure to watch the video below. Robyn is like an electro-pop explosion of talent, a.k.a. Sweden’s version of Lady Gaga. Kind of.

3. She & Him’s “Volume Two,” released on March 23, 2010

Zooey Deschanel (she) and M. Ward (him) are easily one of the most talented male-female duos in music today. Put their record on, close your eyes and you could easily find yourself being transported back to the 1960s. Their sound is heavily influenced by an old fashioned, sun-kissed sound, yet this album is a brand of folk unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. Deschanel is able to maintain her sunny disposition even on songs like “I’m Gonna Make It Better” and “Gonna Get Along Without You Now.” The highlight of the album is definitely their cover of NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car.” Don’t even get me started on how good it sounds on vinyl…

2. Wakey!Wakey!’s “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You,” released on Feb. 2, 2010

In terms of pure musical ability, Mike Grubbs is one of the best I’ve ever heard. He can play the piano like no other, and on his band’s debut full-length album, he does not disappoint. Each song goes seamlessly from one to the next, and the only problem with this album is that it ends. “Dance So Good” is the album’s best track, and songs like “Light Outside,” “Car Crash” and “Feral Love” all top contenders as well. This Brooklyn band isn’t very well known, so be sure to tell your friends and spread the word. Also, don’t forget to check out my interview with Grubbs via Spartanedge.

1. Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More,” released on Feb. 16, 2010

This English folk-rock band has just about the most unique sound I’ve heard in a while. Electric banjo, anyone? Chances are if you’ve heard any of their stuff, you’ve heard “Little Lion Man.” However, if that’s their only song you are familiar with, I pity you. Seriously, stop reading this, go to amazon.com and buy the album. Immediately. Beginning to end, “Sigh No More” is nothing but deliciously heartfelt music backed with actual talent, something that is rare to come by in the “music” industry these days. “The Cave,” “White Blank Page” and “Winter Winds” are the best of the bunch, but this is one of few albums that I can listen to all the way through and not skip a single song.

Honorable mention: Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dog’s “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise,” released on Aug. 17, 2010

There’s no way for me to not mention this album. I may be biased because I can sit and listen to Ray LaMontagne for hours on end, but this album is pure brilliance. Don’t believe me? On Dec. 1, LaMontagne was nominated for three Grammy’s for this album including Song of the Year for “Beg, Steal or Borrow” and Best Contemporary Folk Album.

There you have it. If you’re not satisfied with my picks, let me know what you think I should have chosen instead!

Wakey!Wakey! unveils new tunes

It’s a good day when your favorite band unexpectedly releases not one, but two new tracks.

Technically, “Dance So Good” has already been released by Wakey!Wakey!, but this is a revamped version of the track, complete with the full band. And it sounds even better than the original, more acoustic number.

“Great Lake Love” might just be my new favorite, though.

However, taking my word for it would be a mistake. Listen to them both below:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Video of the day: “Ambling Alp” by Wakey!Wakey!

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably caught on that Wakey!Wakey! is my favorite band.

Allow me to further educate you on this Brooklyn group at its finest.

The following video is of the band covering Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp.” It features a lot more people than just Mike and his band–it’s a huge jam sesh with friends and in a word, it’s amazing.

Check it out for yourself!

Track 11: A song from your favorite band

Wakey!Wakey! is a band based out of Brooklyn, NY and is pretty much unheard of.

They also happen to be my favorite. Frontman Michael Grubbs can play the piano like no other and has the ability to simultaneously rip my heart out yet make me feel at ease with each and every note. If that even makes sense.

The band’s first official album was released this past February, after putting out a few EPs in previous years. My fan-girl moment of the year happened when I had the pleasure of interviewing Grubbs shortly after it came out.

With that, I give you “Dance So Good.”

**Bonus track! This song is not available on any album or even on YouTube. Download it here and trust me you won’t be sorry. It’s Wakey!Wakey!’s cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and it’s 10 times better than the original.

Video of the Day: “Car Crash” by Wakey!Wakey!

Michael Grubbs must know that it’s almost finals week and I need something to cheer me up, because his band, Wakey!Wakey!, just unveiled another new music video.

“Car Crash” is one of my favorites off of their new album and the video features Grubbs’ “One Tree Hill” co-star James Lafferty.

Watch it here!

Video of the Day: “Feral Love” by Wakey!Wakey!

If you follow this blog regularly, I assume you’re pretty much aware that Brooklyn based band Wakey!Wakey! is one of my favorites.

Frontman Michael Grubbs just debuted this video for “Feral Love” on the band’s official website.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Click here to keep reading and watch another amazing video from Wakey!Wakey!

Interview with Michael Grubbs of Wakey!Wakey!

Wakey!Wakey! frontman Michael Grubbs is a triple treat—singer, songwriter and piano man extraordinaire. After releasing two LPs and a live album last year, the band’s first full-length disc, “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You,” was released on Feb. 2. In addition to the new album, Grubbs can be seen on the CW’s “One Tree Hill” as a bartender named, well, Grubbs. Spartanedge caught up with the Brooklyn based musician during a break in his busy schedule.

Spartanedge: Of the eleven tracks on your new record, which song are you most proud of?

Michael Grubbs: That’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child (laughs). Right now I’m bouncing between “Feral Love,” “The Oh Song” and “Almost Everything.”

SE: What was the recording process like? How long did it take to complete the album?

MG: We did it over about four months, but the biggest chunk was done in the first month, then it was a lot of cleaning and mixing. I recorded it with Chris Cubeta at Galuminum Foil in Bushwick (in Brooklyn, NY). It was really relaxed and there was a lot of room for experimentation.

SE: Your loyalty to New York is obvious. What is your favorite city to play in? Is there a particular show that sticks out in your mind as the best you’ve ever played?

MG: I love New York. One of my favorite nights was the first time I played Nashville, though. It was a tiny club, but it was packed, and I have no idea why because no one knew me at that point. I sat down solo on stage and everyone just tuned in. It was a pretty magical night. We made a ton of friends.

SE: What is your favorite song to play live?

MG: “Almost Everything.” When we do it with the full band, there’s just so much energy. It’s really thrilling.

SE: Who are your major influences?

MG: Early in life I listened to a lot of classical. More modern influences are definitely Brooklyn indies like Grizzly Bear, Beirut and Dirty Projectors. I also love Arcade Fire and Radiohead.

SE: You are an amazing songwriter. Do you write from personal experience?

MG: I think songs start with sparks from my personal life, definitely. Then my brain just kind of goes. Some of them are things that have happened quite literally, but a lot are things that I wish would happen, or really hope don’t.

SE: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

MG: We’ve had so many great nights. Probably the best was the first time we played the Bowery Ballroom. I had the number of the club in my phone for 10 years prior with just the word ‘Someday’ beside it. I’m so dramatic sometimes (laughs).

SE: What is one thing you haven’t done career wise that you would like to do eventually?

MG: Madison Square Garden comes to mind (laughs). But more realistically, I’d like to just be able to tour and support a family from music.

SE: What are some of your passions outside of music?

MG: I love food. I love nothing more than going into a really great restaurant and just unwinding for a few hours with great company.

SE: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?

MG: Radiohead or Arcade Fire. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of watching those guys play every single night.

SE: Any plans to tour in the near future? Come to Michigan, please!

MG: I love touring. Hopefully after SXSW we’re gonna be launching something pretty expansive.

SE: How are you enjoying your role on “One Tree Hill”? Do you think you will try acting again?

MG: I’m so into acting. I really love it. I don’t know how much time music will afford me for it in the next few years, but I would love to do more whenever the time was there.

SE: What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring musicians?

MG: Just be a musician. Touch your instrument at least once a day. And be kind. Every time we go into a sound check, we make a point of being really nice to the crew. Why would anyone be a jerk to anyone? Especially the guy that’s controlling the sound…it’s just stupid. Don’t ever assume that being a musician is a ticket to developing some mystique that means you’re no longer respectful of other humans.

SE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MG: Let’s go Mets.


Wakey!Wakey! unveils “Twenty Two”

My day just got infinitely better.  Why, you ask?

Wakey!Wakey!, an amazingly talented indie band from Brooklyn, has just released the first track off its second album, “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You.”  The LP is to be released on Feb. 2.

According to frontman Mike Grubbs, fans can expect the band’s signature sound, as well as topics that delve a little deeper on songs like “Twenty Two.”

In case you’re in the dark and don’t know who Wakey!Wakey! is, check out Grubbs’ mad piano skills in the following video.  It pretty much speaks for itself.

In addition to “Twenty Two,” the album features 11 more brand spankin’ new songs. Here’s the full track list:

  1. Almost Everything
  2. The Oh Song
  3. Twenty Two
  4. Square Peg Round Hole
  5. Dance So Good
  6. 1876 – The Brooklyn Theatre Fire
  7. Feral Love
  8. Got It Wrong
  9. Light Outside
  10. Car Crash
  11. Take It Like A Man

For now, enjoy “Twenty Two,” and be sure to check back at the end of next week for a review of the entire album!