Quick Toots – Recent Favorites from Smells Like Pop

Destroyer
Ken

A lovely and complete album from Dan Bejar and company with punchy drums and bass á la New Order and atmospheres from Disintegration-era Cure. Only criticism? It’s too short. Get it!

The Smiths
I Know It’s Over (Demo)

This demo recording from The Queen is Dead brings out the drums and bass and makes you think the band is performing live right in front of you. Release ALL the demos!

LCD Soundsystem
American Dream

They said they were through. They went out with a bang. Then, years later there was a single. Then another. And now a full album of new songs from one of our favorite bands. Not their best LP, but a solid and welcome addition to their library.

Luna
A Place of Greater Safety

Luna is back again with a short album of instrumentals. I thought I’d miss Dean Wareham’s vocals gently guiding the songs along, but this is a nice album for listening to while working. Or thinking. Or just doing nothing.

Whenever Dan Bejar’s band Destroyer releases a new album I feel like a giddy little kid at Christmas. Sadly, their new record, “Ken” won't be out until October 20th, but they have put out a couple of singles that I’ll be playing non-stop until then. The beginning of the single “Tinseltown Swimming in Blood” could easily be the opening riff of a new New Order song which isn't too surprising given Bejar's published penchant for the post-punk pop group. Even the cascading drum fills that close the song remind me of the tribal drumming of New Order drummer, Stephen Morris. ...

To start things rolling here at the new Smells Like Pop, we decided to go with something a little personal, and well, precious (to us). Here's a playlist that we made especially for our daughter when she was less than 10 years old for her first boom box. It's full of happy, peppy songs. And then it ends a little mellower, because “Hey, calm the eff down already!”...

As usual, my list of “favorite” albums of the year is just that – a list of what stuck with me most throughout the year, and not necessarily what my brain thinks should be the best albums. Hopefully, these 10 recordings will stand the test of time....

The editors at Smells Like Pop recently experienced the rare opportunity where we were all together at the same show. In this case, it was for Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland. And, instead of relying on one of us to do a write-up, we thought we'd all add a short review. Including our friend, Pete Champ! Cory X's Review The BJM show got almost no local press, which was surprising because of a) the band’s famed and filmed love-hate relationship with locals The Dandy Warhols, and b) they put on a kick-ass show. Anton Newcombe orchestrated from the side of the stage, his distinct vocals and guitar standing out somehow over the wall of sound emanating from four to five other guitars on stage at any one time. The result was loud, of course, but almost restrained, counter to the band’s reputation for chaos. Newcombe even thanked audience...

The documentary on the short, but prolific life and musical career of Jay Reatard is playing now at little movie theaters across the country. We got to see Jay Reatard and his band at an in-store show at Jackpot Records in Portland shortly before his untimely death (murder). I'm glad we did, but it makes this footage all too sad. Reatard's last record was a sign of greatness to come--fast and messy pop songs that had so much power and energy bundled-up in 2-3 minute little nuggets. Alas, what we have is what we get and Jay Reatard is no more. Except on the big screen....

Too busy to write a full in-depth post, but hopefully I will circle back soon and flesh this out more! Without any further ado, here are my favorite 11 albums of 2011: PJ Harvey – Let England ShakeSt. Vincent – Strange Mercy Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Mirror Traffic Wire – Red Barked Tree Destroyer – Kaput Tom Waits – Bad as Me Alessi's Ark – Time Travel Girls – Record 3 TuneYards – Who Kill EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints Honorable mentions Atlas Sound – Parallax // Wild Flag – s/t // Danger Mouse & Daniel Luppi – Rome // Fucked-Up – David Comes to Life // Yuck – s/t // Toro y Moi – Underneath the Pine // Radiohead – King of Limbs //  M83 – Hurry Up, We're Dreaming // Iceage – New Brigade // Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee...

We're busy working on our Best Albums of 2011 lists, and as a preview of sorts, I thought I'd share my favorite songs of the year. Notice I didn’t say "best songs" and in some cases, these bands aren't even close to being on my top album list. But, these are my poppy, hook-laden favorites (in no particular order)...

The neo-retro AM-pop-sincere-yet-tongue-in-cheek duo of She & Him have put out out a Christmas record and that makes perfect sense. Especially when the album sounds like it was transported from the late 60's/early 70's sonic landscape where Doris Day or Jim Neighbors would feel right at home. The songs of She & Him are not just wry retro-updates though, they bring a modern sensibility that keeps the songs grounded in the twenty-tens (the future!). And on their new album, A Very She & Him Christmas the songs work much the same way. The lackadaisical vocal delivery of Zooey Deschanel works nicely on many songs, like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, but album opener, The Christmas Waltz sounds almost like an outtake from "Elf", especially with the minimal instrumentation. Things finally start to roll when M. Ward takes over the lead vocals with Deschanel on harmony on Christmas Wish. The song sounds more complete and...

There’s maybe no other musician that can match Tom Waits’ unparalleled track record. Album by album, and yes, track by track he’s been one of the most consistent artists over the last 30+ years. So, it's easy to take each new recording for granted – when you first put a new Waits’ album on you just know it’s going to be good. But, damn if his recent records don't keep getting better and better as he refines his sound and craft. Strange or maybe not so strange, Tom Waits has seldom had any "hits". At his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past Spring, he dead-panned, “They say I have no hits and that I'm difficult to work with ...

Can you believe it's already December? I certainly can’t! If you do need proof that the year is almost over though, let me point you to the plethora of Best of 2011 lists popping up all over the internet. Based on these lists, 2011 was a year hard to peg down. There was no discernable genre, style or band that became overly pervasive (the year of Gaga?) and many of the lists published so far look quite different from each other. The editors and writers at Smells Like Pop are working hard on their lists and checking them twice--we'll let you know soon who's been naughty and nice! For now, take a look at these: NPR Music's 50 Favorite Albums Of 2011 The Portable Infinite's Top Albums of 2011 MetaCritic's Best Debut Albums of 2011 – The Freshmen 15 Stereogum's Top 50 Albums of 2011 MetaCritic's Round-up of Critic's Best of Lists Rolling Stone's Best Albums...