End 2008

The sub-prime lending market finally collapses, housing bubble bursts, and we say good riddance to Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and a number of other financial institutions. The Great Recession officially kicks off and America elects Barak Obama as president. What's the mood of the country? Take a listen to what we're spinning (Fennesz, Biosphere, Hush Arbors), that about sums it up.

Scott Tuma
Not for Nobody
With Winter coming in and the nights getting shorter, we're going through a hunt out bleak ambient music phase. How else would you explain this, Hush Arbors, Fennesz, Biosphere and Christopher Bissonette?
Hush Arbors
Under Bent Limb Trees
This one is a up in the hills, guitar and banjo plucking with creepy vocs in the background. It's quite nice for quiet, late nights. And, apparently we have a collectors item here as we can't find it for sale anywhere.
Black Sea
Meditative ambient electronic for cold, lonely nights.
Haunting ambient soundscapes of some sort of very large, futuristic industrial biomachinery repetitively droning away in the dark at low, rumbling frequencies. It's quietly disquieting while meditatively building up fear and distrust. One of the best discs in this genre.
Blue Sunshine Soul
Blue Sunshine Soul
We thought we were listening to BJM when we first heard this one. Solid album, a must for any BJM fan.
Bombay Dub Orchestra
3 Cities
Still our favorite purveyors of traditional Indian music accompanied and lush western style orchestrations buoyed by club-level drum & bass beats!
Does You Inspire You
A pretty decent pop album. The album opens very strong but tapers off a bit in the middle and end. The song "Bruises" is the gem of this one.
We think mixing ambient and rock-n-roll is perhaps one of toughest genre bending challanges out there. AFAWC, Sigur Ros are probably the only ones to really pull it off. Others, like Atlas Sound, have have not so much success. In that regard, this album, while produced and played very nicely, is is closer to Atlas Sound than Sigur Ros.
Sensory Underload
Despite (or because of?) the fact that it's pretty raw, we love it. We love Unbunny period.
We became fans after catching Rademacher at Hotel Utah (dispite being distracted by Spangley). This EP doesn't disappoint. probably their strongest to date!
The Exciting Sounds Savo
Best Savo album to date. Really, a combination of two EPs (Hillcrest and Taraval) focused on different topics. The entire second half of the album finishes extremely strong with hit after hit.
The Darker Sequence
If we had started tunefilter back when we could headbang for 2 straight hours and still be able to move our neck the next day, this would certainly get five stars! These guys skillfully blend thrash and progressive rock elements in a base of pure put-your-head-through-a-wall chunky ass metal.
Sad Robots
Pretty good. Not spectacular, but a solid Stars release.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Sunday at Devil Dirt
We didn't think Isobel needed any help. She's just fine on her own. But this album pulls her away from the Belle & Sebastianesque chamber pop and into a more bluesy vein. In this case, Lanegan's baritone is very much welcome.
Mount Eerie
Lost Wisdom
Boy and girl brooding together in minor key harmonies and maybe a guitar for accompanyment here or there.
Blue Giant
Target Heart EP
Love the country sounds from this new project from Kevin and Anita from Viva Voce.
Thievery Corporation
Radio Retaliation
Thievery Corp is off to a good start in their second decade. Fans will be familiar with the underlying grooves but his disc also brings beats from around the world: Regge, Indian, Latin American
Mates of State
Re-arrange Us
Probably the most accessable Mates disc yet. There even seems to be some straight up pop tunes here.

Mid 2008

Housing prices are at an all time high and anyone can get a sub-prime loan as the industry packages up bad debt into Credit Default Swaps and other complex financial instruments that they push on unsuspecting pension fund money managers. This isn't gonna end up good. In July, Apple
opened the iTunes App Store for use with its first-generation iPhone.
Until that point, the iPhone was largely a novelty device whose main
benefit was bundling the capabilities of the wildly-popular iPod music
player with a then-novel touch screen display. A few months later in
the US, Google shipped the first Android smart phone in partnership
with HTC and T-Mobile.

Okkervil River
The Stand Ins
You saw Shearwater on our little list so you should not be surprised to see Okkervil River here. While they may share Americana roots, unlike the aforementioned band, Will Sheff's gig is less about the falsetto and more about building up to a passion filled yelling cresendo.
Okkervil River
Down the River Golden Dreams
Like tasting a vertical of fine Napa Valley cabs (ideally, in someone elses cellar), we spun this 2003 OR release along with the 2008 The Stand Ins release. Hard to give this one the edge when The Stand Ins has "On Tour With Zykos" on it. Wow, that's a great song.
To Find Me Gone
Elyse down at the Kezar Bar & Restaurant (our local) turned us on to Vetiver. How did we not find our new favorite band earlier? Love that country-folk sound so much we had to run out and see them at Great American Music Hall next time they were in town.
While we were familarizing ourselves with Vetiver's latest (2006's "To Find Me Gone"), we decided to raid the catalog and take 2004's self titled disc for a spin.
All India Radio
Wow, the second release from this Melbourne band surprised us. They abandoned the ambient soundscape approach they took on their first album, got a female singer and trekked down the path Morcheeba blazed. And, most of the times they nail it.
Bury the Square
Lumping them in with the Freaky Folk genre is probably not too far off. But, when the stereo is on shuffle the band we mistake them for the most is Akron/Family. We'd advise Megafaun to take that as a complement.
Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend
For us, nothing spells disappointment more than some overhyped indie rock band (ahem, Arcade Fire). Imagine our surprise finding this one to be a truly enjoyable album. Really!
Mostly nicely textured slow, sleepy americana. "The Hunter's Star" is Shearwater at their best - that gentle falsetto dancing around with a lovely string arrangement while a rolling piano and plucky standup bass march on underneath.
Return to the Sea
Quirky indie pop ... similar to Of Montreal ... from a band of Montreal. Coincidence?
Port O'Brien
All We Could Do Is Sing
A total 180 from Goldfrapp's last two club-ready releasesr.
Songs in A&E
With about seven albums under their belt in 15 years, by now you know if you'll like this album or not: their formula hasn't changed. Are you a Spiritualized fan? If so, get the album. While it's not in the once-in-a-lifetime "Ladies and Gentleman..." caliber, you'll certainly appreciate it.
Quiet Village
Silent Village
Numerous textures - violins by the seaside, 70s porno-grooves, disco era anthems, prog rock guitar chord structures - set against ambient, downtempo beats.
Piano Magic
Not too late to start getting into this 2005 release - after all, listening to it will immediately put you back in the good days of This Mortal Coil, Blue Aeroplanes and other moody late 80s/early 90s 4AD bands.
Cheb i Sabbah
Nice release of middle eastern dub from DJ Cheb, who used to spin not too far away from tunefilter HQ, down in Lower Haight at Nickies.

Beginning 2008

America keeps feeding the housing bubble and counting down the days until George W. Bush's term is over and we finally elect a president that's smarter than the average high school grad.

Cassettes Won't Listen
Small-Time Machine
Two stars for two good songs on the disc: Large Radio and The Finish Line.
Seventh Tree
A total 180 from Goldfrapp's last two club-ready releases, this one evokes more of the lushness of Felt Mountain and a return to the concept of using Allison's voice as instrument. There's even an acoustic guitar here! And guess what, it works out brilliantly. Bears of SF rejoice! The best Goldfrapp disc ever.
The John Francis
On the Moments We Share
We caught The John Francis at the Hotel Utah on a whim, hearing nothing about the band prior. We were blown away by the "progressive folk" performance we saw. While "Grace for One" is truly stunning, the rest of the album doesn't capture the magic of a John Francis performance in all it's glory.
Sigur Ros
Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum
Seems like this is the release where Sigur Ros decided they were going to go in a different direction, bump up the tempo and rock out. The result sounds like your washing machine on spin cycle with 4 pairs of shoes it in while a baby is crying in the background. You just want it all to stop. Fortunately, by track 7 they return to form with slower, orchestrated atmospheric compositions. Thankfully, the disc turns from headache inducing device to a gentle reminder that this is the band that put out arguably the best release ever recorded in the history of mankind (Agaetis Byrjun).
Dengue Fever
Venus on Earth
Love the description of their inspiration on allmusic: "homage to Cambodia's pre-Pol Pot cheesy psychedelic-cum-lounge-surf-garage pop sound of the '60s/early '70s". Love the album too!
Breathe Owl Breathe
Ghost Glacier
A beautiful album full of beautiful cello, strings, piano, banjo and boy/girl harmony laced Americana. In many ways, this sounds like a cross of Luna and Micah P. Hinson.
The Earlies
Enemy Chorus
If one of those popular '60s English pop rock bands recorded an album today - with this genre's technology and influences - would it sound like this? Fantasic disc.
Robyn Hitchcock
Shadow Cat
Solo Hitchcock tunes recorded from 93-99. Probably best reserved for true Hitchcock fans. On a side note, the song "The Green Boy" has to be on any list of quintessential solo hitchocks song.