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Archive for December, 2010

Today I saw Ms. Lauryn Hill in concert for the second time this year. Strange, because up until hearing that she’d play Rock the Bells, Ms. Hill was an afterthought for me. Granted I frequently return to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill as a brilliant and comforting album but as a performer and public figure, Ms. Hill’s indefinite hiatus effectively erased her celebrity from my short-term memory. I assume this is what she wanted, to be removed from the media’s consciousness and watchful eye. But, even as fans often recall Ms. Hill as the preeminent female musician of the 90s, her self-imposed exile came at the cost of her legacy. While some acclaimed musicians maintain a constant presence in the life of their fans (see: Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and, for better or worse, Michael Jackson), Ms. Hill seemed content to leave her mark and move on with her life, as a mother and private citizen.

Now Ms. Hill is back, either due to personal desire, a need for money, both or wild card. My guess is the latter. You can’t go wrong by guessing wild card when it comes to Ms. Hill. (more…)

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(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out @ http://houselist.bowerypresents.com/it’s-the-end-of-the-year-as-we-know-it-2/)

1. Arcade Fire, Madison Square Garden, August 5
In the physical and symbolic center of New York City entertainment, Arcade Fire delivered a performance that reached to the back of the bleachers and beyond, with fans streaming the live broadcast on Youtube. Everything about the show felt instantly legendary, from Win Butler traveling into the crowd to the entire arena joining along on the chorus of “Wake Up.” I imagine that this is the definitive concert of my generation, the show I will tell my kids about.

2. LCD Soundsystem, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 8
Before the release of LCD Soundsystem’s alleged final album, This Is Happening, Music Hall of Williamsburg hosted the band’s dress rehearsal for their summer tour. However, with a set including the recent single “Drunk Girls” alongside the Sound of Silver classic “Us v Them,” the show felt more like a victory lap than an audition.

3. El Guincho, Mercury Lounge, September 28
Mercury Lounge is capable of both quiet intimacy and a complete suspension of personal space. During El Guincho’s sample-based tropical rave, I gladly accepted the latter over the former.

4. Four Tet, Webster Hall, October 22
Four Tet’s meditative There Is Love in You is one of my favorite albums of 2010. Fittingly, his performance during CMJ displayed the patience and care, conscientiously extending samples with an awareness of the crowd, which makes There Is Love in You such a triumph.

5. Delta Spirit, The Bowery Ballroom, June 30
I’ve never seen a group of people more excited about a band I knew so little about. With a large sampling of songs from their most recent album, History From Below, Delta Spirit tore through a raucous sing-along set with an encore featuring covers of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and “Shout” by the Isley Brothers.

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Today, Rolling Stone announced the latest round of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Darlene Love, and Dr. John. Part of what makes this such an interesting accolade is that each class brings together a remarkable diversity of performers:  for example, this year’s class consisted of The Stooges, The Hollies, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, and ABBA. Commitment to inducting acts from a broad range of time periods and genres is not just the fair thing to do, it can also serve to educate a wider audience about great artists of whom they might not have heard. I know all about Alice, but who’s Dr. John?

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In these dark, winter months one often calls up, for relief, thoughts of summer. A long walk through frozen streets is usually made bearable if it is but a temporary measure before bike rides and beaches. Escapism? Sure. But, how else can you cope with the bleak reality of frozen toes in December?

One way is to introduce Warm Weather by means of headphones rather than wishful thinking. (more…)

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Last week, I did my share of complaining, both about the abundant praise which Kaye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is receiving and “Best Of” lists in general. But, for all my gripes, I too am complicit in the creation of “Best Of” lists and contributed to Prefix’s Best Albums Of 2010. If you follow the link, you’ll see that I wrote a couple of descriptions for #34 – Gonjasufi: A Sufi And A Killer and #10 – Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma (which, in fact, is my favorite album of the year). And, because I love you all and intend to limit your time clicking around the internet, after the jump is my list of the 15 Best Albums of 2010 and, as a kicker, my 10 Favorite Tracks of 2010:

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A consensus appears to be forming. According to three leading music publications (Rolling Stone, SPIN, and, ugh, Stereogum) Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the best album of 2010. Additionally, it is a matter of when rather than if indie taste maker Pitchfork awards the same honor to West, given that Dark Fantasy received a perfect score of 10.0. Thus, with all the praise that is and will continue to be showered upon Dark Fantasy before and after the end of 2010, I believe it is worth evaluating the mass critical reaction in addition to the album. Much like the self-perpetuating nature of groupthink, the music news establishment is loosing its independence and creativity to general consensus.

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Today is a very somber day for all Beatles fans but, in celebration of Lennon and the Beatles’ legacy, let’s remember why we love The Beatles and how we keep their memory alive. Go to Twitter and share your means of remembrance followed by #HowToLoveTheBeatles

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