Archive for December, 2010

2010: Fave Tracks/CD’s/Live Shows

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

I've been toasting Muse for over 11 years now

***Tracks: Here are 15 faves from 2010, in order:

1 –  Muse–Resistance (“Uprising” was tops for me in 2009)
2 – Lightspeed Champion–The Big Guns of Highsmith (a fresh cross between Queen and Mika)
3 – Morning Benders–Excuses (a beauty with a 50’s chord progression)
4 – Beach House–Zebra (also a beauty, which got me more into their album)
5 – Surfer Blood–Floating Vibes (a near-perfect radio song that got very little play)
6 – Jenny & Johnny--Committed (should have been the first single)
7 – LCD Soundsystem–Drunk Girls (great fun even if nothing like rest of album)
8 – Vampire Weekend--Cousins (perfect way to set the tone for sophomore release)
9 – Jaill–The Stroller (excellent guitar work that more people should have heard)
10 – Gay Blades–Try to Understand (super upbeat song)
11 – Codeine Velvet Club–Hollywood (wish we were getting more from this side project)
12 – Mark Ronson f/ Simon LeBon–Record Collection (similar to sound of new Duran album)
13 – Tricky–Murder Weapon (you can never go wrong with the that “Peter Gunn Theme” riff)
14 – Devo–Fresh (exactly how this sounded: Fresh)
15 – Constellations–Felicia (sultry late-night Atlanta, with guest vocals by Cee-Lo)

***CD’s: I’ve found it’s tough to rank CD’s on a year-end list, but here are 16 that stood out for me this past year:

Arcade Fire, Beach House, Black Keys, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), Codeine Velvet Club, Constellations, Devo, Fitz & the Tantums, Gorillaz, Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Soft Pack, Stone Temple Pilots, Vampire Weekend, Waaves, Yeasayer.

Arcade Fire was the alternative/indie rock event of the year.  Beach House wasn’t an early fave for me but this album continues to be a grower. Same with Black Keys. !!! had such a cool groove throughout. The one-off Codeine had some amazing melodies while the multi-genre Constellations didn’t get the attention they deserved. Devo returned with a modern-sounding version of what they’ve always done best. Fitz gave us a sonically compelling album, and Gorillaz were at the top of their game. Hot Chip released their best one yet, and the super response to the LCD album might convince James Murphy not the retire the band just yet. The Soft Pack project was packed with great tracks. STP made an intense record that was probably damaged by the release of the wrong second single. Vampire showed that they’re a band with staying power while Wavves made waves for the first time. Yeasayer’s change of direction succeeded big-time.

***Fave live shows: 13 great gigs, in alphabetical order:

Constellations, Empire of the Sun, Florence & the Machine, Gogol Bordello, Fitz & the Tantums, Gorillaz, Hot Chip, Iron Maiden, LCD Soundsystem, Matt & Kim, Muse, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Two Door Cinema Club.

The Constellations were my SXSW Pick prior to the conference, and they came through. Empire brought Muse-like intensity to their electronic sound. Fitz has been blowing LA’s hipsters away and is ready to take on the rest of the US. Florence: that voice. Gogol probably the most fun show out there along with Matt & Kim. Gorillaz at Coachella will be remembered for years. Hot Chip always hot live, and Maiden is better than ever which is saying a lot. LCD ranks as one of the top party shows. No one can currently touch Muse for live impact. Sharon’s gigs feel like Memphis decades ago, while Two Door gets the whole place moving.  I missed Arcade Fire this year but they would certainly be on this list.

Thanks for your support.  Hope 2011 rocks for you!

Late-night TV faves since mid-August

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Here are primo late night performances, with links included when available.  Watch Darlene on Letterman below.  Christmas isn’t quite Christmas until “the Darlene lady” sings.

Letterman: Black Angels, Ra Ra Riot, Darlene Love

Jimmy Fallon: Underworld

Jimmy Kimmel: Temper Trap

Carson Daly: 2-Door Cinema Club, Fitz & the Tantrums

SNL: Florence & the Machine

Conan: Edward Sharpe, Beach House

New Duran Duran album/Badly Drawn Boy gig/

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

They've returned to the feel of their first two albums

Duran Duran has regained their original early-80’s vibe. As their original North American A&R man, I couldn’t be happier with the band’s return to this positive early feel. I’ve always felt that Rio was their best complete album. Subsequent discs contained the hits, but weren’t nearly quite as complete or positive. The darker tone reflected the guys becoming less fun-loving as fame surrounded their every move. Along with ace producer Mark Ronson, they decided it was finally time to return to what people love most about their Duran Duran memories. From beginning to end, “All You Need Is Now” is fresh, positive, and mostly uptempo. It may not contain radio hits for today’s tough climate, but there’s the title track, which is right in DD’s sweet spot. “Leave A Light On” is a sweet slower song, and closer “Before the Rain” adds a delightful dose of drama. “The Man Who Stole A Leopard” might be my overall fave, with its melody that stuck with me a long time.  The album has immediately jumped to #1 on the iTunes charts.  It’s a perfect gift for Duran’s many fans.

Badly Drawn Boy got a ton of publicity about his onstage meltdown last Thursday night at The Troubadour. I was at the Wednesday gig, which could have used a bit more spark. The guy’s an amazing talent and his 2-hour set contained many crowd faves. Most of the soft set was solo acoustic.  He said logistics didn’t allow him to bring his full band over from England. Most of the crowd hung with him well, but this club isn’t the best place for such a low-key 120 minute event. Here’s the NME account of Thursday night’s drama. He later apologized, and here’s the article.

All Access, the #1 radio industry trade, quizzed top alternative rock programmers about their top 5 albums of 2010. Here are the results, and you can find my listing under Go Deep With Bruce Rave. Keep an eye out for my full posts of year-end album, tracks, and live show faves. They’ll be appearing right here in the next week or so. Happy holidays!