Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beach House on Conan

From Dr. Gonzo's favorite album of 2010, here's Beach House performing "10 Mile Stereo" on Conan last night:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gonzo + Marc Morrison on the air, 12/19

Our second annual year-end show!

The Bird and the Bee-Heard it on the Radio
Zeus-The Renegade
Local Natives-Sun Hands
Yeasayer-Ambling Alp
The Books-A Cold Freezin' Night
Surfer Blood-Floating Vibes
Spoon-Who Makes Your Money
Twin Sister-Lady Daydream
The Mynabirds-Let the Record Go
The New Pornographers-Crash Years
She & Him-Thieves
Maps & Atlases-Living Decorations
Grinderman-Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man
The Dead Weather-No Horse
Broken Bells-The High Road
Miniature Tigers-Bull Fighter Jacket
Vampire Weekend-Giving Up the Gun
Field Music-Measure
Beach House-Zebra
Soft Pack-Pull Out
Ariel Pink's the Haunted Graffiti-Round and Round
LCD Soundsystem-I Can Change
Robyn-Dancehall Queen
New Young Pony Club-Lost a Girl
Sleigh Bells-Infinity Guitars
Crystal Castles-Vietnam
Chromeo-Night by Night

Friday, December 17, 2010

RIP Don van Vliet a.k.a. Captain Beefheart


Captain Beefheart was one of the true originals in music. Like many, I discovered his music via that of Frank Zappa. While Beefheart is probably best known for the Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica, his ouvre goes well beyond the scope of the Zappa-esque tunes on that album. While he retained elements of the Trout Mask sound, Beefheart might be best described as a blues man first, but one with his own unique style. I always liked to think of him as a demented Howlin' Wolf.

From the great Safe as Milk LP, here's "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do" -

And another favorite from that album, "Electricty" -

There's also a great documentary from a few years ago titled simply Captain Beefheart: Under Review. Well worth checking out - a very in depth look at his career.

As someone put it on Twitter, "Live fast, die bulbous." RIP, Captain.

2010 Mix

Well, here we are again. There's snow on the ground, presents being bought, and a half-completed stack of finals on my living room floor. Yes friends, it's that time of year, when your old pal Gonzo compiles what he thinks represents some of the best music released in the last twelve months.

2010 was an excellent year for music. By April, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of good releases hitting shelves each week. That pace ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the year, but golly - this was surely one of the better years for music in recent history. As always, trying to narrow it all down to 80 minutes or less proved a challenge. But with perseverance and geeky obsession, I accomplished the mission. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you:


1. LCD Soundsystem - "Dance Yrself Clean" This is Happening (Virgin)

Somehow I knew in June that this would end up kicking off the 2010 mix. I love the build in this song. For the first three minutes, you can barely hear what's going on (a la "Long Long Long"). Suddenly you're suckerpunched with that sixteenth note leading into a solid four-on-the-floor beat with some groovy synth punctuation as James Murphy's vocals become more soulful. And then there's the seemingly arhythmic break down which always throws me for a loop as well. I admit that I can't quite wrap my head around Murphy's lyrics, which critique the same hipster subculture that his career depends upon. Nevertheless, This is Happening was a winner with me from the moment I streamed it on the band's official website, and it is certainly deserving of all the attention that it's received this year.

Official Website

2. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Round and Round" Before Today (4AD)

Official Website

I'd never even heard of Ariel Pink until the buzz around Before Today began to circulate. Fellow WIUP DJ and occasional co-host Marc Morrison chose this one week for our summer program First Impressions. Upon first listen, I wasn't completely taken in by the album, but I could tell that it had room to grow on me. Turns out, I was right. A few late nights of writing spent with Before Today swung my opinion more fully. "Round and Round" remains my favorite track from the disc, and is very representative of the album's overall sound. It's indie rock meets AM Gold meets something slightly haunting (ergo, the name?). It's a catchy number, and I can't be the only one who thinks that the bridge pays homage to Julian Lennon's "Too Late for Goodbyes, can I?

3. Vampire Weekend - "Giving Up the Gun" Contra (XL)

Official Website

2010 was perhaps the year of Vampire Weekend. They got quite a bit of attention for their 2008 self-titled debut, but the buildup and eventual success of Contra pushed them into the mainstream spotlight. The album is great, though I know many people have tired of it, claiming it wore its welcome pretty quickly. That may well be the case. I can no longer tolerate "Holiday," thanks to the excessively-run Honda ad featuring the track. I would have pegged them for a Target commercial, actually. Anyhow, the fact of the matter is that Contra is still a great album, even if we're sick of it. More than any other song from the album, "Giving Up the Gun" sticks out primarily because WIUP student DJs gave it heavy play. But it also has a lot going for it - a catchy melody, a stop-start chorus, and a relative lack of pretension (which can't be said for many VW songs).

4. Yeasayer - "O.N.E." Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian)

Official Website

I believe my introduction to the new Yeasayer was actually Alan Wilkis' remix of "Ambling Alp." The original version of that track was up for consideration on this mix, but "O.N.E." beat it out, in part once again because a few WIUP DJs gave it heavy play in the spring. It's surely the most dance-oriented track on the disc, which sees the band generally moving into a poppier realm. Odd Blood still sports a good deal of the darker, weirder elements of All Hour Cymbals, which is great. But I have to say, it's the poppier tracks that stand out. I also got to see them live back in September, and they put on an excellent show.

5. Twin Sister - "Around and Away We Go" Colour Your Life (Infinite Best)

Official Website

A totally random discovery that happened to pan out. I stumbled upon Twin Sister over at Gorilla vs. Bear, who had posted a few tracks from the band's then-upcoming EP. Twin Sister put the entire EP up for free download, so I gave it a shot. And boy howdy, did it pay off. Twin Sister have a light, almost dream-like sound, but maintain a pop sensibility throughout. You can almost hear a bit of Tom Tom Club in there. There's also something rather charming about lead singer Andrea Estella's accent. It doesn't really sound like a New York accent (the band hails from Brooklyn), but I can't quite place it. They've toured extensively, though sadly not anywhere on my radar. Nonetheless, Colour Your Life is one of my top picks of the year - you know it's good when you download it for free (legally) yet make an eventual CD purchase as well. I'll be interested to see where Twin Sister goes from here.

7. Beach House - "Norway" Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

Official Website

I'd heard Beach House's previous release (2008's Devotion) and liked it well enough. But it cannot hold a candle to Teen Dream. When I heard Teen Dream in January, I billed it as "an early contender for album of the year." While there have been a number of worthy challengers, I say with conviction that Teen Dream is hands down my favorite album of 2010. I've played the hell out of it for 11 months and it affects me just as deeply in December as it did in January. The album is so unbelievably gorgeous, so lushly arranged and produced. It was a perfect winter release, to be played at full volume in a warm abode while Snowmageddeon raged outside. To put things into perspective, by the time I get to ripping tracks for the year-end mix, I have a general idea of how it will take shape. In the interest of time, I'll rip 2, *maybe* 3 tracks from the pile of discs that I accrue. When it came to Teen Dream, I pulled 6 of the album's 10 tracks, because there are just that many standouts on the disc (though the other four tracks are good too!). "Norway" won out from those other 5 tracks simply for purposes of fit and flow. It was otherwise quite difficult to pick one track from this dynamite album. Victoria Legrand also has one of the most alluring, beautiful and unique voices in indie rock. Interesting range as well. I was fortunate enough to see Beach House over the summer, and they faithfully execute their material live, with the aid of a live drummer (which is generally a plus in my book). If this mix prompts you to buy one album, it should really be Teen Dream.

8. Band of Horses - "Laredo" Infinite Arms (Fat Possum)

Official Website

Band of Horses has been around, but I admit that I hadn't heard them until this year. I heard "The Funeral" on the radio and thought it one of the most emotionally intense songs I'd ever heard. After acquainting myself with their first album, I was intrigued to hear of the pending release of Infinite Arms, their third album. I can't speak for what their second album sounds like (it's on my "to buy" list), but Infinite Arms has a hint of southern influence, which isn't quite the case with Everything All the Time. That southern flavor is probably most evident on "Laredo," the album's second single. That said, the song is indicative of the general vibe of Infinite Arms. This album gets the award for "Best disc for driving on the highway in the summertime." Perfect road trip music. So I thank an unnamed WIUP alum as well as blogging pal Pete Icke for hipping me to this wonderful band.

9. Grinderman - "Worm Tamer" Grinderman 2 (Mute/Anti)

Official Website

Speaking of bands that somehow escaped my radar until this year, Grinderman's second album was a surprise favorite. Nick Cave (along with a few Bad Seeds) fronts this dark, loud, straightforward rock outfit with a raw power (pun intended) unparalleled in 2010 rock releases. I believe I only checked out the album on account of some of the online buzz around it's release, which panned out in the end. "Worm Tamer" is the album's second single, (preceded by the equally in-your-face "Heathen Child"). Check out this live in-studio performance from the RAK Sessions in London:

10. The Dead Weather - "Die by the Drop" Sea of Cowards (Third Man)

Official Website

2009 saw the introduction of The Dead Weather, yet another JW project. The band's debut hit shelves in July of last year. Sea of Cowards was in our grubby little paws by May. And let's not forget all of the touring in between! In some senses Sea of Cowards is more of the same brand of gritty rock and creepy blues established on Horehound, but it seems a bit more focused as an album, and in general an all around tighter execution. Seriously, when does Jack White sleep? This guy's productivity is reaching comical proportions. ?uestlove is the only other figure I can think of that might give White a run for his money, though I'm certainly not complaining. Word on the street is that 2011 will bring us a new album by country gal Wanda Jackson produced by White (they'll also be touring together), and who knows what else. I'm certainly looking (and listening) forward.

11. Sleigh Bells - "Tell 'Em" Treats (N.E.E.T./Mom and Pop)

Official Website

While there was a lot of great music released this year, Sleigh Bells was one of those rare albums that made my ears perk up as I thought, "Well this sounds different than pretty much anything else I've heard before." It definitely has some echoes of labelmate M.I.A., but they aren't copping her style by any means. Most notably, Sleigh Bells are a hell of a lot nosier than M.I.A. The sheer amount of overmodulation on the album is reminiscent of the Stooges' Raw Power, while the music is a clash of pop hooks, punk ferocity and guitars, and danceable beats. Wikipedia categorizes the band as "Noise Pop." Usually I ignore such labels, but this one actually fits. They've taken aggressive, distorted noise and placed it within the 3 minute pop format. And somehow, it works.

12. Crystal Castles - "Celestica" II (Fiction)

Official Website

The sophomore disc from Crystal Castles took a very close second to the Beach House record as my pick for album of the year. They were certainly my two most played discs, with Crystal Castles having the added element of extreme anticipation. And the band certainly disappoint - there isn't a bad track on the album. From the "fun facts" file, Wikipedia claims that Crystal Castles II was recorded "in various places including a church in Iceland, a self-built cabin in northern Ontario, a garage behind an abandoned convenience store in Detroit, and the London studio of Paul "Phones" Epworth (Bloc Party)." But I digress. The album showcases Crystal Castles in a variety of modes, but none too far of a stretch - dancier tunes (such as "Celestica"), noisier, more aggressive tracks ("Doe Deer"), and darker electro tunes that have earned them the rather absurd label of "electro goth" ("Vietnam," "Violent Dreams"). And they put one hell of a live show. Aside from the seemingly endless DJs that preceded them, Crystal Castles' show at the Electric Factory was by far the best (and sweatiest) live show I saw in 2010. The icing on the cake is a remix of one of the album's tracks, a cover of Platinum Blonde's "Not in Love," featuring Robert Smith on vocals. I admit, it sounded like a bad idea, but holy cow, it works beautifully - dare I say I like it even more than the album cut. Check it out:

12. New Young Pony Club - "Lost a Girl" The Optimist (The Numbers)

Official Website

You may recall that the New Young Pony Club's 2007 debut was a favorite of mine that year. That being the case, I was very much looking forward to The Optimist. It isn't as strong as its predecessor, but The Optimist is a solid effort in much the same vein as Fantastic Playroom. If ever there was a band that could be described as "hipster pop," this is probably it. I sure don't have a problem with it. I just wish they would tour the US.

13. Chromeo - "Night by Night" Business Casual (Atlantic)

Official Website

Oh, we're dancin' now! Chromeo came back onto the scene this year with the follow up to their 2007 breakthrough/automatic dance party Fancy Footwork. It's an admirable return that follows the FF format, but Business Casual does leave one wondering just how long Chromeo can ride the wave of retro-'80s synth funk. In any genre , the retro game is only interesting for so long (I'm looking at you, Jurassic 5 and Amy Winehouse). While Business Casual is a fine disc, it does suggest that Chromeo's next move is going to have to step out side of the (talk)box for them to retain audience interest. But to end on a positive note, the songs on Business Casual maintain a too-sexy vibe. "Night by Night" is a great example of this - and the video is every bit as seductive as the song:

14. Goldfrapp - "Rocket" Head First (Mute)

Official Website

Speaking of retro, there's also a clear 1980s influence throughout Goldfrapp's Head First. Some call it a return to roller disco. I believe my hetero life partner said "Rocket" sounded "like Flashdance circa 2010." I'll take it. I was not a big fan of Goldfrapp's previous effort, 2008's Seventh Tree - but I had to respect their move to play outside of the electro sandbox for a bit (though I'm thinking I ought to revisit that album). Ultimately though, Goldfrapp is at their best when they're making dance music. Their decidedly retro approach on Head First works very well, a more playful contrast to their previous work (such as 2005's Supernature).

15. M.I.A. - "XXXO" /\/\ /\ Y /\ (N.E.E.T./XL/Interscope)

Official Website

I didn't have much hope for M.I.A.'s third studio album (read: "Maya"). Her off-stage antics (most notably her feud with a New York Times writer) and schizophrenic Tweets seemed like she might be heading into Kanye territory. Upon hearing the album's stream via NPR's First Listen, I was pleasantly surprised. This is absolutely M.I.A.'s weakest album to date, but there are a number of gems scattered about. Quite simply, it would have been a great 10-track LP. Among those gems is "XXXO," which is apparently one of the biggest love-it-or-hate-it singles of the year (at least according to the blogosphere). I love it. One reviewer criticized the track for being so "club ready," but that's one of the things I like about it. It's a contrast to the multi-genre cultural amalgamation she's known for, true. But a welcome one, I think. I will say that in this track and others on the album, the references to Twitter, iPhone, the Internet, etc. seem incredibly forced. Maybe it's done tongue-in-cheek, I don't know. Nevertheless, "XXXO," "Born Free" (and it's controversial video), "Teqkilla," and "Tell Me Why" are standout tracks that make /\/\ /\ Y /\ a worthwhile album, if an overall less interesting one. She also loses points for not including a download code with the vinyl release (seriously?).

16. Robyn (feat. Snoop Dogg) - "U Should Know Better" Body Talk pt. 2 (Konichiwa Records)

Official Website

Ever since Bowie's canned Outside trilogy, I've instinctually been skeptical of any artist announcing a multi-volume project to be released over time. 2010 may force me to rethink this position. Erykah Badu released the second installment of her New Amerykah trilogy this year, and Robyn met her goal of releasing the three-part Body Talk set over the course of 2010...sort of. I can't help feeling that the third installment (simply titled Body Talk) was a bit of a copout, boasting 5 new tracks and 10 cuts previously issued on Body Talk pts. 1 and 2. Seriously? Of course I bought it, but that's beside the point. So is this little tirade for that matter. I digress. While 2005's Robyn received international acclaim, I found much of it fairly pedestrian, save the electro-infused tracks that opened the album. But those two tracks were enough to leave me thinking "She has a great album in her. This just isn't it." So I was very excited when I heard that among other people, Philly's own Diplo would be doing production work on the Body Talk project. "This is exactly what she needs," I thought. And while Diplo was only involved in a few of the project's tracks, collectively Body Talk is the album I've been wanting Robyn to make. Her pop tendencies aren't buried, but given a makeover that makes these albums stand out amid the sludge of contemporary dime-a-dozen dance pop artists. Pop, electro, dancehall (hi, Diplo!), acoustic ballads and Swedish folk combine for a consistently enjoyable toe-tappin', booty-shakin' listen. Here's hoping that Robyn continues to innovate and reinvent her sound in interesting ways.

17. Janelle Monae (feat. Big Boi) - "Tightrope" The Archandroid (Bad Boy)

Official Website

Being such a Prince fan, friends of mine will fairly often recommend an artist claiming, "they sound a lot like Prince." This was how I first learned of Janelle Monae. Skeptical, I gave The Archandroid a listen and wasn't that taken, especially after seeing her Prince tribute at the BET Awards. Her "look at me, I'm weird" shtick just seemed too contrived. Months later, I thought that I may have been too harsh, and gave it another listen.

I had been too harsh.

The Archandroid covers a lot of ground. It's soulful, it's funky, it's accessible yet unconventional. And guess what - I *can* hear the Prince influence on a few tracks. So all apologies to Ms. Monae - I was too quick to judge (this is why I try to give everything at least two spins before writing it off).

18. The Roots (feat. Dice Raw) - "How I Got Over" How I Got Over (Okay Player)

Official Website

Three words: "return to form." The Roots' body of work has been consistently good, but I admit that their last few records have been mixed bags. Not that they were bad, but they lacked the consistency of earlier discs like Do You Want More?!!!!??!, Illadelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart. How I Got Over is easily the group's best disc since at least 2002's Phrenology. There are some atypical guest appearances (Joanna Newsom, Monsters of Folk, that somehow work, sounding totally logical and natural. As always, the album is littered with social commentary. While the group's previous two records (2006's The Tipping Point and 2008's Rising Down) were generally dark in lyrical and musical tone, How I Got Over exudes a more positive vibe, one focusing on perseverance and triumph. Though I can't find the interview now, one Roots member (?uestlove or Black Thought, I believe) stated that The Tipping Point and Rising Down were reflective of the George W. Bush era, while How I Got Over is in some senses a snapshot of moving into Barack Obama's America. Musically, the album has a stronger soul element than previous efforts, almost a "Curtis Mayfield goes hip hop" sound. It makes perfect sense then, that The Roots' second project this year was Wake Up, a collaboration with vocalist John Legend (though I wasn't so taken with that album). As with M.I.A., The Roots lose some points for not including a download code with the vinyl edition, but I can overlook that given the quality of the music.

19. Cee-Lo Green - "F**k You" The Lady Killer (Elektra)

Official Website

Undeniably the viral hit of the year. Sure, it's a bit of a novelty tune. Sure, absent the F-bomb it wouldn't have reached the level of success that it did. But you know what? It's a great track despite a pretty blatant pandering to shock value. Plus, it's Cee-Lo back on his own, redeeming himself from the slop of the second Gnarls Barkley album. To Cee-Lo's credit, The Lady Killer isn't another retro-'60s soul album, but has a somewhat wider breadth. (though the catchiest tracks do fall into that category). However, the radio friendly version ("Forget You") sounds so forced and awkward, and its regrettable that they even bothered trying to capitalize on a clean version of a song that's appeal is largely it's use of expletives. Speaking of awkward and regrettable, there was that Gwenyth Paltrow performance of "Forget You" on Glee (which I would in fact like to forget):

2010 Honorable Mentions

I'm about to unveil my 2010 mix. This having been a pretty great year for music, there were many regrettable omissions. These worthy contenders were cut for a variety of reasons - length, flow, quality of the overall album vs. individual songs, etc. But they bear mentioning as jawns that got much play in the Zackcave this year, and are also worth your time.
  • Erykah Badu - New Amerykah vol. 2: Return of the Ankh
  • The Bird and the Bee - Interpreting the Masters, vol. 1: The Music of Daryl Hall & John Oates
  • The Books - The Way Out
  • Brian Eno - Small Craft on a Milk Sea
  • Broken Bells - The High Road
  • Four Tet - There is Love in You
  • Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
  • Ikonika - Contact Love, Want, Have
  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
  • Lightspeed Champion - Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You
  • Local Natives - Gorilla Manor
  • The Mynabirds - What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood
  • The National - High Violet
  • oOoOO - No Summr4U
  • Quadron - s/t
  • Royksopp - Senior
  • Sade Soldier of Love
  • She & Him - Volume 2
  • The Soft Pack - s/t
  • Spoon - Transference
  • Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
  • a telecine - a cassette tape culture
That's a lot of honorable mentions. What could possibly be left? Stay tuned!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 12/12

Grinderman-Worm Tamer
Neil Young-Walk With Me
New Order-Dreams Never End
Clinic-Lion Tamer
The National-Anyone's Ghost
The Raveonettes-The Christmas Song
The Walkmen-While I Shovel Snow
Lou Reed-New York Telephone Conversation
Tom Waits-Down in the Hole
T. Rex-Christmas Bop
John Lennon-Nobody Told Me (Request)
Beatles-Christmas Time is Here Again
Dr. Dog-Where'd All the Time Go?
Grizzly Bear-Two Weeks
Luge-All About Love
Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva-I Wish You A Merry Christmas
James Brown-Soulful Christmas Tree
Cee-Lo-It's OK
Aretha Franklin-See Saw
The Staples Singers-Respect Yourself
Prince and the Revolution-Another Lonely Christmas (12" mix)
Yesterday's New Quintet-Superstition
Beck-Nicotine and Gravy
Kid Cudi-Revofev
Clarence Carter-Back Door Santa
Run DMC-Christmas in Hollis
Kurtis Blow-Christmas Rappin'

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2010 Disappointments

Since mid-November, I've been listening (mostly re-listening, actually) to 2010 almost exclusively. This is of course in preparation for my annual year-end mix, now under production. I've decided to make a few preliminary posts leading up to the mix itself, and this is the first.

Why did I just spend three weeks straight listening to this music? I surely have a pretty good idea of what my tops pick would be. This is more a chance to catch things that fell through the cracks. More accurately, to give one last chance to albums that either didn't impress me, or perhaps didn't received enough attention. There are always a few releases that, upon this final review, I move from the "NO" pile to the"Maybe" or even "YES" pile. Overwhelmingly though, this re-review process leads to filling up the "NO" folder. No doubt, there's more bad music than good music released each year.

I'm not here to catalog what I thought were all of the bad releases that I came across this year. Instead, I'm going to share a few disappointments - albums that I legitimately looked forward to with anticipation, but ended up being (as Raoul Duke would say) "a lame fuck around, a waste of time."

Here then, are Gonzo's four biggest musical disappointments of 2010.

MGMT - Congratulations (Sony)

I remember it like it was Record Store Day. And it was! I admit, I approached the album with trepidation. 2008's Oracular Spectacular may be overexposed, but it's a damn fine album. As the hype machine for Congratulations began spinning, I was skeptical. It would be pretty easy for MGMT to not have another great album in them. But I started to buy into some of the hype. I mean hell, it had a scratch off cover! So on my first visit (of many in 2010, I might add) to Indiana, PA's Backstreet Records, I picked up the double LP on Record Store Day.

The album is...interesting. Truthfully, I don't think it's as horrible as many have cast it, but it sure isn't a winner either. I admire them for not trying to remake Oracular Spectacular. But Congratulations just isn't that interesting. I really wanted to like this record. And there are some decent tracks, but the whole affair reeks of mediocrity. "It's Working" is pretty much the only salvageable track here, and perhaps "Brian Eno" (though I fear this is interesting only because it's an ode to Eno). Maybe they can recover and put out another great record. But I'm sure not going to give it a blind buy.

.Jamie Lidell - Compass (Warp)

I first heard Jamie Lidell in the time between his Multiply and Jim albums. I loved both, thus Compass was much anticipated. It came out the same week as the Band of Horses and LCD Soundsytem albums. But the Lidell disc ended up being the odd one out. It lacks the musical diversity of Multiply and the tight, punchy, well polished sound of Jim. The album is a chore to get through. It's also lyrically a bit dark. It actually reminded me (in tone, not style) of Lenny Kravitz's Circus and Gnarls Barkley's The Odd Couple. By that I mean it appear to be Lidells "depression album.' That can be ok, but it simply isn't executed very well. The best songs on Compass aren't as good as the worst songs on its predecessors. "Telephone" standouts are "I Wanna Be Your Telephone" and "Enough's Enough," but these are fairly uninteresting in comparison to the tunes comprising Lidell's last two releases.

Prince - 20Ten (NPG)

It pains me to include a Prince album on a list of musical disappointments, but thems the breaks. Much of Prince's output in the last decade has had the Purple One going reflexively retro. Somehow, every time a Prince album is released, some half-baked critic hails it as "his best since Sign 'O' the Times or "as good as Purple Rain." Bitch, please. It's not a bad album, but it's Prince ripping off himself, and the result sounds horribly rushed and uninspired. As I said in my initial review of the album, Prince should probably stop releasing an album in year, going for quality over quantity. It's still better than Planet Earth, though.

Lil' Wayne - I Am Not a Human Being (Cash Money)

I won't say that I had huge expectations of Lil' Wayne's new disc, especially after Rebirth. But I thought perhaps we could forgive him for his questionable foray into the rock arena, and that I Am Not a Human Being might recapture some of the glory of Tha Carter III (perhaps this is because the album adapts one of my favorite tracks from the latter album). But nay, the album is a disappointment. Uncreative, lacking innovation, overly formulaic. Maybe I should give the guy a break. He did spend the bulk of 2010 in prison, after all.

These were probably the four most disappointing albums for me in 2010. Not the worst. But guess what - there was a lot of great music released this year. So much so that in my next post, I will briefly survey the runners-up to my year-end selections. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gonzo on the air, 12/5

Steely Dan-FM
Bird and the Bee-Kiss on My List
Stereolab-So is Cardboard Clouds
The Ravenonettes-Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
Vampire Weekend-Horchata
Jukebox the Ghost-Empire
George Harrison-What is Life
Local Natives-Sun Hands
Death Cab for Cutie-We Laugh Indoors
The Sonics-Santa Claus
Chuck Berry-Run, Rudolph, Run (REQUEST)
The Hold Steady-The Weekenders
Ty Seagall-My Sunshine
The Beau Brummels-Laugh, Laugh
Blur-There's No Other Way
Capstan Shafts-Class War Tease
Royksopp-Tricky Two
Das Racist-hahahaha jk?
N.E.R.D.-Party People
Crystal Castles feat. Robert Smith-Not in Love
Scissor Sisters-Night Work
Devo-Don't Shoot (I'm a Man)

Friday, December 3, 2010