1. "Wolfgang's 5th Symphony" - Wolfgang Gartner
Quite frankly, I can't recall where I first heard this, but I know it was at some point earlier this week. It's been on repeat often ever since. Taking house music, a genre I've been getting into more and more over the past few months, and fusing it with orchestration? Recipe for success in my eyes.
2. "Civilian" - Wye Oak
I first heard this duo when they opened for the Decemberists at the Beacon in New York. I can remember enjoying the set but also hoping that they would finish up so that my all-time favorite band could take the stage. I recently went back to Wye Oak and realized that, in my impatience, I wasn't appreciating what has to be one of the best records of 2011 thus far. "Civilian," in particular, is intense with soaring vocals and growing clatter of instrumentation that ends in a climax of a guitar solo. Oh, and did I mention that the drummer also plays keyboards -- and often both at the same time while live? Check them out, on record or otherwise. You won't be sorry.
3. "Summer Fires" - The Wilderness of Manitoba
Not since Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More has a debut album floored me as TWoM's When You Left the Fire has. I use "Summer Fires" as my means of showing them off here, but there's so many songs on the record that are more-than-worthy -- and if you're Facebook friends with me, you've probably seen me post "November" to my wall at least three times in the last two months. I have no doubt in my mind that one day these guys will break out in a big way, and I'm glad to have caught the wave before the general public does. One of my must-listens for the year. No way around it.
4. "For No One" - The Farewell Drifters
This Nashville band has been featured as part of Paste Magazine's "Best of What's Next," and with good reason. Check out this tune in particular -- a cover of The Beatles' classic "For No One." The "harmonic roots" act puts a definite Nashville twist on the song, with good results abundant. As with No. 3, I expect these guys to break out big one day. It's only a matter of time.
5. "Before the Beginning" - John Frusciante
I was telling ACRN writer/savior Christ Dubstep last night that in this nine-minute opus, the term "wailing" to describe the sound of a guitar has never sounded more applicable. Does it sound a bit like Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain"? Sure, maybe. It's been said that this track is a tribute to its predecessor -- and if so, I'd say it's a very fitting tribute. I hate that he's no longer in the Chili Peppers, but if Frusciante keeps making music like this, I can't say I mind too much.
6. "Light Up the Night" - The Protomen
The Protomen are a rock band from Tennessee that compose entire concept albums based around Mega Man. No, seriously. They played in Columbus last night, and had:
1) I not already purchased a ticket to the Decemberists and
2) it not been at an anime convention and therefore would have cost me admission/registration at the event, I would have totally gone.
7. The Room
8. "Red Lake Shore" - Southeast Engine
If you haven't listened to Southeast Engine's new record Canary yet, there's something wrong with you. As perfect a slice of Appalachia as you can get.
9. "Douglas Douglass" - Pearl and the Beard
This video does a few things for me. First, it reminds me of when these three talented musicians came through Athens last November, putting on one of the best shows I've seen in this town. Second, it reminds me of the time I spent in New York last winter -- and what's more, the spot at which this was recorded was a mere five blocks from where I happened to work each day. Third? Well, "Douglas Douglass" happens to be my favorite song from PatB's new record Killing the Darlings, which came out earlier this month.
10. "Yonkers" - Tyler, the Creator
Am I being very original with this pick? Not at all. Do I care? Same answer.
--Kevin Rutherford, Editorial Director