Dec 15 2011

My Year In Live Music – 2011

Compared to my first year as an Austin resident, I took it pretty easy this year. I suppose the combination of budgeting, starting grad school, and just generally growing old has slowed me down a bit, but I still saw some cool shows. And with M83, Radiohead, Drake, and Born Gold all coming in the first half of 2012, looks like I’ll be getting a head start on this list for next year. In the meantime, here are some highlights, at least ones I could remember, from 2011.

Hooray For Earth @ Emo’s Inside – 10/1

I believe this was the last show I saw at Emo’s Inside (I remember seeing Twin Shadow around ACL time on the outside stage just before they shut it down), and I’ve yet to see a show at the new locale on East Riverside. I had been dying to witness Hooray For Earth for many many months, and finally seeing them rock out was rewarding, as was a nice conversation with the lead singer afterwards.

Deftones @ Austin Music Hall – 6/4

Call it making up for lost time; I’m not a huge fan of AMH – actually, I hate it quite a bit, but I’m never missing a Deftones show. I finally saw them for the first time last year, and as long as these guys make it to Austin, I’ll be going. The crowd was awful, as was the case last time, but Deftones more than make up for all the teenage rudeness.

Bill Maher @ ACL Live – 3/26

Not a music show, but man was it hilarious. My second show in the ACL Live venue, and Bill proved he loves Austin. The crowd was mostly receptive, but I did get some looks for applauding loudly at the atheist jokes. Do people know who they came to see?

Robyn @ ACL Live – 2/17

Robyn is incredible, see her live the first chance you get. High energy, tons of dancing, great acoustics, great venue. The crowd up front was crazy annoying, especially during Diamond Rings, but what are ya gonna do?

Sleigh Bells @ The Glass House – Pomona, CA – 4/13

The Glass House is a weird little venue; I honestly had no idea how far Pomona was from West Hollywood, but we drove a long way to see this awesome awesome show. It was all ages, no alcohol. Not that I had a lot of cash anyway. Sleigh Bells killed, as is the routine.

The Go! Team @ Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA – 4/19

The Echoplex was closer, but it felt like a shady neighborhood. The venue, however, is pretty damn awesome, and the Go! Team were just as fun as I could have imagined. Hopefully these guys make a new album, because I’m betting they’ll make a stop here in Austin if they do.

Primus @ Stubb’s – 5/24

It’s so great to have these guys back and playing new stuff. Have I said that lately? Great show in one of the best venues in town, and we met Les (again!) and got a pic with him afterwards. Swell fella!

Dwight Yoakam @ ACL Live – 7/21

Another strong showing from the hillbilly king, this time at a venue within walking distance. Now if he would just get back in the studio!

Austin Psych Fest @ Seaholm Power Plant – 4/30-5/1

I really had no idea what to expect, but this ended up being a pleasant surprise. I got sufficiently drunk and listened to some crazy great psych music from all around the world, in the most appropriately creepy place to see a show in Austin, the echo-riffic Seaholm. Capping off the fest with Roky Erikson providing the soundtrack to the news of bin Laden’s death is a memory I will never forget.

Fun Fun Fun Fest @ Auditorium Shores – 11/4-6

I was a bit concerned for the future of my beloved FFF when they announced they were moving to the Shores, but in hindsight I feel ashamed for not having faith in the Transmission crew. Not only was this the best lineup I’ve ever seen in the fest’s six-year history, but the change of venue actually improved the overall experience. Great vendors, great music, not too crowded….best music experience of 2011, hands down.

SXSW 2011 – Spring Break and Beyond

The best week of the year did not disappoint, though this year I focused a lot of energy on getting into shows I didn’t think I would be able to get into. There’s certainly an extra feeling of reward when you’re granted access to an exclusive party with A-list bands and free food and booze. My personal highlights were the Zynga party (flyer above) and catching Queens of the Stone Age at La Zona Rosa. Another great free party showing as well this past year, especially Mess With Texas, which never disappoints. Saw the Strokes at the Shores, too, which was great. While 2010 might be remembered as the year of mini-riots and ridiculous overcrowding, for me it was just a regular old SXSW, fun, booze, catching up with old friends, and seeing some great music.


Jan 14 2011

Top 50 Albums of 2010 – The Top Ten

10. A-Trak – Dirty South Dance 2

      1. A-Trak - We Don't Want No Goblins

Dubstep and Southern rap were meant to be together, or at least they are when A-Trak’s behind the crossfader.  His second foray into mixing the two genres is a dance party like no other; stand by for the ending highlight, a mashup of Joker and Yung L.A.

9. Wavves – King of the Beach

      2. Wavves - Post Acid

Nathan Williams’ 2009 and 2010 were completely different.  The previous year, he was an up-and-comer that crashed and burned publicly; now he is a renewed creative spirit with a diverse, improved sound.

8. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

      3. Kanye West - Monster (feat. Jay-Z

Believe the hype – Yeezy’s fifth album is quite probably his finest work yet.  His rapping is smart and funny and his production is characteristically slick.  If he keeps making gold, we will continue to put up with his hi-jinks, Internet, interview, or otherwise.

7. One Wolf – One Wolf II: Secret of the Wolf

      4. One Wolf - Backyard

Perhaps the doom and gloom from One Wolf’s self-titled effort has disappeared, but in its place is diverse instrumentation, inescapable pop hooks, and sharp optimism. A sonic collage of indie, Americana, and even metal, this is one that just grows and grows on you.

6. Thrift Store Cowboys – Light Fighter

      5. Thrift Store Cowboys - Regardless

Lubbock’s elder statesmen etch their place in historic alt-country with this, their fourth and finest album.  Daniel Fluitt’s keen storytelling and unmistakable voice lead the listener on a gradual crescendo in under fifty minutes.  Give it one listen and observe the injustice – Deer Tick should be opening for these guys by now.

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Jan 8 2011

Top 20 Remixes of 2010

20.

      1. A-Trak - Twerk That Driver

19.

      2. Small Black - Photojournalist (Star Slinger Remix)

18.

      3. Two Door Cinema Club - Undercover Martyn Flexin' It (Passion Pit Remix)

17.

      4. The Hood Internet - Someday We'll Find Your Love (Drake x Grum)

16.

      5. Neon Indian - Should Have Taken Acid With You (Future Rock Remix)

15.

      6. Coolrunnings - I Am You (Star Slinger Remix)

14.

      7. The-Dream - Nikki (Gobble Gobble Remix)

13.

      8. Passion Pit - Sleepyhead (Le Chev Remix)

12.

      9. Deerhunter - Helicopter (Star Slinger Remix)

11.

      10. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Round & Round (Little Loud Remix)

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Jan 7 2011

Top 200 Tracks of 2010 – The Top Twenty

20.

      1. The Hold Steady - Hurricane J

Craig Finn, while less belligerent, is still plenty drunk and emotional and frank on Heaven Is Whenever, and the group delivers one of their poppiest efforts thus far.  “Hurricane J” is a plea to a lost soul he may be care a little too much about, spoken plainly and perfectly alongside a perfect tropical storm metaphor.  We’ve all known someone like the person Finn describes, and we’ve all said the exact same things.

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Jan 5 2011

Top 200 Tracks of 2010 – 100-51

100.

      1. Vampire Weekend - White Sky

99.

      2. The National - Lemonworld

98.

      3. Magic Kids - Superball

97.

      4. Drake - Up All Night (feat. Nicki Minaj)

96.

      5. Free Energy - Bang Pop

95.

      6. Katy Perry - Teenage Dream

94.

      7. Evan Voytas - Our Thing

93.

      8. DOM - Burn Bridges

92.

      9. Games - Strawberry Skies

91.

      10. Dominique Young Unique - Show My Ass

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Jan 4 2011

Top 200 Tracks of 2010 – 150-101

150.

      1. Toro y Moi - Causers Of This

149.

      2. Toadies - Pink

148.

      3. Surfer Blood - Take It Easy

147.

      4. Local Natives - Warning Sign

146.

      5. Dominque Young Unique - War Talk

145.

      6. Magic Kids - Good To Be

144.

      7. Rihanna - Cheers (Drink To That)

143.

      8. Deftones - Royal

142.

      9. Wavves - Super Soaker

141.

      10. Thrift Store Cowboys - One Gentle Inch To Nine Violent Miles

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Jan 1 2011

Quarterly Review – October-December 2010

Once every three months I list the best of what I heard in albums/songs/remixes for the quarter. I do this to personally keep up with all the awesome music I hear, as it ultimately helps me at the end of the year when I do my overall listing for the previous twelve months. I also do it to introduce you cool cats to tunes you may have missed independently.

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Dec 5 2010

Sunday Night Videos 12/5/10

PIZZA PARTY [ SLEIGH BELLS – “INFINITY GUITARS” ] from Matthew Wells on Vimeo.

School of Seven Bells – I L U – Official Video from Vagrant Records on Vimeo.


Nov 27 2010

Five MP3s You Must Grab 11/27/10

      1. Robyn - Indestructible (A-trak Radio Edit)

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      2. Emil & Friends - Short Order Cooks

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      3. HeRobust - Grief Case (Star Slinger's WWHRD Remix)

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      4. Reading Rainbow - Wasting Time

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      5. Dead Trees - Back to L.A.

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Nov 17 2010

Paragraph Reviews 11/17/10

Music, Movies, Television, etc.  Pop culture reviews for the short-attention-span Internet age.

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

Call it a case of the hype machine, but upon several initial listens, it would seem Nicki gave away her best verses to other people’s songs.  Certainly we are asking too much if we expected the album to be more “Roman’s Revenge” and less “Your Love” – and that is something (albeit a disappointing fact) that I’m willing to overlook.  The production is slick, the melodies are catchy, and Minaj has a great singing voice.  So what if the finished product is a little too soft R&B and less manic schizo rapping?  Nicki has many faces; the first impression was obviously just one of many styles.  But the rhymes on this album do not live up to Minaj’s past work on tracks by Diddy, Trey Songz, Kanye, etc.  The cadence is samey, the words are lazily repetitive, the dead air is filled by stuttering, and the unwritten law of rap is violated many times (the one that says you can’t rhyme a word with the same word….it’s the same word).  Pink Friday will be a moderate success, but it’s not strong enough of a debut to give Nicki the promotion from “featured” to “standalone” artist.

Rating: 6

Two more after the jump…

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