I'm intimidated by the thought of writing about Nick Cave. There's something so serious about an artist as complex and celebrated as he is. He's been performing for decades. He has a dedicated, sophisticated fan base. He invites and inspires extremely thoughtful criticism with every new project. I can write about Grinderman 2, however. It's a noisy, kick-ass rock record, and I know my way around that kind of thing. The opening song, "Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man" is a perfect choice to start the record.  The rhythm section is strikingly reminiscent of the Jesus Lizard's finest moments, the guitar playing is vicious, and the vocals are pure Cave. I recently cranked this up on the hi-fi after a bad day at work and it absolutely delivered me from evil. At least, a certain kind of evil.  (The Song "Evil" is also a 100mph banger.) This is not a morally righteous collection...

Broken Bells – ST The best pop songwriter (James Mercer) and producer (Danger Mouse) of the last decade at the height of their game. The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt Just when you thought one man and a guitar couldn’t sound fresh. The Gorillaz - Plastic Beach Reveals more on each repeated listening; Damon Albarn taps into the schizophrenia of our times. Beach House – Teen Dream Baltimore twosome’s 3rd long-player adds to the strength of their prior two albums. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest Bradford Cox’s most solid and consistent songwriting to date. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs Whether folks like the comparison or not, their earnestness, musicianship and big sound brings to mind a certain Irish band in its heyday. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker Australian youngsters reveal musical chops beyond their years as they create an album best listened to from beginning to end. Wyatt, Atzmon, Stephen – ‘……….for the ghosts within’ Robert...

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. 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 –...

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...

Midwest "neo-soul" shines at Portland venue What’s the difference between folk music and the sounds that Bon Iver produced at Holocene recently? I pondered that as I reveled in the beautiful soundtrack to an introspective life that the band (whose name is a play off of what Francophiles and others know translates to “good winter”) reproduced. I am not a big fan of the watered-down stuff that passes as folk (the stuff you hear in Starbucks, generally); Justin Vernon’s music captures the human experience as only recording in isolated places - like his father’s Wisconsin hunting cabin - can. But it is music also informed by modern anxieties. Vernon himself refers to his music as “neo-soul”. So, it was no surprise to learn mid-set that Vernon has a punk-pop band called Michael Jordan, as well. Hearing the edge of Bon Iver’s music emphasized in their live set reminded me of when I saw...

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