Glen’s Best/Worst of 2010: Albums

With over one hundred reviews in the books (108 to be precise), I think I’m  all done with reviewing music in 2010. Going forward, I plan on exclusively publishing reviews of music that I like. I’d rather not be an influence in turning away people from music. If someone likes something that I don’t, that’s just how it is! Ain’t nothing I can do. It turns out that I liked most of the music I heard this year; the mean score for a CD Review was 84. In the grand scheme of albums that I’ve heard over the course of my lifetime, there weren’t any top-to-bottom gems. A top-to-bottom gem, in case you are wondering, is an album with at least 75% “A+” songs. Such albums would be considered instant favorites. That said, I gave out “A-” or better to 23 albums.

Best Albums [Album, Band, Label]:
1. King of the Beach – Wavves – I listened to this pretty much non-stop during the summer of 2010. It was perfect listening material, whether it was blasting from the inside stereo as I chilled outside or blasting in the car radio on my way to work. I like my music loud and pretty much every instrument is mixed really loudly on this record. That might be annoying to some, but for me, it was pleasantly nice. A record that never gets boring despite numerous listens over a lengthy period of time is a sensational record. The songs (which I was skeptical of at first) that dabble in experimental rock/psychedelia (“Baseball Cards,”When Will You Come, and “Mickey Mouse”) fit right in with the warm vibes that is King of the Beach. This is the best.

2. Teen Dream – Beach House – Sub Pop – Let me give you a little history of my experience with this album. I first heard it in early December 2009…it leaked really really early. This was also when I was grading albums kind of funky. As a result, I really nit-picked this one to the bone. Early in 2010, I revisited this mainly after reading nearly universal acclaim. Could I have possibly missed something? Surely. There was a time in February/March when I obsessed over Teen Dream. It’s a powerful mesh of dreamy tunes that are extremely uplifting, yet direly haunting. The atmosphere that surrounds the album is truly what wins me over. It’s unlike anything I really heard before.

3. The Maine Coons – The Maine Coons – Spent Planet – I have to really give a bunch of credit to The Maine Coons. When I first heard them open for Nobunny, I thought they were a great opening band, but not so noteworthy as to further look them up after the show. I then heard this album sometime later and thought, well, this is a good album! Upon further investigation, it turned out to be my most highly rated one. It’s garage-pop, at its finest. It’s almost as if the ghost of King Khan & BBQ Show past revived itself, but with a big ole’ keyboard on top of the traditional guitar/drums/tambourine set-up. This is 2010’s Invisible Girl.

4. Hippies – Harlem – Matador – Way back when, I was pretty convinced that this was going to sit at the top of the list. While it’s not #1, it is #4 and #4 is damn good. For a 16 track record, there’s surprisingly little-to-no rough patches along the way. Every song can’t be “Gay Human Bones” after all, but a whole bunch of them continue the spirit that commenced when Harlem released their fine 2008 debut LP Free Drugs ;-). While they sometimes get compared to some KLYAM-recommended contemporaries, these guys are pretty unique in their style of song and Hippies exemplifies that at length.

5. First Blood – Nobunny – Goner – Let me start off with something: Nobunny is a great songwriter. While he often (unfairly) gets lumped into the gimmick or rip-off-dead-punk-legend-wearing-bunny mask-and-nothing-but-underwear category, he’s got skills that allow him to successfully dabble in a variety of rock and roll styles. He can manipulate his voice to quasi-Joey Ramone on punk songs, while on others he toys around with a more country or power-pop twang. My favorite Nobunny songs are the fast ones, but he can get all romantically twisted and confounded on a lot of the slower ones. The enhanced studio production of First Blood should give the bunny-man more recognition than ever before and he deserves it more than anyone in music.

6. Cum Stain – Cum Stain – Burger Records 
7. WWII – White Wires – Dirtnap Records
8. Memphis – Magic Kids – True Panther Records
9. Gay Singles – Hunx & His Punx – True Panther Records
10. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter – 4AD

Honorable Mentions: Be Brave (Strange Boys), I Will Be (Dum Dum Girls), Melted (Ty Segall)

Worst Album
1. There Is Love In You – Four Tet – Domino Records – I might be the only one who disliked this album, but man was it painful. It’s like a bad hangover…it’s something you’d rather forget than ever bring up again.

VW, BH, DDG Tour

How convenient! Three of my favorite bands will be playing together at the same location on a little tour. The Boston gig will be at the Bank of America Pavilion. Naturally, I’m going to see what I can do to make this. It’s still ways away: September 12. Side note: Dum Dum Girls are hot shit as an opening band, aren’t they? First, King Khan and BBQ then Girls and now this.

Concert Review: Beach House

Bands: Beach House, Bachelorette
Venue: Paradise Rock Club (Boston, MA)
Date: March 28, 2010

Act OneBachelorette – Bachelorette was boring. It’s not really the music that’s boring, it’s more of the process as a whole. She plays guitar for thirty seconds, turns the loop on, records into one microphone, loops that, turns on a drum pad, and then does another round of singing. She reminded me (at her best) of High Places and at her worst like your average shitty electronically styled opening act (cough Many Mansions cough). Some dude was apparently loving it so much that he thought it was wise to shout “you boring fucks need to learn how to move your body” after her first song. Yeah, maybe if I was tripping on shrooms like you…idiot. llalallalaallalala bum allalalalalal bum. Relaxing stuff, but annoying.

Act TwoBeach House – A very kind band. Kicking off the set with “Walk in the Park,” my personal favorite, was a wise choice. I could tell the sold-out crowd was made up of a lot of Teen Dream era fans so this opener definitely resonated with all of us. Lead singer and keyboardist Victoria Legrand amazingly executed her parts and that’s not without saying guitarist and back-up singer Alex Scally wasn’t awesome. He was. Speaking of Teen Dream, somebody commented that they played every song off of that. And you know what? I think they did! They also played a few old songs that many people were able to appreciate. Legrand and Scally’s between song banter was charming as they said things like “you guys are very lovely. Thank you for having us.” They genuinely seemed happy to be playing. They ended the set with Teen Dream closer “Take Care,” but that was only a little tease. It’s a great closing track and would certainly lead one to believe that was all they had left. But no! They came back for a one song encore of “10 Mile Stereo,” another great ditty off of Teen Dream. This song is the band’s heaviest offering (at least live) and I actually can’t imagine a better choice. Overall, I really enjoyed listening to one of my favorite albums of the year (and the other songs) performed in such a relaxing and enjoyable setting. If you haven’t heard Beach House, I’d recommend giving them a try.

Grade: A-/B+

TOUR CONSTANTLY

Jared Hondo Isaac Swilley says it all the time, but Beach House’s Alex Scally knows what’s up as well:

NYMAG
Since we started in 2006, the only way we’d have enough time to spend on music is to tour constantly. I kind of like it … it’s not like we’re Black Flag or anything, but it’s like a manta for us that the only way to survive is to tour constantly because that’s income and that spreads your name. I’m into what’s happening: There aren’t supermassive bands, the way it was in the sixties when the major labels rolled out twenty things and you chose the four that suited you. People that make music aren’t these weird gods that have a ton of money. I really like that we have all these sites where we can post pictures and have discussions and weird personal connections to all these people. Ultimately, we’re very lucky to have stumbled upon this thing, to get this music out there, to have it to mean something to people. People are always going to find way to support artists so that they’ll live.

CD Review: Teen Dream [2010]

Not just a white square. Look closer!

****REVISION****

Band: Beach House
Release: 1/2010
Label: Sub Pop

1. “Zebra” – A
2. “Silver Soul” – A
3. “Norway” – A
4. “Walk In The Park” – A+
5. “Used To Be” – A
6. “Lover of Mine” – A-
7. “Better Times” – A
8. “10 Mile Stereo” – A+
9. “Real Love” – A
10. “Take Care” – A+

Comment: The original CD Review for this album was kind of fucked up as I judged the album based on three characteristics (which were basically the same) instead of how I’ve been doing it with regard to every other album review. As a result, I was more of a hard-ass with this album than with any other other. “Zebra” exhibits the sexiness of Victoria Legrand’s voice and features one of the best chorus hooks I’ve heard all year. With all do respect, Alex Scally deserves credit for his enticing (poor word choice) guitar play. Got to love the “ha ha ha!” in “Norway” considering my crush executes it perfectly. Again, to mention the brilliance of choruses, I am deeply affected by “Walk In The Park.” I can’t see why the mainstream wouldn’t be attracted to it. It’s not Lady Gaga or Ke$ha, so it doesn’t have that sucker electro-pop style (try dream-pop, which has never been “accessible”) that’s been the opiate of the music masses for the past few years. When Legrand sings “any day now” on “Used To Be” that’s just a major turning point from a good rating to a great one. Overall, this is a very ethereal release that requires multiple listens to appreciate the complete beauty.

Grade: A (95)

Beach House!

Hot damn! That’s Victoria Legrand right there of Beach House. Her and that other guy in the band recently did a Daytrotter session and I’m feeling this a lot, particularly songs like “Zebra,” which I wrote about a few days ago and now my fascination is “Walk In The Park.” Legrand’s Nico replica of a voice is pretty hot, not going to lie.

Listen to the tunes here: http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/beach-house-concert/20031020-3738208.html

Beach House – Zebra

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I listened to and reviewed this album for the first time back in November. Talk about an early leak! It’s among the better things that I’ve heard for 2010, but it’s a little blase, aka something bitchfuck media won’t admit! Take this song “Zebra.” You got to admit it’s pretty awesome, but at certain points I feel sort of disappointed. “Any way you run, you run before us” is simply an excellent chorus, but this song calls for some kind of loud extravagant epicness. The ending is quite solid, but in the middle it’s just all right. What do you think?

CD Review: Teen Dream [2010]

Band: Beach House
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Dream Pop
Release: January 26, 2010

1. “Zebra” – 9 +8+8 = 8.3
2. “Silver Soul” – 9+8+9 = 8.7
3. “Norway” – 8+7+7 = 7.3
4. “Walk in the Park” – 9+7+8 = 8.0
5. “Used To Be” – 9+9+9 = 9.0
6. “Lover  of Mine” – 8+7+9 = 8.0
7. “Better Times” – 8+7+6 =  7.0
8. “10 Mile Stereo” – 8+8+9 =8.3
9. “Real Love” – 9+7+8 = 8.0
10. “Take  Care” – 9+9+9 = 9.0

Sounds Like: Grizzly Bear, Washed Out

Final Grade: B- (8.2)