New and noteworthy. The Naked and Famous Passive Me, Aggressive You and Kids of 88. 2 Kiwi bands who could take over the world with a new form of disco punk. Honourable mentions to Julia Deans Modern Fables and Anika Moa Love in Motion for songcraft.
It's been a great year for Kiwi Pop with Opshop and Dane Rumble releasing mega selling professional records.
But the best Kiwi album by far was The Phoenix Foundation’s Buffalo. The kiwi album I’ve played the most. The sound of summer in Wellington. Samuel Scott has a voice and a way with a line that is timeless.
Best in Popular Music
Last year it was Lady Gaga and her influence carried on this year. But the rise of Adam Lambert with For Your Entertainment is something. His concert was amazing and his voice is truly awesome. And his fans are nuts. A YouTube recording of my ZB review got posted on a fansite and within a week there was over 3000 views. Of a review!! He’s a keeper
Special mention to late albums from Eminem and Kanye West, who have shown that rap is not braindead as long as it’s in the hands of people who have lived a little.
But the single of the year comes from the pop album of the year in commercial terms. It has to be Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream. I haven’t met anyone who is not uplifted by Katy’s song about being young and gorgeous in skin tight jeans.
Best in Grown Up Music
For grown ups I’m very fond of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. Less rootsy than Raising Sand and more rock n roll and I didn’t mind that a bit.
The 2 saddest records of the year were Neil Diamond’s Dreams. The ultimate loners CD. And the final American Recordings from Johnny Cash which was the sound of a dead man gurgling from beyond and put a chill down my body the first time I played it.
Great albums I never reviewed but should have
The National, High Violet. Somber. Brooding. Beautiful.
Vampire Weekend, Contra. Smart intelligent rock pop that borrows from South Africa and Connecticut and everywhere in between.
And Canada’s Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. The sound of hissing lawns past. Bruce Springsteen but not in a V8 but in a 95 Honda Civic.
But finally 2 reissues could be the albums of the year as they got me loving the music all over again.
The Stones Exile on Mainstreet. Debauched 70’s classic which made me feel as though I was born too late.
Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town. Reissued a fortnight ago. As a young punk I hated Bruce. Now with the benefit of hindsight I realize he was doing just the same as the punks and raging against the hard economic and social times.
The re-issue also includes the album The Promise. A double CD of 21 songs that didn’t make the cut for Darkness and yet are so good that The Promise could be the best album this year even if it was recorded more than 30 years ago. The upbeat coda to the downbeat record of the 70s.
There's been some criticism of the reviews of Blondie and The Pretenders. People seem to think the papers send fans to the gigs who then write fawning reviews. So for the record, some of my thoughts
#1 The Pretenders were definitely the headliner. The new songs from Break Up the Concrete stood up besides classics like Message of Love and snarly greats like Precious. Guitarist James Walbourne's solo work was inspired and had a unique sound and Kiwi bass player Nick Wilkinson was sinewy. In fact I think Chrissie has finally replaced James Honeyman Scott and Pete Farndon.
#2 Chrissie's voice was amazing. I loved the way she hitched up her skinny jeans at the end of each song. I definitely would.
#3 The sound mix for Blondie was terrible. Clem Burke's amazing drum performance was buried and I understand there was a bass on stage but I couldn't hear it.
#4 Guitarist Jim Kessler ruined songs with his hystrionically over worked wailings. When he put the guitar behind his back to play you knew he has no idea of the New York cool that Blondie brought to pop.
#5 Songs that reviewers thought were new were not new at all.
#6 Debbie sang great though the echoey mix made me think that we were listening to the monitor mix.
#7 Blondie's synth player was also on his own sick trip.
#8 Blondie's songs were pop masterpieces.
So all in all a good gig. Blondie was fun for the girls and their lit up cocktail glasses and their memories. The Pretenders were good for 2010 with a fabulous back catalogue. Though I would have been very happy to have heard Mystery Achievement or Private Life