Posts Tagged ‘Danger Mouse’

Looking Back at 2011

December 19, 2011

It’s been a good year for listening to music.  I felt like I listened to a lot more new artists (at least to me) this year than I have since I was a teenager.  I also rediscovered a lot of old albums that I hadn’t heard in awhile.

Best (and worst) music platform – Since it came to our shores earlier this year, I’ve been a big fan of Spotify.  One of my recurring posts this year revolved around recounting what I’d been listening to on Spotify.  Easy to use with a huge library, it was a great way to listen to new albums in their entirety as well as catch up on old albums I haven’t heard since I had a cassette player.  So why’s it also get a worst nod.  A few weeks ago, it started crashing my computer any time I tried to run it.  Like total freeze-up crash, have to manually power down and restart the machine crashes.  In trying to find an answer, I’ve uncovered a wealth of problems others have with the app.  I also found that customer support is spotty (sorry).  I finally found a customer support email; I did finally get a response after two weeks, asking me what version of Spotify I was running.  We’ll see if they can come up with a solution.  Wonder if the expansion to the US has overextended the service and its employees?  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I’m going to be checking out turntable.fm and rdio to see what they have to offer in 2012.

Best Concert – Ben Folds at The Wiltern.  I loved the stage banter, the energy, and the music was phenomenal.  I went in with only a little bit of knowledge about his music, but I left wanting to hear more and learn more about him.  That’s the mark of a good concert.  Honorable mention to Portishead and to John Vanderslice.  I didn’t write about the Vanderslice show, but I’ve seen him three times now and each show has been distinctly different.  And his drummer, Jason, was amazing to watch.  I ended up missing the Bon Iver show, but Sarah told me that it was very good (I believe her).

Favorite Album – Rome by DangerMouse and Daniele Luppi.  I feel like a lot of year-end lists become top heavy with material released toward the end of the year, which I understand since the songs are fresh in reviewer’s mind.  Rome came out in May, which is a long time ago in today’s millisecond attention-span world.  I also am also only basing my choice on albums I actually listened to in their entirety, which I admit isn’t a lot.  But, I come back to this one because, like his collaboration last year as Broken Bells, as an entire album, the songs meld into a cohesive unit and he can just really create a vibe.  Here, he’s wisking you away to the set of spaghetti westerns with a tribute to the soundtrack sound of that era (most notably Ennio Morricone).  Honorable mention to Little Dragon’s Ritual Union, for the same reason basically.  A lovely arrangement of electronic music that makes you stop thinking of individual songs (much better than the sprawling and Pitchfork-loved M83 album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming).

Biggest Surprise – The Whole Love by Wilco.  After Sky Blue Sky, I kind of lost interest in Wilco and didn’t even bother to listen to their next album.  They seemed to have lost a lot of their bite, both lyrically and musically, from previous records.  I had heard nothing of their new album, but decided to give it a listen when NPR was doing a free preview of the album.  To my amazement, I heard the rockin’ Wilco from Summerteeth days.  I’ve seen Wilco twice, now I have a new reason to go see them a third time other than Jeff Tweedy’s amusing stage talk.  Honorable mention to the Beastie Boy’s new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.  Another group that I had just lost some interest in, but this re-ignited interest.

Best Music Book – Read the super comprehensive history of the Velvet Underground put out by Rough Trade.  Not knowing much about the band other than the songs on their greatest hits albums, this was a good and thorough introduction to the band, as well as the solo careers of all its members.  Can be a bit overwhelming, but overall a good read.

I’ll try and come back with a few more year end thoughts before the year actually ends, but if not, have a great new year filled with good tunes and good times.

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Spotify My Soul – Aug. 21, 2011

August 21, 2011

This week was a heavy on the retro tip for me, looking back at albums I either haven’t listened to in a long time, or never got around to listening to.

  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless.  Even though I was always a fan of shoegaze, I never had given more than a cursory to a seminal work in the genre.  This is an album that deserves all the accolades that it has received since it’s release in 1991.  Noise with a purpose, the texturing and layering of sound is beautiful stuff.
  • Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed.  Unlike the Beatles or the Who, I have never gotten through the album discography of the Stones.  The hits from this album are many, so a lot of these songs I’d heard, but put together in the album it takes on a whole new dimension.  Midnight Rambler is still one of my favorite Stones songs; Monkey Man is a strong track I’d never heard (and was clipped in a hip hop song that I’m struggling to remember, urg).
  • Black Keys, Magic Potion.  I’d gotten their first couple releases, and their latest; but had never made an attempt to get this or Attack & Release.  Not sure why, this is a solid record that I plan on listening to some more.
  • James Blake, James Blake.  Released earlier this year, and fawned over by Pitchfork and its ilk, I’d been wanting to see what the buzz was about.  Like Loveless, these are nuanced compositions that deserve multiple listens.  The music is coupled with a surprisingly sweet voice to create some soothing songs.
  • Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, Rome.  Continuing to create gold with whatever he touches, Danger Mouse’s latest is a collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi that serves as an homage to the soundtracks of spaghetti westerns.  I really liked the laid back tracks he created as musical backdrop for James Mercer’s vocals on last year’s Broken Bells release and I got the same feeling from this album, though this time the vocals come courtesy of Norah Jones and Jack White (glad he was able to find employment again).