Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the year in music - odds & ends

Here are the odds and ends for the year in music that was 2010. A few salutes, a couple middle fingers, and a big ol' Happy New Year from all of me at mclunch would like to have a word with you. Here's to hoping 2011 can live up to it's predecessor.

Breakout Artist of 2010:
J Roddy Walston & the Business
You expected Mumford & Sons, perhaps?

Flop of 2010:
M.I.A., Maya
Maya wins out over STP because she's, well, relevant. STP's new album (below) is a pile of 90s grunge. But they're a 90s grunge band. M.I.A.'s album is pretty offensively bad, and she's a talented artist. Like, now.

Other candidates:
Stone Temple Pilots, Stone Temple Pilots
Hooray for grunge! Am I right folks?

MGMT, Congratulations
I get it. MGMT didn't want to be pigeonholed as a fun, dance band. But the thing is, that's precisely what I liked about the amazing Oracular Spectacular. It was fun and you could dance to it. When you remove those two things, you get... well, this album.

Interpol, Interpol
I love Interpol. They're not here because their latest (and apparently last) album is that bad, but because it's the way they wanted to leave things. It's like if Seinfeld did a three-hour stand-up set and brought down the house. Then he told the standing ovation-giving crowd one last thing: "Be sure to use condoms because you don't want to get AIDS. Goodnight!"

Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown
All pigeon poop joking aside, this is not a shitty album. It it's not even bad. I determined this by listening to these tracks mixed in with the rest of their catalogue, and the mix held up as a whole. The only real difference is the production value. Sundown is the musical equivalent of Avatar, so much production overshadowing any substance, passion or "true rock moments". So it isn't a bad album. It just happens to be KoL's worst. But for me, the whole album was saved by the last 10 seconds of "No Money". When I heard that little flourish, I heard Kings of Leon.

Instrumental Track of 2010:
"Fot I Hose" by Casiokids, Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar
After glancing at the song and album name by this Norwegian outfit, it was a huge relief that this is an instrumental track. It's part reckless road trip anthem and part 8-bit Nintendo theme, but with the pace and fine-tuning worthy of fellow Scandinavians The Hives.

Oddball Track of 2010:
"When the Levee Breaks" by Bonerama, Hard Times
Pretty cool rendition of the Zeppelin tune. Pretty meaningful too, since these guys are from New Orleans, and they recorded this as a tribute to the city. But c'mon guys. Bonerama? That's your band's name?

A close second goes to:
Dirty Projectors + Bjork = Mount Wittenberg Orca
(pick any song) by Dirty Projectors + Björk, Mount Wittenberg Orca

Cover of 2010:
GAYNGS Go To “The Gaudy Side Of Town” With Fallon, Daytrotter
"One More Try" by GAYNGS (feat. Har Mar Superstar), One More Try (single)
It takes balls to release a single covering one of George Michael's gayest songs, especially when "GAY" is right there in your band name. But if there's anyone with balls enough to simultaneously conquer and embrace this challenge, it's Har Mar Superstar. And GAYNGS, the cross-pollenated indie collective, treat this truly classic tune with genuine care, and without an ounce of irony. Ballsy move, guys.

Other candidates:
"When the Levee Breaks" by Bonerama, Hard Times

"No One's Gonna Love You" by Cee Lo Green, The Lady Killer
Beautiful cover of a Band of Horses mainstay.

Best Sexual Innuendo of 2010:
"Used to Did" by J Roddy Walston & the Business, J Roddy Walston & the Business
("How bout this / Give us a kiss, uh-huh / I got this gun / And girl, it don't miss / It makes babies / It makes that rock n' roll")

Worst Sexual Innuendo of 2010:
"Mi Amigo" by Kings of Leon, Come Around Sundown
("I've got a friend / Tells me to get up again / Showers me in bruises / Tells me I got a big ol' dick / And she wants my ass home")

New To Me in 2010 (tracks I missed in '09):
"Julia" by The Very Best, Warm Heart of Africa
Amazing afro-pop (with real Africans!) with a twisting vocal harmony to die for and a beat to dance for.

"Ruby" by Dave Rawlings Maching, A Friend of a Friend
Know who would've been proud of this tune? America (the band), Neil Young, and America (the country).

"She Came Along" by Sharam & Patsy Cline, Presents: The '09 Mix
My favorite song from last year. It's exactly what every rapper tries to do and ultimately fails at: dropping their beat carefully around a classic song without ruining the intent of that song. This is an absolutely perfect remix. Such a pleasure to listen to. Hopefully Ms. Cline would agree.

Revisits of 2010 (albums & songs that just felt good again):
Paul Simon, Graceland
Always great, but this album felt even more relevant after Vampire Weekend sorta kinda stole the hook.

Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
I revisited Highway 61 Revisited this year. The songs cut like a knife, and the message feels like it could've been written this year. Or any election year.

Queens of the Stone Age, R (the 10-year anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Excellent re-release with some bonus tracks and live versions.

"In the Meantime" by Space Hog, Resident Alien
Give this song a listen again. It holds up. I swear.

Video of 2010:
Some bands' real talent lies not in the music itself (and that's okay), but in their expression of it, and how that expression makes people feel. OK Go is not the best pop band today. Not even close (and that's okay). But they are one of the most memorable and easily one of the most likable. And this is an impressive video with no budget.

Yep. The official video is second only to the live version. A Rube Goldberg chain-reaction gone horribly right, and in step with the song. Amazing. So much fun to watch.

An interactive video for the Net-Genners. Yes, you should be impressed. The URL is

Sort of a 'fuck you' to Green Day's new Broadway musical, featuring the hilarious Paul F. Tompkins and John Hodgman.

I just can't stop smiling. The dogs in the video are great little actors. And wouldn't you know it? The band attached a nice pro-dog-adoption message to the video. What good guys.

Totally bizarre video directed by the talented Malloys, who I had the pleasure of working with on a commercial last year. Jake Gyllenhaal and Joe Jonas play tennis drunk and stuck up, respectively, while RZA referees and Lil' Jon coaches (in French). What fun!


  1. I love that your mentioned Graceland. It's prob on my top 5 all time favs!

  2. Such a great album. The Rhythm of the Saints is great too. That dude knew what pop music should be.

    Hope you guys have a great Xmas!