2010


2010 was a lean year, my friends; both cinematically and personally. While I spent much of the summer cooped-up, wishing for enough money for a ticket to a show or a movie, there were few films which were actually worth the $10+ admission. Of course, no year is completely devoid of entertainment or pathos-rich catharsis. So, below, I present the a list, the final list in this long series looking back at this past year, of 10 films (and honorable mentions) that really did it for me in 2010.  (more…)

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Iowa, specifically Iowa City, has been on a bit of a tear over the last few years. A micro-Renaissance is occurring as some of the city’s finest songwriters have stepped up their respective games, great acts have collaborated and produced wonderful work, acts have smoldered and birthed stunning solo careers, it’s been hectic but fruitful in Iowa City. The only downside in 2010–as far as IC music is concerned– came with the hiatus at Scenester Credentials; we found our normally small, but solid punk and metal scene lacking it’s most viable outlet. However, the scene soldiered on and graced us with quite an impressive offering of new tunes. After the jump, you’ll find a list of my favorite 10, or so, releases from Iowa and Iowa City. (more…)

Television is almost certainly in the midst of it’s Golden Age. It was easy, in the mid 90’s, even after the turn of the millennium, to look back at The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy with fondness; maybe TV’s infancy had really been it’s brightest moment. But we’re quite possibly staring into the sun. Television is quite simply kicking ass right now. Though 2010’s batch of new shows was a little lackluster, we did get at least a handful of brand new shows to savor (plus the introduction of two of network’s finest comedies to basic cable) as we continue to witness TV become the medium du jour–not just a mind-melting box. (more…)

5. Samuel Locke Ward & Darren Brown – From the Privilege of the Grave (Grotto Records/Mission Freak Records)
You know those albums which just have to be good? Because they have an ostentatiousness title, or a release from a “supergroup,” or maybe because it’s been so long in the making, or tied up so many times along the way it simply has to be worth it for the artist(s), regardless of commercial/critical reception. Well, the collaboration between Samuel Locke Ward (Miracles of God) and Darren Brown (Boy Dirt Car) isn’t so much supergroup–except to a very feverish minority; and even with the sort of heady album title, I wouldn’t say From the Privilege of the Grave is too much to live up to; however, after legal battles threatened the mere existence of this record–holding it up for almost a year (nearly a lifetime if you consider how prolific Locke Ward is), Privilege was under considerable pressure to be a quality platter. Thankfully, not just for Locke Ward and Brown, but for anyone who drops a needle on this record, it’s damn good.

“Further From My Boat”

4. Zola Jesus – Stridulum II (Sacred Bones)
Zola Jesus came out of the basements of America and is now opening for Fever Ray and the XX. The move from basements to theaters is largely predicated on her voice. Jesus has a classically trained howl. Like a DIY, operatic Depeche Mode, Zola Jesus is dark and brooding, but with a voice like her’s she boarders on a force of nature.

“Lightsick”

3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella)
What do you say about an album that tries almost everything, an all-encompassing, genre-swallowing omnibus? West’s magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a mess. It’s glorious, it’s gigantic, but damn the trio of G.O.O.D. Firday cuts sitting at the center of the album is weak and completely nonsensical. So many questionable choices which yield surprisingly wonderful results, but cowing to popular demand (the story I’ve heard behind including “Monster,” “So Appalled,” and “Devil in a New Dress”) and adding fat and sag to a taut and well-sequenced record. Only Kanye could derail his masterpiece, and while he may not have sunk it, he’s certainly the reason I skip nearly a fourth of it every time I spin it.

“Lost in the World” (ft. Bon Iver & Gil Scott-Heron)

2. Curren$y – Pilot Talk (Roc-A-Fella/DD172/BluRoc) / Pilot Talk II (DD172/BluRoc)
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to introduce Curren$y. This Louisiana MC has been locked in mixtape purgatory since 2003 (another victim of label mismanagement), Curren$y has finally broken out and released TWO fantastic albums in 2010. Both Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk II are two of the finest blazed-up classics. Curren$y’s Pilot Talks are built on silky soul loops which are the perfect beds for his cloudy, subtle verses. These are some of the most deceptively intelligent verses; these are slow burners, folks. Get on ’em.

“The Day” (ft. Jay Electronica & Mos Def) from Pilot Talk

“Michael Knight” from Pilot Talk II

1. Big Boi – Sir Lucius Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)
There’s not much to say here: Big Boi, with almost no help from his OutKast partner, Andre 3000, released an almost perfect hip-hop record. The minor dead weight to be found on the solo debut from amount to about three minutes of skits, beyond that, Sir Lucius Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty is an unstoppable slab of slamming rap. Big Boi plies his trade on a little bit of everything, but instead of sounding scattered, Antwon Patton sounds determined.

“General Patton”


10. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah pt II: Return of the Ankh (Motown)
New Amerykah pt II: Return of the Ankh is a surprisingly slamming slab of R&B. Erykah Badu was able to accomplish something special with the second installment (of a projected four?) in her New Amerykah series: follow up the confrontational and experimental R&B of the first with a slick and sexy yet still thoughtful stunner. Return of the Ankh is a little like following What’s Going On? (1971) with Let’s Get it On (1973)*, there’s no dip in musical quality, but instead of getting in her listener’s faces about the injustices facing blacks and women, she acknowledges that sometimes we just want to do a little bump and grind. Plus, if she can sneak some social commentary in there once and a while, all that much better.

“Turn Me Away (Get Munny)”
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The music press has been poised, eyes fixed upon their clocks and calendars, to call the album’s time of death since before Metallica got all “uncool” and sued the pants off Napster–subsequently revving up the RIAA. But the album still remains. We still have lists dedicated to artists who we deem to have most effectively utilized the form. 2010 will certainly not be the death of the album. The year was marked by some of the finest hip-hop releases since Jay-Z retired (and should have stayed that way?), a wealth of DIY labels continue to furnish eardrums with all sorts of indie and major-aggravating tones, we saw some old masters come back and remind us not only why they were great, but how to keep chugging along as you begin to get AARP mailers. While the greats of indie-rock may have been lackluster or merely treading water, we had plenty of amazing talent out there picking up the slack if you bothered to listen. (more…)

2010 not only had it’s share of amazing material, there were many an admirable failure as well as solid continuations of artist’s prior creative arcs and a few old school eccentrics re-entered the game with cool but uneven work deserving some notoriety. (more…)

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