Thursday, October 11, 2012

INTERVIEW: Grouplove

Grouplove brought the love to St. Louis on Monday, Oct. 8 at the Pageant in Delmar Loop. The band is touring this fall to promote their debut album “Never Trust a Happy Song.” The album found success with songs such as “Colours” and “Tongue Tied.” Grouplove, which consists of members Ryan Rabin, Hannah Hooper, Christian Zucconi, Sean Gadd and Andrew Wessen, met in 2008 while attending an artist’s community in Greece.
A Q&A with Sean Gadd, Grouplove bassist
Everyone in the band comes from a different background and from different places. Do you feel this diversity helps?
For us, absolutely. Things work differently for different people, but for us, we come from London, California and New York, and we all bring different influences to our music. Even though we have different influences and very different upbringings there is something that is really special with us where we connect when it comes to music and sense of humor and being together. In our case, the differences make us more interested in each other.
Does it ever get chaotic at times? 
It gets chaotic in a good way. We bounce off of each other. We don’t fight too much and because we haven’t known each other all of our lives and haven’t fallen into bad habits with each other, from early on we learned how to discuss things. We were all so excited about doing something new and being around each other. It’s very natural with us. We are honest with each other early on and we don’t let things brew.
Can you describe how the band came together?

Hannah Hooper, vocalist, performs with Andrew Wessen, guitarist at the Grouplove concert Oct. 8. PHOTO BY SEAN FUNICIK
It is a story that we talk about a lot, because we met in Greece. We were all there on our own separate journeys and Hannah and Christian, who are a couple, they had recently met and fell for each other in New York City and wanted to get out. So they decided to go to Greece. Hannah had been invited to this artist’s residency, which is kind of insane. These few American guys, one of whom is our guitarist’s brother, had some land and wanted to do something special with it in Greece where they invite artists, painters and performers to go there and create so they can have a nice environment with this land. I was there because my friend from London, who is also Greek, ran into these guys and got invited and he invited me. Ryan and Andrew are old time friends from Los Angeles and they were there for pretty much the same reasons. That’s the short story.
So the album is basically self-produced. Did you do that intentionally, and is that something you want to continue doing?
Yeah, absolutely. Ryan, the drummer, produced it from his home studio in downtown Los Angeles. We like to do everything in house right now, it’s working for us. When you’re in a band you always have to keep an open mind, who knows what is going to happen in the future? But right now we are really happy with Ryan. He does the producing and Hannah does all of the artwork. She designs everything from our album covers to our T-shirts and has a big role when it comes to our set design.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

INTERVIEW: The Wombats

The Wombats found success in the UK with its 2007 debut album, “The Wombats Present: A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.” The band’s new album, “The Wombats Proudly Present: This Modern Glitch,” has recently received radio play in the United States. As a result of the new publicity, The Wombats found a group of dedicated fans attending the show, where the band brought its distinct combination of indie, punk rock and new wave.
“The concert was fun and the crowd was more energetic than expected,” said Erin Hindalong, senior media communications major. “I was surprised how many people were as into it as myself — usually an English band in St. Louis wouldn’t have people so into the music.”
Swedish outfit The Royal Concept and fellow Brits, Morning Parade, opened for The Wombats. Morning Parade has a hit of its own called “Headlights.” The Wombats brought its infectious energy to the discounted show. Tickets cost $1.05 each, in promotion of the radio station 105.7 The Point, which sponsored the show.
“I wanted to see The Wombats when I was abroad in London, but it was sold out instantly and was too expensive,” Hindalong said. “When I found out they were doing a show here for only a dollar, I was so excited.”
The band played hit singles from its new album, such as “Tokyo (Vampires and Werewolves)” and “Jump Into the Fog,” as well as international hits “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” and “Moving to New York.”
Here’s a Q&A with The Wombats drummer Dan Haggis about the band’s new album, touring and the band’s musical influences: 
Is this your first time in St. Louis? Do you like touring America? 
This is our first time here. We are really looking forward to the show. We saw The(Gateway) Arch and took some photos, and we saw a few crazy thunderstorms. It’s really exciting being so far away from home and hearing people sing your songs back at you. Everyone’s just so friendly.
Do you feel any pressure being from Liverpool and graduating from the 
Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (Paul McCartney’s school)? 
I don’t think so. At the school, the facilities were great and you get to meet a lot of like-minded people, but don’t think you have any more chance of succeeding than any other band. It’s a good place to learn but we had to work hard. We didn’t feel any pressure from the school; we had to put pressure on ourselves.
Who are your other musical influences? 
All sorts of stuff. With the first album, we were more a three-piece punk band — really raw. On the second album, we have a lot more influences. We have a much more electronic influence like Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode. We like everything, really. Folk — we all really like Elliot Smith, and we like the punk stuff as well. We like to rock out. Other influences are The Beach Boys, Neil Young, the list goes on and on.
There was a big gap between the two albums. Was this done intentionally? 
Well, we spent a lot of time on the road: two years. We wanted to explore new things and new sound, so we took our time. It took ages to get mixes and the artwork done, and the label kept delaying things. We were lucky that the label wasn’t impatient with us and allowed us to take our time. This was our second chance and we didn’t want to fuck it up because we might not get a third chance. We wanted to make sure to get it right.
Do you prefer being on the road or recording? 
We tour a lot, but if we only toured we would miss being in the studio and vice versa, so it’s important to find that balance. We all have laptops with us on the road, so we can do a bit of recording here and there. We never get bored.
What’s something we don’t know about the new album? 
One of our songs on the album was actually a demo recording. We took it to LA and recorded it properly, but the record label actually preferred the demo, so we just redid the drums and put it on the album.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Social Media

I have an exciting plethora of social media outlets if you care about what I have to say. This blog will be used for reviews of live music, albums and events. For daily reviews of all sorts of topics, follow me on tumblr ( Follow me on twitter (RenoShae) for more inane opinions, Pinterest and Instagram (brennashae18), Get Glue (brenna_shae_williams), FourSquare (19478878) and even

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bestival 2011

Here is the thing about the Isle of Wight, it is on an island (the clue was probably in the name). The only problem with this fact is that trying to ferry 55,000 people in one day to the Isle of Wight is a mission. Three trains, one cab, one hover boat, one bus and countless hours of standing in line later we finally made it to the site to set up our tent. 

Somehow, none of this seemed as tough to deal with as Glastonbury. The main reason being that the weather was relatively nice. No bikini weather but warm enough that I could actually enjoy the festival and avoid the mud. 

This was my second trip to Bestival, my first one being in 2009 and the lay out had changed quite a bit! However, the park is still as beautiful as ever and the new layout made it much easier to get around and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the people. Unlike Glastonbury, Bestival is a small festival, and the camp site is just a couple of minutes away from the action. Without the hindrance of the mud, exploring the site was a much lovelier experience. 

After we set up our tent and our gazebo, which we hauled all the way from Croydon (worth it) we went out to watch Santigold perform in the Big Top Tent. I haven't listened to much of her work but her performance included dancers dressed as horses and other wild things which matched the psychedelic feel of Bestival. The festival is active all night, even if the big stages aren't, and there is plenty of after hours action for those who are so inclined. 

Friday started out hopeful with lots of sunshine as we headed into the main arena. Then our good friend Stephen a.k.a Bean Head had his arm pop out of his socket. After a minute of trying to help him get it back in, I ran to find a medic and we all waited quite a while before the ambulance came and picked him up. After he was taken to the field hospital, we headed over to the Sailor Jerry's tent for some drinks, temporary tattoos and good cheesy dance music.

Later in the afternoon, I raced over to the main stage to watch the legendary Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys take the stage. It was, quite honestly, the best show of my life. The weather was good, we were outdoors, I had a pretty good spot and I got to hear timeless classics played by a legend. Not only are the Beach Boys one of my favorite bands of all time but Brian Wilson is an absolute genius song writer. After hearing the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Wilson had a nervous break down and spent a year in bed. Ever since then, he has struggled with Schizophrenia, making it hard to appear on stage but despite the voices in his head he still plays live for the benefit of the rest of us and is even planning a Beach Boys reunion tour for the next year. His performance at Bestival was like a religious experience and he played as many hits as time allowed but he could have easily filled up another hour.

There were some complaints that his voice was not up to speed but some people don't realize that Brian Wilson was not the singer, that was Mike Love. Wilson was a composer and a songwriter and getting to see a musical genius perform his own music is why I fell in love with music in the first place.

The one thing you have to remember at music festivals is that you have to compromise. You will never be able to see everyone you want to see. If you are in a big group of people, you will have to compromise. The other thing you have to remember is not to get burned out. It is easy to think that you will be able to see loads of acts with ease but you have to take breaks, have a rest, get food, and sit down. 

This is the reason I did not get to see Chromeo's full set. The others in the group wanted to see Magnetic Man right after and I knew I would not be able to stand straight through both sets. So I stayed for Bonafied Lovin' and Hot Mess but I wish I could have seen their set in it's entirety and plan on doing so. These two guys, who do not move around very often somehow manage to have a lot of stage presence and their retro-tinted electronic music is just plain fun to dance to and was a great way to watch the first day's sunset.

Let me digress for a second because before Chromeo while we were searching for food, we came across Public Enemy, which did not interest me because, as I have stated before, I am not a big Hip Hop fan. What did interest me however, was that Flavor Flav was selling his own book to fans. For 20 pounds, I could get his book (Flavor Flav: the Icon, the Memoir) with his signature and a picture. I passed.

Next up was Magnetic Man featuring Benga, Artwork and Skream, the latter which is credited for creating dubstep, the newest electronic sensation to sweep across the world and even, surprisingly, America. The band are also Croydon boys, the south London borough where I currently call home. Magnetic Man's form of dubstep is quite ethereal and much more chilled out then American counterparts such as Skrillex. The light shows were fantastic and made the experience of the night exciting. 

Chromeo, I wish I could have seen the whole thing because the light show had me in awe and the band's heavy house oriented electronic music had my whole body pounding. Again, this is another band I will have to catch at their own show.

We walked back over to the Sailor Jerry tent to see Frank Turner and it was so busy, Turner had to give some safety instructions at the beginning of his set. Turner's 'folk-punk' was awesome, especially on such a small stage, and the atmosphere was crazy. However, it was too much for some of the others in the group and we cut his set short.

Saturday is the day everyone dresses up for the festival's theme which was Rock Stars, Pop Stars and Divas. I dressed as a Beatle but there were all kinds of costumed folk running around the festival. Our first act of the day was the Village People, which was rightfully cheesy but loads of fun. We decided to take it easy during the day because we wanted to explore Bestival by night. We returned to the main arena to catch the tail end of Mercury Prize winner PJ Harvey singing songs off her latest album 'Let England Shake.'

We were not going to be missing Saturday night's headliners because they were the one and only Cure. Playing for nearly three hours, the Cure did not miss a hit and getting to hear Love Song live was the highlight of the Festival. The Cure were so good, they have actually released a live recording of that night's performance.

We went to explore Bestival by night an boy does it have a lot to offer. One can easily get lost in the park's beautiful Ambient Forest and around every corner could be an odd performer, light show or DJ ready to entertain. We headed to the Afterburner which was in a "secret location" near the camp site and watched Andy C play a crazy set from whatever you would call the structure emanating from the middle of the stage area. Between the lights, the atmosphere and the late night ravers, it was hard to believe we were sitting in a nature park in the Isle of Wight.

We attempted to get into the Psychedelic Worm tent for Metronomy but it was way too packed. That would be my only complaint about this whole festival is that the tents (Psychedelic Worm and Big Top) became way to packed, to a point that seemed dangerous. It did not help that around this time it started pouring rain and everyone wanted to flee indoors. We quickly gave up and headed back to our tent to listen to the torrential down pour that ensued.

The previous night's rain left a little bit of mud but nothing like the extent that we dealt with at Glastonbury. We started the day back at the main stage to see The Drums, who honestly, were very disappointing. They seemed bored on stage with their early afternoon time slot and did not even play their biggest hit "Let's Go Surfing." If Kings of Leon can play "Sex on Fire" for the benefit of the audience, then no one else has an excuse.

Next up, we saw Kelis, best known for the 'Milkshake' song. Lately, she has come back with the help of producer and DJ Calvin Harris and their song 'Bounce.' Her performance was quite good but her style of pop music does not really interest me. However, I think she is much more talented than some of her counter parts such as Rihanna and Beyonce.

It was around this time that we began to get word that the weather was going to turn and by turn I mean that a hurricane was headed towards the Isle of Wight. About half of us in the group decided that we did not want to experience a hurricane in a tent and chose to head home. The decision ended up being the right one, since our tent ended up blown away. So we left half way through the Maccabee's set to catch a cab to the hovercraft. I am sure Bjork was very good and I heard some very good things about the ensuing fireworks show but avoiding hurricane weather was not regrettable.

Getting home was much easier than arriving since we were not leaving with 55,000 other people. We were back in our beds within a few hours to sleep off the festival lethargy and that was the end of my festival experience for 2011.

All the pictures are by the lovely Becca Scott except for the Brian Wilson one, that is from

Friday, September 2, 2011

Glastonbury 2011

In 2011 I completed my life dream: to attend Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts. It may be almost 3 months later but the wrist band is still on and I haven’t forgotten the experience.

Getting to the festival was, I can not put it any other way, fucking miserable. It poured rain and my boots were soaked through, I ended up having to splurge on a pair of wellies. We camped in ‘South Park,’ also known as the middle of fucking nowhere on a hill. Our Tesco tent did surprisingly well in the torrential downpours that ensued but getting around proved difficult as the mud slowed everyone down.

Thursday we managed to get a little bit of sunshine and spent the day exploring the campsite, and by that I mean we sat in front of the Nelson Mandela bar and got drunk. We decided to hit an early night so we would be well rested the next day.

The rain returned on Friday, but this time I was more prepared with a poncho and a pair of wellies. We started the day at the famous Pyramid Stage where Metronomy where playing. Their new album ‘The English Riviera’ is pretty spectacular. While it may not be as danced fueled as the previous record, one only has to listen to the bass line on ‘The Bay’ to realize how instrumentally gifted this group is. My only complaint about the performance is that Metronomy should have either played in a tent or at night because their fancy light shows couldn’t be seen in the afternoon.

Next up was Indie rockers ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ who had a lot more energy than I thought. Lead singer Alex Trimble actually has a lot of charisma even with his ginger complexion working against him. At one point in the set he had everyone get on each other’s shoulders which finally gave me a view of the stage.

Wu-Tang Clan were up next and call me cynical but watching live hip hop is about as exciting as watching paint dry. First off, hip hop is not really my genre of music but I also find it difficult to enjoy watching 8 guys jump up and down and scream into a microphone. My friend Sam says its not about the talent, it is just about the feeling you get. I didn’t feel anything.

Legend B.B. King was up next, and I would have hated myself if I had missed this blues legend. After a quick trip to the Nelson Mandela bar, we relaxed and listened to King’s master craftsmanship on his famous guitar ‘Lucille.’
We climbed close to the stage to listen to Smith’s front man Morrissey and even though the performance was fabulous and his voice is still perfectly intact, Morrissey seemed like he didn’t want to be there. He insulted the crowd several times and of course did not forget to blast everyone on the planet who once had a burger. Apparently the Glastonbury site stopped serving meat during his set to honor him, it was more likely so he wouldn’t storm off the stage.

We skipped U2 and went over to the ‘Silent Disco.’ Which is totally the best thing ever. You are given a pair of headphones and taken onto the dance floor. There are 2 channels on the head phones, so everyone is sort of listening to something different. The best part is when you see everyone react and you switch over to the other channel and it’s a tune! Then you can take your headphones off and all you hear is everyone singing along.

Saturday warmed up a little so we had a bit of a lie in and arrived at the Pyramid Stage to see Gaslight Anthem finishing up their set. We walked over to the Circus and finally got a good tour of the site. We went to the Park stage to see who the special guests were and it turned out to be Pulp, who were definitely one of the highlights on the festival. I didn’t know much about Pulp before seeing them live, but Jarvis Cocker is so talented and ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 3000’ definitely rubbed off on me. I just wish I had known more about them before I saw them so I could have enjoyed it more.

Saturday night was Chemical Brothers! We sat towards the back so we could get a better view of the light show and it did not disappoint. Their set was pure ecstasy.

Sunday heated up fast, and it was actually hot, probably the hottest day of the year in the UK. I finally got to walk around in my bikini, proper festival style! We started the day out with Don McLean on the Pyramid stage and he is an amazing guitarist. Obviously ‘American Pie’ was a highlight and everyone sang along as he started the song back from the beginning.

We basked in the sun throughout Laura Marling’s set while we waited for another legend, Paul Simon, to approach the stage. Simon was amazing and his new album is fantastic, probably the best since ‘Graceland.’ The only disappointment was that he didn’t play any Simon and Garfunkel songs.
The mud was finally drying up so we walked over to the West Holts stage to watch The Go Team!, another highlight of the festival. There weren’t many people so we got right up close. Any lethargy I had felt before was gone once the lead singer, Ninja came on stage. I have never seen anyone with so much energy who enjoyed performing so much. It wasn’t just her though, the entire band had charisma. As the sun set, we sat in the West Holts bar and watched The Smoke Feathers, an unsigned band from London and they were incredible as well. I think everyone in the bar bought their record.

We ended the festival with Queens of the Stone Age, definitely the right choice, especially over Beyonce. People raved about her performance but I hate her so I imagine I would not have enjoyed it very much. Along with the wicked light show, Josh Homme’s amazing guitar skills prove that Queens of the Stone Age could be one of the last great bands on Earth, to me the true headliners.

So Glastonbury was over and it was quite surreal getting back in the car. Monday was almost 90 degrees in England and I had to leave the next day for America. I have one more festival this year in the UK with Bestival in the Isle of Wight and I am just praying to god that it doesn't rain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saint Louis Local Artists

I have decided to post all of my Examiner blogs on my old blog, you know for posterity. Everything is saved here and Ill keep this blog around for random musings or recommendations. Enjoy!

5. Union Tree Review
Folk based indie music blew up this year on both sides of the Atlantic, mostly because of Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, but Saint Louis has a folk indie group that could give them a run for their money. Fronted by the charismatic Tawaine Noah and backed my a melodic range of instruments, Union Tree Review creates a sweet, harmonious sound usually reserved for bands with much more experience. Union Tree Review are a troupe of real musicians, passionate about their art.

4. The Makeshift Gentlemen
Makeshift Gentlemen could easily become Saint Louis’ next big indie success. This electro indie rock outfit embody great dance music as well as good old fashioned rock n roll. Songs like ‘Casanova’ are instantly recognizable and their synth pop hooks could make any of their songs instant hits. The band borders on theatrical, but not in a bad way, and puts on a performance rather than just a show. The band
echoes other indie greats like Franz Ferdinand and quite often treats the audience to covers of their own
indie heroes like Jet. The band has already gotten buzz as opening acts for the Von Bondies and Shiny Toy Guns and will surely be ready to burst from the Saint Louis scene.

3. The Breaks

The Breaks were the best new band to arise from the Saint Louis music scene, and although they haven’t been around for long, have already made an impact on local indie music. Their type of loud indie pop is not usual for midwest America, but rather sounds more like something to come out of the UK. Their niche filling genre hasn’t gone unnoticed, The Breaks have gotten a copious amount of local press and its not hard to see why. Their unique voice and modern take on pop music has them set on the path for success.

2. The Blind Eyes
The Blind Eyes were one of the first bands I experienced when I started my stay in Saint Louis, and they blew me away. Riverfront Times voted them ‘Best Pop Band,’ and although I would classify their music as more of a modern take on classic rock, The Blind Eyes surely deserve the recognition. The group has been on the Saint Louis scene for awhile now, have built up a loyal following, and have played several
dates at local powerhouse venue The Pageant. Since their 2009 album release ‘Modernity,’ the band has only been going up, and 2011 might be their best year yet.

1. So Many Dynamos

Calling So Many Dynamos local these days is most definitely an understatement, but for a long time, the band did call Saint Louis their home. The release of Loud Wars put So Many Dynamos on the national and international map and this palindrome named rock band started the long climb to fame. The Loud Wars is a brilliantly combined album that is synth heavy, but with much more serious material than your typical dance-punk album. The band returned to Saint Louis this year to play at the first annual LouFest and debuted some new tunes for their hometown following. Their music is engrossing, engaging, and their songwriting ability makes them one of the best up and coming bands not only of Saint Louis, but of the nation.

My Saint Louis Playlist

I Function-Union Tree Review
Casanova-Makeshift Gentlemen
Odd Man Out-The Breaks
January-The Blind Eyes
The Formula-So Many Dynamos

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Freshman Class: Best Debut's of 2010

Every year a new handful of bands and artists arise from obscurity. Some will find many years of critical claim or commercial success and others will disappear into the haze of the unknown. This is my list of 2010’s best debut acts, and although the future is uncertain for these freshman, their recent successes may just tip the scale in their favor.


Surfer Blood

Florida natives were the first indie stars to make their debut in the new year, and gained critical acclaim with ‘Astro Coast’. The band’s first single ‘Swim’ was an anthemic tune that sounds like it belongs at a sports game, “Swim until you reach the end!” It’s their second song, a combination of lead singer’s John Paul Pitt’s unique, throwback voice and the simple harmonic melody that sells Surfer Blood as one of the top debuts of the year. Surfer Blood is almost definitely going to become one of those bands where everyone knows the songs, but may not quite know who it is sung by.


Marina & the Diamonds

I first heard of Marina & the Diamonds aka Marina Diamandis at Camden Crawl in 2009. When she released her debut album, ‘The Family Jewels,’ I was skeptical. How many more UK pop stars can we take? Marina & the Diamonds, doesn’t that sounds a little bit too much like Florence & the Machine? However, Marina’s voice validates her talent and songs like Mowgli’s Road, a song based on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book,’ makes her case as a brilliant songwriter. ‘I Am Not a Robot,’ her third single from the album, encompasses a range of different styles and sounds, something Marina is very talented at doing. Marina’s powerful presence and unique voice may be a little too much for mainstream pop, but she has definitely found her place in the indie-pop genre.


Two Door Cinema Club

Two Door Cinema’s club “I Can Talk” was an infectious alternative hit off their album ‘Tourist History,’ but it was after ‘Something Good Can Work’ that made the listener realize how much range in sound and style Two Door Cinema Club have. Hailing from Northern Ireland, these three boys create the perfect type of UK based indie rock, not seen since the days of the Fratellis and the Wombats. ‘Something Good Can Work’ is the kind of song you wish the DJ would play at a nightclub, infectious, catchy, and easily danceable.


Freelance Whales

Freelance Whales seemingly came out of nowhere with their album ‘Weathervanes,’ but in fact, the band got their start busking around New York City. If Ben Gibbard’s Postal Service decided to blend a little more indie and a dash of folk, Freelance Whales would be the result. Hit single, ‘Hannah’ is sung fast and the lyrics are seemingly nonsensical, but really tells the story of a girl who doesn’t quite know where she is, impressive for a band that is less than two years old.


Sleigh Bells

What do you get when you combine the ex-member of a 90’s teen pop girl band with an ex-member of a hardcore rock band? Sleigh Bells is your answer, and they are going to be one those bands people either love or hate. Described as ‘noise-pop’ Sleigh Bell’s intense melodies are in your face and almost overwhelming. However, no one can deny the amount of talent that had to go into the production of ‘Treats’ and the fascination of the blend of sounds created by Derek Miller and sung with Alexis Krauss’ unique voice. Both singles, ‘Tell Em’ and ‘Infinity Guitars’ and stripped down while being complex all at once.


The Drums

Probably the best debut album of the year, The Drums are another example of recent indie rock genius. Although I am not the first person to say this, The Drums sound like Joy Division trying to sing Beach Boy’s songs, and it works! ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ was the perfect summer tune to remind the all the kids stuck in the mid west how great the beach really is. ‘Me and the Moon,’ taking on a more serious subject, shows that the band can also create a mature composition. Although the Drums have lost members on their way to stardom, their ability to keep together may just prove the bands longevity.


Best Coast

California cutie Bethany Cosentino and the rest of Best Coast made their 2010 debut with ‘Crazy for You’ and easily marked the return of low-key west coast surf music. Cosentino and boyfriend Nathan Williams of the band Wavves were voted Rolling Stone’s hottest couple of 2010. The first track off the album ‘Boyfriend’ was a simple in your face tune, but their second hit ‘Crazy for You’ was the perfect late summer beach hit. Costentino’s bubbly personality and west coast sound has earned Best Coast a large celebrity following and their simple acoustic summer sound never goes out of style.


Everything Everything

The BBC may have predicted their success in December of 2009, but on my radar they came out of nowhere. These UK natives sound like a throwback indie band mixed in with modern electropop. The album is full of possible hits including QWERTY finger, Suffragette Suffragette, MY KZ, UR BF, and their latest single Photoshop Handsome and combined make ‘Man Alive’ the most unique album of 2010. The album manages to be both experimental and poppy at the same time while also being a staple of good songwriting. The video for Photoshop Handsome is also rather impressive for a band’s debut album.



Fenech-Soler definitely win the award for hardest band name to pronounce, but they are also probably one of this biggest buzz bands of the year. Echoing former UK new rave artists, Fenech-Soler are the latest addition to electropop groups such as Pendulum and Groove Armada. Singer Ben Duffy even lent his vocals on Groove Armada’s latest single, ‘Paper Romance.’ Like Pendulum, the vocals and the intense hooks make the music almost overwhelming, but are easily floor fillers as well. Don’t expect this band to disappear any time soon, they are releasing new singles off their self-titled debut well into the new year.


Ou Est Le Swimming Pool

The music community experienced a tragedy at Belgium music festival Pukkelpop with the loss of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool lead singer Charles Haddon. Upset after injuring a girl during a performance, Haddon ended his own life by jumping off of a satellite tower in front of hundreds of several shocked onlookers. Despite this horrible event, I saw all Ou Est Le Swimming Pool had to offer at Isle of Wight’s Bestival in 2009. I knew even then that catchy ‘Dance the Way I Feel’ would be an infectious hit basically impossible to resist. ‘The Key,’ the newest single from their debut album ‘The Golden Year’ is an ambitious record full of heavy synth pop hooks, a perfect example of the path the band were heading down. Whether Ou Est Le Swimming Pool will become a duo, replace their lost member, or disband remains up in the air, but if Haddon hadn’t ended his life far too soon, this band would have had a lot to offer.


I Blame Coco

Sting’s daughter, Coco Sumner, makes another one of my end of the year lists. Whether her success is based on her famous dad, or her own individual skill is up in the air, but 2010 gave her the perfect opportunity to show off what she had to offer. A synth pop princess, Coco shared her vocals with Sub Focus and even released a few hits of her own with ‘Self Machine’ and ‘In Spirit Golden.’

Honorable Mention


December is a slow month for music, most artists wait until mid-January to release new material, so this space will go to mentioning the biggest trend in music to arise from 2010. Dubstep, a UK dance music genre that bases its roots in Croydon, made it mainstream in 2010. Magnetic Man, the first dubstep super group including genre founder Skream, Benga, and Artwork released their self-titled debut in October. Single ‘Perfect Stanger’ included vocals from Katy B, who had her own dubstep hit with ‘Katy on a Mission.’ However, it was Rusko’s release of ‘O.M.G.’ in May of this year that really put the genre on the map. Hit single ‘Woo Boost’ was very much the dance single of the year and his work with fellow artist Caspa is what put him on the map. Although Rusko is currently working on the production aspect of his career, even working on tracks for Britney Spear’s next album, let’s hope this dubstep DJ doesn’t leave us for too long.

My 2010 Playlist Part II

1. Take It Easy-Surfer Blood
2. Mowgli’s Road-Marina & the Diamonds
3. Something Good Can Work-Two Door Cinema Club
4. Hannah-Freelance Whales
5. Infinity Guitars-Sleigh Bells
6. Me and the Moon- The Drums
7. Crazy for You-Best Coast
8. Photoshop Handsome-Everything Everything
9. Lies-Fenech Soler
10. The Key-Oe Est Le Swimming Pool
11. In Spirit Golden-I Blame Coco
12. Woo Boost-Rusko

Best Albums of 2010

I have always been a fan of albums. Some may say that albums don’t matter anymore, its all about singles, but the album is the work of art, the outcome of an artist’s hard work and agility. The album gives the artist a chance to tell a story, to create something meaningful, and to create a cultural impact on the world.

2010 produced many great albums, enough to counter the argument that the album medium is dead. Most end of the year ‘best albums’ lists count down or count up from best to worst, but in order to break the mold and to narrow down my choices, I have decided to list my favorite albums of the year by picking my favorite album of every month.


Vampire Weekend-Contra

As a famous 80’s icon once said, Vampire Weekend just want to have fun (or something similar). Indeed, their first release from the album ‘Cousins’, was an upbeat, fast-paced, whimsical song that really didn’t have much substance. It wasn’t until the groundbreaking ‘Giving up the Gun’ that I knew this album was very good. The song is packed full of powerful lyrics, “but if the chance remained, to see those better days, I’d put the cannons down,” is only one example. The album contains the best of the old, the African guitar rifts and unique drum beats, but includes new electronic sounds and studio tricks. The album has spawned several hits including ‘Horchata,’ ‘White Sky,’ ‘Run,’ and even the holiday hit ‘Holiday.


Yeasayer-Odd Blood

Yeasayer’s debut album ‘All Hour Cymbals’ is a very experimental 11 track album, that, frankly, sounds like background music. The fact that the same band could, 3 years later, create something like ‘Odd Blood’ is amazing. ‘Ambling Alp,’ a song that tells the story of boxing legend Joe Louis and his bouts with famous boxers such as Primo Carnera (nicknamed the Ambling Alp) and Max Schmelling is nothing short of genius. Although the story may apply to Mr. Louis, anyone can relate to such lyrics as ‘Now the world can be an unfair place at times, but your lows will have their complement of highs, and if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you, raise your head and wear your wounds with pride.’ Their compilation of instruments and exotic, foreign feel make Yeasayer one of the most talked about bands of 2010.


Gorillaz-Plastic Beach

Damon Albarn’s virtual animated project Gorillaz released their third album in 2010 and it marked Albarn’s most successful foray in the United State’s music industry. The concept band become even more conceptual with Plastic Beach by following in the footsteps of greats before them and by packing the album full of talent to create their best album yet. The imagery in ‘Rhinestone Eyes’ would give John Steinbeck a run for his money. The song boldly starts with ‘I’m a scary gargoyle on a tower,’ and floats through a series of vague observations that are powerful enough to bring the listener into their own world. The intro to ‘On Melancholy Hill’ is the kind of hook that will become a timeless fixture in pop culture and who could resist a lyric like ‘cause your my medicine when your close to me,’?


Plan B-The Defamation of Strickland Banks

Now my American readers will probably be scratching their heads about this one, but Plan B, also known Ben Drew is a UK rapper turned soul artist whose second studio album went straight to number one in Britain. The album tells the story of Strickland Banks, a famous singer convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. The songs follow Strickland’s time in prison and his subsequent personality change as he attempts to cope with prison life. Not only artistic, but a foray into the psychological, Plan B also manages to create a unified album where the individual songs also manage to stand out on their own. For a rapper, Plan B’s soul singing is melodically sweet and stands up to the giants of soul.


Black Keys-Brothers

The minute ‘Tighten Up’ comes on the speakers, I can’t help but get excited. There has not been an album this good in a long time. The album marks the Black Keys graduating from blues rock connoisseurs to rock n’ roll superstars. Dan Auerbach and Pat Carny present an album that is radio friendly, but doesn’t give up the raw sound of their instruments or the realism of their lyrics, ‘Living just to keep going, going just to be sane, all the while I know it’s such a shame.’ Its a throwback, but modern at the same time. ‘Howlin for You’ sounds like it came right out of 1950’s Memphis, just pure simple Blues. The Black Keys give the world a reason to get excited about music again.


We Are Scientists-Barbara

California duo We Are Scientists return to the world of music in 2010 with Barbara after a foray into the world of mini-television series. At the end of 2009, We Are Scientists wrote and starred in ‘Steve Wants His Money’ to show off their comedic sides that their fans have come to know so well. Barbara is a return to the fast-paced indie rock that gained them so much popularity in the first place. The album produced perfect summer hits such as ‘Nice Guys’, ‘Rules Don’t Stop,’ and ‘I Don’t Bite,’ that were sure to please.


Mystery Jets-Serotonin

Twickenham locals, the Mystery Jets, released their follow up to 2008’s hit ‘Twenty One.’ Although they are still a brilliant blend of perfect indie pop, Serotonin is an album that has been aged to maturity. Hits such as ‘Dreaming of Another World’ and ‘Show Me the Light’ are easy sing a long songs, but show an evolution from previous hits. “Just try, try to spread the sky. Only once, once before you die. Do something that will make your mother cry.” Quite a bit darker than ‘Half in Love with Elizabeth.’


Arcade Fire-The Suburbs

Arcade Fire brought out their most ambitious album yet and at the same time its pop genius. The album describes suburban life and the conflict between boredom and ambition that comes with it. The album deals with the hardships of the modern world and conflicts that go beyond simple love stories. ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ is a beautiful, anthemic synth pop tune that sounds like Depeche Mode if they had a female singer. Single ‘Ready to Start’ brought us genius lyrics such as ‘All the kids have always known, that the emperor wears no clothes, but to bow to down to them anyway is better than to be alone.’ Hit song ‘We Used to Wait’ also generated the Wilderness Downtown, a music video, directed by Spike Jonze, that includes images, using Google street view, of the home the viewer grew up in.


Mark Ronson & the Business International-Record Collection

Mark Ronson’s new project, the Business International, is Mark Ronson working from his comfort zone. Made famous by his eclectic producing and many collaborations, Ronson doesn’t let any of his fans down with this album. Each track has hit single potential and many of his songs have already gotten radio play in the UK; Bang Bang Bang, The Bike Song, and Somebody to Love. Each song includes a blend of UK pop stars including, Q-Tip, MNDR, Kyle Falconer (the View), Spank Rock, Boy George, and Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow). Mark Ronson manages to create a throwback pop album that doesn’t manage to become over produced.


Kings of Leon-Come Around Sundown

It may feel like, these days, Kings of Leon have betrayed their indie roots. They sell out massive stadiums in the United States, become divas and refuse to play just because of a few pigeons. Their first hit, Radioactive, is nowhere near up to par as their previous material, but take a closer look at the rest of the album and the old Kings of Leon begin to emerge. Their second single, Pyro, is a much better signal of the evolution that Kings of Leon have experienced between the previous albums. Kings of Leon should be a win for the indie community so hopefully they get their attitude in check and continue to educate the main stream masses.


I Blame Coco-The Constant

Eliot Sumner, also known as Coco Sumner or even I Blame Coco is the daughter of famed musician Sting of the Police. Coco Sumner is now a musician in her own right with the release of The Constant in November. First single, ‘Selfmachine’ was a summer hit, but fans had to wait ages to hear the follow up. Coco’s unique voice and synth pop sound returned to us in November with an album release and ‘In Spirit Golden.’ The UK is bringing out a lot of talented pop stars, most of whom are not even drinking age in the United States, and Coco Sumner breathes the kind if electro pop that has become to popular in the last few years.


Daft Punk-Tron Legacy Soundtrack

French electro pioneers, Daft Punk, return to the world of music after more than five years with out a studio album. Although their latest release is meant to be the soundtrack of a movie far less superior than its background music, it still shows Daft Punk’s uncanny ability to create great beats. Although Rolling Stone gave it a bad review for being too ‘Hans Zimmer.’ However much we would have all liked to see a real album from the duo, Daft Punk set out to create a score, not a dance album and as a score it is brilliant. Daft Punk manage to create sound that creates an image, the mark of true artist.

My 2010 Playlist

1. Giving Up the Gun-Vampire Weekend
2. Ambling Alp-Yeasayer
3. Rhinestone Eyes-Gorillaz
4. She Said-Plan B
5. Tighten Up-Black Keys
6. Rules Don’t Stop-We Are Scientists
7. Show Me the Light-Mystery Jets
8. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
9. The Bike Song-Mark Ronson & the Business International
10.Pyro-Kings of Leon
11. Self Machine-I Blame Coco
12. Derezzed-Daft Punk