Chris Tobler

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Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
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December 9, 2014 on Win Stereogum’s 10 Best Albums Of 2014 On Vinyl Courtesy Of Insound
I'm really loving this record, but Tom's suggestion that it's the best thing Lewis has ever done gives me pause. Rilo Kiley had some pretty solid records... The Execution of All Things especially. That thing is a stone-cold classic in my opinion. It's not as shimmery as The Voyager (Rilo Kiley didn't shimmer that much until Under The Blacklight) - but every observation you made about Jenny's lyrical prowess was already in full display on that record, right from the opening lines of "The Good That Won't Come Out" and right on through to the (absolutely shredding in the old-school sense) "Spectacular Views". And for my money, there is not a better lyrical/musical description of what depression feels like than "A Better Son/Daughter" - that song destroys me every time, even with its wind-up-toy-waltz conceit. The Voyager is still really really good. I'm just saying, you gotta go do some homework.
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July 29, 2014 on Album Of The Week: Jenny Lewis The Voyager
It's All Too Much
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February 18, 2014 on Win The Beatles The U.S. Albums Box Set
My favorite varies from day-to-day... but right now it's pretty much between: Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks The National - Trouble Will Find Me Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City I also really love the new records from Frightened Rabbit (I haven't seen much love for that one so far - it's so good you guys!), Rilo Kiley (I'm really loving Rkives A LOT), Mikal Cronin and Low. Oh and Daft Punk is kind of melting my brain.
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June 4, 2013 on Stereogum’s Top 25 Albums Of 2013 So Far
Tame Impala's technical mishap reminds me of Sasquatch 2008, when The National were scheduled to play the main stage, but their van broke down en route. Since they were the single biggest reason I'd made the 10 hour drive, I was pretty heartbroken. Fleet Foxes (who had played the very first set of the day) got to play a second set in the National's place (and killed it btw), and when The National finally rolled in they were set up on the much-too-small Yeti stage (just like TI). They backed their van right up behind the stage and unloaded right there while Modest Mouse were playing the main stage. Just like you described for Tame Impala, a huge crowd crushed up against that tiny stage and Matt Berninger & co. were visibly appreciative of the show of support. They played an incredibly moving set, and we were even able to get them out for an encore performance of "About Today" (pretty amazing for a festival set). That still is to this day one of my favorite ever concert experiences. So yeah, sometimes delays and screw-ups can totally work in your favor.
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May 26, 2013 on Sasquatch! 2013 Saturday: Sigur Rós, The xx, Tame Impala, & More
It's kind of a testament to the National that even though my list is significantly different, I can still get behind just about every song on this list. It's just apparent that the writer REALLY likes HIgh Violet. Which is a really great record. Here's my list I put together in about 2 minutes before I read Stereogum's: 10. Wake Up Your Saints 9. England 8. Murder Me Rachael 7. So Far Around The Bend 6. All The Wine 5. Bloodbuzz Ohio 4. Slow Show 3. Secret Meeting 2. Mr. November 1. Fake Empire (All The Wine should make every National list ever for this line alone: "I'm put together beautifully Big wet bottle in my fist, big wet rose in my teeth I'm perfect piece of ass" So great.
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April 10, 2013 on The 10 Best National Songs
The way The National layer and layer and layer again when recording, it's no wonder that their guests' contributions start to sound sort of impressionistic at most... it's all just part of the primordial goo that eventually becomes the recorded song. That said, their two previous forays with Annie Clark and Sharon Van Etten (the Crooked Fingers cover "Sleep All Summer" and the gorgeous High Violet b-side "Think You Can Wait", respectively) are both pretty straight-forward collaborations of the most traditional order. And they're both pretty brilliant. So I'm excited to hear what else they've done with these two.
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March 23, 2013 on National’s Trouble To Feature Sufjan, St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten
I really enjoyed this write-up. While I think you'd be pushing it to connect the direct-influence dots between PM Dawn and today's hip-hop, it's pretty awesome to hear how much of their sound has bled into and diffused through the genre over 20 years.
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March 22, 2013 on The Bliss Album…? Turns 20
Does anyone know if "Turn Around"/"Tattered Line" are totally new recordings? Or Give Up-era hold-overs that never got released? They sound more like contemporary DCFC to me, but I haven't been able to find anything to verify my hunch. I'm only wondering because I love Give Up so much, but I really don't love these. Either way, they kind of solidify Give Ups "lightning-in-a-bottle"-ness for me.
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March 21, 2013 on The Postal Service – “Turn Around”
Woop, premature publish... this is what I meant to say: I don’t know, I think most of the hate stemmed from the fact that it just wasn’t as brutally gut-punching as midnight organ fight was… which isn’t really fair, because a record like that doesn’t come along very often. But I loved WOMD, and I think its a solid record on the backs of songs like "The Wrestle", "The Loneliness and the Scream", and "Not Miserable" alone. I think Pedestrian Verse is actually pretty similar, both sonically and lyrically, to WOMD, but its not meeting as much vitriol because its not being perceived as a huge let down after an undisputed classic.
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March 14, 2013 on Deconstructing: Frightened Rabbit, Macklemore, And The Perils Of Earnestness
I don't know, I think most of the hate stemmed from the fact that it just wasn't as brutally gut-punching as midnight organ fight was... which isn't really fair, because a record like that doesn't come
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March 14, 2013 on Deconstructing: Frightened Rabbit, Macklemore, And The Perils Of Earnestness
I know this is a day late, but I've got to respectfully disagree. While I'm sure what you've described is true in your own experience (and frankly, in mine too, at least among my circle of friends) - it gives a false impression of what "most drug experiences" are like. Specifically, what you describe is a relatively apt description of middle/upper-middle class recreational drug users, which I'd suspect covers most of the people who frequent Stereogum. However, at least in the US, the vast majority of illegal drug users (whether its hallucinogens, meth, prescription pills, whatever) do not necessarily come from this demographic - rather, we see most drug users (and therefor, most drug abusers) coming from the lower socioeconomic classes (the lower-middle-class to the outright poor). What you've described is someone who had a good experience on a mind-altering substance, but then has the adequate socioeconomic capital to appropriately weigh what the costs/benefits of continued drug use would be to their life. When someone doesn't have all the social/educational/intellectual/economic capital to do that, then whatever feels good right now tends to win out, regardless of the cost/benefits you described. I'm not discounting your experience, or even that it may apply to a good swath of people. But I've worked in addiction recovery programs for years, and the truth is that there are millions of people who suffer from drug addiction silently... and the reason you don't hear about it is NOT because they're having such a good time. It's because they are poor (read: invisible). [ALSO: m b v is really great!]
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February 6, 2013 on Album Of The Week: My Bloody Valentine m b v
We always talk about the inherent contradiction in listing art from best to worst - I mean it can't actually be done, right? ESPECIALLY not for someone like John Darnielle - his catalog is too varied and too universally excellent to make any meaningful comparisons (for example, you can't actually say "Tallahassee" is a better record than "Sweden", or that "The Sunset Tree" is more fully realized than "All Hail West Texas" - they each set out to accomplish different things in very different contexts - and all succeed). That aside, I was so excited to see WSABH as #1 - that will always be my very favorite of all Goats records. That thing does crazy things to my emotions. CRAZY THINGS. Also! I was so happy to see Transcendental Youth so very high - I've been loving that record so much. I don't know if I'd personally put it above "The Sunset Tree"... but songs like "White Cedar" and "In Memory of Satan" certainly make a solid case for where you've put it.
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December 6, 2012 on Mountain Goats Albums From Worst To Best
I adore Sharon van Etten's Tramp... but Japandroids won me over when they opened their album with a song containing a whole verse composed entirely of the word WHOA. Then the rest of the record was incredible. Sooo... Japandroids - Celebration Rock for record of the year. (Sorry Sharon!)
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December 4, 2012 on The 2012 Gummy Awards: Vote Now And Enter To Win An iPad With Retina Display
I've actually really enjoyed reading all these lists over the past several months. I particularly like how they're presented as a single listener's take on the artist's output, rather than a voted-on staffroom consensus. Those are fine and all, but I love how these lists allow a writer to say "this is their best record and this is why I think so". I haven't agreed with all of them, but I never get the feeling these lists are trying to be disingenuous. It's just that writer's take on it. For example, Tom defends Vol. 3's merits as a record, but he also adds in the sentimental detail that it coincided with his own first move to NYC. While I obviously don't share that experience, I can't discount it; instead I can allow it to present a different opinion than my own, as well as an opportunity to re-assess a record that I'd frankly written off a long time ago. And to be honest, isn't that why we read these things anyway? Or is it just to reinforce our previously-subscribed-to opinions of recent musical history? To pat ourselves on the back and say "I already believed that _____ was _____'s best record and now I see that others believe it too, and therefore no more exploration is necessary"? That doesn't sound fun to me.
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October 5, 2012 on Jay-Z Albums From Worst To Best
"It's a dwarf planet. That doesn't mean it's not a planet. It's just smaller."
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April 9, 2012 on Watch Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, & Bryce Dessner Perform More Planetarium Songs
That's not all! Sufjan, Nico and Bryce actually debuted an entire set of new material for us on Friday: a song cycle they called "The Planetarium", all loosely inspired by celestial objects. Videos for Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury have all made it to the internet in addition to Venus, and they're all magnificent (especially Mercury... that one had me in tears: They'll be performing the set for several European cities in the next month or so, but that's all they said about it. I have no idea if they're planning to record it or what, but it was some pretty beautiful stuff for sure. So yeah. Y'all should've come to Cincinnati last weekend. :)
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April 2, 2012 on Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly & Bryce Dessner – “Venus” (Live At MusicNOW)
I think it's hard to argue against Pet Sounds, and that's probably my favorite record. But I've still got a soft spot for all the early 60's cheesy Beach Boys stuff... like seriously, how great is Little Deuce Coup?? Summer Days (And Summer Nights) is a pretty good mix of that and Brian Wilson's later, artsier stuff... plus it's got Help Me, Rhonda (my all time favorite BB song), Girl Don't Tell Me, and California Girls. So good guys.
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October 28, 2011 on Win Beach Boys’ The Smile Sessions Box Set