My look back at the year in music (both local and beyond) will publish in GO! Magazine on Dec. 17 (that’s this Friday!), and our annual MP3 compilation of 2010’s best songs, “Near/Far,” will pop on Frequency that day, too. Until then, I’m posting some of my favorite songs of the year that appeared on albums I didn’t love.
Frightened Rabbit‘s 2010 release, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” is almost certainly getting short shrift from me in my assessment of 2010’s best albums. The two songs below are killer, as is “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.” The rest of the album is pretty good, too. But it has the unfortunate task of trying to follow one of my favorite albums ever, 2008’s “The Midnight Organ Fight” (also by these handsome Scots, in case that wasn’t obvious). So perhaps “Winter” didn’t impact me like I hoped it would because I subconsciously compared it to its predecessor, which is totally unfair to the band and the album. Facts are facts, however: Three of its songs floored me, but I struggled to love the ones that surrounded them.
I am totally prepared to be wrong in two, five or 10 years. When that happens, I hope Scott Hutchison will show up at my house, draw a beard on my face with marker, slap it off me, and then write a song about it. In the meantime:
I thought 2009 was a good, but not great, year for recorded music, and am hopeful that 2010 will top it. To be fair, at this time last year, I hadn’t even heard of nine of the artists that produced my top 25 albums of 2009. The point is, amazing music can come from anyone, anywhere, and that no year should be judged solely on the number of hotly anticipated albums by big-name artists that it promises.
That being said, the first half of 2010 is turning out to be an incredibly productive time for some of the most high-profile names in what we used to call underground rock ‘n’ roll, but now is more like highly marketable and bloggable rock ‘n’ roll.
Yesterday, Beach House’s “Teen Dream” was released, and it’s a tasty slice of dream-pop, and sure to top many year-end lists at the close of 2010. Also out yesterday: new music from The Magnetic Fields, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Four Tet.
Let’s get on to the big dogs, though, shall we? On Feb. 2, the subtly addictive Texas band Midlake will put out “The Courage of Others,” the follow-up to 2006’s “The Trials of Van Occupanther,” aka one of the best albums of the 2000s. “Trials” has aged amazingly well over the past few years, and I’m several listens into “Courage” and believe it can be equally enduring, if not as immediately accessible. Here’s a trailer for the album that surfaced this week:
How many rock ‘n’ roll trailers feature a flute sighting, huh? Wait … why is there a trailer for this album? Did I miss something?
Anyway, March 9 will see Scottish indie-pop wonders Frightened Rabbit drop “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” their follow-up to “The Midnight Organ Fight,” which is not only my favorite album of 2008, but arguably my favorite of the entire decade. (Not sure about that. More thinking to do. But I will get back to it). The band has played a few songs here and there and released one excellent single, all of which points to a very promising third effort from the Rabbit. I cannot wait. (Also March 9: Broken Bells, aka James Mercer of The Shins and DJ Danger Mouse. Here is their new video.)
As if all that wasn’t enough, May is shaping up to be a scary-good release month, what with rumors of an Arcade Fire album, as well as the recent announcements of new albums by The New Pornographers (with Neko Case andDap-Kings horns!) and The National. The former had a ridiculously productive 2000s (three classic albums, one very good one) and the latter may be my favorite band going right now.
All of this, plus releases that I don’t necessarily feel strongly about, but lots of people do, like new Yeasayer (Feb. 9), Toro y Moi (Feb. 23), Ted Leo (March 9), Gorillaz (March 9), Drive-By Truckers (March 16), She & Him (March 23), Radiohead, MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, R.E.M., Coldplay and so on and so on.
It never stops. Thank goodness.
Now, I’ve obviously only covered a fairly narrow sliver of music here; it’s the one I tend to pay the most attention to. But I’d love to hear from y’all what you’re stoked about, whether it’s country, hip-hop, mainstream pop, reggae or whatever. (Paging Scott Halvorson. Please pick up the Heavy/Industrial/Punk/Metal Courtesy Telephone.)
(Each of the last three years, I’ve traveled over to Portland for MusicfestNW, a multi-day, multi-venue music festival that features some of the best bands from around the world. With a roster nearly 200 acts deep, MFNW 2009’s schedule included rock, punk, metal, hip-hop, jazz, Americana, electronica, and who knows what else. One thing’s for sure: You can’t get to every show. But I saw my share of them, and here’s my report on the first night, Thursday. My Friday and Saturday reports will come in the next couple days.)
Festivals are supposed to build from no-name acts to those you anticipate the most.
But the 2009 version of MusicfestNW didn’t work that way for me. I started out with the anticipation, and ended with a whimper, quite frankly.
When we left Bend around noon on Thursday, Sept. 17, the show I was most excited about seeing was that night. It was the second show we – that’s me and the lovely Mrs. Feedback – would see all weekend.
It was the pairing at the Crystal Ballroom of Portland-based, one-man ambient noisemaker Eluvium and Texas post-rock kingpins Explosions In The Sky (aka the “Friday Night Lights” film score band).