Friday, December 28, 2012

Top 10 of 2012

Here it is, folks!

10. The Damn Choir - You're My Secret Called Fire

We listen to music in search of an emotional connection. "Noah" (the fourth track on this album) seared through my heart a particularly apt moment. The rest of the album's soulful, gothic Americana is worth a listen, too.

9. Jonathan Segel - All Attractions

A wonderfully unique collection of psychedelic rock. As I wrote in my initial review, Segel jumps into space and lands on both feet. A true accomplishment.

8. Rosary Beard - Halfmoon Fever

Gorgeous and unpretentious instrumental guitar music.

7. The District Attorneys - Slowburner

Joyous jangle-pop from Athens, Georgia, The District Attorneys are following in a rich tradition while making their own definitive mark on college rock. Judging from their latest EP, we've got a lot to look forward to in 2013.

6. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires - There Is a Bomb in Gilead

On this blog, it's pretty much a given that Lee Bains would end up on the list. Hurtling out of Alabama like a bat out of hell, it's impossible not to want to get up and dance to this album. Or drink. Or whatever your activity of choice is at a live concert. Because this album brings that energy to your eardrums.

5. Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray - We're From Here

A masterful debut album, We're From Here reflects the many subgenres of the new roots-rock movement. Miss Shevaughn and Yuma Wray are consummate musicians and songwriters -- it's hard to believe this is their debut album.

4. Cahalen and Eli - Our Lady of the Tall Trees

Also an obligatory addition to the list. Gorgeous, soulful, thoughtful, richly crafted. This is what folk music should be.

3. Sonia Tetlow - Own Way Home 

 If you're surprised to see Sonia Tetlow on this list, you haven't been paying attention. To be honest, Own Way Home almost didn't make the list. But the thing about Sonia's music is that you have to work a little for it. You need to listen to it five or six times before it hits you in your gut. I re-listened to Own Way Home while cooking dinner to decide if it would make the cut-off. The next day, I woke up with "Hook/Line" stuck in my head. If you let it, this album will enter your bloodstream.

2. Rachel Brooke - A Killer's Dream

When I grow up, I want to be as playful, spunky, seductive, and badass as Rachel Brooke.

1. The Sparklers - Crying at the Low Bar

This was just one of those discoveries that reminds you why you love music. What can I say? With their whip-smart lyrics, bar-band raggedness, and '90s-throwback guitar hooks, The Sparklers captured my heart.

Who was in your top 10 this year?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Falldown -- Falldown EP

Here's a little late stocking stuffer before I post my top 10 list on Friday. Chicago alt/country supergroup Falldown is throwing their hat into the ring with this six-song EP. Comprised of former members of The Redwalls and Chicago-based prog-rock outfit The Hue, Falldown is nothing if not confident in their material.

The band hops between southern rock ("The Drain," "Ugly Early"), bluegrass ("Sarah Says," "Slay Me") and dreamy power-pop ("Couch Sleep," "Steal Again".) As far as I'm concerned, it's everything on my wishlist. I'll let you know when the full album is ready for your listening pleasure. In the meantime, you can buy physical and e-copies from the band's website.

Falldown -- Official, Facebook

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rachel Brooke -- A Killer's Dream

Rachel Brooke's A Killer's Dream is best enjoyed in the kitchen. Maybe it's because I'm a woman, though. See, this album is a time machine. Brooke has captured the smoky, illicit feel of a true rockabilly club -- her seductive purrs and desperate wails don't belong in the ears of nice girls and men in gray flannel suits.

Her desperation in "Late Night Lover" transports us to an era without sexting or free love; the romance and desperation of an illicit tryst the old-fashioned way. "Fox In a Hen House" and "Serpentine Blues" are a furnace blast of vengeance.  And if you're able to get through "Old Faded Memory" -- a duet about two lovers, long since separated, reminiscing about their youths -- with a dry eye, you'd better check yourself into Bellevue.

This album belongs in The Basics -- an honest-to-goodness record that grabs you and won't let go. You'll be seeing it on my top 10 list next week. According to this interview, Saving Country Music has dubbed Brooke the queen of underground country. I can't think of anyone else who deserves the title more.

Long live the queen.

Rachel Brooke -- Official, Facebook, Spotify

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joey Kneiser -- Moonlight For the Graveyard Heart

If you haven't listened to Glossary's most recent album, Long Live All of Us, you should. It's a shot of measured optimism and a quiet celebration of life -- something we could all use.

Shortly after completing that album, lead singer Joey Kneiser began work on his own EP, Moonlight For the Graveyard Heart.

The EP, in my opinion, picks up where Long Live All of Us left off. Kneiser has stated that he wanted to make something a little darker, yet with a "spark" of hope. Though Moonlight For the Graveyard Heart is certainly more muted, I don't think it's darker at all. Maybe a little sad, but never crushing.

My favorite song by far is "Dark Creek Bridge," a meditation on a lost love. (You'll notice that's a recurring theme here this week. Sorry.) 

Joey Kneiser -- Glossary Official, Facebook, Download on This is American Music

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Grand Prospect -- The Grand Prospect

Listening to The Grand Prospect is the musical equivalent of drinking whiskey: it makes your ears tingle and you have the vague sensation that maybe this is what gold would be like if you could hear it.

Or maybe I have borderline synesthesia?

Anyway, The Grand Prospect's self-titled debut is nothing less than grand.

The music is a throwback to the best of classic, Southern rock without the weird sense of nostalgia for a decade that none of the band members lived through. The band may be based in Brooklyn, but there is a healthy sense of rootsiness here. It's hard to believe The Grand Prospect is a debut; everything here feels practiced, seamless, and confident -- as if playing music together were the most natural thing in the world.

I'm very excited to see where this band has come from and looking forward to seeing where they're going. Give The Grand Prospect a home in your mp3 player today.

The Grand Prospect -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

If you're reading this, you've contributed to making the past year really great.

I've been telling all sorts of new acquaintances (dates, coworkers, students) that I have a music blog. I act like it's a pretty dorky thing (I mean, it is a pretty dorky thing) but folks seem impressed nevertheless.

I do feel a sense of accomplishment. There are essentially two reasons I started Adobe & Teardrops: 1) to give exposure to artists who didn't quite fit into my favorite music blogs, but who I felt fit quite nicely in a broader spectrum of music and 2) to stop having to choose between buying food and buying concert tickets. (There was one pretty hairy weekend where I went to a Two Cow Garage show and had to survive on rice cakes.)

BUT now I'm not a grad student anymore and I've been put on the guest list for multiple shows, been sought after by bands and publicists, and am on the press list for some really great record labels, for whom I'll happily spread the gospel of their tunes.

As I explained to my students, I decided I was going to create a project, I set some goals for myself, and now I'm achieving them. And that's a pretty great feeling.

I've made new music friends across the country as well. To those who have left comments, follow on Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc. thanks for continuing the conversation about our best friend: music.

I'd especially like to thank Von from Americana Rock Mix for fielding my questions over the past year. Listen to his podcast if you don't already.

So what's on tap for next year? To be honest, maintaining the three-day update schedule would be nice, especially with my teaching load. I think I've finally gotten the hang of it, though.

I'd love to increase readership. You can help me out by sharing the link to this ol' blog with your friends.

I'm also looking to continue to increase the diversity of music featured on this blog. If you have music to suggest, send it my way. Meanwhile, I'll keep working on those bigger labels and hope they'll add me to their press list.

One last note: I went back to my first entry, hoping it would help me figure out what to write. I clicked on the video for "What Dying is For" because why not? I could use some pump-up music. I walk out of the room to try some cookies that my roommate brings home. When I get back he says,

"PLEASE turn that crap off. Or at least put on some headphones."
"What? You can barely hear it."
"Yeah but I can hear the bass..." He hums a few bars. "It's terrible."
"The song's barely started!"
"Oh but I know it's just going to get worse from there. I remember from my days of listening to Fall Out Boy."
"...If you keep comparing this band to Fall Out Boy I'm actually going to kill you."

So. Thanks to you folks for understanding.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The District Attorneys -- Jr.

The District Attorneys have gone and done it again. They've created a neat little package of power pop for you to consume at will.

The free EP, Jr., was recorded in the band's home studio between tours promoting their debut album Slowburner. Where Slowburner brims with exuberance, Jr reflects the band's growth over the past year. "Target Practice" is a transition from the DA's sugary pop riffs off of REM and into a more earnest, wistful tone that brings Bill Mallonee and the Vigilantes of Love (another Atlanta stalwart) to mind.

Jr shows us that Slowburner was not a fluke; the DAs are here to stay and they won't be hitting their sophomore slump. Hie thee to Soundcloud and download today!

The District Attorneys -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Creak -- Here Hold This

This Friday will be Adobe & Teardrops's first birthday! It seems fitting to kick off the blog's birthday week with The Creak. They were the first band to send me stuff in the mail, which made me feel like a legitimate blogger.

The San Francisco-based band's second LP is as witty as their debut, Here's to Feeling Bad All the Time. In spite of The Creak's bleak lyrics, the band brings a sense of fun to their group person, as evidenced by their jacket art:

I mean, a postapocalyptic bluegrass band? Sure. Why not.

The Creak bring a joi de vivre to their music that is, unfortunately, all too rare. And I can now say that with a year of listening to everything that found its way to my inbox. These guys are a standout band, and it's worth your while to give Here, Hold This a home on your hard drive. After all, it's cheap as free.

The Creak -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp