Music probably isn't the first thing you think of when you hear Syracuse (it's probably not even one of the top five things you think of) That said, there's more going on than you'd imagine if you haven't been paying attention in 2009. Presenting perhaps the first ever year-end music list specific to the 315...
"The Top Nine Syracuse Music Happenings of 2009"
9. Dust Off Your Page Readers
I'm not sure what is more impressive: the reaction you have the first time you hear the title track of this compilation or the fact that this is the 15th version of it. I searched long and hard to find an audio track from this holiday mix of songs performed by (and sometimes written by) staples in the local music scene. However, the online presence of this album is still growing. Check out this Syracuse.com podcast about the album and stay tuned to Sunny 102 for the rest of the month to maxmize your chances of experiencing Volume 15.
Acapella After Hours is one of the top 'Cuse music events year-in, year-out. I like to think it was heightened this year by a resurgence of acapella as an art form (thanks "Sing-Off"...even if After Hours happened well before) and an appearance on campus by one of the premier judges of acapella talent (Ben Folds, Block Party 2009 ). Best of all, at the Spring '09 event, Orange Appeal debuted this on us:
6. What Could Have Been
5. The Growth of Campus DJs
4. Ra Ra Riot Redux
Our local heroes had a big 2009. One year after releasing their debut LP, Ra Ra Riot toured with Death Cab for Cutie, announced they have an album in the works and made time for a Syracuse stop as well. Lead singer Wes Miles even quietly released one of the best electronica-pop albums of the year when he teamed up with Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend for Discovery's debut LP.
I don't care if they are technically from two hours east on I-90, Phantogram had an awesome for any band (not just a CNY act). I caught them opening for Ra Ra Riot and have been smitten ever since. In the course of a year, this duo went from playing Funk n' Waffles (and granting interviews to my personal blog) to getting signed by indie giant Barsuk and having the upcoming debut LP hyped by everyone from the BBC to NPR. Let's hope 'Cuse can get even a small glimpse of Phantogram in 2010.
2. Another Year, Another Load of Local EPs...
... but if you didn't download or buy any of the 2009 local(ish) EPs, you actually missed out this time. Current campus acts like singer-songwriter Sarah Aument and DJ duo Mouth's Cradle both released small but enjoyable demos (listen to "Honey from a Stone" and try to stop the rest of the day). Former campus groups like DJ kings The LadyBoys (known to SU students as what The Smash Brothers currently do) or graduate of the 'Cuse electronica scene, ERIKINO (formerly of Camp Camp), posted releases too. I'll say this much - when ERIKINO releases his full-length, I'll buy it if it contains anything as simply smooth and catchy as "Electric Touch."
1. The Rise of the Wescott
Sophistafunk and other local acts still grace the stage most nights, but the theater's calendar filled out with quality national acts for the first time this year: Ra Ra Riot, Minus the Bear, Portugal The Man, Ghostface Killah, Little Dragons and The Presidents of the United States of America. Expect this to become the trend and not the exception with acts like Ani DiFranco, Brandi Carlisle and Henry Rollins already booked for 2010.
Otto-Tune is a music blog dedicated to exposing the best in local, national and international music to the Syracuse community.