Monday, December 27, 2010

The Yearvolution: 2010 In Review

By: David Schultz

30. My Morning Jacket’s Terminal 5 Residency
In October, New York City hosted the annual CMJ Music Marathon and, for the week, became the undisputed epicenter of all that is hip and happening within the music industry. Offering an alternative to the multitude of day parties and showcases that looked to the future, My Morning Jacket held their own weeklong event – an MMJ Marathon, if you will – during which they lovingly looked backwards and played each of their 5 albums in its entirety over the span of a marvelous five night run at Terminal 5. To celebrate the occasion, MMJ transformed the venue’s warehouse environs into a majestic ballroom, festooning the balconies with red and yellow bunting and fencing T5’s anachronistic disco ball with a set of fancy chandeliers. The shows dedicated to The Tennessee Fire and At Dawn rewarded longtime fans who caught onto the Kentucky juggernaut in their early days while It Still Moves, Z and Evil Urges cast a wider net and attracted the largest crowds. Over the run, the growth of the band’s sound, especially their ability to build to gripping, intensely compelling crescendos, sat at center stage. Far from brooding Southerners, their loose second sets focused on reviving unrecorded rarities and covering the likes of Lionel Richie and Wham! A deserved victory lap for one of rock and roll’s most intriguing bands.

29. Here We Go Magic: Pigeons
Moving away from the lilting melodies that made “Fangela” and “Tunnelvision” such captivating and engaging fare, Luke Temple and Here We Go Magic returned with an album that explores a more upbeat set of repetitive rhythms and ambient soundscapes. Temple’s falsetto enhances the dreamy qualities of pacific songs like “Casual” and “F.F.A.P” but when the pace quickens, as on “Collector,” Temple comes deliciously close to encroaching on Perry Farrell’s milieu, like mixing Klonopin with the Jane's Addiction singer’s espresso. Initially, the overtly electronic feel to Pigeons produces a number of briefly jarring moments. However, they ultimately dissolve into the lush hypnotic reveries that are Here We Go Magic’s hallmark. More challenging than it appears on first blush, Pigeons turned into one of the year’s more lingering obsessions.

28. The Bird & The Bee: Interpreting The Masters Volume 1
In 1999, the Scottish band Travis had a modest hit with a cover of Britney Spears’ “. . . Baby One More Time,” stripping the song of all its studio glitz and leaving only the bare bones of what turned out to be an incredibly well-crafted song. In turning their collective fancy to the works of Darryl Hall & John Oates, Los Angeles synthmeisters The Bird & The Bee (Inara George and Greg Kurstin) unearth the pithy truth that underneath those silly little pop songs that are our guilty pleasures lie a wealth of understated splendor and often unobserved beauty. In relieving songs like “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes” and “I Can’t Go For That” from the baggage of two decades of Hall & Oates jokes, George and Kurstin take a low key and unassuming approach and transform slices of Eighties cheese into gourmet delights.

27. Tame Impala: Innerspeaker
With bands like Sleepy Sun, Black Mountain and the Black Angels releasing strong albums full of hard driving, guitar fueled rock, non-trippy psychedelia made a nice little comeback in 2010., At the head of this pack, Tame Impala released Innerspeaker, a startling debut that showcased the Australian band’s aptitude for finding a groove-heavy way in which to travel some of the roads plowed by Black Sabbath. Innerspeaker garnered this year’s J Award in their homeland and Stereogum tabbed them as one of the 40 Best New Bands of 2010. One listen to Innerspeaker is all it takes to see that the hype can be believed.

26. John Mellencamp: No Better Than This
Look no further than John Mellencamp’s 2010 release for proof that cements T-Bone Burnett’s reputation as one of, if not the most influential and effective producers in rock and roll. Recorded in mono, No Better Than This sheds all vestiges of the populist corporate shill persona reluctantly foisted upon Mellencamp by the overexposure of “Our Country” in Chevy ads. Instead of broad pronouncements on a grand canvas, Burnett brings his minimalist approach to Mellencamp’s aid, retuning the focus to the warmth of Mellencamp’s voice and the sincerity of his beliefs. It allows the Indiana native to evolve gracefully into a wizened folk singer and elder statesmen.

25. Tea Leaf Green: Looking West
For their first album that truly incorporates bassist Reed Mathis, the San Francisco road warriors culled together a collection of songs whose rough edges have been smoothed on stages throughout the county. Trevor Garrod’s mellifluous twang and flowing keyboard rolls suffuse the album with Tea Leaf Green’s collegial sound but the high spots belong to Josh Clark, Looking West compiling the guitarist’s strongest songs. In contrast to “Bouncing Betty,” which gets an edgy studio makeover incorporating vintage radio newscasts, “Jackson Hole” and “Carter Hotel” need little embellishment to rank amongst Tea Leaf’s most well-rounded and polished efforts.

24. Backyard Tire Fire: Good To Be
Over the virile bluesy beat of “Roadsong # 39,” Good To Be’s opening track, Ed Anderson, the heart and soul of Illinois’ Backyard Tire Fire, sings of the allure of the musician’s life with his customary blunt eloquence, surveying the scene at the end of a hard night’s labor with a slight buzz and ringing ears, he finds rock and roll Manna amidst the sweat and the smoke. This is rock and roll played by a band that loves everything about it. Where fellow Midwesterner Bob Seger once lost the forest for the trees, beginning to see the glass as half empty, Anderson not only sees the glass as half filled, he finds it a fine source of inspiration. With Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin sitting in the producer’s chair, the Tire Fire found a producer that harnessed the their feral growl without losing their band-next-door geniality.

23. Best Coast: Crazy For You
Traditional pop doesn’t wither and die as you go into the realm once occupied by the local indie stations, bands like Best Coast just disguise it in a form more palatable to discerning tastes. The simplicity and innocence of the girl groups from the Sixties are seductively hidden behind the layers of reverberation and distortion that Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno slather onto every song. There aren’t any riot grrl ravings or girl power proclamations to be found within Cosentino’s detached cooing. Rather, like Lesley Gore and Connie Francis before her, Cosentino gives voice to the shy wallflower wistfully pining over the guy that should be hers or the small tokens of affection that resound loudly within the yearning heart. A charming and engaging front woman, the tattoos peeking out from the sleeves of Cosentino’s blouse add a sense of complexity and to the pie-eyed naïveté she exudes. It’s all part and parcel with Best Coast, there’s a lot to unravel and it’s a worthy effort to undertake.

22. U-Melt: Perfect World
U-Melt repeatedly proves that not every song that extends past the seven minute mark meanders. In the hands of talented musicians, lengthy offerings can transform into a fascinating odyssey. On Perfect World, their third and sadly final studio release, they harness the finesse and energy of their stage performance, channeling it through a wide ranging selection of road-tested songs with the resulting work being their finest album yet. Rewarding repeated listens, the intricate arrangements found on Perfect World reciprocate the care given by discerning ears. There is hardly an insignificant note or wasted ruffle. Whether it’s the Floyd-like mechanics at the conclusion of “Disclaimer” or the dystopian swirl into which “Question Matters” briefly dips its wings, there’s no escaping the fact that these are carefully constructed epics. For lengthy stretches of Perfect World, U-Melt rewrites guidelines set forth long ago by progressive rock pioneers like Yes and Genesis. For years, “you have to see them live” would be the caveat for jamband apologists for uninspiring studio fare. No such rights need be reserved with Perfect World.

21. The Black Crowes: Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys
It’s a trite adage: the more things change the more things stay the same. Despite boasting the strongest lineup they’ve ever had, just five years after returning from their first “indefinite hiatus,” The Black Crowes, one of headiest rock and roll bands to ever grace a stage, are once again bandying about the dreaded term. Amidst rumors that band relations are at the same tenuous thread that led to the band’s first split, the Crowes will once again be taking flight into those cosmos of which Chris Robinson loves to preach. Entitling their farewell tour, Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys, the Crowes took one last lap around the globe in 2010. An ostensible farewell to their many fans, the Crowes reenergized and enlivened the type of concert experience that originated with the Grateful Dead. Changing set lists nightly, “Wiser Time,” “My Morning Song,” “Jealous Again” and “Remedy” turned up quite frequently as did choice tracks from their entire catalog, an eclectic assortment of covers and unreleased tracks, indiscriminately dispersed throughout the acoustic and electric sets. In giving each song a full workout, playing it as if it might be for the last time, the Crowes offered a bittersweet reminder that spontaneity and non-stasis can be key ingredients in providing a gratifying live show every night of the year. It’s something very few bands aspire to and even fewer achieve. For the last song of the tour, which concluded at The Fillmore in San Francisco, the Crowes took a sly swipe at those who don’t want the carnival end by serving up The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time” which in typically cryptic Chris Robinson fashion wondered “This could be the last time. Maybe, the last time, I don’t know.”

20. Cee-Lo Green: “Fuck You”
As if dared to craft a Motown song that could never find radio airplay in the Detroit label’s heyday, Cee-Lo Green and his band of merry songwriters came up with “Fuck You,” easily the catchiest song since he and Danger Mouse burrowed their way into the collective psyche with “Crazy.” From the moment the undeniable “Song of 2010” went viral on the Internet, live covers by the likes of Umphrey’s McGee started popping up on YouTube with regularity. The song’s popularity became so widespread that it’s possible that the radio edit – moronically entitled “Forget You” – is even more offensive for its intelligence insulting condescension. In a bizarre twist, the music industry recognized the song’s genius making it the naughtiest song to ever be nominated for a Grammy. Let’s see Shit My Dad Says do that.

19. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Mojo
Thirty years as a viable band, a slew of classic rock staples in their repertoire and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers still manage to fly under everyone’s radar. Longevity though does afford a band certain privileges. Despite his reserved and low key demeanor, Petty has never backed down from a fight over creative license. He does have patience and times his strikes well. Last year, Petty reformed Mudcrutch, his pre-Heartbreakers band, to record the album they couldn’t more than three decades ago and with Mojo, he and The Heartbreakers laid down the classic rock, blues-guitar oriented Seventies era album that circumstances wouldn’t permit in their introductory years. Letting the songs evolve in lengthy fashion, Mojo relies on their stellar sense of the big rock moment as opposed to Petty’s penchant for a catchy chorus and singularly compelling riff.

18. Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do
The Drive-By Truckers have long astute chroniclers of the plight of the South: Patterson Hood giving his empathetic voice to the deepest desires, fears and concerns of the region’s oft-forgotten rural denizens while Mike Cooley speaks in the authoritative tones of the Deep South, steeped in its rituals and traditions. Hood sings with an eye towards what should be; Cooley tells it like it is. On The Big To-Do, their finest album since Jason Isbell departed the bands, a third voice has emerged and it turns out it’s one that’s been there all along. Once you get past the fact that it belongs to longtime bassist Shonna Tucker, her gifts as a songwriter and vocalist reveal themselves in a startling and somewhat surprising display. Cooley’s presence and let-me-tell-you-son bark isn’t as prominent as past efforts and The Big To-Do is heavy on Hood’s Springsteen-of-the-South narratives. Nonetheless, the Drive-By Truckers remain the preeminent chroniclers of the South and The Big To-Do is a fine return to form.

17. The Hold Steady: Heaven Is Forever
Rather than scribble out another chapter of the novel he’s spun over their first four albums, Craig Finn seems to heed his own tacit warning from “Barfruit Blues” where he mockingly praises an old cohort for remaining loyal to the local bar scene. Instead of spinning a new set of Beat Generation influenced narratives that revolve around the oft-inebriated, existentially-challenged follies of the young and young at heart, Finn now seems concerned with what happens next. In a related development, instead of barking out his tales with the fervor of the possessed, Finn, shudder the thought, makes an attempt to sing. The skeleton in The Hold Steady’s closet is that they were already grown up at the time of Almost Killed Me. On Heaven Is Whenever, they perform a little sleight of hand, trying something new and acting their age. “The Sweet Part Of The City” hearkens back to the good-old days. It’s just a shame it sounds a lot like a Little River Band song.

16. Yeasayer: Odd Blood
On their long-awaited follow-up to the much buzzed about All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer treads lightly between well-crafted melodious pop and visionary Brooklyn-proper originality, never committing to either camp. In the process, Yeasayer created an album full of intriguing, beat-driven, danceable rock that, in a perfect world, would be slathered all over the radio instead of the disposable, interchangeable fodder that all to often tops the charts. Like many bands have and will this decade, Anand Wilder, Chris Keating and Ira Wolf Tuton show that they’ve been paying attention to what Animal Collective has been up to the past couple years. Possibly, Lil Wayne too: "The Children" seems to make use of a spare Auto-Tune. Even when they flirt dangerously close to the Eighties power ballad, Odd Blood does keep your interest.

15. Menomena: Mines
When a band emerges from (relatively) nowhere with a stunningly fresh and inventive debut album, the blogosphere falls all over themselves to lavish effusive praise, proclaiming the band’s genius and by association their own for recognizing such talent. So is the construct of music criticism in age of the Internet. Another aspect of this wireless and attention deficient era is that the 15 minutes of fame Andy Warhol once promised everyone has shrunk to about ninety seconds. If a band doesn’t take advantage of their initial praise quickly enough, they are forgotten and left as wreckage on the side of the Information Highway. In 2007, tongues wagged over Menomena’s Friend And Foe. Even though Mines, their 2010 follow up, is every bit as good if not better, it seemed to slip through the cracks, the goodwill failing to carry over from three years ago. Menomena puts their songs together in the same way a brainy kid crafts an alternate solution to a puzzle, using unconventional methods as the means to an end. Mixing untraditional beats and riffs together in intriguing combinations as they did on Friend And Foe, Justin Harris, Brent Knopf and Danny Siem now incorporate grooves worthy of a master jamband, transforming songs like “Queen Black Acid,” “Taos” and especially “Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy” into majestic flights and delve into the understated dignified elegies of David Bowie.

14. The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
On a Wednesday afternoon, quite near the start of this year’s South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, The Besnard Lakes took the stage at Mohawk. Within moments of easing into the introductory drone of “Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent, Pt. 1,” seasoned concert-goers and live music obsessives proceeded to inch away from the speakers seeking refuge from the thundering volume of the Lakes. A Canadian band deafening a crowd of adoring listeners isn’t all that surprising; that this took place on an outdoor stage in the middle of a warm sunny afternoon in Texas was quite amusing. On The Roaring Night, the Lakes serve up a hypnotic and entrancing version of industrial rock echoing the Ben Curtis-inclusive version of The Secret Machines, riding the same waves of percussive sound on the intriguing “And This Is What We Call Progress.”

13. Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
Much of the work that made Sigh No More one of this year’s more compelling releases took place well before January 1st with “White Blank Page” and “Little Lion Man” serving as gateways to Mumford & Sons’ backwoods acoustic grit. A roller coaster of deftly plucked folk and mountain rock, Sigh No More compiles the warm four-part harmonies and pastoral melodies that have lifted Marcus Mumford and his four man cabal out of the often-stuffy world of British folk pop and into the consciousness of NPR influenced literati.
12. Robert Randolph & The Family Band: We Walk This Road
Yet another beneficiary of the T-Bone Burnett wizardry, We Walk This Road is the first studio album that truly captures Randolph’s spark. Even if the recorded segueways are more Moby than Rev. Gary Davis, Burnett steers Randolph away from the mundane mainstream R&B that leeched onto his prior efforts and guides him towards his strengths, the gospel pedal steel and old-timey blues that has marked Randolph’s strongest work. Musically, it’s the perfect album for Randolph and infinitely less poppy than his prior efforts, which have always seemed like they failed to capture the potential shown on Live At Wetlands. Randolph shines but Burnett’s penchant for using his own musicians leaves the contributions of the stellar Family Band in question. Danyel Morgan’s unmistakable falsetto rears its head on “Travelin' Shoes” and “Salvation” but otherwise it’s hard to tell whether this is a Family Band effort or if they’re making cameos on their own album. No matter which way you look at it though, Randolph’s take on “If I Had My Way,” known to many Deadheads as the hook of “Samson & Delilah,” ranks up there with his best, a perfect match of artist and song.

11. Local Natives: Gorilla Manor
Playing their first live sets in America after the stateside release of Gorilla Manor at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Local Natives took the unofficial award for the festival’s most sought after attraction. Laying the wintery harmonies of lo-fi success stories like Fleet Foxes over bouncy neo-acoustic rhythms in a psych-folk frenzy, Local Natives found a way to engage the mind while keeping bodies moving, akin to the Talking Heads at their best. With songs like “Sun Hands” and “Shape Shifter” possessing a sophistication and finesse, Gorilla Manor sounds more like a band’s breakthrough than a debut album.

10. The National: High Violet
Introspective without being egotistical, poignant without smug and an evolution from prior albums without being self-plagiaristic, High Violet became a worthy addition to strong catalogue that already includes Boxer and Alligator. An even more impressive feat once you account for the fact that, for the first time in their career, a great number of outlets, including the New York Times Sunday Magazine, had their attention piqued by the Brooklyn cum Ohio quintet. Lead singer Matt Berninger possesses a voice of disarming warmth, capable of imbuing the most mundane thoughts and feelings with weighty seriousness. Along with The National’s moody melodies, it’s a trait that hasn’t come close to wearing out its welcome. On their latest, Bryan Devendorf emerges as an intriguing drummer, weaving the sinuous beats into “Lemonworld” and “England” that make them among The National’s finest.

9. Blues & Lasers: After All We’re Only Human
With After All We’re Only Human, Blues and Lasers released the unqualified classic rock album of the year. The Scott Tournet fronted band that includes fellow Nocturnals Benny Yurco and Matt Burr, harness their freewheeling arena rock energy into a tightly-wrought panoply of finely crafted songs. The gunshot of the snare drum that punctuates the opening guitar riff of “Give It A Try” serves as the starter’s pistol for Blues & Lasers Olympian effort that combines elegiacal harmonies with heavenly slide guitar and paces dueling axes with the bombast of a duo of drums. By having an ear attuned to the greats of the past, B&L gloriously usher classic rock and roll into the next decade. After All We’re Only Human lets the world know that the art of creating an album hasn’t been lost in the age of the 99 cent download.

8. Titus Andronicus: The Monitor
Entwining together a high minded literacy with an earnestly punk attitude, New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus embody the ethos of the bands that most frighten the establishment: they can say “fuck you” and explain why it’s a well-deserved and appropriate sentiment. For The Monitor, Titus Andronicus finishes what Jack White started in Cold Mountain and looks to The Civil War, a customarily overlooked period of rock and roll, for intellectual and creative inspiration. Drowning the melodies of yesteryear in a mélange of distorted guitars, Jersey bred angst and enough propaganda-quality refrains to raise Lenin’s ghost (Vladimir, not John), Patrick Stickles eloquent lyrics and fervent delivery lets Titus Andronicus raise a middle finger that transcends time.

7. Vampire Weekend: Contra
Vampire Weekend hasn’t deviated significantly from the formula that simultaneously delighted and irked so many on their self-titled debut. For their sophomore effort, the Columbia grads continue to infuse their music with the same brash blend of Afropop and punk and Ezra Koenig’s still showing off his multisyllabic vocabulary, most pronouncedly on the lilting opening track “Horchata.” If anything, they’ve found a new way to irritate their detractors with the placement of “Holiday” in Honda commercials giving them an ubiquitous presence on television. On Contra, Vampire Weekend aren’t remaining complacent: “White Sky” makes it sound like they’ve added Animal Collective to their steady Paul Simon rotation and “Run” and “Giving Up The Gun” find Chris Thomson and Chris Baio adding a booming electronica backbeat. Cloaking itself in the pomposity of progressive rock, “Diplomat’s Son” is mainly six minutes of bad reggae but it’s easily the Vampire Weekend’s most daring experiment to date. No less equal is the subtle ingenuity of “I Think Ur A Contra,” which abandons everything you’ve come to expect from a Vampire Weekend song. Setting aside bouncy rhythms, Koenig’s high-pitched voice trembles and warbles over ethereal ambience with the hurt and indignation expressed by the lyrics meshing incongruously with the pleasant atmospheric vibe. Ivy League jokes and cultural colonialism discussions notwithstanding, Contra stakes out Vampire Weekend’s claim to be treated as more than a fleeting reference to the dialogue they’ve started.

6. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
No longer satisfied with being a tabula rasa for people to use to fulfill whatever void was missing in their conception of rock and roll, in 2010, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals made a definitive effort to unequivocally define themselves on their own terms. The resulting declaration of independence, the self-titled Grace Potter & Nocturnals, described by guitarist Scott Tournet as sounding more like them than anything before, surprised many that had pigeonholed Potter & The Nocturnals as crunchy, laid-back, flannel-clad jam rockers from Vermont. By creating an album with definite mainstream appeal, albeit one that still unabashedly dares to rock, rather than find a new set of Cheap Thrills, Potter & The Nocturnals have thrown down the gauntlet, challenging many of the preconceived notions that people may have formed. Potter may be the name above the ampersand but first and foremost, GPN has always been a group . . . and a particularly phenomenal one at that. Since joining the band approximately one year ago, bassist Catherine Popper and guitarist Benny Yurco have profoundly influenced the band and their latest owes no small debt to the cohesive effect of their presence. Very few bands that can deftly pull off the lilting reggae of “Goodbye Kiss” can also generate the disco-quick, driving rhythm of “Only Love.” “Tiny Light” and “Oasis” allowed Tournet and Yurco to revel in a Crazy Horse filled daze and Potter’s bold, sassy attitude makes “Paris” one of the album’s standout tracks.

5. Sleigh Bells: Treats
Sleigh Bells, an odd duo from Brooklyn made up of Derek Miller, a former hardcore guitarist, and Alexis Krauss, a grown up veteran of the girl group era, make a game attempt to reproduce the madly innovative mix of rump-shaking beats and avant-garde guitars that quickly garnered them a landslide of notice of acclaim. With rafter shattering drumbeats and choppy, reverb heavy guitar riffs, Krauss belts out the Sleigh Bells manifestos with the impassioned fury of a metal goddess, often needing to do nothing more than bark out lyrics like propaganda slogans and unleash an occasional primal shriek. “A/B Machines” needs nothing more than a bent guitar note and a nonsensical phrase and “Crown On The Ground” has a backing beat for which most rappers would trade their left gold tooth. “Rill Rill,” practically a ballad within the context of the rest of the album, shows that beneath the cheerleader-style exhortations lies a sweet compassionate soul. Treats may be genius or it simply may be noise. It also could be both. There is no doubt that it was one of the more exciting and intriguing releases of 2010.

4. The Vaselines: Sex With An X
Essentially defunct since the release of Dum-Dum, their 1990 debut, two decades later Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly reformed The Vaselines, finally getting around to a follow-up, the rollicking Sex With An X. Surrounding pithy and succinct lyrics with concise and efficient guitar licks, The Vaselines embrace the pop song mentality while simultaneously thumbing their nose at all of its conventions. It’s the cleverness of the songwriting that makes The Vaselines a worthy listen: on “I Hate The 80s,” they coo in harmony in an effort to correct misperceptions about the musical tastes of the decade; on “My God’s Bigger Than Your God,” they mock religiously motivated political battles and on “The Devil’s Inside Me,” a song destined to close an episode of True Blood, they offer up a swampy dirge to the demons that lie within. In contrast to Kelly’s dry delivery, McKee coos bawdily yet sweetly, giving a sly insouciance to songs like the title track. Kurt Cobain knew what he was doing when he essentially created interest in the Scottish duo, The Vaselines’ sardonic cool emanates forth in waves of hipness.

3. The Black Keys: Brothers
LeBron James turned villain in 2010 and in doing so, relinquished the title of most beloved sons of Akron to Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach otherwise known as The Black Keys. No longer satisfied to be a growling, riff-reliant same sex version of The White Stripes, on Brothers, the Keys succeeded in broadening the scope of their sound without diluting their visceral rumble. On “Everlasting Love,” Auerbach dabbles with a falsetto to give an erudite swagger to what amounts to the Keys version of a love song before returning to his sagacious snarling form on “Next Girl” and diving back into the shotgun-style, garage blues of “Ten Cent Pistol” and “The Go Getter.” Capitalizing on the attention drawn by having “I’ll Be Your Man” preface any HBO series (even if it is the unfathomably uninteresting Hung), The Keys released their most-well rounded and complete album.

2. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
At the start of the decade, a fledgling site devoted to music criticism touted Funeral, Arcade Fire’s debut album, as one of the most significant releases in recent memory. That little site, Pitchfork, also seemed to sense that big things were in store for the band. Since that moment in time, Arcade Fire and Pitchfork have moved ahead in lockstep: one shooting to forefront of music criticism and the other rivaling U2 as the world’s most eminent band of artistes. If there was any doubt, The Suburbs erases them. Win Butler, Regine Chassagne and the rest seem uninterested in reimagining and recreating past glories. Still able to conjure up arena ready anthems, it’s the insightful nature of their lyrics that resonates. As if taken by Rush’s “Subdivisions,” on this go-around Arcade Fire takes a hard unflinching look at the alienating distance and ennui of living and aging in the suburban communities. They may be keeping an eye cocked backwards - the title track cribs the melody from Funeral’s “In The Bedroom,” Butler appropriates Gordon Gano’s wry cadence on “Month Of May” and “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” updates Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” – but they are honing and refining the majestic scope of their music, much in the same way U2 adeptly eased up on the throttle of grandiloquence. Intelligent, cerebral rock that doesn’t forget that music is a communal affair will always find a home.

1. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals On VHI Divas
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' appearance on VH1Divas’ Salute To The Troops shows why a year end list shouldn’t be compiled in November. Prior to its airing, VH1 presciently tabbed GPN as its latest You Oughta Know band and placed the Vermonters on a slate with better-known talent they can easily blow off the stage and Katy Perry. Once VH1 aired their set of “Paris,” “Medicine,” Heart’s “Crazy For You” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” – the latter two with Ann and Nancy Wilson – the world was a different place for Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Within three weeks, they bumped all The Beatles albums out of the top slot on iTunes, quickly sold out their remaining December shows and landed a spot on David Letterman. What makes this passing of the tipping point so gratifying is that GPN achieved it primarily on their own terms. I’m not telling tales out of school when I say that over the past 5 years, GPN, especially Potter, has been presented with numerous opportunities to compromise their ideals and follow someone else’s vision for reaching this level. A group (and this extends to the entire GPN organization) retaining control of the creative direction of their career and still gaining mainstream acceptance cannot help but create a ripple effect that leads to a less homogenized music scene. Could there have been anything better to have happened in 2010?

Should Have Received More Love From Earvolution in 2010

Deerhunter: Halcyon Digest
Lower Dens: Twin-Hand Movement
Patti Smith: Just Kids
Gayngs: Relayted
Harlem: Hippies
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings: I Learned The Hard Way
Cloud Nothings: Turning On
Toubab Krewe: TK2
Delta Spirit: History From Below
White Rabbits: It’s Frightening
Frankie Rose & The Outs: Frankie Rose & The Outs
The Tallest Man On Earth: The Wild Hunt
Hacienda: Red Hot & Barbacoa
The Whigs: In The Dark

Bafflements & Disappointments

Allman Brothers Move To The United Palace
Anyone wondering about the direction and leadership of the New York Knicks only need look at the bungling of this year’s annual Allman Brothers residency at the Beacon Theater for an example of the “genius” behind their recent decade of futility. Not content with only eroding the tradition of basketball in New York City, Madison Square Garden, Inc., through MSG Entertainment, its operating arm, expanded its ineptitude to one of New York’s longest running musical institutions, booking Banana Shpeel, a Cirque du Soleil crapfest, at the Beacon during the March weeks usually reserved for the Allman Brothers. After 20 years (give or take a residency) at the Beacon Theater, the Allmans were forced to move the event uptown to the United Palace, a venue that for all its comfort and gorgeous frills fails to compare to the Beacon’s stately charms. Adding to the indignity, due to problems that only pale in comparison to this month’s daily Spiderman cripplings, the Banana Shpeel crapctacular never opened until the end of April, leaving the Beacon vacant while tie-died men in their 50s wandered around Washington Heights in a paranoid stupor.

Terminal 5
When people talk about a place having bad sightlines, they aren’t even imagining the extent of horror known as Terminal 5, located on the west side of Manhattan. As they may hold the roof up, you can forgive the giant columns that present the largest physical obstructions, but you cannot tolerate the fact that the venue is not set up to adequately provide proper viewing for its posted capacity. If you arrive early and claim space near the front of the stage, you are most likely fine. However, once you make your way up to either of the two balconies, which spread far back from the rails that overlook the stage, you are terminally screwed. Without the height to play power forward in the NBA, if you aren’t leaning on the rail, the angles are just too poor to be able to see anything but the back of the person in front of you. There is one section of the balcony that is set up perfectly: the VIP area has a raised level that allows you to see over the first wave of bodies. Of course, that area is rarely packed and it usually goes to waste. This explains why the floor at every T5 show is akin to a veal pen. It's the only place where you can see the band.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: Album of the Year??!?
Drawing motivation from the perceived slights lobbed in his directions by the many pundits, critics and talking heads that disagreed with any of his actions over the past year and a half, George W. Bush’s biggest fan released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to near universal acclaim. If I had written the Yearvolution earlier this month, I would have reacted to Rolling Stone and Spin both naming Twisted Fantasy their Album of 2010 by positing that Pitchfork will surely have better sense. Of course, Pitchfork jumped on the bandwagon as well, making it their album of the year (and making it the 12th album in its history to receive a 10.0 upon its release). Listening to West raise toasts for douchebags and boast about his greatness has its charms; while West’s snatch and grab collages aren’t exactly my preference, I see the allure. However, if every major music publication, hip or passé is lining up to name this as 2010’s greatest achievement, we’ve had a slow music year.

MGMT: Congratulations
A very un-oraculary spectacular follow-up, Congratulations sounds the death rattle of the most befuddling attempt at career suicide since Cat Stevens proclaimed himself Yusuf Islam. Leaping backwards into the era of sparkly psychedelic pop, MGMT dredges up an era of music for which no one felt a strong nostalgic tug. MGMT might have been better served if they released Congratulations under a different name, kind of like when Donny Osmond withheld his name from “Soldier Of Love” so that people would actually listen to the songs instead of wondering where the hooks went. At the very least, people wouldn’t be prejudiced by what they want the album to sound like and give zany fluffery like “Brian Eno” a fair chance. In the end though, MGMT tries to go a prog-rock route without fully committing to the necessary conceit of dedicating the entire album to the cause. Moving from three minute off-kilter tracks like “It’s Working” and “Flash Delirium” to the circuitous jumble of “Siberian Breaks, ” Congratulations isn’t worthy of the plaudits inherent in its name. On an optimistic note, when they get around to cutting their third album, all of the crushing expectations will have vanished.

The Commodification of Michael Franti
Even without his distinctive dreadlocked visage completing the picture, anyone owning a television would be hardpressed to say they are unaware of Michael Franti’s existence, his “Say Hey (I Love You)” joining Vampire Weekend and John Mellencamp’s in the pantheon of staggeringly ubiquitous advertising jingles. With Franti’s catchy paean to the power of love promoting everything ranging from beer, FIFA sanctioned soccer and the victorious San Francisco Giants, it raises concerns about whether a message of peace and unity loses its luster, import or relevance when it’s brought to you by your friendly caring global corporate sponsor. Further muddying the waters, Franti returned to Capitol Records for his latest album, The Sound Of Sunshine, rejoining the major label that released the first two Spearhead albums in the mid-Nineties. Always a voice of the people, it’s now requires an existential divorce of Franti’s populism from the medium of its delivery, a trick that’s only been successfully pulled off by Bono. The attraction of any Franti show is the ebullient energy he generates. Even though he would welcome them with open arms, disaffected hipsters really have no place at a Spearhead show, Franti being the rare performer whose jovial and enthusiastic charisma creates a sense of unity throughout any crowd. In the past, if you couldn’t have fun at a Michael Franti show, you were likely incapable of having fun anywhere. Now that there are many more cooks involved in Franti’s presentation to the world, many with bottom lines that differ from Franti’s mission of peace and love, can a dilution of his heartening and inspirational message be avoided?

We Are The World – 25 For Haiti
Twenty-five years ago, Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie helped organize the original USA for Africa session which brought together the biggest names of the 80s and Dan Aykroyd to record “We Are The World,” a benefit song inspired by Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” This year, Jones, Richie and Wyclef Jean brought together an A-list of today’s music scene and Lindsay Lohan to re-record the tune to benefit those affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Notwithstanding the fine sense of symmetry and nod to history involved in calling it “We Are The World – 25 For Haiti,” given that the new Supergroup included the likes of Celine Dion, Fergie, Enrique Iglesias, Lil Wayne, Jason Mraz, Akon, Jennifer Hudson,, Nicole Scherzinger, Katharine McPhee, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Justin Bieber and The Jonas Brothers, it’s really no surprise that they assembled talent couldn’t write an original song of their own, or at least one without sampling. More distressing, this group of predominantly disposable pop stars soiled the memory of the benevolently motivated original by completely butchering the song in a morass of ineptitude, ego and AutoTune.

The Domestication of Kid Rock
Ever since Kid Rock found his groove on Devil Without A Cause, his albums have always been a witty, lowbrow romp through his decadent lifestyle. Finding the right mix between hip-hop bravado, headbanging abandon, redneck attitude and Southern style classic rock, Detroit’s favorite son has always been a NSFW not-so-guilty pleasure. On Born Free, easily his most conventional album to date, Kid Rock set aside all of his customary tricks and gimmicks and released the best Bob Seger album of the last twenty years. In embracing his love of country music and all its blue collar trappings, Kid Rock has sadly and hopefully not irretrievably become completely and utterly housetrained. Angling for the audience that thinks the intro to Monday Night Football is an invitation to rowdiness, Rock’s exhortations on “Born Free” or “God Bless Saturday” are like Pat Boone trying to be as hip and cutting edge as Little Richard. Every grown up whose time has passed them by likes to bore the next generation with tales of how cool they used to be. If Born Free is a sign of things to come, we need to come up with moniker other than “Kid.”

Blogger Abandons Earvolution
Anyone who perused Earvolution prior to May of 2010 will recall that the site used to feature a distinctly non-Google layout. Sometime around the beginning of the year, Google informed Earvolution (and others, I imagine) that they would be discontinuing support for specialty templates like ours. Although Google provided purported instructions for “easily” transferring our years of content, as you might suspect, they weren’t so awesome with the customer support. Were it not for Justin Ward of the Live Music Blog, Earvolution may have gone the way of the dodos, (the birds not Meric Long and Logan Kroeber). Perhaps someday we will be able to shed our homogenized formatting and restore our classic Earvolution template (and the pictures that also disappeared). Until then, we’ll just have to settle for provoking unwarranted overreactions from Donald Fagen’s camp.

Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd Books Recommended

by Kenner R. McQuaid.

Rock Reading: Two Great Books about Two Great Bands
Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake (De Capo Press, 2008, 418 pages)

Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music 1968-1980 by Keith Shadwick (Backbeat Books, 2005, 320 pages)

It can be difficult to find well-written accounts of the musical (and other) exploits of even the most legendary rock bands. Many of the books advertised as 'tell-all,' 'unauthorized,' or 'uncensored' are more concerned with sensationalism, rather than the music and creativity that preceded the 'hedonistic' backstage parties, obligatory hotel room destruction and, in the case of Led Zeppelin, the occasional live shark placed in between a woman's thighs. These can be entertaining reads, for sure; but for those looking for real substance and insight into the creative process, fans of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin can turn to Mark Blake and Keith Shadwick for their respective fixes.

Neither author glosses over the mayhem and drug use by both bands, nor could they. Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett was a walking acid trip for a lengthy period and Blake reveals that Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was still using cocaine while on tour in support of 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Shadwick recalls tour manager Richard Cole's story of Led Zeppelin becoming violently ill after inadvertently being introduced to heroin in Hong Kong while snorting what they believed to be cocaine. However, it is the creation of the music and the differing personalities present within each band that predominate the text of both books. Read the full book review here.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: III/IV

By Kenner McQuaid.

The prolific Ryan Adams has just released a collection of 22 tunes recorded with The Cardinals at the time of 2007's 'mellow classic,' Easy Tiger. Held up by the touring schedule in support of that album and the reluctance of Adams' label at the time, Lost Highway Records, to release them, these outtakes now see the light of day thanks to Adams' own label, Pax Am.

First things first: although they were recorded at the same time, the collection of songs on III/IV sound nothing like Easy Tiger. Like every other release in Adams' catalog, III/IV has its own vibe and own sound. There's something else that also jumps out about the tracks: all but two of them clock in at under 4:00, giving the listener a number of quick hits to the ears unlike the jam band-like Cold Roses. In that respect, III/IV is closer to Rock 'n Roll and sounds like its less-distorted cousin on tracks like 'Wasteland.' Though the songs are very guitar-heavy, there's very little in the way of guitar solos and not much pedal steel.

Though this collection would not be a good introduction for those seeking their first listen to Ryan Adams, those already devoted to his work, even if it takes more than one listen, will definitely 'get it:' the sometimes silly but fitting lyrics on 'Star Wars,' the smooth, catchy insertion of an expletive into the chorus of 'Stop Playing with My Heart,' the use of falsetto on 'Kisses Start Wars,' and sounds and arrangements that are seemingly uninfluenced by whatever is currently trending in music. In fact, after only a few listens I'm convinced that a true Ryan Adams aficionado would have a noticeable gap in their collection without III/IV.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Rolling Stone: Does It Have a Shred of Music Credibility Any Longer?

Rolling Stone: Does It Have a Shred of Music Credibility Any Longer?
Short answer: no.

by Kenner R. McQuaid.

I read Rolling Stone religiously in high school. The older sister of my drummer Joe had it delivered to their household, and we swapped the latest issue while sitting on the couch watching Yo! MTV Raps when we took breaks from his drums and my far from masterful guitar playing. I remember the issue that named the 50 most influential albums of all time. The names still resonate with me: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Exile on Main Street. London Calling. Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols. When you're a 15 year-old kid to whom the guitar and your Iron Maiden picture discs mean everything, this medium of exciting discovery arriving at the door every month was akin to finding a Penthouse under your older brother's bed or your first touch of a female breast. It was an exciting, almost life-changing experience.

Back then, Rolling Stone knew a hell of a lot more than I did. I remember when The Edge was picked as Guitarist of the Year over Steve Vai, who has played with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake among others. That, I could not understand. After all, Mr. Vai studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, also played with the legendary Frank Zappa, and could do something that every rock/metal guitar player saw as the Holy Grail in the late 1980s: he could sweep arpeggios at will. All The Edge did, as far as I was concerned, was plug into a digital delay pedal and play the same riffs over and over. He couldn't even play lead for god's sake, unless you counted the repeating three-note riff in the middle of 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' as a 'lead.'

Not too many years later, I realized that Rolling Stone got it right. Being a great guitar player had nothing to do with speed or superior technique. It had everything to do with having your own tone and creating your own unique style, which The Edge certainly did. And while while Vai has his own sound and style, the fact that The Edge was involved in writing songs that had stadiums filled with 100,000 people singing along doesn't hurt his stock. Album sales and gate receipts aren't always accurate metrics by which to measure talent (read: Nickelback) but The Edge and U2 did it while maintaining artistic integrity. That's not always easy.

Joe Walsh once remarked in Guitar World that blues legend Albert King, who served as Stevie Ray Vaughn's idol and primary influence, could blow Eddie Van Halen off the stage with his amp on standby. I may not fully agree with that because Eddie's guitar playing is as unique and uncanny in his own genre as Albert King's is with respect to the blues, but Walsh's point is still worth considering. Witness Irish bluesman Gary Moore covering King's 'Oh Pretty Woman' with the legend himself. Moore can play circles around King, but who is the better guitar player? For me, it's Albert King- playing pickless and in an Em tuning- in a landslide. King is authentic and an original. It's tough to describe what 'authentic' really means, just like the U.S. Supreme Court had difficulty describing pornography. But I know it when I hear it. See if you do, too: [click here for full article].

Monday, December 13, 2010

Schultz' Earful: The Dukes Of September

By: David Schultz

At New York City’s Beacon Theater this past week, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs passed the spotlight back and forth while they treated the whitest audience imaginable to a smattering of their own classics interspersed with covers of the songs that influenced them. It’s the same blueprint that Levon Helm has adopted for his Midnight Rambles, many of which over the past couple years have included Fagen. Those unfamiliar with the New York City Rock & Soul Revue might be inclined to level a charge of gimmick infringement against these stars from the Seventies but The Dukes of September are the latest iteration of a collective effort that began in the late Eighties under the auspices of Libby Titus – Helm’s former partner and mother of Amy Helm and Fagen’s current wife.

When The Dukes focused on the songs on which they built their reputation, the nostalgic feel of the blue-eyed soul was enough to sustain the moment. “Pretzel Logic,” “Reelin’ In The Years” and Fagen’s “I.G.Y.” showed that the collective could handle the complexities of Steely Dan’s music and “Peg” gave McDonald the opportunity to resurrect his vocal contributions from the original. The opening notes of Scaggs’ “Lowdown” provoked a raucous response, which begged the question as to why “Lido Shuffle” wasn’t in the setlist. McDonald’s wavering high-pitched vocal style has been mimicked, mocked and parodied worldwide, even by himself. Surprisingly, his voice is aging to the point where he and Gregg Allman seem to be narrowing in on the same spot, albeit from different directions. Eschewing the more comical fare of “Sweet Freedom” or “Jah Mo B There,” McDonald tore through his two most recognizable Doobie Brothers’ songs “What A Fool Believes” and “Taking It To The Streets” with the now-anachronistic Nixon-era call to arms reinvigorating the Sixties-era energy of the decidedly older crowd.

In holding the original conception of the Revue, Fagen, McDonald and Scaggs squandered a brilliant opportunity to create a memorable live show. While Fagen can fill a week’s worth of concerts with Steely Dan tunes, McDonald and Scaggs might struggle to do the same. However, the latter two each have respective catalogs from which they could put together a strong hour of material. Rather than make use of a strong band, which included John Herington on guitar, to put flesh on the skeleton of Seventies classics, more than half the night was devoted to conventional covers of the likes of Ray Charles, Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys. Less inspiring was any collective take on more traditional classic rock fare: Fagen’s take on the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” lacked any sultry funk, trying Thunderclap Newman’s “Something In The Air” was a poor choice and the closing rendition of “(Them) Changes” from Hendrix’ Band of Gypsys period felt odd and bereft of bluesy soul. The form may be similar to the Ramble form that has served Levon Helm well over the past decade. In watching the construct pretty much collapse under its own weight, Helm’s success with the formula remains that much more remarkable.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

BuzzUniverse In NYC: Pianos, December 11

Come and see the show - it's a dynamo
Come and see the show - it's rock and roll

Monday, December 06, 2010

Schultz' Earful: Ian Anderson

By: David Schultz

As if setting out to prove that “Too Old To Rock And Roll, Too Young To Die” will never be Monday morning quarterbacked into a self-fulfilling prophecy, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson has taken to supplementing the Tull touring schedule with short solo runs of his own. Just before Thanksgiving, Anderson returned to the Tri-State area for a pair of shows. As opposed to his 2009 acoustic showcase at New York City’s Beacon Theater, Anderson opted for more modestly sized venues this time around: Montclair, New Jersey’s Wellmont Theater and Manhattan’s City Winery (on a night originally scheduled for The Palace Theater in Stamford, Connecticut). Whether it’s a full-blown Tull fest or a solo outing, Anderson doesn’t differ the experience to a tremendous extent. No matter the name on the marquee, the flautist that has made being perched on one leg his own iconic silhouette always includes an impassioned rendition of “Bouree,” concludes the night with lengthy takes on “Budapest,” “Aqualung” and “Locomotive Breath” and adroitly cherry picks intriguing selections from the Tull songbook. As keyboardist John O’Hara and bassist David Goodier have served time in latter day versions of Jethro Tull, all that’s really missing to make the picture complete is Martin Barre . . . and with 27 year old German guitar wizard Florian Opahle on stage, any feelings of longing for Barre are simply those of sentimentality.

Freed from the restraints of playing within a crowd’s expectations of a Jethro Tull concert, Anderson pursues a more orchestral bent, favoring classical arrangements, acoustic subtleties and Middle Eastern syncopation over English blues and prog-rock experimentations. This didn’t preclude Anderson from offering a meaty and substantial rendition of “Thick As A Brick,” which prompted the graying crowd to rise to their feet in gratitude, or from permitting Opahle to digress into flamenco solos or electric-Bach soliloquies, which would feed into nearly every stereotype of European metal if Opahle didn’t carry it off with such skill. A tight bandleader, Anderson guided his band through its paces and even donned faux-bifocals for an engaging recitation of “The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles,” the fairy tale that bisects Tull’s A Passion Play.

For Tull fans, Anderson’s latest tour, which before Thanksgiving passed through New Jersey’s Wellmont Theater and Manhattan’s City Winery, resonated significantly for its inclusion of new material. In addition to an untitled instrumental that Anderson claims to have written before the recent tour, “Set Aside,” “Adrift & Dumbfounded,” A Change of Horses” – which has been an Anderson solo staple since it debuted with Anoushka Shankar (Ravi’s daughter) - and “A Hare In The Winecups,”which also found it ways into Tull’s 2010 set list, whet appetites that Anderson may be crafting a new album, solo or Tull, out in his English home. Unlike many of his brethren, Anderson doesn’t seem entirely content to retread his past glories and seems like he’s positioning himself for one more release.

IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR E-MAIL, The Whitewalls, the latest project of Licorice's David Lott, Matt Epstein and Josh Bloom, will provide you with The Torch, their 4-song debut EP. It's worth a listen and they won't spam you to death with updates on where they're playing or what they're doing. At a bare minimum, check them out this Tuesday night at the Rockwood Music Hall on New York City's Lower East Side.

FOR EVEN MORE FREE MUSIC, White Denim is offering up Last Day Of Summer as a download on their web site. Austin's freshest and most enervating band finished the summer by entering the studio to record their third studio album with their newest member, guitarist Austin Jenkins. As is the wont of musicians, they digressed. Instead of remaining focused, White Denim ended up recording a slew of old songs with new ears and releasing the resulting album. This is one fantastic band and you should listen to every note they have ever recorded.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Youtube Video of the Day

Youtube loves Florence + the Machine and they love Youtube. Fans have viewed "Dog Days Are Over" more than 5 million times and this theatrically inspired act is made for video. The song will likely get even more views with Glee taking it on and their recent well-received Saturday Night Live performance.

Florence + The Machine will be performing tour dates with U2 in 2011 and of course you can find more of their videos, like Cosmic Love, over on Youtube.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mp3 of the Day: Quinn Martson

Free Songs rock! Today's mp3 download comes to you from Quinn Martson, a 20-year-old New York based, singer-songwriter. Quinn is promoting her debut EP, out now via the Ernest Jenning Record Company, produced by Tom Beaujour (Nada Surf, The Virgins), with guest musicians including members of Beaujour's band True Love and guitarist Tim Foljahn (Thurston Moore, Cat Power).

Martson wears her 90s influences on her sleeve (not that there's anything wrong with that) and isn't afraid of poppy hooks either. You can free and legally download the mp3 for "Can You Hear Me See Me Now?" here.

Youtube Videos of the Day: U2

Youtube is obviously today's MTV, so it is appropriate to feature a band who came of age, professionally at least, just before the dawn of music television: U2.

The Irish lads, who I remain an unabashed fan of all these years (and now decades) later, has so many videos, particularly live, you'd break your youtube downloader if you tried to download them all. We end with "Every Breaking Wave," which could very well end up on the next record.

Of course, that's illegal so you can just watch U2's video history right here on Earvolution, which we've updated since we first did this in 2006, which includes some rare Irish television clips all the way up to and past their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction:


1979 (pretty funny actually):

1981 (Electric Company from Belfast):

1981: I Will Follow(very early, if not first US tv appearance)

1982?: A Celebration - never appears on any U2 album to date.

1983: Out of Control - cut from VHS Red Rocks release:

1984: A Sort of Homecoming

1985: Bad - Live Aid, the performance that pushed U2 into "supergroup" status:

1986: Help

1987: very rare performance of "Exit" from Belfast, Northern Ireland:

1987 ("fuck the revolution") from Rattle & Hum:

Another from Rattle & Hum, Angel of Harlem from Sun Studio in Memphis.

1987: Edge Grammy Speech

1987: Stand By Me w/Springsteen - I was in the front row on the left side of the stage for this very performance - awesome show with just over 100,000 in attendance:

1988: Christmas (War Is Over) Acoustic

1989: Hawkmoon 269 Live from Sydney

1992: One

1993: Stay (Faraway So Close) acoustic live from Dublin

1995: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

1997 (MOFO live - one of the overlooked tunes on Pop):

1997: Please - (another great one from Pop):

1999: "Don't Take Your Guns To Town" (Johnny Cash Tribute):

2000: Making of Beautiful Day

Sept 21, 2001: Tribute To Heroes

2002: Electrical Storm

2003: Falling At Your Feet w/Daniel Lanois

2005: Mysterious Ways from this Croke Park Dublin show):

2005: Live 8 Edinburgh, Scotland (ok, not all of U2, but those Corrs girls are gorgeous!):

2005: Live compilation from Portland

2005: Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction

2006: New Years Day (Live from Brazil)

2007: Live at Cannes.

2008: Walk On (Christmas Lights Show NYC)

2009: Ultraviolet (Live from Barcelona)

2010: Every Breaking Wave (Live from Helsinki):

Thanks Youtube and U2 for some great memories, hope for more to come!

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!