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It’s Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for and appreciate all the people and things you love. As a music fan, I am probably going to spend Thanksgiving the way I spend most of my free time: listening to records. I’m going to try to make it more meaningful, though.
As somebody who loves indie music as pop, I appreciate tunesmith bands like Vampire Weekend, Spoon and The Hold Steady more than supposed musical innovators like Animal Collective and Sigur Ros. By this measure, Imperial Teen is one of the purest indie bands around, and also one of the best.
Every year, regardless of how flaky the music industry seems, it has a key album or two for every music fan. Since 2008, every year has brought at least one album I consider nearly perfect. In 2008, it was Vampire Weekend’s debut, in 2009 it was the self-titled “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,” 2010 brought both Robyn’s “Body Talk” and Avi Buffalo’s self-titled album and 2011’s was Wussy’s “Strawberry.”
The great thing about radio is that, depending on the station, it can play new music or a favorite genre of music. Unlike an iPod, where you end up hearing the same songs over and over again (don’t kid yourself—you may claim you’re always updating your music, but you’re still skipping the same songs), radio has the potential to
play music you would have otherwise not listened to.
There’s a charm to side-projects, but that doesn’t mean they’re generally more than just something for musicians to do before their main attraction releases something new. That’s why it’s so impressive when one turns out really well. Divine Fits is one such case.
This year has been hard on the guitar. If Decca Records had said, “Guitar groups are on their way out” in 2012 rather than 1962, it would have seemed a lot more reasonable. A few of this year’s best albums have shown the instrument used impressively, and the most enjoyable guitar solo of the year was played by John Mayer on Frank Ocean’s “White.” But for what 2012 has lacked in guitars, it has made up for in synthesizers.
Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, better known as RZA of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan, performed at The Shelter in Detroit’s St. Andrew’s Hall Oct. 12 as part of “The Iron Fists” eleven-city tour to promote his directorial debut “The Man With the Iron Fists,” which will be hitting theaters Nov. 2.
Things have been going well for P!nk since “Funhouse.” Things improved with her husband, she had a baby girl, and she decided that she wanted P!nk, previously just a stylization, to be her official name. In the midst of all that, she also recorded her best album since “Missundaztood.”
I was a James Bond fan before I was a music fan. A lot of the first songs I remember liking are from the James Bond movies. From the John Barry scores to the title songs, almost every track from these films is ingrained in my mind. However, they just don’t seem quite as awesome as they did when I was a kid.
In the ‘90s, the music world evolved. Indie and alternative were becoming more mainstream, and feminism was making its way into rock ‘n’ roll. It was during this time a musical movement known as Riot Grrrl began. Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and L7 were all involved in the movement, which used rock music as a medium for expressing feminist views. They seemed to consist of mostly middle-class white feminist views, but the music was still memorable. For once, there was a true women’s movement in rock ‘n’ roll, and at the center of it was Sleater-Kinney.
While 2009 certainly wasn’t the best year for music, it did produce some great music. For every Animal Collective, there was a Pains of Being Pure at Heart. For every Grizzly Bear, there was a Lily Allen. Somewhere in the middle was Dirty Projectors, whose “Bitte Orca” rode the line between over-praised and intriguing.
Many musical artists broke into the industry last year. Adele became the biggest artist on the radio, while Frank Ocean’s
“Nostalgia, Ultra” mix tape made him the biggest hit with critics. Foster the People had a huge hit with a song about shooting hipsters, Cee-Lo Green had a huge song with a lame censored version of his brilliant angry love song (it’s not really called “Forget You”) and tUnE-yArDs went from being a modest critical success to topping the Pazz & Jop critics poll.
Can they sing with all the voices of the mountain, or paint with all the colors of the wind? Well, no, Eastern Michigan University’s Music and Dance Department does not have the ability to mimic Disney’s “Pocahontas.” But EMU’s Wind Symphony can create music using only wind instruments and a piano, and they will be doing so Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. in Pease Auditorium.
“While it’s not new, the 2009 ‘BlakRoc’ album by The Black Keys is still on my iPhone playlists and has one of the highest play counts of any album I own (and I have over 20,000 songs in my music library). Hip-hop producer Damon Dash, cofounder of Roc-A-Fella Records, initiated the recording project because he wanted to work with The Keys, so he brought hip-hop artist Jim Jones into the studio to record with them.
It was 2009, and music critics were doing what music critics do—hyping Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilian” as the best album of the year before the year was even halfway through, overrating Grizzly Bear and ignoring Wussy for the third album in a row. It was a typical year. Then, a British band came out of nowhere and took the music world by storm. They were The xx.
In August of this year, a group of my friends went to a show in Philadelphia that I unfortunately was too young to go to. It featured three bands special to all of us: Wussy, Dan Ex Machina and Low Cut Connie. From what I’ve heard, the first two bands gave solid performances, as they usually do, but the minute that Low Cut Connie hit the stage, it was all about them. At a certain point in their set, somebody in the audience took their shirt off. Another person followed and eventually it was an audience of sweaty, shirtless, dancing lunatics.
A while back, I wrote a column discussing the downfall of the pop punk music scene. This is mainly due to the fact that the master pop punk bands of the early to mid-2000s either don’t exist anymore or are still hanging on but releasing mediocre tracks that will never measure up to the songs of their heyday.
Those who have not yet been down to The Ugly Mug Café and Roastery for their monthly Madhouse event have been missing out.
Carly Rae Jepsen’s new LP, “Kiss,” opens with “Tiny Little Bows.” The song begins with a disco-synth riff, followed by a voice singing, “Cupid, draw back your bow and let your arrow go.” Any ’60s soul fan can tell you, after listening to this, that it is a sample of Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” although Cooke’s voice has been placed in a much higher register.
Ann Arbor band The White Ravens have developed a decent following over the years, with two self-released albums and a third set to be released soon. They are very dedicated to water conservation, which inspired much of their upcoming album, “Saddle Up the Whales.” The band will be appearing at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti Saturday, Sept. 29 for a CD release party, along with three other artists.