Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sonic Parthenon's The Year in Music 2010 - Part 2: The Concerts

Basia Bulat @ Professor Thom's

Ra Ra Riot; The Antlers @ BAM

Black Taxi, The Frontier Brothers, Atomic Tom, Hailey Wojcik & Her Imaginary Friends @ The Studio at Webster Hall

The Dirtbombs; Davila 666 @ Knitting Factory

Death @ Europa

The Hold Steady @ Bowery Ballroom AND the Music Hall of Williamsburg

The National @ BAM

Camera Obscura @ One Hanson Place

Norah Jones @ Prospect Park

Apples in Stereo @ South Street Seaport

The Ramblers; Bryan Dunn @ Mercury Lounge; Patrick Thomas @ Rockwood Music Hall

Psychobilly Luau: Pyscho Charger, The Arkhams, The Othermen @ Bell House

Parliament-Funkedelic; The Ohio Players @ Wingate Field

Siren Music Festival 2010: Matt & Kim, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart; Surfer Blood, Screaming Females

George Thorogood & The Destroyers @ Asser Levy Park

The Swell Season; The Low Anthem @ Prospect Park

The Gories; Death @ Lincoln Center

Metric; Joan as Police Woman; Holly Miranda @ Prospect Park

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings; The Budos Band @ Prospect Park

The Wedding Present; Savoir Adore @ South Street Seaport

Metric @ Juicy Couture

The Hold Steady @ Beacon Theater

Grinderman @ Best Buy Theater

Sonic Parthenon's The Year in Music 2010 - Part 1: The Playlists

Early 2010

Spring 2010 Part 1

Spring 2010 Part 2

Summer 2010, Vol. 1

Summer 2010, Vol. 2

Autumn and the End of 2010, Part 1

Autumn and the End of 2010, Part 2


The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Autumn and the End of 2010, Part 2

Land of Talk - "Sweet Coin"
Land of Talk returned in 2010 with another dose of doe-eyed melancholy. This one has a pulsing beat that can actually make you move.

The Limousines - "Internet Killed The Video Star"
If/When the Sonic Parthenon Radio Hour actually takes off the ground at Thor Radio, don't be too surprised if this is the first song played. Apart from its obvious message, this song from a San Francisco duo, pulls a fast one - complaining about the youth's turn from instruments and three chords to synths and pop factory tween hits by sounding just like the latter. Except in a good way. I haven't seen an ironic soap box stand like this since Sideshow Bob used television in order to decry it.

Menomena - "Taos"
Menomena - Dooo Dooo Dooo Dooooo - Menomena - Dooo doo doooo doooooo. Sorry. This eclectic Indie band has a fun, fast, noisy shambles here.

Nick Curran And The Lowlifes - "Kill My Baby"
Nick C and the somethings eh?Hey he's allowed, lay off him. Besides have you heard this pyschobilly boogie swing number? He's going to kill his baby if she don't stop messin' around. I'd believe him if I was you.

Pomegranates - "Skull Cakin'" and "50's"
I first heard Pomegranates on a WOXY live session in 2007 or 8 or so. It was nice but it didn't get me. NOW they got me. Holy moly - out of nowhere, Pomegranates belted out a superb punky song in "Skull Cakin'" and they also threw out there a charming, more (oh no) 80's-ish, power pop song in "50's". One of the best surprises of the year. Good work boys!

Ra Ra Riot - "Boy"
Ra Ra Riot finally, finally, finally have a new album and it took three years to put out more of the same. But that's OK. They still got the charm and the grace.

Stars - The Five Ghosts
While it's by no means another In Our Bedroom After The War, The Five Ghosts is also not the total clunker I've heard described as such. Stars are so smooth as to barely count as anything other than lite music - but they do it with such a fine knack, who could argue?

Superchunk - "Digging For Something"
As I slowly work my way through the years of rock music, going back and picking up the bands I didn't catch on my initial forays, I finally caught up with Superchunk this year, no doubt aided by this fantastic anthem off their new record.

Tired Pony - "Get on the Road"
When I first listened to this song, I was struck by its dramatic beauty. I immediately pictured a solo guy or a male/female duo specializing in alt-country style Indie rock. Probably hailing from the mountain or plains states but too pop for Saddle Creek. But it turns out Tired Pony is Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol with a bunch of friends. Namely Peter Buck. On this song, his best friend is Zooey Deschanel. First, it all makes sense - the song has that familiar slow, build-up, repeat, slow, build-up, repeat Snow Patrol pattern. Second - Zooey has passed the test. Without hype, instant obvious appearance, or any warning - it was just a natural positive response to what I heard.

Thee Oh Sees - "I Was Denied"
Oh I'm tired of garage rock and child-like playing and attitudes. I'm tired of noise and volume for volume's sake and the "la la la la"'s. Except - I like this garage rock and this kind of attitude and this kind of noise and this kind of volume and I love this kind of "la la la la"'s. Damn You Oh Sees!

Wavves - "King of the Beach"
Man Wavves was crap when he debuted. And his behavior didn't do him any favors. Well he grew up fast and made this exceptional rock song, an anthem for the summer (if I had heard it in the summer) and one of the best songs of the year.

Wolf Parade - Expo '86
It took a long time but I finally got around to hearing the rest of this (final?) record from Wolf Parade. In addition to the two great songs I heard before, add "Pobody's Nerfect" to the list of the best of 2010.

Honorable Mentions:
Maximum Balloon - "Absence of Light (feat. Tunde Adepimpe)" (Sitek's solo project)
The Mean - "Mahalia" (sounds like relatives of the Black Keys).
Stag - "These Times" (the last number 1 song of 2010 on the weekly countdown and likely to be the first of 2011 - more on this in the first recap of the next year).

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The Sonic Parthenon Playlist: Autumn and the End of 2010, Part 1

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Every year it seems the Indie Rock world gets one representative to the big dance - the top of the charts, the Grammy awards, etc. The Arcade Fire appear to be the perennial delegate for as long as they release something. When The Suburbs debuted at number1, it arguably spelled the moment where the number one record in the country was heard - or even heard of - by the fewest number of people yet. That's the bittersweet rub in the Arcade Fire's success. And it makes tracks like "We Used To Wait" and "Month of May" ironic.

Atomic Tom - The Moment
The hard working boys in Atomic Tom hit pay dirt while yours truly was away in London being locked out of the 20-20's show in Islington. Taking advantage of modern bits of technology - namely Iphones and YouTube, the band made a video, the world went wild, and now they are living it up on the television and the charts. But they are the still the work-incensed band that was slugging it in New York City in the last couple of years.

Augustines - "Book of James"
With a flair for the dramatic and a voice to give you the shakes, this song made me think "it reminds me of the late, great Pela". Well what do ya know?! It IS Pela! Sort of. I should have recognized Billy McCarthy's voice in an instant. In fact I did. But I didn't think it was actually the man himself. Pela lives! Sort of.

The Capstan Shafts - "Quiet Wars"/Massy Ferguson - "Long Time, No See"/Poison Control Center - "Being Gone"
A trio of songs that got a lot of Ipod play that fall into a family of country/bar band mixes. The college rock anthem style of the Capstan Shafts is slightly different from the more twangy Ferguson and the jammy PCC, but together they make for a steady stream of Americana.

Cee-Lo Green - The Ladykiller
"Fuck You" - the song that dare not be named - would have been a scandal just ten or twenty years ago. Now it is an automatic hit and no one bats an eye. That's a victory. The Glee treatment was sort of a defeat (we're not on that bandwagon). The Goodie Mob half of Gnarls Barkley is still too dangerous for Ma & Pa America but he's too mainstream for Pitchfork, which makes him the King of the Sonic Parthenon Universe. If "Fuck You" wasn't enough, "Satisfied" and an unbelievably fantastic re-do of Band of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You" bring home the bacon. If Soul Train was still going, Cee-Lo would be doing it on there, with Ben Bridwell probably helping him out.

The Colourist - "Oh Goodbye"
For a good run there, NPR's Second Stage podcast was delivering songs-to-notice as good as any of the big boy podcasts. This one sort of boggles the mind as being obscure. It is catchy, well-structured, and made for a hit. One of the best songs of the year.

The Corin Tucker Band - "Doubt"
The haunting voice of Sleater-Kinney finally got back into the mix in 2010 with a very natural record. She's sounding great and feeling great and doesn't seem to have lost any time since those first days when Sleater-Kinney made their mark. As if on cue, Carrie and Janet are now working together again as Wild Gift (with Mary Timoney no less). Could it be possible that 2011 will spell the return of...? A fella can dream can't he?

Diamond Rings - "Something Else"/The Hundred in the Hands - "Commotion"
The 80's are back. They've been back for a few years now. In fact, they are too back. Synthesizers are as prominent now as they were when George Michael and Mister Mister were breaking hearts (god help us). Throw in the auto-tune for good measure, and it appears the robot dystopia has finally come to pass. But it's not all doom and gloom. These two songs reflect what works. The Diamond Rings song has that dark side of the New Order tone to it, with a revved up rift to boot. Hundred in the Hands are building a lot of momentum, taking more of the club tack that Ladyhawke rolled with last year - in other words, the lighter side of the New Order tome.

Eliza Doolittle - "Skinny Genes"
A sweeter, friendlier spin on the saucy British ingenue, Eliza Doolittle has a nice, almost too-catchy, too-sweet ditty here. But this isn't what matters. What matters is getting her and Holly Golightly together for a tour.

Fight From Above - "Between The Curves"
Another NPR Second Stage winner - from a concept album about the City of Angels.

Fol Chen - "In Ruins"
If I was to think of what constitutes the music a trendy hipster would listen to in 2010, this is it. Making use of samples (including, yes, 80's samples), bubblegum pop melody, and a sassy female voice, what's missing? Feedback and distortion? I realize I am actually trashing all of this - but I still like this song.

Grinderman - Grinderman 2
The Fall of 2010 belonged to Grinderman, unopposed. With an album that actually sounded good from beginning to end, and a live show that spanked you red, it all seemed to flow easy and inevitably from the delirious "Heathen Child" video. After the smart roll-out, the sequel to 2007's glorious effort upped the ante with the best kick-off song in years - "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" - a twisted slice akin to the first half of From Dusk till Dawn. As if that wasn't enough, "Worm Tamer" nailed it (especially as done by Warren on the Jools Holland program), "Evil" almost made Howlin' Wolf's song of the same name seem angelic, and "Halls of Montezuma" almost sounded from the U2 mold except in that much more derelict Cave sense of things.

Gross Relations - "You Don't Know Me"
While others are trying to sound 80's, this act is going for more 70's power pop. In fact, this song could be a dead ringer for Bowie's "Heroes".

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