Way back. Back to a time when Democrats controlled the House, when despots across the Middle East had nary a care in the world, and when Charlie Sheen was just that super-rich prick on that painfully unfunny sitcom that somehow attracts 10-15 million viewers every week. Yes, folks, we’re going back…to 2010.

Shortly after the new year, I made a couple of mixes of songs from some favorite records of 2010. And now, after a few months of procrastinating, I’ve finally dusted them off, bounced them, and uploaded them to this here blog. Since I think I missed the window for timeliness, I’m thinking maybe I can get away with marketing them as retro. So put down those vuvuzelas and take a listen:

2010 In Review (Electronic)
Right-click here to download.
Track list:

Nancy (Not Her Real Name) – Intro
Javelin – Vibrationz
Games – Heartlands
Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
Das Racist – Who’s That? Brooown!
Kanye West – Power
Flying Lotus – Computer Face//Pure Being
Stereo Total – Hello Ladies
Tanlines – Real Life
Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal
Emeralds – Double Helix
LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
The xx – VCR (Four Tet Remix)
Four Tet – Love Cry
Caribou – Leave House
Major Lazer – Jump Up
M.I.A. – XXXO
Crystal Castles – Baptism
Nancy (Not Her Real Name) – Whoop…They Both Ride Horses

2010 In Review (Rock)
Right-click here to download.
Track list:

Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round And Round
Here We Go Magic – Casual
Toro Y Moi – Minors
Nite Jewel – Am I Real?
Best Coast – Boyfriend
Woods – From The Horn
The Corin Tucker Band – Doubt
Marnie Stern – Transparency Is The New Mystery
Zach Hill – House Of Hits
Daughters – The Hit
Harvey Milk – I Alone Got Up And Left
Zs – Acres Of Skin
Joanna Newsom – ’81
Warpaint – Undertow
of Montreal – Coquet Coquette
HEALTH – USA Boys
High Places – The Longest Shadows
Zola Jesus – Poor Animal

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Oh, coked-up mid-/late-70s Sly, I’ve got to say…you’re kind of underrated.

Yes, it’s been a while, poor, neglected readers. A lot happened in WW-land after my last post. A new job, a busy summer, a bunch of traveling, another new job, an even busier winter. Tornadoes, hailstorms, blizzards. Quite a first year of Brooklyn-dwelling.

Happily, some stuff has been happening musically too. Luxe Pop is almost done recording our full-length. NNHRN continues to write songs and is starting to put together a live set. I’ve been doing some solo noodling and may start making some punkish noise with former Family Fun bandmate Alexander.

In other words, it’s time to reactivate WW. You can expect some of the fruits of these various projects to be posted here from time to time, as well as other musings on all things musical. And to kick off WW’s 2011 edition, here are some 10 (as in 2010?) word reviews of some of the shows I’ve seen since I last posted (with, in some cases, blurry iPhone pic evidence of same), reverse chronological-like:

Wayne Shorter Quartet (Town Hall, Feb. 9, 2011): Fiery potential, heard on YouTube / live CDs, largely unfulfilled tonight.

Universal Order of Armageddon and Trophy Wife (Cake Shop, Jan. 21, 2011): Hardcore like a kick in the teeth. Ah, the 90s!

Tom Harrell Quintet (Village Vanguard, NYC, Nov. 26, 2010): Forgot how much I dig his lyrical tone. So underrated!

Tom Harrell

Joanna Newsom (Carnegie Hall, NYC, Nov. 23, 2010): Yes, I will see her every time she’s in NYC.

Paul Bley and Charlie Haden (Blue Note, NYC, Nov. 20, 2010): Standards stretched to extremes overcome late-middle-aged couple groping nearby

Tame Impala (Bowery Ballroom, NYC, Nov. 18, 2010): More psych revival. I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse.

Tyshawn Sorey (The Stone, NYC, Nov. 11, 2010): Solo drummer, cymbal-scraping, plucked piano strings, etc. Works for me.

Van Dyke Parks (Bell House, Brooklyn, Oct. 2, 2010): Odd ensemble, very odd songs, very, very odd old man.

Van Dyke Parks

Chick Corea w/ Christian McBride and Brian Blade (Highline Ballroom, NYC, Oct. 1, 2010): What Wayne’s group should have been. Abstract, searching, practically telepathic.

Belle and Sebastian (Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn, Sept. 30, 2010): Balmy summer’s end breeze perfect compliment to beloved songsters’ classics.

The Very Best, Warpaint, Zola Jesus (Holocene, Portland, Sept. 24, 2010): Second fix of Warpaint and Zola, then killer dance party.

The Very Best

Of Montreal, Janelle Monae (Terminal 5, NYC, Sept. 18, 2010): Reliably fun oM show. Don’t get the Monae hype though.

of Montreal

Dirty Projectors (Terminal 5, NYC, Sept. 11, 2010): One question: how the fuck do they do that live?

Oneida (Monster Island Block Party, Brooklyn, Sept. 4, 2010): Gorgeous biking day, happen upon kickass noise rock show. Sweeeeeet.

Oneida

Javelin and Warpaint (Whitney Museum, NYC, Aug. 13, 2010): Dreamy high end meets funky low. Plus local hip-hop(ish) faves.

Whitney Crowd/Tops of Warpaint’s Heads

Javelin

Hard NYC w/ M.I.A., Die Antwoord, Skream, Sleigh Bells (Governor’s Island, NYC, July 24, 2010): Invasive security, irritating rappers, torrential rain. Want my $50 back.

Blevin Blectum (Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, July 23, 2010): More abstract than expected, but definitely glad I caught her.

Blevin Blectum

Pitchfork Festival w/ (acts that I saw) Modest Mouse, Robyn, LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, Wolf Parade, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Raekwon, Titus Andronicus, Pavement, Sleigh Bells, Neon Indian, Major Lazer, Here We Go Magic, St. Vincent, Lightning Bolt, Beach House, Washed Out, Girls, Best Coast (Union Park, Chicago, July 16-18, 2010): Super well run festival. 90s noise punk duo steals show.

Lightning Bolt Crowd

Pitchfork Fest Bike Parking

Caribou (Millennium Park, Chicago, July 12, 2010): Favorite 2010 live act (ok, except tUnE-yArDs). And for free?!?

Unrest/Tuscadero (Bell House, Brooklyn, July 5, 2010): See above re the 90s. Some great indie pop too.

Caribou, Toro Y Moi (Bowery Ballroom, NYC, Bowery Ballroom, May 8, 2010): Live show really doesn’t capture opener’s production chops on record.

Caribou

Chick Corea w/ Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian (Bill Evans Tribute) (Blue Note, NYC, May 6, 2010): Possibly my second favorite pianist’s homage to possibly my first.

Washed Out (Bell House, Brooklyn, May 5, 2010): Another contemporary band whose awesome record just doesn’t translate live.

Gang Gang Dance (Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 22, 2010): Great sound, but some songs drag. Others seem absolutely endless.

Last week I ventured over to Bowery Ballroom for one of those rare shows where I’m excited about not just one, not only two, but three bands on a bill. I timed things just right to miss openers Twin Sisters–sorry guys, I’m getting too old to stand around for three bands as it is, so four is out of the question–and made it in time to catch the beginning of Zola Jesus’s set. I’ve been digging the lo-fi gothy chill of their album The Spoils and their (somewhat cleaner) new EP, Stridulum. I was curious to see whether singer Nika Roza Danilova’s voice, haunting and drenched in reverb on record, would come across live. It did–and then some. The band could stand to loosen up a bit on stage and to vary the pace of their set, which could fairly be described as plodding at some points. But hey, they’re still fairly new, and Nika turned all of 21 the night of the show. So they have plenty of time to perfect their already impressive sound.

But this night was really all about the next band, tUnE-yArDs. tUne-yArDs is basically Merrill Garbus, who’s joined on stage by bassist Nate Brenner. Her full-length and EP are both great, so I figured I was in for a good show, but, even so, I was totally, totally blown away by her set. She plays a deconstructed drum kit (just a floor tom and snare) and a ukelele and makes ample use of a loop pedal to form a surprisingly big sound for a two-person band. The tunes are super-catchy, often incorporating crypto-hiphop or -reggae rhythms and really unusual hooks, with Garbus’s looped vocals swirling in and out to create all kinds of unusual harmonic backdrops.

And speaking of her voice…the lady has serious–like truly fucking powerful–pipes. She alternates between low, raspy calm and practically unbalanced shouting, and generously spreads odd vocalizations throughout the songs–kind of like Nina Simone if the High Priestess of Soul had had more of a penchant for yodeling. And as if the stunning musical and singing talent weren’t enough, well, Garbus, like her music, is just so frickin’ infectiously likable! She explained, in a way that didn’t seem the slightest bit contrived, that she always gets nervous when she plays in New York–and then, of course, she proceeded to bring the house down. In fact, when she announced her last song, the audience protested loudly, and when she left the stage the applause was so overwhelming and sustained that it seemed to take a couple of minutes for the house to remember that she wasn’t the last act and that there was no time for an encore. Alas!

And then there was Xiu Xiu, who were, well, very Xiu Xiu. I’ve seen them live twice and at both shows there was at least one moment where someone in the audience broke out into uncomfortable laughter during one of the more precious, hushed portions of the performance. Clearly these folks were grappling with the question anyone familiar with Xiu Xiu’s over-the-top artiness faces early on–is this dude sincere, fucking with me, or somewhere in between? In general, I can handle this schtick, and there are plenty of moments in both their shows and their records that I like quite a lot. But at this particular show, their overwrought, angst-ridden affect fell flat, coming as it did on the heels of Garbus’s genuine affability.

And on that note, here are a couple of tUnE-yArDs clips, one from this show and one of Garbus alone at the Natural History Museum in LA: