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11.16.09 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW


1. CONCERT Lucius at Joe’s Pub

I’ve talked about them before and I will most certainly talk about them again (probably next week when I write about their awesome new album). But live, this band is absolutely killer. The songwriting talent exhibited here is undeniable, with its mix of clever lyrics and addictive melodies reminiscent of the best of Ingrid Michaelson and Brandi Carlile. But to compare this group to these other more established acts is worthless, because these girls offer something so much more, thanks in large part to lead singers Holly and Jess’ amazing harmonizing capabilities. With the two of them taking on verses, coming together for choruses and knocking it out of the park every time, you can actually feel the creation of music coming from onstage, at once so personal and universal. Yes, I will write about them again and again, and I bet the rest of the world will soon follow.

2. FOOD Tipsy Parson

While this place didn’t blow me away with its cuisine, I can easily say that I’m extremely happy it now exists in my ‘hood, providing the comfiest of southern food, well cooked and hearty beyond belief. The fried pickles were a delectable bar snack to start of the meal. My massive pork shoulder on a bed of roasted apples was a sweet belly filler. Once you created the perfect bite of the Spanish mackerel (including the bitter greens, lemon and horseradish) it was a perfect light dish. But the simplest was the best, duck breast with sautéed greens and roasted concord grapes. But the real thing that will draw me back to this restaurant again and again is the grasshopper dessert. That would be mint mousse, chocolate cookie crumbs and chocolate custard topped with fresh whipped cream served in a mason jar. It was an out of this world taste that I now wake up craving every day.

3. ALBUM The Resistance Muse

After loving their sound on the new Twilight soundtrack, I decided it was necessary to dig into their actual catalog. And man am I ever so happy I did! Their music has the anthemic gloriousness of U2, the harder edge of Green Day all thrown into the operatic gorgeousness that was Queen and is David Bowie. “United States of Eurasia” is an awesome opus straight from the Queen catalog, with the power chords and soaring vocals, but with a Bollywood/Bolero flare thrown in for good measure. “Guiding Light” is the closest to David Bowie with a beautiful belted straightforward melody above heavy percussion and guitars. The three movement Exogenesis Symphony that closes out the album demonstrates awesome songwriting of a whole other sort. Truly, this album is an amazing enveloping listen from beginning to end.

4. ALBUM Glee – The Music, Volume 1

My love for this show knows no bounds, clearly. While offering up nothing new, it is nice to realize that the music from the show does actually translate without the hilarious and intelligent script surrounding it. The group is at its best on those ‘80s ballads like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Somebody to Love,” but they are also surprisingly adept covering current fare from Kanye, Jazmine Sullivan, Rihanna and the awesome Jill Scott. But I must admit that I have shamefully been listening to their inspired cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On,” which adheres quite closely to the original, but works so much better with the showmanship quality that is brought to each of these seventeen tracks.

5. ALBUM Strict Joy The Swell Season

The music geniuses behind Once are back again with a Sophomore effort for their indie outfit. There’s no doubt this is a great listen, but I cannot deny it feels a bit derivative without the same amazing heart that was infused into the film and to some extent in their first album. But you get glimmers of that spark in a quiet tune like “In These Arms” and the gorgeous true duet of “The Verb” with its slow rise to heartfelt rock glory with a countermelody that gets under your skin in the most wonderful way. But interestingly when Marketa Irglova infuses her piano influence more strongly and comes forward on the sumptuous vocal track of “I Have Loved You Wrong” it all clicks. A beautiful album that makes me all the more excited for their third effort when hopefully that full spark will find its way back.

6. ALBUM Monsters of Folk Monsters of Folk

There’s sort of no way that this music could be bad considering it is such an amazing amalgamation of the modern folk minds, coming from M. Ward, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes. Opening strong with “Dear God,” Jim James is front and center with that incredible smooth voice of his, but soon enough M. Ward is there with his more subdued warmth and then all three come together in a harmony both strange and powerful. At times, you feel like you’re listening to a new hit from any one of the individual bands, which makes you just long for the work of that band, and ultimately makes the album feel a bit muddled tonally, but when they come together in “Temazcal” and “Goodway” they are simply amazing.

7. ALBUM A Hard Day’s Night The Beatles

It’s hard to believe that by the third album The Beatles managed what feels like an entire album of worthy singles. To think that “I Should Have Known Better,” Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” and “A Hard Day’s Night” all appear on the same album seems ridiculous. But I do gravitate toward the less familiar (not that there’s anything from them that’s truly less familiar) like “And I Love Her” with its slight bossa nova and eloquent acoustic guitar so sparing against the vocals. You can start to hear what will become the later sound with “Things We Said Today,” with the fascinating dips from major to minor and the middle break into a more rocking tune.

8. FOOD A Pastrami Sandwich from Carnegie Deli

Sure it’s simple, just good meat and rye bread slathered with the best spicy mustard, but there’s something extra special about the creations that come out of the Carnegie Deli (and at 16 bucks a pop, it better be real special). Peppery and impossible to eat like an actual sandwich, there is nothing so satisfying as tearing your way through it, and figuring out how best to portion the bread to overwhelming meat quantity. My personal preference is to remove many a slice of meat, eat it like a normal sandwich and then realize you have lunch for the next day.

9. MOVIE I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)

If this were Amy Heckerling’s first feature, I would say that she shows great promise and a unique voice in filmmaking. Unfortunately this is a follow up to her far superior and now classic Clueless which also proved that she has great promise and is indeed a unique voice in filmmaking. Michelle Pfeiffer and Paul Rudd delight on screen and make the most of what is a formulaic older woman/younger man situation. Saoirse Ronan is quite delightful as the wise beyond her years daughter, which actually made me respect her so much more than for her bloated Academy Award nominated performance in Atonement. But it’s the cast of side characters that surround this film that bring the most joy, from Fred Willard, Stacey Dash, Tracey Ullman and especially the unique but ultimately hilarious talents of Jon Lovitz.

10. MUSIC VIDEO “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga

She is nothing but original. And while I wish that the choreography of this music video were highlighted a bit more, I cannot deny that I’m so pleased there is someone out there creating such unique visions. Set in a Kubrick-esque futuristic bathhouse, the video explodes into a hypersexual, hyper-weird orgy of creatures and costumes, all whites, blacks and reds, like the film Mirrormask exploded across the disco floor. Just watch the video, you’ll understand my inability to really describe it. Now if only we could get a little focus and really put together a fully conceived vision, then it would be perfect.

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