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

Everyday Albums of 2010, Kasey Anderson, Nowhere Nights

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.

I hadn’t heard of Kasey Anderson until I was in Portland to see Matthew Ryan play in February of 2010. He was opening for Matthew Ryan. Earlier in the evening Matthew Ryan and Kasey Anderson played a brief set at Music Millennium. One of the photos I took was even grabbed and put on Kasey’s Facebook page
Nowhere Nights is a great collection of songs. There’s a tone to the songs that stitches them together into one cohesive work.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, I can identify with one of his themes. There are good things and bad about your hometown and sometimes it seems what you miss isn’t the right stuff. In the opening track “Bellingham Blues” and “Home” both have this sense.

“In a town this small, either play your hand a little closer to the vest or you don’t play at all.”

There’s a sea of singer-songwriters out in the industry these days, and as unique and genuine as Kasey Anderson’s music is, he’s largely ignored by the big business music world. With Anderson’s voice and the darker tone of his songs, Nowhere Nights reminds me of a Pacific Northwest version of a Drive-By Truckers album. Another must listen track is “Like Teenage Gravity.” With the piano and guitar working together it delivers the message.

“And all my friends told me, you don’t need laws to tell. If it feels like falling, boy, you probably already fell. The whole table saw your hand, you might as well just play it. You ain’t foolin’ no one, you might as well just say it…I guess I’m in love.”

The album has a great balance between Kasey just singing and playing guitar in the way that I saw him play in Portland and utilizing his band to fill in the mood. On “Real Gone” the electric guitar and drums help drive home the emotion of the chorus.
The album is brilliant and should be added to your collection. I’m already looking forward to hearing the next collection of songs from Kasey. You can find Nowhere Nights at Amazon or iTunes. Also, follow Kasey on Twitter for pithy observations, cultural criticism, and gigs from the Portland based artist.

Everyday Albums of 2010, Josh Ritter, So Runs The World Away

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.

If you’ve been paying attention to MKinMotion for anytime at all, this comes as no surprise: Josh Ritter is incredible…prepare for a string of superlatives. The last three albums he’s released The Animal Years in 2006, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter in 2007, and So Runs the World Away in 2010 make for a trilogy of stories that take you from the Old West, the world at war, and even ancient Egypt…plus his home state of Idaho.
The album kicks off with a quick little intro called “Curtains” and immediately introduces an amazing contribution to the ongoing catalog of amazing with “Change of Time.” Four chords repeated would suggest a simple song, but the imagery and tone take you through a string of emotions as the lyrics drift in and out of coherence.

“I was thirsty so I drank, and though it was salt water, there was something ’bout the way, it tasted so familiar.”

“The Curse” is a waltz ballad. The story of a mummy and a scientist. The only thing I can do to explain the beautiful tragedy is to force you to watch the video. Puppets!

If the waltzy soft nature of “The Curse” brought you down, you require a taste of “Lantern” and “The Remnant.” It’s impossible to not smile while listening to Lantern…impossible. And “The Remnant” shows that despite the dreamier tone to the opening tracks, Josh still has the ability to pound his foot on the wood floor. The images make me think of a John Hillcoat film…”The Road” or “The Proposition”, take your pick.

I love “Orbital.” There’s a lot going on in this one. Lots of music happening and lots of images of things running around each other. Ritter is good at drawing pictures through the words and music in a way that always garners comparisons to Springsteen and Dylan.

“The ghost around the thing it haunts, the want around the thing that wants, the way the mind just wanders off and then returns to the thought around the second thought. Love or gravity or law? Whatever name it’s got, it’s got me…circling around you.”

Buy So Runs the World Away, and if you haven’t yet, pick up the other two albums mentioned The Animal Years and The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. You will not regret it.