Tagged as: Best of’s

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Holy cow, it’s 2015! When did that happen!? Never mind, never mind, on with the show. It is time to take a look at yesteryear with either/or’s Best of 2014! Like our previous best of compilations, it will be about the stuff posted in 2014, not just music released in 2014 and will proceed in no particular order. And so, tallyho!

LAKE - Do You Recall?

LAKE – Do You Recall?
Ironically enough, I didn’t recall this song, so it’s just as well I had the clairvoyance to stick a bunch of songs in a ‘best of’ list. But appropriately enough, it is as beautiful as I can recall!

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining
Good golly, I do love me some country twang. To which First Aid Kit delivers in spades! These plucky Swedish sisters had quite the year, so here’s hoping they’ll keep on keeping on. Geddit? Cos it’s one of the lyrics! I crack myself up.

Kings of Lowertown - Mississippi Flood

Kings of Lowertown – Mississippi Flood
It is time to change tack and present some rockingly good rock. This is such a damn good bit of dirty, dirty blues, sung by a fellow who sounds like he has whiskey over his cereal of wooden logs every morning.

Pisces - Being With You

Pisces – Being With You
Delectably sweet and oh so very lovely, PIsces managed to warm the cockles of the burnt out, withered husk that is my little heart last year. And continues to do so!

Angela Moyra - Draw a Picture

Angela Moyra – Draw a Picture
Were it possible to contract diabetes from the amount of sweetness contained in this best of post thus far, I would surely (somehow) have all varieties of it by now with this song. I am still completely captivated by that chorus!

The Gloaming - The Necklace of Wrens

The Gloaming – The Necklace of Wrens
Should proof ever be needed that you don’t need a huge production to create a huge impact, perhaps your ears need to be pointed in the direction of this incredibly heartfelt and touching rendition of Michael Hartnett’s poem. Just divine.

Teenagre - Visitor

Teenagre – Visitor
Dreamy, but perfectly danceable pop – it’s the dream, isn’t it? This is a marvellously catchy tune that’ll no doubt put a bebop in your step, a nod in your head, and a click in your thumbs.

Parachute Musical - Dear Jacksonville

Parachute Musical – Dear Jacksonville
If you ever wished that Ben Folds had songs that had samba-flavoured interludes halfway through, then perhaps you ought to check this out. If, however, you want to listen to some great pop rock, then you probably should listen as well!

Megan Washington - My Heart is a Wheel

Megan Washington – My Heart is a Wheel
Last but certainly not least is my dear friend Megan Washington (I say friend, but the restraining order says otherwise), with this peppy, 80s inspired romp, which is, as always, graced with her utterly gorgeous singing.

Kapow! Onwards to 2015!

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! It is once again time for either/or to delve into the big box of posts from the previous year to pick out our favourites: welcome to Something We Heard In 2013!

Like 2012’s best of post, we are taking a look at anything we posted in 2013, not just the stuff that came out that year. Mainly because most of what I’ve posted came out in any year but 2013. In addition to this post, don’t forget to check out the big theme weeks we published in 2013: Beatles Week and Elliott Smith Week. Tally-ho friends, and onto 2014!

AJ’s favourites for 2013, in no particular order

Daughter - Winter

Daughter – Winter
I love this song. Oh, how I love it. It is haunting and melancholy and beautiful and tender and so gosh danged wonderful. The singing! The melody! The lyrics!

Junip - Your Life, Your Call

Junip – Your Life, Your Call
Like 2012, 2013 had a late entry into the best of the year consideration group. I’ve now become a big fan of Junip and certainly hope they keep knocking out more stuff. If not, I’ll just listen to this song and the rest of their back catalogue until my ears dissolve into dust!

You Are Plural - The Best Is Yet To Come

You Are Plural – The Best Is Yet to Come
Yeah, as if You Are Plural weren’t going to make it into my best of list. I am this close to adding a You Are Plural tag to the database, just to make it easier for everyone to find their stuff. As I mentioned in my post, this is a far peppier song than their usual fare, but it’s equally as beautiful as any of their other stuff. The best is yet to come, indeed.

Serena Jost - Sweet Mystery

Serena Jost – Sweet Mystery
I do love when artists come out of nowhere and knock you down for six. Serena did just that thing, with her bittersweet, country-flavoured Sweet Mystery, which made my heart swooooooon.

Mock Orange - End of the World

Mock Orange – End of the World
If I had to actually face the end of the world and this song were playing, I’d think that things weren’t so bad. I’d probably walk around with a smile on my face, despite the impending flood/fire/asteroid/Godzilla invasion. It is quite charming and just too catchy for its own good!

Sharron Kraus - Evergreen Sisters

Sharron Kraus – Evergreen Sisters
I love this song because it’s so bizarre. It’s dark and kind of unsettling all throughout, but then it resolves right at the end with a turn towards optimism. It is quite the transformation, and it’s all done with a single chord change.

Kingsley Flood - Sun Gonna Lemme Shine

Kingsley Flood – Sun Gonna Lemme Shine
It feels good to end my list on this song, particularly as we are at the start of 2014. It’s the best kind of song to have in your head when you want to say “screw you, world! I’m doing things my way!”. Also, the video for the song is as endearingly cute as it ever was, so there’s that!

Hugh’s favourites for 2013, in no particular order

Texture Jam - Borax Factory

Neighborhood Texture Jam – Borax Factory
There is nothing to say about this song, other than that it is a shining (from all that Borax, no doubt) example of what rock music could, nay, SHOULD have been. The lyrics are still silly, but the music gives me the motivation to punch through brick walls!

Moriarty - Jimmy

Moriarty – Jimmy
I have still not divined the true identity of this “Jimmy” character, but it’s probably not too important. The important thing is this a damn fine, damn classy folk song. A modern classic.

Coconut Records - The Summer

Coconut Records – The Summer
What musical list would be complete without Jason Schwartzman? Probably lots of them, but not this one! I don’t care that I’m posting a song called “The Summer” when it is the wintertime here in America. Maybe it will help warm up the whiners, though!

Ezra Furman - Are You Gonna Break My Heart

Ezra Furman – Are You Gonna Break My Heart?
I try to be hip and with it, which means I have to like Ezra Furman, who sounds like Bob Dylan if he went easy on the folk and sprinkled a little pop into his music. All of his songs are gold-plated gold to my wise ears, and I hope you feel the same way!

Penny & the Quarters - You and Me

Penny & The Quarters – You And Me
I was thinking about posting another dang pop-rock song, but my list had enough of that blather already. So here is an excellent soul song from 1970 instead! None of that oversinging crap that drives the kids wild these days, I reckon! Boy howdy!

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Unlike those other fancy blogs, we’re not ones to make a best of post using songs that came out during the year. We’re too hipster for that! Instead, here is a selection of our favourite tunes that we posted about this year. Happy end of 2012, folks!

AJ’s favourites for 2012, in no particular order

Kori Pop – Billie
We had a bit of a Canadian overload at some point in 2012, and what an utterly fantastic artist to find in that mix. Billie is a blend of country and pop, with a delightfully hand made aesthetic to it all: the CD of hers I bought was adorned with an adorable thank you card that (I assume) she created!

Robert Francis – Heroin Lovers
Sometimes, Hugh is good for something. Only kidding, you are good for everything, pal! No sooner after Hugh had posted about Robert Francis that I discovered this song and consequently posted it the next day. Yes, I loved it that much! Heroin Lovers is an alt. country tune that’s wonderfully catchy. Just like heroin I guess?

Adele – Skyfall
I got called all manner of names when I happened to mention that I’d never heard any of Adele’s music (hipster, liar, etc), but being as how this was recorded for the James Bond film of the same name, then I most definitely was going to hear her sooner than later. The James Bond title themes have been a bit ropey of late (Jack White and Alicia Keys, what the heck guys!), but Skyfall puts the series back where it belongs: sweeping, grandiose, and passionate.

Marvin and the Cloud Wall – Sweet Heartache
For a guy that doesn’t like country, I sure as heck liked a lot of country music this year. For Sweet Heartache, I shall coin the genre “RoboCountry”, because it sounds badass and also because it’s country rock infused with an electronic beat.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – Up and Away
Well, who’d have thought a bit of rap would make my best of, hmm? Certainly not I, and I’m the one writing it! Having lyrics that aren’t about bitches and hoes certainly helped, but this tune is also outrageously upbeat.

Sarah Jarosz – Run Away
Coming in at the last minute is Run Away, an utterly gorgeous bit of… country. Dangit! Turns out 2012 was the year of country music for me. No matter: if its as amazing as this, then bring it on!

Hugh’s favourites for 2012, in no particular order

Metric – Lost Kitten
I have wanted to make babies with Emily Haines for some time, and this song did not do anything to dissuade me. Why a random song would dissuade me from such a notion is up for debate, but whatever. WHATEVER, MAN. It’s so freakin’ good!

Sharon Van Etten – Serpents
That’s weird, another singer I’d like to have babies with. That never happens to me… oh wait, yes it does, just about every time. This song came out this year, but I wouldn’t want to sit on this one for 10 years like I do with most of my songs. It’s one of the more up-tempo folk songs I’ve heard, and basically all around amazing.

Perfume Genius – Learning
I imagine many people would find this song depressing, and they would be right! It would fit right in at a funeral. It’s one of the most overtly sad songs I’ve ever heard, but every aspect of it is beautiful.

Vic Chesnutt – Flirted With You All My Life
Here’s another exceedingly depressing (yet amazingly beautiful song). It starts off making you think it’s a love song, and then you realize it’s about death and go “oh snap!” That sly bastard.

Coeur de Pirate – Adieu
The third lady on this list, and the third I would like to make babies with. Are you seeing a trend?! In this case, I can’t understand a thing she says as she sings in French, but I can say that everything she sings sounds amazing. As a bonus, I’ve noticed that French music helps lull babies to sleep.

And that’s it for 2012!

Seems like we were able to keep up this post a day thing till the end of the year, so we’ll keep going with it in 2013. To anyone out there reading this, or anyone that liked any of our posts during the year: thanks! To all the artists, musicians and bands featured on either/or this year: bravo! You guys are totally rad!

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This was going to be a collaborative post, where all of us would write about our favorite music of the year, but Ant said he didn’t have enough music, and Doug has a very convincing alibi:

“Hugh, I cannot believe it! You won’t believe it! I wrote up my whole musical recap, and then printed it out. And since I had it printed, I figured I didn’t need the digital copy anymore so I deleted it and scrubbed the hard drive. Then I bought a dog and he ate my printout. sry”

Sounds plausible enough. So, here’s my list, anyway. I tried to provide at least a song for each album, but that was not the case for a few of these.

Hawksley Workman - Treeful Of Starling

15. Hawksley Workman – Treeful of Starling

On his latest offering, Workman slows it down considerably from his previous work. For those who know him primarily for Striptease and Jealous of your Cigarette, they might be shocked at how dissimilar his newest songs are. For those among us who are perpetually depressed or at least act like it, Treeful of Starling will be a good fit.

The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams

14. The Whitest Boy Alive – Dreams

Ant informed me that he had read about this band in a magazine, though all he could remember was “something about a white boy.” Luckily, I already had the album, so I knew what he was talking about (a first!). This band also seems like something he’d enjoy – a handful of Swedes playing catchy indietronic the only way they know how. This is actually a side project of the mellow Kings of Convenience, so this catchy indietronic only encompasses half of this album, and in the other half, they delve into the lo-fi that made the Kings ofConvenience famous and me fall asleep from boredom. As such, I only like half this album, but if you are one of those people who likes the aforementioned Kings, this whole album should tickle your fancy.

Beirut - Gulag Orkestar

13. Beirut – Gulag Orkestar

If you are a fan of either Eastern European or Italian folk music, you will want to bend your ears towards Beirut. While it’s composed by an American teenager, it sounds more authentic than a lot of the folk coming out of those countries these days. Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, and I challenge anyone to feel differently (though most people seem to like Postcards From Italy more).

Songs to check out: Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) – (MP3, 3.8 MB)
Postcards From Italy – (MP3, 5 MB)

Man Man - Six Demon Bag

12. Man Man – Six Demon Bag

More polished than their debut, Six Demon Bag actually sounds like a bag of six demons – at least if such a bag sounds fairly crazy! I am all about the Eastern European influences this year (except for when I’m not), and in this category Man Man does not disappoint. The singing for Hot Bat reminds me of the Soviet National Anthem, which can only be a good thing. The very notion of a song being called Van Helsing Boombox is delightful as well, and the song is almost better.

Song to check out: Van Helsing Boombox – (MP3, 5.1 MB)

The Tiger Lillies - Die Weberischen

11. The Tiger Lillies – Die Weberischen

I know a few people (read: everyone!) will be disgusted and/or disappointed to see The Tiger Lillies make this list, but to them I dedicate a rendition of one of my favorite songs on this album, Screw You. For those of you who are unaware of the musical juggernaut that is The Tiger Lillies, they are a band that is insane as they are prolific; I have 15 of their albums, and pretty much every one of them is insane as the next. They play the neo-cabaret that I am such a fan of, and their singer sings most of their songs in what can only be described as a ridiculous falsetto. The accordion is as prevalent and delightful as ever. This latest album of theirs, they actually have some songs where they don’t sing in the falsetto, or at least not all the time. It is amazing, but don’t expect to like it (is the advice I give to everyone about this band).

Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat

10. Jenny Lewis With The Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat

“I can’t remember why I hated you” are the lyrics that sum up my feelings towards Jenny Lewis. Before, I pretty much hated Rilo Kiley, or at least their music. Nowadays, I can’t remember or even fathom why. Rabbit Fur Coat, Lewis’ alt-country “solo album,” doesn’t have much in common with Rilo Kiley, outside of the generally downbeat songs. If you are into that sort of the thing, you should get Melt Your Heart; if you prefer something a bit more bombastic, get You Are What You Love. If you are into classic rock covers, get the much-whored cover of the Traveling Wilbury’s Handle With Care.

Mon Frere - Blood, Sweat and Swords

9. Mon Frere – Blood, Sweat and Swords

If you enjoy hard-driving rock with some electronic keyboards and synthesizers thrown in for good measure, you could not dislike Mon Frere without blowing my mind. They combine the musical sensibilities of a mainstream band with the talent of a… non-mainstream band. I’m surprised that they’re not way more popular than they are.

Song to check out: Drain – (MP3, 3.8 MB)

El Perro Del Mar - Look! It

8. El Perro Del Mar – Look! It’s El Perro Del Mar

If you enjoy Swedish music that bigs up the mellow and sad, you will have to get yourself some El Perro Del Mar. The saddest of these songs is, of course, Sad. What a downer. I guess this is why the next song is Party, which while not being something to bang at the club, it is not so much of a downer. Nice transition, at least.

Sierra Swan - Ladyland

7. Sierra Swan – Ladyland

If you are a fan of female-fronted piano-pop, you probably like Regina Spektor. If you are like me and prefer a more melodic voice (my love for The Tiger Lillies notwithstanding), you will enjoy Sierra Swan. I got this album from Doug because of the name and was so impressed with the opening track, Copper Red that I had to listen it to a few times before venturing further. Usually that ruins an album for me, but not in this case. Nay. This album is amazing.

Song to check out: Copper Red – (Music video)


6. Persephone’s Bees – Notes From The Underworld

For those who like their music ridiculously happy, enter Persephone’s Bees. For example, one night, Doug gave me a logic puzzle revolving around unfaithful husbands, and since I was listening to Persephone’s Bees at the time, I honestly couldn’t fathom that unfaithful husbands even existed. They do, of course, but not in the world of this gloriously upbeat album.

Song to check out: Nice Day – (MP3, 3.7 MB)

Nanuchka - A Carefully Planned Accident

5. Nanuchka – A Carefully Planned Accident

Nanuchka! While I have not the foggiest notion how that is pronounced, their musical prowess is solid. Their singer is the ex-bassist of the previously mentioned World/Inferno Friendship Society, and sang on a few of their tunes as well. Nanuchka does not have the horn section that is required for full-blown gypsy punk shindigs, but they still retain the gypsy punk spirit. And there is certainly no need to mention how ridiculously attractive she is. If a song titled The Tale Of The Little Falafel Girl And Her Only Love does not pique your interest, nothing will… ever.

Song to check out: Captain Sensible Calling – (MP3, 3.1 MB)

The World / Inferno Friendship Society - Red-Eyed Soul

4. The World/Inferno Friendship Society – Red-Eyed Soul

It’s been a while now since Doug told me a story about how he was listening to “world inferno” and expecting me to understand just what in the hell he was talking about. While I imagined it to be a mix of genres (i.e. really fiery world music), it’s actually a band, and a damn good one. I wasn’t entirely wrong with my original assumption though, as they are pretty fiery, and they do mix genres, but these genres are ones that could actually be described as fun, such as gypsy punk and ska. Red-Eyed Soul is probably my favorite album of theirs, and if that’s not good enough reasoning, it’s definitely my favorite album of theirs that came out this year (Just The Best Party is also worth your time).

Song to check out: Brother Of The Mayor Of Bridgewater – (MP3, 2.8 MB)

The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine

3. The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine

Ah, The Thermals, what a strange and wondrous band. Their debut album was slightly repetitive, but damn if it didn’t rock my socks off. Their second album? Perhaps more melodic, but if you expected to be rocked, like I did, it was one hell of a letdown. So I’m filled with much joy that their latest album compromised, mixing the energy of their first with the melodies of their second, and making for an album that everyone can agree on.

Song to check out: Here’s Your Future – (MP3, 2.8 MB)

The Divine Comedy - Victory For The Comic Muse

2. The Divine Comedy – Victory For The Comic Muse

Once upon a time, I asked for an album to be depressed to, and so was recommended Absent Friends by The Divine Comedy. Despite not being the best album I’ve ever heard (not that I would have expected such a thing), the opening track, Charmed Life was piano-pop perfection. It alone intrigued me into getting their latest album, Victory For The Comic Muse, which I found much more to my liking overall. It also has many of their best songs, including Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World, A Lady Of A Certain Age, Mother Dear, To Die A Virgin, and Diva Lady. It is truly a masterpiece, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Margot & The Nuclear So And So

1. Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s – The Dust of Retreat

Here is one of the best debut albums I’ve ever heard, though if you were going to be very anal about it, it’s not a “true” debut as the members have been in various bands previously. Regardless, Margot (ah, shorthand) is one of the most lyrically-proficient bands out there, and neither the music nor singing is lacking. Jen Is Bringin’ The Drugs, for instance has the heartbreaking lyrical eloquence of Bright Eyes without the cracking voice. Can a higher compliment be paid? Probably, but I can’t think of any.

Song to check out: Skeleton Key – (MP3, 4.7 MB)