“The Past is a Grotesque Animal”…Yes, yes it is.

kevinbarnes

Over the weekend I had finally watched the long awaited of Montreal documentary, The Past is a Grotesque Animal. I was hesitant to view this film for quite some time, as I thought it would destroy my perception of front man and songwriter Kevin Barnes. This proved to be an eye opening experience for sure. The film highlights the band’s career from the very start. Seeing all of the old footage of how the group came to be was rather charming and delightful. The behind the scenes footage was certainly a treat as well. Their vibrancy and quirkiness definitely shined straight from the screen. Every aspect of the band was touched upon. From troubling relationships, to the brilliant artwork and stage performance antics of brother David Barnes and co., it proved to be truly insightful. 

Throughout all of the good times and struggles the band often continued with, the film focused quite a bit on Kevin Barnes’ inner demons. The depression, the anxiety, the need to make ‘good art,’ no matter at what cost. The one problem though, is the need to make ‘good art,’ lead to the departure of longtime and key players Dottie Alexander, James Husband, Bryan Poole (B.P.), alongside Matt Dawson and Davey Pierce respectively.

The thing that struck me most was how easily Barnes removed himself from them to make a complete musical transformation. What came to be one of the most celebrated band of the 00’s, has changed into so many forms that there feels like there is something missing, especially in a live setting. The ever exciting line up during onstage dance parties are something that I, as well as many fans, truly miss. Though change can be good sometimes, The Past is a Grotesque Animal, made Barnes out to have villain tendencies. Whether or not this was the intention, it was an extremely fascinating look into a phenomenal band that has hit home with so many listeners over the past several years. 

I don’t think I will ever stop buying of Montreal records. Kevin’s songs have always struck a chord with me. This certainly gives me a different perspective into the world of of Montreal.

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Modern Mystery’s Year End List 2011 (Albums & Songs)

Yes, we’re a little late on this, but here is our Year End List(s) in all of their glory.

TOP ALBUMS of 2011

                                                     1. Real Estate – Days
Literally the most beautiful album we heard all year. Everything about Days is near perfect. Haunting guitars and echoing vocals provide a stunning LP that will hold the test of time. Real Estate put out the essential record of 2011 and will hold a place forever in indie music history. Congratulations to these guys for pouring their heart and soul into a record, and letting the listener hear every beat, every emotion, and every ounce of perfection.

2. Beirut – The Rip Tide
A close runner up, Beirut proves that they have staying power on their highly anticipated second album. They certainly lived up to the hype and brought the indie rock game to a whole new level.

3. The Drums – Portamento
Catchy, and a little deeper, The Drums plunge into the ocean, not to go surfing this time but to get a little heavier. The outcome? Amazing.

4. Sloan – The Double Cross
Always a MM favorite, the best foursome since The Beatles provide another album of blissful harmonies and catchy riffs. Sloan manages to do it again.

5. The Strokes – Angles
It may have taken 5 years for this little gem, but it was certainly worth the wait. We hope the next album is a little more cohesive, a little more “Strokesy,” but hell, it’s still one of the best records our ears came across this year, not to mention the most anticipated.

6. Neon Indian – Era Extraña
An incredible sophomore effort, that had us dancing around the apartment, the office, the car, etc. Alan Palomo knows what makes our hearts tick, and it’s his infectious brand of chillwave.

7.  Ryan Adams – Ashes and Fire
The second anticipated musical act out of retirement this year, Adams put out a tear jerking album of all acoustic material, this time without his infamous Cardinals. Gorgeous as always, that man cannot write a bad song.

8. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
 What may be the last album under the name Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst and company pull out all the stops on this intriguing and somewhat eerie album. Oberst is better than ever, just when you thought that was impossible.

9. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Mirror Traffic
Stephen Malkmus albums always equals a win. Pretend to be surprised. The Beck produced record caught our ears this year. Nice one Malkmus, as always.

10. Sam Roberts Band – Collider
Another great album from SRB, the band is on a hot streak of great releases. Always a little under the radar, this cult favorite is winning over hearts and ears quickly. Jump on in.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Atlas Sound – Parallax
Toro Y Moi – Underneath the Pine
Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Destroyer – Kaputt
Youth Lagoon – The Year of Hibernation
Cults – Cults
Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Panda Bear – Tom Boy
James Blake – James Blake


Top Songs of 2011

1 The Strokes – “Undercover of Darkness”
2 Neon Indian – “Hexx Girlfriend”
3 Real Estate – “Green Aisles”
4 Bright Eyes – “Shell Games”
5 Chairlift – “Amanaemonesia”
6 Sloan – “The Answer Was You”
7 The Drums – “Money”
8 Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Senator”
9 Beirut – “Santa Fe”
10 Washed Out – Amor Fati
11 Joy Formidable – Whirring
12 Girls – “Honey Bunny”
13 Unknown Mortal Orchestra -“Ffunny Ffriends”
14 Real Estate – “It’s Real”
15 Cass McCombs – “Country Line”

YEAR END LISTS: ARTIST’S EDITION

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SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN (Phil Dickey)

1. New Monsters Collective- Spaceland
2. The ACB’s – Stona Rosa
3. Nerves Junior-As Bright As Your Neon Light
4. Double Wedding
5. The North Decade- What You’d Give Up Tomorrow You’ll Pay For Today
6. Telekinesis- 12 Desperate Straight Lines
7. Lonely Forest- Arrows
8. Ha HA Tonka- Death of a Decade
9. Yellow Ostrich- The Mistress 
10. Dolfish- Your Love is Bumming Me Out

(#4 is a song I recorded with some 3rd graders at an elementary school songwriting camp)

Best thing that happened to you in 2011:
I went to the dentist for the first time since 9/11/2001 and the Pujols trade.

What you’re looking forward to in 2012:
Free Energy
Dragon Inn 3 (my nu thang)
Ghoul School (a new movie by Brook Linder)
Truth and Justice for the 3 missing women
When Vitamin Water buys out Pitchfork and Yeltsin headlines VitaminWaterFest

Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid:
I got a dope David and Goliath action figure set one year.

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THE SPINTO BAND

Music We Liked From This Year:

Mike Quinn – Magico
Key Losers – California Lite
Generationals – Actor Castor
Langor – Ladyblade
They Might Be Giants – Spoiler Alert

Music we liked this year that came out in another year:

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Al Green – Tired of Being Alone
Sybylle Baier – Tonight
Raymond Scott – Soothing Sounds for Baby
John Prine – In Spite of Ourselves
The Would-Be-Goods –  The Camera Loves Me
Nina Simone – Little Girl Blue
Pic-Nic – Callate Niña
Konono Nº1 – Congotronics
Billy Meshel – I Blew It

Best thing that happened to you in 2011:

I lived through 11/11/11 the last fully binary day of our lifetime (when you write out the date). also, I found out that every year 11/11 is national corduroy appreciation day. – nick

What you’re looking forward to in 2012:

Releasing our new album, Shy Pursuit and all the fun stuff that comes with that.

Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid:

Eating cookies my mom makes, some are little meringue things, others are balls that have powder sugar on em, and some are just sugar cookies. now she has started making springerle cookies…which are the best holiday cookie ever created. i’m learning how to make em this year…so that will be nice. – nick

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Aaron Pfenning (Rewards, ex-Chairlift)

Top 10 songs

1. Phantogram – “Don’t Move”
2. YACHT – “I Walked Alone”
3. Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”
4. Class Actress – “Weekend”
5. Discodeine – “Synchronized”
6. Grimes – “Oblivion”
7. Holy Ghost! – “Hold My Breath”
8. Drake – “HYFR”
9. Slowdance – “Les Reines”
10. Beyoncé – “Party”

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CASEY SHEA

#1 has to be “Rolling In The Deep.” Though thanks to modern American
radio playlists, I’ve heard it so many times in the last year, I’ve
developed a strong hatred for it. But there is no denying it’s one of the
best songs in the past few years. Great production, great songwriting,
great execution….and of course, a tremendous vocal.

Bon Iver – “Holocene”
The Strokes – “Gratisfaction”
Foo Fighters – “Rope”
Tally Hall – “A Hymn For A Scarecrow”
Young The Giant – “My Body”
Noel Gallagher – “The Death Of You And Me”
Foster The People – “Pumped Up Kicks”
Beyonce – “Love On Top”
Britney Spears – “Till The World Ends”

Best thing that happened to you in 2011: Only having a few chipped teeth
as a result of diving into shallow water.

What you’re looking forward to in 2012: More touring…stateside and abroad!

Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid: In 1989, it snowed in
Florida a couple of days before Christmas. It was the first and only
white Christmas I’ve had in Florida to this day.
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ARMS (Todd Goldstein)

1. Wild Beasts – Smother

I was initially suspicious of Wild Beasts’ new album – too much space, too few “songs”, the weirdness of their past albums somehow lost… but somewhere in there I fell in love. Smother is sexy and strange and immaculately produced and arranged – it’s also ineffably sad, and it’s that just-out-of-reach tone that kept me searching the sound, coming back to this album over and over again this year.

2. Nicolas Jaar – Space is Only Noise

3. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

4. Richard Buckner – Our Blood

5. Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

6. Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces

7. Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

8. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

9. Liturgy – Aesthethica

10. James Blake – James Blake

Best thing that happened to you in 2011: After months of work and struggle, we self-released our new album, Summer Skills. I just got a new tattoo to celebrate!

What you’re looking forward to in 2012: Touring, and writing more songs.

Best Holiday memory from when you were a kid: The absolute, all-encompassing joy I felt upon receiving Mario Bros 3 for Chanukah. I had just seen “The Wizard” with Fred Savage, and this was pretty much the best present a 10-year-old could ask for. I think I cried with joy, which is retrospect is kind of weird.

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WOODEN BIRDS (Leslie Sisson)

Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen
Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Wye Oak – Civillian
Real Estate – Days
Telekinesis – Desperate Straight Lines
Little Light – The Winter EP
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
St Vincent – Strange Mercy

I’ve known Josh T Pearson since I was a teenager.  He’s always been an inspiration to me in music and life.  The man lives and breathes every note he plays, every word he sings, every soul he swoons.  I’m in awe of his talents and spirit.  Instead of breaking rules, he makes new ones.  Texas is the reason and Last of the Country Gentlemen is the way home.

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JUKEBOX THE GHOST (Tommy Siegel)

Note: These aren’t really in any particular order (because music isn’t a competition, duh).

Deerhoof – “Deerhoof vs. Evil”….Like 2007’s ‘Friend Opportunity’, this album is tied for being Deerhoof’s most ‘produced’ sounding record, but still has its moments of chaos.  If Deerhoof isn’t your favorite band on the planet yet, check out their free live record, “99% Upset Feeling” that was released as a companion piece this year (and then buy everything they’ve put out from ‘Reveille’ onward).  My personal favorite band of the new millennium, and while not my favorite of theirs, “Deerhoof vs. Evil” is a stellar addition to their discography with some totally banging singles.

Delicate Steve – “Wondervisions”….An album of spastic, world-influenced guitar-led instrumentals that breathe and climax in ways that have been largely forgotten by indie rock.  Some of my favorite background music ever.  Wonderful ‘vibes’ (pardon the phrase) all around.

Yellowbirds – “The Color”….Sam Cohen’s debut ‘solo’ record (guitarist of Apollo Sunshine), and the results are brilliant.  Great songs, wonderful guitar playing, and a sound and mood that nobody else is occupying at the moment.  This album is total musical poetry to me.

TV on the Radio – “Nine Types of Light”….Great songs, great album, great band.  Future music worthy of the hype.

They Might Be Giants – “Join Us”….As silly and scatterbrained as any of their early records, ‘Join Us’ managed to worm its way into my brain in ways I wasn’t expecting.  “When Will You Die?” belongs on a list of top 10 songs John Linnell has ever written.

Jay Z/Kanye West – “Watch the Throne”….No explanation really necessary here.

Grateful Dead – “Europe 72, Vol. 2″….I love the Grateful Dead.  Accept this as something you can’t change and move on (I know you’re angry).  This album was released as a companion to “Europe ’72”, an album I’ve worn out from spinning over and over again.  The hour-long Dark Star/Drums/The Other One that makes up the bulk of the second disc is hypnotic and otherworldly.  And the ‘Playing’ that closes the first disc totally shreds.

Ahleuchatistas – “Location, Location”…Reduced to a duo for this record, they’ve trimmed away a lot of their old math-rock tendencies (which I also loved) and emerged with something resembling an instrumental political/noise/punk/free-jazz record.  A great (and totally overlooked) record that belongs in anyone’s collection who likes adventurous and ugly guitar playing.

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”….I didn’t love self-titled, but this album is gorgeous and imaginative.  In spite of being the type of band that you could claim was heavily and directly influenced by other bands (CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel, etc etc), they’ve really created their own world on this album and I love hanging out in it.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Mirror Traffic”….To put it bluntly, this album sounds like Pavement.  So therefore, it’s really, really great.  “Senator” is one of the funniest and best songs I’ve heard all year….And though I’d like to say only Stephen Malkmus can get away with singing a chorus with the lyric “I know what the senator wants: what the senator wants is a blowjob”, I think I’m just mad that he thought of it first.

White Denim – “D”….Between Yellowbirds, Deerhoof, Delicate Steve, and White Denim, it’s really good to hear aggressive and tasteful guitar playing.  With all of the shoegazey/dreamy stuff going on, it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a band that kinda sounds like…well…Yes.  Proggy and loopy, with some great guitar playing and solid songwriting.  I’m a new convert to White Denim.

St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”….I didn’t fall for it quite like ‘Actor’, but this record is still great.  St. Vincent is going to be making great records for decades to come (I have a hunch), so you might as well jump on the bandwagon now.

Deleted Scenes – “Young People’s Church of the Air”….One of my friends said it best when he described the sound of this album as ‘one of the best albums you’ve ever heard playing in another room’.  While their live performances are totally in-your-face indie rock a la other DC icons the Dismemberment Plan, this album is really subdued and beautiful.  ‘Bedbedbedbedbed’ is such an amazing song.  This album should be vastly more popular and you should buy it immediately.

Tereu Tereu – “NW EP”….’Savage Love’ is one of the sickest rock songs I’ve heard all year (in every sense of the word SICK), and the EP is great from top-to-bottom.  Heavily DC-influnced, with delicious little bits of Medications, Fugazi, and D-Plan.  Totally stoked for their next full-length….And NOT just because they’re my friends.  I swear.

Norwegian Arms – “Trimming of Hides EP”/”Sibir EP”….Once again, another friend….But I happen to know a lot of people making great music, OK??  Analog-made freak folk with unusual percussion and tastes of what I would describe as a more spastic Neutral Milk Hotel.  I WANT A FULL LENGTH ALBUM FROM YOU, BRENDAN…OK?  But in the meantime, get these EPs because they’re sick.

Trawler – “Northern Star EP”….Dear friend of mine, recorded in Nashville.  Old school folk music with some 60s rock influence thrown in.  ‘Kill Olympia’ is unreal.  I’ll wait and bestow more praise when the full-length comes out.

 Honorable mentions….

The Psychic Paramount – “II”

Hella – “Tripper”

Tuneyards – “Whokill”

Cave – “Neverendless”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – “It’s a Corporate World”

Traffique – “Endless Weekend Mixtape”

Kate Bush – “50 Words for Snow”

Trouble Books and Mark McGuire – “s/t”

Radiohead – “The King of Limbs”

Marissa Nadler – “s/t”

Joe Lally – “Why Should I Get Used to It”

Joan of Arc – “Life Like”

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THE DEMON BEAT (Tucker Riggleman)

10) Time New Viking – Dancer Equired
9) Pujol – Nasty, Brutish, and Short
8) Yuck – Yuck
7) Stephen Malkmus & The Jick – Mirror Traffic
6) Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
5) OFF! – First Four EPs
4) Tyler, The Creator – Goblin
3) The Black Keys – El Camino
2) Bon Iver – Bon Iver
1) JEFF the Brotherhood – We Are The Champions

JEFF the Brotherhood are so fucking loud, it’s awesome. We got to play with them back in August and it ruled. One of the best live shows around.

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WYLDLIFE (Spencer Alexander)

10. The Rotten Jazz Quartet “Sing Damnit”
These guys have such a unique sound and draw from so many different influences. Its like a real rockabilly Tom Waits on acid.

9. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues”
Good stuff to relax to.

8.V THE VIPER “IIIIV (ONE)”
Some good mash-ups for when you’re in the mood to party.

7. The Downtown Struts “Sail the Seas Dry”
These dudes take the punk rock road that bands like Social D, Rancid, and NoFX, paved and take it step further.

6. The Rolling Stones “Some Girls Reissue”  I guess this doesn’t really count but I’m so into the tune “No spare parts” which TECHNICALLY  is new.
5.Porches “Scrap and Love Songs Revisted”
My buddy Aaron is one of the most talented people I know.

4.Biters “All Chewed Up”
This band is one of the tightest I have ever seen. See them live.

3.Social Distortion “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes”
This is my all time favorite band, so they are automatically guaranteed a spot in the top three. I’ve been waiting for this album for so long.

2.Liquor Store “Yeah Buddy”
These guys fuckin’ rule. Really epic punk songs.

1.The Booze “At Maximum Volume”
I’m sorry to say that these guys have recently disbanded. This was my album of the summer, I wore this thing out.

Best thing that happened to me in 2011:
 The best thing that happened to me in 2011 was releasing our first full length album. We are all so proud of that sucker, and its been getting a good response which is all we can ask for. Also, opening for CJ Ramone at Webster Hall was so cool. I can remember listening to the album “Mondo Bizarro” on cassette,which he played and sang on when I was 12, so to be able to share the stage with him was surreal.

In 2012 I’m looking forward to finally getting on the road again. We haven’t toured in a dog’s age.

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ANTHONY D’AMATO

1. The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
3. The Felice Brothers – Celebration, Florida
4. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
5. Blind Pilot – We Are the Tide
6. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
7. Sam Roberts – Collider
8. Chris Bathgate – Salt Year
9. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
10. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

Best thing that happened to me in 2011: My first UK tour was undoubtedly a major highlight of the year. The crowds were amazing, and I couldn’t have asked for better traveling companions than Jesse Malin & the St. Marks Social.

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: Releasing my new album! Recording’s almost done and I’m so excited about sharing it. Definitely a different feel than ‘Down Wires.’

Best Holiday Memory from When I was a Kid: Eating myself into a homemade ravioli coma at my grandparents’ house annually. I plan to keep the streak alive this year.

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ERIC DAVIDSON (freelance writer; singer for New Bomb Turks and LIVIDS; author of We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001 (Backbeat Books))

The ubiquitous caveat – Of course I have not heard every record, seen every movie, read every book, etc. released in 2011. I haven’t had a TV for months, and haven’t even heard the new Atomic Suplex album on Crypt or The Men’s LP, for pete’s sake! But for now, here are my year-end ra-ras ‘bout the junk I dug… in no particular order.

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain (Vice) – While longtime fans keep expecting a drop-off, and new converts still yell for on-stage peeing (annoying said longtime fans), the Black Lips continue to traverse the globe for inspiration while always holding a stash of huge yankee garage-pop hooks in their ass-pocket. So much so this time, that this is probably the most fully enjoyable Lips album to date, after 10+ years in the game!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKdIv5N6rZY

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo (Matador)
After dishing up some of the cooler scruffy garage-art of the last couple years with his Violators around him, Vile dishes up this beautiful, subtly brazen solo salvo, fogged-up with 12:45am ruminating folk, best left to your weakest mood points on the rainiest nights. Though it all retains enough scruff, snarl, and thrift store demeanor to be enjoyed on a 6pm ride home. So sink into this stuff before the inevitable focus-destroying Kanye photo opp and DJ of the Week remix.

Acid Baby Jesus – S/T (Slovenly)
A more scarred, psych-pep take on all that fuzzy, echoey, melancholy early-60s melody garage-plop churning through the indie underbelly (I call it “Hardly Artcore”), and unwittingly suffused with the oddly inspiring empty pockets of the Grecian economy nosedive. Layers of frightened bellowing and otherwordly distortion, with sticky, oily hooks outta nowhere, make it the most intriguing debut of the year.
http://www.agitreader.com/primitivefutures/acid_baby_jesus.html

OBN IIIs – The One and Only (Tic Tact Totally)
Tykes from down Texas-way, with probably too many side projects (all of them good!), slingin’ killer slash’n’burn, with structure smarts, way more-than-required sweat, and that elusive, effortless ability to make you think R’nR has a pulse.

Last Laugh Records
Label head honcho and sole employee, Harry Howes, really went cuckoo with the reissues of ultra-obscure, first-era punk rock that are truly cracked and a genuine hoot, as opposed to just, y’know, ultra-obscure. He spread his Red Bull wings out into early-70s glam, power pop, and even some new shit – like the house party punk of Liquor Store’s debut, Yeah Buddy! – with his Almost Ready and Mighty Mouth imprints too. But Last Laugh has resurrected the whole “Killed by Death” pinhead impetus for yet another generation of louts.
http://www.lastlaughrecords.us/

Othermen – Just Pallin’ Around With (Killer Diller)
Calling it crazed shockabilly brings to mind lame flame-skull tattoos and leopard print creepers, etc. But it ain’t that exactly. Aside from singer Max Frechette’s pompadour recalling the torn innards of a post-hunt leopard, and his hot licks hollow-body guitar having been taped and stapled back together like Michael Yonkers taught him the Eddie Cochran catalog, the band drunkenly dissects-then-discards any mid-century nods, making a fast racket that wears you out quick. And the 15-minute chat with a very sauced Rico (bassist) at the end is the perfect respite. Who needs more songs anyway?!

Human Eye – They Came from the Sky (Sacred Bones)
(and some Timmy’s Organism singles…)
Timmy Vulgar, Detroit’s alien heart of now-times punk, continues to produce on the level of Ford in the ‘50s, while his sounds – via his Human Eye and Timmy’s Organism projects – evolve into the noise of those dead ol’ axel factories being torn to bits by the drunken arrested adolescents of that new planet they discovered this year. The Human Eye live shows were as consistently id-invigorating of any band this year.

Flesh Lights
The hopped-up hopes of the year, this Austin trio frisbeed out a few singles, but it’s the surprisingly searing sounds of their debut LP on Twistworthy, Muscle Pop, that can really electrify the ears of someone who thinks OBN IIIs could save R’n’R.

Death of Samantha reunion show, Dec. 23, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
The first, and probably last, reunion of the original lineup of my favorite local Cleveland band (one of my fave bands period) from my formative years. So yeah, kind of a personal pick here, but DoS remain one of the more underrated indie acts of the late-80s, a monster mash of glam gloop, punk pissed, and leader John Petkovic’s lounge lizard leering that put them in the pantheon of great Ohio bands that just didn’t fit into prescribed rock world peg/hole prescripts. On this Xmas Eve eve, the band had a ball and masterfully blasted out tunes from all their releases, and generally lifted the packed faithful up and into 1986 and back again, like maybe they should consider erasing that “and probably last” line from the first sentence here.
http://www.cleveland.com/music/index.ssf/2011/12/1980s_punk-rock_band_death_of.html

Guilty Pleasures – Summer Strange (Dusty Medical)
L.A. Times – s/t 7” EP (Smash It Up)

Long never-unleashed recordings from two of the most savage and sorely under-known bands of the whole late-90s lo-fi garage-punk undie-explosion. Having crawled from somewhere around Bloomington, IL, around 2000, the Guilty Pleasures put out one insanely screechy 7” single, a few brain-gutting gigs, and sometime inbetween recorded this album that sat around for some damn reason, until now. Same goes for L.A. Times, a Devil Dogs-worshipping bunch from, ahem, L.A., who were too young to be told that 60 beers in one night is in fact a lot to drink for one band. Finally quit waiting for someone to dig up their AOL email address and ask ‘em, so they finally just released this sick 4-song slab this year, 300 copies only, so get hunting!

Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks show at the Boo-Hooray gallery, NYC
An amazing amassing of not just the paperbacks of Ed Wood’s end-of-existence career of porn-pulp writing – featuring astonishingly eye-burning cover art – but loads of personal family/friend photos, magazine articles with more wild cover graphics, and a short film, readings, and recollections from fans at the closing party that revealed that “sleaze” is in the mind’s eye of the beholder
http://boo-hooray.com/ed-wood/ed-woods-sleaze-paperbacks/

The general proliferation of fun, fuzzed-out R’n’R combos splattering the less pretentious edges of the, well I wanna say “indie underground,” but I probably have to start getting used to saying shit like “blogosphere” and “Twitteratti” and other childish words that sound dated the second they leave your lips. Anyway, there are loads of new/ish bands who kept huffing Black Lips and King Khan & BBQ fumes that were let go circa mid-2000s; and exhaled grimey swirls of early-60s girl group and doo-wop dredged melodies, Goner/In the Red/Crypt-rooted garage-punk spasms, some spooky, echoey undertones, and a deep, ceaseless love of the Ramones – all with a cheap-ass trash production style that has as much to do with accidentally mirroring our broke, on-your-own freelance times as Scion or Sailor Jerry blowing cash for cred. Most of it still kicks nasty, though shit is edging a little too cutesy (Jacuzzi Boys, maybe switch to 60-minute IPAs or something). And the shark has been flossing his chops waiting to be jumped (is a Hunx & His Punk song on Two Broke Girls inevitable…?) But for now, it’s a pretty fun party.
So keep it up, The Hussy, Davila 666, Mean Jeans, White Mystery, Strange Hands, Mouthbreathers, No Bunny, The Eeries, Bare Wires, Mark Sultan, Dum Dum Girls, Tandoori Knights, K-Holes, Shannon & the Clams, FIDLAR, Peach Kelli Pop, Jail Weddings, Los Vigilantes, Radar Eyes, Wax Museums, Ty Segall, Useless Eaters, Thee Oh Sees, Royal Headache, and more, etc…

LCD Soundsystem Get Everyone To Dance On Their Grave At Madison Square Garden


I remember the first time I spotted LCD Soundsystem’s lead singer and creator James Murphy on the L train. It was a Sunday afternoon and we were the only two people in the car, besides a street performer playing a saxophone for change. I sat there only a few feet away from both of them, studying James as he leaned against the door with his headphones on. The performance was one I will never forget. He played that thing with blood sweat and tears, jumping around flailing his legs, while at the same time hitting some of the worst possible notes he could or could not think of. James just stood there nonplussed, as if the man wasn’t even there before exiting the train on 1st Avenue. Though we never made eye contact, I am pretty sure we both shared a moment of random perplexity that made us think to ourselves “Only in New York City” which is perhaps one of the many reasons we love this place so much.

Nearly 5 years later, I found myself standing in a line outside of Mercury Lounge amongst 500+ people for hours anxious to get general admission tickets to what would be the last LCD Soundsystem show ever. The company of friends was the only thing keeping me from thinking about standing there in 14 degree weather risking hypothermia, and the fact that I woke up at 7am to go stand on a line in the first place. A month later, as we walked into Madison Square Garden, my friends and I sighed the words of relief “totally worth it”… When we made it to the floor, we just stood there for a minute and spun our heads around in amazement. We watched hundreds upon hundreds of people dance there asses off, all in unison bearing ear to ear grins. Everyone was clad in black and white, as this was a “funeral” for the band of sorts, but no way did it feel like one. We all knew we were part of something huge. I don’t mean to gush, but you just had to be there.

The show started on a somber note, playing the first bars of 10cc’s “Not In Love”, a track I always include on CD mixes for friends, though I am sure it went unnoticed to most of the audience. The first set included “Dance Yrself Clean”, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House”, “All My Friends”, and “Tired” with a snippet of 70’s progressive rock band Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise”, a song I have known since my toddler years. It was a joyful ending as my friends and I danced arm in arm, and great predecessor to the following 2 and a half hours the show still had.

The second set started with a track they made for a Nike ad called “45:33”, which most perceived was performed as a joke, but mostly so Murphy could take a break. The tune previews clips of songs that later became the track list to their sophomore studio release “Sound Of Silver”. Some of the special guest who joined them onstage include Reggie Watts, and DFA affiliates The Juan Maclean and Shit Robot who performed in a rocket ship and a pyramid, putting to rest the rumors that Daft Punk would be making an appearance. Coming into the third set saw Arcade Fire approach the stage to back vocals for “North American Scum”, a ground-shaking performance of “Movement”, the very first song I ever heard by them, and “Home” which I am sure left a cry ball in everyones throat.

But the real tear jerker, of course, was “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down”, and it was so for so many reasons. As James announced that he was about to sing his last song ever, the audience booed, prompting him to ask not for boos but for cheers, and cheers he got, for about 5 minutes in fact. He thanked his family, fans, friends, and band mates with tears in his eyes, and started the song, adding profoundly long pauses in between lines. During the songs ending, white balloons fell from the ceiling, and James bowed, sealing the deal on one of the best live performances I have ever seen in my entire life, and the end of LCD Soundsystem.

I still haven’t made eye contact with James, and I probably never will for that matter, but I feel like we relived that moment from 5 years ago. There was no train, no crazy saxophone player, just a lot of love, a lot of energy and an amazing perfromance. Thank you LCD Soundsystem for the music, for the memories, and for sharing a fondness for New York City that will never die…

Editorial: The Modern Age of The Strokes


I paid a ridiculous amount for Strokes tickets recently. I could have paid rent. Remember when you could see The Strokes for twenty bucks at the Hammerstein Ballroom? Better yet, for ten at Arlene’s Grocery? Yea I miss that. My wallet does at least. Well they are still our little secret. Kind of. It seems the unexpected five year hiatus of the coolest band on earth turned them into mega superstars. So many bands have broken out since the last time the boys made a record, that wouldn’t have had a chance in hell. Without them there would be no Vampire Weekend, an MGMT, or even a White Stripes. I would be writing about Limp Bizkit right now and that terrifies me. Everything seemed to be alright after First Impressions of Earth (BMG), but things were about to fall apart and crumble fast. Solo albums and side projects mostly became obligations instead of wants. Singer Julian Casablancas seems to distance himself from the band, a little too much for anyones liking and he didn’t even record much of the new record, Angles (BMG), with the rest of the band.

I can only imagine the tension is so thick that you could cut it with a knife (Chop!).

Casablancas has always been known for being a bit of a musical loaner in terms of songwriting, but this time rest of the band had a helping hand in it. Though there is something special about the new record that somehow makes the band more cohesive than ever. It feels like a product of The Strokes as a whole. Not to say the other records didn’t, but there is a big part of every member in it

I remember the first time I saw The Strokes. I say “saw” because I liked them before I even heard them. Flipping through my free subscription of Rolling Stone in 2001, I came across a new artist blurb about five bright-eyed fellows about to release their debut album Is This It. Well, wait, no rapping? No bubble coats? These guys looked cool and I had to find out more. I did. Coming home from class, a day before their debut dropped, I turned on MTV which I rarely do. They had a token late morning show that played an hour’s worth of videos. “Last Nite,” came blaring from the next room. My ears exploded and I was instantly captured as I rushed in. The next day I went to Record Town (r.i.p.) and that was it. Is this it? Yes, yes it was.

To say a lot of people had an unhealthy obsession with The Strokes from the beginning is true. We brought the $10 NMEs, the vinyl singles, the akward fan club membership which entitled us to silk screened Strokes shoelaces. They were and still are the band that saved modern rock and roll. But sadly, right now, we’re not sure if they can save themselves from each other. The Strokes seem to get bigger with every album. This could be a part of the problem. The pressure. Well, maybe a small part of it. I’m not sure if The Strokes have realized that they can make a whole record of them rapping over a flute and we’d still love it. So Julian, Albert, Fab, Nick and Niko…what’s the problem? I think at this point we’re more nervous that anything. The pressure comes from within the band and there is nothing we can do about it. Could April 1st be the last time the boys ever play New York City? It is a scary thought, but we don’t think it is over just yet. Each interview becomes slightly more optimistic. Will the shows bring them closer together? We think so. Should we be freaked out that only a few shows are even listed? Maybe. We just don’t want to wake up and hear that it’s over. The end has no end, right?

The Strokes have already dropped hints at record number five which is a glimpse of hope for the future. If Angles (BMG) is a taste of what is to come, we are already along for the ride. The kicker is, we never got out of the car in the first place.

The Strokes will always be those five guys we all fell in love with. A band that inspired a whole new generation of rock and roll. The converse sneakers and white belts. The 2 minute songs and scratchy vocals.

We just want to say “Thank You.” Don’t let us down. You never do.

Modern Mystery Staff’s Year in Lists

Joe Paolucci

Top 3 Albums
The National High Violet- Another grower from the National. I think I’ll be listening to this one for a long time. It’s hard to beat Matt Berninger lyrically.

Beach Fossils Beach Fossils- This album may not be perfect. Many songs sound similar, but Beach fossils HAVE a distinctive sound. They stand out in this modern surf genre. Every time they release something, it’s better than the last thing they released. They are strong lyrically-emotional and yet numb. The guitars rhythmically work together so well, and I just feel they are all around tight as a band. I understand that Dustin Payseur fronted a lot of the work, but I’m just glad they all work together.

Beach House Teen Dream- Just a great album. Either you like it or you don’t.

Top 3 Songs

Toro Y Moi- “Talamak”Chaz Bundick has a great voice and an amazing talent for producing. I don’t know if half the time I’m listening to pure moods, late 80s/ early 90s hip-hop, or some kind of unreleased Steely Dan/ Fleetwood Mac, but I like it… It’s so smooth.

Beach Fossils- “Youth”- An infectious riff leads us into one of my favorite lines “ It’s not so worth getting all bent out of shape about,” which defines the song title for me.

Gold Panda –“You” If you can make a song using just the word “you”… that’s pretty cool.

Top 3 Shows

Pavement –Twice in a five day stint, and I still wish I went more.

Yo La Tengo – I remember raking my dead grandfather’s leaves and listening to “Prisoners of Love”. I can’t believe it took me this long to get up here and see them.

Beach Fossils – One of my favorite modern Brooklyn bands. They can’t seem to quite pull off what they do on their recordings, but the energy they display on stage suffices.

Andres Sanchez

Top 3 Albums:

Here We Go Magic – Pigeons
– This album pulls together some of my favorite sounds in music, fuzzy guitars, subtle keys, and groovy bass lines. It’s a delicately-crafted work of art that channels everything in your emotional spectrum.

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
– I wish I could quantify this, but I can’t. I love this album and anything I say will more than likely fail to do it justice.

Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin
This album quenched my thirst for rock and roll this year. Yeah, there were plenty of other rocking records out there, but this one took the cake and ate it in front of me. To this day, I still fantasize about breaking shit with Tim Harrington.

Top 3 Songs:
Thee Oh Sees – “I Was Denied”
The Babies – “Meet Me In The City”
Beach Fossils – “Vacation”

Top 3 Shows:
Woods – some guy named Ben’s House @ SXSW in Austin, Texas March 18th(?)
Here We Go Magic @ Schubas in Chicago, Illinois July 17th
Pavement @ Stubb’s in Austin, Texas September 28th

Top 3 Music Videos:
El Guincho – “Bombay”
Here We Go Magic – “Casual”
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – “Let It Sway”

Aitor Zabalegui

Top 3 Albums:

 

3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
 Hearing Ariel Pink referred to as the so-called godfather of chillwave makes me want to compare him to Neil Young, the godfather of perhaps the very opposite of genres — grunge (RIP).  What makes this such a stark comparison is the fact that they have anything in common at all.  Ariel Pink’s history lingers in relative obscurity, with most people not being introduced to him until Before Today.  But it was the abrupt turn to accessibility on Today that suggests Pink had this sound in the bag from the beginning and instead chose to fade in rather than fade away, to quote the phrase.  Just listen to the initial version of “Can’t Hear My Eyes,” which features none of the polish and AM sheen that makes it so immediately rich sounding on the album cut.  Pink, much like Young, seems to have unlimited tricks up his sleeve sure to prolong his newly-found relevancy in indie music.  I bought this album after listening to the first 15 seconds of “Bright Lit Blue Skies” with the assumption that it would offer me everything I liked about King Khan, and found that his crown had been passed.
2. Women – Public Strain
 Too derivate is the criticism you hear about this Calgary band and their engrossing sophomore effort, Public Strain — they don’t offer anything you can’t hear from White Light White Heat or they’re the Canadian Sonic Youth.  I can’t argue that Public Strain borrows graciously from notable influences, but from the album art down to the very last fading notes you can make out of the closing track’s magnificent coda, I will say Women have made the most complete album of 2010.  Much like their debut, listening to a single track on Public Strain individually is like reading a chapter of The Prince with no context and putting the book down without realizing it deliberately, and effectively, influenced the unknowing likes of Henry VIII, Napoleon, and Joseph Stalin to rule poorly.  The album plays out in non-sequential acts that blend together, hinged on delicate noise and disarray.  Every sound has been meticulously arranged into its right place, with Chad VanGaalen once again taking the helm as producer and enveloping the band in a bleak, cavernous haze the music distantly creeps out from.  The band manage to create something missing lately from indie music, an invigorating listen that only develops further with repeated visits.  Just to get into it a bit, “Narrow with the Hall” hints at what was so appealing about “Black Rice” then assures you that you won’t be getting more of the same on this record, “Venice Lockjaw” features absolutely stunning chord changes, “Drag Open” is a welcome box cutter to the throat, and “Eyesore” is perfect.  With no luck finding any lyrics online and the lack of any in the liner notes, interpreting Public Strain will remain an enduring and satisfying project.
1. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
In a sea of indie rock bands, Titus Andronicus is an utterly unashamed indie rock band led by a visibly shy, medicated sudo-recluse.  Seeing them live for the first time back in March, this irony was made apparent with the disparity of lead singer Patrick Stickles walking on stage declaring, “Let’s make this the best Sunday night of our lives!” and later offering a lengthy apology to the audience and staff of Slim’s for nearly getting the show canceled during sound check.  Stickles pointed towards his laundry list of mental illnesses that can sometimes lead his acute sensitivity to make him “act a fool.” Paradoxical as all this may be, seeing it in person found it making sense.  This music is medication, catharsis, emotional release, what have you… Sing along with a venue full of people repeating “you will always be a loser!” and Stickles doesn’t even have to finish the line, you already know its okay.  That’s listening to The Monitor in a nutshell.  
Top 3 Songs:
3. Deerhunter – “Revival”
2. Real Estate – “Out of Tune”
1. Weekend – “End Times”    
Top 2 Shows:
2. Pavement, June 25 @ Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA
1. Titus Andronicus, March 28 @ Slims, San Francisco, CA
Top Music Videos
3. Kanye West – “Runaway”
2. Best Coast – “When I’m With You”
1. Grinderman – “Heathen Child”
 
 Wesley Ambrecht
Best Albums of 2010

1.       Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

Though it was released overseas in 2009, Sigh No More didn’t make its way into US records shops until February of this year. Because of which I, and many other critics, have decided to consider it a 2010 release. Some critics have taken to labeling Sigh No More the year’s best debut, but that’s actually a disservice to what is far and away the year’s best album period. There is nary a flaw throughout the entire runtime of Sigh No More.

2.       The National – High Violet

From the distorted opening notes of “Terrible Love,” until the very last note of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geek,” The National take listeners on sonic adventure that often juxtaposes beautiful imagery with absolute melancholy. High Violet is the type of album that offers almost instant gratification, but still continues to grow on you with each subsequent spin.  Littered with some of this year’s best songs like “Lemonworld” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” High Violet also houses songs gems like “Anyone’s Ghost” and “Sorrow.” This is modern rock at its finest: poetic, edgy and most importantly meaningful.

3.       The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

With American Slang, The Gaslight Anthem manage to embrace all of their influences, most notably Bruce Springsteen, while simultaneously honing their own sound. There is a sense of immediacy to their music that demands your attention. Once you give yourself over to American Slang, you are rewarded by a wave of nostalgia. This is a band acutely aware of their own mortality and the current state of music, both of which they treat with disdain.

Best Songs of 2010

1.       Power – Kanye West

2.       Cosmic Love – Florence + The Machine

3.       A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard – Jeremy Messersmith

4.       Radioactive – Kings of Leon

5.       Young Blood – The Naked and Famous

Best Music Videos

1.       Madder Red – Yeasayer

2.       Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner

3.       Tighten Up – The Black Keys

Special Recognition to Kanye West’s film Runaway

Michael Cirigliano II
 
Best Albums
– These New Puritans, Hidden.  After a spiky, punk-infused debut album, These New Puritans made a complete turnaround with Hidden; turning to lengthy song structures, woodwind and brass chorales, and an incredibly mature writing style for their follow-up album.
– Jónsi, Go. Although Jónsi didn’t break the mold here, he created incredibly upbeat music that wouldn’t necessarily find its way onto a standard Sigur Rós album. Any work that delivers his vocals over a foundation of organ, strings, and mallet percussion is a winner in my book.
– Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. Arcade Fire can’t seem to do any wrong- they are the Jon Stewart of rock music. After the grandiose Neon Bible, the group kept things more emotionally intimate, making listeners both swoon and cringe at the thought of their own childhoods in the suburbs.
Best Videos
-Esben & The Witch, “Marching Song”
-Arcade Fire, “We Used To Wait”
-Lady Gaga & Beyoncé, “Telephone”
Best Songs
-Jónsi, “Kolnidur”
-The Irrepressibles, “In This Shirt”
-Perfume Genius, “Lookout, Lookout”
Best Shows
-Mad Men
-Parks & Recreation
-Hoarders

Nathan Collins

Top 3 albums of the year:

1) Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma – equal parts electronic, jazz and hip hop, this album reveals new beauty with each listen. Put it on shuffle to discover and entirely different album.
2) Jonsi – Go – One of those times when a lead singer creates a truly original side project. A great pop record.
3) Anais Mitchell – Hadestown – This folk opera features everyone from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) to Ani DiFranco. Sweeping epic storytelling mixed with some downright amazing folk music.

Jill Ettinger

Top 3 Albums of the Year 

1. joanna newsom have one on me

joanna newsom is evolving. fast. put her under a microscope and i bet scientists would discover some new genes or super DNA or something never before seen.  the 3 cd set, have one on me, is better song after better song of some of the best music ever made. note to new parents: yes it’s a really good idea to move to the woods, let your children wander in the forest by themselves on 3-day vision quests and teach them to play harp.

2. warpaint the fool

the debut from LA’s warpaint sounds almost as if someone discovered an underground city of super music geniuses living under hollywood’s walk of stars. warpaint sounds like cat power and bat for lashes had lou reed’s love children who they only let listen to radiohead and pj harvey records while spinning around and around like barefoot sufis on a bed of rose petals. the fool is absolutely addictive and prescient.

3. four tet there is love in you

four tet tapped into something bold with there is love in you. if “angel echoes” doesn’t gut you every time you listen to it, please see a doctor. the album progresses like a dream that twinkles and sparkles. if these songs were animals, they would all be unicorns. but not the cartoony fantasy unicorns; the real ones.

Top 3 Songs of the Year

infinite arms-band of horses

sleepless in silverlake-les savy fav

pray for rain-massive attack

Top 3 Shows of the Year

Faith No More Palladium Theater, LA

Fat Freddy’s Drop Music Box, LA

Amon Tobin Echoplex, LA

Top 3 Music Videos of the Year

Heathen Child-Grinderman
Enter the Ninja-Die Antwoord 
Red Lights-Holy Fuck 

Zach Yanowitz

Albums

1. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Yeezy embraced his ego and crafted a record of pure, glamorous honesty. The scope is epic yet personal, lush yet raw.
2. Titus Andronicus- The Monitor: The New Jersey neo-punks use Civil War imagery and lots of noise and alcohol to make a soundtrack for our era of uncertainty and angst.
3. This Is Happening- LCD Soundsystem: James Murphy welcomes his mortality and crushes a dance record with pumping highs and lows, with just enough inner turmoil to keep it real.
Songs
1. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)- Arcade Fire
2. Ambling Alp- Yeasayer
3. Monster (Ft. Bon Iver, Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj)- Kanye West
Shows
1. The Hold Steady @ Republic, New Orleans 9/24
2. Wolf Parade @ The Fox Theater, Oakland 7/30
3. Girls (w/ Smith Westerns & Magic Kids) @ One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans 2/2
Music Videos
1. Lady GaGa- Telephone
2. Duck Sauce- Barbra Streisand
3. Die Antwoord- Enter the Ninja

Krista De La Rosa

Albums of the year:

01) Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
I firmly believe that I will never love a person as much as I love Halycon Digest.  I firmly believe that I will never fall this hard for an album so quickly as I have with Halcyon Digest.  I listened to this album the second it was released and I never stopped listening to it since.  Bradford Cox is a man I will always deeply admire more than many, many other musicians.  This album is just one of those that will make you say, “Jesus  Christ, this is fucking beautiful.” Every single song brings chills down my spine.  Every riff of the guitar, every key and button pushed, every word spoken; this is what a perfect album sounds like.  There is no such thing as disappointment when it comes to an album like this.  No such thing.

02) Coma Cinema – Stoned Alone
Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema will go down in history as the greatest songwriter of our generation.  Stoned Alone is an album that I have laughed to, cried to, slept to, walked around campus to, and lived to.  There is plenty of music in this world for us to listen to.  I’d choose Coma Cinema over any and every band I have ever discovered.  Why?  Because Coma Cinema is more than music.  The lyrics are more than words.  Something beyond magic is produced by this amazing, genuine human being.  He doesn’t create music for money or for publicity, but for himself.  Stoned Alone will make you feel something music has never made you feel.  That, I promise you.

03) Magic Man – Real Life Color
Magic Man is composed of two magical men, Sam Lee and Alex Caplow.  I cannot remember for the life of me how I discovered this magical duo, but the second I downloaded Real Life Color off their bandcamp, my life was changed.  I do not want to describe their sound by comparing them to other artists.  Magic Man is nothing but real, passionate magic.  I just want to repeat the words “magic, magic, magic” over and over again until you get a better idea of just how MAGICAL their music is.  I tend to listen to Real Life Color while driving.  I always seem to be driving, so I am a religious listener of this album.  It stirs up my imagination beyond belief.  Whether it be the synth pop vibes or their delicate voices, Magic Man is definitely a duo that I’d consider the highlight of my 2010 music discovering year. 

TOP 3 SONGS OF THE YEAR:

01) Twin Sister – Meet the Frownies

02) Foxes in Fiction – Lately (Memoryhouse cover)

03) Star Slinger – Word

TOP 3 SHOWS OF THE YEAR:

01) I’m going to include all the artists and showcases I saw during SXSW 2010 as my #1 because they were some of the most amazing, memorable performances bundled together.

02) The Tallest Man on Earth / S. Carey

03) Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

TOP 3 MUSIC VIDEOS OF THE YEAR:

01) Coma Cinema – Blissed *Created by Tyler T Williams

02) Memoryhouse – Herloim *Created by Jamie Harley

03) Two Bicycles – How Real *Created by Tonje Thilesen