It’s funky, it’s infectious, it’s none other than Kamtin Mohager’s Chain Gang of 1974 (see vampire at right). The Denver, CO native breaks out all the stops for a perfect blend of punk/dance/pop explosion that is the solo debut “White Guts.” We’ve cranked up “STOP” on the sound system for more than half the year, a beat-driven psychediscopunkadelic opener that layers choruses and simply doesn’t relent. While you’re at it, you might as well put on “F’n Head,” a bass-heavy, tangled mass of electronica that damn well makes you punk out your f-ing head. The ten tracks here play fun and tough throughout, and theRead More →

True soul singers are tough to come by. So when we finally heard about Sharon Jones and her Dap-Kings, we were a bit skeptical. “Yeah,” we thought, “but can she really sing the part?” Thankfully, she can. Sophomore album “I Learned the Hard Way” is coursing through with soul, body, too, and is the kind of album we were dreaming of since Motown had its day. It’s tough to pick only a few highlight tracks, considering the whole album truly is fantastic, but try on “Mama Don’t Like My Man” and the title track. If you’re still not convinced after listening to those tracks, thenRead More →

If you’ve ever purveyed your local dance/ trance halls, you’ve probably noticed that there’s much too much bad dance music. You know, the kind of stuff that requires that extra drink just so you can try out that new dress on the dance floor. With “Disconnect from Desire,” the sophomore album from the trio composed of twin sisters Claudia and Alejandra Deheza, as well as former Secret Machines rocker Ben Curtis, you’ll gladly get out and groove in a potato sack. The reason why is simply: good dance music grabs you and puts you on your feet. Whether it be “I L U” or “ByeRead More →

Top CDs of 2009: Our Big One! This is it. Animal Collective have outdone themselves when it comes to complex, interweaving sound structures, Beach Boy-like harmonies, double choruses, and pure, distilled sonic bliss. Fair warning: “Merriweather Post Pavilion” is not necessarily for everyone, unlike Grizzly Bear’s, which is more pop-oriented. But here, if you have a bit of time to give to the Collective, you’ll easily find this one of the most rewarding listens in your collection. Their dense electronic pop somehow maintains both a nostalgic and modern feel to it (we’re still trying to figure out how!), but enough description: listen to “My Girls,”Read More →

Top CDs of 2009: Part V As we’re nearing the end, we find ourselves repeating what several other magazines must already have repeated: Grizzly Bear’s album is a must-have. But so what if everyone on the indie scene is still talking about it? We’re not afraid to jump on board and throw laurels at “Veckatimest,” their third studio album. Quite frankly, it’s chock-a-block with harmonies and flavor, and making their structured pop a top pick of this or any year. Among the several highlights are “Two Weeks,” with an utterly Animal-Collective chorus, and “While You Wait for the Others,” which crashes into you like aRead More →

Top CDs of 2009, Part IV (con’t) Boom. Chack. Boom. Chack. From the opening synth of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s third full-length to the last strike of the drum, there is no doubt that Karen O is trying to get you up and dancing. The pure glissful disco-rock of “It’s Blitz!” is engrossing, infectious, and glorious: there is little doubt that these ten electro-shock tracks are some of our favorites of the year (with “Zero,” “Hysteric” and “Dull Life” the favorites of our favorites). It’s simple, really: good performances, good lyrics, and crazy energy drive this album through and through, and if you’re the kindRead More →

Top CDs of 2009, Part IV Breaking off from his homebase of the Felice Bros., Simone Felice took something of a gamble on this duo effort with Robert Burke. Naming their collaboration after a pair of river-bound rapscallions in Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the folk/pop work here is as gorgeous and flowing as the Mississippi, starting with the plaintive opener “If You Ever Get Famous.” There are too many highlights here to piece them out, but let’s say one of our favorite songs is still the spacer “Lose My Self;” it breaks the gorgeous pace set here, and is fantastic in and of itself. Throughout thisRead More →

Top CDs of 2009: Part III (con’t) We here at RMMM hate the 80s. Despise it. In fact, if there were one decade that was in need of a complete cultural retooling at the hands of superior cackling hens, that would be the one. Why, then, is the worst of our pop culture the best of this year? One answer: “Mallory.” We’re still digging the disco beat that permeates this long-player, and even if you’re not a fan of retro-pop/rock, you have to appreciate that “Ancient Lover” is pure saccharine glee. There isn’t a wrong note here, not a single “yawn” moment, and yet, forRead More →

Top CDs of 2009: Day III It’s strange, it’s un- conventional, and it’s a CD that certainly grows on you. Only St. Vincent’s second solo LP, “Actor” uses atypical orchestration and gets a vicious, angular sound, especially in the opener “The Strangers.” Strings, clicks and blaps, and breathy, gossamer vocals all in the name of… yes, pop. But it’s deep pop, and if it doesn’t keep spinning in your player for a while, then we feel truly sorry for you. We’re still digging into smoother sound of “The Party,” which gorgeously mimics the awkward swagger of feeling misplaced, and “The Bed,” which has to doRead More →

Top CDs, Part II It’s all about the Neko. Her third album since 2002’s breakout “Blacklisted,” “Middle Cyclone” is one of those rare CDs that, on paper, just doesn’t work. Twisting, seemingly random song structure, strange, obscure lyrics, a killer whale as one of the narrators, all in all, it doesn’t seem to add up as the top album of an artist’s career. But it does work, and it’s no fluke: marking 11th on Amazon.com’s top albums of this year, we feel, is due to these unusual and poppy songs and Ms. Case’s fantastic country-ish vocals (maybe the red hair, too). While it can easilyRead More →