Mikey Shanley – GAga Night

Miami resident, beach bum, DJ, and all around good guy Mikey Shanley is at it again with his new EP, GAga Night. It’s been strange to see Shanley go from eyeliner-ed emo rocker to happy hardcore to house and everything in between, but house music seems to be where Shanley finds home. Maybe it’s the Miami nights, the clubs, the sand and the heat that makes beats like this. They’re rough, they’re rich, they’re sexy, and goddamn are they dance-able. From the press release:

“It’s 80 degrees in Miami Beach right now, and while most would kill for a South Florida beach in late November Mikey, just across the street from the sandy salvation, is in his recording studio putting the finishing touches on his EP entitled “Gaga Night”; which will be available for free via mikeyshanley.com in late December. Mikey’s EP has a funky futuristic house sound with a banging techno groove and psy-trance, electro bass lines. This EP is packed with enough glow stick power and thumping warehouse beats to keep party people going as the sun comes up.”

That is absolutely correct. While this EP is definitely made for DJs by a DJ, it’s shockingly listener-friendly. When you find an album with such technical prowess, you also find all those long, naked gaps. I know, they’re for mixing, but I don’t wanna hear the same beat 64 times. Shanley finds that happy medium, and it carries throughout the entire five track EP.

While every track on this album is fantastic, “GAga Night” and “My Soul” are the gems. They ARE house music. From electro to deep soul, this album has a little bit of something for every house head. Filled with luxuriously rich beats…it’s like taking a hot bath in house music.  Buildups are spectacular, drops are well placed, this album is…awesome. It’s just awesome, dammit. So get check it out at Mikey Shanley’s MySpace, streaming for free RIGHT NOW! A!


Top (and Bottom) Five Albums of 2009

Okay, so I know I’m jumping the gun a little here, but honestly, the rest of 2009 isn’t looking all that promising, folks.

So here they are, my top five favorite albums of 2009:

5. Mike DoughtySad Man Happy Man
This album has grown on me so much more since the first listen and I think that “Lorna Zauberberg” just might be my favorite Mike Doughty song, ever. Seeing him live promoting this album I’m sure has something to do with the way I feel about it now. Mike Doughty, guitar, small club, little to no security…I’m surprised I didn’t get myself in trouble. (BTW, this guy cracks me right the fuck up, enjoy!)

Mike Doughty’s “Pleasure On Credit” as done by a crazy internet guy!

4. Lily AllenIt’s Not Me, It’s You
That’s so not true Lily, this year’s been all about you. The gap-toothed Brit certainly made a years worth of singles on this album. After the past few years, she deserves to have a good one. It’s such a shame that as of right now, Allen has “no plans” on releasing another album and will be taking the next two years to start her own record label. I’ll miss you Lily, come back soon!

Lily Allen – “Fuck You”

3. The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love
Current TV‘s Embedded totally did a special on these guys and the hazards of turning this album into a live show (tee-hee, bad joke, I know). I’ll tell you what…I think that made me love this album even more. It’s just so damn good and I really think that I am going to have to see it live. Shara Worden makes me weak in the lady parts. Damn. (Check this out at about four minutes in…)

The Decemberists – “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Reprise” Live

2. Pet Shop BoysYes
Such a fantastic album! Twenty five years of making music and they’ve still got it. I am still convinced that they are the only band who could ever even attempt to sample Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”. This whole album is so damn good. We also bought our hard copy of it in Miami, so this will now forever be an incredibly happy album for me.

Pet Shop Boys – “All Over the World”

1. PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This album was the most revolutionary album of the year, hands down. The French quartet is still storming the airwaves with this album and has actually been nominated for their first Grammy (Best Alternative Music Album). I really hope they win, they deserve it. The best part about Phoenix this year is when people I know discover them and tell me that I “HAVE TO HEAR” this AMAZING new band Phoenix. They have really rocked my world this year. Check ’em out.

Phoenix – “Lizstomania”

You know, that was actually a whole lot harder than I thought. Some honorable mentions are Flyleaf’s Memento Mori and David Guetta’s One Love.

Now for the fun part…

The WORST five albums of 2009:

5. Depeche ModeSounds of the Universe
You figure after being around for approximately 1, 010 years, Depeche Mode would either a.) have this musical situation down pat or b.) have made everything good that they will ever make and have run out of ideas. Looks like they went with Plan B. If you have run out of anything good to contribute to the music industry, WHY KEEP MAKING MUSIC!? This is my open letter, begging Depeche Mode to please stop making music.

4. 311Uplifter
God, this is such a terrible album. And as far as I know, I’m not the only one who appears to feel this way. I mean, have you heard ANYTHING out of this album this year? Did they even have a single? This album was simply shameful and I can’t believe they even released it. I swear, now that I listen to this album again, it’s even worse that I thought it was.

311 – “I Like the Way”

3. Dashboard ConfessionalAlter the Ending
Oh Dashboard, how I used to love you and how you’ve failed me. This album is wretched. And you know what’s even worse? That I’m their Myspace friend and get to see all their ridiculous updates and all the gushy heart-filled replies of 13 year old girls who love Chris Carraba. This album is a wicked disappointment.

Dashboard Confessional – “No News Is Bad News”

2. WeezerRaditude
Oh Weezer. How I wanted to love this album. I wanted to love Rivers again. I wanted to love thick glasses and argyle. This album has let me know that unless something drastically changes, I think my relationship with Weezer is over. Yes, Weezer, I am breaking up with you. We had some great times, unraveling sweaters and hanging out in the garage. Oh, those were the times. Good bye, Weezer. Also, this Snuggie situation? It’s gotta go.

1. Butch WalkerSycamore Meadows
So, technically, this album was released in 2008, but it sucked so hard it kept on sucking right through 2009, plus, I didn’t review it until this year. Also, bringing him up to first place is the fact that he produced TWO of the other four albums on this worst of portion. Oh Butch…not only are you ruining your own albums, now you’re ruining the entire future of music by churning out this garbage. This mass produced crap is getting out of control and Walker is certainly not making the situation any better.

Honorable mentions for the worst album of the year include Marilyn Manson’s The High End of Low and Ben Lee’s The Rebirth of Venus.

Well, that’s it for the year in review folks. What was YOUR favorite album this year?

Tori Amos – Midwinter Graces

Holy shit, Tori remembered that she can play the harpsichord. Who ever would have thought that Amos’ best album in years would be her recently released holiday album, Midwinter Graces? (I decline to say Christmas for Tori’s sake, all those years of unraveling Christianity shouldn’t be wasted.)

This album is really downright gorgeous. At first listen, I have to say that I was skeptical, with the over-production and Auto Tune catastrophes of her last few albums, but really, it’s quite good. I mean, for the mass media. I personally kind of enjoyed Abnormally Attracted to Sin. This might be because I’m abnormally attracted to Tori Amos.

While not Christian per se…there’s nothing that could be misconstrued as offensive, either. When an already established artist releases a holiday album, it can go either way…will they keep the integrity of their music through the holidays or will they come off sounding alien and evangelistic? Tori certainly keeps her integrity. This album focuses more on the changing of the seasons and holiday spirit rather than religious or historical events.

While it does borrow from some traditional carols, Amos takes them in stride and often mixes them together for a better effect as seen in tracks like the opening, “What Child, Nowell”, a mash up of the Christmas classics “What Child Is This?” and “The First Noel”. It’s the comfort of the known, but at the same time, something completely different. At the same time, there’s tracks like “Pink and Glitter”, a swing-y, big band number with just a touch of holiday cheer.

“Winter’s Carol” is the true gem of this album. A Tori original, the opening piano reminds me of seeing her live and all the things that woman can do to a piano. Dear god, the things that woman can do to a piano. Tori sounds more like Tori than she has in years…incredibly powerful vocals, impeccable piano, and deliciously poetic lyrics are just…Tori. That’s just kinda what she does.

This album greatly reduces the amount of shameful guilt instilled by the majority of Christmas albums. It’s full of light and joy and family. Amos even brought in her own daughter, Natasha, and her niece Kelsey, but only for short moments. Instead of feeling like it’s just another parent parading their kid around in a Santa hat for the world to see, it’s really pretty cute.

The only real let down on this album is “Harps of Gold”, a clunky, over-produced track that I’m pretty sure was meant for the holiday season on adult lite-rock radio. Other than that, this is an utterly unexpected and delightful holiday album. This album has put her in the ranks of Over the Rhine and Lorena KcKennitt as far as magical holiday albums go. A!

Tori Amos’ Site

Calling all Christopher Moore fans!

This just in!

A COLORING CONTEST!? Christopher Moore!?

Straight from the author of the newly released Sex Dungeon for Sale!:

Patrick Wensink recently decided there’s only one way to celebrate the release of his book, “Sex Dungeon for Sale!”. And that is by holding a coloring contest.

He had a series of illustrations created based on some of the book’s stories, including a Kindergartener who thinks he’s French, a puddle of ketchup shaped like Elvis and something called, “Chicken Soup for the Kidnapper’s Soul.”

While the coloring contest sounded like fun, Wensink added a little excitement by offering an autographed stack of his favorite books from 2009 to the winner.

Fool– By Christopher Moore

AM/PM – By Amelia Gray

Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman

Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen

The contest ends December 14.

For all the details visit www.patrickwensink.com/

For serious! Get the hell on that, people! Christopher Moore, autographed free stuff, coloring, supporting a new writer.

You can get all the fantastic details at his website under the “Randomness” category. Also, check out his new book, available on Amazon now!

Christmas, Jools Holland, Iris Murdoch, and other unrelated things…

Happy belated Turkey Day everyone!

This may be the most discombobulated post ever.
It’s been CRAZY busy around here, with the holidays in full swing and all. I swear, the older I get, the more I hate Christmas. Can’t a girl just let out some inner Grinch!? Damn!

Anyway…Jools Holland owns my life. Seriously. This is a recent discovery and so far I’ve seen approximately one bajillion bands who I already love and discovered a few new ones as well. Just in the few episodes watched, I’ve seen Thom Yorke groove right the fuck out to Mary J. Blige, decided that Jamiroquai is now a dirty old man, and discovered that Cat Power is indeed better live than she is on recordings. Her cover of “New York New York” is fucking amazing.

Last night, after Jools (with JAMIROQUAI!), Ovation played Iris, the film portrayal of Iris Murdoch’s life, her writing, her battle with Alzheimer’s, and ultimately, her death. It’s a fantastic movie. And it has Judy Dench in it, who I love.

Check it out sometime.

Random thought of the day: Why are there so many songs about sweaters? Cake, the infamous Weezer, every goddamn Jack’s Mannequin song…? I love sweaters and all, but are they really that musically inspiring? Perhaps it’s the dramas of winter and what they represent. What makes you so important, sweater!?

Riding public transportation will do things like this to you.

Well, stay tuned folks. In the next few weeks there will be a review of Tori Amos‘ Midwinter’s Graces as well as an interview with Mikey Shanley, beach bum, DJ, and very good friend.