LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem
This is Happening

DFA, 2010

There's really no point in even posting this. But I will anyway. This record is on pretty much everyone's "Best of 2010" list already, and for good reason. It's really, really good. I'm a big fan of James Murphy. I personally think he is my generation's David Byrne. Yep. This record, even more than his previous ones, shifts effortlessly between post-punk (for lack of a better description) and electro (again, for lack of a better description) and my ears love it. So yes, I agree that so far this is one of the best records of the year. Mr. Murphy has single-handedly redeemed Williamsburg, Brooklyn for heaving up Sleigh Bells on the masses.
Oh, and the video for "Drunk Girls" is f**king fantastic. James Murphy and Spike Jonze were destined to go together. Like Miller High Life and Vodka. Great record.


Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monàe
The ArchAndroid
Atlantic, 2010

I resisted buying this for a while. First of all, I didn't like the cover art. Second, Pitchfork liked it which totally puts me off to a record now. However, I finally broke down and I must admit, it was worth it. It's funky, it's sexy and it is literally all over the place as far as genres go. From the James Brown-ish "Tight Rope" to "Neon Valley Street" which could have easily have found it's way onto an Erykah Badu record, this record really defies categorization. Out of the 18 tracks I would say that there are about nine totally solid songs and the rest I could take or leave. But her originality can't be denied. Ms. Janelle is here to stay, and that's totally cool with me.


Kid Sister

Kid Sister
Downtown, 2009

This is what Amanda Blank's I Love You should have sounded like. This record falls into the category of music that is self-indulgent, fun and should never be taken seriously. Kind of like Annie was back in 2005 and Gucci Mane now.
Every conceivable studio trick known was tossed onto this album and it totally works. I even like the Kanye song "Pro Nails". The record is a mix of club beats and old school hip hop and KS pulls off the MC work pretty well. Nothing fancy, but totally addictive.



Artificial Horizons
Dischord, 1998

I honestly just picked this record because it's the Lungfish record that I'm currently listening to. Everything these guys touch is f***ing golden. Listening to Lungfish is listening to art being created. As cliche as that sounds, it's the honest to god truth. A lot of their detractors tend to focus on the repetition of their music. Yes, it can be repetitive. If repetitive means trance-inducing, mind-altering awesomeness. Not like psychedelic, PCP mind-altering, but rock that will take your ass to the next level mind-altering. That's right. Next level. Oh, and Daniel Higgs has the dopest beard ever. Buy every album you can. You can thank me now.



Delorean - "Stay Close"
Subiza, 2010

I have a soft spot for house music. Actually, let me rephrase that. At times, I go against all of my better judgment and my guilty pleasures take over. Some house-esque music being among them. It's totally the musical equivalent of Skittles. It's sweet and delicious in small doses, but too much can be nausea inducing and lead to self-loathing.
I've been known to enjoy The Field and even some Felix da Housecat from time to time. Delorean is the same deal. I really don't care for the rest of this record, but this song is just too good to say no to. It's everything a good hipster dance track should be. Clicks, beeps, kicks, echoing female vocals and all. I just can't stop listening to it. I'll get over it soon. I mean, even the name Delorean brings to mind temporary material indulgence and excess. But for now, I'll be subtly nodding my head along to this. When no one else is watching, of course.


Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr.
Jagjaguwar, 2009

I never really listened to Dinosaur Jr. growing up. I was too young to to be turned on to them when they were at their peak, and when I did really get into music I never really payed them much attention. I understood how influential they were on other very influential bands, but that was about it. At one point when I was in middle school I bought Without a Sound because I liked the Spike Jonze video for "Feel the Pain." Yes, that was back when music videos were an art form. I wasn't impressed with the rest of the record and figured this Dinosaur Jr. band wasn't for me.
It wasn't until I was older that I began to fully appreciate the band, their members, and the music. If I had heard Farm when I was younger, I would have hated it. Probably because it doesn't sound like Fugazi. But now that I'm older and questionably wiser, I take great satisfaction in listening to this. This is truly "alternative" rock in all the best ways possible.
Mascis' guitar work is as on point as ever and the record seems to be kind of a throwback to their heavier sound (which I love). Pretty much all of the songs are winners to me, but "Said the People" stands out. It's got a Built to Spill feel but has a chorus that would make even Doug Martsch envious.
All in all, I like this record a lot. If only I could go back in time and buy You're Living All Over Me instead..


Ring My Belle

The following was sent in by an "anonymous" reader regarding my dismissal of Belle and Sebastian as "twee". I'll warn you, this gets ugly:

Your entire argument against Belle and Sebastian so far is that you don't like twee pop. I reject that statement based on the following statements:

1. "I like this music... This is legitimately good." - From your review of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

2. "This is a good album and I think as far as indie pop goes, it's better than most." - Your review of Camera Obscura.

Neither of those reviews were gushing with praise, but neither were they dismissed for being unabashedly twee. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart come replete with jangly guitars and tales of young, brooding lovers. Tracyanne would be just at home singing "A Teenager in Love" as she would "French Navy". Maybe it's the hazy, lo-fi aesthetics of Pains that lets you think it isn't twee?

I am confused by what you mean when you say "twee" and "indie pop" (which is the genre you chose to place Camera Obscura in). What makes Belle and Sebastian twee while Camera Obscura is indie pop? Is there a distinction in your mind? Camera Obscura sounds much more like twee progenitors Heavenly in instrumentation and lyrics than B&S do.

I won't deny Belle and Sebastian have twee elements and don't mind them being placed in that category. I believe however that your dismissal of B&S simply for being twee is a cop out at best and disingenuous at worst. So I have to believe you either (a) have a more substantial and serious argument against B&S that you have chosen not to go into (b) really have not listened to very much Belle and Sebastian to have a more informed opinion or (c) have a visceral dislike of the band that can't be put into words.


Murder City Devils

Murder City Devils
Empty Bottles Broken Hearts
Sub Pop, 1998

This was one of the greatest bands. Ever. They sang about everything I would ever want to hear in a song: press gangs, Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, women, wine, sailors, Santa Claus and of course the Mutter Museum. Just straight up rock and roll with the perfect mix of punk ethic. The stale beer and sweat are almost palpable when listening to their records.
During their career they never got the recognition they deserved and various members have gone on to play or have played with other bands such as Dead Low Tide, Modest Mouse, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Big Business. Their shows were always a lesson in how to rock a f**king club to the ground.
I highly recommend every one of their releases; you really can't go wrong.
This is one of my favorites just because of "I Want a Lot Now", "Hey Sailor", and "Johnny Thunders".
I would also highly recommend the DVD "The End: The Final Show Halloween 2001". It's a band giving it everything they got and more and any aspiring punk/rock band should take notes and study hard.
Unfortunately MCD called it quits just as they were really gaining momentum, but what they left us with is some of the best punk and rock music to date.


Belle and Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian - "Lazy Line Painter Jane"
Lazy Line Painter Jane, 1997

This is my first track review and it's all because of my brother David. In my review of Camera Obscura's My Maudlin Career, I mentioned that I had never been blown away by a Glasgow band. There have been a number of great bands from Glasgow including The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Twilight Sad, Primal Scream, Sons and Daughters, Arab Strap and of course Average White Band. However, Edinburgh is way more awesome just because that's where Beta Band and Boards of Canada are from. And it's f***ing medieval.
Anyway, my brother responded, and I quote, "I'm not sure we can be friends knowing you've never been blown away by Belle and Sebastian." Ouch.
No, I've never been blown away by Belle and Sebastian because I don't like twee pop. That's right. Twee pop. I will say that I love this song though. And yes, David, it has a lot to do with the fact that Monica Queen provided vocals on the track. In fact, I think she makes the track. This song is timeless. Literally, it sounds like it could have been recorded at any point within the last 40 years or so. The song takes it's time to get going and slowly builds into a final audio.. um, orgasm. Yep, it's that good. The organs, the reverb-soaked guitar and, of course, Monica Queen are what make this track so great and stand apart from the rest of Belle and Sebastian's work.
Great chorus, great vocals and a great song. From a not so great band. Ha.


Ace & Edo

Ace & Edo
Arts & Entertainment
Traffic (The Orchard), 2009

Look, I'm a huge Masta Ace fan. SlaughtaHouse and Disposable Arts are absolutely classic hip hop records. He's worked with the best of the best in hip hop, was a member of Juice Crew and has influenced countless MC's including none other than Eminem. I would even argue that he's one of the greatest MC's of all time. Edo G is a legend in his own right as well. So, that being said, why is this record absolute s**t?
Where do I begin. How about the skits. Yes, the pitfall of all hip hop records is in full effect here with countless, unnecessary, unfunny skits. Making it worse are the nature of the skits. The premise is that a black couple are watching TV and comment in between the songs on the songs. Not such a bad idea in and of itself, except for the fact that the "characters" are so self-stereotyping that they make "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" seem like Amistad.
Then there's the songs. They're far below average for these guys. With the exception of "Little Young" these songs are all throwaways. And that brings us to "Dancing Like a W.G." aka "Dancing Like a White Girl." Set to a house beat, the song describes the inability of intoxicated white girls to dance. For like four minutes. I get it. It's a joke. I understand what's being described and I can relate. But no need for an entire full-length track.
It's always depressing when an artist you respect puts out total garbage, but this is mortifying. It's definitely disposable but hardly art.



Pink Flag
Harvest/EMI, 1977

I'm going to keep this short and to the point, just like the songs on this record. Wire were one of the first Art Punk bands, and one of the greatest punk bands of all time. I prefer this record to Chairs Missing and 154 because I think this is the most "punk" of all three. The songs are short, energetic and charged with the energy of that time. Some highlights include.. well, the whole album. But my personal favorites have always been "Reuters", "Ex Lion Tamer" and "Brazil". But every track is a winner. God help you if you don't own this.