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I ROCK I ROLL's FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2010 - (#1-10)

Here it is, the final 10! I realize the Joy Formidable album is actually technically an EP, HOWEVER it is 8 songs long, so I'm throwing it in here. I may actually do a list of EPs I loved too or something similar if I have time while vegetating in Chicago for the next two weeks. We'll see! Enjoy:

1. The National - High Violet
Song: Terrible Love

2. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
Song: Madder Red

3. Hurts - Happiness
Song: Wonderful Life

4. The Joy Formidable - A Balloon Called Moaning
Song: The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade

5. Frightened Rabbit - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Song: Living In Colour

6. Morning Benders - Big Echo
Song: Excuses

7. Sleigh Bells - Treats
Song: Rill Rill

8. Beach House - Teen Dream
Song: Zebra

9. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
Song: Terminally Chill

10. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Song: Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

And the rest of 2010:

posted by n. @ 12/17/2010



As I mentioned last week, HP recently sent me an HP Envy Laptop with Beats Audio to try out, give my opinion on and hopefully not destroy in the process. In the spirit of the holidays and all that jazz (and because I am a cheese-tastic dork), I thought my first observations should have theme. And so I give you:


12. This laptop looks and feels awesome. I am huge fan of black matte anything and this machine looks sharp. I love the red lettering on the keys. Not to mention that the whole thing just feels sturdy. I have had other laptops in the past that didn't feel like they could handle a strong breeze without chipping, cracking or falling apart - not the case here.

11. The HP Laptop is a little on the heavy side (at least comparable to other normal laptops), and it's kind of bulky which is kind of a bummer for me. As a New Yorker I walk pretty much everywhere and lugging around heavy things is never much fun.

10. This laptop has a 2.4-GHz Intel Core i5 processor. In non-geek terms, translate to: THIS BABY IS FAST. I am a crazy multitasker with computers. Coworkers often marvel in awe/horror at all of the windows/apps I will have open and running at one time as I zip between them. For me, if a computer can't handle my personal speed (and admitted scatterbrained-ness), then it is not for me.

9. The Windows Live "Cloud." One of my biggest pet peeves about being someone who works in tech and uses multiple computers in multiple places is having to always remember make sure the files I need are somewhere online when I can easily grab them. This is a big problem for music especially since I DJ with a laptop but access music all over the place. My external hard drive has been a so-so backup but with the Cloud you can actually automatically synch up all of your computers no matter where you are - so if I really want to DJ the new Turbo Fruits song that is on my work computer but I'm already at a bar with my laptop and forgot to copy it? Problem solved.

8. IT HOLDS EVERYTHING. 500 GB hard drive. BOOM! I am someone who has a LOT of music. And I also take a LOT of photos. You know how big the hard drive was on the laptop I bought three years ago? 30GB. Yeah that lasted about three months before I had to pick up an external. Storage problems with the HP Envy? = dunzo.

7. Boo the track pad is kind of tricky to use (at least at first). It is very sensitive to touch although sometimes I have to tap it really hard to make it do what I want (that's multi-tasker frustration!). And while you could of course attach an external mouse - in my mind that kind of defeats the point of the portability of a laptop. And I definitely wouldn't want to DJ with a mouse either... faux pas for sure.

6. The packaging is sweet. Seriously, you would have thought I bought a designer purse that's how well presented everything was when unpacking the laptop - which even included a nice dust bag that covered the entire thing. It made me feel like I was unwrapping something very fancy and special, which is nice for gift giving too.

5. It doesn't come with the crazy face mask that Dr. Dre wears in the commercial. Bummer.

4. Sound quality = bananas. This is obviously a given since it comes with Beats Audio (which was created by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. The key is to listen with the Dr. Dre Beats Audio headphones which results in a sound quality experience that I have never had before with a laptop. I do think the sound is a LITTLE bass heavy, but I actually tend to like that.

3. Comes pre-loaded with a bunch of really useful programs like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Hulu's desk top app (I didn't even know Hulu HAD a desk top app - it's great! I was watching A Charlie Brown Christmas in about two seconds today... don't tell my boss).

2. The webcam software it comes with is kind of hilarious! I could probably spend hours playing with it. Please see the below example:

I am such a dork! Hooray!

1. Now that you're this far, and the holidays are near, maybe you are in the market for your own laptop but are worried about the cost. WELL the good news is that the HP Beats Envy retails at just above a thousand bucks, which is totally decent given the storage and everything that comes with it. But since I know we are all trying to save a little dough this holiday season:

HP has totally hooked me up with a promo code that will get you 100 dollars off an HP Envy Notebook. Just be one of the first 50 people to use it at HP!


Way better than a partridge in a pear tree, am I right? In the next installment of this series, I will likely try to play music from my laptop ON my TV (you can do this!) or something equally as crazy fun. Stay tuned...

Also I totally forgot, but the folks at HP did this interview with me recently, talking about blogging, jobs, vegan pizza, all kinds of fun stuff. Check it out.

posted by n. @ 12/15/2010

Rural Alberta Advantage - Stamp

Since their debut album Hometowns made it onto my top albums of 2009 list, it should be no surprise that I am a little more than excited about Rural Alberta Advantage returning to the scene early next year with a brand spankin new album and tour (including a sold out Merc show next month and a few other local dates before a SXSW jaunt).

Departing will be released in March via Saddle Creek and the first single, "Stamp" is a pretty upbeat and bold offering from the band which I really enjoy - although hopefully the rest of the album is not too much of a departure (see what I did there) from their last album overall.

Rural Alberta Advantage - Stamp

Tour Dates:
Wed Jan 12 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (sold out)
Wed Mar 9 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Cafe
Thu Mar 10 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
Fri Mar 11 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
Sat Mar 12 - Brooklyn, NY - Knitting Factory
Sun Mar 13 - Washington, DC - Rock ‘n Roll Hotel
Mon Mar 14 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
Tue Mar 15 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
Thu-Sat Mar 17-19 - Austin, TX – TBA SXSW
Sun Mar 20 - Dallas, TX – The Loft
Tue Mar 22 - Ames, IA - Maintenance Shop at Iowa State University
Wed Mar 23 - Milwaukee, WI - Mad Planet
Thu Mar 24 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Fri Mar 25 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
Sat Mar 26 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall

Tickets for the Bowery Ballroom show are on sale Friday!

posted by n. @ 12/15/2010


I ROCK I ROLL's FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2010 - (#11-15)

11. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
Song: Fast Jabroni

12. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
Song: Dance Yrself Clean

13. Young The Giant - Young The Giant
Song: Cough Syrup

14. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Song: Solitude Is Bliss

15. Darwin Deez - Darwin Deez
Song: Radar Detector

Also view:

I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #1-10
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #11-15
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #16-20

I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2008

posted by n. @ 12/14/2010


Music Monday: Commerce

This post could also easily be titled: Points for Packaging! Seriously, I am a big fan of the digital release for a lot of reasons. The last time I moved apartments, I cannot even begin to express to you the number of cds I had to unload that I had been sent by bands, publicists, promotional agencies, etc. over the years. I'm the kind of person who rips a CD into her itunes and then will likely never touch the actual packaging ever again (if it's a band I really love, I'll buy the vinyl). And that behavior was actually much more common 3+ years ago, with digital releases becoming absolutely my method of choice (not just because it saves me a lot of back breaking box lifting and endless clutter either - though no one wants their living room to look like a musical edition of Hoarders).

All that being said, when I do still get CDs in the mail it is always nice to see a band doing something a little extra special and Tennessee indie pop-rock outfit Commerce took that concept to the NEXT level. I grabbed the CD, wrapped in a very cool brown-paper old-fashioned envelope out of my stack of overdue Direct TV bills and threw it in my purse immediately to listen to at work, having no idea what it even really was. Upon opening the lovely package, which included a handwritten note from band member Matt and clever "Commerce of the State of Tennesse" stamping, I gave them a listen and discovered that their debut LP, The Things I Say vs. The Things I Mean is very tenderly crafted work of pop song-writing.

At times I found certain moments on the album maybe a tad too precious, but perhaps that's just my personal out-of-touch-ness with such sincere expressions of adolescent hope and heartbreak (does that make me sound old and cynical? Probably.. but to be fair I do live in New York City, not the mountains of Tennessee). Nevertheless, overall the album is really well done and hey - we all need something precious to hold on to now and then, don't we?

Commerce - The Same Time

Commerce - Where We Are

posted by n. @ 12/13/2010


I ROCK I ROLL's FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2010 (#20-16)

16. Villagers - Becoming A Jackel
Song: Home

17. Dinosaur Feathers - Fantasy Memorial
Song: Vendela Vida

18. Best Coast - Crazy For You
Song: Boyfriend

19. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Song: Gorgeous

20. Freelance Whales - Weathervanes
Song: Broken Horse

Also view:
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #1-10
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #11-15
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #16-20

I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2008

posted by n. @ 12/09/2010


30 Years.

John Lennon - Instant Karma

John Lennon - Love

John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over

posted by n. @ 12/08/2010


I ROCK I ROLL's FAVORITE ALBUMS of 2010 (#21-25)

This list has kind of been agony to put together. I guess it's only appropriate that when I started doing this in '08 I listed 10 albums, last year 20, and this year 25. It's so hard to choose! And as a caveat - and I say this every year - these are just my favorite albums, by no means the BEST of the year, most critically fantastical, etc. Just the ones I enjoyed the most. Hope I didn't forget anyone here either!

21. Skybox - Morning After Cuts
Song: In A Dream

22. The Soft Pack - The Soft Pack
Song: C'mon

23. The Dig - Electric Toys
Song: Carry Me Home

24. Fang Island - Fang Island
Song: Daisy

25. The Depreciation Guild - Spirit Youth
Song: Dream About Me

Also view:
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #1-10
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #11-15
I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2009 - #16-20

I Rock I Roll's Favorite Albums of 2008

posted by n. @ 12/07/2010


Music Monday: Halves

I can't even tell you how many "weekly" features I have attempted on this blog, to little avail. But I am not a quitter, that is for sure. So I'm going to try to bring you something new that I'm digging and will try to do it every Monday and well.. LET'S JUST SEE, SHALL WE!

Today we have Dublin based band Halves, who self-released their debut album It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever). The reason for this pick is first because I walked into my office this morning and the first thing I thought was "ugh it's snowing and it's the holidays and I'm still half asleep... I want to listen to something droning and ambient and pretty - and this album is certainly all of those things. Perfect to put on when it's dark at 4:30pm and your seasonal effective disorder desperately requires its own soundtrack.

The sample track below features guest vocals from Amy Millan of Stars/Broken Social Scene, check it out.

Halves - Growing & Glow

posted by n. @ 12/06/2010


YOU WANT TO: Win A Pair of VIP tickets to see John Legend & The Roots courtesy of HP + Beats Audio!

Confession time: I've actually never been much of an audiophile when it comes to sound quality - which is weird for someone like me, I know. Friends always give me a hard time about my crappy 10 dollar ear bud headphones that I sport around town (my cat EATS them, seriously), but I just kind of dealt with it and never shelled out the big bucks for a fancy system or headphones. Womp womp for me.

Soooo when HP contacted me about trying out their sweet Envy 14 Beats Edition laptop featuring Beats Audio (technology designed by Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine) I was stoked to say the least, since I would apparently finally really hear the music that I've been missing all this time. Over the next several weeks I'll be playing around with the system and giving them my feedback, but at the same time I wanted to give me readers something a little bit more special and HP was totally down to make that happen.

The deal? HP has curated a private VIP show in NYC next Tuesday (Dec 7th), featuring John Legend and The Roots. They recently released a collaborative album called Wake Up!, and The Roots = one of the BEST live bands out there right now. I also seriously want to hug Questlove. It might be on my bucket list, just saying.

The best part? I have a pair of tickets to give to you.

What do you have to do? Go over to Twitter between now and 8am Monday morning tweet the following:

@irockiroll Please hook me up with VIP tix to see The Roots + John Legend thx to @HP_PC!

Don't care for Twitter? You can also shoot me an email at with the subject line "VIP The Roots/John Legend Tix" in the subject line. Also feel free to attach an awesome photo of Questlove (this won't really help you win, but it will make me really happy).

A winner will be chosen at random (I will probably let my cat pick it or something, she has good instincts except when it comes to headphones) and will announce it here and on Twitter on Monday. Coolness?

posted by n. @ 12/03/2010


MillionYoung: New tune + Album deets

While we haven't even gotten into my favorite albums of 2010 yet (they're coming!), hands down one of the 2011 releases I am most excited for is from Florida act MillionYoung. Mike Diaz and band were gracious enough to play my CMJ showcase this year and pretty much blow minds any time they are in front of an audience.

Their fab publicist Beth, who sent me the unmastered tracks to devour a few weeks ago, cleverly dubbed their sound "the new wave chillwave" and I have to concur.

The album, titled Replicants is due out on February 16th on Rix/Old Flame records, with a digital release of 1/11/11 (kind of the coolest release date EVER). Sample track Perfect Eyes below to tide you over until then.

MillionYoung - Perfect Eyes

posted by n. @ 12/01/2010

Oh Land. Oh Yes.

Let's just get this out of the way first: I am really kind of tired of every (I mean EVERY) music blogging/loving boy telling me how hot he thinks Oh Land is. I mean ok, she is basically a 6'0+ tall, pin thin, blue eyed Danish supermodel - real name Nanna - I get that. For me, it's actually a bit off-putting (I guess I find Lily Allen types more relatable to my average midwest-raised self), and on top of that it doesn't even matter, because Oh Land is more stunning artistically than she is merely stunning visually. I managed to catch her perform twice during CMJ which was definitely a treat, she brings her own light box and balloons but tends to be so mesmerizing that you don't even need the distraction.

Musically, if you're into the overall vibe of recent power-pop-girls with a side of electro in the vein of La Roux, Lykke Li, and Little Boots, Oh Land is right up your alley. Tracks like "Son of a Gun" offer up sugar beats with a killer hook, while tracks like Perfection feel like a perfect electronic comedown from the rush.

Oh Land's US debut is due out in 2011 on Epic Records.

Oh Land- Wolf & I (Live) from Oh Land Music on Vimeo.

Oh Land - Sun Of A Gun

Oh Land - Perfection

posted by n. @ 12/01/2010

probably drunk

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MP3s are posted for sampling purposes ONLY. I do not post entire albums and STRONGLY ENCOURAGE everyone who reads this blog to pursue the bands you discover here and fall as madly in love with them as I am. That being said, if any label/company/whathaveyou would like any of the files here to be removed, PLEASE email me and I will personally do so myself without haste. Thanks!

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