Five Albums You Should Be Listening to Right Now: Nerve Edition

Ever wondered what the Nerve office sounds like? Other than the screaming, that is.

by Nerve

The Nerve office is home to two bass players, several guitarists, a former piano child-prodigy, and a host of other assorted music nerds. So this week, we conspired to assemble our first-ever in-house Five Albums — it’s populated entirely with picks from our devoted staff. Enjoy this little glimpse into our office jukebox.

1. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Scandalous (2011)

With the opening horn line of “Ballad of Jimmy Tanks,” Scandalous announces Black Joe Lewis’ intent to compromise the structural integrity of your home with his raging Texas boogie. And he makes good on the threat — Scandalous keeps the energy high throughout, thanks to thudding bass, dirty horns, and Lewis’ indignant shout, pushed through microphones on the edge of exploding. Scandalous sounds like James Brown signed to Chess Records: it's a combination of blues and funk that integrates both forms without sounding contrived.  — Alex Heigl

Listen: “Booty City”


2. Joel Plaskett Emergency, Ashtray Rock (2007)

This is more an album you should have been listening to four years ago, but since odds are you weren’t, check it out now. With echoes of Tom Petty and The Replacements, Joel Plaskett tells a story of high-school love and loss. On other concept albums, hooks lose out to elaborate stories, but Plaskett manages to keep his clever lyrics balanced with consistently great melodies. A wounded valentine for the ages, Ashtray Rock might be the best Cameron Crowe movie never made. — Peter Smith

Listen: “Face of the Earth”


3. The R’s, De Fauna Et Flora (2010)

Channeling The Shins by way of Talking Heads, The R’s second LP De Fauna Et Flora delivers thirteen off-kilter power-pop gems. From the bouncy garage doo-wop of “Rodolfo” to the dreamy stroll of “On Our Minds” to the tribal yet hummable pulse of “Call of the Ice,” these varied songs are united by a devotion to taut rhythms, catchy sing-along choruses, and a playfulness that you don’t find often in American indie rock these days. It’s all so intoxicating that you can easily overlook the questionable apostrophe in the band name.  — Mike DiBenedetto

Listen: “On Our Minds”


4. Jamie Woon, Mirrorwriting (2011)

Listening to Jamie Woon helps me rewind back to the glory days of 2001, when Craig David ruled the airwaves with his garage beats. Mirrorwriting has been on constant repeat for me of late, with special mention being paid to the nocturnally-inspired “Night Air” (which boasts Burial as producer) and “Spirits.” While the dubstep scene is getting overexposed — thank you James Blake, The XX, and SBTRKT — Woon's soothing, moody take on the dubstep sound is definitely worth a listen. — Marina Cukeric

Listen: “Night Air”


5. Jamie XX & Gil Scott-Heron, We’re New Here (2011)

Jamie Smith of the XX remixed the late, great, jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron’s last album “I’m New Here” in its entirety, and to great effect. The recalcitrant dirtiness of Smith's electroclash sounds is a logical accompaniment to Gil’s bleak subject matter and gruff vocals, and it’s a treat to hear Jamie deftly match Gil’s tone in “NY Is Killing Me.” “I’ll Take Care of You” is transformed into a barely recognizable but crisp dance track punctuated by a heavily-processed guitar. The album is something both pensive and spontaneous, despondent and celebratory, much like Heron himself. — Garrett Carey

Listen: “I’ll Take Care of You”


Commentarium (33 Comments)

Dec 07 11 - 6:29am

wow you`re really current with that jamie xx album which came out in february and jamie woon that came out in april. do you abide under a rock?

Dec 07 11 - 8:34am

did you not understand that people from the office picked these favorites? Just because it came out a while back doesn't mean you shouldn't be listening to it right now!

Dec 07 11 - 11:22am

You see this kind of bullshit on music blogs all the time. It's as if music has to be timestamped to be enjoyable. If it's good, it stays good. It's the very definition of the supposedly universally-maligned hipster mentality to triumph "being current" above all else.

Dec 07 11 - 1:47pm

I'm with clubwhore. I only listen to music released in the past three days, after that I throw it in the trash.

Dec 07 11 - 4:31pm

Electronic music moves extremely quickly. 9 months is equal to a few years in most other genres. Look at the UK Bass scene, the whole structure of changes almost every two years. It went from proto-jungle to jungle to DnB to garage in less than a decade. You stay current or you get left behind, it's basically that simple. The past matters too, but in electronic music you can't keep up if you don't even know where the vanguard currently is. Progress doesn't wait.

Dec 07 11 - 8:23pm

Well, that's all well and good, but that doesn't address my argument -- currency does not good music make, nor does it unmake good music that already happened. Does the fact that Paul McCartney progressed to Wings mean I have to discount the Beatles? I sure as shit hope not.

Dec 07 11 - 8:40pm

We have classics too, you know. I mean hell, sample-based electronic music is literally built around the notion of 'classics' and their sanctity. We just don't idolize them to the point that we automatically dismiss anything new and original. It's a nice balance, actually, appreciating and paying homage to the classics while still striving to create/find something new and fresh. It makes for a pretty vibrant and creative community.

Dec 08 11 - 3:09pm
mr. man

well i never heard of Jamie Woon, so it's new to me. great track. have to see if the rest of the disc measures up.

Dec 08 11 - 3:10pm
mr. man

also myke's argument about 'keeping up with the vanguard' is why people hate hipsters. :)

Dec 08 11 - 3:17pm

Yes because staying up-to-date automatically makes me a hipster. Maybe I like to be actively involved in a developing community instead of just playing archaeologist?

Dec 10 11 - 9:49pm

Still missing the point. None of that has anything to do with the freedom to post music that is more than three weeks old based on its quality rather than its recency.

You're allowed to stay up to date, no one is challenging that. What they are challenging is your implication that no one else is allowed to appreciate and call attention to music that is not up to date by your standards. They're simply saying that music being "old" doesn't make it invalid.

And by celebrating it we do not automatically dismiss new music. New music is cool too.

Dec 12 11 - 2:27pm

well that made me laugh. how people who listen to albums when they come out are hipsters. dont you know that hipsters only listen to music that didnt even came out yet?
anyway, in jamie xx case, it is almost a year old album. if you title the article "to listen to RIGHT NOW", one would assume there is some current happening going on. that`s all i wanted to point out really. but i guess it is more fun to call random people hipsters because they listen to music when it comes out. myke is right, because we are talking electronic music here and that shit is old after 2 months. sorry that you guys have no notion of this anomaly. it is not 3 days old, or 3 weeks old. it is almost a year old.
this would all be a non issue if the title of the article was "good music to listen to".

Dec 07 11 - 9:10am

Leave James Blake alone. If anyone's even trying to bring dubstep back to its former, respectable form, it's him. You can thank Rusko and Skrillex for where the genre is now.

Dec 08 11 - 3:09pm
mr. man

kill skrillex

Dec 08 11 - 3:09pm
mr. man

only in my mind

Dec 09 11 - 9:34pm

Give the man some Grammy's! Are you kidding me? Btw, From First to Last sucked too.

Dec 09 11 - 9:49pm

Leave Rusko out of this! His shows are always amazing!

Dec 07 11 - 12:33pm

Yes! Joel Plaskett is AMAZING! Good call, Nerve!

Dec 07 11 - 3:21pm

What a strong list.But I love Kina Grannis ‘In Your Arms’ too.

Dec 07 11 - 3:34pm

Lovin' the R's!

Dec 07 11 - 5:38pm

Booty City sort of spoiled the rest of this list for me. Everything was solid, but that track got put on repeat. Friggin wonderful.

Dec 07 11 - 8:18pm
Alex Heigl

Alabama Shakes is another great anachronistically awesome band working in the soul/R&B/blues genre today. I saw them at CMJ without knowing a thing about them and they just blew everybody else away.

Dec 07 11 - 7:08pm

I really liked the R's and Jamie XX, thanks guys.

Dec 07 11 - 9:27pm

The R's !!!

Dec 07 11 - 10:52pm

fuck the haters....great list jamie woon/burial fuck yeah

Dec 08 11 - 8:17pm

Nerve has probably the angriest commentariat of any site I've ever seen, barring maybe The Stranger. This is people: "AGGGH, I'M SO ANGRY TODAY. I better go to and vent some steam"

Dec 08 11 - 12:19am

Nope, the comma is in the right place.

Dec 08 11 - 6:07pm

Plaskett every one of his albums should be on this list!

Dec 08 11 - 8:08pm

Agree totally with the above comment on Plaskett. If you like Ashtray Rock (and I know I do), he's got at least 5 albums that are even better IMO.

Dec 08 11 - 8:38pm

BJL and the Honeybears are so much fun live. Totally love those guys.

Dec 12 11 - 10:32am

I used to like to talk about music. Now I'm onto dancing about architecture. Good list though!

Dec 12 11 - 2:26pm

What a wonderful surprise to see ASHTRAY ROCK's just a perfectly executed concept record, and he pays such care to each of the characters in it. You can't go wrong with anything he's done, really.