Culture Bully’s Best of 2010 Guest Posts
Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: Interviews, Lists, Music, Nashville, Twin Cities.
To close the year out, Culture Bully solicited contributions from artists sharing their year-end lists, reflecting on their favorite things of 2010.
A blend of South African and Austrailian musicians, Clubfeet released their debut album, Gold on Gold, this past summer. Comparing the trio to such acts as Hot Chip and the Junior Boys, Pitchfork‘s Brian Howe wrote of the release, “Gold on Gold is as satisfying a take on indie-dance as you’re likely to hear.” And much like Clubfeet’s music is a shimmering elixer of electrpop, the group recently assembled a series of cocktail recipes that capture the essence of their favorite musical highlights from 2010; here are Clubfeet’s “Top Five Music Inspired Cocktails of 2010.”
“RIP Isadora Duncan”
1 X Porfidio 100% Agave Single Barrel Anejo Tequila shot
1 X high-powered wind-machine
1 X noise-cancelling headphones
1 X scarf
1 X Broken Social Scene Forgiveness Rock Record album
Good for: existential moments, blow-drying
“Even the Sun is on Heat”
1 X super-chilled Indian pale ale
1 X Delorean Subiza album
1 X towel
1 X sauna
(Sit in the sauna until boiling point, proceed to pour the pale ale over yourself. Start dancing)
Good for: detoxing/heart-attacks
1 X Hendricks martini with rare red cucumber
1 X tab of acid
1 X Hermes dress suit
1 X Hurts Happiness album
(Down the martini and place the tab in your eye. Look at yourself in the mirror until your face begins to melt).
Good for: identity crises/ab workouts
1 X frozen vodka & pomegranate lollipop
1 X School uniform
1 X Holga camera
1 X The Radio Dept. Clinging to a Scheme album
(Get drunk, talk shit, take photos. Nothing has changed since we were teenagers!)
Good for: teenagers, kidults.
“The Old Man and the Sea”
1 X Mojito laced with kava
1 X National High Violet album
1 X smoke machine
1 X novel, The Old Man and the Sea
Good for: when you just feel like being left the fuck alone.
“I wonder how long it will take until people will finally recognize the greatness of Eli Escobar” wrote Discodust in early 2009, but the New York-based DJ and producer’s service to the scene is far lengthier than the shout-out might suggest. Time Out explains how his “productions have that appealing blend of old-school house flavor and of-the-moment tang”; which is fitting though, as the the veteran DJ covers all of the above without a hint of irony. The man knows his stuff because he’s been there: influenced just as much by ’80s alternative as early Kid Capri, Escobar grew up in Harlem in the ’80s and consumed a diverse range of music which has done well to develop his aural palate, lending him a sincerity in his sets that isn’t widely felt in the club scene. A Puerto Rican father, a Greek mother, and an insatiable thirst for comic books and Fleetwood Mac, Escobar’s musical range is about as unique as the man is himself. This past year saw the DJ continue lighting up the night in addition to laying down a fresh track with “Might Like You Better”-vocalist Amanda Blank; a collaboration which became just one of his favorite musical memories from the past year. Checking in via email, here are Escobar’s highlights from 2010.
#1) The last hour of the Tiki Disco parties: This past summer DJs Lloydski, Andy Pry and I threw a Sunday evening party in the backyard area of the restaurant Roberta’s in Bushwick. We’d spend the day sitting in the sun, drinking margaritas and playing records but once the sun went down the dance floor would get going and it would transform into the most fun party ever. I was completely out of commission most Mondays of the summer thanks to Tiki Disco.
#) DJing In Chicago with Farley Jackmaster Funk: I suppose this would be the equivalent of Ralph Machio getting to jam with Robert Johnson at the crossroads or something. Anyways, a truly unforgettable night. It’s easy enough to play dance music for the kids, but super intimidating to play for a bunch of old heads in the home of house music.
#3) My single and video for “Love Thing (Pt. 3) ” featuring Amanda Blank: People always ask me why I never play my own music in my sets. The truth is I once I finish a song or remix, I usually hate it and can only hear the flaws in the mix down or think to myself “I shoulda changed this or that.” But for some reason I love this song and the video as well. I love it when Amanda sings and she wrote such an awesome, sad melody for my beat. I worked really hard on the music and remixed it over and over ’til I got it right. I guess it payed off!
#4) Hearing the Storm Queen record for the first time: This was at Lloyd and my monthly party “Work” at the Submercer in Soho. Lloyd played it and I was floored. So many great records need a little time to grow on you but sometimes a song is so great you know it right off the bat. I hope this will inspire more people in the indie dance scene to release vocal records.
#5) Getting packages from Discogs: An almost daily occurrence. It’s so fun getting records from the mailman everyday! Also when you order as many as I do, you start to lose track of what you’ve ordered so it’s kind of a surprise to see what you’ll get each day. I know buying music is way out of style but I still love it.
This past summer Hamilton, Ontario-based MC and producer Emay dropped an EP’s worth of tracks with his Emay, Karen, and the Kids album. Reworking tracks from Karen O’s (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) contribution to the Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack, it wasn’t long before Emay began a new project: Seeing Suge; a collaboration between the MC, California-based producer Blackbird Blackbird, and UK-based producer Star Slinger. Pigeons and Planes commented on the group’s lead single, “Breaking,” noting its “lush backdrop filled with a mix of electronic textures.” Ending the year as he started it however, Emay recently dropped his last solo track of 2010 in the gritty “Racist on Purpose” (featured below). To close out the year the MC recently got in touch with his favorite memories from 2010, here’s what he had to say:
My favorite musical moment is probably getting to open for Wax this past June. I’d always done shows at very small bars and such for practice, but this was the first time where there was over 100 people that I got to perform for. My summer was pretty long and boring, so it was definitely a highlight that sped things up for me. It was also really weird because when he performed in Canada the year before, I was merely a fan of his music. I never thought he’d end up loving my material enough to let me open for him. It was awesome. I’ll also be working on some stuff with his partner EOM.
My second moment would probably have to be when Kanye performed at the MTV awards. I like a lot of Kanye’s music, but I was never a huge fan or anything in terms of his persona, but when I saw him in the middle of that stage with the MPC, it blew me away for some reason. Everything about it was just epic. Especially when Pusha T came out of nowhere. I also thought that was funny because I knew a shit load of people were thinking “Who the hell is that?”
This one would have to be when I first listened to the Intuit album by Ramona Falls. Although this album dropped in August 2009, that was the first time I took the time out to listen to it. Everything about that album just blows me away, especially the production. I was going through a lot of typical teenage stress at that time because it was my last year of high school and I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated, so every time that “Going Once, Going Twice” track plays and I hear him say “I’m desperate to find a rest bed for my mind,” it keeps the mind at ease.
My last one would have to be when I heard Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus. This album to me is like a genre on its own. When this album came out I was in the mind state of “Music is hopeless and unoriginal, blahblahblah,” so when I heard this album it was pretty much a slap to the face. Flying Lotus has enough producers and beatmakers that try to emulate his older styles, and then all of a sudden he drops this album and it’s something entirely new. If anyone can innovate, it’s Flying Lotus. I’m satisfied with 2010. I hope everyone else was too!
“Nashville’s Heavy Cream plays aggressive, catchy punk anchored by an intense frontwoman who looks like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, but wails like Glenn Danzig on Walk Among Us. It’s awesome.” That’s the introduction given by DeadJournalist‘s Denton Poteet from his review of the band’s show in Atlanta this past summer. The four-piece is just one of many blooming within Nashville’s burgeoning garage scene to have seen a bit of national press this past year, though they’re arguably one of Music City’s most promising. Last month Nylon‘s Liz Darwin featured a profile of the group, commenting how “Listening to garage-punk band Heavy Cream is like speeding down the highway at 100 mph: fast, exhilarating, and a little bit dangerous.” ‘Nuff said. Dropping their debut full-length album via Infinity Cat earlier this year, the band will be closing out 2010 when they return to Atlanta with JEFF the Brotherhood, performing on New Year’s Eve at the 539 club. The group recently touched base with their favorite memories from the band’s breakout year; here are the memories that stood out along the way:
Next Big Nashville at Third Man Records. Night one we got to play with Cy [Barkley], Cheap Time, the Ettes and JEFF the Brotherhood; live set got recorded and was amazing.
Halloween in Denton, Texas. Opening band VIDEO (from Denton—members of Bad Sports and Wiccans) blew us away. Best frontman ever.
The Splinters new 7″ and the s/t Cy Barkley 7″.
Getting to tour all year long, playing with amazing bands all over the country and watching all our best friends from Nashville get so much attention locally and nationally. Watching Big Surr & Denney and the Jets.
Ty Segall on Danny’s birthday in Nashville.
Seeing Poison Idea, Marked Men, Bastard, the Spits, Ty Segall and Nobunny at Chaos in Tejas.
Playing Chaos in Tejas with JEFF the Brotherhood, Nobunny and the Ponys.
Meeting Ted Leo & the Pharmacists in Pittsburgh. (They are the most humble baddddasss dudes.)
Having our debut album get released and having everyone being so supportive of us almost everywhere we go. So amazing.
Kevin Devine of Bad Books
The roots of Bad Books originally began to form a few years back as Kevin Devine and the Manchester Orchestra toured together in late-2008. As camaraderie grew, so too did the concept of working on a collaborative project. Earlier in 2010 those plans began to materialize, Devine eventually revealing that the musicians were planning a release as Bad Books which would drop later in the year. As the year progressed the band also laid the groundwork for a brief tour, which resulted in a select few east coast dates this past fall. The album, simply titled Bad Books, saw its release in October, with general reaction citing the unique blend between the individual styles represented in the group. PopMatters commented, “Listeners expecting a carbon copy of either Devine’s modern troubadour or Manchester Orchestra’s high-energy angst-pop may be surprised to find elements of both combined here to create a richer, layered experience.” Now, as 2011 approaches, vocalist Kevin Devine looks back on the whirlwind year by sharing his favorite musical moments and records from 2010.
#1) Seeing Pavement at Coachella in April: We played the same day as them (hours earlier on a much smaller stage, but hey). When I was 15 I saw Pavement at Lollapalooza and threw cassette tape demos of my band at the stage (hoping, I guess, Malkmus would catch up, pop it in on the van ride that night, and decide sight unseen to take the asshole who just tried to kill him on tour). Superchunk also played that show and basically shaped everything about the way I wanted to play onstage from that point on. Mac was five feet away from me sidestage in April in Indio watching Pavement reunited. My brain still can’t totally process it. The show was fucking great, Malkmus was hysterically droll (“And, that was the ’90s” after ‘Cut Your Hair’”) and Bob Nastanovich handed out beer to strangers and hugged me as he walked off stage. Had a wonderful encore of this experience with my younger brother and girlfriend at the Agganis Arena at Boston University in September, but this was the true mindblower.
#2) LCD Soundsystem “This Is Happening” & Coachella performance: This record and this band manage a rare and impressive trick—they make accessibly specific palatable music that is as popular as it is undeniably subcultural. Their best record is dense, smart, arch, sincere, broad in its influences without being derivative, just very realized and developed dance music for and by ex-punks. They tore it up before Jay-Z at Coachella, too. Managed to look both totally comfortable and totally aware of the insanity of the moment. I was charmed.
#3) The National “Bloodbuzz Ohio”: I liked the whole High Violet record, but the single for me stood on its shoulders. Just such an undeniably cool and appealing and propulsive song, killer melody, great lyrics, and a refreshingly adult song in its treatment of sexuality, identity, loss of direction. A very appropriate song for a specific American moment.
#4) Vampire Weekend “Contra”: Yeah, I know. Me too. Totally. Didn’t expect it. So clean, so antiseptic, so blah blah blah car commercial whitewashing of indie rock. Largely true. Also, I listened to “Horchata” more than any other single song this year, seriously considered (and still am) covering “I Think Ur a Contra,” and save for two or three songs that were too sugary even for my sweet tooth, this record impressed the shit out of me. Dude’s melodic sensibility developed exponentially to “nearly perfect pop song” status, as did the short-story detail focus of his lyrical eye (much and unfairly maligned for writing about his set of admittedly urbane upper crust Ivy League BUT ACTUAL experiences—aren’t we supposed to write what we know?). Trust me, I’m as surprised as anybody.
#5) Seeing Levon Helm & Okkervil River with my mom at Terminal 5 in NYC this January: Basking in a proud moment for my buddies in Okkervil aside, it was legitimately awe-inspiring to see Levon up there. Perspective enhancing, humbling. He was genuinely and obviously so thrilled to be there, to still be able to do what he loves, to still have people give a shit, to be healthy enough to perform. About 10 years ago, he played a church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to about 100 people. To see where he is today, killing in front of 3500 grateful and adoring people, and to see it with my mom, my first and truest gatekeeper to any cool music, was a pretty amazing way to start the year.
Even when throatily breathing her way through a cheeky rendition of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” does Madison‘s vocal approach ooze a succulent playfulness that is as enticing musically as it is entirely seductive. Having previously released a taste of what’s to come with the forthcoming The Noise Some People Make EP, the vocalist has already drawn out plans to make a huge splash in the new year with the release of three more EPs. However, the multiple EPs or general pop label isn’t to suggest she’s an American counterpart to someone like Robyn who has nearly singlehandedly revitalized the role of a pop vocalist. Rather, as Alt Sounds explained, “The kind of music being produced by the mono-named Madison here is undeniably pop, but is also smeared with a knowing cloak of irony.” She’s sugary, but not without realizing so, and sultry without the tired implication of transparent innocence. As the date nears for The Noise Some People Make to drop (January 18 via +1 Records) the singer checked in to reflect on the year that was, sharing her top musical moments of 2010.
Iceland Airwaves: It is very popular to drink until you vomit in Iceland. I saw this at many show and clubs. It was awesome.
The Postelles: Who are cute! The Postelles rocked it in a really killer venue that was like an old theater on a lake called Iðnó
Coachella 2010: Bobby Womack onstage with Gorrilaz, wobblin’, hootin’, wailin’ and shufflin’ all over the place. Anyone who can squeeze in several OWWWWWWs and LOOKOUTs for no reason onstage are #1 in my book.
Muse: No one can say this band is not killer live, even if you’re not a Muse fan, they kill it and Matthew Bellamy has rock star chops. The mid-performance change of pants was definitely a pretty chic move.
Flying Lotus: Makes me smile because he obviously loves what he is doing and it shows. He jams so hard in a nonchalant kind of way… Like, “oh this old beat, nah!”
Phoenix: Sundown. Twilight. Magic hour. Spark up doobie. Perfect warm mellow vibe. When they started their set it was like a tribal call to the wild: “Come hither. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words.”
CMJ NYC 2010: Electric Tickle Machine. Mid-day, Mid-week upstairs at Pianos can be lame but not with this band bringing the fire. In particular the tambourine man, a tall drink of water—sassy as all get out! I see you shakin’ that ass.
Top Albums/EPs of 2010:
Twin Shadow Forget
The Morning Benders Big Echo
Local Natives Gorilla Manor
Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Matt and Kim Sidewalks
Jamie Lidell Compass
Mumord and Sons Sigh No More
Arcade Fire The Suburbs
Keegan Dewitt Nothing Shows
Albums I can’t wait for: Magic Wands, Life in Film & Chappo.
Since dropping The Passion in 2009, the Minneapolis-based MC has been staking out a name for himself by expanding his presence as a live performer as well as steadily releasing new music all along the way. Recently Mally appeared alongside Muja Messiah & Big Jess on a MPLS collab which has seen some blog love, but for the most part the MC has been steadily collaborating with producer the Sundance Kid on a series of songs which included the heavy hitting “Heir Time” this past October. Most recently the duo dropped “Cloud Culture” (featured below), a celebratory track released to cap of 2010′s run. Looking back on the year, Mally recently got in touch to share his favorite musical memories from 2010. Here’s what he had to say:
Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: This had to be my favorite rap album of 2010 on a mainstream scale. The main reason would have to be for the album’s cohesiveness from start to finish. Kanye West has never been the best rapper or most technical when it came to delivery, but his confidence and style gave his lyrics much more life. Each song was a piece of the fantasy that produced the whole, and Kanye paints a clear picture for the listener of who he is at this point in time. Honorable Mentions on this album are: “Dark Fantasy,” “Power,” “So Appalled,” “Devil in a New Dress,” “Runaway,” and “Lost in the World.”
If somebody were to ask me about other largely publicized rap albums that came out this year, I don’t remember them. Maybe that’s just my internal lifecycle for certain records becoming shorter, but I won’t forget Kanye for his controversial moments in the media and such a great project.
The Black Keys Brothers: This was my first time ever hearing about these guys and I was highly impressed with this record. I thought the instrumentation and vocals on every song was absolutely great. In addition, the album artwork was one of one and very original from the inserts to the title. I got the sense I was listening to a group of close friends sing and play their life on wax and there was a connection through that. They came to play a two night show in Minneapolis at First Avenue’s main room and sold out immediately. For the first time in my life I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to make a concert and IT WASN’T IN THE GENRE OF RAP. I wish I would have known more about this duo in the past, but now I’ve got homework to do. I look forward to seeing what the Black Keys come out with next.
Joe Budden Mood Muzik 4: Joe Budden has been one of my favorite MCs in hip-hop since he first blessed the underground mixtape scene in 2002. He will always be remembered for his never ending wit, original use of metaphor execution, delivery, and very personal and open content on his records. He has been able to take all of those attributes and mold them into what he’s coined as “Mood Muzik.” I have been an avid listener of series one to three and most recently number four. If you listen to Joe, in a sense you know Joe from track 1-17. On this release he seems to becoming more aware of his words; turning 30, his family and being at peace with himself learning that all the glamor and glitz (if there is any) don’t make the man. I think there were some songs such as “Sober Up”—”1,000 Faces” and “Role Reversal” were a bit forced. On the other hand, “Pray For Me,” “Stuck In The Moment,” “Come Along,” “Follow Your Lead,” “No Idea” and “Remember The Titans” were natural moments of shine where he felt comfortable to put all his cards on the table. I have grown to become a better artist because of people like Joe Budden for his range and ability to show several sides of himself… It’s inspiring. I recommend this record for those who enjoy listening (watching) to an artist paint the perfect imperfect picture.
eLZhi “Deep” (video): eLZhi has never disappointed when he grabbed a pen and put his mind to the page with releases like Euro Pass, The Preface and countless verses as a former member of Slum Village. “Deep” is exactly what the title indicates in the song, not just because of the content, but the way he delivered and put together the patterns in his bars. This track was one of my favorites off of his most recent mixtape, The Leftovers. In addition, the visual representation was sharp, crafted very well and a huge favorite in 2010. It always motivates me to see one of my favorites produce classic material.
Black Milk feat. Danny Brown “Black & Brown”: Next to “Deadly Medley” this track was one of the best on Black Milk’s Album of the Year. The second I heard the chords drop in, I knew this joint would be a problem. Black Milk starts off his verse and gets through a barrage of lyrics that left me feeling like “What can Danny Brown say to top this?” As soon as Danny Brown started rapping he took the approach he takes on all his verses which is: I Don’t Give A Shit. Lines like “Blade on me homie mask on like Shenobi/Ball so hard got an MVP trophy” or “Hoes on a n*gga and they all look thirsty/Say they 19 and they all look 30/Everyday clean y’all always dirty” take the cake and he reigned supreme. Both MCs came with their poker faces on so much so they will be working on a Black and Brown EP to drop in 2011. I can’t wait.
Capping off a breakthrough year which saw Oh Land (the moniker of solo artist Nanna Øland Fabricius) showcased by a wide range of high profile media outlets (including this beautiful piece in Interview), the singer was recently named Artist of the Month by the Deli Magazine. In addition to that, the thirtytwo-directed clip for her track “Sun of a Gun” was recently named The Best Freshman Video by mtvU. Now as the dust settles on 2010 and the Danish vocalist looks ahead to the new year, Oh Land shares her favorite musical memories from the past year.
#1) My favorite album of the year is Beach House‘s Teen Dreams. I saw Beach House live for the first time at SXSW in 2009. I had just got signed to Epic and was over the moon. It had been such exhausting days with meetings and shows and running around and when I saw Beach House it just put me in a trance. It was like being under water. Since then I have always been listening to Beach House whenever everything is a bit chaotic…
#2) My favorite instrument of the year has been my big “Swiss army music box” that I have been designing together with my team of mad hatters. It was a really long process from idea developing, drawings, testing to the actual making of it. I play with it for all my live shows and it does what I’ve always wanted to do; give electronic music a physical body and not just be something streaming out of a computer. I am triggering all sorts of samples and sounds on drumpads and there’s a motion activated lightscreen on the front. I love crazy stuff like that, it makes me feel like a child.
#3) My favorite music video is “Bombay” by El Guincho. It must have taken forever to make it since it’s just a visual patchwork of great but simple ideas. I love the fact that none of it looks expensive or super produced, it just shows a great quirky mind and I don’t find the nudity in it racy at all. It’s all executed in a very tasteful and fun way. It makes me wanna crack eggs on my head and braid my hair together with other people’s hair (haha).
#4) Best TV performance idea: I thought MIA‘s “Born Free” performance on Letterman was visually a genius idea. She went on stage with about 10 lookalikes, all dressed like her, singing and performing. It was such a simple but super efficient idea and it was all about the staging for me.
#5) Best live concert I’ve been to this year must be Florence and the Machine at Terminal 5. She has such a great stage presence and I love the fact that she is completely herself. Not trying to move in any particular style but just looks like an elf coming from the forest enjoying music. She had a great and simple show and the live harp added an almost fairytale vibe to the show. I met her after the show and she was just as nice as the music is beautiful.
Sims of the Doomtree crew
To put it lightly, the past year has been a good one for Minneapolis’ Doomtree collective. And with releases by from Dessa, Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak already in the can, 2011 looks to kick off on a high note with the release of Sims‘ Bad Time Zoo. The MC recently sent over this video, explaining his favorite memories from the year gone by: touching on the Doomtree tour and watching GAYNGS lay down “The Gaudy Side Of Town” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in addition to revealing some info on his upcoming projects. Bad Time Zoo is set to drop February 15 via Doomtree Records.
Also, for those in the area, Sims will be performing at Minneapolis’ 501 Club on New Years Eve. Kristoff Krane will be opening.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]