Monday, January 9, 2012

New Sunset

Waterloo Sunset has moved. There will be a new look and new feel in the new year, but feel free to use this site as an archive. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011 // The Albums

There was no giant record of 2011 to hang our collective hat on--when reading through other lists, the choices are fragmented and scattered across a wide variety of genres, moods, and styles. That has become par for the course in the digital age, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone is finding their own personal "best" album of the year, something they can call their own and have a real emotional connection to. I had a few of those powerful moments this year, more so than in recent memory. If there is one defining theme to this list, it's that they all share a similar headspace: they're reaching for the stars while trapped on the ground.

There's no particular order, as these records meant different things at different times. Take a gander, listen, and buy the albums from the artists--they could use your help and attention.

Words/songs after the jump.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Champagne Year: Best of 2011

Another year, come and gone. As the sun sets on 2011, WS takes a look back at all the tracks that caught our ear this year. Some from newcomers on the scene, with fresh ideas to burn; others are old favorites, proving that they still have a few tricks up their collective sleeves. As a holiday bonus, there are several ways to listen: stream it, download the full file, or grab all the tracks individually through the link below (split into four files). Thanks for listening--and enjoy.

Grab it as a mixtape here.


Side A
Unknown Mortal Orchestra // Ffunny Ffriends
Richard Swift // Laugh It Up
Wilco // I Might
Centro-Matic // Iso-Residue
Woods // Any Other Day
A Giant Dog // QYJARA
Bleached // Think of You
Soft Healer // Grand Isle
Thee Oh Sees // Crushed Grass
Wye Oak // Holy Holy
Amen Dunes // Baba Yaga

Side B
Barn Owl // Turiya
Radiohead // Bloom
Colin Stetson // The Righteous Wrath Of An Honorable Man
Dirty Beaches // Lord Knows Best
St. Vincent // Champagne Year
Washed Out // Eyes Be Closed
The War On Drugs // Baby Missiles
Kurt Vile // Baby's Arms
Atlas Sound // Mona Lisa
Real Estate // It's Real
Cass McCombs // County Line
Fleet Foxes // Helplessness Blues

Total running time: 1:23:47


Champagne Year: Best of 2011 by artblevy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Under The Covers: The Best Album Art of 2011

*Note: Obviously, blogging has been sporadic this past fall, due to work, traveling, lack of inspiration, etc. Expect a Waterloo Sunset redesign/rethink/relaunch in early 2012. Thanks for reading.

Your mother admonished you, "never judge a book by its cover." But when it comes to music, a record's cover can set the general tone and aesthetic like the first welcoming steps into a deeper ocean. With the digitization of everything, album art seems to be going by the wayside, but there will always be the select few that know how important it is to catch an eye in order to catch an ear.

Below are some of the best album covers of the year, not limited to any one genre or theme but picked based on typography, photography, and overall graphic design. If you think of any we missed, let us know in the comments. We're always up for a good look.

Dirty Beaches // Badlands

Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells // Everything's Getting Older

Richard Swift // Walt Wolfman

*More covers after the jump below:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Megafaun // Megafaun

Folk music is too often pinned to conservative types, but there’s a real musically progressive streak running through its veins. Before physical recording was made available, folk songs moved via word-of-mouth, with each composition left up to the performer’s interpretation. Thus, no two versions sound the same. Years and years of personal weathering keep folk songs moving forward while still rooted in the past.

Over the course of three albums and an EP, Megafaun have tapped into this overarching folk narrative. While so many bands and artists are content to play dress up with acoustic guitars and harmonicas, the North Carolina band understands that you can weave in modernity in a special way. Megafaun, their third album to date, is the culmination of years of this sort of exploration and the band’s most sprawling, dazzling statement yet.

Like past efforts, Megafaun stands simple acoustic songs alongside jazzier workouts and avant-garde experiments. Their ability to sound both classic and forward-thinking is their greatest attribute, and these various voices can largely be attributed to the communal nature of the trio. They seem to genuinely enjoy working together, taking it easy while still tackling some heavy questions. Opener “Real Slow” is almost a mission statement for the band itself, lazily intoning “Take your time/Everyone knows/If it starts too fast/It’s gonna end real slow.” The song’s Southern rock-isms could sound corny in anyone else’s hands, but Megafaun are nothing if not tasteful. They achieve a similar widescreen effect on “Get Right,” an insistent strummer that shows the band’s jammy roots are still strong. The noisy bedrock is a nice counterpoint, adding a bit of menace to the sunshine burning overhead.

Even the album’s more familiar moments still reach high. “State/Meant” and “Resurrection” employ a tried-and-true folk-rock chug, but they’re worn well by a band that’s unafraid of the big melody. On the folk-pop of “Second Friend,” swelling strings punctuate a simple love song just as it approaches headier lyrical territory. Megafaun accept their dual nature with a smile, observing that “any moment now/Our river will be changing course/We may not have the time to drift and glide/ Just like the day before.” It hits on a broader theme within Megafaun’s music: staying grounded, but not at the expense of looking for something new.

And that search leads to some of the album’s highest notes. First single “These Words” wraps found sounds and electronic textures into a complex melody, but at its heart lies a catchy tune that makes the best use of the band’s ever-present harmonies. “Isadora” turns “Auld Lang Syne” into a jazzy explosion at the album’s center, and “Scorned” places blues riffs next to blasted-out harmonicas that wail like devilish electric guitars. At every turn, Megafaun take these well-worn ideas and add fresh new ingredients.

The fact that Megafaun sounds so effortless is a testament to the band’s true sense of itself. They continually adapt, looking to the past for inspiration but without getting bogged down in the dusty history. It’s apparent they’re looking to construct a big tent for everyone to fit in, and unsurprisingly they’re succeeding wildly.

[via prefix]

Megafaun // These Words
Megafaun // State/Meant