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KUSF ist kaput! – WTF?! Alternative college radio station, KUSF is being sold by the University of San Francisco to a group that will change it to a commercial-free classical station. Formed in 1977, the station was one of the few in San Francisco to play "new" and real alternative music. My first job out of college was in a printing warehouse where we listened all-day long to the free form station's DJs play whatever they wanted! Crazy concept, huh? Current staff found out the hard way: by finding the doors locked upon arrival and losing all of their records. (I got to play live in the studio once as part of the Sunday night demo show--great experience!) Official Coachella Line-up Announced – Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, Kanye West and the Strokes are the headliners. Besides a giant list of indie-rock usual suspects, some noteable acts include: London Suede, Wire (listed way down in the new band ghetto), Big Audio Dynamite,  and Duran Duran--welcome back from the 80s! Stream Destroyer's New Album – Hear Dan Bejar's latest LP, Kaputt on the Hype Machine. New Music from Panda Bear – Stereogum has a video of "Atiba Song" from the new album, Tomboy out 4/19. Cake Sets Record – A rather dubious record: lowest selling #1 record. Ever. They sold just 44,000 copies of "Showroom of Compassion" to reach the top-spot. Great news for the record industry. Don Kirshner RIP – Veteran rock promoter, Kirshner helped launch the careers of many artists, including Prince, Kansas and The Eagles, and hosted the (well-loved by baby-sitters like me) television show Don Kirshner's Rock Concert from 1973 until 1981....

Now you can own an iconic piece of indie-rock history (and a bad-ass American muscle car) while helping 826 National, the group started by Dave Eggers to help young kids with expository and creative writing. But that's not all you can win in the Mercury Cougar-Rama Muscle Car-‘Splosion! Additional prizes include: A drum head signed by The New Pornographers, Neko Case’s limited-edition 1966 Gretsch Silver Duke guitar, A Gibson guitar signed by members of the Speaking Clock Revue including Elton John, Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett, a collection of vinyl from SubPop (including LPS from Fleet Foxes, Thee Oh Sees, The Vaselines), the Anti catalog of records, a 60-disc Matador Records sampler … and more! How do you enter to win all this cool stuff? Tickets are $45 each, and they get cheaper the more you buy: 2 tickets for $75, 3 for $100, etc. For more details and to buy tickets, head over to www.nekocase.com/auction. Neko also designed t-shirts for 826 that are being sold in conjunction with the Muscle Car-'Splosion in 826 chapter storefronts across the country and online at www.826national.org/store. Contest ends February 18th! See some pictures of Case's Cougar here – shown at left on the cover of her SLP Best of 2009 Album, Middle Cyclone....

As cool as they are, it's hard for me to justify getting an iPad. I already have a laptop, an iPhone, and an iPod. But there's something so enticing about the simplicity and portability of the device that makes me drool. And that was before I saw these very cool music apps designed for the iPad. The other thing thing that makes all of this so compelling is the price of the Apps. Almost all of the following titles are less that 15 bucks! Compare that to the cost of a new synth, 4-track or amp and you’ll quickly forgive many of the applications' shortcomings. djay for iPad – Seeing the video for this app is what inspired me to write this post--it's just that cool. djay transforms your iPad into a full-fledged DJ system, allowing you to mix your iPod music library on a visual turntable interface. Perform live, record iTunes mixes on-the-go, or enable Automix mode and let djay mix your favorite iTunes playlist automatically. Just watch... Pianist Pro Recommended by The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and played live by the band Squeeze on the Jimmy Fallon show, Pianist Pro features virtual real sized keys on the face of your iPad. Groovemaker – Make dance and electronic music with loops, beats and sound effects on 8 tracks with a built-in mixer. Also available as a FREE demo version.

Here are my selections for Best Albums of 2010 based not so much on what I think should be the best, but what resonated with me and "stuck around" more, causing repeated listening. There were many recordings put out this year that are technically marvelous, interesting and challenging. So, maybe this list should be called my "Favorite Albums of 2010" instead and, because of that, they tend to be a bit more "pop." New Pornographers – Together Beach House – Teen Dream Broken Bells – s/t MGMT – Congratulations Superchunk – Majesty Shredding Grinderman – Grinderman 2 Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening Maximum Balloon – s/t Unkle – Where Did the Night Fall Gorillaz – Plastic Beach Spoon – Transference Surfer Blood – Astrocoast Tame Impala – Innerspeaker The National – High Violet Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky Crystal Castles – s/t Laura Veirs – July Flame Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin Massive Attack – Hegioland Honorable Mentions: !!!, Eluvium, Yeasayer, Ruby Suns, Brian Eno, Janell Monàe, Arcade Fire, Cee-lo Green, Los Campesinos, Four Tet, First Aid Kit, Belle & Sebastian, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Joanna Newsom, Robert Wyatt-Gilad Atzmon-Ros Stephen, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffitti, Foals (liking more and more), Sufjan Stevens, Broken Social Scene, The Black Keys, Titus Andronicus, and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings....

Smells Like Pop's editors and writers listen to hundreds of records every year--not because we have to, but because we need to. We need new music like sharks need surfers. Please take a look at our lists of best albums from 2010 below, and see some of favorites from years' past here. Gene's Top 15 Albums of 2010 David's Best Albums of 2010 David's Favorite Songs of 2010 Smells Like Pop's "Best of" Archive ...

If you're like me (David Bailey), you're probably wondering what gave me pause to hit the "star ratings" button on iTunes this year. Well, wonder no more, my star-obsessed friend! Here's a list of songs that were in heavy-rotation on my office speakers this year, divided by genre for your perusal. [twocol_one] Of the rock-n-roll type (including pop rock): Superchunk – Fractures in Plaster MGMT – Brian Eno Spoon – Written in Reverse Grinderman – Heathen Child The Apples in Stereo – Next Year at About the Same Time Best Coast – The End Beach House – Zebra Clinic  – Orangutan Los Campesinos – Romance is Boring Fang Island – Life Coach The Ruby Suns – Dusty Fruit Arcade Fire – Empty Room Queens of the Stoneage – Monsters in the Parasol UNKLE (feat. Blank Angels) – Natural Selection The National – Afraid of Everyone New Pornographers – Silver Jenny Dollar Broken Social Scene – Sentimental X's Black Keys – Everlasting Light Ariel Pink – Menopause Man Belle and Sebastian – I Want the World to Stop Belle and Sebastian – I'm Not Living in the Real World School of Seven Bells – Joviann Le Savy Fav – Let's Get of Here Robert Wyatt, Gilad Atzmon & Ros Stephen – What a Wonderful World Spoon – Out Go the Lights [/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last] Of the danceable variety: Crystal Castles – Year of Silence Maximum Balloon – Tiger !!! – Steady as the Sidewalk Cracks Foals – After Glow Delorian – Stay Close LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls Gorillaz – Superfast Jellyfish Janell Monàe – Tightrope Cee Lo Green – F@#k You! Broken Bells – The Ghost Inside Massive Attack (feat. Martina Topley-Bird) – Babel Caribou – Odessa Chromeo – I'm Not Contagious Sleigh Bells – Riot Rhythm Of the Country-rock style: First Aid Kit – Hard Believer Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season Of the Electronic / Ambient sound: Four Tet – This Unfolds Eluvium – Cease to Know Brian Eno – Late Anthropocene Eluvium – Similies [/twocol_one_last] ...

The year is winding down and all of the major music mags have published their Best of 2010 lists. Some of their selections are obvious, some are odd and surprising but justified, and some are just lame (Taylor Swift?). But, don't let us tell you what's-what. Take a look yourself and let us know what you think...

Undulating, padded guitars and hints of echoing percussion lull the listener into thinking that this may be another album in the mold of Eno's Music for Films. Nice. Then abruptly the songs take on the seeming structures of rock and pop from his Here Come the Warm Jets period. Yes! But, that was just another feint in a different direction, as the "songs" take on a lovely and spaced-out electronic/trance shape. But, what's this? Raw electric guitar slicing through on “2 Forms of Anger”. Yet, as one would expect from the man who brought African rhythms and song structure to pop music via the Talking Heads and his collaborations with David Byrne and others, it still doesn't sound like traditional Western music. The rhythms are trance-inducing and the melody is almost completely ethereal. Each subsequent track is like an exploratory scouting party, moving forward, and then just when you get comfortable, the tones and style shift direction. “Dust Shuffle” locks into a nice groove that is here and gone in just under two minutes! The remainder of the album is made up of soundscapes much like the beginning that sound like no place on this planet. Rumbling tones reverberate with a sense of loneliness, while muted piano and percussion treatments echo in-and-out of the Abstract Expressionist sound paintings -- familiar to fans of Eno, yet welcome and beautiful as new works of art from a master of the form. Smells like: [rating=8] ...