A Slice of Fried Gold

Top 5 Albums of April 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I'm going to make a bold attempt starting now at getting back in the swing of things in terms of blogging about things that aren't comic related (although that continues to go very well). I feel like I've been in a funk when it comes to the blogging business, but I'll be making my triumphant return assuming Alaska doesn't continue our freakishly good springtime weather. I'm resembling a tan person right now...I fear it.

No less, 2010 continues to be an awesome year for music, and April brought two of the best of the year so far. Well, it brought them to my hands...not to music stores. One you'll have to wait for, the other you can get whenever. But the rest of the month was pretty damn quality as well. Check out my five favorite from the month below.

Note: Lala is being shutdown on May 31st (boooo!) so I will not be including samples from each album here. Sadly.

1(a). LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

Why it's number one (a): This was my most anticipated album of 2010. James Murphy (aka the mastermind behind DFA and LCD Soundsystem) crafted what is probably one of my favorite two or three songs on his last album Sounds of Silver (the track is "All My Friends"), as well as a number of other tracks that continue to enthrall me to this day. That album finished just outside of the top ten on my "Best Albums of the 00's" list, and it continues to grow on me.

This album may lack the immediacy of tracks like "Friends" or "North American Scum", but there is a patience and a power that really blends what worked so well on the first two albums from LCD. You've got tracks like opener "Dance Yrself Clean" that builds slowly with just Murphy's voice and minimal instruments for over 3 minutes until it kicks into a rip roaring jam that almost requires fist pumping. Lead single "Drunk Girls" brings you in with a Licensed to Ill era Beastie Boys chorus, but really when you get down to it we've got a disco flashback track that dares you to not tap your toes.

While those two tracks are very, very good, and the rest that surround them are solid as well, there are two songs in particular that reflect what is so special about LCD as a music creating entity: "I Can Change" and "Pow Pow". "Change" is a very thoughtful and emotional song that still manages to exist as a crafty jam that makes you want to belt out the vocals along with Murphy. The ideas he shares are pretty traditional, but there is something to be said for his method of delivery that makes it work so well.

Then, you have "Pow Pow". This guy is a throwback to "Losing My Edge" off LCD's debut album. Not so much in the actual meaning (althoug he is calling out SOMEONE in this song, not just Michael Musto), but in the very fun sing-speak delivery and the NYC disco vibe. I have a rule as well that states that gang vocals are always fun, and when Murphy's backing band joins in on some moments, it really escalates the track. The whole thing is a track that accelerates through repetition, increasing the power of it until I quickly realize it's my favorite track on the album. On an album in which I find myself loving. So, yeah, you got that going for you "Pow Pow".

1(b). Delorean - Subiza

Why it's number one (b): Here's a text exchange between my friend Erik and I to explain why this album rules:

Erik: "Subiza by Delorean is such a fantastic sunny day album."

Me: "I know. I've been listening to it all day while biking. It's one of my absolute favorites this year."

Erik: "This year's Passion Pit! It's in my top three this year I'd say."

Me: "I think it's more Cut Copy ish. I call it Cut Copy 2K10."

Erik: "Mmmm I see that. Def has the heavy vocoder use of Passion Pit though."

Me: "True. Passion Pit x Cut Copy x 2010 = David Love."

Yeah. That sounds about right. If you like albums that make you want to dance, sing along, and drive with the windows down, this album is for you. If you hate fun, life, and good times...stay away. It's that simple.

3. The Apples in Stereo - Travellers in Space and Time

Why it's number three: My favorite parts of The Apples in Stereo's last full album New Magnetic Wonder were the seriously poppy tracks like "7 Stars" and "Sunddal Song", as they were so effortlessly sunny and full of life that they were irresistable to yours truly. So when I heard that they had come out with an album in which they fully embraced their Electric Light Orchestra tendencies and made an entire album of tracks like that, I found myself smiling ear to ear to the prospect.

Since I acquired that album, I've been spinning it on near constant rotation. Tracks like "No Vacation" (oh god that song is good), "Dance Floor", and "Hey Elevator" should make it on to everyone's summer mixtapes - they're perfect for sunny days and good times, but in an entirely different way than Delorean. More of a classic way.

Some Apples fans may be upset about the perceived simplification of their sound, but if you deny this record on the basis of a band trying to make a fun album that everyone could love, well...you're not much of a fan at all.

4. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

Why it's number four: This album is...not summer-y. Thanks for ruining the theme The Radio Dept.! You're a bunch of jerks! Morose ones at that.

But that's okay, because you make some really pretty music. Pretty and oddly hypnotic music that can be fun in its own right at times. The best example of that is "Heaven's On Fire", a track that starts out with a quote about rock and roll and how it is monopolized by big business, and then quickly jumps into a fun and glittering jam that sucks you in with some rather seductive bass lines. It's hard to explain, but easy to experience...once you get your first hit of it, it's hard to quit. They're like a Swedish drug kingpins, and their pharmaceutical of choice is excellent, dark pop tracks.

Consider myself hooked and enthused with The Radio Dept. It is a very unique and attractive album that is a nice change of pace for the days of rain this summer.

5. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Why it's number five: I have a horrible admission to make.

I've never really been a big Broken Social Scene fan.

They have some tracks I like. I like the members of the collective. I like the ideas they convey. I just haven't liked the execution and often find them...boring.

Yet their effort this year, an album called Forgiveness Rock Record, sort of snuck up on me. It did in two ways as I had no idea it was coming out (I should have known, given that they are playing at Sasquatch this year) and that it is just a damn good album with all of elements from the band meshing together to form a cohesive whole.

It is a diverse blend of all of the musicians that helps take this to the top of their discography, as well as a new found cohesion and pop-centric focus. This is bar none the most radio friendly collection of tracks I've heard from them, with songs like "All in All" and its pretty female vocals and bubbly synth backgrounds sending the track deep into your brain and "Texico Bitches" with its peppy rhythm driving the vocals to another level...these are not your...slightly older siblings Broken Social Scene.

Not only that, but this is a long record filled with an eclectic mix of genres touched. There really is a little something for everyone here, and it'd be a shame if you missed it like I almost did. If you weren't a BSS fan before, there is a more than decent chance you will be after this album.

Ra Ra Riot in Anchorage

Sunday, May 9, 2010

While I do have some major issues with the base setup of First Tap events at Bear Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska (the bulk of which came out in a discussion with my friend Stephanie), I'd be lying if I didn't say that they sometimes give us some pretty damn kickin' shows. This past Thursday was a particularly good example of that, as indie favorites Ra Ra Riot came into town and assailed Alaskan eyes and ears with the fun tunes and energetic live shows that have long been well known to those from the contiguous United States.

While the less said about the two opening acts, the better (a DJ who acts like he's god's gift to music named Alex the Lion that just knows how to press enter on a MacBook Pro, and The Smile Ease, a band who has no idea who they are), Ra Ra Riot had an air about them. They seemed like seasoned veterans who haven't lost their love for what they do yet. Sometimes a band can sound tight and good, but they clearly are going through the motions and not having a good time.

Definitely not the case for Ra Ra Riot.

They were smart in their setlist design, sticking to tracks that are more crowd pleasing and keeping the audience eating from their hands the whole time. The only real downer from the set was when the vocals went out at the beginning of "Can You Tell?" and I missed my favorite part of my favorite song. Besides that, it was all dancing and singalongs from yours truly, with a side of winking at their gorgeous string section. Hot!

If you get the opportunity, definitely check out Ra Ra Riot. They're a heck of a good time live, and they make some damn fine music too.

Vacation: Let's Wrap This Up!

Monday, May 3, 2010
Man, I've been slacking lately. Too much socializing, not enough blogging makes David a bad person at wrapping up vacation posts!

So I'm going to wrap up my vacation write ups with a greatest hits of the rest of the trip. It really was, in many ways, the perfect David vacation. Amazing live music, a baseball game, beaches, tons of sunlight, randomness, incredible food, and a great companion for all of it in Joanne. What more could I ask for?

Here's all of the awesome, bit by bit.

Randomness Highway: Some people when they go to and from places just accept roads as roads and as a means to an end. I'm often one of those people. And by often, I mean always - I'm an efficiency expert of traveling.

Joanne is...not one of those people. She stops and takes pictures of everything. She enjoys everything. She finds humor in everything. She makes me stop at...everything.

You'd think this would infuriate me and turn me into some sort of efficiency obsessed Hulk, but in reality, I loved it. Our trip back to San Diego from Coachella was a leisurely saunter, as we stopped from place to place taking random pictures that we noted that we needed to take on our drive up from San Diego originally. Sure, it made the drive way longer than it could have been. But time is meant to be spent on experiences, and lil' Miss Joanne reminded me of that. Thanks!

Eating Good in the Neighborhood: Whenever my parents go off in their yearly venture across the nation in their motorhome, I always tell them that they should make a map based around Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and stop at each and every place they come by that he's been to. Why? Because eating is awesome, especially when it comes with a side of delicious.

Subscribing to that theory, I made Joanne agree to let me go to Triple D sanctioned locations in San Diego, as we stopped by HoDad's in Ocean Beach and El Indio near the airport (conveniently so!). HoDad's happened to be right on the corner of Bacon St. and it was famed for its bacon cheeseburgers - it was destiny. As I told Joanne, "this is a burger of destiny." We got to that wonderfully kitschy restaraunt, sat down, ordered a beer, fries, onion rings, and a double cheeseburger with bacon (I AM ALL THAT IS MAN!), and then got down to business. When I took a bite out of this enormous burger, all I could taste was destiny. Destiny...thy name is bacon! It was a hell of a thing, and after I wiped it out of existence in precious minutes, I paid and told the restaraunt employee that I ate it in a matter of minutes.

He was shocked.

"It's kind of what I do."

Apparently most people can't even finish it. My bad!

El Indio was less exciting, as it turned out to be a long standing but not amazing Mexican restaraunt. Sure, everything was super legit and authentic, but most everything also didn't taste that great. In fact, their vaunted corn tortillas that Fieri went on and on about were kind of flavorless. The fish tacos were solid besides that, but I'd rather go to Bear Tooth any day of the week to be honest. Their salsas were good but unimpressive in comparison to their reputation, and as Joanne said, their chips were overly hard. It wasn't a terrible experience because it was pretty cheap, but it wasn't a milestone location by any means.

Newport Pizza was however, even if it didn't make it on Triple D. This beach bum down the street from HoDad's provided a Moose's Tooth Lite menu with cool pizza names like "The Hulk" or "Ron Jeremy." Needless to say, the latter was heavy in sausage. They also played fantastic music (Joanne and I had a blast singing along to every word of Girl Talk's Feed the Animals) and they had one of my favorite beers - Avery's Maharaja IPA - along with 62 billion other varieties of beers.

I do not overstate their beer selection.

Shopping: I HATE shopping. I cannot state that loudly enough. Shopping puts me into a trance like state and slowly kills me as a person.

However, I do really enjoy pawn, antique, vintage clothing, comic, and book shops, and that is pretty much all Ocean Beach and Encinitas had to offer.

I picked up a bunch of hard to find comics, Joanne picked up an antique coffee grinder, we found all kinds of random awesomeness and looked through epic postcard and record collections, and we just had a blast going to these random joints. Sure, most of their stuff was random crap. But it was ancient, second hand random crap that was often hilarious and nearly always awesome. I mean, look at the hat I'm wearing. Admittedly, no hat fits me right, but that hat REALLY doesn't fit me. C'est la vie.

Beachery: Joanne and I, being from Alaska, desperately craved sunlight when we went down to California. We hit up the beaches for napping, reading, sand castle making, and lots of relaxing, and it was pretty much amazing. This type of thing was completely necessary, as I recharged my solar batteries Wall-E style during these sessions.

Plus, we got to come up with sand castles and stories behind our castle making. As you may be able to see in my picture, my castle has a moat, cannon ramparts, and an olympic sized pool in front of it with a KRAKEN! It also says "Release the Kraken!" in the sand next to it. This remains to be the only thing of merit I have taken from Clash of the Titans.

Baseball!: On our last full day, I decided I had to attend a baseball game while I was in a real city. Of course, the real city happened to feature the once lowly San Diego Padres (not to mention punchless) as they faced off against the NL West leading San Francisco Giants. It wasn't a marquee pitching matchup, but I did mange to get awesome third baseline seats on the cheap. I did have to attend by myself because of other engagements and the game was kind of a snoozer (1-0, with the Padres winning when they only had one hit), but all in all I'm glad I went. It ended up being cool because two of the top ten plays from that night's Sportscenter were featured at my game. Yeah!