Once again, my musical choices for the last year, 2010. Hopefully I will get a podcast of the radio show I did up soon as well.
Best of 2010
Archie Bronson Outift “Coconut” (Domino)
A good 6 am ripper to get you started, an English 3 piece full of noise and overdrive. Not really much more to say about this except this is their third release and boy, be prepared to freak people out with this one Sonic toes tapping and melting blasts from the UK. Driving, otherworldly, bizarrish, and fun.
Ima Robot “Another Man’s Treasure” (Echo park Records)
Which kind of brings me to this band. I bought this thinking it would be much like their first release, a new wave pop blast kind of thing. I have to admit that at first I was a bit disappointed, getting something way more mellow, tribal, subdued. So I put it away for a while. Then I went back to it with a different attitude, and what do you know, not bad at all. This could be considered their “All you need is Love” album because a lot of the tunes address that, very neo hippy, kind of, but it really has a personality that it worth mentioning. An abject lesson in expectation and open-mindedness for me.
Sharon Jones & Dap Kings “I Learned the Hard Way” (Daptone Recordings)
Sharon Jones & Dap Kings are already the best in new soulful funk these days, taking the classic spin and you just can't beat their butt shaking sound. I learned the Hard Way also proves that this woman is not a one trick funky pony, but a great soul artist, I would even wager one of the best around today. You feel every word sung by hear on this one. Talent.
Raw Soul “Rare & Unreleased Funk from Norfolk, VA 1971-1973” (Arcania International)
A great compliation of the backbone band Raw Soul (Barry Saunders, guitar, Maurice Glass, bass, and Grover Everett, drums) and their many releases on singles with singers from the Norfolk area and beyond. A great capturing of some Virginia funk during some peak funky times, and before disco screwed a lot of it up. This album, with some decent liner notes, will school you on the old school, solid. One of my definite favorites this year.
Virginia Rocks (Exhibit & Richmond Folk Festival) (JSP Records)
The exhibit at the Virginia Historical society put together by Don Harrison and Brent Hosier and a research essay for the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum of Ferrum College is resoundingly beautiful and captured the true heart of Virginia Rockabilly from it’s inception. There is a somewhat accompanying compilation of music called Virginia Rocks that gives you great liner notes (some of the best) in case you missed the exhibit and not only that, but we Richmonders also got to enjoy and earful of some of the living legends like The Dazzlers who played a show during the Richmond Folk Festival this year. If you like rockabilly, this exhibit was required viewing, and this cd compliation is necessary for your collection.
Rough Guide to Bhangra (Rough Guide)
Who would have ever thought that a label that churns out so much random world music would give you a doubledose of worth of spectacular Bhangra? Well, that’s not fair, Rough Guides give you choice cuts from bands picked by people that know far more than me about what is going on out there. This one grabbed me by the boo boo and kept my attention and my ipod on repeat a lot. Not only do you get a great compilation of what is out there now, but a bonus cd of a 20 year “Best of” retrospective of one of the hardest working Bhangra bands out there, Achanak. And all for like 12 bucks! A great deal and worth it!
Gogol Bordello “Trans-Continetal Hustle” (American Recordings)
So when I saw that Rick Rubin has his stink all over this cd I was absolutely dubious. He had ruined Gossip’s cd the year before and I was expecting this to be equally compromised. Surprise! It actually feels like he kept his overproduced mitts off of this one, or at least gave merely producing guidance. This is a matured Gogol Bordello, still with the same piss and vinegar of their earlier punkiness but with a more reflective and insightful angle, yet not losing their revolutionary edge. Probably their most approachable work as well. And damn, there is a song that speaks out against this whole immigration thing, Immigraniada; an anthem and probably one of the most politically active and angry and relevant songs of the year. Get this one.
Sleigh Bells “Treats” (Mom & Pop)
Okay, unless this band does something really creative and awesome next record, this will pretty much be it. But wow! It is very unique, strange, interesting and rocking, all in one mouthful. Take a guitarist Derek Miller from the hardcore punk band Poison the Well and the singer from the teen pop group Rubyblue, Alexis Krauss and you get an interesting combo. Sometimes you don’t know if it is some tripish Top 40 attempt that forgot the Autotune, or if it a head swinger from the indie flail circuit. Either way, it keeps you attentive. The thing about this album is that every song, the whole album, sounds like something that would be played at a football or hockey game. Listen to Crown on the Crown and tell me you can’t equate that to some football thing. Anyway, an interesting album and worthy.
The Dead Weather “Sea of Cowards” (Warner)
Sophomore release of the supergroup with members of The Kills (Alison Mosshart), Queens of the Stone Age (Dean Fertita), The Greenhomes (Jack Lawrence) and The White Stripes (Jack White). I would have never really been tuned into to this until one day while I was at the local indie record store. They were cranking this early in the morning, the vocals sounded so familiar and some of the effects on the keyboards were like, WHAT? Man, that is awesome. Completely rad and full of interesting stuff. Definitely a seventies vibe with some super new modern energy and sound and done with such delicious authenticity that you want more. Tracks: I’m Mad, Gasoline, Invisible Man, or Old Mary.
Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School of Medicine (live)
So to confess, Jello Biafra, Alternative Tentacles label, is basically how I lived most of my 20s and 30s. He was my punk idol. Smart guy, great music with the Dead Kennedys and beyond, and gives a crap. So when I heard his new project with members of various AT bands, particularly Ralph Spite from Victims Family, another AT band, had a cd out AND where coming to Richmond, I had to go. I had never gotten the chance to see the Dead Kennedys and I had heard that they were doing some DK convers during the tour. Jello turned 50 last year and I think this was his last hurrah nationwide tour and let me tell you, YES! It was great. A modest punk crowd, but definitely enough to have a blast. He was in perfect Jello form, belting out some great new tunes and the icing on the cake, like 5 DK songs! In the pit and as smart alecky as ever, it was exactly what I wanted and I have to say my favorite show of the year.
Devo “Something for Everybody” (Warner)
Just when you thought new wave was dead, comes back one of the founding bands and a new album. The Something for Everybody CD really was just that. Midway into the year, the band hosted a website that had what they called a “song study”. This meant that anyone who signed up to the site got to preview all the songs they created for this album, then vote which were to appear on it. Along with brilliant informative deadpan videos to accompany you during your listening process, it was a brilliant concept; completely Devo-ian. So unfortunately the “ballad” made it to the album, but a good solid record just the same. They came to Richmond too but I missed them, I heard they were great though!
Yes, the Devo Internet is made of Cats:
I Heart J-Rock (Complilation)
If you want a fun representation of what Japanese Rock is about, look no further than this one right here. Some familiar groups, like Shonen Knife and TsuShiMaMire, but good American newcomers as well, giving you just enough of a sample of them to want more; like LazyGunsBrisky and Molice. Enjoy!
Dynamic Truths “Understanding is overated” (little black cloud records)
It is SO Great to have this terrific bands material compiled on a cd, limited pressing as well. A great capturing of some of the most talented musicians in Richmond at the time, and does it make me feel old remembering seeing these guys when they played? No way! RVA RULES baby, past present and future!
The Fall “Your Future Our Clutter” (Domino Recordings)
Yeah, the Fall have been around a long time and pretty much the only original member left is the nearing 60 Mark E. Smith. And yeah, there isn’t really much left of what the first few Fall albums were, but that is OK to me. This cd is a challenge for anyone who likes to understand everything they hear, so beware. There is a lot of repetition and grumbling vocals that sometimes bubble up and make sense, but if you are up for it. This puppy rocks in it’s repetition and the grumbling is spectacularly rebellious. Once you crack this nut of an album, you are in and there and enjoying the world of Your Future Our Clutter. Great title that says SO MUCH about our modern world of shopping for crap just for the sake of collecting material goods, dontcha think?
Peelander Z (live @ Camel)
Hey! I got to play Yellow’s guitar during the part where they do human bowling and get audience members to participate by playing all of their instruments! Too bad the guy they picked for drums had NO sense of rhythm, but I still rocked it anyway, and it was the most crowded I had seen a Peelander show (3rd time), rowdy as hell, but those Japanese guys now living in New York City sure can handle the crowd control! A blast!
Cheer Accident (live at the camel)
Another great live show I got to see from another band I had long respected but never got the opportunity till this year, is Cheer Accident, who are still going at it after all these year, they have never stopped. And they are the nicest bunch of people you could meet, very appreciative as they stayed over at my friends Laura and John’s house after the show. I talked to some of them before they played, told them I really liked their stuff, and the only cd I had was Not A Food, and they totally played some of the songs from that for me! YES!!!! Good show too, unique, blending some sing songy pop with hard hitting math rock that will melt you. Thanks for coming to Richmond Cheer Accident!
Twinkranes “Spektrumtheatersnakes” (B-Music)
Okay, this came out late in 09, but we only got it at the beginning of 10, so this counts as a 10 release. So when I first read the review in the studio here of this, penned by Paul G. of Pauls Boutique, and it said “car chase music” I had to give it a spin, so to speak. Damn. This thing is on fire. It is repetitious in notion, but stops there. Each song is a journey in sound, building, developing, rocking your face off. Sure you can feel the kraut rock elements, but there is so much texture as it blends with the fine sonic keyboard tapestries, tightly off kilter rhythms, bass rumblings and brilliantly memorable vocals. This is a band you will sit up when you listen and go, what? What IS this and how can I get MORE. Even more careful listening will realize that this these gents aren’t only rock musicians, but Musical Craftsmen. Every time I go away from this and come back, I learn more, appreciate more, then next thing you know I’ve
listened to the cd three times in a row. This is the kind of band I wish I could be in. This is my pick of the year.
Splork / Parlour Shakedown (Plaza Bowl)
A little selfish here, since it was one of my band Splork’s last show, but damn! It was a good one despite the scrambling we had to do to get bands to play with us, we wound up getting a great surprise in Parlour Shakedown, who brought the crowd honestly, and the stage performance to inspire us and our new drummer, Noell, to bring it too. Loads of fun, a blast and MISS YOU SPLORK! RIP!
Parlour Shakedown (RVA Band)
These guys sound like they have been playing for years, but guess what? They only recently graduated from high school!! Smart guys, nice guys, funny guys, talented. If this is how they sound now, imagine the creativity as they age like fine wine! Local band of the year and well deserved of the following they have, they do a great live show, and expect more from them. Local band of the YEAR!
Catnip Dreams (RVA Band)
Super band supergroup with members of the Diamond Center, Hot Lava, The I-Las and Color Kittens, and I am sure I am missing another band of two in their. They were the most anticipated local group of the year to see live, like at the Jonny Z festival. And they bring their cuteness and throwback 60s pop music goodness with sharp teeth to boot. Dig em.