January 1, 2011

2010 Favorites and Gripes

Favorites, in no particular order.

1) Neil Young - Le Noise - Reprise
I already posted a whole piece on this record and dedicated two hours of radio time to the man in celebration of such a glorious piece of music.

2) Zola Jesus – Stridulum - Sacred Bones
Lady Gaga might have all the fame and fortune but Zola Jesus does something equally dramatic and spooky but without the flare of absolute circus absurdity. If I had to pick one front runner artist from 2010 to climb from the indie world into the to spotlight of super-stardom, Zola Jesus would be it. They are powerful and moody but in a way that could appeal to a 50 year old  Siouxsie fan or a brooding teen. We haven't had a genuinely talented witchy crossover eletronic artist in I don't know how long (Fever Ray comes closest) and I am truly excited to hear how this band continues to grow in 2011, especially vocalist Nika Danilova. Her voice isn't overly melodic and she finds the perfect line between power and emotion without being sappy or a screamo victim.

I know I said this list wasn't in any particular order but if there I needed to out Stridulum somewhere, it would be in the top three for certain.

Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker - Modular
This is a first for me. I don’t think I have ever wanted to skinny dip in a recording before but I would be willing to try it with this record. It is swirling warm ocean of psychedelic goodness; layered, loud, and lush. How this Australian band of gents who look barely out of high school managed to produce such thunderous anthems I will never know but it is one magic trick I don’t want to spoil by knowing how it works. I want to accept its greatness, no question asked, and revel in the fact that this young group’s debut long player is a classic rock at its best without having been made in the 1960s.

Crocodiles – Sleep Forever - Fat Possum 
I am not a dummy. I know Crocodiles sound a lot like Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and Suicide but they do the primal chainsaw drone guitar thing astonishing well. I mean really really well. There is always room for one more extraordinary sonic/surf/space rock masterpiece in my life.  (like The Telescopes, Loop, and A Place to Bury Strangers)
There is distorted bliss among the shards of noisy ruin and it makes me wonder if a New Orleans funeral procession was ever conducted by the Velvets, would it sound a little like this? (the theme of the record seems very death based - hence the reference to a memorial service)

Jacky Chalard - Superman Supercool - cache cache 12"
It was the packaging of this 12” that first lured me. I had no idea what it sounded like but it looked fantastic with its cut out sleeve and clear yellow vinyl that revealed a fun wallpaper like pattern on the inside of the sleeve rather than the outer jacket. I was nervous to spend the money on this limited single at first however my record buying partner in crime and sweetheart luckily risked the purchase and brought it into our home. It is freaky funk-disco yet space age far out as if Stereolab remixed ESG. Google searches don’t really shed any light on this release or Jacky Chalard (who apparently came from the French-based rock & roll bands The Mayfair Group) but in some ways, I like that there remains a few shreds of mystery in a world of instant knowledge via the internet. All you need to know is  that there is an outsider variation of Euro-disco that is fucked up in all the best ways possible. 
BXI - Boris - Southern Lord
When I heard that one the greatest metal bands of all time from Japan was teaming up with Ian Astbury, vocalist of The Cult, I was utterly curious as to what final result of this collaboration would sound like. I couldn’t begin to guess because while I know EXACTLY what Ian would deliver both vocally and lyrically, Boris is the ultimate wild card. It could be anywhere from soundscape ambience to monsterous shoegaze with every possible combination in between.  And let’s be honest, not all collaborations are a good idea.
The end result turned out to be one of the best surprises of the year. This is head banging riff rock at its very best. It is unmistakably Ian’s infamous powerhouse croon but you can hear a seasoned aged twist to his voice that moves me in the same ways as later Johnny Cash material does and his backing band just happens to be one of the best things happening in heavy music today. Old school meets new school, this is a perfect rock and roll marriage.
I can't embed this however here is a link to my favorite track from the record live :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpr0GzDyU8E&feature=related
Allo Darlin - S/T - Fortuna Pop
Camera Obscura and Belle & Sebastian are too fancy now for my twee tastes with their big budget sounding productions these days. If you don’t fancy a decadent Dubai-esque affair attached to your cuddle-core too, then have I got a UK band for you.
Allo Darlin’ share the same charming, intimate lyrical styling of Heavenly or Beat Happening (and Elizabeth ,member of Allo Darlin, is also in Tender Trap with Amelia from Heavenly too) however they play their humble pop offerings at a consistently slower pace.
It is the kind or record that makes me want to bake a cakes, nuzzle noses with my significant other, and chase my kittens around the apartment until they let me pick them up and give them a good lovely dovey squeeze. Confectionary with just a hint of Winnie the Pooh melancholy, I love love love a good stripped down to the undies, heart on the sleeve, kind of boy/girl band.  
Die Die Die – Form - Flying Nun
This NZ group has earned a top 10 slot in my favorites list nearly every year since this trio began releasing music back in 2003. Their sonic maelstrom is performed so tightly, LOUDLY, and intensely that it is difficult to digest that the jet engine stream is coming from just three lads.  
Imagine if Les Savvy Fav lost their sense of humor and focused on blasting out serious post punk shoegazery that hinted at melody behind a wall of angst. Die Die Die has done it no less back by one of my favorite record labels of all time, Flying Nun. 
Chin Chin - Sound of Westway - Slumberland
Thank you Slumberland for re-releasing one of the greatest girl rock records of all time that I wasn't cool enough to know about until quite recently. This record is fucking brilliant and they make all the 2010 wanna be Shangri -Las bands come across as the copycat hacks they really are.
Here is what the label says about the release:
"In 1985, Chin Chin's album Sound Of The Westway was released on Farmer Records, containing 12 original compositions recorded and mixed in just 7 days. Sound Of The Westway is a brilliant mix of punk-informed crunch and buoyant pop melody that shows Chin Chin to be true pioneers of DIY noisy pop. As it happens this combination of DIY punk ethic, fuzz guitars and bubblegum pop was also gaining traction in the UK with the nascent C86 scene. Featuring bands like Shop Assistants and The Pastels, C86 was a confluence of young bands who were as influenced by Phil Spector as The Ramones, and Chin Chin fit right in next to groups like The Rosehips and The Fizzbombs."
Dolly Mixture - Demonstration Tapes - Germs of Youth
Holy hell I have wanted this record for a long time. The thing holding me back was that it goes for stupid amounts of money on Ebay and I consistently have been outbid on this all girl UK post punk gem for years. There were only 1,000 pressed back in 1983 and to make it even more collectible, the only cover art is a collection of actual autographs from each member of the band. Amazing a label reissued the LP this year and they were limited to 300. I am fortunate to be a proud owner of this repress which incredibly is identical to the first press down to the signatures on the stark white covers. She shoots....she scores! This is my Moby Dick.

Favorite local act to release a record in 2010:

Dynamic Truths - Understanding is Overrated - Little Black Cloud
I know. I know. This is cheating because I released this record on my label, but fuck it. I am proud to have been involved with getting this incredible record from the late '90s finally heard. This material was never released so it isn't exactly a reissue but it isn't a proper new release either but whatever it is, it is still my favorite thing to come out of RVA this year. 
Listen to a track from this post-punk slab of genius here
Long Arms - To Hold You - Lemon Lot Records
I haven't had the time to record much music over the past few years but I am honored to have been a part of the Long Arms release that came out this year. 
Most talked about artist:
Eddie Current Suppression Ring - Rush to Relax - Goner Records
The Matador 21 show in Vegas had a little record store area where the artists performing at the fest were able to curate sections of their own that reflected their personal picks by other bands and Eddie Current appeared more than any other band. After the 3rd or 4th time of seeing their record in the bin we felt obligated to buy it and give it a chance. Damn am I glad we did.

This song is from the last record but I think it is the best example of what this band is all about.

Favorite Rap Artist:
Dels  - Shapeshift - Big Dada
Kanye means nothing to me.

Favorite Metal / Heavy records
Tie : Thou - Summit - Gilead / Southern Lord +  / Jesu - Heartache & Dethroned - Hydrahead
I have done lots of blah blah blahing about both artists on various other sites or my own so I will just post a few videos and try not to beat my love for both bands to death.


Favorite Live Performance:
The Clean in Las Vegas during Matador 21
Thank you Matador Records for giving me an opportunity to see The Clean no less with guest players Ira and Georgia from Yo La Tengo. Not to mention Chavez and Come all in the same weekend.

Most Annoying Trend in Music : 

Chill Wave
God I get it, Phil Spector was onto something good. Now move already. Step away from the wall of sound.

Most Annoying Come Back:

The Cassette

I will never understand anyone championing something that sounds like shit and doesn't last the test of time. Why not bring the flexi back while you are trying to out cool each other with pointless nonsense that reeks of trying too hard. At least a flexi won't self destruct when it gets too close to magnet. The return of the cassette is a fun reminder that music elitists don't care about quality, in the end it is all about finding something to alienate the masses. 

Technology Fail:
Over Documenting
Thanks to every cell phone's capability to double as a camera and connect to a social network, every show is filled with people over documenting the event. Not every moment in your life needs to be photographed or tweeted about and I certainly don't think every third person at a show needs to be shooting a video which will look and sound like utter crap or snapping a low light blurry image of the band. Take a breather from your smart phone and just enjoy the moment with both your hands free.

Favorite Music DVD:
Until the Light Take Us


Who is Harry Nilsson

Favorite Music Book:

Patti Smith - Just Kids

Label Who Released a Lot of Cool Sh*t in 2010 :
Mexican Summer


  1. I love Dolly Mixture! Never heard them before! Does Deep Groove have the CD boxset in stock?

  2. Trrrrrracy! Nice recap of the year that was, however...Die! Die! Die! actually hail from New Zealand.(It's like the US-Canadian thing amped up by a billion). They're gonna be high up there on my list, too, which someday I'll be done posting. xoxo

  3. Megan, that was a silly mistake. I know they are from NZ, hence the Flying Nun reference. Thanks for catching that!