Holy shit, why is there not more of this out there? Prepare your groove pants for the greatness of Ann Arbor's Mayer Hawthorne, a sometimes blues-y, sometimes funky, but always soulful album that probably belongs more fittingly in 1966 rather than 2009. Very few records get me as excited as this one did, or as disappointed that there are only been 2 songs released.
Putting aside the absolute obtuseness of releasing an album in some countries and not others, leaving me listening to Malajube's new record, Labyrinthes, without buying it, I'll have to forge ahead considering just how good it actually is.
"Leave it to the French, or at least, French-Canadians to put a
much-needed, thought-provoking twist on rock 'n roll. While the
underground music world continues to stretch in infinite directions,
Malajube helps to recenter the trends with an inventive mix of soaring
'90s alternative rock sounds and ultra-modern effects. Labyrinthes is a clear gem in 2009's rock bag."
And check out this fantastic, Clue-like video for Porte Disaru:
"The record has some ethnomusicological underpinnings: While writing it, Klausener researched Honduran indigenous music, which has connections to the West African roots of many of its practicioners, but stopped short of replicating it outright, preferring to learn from its rhythmic pecularities and translate them to his own folk-collective worldview. "Crooked Legs" is easily the best example of the band's strengths; a melodic hodgepodge of brass, rumbling drums, intricately plucked guitars, and Klausener's plangent vocal melody do more than their parts to propel a charming, inspirational lyric."
Rather than featuring a band, we'll take a step back and just pick our favorites from the fantastic Music Blog Zeitgeist 2008 from Hype Machine. You'll find the top 50 artists, albums and songs as posted by the music bloggers they track.
Benji Hughes is clearly one weird dude. I'm not sure what exactly the North Carlina songwriter is on, but give me two of whatever he's having. The guy looks like he's straight out of the 70's rock and roll scene, with songs that have this crazy, but fitting mix of folk and lounge music, good old hip hop, and randomness. The whole thing is very odd, and very appealing. A great party record.
He looks like an Allman brother, sings like Beck and suffers the dating travails of George Costanza. But on his sprawling double-CD debut, Benji Hughes is unmistakably — and always hilariously — his own man. The North Carolina-and-Tennessee-reared artist specializes in laugh-out-loud vignettes about hipster culture, with catchy, eccentrically arranged songs that straddle folk, lounge, electro, synth rock and a half-dozen other styles.
For any fans of Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver, prepare for your pants to go crazy for Seattle's J. Tillman (also known as Josh). Although this is his 5th studio release, it's his first since becoming the drummer for the Fleet Foxes. Most of his earlier work, including the video below, is about as minimalist as they come, but with Vacilando Territory Blues, he's adding additional elements while keeping the original folksy style.
"It is heavily apparent that Tillman is going to find widespread success eventually, and it looks to be quite soon too with the upcoming release of Vacilando Territory Blues on January 20th. Coinciding with how his albums seem to get better with each passing one, Tillman’s newest effort proves to be his most consistent to date. While other January releases from the likes of Animal Collective, Franz Ferdinand, and Andrew Bird may be receiving the most attention at this point and time, it would be a shame to overlook this gem. I will say this much: If it were being released this year, I would have to shuffle around some albums to make room for it on my Top 50."