Been wondering what Harlem has been doing lately? Well drummer/guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Curtis Omara has this cool band, Grape St. Harlem people will dig it and it definitely has a different perspective on things than Harlem (albeit in a minor way).
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)
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.
Bands: Erland & The Carnival, Paul Weller Venue: Apollo Theater Date: November 6, 2010
Act One – Erland & The Carnival – A very respectable UK folk/post-punk revivalist group. As Erland said, they were simply warming up the stage for Weller. With that said, their set was quite modest in length — not more than thirty minutes — but very effective. They reminded me of a more eclectic/James Bond theme music version of Editors. When they jammed, they jammed. I found myself recognizing a number of their tunes from the video of the gig they posted on their MySpace page.
Act Two – Paul Weller – Over the past several months, I’ve gained much more appreciation for the Modfather. It was a quite a treat to see him perform last night at the historic Apollo Theater. Weller has quite a catalog to choose from in selecting his night’s set-list. Last night, he incorporated a bunch of tunes from 2010’s Wake up the Nation. What made up the rest was a fine variety of relatively recent material, a little bit older stuff, and classic Jam and Style Council tunes. The sound was excellent. The aid of two keyboardists/effects performers and an extra rhythm guy contributed greatly to Weller’s backing. What I love about Weller is when he really rocks out. The drum solo in “One Bright Star” and the pure magic of “All I Wanna Do” were just some of the many highlights. Weller gave off the impression at the end of his second encore that the near sold-out crowd would be back to hear him for a second time in a row the next night. Those people are in for a double dose treat.
1. “Aim High”
2. “Into Tomorrow”
3. “7 to 3 is the Striker’s Name”
4. “Pretty Green”
5. “From the Floorboards Up”
6. All I Wanna Do (Is Be With You)”
7. “Sea Spray
8. “Paper Chase”
10. “No Tears to Cry”
11. “Shout To The Top”
13. “How Sweet It Is”
14. “One Bright Star”
16. “Fast Car Slow Traffic”
18. “Echoes on the Sun”
19. “Wild Wood
20. “Broken Stones”
21. “Pieces of a Dream”
22. “Wake up the Nation”
23. “Art School”
24. “Come On, Let’s Go”
25. “The Changingman”
26. “Porcelain Gods”
Bands: Fergus & Geronimo, K-Holes, Cerebral Ballzy, Black Lips Venue: The Shank Date: November 6, 2010
Comments on the Venue: Where do I even begin? I just want to clear something up, first. Hipsters, individually, are not necessary bad people. Talking to a few of them and sort of mocking them (“Are shows in a big warehouse the new thing?”), I realized there are some good apples in the bunch. Not so much for the case for the hoi polloi of Williamsburg hipsters. Damn, these people suck so much! As Rich said, they are people with a lot of money, but love to act like they don’t have any. These hipsters wait in long lines for port-a-potties and $4 beer. Making loads of money off of the cheapest brands of beer is suddenly relevant. These people have no respect for the bands and care solely about themselves. Shocker! The venue itself was the complete opposite of the Apollo. I didn’t expect some first-rate DIY “soundspace”, but…this?! Every process after the most basic (checking IDs, buying tickets) was actually pretty laughable. There are shit-loads of people just standing around, smoking whatever they feel like. In front of the stage are hipsters yelling at each other and pushing each other. The stage itself is pretty legit, but the sound system is quite awful.
Act One, Two, and Three – I wasn’t really paying attention much to any of these bands. Fergus & Geronimo sounded really good. I caught the tail end of their set. K-Holes were the same K-Holes I saw in July and August. Cerebral Ballzy sounded not so good, but I couldn’t really hear them all that well from where I was standing.
Act Four – Black Lips – After avoiding the pit area for a while, I made up my mind. I was going to stand in front like I usually do. The moment Black Lips come on, they sound-check jammed to something that sounded like “Stone Cold.” A soft rocker to test out the waters. This was all well and good. They then got the night going with “MIA,” the frantic opener from excellent live album Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo. After that was a new song. After that was “Make It,” “O Katrina,” and another new song. “Make It” and “Katrina” were both listenable and very well played. This was a good thing. It was very down-hill from here. A bunch of idiots stormed the stage after like five minutes and, like on the boat cruise, all the amps became unplugged. Jared’s microphone also fell from its stand multiple times. Some asshole started talking into it all the while Jared thought it was still there. The Lips ad-libbed, while the sound “crew” was trying to fix things, a cover of Elvis’ “He Touched Me.” Parts of “Dirty Hands,” “Ain’t No Deal,” and “Fairy Stories” were played. Keep in mind “parts.” Nothing was complete about the Lips set. I blame it on the “fans”…these self-righteous douche-bags who wanted all the attention. At least the Lips got paid $10,000 to play this shit-show. The second to last song was “Sea of Blasphemy,” which almost was a valiant attempt for them to restart their set…except it was the second-to-last sosng. You know shit has gone wrong when I think “Bad Kids” is “Ghetto Cross” for a complete minute. Damn, son.
Comments: How did I not hear about this one? I don’t know! “LSD Saves” is a psychedelic (shocking for Harlem, I know!) rock and roller that sounds quite like a Brit invasion oldie or something. It’s quick and fun.. as driving fast on acid while getting your wing-wang squeezed. “Mood Ring” isn’t quite on the same level of “LSD,” but it’s vintage Harlem. You know? It’s cool.
Here’s the video that Glen linked to earlier by Justin Kelly. Might as well, just post it here lol. Notice the cameos! Speaking of which, I read somewhere that Hunx and Harlem will be touring together, what an excellent fusion.
A great review as usual from Anthony, but seriously a 7?! I have absolutely no problem with him dishing out sevens I just do not understand how he comes up with that grade when 90% of what he said was above average. I was expecting more of an 8, considering a 7 usually means average, ohh well. I agree with him that some of the tracks are weak and could definitely use some truncating. Also I dig the appreciation for “Someday Soon,” indeed a fantastic musical/lyrical moment and one of the better album openers I have heard.
Harlem, you know that really awesome band from Texas who Chris and I saw at Great Scott just short of a month ago, will be back in these parts in a couple of months. July 14, to be exact, at the House of Blues. No, no, no. I know what you are thinking. They couldn’t even draw a sold-out GS crowd, so any chance of them headlining a 1,000 capacity venue seems moot, don’t you think? Right. They will be opening for the perfectly average hard-rock/blues outfit Dead Weather. Fellow KLYAMer Matt will be presumably in attendance and he’ll be in for a treat. In a summer void of great concerts, I’d probably go to this one. BUT it’s $29 bucks and $29 for a quickie set from Harlem (fuck they only played 25 minutes at GS as headliner) is a bit much.