Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 10 Albums of 2008

I listened to more new full albums this year than probably ever, largely due to having a fast internet connection, a stretch of unemployment, and a desire to put this list together. These rankings always change/potentially become embarrassing with time, but as of the second day of the new year here's my tops (update: I had to change this around a little after listening to the Erykah Badu obsessively).

10. Amplive - In Rainbowz (Radiohead In Rainbows Remixes)
The DJ/producer from Zion I turns my favorite album from last year into haunted hip hop/electro bangers. Who thought you'd ever hear Too $hort and Thom Yorke on the same track?

9. Q-Tip - The Renaissance
"What good is your ear if Q-Tip ain't in it?" The Abstract proves he's still on point (without Phife) with an incredibly tight, focused album of organically grooving jams that reminds you of the glory days without sounding stuck in the past.

8. Fucked Up- The Chemistry of Modern Life
It's been a looong time since I liked a hardcore album this much. That sun shining through city blocks is the perfect cover image, symbolizing the ultimate positivity of this band despite its ugly elements. It makes me feel like I can take on the world, despite everything.

7. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter 3
It was Wayne's year, without a doubt. This album showcases not so much the flow that took him to the top, but rather the weirdo pop smarts that's keeping him there. Let's hope he gets out of his "singing in Autotune and pretending to play guitar are awesome" phase and tops this.

6. El Guincho - Alegranza!
Its title is a rarely used word for 'happiness,' which seems appropriate. Endless tape loops, tribal chanting, innovative percussion, bizarro samples. The weird thing is that everyone was saying that he sounds like Animal Collective, but that wasn't true until the stuff on AC's new album.

5. Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit are The Very Best
Another feel-good one, this time in a more traditional way. The Malawian sings gorgeous original melodies in his native language over a diverse array (MIA, Vampire Weekend, Michael Jackson) of backing tracks.

4. Gang Gang Dance - Saint Dymphna
Despite being apparently the most accessible album by this band, it's still definitely a grower. I love the freak-out live percussion skittering over the synths as the singer does otherworldly things with her voice.

3. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours
This record proves that great songwriting and amazing electronic sounds aren't mutually exclusive. The acoustic guitars meld wonderfully with the keyboard arpeggios and 90s rave synths and the songs are sequenced in a way that you're totally ready for the four-on-the-floor, hands in the air moments.

2. Erykah Badu- New Amerykah Part One (New World War)
I had always seen Ms. Badu as merely an above average hippyish R&B singer, not really my cup of tea, and was not prepared for an album of this depth and magnificence. The lyrics explore complex social realities and the whole thing has a simultaneous 70s soul/avant garde hip hop vibe to it, like Stevie Wonder mixed by the spirit of J Dilla.

1. TV on the Radio - Dear Science
This started as my least favorite TVOTR album, and there are few tracks that still don't totally work for me (like the opener), but I've fallen in love with the rest of it. The addition of Antibalas as a horn section and the increased emphasis on funk were absolutely steps in the right direction, but the slow burners (Family Tree, Stork and Owl) are among the best they've ever done too.

Honorable Mentions:
Santogold's proper album and Top Ranking mixtape, Lindstrøm, Flying Lotus, Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Sigur Rós, Sébstien Tellier, Black Milk.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

An Animal Collective Christmas

I tend to overuse the word "amazing" but I think it applies to this new Animal Collective song, even as an unmixed live recording from last year's Coachella. Between this and Brother Sport , I'm super excited about the album. Apparently there's some hulabaloo about rabid fans trying to get it leaked NOW cause THEY CANT WAIT! It comes out in a week on vinyl and in less than two weeks when it becomes the first CD I've actually bought in DAYS.

On another note, Merry Christmas. I love my family, hope you do too. This should get you feeling good, if nothing else will. John Lennon is great "get my life on track, never drinking again" hangover music too.

What? John and Yoko too political and self-satisfied for you? Try not to smile through this one then.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pop songs of the year

I've burned myself out on a lot of these, but here are the 10 pop singles from the past year that I enjoyed the most.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Music Moments of 2008

I'm kind of a nerd about "best of the year" music lists and I've been looking at a lot of them and downloading a lot of things I hadn't heard yet so I can come up with one of my own. For now here's 5 random music-related moments that I truly enjoyed this year:

-Being part of the massive dance party whipped up in a big dusty field by a skinny, scruffy canario by the name of El Guincho using only a sampler, a microphone and rudimentary percussion at his free show in Madrid.

-Singing along to the "all she wants me to do is fuck the po-lice" line in Lil' Wayne's "Ms. Officer" the second time I'd ever heard the song, then trying to hit Bobby Valentino's high notes the next hundred times.

-Finally seeing Radiohead live as they became the first band ever to play Golden Gate Park at night and having it be all I'd ever imagined (minus the sound going out twice for like a whole minute each time), especially after a tragic incident of buying tickets to see them in Barcelona and having the tickets go to waste due to extenuating circumstances.

-Sac promoter Jerry Perry's 40th anniversary show for quite possibly my favorite album ever, the Beatles' White Album. The local bands were a mixed bag, but obviously all the songs were great. Surreal highlight: Ride! doing a free jazz version of Revolution 9 as pretty girls dressed in white held white balloons and picket signs bearing slogans like "Count me in/out".

-Lupita requesting Britney Spears' "Gimme More" at Piccadilly in Valencia and not remembering the title. "La en que dice 'It's Britney, Bitch,'" she said to the probably non-English-speaking DJ, who recognized it istantly. Then we were the only people getting down to it on the dance floor. "This is such an amazing song!"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Young Barack Obama, I'm all for it

It's been a while since I've written anything on here, but after seeing a couple Obama speeches on CNN today while caulking in hotel rooms (my preferred way to describe my current job, since pronounced out loud it might lead you to believe I were a gigolo) I've gotten more and more excited about our next president. (Jeb's not counting the votes this time, right?) My feelings have come in waves: believing in the possibility of true change, then thinking Obama will be just another centrist Democrat, then back to hope, where I stand now. Hearing him affirm that every young person should be able to afford college, that health care should not be denied for the seriously ill, sent goosebumps down my back. These rights should really go without saying, and the fact that believing in them gets you called a radical in this country is disgusting, but if a majority of the American voters feel agree with Obama's platform enough to cast their ballots for him, maybe I'm not so radical after all.
The New Yorker recently featured a clever piece by Hendrik Hertzberg highlighting the absurdity of the Republicans' calling out of Obama as a socialist. Also on that magazine's website, George Packer quotes Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" which in turn quotes economist Warren Buffet, which I will in turn quote here in its entirety:
They have this idea that it’s “their money” and they deserve to keep every penny of it. What they don’t factor in is all the public investment that lets us live the way we do. Take me as an example. I happen to have a talent for allocating capital. But my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society I was born into. If I’d been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. I can’t run very fast. I’m not particularly strong. I’d probably end up as some wild animal’s dinner. But I was lucky enough to be born into a time and place where society values my talent, and gave me a good education to develop that talent, and set up the laws and the financial system to let me do what I love doing—and make a lot of money doing it. The least I can do is help pay for all that.
Packer closes with, "What this suggests isn’t socialism, but wisdom."
Ironically enough, that "hope" image I used up there came (via a Google image search) from a horrendously designed, poorly punctuated site which paints He With the Evil Middle Name of Hussain as a socialist, pointing to the revolutionary imagery as proof. Check it out for a laff.
I leave you with a video of Lil' Wayne and Juelz Santana's version of Nas and Jay-Z's "Black Republican," theoretically because it contains the line I named this entry for, but mostly because it's a hella tight song.

Now GO VOTE!!!! Yes on 1A, 2 and 5! No on 4, 6, and 8!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Evangelicals (the good kind)

Don't know too much about these guys, but I know I like 'em. Thought it was a chick singing at first but their Myspace reveals a strict dudefest. And the video is the good kind of low-budget; a B-movie horror throwback that fits the music quite nicely. If you listen to the video without watching it, the screams only heighten the song's intense mood.

The stuff of nightmares

Imagine seeing this dude pull up next to you at the intersection of Mack and Valley Hi. You glance back and the driver looks completely normal again. My friend Mike saw a half-man/half-lion driving when he was about 12 and we still crack up about it. You know, to hide the terror.

New Nas video: Wow.

More of a short film, really, soundtracked by "Y'all My Niggas" from his new untitled album, which I've yet to hear in its entirety. Nasir riffs on the ramifications of that infamous word he almost titled the album before sampling Master of missing the point Bill O'Reilly and closing things out with a screed expanding the boundaries of oppression.
This underlines how frustrating it can be to be a Nas fan: He'll drop something amazing like this, but his output is so uneven after a Shakespeare-level debut at age 20. I've been listening to his second album It Was Written in the car lately and the lyrics are still there, but outside of a few bangers, the production leaves you flat. Bangers i.e. the Lauryn Hill-assisted "If I Ruled the World":

Nasty is flirting with the Puff Daddy Times Squarification of hip-hop in the video, which became insufferable but was pretty fresh in 1996, and his lyrics, while touching on materialism (like you wouldn't have some jet skis if you ran the world), got a discussion of prison abolition on mainstream radio, just as he'll hopefully do now with an honest dialogue on race and class. Thanks Nas. (Thanks also to Sound Verite')

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lil' Wayne is for the children

This is a great piece of writing by David Ramsey in the Oxford American about his experience as a middle- and high school teacher in post-Katrina New Orleans and how it all comes back to Weezy F.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Jamzz

It's Friday, man, you ain't got no (real) job; you ain't got shit to do; you two microbrews deep at 2 PM; you finna bust out a bike cruise in the mildly ghetto neighborhood you grew up in and then tear it up in some b-ball later, but peep some fresh jams first, son.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Adek Dark's: Rap Français Trés Fresh

When I was in Paris this past winter, the friend I was staying with took me to an informal reunion of people she went to middle-school with, held at a neighborhood hookah bar/tea room in the suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine. It was a potentially awkward situation, considering that I don't speak French and most of them spoke only very basic English, but some of the friends were really friendly and made the effort to engage me in conversation. I talked at length with un mec named Marc, mostly about hip-hop. We exchanged emails and he said he'd send me some French hip-hop tracks, but never mentioned that he himself did music.
When he emailed me, I was surprised that the mp3 attached was by him. And even more surprising it was really good! I have basically no idea what he's saying (one line I did understand imagines "Obesity in Sudan, famine in America"), but he sounds awesome saying it. Dark's (I don't get the apostrophe either) mentioned his admiration of Jay-Z and Kanye West, and "Alchimiste," with production by the Soulchildren, sounds like it could be from a French version of The Blueprint.
He's supposed to send me some more stuff, which I'll be sure to share, but for now check out "Alchimiste" and a well-recorded live YouTube video from 2005 with a dude called Barbak le Demoniak.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Eugene Mirman: Who is Sarah Palin?

She'll show those moose who's boss, that's for sure!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fare 'n' balunst

This is wonderful. If you hadn't heard, anyone who dares to criticize Sarah Palin is a sexist! Just ask such noted feminists and beacons for equal rights as Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove.

Obama is going on The O'Reilly Factor tonight, and while it will surely be an unproductive affair that only legitimizes the blowhard as some sort of actual journalist, you can bet I'll tune in, probably at the gym where I can make my rage at the teevee into something productive.
In related news, the night of her speech was the first time I realized that her name is pronounced "pale in," which renders the puns "Palindromes" and "Just Palin Around" technically incorrect, but no less funny. Quick, someone start one called "Palin Comparison"!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mediocrity's greatest hits

There are actually a couple decent individual songs on this Ultimate Alt Rawk Comp, but can you imagine paying money for it? Why not just set your time machine for 2003 and listen to any buttrock radio station in the country?
Making it through the commercial was hard enough; I can only imagine the discs themselves are on heavy rotation at Guantanamo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ah, to be young and nerdy

While languishing in the purgatory of waiting for potential employers to get back to me, I decided to do this survey thing that Gorilla Vs. Bear brought to my attention but apparently started here.
It's a list of my favorite albums from every year I've been alive. I'm doing this with the advantage of my 20/20 hindsight glasses, but I have tried to keep in consideration my tastes from back in those years (not too much, though; you won't be seeing any Kid Rock). Also, I wasn't really into the Replacements in my first year of life. These sites helped out a lot.

1984: Let It Be - The Replacements
1985: No Jacket Required - Phil Collins
1986: The Queen Is Dead - The Smiths
1987: Louder Than Bombs - The Smiths
1988: ...And Justice for All - Metallica
1989: Paul's Boutique - Beastie Boys
1990: Changesbowie - David Bowie (Does that count? If not, then 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours - Green Day. Wait, that's a compilation too. Damn it, 1990 sucked!)
1991: The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest
1992: The Chronic - Dr. Dre
1993: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Wu-Tang Clan
1994: Illmatic - Nas
1995: Ready to Die - The Notorious B.I.G.
1996: Sublime - Sublime
1997: The Carnival - Wyclef Jean (I want to see how this one stands up. Dude's kind of a cheeseball these days, but I remember this being amazing.)
1998: Aquemeni - OutKast
1999: Black On Both Sides - Mos Def
2000: Kid A - Radiohead
2001: Discovery - Daft Punk
(This is the point at which it becomes very difficult as I was becoming a music geek, therefore I begin cheating and listing more than one)
2002: Hold Your Horse Is - Hella | Blazing Arrow - Blackalicious (Sac Town what!)
2003: De-loused in the Comatorium - The Mars Volta
2004: Funeral - Arcade Fire
2005: Frances the Mute - The Mars Volta (shut up) | Late Registration - Kanye West
2006: Return to Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio
2007: In Rainbows - Radiohead | Person Pitch - Panda Bear |Kala- MIA | Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
2008: No full albums have really grabbed my attention yet. Santogold?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This is what you missed by living in America.

The EuroVision song contest is an annual event loaded with American Idol-style vocal acrobatics, costumes that figure skaters (except the one actually employed by winners Russia) wouldn't wear in public, and banal lyrics almost all sung in English. The two bright spots showed a self-awareness and intentional humor that underlined the ridiculousness of their competition.
"Baila el Chiki Chiki," Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, Spain

(official video)

(performance at Eurovision '08)

"Divine," Sebastien Tellier, France

(official video)

(performance at Eurovision '08)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Su Sussudio

Phil Collins' "Sussudio" was apparently a popular choice for children's televised talent contests circa 1986. I may have performed it myself had I been older than 2. The damn thing's been stuck in my head ever since I saw this awesome performance at Street Carnage with an accompanying anecdote about precociously gay kids. It reminds me of the scene in American Psycho where he's flexing in the mirror during the threesome. Coincidentally I just finished reading the novel upon which it was based, which is funny and brilliant in its way but also has some incredibly graphic sexual violence that made me physically nauseated at times. I still prefer the movie. But back to this video, note the cool-guy host with the 80s face (seriously, it's not just the hair and clothes, there's no young people with faces like that anymore) who dances to stage left as the song starts.

Then there's this one featuring future stars Mario Lopez, already fancying himself a lady-killer, and one Stacy Ferguson. Hey, guess who had the worst singing voice and dance moves of the group? Hint: he or she (seriously, I'm not sure) is currently a huge pop star and quite possibly, to paraphrase Sports Illustrated, a sign of the immanent apocalypse.

Monday, June 23, 2008

El Guincho in Madrid

Barcelona-based El Guincho took the stage solo on Saturday at a free show in Madrid as part of the European Day of Music. Armed with only a sampler, a mic, one tom drum and a tambourine, he whipped the crowd into a frenzy with his tropicalia-based electronica. I've heard him compared to Panda Bear, who I also love, but the only real similarity is that they're one-man bands singing over loops. El Guincho veers much closer to dancey techno, and while his recordings might seem borderline annoying if you listen to it while typing at your computer, I highly recommend them for your next open-minded dance party and by all means, catch him on tour if possible.

Also on the bill were electro trio The Pinker Tones, also from Barcelona, who mixed things up by playing live bass, guitar and a pared-down drum kit along with their mixing and scratching.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós is streaming their whole new album at their website, and you can also download the mp3 and watch the video for the amazing first single "Gobbledigook." Most of the album is what we've come to expect from the band, but "Gobbledigook" features acoustic strumming, a fast melody, and clocks in at under 3 minutes! This one especially and a couple more tracks have a very positive, upbeat feeling that I'm really enjoying. The video compliments the tribal good feelings of the song by showing naked youths frolicking in a forest. It is "inspired by and created in collaboration with" photographer Ryan McGinley, who apparently is currently boning the lead singer. Speaking of which, Vice recently published some cool early photographs by McGinley with little stories about their context.

Will Arnett is a hilarious bastard.

The sketch comedy show Human Giant is an oasis in the vapid, soul-sucking desert that is today’s MTV. Here we have a guest appearance by GOB himself, Will Arnett, who seems to play the same character in anything I’ve ever seen him in, maybe that's his real personality but he still manages to be hilarious. It gets pretty raunchy, don’t watch it at work or in front of any impressionable children.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

El Chiki Chiki en la luz del Quijote

(English Translation coming soon)
Tuve el placer de ver por la primera vez la semana pasada el concurso anual de la Eurovisión. No había planeado verlo puesto que era el sábado justo antes de los exámenes finales, pero una amiga me acordó de su existencia cuando me contó que alguien la había invitado a una fiesta de ver el concurso.
—Pero debería estudiar—dijo.
—A lo mejor podríamos estudiar en tu casa y tener la tele encendido, el volumen bajo y nos pondremos atención cuando pase algo interesante—sugerí.
Estábamos en la tienda PC City donde estaba esperando para revolver unos ariculares. Le preguntó a un chaval de unos quince años esperando en un sillón igualito que lo en que ella sentaba.
— ¿Sabes cuando empieza la Eurovisión?
—Pues, creo que por las nueve, ¿no? Por las nueve. Pero el Chiki Chiki no estará hasta las once o por ahí.
Por supuesto, el Chiki Chiki. La selección de España para representarse en la competición y lo único que importaba a alguien aquí de ella. Había visto el video en YouTube, me hacía gracia, pero no entendía su popularidad enorme. Tomaba un café una vez con un grupo de españoles quienes empezaban discutir su estupidez y lo único que pude añadir a la conversación era, “Sí, pero es cómico, ¿no?”
Pero esto era antes de experimentar la misma Eurovisión y contemplar lo que intentaba hacer este Sr. Chikilicuatre. Después de mirar un par de canciones, me horrorizó el espectáculo de un desfile de canciones repugnantes, la mayoría con letras genéricas en inglés. No pude distinguir entre la competencia salvo un par que se destacaban por mostrar algo de la cultura del entrante o alguna gota de originalidad. La alternativa de ver más de este desastre hizo que nos apetecía estudiar para el examen del arte.
Eventualmente me noté la introducción de España. Subimos el volumen y miramos fijamente a la pantalla mientras Rodolfo Chikilicuatre empieza con un solo de unas notas de “Old MacDonald” tocado con su juguete guitarra y entonces canta, o mejor dicho, recita sus letras absurdas sobre su baile, “El Chiki Chiki,” los varios personajes que lo bailen mientras sus bailarinas se caían y entonces luchan a levantarse de nuevo. La interpretación terminó en la plaza décimo séptimo pero un solo país, Andorra, la dio su máximo número de puntos. Es una señal de brillantez que a pocos les encanta algo, mientras los demás lo odian o no se llama la atención.
Obviamente, no conozco las culturas de los otros países europeos como la española después de vivir aquí durante nueve meses, pero me dio cuenta que esta interpretación sólo podría venir de España. Es un espectáculo de fracaso en que el cantante no puede cantar y las bailarinas no pueden bailar. Mientras los otros países hacen alarde su conocimiento de inglés, Chikilicuatre utiliza unas palabras de inglés mal pronunciado y deletreados fonéticamente como si fueran español en una pantalla atrás, por ejemplo breakdance como “brikindans”.
Su uso del medio de la canción pop a burlarse del mismo medio viene directo del Quijote. Cervantes escribió una obra maestra que esencialmente es una burla de la forma popular en aquella época de la novela caballería. Por supuesto hay más temas del libro que los relacionados a la caballería, pero es una crítica directa a ellas. Siglos después, el Quijote sobrevive como la primera novela moderna y podría decir la mejor de la historia, mientras el genero de la novela caballería está muerto hace siglos.
Cervantes fracasó y fracasó con sus novelas ejemplares porque el público, producto de la sociedad del Siglo XVI, no conectaban los temas. Cervantes escribía de un amor totalmente desconectado de las ideas del amor cortés y amor de lejos. Sólo llegó a reconocimiento con la publicación del Quijote. Pero el público general no reconocía las como criticismo social, sino como algo gracioso. “Baila el Chiki Chiki” ha entrado al concurso Eurovisión por su humor absurda, pero es realmente una critica de un concurso ridículo y inútil. España no eligió la canción porque querían perder o querían hacer la peor canción en la historia del concurso. Al contrario, sabían que iban a perder el diseño del voto (que algunos países vecinos siempre se votan y uno del Oriente siempre gana) y la escogió para decir que estupidez a propósito es preferible a canciones ridículos y terribles que se piensan muy serias.
Cuando tomó la decisión a convertirse en un caballero andante, Alonso Quijano tuvo que cambiar su nombre también, ya que todo de su personaje se cambió. Eligió el nombre don Quijote, un nombre ridiculo. “Rodolfo Chikilicuatre” es una invención del humorista David Fernández Ortiz, que hasta invento una fecha y lugar de nacimiento para Rodolfo. El nombre mismo es igualmente absurdo a Quijote, utilizando la antigua palabra española chiquilicuatre que tiene muchas connotaciones, ninguna positiva. Como nadie llamó a don Quijote “Alonso” después de su conversión, la prensa juega junto con Fernández en tratar el personaje como si fuera el propio artista mientras insista que Chikilicuatre es su apellido natural. Me acuerda del final de la vida de don Quijote, cuando dice que estaba loco pero ya es cuerdo, y no es don Quijote, sino Alonso Quijano. Pero nadie lo acepta. Ya están metidos en su juego. Estoy seguro que hasta su muerte, la gente llamarán a David Fernández Ortiz como Rodolfo y le pedirán a bailar el Chiki Chiki.

In defense of Scarlett Johansson (kind of)

So Scarlett Johansson's musical vanity project has been out for almost a month, and the critical response and sales have both been dismal. Critics have not been able to separate the music from the knowledge that it was made by a movie star with no real singing talent but high profile friends, and fans of her Hollywood movies looking for a typical pop album and finding distorted, slow shoegaze instead.
But the fact is, becoming famous enough to release a major-label album is a crapshoot based on knowing the right people and/or being in the right place at the right time. So her previous fame must be excluded from the discussion. Then there's the matter of her voice. It's deep and doesn't have much range; the comparison that comes to mind is Nico, who herself is proof that you don't need to have a great voice or write lyrics or music to make classic songs. And who is Johansson covering here? Tom Waits, the critical darling with a voice that makes Bob Dylan look like an American Idol contestant.
The production is courtesy of TV on the Radio's David Sitek, and the first single, "Falling Down" sounds like nothing more than his band as fronted by the actress. Obviously it's missing the two amazing vocalists of TVOTR, but crank it up and try to deny its apocalyptic, slow-building power as she sings, "I've come 500 miles just to see your halo..." The fact that David Fucking Bowie sings backup on it and he's the least remarkable part of the track has to say something.
Anywhere I Lay My Head is not a great album, but it's certainly not bad and has several amazing tracks, which would be a shame to miss out on regardless of your feelings on Johansson's acting or public persona.

SeeqPod - Playable Search
Playing the Ramones to Johansson's Nico fronting the Velvet Underground, this is Vivian Girls. I just heard three of their songs and don't know a whole lot about them except that they're from Brooklyn (where else?). They also have elements of shoegazey distortion in their guitar and production, but it's over super-poppy songs reminiscent of 60s girl groups. They have much sweeter voices than ScarJo and an overall punkier, less polished aesthetic. Possibly their catchiest song, "Where Do You Run To" is available over at Gorilla vs. Bear.

Rounding out today's trio of female-fronted pop is Sweden's Lykke Li, whose debut album Youth Novels just came out in Europe and is soon to follow in the States. You've probably already heard it, but I have to include my favorite version of "I'm Good I'm Gone" which was filmed in a bathroom and involves some creative water-based percussion. I really like the arrangement on her songs where it's kind of sparse in the verses and then all comes together for brilliant, hooky choruses.