Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best of 2010 (Part 5) Cont.

One more entry for 2010....Samantha Ritzer

As the year draws to a close, everyone is left with nothing to do but look back on everything that went on during the last 365 days. For me, this has been the most eventful and exciting year of my life, much thanks to opportunities I’ve had from writing for Pittsburgh Music Report. It’s time for some musical retrospection, in the form of my top three shows and albums of the year.

Albums:

#3: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

This Is Happening was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I was not disappointed in the least. I think that every LCD fan, including myself, was dying for something new from James Murphy, the man behind the music. This Is Happening was his first full release since The Sound of Silver, released in 2007. You’ll find a lot of discontinuity between LCD fans when it comes to choosing a favorite album, especially since The Sound of Silver was named The Guardian’s best album of 2007, and his previous release, LCD Soundsystem (self-titled) was nominated for a Grammy. I, however, don’t think this album falls short in any sense. It’s full of ear-grabbing songs and references to Murphy’s musical heroes, more densely than either of the previous releases. There are clear signs that point to 70’s David Bowie and Iggy Pop as major influences on this record, you can hear some of the classic songs note for note in the background of Murphy’s new release. It’s entirely worth the purchase.

#2: The Chariot - Long Live

With a release date set for November 22, 2010, everyone was thoroughly surprised when we were listening to Long Live in early September. Whether the leak was planned through Good Fight Records, or if it was a total accident, it ended up being a good thing for the Chariot, increasing the hype of the album. Long Live is a completely solid album the whole way through, and though staying true to the southern metal and hardcore roots, it veers slightly from the traditional Chariot sound that many of us were used to. With “David De La Hoz” having an entire verse of clean vocals, it was something that we’ve hardly ever heard from the Chariot, but it fits perfectly within the album. The Chariot goes as far as to use samples from old Atlanta tourist bureau commercials. They’re proud of their southern roots, and we sure love them too.

#1: The National - High Violet

Released on May 11, High Violet marked the fifth studio album by the National, and by far my favorite of any release so far. The complex simplicity of the album leaves so much to question how it was even accomplished. Each and every song has a million pieces to it, and they can each be heard separately and clearly, but altogether bring such beauty to the sadness of the album. For me, I knew it was going to top my list for this year due to the fact that the first time I played it, I was literally incapacitated while listening. With every word out of Matt Berninger’s mouth, my eyes were opened, and I’ll admit that I have cried to this album more than a few times. It’s the sort of release that you don’t question, you just let it hit you and accept the emotion that it stirs up. In the end, you realize that it is pure beauty through music.

Honorable Mentions:

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue

Wavves - King of the Beach

Atmosphere - To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy

Shows:

#3: Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Heinz Hall, Pgh.

One of the best Valentine’s day gifts I have ever received was a ticket to see Ben Folds perform live with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall in February. We’re not together anymore, but that experience is something that I won’t ever be able to forget. I had a floor seat in row YY, fifty-one rows back, and to the left of the stage. I had a clear view of Ben, his piano, and the orchestra set up behind him. He came out to a huge round of applause, and it took a good three minutes for it to quiet down enough for Ben to start talking. He introduced the maestro and the orchestra, and began to play. Most of the songs were the ones you would envision with an orchestra accompaniment, like The Luckiest, Not The Same, and Gracie Girl to name a few. To our surprise though, the orchestra left at the end of the set, and he played a few classics, sans-orchestra, like Army. Orchestra or not, there were some hardcore Ben fans there, I will admit to being one of them, and so was the guy in front of me. When asked for requests and memories from previous Pittsburgh shows, he yelled “Let’s see your dick!” in reference to the original song Ben composed in February of 2009 at Club Zoo. Everyone who was at both shows, including myself, got a good laugh out of it. PSO season ticket holders, who, judging by the gasps at every “fuck” or “shit” in the lyrics seemed unsure of why they were there in the first place, and did not laugh so much. It was an amazing night, and one that I hope to never forget

#2: La Dispute - Most Wanted Fine Art, Garfield

April 5, 2010 was one of the nights I'll never forget, I'm certain of that. I know that I, and a few others who I was with had nearly religious experiences with seeing this band. Trying to grasp the fact that I was finally hearing them play the music and speak the words that I've listened to so many times was truly overwhelming. I love them enough to have their lyrics tattooed on my body, and in the course of seven songs, my life was changed. The show was at a place in Pittsburgh called Most Wanted Fine Art, (a few doors down from Garfield Artworks) and boy was it amazing. It was a dude who bought a fixer-upper, and now lives in the upstairs while the art gallery resides on the first floor, along with a small stage. The highlight of the show for me was the fact that there were maybe thirty people there, it was wonderful. I was standing right next to Jordan the whole time, while everyone in the room sang the words with him. All I wanted was the mic for one second, to sing one line with him, and I got that, more than once. The band melted my heart, along with all the people that were there. It was the perfect environment to be in on a night like that. Nobody judged you, and everyone was all love for each other. I had conversations with folks from all the bands that played before, and none of them were low quality, it was perfect. I can't even put into words how amazing my night was really, it may be one of those things you might only be able to understand if you were there.

#1: Lollapalooza - Grant Park, Chicago, Ill.

I’m not quite sure if this would be considered a show, since it is of course, a three day festival, but there was no way it wasn’t making my list. The weekend of August 6th was the highlight of my entire year, and it essentially sums my entire life up in a matter of 72 hours. The opportunity for me to go was something I never expected, but I owe so much to Pittsburgh Music Report for that.

I could talk about it for hours, and anyone who knows me has probably heard everything there is to hear about it. For anyone who doesn’t know me, it was the most amazing experience of my life, I was able to see so many of the bands that I’ve always wanted to, crammed into three days. In no particular order, I entire sets or pieces of sets by Lady Gaga, The Arcade Fire, Phoenix, MGMT, The National, Gogol Bordello, MUTEMATH, Matt & Kim, Against Me!, The Temper Trap, Minus the Bear, Mumford & Sons, The Antlers, Miniature Tigers, Foxy Shazam, Frank Turner, Neon Trees, Freelance Whales, Rusko, and Caspa. WOW, I KNOW.

As if that wasn’t enough, the atmosphere itself made it something that can’t be fully described, besides to say that it was the most amusing and wonderful three days of my life, and planning has already begun for August again.

Honorable Mentions:

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Mr. Small’s, Pgh.

Fun. - Mr. Small’s, Pgh.

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