Other Versions Of You Premiere


Other Versions Of You is a beautifully inventive film about unrequited love, alternate realities, and always wondering what if?


I had the pleasure of composing the orchestral score and being part of a crazy talented crew for this film, helmed by the incomparable Motke Dapp. The premiere is two weeks from today!


Let me just say, I'm excited to see this thing on the big screen.


The Other Client List Begins

A new web series called The Other Client List has been in the works for the past year and I'm pleased to announce the inclusion of the pilot episode in the Tiny Film Festival! Watch it there and vote for it! I'm working on finishing up music for all 10 episodes of season one, so stay tuned for more episodes shortly.


The Apple Talks

I've been working hard on a top-secret web series that requires loads of new music in tons of different genres, from orchestral score to indie rock anthems to bossa nova tunes. Here's a few recent pieces for that, plus a bit for an upcoming web spot. Want more?


First Person Waiter Game

A team at the 2014 Collaboration Filmmakers Challenge Awards recently licensed our track "Path of Least Resistance" for a comedy short. First Person Waiter Game will be of particular interest to you gamers and service industry folks out there. Ridiculous stuff, and Mike Carrier has a lot more where that came from. 


Heirloom Lab

I'm pleased to announce that my dear friend, Matt Bookman, launched his new company, Heirloom Lab and the website looks spectacular. Subtidal music is featured in all of the company's videos, which you can see here


As Matt puts it, "Heirloom Lab creates lasting records of stories, memories, and messages for the sake of preservation, celebration, and posterity." I can't speak highly enough of their work and I'm excited and honored to be involved. 


Lastly, I uploaded some new tracks I produced for various upcoming projects. Enjoy!



Widening the Spectrum

In this industry, you either have to be the very best in a well defined niche, or you have to make all types of music better than everyone else. Have a listen to some new tracks I recently completed for several projects, including new music for a special project by our friends over at Bon Appétempt, some solicited pop and house cuts for a NY agency, plus film scores in the works. Then, let me know which catagory you think I fit into. -rick


35 Years, 35 Essential Albums


This old man has been around for 35 years as of today. How do I celebrate? Just listening to music. Music is as vital to my well-being as oxygen, as defining of me as are my red hair and blue eyes. They say humans are at least 60% water? I think I'm 90% music, split the rest as you like. If I were to sit still and silent next to you, before long, you'd hear the buzzing of my organs amplify and organize into a song. 


The following albums, one from every year of my life, have each had a hand in creating the person I am today. If not for them, maybe my hair would be grey by now, my eyes black.


2013 - Midlake - Antiphon

2012 - Alt-J - An Awesome Wave

2011 - Other Lives - Tamer Animals

2010 - Junip - Fields

2009 - Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue

2008 - Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

2007 - AU - AU

2006 - Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

2005 - Hood - Outside Closer

2004 - Wilco - A Ghost is Born

2003 - Manitoba (Caribou) - Up in Flames

2002 - Beck - Sea Change

2001 - Sparklehorse - Its a Wonderful Life

2000 - Elliott Smith - Figure 8

1999 - Built to Spill - Keep It Like A Secret

1998 - Boards of Canada - Music Has the Right to Children

1997 - Radiohead - OK Computer

1996 - Stereolab - Emporer Tomato Ketchup

1995 - Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith

1994 - Portishead - Dummy

1993 - A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

1992 - Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted

1991 - My Bloody Valentine - Loveless

1990 - The Breeders - Pod

1989 - Fugazi - 13 Songs

1988 - The Pixies - Surfer Rosa

1987 - Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction

1986 - Peter Gabriel - So

1985 - The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy

1984 - Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground

1983 - U2 - Under a Blood Red Sky

1982 - Michael Jackson - Thriller

1981 - Mission of Burma - Signals, Calls and Marches

1980 - Talking Heads - Remain in Light

1979 - The Clash - London Calling


'The Caregiver' Score

The short film I've just scored, Kelly Rothberger's The Caregiver, is wrapping up. This piece is the theme I composed for the light-hearted drama. You can also hear the swing tune I wrote and produced for the film here


"Two Homegrown Brands" Spot Launches

I wrote and recorded the music on the "Two Homegrown Brands" video for Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees, produced by the good folks at Woodbine in North Carolina. You may recognize the tune as I've posted here before. It's Never Known a Better Friend, which I'm also fleshing out as a full song available soon with and without vocals.


You can see the video here. [The video seems to have been moved and I'll update soon]


New Track for "The Caregiver"

I'm pleased to announce I'm working on score and songs for an upcoming film titled The Caregiver by Kelly Rothberger, who recently graduated from AFI conservatory. I wrote and recorded "When the Leaves Fall" when Kelly told me she was thinking of a Billie Holiday song for the end credits.


2013 Music Review

Best Artistic Achievement

James Blake - Overgrown

Album of the Year

Midlake - Antiphon

Most Insatiable Listening

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Song of the Year

Palma Violets - Best of Friends

Artist of the Year


I spent most of 2013 complaining.

      The past year not only seemed to yield very few solid albums, but also presented significant personal tragedies and disappointments for myself and everyone around me. As I reflect on it all, though, the things that are sticking in my memory are actually largely positive ones. I received incredible gifts this year, and with the help and support of the woman of my dreams, I focused my energy successfully into building Subtidal.

      Furthermore, of the nearly 500 albums and singles I listened to this year, I liked more of it than not. On my WRKR 2013 playlist, you'll hear only the songs and records that I really want to hear again. There were plenty more worth checking out, too, so I learned that I really should not judge too quickly.


Continue below for the runners up. Happy New Year, everyone.

Albums of the Year

Midlake - Antiphon

Radar Brothers - Eight

James Blake - Overgrown

Port St. Willow - Holiday

Rose Windows - The Sun Dogs

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Lusine - The Waiting Room

Kurt Vile - Wakin On a Pretty Daze

Hooded Fang - Gravez

Emiliana Torrini - Tookah 


Artist of the Year

Bibio - Here's why:

Stephen Wilkinson, aka Bibio, creates music so fitting for today's cultural landscape that I'd call it perfect. His album this year, Silver Wilkinson, resonates with the ups and downs everyone seems to be experiencing lately, and the remixes he's done that were released this year (particularly of Clark) are the exact blend of experimental textures and compelling harmonies that I strive to create in my own music. But the main reason he's my Artist of 2013 is that I've spent more time with his entire catalog this year than with anyone else's; a reminder that in the last 5 years, no one has matched his gorgeous, prolific output. He'll be one of my favorites for a long time.


Best Artistic Achievements

James Blake - Overgrown

Jagwar Ma - Howlin

Bombino - Nomad

Young Man - Beyond Was All Around Me

Braids - Flourish//Perish

Son Lux - Lanterns

Cavern of Anti-Matter - Blood Drums

Kanye West - Yeezus

Jaimeo Brown - Transcendence

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual


Most Insatiable Listens

Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Superhumanoids - Exhibitionists

The Strokes - Comedown Machine

AlunaGeorge - Body Music

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Haim - Days Are Gone

Cults - Static

Wampire - Curiousity

Wavves - Afraid of Heights

Arctic Monkeys - AM

Unknown Mortal OrchestraII


Songs of the Year

Just check out the playlist here.


Never Known a Better Friend Edit

My friends over at Woodbine asked me for this 45 second edit of "Never Known a Better Friend" for use in tradeshows. 


WarGames now included in our catalog!

I'm pleased to announce the inclusion of the WarGames catalog in our library! The project was created by old friend and collaborater Casey Alexander. Casey has been a member of Wesafari, Scriptures, I Am The Internet, and Troubleshooting. WarGames' music is difficult to categorize, incorporating electronic elements as well as acoustic instruments and guitars in a blend of hip hop, desert rock and atmospheric soundscapes. This is a sampling from his latest album, DEFCON2, all available for licensing through Subtidal Studios. 


Never Known a Better Friend

The lovely folks at Woodbine brought me in on an upcoming web spot for Fruit of the Loom and Jerzees. We discussed music that could be earnestly grounded in organic instrumentation while having a touch of mystery and awe. I referenced songs from the insanely popular chamber pop genre and then modified an old song of mine into something completely new.


Bon Appetempt Season 2 starts Sunday!

Bon Appetempt has been licensing music from Subtidal since day one. Matt Bookman and Amelia Morris, the award winning food/humor blog's co-creators and PBS recently asked me for a new theme song that would give the videos a fresh feel while illustrating Amelia's quirky personality. They didn't know how literally I'd take their request by sampling moments of the videos and making Amelia sing on this house track. 


Long Way Back To You

My good friends at Woodbine reached out to me for help on an upcoming web spot for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. They asked for something a little bit americana with a lot of forward momentum. This song immediately came to mind and I recorded this instrumental version for the spot. Thanks Bob!


Archiving the Catalog

Implementing a catalog of hundreds of songs and snippets from multiple sources is a daunting process. One piece at a time though, and the catalog will steadily grow as I go. Here's an instrumental mix of Wesafari's HICCUP, which has been licensed by several producers already, including Bon Appetempt, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Skill Exchange, and Camp Revival. Originally released (with vocals) on Wesafari's 2010 album, Sea Survivors.


Subtidal Studios up and running

Today, I officially dive into the undercurrent with Subtidal. I've got a business plan to write, a website to build, a brand to envision, a first gig to snag, etc. Amongst the myriad feelings I'm having about making this my focus, my biggest one is relief - this business has been in the "I'll get to it eventually" phase for years. But creating music is the main thing I'm supposed to do, and now I wonder what I've been doing up until now. Wish me luck. -rick


2012 Music Review

Levi Fuller called me out in February this year when I put out a very lackluster Top Ten Albums of 2011 list, so I decided to step my game up. 

At the same time, hearing loads of music became easily doable and affordable. Services like Spotify and Rhapsody are ridiculous. While everyone is listening to one track or less of an artist, I’m still a big fan of the long player format, finding that deep cuts can be so much more defining than hits, an artist’s full effort so much more revealingly true or contrived. And for the first time ever, I was able to test out new artists not from 30 second clips of a single, but by giving them the courtesy of a full album listen before judging them to be cretinous fakes.


So, overwhelmed with music, it became quickly apparent that a mere top ten list would not suffice to properly take stock of all the listening I’d done. Instead, I compiled a list of superlatives like an awards ceremony, hoping this more thorough format would help folks sort through the goods and the awfuls without having to spend precious single-listening time on such a large number of projects. I published corresponding Spotify playlists you can check out, too. There’s one for the 2012 Songs of the Year, one for 2012 Best Vocal Performances, and one called WRKR 2012 Sampler you can shuffle through to hear what the Rickr liked this year.


On to the lists! In the awards list, the winner if each category is shown in bold. At the bottom, you’ll find a genre-organized list of all the records I listened to this year that I'd recommend, with a suggested song off of each album to get a quick sense of what it sounds like. If an album from 2012 is not on this list, I probably listened to it. Even if I enjoyed it, I had to eliminate everything but the cream, so tread lightly. That is, of course, unless you consider me a cretinous fake.  








Best Artistic Achievement

AU – Both Lights

Dan Deacon – America

Matthew Dear - Beams

Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

Mike Wexler - Dispossession

Beck/Phillip Glass - Rework

Grimes - Visions

THEEsatisfaction – awE naturalE

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man­

Pollens – Brighten & Break


Most Insatiable Listening

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Lana Del Ray - Born to Die

Grizzly Bear - Shields

Woods – Bend Beyond

Beach House - Bloom

Matthew Dear - Beams

The Luyas – Animator

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city


Best Album Production

Chris Braide and Emile Haynie - Lana del Ray’s Born to Die


Best Production Despite Irritating Vocals

Mike Elizondo - Regina Spektor's What We Saw From the Cheap Seats

Kendrick Lamar and crew – Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city


Album of the Year

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Matthew Dear - Beams

AU – Both Lights

Beach House - Bloom

Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Goat - World Music

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Tame Impala - Lonerism

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man

Lana Del Ray - Born to Die


EP of the Year

Radiation City – Cool Nightmare EP

Matthew Dear – Headcage

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour

Black Mountain – Year Zero

Guards – Guards

Superhumannoids – Too Young For Love

Other Lives – Mind the Gap

White Denim – Takes Place in Your Work Space


Most Overrated Albums

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – The Lion The Beast The Beat

Lemonade - Diver

Lee Fields and the Expressions – Faithful Man

The Coup – Sorry to Bother You

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock


Album That Goes So Far into the Awful Side of the Spectrum That it Starts to Sound Great

Wild Ones – Writing on the Wall


Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Contribution from a Long-fading Artist You Don’t Expect Much From Anymore

Smashing Pumpkins – Oceana (no joke)

Dr. John – Locked Down

Bob Dylan - Tempest

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Bob Mould – Silver Age

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill


Best Artwork for a Very Bad Album

Savoir Adore – Our Nature


Best 2011 Album We All Missed That Demands Acknowledgment

Luke Temple – Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care





Song of the Year

AU – “Get Alive”

Hot Chip – “These Chains”

Here We Go Magic – “Alone But Moving”

Lost Lander – “Afraid of Summer”

First Aid Kit – “Lion's Roar”

Beach House – “Lazuli”

Tame Impala – “Apocalypse Dreams”

Diamond Rugs – “Big God”

Guards – “Do It Again”

Yeasayer – “Henrietta”

Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again”

Yeti Lane – “Warning Sensations”

Cat Power – “Ruin”

Michael Kiwanuka – “Always Waiting”

Oberhofer – “Heart”

Lord Huron – “Time to Run”

Mina Tindle – “Bells”

Matthew Dear – “Her Fantasy”

Father John Misty – “This is Sally Hatchet”

Alt-J – “Taro”

NZCA/LINES – “Okinawa Channels”

Foxygen – “Make It Known”

Com Truise – “Open”

Sinkane – “Jeeper Creeper”

Dusted – “Property Lines”

Woods – “Bend Beyond”

Pollens – “Helping Hand”

White Denim – “Company”

Night Moves – “Headlights”

Pond – “Elegant Design” 


Best Male Vocal Performance

Britt Daniel - Divine Fits' "Shivers"

Adam Stephens – Two Gallants’ “Ride Away”

Frank Ocean – “Thinkin About You”

Kristian Matsson - The Tallest Man On Earth’s “There’s No Leaving Now”

Michael Kiwanuka – “Worry Walks Beside Me”


Best Female Vocal Performance

Natasha Kahn - Bat For Lashes' "Laura"

Lizzy Grant - Lana Del Ray’s “Video Games”

Regina Spektor – “Firewood”

Norah Jones – “Miriam”

Lianne La Havas – “Gone”


Best Cover Song That Does the Impossible by Improving a Classic Band's Original Song

Lykke Li - Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs"


Best Old Song That Never Saw The Light Of Day Until This Year

Elbow – “Lucky With Disease”


Most Heavenly Payoff in a Song

Hot Chip – “Let Me Be Him”


Best 2011 Song That Received More Play Than Any 2012 Song

Washed Out – “Soft”





Artist of the Year

Matthew Dear


New Artist With Most Exciting Potential

Young Magic

First Aid Kit

Diamond Rugs

Lord Huron

Bear in Heaven


Night Moves


Django Django

Michael Kiwanuka


Best Achievement of Previously Uncertain Potential

Beach House


Biggest Improvement in General Sense of Rhythm

Cat Power


Most Frustrating Failure at a Great Idea

David Byrne and St. Vincent collaborating


Best Artist With a Larger Catalog I Didn’t Even Know About Until 2012

Here We Go Magic




Modern Rock

Grizzly Bear – Shields – “Sun In Your Eyes”

Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits – “Flaggin’ a Ride”

Young Man – Vol. 1 – “21”

Elbow – Dead in the Boot – “The Long War Shuffle” 

Radiation City – Cool Nightmare EP – “Find It of Use”

The Sun Parade – Yossis – “Run People Run”


Revivalist Rock

Dr. John – Locked Down – “Getaway”


Corporate Rock

Geographer – Myth – “The Myth of Youth”


Garage Rock

Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs – “Blue Mountains”

The Rolling Stones – Doom and Gloom Single – “Doom and Gloom”


Loud Rock

Japandroids – Celebration Rock – “The Night of Wine and Roses”

Pontiak - Echo Ono – “Lions of Least”

Scriptures – Scriptures – “Your Town Is On Fire”

Two Gallants – The Bloom and the Blight – “My Love Won’t Wait”


Avant Rock

Diiv – Oshin – “Doused”

Yeti Lane – The Echo Show – “Analog Wheel”

Tame Impala – Lonerism – “Why Won’t They Talk to Me?”

Black Mountain – Year Zero Soundtrack – “Mary Lou”

Pinback – Information Retrieved – “A Request”

Oberhofer – Time Capsules II – “I Could Go”

Beak> - >> - “Spinning Top”

Helvetia - Nothing In Rambling - "RyBro"

Helvetia - Camp Century Sessions - "Into the Waters"


Chamber Pop / Troupe Folk

Father John Misty – Fear Fun – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”

Lost Lander – DRRT – “Wonderful World”

Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams – “Ends of the Earth”

First Aid Kit - Lion's Roar – “Emmylou”

The Magnetic North – Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North – “Betty Corrigall”



Mina Tindle – Taranta – “Sister”

Daniel Rossen – Silent Hour – “Golden Mile”

Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts – “After the Fall”

Sam Lee – Ground of its Own – “Wild Wood Amber”

The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now – “Revelation Blues”


Experimental Pop

Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man – “The Haunted Man”
White Rabbits - Milk Famous – “I’m Not Me”

Breton – Other People’s Problems – “Governing Correctly”

Diagrams – Black Light – “Tall Buildings”

Young Magic – Melt – “You With Air”

Radiohead – Austin City Limits – “Identikit”

Cat Power – Sun – “3,6,9”

Matthew Dear – Beams – “Earthforms”

Matthew Dear – Headcage - “Headcage”

AU - Both Lights – “OJ”

Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship – “A Different Ship”

Dan Deacon – America – “True Thrush”

Atoms for Peace – Default single – “Default”

Ultraista – UltraIsta – “You’re Out”

Yeasayer – Fragrant World – “Henrietta”

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave – “Dissolve Me”

Django Django – Django Django – “Hail Bop”

Mobley – Young Adult Fiction – “The New Black”

Hundred Waters – Hundred Waters – “Me & Anodyne”


Indie Dance Pop

Hot Chip – In Our Heads - “How Do You Do?”


Corporate Pop

Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe – “The Keepers”

Lana Del Ray – Born to Die: The Paradise Edition – “Blue Jeans”


Electro / Chillwave

Beach House – Bloom – “Wild”

Superhumanoids – Too Young For Love / Geri Single – “Too Young For Love”

Chromatics - Kill for Love – “Lady”

Bear in Heaven – I Love You, Its Cool – “Sinful Nature”

Grimes – Visions – “Genesis”

Crystal Castles – (III) – “Kerosene”

El Perro Del Mar – Pale Fire – “Hold Off the Dawn”

Summer Heart – About a Feeling – “I Wanna Go”

Blackbird Blackbird – Boracay Planet – “It’s a War”


Dance / Electronic (Instrumental)

Daphni – Jiaolong – “Ye Ye”

Four Tet – Pink – “Peace For Earth”

Simian Mobile Disco – Unpatterns – “A Species Out of Control”

Com Truise – In Decay – “Open”

Lilacs and champagne – Lilacs & Champagne – “Sensations”

Philip Glass – Rework – “NYC 73-78”

CFCF – Exercises – “Entry”


Hip Hop / R&B

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – The Heist – “Same Love”

THEESatisfaction - awE naturalE – “Deeper”

Robert Glasper - Black Radio – “Black Radio”

Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE – “Pyramids”

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city – “Swimming Pools (Drank)”


Soul / Funk / Gospel

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again - "Tell me a Tale"

Lianne La Havas Is Your Love Big Enough? - "Don't Wake Me Up"


2011 Music Review


2011 was a redefinition for me. I spent most of the year disconnecting from my old choices to seek out a new field of possibilities. The changes have been largely positive, though they've required huge sacrifice, putting so much distance between me and my west coast family.


This has consequently resulted in a drought of new music in my world, lacking input from so many musical alliances. The result was that my 2011 Music Review felt a bit unsupported because the list consisted of what were probably the only new records I heard all year!


I've since revisited the releases of 2011 and it turned out to be an incredible year for music, with gems from the original list remaining. If you haven't heard them, you've got something to look forward to.

 Albums of the Year

Other Lives - Tamer Animals

 Unkle - Where Did the Night Fall

Tycho - Dive

Radiohead - The King of Limbs

Bibio - Mind Bokeh

Wye Oak - Civilian

Washed Out – Within and Without

White Denim - D

Luke Temple – Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care

Son Lux – We Are Rising

Cant – Dreams Come True

Waters – Out in the Light

Helvetia – On the Lam

Black keys - El Camino

Kurt vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo


Other Lives - Tamer Animals

Gorgeous. Other Lives has put out compellingly lush music before, but you could always sort of hear the distance between what they were trying to achieve and what was actually produced.


With Tamer Animals, they flipped the equation and created a slow burner that rewards the listener with repeated listens. Like the ghosts Other Lives suggests haunt our every movement, their music creeps under your skin undetected at first, then gradually filters your view of the world. Once it does, its as addicting as caffeine.  


Unkle - Where Did the Night Fall

I can't believe this is the same project that started in the late nineties as a one-off collaboration between DJ Shadow and James Levelle. It's now more of an ex(perimental) pop outfit, pulling in regular contributions from some of my favorites like Autolux and Black Mountain.


This record surprised me with relentlessly compelling textures in harmonically bold yet catchy songs. Track 5, "the Answer", could be a Wesafari song. In fact, I think I actually did write this song.


Tycho - Dive

If you like Boards of Canada at all, check this out. With such frustratingly slow and sparse productivity from my favorite electronic ensemble ever, it's a sigh of relief to have an album like "Dive". They took all the beautiful textures of BoC and added a modern, reverb drenched sensibility to it.


This one is getting enough spins currently that it shouldn't matter much if it's not entirely timeless.


Radiohead - The King of Limbs

Two songs alone nearly put this at the top of my list this year. The album opens with one of the strangest, zoniest songs I've ever heard. Something akin to Coltrane's "India", "Bloom" sounds like the kind of other-wordly song Radiohead has been trying to create their whole career, and is so enormously alluring to me, it's now on my Top 100 Songs of All Time.


The other song, "Codex", is a gorgeous piano ballad like no ballad I've heard before, but the reason it stands out to me so strongly is contextual.


One early morning in Seattle's undefinable winter, Wesafari’s Trina Mills and I were blearily absorbing the sunrise through Fiore's large windows. The light filtered in as if coming upwards from out of the street, illuminating a single thread of spider web strung from one fixture to another. The thread was swaying in deeply slow motion, floating through this amber sap sunbeam, pendulating to the music in perfect, negative tempo. Neither Trina nor I could look away. Sleep deprivation, strange music and nature will outshine any drug anytime.


Shared with such great company, this memory and album will stay with me for the duration.


Bibio - Mind Bokeh

Stephen Wilkinson is probably my favorite musician right now. Enough said.


Wilco - The Whole Love

This record should be called "the Half Love/Half Hate". Despite solidly humbling songwriting, there's generally something about it that's just a little off, in the wrong way. This album could have been so great because they were clearly pushing their boundaries in a lot of ways, but then they'd turn around and retread old, worn out tricks.


Wilco's songs can be so essential (see track 5 - "Black Moon"), mostly because Jeff Tweedy writes very interesting, relatable lyrics and croons them with effortless charm that's always fun to sing along with.


They also boast some of the best musicians in the business at this point (see track 1 - "Art of Almost"). Why can't these guys push the envelope far enough to reach their potential?!?


This record is a step up from the last couple, but if you need a Wilco fix, "A Ghost Is Born" is one of my favorite all time albums.


Songs of the Year


2010 Music Review

My original 2010 music review was bleak, and since, I've grown to love a lot of music from that year, including the Album of the Year, "Fields" by Junip. Here's the original post: 


In 2010, I found myself rather bored by contemporary music like never before and focused almost solely on collecting back catalogs of classics. I did hear all the choices on folks' top tens, and for the most part, felt total ambivalence towards them, sometimes resulting in a bitter hostility towards extremely overrated bands (see Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem), sometimes ending in the question, "Wait. That was the record? I thought that was just buzz from the appliances?" (see Beach House and Cotton Jones).


Frankly, I feel like we've been inundated with so much mediochraty, that we're grasping at straws just to find some moderate or benevolent soundtrack to represent what has become anything but a moderate or benevolent era (see Local Natives, Broken Bells). Maybe we're just hibernating right now, incubating a whole new progressive litter of vital and vibrant art, sifting through the vast junkyard of sounds of the last 50 years to maintain our makeshift crapshack until we explode with glittering magnificence. I sure hope we emerge soon, but it won't be soon enough.


Ten years ago, things were similar. We were rought with anxiety, slipping into a new millennium of untold political upheavals and boneless cultural identity. Yet, in the months leading up to 9/11, the music released was so consistently exciting and quality that 2000-2001 was the best musical period in 3 decades, a celebration of renewal that hurled us into the new millennium with courageous abandon. Now, on the edge of a new decade, its time to solidify the greatness that first glimpse promised us. Its time to stop recycling, and start reinventing.


2000's catalog hugely helped me define the criteria applied to my Top Ten lists. To be on my list, something has to be innovative, yet accessible. It has to be unique, yet alluring. It has to be bold, yet sustainable. And its gotta be judged against the best works of all time, not just against the sea of adjacent releases.


To that end, my 2010 list is a bit of a downer. Its limited. So much so, that I broke my usual rules (no compilations, no EPs, no live records, no best of's, no rereleases) just to fill the list. I concede, down the road, I'll inevitably find 2010 releases that I adore, or understand ones I wrote off herein. My friend Mike wrote a great post about the gestation of art and the impossible task of quickly and accurately assessing recent output. All that aside though, here goes:


Blitzen Trapper - Destroyer of the Void - brilliant songwriter, just never quite focused enough, and little innovation. Still, better than the myriad other southern rock influenced bands of the northwest hipster's preferred fad. Plus, I can't stop listening to it

Jon Hopkins - Monsters Soundtrack - the gorgeous but sleepy film owes most of it's ethereal beauty to its composer

The Books - the Way Out - get hella high points for innovation and have been refining their sound over four albums

The National - High Violet - these guys never produce the most creative songs, but on this effort, they finally nail the mood all the way through. And the lyrics make everyone else look like school children

Black Keys - Brothers - bold and original, this is a welcome and overdue record from the boys who bring balls back to rock

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest - not solid all the way through, this at least illustrates how good drug pop can sound now

Matthew Dear - Black City - if he turns up the accessibility a few notches, this fella could be HELLA!

Caribou - Swim - still out-innovating everyone else in his sleep, Dan Snaith made dance REALLY cool again. Not his best effort, but better than nearly everything anyone else is doing

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker - what is it about this record? Its just so damn infectious while being unpretentious and uncompromising. This one will outlive any other on this list.

Sufjan Stevens - the Age of Adz - now THIS is what I'm talking about with reinvention. Lose the St. Vincent imitation and he'll have it in the bag with his next one.

Tradi-mods vs. Rockers - despite not being a studio album by an artist, which is my typical criteria, I have to give it to this compilation for having the best music on it. Its not solid throughout, but its so long, its got plenty to keep me enthusiastic, and is the ONLY entry on this list truly pushing the boundaries of current music.

Junip - Fields

My favorite album this year, "Fields" is getting more consistent playtime on my speakers than any record I've heard in a long time. True, it just came out, but it'll stick, trust me. If you don't know it, it's Jose Gonzales' new band.


This record sounds like what I want my new house to look like. Raw wood nylon-stringed guitar, blown-glass delayed Rhodes, wrought iron-edged steady beats, all filtered through over-sized windows and burlap panels of sunblasted, overdriven tube warmth, softened by greyish-white wash compression.



This is one of those records that works as both background and foreground, which are harder and harder to find lately. This will work in anyone's collection.


2009 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue

St Vincent - Actor
Here We Go Magic - Here We Go Magic
Bon Iver - Blood Bank
Bibio - Vignetting the Compost
AU - Versions
Jon Hopkins - Insides
Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
Volcano Choir - Unmap
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion

David Bazan - Curse Your Branches


2008 Music Review

Unbelievable year. So many good records that'll stick around for a long time. 


Albums of the Year

Department of Eagles - In Ear Park

Au - Verbs

Black Mountain - In the Future
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Grails - Doomsdayer's Holiday
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Son Lux - At War With Walls and Mazes

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

Helvetia - Headless Machine of the Heart


Insatiable Listening

Why? - Alopecia

Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords

The Dodos - Visiter
Beck - Modern Guilt
Al Green - Lay It Down
Lil Wayne - The Carter III
Portishead - Third

Black Angels - Directions to See a Ghost

Jamie Lidell - Jim

The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me

2008 Songs of the Year

"Floating on the Lehigh" - Dept. of Eagles
"Stay Free" - Black Mountain
"American Flags" - David Bazan
"A Milli" - Lil Wayne
"Skinny Love" - Bon Iver
"All I Am is All You're Not" - Sloan
"Gobbledigook" - Sigur Ros
"All My Friends Are Animals" - AU

"Furr" - Blitzen Trapper

"Reincarnation Blues" - Grails


2007 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Au - Au

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Caribou - Andorra

Grizzly Bear - Friend EP

Aqualung - Memory Man
Akron/Family - Love is Simple

Justice - Cross

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning

Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation


Insatiable Listening

Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning

David Bazan - Fewer Moving Parts
Timbaland - Shock Value

Pinback - Autumn of the Seraphs

Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

The National - Boxer

Sea Wolf - Leaves in the River

Blonde Redhead - 23

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Tuung - Good Arrows


2008 Songs of the Year

"Melody Day" - (Four Tet 'remix' of Caribou)
"All I Need" - Radiohead
"Herculean" - the Good, the Bad and the Queen
"Evergreen" - Celebration
"Alligator" - Grizzly Bear
"Underdog" - Spoon
"Boute" - Au
"Where is Away" - Luke Temple

"Either Way" (combined with "You are My Face") - Wilco

"Wild Mountain Nation" - Blitzen Trapper


2006 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House

Vetiver - To Find Me Gone
Hot Chip - The Warning
Boards of Canada - Trans Canada Highway EP
Psapp - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted
Alexi Murdoch - Time Without Consequence
Justin Timberlake - Future Sex Love Sounds
Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
Brightblack Morning Light - Brightblack Morning Light
Lupe Fiasco - Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
Sloan - Never Hear the End of It
Beck - Information
Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold


2002 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Beck - Sea Change

Spoon - Kill the Moonlight 

Engine Down - Demure

The Notwist - Neon Golden
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
Clinic - Walking With Thee
Pedro the Lion - Control
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
The Books - Thought for Food
RJD2 - Deadringer
Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head
Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
Peter Gabriel - Up
Elbow - Asleep in the Back


2001 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Sparklehorse - It's a Wonderful Life

Hood - Cold House

Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart

American Analogue Set - Know By Heart
Spoon - Girls
Tortoise - Standards
Kings of Convenience - Quiet is the New Loud
Four tet - Pause
Radiohead - Amnesiac
The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
The Strokes - Is This It
Bjork - Vespertine
Fugazi - The Arguement
Pinback - Blue Screen Life


2000 Music Review

Albums of the Year

Elliott Smith - Figure 8

D'Angelo - Voodoo
Yo la Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
Death Cab For Cutie - We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes
Common - Like Water for Chocolate
Amon Tobin - Supermodified
Blonde Redhead - Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons
Radiohead - Kid A
Boards of Canada - In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country EP
Duster - Contemporary Movement
Honorable mentions
Engine Down - To Bury Within the Sound
Hot Snakes - Automatic Midnight
Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
Coldplay - Parachutes
Granddaddy - Sophtware Slump
Pedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit
Broadcast - The Noise Made by People