Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!



Not much rambling today. Just a few songs for the Holidays...well, Christmas songs, really. Some festive noise-pop from the Raveonettes, a surprisingly upbeat one from The Knife (as upbeat as The Knife gets, at least), and the Pet Shop Boys ringing in Christmas as only they can.

The Raveonettes- "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"

The Knife- "Christmas Reindeer"

Pet Shop Boys- "It Doesn't Often Snow At Christmas"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 10 Albums I Was Slightly Obsessed With in '09





After much deliberation and narrowing down, here it is. My Top 10 Albums of 2009. Of course, I'd have a few honorable mentions before we get into the list so let's get them out of the way:

Honorable Mentions:
Hospice, The Antlers : A concept album that tells a heartbreaking story with plenty of folky flourishes easily going from somber to soaring.

A Brief History Of Love, The Big Pink : UK duo, The Big Pink formed in '07 and were signed to the influential 4AD label in February '09. A whirlwind journey for a young band that sounds like seasoned vets taking their cues from shoegaze, electronic music, and Britpop.

Love, Hate, And Then There's You, The Von Bondies : It's too bad that Von Bondies frontman, Jason Stollsteimer will forever be known as that guy that Jack White beat the bejeesus out of back in 2003. Sure their lone hit, "C'mon, C'mon" is the theme song to Rescue Me, but this album was an unexpected turn for the Detroit garage rockers as they took the leap into power pop territory with help from producer, Butch Walker, sounding less like the Stooges and more like Cheap Trick.

Now onto the show...and remember, there won't be any Passion Pit, Animal Collective, or Dirty Projectors. Sorry, Hipsters...but really, I'm not.


10. Don't Stop, Annie - Annie's 2nd album was not meant to come out due to immense label resistance. Thankfully after nearly a year, Don't Stop finally did see a release. Its lead single, the playful electro-pop "I Think Ur Girlfriend Hates Me" may not have made the final tracklist of the album, though it does appear on a second CD of bonus material (rumor has it her faithful cover of Stacey-Q's "Two Of Hearts" was also intended to be included on here) but what we get is a sinfully addictive collection of pop songs not too far from Kylie Minogue territory. Whether she's sweetly singing dissecting your band ("I Don't Like Your Band") or striking a dance diva pose on the slight techno thump of "Songs Remind Me Of You," Annie sounds completely in control. But it's when Annie gets a little feisty on the jumpy dance pop of "My Love Is Better" (featuring the guitar work of Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos) where her playfulness becomes seductive.




9. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - With a name like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, one might expect an overdose of cutesy twee pop so sugary they can cause cavities just by hearing them. And while this is somewhat true, cuteness is only part of what makes this band so appealing. It's their knack for catchy songs that really takes center stage. Their ode-to-librarian-love, "Young Adult Friction" is so sweet and infectious that it's possible to miss out on the clever joke towards the end of the song ("don't check me out!") Even though The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart may touch on the right shoegaze touchstones (the fuzzy pop leanings of The Jesus And Mary Chain) it's on the jangly, "Stay Alive" where the band really reaches new heights. Their follow-up EP, Higher Than The Stars released in September, already delivers on the promise of this full-length showing that they might actually be more than just a passing phase.




8. Dragonslayer, Sunset Rubdown - Another year, another awesome album with Spencer Krug involved. Last year, Wolf Parade, the band Krug co-fronts with Daniel Boeckner (also of Handsome Furs) put out my top pick of 2008, At Mount Zoomer and the year before Krug's more engimatic band, Sunset Rubdown put out the dizzying, Random Spirit Lover. Now on Dragonslayer, Krug and his Sunset cohorts learn that less is more. More straightforward than previous Sunset Rubdown albums, but no less addictive. Krug's wavering wails are still intact while the band keeps up with him building momentum on the crashing "Idiot Heart." Still, they're at their strongest on "You Go On Ahead (Trumpet Trumpet II)" as they try to pack in as much as they can in less than 6 minutes running through bits of slithering dub, video game blips, and prog rock pomp before dissolving into a glorious haze.




7. Primary Colours, The Horrors - If anyone deserves the award for Most Improved Band, it would defintely be The Horrors. They first gained notoriety thanks to their chaotic live shows rather than their music, often times imploding onstage before the completion of their performance. Then, The Horrors lived up to their name musically, making spooked-out gothabilly borrowing liberally from the Cramps and sounding like the lost soundtrack to an episode of The Munsters. Thankfully, on Primary Colours the band shed their self-destructive ways in favor of concentrating on their music. The shift in focus benefits the band greatly. Instead of coming across as campy, the Horrors aim for shadowy post-punk drenched in feedback and noise mixing the guitar squalls of My Bloody Valentine and primal grunts of The Birthday Party. The album's centerpiece is the near 8-minute epic, "Sea Within A Sea" with its high end shrieks giving way to Kraut rock minimalism easily morphing from ghastly to ghostly.




6. Exploding Head, A Place To Bury Strangers - Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers earned the reputation as "New York's Loudest Band" with good reason. While their self-tited debut-- essentially a collection of remastered earlier material-- showed that shoegaze can be cranked all the way to 11, Exploding Head reveals their melodic side. That's not to say that APTBS has gone soft by any means. Sure, songs like "Smile When You Smile" and the awesome, "In Your Heart" still showcase the band's distinctive sound of guitars being pushed to the brink of destruction but now there's a little more polish without sacrificing any volume. The cleaner production allows the subtleties to shine through a bit clearer whether it's the guttural tribal undertones of "Ego Death" or the slight surf rock twang of "Deadbeat." Exploding Head is A Place To Bury Strangers' bid at moving away from New York's Loudest to becoming one of New York's Best.




5. Horehound, The Dead Weather - Jack White has the midas touch. End of story. Even when he sits behind the drums, and enlists fellow Raconteurs, Jack Lawrence on bass, and Dean Fertita (also of Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar, he manages to work some magic. Of course, The Dead Weather's secret weapon is arguably one of the best frontwomen in rock, Alison Mosshart of The Kills. And once all these ingredients come together the result is a combustible mix of dark, bluesy, straight-ahead rock so dirty and sweaty, it's worthy of devil horns.




4. Embryonic, The Flaming Lips - It's sometimes hard to believe the Flaming Lips' rise from being indie rock's lovable court-jesters to respected rock royalty. It seems just like yesterday that a wide-eyed, flame-haired Wayne Coyne was singing quirky noise-pop songs about knowing a girl who uses tangerines to color her hair. Though he's no longer flame-haired, Coyne is as wide-eyed as ever and Embryonic is proof of that. Their weirdest, most tripped-out album in nearly a decade, Embryonic is a mindfuck in the best possible way. An album that doesn't require headphones so much as demands it. Embryonic might very well be THE album that Flaming Lips fans have been clamoring for; a return to form, if said form was an acid trip.




3. In And ut Of Control, The Raveonettes - Now we're into the home stretch. These last three albums were the ones I couldn't stop listening to no matter how hard I tried. On In And Out Of Control, The Raveonettes gave into their pop instincts and it paid off. Not as noisy as their previous three full-length albums, but easily their most pop-oriented. The trade-off is well worth it as nearly every song is overflowing with sparkling choruses. One listen to "Last Dance" will have anyone wanting to hear it repeatedly. Even when the lyrics are a bit darker ("Suicide," "D.R.U.G.S.") The Raveonettes manage to turn them into sing-alongs. A feat they even achieve on "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)"- a song that shouldn't be as catchy as its title suggests.




2. It's Blitz!, Yeah Yeah Yeahs - I would never have expected to fall for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for a second time, but after hearing this album, that's just what happened. Karen O and company transformed from screeching post punks to glammed up electro rockers and they did so very convincingly. Not only that, but the band managed to drastically switch gears musically while still sounding distinctively like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Karen O is in top form, here, whether she tells us to "get your leather on" ("Zero") or is commanding a dancefloor to "dance til you're dead" ("Heads Will Roll.") They might not be brainier than Radiohead but if they continue to evolve like this, they'll just be better.




1. Post-Nothing, Japandroids - Post-Nothing is only 8 tracks long and clocks in at a lean 35+ mintues. It's made by Japandroids, a two-man, drums-and-guitar band from Vancouver. One thing though about the music: it's not stripped down. Japandroids, themselves, have claimed to be a two-man band trying to sound like a five piece and honestly, that's about as accurate as it gets. Eight songs filled with tons of shouted vocals, fuzzed-out guitars, and bashing drums (actually, they don't really shout on album closer, "I Quit Girls.") The best part of this band, is that everyone who I've talked to uses different reference points: one friend described Japandroids as "a mix of Saves The Day and The Jesus And Mary Chain," while another said "they sound like a noisy Sunny Day Real Estate" - me, I heard some Superchunk and lots of power pop covered in fuzz. However you might choose to describe them, Japandroids makes simple, irresistible garage-punk. Sure, the lyrics might be a bit repetitive, but that's not the point. They make that longing for more youthful days something to look back on fondly and with some excitement rather than mournful regret.


And finally, my Top 10 Albums of 2009 done and finished up after 3am on what is now Christmas Eve. Enjoy the music I loved over the last 365 days. Looking forward to swoon over whatever 2010 might have to offer.

Monday, December 21, 2009

10 Ingredients to DJ Brian L.'s 2009 Mixtape







I'm really good at making mixtapes. Call them Mix CDs or Playlists as they, technically, are now but whatever the case may be, I still like to call them mixtapes. I'm known as the person who makes them for my friends. I obsess over the perfect track list and more importantly, the perfect sequence of the songs. So it should come as no surprise that it would take me weeks to come up with my Best of 2009 picks. Finally, here is my Top 10 Songs of 2009, or as I'm calling it:

"The 10 Ingredients to DJ Brian L.'s 2009 Mixtape"

10.  "Actor Out Of Work" St. Vincent 
Annie Clark might sound coy and playful, but this song is anything but that. She throws clever lyrical jabs at an unwanted lover ("you're an extra, lost in the scene.") Essentially a kiss-off covered in sweetness all wrapped by a guitar that sounds like it's being choked by barbed wire.

9. "Oh My God" Ida Maria
Everything I read about Ida Maria didn't really make me want to rush out and hop on a hype-filled bandwagon. Then I saw her perform live and was completely won over. Her voice is rough-- mixing some Bjork-like yelping and Joan Jett's smokey rasp. "Oh My God" is the perfect introduction to Ida Maria's addictive punk rock howl.

8. "Die Slow" Health 
It's no big secret that Nine Inch Nails is my favorite band. So much so, that one of the major reasons I initially joined Twitter was to follow Trent Reznor. That said, Trent made mention of this song on one of his Tweets, and I'll be honest, I checked it out based solely on that recommendation. It turns out that this song is all sorts of awesome. LA's Health is a noise-rock band with plenty of emphasis on noise. But on "Die Slow," they actually tone the noise down and come up for air long enough to deliver a fist-pumping anthem. Noise rock that actually does ROCK!

7. "Daniel" Bat For Lashes
I was pretty indifferent about Bat For Lashes. That is, up until I heard "Daniel" for the first time. It was only then that I began to get what made Natasha Khan so appealing. This is one of those songs where everything about it is just right- the airy, almost New Wave synths, Khan's breathy, other-worldly voice...it all comes together so perfectly it just demands repeated listens.

6. "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" Handsome Furs
As co-frontman of Wolf Parade, Daniel Boeckner is the more straightforward songwriter...the prefect foil to Spencer Krug's eccentricities. But left to his own devices, Boeckner is able to let his anthemic side blossom into something more. With Handsome Furs, he teams with his wife, Alexei Perry, for some fiery, stripped-down electro pop. "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything" is their doe-eyed love song with a huge, soaring chorus that calls for instant sing-alongs.

5. "Treat Me Like Your Mother" The Dead Weather
With a lineup that boasts Jack White on drums, Alison Mosshart of the Kills on vocals, and White's fellow Raconteurs, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence, it's almost expected that they'd deliver the goods. "Treat Me Like Your Mother" is everything you'd expect from them and then some. A dirty, straight-up scorcher that rocks harder than just about anything that's come before it or anything that will come after it, for that matter.

4. "Last Dance" The Raveonettes
The Raveonettes were always a band that seemed on the verge of making a major breakthrough. They were almost there with last year's killer noise-pop single, "Aly, Walk With Me." But "Last Dance" manages to top "Aly..." by ditching the noise and concentrating on pop. And the move works wonders. Even with its dark lyrics about addiction and overdose, "Last Dance" still manages to sparkle. It's a wonder what a catchy chorus can do for a song.

3. "Young Hearts Spark Fire" Japandroids
Often times, the first song I hear from a band ends up being my favorite. Such is the case with the Smiths ("Girlfriend In A Coma") and the Pixies ("Here Comes Your Man.") We can now add Japandroids to that impressive list. Two guys from Vancouver playing high-energy, fuzzed-out garage punk. "Young Hearts Spark Fire" is a masterpiece with flaws- sure the singing isn't the best, sure it's a little messy, but the energy is undeniable. It's just one of those songs that longs for the lost days of our youth captured to perfection with a chorus you can't help but shout along to and arguably my favorite lyric of the year: "Well, you can keep tomorrow, after tonight, we're not gonna need it."


2. "Dominos" The Big Pink
Admittedly, the first song I heard from The Big Pink was "Velvet," which might actually be my favorite song of theirs. But the first time I ever heard "Dominos" it was obvious that this was the single the band wanted to push. Many have attempted to balance the worlds of electronic and rock music but few have done it as well as The Big Pink. A slick electro beat, loads of guitar noise, and a chorus so huge that it's easy to ignore that it's only five words long.

1. "Zero" Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Probably the biggest surprise of the year was the re-emergence of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The NY trio practically recast themselves as glitzy electro rockers. And the transformation didn't dull the band's edginess.  "Zero" is instantly addictive with its sleek synths and Karen O's signature sneer. But it's when Nick Zinner's razor-sharp guitars finally kick in sounding as if it was lifted straight out of Nine Inch Nails' playbook that the YYYs show that they're more than just fashionable trainwrecks. Get your leather on, indeed.

Alright, so there have it. Two Best of 2009 lists down and the "Big One" to go. I'll likely have my Top Albums of '09 up on the blog by Wednesday at the latest. Here's a little spoiler: Passion Pit may actually end up on the list...no, I'm just kidding. There's a better chance that I'd grow wings than there is of Passion Pit making it on any of my Best Of lists.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

We'll stay inside til somebody finds us (and a DJ setlist)

So Boston finally got nailed by some snow. Naturally, it started right as I was leaving River Gods last night which made catching a cab a bit of a chore. Long story short, I waited for over an hour in the snow...thankfully I knew to wear layers...and I had BriPod to keep me company which helped me keep my cool by playing some Jesus And Mary Chain ("Head On") and The Cure ("One Hundred Years.") So today, aside from having to eventually leave the apartment to spin some industrial music over at WZBC (www.wzbc.org), it's been a lazy day in listening to records. It's while listening to records that I actually came across a song that fits the day perfectly: The National's "Apartment Story." Never before have these lyrics rung true...well, except for the "rosy-minded fuzz" part. I still haven't figured out quite what that part means:

The National - "Apartment Story"
"We'll stay inside til somebody finds us, do whatever the TV tells us, stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days"


And I'll openly admit, that my job sometimes makes me feel like I never left college. I still go out a lot (arguably more than I used to when I was younger), I often stroll into work disheveled and hungover (it helps that my office hours are 10am - 6pm) and I still get a holiday break. The only difference between this and college is that I don't get homework and I get paid which is a fine trade-off. So I'm a few days away from heading back home to spend the holidays with the fam, and as is usually the case, I like to get my fix of DJ'ing because, let's be honest here, it's the thing I do that makes me feel cooler than anyone. There's nothing like imposing my taste in music to a bunch of people hanging out and drinking. That said, here's my setlist from last night's gig- my usual once-a-month mostly New Wave night with my good friend, dj darkmoves (his list isn't included, but trust me, he spins awesome stuff, as well):


Angular Hair & Guitars: A New Wave / Post Punk / Indie Electro Night
Saturday, December 19, 2009
dj darkmoves & DJ Brian L.

dj darkmoves (9:03pm – 9:33pm) 
 
DJ Brian L.  (9:33pm – 10:03pm) 
Christmas Reindeer- The Knife
Only You- Yaz
L.E.S. Artistes- Santogold
Living On The Ceiling- Blancmange
Wordy Rappinghood- Tom Tom Club
My Love Is Better- Annie
Lights & Music- Cut Copy

dj darkmoves  (10:25pm – 11:25pm) [Vinyl-Only Set]
  
DJ Brian L. (11:02pm – 12:02am) [Vinyl-Only Set]
The Metro- Berlin
You Spin Me ‘Round (Like A Record)- Dead Or Alive
What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)- Information Society
Rio- Duran Duran
Getting Away With It- Electronic
The Look Of Love (Part One)- ABC
Look Sharp!- Joe Jackson
Mirror In The Bathroom- The English Beat
Watching The Detectives- Elvis Costello
The Guns Of Brixton- The Clash
Town Called Malice- The Jam
Out Of Control- U2
Just Like Heaven- The Cure
Love Will Tear Us Apart- Joy Division
Ask- The Smiths
Postcards From Paradise- Flesh For Lulu
Do They Know It’s Christmas?- Band-Aid
 
dj darkmoves vs. DJ Brian L.(12:02am – 1am)
Jingles Are Jingles- Dan Phillips [darkmoves]
Cities In Dust- Siouxsie & The Banshees [darkmoves]
It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas- Pet Shop Boys [Brian L.]
Don’t You Want Me- The Human League [Brian L.]
Jizz In My Pants- The Lonely Island [darkmoves]
Erotic City- Prince[darkmoves]
Bad Romance (Hercules & Love Affair Remix)- Lady GaGa [Brian L.]
Ride A White Horse- Goldfrapp [Brian L.]
Round And Round- New Order [darkmoves]
Heads Will Roll- Yeah Yeah Yeahs [darkmoves]
Warm Leatherette- Peter Murphy / Trent Reznor [Brian L.]
Who’s That Girl- Robyn [Brian L.]
Fun Punch- Bag Raiders vs. Sammy Bananas [darkmoves]
One More Chance- Bloc Party [darkmoves]
Christmas Wrapping- The Waitresses [Brian L.]
 
Oh yeah, and that Top 10 Songs of 2009 list...it's coming soon. 
 




Saturday, December 19, 2009

...And so it begins (a.k.a. In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up...)

December is definitely in the (freezing) air. Which can only mean a few things...the holidays are looming and the end of the year is creeping up. But being the big music geek that I am, the one thing I look forward to most is the fine art of Year End Lists. Naturally, I'm putting the final touches in picking my Top Songs of 2009- that post will be up sooner than later- however, my Top Albums of The Year is a bit more difficult. I have a friend or two who have claimed that this year in music sucked, but to them I say "you just weren't listening hard enough." So my trouble isn't finding good music, it's quite the opposite. Here's a bit of a spoiler alert: none of my Top picks, be it songs or albums, will contain anything by a few of the beloved hipster bands of the year, mainly because I hate a few of them with varying degrees of intensity. That said, this is going to be a very Animal Collective/Dirty Projectors/Passion Pit-Free Environment...I feel like it's my version of "Going Green."

OK, well let's just dive in with the first list on Random Ramblings Of DJ Brian L. I figured I'd start small and count down my Top 10 Concerts Of 2009.  And thanks to Ministry from whom I borrowed the title of this blog entry. Anyhow, here goes:

10. Fanfarlo / Freelance Whales at TT The Bear's in Cambridge, MA (December)
I go to a lot of shows. This one just happened to take place last night and honestly, I was pretty floored. I had been seeing Freelance Whales' name around and I liked them from the first few songs I had heard. Very cutesy, smiley indie pop that mixes folky guitars and banjos with twinkling electronics...kind of like a mix between Sufjan Stevens and the Postal Service. And honestly, sometimes even I need something that's happy and not brooding. Fanfarlo, on the other hand, sort of blew me away. I had been mildly into their album Reservoir for months...I mean, after all, I'm a sucker for orchestral pop and they totally fit the bill taking elements of Beirut, some Arcade Fire, and the book smart leanings of Okkervil River. Once they hit the stage, I had the need to inch my way as close to them as possible. It honestly felt like the audience was witnessing something great right before their eyes on a tiny stage. It wouldn't surprise me to see either of these two bands become the Next Big Thing in the new year.

9. The Flaming Lips / Explosions In The Sky at Bank Of America Pavilion (August)


photo taken by Michael Young

It's impossible to see the Flaming Lips and not be put into a good mood. Their shows are like a neverending New Year's Eve Party with girls dressed like furry, slutty cats (or at least that's how I saw them.) What made this show awesome was the fact that the Lips balanced their set out with favorites like "Fight Test" and "Do You Realize??" as well as material from their, at the time, yet-to-be-released, Embryonic and it all sounded great. And what gets me is that they still do their one big MTV hit, "She Don't Use Jelly"- remember when they performed that on the original "90210" in the Peach Pit After Dark? Yeah, me neither, but they show footage of it right before they play it. Oh and extra awesome points for a midblowing set from openers, Explosions In The Sky, still the only band that puts the "ROCK" in instrumental post-rock.


8. Pixies at Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC (November)
Since they reunited, I've seen the Pixies 4 times. And they've been awesome every time. It's actually quite difficult for me to pick my favorite show of theirs. But this particular time comes awfully close to topping my list. Mainly because the band was celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the release of Doolittle a.k.a. "My Absolute Favorite Pixies Album"! Naturally, they kickstarted the show like only they can- by playing B-Sides from the Doolittle singles (I never thought I'd see them do "Weird At My School"!!) Honestly, after they played "Here Comes Your Man," I turned to my friend and said "I want them to do it again!" And why not; that was the first Pixies song I had ever heard back when I was 13 while watching MTV and the video was just great. Youtube it...it's awesome in its quirky goodness. In the meantime here's a live version of "Monkey Gone To Heaven" from a free downloadable 5-song EP (link to download the EP also included) commemorating Doolittle's 20th Anniversary.

Pixies "Monkey Gone To Heaven (Live)"

                     
7. Nitzer Ebb at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston (December)



I swear I've gone to shows that took place before November and December. I just so happened to luck out by going to a few awesome ones in the tail end of the year. After all, I did start December with a "5 Shows In 5 Days Bender" -- and honestly, there's still one show from that stretch that'll be making this list. Anyway, even though the above picture isn't the greatest (apparently, my camera has way too many settings for The Situasian after a few beverages) but you get the idea. Admittedly, I'm a really big fan of industrial music and Nitzer Ebb is one of those classic industrial bands that were pioneers in Electronic Body Music (EBM) and honestly, who wouldn't want to listen to a sub-genre with a name as sexy as that. Needless to say, I was all eyelinered up and wearing my tall shoes for the occasion, perfect for stomping, which is what Ebb's music makes me want to do.

6. Japandroids at Great Scott in Allston (October)
Two-man fuzzed-out garage punk band from Vancouver. I quickly got obsessed with them when I downloaded a song by them based on a friend's suggestion and their band name and I've been hooked ever since. I even went and saw them back in July after doing my radio show...which is usually unheard of since my radio show ends at 10pm on Sundays and I'm usually wiped out afterwards. And yes, that show delivered on Japandroids' hype but this particular Monday night in October was even better. Not many bands have the balls to cover Big Black, but Japandroids did...and they did a kickass cover of "Racer X" as well as a cover of McLusky's "To Hell With Good Intentions." Hands down, one of the most exciting bands I've seen in quite some time and one of the most insane shows I've been to in forever. Infectious energy everywhere to the point that there was crowd surfing...and it isn't even 1994 anymore!

5. The Big Pink at the Paradise in Boston (December)
OK, the last show from December, I promise. A coworker suggested this band to me...all he did was send me a link to their Myspace page and I heard "Velvet." At first, I didn't want to like it...that is until the rush of shimmering guitars kicked in. From there, I was hooked. I know I said that seeing Fanfarlo was like witnessing something great, but watching the Big Pink and their perfect mixture of throbbing electronics, shoegaze-worthy guitars, and their huge, sweeping choruses was a little different. I almost felt like I was looking around at others in the crowd and we were all in on one of the best kept secrets in music. As soon as the show was done, I wanted to see them again and again. Luckily, I only have to wait until March when The Big Pink comes back to Boston with another of my favorite noise-mongers, Brooklyn's aptly-named, A Place To Bury Strangers...earplugs will be a necessity!

4. Depeche Mode at Comcast Center in Mansfield (July)



Depeche Mode is quite arguably, the only band of the New Wave era to make electronic music big enough to fill arenas. It helped that they were touring in support of a great album, Sounds Of The Universe. It also helped that I was lucky enough to meet DM...in case anyone was wondering, Martin Gore and I are the same height. This was one of the greatest days ever, despite the fact that it was rainy and crappy all day. And as for the show...it was as awesome as I had expected. It was the first time I saw them perform my favorite song of theirs ("Strangelove") and a classic that I never thought I'd see them do ("Master and Servant.") Just flat out perfection!

3. The Prodigy at House of Blues- Boston (May)
Of all the acts to come out of the whole "electronica" movement of the late 90's, The Prodigy were by far my favorite. They were more punk than Daft Punk, they were more rave than the Chemical Brothers, and, most importantly, they weren't just two boring, geeky DJs bobbing their heads behind a stack of decks. Unlike their contemporaries, they felt like a band (well, not counting my other favorite electronic act to come out of that time, Underworld.) They got the whole "live performance"-thing down right. Plus, on this particular tour, they were supporting an album that could be called a "return-to-form," the criminally underrated, Invaders Must Die. The Prodigy put on the most energetic performance I have seen in quite some time; co-frontmen/MC's/hype-men, Maxim Reality and Keith Flint were just relentless, demanding as much movement from the audience as they were giving out. And every song felt like a hit.

2. Paul McCartney at Fenway Park in Boston (August)
This one surprised me, too. The days leading up to the show, I downplayed it by saying "he's a Beatle," as if to justify why I'd go see Sir Paul. But right out of the gates, I was completely blown away by what I was watching. Then it hit me: The Beatles were actually the first band I ever liked as a kid. My earliest memories of music wasn't kiddie songs by Raffi or "Sesame Street." It was listening to Beatles records...making my older brother and sister play them over and over again (my favorite was "Ticket To Ride.") And here I am, at Fenway Park watching Paul McCartney play songs that soundtracked my childhood. I hate to admit it, but it was pretty emotional. I would never have guessed that I'd be watching him perform "Blackbird" or "Let It Be" or "Live and Let Die." But once "Hey Jude" started, that was when I had to admit that this show was amazing...that and my uncomfortable shifting in my seat wasn't from a cramp but it was because I didn't want my friends to see that I actually had teared up.

1. Nine Inch Nails at Terminal 5 in NYC (August)


Not a big shock here, by any means. This summer, alone, I saw NIN 3 times. The only thing was that before embarking on the NIN/JA tour with Jane's Addiction, Trent Reznor announced that he was retiring from touring. Following the end of the tour with Jane's, Reznor then announced a handful of intimate farewell dates, (he called the short tour Wave Goodbye) but only in NY, Chicago, and Los Angeles. After a few failed attempts at getting tickets to any of the NY shows, I almost gave up. But then I saw a friend of Facebook change his status to "just scored a ticket to NIN at Terminal 5" so on a whim, I decided to check Ticketmaster and wouldn't you know it, I ended up getting single tickets to the final two NIN shows, both at Terminal 5. The first show (on August 25th) was all sorts of awesome: not only did Trent and Co. bust out a cover of "I'm Afraid Of Americans," but they also did "Ruiner" (a song I've NEVER seen NIN perform-- and after these 2 shows, I've seen them 11 times!) Then Peter Murphy would join the band on stage and after a less-than-good rendition of "Reptile," NIN would break out something that truly made me jump out of my skin in excitement- a very un-NIN-like drumbeat, but then a familiar bassline and then there it was- my favorite Bauhaus song, "Kick In The Eye." And to think, the first of these two Terminal 5 shows ISN'T the show that tops my best shows of 2009 list. The second Terminal 5 show, and final east-coast NIN show, was even better than the previous night. Not only was "Wish" the second proper song of the set (SECOND!), but Trent dug back into Pretty Hate Machine and dusted off "Sin" and "Down In It." Still, none of that could even touch "Something I Can Never Have"...yeah, I'll admit it, since this was possibly the last time I'd ever see NIN perform that song...I wept. Luckily, the fact that I was sweating buckets covered up the fact that I was crying. Oh and Peter Murphy came out again, this time hanging upside down from the ceiling while singing "Reptile"...and then he did "A Strange Kind Of Love" into a little bit of "Bela Lugosi's Dead"-- be still my blackened goth heart!

So there it is. My Top Concerts of 2009. Up next, a list of my favorite songs of the past year...in list form, obvi!




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everybody loves "The Situasian"

I've finally given in and started my own blog. It was only inevitable, really. Back in the days of Myspace back in the long forgotten year of 2004, I used to post nonsensical blogs all the time. I would dive into my deepest of thoughts whether they were about the wonders of day-long "Law & Order: SVU" Marathons (they've since been replaced by nonstop episodes of "NCIS" which I refuse to get into because of Mark Harmon, a.k.a. the man who single-handedly ruined "Moonlighting"), my inability to do the Robot or to be good at beatboxing, successfully stealing a catchphrase from Kevin Federline, or weird, NyQuil-induced dreams. You know, the important stuff. More often than not, I'd end up posting setlists from various DJ gigs, as well. Then I finally gave in and signed up for LiveJournal, a place I will always ridicule since I usually picture it being a haven for pimply teenage girls writing awful love poems to Pete Wentz or whoever this week's Emo Posterboy is. I did, however, intend on making my LiveJournal my place to wax poetic about music- whatever the hell that means. Well, this all got overtaken by Facebook and Twitter- the two things that take up more of my time than I care to admit. Point is, that sometimes 140 characters aren't enough for me...

So here we are. Simply put, "Random Ramblings of DJ Brian L." is just that. And yes, I realize it's a bit of a mouthful much like "Bob Loblaw's Law Blog" (as Tobias F√ľnke would say, "you, sir, are a mouthful") but really, it's the most descriptive title I could come up with. And yes, I did consider calling this blog "The Situasian" as a tribute to one of my favorite people on "The Jersey Shore" who, coincidentally, is also the person on the show I most want to punch in the face. That and I really am Asian, so the joke just pretty much works on so many levels. Wait...where was I? Oh, right...Random Ramblings of DJ Brian L. will contain a lot of things: more than likely music-related, more than likely in list form, more than likely a setlist from a DJ gig here and there (after all, I am "DJ Brian L.")

That said, since 2009 is coming to a close, I will be posting my personal year-end best-of lists in the coming days. I'll be honest, part of the reason I created this blog is so I'd have somewhere to post these Best Of 2009 lists. I wish I was kidding. Anyway, my Top songs, Top albums, and Top shows of the year will be up here for all to see very soon.

Oh and recently, I came across my new theme song:
"B.R.I.A.N." I'M Fresh! You'Re Pretty!

"The Situasian" has got everything under control!

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