Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aughts Mix

I had no intentions of doing a decade-spanning mix. Then upon hearing my plan to review the decade on my radio show, a recipient of the year-end mix asked if I would be making a decade retrospective as well. Being the geek that I am, once I had that bee in my bonnet, I couldn't let it go. And here we are.

I had to go for a two-disc set. Disc one is more rock oriented whereas disc 2 is more dance oriented. Even so, these discs are far from comprehensive. There are many regrettable omissions (Scissor Sisters, Crystal Castles, CSS, Erykah Badu, Madlib, Brazilian Girls, Broadcast, She & Him, We are Scientists, The Bird and the Bee, Regina Spektor, Rainbow Arabia...). But cuts had to be made. Some of these were due to time, others to flow. The second disc was a bitch to put together, but I finally whittled it down and made it fit.

I will provide only the briefest of notes. A friend recently posted his top albums of the decade on Twitter, which forced concise reasons and justifications. I'll be about as brief.

Download Disc 1
Download Disc 2

One More Time: The Music of the Oughts

Disc 1

1. Sigur Ros - Vaka (2002)
One that I admittedly don't listen to much these days, though it is still incredible. A huge album for my friends and I that year. We left this playing while we slept each night during a debaucherous NYC trip. Also one of the best live shows I've ever seen.

2. Air - Playground Love (2000)

One of the last Air albums that I liked. The song (and album) so perfectly fit the mood of The Virgin Suicides.

3. Death Cab for Cutie - A Movie Script Ending (2001)

This will forever remind me of my time at WPTS and the fall of 2006, when I rediscovered the album.

4. M83 - Kim & Jessie (2008)

Great album, great band, great song. The oughts nod to the '80s.

5. Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell (2008)

A favorite from 2008, a nearly perfect album.

6. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks (2007)

I've already heard this in the grocery store, but oh well. I don't mind whistling while buying my produce.

7. Radiohead - Idioteque (2000)

I'm not a huge Radiohead fan, but OK Computer and Kid A are all aces.

8. Bat For Lashes - What's a Girl To Do (2006)

Incredible expression of a very specific emotion. Also a great video that reminds me of dreams I've had:

9. The XX - Vcr (2009)

Another favorite from this year's debut by The XX. See 2009 mix notes for more.

10. +/- - Yo Yo Yo (Please Don't Fall in Love) (2002)

This made it onto nearly every mix I made in 2002 and 2003. Also another fond CMJ memory of seeing these folks in some club or another.

11. Santogold – L.E.S. Artistes (2008)

The big single from my favorite album of 2008.

12. MGMT – Electric Feel (2008)

I hear this pretty much every time I'm out in Pittsburgh, and I'm still pretty okay with that.

13. New Young Pony Club – Get Lucky (2007)

A 2007 favorite from this UK indie dance-rock outfit. Hoping their 2010 follow up is as good.

14. The Raveonettes - Heartbreak Stroll (2003)

From Chain Gang of Love, the first Raveonettes album I heard, and still my favorite.

15. Hot Hot Heat - Get in or Get Out (2002)

Good lord - a year's worth of memories associated with Hot Hot Heat's Make Up the Breakdown. CMJ 2002 shenanigans and post-'80s night gatherings among them. This band will always remind me of a friend who was obsessed with them at the time. This song also summed up my feelings about Pittsburgh circa 2003.

16. Ted Leo - Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone? (2003)

I've heard a few more recent Ted Leo records, but none of them have done much for me. Hearts of Oak remains a favorite though. One of the better bands WPTS brought in during my tenure there.

17. Phoenix - 1901 (2009)

Another favorite from the decade's final year. Ubiquitous. Catchy. Still rock out to this one despite the Cadillac commercial.

18. Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb (2007)

I first heard Spoon when Catch the Moonlight came out. Each album sees them developing their craft - a trend that will hopefully continue with their January 2010 release. They also understand the importance of brevity, which applaud heartily.

19. The White Stripes - The Denial Twist (2005)

I mentioned on my radio show that I might have to pick Jack White for "artist of the decade." He's always got at least one project coming out every year, and I have yet to be disappointed. The White Stripes (four this decade), the Loretta Lynn record, the Raconteurs albums (two this decade), the Dead Weather, the Third Man record label and store, not to mention touring behind all of these acts as well. Get Behind Me Satan remains my favorite White Stripes record, and here's one reason why.

20. The Dresden Dolls - Sing (2006)

The first Dresden Dolls record was great. The second was far superior. They found their niche and perfected it on Yes Virgina. This song is one that has gradually stood out from the album in the course of three years. Just sing.

21. Flaming Lips - Do You Realize?? (2002)

Many memories associated with the Yoshimi album as well. Another huge one during the WPTS years. This song is at once joyous and tragic, but ultimately compels the listener to realize the value of life and time.

Disc 2

1. Snoop Dog feat. Pharrell - Drop It Like It's Hot (2004)

It was between this and "Sensual Seduction." This was the song that brought Snoop back into people's musical consciousness, including myself (though he certainly remained a focus in pop culture). I remember driving back to Iowa after Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, hearing this on the radio and exclaiming that the breakdown was right out of the Rick Rubin playbook.

2. Outkast - So Fresh, So Clean (2000)

So many Outkast songs to choose from. "Hey Ya!" is undoubtedly a decade-defining song. But I'm a little sick of it (which is not to say that I don't boogie down when I hear it). I intended to include "The Whole World," but time prevented its inclusion. Just as well. Stankonia is one of my very favorite albums of the decade, and one that holds up quite well as we enter the next.

3. Common - Go! (2005)

Truthfully, I have a deeper connection to Be's follow up, Finding Forever. But Be deserves every bit of praise it's received, and this song is probably the highlight of the album for me. A frequent soundtrack when I go out for a run.

4. Jamie Lidell - Multiply (2005)

The song that introduced me to Jamie Lidell, from the album of the same name. This and its follow up Jim are fantastic soul throwbacks, although Multiply is interesting in that it incorporates more musical styles.

5. Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (2006)

The "big hit" from my favorite album of 2006. I'm still not sick of hearing this one. I only wish that Cee-Lo and Dangermouse stopped with this album. By 2008's The Odd Couple, they'd run out of creative steam.

6. The Roots feat. Cody Chestnut - The Seed 2.0 (2002)

To the extent one can say that The Roots had a "hit," this is it. I think it was actually in a Mandy Moore movie, so I guess that seals the deal. Their best work resides in the previous decade, but they've put out a series of consistently pleasing albums in the oughts as well (Phrenolgy, Game Theory, Tipping Point and Rising Down).

7. Spank Rock feat. Amanda Blank - Bump (2006)

Baltimore's best. Easily in my top 5 hip hop albums of the decade. Perhaps second only to The Black Album.. Speaking of which -

8. Jay-Z - 99 Problems (2003)

A juggernaut. Imagine if Jay-Z actually had retired after this album. Talk about going out on top. Of course, he didn't hold to it, and has released three albums in the ensuing years. A boy's gotta eat.

9. Prince - Black Sweat (2006)

Across six albums, the best thing the man recorded this decade. Straddles the fence between sounding current and "this is obviously Prince" more effectively than anything else he put out in the aughts.

10. M.I.A. - Galang (2005)

The first time that I head M.I.A. was in a friend's car on a visit to Portland. It was one of the very few times in recent history that my legitimate response was "I've never heard anything like this." Two great albums (Arular and Kala), and I'm told work is beginning on the third. Count me in.

11. Lil Wayne - Lollipop (2008)

Honestly, Lil' Wayne is the best thing that's happened to mainstream hip hop in the latter part of the decade. No homo. Despite his personal issues, he's prolific, productive and in general, I think interesting. I'm not holding out hope on his upcoming rock album though.

12. Lady Gaga - Poker Face (2008)

I won't go into my Lady Gaga rant here. Most of you have heard it before. Just dance.

13. Nelly Furtado feat. Missy Elliot - Do It (remix) (2007)

This begins a three-track sequence of my favorite pop albums of the decade, though I can't rank among them. Nelly Furtado's Loose! (produced by Timbaland - producer of the decade?) is one of the best pop / party albums of the decade. Perfect for getting ready for a night on the town. I liked "Promiscuous." I loved "Maneater." "Do It" blew me away. This remix has the added bonus of a Missy cameo.

14. Gwen Stefani - What You Waiting For- (2004)

I've liked No Doubt since they hit it big with Tragic Kingdom. And I was pleased when they took a dancier direction with Rock Steady. But that didn't prepare me for Love Angel Music Baby. I played the hell out of this for a good 6-8 months. The follow up (The Sweet Escape) has some great tracks (especially the title cut), but pales in comparison.

15. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out of My Head (2001)

It's a good thing we have people like Nelly, Gwen and Kylie, because god knows Madonna hasn't done anything relevant this decade. It baffles me that Kylie Minogue hasn't had more success Stateside. She had three great albums this decade (Fever, Body Language, X), of which Fever remains the strongest. It's poppy, danceable, sexy, and of course has some great videos (even aside from the eye candy that is Kylie).

16. Justice - D.A.N.C.E (2007)

These next two tracks carry with them memories of the fall of 2007 in Iowa. I was getting way into these albums while prepping for comps (boo). But finally got to boogie down to them at the party that followed the exam (yay!). They were also staples while getting amped for the Friday ritual of happy hour followed by karaoke. Ahh, good times. Anywho, this song in particular was one of the hottest tracks that year, and a tribute to the then-living Michael Jackson. Justice probably also gets my award for best TV appearance of the decade:

17. Chromeo - Bonafied Lovin (2007)

I know I mentioned how great the Furtado/Gwen/Kylie discs were, but Fancy Footwork is seriously the best party album released this decade. They've got a sense of humor, they've mastered the Minneapolis sound and they sure can get down. They've got a new one slated for summer 2010, and if the lead single is any indication, we will not be disappointed.

18. Cut Copy - Lights and Music (2008)

Lights and music are frequently on my mind. Add dancing to the mix, and this may well be my theme song. The big "hit" from the great synthy dance album In Ghost Colours. A friend commented that they're carrying the New Order torch, and I can't disagree with that. Hold it high, I say.

19. Daft Punk - One More Time (2001)

I once saw an interview with Chromeo where they referred to Daft Punk's Discovery album as the French Thriller. Granted, it wasn't an international chart-topping phenomenon that shattered age, gender and racial barriers. But I can say that amongst my friends and within the realm of college radio, calling this the Thriller of the decade is pretty accurate. Everyone had it, everyone loved it. It was all over the place - a fixture at dance parties, plenty of college airplay, a series of commercials. Also like Thriller, listening to this album immediately transports me to a very specific point in my life, and a flood of memories rush forth. Sadly, their output since has failed to live up to the precedent set by this album and it's predecessor Homework. Alas.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gonzo on the air, 12/27

Following last week's 2009 retrospective, this week was an extended 3 hour review of some of the best music of the decade. By no means comprehensive, and I avoided 2009 in the interest of overlapping the previous show.

The Good, the Bad and the Queen-The History Song (2007)
M83-Kim and Jessie (2008)
Peter, Bjorn and John-Young Folks (2007)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists-Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone (2002)
The Detroit Cobras-I Wanna Holler (But the Town's Too Small) (2005)
Hot Hot Heat-Get in or Get out (2002)
The Raveonettes-That Great Love Sound (2003)
Loretta Lynn-Portland, OR (2004)
The White Stripes-The Hardest Button to Button (2003)
The Raconteurs-Steady as She Goes (2006)
The Flaming Lips-Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
Sigur Ros-Track 1 (2002)
Broadcast-Unchanging Window (2000)
Ra Ra Riot-Run My Mouth (2008)
Spoon-You Got Yr Cherry Bomb (2007)
MGMT-Kids (2008)
New Young Pony Club-Get Lucky (2007)
CSS-Reggae All Night (2008)
Ladytron-The Way that I Found You (2000)
Cut Copy-Lights and Music (2008)
Kylie Minogue-Can't Get You Out of My Head (2001)
Gwen Stefani-Serious (2004)
Nelly Furtado-Maneater (2006)
Gnarls Barkley-Smiley Faces(2006)
Outkast-Hey Ya! (2003)
The Roots-The Seed 2.0 (2002)
Common-I Want You (2007)
Prince-Black Sweat (2006)
MIA-Pull Up the People (2005)
Santogold-Say Aha (2008)
Jamie Lidell-When I Come Back Around (2005)
Justice-D.A.N.C.E. (2007)
Chromeo-Bonafide Lovin' (2007)
Daft Punk-Digital Love (2000)

Next week - no central them, just rockin' out like I do. Listen Sundays from 10pm-12am EST at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gonzo (+ Marc Morrison!) on the air, 12/20

A special show, hope you were able to listen. For the first 2.5 hours, Marc Morrison and I tag teamed our favorites from 2009. A lot of fun, and I got turned on to some new tunes as well. For the last hour, I flew solo and spun some of my favorite dance tracks from 2009.

Animal Collective - Brother Sport(M)
The Raveonettes - Bang! (G)
Umphrey’s McGee-Made to Measure (M)
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down-When We Swam (G)
UUVVWWZ-Shark Suit (M)
The Dead Weather-Treat Me Like Your Mother(G)
Grizzly Bear-Southern Point (M)
Bat for Lashes-Daniel(G)
Bibio-Great Are the Piths (M)
M. Ward (feat. Zooey Deschanel)-Never Had Nobody Like You (G)
Beep Beep - Mermaid Struggle(M)
The Paper Hats-The Sleeping Prophet (M)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs-Skeletons (G)
Roger Klug-Dump Me Hard (M)
Camera Obscura-French Navy (G)
Nite Jewel-Weak for Me (M)
YACHT-Psychic City/Voodoo City (G)
Norah Jones-Chasing Pirates (M)
The XX-Shelter (G)
Vampire Weekend-Cousins(M)
Arctic Monkeys-Crying Lightning (G)
Dirty Projectors-Two Doves (M)
Antony & the Johnsons-Kiss My Name(G)
Bell X1-The Great Defector (M)
The Bird and the Bee-Love Letter to Japan(G)
Crystal Antlers-Andrew (M)
El Michaels Affair-C.R.E.A.M.
Royksopp-Vision One
La Roux-Bulletproof
Annie-My Love is Better
Kid Sister-Right Hand Hi
Major Lazer (feat. Mr. Lex and Santigold)-I'll Make Ya (aka Hold the Line)
Amanda Blank-Make it Take it
Tiga-Sex O'Clock
Felix da Housecat-Elvi$
Aceyalone-The Lonely Ones
Blackrock (feat. Mos Def)-On the Vista
Alan Wilkis-N.I.C.E.
Prince-Ol' Skool Company

Next week: The best of the DECADE!!!!! Sunday night, 10pm until at least 12AM on 90.1 FM in Indiana, PA -streaming at

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gonzo on the air, 12/13

Way late in posting this. But it has been a bear of a week!
The Ramones-Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
Martha & the Muffins-Danceparc
Camera Obscura-French Navy
Lily Allen-LDN
The Dollyrots-Our Way out of LA
The Waitresses-Christmas Wrapping
The Flaming Lips-Watching the Planets (feat. Karen O.)
Evolution Control Committee-The Christmas Wrong
Queen-Get Down Make Love
The Cars-Shoo Bee Doo/Candy-O
MGMT-Electric Feel
Chromeo-Night by Night
Blackroc-On the Vista (feat. Mos Def)
Run DMC-Christmas in Hollis
Aceyalone-The Lonely Ones
Jamie Lidell-Multiply
Gladys Knight and the Pips-I Heard it Through the Grapevine
James Brown-Soulful Christmas Tree
The Chipmunks-Sleigh Ride
The Beatles-Christmas Time is Here Again

Also don't forget: this week will be an extra special show! Tune in at 8pm to hear an hour of Marc Morrison's Sunday Sampler. At 9, Marc and I spend two hours reflecting on the best music of 2009. At 11, I'll fly solo until 12 (or maybe even longer, seeing that I don't have to work Monday!). It all begins at 8pm EST on 90.1 FM WIUP. Stream at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 mix

Friends, lovers, countrymen - another year is about to pass us by. How is this possible?

I admit I was nervous. By May, I felt that 2009 was letting me down. There just wasn't much in the way of music that moved me. But the summer and fall rectified that, and 2009 ended up churning out some pretty great tunes, some of which I am here to share with you. Once again, I found myself forced to shave seconds off of many song intros and outros just to fit it all onto one disc. And once again, I have succeeded. Rock on. However, my one disclaimer here is that I didn't have much time to devote to these notes. But it's all about the music anyway. And I look forward to hearing your mixes/reading your lists soon. Also, I plan on making a post reflecting on the entire decade in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Happy holidays, and may the funk be with you in 2010. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Twisted and Deranged: 2009 in Song

1. The Raveonettes – “Gone Forever” In and Out of Control (Vice Records)

The Raveonettes returned with the follow-up to 2007’s Lust Lust Lust (featured on that year’s annual mix). Like it’s predecessor, In and Out of Control doesn’t cover a whole lot of new ground, but that doesn’t make it a bad album. Admittedly, some songs are perhaps poppier than most of the band’s material (the singles “Bang” and “Last Dance,” for example), but they are still quite good, incredibly catchy, and downright enjoyable tunes. I do like the bits where they let noise take over (as in Lust’s “Aly, Walk With Me”), and the first portion of “Gone Forever” captures that well. I also feel like the Raveonettes are at their best when they’re in a minor key, with excessive reverb on the guitars and vocals, adding up to an overall ominous song quality. “Gone Forever” is a winner there.

Official Website

On MySpace

2. Arctic Monkeys – “Crying Lightning” Humbug (Domino)

Either the Arctic Monkeys haven’t done anything to impress me up to this point, or I just haven’t been paying attention. I heard this song in heavy rotation on KRUI. I liked it the first time I heard it, but it really sucked me in by the third or fourth listen. I love the structure of the song, the complementary way the chorus plays off of the verse, and the buildup of Alex Turner’s vocals. For some reason, my fantasy mind can hear David Bowie doing this with Iggy Pop during the Berlin period. Humbug is a solid listen throughout, and I know must retrace my steps and check out their previous albums.

Official Website

On MySpace

3. The Dead Weather – “I Cut Like a Buffalo” Horehound (Third Man)

Another year, another Jack White project. Seriously, every year that I make one of these mixes, there’s some sort of Jack White production that warrants representation. With The Dead Weather, we have the rhythm section of White’s *other* side project, The Raconteurs (who in turn came from The Greenhornes), The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and White (on drums!!!!). Frankly, it’s a perfect match up. I aimed to include “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” but opted for “I Cut Like a Buffalo” due to time constraints. No matter. This a wonderfully weird track (how in fact, does one cut like a buffalo?), accompanied by a video showcasing Jack White’s patented brand of creepy:

Official Website

On MySpace

4. Bat For Lashes – “Daniel” Two Suns (Astralwerks)

I was a pretty big fan of Bat for Lashes’ 2007 debut, Fur and Gold, but Two Suns offers a more consistent and richly textured album. Although this saw release early in the year, “Daniel” became one of my most played tracks of fall 2009. And to be honest, it may be the track on this mix that I’ve listened to more than any other. The rhythm, emotional vibe and Natasha Khan’s hauntingly beautiful vocals give this one a lot of replay value in my book (er, on my digital music device).

Official Website

On MySpace

5. The XX – “Shelter” The XX (XL Recordings)

The XX's self-titled debut not only gets my seal of approval, but also stands as my top pick for 2009. They have a mellow, almost atmospheric vibe (Wikipedia describes them as “dream pop,” whatever that means), and I openly admit that I have a soft spot for male/female vocal interplay. The album is mellow, sparse and moody in equal measure. I highly recommend checking it out.

Official Website
On MySpace

6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Skeletons” It’s Blitz! (Interscope)

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I’ve always liked them pretty well. Listening to 2009’s It’s Blitz, this song immediately struck a chord . It’s a ridiculously beautiful, fragile track that has what I would call a cinematic quality to it. I can just see this being used to great effect on some especially emotionally draining episode of Six Feet Under or something like that. It also has this slow, progressive build that adds to its ultimate intensity. I don’t know, I’m just a big softy.

Official Website
On MySpace

7. Antony & the Johnsons – “Kiss My Name” The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian)

I’ve heard a few Antony tracks over the years, but never paid them much mind. Earlier this year, I was hipped to 2008’s Hercules and Love Affair project, which I liked quite a bit. Shortly after, I caught Antony and the Johnsons performing “Aeon” on David Letterman:

Watching this performance, it finally clicked – I felt like I got it. In checking out The Crying Light LP, I immediately became a fan. I admit that part of it is a fascination with Antony’s performance of gender (if pop music scholars aren’t writing on this already, they will be very soon). But more than that, it’s the emotion and the richness of many songs’ arrangements that make The Crying Light one of my favorite albums of 2009.

Official Website
On MySpace

8. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam” Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars)

Double-entendre I’m sure, but I can’t quite make out the metaphor completely. Thao with the Get Down Stay Down hail from San Francisco, and have put out four records since 2005. Thao has also done some solo work and collaborations with other artists. Go figure, I never heard of them until this fall. I know that this comes as a shock given my perennial hipness, but even old Gonzo misses a beat now and again. I don’t really have much else to say here, but it’s a good album.

Official Website
On MySpace

9. YACHT – “Psychic City” See the Mystery Lights (DFA Records)

Another ditty that’s been in heavy rotation on KRUI. What’s odd is that this song reminds me of Iowa City, but clearly I didn’t live there while the song was out, and I wasn’t aware of it during my visit. That association is either a byproduct of hearing it on KRUI, or a suggestion that KRUI has a “sound.” Or both. But I digress. I took to the song pretty immediately, and made hearing the album a priority once I learned who the artist was. The See Mystery Lights album tends stick with this indie rock dance vibe, which I can totally get down with. And in Claire Evans’ vocals, I hear echoes of The Waitresses’ Patty Donahue. I like.

Official Website
On MySpace

10. Phoenix – “1901” Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glass Note)

Count me among the many who had never heard Phoenix until 2009. And if we’re going strictly on the number spins each album received, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix would probably win my pick for album of the year. But I already gave my top spot to The XX. However, I can say without doubt that “1901” was *the* song of 2009. The single started making the rounds months ahead of the album’s release, with a flood of remixes to follow (at the band’s urging). I definitely got sucked into the (well-deserved) hype, and sought it out pretty immediately upon release (shout out to Paul’s CDs). It’s a great, straightforward rock record that veers towards pop, but manages to do so without losing integrity. I admit I was a little upset that it took practically no time for this to happen:

…but on the other hand, I kind of expected it. Nonetheless, still a great album, and a great tune.

Official Website

On MySpace

11. The Bird and the Bee – “Love Letter to Japan” Rayguns Are Not Just the Future (Blue Note)

The Bird and the Bee were a late entry on the first of my annual mixes back in 2006. In the interim, they’ve put out a few EPs with somewhat mixed results. Their second full length, Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future is an equally mixed bag. It’s not that they’re putting out bad material, just that the ”Bird and the Bee sound” as a whole doesn’t seem to be progressing very much. They’re still delightful, I’d just like to see some evolution. And that is likely why this little gem captivates me. Lyrics aside, my take home message from this song is "don't give up on The Bird and the Bee just yet."

Official Website
On MySpace

12. Annie – “My Love Is Better” Don’t Stop (Smalltown Supersound)

We have now officially entered the dance portion of the 2009 mix . At long last, we have the follow up to the Scandanavian pop princess’s debut Anniemalism. After multiple delays and leaks, the wait for Don’t Stop was worth it (although absent is last year’s single “I Know Your Girlfriend Hates Me”). This is electro dance pop at its finest. The ballads don’t work nearly as well as the dance numbers, but the strengths of the latter outweigh the weaknesses of the former. It would be perhaps too easy to label Annie the 21st century Norwegian Kylie Minogue. But I just did anyway.

Official Website
On MySpace

13. Royksopp – “Happy Up Here” Junior (Astralwerks)

I know it’s beyond cliché to sample P-Funk at this point, but they do it so well – and with one of my favorite tracks, “Do That Stuff.” (Truth be told, I don’t think it’s a sample proper.) Another of my favorites from this disc (“Vision One”) incorporates Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” to great effect. The whole Junior album is in this electro-funk-pop vein, and it’s a winner. Also, I’m told Royksopp is slated to release a companion album in 2010, appropriately titled Senior, so keep an (or an ear) out for that.

Official Website

On MySpace

14. Kid Cudi – “Make Her Say” (Feat. Kanye West and Common) Man on the Moon: The End of the Day (Motown)

I had to work Lady GaGa in here somewhere. While “Poker Face” probably gets my vote for best Top 40 jam of the year, this reimagining by Kid Kudi, Kanye and Common takes the song to the next level. I’ve never been much a fan of Kanye West. Frankly, I think his own work is overrated, but every once in a while he does something that I love (though usually it’s a production credit). I’d also like to go on record as saying that Common is probably the only rapper that can utter a line like “get up on this conscious dick.” Kid Cudi’s debut album isn’t an amazing piece of work, but this and the inclusion of last year’s single “Day N Nite” make the album worthwhile, and make me think he’s someone to keep an eye on.

Official Website
On MySpace

15. Major Lazer feat. Mr. Lex and Santigold –“ I'll Make Ya” Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do (Downtown)

I’m pretty into the respective production styles of Diplo and Switch. So when I caught wind that they were producing a reggae/dancehall record, I was amped. This was definitely my jammin'-out-in-the-car disc for summer 2009. It could stand some editing, but there are some real bangers on the album, this one included. I believe this premiered on their MySpace page, but when I saw Santogold/Santigold earlier this summer, she played a bit of it live, only further raising my anticipation. Speaking of bangers and Santigold…

Official Website
On MySpace

16. N.A.S.A. – “Whatchadoin?” Feat. Spank Rock, MIA, Santogold, Nick Zinner The Spirit of Apollo (Anti)

Holy hell. I have to give credit to Markadelphia over at IckMusic for hipping me to this one. Mark wrote a glowing review of the record, and in particular the Karen O., Fatlip and ODB track “Strange Enough.” That track is great, but “Whatchadoin?” and its all-star lineup are what sealed the deal for me on the N.A.S.A. record. On this track, we have Baltimore’s own Spank Rock, MIA, Santogold and Nick Zinner. I admit I know nothing about Nick Zinner. But just the thought of this collaboration had my mind reeling. And the track itself does not disappoint. The rest of the album is a similarly star-studded affair. N.A.S.A. man the DJing and production duties, while vocals are taken up by the likes of David Byrne, Chuck D., Method Man, Chali 2na, RZA, Kool Keith, Tom Waits, Lykke Li, Del, Ghostface and more. It’s the all star jam of the year. Not infallible, but pretty damn good throughout.

On MySpace

17. Amanda Blank – “Might Like You Better” I Love You (Downtown)

Speaking of Spank Rock, his frequent sidekick Amanda Blank dropped her solo debut this year as well. Actually, she opened for Santogold, and that little taste of the album got me pretty excited. I didn’t even realize that the core of this song is lifted from a Romeo Void track (thanks, Mike C. for bringing this to light). Blank is definitely running with the crass and explicit lyrics she contributed to the Spank Rock tracks, and that is a-ok with me. She also does an on-point cover of “Make Up” by Vanity 6. Way to win me over.

Official Website
On MySpace

18. Kid Sister – “Life on TV” Ultraviolet (Downtown)

Another oft-delayed and much anticipated release, we finally got the debut from Chicago’s Kid Sister this year. Kid Sister is one of those artists who successfully generated an internet buzz via MySpace and the blogosphere, particularly with her Kanye west collaboration “Pro Nails” (which even made it onto Comcast’s On Demand service). Kid Sister bills herself as a rapper, though I think that’s not an entirely accurate characterization of her music. I’d say she’s more pop with hip hop leanings. There were a number of tracks slated for inclusion on my little mix, but I ultimately chose this one because a) “Pro Nails” is a little old at this point b) this one just flowed best in the mix and c) I’m a media scholar, and it’s about TV. I won’t lie, one of my first thoughts upon hearing it was “This would be a good prelude to the TV lecture in my 101 course.” And so it shall be, next semester.

On MySpace

19. Felix Da Housecat – “We All Wanna Be Prince” He Was King (Nettwerk Records)

It goes without saying that this floored me when I first encountered it. It’s a blatant homage that unabashedly lifts nearly every move from the Prince playbook, including constant lyrical references to Prince jams. And it works so damn well. I mean, listen to that little moan in the song’s intro! Felix really constructed a tribute that succesfully capture the sound of the 1999 era. Besides such perfect execution of Prince’s style, what I love about this song is that truer words were never spoken – we do all wanna be Prince! At least I do.

Official Website
On MySpace

20. Alan Wilkis – “N.I.C.E.” Pink and Purple (Wilcassettes)

Last year, Alan Wilkis released his debut album, Babies Dream Big. You may recall that the album’s track “It’s Been Great” made last year’s list. This summer, Alan dropped an EP that was even better than Babies, and was for all intents and purposes, right up my alley. With Pink and Purple, Wilkis embraces his funkiness whole-heartedly, incorporating influences from the late 1970s and 1980s such as Prince, MJ, the Gap Band and Rick James (among others). The result is a head-bobbin’, body-movin’ set can, would and should have you dancing. Alan was kind enough to chat with me earlier in the summer – check out our discussion for some insight into Pink and Purple. Alan has also been hard at work on a slew of great remixes – keep your eyes peeled on this blog to catch a listen.

Official Website
On MySpace

21. Prince – “Dance 4 Me” Lotusflow3r (NPG)

Hallelujah! Well, you know that I went out to get Prince’s Lotusflow3r set the day it was released, following which I posted a lengthy review. To recap briefly, disc one is his latest protégé (Bria Valente). It is also filler. The other two discs however, have Prince in solid form with the guitar-baesd Loutusflow3r disc and the synth dance vibe of MPLSound. I generally try to avoid making this next claim, but I do think that it could be a dynamite single disc collection. Alas. But the whole set was something like $10, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Predictably, I’m most drawn to MPLSound. And that disc will forever remind me my dissertation defense/visit to Iowa City, because it was one of two CDs that I had access to during my stay (the other was MGMT, which will now produce similar associations). I knew from the getgo that “Dance 4 Me” was going to be what made the cut for the year-end mix, though I would like to have included “Ol’ Skool Company” (admittedly for its radio and drumming references). But “Dance 4 Me” is a standout jam, breaking out the Camille voice, turning on that “I’m Prince, you want me” charm, embracing the synths and the Linn LM-1 drum machine, and generally just making me want to get down. Prince, I salute you for recuperating yourself after that Planet Earth disaster in 2007.

Official Website

2009 Honorable Mentions:

Aceyalone-The Lonely Ones (Deconstruction)
Camera Obscura-My Maudlin Career (4AD)
El Michaels Affair-Enter the 37th Chamber (Fatbeats)
M. Ward-Hold Time (Merge)
Maxwell-Blacksummer’s Night (Columbia)
Rainbow Arabia-Kabukimono (Manimal)
Sonic Youth-The Eternal (Matador)
The Very Best-Warm Heart of Africa (Green Owl Records)

Monday, December 14, 2009


Here are some thangs I've been meaning to share:

-Ickmusic is always a treasure trove, but Pete has shared a series of real gems from the Boss. The long and short of it is that in the final nights of his tour with the E Street Band, the Boss played one of his classic albums in full each night. Pete's shared the Buffalo, NY show (featuring Asbury Park), Philadelphia (featuring Darkness on the Edge of Town) and New York City (featuring The River). I've only listened to the Buffalo show, but it's fantastic!

-I'm pretty sure that at some point, I knew of and had possibly even visited Pop Dose. But Michael (of IckMusic fame) has recently hipped me to the site, and I can't say enough about it. A sort of clearinghouse for everything popular culture. Check out their podcasts, which are absurdly entertaining (they've had me laughing out loud while running, which I'm sure makes bystanders nervous). Also have a look at the 25 Days of Mellowmas, their annual holiday feature.

-Lastly, a student of mine directed me toward Gorilla vs. Bear which looks to be a pretty solid indie blog.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Funk

Two words, kids:


I think there's supposed to be a new album next year. DOPE.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gonzo on the air - 12/6

Iggy Pop-Sister Midnight
Radiohead-Let Down
Rainer Maria-Feeling Neglected
The Grates - Howl
The Knickerbockers-Night Time
The Mighty Hannibal-Get Back
The Sonics-Santa Claus
? and the Mysterians-Can't Get Enough of You, Baby
The Chesterfield Kings-Time Will Tell
The Damned-Neat Neat Neat
Elvis Costello-Mystery Dance
Dave Clark Five-Do You Love Me
Roxy Music-Remake/Remodel
The Clash-Guns of Brixton
Peter Gabriel-Games without Frontiers
Daft Punk-Something About Us
Grove Armada-My Friend
Air-Playground Love
Negativland-Yellow Black and Rectangular
Mr. Oizo-Flat Beat
Prince and the Revolution-Another Lonely Christmas
The Raveonettes-The Christmas Song
Lightspeed Champion-Galaxy of the Lost
Beck-I Get Lonesome
Tom Waits-Innocent When You Dream (78)
Loretta Lynn and Jack White-Portland, Or
Patti Smith-Gloria
Next week (12/13): A special guest!
In two weeks (12/20): Marc Morrison and I get our collab on, reviewing the music of 2009! Note: this special show will begin at 9PM EST.

Tune in sunday nights, 10pm-Midnight EST on WIUP-FM.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Correction of the Year

From the Washington Post:


A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.

(Thanks to Kembrew for this one!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday FUNK

Was looking for a Bar-Kays clip, but found this instead.