Posts Tagged ‘ MGMT ’

2010 Music in Review

This is part 1 of my list.  This thing’s so big, I had to separate it into two posts! Instead of just listing the good albums, I decided to review every new album I heard in 2010.  So here’s albums 34-16.

 

34.      4×4=12-Deadmau5-Rave program Deadmau5 outdid himself with his most creative album title yet.  If only I could say the same about anything else.  4×4=12 is a groundbreaking work in predictability, even when he tries his hand at some obnoxious rave-rap and dubstep.  (How topical!)  Give it a spin if you’re looking for something to put you to sleep.

33.      Straight Killa No Filla-Freddie Gibbs.  Oh really?  Look, I know it’s just a mixtape, but so was The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, and that was incredible.

32.      I Am Not A Human Being-Lil Wayne-Lil Wayne has no fucking taste.  All of these songs are lazy, the beats are uninspired, and the rhymes are just stupid.  “So smart she coulda’ gone to college?”  What the hell, Wayne?  I didn’t have the highest expectations for this record released from prison, and at least Drake isn’t on every song.  Unfortunately, Drake is on all of the good songs.  All three of them.  And they’re not even really good.  They just sound a little better than the fucking banal pop-rap production that dominates the record.  Seriously, it’s like he’s using the demo that came with his EZ-Synth Jambox.  Lil Wayne being in prison, there’s a lot of guest stars.  Because what else, Young Money goons are all over this thing, and Nicki Minaj doesn’t even have to decency to rap on it.  A half-hearted effort from everybody involved.

31.      Pink Friday-Nicki Minaj-Nicki Minaj fared a little bit better on her solo debut than anything else a Young Money Goon* did this year.  If only it were good!  She wastes most of the album singing, which she sucks at.  She still managed to get in a few decent songs.  I’m a fan of “Did it on Em” and the Kanye assisted “Blazin.”  “Roman’s Revenge” is the only other song worth checking, if only for the novelty of Eminem making animal noises while referring to himself as a dungeon dragon.

*. Is “young Money Goon” the official term, or should I not take Gudda Gudda so seriously?  Also, is  it Wu-Tang Clansmen?

30. Hurley-Weezer-Ugh.  They came so close!  Hurley’s the best album they’ve made since Maladroit, but it’s still not very good.  I can live with the weak lyrics, it’s the production that’s killing me.  This shit is so clean and shiny, it sounds instantly dated.  At least they stopped trying to reinvent themselves.

29.      OMG!-Rusko-Wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp Gucci Mane wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp wamp.

28.      Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys-My Chemical Romance-Was The Black Parade a fluke, or am I just delusional?  The follow-up to that record I loved so much is overproduced and uninspired to its breaking point.  C’mon guys.  That over-the-top dour shit was what made you good.  This is a step backwards.

27.      Album of the Year-Black Milk-More like 27th best album of the year!  Ha ha!  There’s nothing bad about this record, there’s just nothing great about it.  It’s like Be with weaker beats.  I don’t care how good a rapper Black Milk is, he doesn’t make good songs.

26.      Trunk Music 0-60-Yelawolf Yelawolf isn’t incredible by any means.  Right now he just sounds like a white trash T.I.  But as we’ve learned from Rick Ross and T.I. himself, nobody starts out great anymore.  I’ll give him a few more years, see if this goes anywhere.  At the very least, he’s a big improvement on Asher Roth.  Good job, white rapper committee.

25.      Distant Relatives-Nas and Damien Marley-This was almost a good album, and then Damien Marley showed up.

24.      Pilot Talk-Curren$y-Curren$y’s come a long way since I first encountered him three years ago.  It’s now possible to understand what he’s saying, there’s some emotion in his voice, he’s classed up his production, and he’s upgraded the guest features to include Snoop Dogg, Mikey Rocks and Big KRIT.  Mos Def lends his voice for the chorus of the two best songs on the album, (“Breakfast” & Jay Electronica assisted “The Day”) The guests make for the highlights of the album, simply because Curren$y has the worst fucking hooks.  Curren$y’s a big fan of the Bobby Digital method, where you repeat the title of the song 8 to 44 times or spell a sentence.  If he could get it together and spend more than 20 seconds crafting the song, he’d be set.

23.      Tron: Legacy-Daft Punk-Will a new Daft Punk album ever come?  It seems unlikely after this excursion into the world of movie soundtracks.  It’s lacking in computer wizardry, and most of the songs all sound like typical blockbuster music, but there’s just barely enough to make it okay for a few listens.

22.      Wu-Massacre-Meth, Ghost & Rae-Actually, it’s mostly the cronies of Meth, Ghost, and Rae.  Sheek Louch, Sun God and more also-rans do the bulk of the work here.  It sounds more like a mixtape than an actual album.  Tired beats, tired rhymes. There’s still a few god ones, like “Miranda” and “Youngstown Heist.”  It’s not a crowning achievement for any of these guys, but coming out six months after the incredible Only Built 4 Cuban Links Pt 2 and the awful Ghostdeni Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, it’s forgivable.  It’s not like I was that lacking in Wu-Tang.

21.      Swim-Caribou-This record might be in the top ten if I didn’t have to listen to the guy sing.  As is, it’s still a damn good collection of electronica.  It’s not as high-energy as I typically like my computer music, but at least it feels like he’s trying.  If Kid Cudi was good, this is what his beats might sound like.

20.      Congratulations-MGMT-One of the year’s most unexpected records, Congratulations is also one of the few albums of “neo-psychdelica” worth listening to.  It sounds a lot like early Bowie-Jangly guitars, lyrics about famous people and fantasy.  There’s nothing here even trying to be as good and catchy as “Kids” or “Time to Pretend,” but they at least made enough changes to their sound to keep it interesting.

19.      Sea of Cowards-The Dead Weather-Jack White takes over on the second Dead Weather album.  It reminds me of the second Raconteurs album.  It has little to say, but it rocks a lot harder and benefits from it.  It’s not as good as anything The White Stripes ever put out, but it’s the best non-White Stripes record Jack White’s made.

18.      The Monitor-Titus Andronicus- If Bright Eyes wasn’t afraid to rock, this is exactly what he’d sound like. If that statement doesn’t make you cringe, you’ll love this album.  It also features the best saxophone solo of the year.

17. The Archandroid-Janelle Monae-Not quite as groundbreaking and futuristic than everybody says it is, but it’s a contemporary R & B album, so “groundbreaking and futuristic” is a relative term.  What it is is a collection of great pop songs.  Monae can sing better than anybody else on this list, and she delivers her lines with such conviction that I forgot I was listening to a sci-fi pop-opera about robot spiders (or something.)

16. The Suburbs-Arcade Fire-I didn’t listen to much serious music this year.  Until this came out, none of the good stuff was that serious.  The Suburbs caught me off guard.  It’s a lyrical album that came out in the middle of a six month Phish binge.  (Well, really a one month Lightning Bolt/Daft Punk binge. Suddenly trapped with lyrics to scrutinize, I was lost.  The Suburbs has meaning and a message.  It’s also incredibly dense.  The music’s still great.  We’ve got some more Springsteen posturing, some radio pop, and mandatory stadium blaster, but they’ve expanded into some cool new territory too.  There’s a lot going on, and I may not like sitting through all of it, but I’m not going to hate for sheer ambition.  It’s a fine album.  I just wish somebody had the decency to make one that rocked harder than its predecessors.

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Sasquatch Music Festival 2010- A brief glimpse.

Hey internet.   I know this is a little late, but I’ve been working on it for a while.  It’s not a full report on the Sasquatch music festival.  That’s coming along very slowly.  I’m 15 pages into it and I might be done with it by the end of the year, or it might just keep getting longer.  Who knows.  This is a very brief sampling of what went down to whet your appetite for more of my nonsensical ramblings.  I’ve been working a lot lately, but hopefully I’ll have a review of something else by the end of this week.  And if you’re in Butte tonight, you should come see my band, Mordecai play with Slackeye Slim at the Venus tonight.  You have nothing better to do.

Anyway, the show.

Broken Social Scene- This was a surprising show.  First, I was surprised how many people were in the band-three guitarists, two bassists, and a drummer.  Second, I was surprised by how old they all looked.  I don’t think any of these dudes could be younger than 40.  They’ve got a bizarre visual aesthetic.  It looks like half of them like to dress up, but none of them want to match.  There was Scott Stapp, Lyle Lovett, jock drummer, hardware store employee, librarian, electrician and furniture maker.  The band started big and they kept getting bigger.  A lady came out to play piano, and then another one came out to sing, and then a fucking five-piece brass band came out onstage and they didn’t look like crackheads, but one of them did look like Rivers Cuomo.  In addition to looking hilarious, BSS were also really good.  This was my third surprise.  These guys rock hard live.  The guitars punch so much harder.  The noise is more enveloping.  They may act a little goofy in their rock-star ambitions, but they play like they mean it.  They did Texaco Bitches at double speed!  Their set seemed mostly composed of material from Forgiveness Rock Record and the Self Titled.  I’m cool with that because those are the only two I’ve listened to extensively.  Much respect gained for these guys.

Z-Trip- I wanted to see Z-Trip, who’s write-up billed him as “the godfather of the mashup.”  His set started strong with some Public Enemy/Justice, but by the end of the show, he was remixing the same tired shit that I saw at the Bassnectar concert.  I wasn’t crazy about Bassnectar, but I think he was actually better.  Z-Trip may be the godfather of the mash-up, but in this modern world of Girl Talk and Grey Albums, he’s been left behind.

Passion Pit- Passion Pit did not sound any better live.  That’s what I was hoping for.  I was hoping there’d be something special about a Passion Pit performance, but it was very by-the-numbers.  Nothing was harder.  Nothing was grittier.  Nothing was louder.  Was it wrong to expect Passion Pit to be harder live?  I don’t know, man.  I mean, I’d think they’d at least have some heavier bass.  The singer’s got the lamest voice I’ve heard in a long time, but I could put up with it for a while because the band could spin genuine pop hooks, which I always admire.  They’re a dance-y band, but they’re such stiff performers, ugh, no soul.  I’ve given up on Passion Pit.

Oddly enough, Passion Pit was the only band I saw people really going nuts for.  Let me explain.  The way the Gorge is set up, there’s a barrier between the inner and outer pit.  Presumably in order to prevent people from getting crushed, only so many people are allowed into the inner pit.  Between sets, the security will block off the entrance while other people leave.  When space has cleared out, security will let you enter in waves.  Prior to the Passion Pit show was the only time I’ve seen people trying to break down the barrier to get in.  It was almost scary.

Kid Cudi- Cudi’s been on my fence for awhile, so this was going to be a make-or-break performance.  I was putting his head on the chopping block.  Maybe if he knew what I had vested in this performance, he would’ve put more effort into it, but that seems a little unlikely.  After all, Kid Cudi doesn’t really care about anything.  He just wants to get high.  This is the message of his music.  Kid Cudi is one of the worst drug advocates I’ve seen perform.  He preaches complacency and apathy.  “Guess what kids, doing mushrooms won’t solve your problems, but it will make you stop caring about them.”  Musically, his show was also lacking.  Cudi’s a live-band rapper.  In the post-Kanye world, the pressure’s on for rappers to create more enthralling live performances.  I saw Lupe Fiasco with a live band.  That was a great show.  I also saw Lil Wayne with a live band.  That show was pretty awful.  Weezy is a turntable man.  The live band doesn’t lend itself to every rapper.  For example, I can’t really see Young Jeezy performing in front of a horn section.  Kid Cudi, however, is all about the music.  His rapping is bad, but he’s got great song arrangements, so I was more than a little disappointed when I saw that he only brought a DJ.  This was one of those macbook DJs too.  Very little scratching.  Fuck, at least give Cudi a hype man to interact with.  One thing I did like about the Kid Cudi show-I found out why he performs “Make Her Say.”  This “Poker face” sampling blowjob song got more people singing along than anything else.  “Day n Night,” Cudi’s own hit, had only about half the roar coming back from the crowd.  So I guess there’s the childlike glee one derives from hearing a bunch of dumb girls sing your song about face-fucking.  Yeah, but overall, Cudi is bad for hip hop.

The xx-The xx had a lot of technical troubles throughout the show too.  It took them a few songs to get the mics right.  It probably had to do with how quiet the singing is.  The bassist also stopped a couple times to talk to the sound guy.  Four songs in, they seemed to have all of the bugs worked out-a little annoying, but nothing that’ll derail a good show.  The XX was one of, if not the, loudest band I saw there.  This is a band that gets menacing when they get loud.  Even stuff like Basic Space or Islands gets mean live.  By the time they got to “infinity” I was a little worried that the lead singer was going to get slapped around by the bassist after the show.  By now, the mics were getting feedback again, but I think it actually added to the menace.  Could it have been intentional?  Was it all just an act?  It seems like something these kids would pull off.  Stage theatrics the minimalist post punk way.  The xx had the best stage presence there.  These three pale English kids all look like they’ve been pulled out of their halfway home and dressed up to impress the people from Social Services.  They all act incredibly bored.  The synth-drummer probably lifted his head less than 10 times throughout the entire show.  The slightest movement is exciting with these guys, so when they do do something, it can be pretty thrilling.  I was outright shocked when the synth guy hit the cymbal that had been sitting there the entire show.  What a surprising twist.  I was left to read their faces.  The bassist and guitarist kept leering at each other, both looking like two bitter ex-lovers.   It was great.

Cymbals Eat Guitars-I listened to their album a few times.  It was okay.  On the record, they sound like a band whose only influence is Pavement.  Live, they sound like a band whose only influence is Dashboard Confessional.  Ugh.  I got the hell out of there and gave up on them forever after two or three songs.

Jets Overhead-Better off dead.

MGMT-MGMT released a profusion of beach balls, balloons and other blow-ups into the crowd.  They were a perfect fit for the atmosphere.  People were crowd-surfing like there was no tomorrow.  The MGMT show produced a childlike glee in even the most jaded concert-goers.  There were so many opposing personalities converging at this show, people seemed relatively well behaved.  Guess we all wanted to look good as representatives of all our shitty fringe-subcultures.  This was a very fun show from a fun band.  The new stuff sounds great live.  “Brian Eno” is probably my new favorite MGMT song.

Ween-The love and happiness of MGMT was not to last.  Ween performed next, being the closing act of the fest.  Two or three songs into Ween’s set, every inflatable beach toy had been banished back to the front of the stage.  “Get those fucking beach balls out of here!”  I distinctly heard somebody say.  The Ween crowd was a much more serious group.  Unlike the MGMT fans, the Ween fans were of the mind that their band could die at any minute.  They didn’t have time to deal with fucking beach balls.  Ween is not going to live forever.  Every member looks haggard and sickly.  Broken Social Scene has nothing on these guys.  I’ve seen The Cure and R.E.M. live before.  Those guys were all about a decade older than the members of Ween, but Ween looks a decade older than them.  These people, especially Dean, the singer, have not taken care of themselves.  Peter Buck might look like he smoked a lot of pot in high school, but Dean Ween looks like he sniffed a lot of glue.  And still does.  There was a part in the show where he just stood there, hunched over behind the piano player, leering at him while he smoked a cigarette.  That’s pretty punk rock.  Not being a band prone to eating vegetables, Ween would have to take breaks now and then.  They never stopped playing, but they’d constantly switch back and forth between fast and slow songs.  They didn’t play “It’s Gonna be a Long Night,” which I found disappointing, but I did gain a new appreciation for “Transdermal Celebration.”  They played more of their jokey songs than I expected.  I didn’t think stuff like “Bananas and Coke” or “Your Party” would really lend themselves to a live atmosphere, but they pulled it off.  These guys seem to be able to pull just about anything off.  It’s because they’re a legitimate rock band.  Ween.  Fuckin right.