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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.
Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman has proven to be one of this generation’s finest songwriters, penning lyrics that are often sad, romantic, funny or combinations of all three.
There is one thing that many of the local bands covered in The Eastern Echo have in common: They have performed at Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, the venue is a crucial part of the city’s culture and the music scene in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area.
The British band ?, which formed in 2007, released their first album earlier this year. You may be wondering, “What kind of a band name is ??” It’s actually the Greek letter “delta,” and their name is pronounced Alt-J (‘Alt-J’ being the command to achieve the delta symbol on a Mac computer). It’s like Prince’s “Love Symbol” if he were more computer savvy.
Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Music and Dance will celebrate the relaunch of an ongoing campaign to outfit the entire department with Steinway pianos with an event at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater Sept. 23. This event will feature the documentary, “Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037” and piano performances by EMU music students and faculty.
Ann Arbor’s Launch Board Shop has housed a few local concerts and this past Saturday, Sept. 15 local ambient, post-rock band Rospoem was the latest to play a show there. For a band that assembled in the fall of last year they’ve come a long way. With an EP released and another recording in the works, they’re one of Ann Arbor’s latest bands to watch out for.
On his Bandcamp page, user Psychosis’ description reads, “Psychosis is a video game programmer who accidentally found audio editing software and the world has been paying the price ever since,” and his slogan is, “Oops, looks like I accidently put one song over another song. Sorry about that.” That just about sums it up, because Psychosis creates mashups.
“Broken Social Scene’s self-titled album could not have made it back onto my playlists with better timing. For myself, this album has always been great for fall and winter. Broken Social Scene’s albums carry rather large varieties of different sounding tracks, each perfect for its own unique situation. ‘Major Label Debut’ is cozy enough to keep even the most frigid commute nice and toasty, while ‘Windsurfing Nation’ and ‘Superconnected’ are both smart and energetic enough to fuel that soulless, yuppie spirit in us all. This album also features one of the best err… love-making songs I’ve ever heard, but I’ll let you listen to the album and see if you can figure out which one it is. No idea? Contact me and we can discuss it over dinner.”
As musicians get older, the natural contemplation of death can result in more thought, emotion and personal ideas in their music. Often, this culminates in a “mortality” album.
Ypsilanti-based music producers Oddcore Productions and Alibi Crew will be hosting the “Out of the Box” remix compilation release party Saturday, Sept. 15 at Crossroad’s Bar & Grill, 517 W. Cross St. in Ypsilanti, just south of Eastern Michigan University’s campus.
In the entertainment industry, every musician’s dream is to be signed to a major record label, whether they’re still playing in their mom’s garage, opening for bands on tour, or playing moderate sized shows themselves. Atlantic Records, Island Records or even Warner or Universal Music Group having your back is supposed to open doors, making bands larger than life, with success comparable to The Beatles—or so they hope. That’s the generic, TMZ-run entertainment industry though.