Broken Bells, the new cd/collaboration from James Mercer (of The Shins) and Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), is my favorite new disc of 2010. Coming out of nowhere (for me..it was apparently announced in the Fall of last year), the music is an amalgamation of different styles, heavily influenced by 80's bands such as The Cure, New Order, and other synth/guitar bands of that time. Not so much in the dance aspect of that music, but more in a chamber-pop way. The music is consistently good, with a few standout tracks, including the single 'The High Road", which is a great atmospheric track with a faintly apocalyptic mood and lyrics. I haven't been a fan of The Shins, though I enjoyed some of Danger Mouse's music, (I never did listen to his remix of The Beatles White Album, The Grey Album) and I thought "Crazy" (Gnarls Barkley) was a great single. But the two different personalities have obvious chemistry, and this is an excellent debut disc. Maybe because they come from different sides/styles of music, they were able to combine instead of compete. I read Jon Pareles review of this disc in the Times,(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/arts/music/08choice.html) with whom I usually agree, but in this instance I think he overanalyzed a bit....the lyrics on this cd are not easy to understand anyway, and if the artist has a great sound and the music hits you the right way, what difference does it make if the lyrics "hold anguish and malaise"? It's got a good beat and you can dance to it, and sometimes (most times) that's enough.
I heard a really good single last week - "Stylo" by Gorillaz. Not a huge fan of Gorillaz, I've liked a few of their singles in the past but found the albums lacking. Their new one (Plastic Beach) follows that pattern, but this song is really good. Bobby Womack sings on it, as well as Mos Def. I'm a huge fan of Womack, who is one of the all-time great soul singers. Good video too (below) with Bruce Willis.
I read on Saturday that The Allman Brothers cancelled the last 5 dates of their upcoming run at the United Palace Theater. Not surprised, although I definitely don't think it's because of a "family matter" as they posted on their site. I think they overreached big-time. Yes, the Beacon screwed up royally by booking Cirque Du Soleil during March, and they had to find a new home. Yes, United Palace is the next best venue in NYC for them...BUT... it holds 3300 as opposed to The Beacon's 2800. Then they made the genius decision to raise ticket prices. Don't forget that last year was the 40th anniversary of the band, with tons of special guests appearing. And The Beacon isn't located on 175th street. There are only so many Allman Brothers fans in the NY area willing to shell over $150 a ticket to see the band....and when you factor in all of the above (no guests of note, higher prices, larger venue, bad location/geography-wise) what happens is cancelled shows due to a lack of ticket sales. So, instead of a 13 night run, they are able to sell enough tickets to support a 10 night run. Still pretty good though...and I'm looking forward to going, as they are still the best live band around. But their management should have had enough common sense to know 13 nights at those prices was just too much.