The stars of 2010
TONY's picks to click in the new year.
Wed Jan 13 2010
This week, West Palm Beach, Florida’s Surfer Blood releases Astro Coast, a reverb-tinged take on power pop that leans heavily on—you guessed it—chilled-out surf punk. So what distinguishes this young quintet from others in the neosurf crowd? Catchiness. Songs like “Swim” (released last year as a single) and “Take It Easy” sparkle with an accessibility that could win over hard-to-please music geeks and casual listeners alike. The forceful opening chords of the record’s first track, “Floating Vibes”—reminiscent of the White Stripes’ preponderance of immediate statements—just might be the best kickoff 2010 will see, and while Astro Coast was recorded in a college dorm room, the disc’s stoner-rock glaze doesn’t sound like it. Last week Surfer Blood opened for the Drums at Bowery Ballroom; you’ll be able to catch the band as a headliner at Market Hotel February 27 and the Mercury Lounge February 28.—CSJ
Holly Miranda has a voice so strong and clear that it almost seems to leave vapor trails as it soars. This quality, along with the romantic, mournful streak in her songwriting, endeared the young Brooklynite to TV on the Radio polymath Dave Sitek, who produced her forthcoming debut album. The Magician’s Private Library, due Feb 23 on XL Recordings (Radiohead, the White Stripes), matches Miranda’s lovely voice to rolling, lazy brass arrangements and bleached-out sonic washes. “It sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard,” Miranda told TONY while she was working on songs last summer, “and that’s not a backdoor brag either.” A clutch of high-profile bloggers, including Kanye West, agree. You can catch Miranda opening for Vampire Weekend at Webster Hall on Monday 18.—SH
As Javelin, cousins Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford perform what seem like lost dance anthems from an unkempt disco—a little poppy, a little arty and irredeemably goofy. Although at a glance the local duo’s songs scan like ’80s novelties, the band is a thoroughly modern construct, melding samples with original material, while flirting with an iPod’s worth of genres. The musicians’ practice of recycling pop ephemera extends to their visuals: In concert, they perform behind a stack of boom boxes that function as a homespun PA system, with the music broadcast through a short-range FM transmitter; a self-titled 12-inch released last fall on Thrill Jockey came wrapped in 500 unique covers, each one a thrift-store-excavated jacket with (JAVELIN) silk-screened across the cover. Next month, the duo will release a second 12-inch—this time, listeners are invited to submit their own LP jackets—to be followed by a full-length on Luaka Bop. Javelin plays House of Yes January 30, Music Hall of Williamsburg February 9 and Glasslands Gallery February 18.—JR
During the ’90s and the aughts, Norway established itself as a hot spot in both the jazz and metal undergrounds. So as we enter a new decade, it seems fitting that the country would spew forth a head-turning record that attempts to meld those two aesthetics: Blackjazz (out February 2 on the End Records), the fifth full-length by Oslo’s Shining, an international cult favorite still finding its audience in the States. The album’s title seems to signal a boneheaded genre mash-up, but the first single, “Fisheye,” finds Shining delivering a strangely majestic sort of bombast—part loopy ’70s prog and part mechanistic nu-metal, topped off with a frenzied sax interlude. It’s a state-of-the-art fusion, intricate and deafening. As for the rest of Blackjazz, fans of Norwegian black metal can look forward to a crushing cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” with guest vocals by Enslaved frontman Grutle Kjellson.—HS
Class of 2009
How did our 2009 picks fare?