Monday, December 28, 2009

The Reality Shock 2009 In Review Pt. 1: Music

Breaking this up into three parts to save space and the like...  Here is Part One....

Music In 2009:

Best Album of 2009:
Routes To Riches by Mama's Gun. As I'm sure a lot of you readers know, I seriously love me some retro pop, anyone that remembers me raving about bands like The Magic Numbers, The Black Angels and Apple Bay will know, there is just something so cool about when artists come out and bring back a certain flavor or feel that in this day of pop singles that last a week on the charts after they made it to number one, then fall off the radar and when the charts are dominated by look alike and sound alike cookie cutter singers who no one can really tell apart, its refreshing when a person or a group takes us back in time to a day when music was smoother, well written, and more so, completely original, not all sampled and reworked lyrics from other songs. Mama's Gun, a band from the UK who take their name from a recent Eryka Badu album that was mindblowingly good as well, do an excellent job of taking us through the last 40 years or so musically with respect and homage paid, but also while blazing new ground as they go, like any true artist would. As you listen to their album, you hear a lot of different styles and influences, but most importantly, no copies, its sort of like traveling through time from about 1964 or so with The Beatles and takes you all over the musical spectrum from pop to rock to blues to soul and funk, all the way through 1984 when soul music ended with the death of Marvin Gaye, its just so brilliant and well done. Its hard to pick just one song that stands out more then others really, its a disc you can't help but listen too all the way through, then listen too again, and one more time after that all in one setting. It was always said to me when an album's only as good as its listening power, and if thats true, then this album's a powerplant of joy and emotion, that is good enough to make even the most hardened most genre-centric music lover walk away enjoying it. Seriously if you haven't given it a listen, you have too. And if you want some preview tracks, have a listen to “Pots Of Gold”, “Rico” and “Chasing Down Shadows” some brilliant tracks off it.

Runner-Ups: “Next Level” by Ayumi Hamasaki, “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics” by India.Aire, “We Are the Same” by The Tragically Hip

Best New Artist of 2009:
Asher Roth. Some people can argue that abstract rappers aren't exactly “true” rap artists, and that they lack the same grit and desire that “regular” rappers have, but in all honesty, that statement is completely iditoic. Rappers, by definition are preforming artists, oh sure, most people are aware of the fact that these so called “gangsta” rappers are really all just made up personalities with fake backstories and made up “struggles” to begin with, which always makes me laugh when people come along and trash someone like Asher, an upper middle class white kid from a small town who just happens to be able to flow like a river when he picks up a microphone, which is what makes his album “Asleep In The Bread Aisle” such a joy to listen too. Its refreshing and unique, and unlike most white rappers, he doesn't fall into the tired old “lets compare him to Eminem” hole that plagues anyone that of the cracker variety who happens to wish to get into the business of droppin poetry over beats. I'll admit when I first heard Asher, I was abit confused who he was supposed to be, I figured he'd be one of those many rappers that shows up with a single or a guest on someone's track and you never hear from them, but I was pleased when I did finally hear his debut and how much more mature it was then I was expecting. I am left hoping that he continues and expands even more then he has already, it would be great to see him grow and become one of those rappers that people that can see beyond the whole drug and gun talk of the more radio friendly rappers will enjoy for years to come.

Runner-Ups: Julien-K, Kid Cudi, Melanie Fiona

Best Single of 2009:
“House On A Hill” by Mama's Gun. Yeah I know, normally I try not to give best album and best single to the same band, but as it was pointed out to me while going over my choices with afew people, if its deserving, then its deserving, regardless. And I gotta say, I agree. “House On A Hill” is the opening track on “Route To Riches” the debut album by Mama's Gun, and its just so amazing, to quote a friend who I played it for, its the closest we'll find to an old school Jackson Five treasure in modern music. Its upbeat, its catchy, its pop, but not pop to the point its annoyingly so, its got flavors of soul and funk and that great late 1960s to the 1970s not exactly bubblegum feel to it, but still enough to make you get up and dance or crank it up and act like you're in a 1990s Smashmouth video too. The lyrics are catchy and meaningful at the same time, its a love song that speaks to the basic groove that you can't help but dance too when you hear it. Have a listen to it, and you'll find yourself driving around listening to it up loud in the car or dancing around your house to it, I love infectious songs like this, totally do.

Runner-Ups: “Battlefield” by Jordan Sparks, “Throw Up Your Arms” by Kate Klim, “Beautiful Resistance” by Mystic

Breakthrough Artist of 2009:
Aloan. Now, a lot of you know I will go on for hours in praise of this swedish fusion band, its a rare feat when you can combine jazz, trip hop, blues, soul and hip hop together in a live instrument band and it actually work, and after afew years of bumping to the surface and trying to get noticed, working hard and trying to impress with their unique style, trying to get noticed in the same circles as bands like The Roots, Black Star, and the rest of the Soulquarians click, who also use live instruments and blend styles like they do, and more so, after dropping the brilliant “Better In Springtime” two years ago, Aloan have finally returned and with their new album “Pretty Freaks”, I am glad to say, have finally possibly broken through the glass ceiling and might actually be on their way to a career that will be as rich and fruitful as they deserve. They work hard on their unique sound, and it shows in the lyrics and song quality, each album gets better and better for them, and I find it a joy to watch their career as it grows and hopefully will continue to grow. So if you haven't seen or heard or are finally tired of hearing me go on and on about how you need to listen to Aloan, seriously, give it a listen you will not be let down, not one bit, you'll love it as much as I do, I almost guarantee it.

Runner-Ups: Mystic, Soulfege, Casey Desmond

Come Back Of the Year:
Mary J. Blige. There aren't many artists who have the staying power and ability to morph as divine Ms. Mary J does, there aren't many artists who can change their style and content from song to song on an album and keep people's attention the whole way through, while continuing to be the distinctive artist that crosses so many genres and delights both young and old alike, there is not one person I know spanning from my grandparents age group to my teenage cousins and everyone in between, that doesn't like atleast one Mary J. Blige song. And with her recent album “Stronger with Each Tear”, Mary proves that even if afew of her albums fail to make the impact and monster chart topping hits that we're all used to from her, it doesn't take away from her being able to actually bring all that she is to album, and making it just pure bliss in soul form. Mary is what I love in music really, a survivor, a fighter, and smart enough to know how to speak to her listeners in musical form in a way that makes them think she is always and will always talk to them, when you listen to an album of Mary's you feel loved, you feel cared for, you feel sad, and you feel as if you matter, and thats why, even though its only been about three years time sense her last album, I gave her come back of the year, because I feel she deserves it, and deserves a lot more respect then she gets in music. And I hope you all agree.

Runner-Ups: Fastball, The Verve Pipe, Alice In Chains

Artist That Should Be Signed To A Major Label:
Hideyo Blackmoon. Its not so uncommon these days for an artist to be avant-garde and rather unorthodox in their persona they allow the world to see and use to express their music, this comes out a lot more often with electricia, trip hop and drum and bass artists, given their rather unconventional and strange culture, and its rather broad and ever expanding horizons. Hideyo Blackmoon is one of the few artists who has the courage to jump from the many different sounds of electric music and still know where her wheelhouse in the field is. Add to this her completely out there, even by asian electronica standards, DJ shows, that jump between club with a live DJ, to underground Toyko style rave, old world Asian and Indian traditional dance festival, complete with geisha and desi and other old world images that have been co-opped by modern society the world over, its seriously like a drug trip with out taking anything, and its totally brilliant in that respect. Hideyo I feel is one of those artists who could go on to be a face in her field, kind of like Mody or Bjork were for the longest time, she has the personality, she has the looks, she has the individuality, and she makes just incredible music, its light and fluffy, its dark and moody, its smooth and sexy, and its angry and full of fire when it needs to be, she is a master of her field and I feel that should be rewarded. If you haven't had a listen to her amazing debut album, you really should have a look at it, its an interesting and fun ride for your ears.

Runner-Ups: Casey Desmond, Hugh Dillon, Aloan

Artist We Need To Hear More From:
Hugh Dillon. I first found Hugh Dillon as the lead role of Mike Sweeney on the canadian thriller series Durham County, a series many of you read my review of not long ago, and you will be reading abit more about down in the television section of this, Hugh is also a member of the cast of the tv series Flashpoint where he plays a police sniper but I don't really care to much for that. In my investigation into Hugh and his career, I discovered he used to play in various different rock and blues bands, and later discovered that he was to release his own solo album called “Works Well with Others”, which he did not long ago, its a mix of rock, blues, and enough pop to keep the non-lovers of blues rock happy. Its a great disc to listen too, and shows a side of Hugh I never expected to see, it was a delightfully surprising. I would love to see him continue his music, as well as his acting, for he is a master of both. If you haven't seen or heard him yet, do yourself a favor and actually do it, its very enjoyable and a fun ride, seriously check him out if you go the time.

Runner-Ups: Mira Craig, Casey Desmond, Mystic

Funniest Band Name:
Rainbow Brite And The Psychedelic Pinwheel Explosion. The idea of an all girl rock band is nothing new, but when you have an all girl rock band that plays everything from old school rock to doom metal and a small amount of rap metal mixed in there for fun, thats something kind of new and different. Such is the case with Braintree Massachusetts' own Rainbow Brite and The Psychedelic Pinwheel Explosion, taking their name from the moderately iconic and memorable 1980s doll line, and, well I'm not sure where the psychedelic pinwheel comes from, but I'd like to see one, you know, for research reasons. They're an interesting band, with their lead singer dressed all bright and colorful, with rainbow colored hair and looking like a mix of a club kid and Punky Brewster when she was a kid, you know before she grew up and had to have her boobs reduced cuz glomer put that spell on her when she killed him with negligence and mistreatment, she's not exactly the kind of person you would expect to sing as she does, her voice is rather pleasant and enjoyable to listen too and can carry many styles with out faltering, a lot of singers can't do that, so when does its pretty impressive. The band themselves play up their out there persona by doing small bits of comedy between songs, or leading into songs, which I always enjoy, its great when a band can bring you into their world and kind of make you feel like you're one of them by sharing their stories and journey and jokes with you, it makes it extra a'special for the audience. Hopefully big things are in their future, which is probably gonna be as bright as a rainbow.

Runner-Ups: Wrestling is Fake, Kiera Knightly's 32 A Cup Bra (last year's winner), Rage of The Snuffleupagus, Jarred Jeweler and The DeBeers, Rooster Cogburn and Paraplegic Cops, Soundwave And The Cassetticons, Solomon Grundy and The Days Of The Week, Glenn Close Is A Handsome Woman, Sarah Palin and the Bridge To Nowhere, The Verne Troyer Electric Music Parade, Count Von Count and Countess Von Backwards Traveling Roadside Show, Massey Ferguson and the John Deers, Queen Bee and The Kung Fu Honeys Featuring Doleomite and DJ Petey Wheatstraw, No One Goes To Hooters For Wings, P.Diddy's Former Names, BattlePenis, The Cougar Club, Stevie Wonder's Electro Fantastic Imagination Machine, Roman Polanski's Pedophile Support Group, Jackie Paper Puffs The Magic Dragon, Muppet Mafia, Ugly and Desperate Housewives, The Snack Bar, Fat Albert's Diabetic Amputated Leg, Fred Flintstone Beats His Wife, Harvey Birdman And The Galaxy Trio, German Pornstars Always Have S*** In Their Teeth, The Crooked Sip, Asian Girls Are The Hotness, Josh Grobin Is A Douchebag, Edward Cullen Must Die, The Trash Heap featuring King Gorg, R. Kelly Peed On Me, Tony Stark's Drunken Adventure Of The Mind, The Hot Mess.

Worst Album of 2009:
Working on a Dream by Bruce Springsteen. Ok this one seriously hurt to do, but ethics come first over fandom regardless of who it is. With that said, let me state to those of you who don't know, I am a massive Bruce Springsteen fan, from his early years to his height of fame, to his later years of making music for himself, he's an old folkie who inspired this neo soul blues rock folkie to do what he does. Now with that said and done, I can not, for the life of me, understand why Bruce would follow up last year's “Magic” and 2007's “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” which was honestly the most brilliant folk album I've heard in almost 10 years, with this mismatched and unbalanced and frankly feeling like its a compilation of B-Sides with one great song tacked on the very end. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Bruce is better then this, he's better then songs as bland as "Queen of the Supermarket" and “Good Eye” that just don't seem right as official album tracks, instead of maybe B-Sides. It almost feels as if the whole disc was made out of odds and ends simply so the record label could make more money off the incredibly brilliant single “The Wrestler” from the excellent movie of the same name. And though I understand the need to keep a person as important to music as Bruce out there and on the radio, I just wish they'd maybe not pushed this album out just for that one single, it kind of tarnishes it slightly. But thats just my thought on it, I could be wrong.

Runner-Ups: “The Fame Monster” by Lady Gaga, “I Dreamed A Dream” by Susan Boyle, “Graffiti” by Chris Brown

Worst Single of 2009:
“Poker Face” by Lady Gaga. Seriously, I do not get the appeal of this song, or of her, or this weird fixation at the moment for everyone from Christopher Walken to Marley Matlin cover this song. Its annoying, its not really all that catchy, but yet it seems to get played EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING, seriously, this is worse then the Hootie and the Blowfish epidemic of the mid 1990s, or the Boy Band Outbreak in the early 2000s, it truly is. I mean honestly, when Kanye West craptaculars up your song in concert cuz he all of a sudden thinks he can sing, then you need to take that hint and stop. As for Lady Butterface herself, I keep stating this, she is just the living embodiment of taking the brown acid, which by the way I sort of think she is on, because damn, how else do you explain trying to steal Bjork's gig as delightfully random and completely insane popster? But again, as i've said many times, the difference is, Bjork is awesome at what she does, whatever it is she's doing in her head comes out completely awesome in the real world, like, when she walks up to you and says “I sometimes fold myself into a hamper and use my feet to tickle my ears till I giggle..” then walks away, you are left with the awe and wonder that is Bjork. When Lady Gaga walks up to you and spills out any of her jibbity style oinkery from her wordhole, you're left feeling dirty and confused on if she just asked you for club bathroom sex. Seriously, its time for this weirdo to go back to whatever X and Acid Rave she came from and leave music to people that know how to do it. Also, I'm so sick of this song. Seriously.

Artist that needs to turn off the mic:
Honestly, this year there are so many who were embarrassingly bad I can't pick just afew. But if I had to pick one, I'd have to say its seriously time for U2 to call it and end. Plus, I seriously hate Bono, like really really hate him.

1 comment:

  1. Bring Sita home with a DVD of

    Buy on Amazon:
    Rent on Netflix:

    Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as "the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told."

    Need another reason why? Check out Roger Eberts Review!