We've been pretty disconnected from the world of pop culture this year, so this wrap up is an abridged version of what we would normally put together at this time. So, we won't be going into much deep analysis and, for the most part, just list faves from the past 12 months. Enjoy!
The Holy Fuck Latin [Young Turks]
Kick ass instrumental electronica/dance played on rock-approved instrumentation. Closest thing to a classic we've heard in a while. More, please.
Flying Lotus Cosmogramma [Warp]
Adventurous batch of avant garde, mostly instrumental hip hop with a touch of jazz (think Prefuse 73 but further out there). Stellar.
Deerhunter Halcyon Digest [4AD]
Girls Album [True Panther/Matador]
Jason Moran Ten [Blue Note]
Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz [Asthmatic Kitty]
Surfer Blood Astro Coast [Kanine]
Wavves King of the Beach [Fat Possum]
We would've enjoyed Halcyon Digest more were it not for the deliberate lo-fi production--same with the Girls record--but the songwriting is solid, for the most part; jazz pianist Moran and his trio never disappoint--Ten is no exception; The Age of Adz is an inviting and interesting electronic departure--but not a surprising one--for Stevens; Astro Coast and King of the Beach both have their fuzzy, rockin' moments of pleasure.
Those Dancing Days "Fuckarias" [Wichita]
Described as Debbie Harry fronting The Attractions, the rockin' Swedish all-female quintet--who named themselves after a Led Zeppelin song--will release their sophomore album, Daydreams and Nightmares in March 2011, but the opening salvo is no joke. (Free download here.) Oh, and kudos to the killer drummer; that chick can really play. Damn!
Weezer Death to False Metal [DGC]
The best thing Weezer's done since the self-titled "green album" [DGC-2001] is not an inspired bunch of new tunes designed to give us faith in future Weezer releases but a mere spring cleaning exercise; a collection of outtakes spanning the band's entire major label career that never made the light of day for whatever reason. However, Death to False Metal is Weezer on a roll: a 10-track, half-hour joyride for anyone who's ever enjoyed their particular brand of punk pop/power pop. Ya got more like these, Rivers?
Oh, and the folks at Pitchfork don't like it, so you know it's got to be good. heh, heh
The Roots and Joanna Newsome
The woman with the most irritating voice in popular music teamed up with the Philadelphia groove machine on "Right On" from their album How I Got Over [Def Jam]. Thankfully, it wasn't the disaster it had the potential of becoming. Props to The Roots for actually making it work.
FAVORITE TV SHOW
The Big C [Showtime]
The always delightful--and yummy--Laura Linney stars as Cathy,
a middle-aged suburban Minnesota school teacher/housewife with terminal skin cancer, trying to make sense of her illness and how to spend her final days. And yes, it's a comedy but a tasteful one.
Also stars Oliver Platt as Cathy's clueless, impulsive, immature, but well-meaning and supportive husband. No, he's not a stock character. The Big C is so much better than that. By far.
HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show, the animated version of the hilarious, world famous podcast featuring The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant and the incomparable Karl Pilkington.
MOST HEADSCRATCHING DEVELOPMENT
Lady GaGa makes the Time 100 list
Sure, currently she may be one of the world's most popular artists, but influential? How exactly was that measured? Are there scores of artists copying her incredibly derivative music? Have we missed a rash of artists wearing birdcages on their heads? Maybe the folks that have been mesmerized by this amalgam of Carmen Miranda, early Madonna and Dale Bozzio, are so caught up in her bad performance art and empty tunes that they can't think straight. But Time magazine? Really?
Soca king Arrow; Mr. Fast 'n' Bulbous himself, Captain Beefheart; Michael Been of The Call and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club; R&B vocalist Solomon Burke; Mr. Alex Chilton; Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Coil, and the legendary graphic design firm Hipgnosis; singer, actor, and breakfast icon Jimmy Dean; Ronnie James Dio; Mike "Ace" Evans, bassist for '60s mod rockers The Action; The Knack frontman Doug Fieger; star of concert stage and screen Eddie Fisher; Pauly Fuemana of OMC (“How Bizarre”); vocalist/producer Harvey Fuqua; R&B vocalist Al Goodman (Ray, Goodman & Brown); Guru of seminal rap duo Gang Starr, and the Jazzmatazz project; '80s teen heartthrob Corey Haim; Bobby Hebb, singer-songwriter of “Sunny” fame; Mr. Dennis Hopper; the incomparable Lena Horne; original Big Star bassist Andy Hummel; reggae icon Gregory Isaacs; The Action vocalist Reg King; Tuli Kupferberg of The Fugs; T Lavitz, keyboardist for The Dixie Dregs; jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln; Mark Linkous, the brains behind Sparklehorse; legendary rock photographer Jim Marshall; folk singer Kate McGarrigle; the one and only Malcolm McLaren; Sugar Minott; jazz saxophonist James Moody; singer/songwriter/guitarist Wil Owsley; the great Teddy Pendergrass; Pete Quaife, original bassist for The Kinks; garage rocker Jay Reatard; the Argentine Elvis, Sandro; P-Funk guitarist Gary Shider; Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele; Ari Up of The Slits; Tony West of The Searchers; Robert Wilson of The Gap Band; Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, 30-year bassist/collaborator with pop icons Hall & Oates.