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The Year In News

December 13, 2009

The past twelve months have been a whirlwind and seem to have passed by too quickly. There have been feuds and fights, make-ups and break-ups, super groups born and super musicians passed.

As fast as it went, looking back it seems to have happened eons ago. It’s funny how life works like that.

Of all the events that happened, here are my favorite stories from this great year:

January

Retired, my ass.

Ryan Adams retires…kinda

Early in the year on the Cardinology Blog DRA decided that he was through with music…at least for now. As a new non-smoker, and soon to be Mr. Mandy Moore, the quirky alternative country idol decided that it would make the most sense to take a step back from his music. Since then he has been a classic video game blogger for TheAwl.com; printing seven inch singles for his new record label PaxAm; and (I assume) just hanging out with Mandy Moore and being really cool and sober. I’m happy for him, really, I just want a new tour and maybe an album. Please?

Indie becomes mainstream Pt. 1: MIA is an oxymoron, Fleet Foxes plays SNL

In January hip hop artist MIA became almost as ubiquitous as her single “Paper Planes.” First she got nominated for an Oscar for her work in Slumdog Millionaire and then a Grammy for “Paper Planes.” She didn’t win, but it was a big step forward for indie music. Also taking steps was the hairy clan of mountain men that go by the name of Fleet Foxes. The band brought their beards and acoustic guitars to the stage of Saturday Night Live and quietly shook the musical foundation of the show. Their performance paved the way for Phoenix and Yeah Yeah Yeahs to rock the stage later in the season and further pave the way for the rise of indie.

Dark Was the Night is soooooo indie

Spoon, Dirty Projectors & David Byrne, Ben Gibbard & Feist, Conor Oberst & Gillian Welch, Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, The National… Every hipsters wet dream.

February

For the record, Late Night was better.

Play me out, White Stripes

The last few weeks of The Late Show with Conan O’Brien were touching and hilarious. The soft and endearing version of “We’re Going to be Friends” the White Stripes performed was the perfect ending for one of late night’s best shows. It was wonderfully fitting given that the band had done a week long stint on the show back in 2003, and the pompadoured funnyman had appeared in the video for “Denial Twist.” Conan, of course, moved on to bigger and better things, and Jack White did his best to remain the biggest thing in rock music. In ’09 his newest super-group, the Dead Weather, dropped their first album, he starred in the documentary It Might Get Loud and even guest lectured at Ireland’s Trinity College.

MGMT v. France

Nicolas Sarkozy (by that I mean France) decided to use “Kids” for an anti-piracy campaign. One problem, he didn’t get their permssion. MGMT came just short of declaring shenanigans on the whole country and ended up with a nice settlement, which they donated to artists rights.

Chris Brown arrested for beating Rihanna

I think Rihanna is annoying too, but Chris Brown took it a bit too far. Unfortunately for him there was no legal umbrella (ella, ella, hey, hey, hey) for him to stand under and he got to spend some time behind bars.

March

He's just being Thommy

Thom Yorke snubs everyone, even Miley

Radiohead have a lot fans. But after March they had a few less in high places. Kanye West and Miley Cyrus were among those who were apparently snubbed by frontman Yorke at the Grammy’s. This hurt the young actress/singer so much that she felt the need to express her wish to no longer be a fan of the band publicly. Lily Allen, Kim Gordon and Fiery Furnaces’ Matt Friedberger also spent the year battling the beloved Brits. But I guess it doesn’t matter because “Creep” is on Guitar Hero, and everyone else still loves them.

Arcade Fire v. Flaming Lips

Wayne Coyne decided that Win Butler & Co. are a bunch of dicks, and he wanted to tell everyone about it. Coyne started with Rolling Stone, using some choice expletives for the way that the Arcade Fire treat their crew and fans. This launched Butler into the war of words and what ensued was a pretty entertaining girl fight. Eventually Coyne apologized, but I doubt the two shared a beer afterward.

April

Kanye West hates this guy, guaranteed.

Trent Reznor punks everyone

April Fools Day is awesome, if you don’t believe me you can ask Trent Reznor. On the holiest of holidays for hoxes he decided to release some info about the next NIN album, called Strobe Light. He tweeted the details of the album, which was to be produced by Timbaland. The album would cost $18.98 plus a $10 digital delivery charge. It would be delivered in “windows media files playable on most players.” If that wasn’t enough he including some other juicy nuggets, such as the track list, which was amazing: “Even Closer [ft. Justin Timberlake and Maynard James Keenan],” “Pussygrinder [ft. Sheryl Crow]” and other collaborations with Jay-Z and Bono among others. Everyone lol’d at Reznor’s joke, but it’s a shame he didn’t actually make the album.

Pirate Bay shut down

Everyone’s favorite illegal means of acquiring music, The Pirate Bay, got shut down by Swedish court in April. The four founders got one year and jail and a hefty fine, but after selling their site they still managed to earn a cool $4 million. Since file-sharing is still going strong the losses were minimal all around. Hurray piracy!

Oklahoma chooses “Do You Realize?” as state rock song

Some legislators decided they don’t like the Lips (some even claimed those lips should be burning), but Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry squashed their opposition and made “Do You Realize?” the state rock song in late April. Though Coyne probably lost the battle with the Arcade Fire, the Sooner State gave the whole band a big win.

May

Tool.

Wavves Nathan Williams puts on a clinic in Barcelona

If you ever wanted to know what not to do on stage, look no further than what Williams did in May. Williams had a full scale break down at the Primavera Music Fest: he started late, mocked the crowd, acted stupidly and barely played. He elicited some shoe throwing from the crowd and earned a beer shower from his drummer. That drummer eventually quit but Williams found a replacement and went on to be more famous than that guy. I guess a hissy fit isn’t the worst career move after all.

The Shins splinter

Keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval got fired by James Mercer and The Shins still didn’t make a new record. I’m counting this as a win for Sandoval however: the former beat maker is running a food cart in Portland which P4K raved about.

Danger Mouse pretty much loves file sharing

The DJ/producer extrodinaire Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse’s Linkous created an ambitious album with director/photographer David Lynch featuring Iggy Pop, The Flaming Lips and many more artists. But their label, in all their wisdom, decided not to release the album because they were too scared it would result in a lawsuit. So Danger Mouse did what anyone would do in this situation: published the book of photographs with a blank CD and intentionally leaked the album.

Jay Bennett passes

Bennett, the architect of some of Wilco’s most impressive albums, passed at the young age of 45 in May. The talented musician and producer never regained the same musical relevance after splitting with Tweedy & Co. but never stopped making quality music. He was taken far too soon from the earth.

June

They got so big their heads exploded.

Indie goes mainstream Pt. 2 – Grizzly Bear are just about everywhere

Veckatimest debuted at number eight on the Billboard Top 200 and Jay-Z proclaimed his love for the Brooklyn art-rockers. Now I’m hearing “Two Weeks” at grocery stores and Steak ‘N’ Shake (true story). Plus three-year-olds love them. And this isn’t the last time they make this list. I can’t seem to say enough about Grizzly Bear in 2009, they must be pretty awesome.

Sunny Day Real Estate Reunite

The original lineup in all it’s pre-’95 glory rocked the aged emo ears of hipsters across America. All this coincided with reissues of their first two albums and an appearance on Fallon. A pretty good reunion, all in all.

Michael Jackson passes

Love him or hate him Jackson’s music was great at uniting people, and fortunately that is what he will always be remembered for. I can’t help but feel that he certainly in a better place now, free of the weights and stresses of this waking life.

July

Yep. That guy.

Michael McDonald rocks out with the Grizz

Poor Michael McDonald. The guy just makes some soulful tunes with the Doobie Brothers and on his own, but he can’t help but get a bad rap. First that hack on Mad TV has the same name as him and then The 40-Year-Old Virgin rips him a new one. Really was he that bad? No, and he proved it in July when he teamed up with indie superstars Grizzly Bear to sing the vocals for “While You Wait For The Others.” It’s an incredible combination that must be heard.

While You Wait For The Others (Feat. Michael McDonald)

Beastie Boys Adam Yauch diagnosed with cancer

Fans heart and deepest sympathies went out to MCA in July when he announced that the band’s tour schedule, new release and reissues would be put on hold while he had surgery to remove a malignant tumor. The rockstar battled privately and seems to be doing well but his return to the stage is still uncertain. Hopefully 2010 will be a better year for the Beasties.

August

He means business.

Heath Ledger’s Modest Mouse video creeps out everyone

Ledger’s untimely passing still stings many fans of film, but he did not leave this world without a few goodies to share posthumously. First there was his part in the Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” and in August his delightfully creepy animation for the Modest Mouse song “King Rat” was released to the public. The video, which features a ship of whales spear fishing for humans, kind of made my skin crawl. Which only means he did a great job.

Them Crooked Vultures give everyone a partial

John Paul Jones has not yet begun to fight. By recruiting Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and the one and only Dave Grohl he proved he still has a lot of rocking in him. From their clandestine beginnings to their world tour, Them Crooked Vultures have been exciting music fans with every move they make in ’09.

Les Paul passes

The father of the electric guitar and one hell of a musician passed away at the well lived age of 94. Paul’s contributions to modern music are far too plentiful to list, and they certainly will never be forgotten. I just wish to have the same vigor that he lived his life with: the constant professional played his last show just weeks before his passing.

Jersey cops don’t know who Bob Dylan is

A New Jersey vagrant was stopped by police after neighbors complained he was walking around the yard mumbling to himself and peering in windows. That vagrant was Bob Dylan. The cops didn’t recognize him. Only in Jersey.

September

I'll take any chance I get to put her picture up.

Kanye disses my girl T-Swift

Kanye West sunk to a new low when he stormed the stage of the VMA’s to interrupt the incomparable Taylor Swift who had just won for Best Video. For disrespecting such a lovely and talented young artist he got what was coming to him: a tear-shedding interview with Leno and immortality as an Internet meme.

I’m really happy Kanye got his, and I’m gonna finish the list, but full disclosure: I love Taylor Swift.

Beatlemania Pt. 2

Beatles Rock Band brought the Liverpudlian quartet to a new generation in September. Follow that up with a full set of reissues on CD and an apple shaped USB drive and you’ve got yourself a full scale British invasion. Or at least a miniaturized version.

Wavves v. Black Lips gets nasty

Nathan Williams had a year full of conflict, which came to a boil at a Brooklyn Bar in September when he and Black Lips’ Jared Swiley launched into fisticuffs. Full details are still not clear, but Swiley was bloody and launched a verbal tirade at the brash noise rocker. Threats were made, but nothing came of it. Probably for the best.

Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel make it legal

Everyone’s favorite indie-cute-couple tied the knot in September, breaking the hearts of pretty much everyone who has heard She & Him or Death Cab. I think Jenny Lewis is still single though.

October

I was pale before it was cool.

Indie goes mainstream Pt. 3 – New Moon rapes indie music

Stephenie Meyer writes hundreds of pages of mindless misogynistic drivel and 12-year-old girls (and girls who act like 12-year-olds) eat it up like ice cream. Oh, she likes indie-music too. So for the second installment of the Twilight saga of eye-sores she chose a soundtrack that reads like a playlist tape stolen from a Pitchfork editors’ iPod: Grizzly Bear, Death Cab, Bon Iver, etc. Except that the song selection, along with the addition of Ok Go and Thom Yorke songs, make it sound like adult alternative, which is generally not the point of indie music. She already ruined vampires and the literature choices of an entire generation forever, don’t take music too Stephenie. That’s just greedy.

Morrissey gets something else to mope about

First the poor guy collapses on stage and has to be rushed to the hospital. As a result several shows have to be cancelled while he recouperates. Then when he finally does return to the stage some idiot in the crowd fires a cup at his head and sends him slinking back into the shadows. There should be a horribly depressing album about the whole ordeal out sometime in 2010.

Lil’ Wayne gets the T.I. treatment

Weezy was about as popular as Jesus in ’09. Then the guy goes and gets caught with some illegal weapons. Whoops. Sentencing is scheduled for February, and Wayne will probably spend a year in jail. During which time he will probably release two or three albums and make more money than he did as a free man.

November

Yes, that's his real number.

Jason Segel hits on hundreds of women at once

Jason Segel is awesome. His filmography is full of superb work and the man is not afraid to be forward. This was never so true as when the funnyman sat down at Marketa Irglova’s piano during a Swell Season concert in Los Angeles. Segel poured his heart and his (real) phone number out to fans in attendance, claiming that it would be great to sleep with a Swell Season fan that evening. What a man.

Weezer release a terrible album with an awesome cover

Weezer stopped making good albums after Pinkerton but they sure as hell picked out a sweet cover for their latest attempt. With a little help from Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office), they picked the only name that could possibly adorn such an awesome cover.

Sufjan is just messing with us now

So the whole 50 states thing was just a joke, oh, and so is the whole idea of an “album.” Instead the guy gives us a neo-classical composition about a dirty stretch of highway that people generally dislike. Come on!

Jerry Fuchs passes

Member of !!!, Maserati and other musical endeavors, as well as the most talented drummer I have ever seen, Jerry Fuchs passed away in a tragic elevator incident in November. His contributions will not be forgotten and he will be missed.

December

That's what I'm into.

Flight of the Conchords hang it up

The dynamic duo that make up New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk group decided to end their acclaimed HBO series after two seasons. Bret, Jermaine, Murray, Mel and all of the other characters will be sorely missed. However the work of the talented musical comedians will be remembered through the two albums and the DVD’s of the show. Just like Michael Jordan’s first retirement, the pair is going out on top, but I’m sure this won’t be the last they’re heard of. To soothe their fans worries that they will not disappear from earth now that their show is over they announced that though “the characters Bret and Jemaine will no longer be around, the real Bret and Jemaine will continue to exist.” Which is good, because I was starting to panic.

Rivers Cuomo injured in a bus crash

The Weezer frontman suffered some minor internal injuries after his bus careened off the road near Albany, New York. The band was forced to cancel shows for the rest of the month while Cuomo recovers, which he will fortunately be able to do without surgery.

Album announcements: Spoon, She and Him, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes

December seems to primarily be a time for looking forward. Thanks to the announcement of Transference, Volume Two and the promise of studio work from the Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes it is easy to do. Which is nice, considering there isn’t a bunch of other news.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 10:35 pm

    Didn’t hear about FOTC. WTF!? Oh well…

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