Allo Darlin Apples in Stereo Darren Hanlon Gold-Bears Imaginary Scoop Jaill Math and Physics Club Nana Grizol Poison Control Center Sourpatch Standard Fare The Thermals

Keenan's Top 10 Songs of 2010 (with Videos)

It’s hard to believe 2010 is already over (which is probably why this list is so late), as it was one of the biggest and craziest years of my lifetime. I quit working full time to start a business with my fiance, and, as some of you know, mid-way through last year I decided it was time to bid Seattle a temporary farewell, and by the end of the year, I was packed up and across the country, living small-town style in Athens, GA. I’m a life-long Seattleite, and will continue to think of myself that way, despite the distance, for at least the time being.

These songs of 2010 were the ones that counseled me through the tough decisions of leaving and provided respite in scream-alongs to remind me that everything was going to be OK. Some of these win brownie points for unbelievably adorable videos, and some of them the songs were just too great to not post something, so bear with the fake youtube videos that just have a photo and the album version of the song. Trust me, it’s worth it.

1. Nana Grizol “Cynicism”

This song probably had the greatest effect on me of any throughout the year as a mantra to be a better person, with the line “Cynicism isn’t wisdom/It’s just a lazy way to say that you’ve been burned”. It’s the kind of line in a song that breaks you down to a pulp only to build you back up even better than you were before. It’s a rare occurrence that I can listen to this song without bawling.

2. Standard Fare “Fifteen”

This is probably the song I listened to most, on constant repeat for mid-work dance parties at home alone (much more fun and less sad than it sounds). Also, the best potentially statutory song ever.

3. The Poison Control Center “Being Gone”

Another on constant repeat, from my four favorite dudes from IA. PCC spent most of 2010 on the road, and will probably spend most of 2011 that way as well. Check them out if you get a chance, as I can’t possibly recommend their live show enough.

4. Thermals “I Don’t Believe You”

Definitely in contender for one of the best videos of the year, if not ever. What can’t Carrie Brownstein make awesome? That’s right, nothing. I pegged this song as an early favorite at the end of 2009, and when Personal Life came out, I knew I hadn’t been wrong.

5. Darren Hanlon “All These Things”

The only thing that could possibly beat the Thermals video. This was another life-affirmer, oft screamed while driving to work to remind me that things weren’t so bad.

6. Math and Physics Club “We’re So DIY”

An absolutely perfect indie-pop song, featuring one of my favorite devices, dropping band names (using an extra inside joke, considering, it’s something that Tullycraft does quite often).

7. Allo Darlin “My Heart Is As Strong As A Drummer”

This song gets serious brownie points for the video. Allo Darlin were a bit of a surprise for me. Me and twee-ish indie pop were a bit on the outs until while recording a podcast, imaginary liz played “Kiss Your Lips” and I fell instantly in cardigan and converse love. I was lucky enough to be at their super-sold out October Rendezvous show and was surprised at how energetic their live show was, unlike many other bands of the genre. I predict great things for this band in 2011.

8. Gold-Bears “Tally”

This video has a serious, but awesome, 120 minutes vibe. Another on constant repeat. The first time I heard this song happened to be one of the worst days I had in 2010, and I sat in my living room bawling, listening to this song on repeat for about an hour until the crying stopped (with how short this song is, I’d put it around at least 30 listens straight) and my life felt re-affirmed.

9. Sourpatch “I Want You Either Way”

This video has a serious 90s vibe, but so does this band. Think classic indie pop: Tiger Trap, Cub, Rocketship – distill all of their perfect, heartbreaking melodies, and combine it with four rambunctious California kids and you’ve got Sourpatch. They put out an amazing album, Crushin’, and an amazing single, Mira Mija, in 2010, and I’m sure they’ll be continuing to melt hearts all over 2011.

10. Apples In Stereo “Dance Floor”

Many classic Apples fans don’t really dig the new stuff, but as a bit of a closet dance music fan, I just can’t get enough (of these songs). Ignore the fact that Elijah Wood looks incredibly awkward in this video, this song has a serious groove and a great melody, just like all the best apples songs.

Bonus 11th song!

11. Jaill “Everyone’s Hip”

This one hit me a bit late in the year, as for whatever reason, despite Chris Estey’s glowing review, and the fact that I saw them play in the Spring, I kept forgetting to pick up this record until I finally got to Athens and listened to it on in-store play at Wuxtry, and it’s been killing me ever since.

Apples in Stereo BOAT Fol Chen Imaginary Scoop On The Road The Crocodile

Win tickets to see Apples in Stereo at the Croc plus a signed copy of their new album on vinyl

It’s been over three years since Apples In Stereo were last in town, touring their fabulous 2006 masterpiece New Magnetic Wonder. Now they’re back with a new fantastic album Travelers In Space and Time.

You want to Go! see Apples In Stereo at the Crocodile October 26th (with crush band Fol Chen and local heroes BOAT!)? Plus win a signed copy of their new record Travelers In Space and Time on vinyl? You’re screaming “Please! Tell me what to do!” Just e-mail [email protected] by 9am on Friday October 22nd with the subject line “IWantToTravelInSpaceandTime“, and please make sure to include your full name, especially if your e-mail address is something like [email protected]

Check out the unbelievably charming video for “Dance Floor” (which we featured on our latest Imaginary Mixtape, and is definitely one of my favorite jams of the year) featuring the ever adorable Elijah Wood and start prepping for the instant dance party on October 26th.


40 Watt Apples in Stereo Imaginary Scoop

Athens Popfest countdown: Apples In Stereo

photo from the popfest websiteIn all this hubub of getting ready to leave for popfest, I keep forgetting that one of my all time favorite bands, The Apples In Stereo, are playing! I’ve been so focused on learning about all of the bands that I didn’t previously know about, just so I wouldn’t miss something by accident, that it’s hardly registered that Friday night will close out with the wonderful stylings of Elephant 6 legends. When everyone gushes about their undying love of Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control and all related projects of those bands, all I can think about is how much I love the Apples (OK, I’ve probably just lost friends for admitting that on the internet).

I’m pretty much a sucker for anything that rips off the Beatles and 60’s psych-pop well, and Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo does it better than anyone. While his love songs are often about space (and sometimes time travel), it still feels incredibly heartfealt. While the new Apples stuff delves way more into an ELO territory, it’s still completely amazing and his pop genius still shines through all the vocoder. I’ll have to stretch beforehand to make sure I can dance my ass off all night.

There are too many Apples favorites to pick just one, but this clip of perrenial live favorite “Ruby”, which generally features guest vocals by whatever friends are there (in this case, TIG favorites Poison Control Center and Fishboy), completely embodies the true spirit of Athens Popfest (though it was not recorded there): playing music with and for your friends and other like-minded folks. It envariably ends up in a crazy dance party.


Afternoon Naps Apples in Stereo BOAT Cars Can Be Blue Casper and the Cookies Go Sailor Gold-Bears Imaginary Scoop Mission of Burma Nana Grizol Sourpatch The Wedding Present

Athens Popfest 2010 lineup announced

Today is like Christmas morning for indie pop nerds. Today, I am giddy as hell because THE ATHENS POPFEST LINEUP HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED! I’ve compared Athens Popfest before to indie pop summer camp, but basically, it’s the best week out of the year for anyone who loves indie pop. And this year {August 10-14, 2010}, I think they’ve really done it with the lineup:

The Wedding Present, Mission of Burma, Apples In Stereo, Go Sailor, Circulatory System, Oh-OK (early Athens greatness), Joe Jack Talcum (Dead Milkmen), Nana Grizol, BOAT, Cars Can Be Blue, Poison Control Center, Gold-Bears, Dream Diary, Eux Autres, Afternoon Naps, World Atlas, Your Heart Breaks and more. Complete lineup after the jump. Commence freaking out and immediately buying plane tickets now. Check out complete band bios here.

Keith John Adams/Afternoon Naps/The Antivillians/Apples In Stereo/Bastards of Fate/Big Fresh/BOAT/Boy Genius/Bunnygrunt/Cars Can Be Blue/Casper & the Cookies/Circulatory System/Dead Dog/Defiance Ohio/Dream Diary/Elekibass/Le Darts/Eux Autres/Flash to Bang Time/Go Sailor/Gold-Bears/The Humms/Laminated Cat/ Los Meesfits/Madeline/Marshmallow Coast/Rose Melberg/Misfortune 500/Mission of Burma/Nana Grizol/Oh-OK/Onward Chariots/Open Letters/Pipes You See Pipes You Don’t/Poison Control Center/PS Eliot/Quiet Hooves/Quintion and Miss Pussycat/Raymilland/Singing Bridges/Sourpatch/Standard Fare/Sweater Girls/Terrapin Pond/Thee American Revolution/Titans of Flith/Tunabunny/The Wedding Present/Werewolves/
Witches/World Atlas/ Your Heart Breaks

This is going to be the best one yet.

Apples in Stereo Beulah Darren Hanlon Death Cab for Cutie Elliott Smith Fishboy Harvey Danger Imaginary Scoop New Pornographers Pants Yell! Racetrack Saturday Looks Good to Me Sleater-Kinney Superchunk The Long Winters The Lucksmiths The Shins The Strokes The Thermals The Weakerthans Tullycraft

listmania continues: keenan's top 20 favorite albums of the decade

photo by trickshot photography

{Long Winters photo by Trickshot Photography}

Because I’m some kind of masochist and a total nerd, I’ve been slaving over this list, keeping it brief (harder than you’d think!) at my favorite 20 albums of the decade without duplicating a band (even harder). Side note: I’ve probably forgotten something I really, really love, so let’s just call this how I feel right this minute. These are the albums I know every note and breath of by heart and I love as complete albums with all of my soul. These are albums that in my humble opinion have no skipable track and are works of beauty in their entirety. I’d also like to point out that these are my favorite albums, as I tend to shy away from calling them “the best”, as really, it’s just my opinion, and who am I to tell you that you’re wrong for not liking these records? (Though, if you catch me in a potentially altered state, I may completely negate that and call any number of these THE GREATEST of all time and call you wrong to your face if you disagree.) I digress. Here they are!

1. More Parts Per Million – The Thermals
2. The Worst You Can Do Is Harm – The Long Winters
3. Go Ahead And Say It – Racetrack
4. Mass Romantic – The New Pornographers
5. The Coast Is Never Clear – Beulah
6. Figure 8 – Elliott Smith
7. Albatross: How We Failed to Save the Lonestar State With the Power of Rock and Roll – Fishboy
8. We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes – Death Cab for Cutie
9. Warmer Corners – The Lucksmiths
10. Allison Statton – Pants Yell
11. Every Night – Saturday Looks Good to Me
12. All Hands On the Bad One – Sleater-Kinney
13. King James Version – Harvey Danger
14. Velocity of Sound – Apples in Stereo
15. Every Scene Needs A Center – Tullycraft
16. Oh, Inverted World – The Shins
17. Reconstruction Site – The Weakerthans
18. Here’s to Shutting Up – Superchunk
19. Little Chills – Darren Hanlon
20. Is This It? – The Strokes

Please feel free to post your own lists in the comments! And look out for my 50 favorite songs of the decade! (Still painstakingly working on that one!)

Apples in Stereo Bright Eyes Death Cab for Cutie Imaginary Scoop Jens Lekman Merge Neutral Milk Hotel Okkervil River Superchunk The Magnetic Fields The Mountain Goats

Merge's SCORE unleashes brilliant covers comp


Merge has done it again! For their 20th anniversary, a part of the brilliant subscriber only compilation series SCORE, the Chapel Hill label (run by none other than members of my favorite indie rock band, Superchunk) is releasing a compilation of covers of Merge bands by a ton of non-Merge artists.

Check it out:

01 Quasi: "Beautiful Things" (3Ds cover)
02 Les Savy Fav: "Precision Auto" (Superchunk cover)
03 The Shins: "Plenty Is Never Enough" (Tenement Halls cover)
04 St. Vincent and the National: "Sleep All Summer" (Crooked Fingers cover)
05 Broken Social Scene: "Complications" (The Clean cover)
06 Ryan Adams: "Like a Fool" (Superchunk cover)
07 Bright Eyes: "Papa Was a Rodeo" (Magnetic Fields cover)
08 Lavender Diamond: "New Ways of Living" (Destroyer cover)
09 The Apples in Stereo: "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 3" (Neutral Milk Hotel cover)
10 Laura Cantrell: "Cowboy on the Moon" (Lambchop cover)
11 Bill Callahan: "Santa Maria" (Versus cover)
12 Barbara Manning: "Through With People" (Portastatic cover)
13 The Mountain Goats: "Drug Life" (East River Pipe cover)
14 The New Pornographers: "Don't Destroy This Night" (Rock*A*Teens cover)
15 Tracey Thorn and Jens Lekman: "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" (Magnetic Fields cover)
16 The Hive Dwellers: "My Noise" (Superchunk cover)
17 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: "The Numbered Head" (Robert Pollard cover)
18 Okkervil River: "All You Little Suckers" (East River Pipe cover)
19 Death Cab for Cutie: "Kicked In" (Superchunk cover)
20 Times New Viking: "Neighborhood #1" (Arcade Fire cover)

Death Cab covering Superchunk! Apples In Stereo covering Neutral Milk Hotel! Tracey Thorn (of Everything But the Girl and Marine Girls!) and Jens Lekman covering the Magnetic Fields! So many exciting things. 

While the rest of the series is subscriber only (and sadly, the subscriptions are sold out… gotta look for that stuff on e-bay), this compilation is available for pre-order to the general public now!

If you were in a band, what Merge cover would you do? Personally, I'd probably pick "Detroit Has a Skyline" by Superchunk or "Plant White Roses" by the Magnetic Fields. What about you? 

Apples in Stereo Imaginary Scoop Imperial Teen Jens Lekman Just Jack LCD Soundsystem Menomena New Pornographers Radiohead The Eames Era Tracey Thorn

Best of 2007: imaginary embracey's ten favorite albums

On the off chances that 1) anyone cares what their friendly neighborhood imaginary film and theater critic thinks about the year’s music releases, and 2) anyone is doing anything at all during the dead ‘tween-holidays week, much less reading top-ten lists, here are my favorite albums of the year, alpha by artist:

  • The Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder
  • The Eames Era – Heroes + Sheroes
  • Imperial Teen – The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band
  • Just Jack – Overtones
  • LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
  • Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
  • Menomena – Friend and Foe
  • The New Pornographers – Challengers
  • Radiohead – In Rainbows
  • Tracey Thorn – Out of the Woods

My films-of-the-year feature (coming early ’08) will be far more compelling. Promise.

Apples in Stereo Live Show Review

Bumbershoot 2007: Apples in Stereo

Every year at Bumbershoot I feel like one show is a reminder for me about what the festival is really about: hanging out with pals in the sun and watching some completely unexpectedly delightful band, preferably in a crowd mixed with friends, fans, hippies, families, and weirdos. Special bonus points if at least one band member is wearing a superhero-like outfit.

Last year, that band for me was Of Montreal. This year, in exactly the same location (the now-named "Sound Transit" stage), it was Denver's Apples in Stereo, who positively delighted a crowd of late afternoon revellers on Sunday with their classic power-pop perfection.

And yes, the keyboard player in the wacky cape was a treat to boot.

(Fabulous photos all by C. Charles Bowden…)

Apples in Stereo at Bumbershoot 2007. Photo by C. Charles Bowden.

Apples in Stereo at Bumbershoot 2007. Photo by C. Charles Bowden.

Apples in Stereo at Bumbershoot 2007. Photo by C. Charles Bowden.

40 Watt American Revolution Apples in Stereo Ideal Free Distribution Live Show Review Tullycraft

Athens PopFest 2007: Day 2 with The American Revolution, The Postmarks, Tullycraft, and more…

I missed the day shows (Atlanta traffic sucks big time and it took 7 hours to pick up a friend at the airport!), but no mind, the night shows more than made up for it.

The evening started with Ideal Free Distribution. They were suped-up indie – flush with loud guitar fills and two band members playing maracas during songs. Since I’m not super-familiar with their songs, the highlight had to be their cover of The BeeGees "Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You." Indie. Ironic. Neat.

Ideal Free Distribution

The next band we saw was The American Revolution–one of Robert Schnieder's (of Apples in Stereo) side projects (another one of his side projects, The Marbles, played earlier in the day). With the signature Apples lead vocals, and the American Revolution's layer of psychedelia overtop every guitar swirl it was easy to imagine you were at an Apples show with a lot of vitamin C in your system.

American Revolution

Perhaps most interesting two points of the set were not related to the music, but the stage show component. Robert were a silver floor length robe with fancy embroidery down the front. Shiny! Also, they had a bearded guy sitting in a chair on stage with them. The fellow didn't play any instruments. He looked like someone your dad would have invited from the office to the Saturday BBQ.

When Robert addressed him, he called him "Sir" and explained to the audience that he actually wrote all the American Revolution's songs. During the curse of the set, Robert asked "Sir" for advice on how to start the songs and what to play next. Was he just a friend that he wanted to get on the guestlist and backstage so Robert made him a "member of the band" (I did hear that it was kickin' back there after all) or someone that Robert owes a poker debt to? Not sure. Perhaps he really is a svengali? I've must admit that I've always wanted one since the Hives romanticized the whole concept.

If I were to see The Postmarks' formula on paper, I'd categorize it as something I would hate, loathe even. Soft whispy female vocals with hints of Azure Ray and restraint of The Clientele under the indie umbrella?

The Postmarks

Rather, the underlying the nods to Mazzy Star redeemed the Postmarks set into a palatable, yet solemn, group of songs. Usually a trio that has expanded to a five-piece for the tour (which included a Lollapalooza stop just a few days ago), they combine fetching keyboards and vocals that more than just ache with purposeful restraint.

The Postmarks at PopFest

The highlight of the night for me came long before the headliner. The club filled up as Tullycraft took the stage. They started off with the audience favorite "Wild Bikini" (and the cute indie kids shy dance moves hit full force). From there they launched into a block of songs from the new album (due for release in October / November).

Tullycraft at the Athens PopFest 2007

The moment that was talked about for the rest of the fest came after the audience sing-along to newbie song "Take Away the Make Up" (a song that will hopefully be on the new album and was spotlighted on the You Ain't No Picasso blog) when an audience member nervously joined the band on stage. In his hand, a suspicious small white ring box.

Tullycraft at the Athens PopFest 2007

The band introduced Josh and said he had something very important to ask. The audience went silent as Josh proposed to his girlfriend stationed in the front row. The couple, huge Tullycraft fans, drove all the way from South Dakota for the Tullycraft show – and Josh decided to make the trip even more memorable. Of course, Adrian's answer was "Fuck yea!" – to which Jenny and Chris of Tullycraft the audience cheered, and the teary-eyed band launched into the couples' favorite song "Miss Douglas County."

Having seen the band multiple times over the last few years career, this show was one of my favorites. Perhaps because of the setting – an Athens and indie-rock landmark, or the diverse audience of indie-pop fans from all over the country (I met folks that came as far as France, Philadelphia, Vermont, Texas, and Canada), or that they featured songs from both their hidden back catalog (it’s been a while since they played “Super Boy” or have ever played “Secretly Minnesotan”) and new unreleased tracks (with "Take Away the Make-up" being the stand out track so far) or that I'm a sap for an indie-pop marriage proposal… but the show is one for the bootleggers.

Really, how else could I celebrate the festivities than by partaking in some shots with various members of the band? Sets by Casper and the Cookies followed by The Circulatory System rounded out the show. But to be honest, their efforts were lost on me (except for the note in my journal that reads "The Circulatory system tore it up with a clarinet.").

Perhaps it was the couple of whiskey shots… or two amaretto shots? Let's blame the amaretto shots since those were as awkward as they sound (I felt like I was sneaking nips of the juice at my mom's bridge party.) Regardless, it was during this time that I conversed with PopFest attendees (Darren Hanlon included!) and we reveled in the joy of the 'fest.

Apples in Stereo Imaginary Scoop Morrissey

As Seen On TV: Morrissey and Apples in Stereo

For all of us who missed Moz when he was at the Paramount Theater a while back (ether because we aren't good planners or too cheap for the pricey tickets), we can see a mini-performance on David Letterman tonight! Other notable things? Hmm…

***Monday, June 25***
Morrissey on LETTERMAN
Apples in Stereo on CONAN (a re-run from 2/14/07)

***Tuesday, June 26***
John Krasinski on LETTERMAN

***Wednesday, June 27***
Michael Moore on the DAILY SHOW

In the coming weeks Conan is going to be hopping with Arctic Monkeys (7/2), Art Brut (7/11), and They Might Be Giants (7/13).