You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

When Anna Calvi first came across my speakers I thought the Velvet Underground had fused with European soul and a hot stick of pure sensual fire. Much to my surprise, Calvi just barely released her debut album last Monday, earning accolades from NME as “perhaps the first great album of 2011.” I couldn’t agree more, they don’t make music like this anymore.

Smoky, seductive and dangerous – could she be the real femme fatale? Well educated in classical music, Calvi writes her own music, fingers dancing on a six string that lay a substantial foundation down on which her vocals soar. If you’re looking for something rivetingly baroque and powerful, this one’s for you.

Anna Calvi – “Love Won’t Be Leaving”

Anna Calvi – “Desire”

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The panda is a little late to the party on this one, but you can’t turn down a video featuring an irresistibly catchy pop tune and culturally relevant material. Here’s a pop anthem for the tech savvy, nerdy, internet dwellers everywhere to smile and nod their head happily along to. Bonus points for name dropping Donnie Darko.

The Limousines – “Very Busy People”

Consider me one excited panda. Pitchfork is reporting that Foals have just announced a North American tour with one of my favorite bands of 2010, Freelance Whales. They’ll be getting support from another great up-and-coming act, The Naked and the Famous. The trio will be stopping by NYC’s Terminal 5 on May 4th, and you can check the full tour schedule here.

Usually you don’t find a show that is good from the bottom up, but even the openers are worth a show on their own. New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous are a band to watch in 2011, along with (hopefully) a new album from Freelance Whales.

Foals – “Miami”

Freelance Whales – “Enzymes”

The Naked and Famous – “Young Blood”

Music is many things to different people, but for me it’s always served as an amplifier. It’s an amplifier of generic emotions like sadness, anger and joy, but it’s also easy to connect individual tracks to a specific event, thought or just a sentence. Music is the soundtrack to life.

Today I found myself walking to the store to get some grub. Stomach hungered for Front Street Pizza, and then the following song (along with my recent decision to pursue a healthy body) popped into my head. Went across the street instead and busted out with some organic, low-fat eats from the deli. Even in fatter times, this song always resulted in the eating of a salad. Dig…..

Dead Prez – “Be Healthy”


Apparently the West Coast has been pumping out some killer hip hop in the last year. Who would have thought? LA rapper Schoolboy Q calls out the mainstream in this latest jam “F*ck ya hip hop!” alongside Rapper Big Pooh and Murs. Love how Schoolboy Q comes aggressive and raw at the mic with biting lines,  making this track a sharp statement that underground hip hop is alive and well out West.

SchoolBoy Q and Top Dawg Entertainment dropped the “Setbacks” mixtape today, which you can pick up on iTunes. He’s also quite active on Twitter, which earns mad nerd points on this end. Holla at him @ScHoolBoyQ.

Schoolboy Q feat. Rapper Big Pooh and Murs – “F*ck ya hip hop!”

It occurred to me this evening that a good majority of those in my generation went through a punk phase at one point in their youth. For some reason the old Epitaph compilations “Punk-O-Rama” popped into my head, and one of my favorite Rancid songs of all time, “Side Kick” off the second volume.

There was a domino effect and suddenly felt the desire to pick up some artists that have long been missing from my library. Dropkick Murphys, Descendents, Millencolin, The Unseen, Lars Frederickson and the Bastards, Pennywise, The Bouncing Souls, Descendents and hell… even some Alkaline Trio even though I know it doesn’t quite count.

Songs of energy, rebellion and generally giving the finger to the Man. Basically everything being a teenager is all about. Brought it up on Facebook and sure enough, recommendations came in from almost every corner of my friend spectrum.

The question now is: What the f*** are today’s teenagers listening to?

Mp3: Rancid – “Side Kick”

Mp3: Millencolin – “No Cigar”

Feeling the itch to give my blog a little love, decided to sit down and compile my list of Top 10 Albums of 2010. Lots of great music can come out over the course of twelve months and this last year was no exception. Not wanting to risk being superfluous, I limited the list to only 10 – which is about as frustrating as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with an egg beater and pita bread.

That being said, this list is highly personal. Albums were chosen based on what I listened to the most this last year. Each is great in its own right and links to download songs will be included with each listing. Now, enough babble out of me… let’s get to the albums!

* Forgive the shoddy formatting, text wrap worked a lot better than in the text editor and don’t have the time or patience to do battle with WordPress right now. Happy New Years!

10. The Spring Standards – “Would Things  Be  Different”

A recent entry to my library, The Spring Standards  are a local Brooklyn group with a lot of promise.  Simple, elegant tracks that are as powerful as they  are pleasant – wavering between catchy folk songs  and something you might hear in an Apple  commercial. Heather Robb’s luminous voice and  cascading piano drive a record that is pleasant  from start to finish. This album is something you  might  listen to a nice rainy day or while taking a  stroll  through Central Park. The Spring Standards  are one of those special bands whose live  performance only serves to best what you’ll hear on  the record.

The Spring Standards – “Sharks”

Buy “Would Things Be Different” now on Amazon

9. Sleigh Bells – “Treats”

The debut album from Sleigh Bells makes this list if only to say “I f**king told you so!!!!” After “Crown on the Ground” and “Ring Ring” (now “Rill Rill”) dropped as demos in 2009, I knew this was going to be a pair worth paying attention to. “Treats” doesn’t disappoint, delivering jam after driving jam of lo-fi, distorted garage pop guaranteed to rock your face off. As the cover suggests, this album was probably conceived by a gang of cheerleaders strung out on meth and sick of shelling out for the ‘man.’ Still, breaking through the distortion are solid melodies that lift the grunge pop into something listenable. “Rill Rill” is the anchor on this sick boat.

Sleigh Bells – “Rill Rill”

Buy “Treats” now on Amazon

8. Marina & The Diamonds – “The Family  Jewels”

Pop music is dying for someone like Marina  Diamandis, aka Marina & The Diamonds. This  Welsh singer-songwriter released one of the most    honest pop albums in early 2010. Five out of  thirteen tracks are singles, and each one crafts a  new dimension to a record filled with friendly jams  and scathing critiques of popular culture. It’s  impossible not to love Marina, especially after  watching one of her standout music videos that  match the dissension of the music itself. Marina  doesn’t give a shit what you think, she’s just gon do  what she gon do. A sophomore album that even  comes close to this will ensure a spot at the top.

Marina & The Diamonds – “I Am Not a Robot”

Buy “The Family Jewels” now on Amazon

7. Francois Peglau “The Imminent Failure  of  Francois Peglau”

Here’s one you aren’t likely to find in stores but deserves a place on this list without question. Peruvian born singer-songwriter now living in London, Peglau dropped a gem of a solo project this year. Gentle pop music with traces of European folk, “The Imminent Failure” is endlessly  charming. Something you might listen to while  smoking a cigarette, cruising the streets of London in the 1960’s. If vintage clothing could be  transformed into song, this album would be the  result. One for the hipsters to say “You gotta check  this out, pretty sure you haven’t heard of it.”

Francois Peglau – “One Minute to Midnight Dream (So Sad)”

Download “The Imminent Failure of Francois Peglau” now on Bandcamp

6. Freelance Whales – “Weathervanes”

Eery. Haunting. Beautiful. Freelance Whales’  debut  album tells a ghost story, the lead falling in  love  with a female spirit who haunts his home. Never  able to make her his, he imagines life with her on  some spectral plane. There are not enough good  things to say about this album, a gorgeous blend of  ethereal indie pop. I’ve always described  this band  as “Like Owl City, but you don’t have to be  ashamed to listen to it” and even that doesn’t do  them the justice they deserve. Known for  performing on the NYC streets and in the subways,  Freelance Whales is a band that loves music and it  can be felt with every touching note. Another great  live act as well.

Freelance Whales – “Location”

Buy “Weathervanes” now on Amazon

5. Robyn – “Body Talk”

First of all, Sweden deserves a shoutout for all of  the killer music coming out of there right now.  Robyn has been on the scene for a while, but  finally broke through in a big way this year with  “Body Talk,” a studio album that was released in  three parts over the course of 2010. A perfect  marriage of pop and electronic, Robyn is Lady  Gaga with loads more talent, swagger and  sophistication. From the bubblegum gangsta  nastiness of “Fembot” to the toned-down, heartfelt  “Hang With Me,” the entire series brings  undeniably danceable rhythm and funk guaranteed  to have you listening over and over.

Robyn – “Call Your Girlfriend”

Buy “Body Talk” now on Amazon

4. Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs”

Arcade Fire just won’t stop. After two solid releases  in ’04 and ’07, they finally took it Wu-Tang style  and dropped a megaton bomb in 2010 with “The  Suburbs.” I’ve always been a fan, but past releases  seemed almost too ambitious to really connect with  them on a lasting basis. On “The Suburbs,” they  finally hit the mark with just enough catch and  hook to lock into their grand, symphonic indie  melodies. If this were a top tracks of 2010 list, their  single “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”  would make an excellent case for the number 1 one  spot. I remember when this album dropped and it  was immediately dubbed album of the year by most  critics, and they weren’t too far off.

Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”

3. Kanye West – “My Beautiful Dark Twisted  Fantasy”

What a year for Kanye West, after acting himself  into the role of King Douche of the Planet, this  album dropped and the nation collectively shit their  pants. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is  being called the “Sgt. Pepper’s” of hip hop and they  just might be right. Whatever his behavior might  say, Kanye West is an absolute musical genius. It’s  hard to describe exactly what’s going on with this  album, only that it’s like nothing you’ve ever  heard. I think Kanye says it best when he said:  “Gossip,  gossip. N***a just stop it, everybody  knows I’m a  mutha f**kin monster!” Album of the  year to most, it doesn’t get much better.

Kanye West feat. Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, Rick Ross and Bon Iver – “Monster”

Buy “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” now on Amazon

2. The Magnetic Fields – “Realism”

There’s a reason why The Magnetic Fields are my  most listened to artist since I got a Last.fm account  in early 2010. “Realism” is one of the most down to  earth, stripped bare, ‘real’ albums I’ve ever  listened  to. Stephin Merritt & Co have been around  since  ’91 and show no signs of letting up. Nothing  needed here except for a few instruments and  brilliant songwriting. Never heard a band do so  much with so little. “You Must Be Out Of Your  Mind” is the standout and intro track, a melody of  honest heartbreak that sets the tone for the rest of  the LP. Simply brilliant.

The Magnetic Fields – “You Must Be Out Of Your Mind”

Buy “Realism” now on Amazon

1. Yeasayer – “Odd Blood”

No debate in my mind about the album of the year,  or the band of the year for that matter. Yeasayer  blows all competition out of the water with “Odd  Blood.” Yeasayer created a lot of buzz after their  debut release of “All Hours Cymbal,” but risked  being mired as an experimental band. “Odd Blood”  changed all of that, and delivered a fury of  wonderfully constructed rock songs supported by  indie sensibilities, lush synth and unmatched vocal  power. Saw them in Dallas and cannot wait until  they come back to their adopted Brooklyn home for  a show. If Yeasayer isn’t the future of rock, then at  least they made 2010 a damn good year for music.

Yeasayer – “ONE”

Buy “Odd Blood” now on Amazon

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These obviously weren’t the only good albums of 2010. Here is a short list of some other standouts that are worthy of mention, with links to their artist streams on Hype Machine.

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