thank you sir! nah got nothing on the horizon. getting new song together with the boys. putting a new record together.
In the year that I entered the fourth decade of my life, I find my finger less and less on the pulse of what is going on. I rarely find new music that really speaks to me. And I’m no music snob. I can find value in a lot of new bands and understand why people like them, but as I get older I get more and more selective of what I chose to kill of the remainder of my hearing with. This was also the year that I have written off Hip Hop almost entirely (I still enjoy a classic from Wu-Tang here and there if the mood strikes me right). So I was surprised that I even had this much to share. But this year was pretty good for some new tunes from old favorites and some new bands that hit me where I like it to hurt. So here we go:
10. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I’ve never been a huge AF fan, but I always found that I get into them about three years after any one of their albums “drop.” I’m still feeling this album out from time to time, but the stand out track for me is Month Of May. It’s as if the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Fiery Arcade’s took a page out of Queen’s Of The Stone Age’s song book and learned how to write a straight up “dick out fuck music” tune. The album is okay (I needed a number 10), but this song is great.
9. Gogol Bordelo - Trans-Contenental Hustle
I love this band. It’s partly due to the fact that Eugene Hutz sings in two languages, and I understand both, and it speaks to my Russian roots. But aside from that, GB has an authentic urgency and joy for their music that is rare. You can tell that this band has FUN. and if you ever see them live, you will have fun too. The record itself doesn’t stray from the usual formula of their previous records, Eastern European Gypsy Music infused with Punk Rock and a touch of Dub Reggae, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes. I got this record only recently, so I’m still digesting it.
Stand out track is the single ”Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” so far:
8. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks
I’ve been a big Ted Leo supporter for a number of years, and was stoked that 2010 saw a new release from him and his Pharmacists. For me it doesn’t get better then 2004’s Shake The Sheets, which I would almost describe as a perfect record, Pop Punk for adults as I often describe it. The Brutalist Bricks is his strongest record since. Doesn’t pack as big of a punch, but the good songs are GOOD. I’m a sucker for a Ted Leo barn burner, and this record has them back to back. Stand out track for me is “Woke Up Near Chelsea.”
7. Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts
It seems like surf rock is creeping in as an influence to a number of underground indie bands these days, which isn’t so much of a bad thing. Who didn’t like Dick Dale shredding on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack? Male Bonding are a new band from England who released their debut full length Northing Hurts on Sub Pop Records, not bad out of the gate. While MB doesn’t shred like Mr. Dale, they do retain a lot of aural sounds that is characteristic of surf music (aka heavy on the reverb), that they infuse into their brand of indie-punk. The mesh is seamless and not contrived. I’m a big fan of a fast three piece, and these gents don’t disappoint. You will not find a song over three minutes here and the whole record is over before a half of an hour goes by. I love it. Perfect length in my book (i don’t have a book). Nothing Hurts was on my musical rotation for a good while this year, and it’s one of the few records that seldom found me skipping songs.
Stand out track is the single “Weird Feelings.” But the whole record is excellent.
6. Black Angels - Phosphene Dream
I found out about this band from seeing a commercial for a video game. A rare instance. But the 30 seconds I heard of their song “Young Man Dead” from their debut record Passover was all it took for me too hunt them down on the internet. Phosphene Dream is their third album and finds them in the same form as their previous two. This is the kind of band that pretty much writes the same song over and over, but luckily, it’s a good song. A heavy influence of 60’s psychedelia and a touch of stoner rock. They’re not reinventing the wheel by no stretch of the imagination, but they play their music with authenticity. It’s a great listen for a dreary fall afternoon. I really dig the singer’s voice too.
Stand out track “Yellow Elevator.”
5. Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
I was introduced to this group by my friend Joel who often loads up my dying ipod with new music. This Australian four piece’s style is kind of the other side of Black Angels’ psyche rock coin, while BA plays it dark, Tame Impala is less dark… i guess. I got pretty heavily into this record. It sounds like it was recorded in the 70s, particularly the drums, in sound and style. I was pretty shocked when I looked up live footage of this band on youtube and saw how YOUNG these dudes look. they can’t be any older then 22. and as an aging musician, it does eat away at me a bit when the youngins write such fine tunes. But alas, much like Black Angels, they are not really doing anything new, but at least they are doing it well. The songwriting and musicianship is on the level. I’m really curious to watch this band evolve in the upcoming years.
Stand out track ”Desire Be Desire Go.”
4. Surfer Blood - Astrocoast
Another band of young squirts keeping rock n’ roll alive in this future age. Astrocoast is a strong debut for this young group. Again, more surf rock influence, but with a name like Surfer Blood, I’d be disappointed if there was none. Like Male Bonding, these guys are heavy with the reverb nob. But surf influence aside, these boys know how to craft a tune. What really strikes me though is how they manege to make all their instrumentation count. A lot of great duel guitar interplay and same goes for the drummer and percussionist. It’s a fun record and solid all the way through. This one was on heavy rotation for a while as well. I really wanna hear this band progress and shed some of their influences.
Stand out track is the single “Swim”
3. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter rarely disappoints, and they sure don’t on Helcyon Digest. Much like everyone who loves this band I’m a huge fan of Cryptograms, and as great as that record is, Deerhunter don’t repeat themselves much, but rather opt to evolve from the things that made them popular. Since that record Bradford Cox has really came into his own as a songwriter, avoiding the haunting almost instrumental sounding songs and noise sound scapes, and focusing on more traditional song structures. Halcyon Digest is solid all the way through, it’s a record you really have to sit down with and absorb. It took me a few listens to really let it sink in. It’s honest and beautiful. A lot of the songs are mid tempo to slow and often dreamy sounding with creative instrumentation. The recording isn’t polished, and that’s part of it’s charm. It sounds like it was put to tape on their own terms and probably in a makeshift studio.
Standout track “He Would Have Laughed”
2. Lou Barlow and The Missing Men - Sentradoh III
Lou was one of my biggest musical influences when I was growing up. I find him to be a kindred spirit in that he is able to be a side player (Dinosaur Jr) and a frontman (Sebadoh/Solo) seamlessly. This is a tour EP i got from seeing him play at Mercury Lounge this summer. it’s 8 songs mainly re-workings of select songs from his previous two solo albums with his touring band (Mike Watt’s) The Missing Men, and two new songs as well as a haunting cover of a Skip James standard. These tunes are rawer then their proper album counterparts and I believe they were recorded live in one day, with little to no over dubs. Some of these weren’t even my favorite songs from the records, but this three pieces really breathes new life and energy to them. Caterpillar Girl has been one of my top Lou songs since the release of Emoh and this new version really turned it into a rocker. Lou often plays bass (or baritone guitar) on these recordings and the translation of his original guitar part onto bass gives the song a new set of brass ones. The EP’s flow mirrors the live show, and if you were blown away by the show like I was, this is a great constant reminder that Lou is in his own league.
Stand out track Caterpillar Girl
1. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
Holy shit, Superchunk finally releases a new full length after an 8 year gap, and oh boy was I stoked. If you have been a fan before, this one is for you (and me!). Just classic Chunk at the top of their game from start to finish. This band hasn’t strayed from the formula since their inception in the late 80’s, and why the fuck should they? Awesome is awesome is awesome, no matter how you slice it. Majesty Shredding just cuts through every bell and whistle new groups throw into their arsenal and remind us that it’s okay to rock the fuck out with just two guitars, a bass, and drums. I finally got to see them live this year for the first time and they managed to turn this 30 year old dickhead back into a 17 year old kid who goes nuts at shows. To me Superchunk is the embodiment of the idea that music can be fun, energetic, and sincere. Every track on this record packs it in.
Stand out track (all of them really but) My Gap Feels Weird
the good ole’ days are always here.