December 29, 2011

Boy & Bear

After making quite a few waves in their native Australia, Boy & Bear are starting to make their way to the States through the airwaves. The folky group from Sydney are easily comparable to Mumford & Sons, but have a sound that sets them apart and draws additional comparisons to City & Colour, as well as former tourmates Angus & Julia Stone. Their debut full length, Moonfire, was released in August, and I have yet to find anything wrong with it. Led by the powerful and catchy single "Feeding Line," the album has been on repeat in my stereo for weeks, and is one of the strongest debut albums of the year. They recently won the ARIA Album of the Year award in Australia, and I am confident they will find fans all over the globe.

Boy & Bear-"Lordy May"

Boy & Bear-"Feeding Line"

December 26, 2011

New Song From The xx

As we reported a little while ago, British indie-synth band The xx have begun working on a new album, their followup to the acclaimed 2009 debut, xx. The first recording from that new disc has surfaced. The group has released a demo version of "Open Eyes" on their website. Take a listen!

The xx-"Open Eyes (Demo)"

December 24, 2011

Lykke Li - The Lost Sessions Vol. 1

Lykke Li, the Swedish singer-wongwriter behind the great 2011 album, Wounded Rhymes, has just released The Lost Sessions Vol. 1, a collection of three acoustic demos of songs from the album. The cuts are "Youth Knows No Pain," "Jerome," and fan and personal favorite, "I Follow Rivers". Listen below!

December 23, 2011

Jónsi - "Gathering Stories" Music Video

Jónsi, of Sigur Rós, has recently composed the soundtrack for the Cameron Crowe film, We Bought A Zoo. "Gathering Stories," one of the new tracks on the album, now has a beautifully animated music video to accompany it! Take a look! Buy the soundtrack here.

December 20, 2011

Ben's Favorite Albums of 2011

What follows are the ten albums that most deeply affected me this year. 2011 was a brilliant year for music, and narrowing this list to ten was a challenge. The records that made it are ones that moved me, that I listened to on repeat for what felt like months, that really forced me to feel. I'm no professional critic, I can hardly claim that these are the "best of the year." But for me personally, these albums represent everything I love about great music. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.

Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
"Million Dollar Bill"--Dawes

Notable Exceptions:

Yellow Ostrich - The Mistress

The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart

(Both of these albums were released in 2010, then re-released in 2011, to greater commercial success.)

December 19, 2011

The Security Dilemma: 12.19.11

Last night was the last show of the year, so I played tracks from some of my favorite albums of 2011. A good preview for my best of list, which will be dropping in the next couple days. Enjoy!

The Security Dilemma: 12/19/11

December 17, 2011

Dawes--"A Little Bit of Everything"

I just stumbled across this. Taylor Goldsmith and a couple of his cronies from Dawes performing an acoustic version of "A Little Bit of Everything," a cut off their fantastic 2011 album Nothing is Wrong. Absolutely beautiful rendition of a tremendous song, and well worth at least three viewings.

December 14, 2011

Our Favorites of 2011: Albums - Jonah's List

Considering that Write To The Beat is made of two people, we have had some quite lengthy discussions about our favorite albums of the year. We have decided to share with you two lists: Each of our top ten albums of the year. This way, you can learn about our individual tastes and find out about even more great albums. Here are the albums that I (Jonah) enjoyed most in 2011:

10. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Bon Iver's debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, provided a beautiful, sparse snapshot of a lonely Wisconsin winter. With his followup record, Justin Vernon took some risks, and they all paid off. Ditching the acoustic guitars for synths, Vernon made a completely different album, with a fuller, less raw sound, while maintaining the paralyzing beauty of For Emma. If his first record was winter, Bon Iver is spring.
Bon Iver-"Holocene"

9. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
I wouldn't say I believe in miracles, but the completely random meeting of Joy Williams and John Paul White at a songwriter's conference is about as close as you can get. Their voices, extremely different, yet both flawless, combine to form something much greater than the sum of its parts. The duo, one of the best live acts of the year, has an unmatched chemistry. The songwriting here is great, but what jumps out is the sheer beauty of two incredible voices interacting, entwining. It's mesmerizing. 
The Civil Wars-"I've Got This Friend"

8. Bright Eyes - The People's Key
Conor Oberst has made many great albums. But with The People's Key, he took the folk, Americana sound that has defined the band, and turned it up a few notches, making a heavier rock record than ever before. In 2009, he was quoted saying that he soon wanted to "retire" the Bright Eyes name and "clean it up, lock the door, say goodbye". I sure hope he doesn't, but if this was his swan song, it was a perfect way to go out.
Bright Eyes-"Jejune Stars"

7. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez has made an epic. This double album provides 22 tracks of the best synth-heavy electropop out there. After not opening his mouth much on his first five albums, Gonzalez finally sings on almost every track, and his voice sets the album apart from his previous efforts. He has always been great at creating moods with his music that take you in and don't let you out. With Hurry Up, the music keeps you for twice as long and immerses you in an 80's album that is far too full and lush to have actually been made in the 80's.
M83-"Midnight City"

6. The Belle Brigade - The Belle Brigade
The Belle Brigade are as new as any album on this list, yet do not sound or perform like it. Brother and sister Ethan and Barbara Gruska form the heart of the group, trading vocal duties and riffs throughout the disc. One of the best debut albums in a while, The Belle Brigade combines country twang, infectious melodies, and soaring harmonies to create a folk-rock masterpiece. They are a band to watch in 2012. They are going places.
The Belle Brigade-"Losers"

5. The Black Keys - El Camino
Brothers, the 2010 album by the blues-rock duo, skyrocketed The Black Keys into the spotlight, labeling them one of the top rock bands of the year. With El Camino, they secure their spot for quite a while. Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach take the grooves of Brothers and turn it up a notch, making a louder, faster, more exciting album. The record is filled with grooves that will stay in your head and keep your body moving all day.
The Black Keys-"Gold On The Ceiling"

4. Dan Mangan - Oh Fortune
I began this year unaware of Dan Mangan, a Canadian folk crooner based in Vancouver. Luckily, with my introduction to his music, also came a brand new album, and his best one yet. Oh Fortune takes the prettiness of his previous effort, Nice, Nice, Very Nice, and roughs it up a little bit. With a beautifully gruff voice not unlike Glen Hansard, Mangan has hit his stride with this surprise masterpiece.
Dan Mangan-"Starts With Them, Ends With Us"

3. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
Andy Hull and crew have now released three very solid rock albums. What stands out about their latest, best, and most cohesive work, is its lack of weak links. Every track is an emotional, powerful piece, chronicling a man's process of questioning every aspect of his life. This album takes the band's sound to exactly where it has always been heading. This is Manchester Orchestra at its finest.

Manchester Orchestra-"Simple Math"

2. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
The Decemberists have been known to be considered "challenging". Their previous albums have included folk epics upward of ten minutes that, while being great songs, have provided a reason for the band not to top the charts. With The King Is Dead, the group has slightly altered the formula. They keep the clever lyrics, beautiful instrumentation, and  catchy melodies, while providing a new level of accessibility that has only expanded their audience.
The Decemberists-"June Hymn"

1. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
To be honest, I was not as overjoyed with Fleet Foxes' first record as most people. It was beautiful, yes, but it simply did not strike me as an album that kept my attention, or even deserved a huge amount of it. That all changed with Helplessness Blues. Fleet Foxes have made a masterpiece here. It is an album that is brilliant now, and could have been just as astute forty years ago, the kind of album that makes you want to walk away from your computer, run into the woods, and never look back.
Fleet Foxes-"Helplessness Blues"

Honorable Mentions:

City and Colour - Little Hell
Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
The Dodos - No Color
Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest
Grieves - Together/Apart
James Vincent McMorrow - Early In The Morning

The Shins Announce New Album

The Shins have announced that their next album, the follow up to 2007's Wincing The Night Away, will be released in March. The record will be called Port Of Morrow. We're awfully excited!

Shower Hour: Final Fall Show

Last night I aired the last episode of Shower Hour for the fall season. Being the last show of the year, I featured songs from all of my favorite albums from 2011. Take a listen and enjoy!

Stream Shower Hour: Final Fall Show

December 10, 2011

Our Favorites of 2011: Live Shows

We at Write To The Beat have had the pleasure of attending dozens of concerts this past year. While most of them have provided a great opportunity to see the music we love so much recreated, only a select few shows really stood out as incredible. Read our reviews of those life-changing experiences below. Here are our favorite shows of 2011:

December 09, 2011

The National Play with Justin Vernon and Debut Two New Songs

Toronto radio station CBC had The National stop by their "Q" show yesterday to perform a few songs. They treated listeners to two brand new tunes, "Rylan," and "I Need My Girl". They also played "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" off their latest record High Violet with the gorgeous accompaniment of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Listen to the new songs and watch the video below. Enjoy!

The National-"Rylan (Live)"

The National-"I Need My Girl (Live)"

December 08, 2011

Our Favorites of 2011: Music Videos

As the year comes to a close, we will begin to reflect on the past 365 days and showing you some of our favorite releases from 2011. Music videos can do a lot for a song. They can simply put a face and images to the music or they can transform the song into part of a bigger storyline. Here are some of our favorite music videos from 2011:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - "Otherside Remix (feat. Fences)"

Manchester Orchestra - "Simple Math"

Grieves - "On The Rocks"

The Black Keys - "Lonely Boy"

Dan Mangan - "Rows Of Houses"

December 07, 2011

Blitzen Trapper "Might Find It Cheap" Music Video

Portland group Blitzen Trapper have released another music video off their latest album, American Goldwing. The video, to the track "Might Find It Cheap," includes a great deal of live footage and a peek into what life is like for them on the road. Enjoy!

Stream Jónsi's "We Bought A Zoo" Sountrack

The soundtrack to the upcoming Cameron Crowe film, "We Bought A Zoo," composed by Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi, is now available to stream online in its entirety!

Stream the Soundtrack here!

December 05, 2011

Security Dilemma: 12.5.11

Jonah and our good friend Andrew joined me last night, to terrific results. A lot of great music shared. Enjoy.

The Security Dilemma: 12/5/11

New Jónsi Song Streaming

A few weeks ago, we heard "Gathering Stories," the first track off the upcoming Jónsi-composed soundtrack for the Cameron Crowe film "We Bought A Zoo". Now, there is another new track, titled "Ævin Endar,"streaming on Jónsi's website. His beautiful, atmospheric pop sound like it will fit perfectly with the film. Enjoy!

Stream "Ævin Endar"

December 04, 2011

The Black Keys on SNL

Last night, The Black Keys performed on Saturday Night Live. They played "Lonely Boy" and "Gold On The Ceiling". Check out the videos below!

December 03, 2011

Reviewed - City and Colour

House of Blues, Boston, MA

Last night, I was lucky enough to be in attendance when City and Colour took the stage in Boston. Dallas Green and his powerful band tore through an hour and a half of their finest, that never included a dull moment. His beautiful falsetto rang throughout the sold-out venue and sounded even more powerful than on record. Hits off his first two albums, Sometimes and Bring Me Your Love, produced the loudest cheers from the fans who had been listening from the beginning, but his new material, from Little Hell, was not far behind. A personal highlight was during three acoustic songs Green played in the middle of the set. Before playing a heart-wrenching rendition of "Body In A Box," he urged the audience to forget about taking pictures, recording, or being able to remember the show later. More important then remembering is experiencing. And boy am I glad I experienced that. 

City and Colour-"Little Hell"

City and Colour-"Body In A Box"

December 01, 2011

Bowerbirds Announce New Album

North Carolina-based group Bowerbirds have announced that they will be releasing their next album, titled The Clearing, on March 6th! Having been made a fan by their last album, Upper Air, I am extremely excited to hear what is next for them. Check out the great first song off the upcoming album below.

Bowerbirds-"Tuck The Darkness In"