Tag Archive: The Hard to Get


That wasn’t actually a question.  Prime numbers are sexy, and indie music is sexy, and our Best of 2009 THUS FAR lists are sexier than Paste’s.  Also, more interesting.  Anyway, so, I read Eric’s list and decided perhaps I should make one of my own, because we do, of course have slightly different tastes, and although 4 out of my 13 picks are by artists he also picked, my song choices are different.  So, you should probably just combine our lists and make one massive playlist of wonder.

1) “Cradle” - The Joy Formidable Yes,  this song is number one on my list for a reason.  I love it with all my heart, and I watch the video over and over again wishing for her hair, and a see-saw, and my childhood back.

2) “You’re  Not Coming Home Tonight” – First Aid Kit These Swedes speak to me.  Good luck buying this EP.

3) “Because We’re Dead” – Slow Club This was a really difficult pick for me, as there are so many incredible songs on Yeah, So.  Maybe it isn’t so predictable a choice because of its pace and sparsity, but that’s exactly why I picked it. 

4) “Troll Nacht” – The Dodos You just heard this a couple days ago when they began streaming the album online…I guess there was an album leakage, so why not stream it for everyone’s enjoyment?

5) “Some Day” – We’ll Make It Right Another tough decision, another glorious album.  “We’ll Make It Bright” was a close second.  I like when they say “you better run no matter who you are”–it’s so cute!

6) “Dance Serene” – The Hard to Get I know, I know!  Eric and the producer both say “Good at That” is the best song on the EP, and yet, I can’t help saying that “Dance Serene” is the best, and not only that, it is also one of the best songs of the year, beating out all of Paste Mag’s crap.  (I don’t mean crap in a bad way, promise).  It’s catchy, French, and fits Melissa’s and Tim’s voices in a really unique and charming way.  So, “Dance  Serene” it is.

7) “Serve Them Well” – Swimming in Speakers I swear I’m not trying to argue with Eric.  Some of these artists have reached such a degree of quality that it’s really truly difficult to pick a “best” song.  Although, I am right, and “Serve Them Well” is the best.

8 ) “Songs in the Night” - Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers Samantha Crain is so wonderfully sincere and vulnerable in her music.  This is a brilliant album.  Go see them live if you can.

9) “Young Adult Friction” – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart I like their sound, and their angst, and I think this song is fabulous.  I’m only just beginning to get a grasp on life in my twenties, and they help me.  Also I will review them soon, if you want.

10) “On My Usual Catch Up with Cecilia” – Hari & Aino Okay, Eric, I agree.  Adore these guys.

p.s. I think Chris Graham should do my wedding photography

11)  “Step Off the Map and Float” – Library Voices My new obsession.  I’ll be reviewing their EP soon, I hope, even though I did sort of already rave about their myspace page.  Whatever!  p.s.  I think Chris Graham, who did these headshots, should most definitely do my wedding photography.

12) “Snow Room” – The Secret Life of Sofia Okay, I’m kind of guessing about the release date for this one, and I apologize if it’s not a 2009 song.  But these things are difficult to find sometimes.  Anyway, I love it for its ethereal qualities, and I’m waiting to see The  Secret Life of Sofia become bigger and bigger.

13) “The Trapeze Swinger” – Iron & Wine It might be cheating because it’s a compilation album, so the song was not, you know, first ever heard in 2009.  But the song is one of my favorites, with the most strangely beautiful lyrics you may ever hear, backed by Sam Beam’s classically, expectedly rapturing acoustics.

And there’s my list, love it or hate it.  (Just kidding, I know you’ll love it).

17 is kind of a sexy, unlike Megan Fox

Someone from Paste magazine recently posted his top 25 songs of 2009 so far (I’m too lazy to go looking for it, so you can find it for yourself). I only agreed, I think, with one of the tracks on his list, so I have made my own. I’m also too lazy to actually come up with 25 songs and put them in any sort of real order, so here are 17 songs, more or less in the order they ranked in my mind at the time I posted this. (Why 17? I don’t know. I like it. It’s prime number and a rather attractive, if slightly abrasive, one at that.) I’m sure, if I had an entire day to work on this (and didn’t have to drive to Chicago after work tomorrow), it would probably look somewhat different. Also, I can’t promise that these all came out in 2009, it’s a little hard to tell with unsigned bands.

1) On My Usual Catch Up with Cecilia – Hari and Aino I think you all already know how I feel about them

2) Close My Eyes - The Peekers Life in the Air is a pretty fabulous album. This song reminds me a lot of Pink Martini’s “Sympathique” 

3) In Knowing – Swimming in Speakers Yeah, we love them a lot. It looks like a lot of people are coming round to our way of thinking.

4) Good at That – The Hard To Get It’s encouraging to know that producer agrees that this is the best song on the EP 

5) Bobby on Repeat – Parlours I haven’t told you about Parlours yet, but I will. Right now it’s a handful of demos recorded by Dana Halferty but I am very excited about the future of this project.

6) And Suddenly – The School Granted, it’s not my favorite song on the MySpace page, but it is my favourite of the tracks to be released this year. 

7) Funny Little Frog – God Help the Girl Yeah, it’s a cover, but Brittany Stallings’ voice is brilliant. This is one sexy recording. 

8 ) Sad Eyed God of Lovers & Drunks – Bitter Things I forgot how much I love this band until I listened through their MySpace again in preparation for this list. 

9) At Least I’m Not as Sad as I Used to Be – fun The new album will be out in August, but you knew that already 

10) French Navy – Camera Obscura This is the one that made the Paste list.

11) Mess of Hope – This is Ember I am sorry to admit that I haven’t really thought about This is Ember since Dutch Week. I miss them. 

12) Keep Cooler – Nancy They are from Brazil. I am pretty sure it is not pronounced quite the way it looks, but I might be making that up.

13) Seventeen – Casxio *Note the irony…

14) Sweetheart – Mari Persen Mari is also a member of The Royalties, from Bergen, Norway. The Royalties have an American tour coming up in October, but it looks like it is going to be limited to the NYC and L.A. areas. Sad. I like them a lot. Mari’s solo work is more inspired by Blossom Dearie and will appeal to fans of the early Cardigans (like Emmerdale and Life). There is an album due out around October.

15) The Magic Between Us – Venus Hum I still don’t really know when the album is going to be coming out, but I’m gettin’ antsy. I love you, Annette. (By the way, is anyone keeping track of the crushes I have admitted to since starting this blog?)

16) Whirring – The Joy Formidable Technically, this song was released in 2008 on A Balloon Called Moaning, but the eponymous 7-inch came out in May. My copy is autographed because they love me and because I pre-ordered. 

17) It’s not the End of the World, Jonah – The Secret History I admit it. This kind of sneaked in at the end of 2008, but I didn’t hear it until February of this year. That is the only reason it falls so low on the list, otherwise it would probably hover somewhere around 6 or 7.

So, there’s my hastily assembled “17 Best of 2009″ list. You probably think I’m a complete whackjob. That’s fine. I’m used to it. Argue with me here or on Facebook.

Oh, I totally forgot that Dear Reader‘s Replace Why with Funny came out this year. In that case, stick “Dear Heart” somewhere up there in the top five.

Wow. I thought I was going to get home a lot sooner than this, so I will make this quick. Our friends The Hard To Get set out on the West Coast leg of their tour this weekend. I was listening to both of their EPs today, and, in case you were wondering, I still like them as much as I did the first time, maybe more. I’ll post the dates below. Make sure you get out and support them, because they are way cooler than anyone else you know and I will accept no excuses less urgent than weddings, funerals, and severe medical emergencies (and no, you can meet your new nephew tomorrow). And check out their tour blog, because it can be pretty doon hilarious (and there is a video of Tim and Melissa singing Sleater-Kinney songs in the car).

Speaking of concerts, I went to one last night. Camera Obscura. And though I was surrounded by so many trendy, skinny, beautiful indie kids that I found myself wishing I had the will power to be anorexic (no, I am not kidding; yes, it did freak me out.), it really was a great show. (Have I mentioned that I love Scottish people, especially Glaswegians?) And while I agree with Paste that “French Navy” is definitely one of the 10 best songs of the year so far, I am not going to talk about them. Besides, you probably already know who they are. You may not, however, have heard of Anni Rossi who is opening for them. Consequently, you probably have no idea how amazing she is, so let me tell you. She is amazing. Anni Rossi is Anni Rossi and a viola. A viola! You don’t see a lot of violas outside of symphony halls, and for good reason. They have something of a reputation for being–how shall I put it–boring.

Anni Rossi‘s viola is not boring.

Think of Anni as something of an Andrew Bird figure, with (you guessed it) a viola and no loop pedal. And this was the amazing thing to me. The way she uses her instrument more than makes up for what could easily come across as a detrimentally thin texture. Yes, the rich color of the viola’s tone (reaching into a lower register than the ubiquitous indie violin) helps a great deal, but it is her use of varied bowing techniques (e.g. col legno, sautillé, and jeté, if you care about such things and also lots of pizzicato, if that counts as bowing [if you have no idea what I am talking about, read this]) that is most effective in enriching her sound. Also, there is the occasional use of scordatura (awesome!), at least I think that was intentional and not just an unfortunate side effect of the high humidity. Also, I absolutely love her voice. Think of something like Bjork’s phrasing and idiosyncrasies with the color of a Vanessa Carlton and all the charm of a cross between Jena Malone and Regina Spektor. (There is probably a simpler and more accurate way to describe it, but I am at a loss). Anyway, check out the video for “Wheelpusher” below, and catch her in concert. I think she is playing a few dates with Micachu later this summer after she finished up with Camera Obscura.

By now, you know that I can be somewhat excitable, and when I get excited, I tend to bombard you with the same information ad nauseum (how many times have I linked to my own post about The School?). And when I get really excited, I become preoccupied and forget to do important things, like a #faibw recap. Get over it. This is better. [Begin tale of serendipitous googling]

On Monday, I was doing some research for my Splashdown entry (did you all download your free albums, albums plural?!), trying to figure out if Melissa Kaplan, the former lead singer of Splashdown, was still performing around L.A. as Universal Hall Pass. Google lied–sort of. This was the other Melissa Kaplan (not Melissa Kaplan the world-famous herpetologist and author of Iguanas for Dummies, heretofore referred to as MK3). But its ok, because she likes Splashdown and Universal Hall Pass and she capitalizes and punctuates her emails. Also, she is in a band.

The band is The Hard to Get. They are from L.A. and I have listened to their new EP, Looking Good at least 15 times since Tuesday. Looking Good, starts off strong with the title track and Melissa singing “Mama didn’t live like me / She was married by 23 / She didn’t rock a late night scene, / didn’t follow her midnight dreams” over acoustic guitar arpeggios and Tim Lee’s accordion, all of which is reduced to bass and handclaps by the third verse before mounting to the requisite tutti finale.

“Dance Serene”, the fourth of the five tracks which comprise Looking Good is notable as an admirable invocation of the Brazilian sound (impressive since, as most of you probably know, Los Angeles is not in Brazil). Seriously, folks, this track could very well have appeared on a Cibelle or CéU record. The final track, “She Is a Jet”, is a strong closer. With a groove worthy of nosnow/noalps and momentum to match, this is a straight-up indie rock tune, and a good one.

On such a short set (about 20 minutes) with so many bright spots, it is difficult to choose a standout track, but I have done so anyway, and I’m going to go against the grain here. While in many ways, “Dance Serene” is the landmark track of Looking Good, it is the third song, “Good at That”, which has stuck with me from the moment of the first listen. Maybe it’s the sickeningly infectios “do do do” refrain (I’m singing it right now, can’t you hear?) or the call and response style chorus. Or it could be the lyrics, which are terribly clever (“Hey I don’t know how / I got caught in your labyrinth of mist and cloud. / From France to the Hague / the only thing that’s clear is that our love is vague. / But the last time I tried to share what I could see / I had to give my heart a hysterectomy. / I’m really good at faking out. / What a tease.”). I can’t really be sure, but I do know that this is clear cut, good songwriting and I like it. And it ends on a major seventh (which is sexier than Piney Gir‘s accordion)!

I haven’t mentioned the second track, “The Verge”. It’s good, too, but I didn’t want to sound like I was gushing or anything and lose 12,000 indie points for such an uncouth departure from my typically cool and disaffected writing style. (God forbid my blog be too blog-like!) The Hard to Get are in the process of finalizing their summer tour, and we will try to have those dates for you when we can. For now, you can buy Looking Good from thehardtoget.com, listen to several of the tracks on MySpace, become their fan on (the far superior) Facebook, and watch the video for “Shake” below.

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