Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 A Year In Singles: Side Two

OK, we've cruised through the pop half of my faves of 2010 mix-tape, now let's move on to my usual rock n' roll stomping grounds. There were a good amount of rock records I loved this year, most coming from old favorites That's good, because I love seeing bands I enjoy keep moving forward, but also unfortunate as there just aren't a lot of new bands out there that doing it for me. Let's go to the list.

1. The Like - He's Not A Boy from Release Me: Just a charming single from this all-girl band. Pumping out a sound that wouldn't sound out of place in some late-50's biker movie, this song is pure nostalgia for garage rock. It's just plain charming. While the album that followed later in the Summer was good, it doesn't come close to the heights that its lead single achieved.

2. Jason and The Scorchers - Mona Lee from Halcyon Times: Jason and The Scorchers is a band that I've sadly slept on for far too many years. I've read nothing but fantastic write-ups about them for years, and even enjoyed Jason Ringenberg's children's album, A Day At The Farm With Farmer Jason with my kids, but I just never took the plunge. Finally, after an enthusiastic e-mail from this guy, I bought their newest reunion record Halcyon Times and it's just fantastic. Full of barnstorming rockabilly, it's absolutely irresistible. This is just one of the many fantastic songs off of a fantastic album.

3. Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee off Shadows: Another older band that is still putting out vital music. First pushed as the "next bog thing" during the first Brit-pop wave of the 90's, Teenage Fanclub has carved out a pretty great career putting out 60's style garage rock that is utterly infectious. I can't recommend picking up their new album enough (and it's only $5 this month here as added incentive).

4. Best Coast - Crazy For You off Crazy For You: Just pure breezy summer pop music. Can't say too much about it, but this is the type of music that immediately puts in mind sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink in hand.

5. Superchunk - Learn To Surf from Majesty Shredding: Speaking of both beaches and old bands still pushing out vital music, Superchunk came back after close to a decade off and put on two blistering shows in Chicago this year and put out one of my top three or four albums from them. Though they've harnessed a few of their rougher edges, they've done it by mastering a tunefulness that is undeniable. I love this band, I love this album and I love this song.

6. Stars - Wasted Daylight from The Five Ghosts: I really think I'm the only person who absolutely adored this album, but there it is. A bit of a departure from their previous albums, The Five Ghosts kind of felt like Stars was pushing all-in to break big, but I really liked what they did with their sound. Between this song and We Don't Want Your Body (the best Michael Jackson song he never sang), they made some fantastic music to dance to, and I really liked it.

7. Spoiler Alert! - Booster Gold from Spoiler Alert! EP: Art Brut frontman Eddies Argos took 2010 "off" from that band in order to head up no less than three side projects. Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now!, a band that makes songs that answer famous pop songs; Glam Chops, a band that renders covers of pop songs as glam rock songs and Spoiler Alert!, a band that, in theory, for legal reasons, Argos has nothing to do with, but that sings songs exclusively about DC Comics superheroes. This song, explaining why Booster Gold is the "greatest hero that you've never heard of" is just amazingly charming and warms this old Booster Gold fan's heart. Which reminds me, I really need to pick up this t-shirt.

So that's it for my mix-tape for the year, I really do suggest putting it together as a playlist, it works rather well together (or *cough* contacting the author for assistance if need be). Finally, let's hit up some honorable mentions for the year.

New Pornographers - Together and Ted Leo + Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks: While neither of these efforts from favorite bands were as ground shaking as some of their previous releases, they were still damn solid and damn solid out of either of these two is better than 80% of the rest of the music I own.

Adam WarRock - West Coast Avengers Mixtape: Speaking of love for 80's superheroes, 2010 was a banner year for this old man, if only I could send this back in time to me in 2985, I'd be one cool-ass 11 year-old, let me tell you. FYI, if you want to check this out, it's available free thanks to the fine folks at Comics Alliance. Also, WarRock's website features over 50 other free tracks that are really damn good.

Chromeo - Business Casual and Girl Talk - All Day: You wanna dance some more? Here you go. (All day is free as well, just hit the link.)

Let's see if I can keep this thing going and come back to you about comics tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: A Year In Singles Part One

2010 was a pretty great year for music, personally, I probably purchased more albums this year than at any time since the 90's.  While I generally hate writing about music, let's go through my favorite new songs from the pasty year, the order is unimportatn, other than the fact they make a nice playlist this way.

1. Adam WarRock - The Silver Age (f/ Tribe One) from The War For Infinity:  It's tough for someone to rap about comics oriented stuff and avoid getting labeled something with a derisive "nerd" attached to it.  Eugene Ahn avoids this deftly with the single off his excellent concept album, re-purposing Marvel's The Infinity Gauntlet to a world where the dispute was not settled with fisticuffs but rap battles.  The single, though it is separate from the album's story helps to inform the foundation on which it was built.

2.  Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill from Plastic Beach:   It's tough to pick one track from Plastic Beach because it is truly a complete album, one that has a form of sonic cohesion that's rare in pop music today.  I tdo realize there is an overarching story line to the album (and indeed all of Gorillaz work), but I can't make heads of tails of it without viewing their (fantastic) videos as an accompaniment.  This is easily my favorite album of the year.

3.  Kanye West - Runaway from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:  To paraphrase Aziz Ansari's description for someone else, Kanye West is an brilliant rapper/crazy person.  While his latest is not my favorite of his releases, Runaway is a pretty undeniable single.  My only wish is that it had come out in the Summer, since this is windows down on a hot day  music if there ever was any.

4.  Passion Pit - Little Secrets from Manners Speaking of Summer music, this song is it to a "T".  While the album it comes from is certainly good, this is one of those singles that just stands above the crowd.  Not too much else to say.

5.  Daft Punk - Derezzed from Tron: Legacy OST While I would have prferred a "proper" Daft Punk album this year, their rollicking soundtrack to the Tron sequel fits the bill quite nicely.

6.  Robyn - Dancing On My Own from Body Talk this year I really came around on pop music, and robyn's Body talk EP's (now collected into on fantastic album) really were the final nail in the coffin.  The fact that Lady Gaga gets as much press as she does for doing so much recycling and wearing meat dresses while Robyn simply makes great music in the trenches and is ignored by the mainstream is pretty depressing.  Regardless, there is great pop music out there and that's a great thing.

7.  Cee-Lo Green - Fuck You from The Lady Killer:  It's easy to write this song off as being cheap, "hur hur he says 'fuck' a lot" but, damn, this is a fine ass song.  That it's gotten several conservative commenters upset that someone other than Dick Cheney is using the f-word only makes it sweeter.

So that wraps up the first half of what I loved this year, tomorrow I'll come back with part 2 and the more rock-oriented half of the list.