Like everyone else in the world, I feel overwhelmed by what has happened in Japan and at a loss of how the small donations I can offer can make any kind of difference. However, the salve of good songs by great local bands with money that goes straight to the Red Cross’ efforts to aid Japan help ease the horror and feeling “I could give everything and it still wouldn’t be enough.”
Here’s what you can expect from the Grand Hallway and Joshua Morrison EP’s:
The songs were compiled last week by Grand Hallway’s Tomo Nakayama and Jeramy Koepping (also of Grand Hallway and Voyager One) and mastered by Trespasser William’s Matt Brown.
Grand Hallway’s EP includes an outtake from their upcoming album Winter Creatures (due out in June), some covers (one featuring Shenandoah Davis), and two live tracks, all previously unreleased. Morrison’s EP also has previously unreleased outtakes from his Builder EP sessions (produced by Koepping). Both EPs also feature “Atmosphere”, a new song on which Nakayama, Morrison, and Koepping all collaborated and recorded last week.
Since I’m later than everyone else and am expounding (and have expounded) elsewhere plenty on 2010 I’ll keep this one short. The following is a list of the most compelling records I heard in 2010. Not coincidentally these really were the records I actually listened to most. To my mind, every one of my choices exists as a whole record, and not just a collection of individual singles, so, in my humble opinion, every single record on this list is worthy of taking the time to listen all the way through to be absorbed fully.
Since I only did twenty songs for 2010, I also limited myself to an unordered list of twenty records (plus a few stellar EP’s). Click the link on a band name to see what we’ve wrote about them in 2010.
The Morning Benders at the Crocodile ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Though choosing any number songs to represent my year for a one such as myself is a challenge, the spare unordered listing below of twenty is about as complete as I can hope to make any such effort. For some of these songs I was smitten at first listen, for others I’ve come to them over the course of the year via live performances. Though I’ve now seen it live probably more than ten times in course of the last year, every time I’m treated to “It All Comes Right” by Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives my body responds with shivers as strong as the first time I heard it.
2010 was personally a year of the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve experienced yet in life, and these songs were my soundtrack. It’s a surprisingly non-emo grouping considering how this year has gone…
Sharon Van Etten “Love More” ::: photo by Josh Lovseth
If my 2010 was a mix tape (or a couple mix tapes as it were), these would be the tracks. These were the songs that were my most frequent and adored companions of 2010. They’re the songs I’ll know the words to for the rest of my life. They’re largely local, though my favorite song of 2010 hands down, no questions asked, comes courtesy of Sharon Van Etten. I’ve listened “Love More” at least a hundred times more than any other track. I still think in just over 5 minutes, Sharon Van Etten manages to accomplish what most artists spend a lifetime trying to attain: perfection.
This list only covers my favorite songs released in 2010, though many of my most cherished discoveries and companions weren’t born of 2010. (A list not specified by date of release would include a lot of Carissa’s Wierd, Baptist Generals and early Damien Jurado.) Speaking of Damien Jurado, he’s noticeably missing from this list, despite releasing one of my favorite records of 2010. Why? Because Saint Bartlett is an album, in full and despite a hundred listens, I couldn’t single out one song as a favorite and saying “all of them” seemed like a cop out. Also, you won’t see “Airplanes” by Local Natives, “What Took So Long” by The Moondoggies or “Vanderlyle Cry Baby” by The National on this list, though they were doubtlessly favorites. That’s because they made my listsfor 2009 … that’s what you get for being ahead of the curve.
p.s. I say “favorite” because I can’t say these are the best songs of 2010, my listening isn’t broad enough to make such a statement, but I hope you find something you love all the same.
There was so much good music coming out of the Pacific Northwest this year, it was hard to avert my eyes and ears to listen to albums released outside of our cloudy corner of the world. But when I did, these were the artists and albums that I enjoyed most.
I know it seems like the snobbiest music blogger move to list a self-released cassette as their number one release of the year, but no one combined every sonic trend I loved in 2010 (psychedelic, lo-fi, girl, garage pop) better than the one-woman spectacular spectacle that is The Mallard and nothing sounded better than her wailing over road noise as I navigated the rainy streets of Seattle. Plus, with her debut full-length due out in 2011, I think you’ll be hearing lots more from The Mallard soon so I don’t feel all that guilty for sharing the obscure.
Without further explanation, my favorite releases of 2010:
The Morning Benders at the Crocodile ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
BIG ECHO will be without a doubt one of my favorite records of 2010 once it ends. An energetic and ethereal set at the Crocodile a few weeks back by San Fransisco’s The Morning Benders only impressed the sense of vintage grandeur that sets this band apart, to be asked along for inernational jaunts by the likes of Grizzly Bear and . They’ve released a new video for the song “Promises,” and it’s tongue-in-cheek depiction of an underage hipster Bonnie and Clyde could be described as cute. I don’t like the word “cute” usually, but for this video it seems to work. In a Wes Anderson kind of way.
They’ll next be back in Seattle as a part of an effort supporting the nationwide Broken Bells tour when it swings through an already sold out Showbox at the Market on May 25th. For the rest of us I’m hoping Block Party is smart enough to snag ‘em…
Today is quite officially, my last day at local label Light In The Attic. And with that enormous change comes a few things, but most importantly a more active role in this here site. We’re trying to do a bit of SF expansion on this here blog and I thought I’d celebrate the occasion by posting this absolutely fabulous song by local crooner Morning Benders.
The Big Echo Orchestra, the group of people surrounding the lead singer, are a selection of SF’s finest musicians – John Vanderslice, that long-haired guy from Girls, someone named Golden Gram and a whole lot more. And you know what? If this is what SF brings, I couldn’t be more excited to start digging on in.
If you don’t enjoy this song, I think you should start worrying, one of your eardrums might’ve been punctured.
Grizzly Bear at Sasquatch 2009 ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
When my brother introduced me to Grizzly Bear around the time of the release of Yellow House, I realized I had no proper frame of reference for this band or any notion that it would gain wide acclaim. What is this music that they are making that tickles so many senses all at once? Seeing the band live at Neumos (with a budding Cave Singers opening) only cemented that feeling of a sublime sensory overload predicated by group of geniuses. The interplay and swell of rhythmic and melodic themes they develop with their voices was only loosely restrained by the traditions of Western popular music. And they reveled in surprising our expectations over and over again, and only occasionally offering a moment of complete resolution.
Last traveling through these parts for Sasquatch, Grizzly Bear returns to Seattle in a few weeks at the Moore Theatre on October 16th. It’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed for the ardent fan who will savor the full frequency experience that is Grizzly Bear in a controlled setting, away at the mercy of poor acoustics, a rushed setup time, wind, or other factors that might interfere with the work. I still agree with what I wrote about them for a Sasquatch preview earlier this year:
In my first live review of Grizzly Bear from over two years ago I called their show a “transcendental experience.” It sounds a tiny bit cliche I know, yet to this day, the sentiment rings true. Standing front row in the swirl of their building harmonies is one of those experiences you are constantly trying to recreate. It’s almost impossible to believe they can recreate the setting of the album live, yet they did just that and more, to the point where you need to see and hear it again to confirm that you weren’t just having a magnificent hallucination.
Courtesy of STG Presents, we’ve got a pair of tickets for the October 16th Grizzly Bear show to offer to one lucky reader who throws their name in the hat in the comments of this post. We’re going to give this one 24 hours since I think there will be a bit of interest. Then tomorrow, October 8th at 5pm PST I’ll randomly select a winner. If you’re a first time commenter, please use your real email address (which remains hidden to the public) so we can make sure you’re setup properly.
For those who don’t win and are still needing tickets, advance tickets for Grizzly bear can still be had via the STG Presents site for $23.