Off Beat Music Guide

Best Albums of 2010 November 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bethstephenson84 @ 8:17 pm

I know it’s a bit of a faux pas to put this list out before the year is out, but I did it last year and still stand by those picks so I’m putting my list out there world (or just my 2 readers).

This year in music has been so fun. Albums like Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can and Beach House’s Teen Dream felt like classics the first time I listened to them, and I suspect they will become so. In fact I suspect several years from now we will still be talking about many of these albums and reflecting on how they’ve changed music for the better.

I got a lot of flak last year for including an EP in my Best of 2009 list, so this year, I have included two! Ha!  A compilation is a compilation and if it’s good it deserves to be on someone’s list.  So there.

I love feedback. Do you hate my list? Love it? What were your favorite albums of the year.

  1. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
  2. Laura  Marling- I Speak Because I Can
  3. Beach House- Teen Dream
  4. Mumford & Sons- Sigh No More
  5. The National- High Violet
  6. Sufjan Stevens- The Age of Adz/ All Delighted People EP
  7. Local Natives- Gorilla Manor
  8. Vampire Weekend- Contra
  9. Zola Jesus- Stridulum II
  10. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  11. Girls- Broken Dreams Club EP
  12. Broken Bells- Broken Bells
  13. Frightened Rabbits- The Winter of Mixed Drinks
  14. Suckers- Wild Smile
  15. The Black Keys-Brothers
  16. Joanna Newsom- Have One on Me
  17. First Aid Kit – The Big Black and The Blue
  18. Janelle Monae – The ArchAndroid
  19. Gayngs – Relayted
  20. Band of Horses- Infinite Arms
  21. The Walkmen- Lisbon
  22. Jonsi- Go
  23. Sleigh Bells-Treats
  24. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
  25. Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record


UPDATE**** I totally forgot to give EXTRA props to Mumford and Sons and Sufjan Stevens who both have double the presence on my list this year. M&S did back up vocals and instrumentals on Laura Marling’s I Speak Because I Can, and Sufjan Stevens did back up vocals and instrumentals on The National’s High Violet.

 

“Too Much” Sufjan Stevens November 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bethstephenson84 @ 10:36 am

And no, I’m not referring to the number of posts I’ve recently dedicated to Mr. Stevens. There’s no such thing as too much Sufjan Stevens in my opinion, but we aren’t talking about my opinion right now, we are talking about Sufjan’s new single, “Too Much.” He’s taken it to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and just recently released a video for the song. Check out both below.

Can’t. Get. Enough.

“Too Much” Music Video

“Too Much” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid401.photobucket.com/albums/pp94/theaudiopervjr/sufjanstevensfallon.mp4

 

Update on Concert Review: Sufjan Stevens November 16, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music — bethstephenson84 @ 12:25 pm
Tags: ,

Because I talked a big game about this show and couldn’t really back it up with any decent photos or videos, I wanted to share a link from Sufjan’s recent NYC concert that really does justice to the visuals in the show. This wasn’t a concert, it was a spectacle of performance art. Enjoy!

http://pitchfork.com/features/photos/galleries/876-sufjan-stevens/

 

Concert Review: Mumford & Sons November 10, 2010

Filed under: Concerting,Music,Now Hear This — bethstephenson84 @ 12:54 pm
Tags: ,

Where: Buckhead Theatre-  Atlanta, GA

When: November 7, 2010

It’s no secret that Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More is one of my favorite albums of the year. It’s been in regular rotation on my iPod since its release in February, and I’ve considered it my personal mission to be a one woman marketing machine for this band.

On the surface, the album is chocked full of lovely harmonies, knee slapping banjos and great can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head choruses. But then, after a few listens, you find wonderful complexities within the music and extremely pensive and sometimes dark lyrics that really make for a thoughtful album. It’s already secured a spot in my top 5 albums of the year, easily.

I had been anticipating this concert for about 2 months, but I was sure that even if they just came on stage, played a recording of their album and walked off, I would have a blast. They, of course, did much more than that and a blast was definitely had.

The show opened with the eccentric King Charles followed by the very energetic Cadillac Sky. Both were great choices for opening acts as they incorporated their British roots with King Charles while paying homage to their bluegrass roots with Cadillac Sky.

The concert was held in the newly renovated Buckhead Theatre and I couldn’t image a more perfect sized venue for this type of show. The Theatre holds about 2,100 people during standing room performances, and because this show was sold out and tickets were going for something ridiculous like $250 apiece, the place was most certainly at capacity.

This only made the experience more exciting for me, though. The crowd was so high energy through the entire set, even during performances of the band’s new material (which is right on par with Sign No More’s tracklist) that it created a sort of fan camaraderie where we were instant friends because of our mutual love of the band.

The band played the entire album, sprinkling some new material throughout the set. The sound quality was great and they have such an infectious energy that it was nearly impossible to sit still. The vocals were great and the harmonies mirrored the album perfectly.

They opened with the natural choice, “Sigh No More”, and closed with “Dustbowl Dance” but not before Cadillac Sky joined them onstage for “Awake My Soul”. The encore featured an amazing cover of The Avett Brother’s “Go To Sleep”.

Here’s the setlist:

  1. Sigh No More
  2. Roll Away Your Stone
  3. Winter Winds
  4. White Blank Page
  5. Below My Feet
  6. Timshel
  7. Gave You All
  8. Little Lion Man
  9. Lover of the Light
  10. Thistle & Weeds
  11. Broken Crown
  12. After the Storm
  13. Awake My Soul (with Cadillac Sky
  14. Dust Bowl Dance

Encore

  1. Lady of the River (with Cadillac Sky)
  2. Go To Sleep (The Avett Brothers cover) (with Cadillac Sky)
  3. The Cave

In thinking about concerts I’ve attending in the past, I can’t help but draw comparisons to The Avett Brothers and one of my newest favorites, Local Natives. They all three focus on the energy of the show more say than set design or even song selection. It’s almost a little showy, like we know we’re amazing musicians so we are going to show you how athletic we can be simultaneously. They all three do a wonderful job at performing harmonies live. In fact the harmonies in the Mumford & Sons concert might be my favorite thing about the show. It’s just such an art and they’ve clearly worked hard to make it perfect, so bravo for that Mumford & Sons.

Overall, great show and if you get a chance to see them while they’re still playing smaller venues, go, because you won’t be disappointed!

I was able to get quite a bit of video from the show, and if you’d like to see more than what’s listed below, then you can visit my YouTube page at:  http://www.youtube.com/user/CharlotteBeth84

Sigh No More

Timshel

Awake My Soul

 

Concert Review- Sufjan Stevens

Filed under: Album Review,Concerting,Music,Now Hear This — bethstephenson84 @ 12:18 pm
Tags: ,

Where: The Tabernacle-  Atlanta, GA

When: November 6, 2010

Let me first say, in the very likely case that you only read this first sentence, that this was my favorite concert experience to date. I have been accused in the past of maybe overselling music and artists, but let me assure you, there’s no amount of selling I could do that would even marginally describe this concert.

Being a fan of Mr. Stevens, I blindly enjoyed The Age of Adz because I thought it was interesting and different. And the fact that we got the bonus EP All Delighted People not a month earlier made this a more or less Sufjan Stevens-themed Fall for me.

But it wasn’t until I saw Sufjan’s live show that I truly understood either album. I accepted long ago that there will be aspects of Sufjan Stevens’ music that I would just never get and that was okay because what I did understand was so wonderful.

Before seeing the show, I hadn’t made a very conscious effort to even try and understand The Age of Adz because it’s definitely one of his more difficult albums, which says a lot.  Instead, I opted to enjoy his melodies, which he seems to be a master of.

But hearing his explanations for songs and seeing the AMAZING visual elements he incorporated into the show really provided that (as Oprah would say) A-Ha moment for me.

 

View from the nosebleed section

He did a lot of dancing and a lot of talking during the almost 2 hour show. He and his back-up singers/dancers did several costume changes in full view of the audience, which provided some really funny moments. And the costumes were in keeping with the Intergalactic theme of the night. Think shoulder pads and glow sticks…

The sound and sound mixing for this show was simply breathtaking. And while it was loud and blanketed the entire building, it never felt abrasive. Sufjan’s mic was set a little louder than all the other instruments so his voice was crystal clear over all of the beats and unusual sounds that characterize most of The Age of Adz.

He opened the show with the very soft “Seven Swan” and closed with the crowd favorite “Chicago,” but everything in between was new material. Even the 24+ minute masterpiece “Impossible Soul” was played, much to my delight.  S.S. used the encore to play old familiars like “Jacksonville” and “Casimir Pulaski Day,” and the crowd wasn’t angry about that.

Here’s the setlist:

  1. Seven Swans
  2. Age of Adz
  3. Too Much
  4. Heirloom
  5. I Walked
  6. Futile Devices
  7. Vesuvius
  8. Now That I’m Older
  9. Get Real Get Right
  10. Enchanting Ghost
  11. Impossible Soul
  12. Chicago

Encore:

  1. Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois
  2. Casimir Pulaski Day
  3. Jacksonville

The feeling I walked away with, a feeling of pure what-the-heck-just-happened, was what makes this my favorite concert to date. The crowd sat in silence most of the show, in what I can only describe as pure awe.

Sufjan Stevens is an incredibly odd man with an incredibly brilliant and weird and funny mind. During those couple of hours, we got a sneak peek into that mind and his world and it was like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced before.

I was in the nosebleed section because the show was sold out, but I managed to get some video footage. Here are a couple of songs from the show. To see the rest of the video, check out my YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/user/CharlotteBeth84

Vesuvius

Heirloom

Get Real Get Right

Chicago

 

I’m alive November 3, 2010

Filed under: Music,Music News — bethstephenson84 @ 5:24 am

Hey…yeah…I’ve been, well, unforgivably absent. But fear not! I’ve got TWO shows on the line-up for this weekend. Sufjan Stevens on Saturday night and Mumford & Sons on Sunday night. Expect some serious bloggin soon!