Top Bootlegs in My Collection, As of January 2010

So Michael and Josh have asked for a list of my top 5-10 bootlegs in my collection via Twitter. Phew.

Click cover art where extant for the download links. If I don’t have a download link, well, I’ll go and see if I can find the CD and dig that up.

Albums I Have Loved in 2009

This wouldn’t be a proper “here’s what I’ve been listening to” without a GeofCast episode, right? 🙂 Listen while you read.

[display_podcast]

Let’s follow last year’s mojo:

  • Date is in the range: 01 Jan 2009 – 25 Dec 2009. Any cutoff point is arbitrary, but this makes sense to me. I’ve been willfully listening to Christmas music lately, so this helps hold the list growth down.
  • Kind does not contain AIFF [to filter out unprocessed bootlegs and demos].
  • Album Rating is greater than three stars.
  • Genre does not contain Concert Bootleg.

This list is unoptimized; it’s actually done in alphabetical order by artist. At the end, I’ll give a best-of list, countdown style. Because I like embracing constraints, I’ll give a one-sentence statement about each album as to why it’s just so darn good. If you’ve ever talked to me for longer than 90 seconds, you know that one sentence is an unreal constraint.

  1. Wilco (The Album), Wilco. There are so many good songs on this album, but I thought I’d start with the opening track—it’s a treatise for the record and, frankly, for Wilco as a band at this point.

    Are you under the impression
    This isn’t your life?
    Do you dabble in depression?
    Is someone twisting a knife in your back?
    Are you being attacked?
    Oh, this is a fact that you need to know

    Oh

    Wilco
    Wilco
    Wilco will love you baby

    As someone who “dabbles in depression”, yeah, I love this track … and this album … and this band.

  2. Andrew Osenga - Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II Letters to the Editor, Vol. I and II, Andrew Osenga. Yes, this is a compilation of tracks that he gave away for free; if you’re cheap, you can get Volume I and Volume II online still. But if you like it, buy the disc and support independent music. I chose “Staring Out a Window (My Confession)” because it just hits home for me.
  3. Stockholm Syndrome, Derek Webb. Okay, you can argue that, as a friend of Derek’s and one of the three guys behind derekwebb.net, I’m predisposed to loving his music. You’re right. But this is a worthy buy for the following reasons: a) it tackles prickly issues of sexuality that most Christians are uncomfortable dealing with b) Fred Phelps gets made fun of c) it’s Derek and Josh Moore doing their best Gnarls Barkley impersonation, without sounding like a cheap knockoff and d) he says “shit” on the record and gets away with it. Sorta. I picked “The Spirit Vs. The Kick Drum” because it’s just a kickin’ little track.
  4. The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists. Many long-time Decemberists fans [of which I cannot claim to be; I’m late to the game] would argue that they feared what being on a major record label would do to their music. But give Capitol all the credit in the world for letting Portland’s finest put out what lesser reviewers would call a concept album, and what I think of as “literature set to music”. The arc of this album is one unbroken story, and it’s just so well-done, with themes repeated and twisted as the album builds on itself. That makes it difficult to pick out one song, but I chose “The Rake’s Song” because that will tell you whether or not you’ll want to listen to the whole thing.
  5. Noble Beast, Andrew Bird. I really thought that Armchair Apocrypha was going to be the apex of AB’s music for me. I didn’t think that he’d make a better record, but to my ears, he did with Noble Beast. Musically, it’s just so strong: songs with movement are just such a rarity in popular music these days that hearing tracks like “Masterswarm” is simply astonishing. It’s impossible for me to pick out a track I love the most, because I love them all, but I picked “Tenuousness” for this GeofCast episode.

If you made it this far, thanks!

GeofCast: Episode #001

Here goes nothin’. The GeofCast is designed to be the music I would play you if you came over to my house. Since my townhouse is small and the Internet is ginormous, I’ve created the GeofCast.

[display_podcast]

My model for this podcast is Steven Garrity’s Acts of Volition Radio, which has introduced me to some cool music. I hope to do the same.

Songlisting [and a bit of why I chose it]:

  1. The first song is “Epistemology” from M. Ward’s latest album, Hold Time. Hold Time isn’t as highly-rated in my world as Matt’s last two albums, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great.
  2. The most infectious song off the new eponymous Wilco album: “I’ll Fight”.
  3. I next chose “The Snow Leopard” from Shearwater’s album Rook. I came across Rook from my friend and fellow Whiskerino J.R. Caines, who is my closest musical neighbor on Last.FM. Rook was one of his top-ten albums of 2008, so I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
  4. My favorite track from Iron & Wine’s recent demo and B-side vehicle, Around the Well, is “Love Vigilantes”. Often, these type of releases end up being so much filler between studio releases, but coming on the heels of The Shepherd’s Dog, this has some great tracks, and “Love Vigilantes” is in the top five songs I’ve heard in 2009.
  5. I next chose “The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid” off of the epic new album from The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love. As it’s just one big sonic work of art, it’s hard to strip one song out from the entire thematic arc of the story, but I have. If you know me, you know I love Shara Worden’s vocals, and she makes an appearnce in this track.
  6. There’s really no good way to follow that up, so I just took a massive left turn. One of the things I’ve come to in the last year are mashups, sonic creative destruction when multiple songs are put together. One of my favorite mashups to cross my ears in 2009 has been Jaydiohead from Minty Fresh Beats. Here’s the mashup titled “Dirt Off Your Android”.
  7. Let’s go from hip-hop to trip-hop. Somehow I missed Portishead in the 1990s, when I was listening to really bad contemporary Christian music and far too much 311 for my own good. A friend was playing this as house music before a concert I was recording, and I whipped out my iPhone to fire up Shazam to find out what I was hearing. It was “Numb” from Portishead’s Dummy, and in case you missed it back then, too, here it is:
  8. Hang on, folks, as I take another musical detour. This one takes us to the fields of Illinois, where songwriter Andrew Bird toils in solitude. His last effort, Armchair Apocrypha, was one of my favorites last year, so I jumped on his latest, Noble Beast, the moment it came out. Noble Beast focuses even more on musicality, providing depth and movement to his songs in an age when most music sounds the same at the end of the song as the beginning. To highlight this, I chose “Masterswarm”.
  9. For this last track, I figured I’d throw my friends a bone and send out a [then-]unreleased track. Yes, I’m going to bend the good will of my friend Derek Webb and play one of the tracks off of his upcoming album, Stockholm Syndrome, that he hasn’t yet leaked to the world. If you like it, please buy the album so the wee bald man doesn’t kick my ass. Most of us will remember the case of the Jena Six, and the female in this song shares that spelling. Keep that in mind as you listen to
    “Jena & Jimmy”

iMix of GeofCast Episode 001

Please leave me comments, including whether you want show notes, links, etc. I have them to provide and will go back and update this post. Mainly now, I want to go to bed.

Update, 1149 Monday: The download option will now work. Myyyyyyy bad.
Update, 2053 Monday: Show notes added.

Geof’s New Music: 24-30 Aug 2008

Last week was very good to my ears:

Geof’s New Music: 6-12 Jul 2008

Last week was abbreviated in an effort to catch up:

  • Sloan’s Parallel Play. Three stars: almost three-and-a-half, but not quite. Fun power-pop, though.
  • Eric Peters - Bookmark Eric Peters’s Bookmark. Two-and-a-half stars: it works as a tide-me-over album, which is what it was intended to be, best as I can tell. A worthy grab for EP fans and completionists.

Geof’s New Music: 18-24 May 2008

Yeah, so uh … no new music last week. I’m in Delivery Mode, which means excess mental energy doesn’t get expended unless necessary. The only new studio release is something I actually don’t have my hands on yet, but will probably get this afternoon as I head to the office to work [told you it was busy]:

Two weeks ago turned out pretty well:

Geof’s New Music: 4-10 May 2008

Last week:

  • The Weepies - Hideaway The Weepies’ Hideaway. This one did not grab me the way that Say I Am You did, but I’ve also not given it car/road trip time. I will be correcting that this weekend. Three-and-a-half stars, and I expect that’ll rise.
  • Carole King’s Tapestry (Legacy Edition). This was a bit of an impulse buy, although it was well-regarded in last month’s Paste. Very much worth my money. Four stars.
  • 18 Feb 1997 [Ottawa, ON, Canada] concert bootleg of Wilco. It’s hard to believe that this was recorded onto tape, at least for me. It sounds quite good! Three-and-a-half stars.
  • 26 Aug 2005 [Lexington, KY, USA] concert bootleg of Over the Rhine. Oh my holy heck. This is a fine, fine, fine recording. If you like Ohio and Drunkard’s Prayer, GRAB IT. Four-and-a-half stars.
  • Cover art for a bootleg of their 15 Mar 2008 concert in Austin, Texas. 15 Mar 2008 [Austin, TX, USA] concert bootleg of M. Ward and Jim James. Sadly, during Matt’s solo stuff, the recording is very distant sounding, which is surprising for Church Audio cardioids; must’ve been a hard room to record. I give it three stars.
  • Derek Webb - 20080404 cover 4 Apr 2008 [Dyersburg, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Derek Webb. I’m happy with how this one came out; I’m giving it four stars only because the songs off of The Ringing Bell really deserve to have a band behind them. I understand why that didn’t happen on this tour, but man … if Derek had been able to have Todd, Garett, Jeff, Josh, and Andrew backing him on these songs … that would have been awesome. Anyhow, some folks would probably like more of the SBD in this mix, but I’m a fan of how a recording actually sounds in a room. For those people, I’ve seeded the SBD and AUD recordings in their uncut forms on IndieRiver; they can do with it what they like.
  • Caedmon's Call - 20080404 4 Apr 2008 [Dyersburg, TN, USA] concert bootleg of Caedmon’s Call. The longer I think about this, the more I think about re-mastering it. It just could be better. That said, it’s decent. Three-and-a-half stars, mainly because of Andy O’s two killer guitar solos. That kid really can shred.

Geof’s New Music: 27 Apr – 3 May 2008

Surprisingly, I was able to hold out on listening to The Weepies’ new record until this week, despite having it Tuesday. Discipline, or something. 🙂

Last week was good in the studio spots, meh otherwise:

Geof’s New Music: 30 Mar – Apr 5 2008

The new label releases this week are things I’d always meant to get but just hadn’t … probably because I needed some downtime to get them.

Last week: