Tag: 2010

Dead Confederate – Sugar

ARTIST: Dead Confederate

TITLE: Sugar



SINGLES: Run from the Gun, Giving It All Away


LINEUP: Hardy Morris, Bradley Senn, Walter Howle, John Watkins, Jason Scarboro. Ben Wigler, J. Mascis, and Heidi Vandertee make appearances.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from the moody Southern-psych-alt band tightens up their meanderings while not sacrificing the moodiness of the songs.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dead Confederate still sounds like a soundtrack to a Southern Gothic dramatic film., but their second album is an improvement over their debut.

While they’re still full of angst, minor riffs, and moody arrangements, they’ve shed all of their former jam band proclivities and tightened up their arrangements so that the songs get from A to B without being stuck in the mire.

This album is good mood music for dark, dreary, thunderstormy, humid days. The kind that you find in the South in the summer. It’s also apt to give you some interesting dreams if you fall asleep to it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this record, their drummer, Jason Scarboro, left to start a family. They went through scads of drummers before settling on one for their next recordings.


 GRADE: A-: A leap forward for a band that should have gotten more ink and play.

Corin Tucker Band – 1,000 Years

ARTIST: Corin Tucker Band 220px-Album_cover_for_the_album_1,000_Years_by_Corin_Tucker_Band

TITLE: 1,000 Years


CHART ACTION:  #9 Heatseekers, #49 Indie



LINEUP: Corin Tucker, Seth Lorinczi, Sara Lund. Juliana Bright, Kate O’Brien-Clark, and Douglas Jenkins added support.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Back at it after the Sleater/Kinney hiatus, Tucker wrote and recorded an album that is quieter but just as powerful.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Not diving into the vocal yelps except on rare occasions (“Doubt”), toning down the sound, and generally making things a bit more even keeled, Corin Tucker’s first solo album after the hiatus of Sleater/Kinney adds a unique chapter to her musical biography.

There’s still hints of her band’s work, but only hints. “Half a World Away” could definitely be an SK song, but here the arrangement is more controlled and her vocals more restrained, and it works better. Some of the better moments are on the quieter songs, where she’s reflective of her place in the world as a mother and a musician.

This album shows Tucker as more than the punk rocker she was for years. She’s got depth and breadth, and it’s a refreshing look at her as she moves to middle age.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She said that Seth Lorinzi (bass player and producer) really shaped the sounds on the record.


GRADE A-: As solid as any Sleater/Kinney record with a maturing outlook.

Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker

ARTIST: Tame Impala  220px-Tame_Impala_-_Innerspeaker

TITLE: InnerSpeaker


CHART ACTION: Heatseekers #28, UK #144

SINGLES: Solitude Is Bless, Lucidiy, Expectation, Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Desire Be Desire Go was the lead track on their (his) EP

LINEUP: Kevin Parker, Dom Simper, Jay Watson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Australian multi-everything channels the acid and psychedelic rock of the 60’s to near perfection.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After an EP and a single set some tastemakers aback with the back-to-the 60’s psychedelic vibe, Tame Impala (really Australian Kevin Parker and some friends helping here and there) released their debut album. It really channels the psychedelic era with fuzzed out guitars, echoey vocals that sound like their through a Leslie, and just a fabulous sound all together.

Sounding like John Lennon singing in a canyon, Parker’s vocals hearken back to the 60’s, as does his instrumentation. But there’s something modern sounding as well. The production is excellent, and the use of a breadth of sounds and studio effects make this a homage instead of a straight copy.

While the album loses steam a bit at the end, it’s still a fabulous record, and reminds one of a psychedelic Todd Rundgren since he did almost everything himself.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The self titled EP and the “Sundown Syndrome” single are streaming. There was also a 2008 EP with three songs and three remixes, though two carried over. The streaming of the 2009 EP just has four of the six tracks, since one is on this album and the other was cut.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There is an EP with B-sides streaming separately.

 GRADE A-: A great tribute / homage to the psychedelic sound from a modern studio hound.

Fitz and the Tantrums – Pickin’ Up the Pieces

ARTIST: Fitz and the Tantrums      220px-Pickin'_up_the_pieces

TITLE: Pickin’ Up the Pieces


CHART ACTION: #140, #1 Heatseekers

SINGLES: Winds of Change, LOV, Breakin’ the Chains of Love, Moneygrabber (#2 Adult Alternative, #33 Rock), Don’t Gotta Work It Out (#23 Adult Alternative)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, but they all could have been on the radio

LINEUP: Michael Fitzpatrick, Noelle Scaggs, James King, Ethan Phillips, Jeremy Ruzumma, John Wicks and others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a successful home-brewed EP and a great set at SXSW, a singing and an album release quickly follow to great success.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Taking three tracks for their debut EP, and recording seven new ones in the same home studio, Fitz and the Tantrums debut record was rolled out and became a hit…slowly. As soon as “Moneygrabber” hit the radio, though, people were enthralled with the neo-soul-pop-retro band.

Featuring hooky melodies, retro-sounding arrangements, and a dynamic vocal duo of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, this record is catchy and fun. There’s nothing more you need or want from this kind of album.

You may quibble about the inconsistent pastiches at times, and a couple of songs aren’t top notch, but, again, it’s a fun record. Fun!

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were signed the morning after their SXSW set.


 GRADE A-: Fun, Goddamnit! FUN!

Off! – The First Four EP’s

ARTIST: Off!                                    220px-Offfirstfourepalbum

TITLE: First Four EP’s



SINGLES: These were four EP’s, as the title says.


LINEUP: Dimitri Coats, Steven Shane McDonald, Keith Morris, Mario Rubalcaba

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Old punk (Morris) gathers up a band and makes a throwback punk rock record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Off! is a nostalgia trip for those of us who were around (or kind of around) during the first wave of punk rock in the States, especially the LA / Orange County variety.

Here we have 16 tracks in 18 minutes, with no song lasting longer than 1:33. Keith Morris, formerly of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks is the vocalist and his voice is unmistakable.

However, to my ears, the tracks sounded a bit perfunctory and rote at times. Sure, it’s great to hear some real-life punk rock in the vein of the early Circle Jerks (“Black Thoughts” brings you right back to 1979) and “Jeffrey Lee Pierce” is a nice eulogy for the former Gun Club leader. But it’s not going to replace your original SST record collection. I don’t think it was supposed to though.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Circle Jerks went on hiatus right before this material was recorded. It was done in two days – one in January and one in August.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Two extra tracks on various platforms.

 GRADE: B: I like it enough to keep it, and it’s real punk rock.

Danny Brown – The Hybrid

ARTIST: Danny Brown               220px-Danny_Brown_The_Hybrid

TITLE: The Hybrid




OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Underground hip hop fans only

LINEUP: Danny Brown with producers Quelle, Mainframe, Nick Speed, Danny!, Chuck Inglish, Denmark Vessey, 14KT, Frank Dukes, Slopfunkdust

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Non-commercial rapper releases first record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: He’s had no hit singles. He’s only had two charting albums. Yet Danny Brown is one of the most critically respected hip-hop artists going today.

He doesn’t sugar coat himself to go to radio. On repeated listens, this debut album takes you in. Using a variety of producers, Brown keeps his beats and backing fresh, and his flow and rhymes are strong and in your face. When he uses effects and tricks, you notice since it’s for embellishment.

This record didn’t get a lot of attention except for some deep hip-hop fans, but it’s solid and undeniably unique.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He used to be in a group called Rese’vor Dogs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few extra tracks

 GRADE: A- –  It’s easy to see why this got him some attention.

Grouplove – Grouplove

ARTIST: Grouplove                            220px-Grouplovemirrors2010

TITLE: Grouplove



SINGLES: Colours (#15 Alternative, #29 Rock)


LINEUP: Christian Zucconi, Hannah Hooper, Andrew Wessen, Ryan Rabin, Sean Gadd

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut EP sets the stage for the indie pop / rock groups success, and their side gig on TV commercials.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If there was a modern group made for providing backing music for TV commercials, it’s probably Grouplove.

They’re tuneful, positive, and quirky. Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi’s voices blend together in an appealing way, and while the music isn’t outre, it’s different enough to stand out. The big thing are the hooks – big, bold and tuneful.

This six song EP is a great start for the band, and my gosh “Naked Kids” gets in your head and doesn’t let go.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Getaway Car” was licensed to HBO.


GRADE: A:  An EP that you can play on repeat.

Bruno Mars – Doo Wops & Hooligans

ARTIST: Bruno Mars                        Doo-Wops_&_Hooligans

TITLE: Doo Wops & Hooligans



SINGLES: Just the Way You Are (#1 US, #1 UK), Grenade (#1 US, #1 UK), The Lazy Song (#4 US, #1 UK), Marry You (#85 US, #11 UK), Count on Me (#78 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: That’s half the album, and it saturated radio.

LINEUP: Bruno Mars, Richard Windman, Dwayne Chin-Quee, Brody Brown, Ari Levine with guests BoB, Damian Marley and Cee Lo.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from versatile performer showcases his vocal styles in various modes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is one of those pop albums that’s of its time, but could also be one of those that transcend its era thanks to the vocal chops of Bruno Mars.

Mars’ voice is a classic high soul tenor, and can definitely sing your R&B torch song in a timeless manner. But when the tempo speeds up and it’s a dance song, Mars has the chops to handle that too.

The production does sound of its time, which means it may not age well (hard to say now). Plus, a few of the cuts aren’t so hot compared to great songs like “Marry You”. But it’s a great first effort and got him on the map, not just in music, but in pop culture in general.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His real name is Peter Gene Hernandez.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Several: European, Japanses, iTunes, Platinum, you know how it is now.

GRADE: B+:  A pretty good early 2010 pop record with some great singles.

Caro Emerald – Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor

ARTIST: Caro Emerald         220px-Deleted_Scenes_from_the_Cutting_Room_Floor_cover

TITLE:  Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor



SINGLES: Back It Up (#190 UK), A Night Like This (#65 UK), That Man (#84 UK), Stuck, Riviera Life


LINEUP: Caro Emerald, David Schreurs, Jan van Wiegingen, session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A great combo of jazz / swing sounds with contemporary pop idioms.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Trained as a jazz singer, Caro Emerald burst onto the scene in the Netherlands with some smash hit singles. Backed by a great combo that blends classic jazz and swing sounds with some modern flourishes, Emerald’s sound is pleasing and fun.

Her singing is expressive and fluid. She’s not trying to hit every high and low note, but rather would just rather use her voice to evoke moods and expressions. Her style and the sound crafted by hers and her producers make it so that she’s not a retro act, but a blend of old and new.

This is a fun record that’s great to put on for many moods.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: She was born in Amsterdam to a Dutch father and Aruban mother.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A deluxe Italian musician and remixes.

GRADE: A: The songs are varied enough to keep you interested, and the arrangements and vocals are fun.


Drake – Thank Me Later

ARTIST: Drake                              220px-ThankMeLater

TITLE:  Thank Me Later


CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 R&B, #1 Rap, #15 UK

SINGLES: Over (#14 US, #2 R&B, #1 Rap, #50 UK), Find Your Love (#5 US, #3 R&B, #24 UK), Miss Me (#15 US, #3 R&B, #2 Rap, #162 UK), Fancy (#25 US, #4 R&B, #1 Rap)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A lotta people bought this, so probably many know other songs. I don’t.

LINEUP: Drake, with guests Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, The Dream, Young Jeezy, Jay-Z, Little Wayne and a shit-ton of producers, etc.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First full album (not a mixtape) by the Canadian multi-media star was popular, but didn’t move me.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Drake is…Drake. He’s sensitive, and his auto-tune singing and rapping along with his lyrics and melodies make him stand out from the pack.

But, on this record, I just didn’t connect with it. Some of his lyrics, and his explicit talk just didn’t work for me, and it seemed the tracks didn’t have a good solid core, just some production around some raps and singing.

It was popular, and others loved it. I didn’t, and it’s exiled.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He released mixtapes and EPs before this came out, and that made his name in the business.


GRADE: C: Even the hits didn’t sound like they’d sound good on the radio. It’s probably just me, but I’m exiling this.