Friday, July 30, 2010
Ireland is in the past, Italy for now and then Chicago for Lollapalooza. I won't be posting for a few days but will come back with some Lolla news, a review of the new Arcade Fire album, a piece I did a while back about nudity in indie music videos and plenty of travel stories. Ciao.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The list continues. I hope you enjoy these albums as much as I do.
Top Albums (5-1).
5. Big Boi- Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
With Sir Lucious, Big Boi drops his first proper solo album and fills it with everything except disappointment. There is so much going on in each of the individual tracks, that even the laziest beat is laced with excitement and inventiveness. As half of Outkast, Big Boi has been commended, but also been left in the shadow of counterpart and visionary André Benjamin. SLLF will without question, change that assumption. Big Boi has given us the most electrifying hip-hop album in a long time, and to this point, the best of the year.
4. Sleigh Bells- Treats
Sleigh Bells’ Treats is 32 minutes of aggressively glitchy dance-synths, harrowing punk and metal guitar riffs, and syrupy sweet girl-pop melodies mixed so loudly that your speakers are in serious danger. Not since Pixies' Doolittle have I enjoyed losing my hearing more. Sleigh Bells have influences, but are beyond categorization. At any given moment the beyond heavy reverb and panicky distortion keep the album teetering on the edge of collapse.. Satisfying, urgent, and wildly entertaining, Treats is a great welcoming party for Sleigh Bells, a band we’re sure to hear more from.
3. Janelle Monáe- The ArchAndroid
Janelle Monáe toys with musical concepts like a 12 year old boy with ADHD. Her first full length The ArchAndroid is an 18 song genre hopping, mammoth of a debut. It carefully incorporates R&B, funk, hip-hop, folk, psychedelic rock, dancehall, and whatever else she happens to be feeling. Janelle Monáe is a force to be reckoned with and if you haven’t heard of her yet you will. As a debut album The ArchAndroid is unparalleled, already reminiscent of someone like Prince, Madonna, or Michael Jackson in their prime.
2. Spoon- Transference
Spoon scrapped its studio-slicked production as an instrument sound of 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga choosing instead to strip down their sound. What remains on Transference are consistently tight-knit 3 to 5 minute grooves equipped with the unmatched pipes of Britt Daniels, excellently restrained studio work, impeccable mixing and a never before seen magnestism and intimate vulnerability. Transference gives us a peek at the Spoon we’re not supposed to see. If Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is Spoon performing as indie superstars, live on their biggest stage yet, Transference is Spoon drunkenly leaving their studio door open and accidently pressing record during a late night jam session. The result doesn't disappoint.
1, LCD Soundsystem- This Is Happening
James Murphy is cool because he doesn’t care to be. He makes dance music that isn’t. Simultaneously he can break your heart while making you shake your ass. This Is Happening is LCD Soundsytem’s best and most personal album. The subject matter is darker and heavier, but the synths have never sounded better. On his previous full-lengths we were allowed to look but not touch. With This Is Happening, the insanely self-aware hipster dance messiah dares to allow the listener to visit his brain, and even gives them some space to poke and prod around. James Murphy knows not to outwear his welcome and has made it very clear that this is the last LCD Soundsystem record. Knowing that this may be the best move for Murphy's career doesn’t sway my opinion; I'm not ready for it to end.
Top Tracks (5-1).
These may teleport their way to your next mixtape. Careful.
5. Pantha Du Prince- Stick To My Side
4. The Radio Dept.- Heaven's On Fire
3. Spoon- Who Makes Your Money
2. The Morning Benders- Excuses
1. LCD Soundsystem All I Want & Dance Yrself Clean (Tie)
(All pictures derived from Flickr.com. Photo of Janelle Monae is credited to jcbehm-- photo of James Murphy credited to Ryan Muir-- photo of Britt Daniel credited to Eric J Hermann-- photo of Sleigh Bells credited to Deadly Viper Photo Squad. Thank you all.)
For some not so light reading, click below.
Bright Lights in a Dark Place
Three-fourths of the way through 2010 and we’ve already been exposed to some jaw-dropping records. Big name indie veterans Broken Social Scene, The National, and dance aficionados LCD Soundsystem haven’t disappointed, treating us to some serious ear candy. Several other big name groups chose 2010 as the year to fight the sophomore record slump including Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom. 2010 has also seen impressive debut records from relative newcomers Local Natives, Surfer Blood, Janelle Monae and more, many of which have been released to critical acclaim. From Big Boi to Sleigh Bells to the Morning Benders, here is part one of the top 10 albums and tracks of 2010(So far). Cheers to your new favorite record.
10. Flying Lotus- Cosmogramma
Producer-extraordinaire Steven Ellison oozes talent, and with Cosmogramma he formulates a sound entirely of his own. Cosmogramma is a complete album, one that combines Ellison's love of electronica, jazz, hip- hop, and others for a unique feel. The tracks melt into each other, and elements of each reoccur at different points during the record. This album is a grower; store it in your wine cellar.
9. Beach House- Teen Dream
Beach House utilize a simple formula-- piano, guitar, cheap sounding drumbeats, and the commanding voice of Victoria Legrand to create hazy summer day, coma-inducing pop ballads. With Teen Dream, the band has expanded upon the formula and opened itself to more complicated, more varied and more accessible sounds. This record is brighter and poppier than their previous two full-lengths, but still aims straight to break your heart.
8. The National- High Violet
The National meticulously pieces together serious and meaningful rock songs evoking images of big city isolation. On High Violet, the band continues it’s every shade of black and grey indie rock that in turn conjures nervousness, paranoia, nostalgia, uncomfortable laughter and seclusion. The National had plenty of time and creative space to try to vary their sound, but instead chose to refine it on High Violet. Although not as much of a landmark as their last, High Violet has the National sounding exactly like themselves, not a bad thing considering that they consistently craft remarkable records.
7. Vampire Weekend- Contra
Vampire Weekend’s highly divisive self-titled debut danced politely from one idea to another, combining African percussion, clean guitars, a pop sensibility that James Mercer would be proud of, all with a subject matter dealing with the privileged life of college-going Northeasterners. With Contra, VW extend a giant middle finger to all of their detractors. They employ the same tactic of combining genres, further embrace their eccentricities, pile more excitement and diversity into the individual tracks, and grow tighter as a band. The lyrics are smarter, the songs more imaginative and the melody, just as infectious.
6. The Morning Benders- Big Echo
In a SXSW interview with Billboard.com Chris Chu of the Morning Benders speaks about Big Echo, “When we started making this album, Big Echo… we wanted to free ourselves of any kind of expectations or concepts or anything… we wanted to go explore the studio and the space and use everything that we had. I think the result is something that sounds a lot more diverse… more special, it’s more unique to me.” The bands willingness to embrace the studio as an instrument and to release a little bit of hold on the reigns to production and space manipulating studio-wizard Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear has set Big Echo a notch above most of their indie pop cohorts. With excellent use of pacing, emotive production value, captivating and consistently enthralling melody, and woozy sunset/ sunrise beach- pop vibes, the Morning Benders have given us an album sure to wear out your speakers.
Top Tracks (10-6).
These tracks are sure to find a home on your next mixtape (if they aren't on one already!)
10. Broken Social Scene- Sweetest Kill
9. Gorillaz- Superfast Jellyfish
8. Vampire Weekend- Giving Up The Gun
7. Joanna Newsom- Good Intentions Paving Company
6. Sleigh Bells- Tell 'Em
Photographs adapted from flickr- uploaded by from bottom left spinning clockwise-- alestria, the extinction blues, nonnon_non. Bottom right image adapted from darkwasthenight.com/artists -Thanks to all.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I am hoping this site takes a life of its own, growing and maturing with time. I'm going to publish reviews, write commentaries, upload videos and photos, add links, publish interviews, have guest bloggers, and and try to point you in the right direction to other interesting things on the web. So check back sometime soon, leave me your opinions, give suggestions, and let's see how far we can take this.
After all there are never too many words or opinions out there about music, culture and the other fine things in life. Let's add a few more.