Ok all, we are now on Christmas break. Thanks to the over 7.3 million people that visited Kingblind.com online or via our mobile apps in 2010.. See you all in January! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !
Archive for December, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Kingblind.com Christmas Break
KINGBLIND’S TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2010 (5 to Numero Uno)
Here is what you have all been waiting for. The top 15 albums of 2010. Broken down into 3 parts. (15 thru 11) – (10 thru 6) -(5 to 1)
Today we present our final batch.. So enjoy numbers 5 through 1..
It’s been a great year for music, See you again in January!
5) The Black Keys – Brothers
Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers. The studio, not to mention the artwork patterned after such disregarded Chess psychedelic-era relics as This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, are good indications that the tough blues band of the Black Keys earliest records is back, but the group hasn’t forgotten what they’ve learned in their inwardly psychedelic mid-period.Brothers still can get mighty trippy — the swirling chintzy organ that circles “The Only One,” the Baroque harpsichord flair of “Too Afraid to Love You” — but the album is built with blood and dirt, so its wilder moments remain gritty without being earthbound. Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness — the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums — is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at as they twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, or approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” and follow it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover. And that’s the great thing about the Black Keys in general and Brothers in particular: the past and present intermingle so thoroughly that they blur, yet there’s no affect, just three hundred pounds of joy.
4) LCD SOUNDSYSTEM- This Is Happening
Following up Sound of Silver was never going to be easy for LCD Soundsystem. There was so much positive reaction from music fans, the press, from everywhere, really, that almost any move James Murphy made was bound to be seen as inferior, or at the very least, flawed in some way. To his credit, he doesn’t try to do anything dramatically different on This Is Happening. There are no attempts to hit the top of the charts (a point made crystal clear in the song “You Wanted a Hit”); conversely, there are no attempts to dirty up the sound or make it more challenging. There are no radically new elements added to the LCD sound, nothing subtracted either. Murphy is definitely a savvy enough musician to know when things have gotten stale and need to be changed up; he at some point must have decided (correctly) that the time for a reboot hadn’t arrived yet for LCD. Another record of long, dancefloor friendly disco-fied jams mixed with punchy rockers and paced with a couple introspective midtempo ballads is still perfectly acceptable, especially when it’s as tightly arranged, energetically played, and thoughtfully constructed as Happening is. Murphy’s highly skilled production is all over the record, from the squelchy layers of synths, the dry punch of the drums, and the tricks and surprises that bring the songs to life, to the way he makes it sound like a live band when it’s just him (though there are the occasional people helping out, most notably Nancy Whang on backing vocals). And while there isn’t a song as staggeringly emotional as Silver’s “All My Friends,” or as simply and heartfelt as its N.Y.C. tribute “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down,” Murphy continues to expand as a songwriter and lyricist. He’s still the master of deadly zingers (“Eat it Michael Musto/You’re no Bruce Vilanch”) and hilarious streams of lyrical gems (all of “Drunk Girls”), but songs like the nakedly emotional “I Can Change” (which includes the sweetly romantic plea for someone to “bore me and hold me and cling to my arm”) and the insistently melancholy “Somebody’s Calling Me” show continued growth and impressive range. Of course, if you aren’t all that interested in lyrics, artistic growth, and feelings, you can just crank up songs like “One Touch,” “Pow Wow,” or “Home” real loud and dance. At heart,Murphy remains a dance music producer and these tracks reveal him at the top of his game.This Is Happening doesn’t quite reach the monumental heights of Sound of Silver, but it serves as an almost-there companion and further proof that LCD Soundsystem is one of the most exciting and interesting bands around in the 2000s.
3) SPOON- Transference
You can’t help but grin at this self-produced seventh offering from the indie stalwarts, who came awfully close to hitting the mainstream with their 2007 album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and have now retreated to a perfect distillation of the Spoon sound: steady staccato rhythms, occasional guitar bursts, and the wry vocals of frontman Britt Daniel. It may pretty much lack any semblance of conventional verse-chorus-verse structure, but for those who find the metronomic abstractions of this band soothing,Transference is exactly what you crave, unadorned.
2) SLEIGH BELLS- Treats
It’s worth noting that Derek Miller, the multi-instrumentalist who is one-half of Sleigh Bells, cut his chops in the seminal Florida hardcore act Poison the Well. Worth noting for those already attuned to the considerable hype surrounding Treats, because that band’s 2003 release, You Before You, is one of the heaviest and downright strangest records ever to come out on a major label, and it would right a sad oversight if Miller’s recent critical currency found it a new audience. But his hardcore roots should be plastered across the cover of Treats for the sake of all newcomers too, who might believe critics when they bill Sleigh Bells as an electro-pop/dance act. Not that those labels are wrong, but buyer beware: Passion Pit this is not.
When it comes to high-decibel dance-rock carnage, no one does it quite like Sleigh Bells. The international underground scene surrounding acts like Crystal Castles and Fuck Buttons has encouraged electronic musicians to seek inspiration in rock music’s more ear-splitting environs, but even so, electro-pop has never sounded this furiously kinetic. The searing finale to “Infinity Guitars,” the ruthless atonal chug of “Crown on the Ground,” and at least a half dozen other moments on Treats could chew straight through Justice’s amp-frying arena rave.
The whole affair is over and done within one visceral half-hour, which means Miller and his conspirator, vocalist Alexis Krauss, don’t have a minute to waste. So they don’t even squander a second. “Tell ‘Em,” is the best album opener I’ve heard all year, with Miller’s heavy metal guitar riffs soaring right over the stop-stuttered bazooka beats and syncopated snaps, while Krauss slant-rhymes “Drink champagne” with “Do your best today,” centered, aloof, and poised amid Miller’s blustering sonic hurricane. As a call to the dance floor, mosh pit, or wherever it is that folks from your scene get down, it’s undeniable. Closing track “Treats” cribs as much from Sabbath as the opener does from Maiden, but there’s a lot more to Miller’s box of tricks than hard rock idolatry. For one thing, he’s as capable behind his laptop as he is with a six-string, as demonstrated by the rumbling electro-clash synths on “Rachel” or the rubbery dub-step beats that push “Run the Heart” along.
Miller might be the group’s genius soundsmith, but Krauss is at least his equal as an entertainer. Her vocals range as freely in their influences as Miller’s riffs and beats, borrowing cadences and sing-songy melodies from the likes of ’80s hip-hop, jump-rope rhymes, and vintage girl-group pop. On “Rill, Rill,” she doesn’t rap, but the airy confidence with which she sings over a sample from Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” hearkens back to the old-school rap game, when MCs would rhyme over classic soul and funk samples, emphasizing stylish entertainment over chest-thumping athleticism. Her charming lyrics about schoolgirl anxieties over boyfriends and braces, not to mention her appealing flow on “Kids,” suggest a spiritual sisterhood with the Go! Team’s similarly likeable frontwoman, Ninja.
Still, talking about the album this way, with the individual ideas and performances dissected for close scrutiny, does the album a disservice. Ninety percent of what makes Treats the exhilarating, inexhaustibly repeatable listen that is comes from the dynamic interplay between the component parts. In that respect, Treats recalls one of last year’s much-lauded debuts: the xx’s xx. Like those British upstarts, Miller and Krauss have a knack for making the smallest variations on their sound come across as revelations, a gift for subtle dynamism which gives its most gratifying payout when, already seven thrilling cuts deep, you realize that Sleigh Bells has saved their five best songs for last. “Straight A’s” sounds like the Yeah Yeahs Yeahs covering Lightning Bolt, but “A/B Machines” sounds like absolutely nothing else: It’s a seamless, three-minute mash-up of three decades’ worth of underground music from no wave to grime, but it doesn’t sound like someone’s idea of an art project. It just rocks, making serrated guitar leads and groovy synths sound like the most natural of combinations.
Which is maybe the coolest thing about Treats: Even though it’s as ambitious an exercise in freeform genre-splicing and pure, amp-blowing volume as has been attempted in the past few years, it’s always at least as fun as it is smart, taking the three great pillars of guilty-pleasure music (deafening arena-rock swagger, sugary pop hooks, and delirious dance beats) and rolling them together into a singularly appealing cacophony. Which means it’s no surprise that Treats is a giddy delight on the first listen. And for listeners afraid that music so dependent on its sense of immediacy won’t hold up after a few months of listening, I say go ahead and try ’em: If it’s Sleigh Bells’s hooks versus your ear drums, I have a feeling the latter’s going to give out first.
1) Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
Perennially underrated during OutKast’s heyday, Big Boi has seen his profile dip further in the four years since the duo’s last release. Now safely landed on a new label after an extended stay in industry limbo, the Atlanta rapper is back with a stunningly realized solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty.
The pressure to swing for surefire pop hits after all those delays must have been immense. Instead, Big Boi summons the restless risk-taking spirit of OutKast’s most essential work, yielding a richer set than his half of their 2003 double album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Ready with a nimble flow no matter the backdrop, he touts his high-flying party life over bombastic opera (”General Patton”), chrome-bright electro (”Shutterbugg”), wiggly funk (”Follow Us”), and anything else that comes his way. Guest verses and hooks from stylistic heirs like Janelle Monáe, T.I., and Gucci Mane enhance the disc’s contemporary cred but never outshine its central star.
OutKast’s Andre 3000, meanwhile, appears only as a producer (the vertebrae-rattling ”You Ain’t No DJ”), reportedly due to further music-biz mishegoss. It’s a regrettable absence. But the fact that this album feels so complete even without any words from his old partner reinforces just what peak form Big Boi is in. A fantastic album and our number 1 album of 2010!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Don Van Vliet, ‘Captain Beefheart,’ Dies at 69
Don Van Vliet, an artist of protean creativity who was known as Captain Beefheart during his days as an influential rock musician and who later led a reclusive life as a painter, died Friday. He was 69 and lived in Trinidad, Calif. The cause was complications of multiple sclerosis, said Gordon VeneKlasen, a partner at the Michael Werner gallery in New York, where Mr. Van Vliet had shown his art, many of them abstract, colorful oils, since 1985. The gallery said he died in a hospital in Northern California. Captain Beefheart’s music career stretched from 1966 to 1982, and from straight rhythm and blues by way of the early Rolling Stones to music that sounded like a strange uncle of post-punk. He is probably best known for “Trout Mask Replica,” a double album from 1969 with his Magic Band.
A bolt-from-the-blue collection of precise, careening, surrealist songs with clashing meters, brightly imagistic poetry and raw blues shouting, “Trout Mask Replica” had particular resonance with the punk and new wave generation to come a decade later, influencing bands like Devo, the Residents, Pere Ubu and the Fall.
Mr. Van Vliet’s life story is caked with half-believable tales, some of which he himself spread in Dadaist, elliptical interviews. He claimed he had never read a book and had never been to school, and answered questions with riddles. “We see the moon, don’t we?” he asked in a 1969 interview. “So it’s our eye. Animals see us, don’t they? So we’re their animals.”
The facts, or those most often stated, are that he was born on Jan. 15, 1941, in Glendale, Calif., as Don Vliet. (He added the “Van” in 1965.) His father, Glen, drove a bakery truck.
Don demonstrated artistic talent before the age of 10, especially in sculpture, and at 13 was offered a scholarship to study sculpture in Europe, but his parents forbade him. Concurrently, they moved to the Mojave Desert town of Lancaster, where one of Don’s high school friends was Frank Zappa.
His adopted vocal style came partly from Howlin’ Wolf: a deep, rough-riding moan turned up into swooped falsettos at the end of lines, pinched and bellowing and sounding as if it caused pain.
“When it comes to capturing the feeling of archaic, Delta-style blues,” Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote in 1982, “he is the only white performer who really gets it right.”
He enrolled at Antelope Valley Junior College to study art in 1959 but dropped out after one semester. By the early 1960s he had started spending time in Cucamonga, Calif., in Zappa’s studio. The two men worked on what was perhaps the first rock opera (still unperformed and unpublished), “I Was a Teenage Maltshop,” and built sets and wrote some of the script for a film to be titled “Captain Beefheart vs. the Grunt People.”
The origins of Mr. Van Vliet’s stage name are unclear, but he told interviewers later in life that he used it because he had “a beef in my heart against this society.”
By 1965 a quintet called Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (the “his” was later changed to “the”) was born. By the end of the year the band was playing at teenage fairs and car-club dances around Lancaster and signed by A&M Records to record two singles. The rest as they say is history.. Captain, you will be missed.
Friday, December 17, 2010
KINGBLIND’S TOP 15 ALBUMS OF 2010 (#10-#6)
Here is what you have all been waiting for. The top 15 albums of 2010. Broken down into 3 parts. (15 thru 11) – (10 thru 6) -(5 to 1)
Today we present our second batch.. So enjoy numbers 10 through 6..
10) Gorillaz- Plastic Beach
The year is 2001. Commercialism in music has reached a fever pitch. Corporation-designed music groups like the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, and Destiny’s Child have all topped recent Billboard charts. The tug of war between digital music consumers and media conglomerates is in its infancy. The initial Internet explosion, which made millionaires out of college dropouts in the ‘90s, is only a fading spark. MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter (and the dreaded return of tapered jeans to fashion) are only distant rest stops on the road to come.
In the middle of all this is born the self-titled debut album from a virtual band composed of a ragtag quartet of computer-animated anti-superheroes playing a unique, infectious mishmash of hip-hop, rock, and electronic music—the popular music styles of the day.
And so we were introduced to Gorillaz, the brainchild of rock musician Damon Albarn of Blur fame and Tank Girl cartoonist Jamie Hewlett. On the surface, Gorillaz was a project that quaked with the commercialism of the day. Was it a subversive artistic declaration on the state of music? Was it a blatant attempt to sell records? Was it the first significant Internet-ready commercial exploit of the 21st century? These questions, which the Gorillaz’ debut elicited to varying degrees from music fans, are what made the band such a successful experiment and what led me at the time to join the masses in hailing the group as the future of music.
It is now nearly a decade later and the future of music has arrived. The Gorillaz’ debut effort, of which over seven million copies have been sold, did indeed foreshadow much that has happened in music over the last nine years: the increasing reliance on Internet media, including video, games, and social networking, to promote bands; the melding of hip-hop, rock, and electronic elements in pop music; and the collaborative nature of modern commercial album production.
While much in music has changed since their 2001 debut, Gorillaz, now with the release of their third full-length LP, Plastic Beach, have essentially stayed the same. The band is no longer the future of music. Indeed, 2D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle—the band’s animated members—are simply purveyors of the craft they originally developed, which is practiced today by countless other artists. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, the Gorillaz stand head and shoulders above most of their progeny and have further perfected their art on Plastic Beach. The album includes even more great collaborations than its predecessors—Lou Reed, Mos Def, and Bobby Womack are just a few of the guest artists and this time around, the band’s trademark brand of electro-funk-hip-pop is more focused, with tighter production and more sure-fire hooks. Also, Plastic Beach continues Gorillaz’ tradition of utilizing animation and technology to great effect—the centerpiece of the group’s Web site is an adventure video game featuring band members, each band member stars in a YouTube album teaser, and there’s a music video in which a maniacal Bruce Willis engages in a crazy desert car chase with the group. All that being said, Gorillaz, by remaining “virtually” the same, are no longer in a position to make any grand artistic statements about commercialism in art. Instead, the band’s creators seem content to rest on their very real—not virtual—laurels.
Plastic Beach contains some of the best Gorillaz’ songs to date and is the best place to start if you’ve never heard the band. The album’s first single, “Stylo”, is a ‘70s-esque electro funk gem featuring Mos Def’s understated rhyming and Womack’s soul crooning. “On Melancholy Hill” takes a page out the Pet Shop Boys’ book with blissful, fuzzed-out pop that would sound perfectly at home in the ‘80s. The warm fuzzies continue on “Broken”, which contains some of the album’s best production. Enjoyable chill-out ballad “Empire Ants”, with a heavy trip-hop swizzle stirred in, borrows from the playbook of bedroom electronica producers like Moby and Mylo. “Some Kind of Nature”, perhaps the most intriguing collaboration on the album, juxtaposes Lou Reed’s trademark halting talk-singing with Albarn’s syrupy sweet harmonies over a buzzing hip-hop beat.
As with its predecessors, and most albums that contain such a large cadre of collaborators, Plastic Beach sounds uneven on occasion. The introductory track, which features a full orchestra, comes off as pretentious and superfluous with Albarn flaunting the now-immense resources at his disposal. And “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach”, the theme song of the album, with guest rapper Snoop Dogg, comes off more as adolescent play than satire.
Fortunately, Plastic Beach‘s weaknesses are few and far between. Overall, while the album isn’t an artistic triumph or grand satirical gesture, it is an enjoyable ride and is the best place to start if you just want a taste of Albarn’s post-Blur musical prowess and Hewlett’s animation wizardry. Gorillaz are no longer the revolutionary squad they once were: the band that rejected a Mercury Award nomination, shared the stage with Madonna at the Grammy Awards, and promised us an eye-opening full-length motion picture is long gone. In its place is an entertaining multimedia product and a reminder of a time when four music-making cartoon characters had the potential to raise eyebrows and wreak political mayhem.
9) SURFER BLOOD – ASTRO COAST
Surfer Blood are JP Pitts, Tyler Schwarz, Thomas Fekete and Brian Black, four men in their early twenties from Palm Beach, Florida. No surfers themselves, despite their band’s name, the music that they produce does nonetheless seem, on some level, informed by the ocean besides which they grew up.
Titles like Floating Vibes, Swim and indeed the album title Astro Coast undoubtedly reference the seaside. More than that though, the music itself has, in large part, an open-hearted, summery vibe that conjures days spent hanging out on the beach in the sun. The musical elephant in the room of course is the (nowadays seemingly near-obligatory) Beach Boys influence. This is heard most strongly on the terrific future single Swim – expansive, wonderstruck, lush and lovely. Echoes of the Wilson brothers et al can also be heard on Slow Jabroni and closing track Catholic Rangers.
But this is a band that has a lot more going for them. Their fiendish way with a tune is demonstrated from the off with the cracking opener Floating Vibes. Its catchy melody, served on a bed of mellow guitars and sweet background harmonies, actually recalls the college-rock 1990s more than the 1960s. Anchorage too is a tale of small town Slackerdom that is more Reality Bites than Surfin’ Safari. Decades meet and merge on Twin Peaks, part British Invasion vocals, part Times New Viking or No Agenoise from nowadays. It is also, along with Take It Easy, one of two tracks featuring afrobeat-style guitar: appropriately upbeat and cheery.
Lyrics are often romantic: “I need you in the here and now”, “Dreaming of your warming touch”, or Catholic Dragon’s lovely “When I met you I broke the mould / I fell apart and combed my hair”. Other themes are more downbeat, like Harmonix’s plaintive “We could have been the best of friends / Now I’ll never see this place again”, or Fast Jabroni’s “We can find a hole to crawl into”. But this is music where the words mostly play second fiddle to the sounds in which they are couched – a sound equal parts mellow and dissonant guitars, the occasional bit of psychedelia or afrobeat, a few incidental shimmering synths from time to time. The vocal is good-natured and optimistic sounding too – still more reason to warm to this most likeable of music.
The album is strewn with highlights. The aforementioned Floating Vibes and Swim; Twin Peaks’ tale of relationship woe and TV; Anchorage – all jarring chords, cymbals and early-twenties small town angst. Catholic Pagans too is great, and a lovely way to close an album: sweet but not cloying, honest, tuneful and touching. The band are least enjoyable on the more downbeat numbers. The melancholia of Harmonix seems to sit less successfully with the band’s sound, and Slow Jabroni too is a serious song: “Take some time to figure it out” they implore gravely, in a manner that (just slightly) jars with the rest of the album.
Yet with a timely June release, and a recent presence at events like Barcelona’s Primavera Sound and the Pavement-curated ATP, Surfer Blood have made an archetypal “soundtrack for summer” album. Its youthful sense of noise and joy and wonder are heartening, its way with a tune addictive. Would that all summers were as warm, as happy and as big-hearted as this music.
8) Sufjan Stevens- The Age of Adz
After abandoning his much-touted 50 States project (in which he was going to write one album about every American state), Sufjan Stevens has presented us with The Age Of Adz, a nearly complete about-face to his former shtick that has more in common with 2001’s Enjoy Your Rabbit than anything from Illinois or Michigan.
Let’s start with the fact that opener “Futile Devices” and the “John Wayne Gacy”-esque “Vesuvius” are pretty much the only tunes here resembling the Stevens of yore. Right after “Futile Devices,” you’re hit with the almost entirely electronic “Too Much,” which is full of synthesizers and bleeps and bloops.
If anyone else had done this, it would have been the kind of jarringly schizophrenic turn that would have immediately destroyed an album. But Stevens somehow gets it right. The trick is the tune also happens to be backed by sweeping orchestral arrangements, making it familiar enough to his listeners that it’s not going to alienate anyone.
The push and pull between old and new (orchestra and electronics, that is) continues throughout the album, and it’s pretty easy to see why Stevens named it after a painting by schizophrenic artist Royal Robertson. The Age Of Adz’ best moment, though, is the 25-minute (yes, you read that right) “Impossible Soul.”
That closing track turns Stevens’ two most recent studio albums on their heads and features what might just be the only acceptable use of Auto-Tune to date, at a time when it’s become ostracized and made a pariah in the business.
One might argue the presence of this track pushes The Age Of Adz over the top and is entirely unnecessary, but the thing is… it kind of sums the entire disc up. It’s like the final piece of a puzzle; if it wasn’t there, there would be a big, gaping hole at the end of “I Want To Be Well.”
With The Age Of Adz, Stevens has successfully reinvented himself and done what few in the indie rock scene are doing these days: he’s made an album that’s actually an interesting listen.
7) Deerhunter- Halcyon Digest
Deerhunter have become masters of the gentle 180. They regularly take themselves in completely new directions, all the while staying completely recognizable. Maybe it’s the elegantly simple, fuzzed out guitar interplay of Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt, maybe its Cox’s floating, ethereal falsetto or every band member’s unparalleled ability to do a lot with a little. It’s incredibly difficult to pin down, and maybe it’s that implacability that makes them great. They can record albums that are clear homages yet manage to sound brand new, but with Halcyon Digest they have ceased with the tributes and finally embraced the core of their sound, the basic influences Cox has discussed for years. 50’s and 60’s pop is fully embraced and wrapped in shoegaze fuzz, Cox’s stream of consciousness lyrics have never been better, and the always creative and locked in rhythm section of Moses Archeluta and Josh Fauver is the best it’s ever been.
The album is far less immediate than their preceding masterpiece, Microcastle/Weird Era Cont., and opener Earthquake brings them closer to Cox’s Atlas Sound project than they’ve ever come before. It’s a slower, more contemplative song that sets the stage for a slower, more contemplative album. Earthquakeis simplistic and beautiful, with waves of guitar noise washing over the song and then retreating.
The album then fully realizes the sounds first explored on Rainwater Cassette Exchange, bringing in jangly, fuzzed out pop with Memory Boy and Revival. They’re pure 1960’s pop, and I’d call them album highlights, but that would be frivolous on an album full of them. I’d be typing “album highlight” after every song I discuss. It’s a series of stunningly gorgeous pop songs; it takes the peaceful, relaxed feel of Atlas Sound and improves on in ten fold. That’s not an easy task, but it should be of no surprise that Deerhunter managed it.
They’ve never disappointed before, and why should they start now? Desire Lines takes Nothing Ever Happened and strips away the noise, leaving the beautiful, simple shell, with Pundt’s enchanting vocal melodies and Cox’s angelic backing vocals wrapped in psychedelic guitar work. Desire Lines is the centerpiece of the most pleasant listening experience of the year, and one of the best. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for two weeks now, and I’ve yet to find a flaw. It’s Deerhunter’s second masterpiece in a row, and most natural record, a one-two punch for the books. They’ve established themselves as one of the best bands in the world, and I can only see them getting better. Halcyon Digest goes by like a breeze, and when it’s finished there’s nothing better to do than play it again.
6) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
You barely detect it at first, but something miraculous happens on Arcade Fire’s revelatory third album. The songs breathe — occasionally in long exhales, sometimes in staccato gasps. It’s a surprise given the Montreal septet’s previous predilections for tightly wound indie-rock that carries the weight of the world on its shoulders. The band’s 2004 debut, “Funeral,’’ focused on loss and grief, and “Neon Bible,’’ its epic follow-up three years later, suggested the apocalypse was upon us.
While those albums looked in the rear-view mirror, “The Suburbs’’ fixates on the future in a broad exploration of how where we’re from directs where we’re going. On the title track, a mother wants “a daughter while I’m still young/ I want to hold her hand/ Show her some beauty/ Before this damage is done.’’ On “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains),’’ singer Régine Chassagne laments how we’re “living in sprawl, dead shopping malls.’’
The music, too, cracks open in wide and unexpected ways, from chamber rock (“Empty Room’’) to synth pop [“Half Light II (No Celebration)’’] to ’80s post-punk (“Month of May’’). Frontman Win Butler has had a tendency to steamroll Arcade Fire’s songs with an agitated vocal delivery just shy of screaming, “We’re all gonna die!’’ He’s more measured and intuitive here, finding his place in the songs rather than driving them. It’s clear that in Arcade Fire’s world, the suburbs — no matter how suffocating — are simply a microcosm for society at large
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Kingblind’s Top 15 Albums of 2010 (15-11)
Here is what you have all been waiting for. The top 15 albums of 2010. Broken down into 3 parts. (15 thru 11) – (10 thru 6) -(5 to 1)
Today we will start our first batch.. So enjoy numbers 15 through 11..
15) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- Before Today
Surely even normal kids growing up in Hollywood must, at times, feel like they’re missing out on something – transplant the most mundane memories from your youth to a town 20 car minutes south of those famous cinema hills, with all their fun and iconography, and imagine the envy and frustration that’d rot at your gut whenever you had to spend the night at home alone babysitting. Ariel Pink, aka Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, grew up in Pico-Robertson, a town of aforementioned ilk, and his first memories of pop music came from the radio he’d hear every day driving to Beverley Hills High School. Without wanting to play dumb Freud, it’s rewarding to view Pink’s arrival at this point in his recording career through the filter of his Hollywood childhood, and all the associations with Alicia Silverstone’s emerald green eyes the phrase conjures up.
Before Today is supposed to be Ariel Pink’s breakthrough album. Primarily that’s because it was made in a real studio, paid for by a real label with real money – ’til now, all of his music has emerged from his bedroom, where’d he kneel to record albums like The Doldrums and House Arrest, much of the time playing ‘the drums’ with his mouth. These albums sounded like retreat into an own world – they were covered in a thick film of lo-fi noise hum and melodies were evasive, often flitting and strafing through that fuzz as if an infant was mad with control of a car’s AM radio dial. Fortunately, they were also insanely good records – the extent of Pink’s pop nous has been clear for a while now, and much of Before Today does sound like an unleashing of that, particularly lead single Round and Round with its 10cc-recalling synths and bassline stolen from Sade’s Hang On To Your Love. The album’s highpoint arrives in its first bridge, as Ariel ‘answers the phone’ amid guitar waft that sounds like billowing net curtains on a hot summer’s day.
Other highlights arrive in the 70s Bowie funk snark of opener Hot Body Rub, Bright Lit Blue Skies’ quietly euphoric pop radio charge, L’estat’s synth whirl and Reminiscences’ pleasant, aquatic drift. In fact, every track on this superb album is a winner – and, draped in the quiet glamour, fun and stateliness of bygone radio pop-rock, evidence that Ariel has emerged from his bedroom to exact his revenge on Hollywood’s Hills.
14) Tame Impala- Innerspeaker
Tame Impala is a four-piece band from Perth, Australia, that recently released its first LP, Innerspeaker–a collection of airy, groove-based psychedelic rock songs.
Drawing heavily from the psychedelic revivalists of the late ’80s–bands like the Stone Roses, Sun Dial and Happy Mondays–while also pulling from classic-rock acts such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Cream, Tame Impala sculpt a familiar sound with modern sensibilities. Reverb-drenched vocals, blissed-out guitars, pulsing drum beats and pleasant spaciousness catapult the band into ethereal territory without ever comprising their sense of origin. Tame Impala doesn’t aim for intensity, instead opting for expansiveness and texture. Songs like “Alter Ego,” “Solitude is Bliss” and “I Don’t Really Mind” sway and morph in a very subtle manner. The lyrics mostly meditate on enhanced consciousness, at times coming off as too conspicuous, like on “Lucidity”: “Lucidity come back to me / Put all five senses back to where they’re meant to be / Wandering around like spare time never knew it / I might suck fizzle or I might just float away.” The album flows along with exceptional continuity, each song setting the stage for the next. The long instrumental “Jeremy’s Storm” is stacked with sonic ear candy and interesting bits that become more apparent with each listen. The seven-minute “Runway, Houses, City, Clouds” is arguably the highlight of the album–a rollicking, fervent piece of music that weaves through a range of movements and peaks that will make you happy you went for the ride.
13) Liars- Sisterworld
You are already living in a dystopia. The grind of work, imagined nocturnal terrors and urban paranoia. And what are we offered to help us cope? Every town centre is buried beneath the same retailer neon.
But we also have ‘Sisterworld’ Liars’ fifth album was inspired by Angus Andrew’s return to the US from Berlin. Settling with his bandmates in Los Angeles, Andrew became fascinated by the contrast between the violence he encountered on a day-to-day basis and the white-toothed grin of the City Of Angels’ culture of optimism. The trio have always written albums that create worlds to pose questions: this time they ask how the hell do we find a sense of solace in the face of this horror?
The answer is formed in the shape of one of the nastiest, cleverest and strangest albums you’re going to hear this year. While the contemporary vogue in American music is for washes of euphoria and the pretty, carefree beat, ‘Sisterworld’ is an axe slicing through the neck of an ostrich that has its head buried deeply in the sand. Always known for their constant reinvention and a love of percussive brutalism,‘Sisterworld’ is built awkwardly from constituent parts that clash against each other, creating tension and eventual violent sparks. Therefore each track represents a different element of the LA dichotomy:‘Scissor’ has the terror of failure to save a loved one depicted by yomping riffs and Liars’ first, and superbly integrated, use of strings and piano. In ‘Here Comes All The People’ violin and abstract twanging noise backs Angus’ musing on “counting victims one by one” before a suffocating riff spirals down. ‘The Overachievers’’ Nirvana-esque caterwaul is as scathing as its lyrical evisceration of the middle class yippies who think that weed and a bio car is the right-on response to LA’s harshness. In ‘Proud Evolution’ Liarsreflect the relentlessness of city life with a nodding beat and background hums. Best is the album’s astounding fulcrum, ‘Scarecrows On A Killer Slant’, which sounds like an electrical substation disintegrating and posits a scum-clearing revenge fantasy: “How can they be saved from the way they live every day?” The answer? “Stand them in the street with the gun AND THEN KILL THEM ALL”.
But it’d be a big mistake to interpret the unsettling musical attitude and Angus Andrew’s at times despairing vocals for nihilism. It might be, in these times, that ‘Sisterworld’ is too aggressive a record for ears grown overly sensitive from a diet of drippy musical platitudes, but the key to opening the ‘Sisterworld’ is to realise that escapism isn’t just about raising arms to the god of sonic hedonism: it’s about confronting reality, giving it a violent shake and moving on. When your nightbus home is beset by phantasmagorical drunkards with beady, threatening eyes, when your ears are bashed by mendacious line managers and eyes beset by the violence of news/advert/news, then this incredible album is your passport to a better place.
12) Swans- My Father will guide me up a rope to the sky
For being little more than a blip in rock music’s ever-developing history, the impact of No Wave’s short and abrasive smear across New York’s art scene is a continued and seminal presence heard in many of today’s more inspiring and important bands. As nonsensical and unlistenable as much of it was/is, No Wave warranted Brian Eno’s attention, and has since propagated bands like Liars, These Are Powers and Mi Ami to name a few, noise constructivists that envision No Wave’s boundlessness of sound as opportunity to net aural complaint, or simply blow minds.
As Michael Gira’s Swans have reemerged after 13 years of inactivity, it makes perfect sense that he would want to pursue the opportunities this band has historically offered. Though with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, he seems less interested in being unlistenable, and more interested in utilizing its experimental base as a way to bolster a more theatrically composed concept.
Sound lame? It isn’t. Gira has stated that this new album isn’t a reunion record or some bid for nostalgia. Instead, the album is an evolutionary idea that functions under a familiar name and he’s enlisted the aid of many of his past/current collaborators from old Swans line-ups and his newer Angels Of Light, plus Devandra Banhart, Shearwater’s Thor Harris, Bill Reiflin and Mecury Rev’s Grasshopper, (though Jarboe is interestingly absent). As No Wave’s longest surviving offspring, Swans have a history of crafting some very severe odes to industrially charged sound pollutant and esoteric noise-based self-indulgence, carrying on a tradition of non-conforming vision relevant to late 70s NYC. Part mind numbing, part infuriating, part stimulating and always worth discussion, Swans remain a significant force in underground and independent music and this new album sees the No Wave merge with the compositionally avant-garde.
My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky is an advance for Swans, and Gira comes across as less of an eccentric noise-generator, and more of a presence that requires our attention. No Wave has transcended its yearlong dominance in a citywide art scene, and become the basis for high art in a revivalist musical climate.
11) Greenhornes- ****
While eight years separated the Greenhornes’ third and fourth albums, it’s not like the band sat around twiddling their thumbs after 2002’s Dual Mono. The Greenhornes went through some lineup changes, they cut an EP during a short-lived deal with V2 Records, they did plenty of touring, and the rhythm section of Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler were recruited by friend and fan Jack White to play in his side project the Raconteurs. But though **** hardly sounds like the Greenhornes have been in a vacuum since the last time they cut an album, it shows the band is still firmly in touch with their strengths, and if some of the rougher edges of their music have gone, the soul and the fire are as strong as ever. Stripping the Greenhornes down to a trio hasn’t thinned out their sound in the studio; Craig Fox’s guitar work is still tough and gutsy while his vocals have retained the cool, bluesy authority of the group’s earlier work, and Lawrence and Keeler remain a strong and versatile rhythm section. The grittier side of their garage rock influences have fallen by the wayside — **** suggests these guys haven’t listened to the Sonics much in a while — but their enthusiasm for British R&B in the manner of the Stones, the Pretties, and the Who hasn’t faded at all, and the opening hat trick of “Saying Goodbye,” “Underestimator,” and “Better Off Without It” confirms these guys can still write ‘em and play ‘em with the same force and conviction as ever. A touch of pop-psych has crept into the Greenhornes’ repertoire, and “Left the World Behind,” “Go Tell Henry,” and “Cave Drawings” show they can do classic-era freakbeat pretty well, too, and the simple but full-bodied recording and production get this music down on plastic at full force. **** brings the Greenhornes back to the spotlight, sounding as good as they ever have, and in many respects, better. They’re advised not to wait eight years before making another album, but if that’s what it takes, the wait seems to be worth it.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Kingblind.com Top 15 Albums of 2010 (COMING SOON)
We are in the middle of putting the finishing touches on our Top 15 albums of 2010. We should have it started later on this week.. Stay tuned!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Gorillaz to Release Free iPad Album on Christmas Day
The Gorillaz will play Santa this year and deliver their newest album to fans on Christmas Day — for free.
“At the moment, we’ve got an Advent calendar on our website, and there is a daily door that opens to reveal a gift,” Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett told Perth Now (via Spinner) in Australia, where the group is currently on tour. “On Christmas Eve, a video for one of the new songs from the iPad album will be released. Then, on Christmas Day, fans get the whole album downloaded to their computer for free as a gift.”
Last month, Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn revealed that he’d been recording an album completely on his iPad that he hoped to release before Christmas, and that the set would be delivered to fans as a free gift from the Gorillaz website.
The album comes just months after the March release of Gorillaz’ last studio set, “Plastic Beach.” Previous releases from the band have come out four to five years apart, but Albarn said he wants to put the new project out sooner rather than later, to avoid arguments that the songs had been mixed or recorded outside of the iPad.
“I literally made it on the road in America over a month. I didn’t write it before; I didn’t prepare it. I just did it day by day as a kind of diary of my experience in America,” Albarn says. “If I left it until the New Year to release it, then the cynics out there would say, ‘Oh well, it’s been tampered with.’ But if I put it out now, they’d know that I haven’t done anything because I’ve been on tour ever since.”
After wrapping up their gigs in Australia, Gorillaz will close out their world tour in New Zealand on Dec. 21.
JUDAS PRIEST ANNOUNCE THEIR FINAL TOUR…
With typical elegance and restraint, Judas Priest have announced their farewell tour. After 40 years of screaming for vengeance, the British metal band are ready to rest their voices, retiring from the road after a final worldwide romp.
Starting next year, the Epitaph tour will offer fans a last chance to see the ageing metal gods. Judas Priest will “be going out strong”, “rocking the planet”, and “hitting all the major cities throughout the world… with all guns blazing and amps cranked to 11”, according to a press release. The only dates revealed so far are a string of European summer festivals, including London’s High Voltage in July…
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Daft Punk | Tron: Legacy [soundtrack] Review
During their long tenure as electro’s supreme mystery men, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have seen their high-tech trickery folded into the sound of our world. Especially now that anyone can create high-quality electronic music with nothing more than a cheap laptop and a working knowledge of what being fucked up sounds like, we look to Daft Punk every few years to show the young ‘uns how it’s done. In short: if it’s new Daft Punk, we expect it to, uh, faire l’amour to our cochleas. Like a James Cameron CGI FX fest, DP have always put the money on the screen, in audio terms. Which means that, even without the benefit of visuals, this Tron reboot has heartstopping glitch traps and wide yawning sound chasms, pulling your ears through expansive twists and turns that make an orchestral movie soundtrack feel thrillingly visceral. The only other films to get the Daft Punk approbation have been those by un-Disney shock-and-guilt-er Gaspar Noé — but the sheer pomp and grandeur of Tron: Legacy will hardly get mistaken for Bangalter’s accompaniment to the queasy violence of Irreversible anytime soon. We’ll never know what goes on behind the helmets, but who cares? The sheer audacity of this action-movie-reboot soundtrack is its own reward.
Nick Cave in Car Accident
Nick Cave: Great at making dark, disturbed rock music, bad at driving. The BBC reports that Cave crashed his Jaguar into a speed camera and roadside barrier last night in Hove, England. Cave, who lives in the area, was driving his twin 10-year-old sons at the time. Nobody was hurt and no other cars were involved, according to the BBC.
The BBC reports that according to Sussex police, no arrests were made, though “inquiries are continuing.” But Cave may have pissed off some powerful people: “The camera belongs to the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, not the police, and the railings belong to the local highway authority.”
Also, Nick Cave drives a Jaguar! Ballin’!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
John Lennon fans to mark 30th anniversary of death
Fans of John Lennon will mark the passing of 30 years since he was murdered outside his New York apartment, triggering a wave of grief around the world.
In Liverpool, home city of the Beatles, several events will honour the singer and political activist, with local musicians leading a candlelit vigil in Chavasse Park at the European peace monument, dedicated to Lennon on 9 October, which would have been his 70th birthday.
Further homage may be paid at the Lennon statue in Mathew Street, home of the Cavern, where the Beatles played some of their early gigs, and at the original Strawberry Field, above.
On Thursday a concert – Lennon Remembered: The Nine Faces of John – will be held at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, to bring to a close the city’s two-month Lennon tribute season.
Members of the Quarrymen, his first band, will play to celebrate the life of the boy they had known at Quarry Bank school.
“We’re playing not to mark his death, but to celebrate his life,” said Rod Davis, banjo player with the Quarrymen, who had known John since they were five years old at Sunday school. “To talk too much of his death casts a shadow. There’s more than a bit of sadness this week, so we’ll be trying to focus on celebrating the John we knew.”
As they have every year since Lennon’s death, fans are likely to gather in front of the Dakota building in Manhattan, where he was shot. Others will mark the day at a candlelit vigil at Central Park’s Strawberry Fields, dedicated to the memory of the musician and located directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived with Yoko Ono.
Lennon was shot four times in the back by a crazed fan, 25-year-old Mark Chapman, who hours earlier had asked the former Beatle for his autograph. He lay in wait for the singer, killing him as he arrived home. The security guard from Honolulu, Hawaii remained at the scene until arrested by police, and pleaded guilty to the crime. Since 1981 Chapman has been in jail, serving a sentence of 20 years to life. He has been denied parole six times.
New Björk Song Pays Tribute to Late Fashion Designer Alexander McQueen (video)
Björk was a friend of the fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide earlier this year. The Icelandic star contributed a new song to “To Lee, With Love, Nick”, director/photographer Nick Knight’s new short film that pays tribute to McQueen. The Independent reports that the film will open tonight’s British Fashion Council Awards. Right now, you can watch the film below.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Johnny Cash’s Iconic Jumpsuit Sells for $50,000 at Auction
While many of us try to find the least-annoying way to get rid of our old clothes, Johnny Cash’s wardrobe is worth more now than ever before. An embroidered blue jumpsuit that he wore on stage — err, for rehearsal anyway — at the San Quentin prison in 1969 just fetched $50,000 at auction, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The wardrobe item was originally expected to sell for just $5,000, and the auction overall — held by Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills — took in nearly twice as much money as its original projection. Turns out, collectors are big into Cash.
The jumpsuit has particular significance though, even if Cash only wore it at the rehearsal for the famed San Quentin concert. It’s the shirt he sports in an iconic photo — perhaps his most famous image — in which he flips the photographer the bird. That image was initially used by his record label in an advertisement that appeared in Billboard Magazine, as a facetious way of thanking Nashville and country radio for their support — or, rather, lack thereof — after Cash took home a Grammy in 1988 for Best Country Album.
And the joke — now in the hands of a private collector — lives on.
LISTEN: FULL RECORDING OF JEFF MANGUM’S SET AT BROOKLYN’S SCHOOLHOUSE…
I first heard about the show just hours beforehand via a text from a pretty good looking bro, who asked me for details about the “NMH thing”. I had no idea what this dude was talking about, so I went out with a different, equally good looking bro and got a sandwich at the bodega across the street, ignoring the text. Mid-sandwich, it clicked. Neutral Milk Hotel? At first I didn’t believe it was true. Seemed like a real Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist type of situation; my ultimate high school dream band is playing somewhere, at sometime in Brooklyn. Only it was Jeff Mangum I was chasing, not some band called “Where’s Fluffy?”.
After hours of texts, phone calls, and IMs in pursuit of entry, halfway through Mangum’s set I found myself running up the stairs to a loft on the third floor of a bushwick apartment building known as The Schoolhouse…
Monday, December 6, 2010
Jeff Mangum Performs Surprise Show in Brooklyn
According to various sources on Twitter, elusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman Jeff Mangum performed a very rare set at a loft in Bushwick, Brooklyn tonight. (UPDATE: It was the Schoolhouse.) He played ten Neutral Milk Hotel songs for an audience of approximately 75 people.
Ben Goldberg of Ba Da Bing Records, who helped set up the show, says, “I really can’t say what this means in terms of future performances. This was a last minute show, done intentionally without buildup to let it be as simple and easy going as possible. It seems to have gone exactly like that. What I honestly feel like I saw tonight wasn’t The Greatest Musician In The World Performing The Most Amazing Songs Ever, but rather a fantastic musician performing his wonderful songs. God, I have to say that is so much more gratifying than trying to look at it as a life altering event. I bet others who were there would agree with me.”
01 Oh Comely
02 In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
06 King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1
07 Song Against Sex
09 Two Headed Boy
10 Two Headed Boy Pt. 2