Top 10 Albums of 2010

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2011 by mleaheyblogs

If I have time, I’ll do a write-up on these, but here are my picks:

1.) LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening

2.) Arcade Fire The Suburbs

3.) The New Pornographers Together

4.) Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

5.) Vampire Weekend Contra

6.) Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid

7.) Hellogoodbye Would It Kill You?

8.) Titus Andronicus The Monitor

9.) Spoon Transference

10.) Sufjan Stevens The Age of Adz

Honorable Mentions: Robyn, Big Boi, The National, The Black Keys, The Drums, Surfer Blood


The Biggest Musical Acts I’ve Seen…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

The biggest musical acts I’ve seen. I’m still annoyed that I had tickets to REM and the White Stripes and missed them both.

The list (number of times seen in parenthesis, if more than one):
1.) Paul McCartney
2.) The Who
3.) The Police
4.) David Bowie
5.) Stevie Wonder
6.) Paul Simon
7.) Pearl Jam (2)
8.) Radiohead
9.) Bon Jovi (2)
10.) The Cure
11.) Beastie Boys
12.) Soundgarden
13.) Nine Inch Nails
14.) Green Day (4)
15.) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
16.) Jay-Z
17.) Red Hot Chili Peppers
18.) Coldplay
19.) Kanye West
20.) Lynyrd Skynyrd
21.) Dave Matthews Band
22.) Jane’s Addiction
23.) Foo Fighters
24.) Weezer (7)
25.) Beck (2)
26.) No Doubt
27.) Lady Gaga
28.) Counting Crows (2)
29.) Destiny’s Child
30.) Billy Idol
31.) Linkin Park
32.) blink-182 (2)
33.) Alicia Keys
34.) Styx
35.) Will Smith (with DJ Jazzy Jeff)
36.) Chuck Berry
37.) Kansas
38.) Chicago
39.) 311
40.) Joan Jett (2)
41.) Muse (3)
42.) Mavis Staples
43.) Audioslave (2)
44.) Incubus (2)
45.) The Killers (2)
46.) Goo Goo Dolls
47.) The Strokes (3)
48.) Snow Patrol (2)
49.) Live (2)
50.) Arcade Fire (3)

Freak Out, It’s Ben Kweller!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 28, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

Ben Kweller live @ The Rock Shop, Brooklyn, NY
So let’s talk a little about the venue first. The Rock Shop is Brooklyn’s newest(?) club, opened in May of this year with a small capacity of 120. It’s pretty sweet inside, with excellent sightlines and good sound. Plus, it’s about half the size of Maxwell’s and doesn’t feel sold out during a sell out. Like the show tonight…

Julia Nunes opened and her performance was…interesting…for lack of a better word. She beat-boxed through the first song and that pretty much set the tone for the night. She also tried some “comedy” between songs but as my wife said, “She thought she was Demetri Martin, and she wasn’t.” And there’s no place worse to awkwardly crash-and-burn than a Brooklyn crowd, which is going to stand there impatiently anyway. Her set was decent with highlights being covers of The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup” and ‘N Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”. She served her purpose, though, and after a relatively painless 40 minutes, exited the stage.

After a few short minutes, Ben Kweller emerged, as AC/DC blared through the PA system. Introducing his first selection as a “song he wrote while he lived down the street”, he ripped right into “My Apartment” before transitioning to “Fight” from 2009’s Changing Horses. The first half of the set was a little listless, but Kweller certainly wasn’t to blame: the crowd didn’t really seem to care what was going on up on stage. They weren’t talkative or rude; they just were quiet. Eerily quiet, even for New York. Kweller responded with a cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold”, although he didn’t explain until later that he had played it because he was in a “depressed” mood because of the crowd’s apathy.

Julia Nunes came back for an underwhelming duet of the powerful “Sundress” and then Kweller slid over to piano. This is where the set took off. Classics “Thirteen”, “Until I Die”, and “In Other Words” were particularly top-notch, with terrific use of audience participation in the middle of the trio. (Kweller had everyone use their keys as “sleigh bells” for the “wintry” song.)

Kweller then invited Adam Green, of The Moldy Peaches, to the stage. What followed was the highlight of the set: Green’s own “Jessica” and “Dance With Me” and then a cover of “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys. The crowd ate it up and was rewarded by Kweller’s closing of the main set with “The Rules” and then a terrific encore (chosen by the audience) of “Falling” and “Wasted & Ready”.

Though this wasn’t my favorite Kweller performance, due to the crowd, it still was terrific enough by the talented former member of Radish to rank as my #2 show of 2010. Perhaps I did my list too early this year…

My Apartment
I Don’t Know Why
Wantin’ Her Again
Heart of Gold (Neil Young cover)
Old Hat
On My Way
Sundress (with Julia Nunes)
Sawdust Man
Nothing Happening
Until I Die
In Other Words
Jessica (Adam Green cover; Green on vocals)
Dance With Me (Adam Green cover; Green/Kweller duet)
Kokomo (Beach Boys cover; Green/Kweller duet)
The Rules

Wasted & Ready

“In Other Words” (live in Oklahoma)

Top 25 Performances of 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

I didn’t attend as many concerts as I usually do this year, settling for massive festivals such as Bamboozle, Virgin Festival, HFStival and Lollapalooza. Predictably then, most of the performances come from those events, with a few outliers. Now, obviously, the year is not quite over yet, so we’ll see if my remaining shows (Hanson, Ben Kweller and Better Than Ezra) are as impressive as these.

25.)The Bravery @ UC Music Fest, Union, NJ
I really don’t like The Bravery. Save a few songs, I think their albums have been pretty generic, Sam Endicott’s voice grates on my nerves, and I’d previously seen them give two very half-hearted performances. However, here at Union County’s annual music festival, the band really came alive and gave a terrific show. I won’t rush out to buy their third (as of yet unreleased) album, but I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

24.) Mavis Staples @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
So Mavis Staples is kind of a legend. And I was kind of in the front row of a very thin crowd to see her perform on the North Stage at this year’s Walmart-on-the-Lake. Mavis still has it, and her backup singers were quite impressive as well. And, oh, Jeff Tweedy showed up for a few songs. Awesome.

23.) The Temper Trap @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
To be honest, I find The Temper Trap’s debut album rather dull. And continuing, this performance was pretty much half-dull. However, moments like final song and soundtrack anthem “Sweet Disposition” were some of the best highlights of the summer festival. It almost didn’t make me feel quite as bad for not being able to see Spoon or Metric because of the overcrowding at the north side of Grant Park.

22.) Hockey @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
I knew nothing about this band before I showed up for their set, although I had heard they weren’t very good. Well, apparently, I had been listening to the wrong people’s opinions. Hockey gave a rousing, dance-y set featuring several new numbers that was made significantly better by the shade. Ah, shade.

21.) Steel Train @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
* note: also saw them at Bamboozle
Lead singer Jack Antonoff certainly earned his money at this show, playing both with Steel Train and then with headliner fun. While Steel Train’s performance at Maxwell’s their 2009 end-of-year shows were decidedly better, this one was still excellent, as well. In particular, their Tom Petty cover was right-on.

20.) AFI @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
Although I’ve seen AFI before, their sheer ridiculousness hadn’t exactly struck me before. Nevertheless, Davey Havok is a remarkable frontman, which masks the teenage melodrama reflected through his lyrics.

19.) Good Old War @ Bamboozle, East Rutherford, NJ
This was my second time seeing Good Old War, and it certainly won’t be the last. The band gave a tight, fun performance on one of the festival’s side stages. The big highlight was “Coney Island”, unarguably the band’s best and catchiest song.

18.) Bon Jovi @ New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
I saw Bon Jovi a few years ago at Philadelphia’s Live Aid 8, but I figured that I should see them again, since I’m, you know, a New Jerseyan. Although I’m not familiar with much of the band’s catalogue, they certainly know how to put on an exhilarating show. The fireworks set off behind our seats (we were at the top of the New Meadowlands Stadium) were an excellent touch.

17.) Jimmy Eat World @ Virgin Festival, Columbia, MD
Why did Jimmy Eat World open the main stage at this year’s VFest? This was the puzzling question I asked myself as the two acts subsequent to them (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Joan Jett) failed to fill the pavilion. JEW didn’t have this problem. Nor were there any performance or setlist issues. Great show by a great band.

16.) The Joy Formidable @ Bamboozle, East Rutherford, NJ
We stumbled onto this band while waiting for Good Old War to begin. The band, from North Wales, gave quite a show to an extremely sparse crowd. In particular, lead singer Ritzy Bryan was a revelation. Comparisons to The Breeders and Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren’t too far off.

15.) The Strokes @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
So what could we expect from the 2010 version of The Strokes? Punctuality? Nope, the band was 20 minutes late. Excitability? Nope, Julian Casablancas and crew looked as machine-like as ever. I guess we just had to settle for the great tunes, largely from classics Is This It? and Room on Fire, of which there were plenty.

14.) Matt & Kim @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
These kids are way too happy. Whether it’s imploring the crowd for its approval during a cover of the Biz Markie classic “Just a Friend”, Kim crowd-surfing mid-set, or a sing-a-long to hit “Daylight”, the band was consistently on its game. Highly recommended.

13.) Mutemath @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
* note: also saw them at Bamboozle
Keytar. Epic drum solo. Amazing energy. You know what you’re going to get from Mutemath, proclaimed as one of the world’s best live bands. Twice this year, I had the privilege of seeing them. Twice this year, they delivered.

12.) Presidents of the USA @ HFStival, Columbia, MD
PUSA just kind of sneaks up on you. Sure they had massive hits “Peaches” and “Lump” in the 90s, but their recent offerings are even better. And their live shows are second-to-none. Judging by the media and crowd reaction at and following HFStival, they’re going to be around to entertain audiences for awhile longer.

11.) OK Go @ Union County Music Festival, Union, NJ
* note: also saw them at Bamboozle
Note to stereotypical frat boys: stay home. Their overwhelming numbers at this set is really the only reason why this ranking is so low. Regardless, OK Go is one of the most imaginative acts around, thrilling with an unpredictable show and a bevy of good tunes. Their performance of “What To Do” using only bells and vocals, was one of 2010’s musical highlights.

10.) New Pornographers @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
More like the New Reliables. Every album from the Canadian supergroup is solid, from start to finish. And similarly, their live show is littered with semi-hits and catchy tunes. Neko Case even graced us with an appearance, though with a most silly hat. Good times.

09.) Against Me! @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
“Pints of Guinness”? “Miami”? “Baby, I’m an Anarchist”? They were all there, along with new recruit Franz Nicolay. (Although why he’s there – I’m a little unsure.) The band, coasting along on only a few hours of sleep, has never sounded better, and the crowd ate it up. These anarcho punks are mysterious, indeed.

08.) Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
* note: also saw them at Virgin Festival
ESatMZ was the only band during the festival to get the entire audience to sit down during its set. Now, I’m not sure if that’s an accomplishment or not, but this was the big break-out show of the entire festival. Anchored by ex-Ima Robot singer Alex Ebert, the band plowed through hits “40 Day Dream”, “Janglin’” and the favorite “Home”. I don’t know if a second album will pack quite the same punch as their first Polyphonic Spree-esque offering, but I’m sure these guys will be back.

07.) Vampire Weekend @ Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
I really love this band. Preppy New Yorkers referencing everything from ex-baseball player Jackson Crowther to Peter Gabriel and touring behind the terrific Contra, VW has learned how to please its crowd. By the time final song “Walcott” was played, they had decidedly earned their money.

06.) Hot Chip @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
Pity the band that goes on before Lady Gaga. Unless that band is Hot Chip. The UK dance-pop act put on one of the best sets of the entire weekend, which got the entire (though small) crowd shimmying with them. Set highlights included the huge hit “Ready for the Floor” and recent jam “I Feel Better”.

05.) Spoon @ Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
* note: also saw them at Radio City Music Hall
Everything that I’ve ever read about Spoon paints them as a great studio band, but one that is unable to replicate that on the road. Pish posh. They were simply awesome, in their own minimalistic way, as the main support at Arcade Fire’s MSG show. The great setlist didn’t hurt either, which included gems such as “Me and the Bean” and “Don’t Make Me a Target”.

04.) Green Day @ Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL
Oh, how I thought I was over Green Day. Sure, I really did enjoy 21st Century Breakdown a great deal, but its release seems like it was ages ago. Plus, Laurie and I saw them two summers ago in Albany and left around an hour early because we were bored.

Well, they played pretty much the same setlist as we saw in Albany, but this performance was a game-changer. From the intro “Song of the Century” to set closer “Good Riddance”, Green Day played a bevy of songs punctuated by hits for more than two and a half hours. The highlights, of course, were older tracks such as “She”, “Basket Case” and “2000 Light Years Away”, all performed in a mid-set 90s nostalgia flashback. Older songs weren’t too shabby either, though. I may not see them again, but it’s no faint praise to call GD the highlight of Lollapalooza.

03.) fun. @ World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA *
* note: also saw them at Bamboozle
I’ll preface this capsule with a bit about the venue: World Cafe Live is arguably the best concert facility that I’ve attended. This show, with both fun. and the aforementioned Steel Train, was sold out, but didn’t feel that way. Nate Ruess and crew came on stage to the rousing “Walking the Dog” and didn’t let up throughout the 75-minute set, which was punctuated by the opening track on debut Aim and Ignite, “Be Calm”, and encore-closer “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. Along the way, the band debuted a new song, “What the F%$” and played performed a cut, “Dog Problems”, from Ruess’ previous band, The Format. Luckily, the band members seemed to be having a blast, so hopefully, they won’t call it quits too soon.

02.) Piebald @ Bamboozle, East Rutherford, NJ *
I’m a really big fan of Piebald’s third album, We Are the Only Friends We Have, but not too much else of the band’s catalogue. Imagine my thrill then that the band would be reuniting to play that album from start to finish at this year’s Bamboozle. Opposing the earlier-mentioned Matt & Kim, the emo band from Andover, MA came out firing. Vocalist Travis Shettel was constantly in the small, but adoring crowd, urging it on, as the band played hits such as “Fear and Loathing on Cape Cod” and “American Hearts”. They were easily the highlight on the best day of the festival.

01.) Arcade Fire @ Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
* note: also saw them at Lollapalooza
Here’s another band I thought I was over when they completely underwhelmed me at Randall’s Island a few years prior. In fact, not only did they underwhelm, but they were pretty much blown off stage by opener LCD Soundsystem. Well, 2010 brought a terrific new album, The Suburbs, which deservedly soared to the top of the charts. It also led to an appearance at the massive Chicago music festival Lollapalooza, where, by my estimates, they outdrew every other act (including Soundgarden, Green Day and Lady Gaga).

Anyway, the show at Madison Square Garden was of an epic scale. Even weaker AF tracks like “Haiti” were standouts in the massive arena. And of course, the climax of the show, the anthem “Wake Up” was most decidedly my musical highlight of the year.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

The Rocket Summer (Bryce solo) was pretty great last night in South Hackensack.  I’m not really a big fan, but he put on a good set that (from what I was told) combined a nice mixture of old and new material.  There were also two well-executed covers, “Maps” and “Hey Ya!” to spice things up.

The venue, School of Rock East, was pretty sweet as well.  The show was only half-full, so there was plenty of room to enjoy oneself.  And free parking is always good, too.  There’s not much going on there regularly to lure me back, but I’d certainly see a good artist there in the future.

She Doesn’t Get It…

Posted in Uncategorized on October 23, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

All the girls pose the same for pictures
All the boys got the same girls’ hair.
Well I am bored ’cause I feel much older,
Look at me as if I got a reason to stare.

Los Angeles is burning.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 by mleaheyblogs

This is not a test of the emergency broadcast system
When Malibu fires and radio towers conspire to dance again
And I cannot believe the media mecca
They’re only trying to battle reality,
Catch it on prime time, story at nine
The whole world is goin’ insane.