Unexpected: Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside

It’s pretty rare for a lower 48 musician to release an album and immediately be playing a show in Alaska. In fact, I bet this is a first, but that’s exactly what happened this week with the full length debut from Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside. On Tuesday, they released Dirty Radio with lots of deserved praise. I started hearing some buzz about them early this year, mostly because I try to keep my eye on the Portland music scene.

When listening to Dirty Radio, a strange sensation of both feeling like it’s something new and something classic at the same time. It’s retro with an edge. Unique to today’s landscape with shades of 50’s and 60’s pop music with a little Regina Spektor or Thao Nguyen mixed in. Dirty Radio is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside – I Swear from Matthew Ross on Vimeo.

I happened to see a Brandi Carlile Facebook post mentioning she was playing Anchorage and when I clicked the link to Whistling Swan, I saw that Sallie Ford was playing Snow Goose.  Putting the pieces together it looks like they were previously booked for the Trapper Creek Bluegrass festival and were looking for somewhere else to play while they were up here. I’m grateful that they came to town and the show was pretty fantastic. Sallie has just the right amount of goofy to offset how seriously she takes her songs when she’s playing them. The band is solid, too.

SALLIE FORD – “Rock & Roll” from More Dust Than Digital on Vimeo.

U2 Albums

A few weeks ago, Patton Oswalt was performing in Anchorage and told a story about being in Alaska in 1994 and referenced Zooropa. He said Zooropa was U2’s worst album. In my head, I objected, but then I went through the exercise of listing them in order…well, shucks.

1. Achtung Baby (1991)
2. The Joshua Tree (1987)
3. Boy (1980)
4. The Unforgettable Fire (1984)
5. October (1981)
6. All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
7. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
8. Rattle and Hum (1988)
9. War (1983)
10. No Line on the Horizon (2009)
11. Pop (1997)
12. Zooropa (1993)

Bands I’ve Seen Open for U2

  • 1992 ZooTV Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, WA)  The Pixies
  • 1997 Popmart Autzen Stadium (Eugene, OR)  Rage Against The Machine
  • 1997 Popmart Kingdome (Seattle, WA) Smashmouth
  • 2001 Elevation Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, WA) PJ Harvey
  • 2001 Elevation BC Place (Vancouver, BC) PJ Harvey
  • 2001 Elevation Rose Garden (Portland, OR) PJ Harvey
  • 2005 Vertigo Sports Arena (San Diego, CA) Kings of Leon
  • 2005 Vertigo Rose Garden (Portland, OR) Kanye West
  • 2009 U2360 Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) Black Eyed Peas
  • 2009 U2360 BC Place (Vancouver, BC) Black Eyed Peas
  • 2011 U2360 Qwest Field (Seattle, WA) Lenny Kravitz
  • 2011 U2360 Busch Stadium (St. Louis, MO) Interpol

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2010

2010 was a great year for music. While seven of these ten albums were previously featured in my Everyday Album series, I wanted to do an official top 10 list. These are my ten favorite albums from 2010.
I created an 8tracks mix of 10 songs from the 10 albums, so go ahead and press play now.

10. Best Coast, Crazy For You ($5 on Amazon)
When I heard that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward were releasing a second album as She & Him, this is what I expected as a follow up to their first album. Sweet syrupy pop with an edge.
9. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart ($7.99 on Amazon)
A wonderful group you probably haven’t heard of. I hadn’t until this year when their self-titled album started getting a lot of buzz.
8. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More ($7.99 on Amazon)
This album has a lot of great sounds on it and fits into a lot of genres. I heard it on the Adult Contemporary radio station in Portland, and streamed on the Adult Alternative radio station in San Francisco. Plenty to like and plenty to look forward to from Mumford & Sons in the future.
7. Kasey Anderson, Nowhere Nights ($8.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
6. Broken Bells, Broken Bells ($5 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
5. Mates of State, Crushes ($6.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
4. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs ($7.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
3. The Black Keys, Brothers ($9.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
2. The National, High Violet ($7.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
1. Josh Ritter, So Runs the World Away ($8.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)

(Prices subject to change, of course)

Everyday Albums of 2010, Mates of State, Crushes (The Covers Mixtape)

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

Mates of State are a fun band that I fell in love with about 5 years ago when I saw them at ACL 2005. Cover tunes have been a staple to Mates’ live set with songs like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” being spliced into “Like U Crazy”, Bowie’s “Starman”, or the Nico/Jackson Browne tune “These Days.”
Crushes, a whole album full of covers was a refreshing entry into 2010’s albums. The first song that came out was “Laura” originally from Girls. Other great tracks that are must hear covers are The Mars Volta’s “Son Et Lumiere”, Death Cab for Cutie’s “Technicolor Girls”, and Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News”.
A highlight of the 10-track album is the closing track, Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You in the End” (video: embedding disabled.)
Crushes is only $6.99 on Amazon right now, so well worth the money to add it to your collection.

Everyday Albums of 2010, Broken Bells, Broken Bells

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

Danger Mouse is dangerous. Over the last 5 years or so, he’s quickly become one of the hottest producers in the music business, but also a great collaborator. From mashing Jay-Z with the Beatles to Gnarls Barkley to creating Broken Bells with The Shins’ James Mercer, he’s certainly been busy. It’s also been announced that Danger Mouse will be producing the next U2 album which has a lot of potential.
When Broken Bells came out in March (on my birthday) I was impressed with the feel of the album. The first track and the first single, “The High Road”, was released in late 2009 before the album. It got plenty of buzz making the release of the album and shows the feel of the rest of the album.

Lots of sounds coming out in the production of Broken Bells like on “The Ghost Inside.” Normally I drop these videos into my posts just so that you can get a sample of the music, but with this one, you might enjoy some Christina Hendricks.

While the album is phenomenal, I can’t help walking away from it with more of a hunger for another Shins album. Check out “Citizen”, “October”, and “Sailing to Nowhere” for some other samples.
Right now Broken Bells is available at Amazon for just $5! And if you don’t trust my, why not ask these cute british kids?

Everyday Albums of 2010, The Black Keys, Brothers

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

While The Black Keys broke onto the scene years ago, their 2010 release Brothers is certainly a breakthrough on several levels. It’s hard to look anywhere these days without seeing The Black Keys. Unlike their previous music, Brothers went beyond the two-piece band for much of the album.
The album kicks off with “Everlasting Light” which sets the tone. It has a driving beat and impressive falsetto from Dan Auerbach.

“Next Girl” keeps the momentum going with more of a drums + fuzz feel that The Black Keys are known for…and a SINGING DINOSAUR!

“Tighten Up” has been heard in all sorts of things from TV shows to TV spots. It’s catchy, has some meat to it, and Patrick Carney gets his chance to beat those drums.

With songs like the swampy “Too Afraid to Love You” and the crunchy (and my favorite track on the album) “Sinister Kid” the album is full of gems and will be a staple of my iPod for years to come. It’s definitely worth picking up, and for you mainstreamers, The Black Keys were named Artist of the Year by Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone put Brothers as the #2 best album in 2010 (right behind Kanye West…). Buy it at Amazon it’s well worth it!

2010 Movies List

2010 wasn’t a great year for movies. Normally it’s easy for me to come up with a list of 10 movies that I thought were great, but 2010 had a lot of ups and downs. Therefore, I give you my Top 7 movies of 2010. And of these 7, I only think that the first one will be remembered as a great film in the future.

7. Green Zone
Interesting movie about the war in Iraq. Matt Damon takes some of his Bourne identity into this role about a cover-up surrounding WMDs. Directed by Paul Greengrass who also directed the second and third Bourne movies. There’s something to be said for directors and actors having chemistry. Speaking of…
6. Shutter Island
Thriller from Martin Scorsese that takes twists and turns. It’s made very creatively, taking you in and out of thinking you know the whole story. Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic. Scorsese and DiCaprio have worked together on Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed.
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I’m not a comic book reader, so I didn’t have a lot of ideas about Scott Pilgrim before seeing it. Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) does a great job of manufacturing the feel of a comic jumping between the reality and the super-reality.
4. Greenberg
I love Noah Baumbach. I saw Kicking and Screaming back in 1996 and remember rewinding the VHS tape and watching it again immediately. Also notable from Baumbach are Margot and the Wedding, The Squid and the Whale, and his writing of Wes Anderson’s Life Aquatic. Ben Stiller is great as the mostly crazy title character, and the cast that surrounds him is also super.
3. The Social Network
Certainly a timely movie. Certainly a movie about the world we live in. This film about the creation of Facebook is well written (Aaron Sorkin) and well directed (David Fincher). Justin Timberlake will probably surprise me every time he shows up in a movie, because he does a great job. Jesse Eisenberg is incredible. I especially liked seeing the way they documented the process of Zuckerberg producing Facebook. As a process guy, it’s always interesting to see the conception, design, and end product.
2. The Town
I’m unapologetic about liking Ben Affleck. He’s made some strange choices in roles through the year, but to me he’s an ideal movie star, commanding your attention on the screen. When I go back and watch Good Will Hunting, some of his performances are the best in the film. The Town is raw and organic and I credit Affleck’s directing. The acting from Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively takes you right into Charlestown.
1. Inception
The feeling I had when I watched Inception reminded me of when I first saw The Matrix or Fifth Element. The term is speculative fiction. Create a world that feels like ours but introduce something new that changes everything. From the moment I first saw the trailer to the time I actually sat down in the theater, I had no idea what the movie was about, but I knew it was a big, epic idea. The story is the star of the film, but between Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Ken Watanabe, the cast helps drive that story. I like the complexity, the multiple plot points, and especially the ambiguity of the ending. Christopher Nolan created an idea and executed it with superb direction.

Just enough flaw to keep them off the list:
The Book of Eli
I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories. There isn’t much wrong with this movie. Denzel Washington might be the only part of the movie that I didn’t like.
The American
A beautiful movie directed by a photographer in the European style didn’t resonate too much with Americans. I enjoyed it a lot, but the slow pacing and predictable nature of the main plot took away from the effort.
Robin Hood
I wanted to feel good about liking this movie, but I couldn’t. It’s a story that’s been told so many times it’s hard to keep track of what the “real” story of Robin Hood is. I liked Russell Crowe’s performance and I thought it was well made. Some of the other characters were a little light and the big battle scene was pretty weak compared to the rest of the film.

5 Movies I haven’t seen yet, that I’m sure belong on a list like this:
Black Swan
The Fighter
Rabbit Hole
127 Hours
True Grit

Fun movies worth seeing, despite not having much substance, great for an excuse to eat popcorn or chuckle:
The Other Guys
The A-Team
Dinner For Schmucks
Due Date
Knight and Day
Date Night