These guys listen to music.
So I've been putting together a little online radio station for eMusic the past few months. (If you don't know eMusic, it's a subscription music discovery service, and I'm honored to contribute alongside all of the super-knowledgeable critics who write there.) While I don't necessarily expect anyone to want to trawl through all of my playlists, I figured I might as well share the songs I've added so far.

Maybe bands will Google themselves and see I'm not a big jerk all of the time? Maybe you'll skim the names and either nod your head in agreement or spit out your coffee in frustration, wondering why I put x on my list but not y? Maybe nobody will ever see this? Who cares!

P.S. If you're in town, please don't forget, Bob Nastanovich and I will be spinning records until we fall down over at Vaudeville Mews on New Year's Eve.



Sleigh Bells' best song of 2012: "End of the Line"

1. Frank Ocean: channel ORANGE
2. Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
3. Beach House: Bloom
7. Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music
8. Japandroids: Celebration Rock


Elite Gymnastics: "Andreja 4-ever"



That's me facing away from the camera, talking to my friend's ex-boyfriend.
Today, eMusic published an interview I did recently with Jens Lekman, along with a review I wrote of his new album, I Know What Love Isn't. I last interviewed him and reviewed his album five years ago for Pitchfork, when he put out Night Falls Over Kortedala. So this was sort of a big moment for me. Although I was at first resistant to the appeal of this Swedish singer, songwriter, and producer, he has turned out to be one of the musicians whose work has meant the most to me over the past five years.

Still, when I saw him at New York City's Webster Hall in April 2008, and then headed back to my Brooklyn neighborhood for the nearby house show posted above, I remember already wondering how he would ever top Kortedala. It was more than an album for me; it captured a moment, a moment that might've been as naive and idealistic as the presidential campaign themes that fall can seem after four years of polarized gridlock. You can always make another album, but moments are out of our hands.

I tried to mention this to Jens, but it didn't really come out in the form of a question, and I'm not sure what I said made sense. Toward the end of our interview, though, I was able to bring up the small but significant role he played in my current whereabouts: As my wife was suggesting we move from Brooklyn to downtown Des Moines, she used local venue Vaudeville Mews' recent and upcoming shows as a lure, and I was thrilled to see had played here.

"I remember that show in Des Moines," Jens told me, in a portion of the interview it didn't make sense to file for eMusic. "It was really fun. Like, there was a big crowd, and everyone was really excited. It seemed like a really cool town, actually." After I talked a bit about how nice it is to see performers away from situations where they know their every move might be dissected by the blogs and media, he said in agreement, "Those shows are just so much more fun, to be honest."

So there you have it. Lekman seemingly remembers playing Des Moines -- his description of the show definitely matches what I heard about it, though maybe every stop in his tour was that way. And while I'm not sure his current album of low-key heartbreak will be embraced in the same way Kortedala was five years ago, to me it's an even better album, of a piece with recent records by Tracey Thorn and Jonathan Richman. Lekman and I are in different places now, different moments, but his music still has a power over me I can't quite explain. I'm looking forward to sticking with it for another four or five years.

see also: "I was a seapunk when I was 12"


channel HOGSTYLE

Lotus Plaza plays at Wooly's in Des Moines' East Village.
So I DJed again on Saturday night at Vaudeville Mews' outdoor PBR Bar. Or at least, played records -- someday I really ought to figure out the whole beat-matching/mixing thing, but at this point I still have enough trouble remembering which discs are 45 RPM and which are 33 RPM. And that's even after I've cued my records up with my headphones. Go figure.

We're in the midst of what officials say is the hottest July in this state since the Dust Bowl, so it wasn't my most crowded DJing gig ever. For most of the night, then, I basically just played what I wanted to play. No matter how soggy-muggy it is out there, though, after midnight you get random drunk people wandering over to dance, so you play what you think might keep them moving.

Thank you so much to Ladd for booking me (under the hey-Marc-you-should-really-think-up-a-DJ-name name of DJ Hogstyle, hence my Frank Ocean-inspired post title), to Kyler for helping me get set up and keeping me from getting too thirsty and just generally putting up with me, to Derek for getting me squared away sound-wise, and to Patrick and Ashley for helping me haul my turntables and crate of records home again.

Once again, I tried to keep a running notepad entry on my phone with the names of the tracks I was playing. I did pretty well until the end, when I have one line that says "Wgotne" (did I play Whitney Houston again? I think I'd remember that) and another line that says, simply, "Bwy" (Sade's "By Your Side"? SWV? More TLC? LCD Soundsystem?). Without further stupid ado:



A new friend begs to hear Meatloaf, though
I'm not sure if she had the title quite right.
Thank you so much to everyone who came out to the Vaudeville Mews' back bar on Saturday night! I had a total blast spinning records again. Despite a needle that broke on the way to the venue, I felt like the night went off almost without a hitch, and I was super excited to see so many friends' faces out there.

As promised, here's what I played.

THIS JUST IN: I'll be back DJing again on Saturday, July 21. Mark your calendars, save some Pitchfork-festival-weekend sweat, keep being awesome.



Beach House: Bloom
Chromatics: Kill for Love
Killer Mike: R.A.P. Music
Allo Darlin': Europe
Heems: Nehru Jackets

Cassie: King of Hearts (Richard X Remix Edit)
Usher: Climax
Lotus Plaza: Come Back
Saint Etienne: Tonight
Carly Rae Jepsen: Call Me Maybe
Arctic Monkeys: R U Mine?
Bruce Springsteen: We Take Care of Our Own
Danny Brown: Grown Up
Tanlines: All of Me
Sun Kil Moon: Sunshine in Chicago

These past six months have been like a waking dream. In November, my wife and I had our first child, so as any parent will understand, the line between waking and sleeping has been thin. But I've also been writing every morning for SPIN -- something I wouldn't even have imagined as a possibility when I was thumbing through the magazine's 1997 year-end list for CD recommendations back in high school. And, month after month, I've been putting together sprawling "best of 2012 so far" posts without ever hitting the "publish" button.

I decided maybe I should let that be a lesson to myself. Most times, when I do these lists, I err on the side of too much information. But we're all overloaded with information these days, and I'm definitely part of the problem. So as much as I'm dying to mention all the dozens of other albums, EPs, mixtapes, and tracks that have been killing me this year -- and I did manage to make it to a few shows, too! -- I'm going to leave it here for now: five full-length releases I can't imagine 2012 without, plus 10 songs I expect to keep in heavy rotation until the next time I do one of these lists.

I'll be DJing again at Vaudeville Mews' outdoor PBR Bar on Saturday from 9 p.m. until whenever, so come out if you'll be in the neighborhood. I'm sure I'll spin some of my other recent favorites, and I'll do my best to post a setlist here.

Until then, thanks for following along!



OK, so I didn't finish this before the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop (my poll entry is here). I barely even finished it before the Super Bowl. But I'm going to throw it up here anyway. For posterity!

Here's a Spotify playlist of some songs it seems to me now people might be less likely to have heard.

Oh yeah, and last year I did a list of "best shows," but I definitely don't have time for that now. The Poison Control Center for sure here in DSM. Purity Ring was cool, too. Crystal Castles pre-Lollapalooza, maybe?



These guys need to try harder.
Hi there, you! It's me... me! We haven't talked in a while. My excuse is becoming the proud father of a two-month-old, with all the extra responsibilities that entails. What's yours?

I'll try to hit you up with my unbeatable 2011 year-end coverage when I get a second, like a real part-time music critic, with rankings and everything-- maybe by roughly the time the Village Voice publishes its annual Pazz & Jop poll? Or by 2013, whichever is sooner. Hey, with the glut of online coverage and preemptive list-making these days, later is probably better. More time to cool off, get some perspective, and spend time with any records I might've underrated during the year. Or not, we'll see.

What I do want to tell you about in this post (so why don't I just tell you already, right?) is New Year's Eve. That's breaking news, so let's steal one of those sirens from that ol' Murdoch wannabe Drudge, shall we?

There we go! Anyway,  on New Year's Eve I got to spin records at my favorite local music venue, Vaudeville Mews, with local pub trivia night master Bob Nastanovich, also known as the guy who has the most fun onstage during Pavement concerts.  Pavement has been one of my favorite bands since 10th grade, so up there on the screen this reads to me like something that should seem like a big deal. But Bob is pretty much the most down-to-earth guy around, so what it really felt like was just a couple of dudes drinking for free and praying their turntables didn't give off an irritating buzz because their grounding wire was fraying (Bob) or send off weird droning quasi-dubstep wooshes because for some reason the table was vibrating (me). I also started a ridiculously high number of records at the wrong speed, 33 when it was 45 or else vice versa, I think Bob might know the exact tally.

We started testing out our gear a little after 8 ("What, you guys don't have a mixer?") and for the first few hours there was basically nobody in the bar, so Bob and I just went back and forth playing whatever we felt like. Suddenly, not long before midnight, the place was just packed, to the point where you had to switch from plucking out obscurities that seemed to jibe with what Bob had just played (or you had just played) to, y'know, Michael Jackson. Which, I love Michael Jackson, but that's a whole different thing! We had a couple of microphones, too, and Bob was nice enough to do the countdown when midnight came (he was playing New Order's "Temptation," and then I segued into the Prince song that is the title of this post, which I thought to myself was particularly appropriate this year because of the Maya end-of-the-world thing and also because after all these tumultuous years 1999 really does suggest a time period when you'd have a super fun party).

Bob ended up having to leave around 1 a.m., which was cool but meant I would now have to pick all the records myself, and play them on my single turntable with its missing counterweight measure and fend off dudebros requesting the Rolling Stones or lady dudes asking me to "play something I know" like for example that MGMT record I was gonna buy earlier that day if they had it at Zzz Records if I had had time to stop by Zzz Records. Luckily, a couple of our Brooklyn friends and their family members had come out to Vaudeville Mews, including a guy with actual, I mean actual, DJing experience who had advised me on my purchase of a new turntable earlier in the week, the one and only David Bacon though not the DJ David Bacon that comes up when I Googled that name just now. So he was able to help steer me toward the good stuff and keep the records playing steadily as the crowd died down and eventually closing time came at 2 a.m. There are a whole lot of other funny stories I started to type just now but I just deleted them, because this isn't Pitchfork Reviews Reviews and anyway it's good to save something to tell each other over beers. You've gotta see the baby!

Here's what we played: (as best as I can tell from the hurried notes I took with the iPhone's "Notes" app)