And we enter the modern decade! Thank God.
2010 was one of the busiest years of my life and probably not coincidentally the year where I got into the least new music.
We saw Joe Pug 3 times this year, and saw 3 bands we saw the previous year again: The Appleseed Cast, Swell Season, and Mountain Goats.
Out of all of them, the one I anticipated the least and enjoyed the most was probably The Appleseed Cast. This was an era when a lot of bands were doing whole "album" shows, where they play an album from start to finish. They happened to be playing my favorite album of all time. Hard to beat. Talked about it before, so I won't now. Low Level Owl 4 Life.
In the first third of the year, we got an Oscar.
We also remodeled our bathroom and went on a week long road trip around the Olympic Peninsula. Musically, Jonsi dominated.
Sigur Ros did essentally a world tour after their last album, and I think the rest of the band was interested in taking some time off to be with their families. Jonsi didn't want to stop, so he wrote (at least one) album with his boyfriend and brought it to the masses.
The album ("Go") is sort of like the poppiest Sigur Ros stuff amplified a bit. The singing is in English, for the first time, and the instrumentation is a bit more experimental in nature. It's fun, and catchy to listen to, but seeing it live was an entirely out of this world experience.
The live show was a huge production, with a ton of integrated media. This was set up in the Roseland- dozens of video screens behind and to the sides of the stage, with animations and videos that would transition across them to enhance the songs. It's really hard to describe, it turns out. The final song, it completely created the impression of a hurricane tearing down the screens one by one like roof shingles, and wiping out the stage. There are a few videos out there from the tour, this one is from one of my favorites:
In late spring, we got new releases from Against Me! and the Black Keys. Both found play, neither is the most captivating thing in the world, and neither gets much attention from me now. But in this year, mostly all musical experiences (recorded or live) are really just continuation of long running relationships, which are never as exciting as new ones.
Ahem. For music, that is. Nothing to me was more exciting this year than getting married!
As two music lovers (as this blog should have beaten you over the head with by now), we had playlists for every step of the process. No surprise, aside from the processional, Sigur Ros soundtracked the ceremony. They probably could have done that as well, but the looped intro to The Shining (our song) worked perfectly and our families can probably only take so much improvised language falsetto over a guitar played with a violin bow.
We had two massive playlists for the dinner portion and the dance portion- saving us a lot of money on a DJ. Aside from that, our first dance was to a live performance from Emily's dad's band (and family friends) the Carr-tunes. It was a real treat and honor to have them perform, and they played one of our favorite songs first introduced to me by Joe Vs. The Volcano- Come Go WIth Me, by the Del Vikings.
It was a musical celebration to end all celebrations, and our dance playlist has since been used at at least 3 weddings. It's the highest compliment and a great feeling to know that the music we chose was enjoyed by enough by people to bring it into their own lives.
I mentioned earlier that we saw Joe Pug and the Swell Season again- this was a new thing to us, which is the summer concerts at the Oregon Zoo. You get to go into the zoo a little before closing, then set up a blanket on the lawn and watch music in a big ampitheater. It's a pretty great thing if the bands are right- most years we haven't been too attracted to the lineup. But this year we got Joe Pug opening for Levon Helm and Frank Black (Pixies) opening for the Swell Season, which are uncharacteristically up our alley.
The outdoor jams and road trips continued over Labor Day, when we (again) return to Strawberry to partially enjoy Arlo Guthrie and Keb Mo (but mostly hang out) and then drive down through Yosemite to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We sort of bookended our summer / wedding with the Olympic trip and this one, and everything in between just felt like a long party.
The one album that really did captivate me (and the rest of the country, apparently) this year was the GRAMMY WINNING "The Suburbs" by the Arcade Fire. I don't know if it's even my favorite by them, but their catalog is so consistent and great that we decided to spring for it and see one of the biggest concerts we've been to at the Memorial Coliseum that September.
In October, I had pipe dreams of trying to figure out a rush trip to DC to catch the Daily Show / Colbert Reports dual march on washington, the "Rally to Restore Sanity". I had kind of given up on it, but Emily and her folks decided to spring it on me as a surprise and bought us all tickets! On it's face, this isn't a music thing, but it was a very musical event! I saw Mavis Staples play "Ill take you there" for the second time in the past 3 years, along with Jeff Tweedy. There was also probably another performance that I'm forgetting, but the biggest and most surprising was the medley they put together with the O'Jays, Ozzy Osborne, and one of my all time favorites, Mr. Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens!
I never thought I'd ever see him live, and it was the highlight of the whole thing for me.
The year ended with a show (following an album) by The Books at the Aladdin theater, the last before their dissolution in 2011. The album, despite me trying to sell myself on it, does not capture the magic of past records to me, but the show was as great as ever. If you've never seen The Books live, look up a video. Their songs incorporate a lot of sort of "found sounds" from audio tapes and video tapes collected from thrift stores, etc., and the live performances often include a backing video that completes the overall picture.
2010 was a good one for life and a pretty good one for music.