My favorite music of 2010

January 9th, 2011

I just went back and looked at my 2010 posts, and sadly I think there were only 6 posts all year.  I can’t promise that I’ll do much more in 2011, but I can say that this year I have good reason.  I have a new job that I’m genuinely enjoying, and I’ll have a baby daughter any day now.  So the blog might have to take a back seat.  BUT at a minimum I hope to be back a year from now with my favorite tunes of 2011.

For now, here’s what I was able to pull together for 2010.  As a reminder, I don’t take a strict interpretation on “best of” lists for a given year.  Rather my list reflects the music that I discovered and enjoyed listening to in a given year, and if a song didn’t happen to be released in the year in question, that’s OK with me.  I think this year only one song was released outside of 2010, but that one was released in 2004 and I don’t know how I missed it.  In any case, let’s get to the music (listed “Song” – Artist – Album):

  1. High On Your Love – Kings Go Forth – The Outsiders Are Back I don’t know much about this band, and I’m not even sure how I discovered them (though I think it was eMusic).  All I know is that the song is undeniably good and I don’t think any of my music-loving friends know about this band, which is a bonus!
  2. Patience – Mark Sandman – Sandbox This is the song that was released in 2004, and I don’t know how I missed it.  Mark Sandman was the front man for the band Morphine, and unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago.  I was a big Morphine fan, but I never knew he had a solo album.  Sandbox is a double album, and it’s hit and miss, but this tune is fantastic.
  3. Oh My God – The Cults – (Album Unknown) I don’t know how I found this song, and I don’t know anything about the band, but I like the song.
  4. In Knowing – Swimming in Speakers – Swimming in Speakers EP I also don’t know how I found this song, and I also don’t know anything about the band, but I like the song.
  5. Swimming – Breathe Owl Breathe – Magic Central I found this song on eMusic, and I’m not sure I liked any of the other tracks by this band.  The lyrics in part of the song are terrible, but the song is still charming and it’s got a tasty indie vibe.
  6. Fuck You – Cee-Lo Green – The Lady Killer I never shy away from big successful poppy songs on my best-of lists if I think the songs deserve it.  This song got a lot of chatter when it came out, and I honestly wasn’t on board immediately, but it creeps into your head and won’t leave.  I think the backup vocals are what make it so infectious.
  7. Numbers Don’t Lie – The Mynabirds – What we lose in the fire we gain in the flood I admit it, there’s a certain component of competition in this “best of” list.  I want to find songs that my music-loving friends haven’t found on their own, but really like.  This song fills that requirement for my friend and former band-mate John.  I think he’ll love it, and I don’t think he’s ever heard it.  I also happen to like it.
  8. Floating Vibes – Surfer Blood – Astro Coast I will also admit that I do some “cramming” at the end of the year to try to find good new music.  This was a result of those cramming efforts, but I think it’s a good tune.
  9. Tighten Up – The Black Keys – Brothers It’s just a good rock song.
  10. Electrocution – Nada Surf – If I Had a Hi-Fi Nada Surf made a previous best-of list, and my friend Bill introduced me to this song.  I guess this band is more than “popular.”
  11. Where I’m Going – Cut Copy – Modular Another song that I owe to my friend Bill.  I don’t think he puts together a “best of” list, so I’ll just steal his good discoveries and give him credit.
  12. I don’t Care If There’s Cursing – Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy I like this song on its own merits, but my wife does a silly dance every time she hears this song and I love it, so there’s twice the reasons to include it on this list.
  13. Evening Kitchen – Band of Horses – Infinite Arms This album was better than you thought it was.  Same is true for this song.  When I saw the band live earlier this year, this song stole the show for me… just one guitar and two vocals.  Really really pretty.  Give it another listen.
  14. This Too Shall Pass – OK Go – Of the Blue Colour of the Sky Great band, great videos, decent live shows.  I saw this band live for the first time in 2010 and I can’t tell you why the show was only good (not great), but they have a lot of really good songs and this is one of them.  And if you haven’t already seen the video, you should.
  15. The High Road – Broken Bells – Broken Bells DJ Danger Mouse got together with that guy from The Shins, huh?  Sounds like a cool idea, and this song delivers.
  16. Rill Rill – Sleigh Bells – Treats When a group claims that they “defy genres” it’s usually either a) a marketing gimmick, or b) a shitty band.  In this case the description is true and the end result is worth a listen or two.
  17. Crash Years – The New Pornographers – Together I like the New Pornographers and I wanted to put one of their songs on this mix, so here it is.
  18. Denise – Clem Snide – The Meat of Life When I lived in NY, my friends and band-mates took me to see Clem Snide at the Bowery Ballroom.  I didn’t like it.  I’ve since come around.  There are a lot of good tracks on this album (and some mediocre ones), but this is one I liked quite a bit.
  19. Taxi Cab – Vampire Weekend – Contra This album came out  in the beginning of 2010 and it was easy to almost forget them.  Plus their keyboardist seems like a douche (they all kind of seem douchey), but their songs are undeniably good and still sound different than pretty much any other current band.

Hope you enjoy, and as always if you hear something you like please support the band by either downloading their album, or better yet seeing them live.

Click here to download a Zip of all these songs

Happy New Year!

Thanks for the enthusiasm

July 5th, 2010

I hate onions too, and I’m glad to see you take the subject seriously.  (click for full-sized picture)

Mason Jennings Solo at the Variety Playhouse June 19, 2010

June 20th, 2010

The last time I saw Mason Jennings was at the same venue just over two years ago.  That show also happened to be my first date with a  girl who is now my wife, so needless to say it was fun to get to relive the experience from a very different perspective.

The big difference in the show is that this time it was just Mason, solo acoustic.  I honestly didn’t know if I’d get tired of that setup before the end of the show, but I did not – the show was fantastic. The show was entirely seated – even the general admission area up front had plastic tables and chairs set up, so that set the mood for a mellow evening.  It felt a lot like that VH1 show that was on a few years ago called “Storytellers.”  He told a little back story about most of the songs, and it really did a great job of setting them up and giving them new dimensions when he played them.

One of the stories I remembered is when he was describing a girl he used to date, and the two of them had drastically different taste in music.  He said she was into a style of music called “boots and cats,” which is music where the drum part always goes “boots n cats n boots n cats n boots n cats n” (try it out loud, you’ll get it).  She always complained that anything he played didn’t even have drums in it.  He said it’s a tough position to be in ’cause they liked each other but didn’t see eye to eye on most things.  That was the back story to the song “Nothing.”

The other one I remember is the back story to the new version of “The Field.”  He described it as his attempt to make sense of the Iraq war (which had started on his birthday).  He had talked to a lot of people who were either in the armed forces or close to those who were.  Specifically he mentioned a friend’s brother who was a soldier and a poet stationed in Iraq.  He said that through an unconscious prejudice he had previously been unable to think of a soldier and a poet as traits possible in one person.  Somehow reading the poetry of someone who appreciate the beauty of all of the details of Iraq made it that much harder to accept what was going on in the war, especially when he learned this poet/soldier has been killed.  Again this was a powerful setup for the song which he went on to play.

My wife and I snuck up to the front for the encores (and were able to get the fairly close-up picture above).  The show was a little short, probably just under 90 minutes, but it was fantastic – probably even better than the last show we saw.  To top it all off, he encouraged everyone to hang around the merchandise table and he would come say hello to everyone after the show.  A large portion of the crowd did just that (especially the high school & college girls), and he did indeed come out, sign autographs, take pictures and make friendly small talk.  Very cool of him.  I’m sure we’ll see him again whenever he comes back.

Full Set list:

  1. Fighter Girl
  2. Which way your heart will go
  3. Be here now
  4. Your new man
  5. Nothing
  6. Ballad for my one true love
  7. Lonely Road
  8. The Field (old song that he rediscovered)
  9. The Field (off of Blood of Man)
  10. California (Part II)
  11. The Fisherman
  12. Jackson Square
  13. Living in the Moment
  14. Hospitals and Jails
  15. Pittsburgh
  16. I love you and Budda too
  17. Crown

Encores:

  1. Butterfly
  2. Bullet
  3. Keepin it Real