Lenten Listen #28: MGMT – Oracular Spectacular March 21, 2012Posted by Matt in Lent.
Tags: Lent, MGMT, Oracular Spectacular, Time to Pretend
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MGMT burst on the scene a few years ago with this brillian debut album and I was quickly taken with their brand of psychedelic indie rock. Last year I had the chance to see them, which was incredible in itself, but to make it even better, they played the song “Kids” with The Flaming Lips. Amazing.
I love the song “Time to Pretend” with its lyrics about the emptiness of rock stardom and the yearning for simpler times. At the same time, they throw in this gem that stands out to me as a office-working automaton.
This is our decision, to live fast and die young
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.
Yeah, it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do?
Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute.
Nights Like These: Music Fest, Day 1 May 2, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts, Memphis.
Tags: Beale Street Music Festival, Cage the Elephant, Cake, Flaming Lips, Manchester Orchestra, Memphis, MGMT, transcendence
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Friday morning I sat in my cubicle, fidgety with anticipation and with my mind running wild as I tried in vain to focus my energy on the tasks at hand, but after a few agonizing hours I quickly packed up and departed for the week. The day was here, and the biggest weekend-long music event of the year was upon us – the Beale Street Music Festival.
I’m a longtime attendee of Music Fest, only missing a handful of them since the mid-90’s, but never before had I ever seen a lineup the caliber of this year. From the day almost two months ago that they announced the bands, I’d been looking forward to this weekend with its big crowds, muddy feet, and eardrum-blasting music, waiting impatiently for the calendar dates to speed along and take me down to those banks of the mighty Mississippi.
That afternoon I rendezvoused with my friends Chris, Jerry, and Dan, and we soon headed over to the festival. It was a perfect evening, with clear skies overhead, a relatively dry ground beneath our feet, and temperatures hovering near the ideally comfortable mark. After making a run to the beer tent, we hiked over to catch some of indie rock band Manchester Orchestra’s set and, though I wasn’t that familiar with them, I found them to be an enjoyable way to kick off the weekend. We then met up with two more friends, Berry and Meredith, and witnessed a high-energy set from another newer alt-rock outfit, Cage the Elephant, that I enjoyed a great deal. I’ll have to make a point to check out some of their stuff later.
Next on the agenda was 1990’s alt-rock stalwart Cake, a band that first hit it big around the time I graduated from high school and went to college and that I always liked pretty well. Granted, I hadn’t kept up with any of their work since that time, but I still wanted to make a point to see their live show. I was impressed with how well their quirky nature and monotone-voiced singer came across in concert and even though I did not know several of the songs they played, it was a fun experience. I also ran into Sam, one of my brother’s best friends growing up, and got to hang out with he and his wife for a short time. It was great to see them, even though I wish we had had more time to catch up before losing each other while trekking over to the next band.
But these acts were merely an appetizer for what awaited us that Friday night, two of the bands that I most wanted to see at this year’s festival: MGMT and the Flaming Lips. It was after 9:00 when MGMT hit the stage with a crazy, psychedelic splash of color erupting on the screen behind them. The band, led by former Memphian Andrew VanWyngarden, ran through several selections from both of their albums, creating a kaleidoscopic tapestry across the Memphis sky and inviting us all to take part. From the opening strumming of “Pieces of What,” through the incredible “Time to Pretend,” racing by with a frantic “Brian Eno,” hovering with a totally mind-altering “Siberian Breaks,” and hitting the smash “Kids,” before ending with a rousing rendition of “Congratulations,” these guys were on fire that night.
The MGMT set then was like stepping into some weird, psychotropic worm hole, picking up the concert goers and transporting them across dimensions in a blaze of light and sound before depositing them in a whole new land, a strange and distant planet on which dwells the night’s headliner, the Flaming Lips. And if you’ve ever been to a Lips show, then you would most definitely agree that they are from some fantastical other world. I had heard many stories over the years of Lips’ shows, but nothing could have prepared me for the visual feast that awaited us on Friday night. It had everything you could imagine as well as some things that may only be found in the far reaches of an acid-soaked hallucination, from crazy lights to seemingly millions of pieces of confetti to giant colored balls bouncing around the audience to vocalist Wayne Coyne donning two gigantic hands that shot lasers into a disco ball. There were dancing people costumed as everything from giant bears to Wizard of Oz-types, and a multitude of other things, most of which were nearly impossible to keep up with because of the enormity of the spectacle. Coyne even climbed inside his giant, clear hamster ball and walked out over the crowd at one point, rolling around atop the masses as the crowd went wild with jubilant shout after jubilant shout. And then, of course, was the music, my God the incredible, soaring, sonic sounds of the Flaming Lips tearing through all the weird artistry, roping the madness together into one giant throng of joy. They played a number of selections from their immense catalog, gleefully cartwheeling through songs like, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, pt. 1,” “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song,” “Convinced of the Hex,” and “See the Leaves,” and even took the time to invite MGMT back onto the stage for a reimagining of their aforementioned tune “Kids,” before their transcendent, almost religious closer, “Do You Realize?” blew like a volcano into the sky, showering the concertgoers with such joyful exuberance and beauty that it is beyond words to describe. It was truly an experience not to be forgotten.
It was tiring, yet wonderful evening, and when I arrived back at my home around 2:00 am, I slid into bed, exhausted, but at the same time filled with light and joy in a way that I could almost shoot it from my fingertips, unable to contain the otherworldly glory of the vision I had just beheld.
Next: Day 2
Ten for Tuesday: Music Fest’s A-Comin! April 26, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts.
Tags: Beale Street Music Festival, Cake, Greg Allman, lineup, Lucero, Lucinda Williams, Memphis in May, MGMT, Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, the new pornographers, Wilco
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The biggest annual music event in Memphis is, without a doubt, the Beale Street Music Festival and I’ve made a point of attending the celebration for most of the past 15 years. Every year there is a certain level of anticipation, but never before can I remember being so enthusiastic about so many acts in one year. It should be a great one.
So, today I thought I would give you my top ten acts that I will try and see at this year’s Music Fest. You’ll notice a few artists missing that I might otherwise include – Stone Temple Pilots (playing at the same time as the Flaming Lips), Cee Lo (same time as The Avett Brothers), and Ziggy Marley (same time as Lucero), as well as an open slot for Saturday night’s headlining act – I’m not a huge John Mellencamp fan, but I’d take him over Ke$ha, but by-and-large I’d probably stick with these as the ones I want to see.
So, in the order they are appearing, here are the 10 acts I want to see at this year’s Music Fest:
Cake – 7:40 Friday
Cake hit it big around the time I graduated from high school with “The Distance” and their still-fun cover of “I Will Survive,” and though I always liked them fairly well, I mostly considered them to be sort of a novelty act. On the other hand, I have friends who swear by their live act and say it is not to be missed, so I’ll have to try and catch some of them Friday evening.
MGMT – 9:00 Friday
Dude, this is going to be a total psychedelic groove fest and I plan on being right in the middle of it when it all goes down. I loved their first album with incredibly catchy tunes like “Kids” and “Time to Pretend,” but I may like the 60’s-drenched psychedelic ramble of their second release even more. I’m totally pumped about them.
The Flaming Lips – 10:50 Friday
If there is one band that is a must-see for me this weekend it’s the Flaming Lips, a band I’ve been listening to for years and have long wanted to see live, but have never had the chance. When it comes to crazy psycedelia, nobody is even close to the Lips. They are the long-time reigning kings of acid-drenched weirdness and I cannot wait to see them live.
The New Pornographers – 5:40 Saturday
I was really excited to hear that this indie rock supergroup, which includes both Dan Bejar and a personal favorite, Neko Case, would be playing Music Fest this time around. Their brand of indie pop is impossible not to like.
Mumford & Sons – 7:15 Saturday
These guys made big waves in the folk community last year with an incredibly catchy release and an energetic live show, setting them up as darlings of the alt-country crowd. I found their first album to be both beautiful and brilliant, so I’ve got high hopes for their live show.
Lucinda Williams 8:55 Saturday
What can be said about Lucinda Williams, the long-time queen of alt-country? Her latest album, Blessed, is proof that, despite now being over 50 years of age, she can still produce some of the most relevant music around. I saw her at an earlier Music Fest some 10 years ago or so and she’s definitely on my list to see again this time.
Lucero 3:35 Sunday
Memphis’s own alt-country favorites are roaring back into town for another show that cannot be missed. Ben Nichols & company always put on a great show and I expect nothing less from them this year either.
Greg Allman 5:10 Sunday
Come on, he’s Greg Allman! One of the Allman Brothers! Of course I want to catch him live!
The Avett Brothers 6:55 Sunday
Much like the aforementioned Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers firmly put their stamp on the alt-country world over the past few years with recordings that range from high-octane banjo rock to tender ballads. I’ve never had the chance to see them before, so this one cannot be missed.
Wilco 8:40 Sunday
I’m a longtime fan of Wilco, but it seems like every time they come through the Memphis area, something comes up and I can’t make it. Well, this time around I will be there. Mark my words, I will be throwing down with Jeff Tweedy and the boys Sunday night.
What about you? Are you going? If so, who do you want to see?
Best of 2010 – Music Edition (11-20) December 14, 2010Posted by Matt in Best of 2010.
Tags: Best Music of 2010, Broken Bells, Cee Lo Green, Jamey Johnson, josh ritter, MGMT, Mumford and Sons, Sufjan Stevens, The Dead Weather, The Roots, Weezer
Last week we began our look back at the best albums of 2010, beginning with my 10 honorable mentions. Today we continue with those rated from 11-20. My tastes cover a wide range of styles and genres and I’ve tried to give a fair representation of everything I’ve enjoyed this year. Let me know what you think.
20. MGMT – Congratulations
MGMT struck gold with their 2008 debut Oracular Spectacular, so many fans of “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” awaited their sophomore release with bated breath, wondering how it might stack up. Though it received several mixed reviews upon its release, I actually liked it a good deal, probably even as much as their debut. What Congratulations lacks in hit songs, it gains in furthering the band’s trippy, psychedelic vision. This is much more akin to the Grateful Dead’s meandering space rock or the Flaming Lips utter weirdness than it is to something you might hear on the radio. It is the type of work you must listen to from beginning to end, rather than picking out individual songs, to truly grasp its magnificent scope. Their sound is full and shimmering with crazy colors, with ethereal voices permeating the strangely woven quilt of sound, holding it all together into a discernable whole. Download: the whole album, but if you must choose songs, get Its Working and the 12 minute opus Siberian Breaks.
19. Weezer – Hurley
I was once a huge Weezer fan, particularly of Pinkerton which came out when I was a college freshman and quickly became an integral part of my personal soundtrack for that year, but since then most of their work has been disappointing. Sure, they had a few great songs scattered about, but their albums always left me wanting. My hopes were not particularly high for Hurley, but I downloaded a copy not long after it came out, listened with skepticism, and came away a believer that Rivers Cuomo’s band still has it in them. This is, without a doubt, their best album since that mid-90’s masterpiece. This is the sound of the nerdy persona from “In the Garage” all grown up and dealing with being an adult, from ruminations on love (when we first met in the lunch room / my ocular nerve went “Pop, zoom”) to reminiscing about “playing hacky sack back with Audioslave was still Rage,” while still fretting about sex and the rock and roll life. This is a must own for all of you who have been waiting for Weezer to again reach the heights of their first two albums. Download: Memories, Smart Girls
18. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse garners a second entry on this year’s list with this collaboration with The Shins’ vocalist James Mercer. From the moment I heard of this pairing, I could not help but wonder how the pop styling of Mercer and the inventive hip-hop beats of Danger Mouse would mesh, but one listen allayed any misgivings and I quickly became a fan. Multilayered and moody, Broken Bells weave a tapestry of sound that envelops the listener, pulling them in with catchy rhythms and interesting instrumentation, and keeping them around with Mercer’s familiar vocals and shimmering harmonies. He sings things like, “Remember what they say / There’s no shortcut to a dream / It’s all blood and sweat / And life is what you manage in between,” and you can’t help but love it. Download: The Ghost Inside, October
17. Cee Lo Green – Ladykiller
Cee Lo has been around the music world for some time, first coming into the public eye in the 1990’s with Goodie Mob and then making huge waves over the past decade with Gnarls Barkley, his collaboration with Danger Mouse (Again!), and he again hits a home run with this solo outing. Cee Lo has a knack for old school funk and soul, mixing elements of George Clinton, James Brown, and Al Green, into a work of R&B greatness. Cee Lo takes on the persona of a potty-mouthed Stevie Wonder in what is probably the best song of the year, the hilarious and unavoidable “**** You” (which also includes one of my favorite lines of the year, “I guess he’s an Xbox and I’m more Atari / But the way you play your game ain’t fair”), he turns Band of Horses’ indie rock hit “No One’s Gonna Love You,” into a sultry, soulful piece of work that perhaps even tops the original version, and the rest of the album is a funky blast of joy. His voice is in great form and holds the entire work together as one of this year’s must-hear releases. Download: **** You, No One’s Gonna Love You
16. Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song
Once upon a time, I loved country music, but over the years it lost my interest. At some point I grew tired of the bland pop songs with a slight twang that filled every station’s playlist and, except for the older stuff, I gave up on the entire genre. Then I heard of Jamey Johnson. Johnson sets himself apart from the rest of the country music machine in almost every way, from his long-haired, scraggly-beard, mountain man look, to his gruff vocals, to his style somewhere around Waylon’s outlaw persona and Merle’s populist odes. The double album kicks off strong with “Lonely at the Top,” about a country music star complaining about life to a regular guy in a bar, who answers, “It might be lonely at the top / But it’s a bitch at the bottom,” then continues on for 24 more songs of good times, not-so-good times, and utter heartbreak. Being a double album, it does have its fair share of filler and probably a few too many slow moments, but when Johnson hits the nail on the head, he does it right. Download: Lonely at the Top, Can’t Cash My Checks
15. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
Given the number of years since his last release, 2005’s Illinois, it became quite clear to all but the most optimistic fan that Sufjan Stevens would not complete his ambitious 50 state project, but after a few listens to this latest release any disappointment will be forgotten. Age of Adz starts off like past Stevens’ work, with a fingerpicked guitar and his soft, almost childlike voice exuding hope and innocence, “And when I sleep on your couch I feel very safe / And when you bring the blankets I cover up my face.” With the second track, “Too Much,” it becomes clear that this is anything but an average Sufjan work. This time around the indie folk artist eschews his banjo and takes a very different path of sound, employing electronic beats on top of multi-layered orchestration, with a wide, almost indecipherable, variety of noises and strangeness. If the listener approaches Adz with an open mind and not with the expectation to hear Illionois, Part 2, they will be rewarded with one of the better releases of the year. Download: Vesuvius, Get Right Get Right
14. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
My good friend Smokey turned me on to Mumford & Sons earlier this year and soon the album became a favorite and a regularly played selection on my Ipod. They remind me at times of a folksy and more lyrically adept Dave Matthews Band with a large portion of the Avett Brothers thrown in for good measure. Who knew that an English folk band could do Americana as well as or better than anyone in this country? This is music with a spiritual aspect to it as well, not in a silly, CCM sort of way, but one that is authentic and real. Listening to Mumford & Sons, with lyrics like “You can understand dependence / When you know the maker’s hand,” makes me want to sit under the stars and contemplate my existence. It’s an album that sticks with you, haunts you, long after it finishes. Download: The Cave, Awake My Soul
13. Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away
I became a huge fan of Josh Ritter following his stellar 2006 release The Animal Years, and my devotion continued with the more varied but still excellent 2007 work The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I’ve long considered him to be one of the, if not the, best songwriters of my generation and having the chance to see him live a few years ago was a real treat. While this release may not reach the same heights as some of his previous releases and Ritter has a real gift at grabbing your attention, holding you close, with his words and a simple, fingerpicked guitar. From the opening words, “I had a dream last night / I dreamt that I was swimming / And the stars up above / directionless and drifting,” he reaches into your very soul, making you want to fall in love and run away and actually live. If you value wonderful, poetic songwriting and accessible melodies, you need to check this out. Download: Another New World, The Curse
12. The Roots – How I Got Over
Veteran hip-hop act The Roots may have had the biggest year yet in their illustrious career in 2010, continuing their gig as Jimmy Fallon’s house band and releasing two excellent albums – a collaboration with John Legend and the one listed here. In a genre often seen as being filled with mindless junk, The Roots are a beacon of hope. Their songs are intelligently written and speak of social issues with a call to action, rather than one of anger and violence. On How I Got Over the group is in excellent form, perhaps as good as they have been over their entire career, making this a must-have for fans of good hip-hop. Their knack for combining and creating sounds from genres as disparate as jazz and indie rock only augments their creative genius. Download: Walk Alone, Radio Daze
11. The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
As a longtime fan, I will gladly take my place among the disciples of the greatest guitar god of this era, Jack White (who actually plays drums here), and this latest release from his other side band is yet another triumphant success. The Dead Weather is what might be called an indie supergroup, consisting of White (The White Stripes and The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs), and they flat-out rock. Their sound shares some similarities with White’s other projects in that this is riff-based blues-based guitar rock a la Zeppelin that violently bludgeons the listener’s eardrums with sounds meant to be played loud. Really loud. The synthesizers add a nice psychedelic cushion to the mix without going over the top, but they are merely a backdrop to the churning guitars and insane solos. This is some intense stuff. Download: Die by the Drop, Gasoline
Coming Soon: The Top Ten
The Best of 2010…So Far – Part 2 June 30, 2010Posted by Matt in Best of 2010.
Tags: Best of 2010, Broken Bells, Carolina Chocolate Drops, drive-by truckers, josh ritter, MGMT, music, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, The Black Keys, The Dead Weather, The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady
10. Carolina Chocolate Drops – Genuine Negro Jig
As you are probably aware by now, I like a lot of music that resides somewhere outside the mainstream, whether that be the return of an old style or the creation of a new one, so when I heard about the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an all-black, old time string band that plays a wide variety of music – from traditional tunes to hip-hop favorites – I was intrigued to say the least. When my dad gave me a copy of this, their latest album, I quickly became a fan. Needless to say, you won’t hear anything else like this anywhere else.
Download: Hit ‘Em Up Style, Cornbread and Butterbeans, Your Baby Ain’t Sweet Like Mine
9. Broken Bells – Broken Bells
There aren’t very many producers that can induce me to buy an album, but Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) is one of them. I’ve been intrigued with his work ever since his strange and very cool mash-up of Jay-Z’s Black Album with The Beatles’ White Album, and since that time he has worked on fantastic albums by Gorillaz, The Black Keys, Beck, and others, not to mention his own great project, Gnarls Barkley. So, with everything he touches seeming to turn to gold, this collaboration with The Shins’ James Mercer was a must-get, and let me tell you, it was worth it. Mixing Mercer’s voice, which fits so well in the melodic context of The Shins, with experimental hip-hop beats was a stroke of genius. I’ll be returning to this one far more than I will The Shins’ albums that I own.
Download: The High Road, The Ghost Inside, Vaporize
8. MGMT – Congratulations
MGMT’s debut album, Oracular Spectacular, was a gargantuan success, spawning several hit songs (“Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” etc.) and breaking the band into the mainstream in a big way. While their sophomore release does not have the recognizable singles of its predecessor, it may be an even better overall album. Their sound is a trippy, psychedelic ride that flows with ease from one song to the next for the entire duration of the album. It is truly an experience not to be missed.
Download: It’s Working, Flash Delirium, and really just download the whole thing. It’s worth it.
7. Josh Ritter – So Runs the World Away
Josh Ritter’s prior two releases, Animal Songs and The Historic Conquests of Josh Ritter, have been among my favorites in the respective years of their release. His songwriting ability is superb, placing him near or at the top of my generation, and earning him comparisons to other greats like Bruce Springsteen. Though I cannot say I like his latest release as much as the past two or three, but it is still very, very good. His easy voice and fingerpicked guitar make for the perfect accompaniment in a stressful work environment.
Download: The Curse, Southern Pacifica, Folk Bloodbath
6. Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do
Every album release from DBT is an event for fans like me, who collect all of the works of this greatest among Southern rock bands and make a point to see them each and every time they play a nearby show (next one: September). Though the band has undergone a few personnel changes over the years, core members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley remain and continue to produce some of the best music coming out of Dixie. Their songs tell tales from the dark side of life in the South, with tales of people suffering in a floundering economy, death, and a certain Tennessee preacher’s wife who shot her husband dead. It’s another triumph for the band and I’m really looking forward to seeing this fall for the 6th time.
Download: Birthday boy, Drag the Lake Charlie, The Wig He Made Her Wear
5. The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever
I became a huge fan of The Hold Steady following their incredible 2008 release, Stay Positive, and have been ever since, picking up the majority of the back catalog and listening to it incessantly. Though this one sounds a bit cleaner and less bar band-like, than their past releases, it still makes for one heck of a listen. From their slower-than-normal, almost country sounding opener, through the rest of the album, the band utilizes frontman Craig Finn’s gift for storytelling to weave tale after tale of real life, creating a Springsteen-esque (the 2nd of 3 Bruce references in this blog entry) tapestry of regular people struggling to get by. Oh, and I’m planning on going to see them at the Hi-Tone next month. I have no doubt it will be awesome.
Download: Hurricane J, The Weekenders, We Can Get Together
4. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
It is quite interesting that we can point to so many artists today as having been greatly influenced by Bruce Springsteen, but that is probably no more apparent than with The Gaslight Anthem, whose sound I described in 2008, following the release of the fantastic That ’59 Sound, as a “young Springsteen fronting The Clash.” Their latest release is another incredible work, melding the blue collar ethic of The Boss with their punk sensibilities into something that you just can’t put away. It’s a catchy blast of New Jersey garage rock that you can’t help but love.
Download: American Slang, Stay Lucky, The Queen of Lower Chelsea
3. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – I Learned the Hard Way
All hail Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, for they come to us bearing a wonderful gift, one that we may not have even realized we were missing. Jones & company have resurrected an Aretha-like soul and R&B sound, and they’ve done it in a suberb way. The Brooklyn-based band reportedly shun modern digital recording equipment in favor of analog, to ensure their retro sound. I absolutely love this album and when I start playing it I just can’t stop. Believe me, you need to check this out.
Download: The Game Gets Old, I Learned the Hard Way, Money
2. The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
Let me be up front about this: I will be a lifelong fan of Jack White and everything he touches. This album is the best non-White Stripes recording he has been a part of. The entire work rocks from beginning to end, with heavy blues-based guitar riffs, pounding drums, and some killer songs combining into an excellent whole. White and Alison Mosshart (of The Kills) share vocal duties in a howling, shrieking morass of awesomeness. My favorite line by White: “All the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.” Awesome. Now I only wish I had been able to see them when they played Memphis a few months ago…
Download: Die By the Drop, Blue Blood Blues, The Difference Between Us
1. The Black Keys – Brothers
Psychedelic blues-rock duo The Black Keys have done it – they’ve created a masterpiece. I love everything the Keys have done, from the heavy blues of Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory to the Danger Mouse-produced Attack & Release and everything in between, but this album is just flat-out incredible. They retain some of their blues sensibilities while continuing to expand their sound far beyond anything that seems humanly possible for just two people, one with a drum set and one with a guitar. To add to the coolness, my 7 year old daughter thinks vocalist Dan Auerbach sounds like Prince on some songs. Just turn this one up loud, and I mean loud, and enjoy it.
Download: Everlasting Light, Next Girl, Tighten Up, She’s Long Gone
Free Music Friday: MGMT April 9, 2010Posted by Matt in free music friday.
Tags: It's Working, live, MGMT
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Today’s free music Friday comes from the soon-to-be-released new album from recent indie rock darlings, MGMT. I’ve had the opportunity to stream the entire new work through NPR and let me tell you it is great – a real trippy, psychedelic, and fun album that is not to be missed. This is a live version of the opener, “It’s Working.” Enjoy.
Best of the Decade – Music Edition (51-60) December 17, 2009Posted by Matt in Top 100 of the Decade.
Tags: albums, Band of Horses, Beck, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, decade, Kings of Leon, MGMT, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, The Gaslight Anthem, The Jayhawks, The Killers, top 100
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Don’t worry, I have not forgotten about my top 100 of the decade list even though it has been more than a week since I updated it. Today we continue our look back at the greatest albums of the past ten years. In case you missed them, you can read the other entries below:
60. Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans (2004)
Undoubtedly the most spiritual of the young singer-songwriter’s album catalog, Seven Swans is bursting with life, despite being one of Stevens’ sparser efforts. Most of the songs from this release consist of Stevens’ earnest, wavering voice and his trusty banjo, without much of the orchestration and electronic sounds of his other works. Stevens openly displays faith as a motivator behind his music career on songs like “Abraham” and “The Transfiguration,” and it works far better than any CCM artist.
59. Beck – The Information (2006)
From the opening line, “One, two, you know what to do,” to the last, Beck weaves together an altogether fun album reminiscent of his work in the 90’s. The danceable rhythms, stoned-sounding vocals, and the occasional Spanish phrase thrown in for good measure are vintage Beck and that’s a great thing. I’ve been a big fan for going on 15 years and his fun sense of creativity hardly ever disappoints. Check out songs like “Elevator Music” and “Cellphone’s Dead” to get a good taste of his mid-2000’s greatness.
58. Spoon – Gimme Fiction (2005)
Speaking of danceable tunes, Spoon has put out a ton of them in this decade and every collection has proved to be excellent. This was the first album of theirs that I bought and it quickly turned me into a fan. This is the way good pop music is supposed to sound. Listen to “I Turn My Camera On,” and “The Delicate Place,” and I promise that you’ll agree.
57. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (2008)
This breakthrough album took the country by storm in 2008 and with good reason. “Time to Pretend,” with its resonating tale of youthful hopes and dreams being dashed to pieces against the disappointments of life, is one of the best songs of the decade. These relative newcomers have a great future ahead of them and I look forward to hearing their future releases. In addition to aforementioned tune, be sure to check out “Weekend Wars,” and “Electric Feel.”
56. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (2006)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut album broke new ground soon after it was released by becoming one of the first word-of-mouth hits of the internet era. Though it had little radio support in the beginning, positive attention from music blogs soon pushed the band out of the shadows and into the spotlight, cementing their place in the 2000’s indie rock canon. Among the best songs that you should hear from this release are “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth,” and “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away.”
55. The Gaslight Anthem – That ’59 Sound (2008)
In case you ever wondered what would happen if a young Bruce Springsteen had fronted the Clash, here is your answer. The Gaslight Anthem blaze through songs that seem like snapshots of real life in small town America with a punk rock ferocity. Like the aforementioned Springsteen, they name-drop characters (like Mary, unsurprisingly) all around, lending an air of realism to each of these slices of Americana. Check out the songs “That ’59 Sound” and “Great Expectations.”
54. The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (2003)
The Jayhawks were among folk rock’s elite few when this excellent album, thus far their final one, dropped in 2003. With harmonies that echo The Byrds and a plethora jangling melodies, this release is there to make one smile, even when the subject matter wouldn’t normally lend itself to that kind of reaction. Among my favorite tunes on the album are “Stumbling Through the Dark,” and “All the Right Reasons,” but the entire thing is great.
53. The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004)
This debut album from The Killers, with its retro-1980’s sound reminiscent of bands like Duran Duran, was a huge hit in the mid-2000’s and with good reason. It’s catchy and fun dance rock that sticks in your head for days after you hear it. Listen to “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside,” and then see if you can get them out of your mind.
52. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin (2007)
At times their sound echoes contemporaries My Morning Jacket and classic rocker Neil Young, but this album really set BoH as their own band and as a force with which to be reckoned. Their reverb drenched vocals and decidedly Southern sound need to be heard. Check out songs like “Is There a Ghost” and “Detlef Schrempf for a nice primer on the band and then pick up the whole album.
51. Kings of Leon – Only By Night (2008)
These sons of a traveling Pentecostal preacher slowly built up their status in the U.S. over the decade before breaking through in 2008 with this magnum opus, turning them from bluesy, southern rock purveyors to arena rock headliners. Though not my favorite of their works, the huge sound of Only By Night is made for the big stage. Listen to “Crawl,” “Sex on Fire,” and “Use Somebody.”
To be continued…