best of 2010

•December 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

well hello there. it’s been a long time. but with the end of the year creeping up, i felt it necessary to put together a ‘year’s best’ of things i’ve listened to and would like to share. most of the songs/albums/mixes/things were released this year, but i’ll put some other fun things that i listened to on repeat for funsies. it’s pretty freaking crazy that this year is over already. one of the fastest in recent memory for sure. i slowed my roll on the live shows because i needed to remember that little thing called ‘financial responsibility.’ being a grown up sucks. before we get to the music, i’ll just give a quick blip on top shows i can recall from the year.

lcd soundsystem was freaking amazing. been waiting for way too long to see them and it lived up to all the hype and then some. likewise, arcade fire was ridiculously good. we just saw andrew bird this weekend and that was unbelievably incredible too. there were more, but lets get to the goods.

in no particular order, here’s music for you. i’ll link you to grooveshark for the albums & singles. and listen to the playlist as well.

Menomena – Mines
this album is superb and very much unrecognized. from start to finish, they’re layered, textured compositions come together to craft great melodies and even better hooks. If you’ve heard of this band before, this album definitely thrusts their style more into “main stream,” but definitely worth listening to. if you haven’t listened, do so now…and thank me later. how could you not want to listen to a band named after the awesomeness of a ‘muppets’ song.
song to listen to: “TAOS”

Junip – Fields
jose gonzalez’s newest project takes singer-songwriter in a whole new direction. mixing his soft voice with the harder sounds of vintage electric synths, the blend comes off in infectious, quick pop songs that keep you wanting more and more. each seems simple but are complex in their simpleness. just listen and you’ll know exactly what i’m talking about. live, the band puts on a show that wants so badly to be mellow, but it’s impossible as all you to do is tap your feet and bob your head. again, an unknown album that should’ve gotten a lot more notice.
song to listen to: “in every direction

stars – the five ghosts
plain and simple, i really like this album. it’s equal parts arcade fire, metric, and good indie-pop. the shared male/female vocals help make this album really fun to listen to. add to that some damn-good, dancey songs and you’ve got yourself your next ‘get me ready to go out’ album. enjoy, and have a drink (or 3) for me.
song to listen to: “we don’t want your body

lcd soundsystem – this is happening

oh lcd how you slay me. seriously. i had this album on repeat like non stop. and still do. it’s that good. i so hope the rumors that this will be their last album are false. cause that would be tragic. like i said earlier, their live show was so unbelievable, and i danced so hard, that girl next to me was disgusted when my sweaty arm grazed hers. can’t blame her as she needed to wipe my sweat off of her. can’t blame me as it was a cool 103 degrees in the orpheum. anyways, this album from the first note will have you hooked. it builds and builds, keeps you amped, lets you down gently, and even buys you dinner after. please listen, and listen frequently.
song to listen to: “dance yourself clean

foals – total life forever

mmm dancey-synth-pop how i love thee. albeit a little less dancey than some previous stuff they’ve put out, foals definitely make a more main-stream statement with their latest album. there’s definitely something for everyone on this. live, these guys put on a great show building layers, loops, bleeps, bloops, and grooves into one cohesive mess of sound. the added haunting space they create in the space between notes stands to only increase the need to listen.
song to listen to: “spanish sahara

arcade fire – the suburbs

stuff from 2009 you should have listened to

•February 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

with all of the ‘best of’ lists & year end this and thats that came out around the new year, one thing was pretty clear, the writers of said lists all listened to the same stuff. there was a ton of good music out in 2009. one of the better years for music in my opinion in a while. i’m no good at making decisions and therefore, for my list of ‘things you should have been listening to if you haven’t been already for 2009,’ the list is in no particular order. it’s just a list for you to follow, listen to, ignore. basically, it’s a compilation of albums, songs and artists that i discovered, played out, heard, heard about and overly enjoyed from the year that was. i’ve put links where i can to individual songs and albums (to download right click ‘download’ and ‘save as’), but if there’s not one there, go out & listen to it. at least give it a chance. finding new music is like finding a new favorite shirt. and i like shirts.

devendra banhart – what will we be
‘baby’ (download)″

if i were to rank these albums/songs, this would mostly likely be my #1. it really is that good. just a great everyday album to listen to in the car, at home, at work, anywhere. really. it’s really really good. the retro feel to it ignites a sense of better times that were and better times that should be. the funness of ‘baby’ is a pretty good indicator of the rest of the album. enjoy it. other highlights include ‘angelika’ and ‘rats.’

phoenix – wolfgang amadeus mozart (remixes)
‘lisztomania (alex metric remix)’ (download)″

by now, most people have heard phoenix. they’re on just about every commercial for just about everything. in movie previews. on the radio. in the elevator. in your mom’s car. everywhere. i couldn’t be happier for them, this album is amazing. this remix album takes something so good and makes it that much better. just for the fact of taking a song you’ve heard over & over, but keeping it fresh enough that you want to keep listening. this remix of ‘lisztomania’ proves my point perfectly.

ok. i’m going to slim down the writing/explanations and get to the music. listen & make your own judgements.

metric – fantasies
‘gold, guns, girls’ (download)″

this album didn’t nearly get the play that i think it should have. each song is really strong. this one is super bad ass. listen to their older stuff too that is even better.

amadou & mariam – welcome to mali
‘sabali’ (download)″

this album is beautiful. this song, even more so. a blind husband with his blind wife make music & it’s incredible. enjoy.

paolo nutini – sunny side up
’10/10′ (download)″

one of my favorite albums of the year, it’s eclectic, awesome and good. this wasn’t the song i really wanted to future, but it’ll do since i couldn’t find a link to the mp3 for ‘coming up easy’ which included one of the best lyrics of the year: “it was in love i was created and in love is how i hope i die.”

ceu – vagarosa
‘grains de beaute’ (download)

this album is incredible. the sultry voice of the lovely, brazilian ceu is so seductive that you almost don’t even recognize how good the music is because you’re just listening to her. but, listen deeper and you hear layers of awesomeness.

andrew bird – noble beast
‘anonanimal’ (download)″

i’ve been a big andrew bird fan for a while now and love the various styles he incorporates into his music. this song, and this album as a whole, are a culmination of all things great about the whistling mr. bird.

edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros – edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
‘home’ (download)″

a band created around a mythical edward sharpe who is sent to earth to save the humans but gets distracted by booze & girls. how could it be bad? this song is infectious and awesome. watch the npr tiny desk concert video to see just how cool/dirty this group is.

wild light – adult nights
‘california on my mind’ (download)″

this song is incredibly catchy and plays well on any road trip/mix tape/blog list especially while in california. fuck you california. but not really.

the dodos – time to die
‘small deaths’ (download)″

another great catchy song that is just solid good stuff. the album is quite good as well. they may not be that widely known yet, but i see that changing.

dragonette – fixin to thrill
‘fixin to thrill’ (download)″

live, these guys totally threw down. like hard. it wasn’t til after that i realized dan, the bass player from the new deal, was the bass/keys player & husband to lead singer martina. anyway, this song rules. this album rules. this band rules.

mute math – armistice
‘backfire’ (download)″

i absolutely love this band. their live show is unbelievable. this album wasn’t as great as their first, but then i listened more and it really is good as well.

as tall as lions – you can’t take it with you
‘in case of rapture’ (download)″

when i saw them open for mute math, they were pretty good, but apparently their singer’s voice was shot. this album does them much better justice and this song is great.

freelance whales – weathervanes
‘hannah’ (download)″

heard about them accidentally you could say when they were opening for the temper trap. got hooked right away. catchy and great as is most of the album. you’ll be hearing a lot more of them soon.

thao with the get down stay down – know better learn faster
‘cool yourself’ (download) & ‘when we swam’ (download)″″

one of the most happy feeling albums of the year. she could be singing about dying pets and it would still make you smile. couldn’t decide which song to put, so i put both.

the big pink – a brief history of love
‘dominos’ (download)″

heard about them from zildjian’s uk rep a little before they blew up. this is a great song and they deserve the credit. albums good as well.

camera obscura – my maudlin career
‘french navy’ (download)″

winners of my ‘peter bjorn & john’ award for the most ‘get-stuck-in-your-head-song’ of the year, it really is a great song. evoking decades and genres of the past, it’s just damn good. this remix is pretty darn good too.

the very best – warm heart of africa
‘chalo’ (download)″

they hit the scene when the single ‘warm heart of africa came out featuring vampire weekend’s ezra koenig. it’s a great song, but i like this whole album. it fuses so many cultures and styles and is just bad ass. enjoy it.

the disco biscuits – on time ep
‘on time’ (download)″

known usually for their livetronica jams, the biscuits took it to a new level this year with 2 eps – this and widgets ep. this song is bad ass and so is their new direction.

hockey – mind chaos
‘work’ (download)″

i was really surprised they didn’t get more attention this year. they’ve got some awesome stuff. being that it’s almost the weekend, i had to put up ‘work,’ but ‘too fake’ is their big single, so here’s a great remix of it:″

n.a.s.a. – the spirit of apollo
‘gifted’ (download)″

everything about this album is incredible. the musicians on it encompass every factor of music for the past 20 years. the music itself does the same. couple all of that with the ridiculously amazing videos and you can see why i’ve recommended this to everyone i know.

family of the year – songbook
‘psyche or like scope’ (download)″

good folk band out of cali, this song strays from their great indie folk sound and incorporates a driving beat and some layered synths to bring a haunting melody to life. highly recommend the rest of the album too, especially ‘summer girl‘ which will get you wishing for warmer days instantly.

diane birch – bible belt
‘noting but a miracle’ (download)″

when i first heard this i could’ve sworn that carole king had a new single. the rhodes intro brings you straight back to the tapestry times and birch’s voice is spot on for the era. great song, great melody, pretty solid album.

manchester orchestra – mean everything to nothing
‘i’ve got friends’ (download)″

i still don’t know how they’re not more well known. i saw them in 2007 open for kings of leon and loved their set. their first album is fire and this one is right on par. this is my favorite song from it, but ‘shake it out‘ is bad ass also.

florence & the machine – lungs
‘cosmic love’ (download)″

so, so, so good. i love this song, this album and everything that they’ve done so far. they’re going to be around for a while. her voice is powerful, the songs are super well written and yea. just listen. also listen to ‘rabbit heart (raise it up)‘ and ‘dog days are over

the airborne toxic event – the airborne toxic event
‘sometime around midnight’ (download)″

no one likes a breakup. everyone likes a breakup song. this album’s full of ’em. the first time i heard this song, i was in a bad place and it struck such a deep chord that i almost had to turn it off except it was that good that i had to keep listening. they’re awesome live, the album’s awesome, they’re awesome.

lykke li – youth novels
‘little bit (death to the throne remix)’ (download)″

strange yet great, this album is full of bleeps, blips, layers, space and cool ass music. this song has been remixed a whole lot, this is the best one i’ve heard, but this one (by css) and this one (by gigamesh) are also great.

sara tavares – xinti
‘quando das um pouco mais’ (download)″

beautiful perfectly categorizes this song and album. the guitar work and vocals mesh together so well bringing out tavares’ cape-verdian spirit. it’s just good.

the temper trap – conditions
‘sweet disposition’ (download)″

this song seemed to be all over the place in ’09. commercials, 500 days of summer (twice) and all over the radio. their live show was a lot better then i thought it would be and makes all of these songs that much better. good guys too.

fanfarlo – reservoir
‘luna’ (download)″

a mixture of lots of other band’s sounds, fanfarlo makes it their own with their first full length. solid, but like beirut, the voice can get on my nerves after a few songs.

the new deal @ paradise. boston, ma. 01/21/10

•January 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

good times as always. guys only get better & better…

passion pit @ house of blues, boston. 1/6/10

•January 8, 2010 • 1 Comment

whoa. oh10. the future is here or something.
2009 ended pretty amazingly with good holidays and what not and with me reaching my goal of hitting 50 concerts throughout the year. to start off this year’s list, passion pit at the hob.
the boston natives packed the place solid with hipsters galore, 20-somethings, teens and their moms. their popularity has spread so far over the past year even to be included in a commercial for a new palm phone. good for them. but they haven’t won everyone over yet, as evidence by some typical boston college kids we walked passed before entering the show. it went something like this:
college dude 1 in red sox hat: oh whoa, passion pit is playing here tonight. they’re pretty good.
college dude 2 in red sox hat: i guess they’re alright.
college dude 3 in red sox hat: yeah, they’re good if you’re gay.
college dude 4 in red sox hat: hahaha (laughed in typical sounding doucheyness). if you’re gay.

annnnnyway. the show went about exactly as you would think a passion pit show would go. they don’t really have all that much material and they played through just about their entire arsenal presented in a straight ahead rock show. cool light boards were spread throughout the stage hovering over the band. the too-cool-for-you emerson allum that filled the vip boxes sat motionless in their above-stage thrones only moving to point at people in the audience who were not as cool as them. lead singer, michael angelokushoweverthefuckyouspellmyname did a good job of keeping the falsetto soaring in check with each synth-popped song. the crowd responded well to each track singing along to the singles and mumbling along to the deep tracks.

i think the highlight of the show for me was their encore cover of the cranberries “dreams.” it was pretty much spot on sans the irish accent. the song coupled with the fact that this song came out while most of the crowd was still in diapers kinda made the whole moment that much more serene. good show to start out the year.

flobots @ harpers ferry. allston, ma. 12/2/09

•December 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

denver came out of the woodworks to check out native sons (and daughter) flobots in allston rock city. their hiphopolitics took hold of the very, very, very diverse crowd of high schoolers to retirees all basking in the flow of some good live-band hip hop.

their songs are down right catchy with inspiring lyrics and poppy hooks bringing it all together. the crowd ate up every serving of violin/guitar/drum/bass driven song that was served to them. yes, violin. and it was darn good too.

afterwards, we ended up grabbing some drinks with them and they’re just genuine good people. catch them if you can on tour, or give a listen, you’ll enjoy.

(worth noting that johnny5, lead mc/writer, started writing thanks to maya’s dad…score)

handle bars″

soulive & raphael saadiq @ hob. boston, ma. 12/9/09

•December 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

the power of old soul, funk and r&b is so strong that brings together anyone within ears reach. it had been a while since i’ve seen soulive and man they’ve only gotten better. bringing it hard with some lead vocals strengthening their sound, they had it going on throughout the set.
raphael saadiq brough neo-soul back to life. great show especially since we got in for free…only to pay a crap ton on dinner @ the foundation room.

phish @ msg. nyc. 12/4/09

•December 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

msg has been home to some of the best rock shows of all time. it’s also been home to many of the greatest phish shows as well. so it was only fitting that when phish was closing out their 3 night set at the garden to throw down a straight up rock fest. getting inside a little bit late, we found some random seats near where i thought to be our section (randomly was a row in front of our actual seats) just behind the stage, off paige’s side. you could feel the energy right away just walking into the building. the vibe was already different than the albany shows. it is nyc after all. we brought my friend brad along for his first phish show, so of course it turned out to be an awesome show (thanks bradley).

the first set powered through some sick jams that just struck hard and heavy. solid ’46 days,’ and ‘reba’ combined with some eh (‘bouncing’) and a great closer with ‘first tube.’ we didn’t get the full effect of the lights from our seats, but it was pretty awesome to be sorta on top of the stage and be able to see how they do what they do while grabbing their prospective of the crowd. must be amazing to play to rabid crowds like that every night. the second set was pretty much a big ‘ol dance party. roaring versions of ‘twist,’ ‘mikes > hydrogen > weekapaug’ and a surprise ‘silent in the morning’ made the trip down to nyc very worth while.

all in all, great phish run. would i do this many shows again? probably not, but good times nonetheless.

phish @ times union center. albany, ny. 11/28/09

•December 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

that photo right there pretty much epitomizes why phish still is one of the best touring acts around. love them or hate them, shit is amazing to see live. you really can’t knock them at all until you experience the scene, the lights, the vibe, the smell, the funk, the stank, the people, the musk, the feel, the energy.

with that, we took adam (my oldest friend) and his roommate jose with us to show #2. it was adam’s 2nd show & jose’s 1st. also had another friend there who was experiencing them for the 1st time as well. so i was feeling kinda bad that the 1st night was really good. was a little weary of how this show would pan out for newcomers. similarly to the night before, the sets were all over the place switching from blue grass, to funk, to who knows what. this is why most people love em after all. for me though, it felt too sporadic. yes, the jams were spacey, well done and good and all, but the song selection just didn’t quite do it for me. there were definite standouts though like the ‘nicu’ and ‘vultures’ in the 1st set. ‘melt’ came out a bit sloppy, but still was good. the 2nd set came out fighting strong with a ‘seven below’ into ‘ghost’ (one of my fav songs to see them play live after the ginormous glow stick war at it). the jam was straight nasty and the fact that we were sitting very close to the stage – off the back corner behind paige – let us into just exactly what it must feel like for them to look out onto a sea of heads plastered in lights all groovilating to the beat. ‘jibboo’ was pretty good too as was ‘wolfman’s’ but not good enough to keep us from leaving early to beat the mass exodus.

such was the thanksgiving weekend that was. thankful for sure that it all worked out. thankful for the music. thankful for the fun & friends. thanks.

phish @ times union center. albany, ny. 11/27/09

•December 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

thanksgiving is well known as the worst travel weekend of the year, so it was only fitting that i’d be traveling everywhere throughout the northeast. thanks to mother nature, our ski trip to vt got postponed, but surprisingly all the details came together to make for a great weekend of family, food, friends and phish.

the first night in albany was set to be a great one. the shows earlier in the week in phily were supposedly pretty good, so we were hoping their stride would hit while in ny’s capital. that it did. starting the night out with a pretty straight ahead ‘ac/dc,’ the first set was pretty strange in song selections. a great ‘maze’ came next which i was really excited to hear. the light show was quite incredible as was the sound from where we were sitting – a few rows off the ice, straight back behind the soundboard. best sound in the place in my opinion. the set continued to “bounce around” quite literally as a radio friendly ‘bouncing around the room’ came mid way through the sit, complete with a half-assed, too early glow stick war. other set highlights were ‘ice,’ ‘limb by limb’ and ‘cavern.’

the second set was really what did it for me though. it was pretty much the reason that i enjoy seeing them. crazy lights, some incredible covers and just straight ahead pure power. keeping everyone on their toes, ‘my friend my friend’ started things out. as they got things going, i recognized the syncopated rhythm they were playing, but couldn’t quite yet place it until trey started singing the lyrics. everyone we were with looked perplexed and then it hit me that they were covering tv on the radio’s ‘golden age’ very much to my excitement (and yes, i called it before the chorus. thank you). the jam that followed was bad ass enough that it got even the dirtiest hippies in the place to dance to modern-hippster-indie-rock. i bet the downloads for the original version went up the next day since barely anyone knew what the hell they were playing. from there, the set (& show) continued the shuffling of crowd pleasers like ‘fluffhead,’ ‘prince caspian’ and ‘harry hood.’ the unison screams of “hood” were deafened though by the absolute pure energy the entire arena put out as ‘suzie greenberg’ started up and the white lights shone bright on the crowd to everyone’s enjoyment.

it was definitely a great show. one of the better ones i’ve seen in recent years. was looking forward to night 2.

here’s some video from the beginning of ‘maze’ my friend haskell got with his flip mino hd. lights were amazing:
Vodpod videos no longer available.

metric @ house of blues. boston, ma. 11/20/09

•November 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

every good night should start with tequila. or maybe it’s every good night does start with tequila. after a long day at work, a long ride home in traffic and the beginning of the weekend, there’s few things better than a margarita to get things going. add that together with pretty tasty mexican food, concerts and free ice cream and you’ve got your self a pretty darn good friday night if i do say so myself. and such was ours.

we headed over to the hob after said mexican delights and caught metric’s set. i was pretty excited to see them after their cool, but sort-of-dissapointing acoustic set at the wfnx show over the summer in gov. center. they came out firing plowing through their big hits off the new record, fantasies, like ‘gimmie sympathy,’ ‘sick muse’ and my fav off the new one ‘gold guns girls.’ all and all, the set was pretty good. as good as they are as a band, as good as they are as a band live, i still kinda expected more. their lights were kinda week, especially to some of the backdrops and rigs i’ve seen over the past few weeks, let alone year, but maybe that adds to their vibe. they’re still kinda of an ‘unknown’ in main stream terms. somehow they still seem to sneak unnoticed. maybe it’s because they’re canadian, maybe it’s cause the bigger stations just won’t play a real ‘indie’ band. whatever it is, these guys have broken out for sure, but not to their potential. they’re damn good and i would have loved to hear some more of their older stuff which is still damn good. overall, a solid performance that i was quite happy to see.

the free ice cream from the highly anticipated new red mango that just opened up around the corner from me was pretty much the most perfect nightcap ever. ever.