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.

CD Review: First Blood [2010]

Band: Nobunny
Label: Goner Records
Release: 9/2010

1. “Ain’t It A Shame” – A
2. “(Do The) Fuck Yourself” – A
3. “Blow Dumb” – A-
4. “Gone For Good” – A+
5. “Pretty Please Me” – B+
6. “Breathe” – A-
7. “Live It Up” – A+
8. “Motorhead With Me” – A+
9. “Never Been Kissed” – A
10. “Pretty Little Trouble” – A+
11. “I Was On (The Bozo Show)” – A

Comments: Nobunny is a master of bubble gum pop. We learned this on Love Visions, his debut album replete with goodies like “I Am A Girlfriend” and “Chuck Berry Holiday,” among every other song on there. This record is the same way, but it’s quite a progression for Nobunny. Gone is the drum machine and extreme lo-fi production. This isn’t clean by any stretch of the imagination, but you can tell that it’s been worked on more and has more depth than Love Visions. “Ain’t It A Shame” starts out like a cut to a commercial break, but becomes a passionate “ha, doesn’t it suck what I’ve done to you?”  “(Do The) Fuck Yourself,” which is about as easy to understand as a fourth grade short story novel, should win something for being so triumphant and explicitly lucid. “Feels so good. Feels so nice. I do it every morning and night. Bite my lip, close my eyes, take me away to Paradise.” A little cowbell, a lot of power-pop, and a lot of having fun. That’s ‘blowing dumb,” the new way of saying having fun. I think. “Gone For Good” is the album’s first venture into the great musical style that is garage/punk. The chick wasn’t having it. Nobunny loves her (like he does everyone), but that just wasn’t enough! “Pretty Please Me” is an old sounding country number about the most casual of encounters. No love required! Just a little knack for kissing. “Breathe” is full of cheese and nonsensical lyrics. It’s funny and stuff, probably the least catchiest tune on here, but still always worth a listen. “Live It Up” is an excellent ode to turning things around and just start branching. Just do as many things as possible and not be afraid. Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? As people have said time and time again, “Motorhead With Me” will get stuck in your head. If it doesn’t, there’s a problem. It’s probably my second or third favorite Nobunny song ever ever! The toy piano complements the trashy guitars so damn good on “Never Been Kissed.” “Bozo” is the longest Nobunny song ever. It’s the weirdest for sure…especially when the fame circus theme “Entrance of the Gladiators” riff kicks in. After ten songs explaining the ups and downs of having (or lacking) femmes in life, we have “Bozo.” Nobunny is down for anything, y’all.

Grade: A (94)

Song Reviews: No Age/Nobunny

Band: No Age
Label: Sub Pop
7″: Glitter

“Glitter” (A/A-) – No Age has always liked themselves some samples and atmosphere. Weirdo Rippers was ripe with what critics have termed “experimental” sounds. Nouns had a fair share of these tunes as well, but was more “punk” oriented, espesically on the album’s very best tunes: “Teen Creeps,” “Eraser,” and “Ripped Knees” just to name a few. 2009’s Losing Feeling was a mix of atmospheric sounds and straight up rock, but pretty much involved a heavy appetite of samples on every song. If “Glitter” is any indication of the direction of Everything in Between, No Age is aiming at a continuance of their Losing Feeling vibe. I don’t think this recording does too much in terms of how great this song could be. The sample in the background can be a little much at some times, but actually I really like how everything comes together on the latter part of the song.

“Inflorescence” – (A) This one is neat. It reminds of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart kind of twee pop plus, of course, an extra sample or two. Good stuff.
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Band: Nobunny
Label: Goner Records
Album: First Blood

“Motorhead With Me” – (A+) – This one’s been kicking around for over a year and will make its LP debut on…this LP! It is chaotic powerpop/punk genius.

“Blow Dumb” – (A+) – What a stellar song this one is, too. Fucking A! It’s got cowbell, a stellar rhythym and high energy written all over it.

New Nobunny LP: “First Blood” !!!

Previously Known As: ONO

Track Listing:

1 Ain’t It a Shame
2 (Do the) Fuck Yourself
3 Blow Dumb
4 Gone For Good
5 Pretty Please Me
6 Breathe
7 Live It Up
8 Motorhead With Me
9 Never Been Kissed
10 Pretty Little Trouble
11 I Was On (the Bozo Show)

Release: September 21, 2010

Label: Goner Records

Midheaven Description: Hail! Hail! America’s favorite loopily leporine rock ‘n’ roller, Nobunny, is back with a new album, First Blood, and it’s his catchiest batch of tunes yet. The melodious masked man kicks it off with “Ain’t It a Shame,” a bittersweet tale of a rocky romance in which Nobunny’s lover has no choice but to endure his frequent indiscretions. He’s just that damned charming. “Blow Dumb” is a Velvet-y tribute to all the things that make life worth livin’–“smokin’ Copenhagen,” make-out sessions and “burger breaks.” In fact, First Blood never overstays its welcome and lasts about as long as a particularly adventurous mid-party burger run.  “(Do the) Fuck Yourself” immediately jumps to the top of the list of onanistic rock songs along with the Who’s “Pictures of Lily,” Devo’s “Praying Hands” and the Gizmos’ “Pumpin’ to Playboy.” Have fun trying not to sing this infectious little number in inappropriate situations. Sure, we all know that Nobunny can deliver a raunchy, good-times number like no one else, but can our floppy-eared fop get sophisticated? Let the contemplative vibe and beautiful strings on “Breathe” answer that. “Live It Up” is the most optimistic of a collection of upbeat songs. Nobunny is so happy, he makes the 1910 Fruitgum Co. sound like Joy Division. On “I Was On (The Bozo Show),” Nobunny dreamily recalls a moment from his childhood where he actually shared the stage with the late, great clown-god Larry Harmon. In under half an hour, Nobunny goes through every worthy rock ‘n’ roll subgenre–bubblegum pop, garage, rockabilly and psych–and still beautifully articulates every single human emotion with ease.