— information leafblower


A look at the numbers for January 2011:

Concerts attended:

Lower Dens @ Kennedy Center
Yoro Ndiaye @ Kennedy Center
Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt @ The Birchmere
Two Door Cinema Club @ 9:30 Club
Dismemberment Plan @ Black Cat
The Concretes @ RnR Hotel
Ari Hest @ Barns at Wolf Trap
DMV Bounce Beat Awards @ D.C. Armory
Lissie @ 9:30 Club
Best Coast & Wavves @ 9:30 Club

Little Dragon @ Black Cat

Best show:
The DMV Bounce Beat Awards was unlike any show I have been to. It was a fascinating look  into the youth culture here in D.C. Chris Richards article can explain it much better than I can.

Total number of shows for 2011:

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When it’s all said and done next week, I will have seen about 135 concerts in the calendar year of 2010. Even I am surprised by that number. But let’s be frank. These days, for me, going to a concert amounts to staying for 5 or 6 songs before I head home and start editing photos. So keep that in mind when you’re reading this. That said, here are 25 shows that stood out in 2010.

25) Editors @ 9:30 Club
In This Light And On This Evening is more synth heavy than their previous albums, which worried me for their live show, but that wasn’t an issue here. If anything, the band’s new direction just added to the massiveness of their sound.

24) The Soft Pack @ Black Cat
One of my favorite albums of the year led to one of the best shows. These guys will be playing bigger venues very, very soon.

23) Mary J. Blige @ Jiffy Lube
This show was a late addition to the year’s concert calendar and as a result, not many people bought tickets, which was a shame because Mary J. performed like it was the biggest show of her career. It was incredible.

22) George Clinton @ 9:30 Club
This show had such a great vibe. Photogs were allowed to shoot the whole show and I stayed for a good hour or so, watching Clinton and his huge band do their thing. I didn’t know it at the time but this would be my first and only time seeing Garry Shider perform with the band. He succumbed to cancer later in the year. RIP.

21) Grinderman @ 9:30 Club
It’s Nick Cave! Girls were throwing their panties at him. Of course it was brilliant.

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I’m a sucker for big hooks in my music and I think this year’s Top 10 bears that out.

1) LCD SoundsystemThis Is Happening

Obvs. Not as amazing as their previous album, but still one of my go-to albums during the year. Seeing them play two amazing festival headlining shows sure pounded home the point that these songs are best suited for big crowds and should be played VERY LOUD.

WATCH“I Can Change” on Jools Holland

2) SpoonTransference

I generally abhor artists self-producing thjeir albums, but  Transference is lo-fi in all the right ways. It was going to be nigh impossible to improve upon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (my favorite Spoon album since Girls Can Tell), but this was damn close.

WATCH“The Mystery Zone” on KCRW

3) The Soft PackThe Soft Pack

Surf rock is generally not a genre that excites me but the energy and immediacy of this album is impossible to deny. Throw in a ton of youthful exuberance and yes, hooks by the truckload, and you’ve got an album that stayed in heavy rotation on my iPod all year long.

WATCH“Answer To Yourself” on Letterman

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Q-Tip | The Renaissance
Basically a Tribe record without Phife. Ali might as well be on here because all of the tracks produced by Tip sound just like Tribe. That said, I love Tribe.
The Dodos | Visiter
I really love the percussion on this record, all snare rims and toms. They were enthralling live, which really opened the record up for me past “Fools” and “Jody”. I cannot get enough of the toy piano in “Red and Purple”.
[MP3] The Dodos | Red and Purple
Ra Ra Riot | WOXY Lounge Act
Honestly I was a little disappointed in the production on The Rhumb Line, but that’s probably because I absolutely wore out the eight songs RRR recorded for this radio session. It has this frenetic, vibrant vibe that is missing from the actual record. Highly recommended.
[MP3] Ra Ra Raiot | Run My Mouth Off (live on WOXY)
[MP3] Ra Ra Raiot | Oh La (live on WOXY)
Lykke Li | Youth Novels
Sleeper of the year. No doubt we’ll still be talking about her plenty in ’09.
Oasis | Dig Out Your Soul
I fucking love this record, nevermind the critics. I must have listened to “Shock of the Lightning” at least 200 times this year. This isn’t exactly the record they should have made instead of Be Here Now, but it’s the direction they should have gone in. A good producer makes all the difference. Hat tip to you, Dave Sardy.
Glasvegas | Glasvegas [Explicit]
Other than “Geraldine” and one or two others, the lyrics on this record are basically recycled nursery rhymes (and total shite), but the tunes are there. The wall of sound is back.
The Whigs | Mission Control
I immediately fell in love with this record when I finally gave it a try. It’s full of bouncy, earnest rock, the kind that just doesn’t seem to get made these days. This was in constant rotation on my iPod at the start of 2008.
[MP3] The Whigs | Right Hand on My Heart
Portishead | Third
This thing sounds like a fucking nightmare, and I mean that as a compliment. Took me a while to get my head around it, but the payoff was worth it.
Elbow | The Seldom Seen Kid
Been a big fan of Guy Harvey and Co. for a while now and it’s nice to see them get some sort of payoff for all of their hardwork. They’re the non-evil version of Coldplay. If there was any justice in the world, they’d be just as big.
[MP3] Elbow | Mirrorball
The Big Sleep | Sleep Forever
Remember in the early 2000’s when …Trail of Dead were tapped as the next Sonic Youth (before they decided they’d rather go prog and fail miserably at becoming the next Rush)? The Big Sleep do. They just kick ass and leave the rest of that other stuff to the other bands.
[MP3] The Big Sleep | Pinkies
[MP3] The Big Sleep | Bad Blood
Worst Albums of the Year
The Ting Tings | We Started Nothing
Was this crap recorded at cheerleading camp? It gives me a headache. Could not think of a more apt title.
Travis | Ode to J. Smith
They deveated from their formula and finally made a bad record. Maybe they just needed to get this out of their system?
My Morning Jacket | Evil Urges
Some quality tracks on here, but overall, not up to snuff.
The Verve | Forth
Total and complete shite. Unquestionably the year’s biggest disappointment and a total disaster. It pains me to listen to this album. The real Captain Rock would never sing about fucking latte’s. Such a waste. But I’d go see them live in heartbeat.
Past Years:
Albums of the Year 2007 (Kinda)
Top Albums of 2006
Top 10 Records For The Year 2005
Top 10 Records For The Year 2004

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Quite frankly, this was one hell of a year. More about that a bit later, but let’s go ahead and kick off the end-of-year-listage with the best gigs of 2008!
1) Underworld @ Virgin Mobile Festival – Baltimore, MD
What I said at the time: Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy
Not only was this the best show I saw all year, it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Period. It was thoroughly mind blowing. My expectations for this could not have been higher but Underworld still blew me away. All concerts should be like this.
[MP3] Underworld | Beautiful Burnout
BUY: Underworld: Everything, Everything on CD
Oasisweb-9090 copy.jpg
2) Oasis @ Virgin Festival – Toronto, ONT
What I said at the time: Craziness erupted at the Oasis gig in Toronto tonight when during “Morning Glory” some punter somehow got onstage, and gave Noel a mighty shove into the monitors directly in front of him before turning and going after Liam. Luckily security corralled the guy before he could do any more damage to the band and the gig.
Photo superstardom for yours truly! I was totally crushed that I didn’t get to shoot Oasis from the pit, but because I didn’t, I happened to have my camera out when Noel was attacked on stage. The resulting shots were published all over the world.
[MP3] Oasis | To Be Where There’s Life (live Wembley Arena 10/16/08)
BUY: Dig Out Your Soul on CD
3) Radiohead @ Nissan Pavilion – Fairfax, VA
What I said at the time: It rained. Alot. A hell of a lot. More than you’ve ever seen. Ever. Almost four inches. Seriously, it was one of the biggest storms in D.C. history. And we stood outside during it and watched Radiohead. The “rain down” part of the “Paranoid Android” suddenly has new meaning to me.
Fuck. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this gig. It led to my first-ever photos in the Post and a whole bunch of other work. Oh yeah, and it rained. A hell of a lot. More than you’ve ever seen. Ever. I cannot stress this enough.
[MP3] Radiohead | Reckoner (live @ Nissan Pavilion)
BUY: In Rainbows on CD

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Noel Gallagher
Via The Tripwire, I see that the Brothers Gallagher have placed 1 and 2 in the poll of the top 50 Best Ever British Albums put on by Q Magazine and HMV. I also took great pleasure in seeing that Blur placed no higher than 25th for Parklife, proving once again that while that fookin’ poof Albarn may be the critic’s darling, Liam and Noel are the men of the people. All you need to do to get an understanding why is listen to this fantastic All Back to Mine BBC program recorded with Noel back in 1997 . Noel seems like someone you could go down the the corner pub and have a pint with, while even Dan Abnormal admits his own bands hates his guts.
Some other surprises (pleasant and otherwise); Keane placing twice in the top 13, The Manics The Holy Bible, Songs of Faith and Devotion from Depeche Mode, only one album for The Who and no New Order.
Here’s the Top Five, full list after the jump.
01. Definitely Maybe Oasis
02. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? Oasis
03. OK Computer Radiohead
04. Revolver The Beatles
05. The Stone Roses The Stone Roses

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Rueters has released their photos of the year. Pitchfork too.
Time for mine! Here are some of my favorite photos from my year in concerts.
Sidenote: The alternative title for this post was “I shot a shitload of bands this year.”

Superdrag-8279.jpg ACLDayThree-8379 DAM!Fest07-2398.jpg Damon Albarn Jay-Z-8507.jpg

My Chemical Romance VelvetRevolver-5345.jpg LCDSoundsystem-2236.jpg Whartscape-9081.jpg KolBRMC-0332.jpg

Ted Leo The Good, The Bad & The Queen The Hives VFest2007-1942.jpg Vfest2007-4898.jpg

Morrissey-4492.jpg ACLDayOne-6753.jpg Jay-Z-8513.jpg TheNational-9149.jpg

Bloc Party Whartscape-9629.jpg WuTang-4280.jpg Maroon5-2917.jpg

Morrissey ACLDayOne-7193.jpg Taking Back Sunday ACLDayTwo-8197.jpg

H.I.M. Travis-7793.jpg AmyWinehouse-1503.jpg ACLDayTwo-7789.jpg

TheseUnitedStates-5765.jpg MiddleDistanceRunner-6098.jpg TheNational-4378.jpg SilversunPickups-9777.jpg

Common Kenna-9621.jpg ThePipettes-9384.jpg IMG_4501.JPG

TheRosebuds-7627.jpg BeYourOwnPet-7037.jpg SilverSunPickups-5759.jpg The Bravery

Jet-6252.jpg Spoon@Sonar-4637.jpg TVotR-3700.jpg IMG_5479.JPG

ModestMouse-1-4.jpg Interpol-5281.jpg SnowPatrol-0674.jpg OKGo-0336.jpg

Bjork Whartscape-9085.jpg Incubus IMG_3879.JPG

Vfest2007-3441.jpg The Yeah Yeah Yeahs WuTang-5082.jpg ProjektRevolution-6372.jpg

GruffRhys-9711.jpg ACLDayThree-8938 Vfest2007-1-3.jpg Vfest2007-3723.jpg

MewBC-9348.jpg ACLDayThree-9197 MiddleDistanceRunner-5816.jpg NellyFurtado-3244.jpg

Row One:
Superdrag, Ben Kweller, Pela, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, Jay-Z
Row Two:
My Chemical Romance, Velvet Revolver, LCD Soundsystem, Blood Baby, Kings of Leon
Row Three:
Ted Leo, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, The Hives, Peter Bjorn & John, Bad Brains
Row Four:
Morrissey, M.I.A., Jay-Z, The National
Row Five:
Bloc Party, Spank Rock, Wu-Tang Clan, Maroon 5
Row Six:
Morrissey, Bjork, Taking Back Sunday, The Arcade Fire
Row Seven:
H.I.M., Travis, Amy Winehouse, Andrew Bird
Row Eight:
These United States, Middle Distance Runner, The National, Silversun Pickups
Row Nine:
Common, Kenna, The Pipettes, Pela
Row Ten:
The Rosebuds, Be Your Own Pet, Silversun Pickups, The Bravery
Row Eleven:
Jet, Spoon, TV on the Radio, The Dance Party
Row Twelve:
Modest Mouse, Interpol, Snow Patrol, OK Go
Row Thirteen:
Bjork, Blood Baby, Incubus, These United States
Row Fourteen:
Spoon, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Wu-Tang Clan, Linkin Park
Row Fifteen:
Gruff Rhys, Wilco, Ben Harper, Panic! at the Disco
Row Sixteen:
Mew, The Decemberists, Middle Distance Runner, Nelly Furtado

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Mew @ Black Cat – “The highlight of the night, however, was the encore performance of “Special,” a song a few concert goers around me said they were waiting all night for. Madsen started riffing with the band’s drummer while the rest of the band slowly took the stage, launching into the song’s signature riff with a perfectly timed crescendo that had the audience going wild.”
LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem @ 9:30 Club – “I wouldn’t call myself a huge LCD fan by any means, and to be honest, the amount of hype they’re getting from NYC was turning me off on the band a bit, but holy shit, they brought the noise last night. It was one of those shows where the band plays for over an hour and you’re having so much fun it feels like only 10 minutes. And the best part of it was the usually stoic D.C. audience was totally letting their hair down and absolutely turning it loose. Most everybody in the club was dancing, even old men like me. I was proud to be from D.C. last night.”
The Pipettes and Smoosh @ Black Cat – “The Pipettes are, as some are wont to say, the sound of one pan flashing, but no matter how you feel about the group, they put on a great show. There were plenty of choreographed dance moves to go along with the group’s throw-back, doo-wop sound, and best of all, the girls seemed to be enjoying themselves. The crowd certainly did. Think of them as the female Art Brut. You either get it and totally love it or you don’t.”
The National
The National @ 9:30 Club – “There were some outstanding moments, none of which I can remember directly because I was slightly to fairly drunk. There were quite a few songs that had me dancing around like no one was watching. One of the songs off of the new record got a new arrangement and it sounded great, but I can’t remember which one it was. “Lit Up” and “Mr. November” got the chatty Cathy’s standing all around us to shut the fuck up and actually watch the show.”
Travis @ 9:30 Club – “Normally I absolutely abhor it when bands play “greatest hits” sets. But when it’s been seven years since you’ve seen a band, those type of sets aren’t exactly a bad thing. In fact, last night the set was perfect. Because they played “Back In Black.” On a whim. As the last song of the night. It was INCREDIBLE.”
Dappled Cities-1166.jpg
Dappled Cities Fly @ Black Cat – “They played the Black Cat’s backstage room last night and put on one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen this year. Their sound is a glorious blend of Mew, Supergrass, The Shins and Levy – art rock with perfect pop hooks occasionally sung in falsetto.”
Kings of Leon @ 9:30 Club – “You know all those completely overrated bands like The Decemberists, Beruit, effing Sufjan, Band of Horses, The New Pornographers, Tapes N Tapes, Andrew Bird and the like? You can have them. Go ahead and take ’em. Just give me Kings of Leon. Give me a band with career ambition, building their fan base the right way – releasing albums that get progressively better while touring like crazy and playing bigger and bigger venues, but most importantly a band that fucking brings the rock live. Their set last night at the 9:30 Club was perhaps the best show I’ve seen this year. ”
Voxtrot & The Little Ones @ Black Cat – “You know how I always say I love bands that do mainly verse-chorus-verse songs with a “do do do,” “la la la” or “woo woo woo” thrown in there at some point? The Little Ones generally do all three in most of their songs. Think of an American version of I Should Coco-era Supergrass. Tons of energy, lots of smiles on stage and plenty of chances to clap along with their songs. And it’s pretty impossible not to sing along with the “hey-oh”‘s in “Lovers Who Undercover.” I had a ball during their set.”
Pela @ Historic Sixth & I Synagouge – “Holy hell. They were brilliant. Forced to do a 30 minute set due to the schedule, they wasted no time and pulled no punches, delivering one of the best sets of music I’ve seen this year. They were damn near perfect. The choruses were big and soared when they needed to and Billy showed a newfound talent for pulling back a bit and showing a bit of restraint during the slower songs.”
Jen Lekman @ Black Cat – “I couldn’t stay long at the Jens Lekman show last night and that turned out to be a real shame. He was brilliant. It was a cold, rainy night outside but this guy was just emanating sunshine from the stage. And he managed to turn a good show into a great show in just the second song of the night, when during the last little bit of “The Opposite of Hallelujah” he dropped in a sample of “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by The Chairman of the Board.”
Morrissey @ DAR Constitution Hall – “We only got to shoot two songs and they went by in a flash(no pun intended). I had both of my cameras with me and would switch between the two whenever the buffer on a memory card would fill up. I had them placed on the stage in front of me, which was very handy. During the second song, while I was putting one camera down and picking up the other, Moz hit me in the face with the mic cord! Awesome.”
Superdrag @ 930 Club – “They didn’t get to the good stuff, that being everything off of Head Trip In Every Key, until the latter part of the set but it was worth the wait. “Sold You An Alibi” killed. As did “Do The Vampire.” “I’m Expanding My Mind” was every bit of the sonic godhead I make it out to be in my head. So yeah, this show was good.”

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I seriously doubt you need me to tell you that the albums by The National, Spoon, LCD Soundsystem and Fiest are really good, right? Those albums are littered throughout everyone else’s year end lists, and rightfully so.
Boxer might very well be album of the year. It was leaked super early but yet no one really got burnt out on it. There’s a reason for that.
Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is easily Spoon’s best record since Girls Can Tell. I fell in, out and back in love with that record over the course of the year. Seeing Britt do “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” on SNL really drove home how awesome that song, and this record, really is. Their video for “The Underdog” is pure genius.
I didn’t like the LCD record when it first came out, but seeing them three times over the course of the year brought me around. As far as dance-punk goes, it really doesn’t get any better.
I personally don’t like A Reminder as much as I did Let It Die (the on the former production was too samey compared the genre-tripping from the latter) but it did what Let It Die couldn’t, make Feist a household name.
You already know who I feel about In Rainbows. Neon Bible was also kinda meh. The new Kanye was good but not great. I love half of Favorite Worst Nightmare, but always hit the skip button a few times on the way through it.
So instead of giving you a list of 10 records that includes all of those titles, here are 10 records that you may or might not have heard this year but really ought to.
Dappled Cities – Granddance
Quite possibly my favorite record of the year. You know how Mew can go from bombastic stadium rock to ethereal, space operas in the course of a record? Dappled Cities does all that in one song, many times over.
[mp3] Dappled Cities | Fire Fire Fire – Loving Hands Remix
Editors – End Has A Start
I know it’s not necessarily cool to like this band but I’ve listened to this record non-stop since it came out. Yes, the production is a bit Snow Patrol, but they were going for an arena rock type record and they delivered.
Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis
By no means his best work, but he’s not embarrassing himself either. It’s just nice to have Jarvis back on the grind. Dude writes songs like “Cunts Are Still Running The World,” and the tune is every bit as good as the title suggests.
[mp3] Jarvis Cocker | Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time
Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
A latecomer to this list, saw him do a few songs at the Black Cat and I’ve been hooked ever since. This album is a weird, but entirely enjoyable melange of Swedish pop, Motown influences and the occasional breakbeat. It’s the closest thing you’re going to get to a perfect pop record in 2007.
[mp3] Jens Lekman | Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo
[mp3] Jens Lekman | The Opposite of Hallelujah
Kings of Leon – Because The Times
Bloggers (and everyone else) slept on this album big time. Whatever. Your loss. Go listen to The Decemberists then.
Pela – Anytown Graffiti
Honest, earnest, indie-Springsteen type shit. If there’s any justice in this world, these guys are going to be huge, huge, huge.
[mp3] Pela | Lost To The Lonesome
The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
Most likely forgotten because it was released in January, but I think it’s their best work to date. But I say that because I didn’t like their previous albums. Wincing has a depth and songwriting variety not shown in their early work. The live show still needs a bit of work though.
[mp3] The Shins | Phantom Limb
Sloan – Never Hear the End of It
Yes, it’s too long, but in a way, that works for this album. It’s like a big Sloan mixtape.
Super Furry Animals – Hey Venus!
Technically this doesn’t come out until January, but the digital release has been out for a few months. I originally wasn’t going to include this album on my list but then I realized it contains two or three of my favorite songs of the year. After the mis-steps of Love Kraft, this is the year’s “return to form” release. Hey Venus! is full of frenetic energy and short pop songs very reminiscent of SFA’s debut album Fuzzy Logic, which is my favorite Furry record to this day.
[mp3] Super Furry Animals | Run Away
[mp3] Super Furry Animals | The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Travis – The Boy with No Name
Supposedly their “return to form” but actually more like “the band having fun again.” Travis are always at their best when their a bit happy-go-lucky, and that’s an apt description for this record. It’s comparible to Teenage Fanclub’s Howdy, which I also love.
Just missed the list but also worth your time:
Gruff Rhys – Candylion
All Smiles – Ten Readings of a Warning
Ted Leo – Living with the Living
Art Brut – It’s a Bit Complicated
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81

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