In­fec­tious mashup by lo­cal band The Pep­tides tops the list

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - PETER SIMP­SON

The Big Beat’s top 10 al­bums of the year leads with the Pep­tides

It’s a first for the Big Beat this year: a lo­cally pro­duced al­bum sits atop my list of best records of 2010.

Read­ers can be for­given for skep­ti­cism. Lo­cal me­dia some­times gives ex­tra points to mu­si­cians merely for be­ing lo­cal. Too bad, be­cause read­ers can sniff out boos­t­er­ism, and if they be­lieve lo­cal mu­si­cians are be­ing held to a lower crit­i­cal stan­dard they’ ll be less likely to buy lo­cal CDs.

Fair crit­i­cism is what helps a mu­sic com­mu­nity grow, so when a truly great record comes from a city band, it gets its right­ful op­por­tu­nity to shine. And don’t doubt that there’s great mu­sic com­ing out of Ot­tawa, and this year none bet­ter than ...

❷ Broth­ers The Black Keys The duo from Akron, Ohio gets bet­ter, and that’s say­ing a lot. They’ve added a bit of in­stru­men­ta­tion but main­tained the work­man­like feel in the mu­sic. Af­ter a decade, they’ve fully at­tained the main­stream with FM ra­dio play and spots on all the late-night talk shows. What they’ l l do next is any­body’s guess, and that’s part of what makes the Black Keys so great. ❶ For Those Who Hate Hu­man In­ter­ac­tion The Pep­tides An in­fec­tious mashup of sounds and styles, cre­ated by Claude Mar­quis in his Chi­na­town apart­ment, with the prin­ci­pal vo­cal help of the ir­re­press­ible and won­der­fully named Dee Dee But­ters. It bursts with mu­sic and sound, from vin­tage ra­dio slo­gans to walls of horns to vo­cals that veer glee­fully from a soul-in­flected “ huh!” to an An­drew Sis­ters’ squeak. It’s the most fun you’ ll find on a CD this year. Get the party started. ❸ Grin­der­man 2 Grin­der­man Don’ t wait for Nick Cave to mel­low with age. The tire­less 53-year-old Aussie, back with his side project and driven by squalling elec­tric gui­tars, lays down an­other set of lyri­cally vivid and edgy songs. ❹ The Monitor Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus A fest of lit­er­ary and his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences and skep­ti­cism about the state of Amer­i­can pa­tri­o­tism, all laid out on a bed of arty hard rock for your loud lis­ten­ing plea­sure. They’re on Rolling Stone’s list of the seven best new bands of 2010 (though their first disc came out in 2008). Their con­cert at Mav­er­icks on Rideau Street a few months back was more fun than a Mon­day night has a right to be.

❺ I’m New Here Gil Scott Heron What a come­back for the oft-called god­fa­ther of rap, who re­mains un­clas­si­fi­able — spo­ken word? jazz? R& B? Hip-hop? A Brit pro­ducer tracks Heron down (in prison) and lures him into the stu­dio for a set of re­flec­tive gems. Heron has lived hard, and his ag­ing growl adds grav­i­tas to the voice per­haps best re­mem­bered for the 1970s’ black-power an­them The Revo­lu­tion Will Not Be Tele­vised. Songs such as Me and the Devil and the sparsely funky New York is Killing Me show a tal­ent undi­min­ished by time and trial.

❻ That’s All I Need An­dre Wil­liams The “Black God­fa­ther” puts out his best record since 1998’s greasy, sleazy Silky. He’s still ornery and pug­na­cious, even if the songs are mel­lower than some of his re­cent out­put. At 72, he’s not so rib­ald as he’s no­to­ri­ously been in the past, but he’s still be­dev­illed by women and vices. “Cig­a­rettes, and my old lady,” he laments again and again, “are gonna drive me to my grave.” Sure, but you know he’ll never give them up.

❼ Ghost­keeper Ghost­keeper A jumpy, plucky al­bum from the Al­berta band. Its sound is slightly of­fk­il­ter but main­tains a del­i­cate and en­er­giz­ing bal­ance. It’s as if it’s com­ing from a dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal place, likely rooted in the Métis her­itage of Shane Ghost­keeper.

❽ God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs When you find a mel­low groove, you ride it. LaMontagne’s fourth al­bum of Amer­i­cana is his first as pro­ducer, and it was a good move. It’s an im­pres­sively steady and co­her­ent col­lec­tion of songs — tes­ti­fied by three Grammy nom­i­na­tions.

❾ Meat Hawk­sley Work­man “French girl in L.A. — ooo la la la la la la.” Not sure how Work­man, time af­ter time, makes trite lyrics sound so smart and re­fined. It doesn’ t al­ways work — Baby Mos­quito is an em­bar­rass­ment — but he shines on the sub­lime Song for Sarah Jane, alone at the pi­ano, even with the sounds of peo­ple mov­ing about in the back­ground. Some songs work, some don’t, but Work­man takes chances, and that’s why he’s in­ter­est­ing.

❿ Eye­lid Movies Phan­togram Met­ric, se­dated. Gil Scott-Heron’s ag­ing growl adds grav­i­tas to the voice per­haps best re­mem­bered for the black-power an­them The Revo­lu­tion Will Not Be Tele­vised.


Claude Mar­quis and DeeDee But­ters are the Pep­tides, and their al­bum For Those Who Hate Hu­man In­ter­ac­tion is the most fun you’ll have with a CD this year.


Hawk­sley Work­man’s songs don’t al­ways work, but he’s not afraid to take chances.


Dan Auer­bach of the Black Keys, the duo from Akron, Ohio that just keeps get­ting bet­ter.



Nick Cave of Grin­der­man isn’t mel­low­ing with age. The tire­less Aussie lays down an­other set of lyri­cally vivid and edgy songs on Grin­der­man 2.

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