Year in Music: The Syracuse countdown

As we join Block Party headliner Drake in waving bye-bye to 2010, take a look at the top moments and matters for the Syracuse music scene.

It's the time of year for massive amounts of lists and not even Syracuse is safe. We reached out to some of the movers and shakers in the campus music community to compile some of their own original year-end lists spanning a variety of topics. And, continuing in the spirit of last year, we here at Otto-Tune compiled our second annual year-end list of Syracuse music happenings. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Check out what a few Syracuse music insiders chose as 2010's Campus Top Fives for bands, albums and songs to dance to, plus more photos from fall concerts.

10. His name is tater, they call him the ToTs…

If you still haven’t heard of him then you aren’t paying attention.  Syracuse’s (and the world’s?) only potato rapper released his third album in 2010. More than that, he gained national attention from USA Today’s Pop Candy for his music and from ABC News for his day job. His tour took him through NYC where he set a few world records (including most potato references in a rap song), but you can still get a flavor for ToTs each Monday at Kitty Hoynes. He hosts their trivia night in his downtime away from the studio.


9. He’s been magic no matter what hour.

Speaking of unknown local gems, do you know Andrew Maury? The ’08 SU grad is arguably one of the most successful young sound men in indie rock.  A year after working with Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla to produce Tegan & Sara’s Sainthood, Maury was at it again. In 2010, he recorded the second LP for rising darlings, Princeton, and helped produce Ra Ra Riot’s second album, The Orchard (which Maury recorded in fall ‘09). He also continued to do live sound for Ra Ra Riot as they toured all over creation and still found time to maintain his own remix chops with the Remix Artists Collective.


8. Made us say, “Oh…”

Back in February, Kid Cudi was rumored to be playing at Syracuse University sponsored by the Acacia Fraternity.  The rumor only heated up when Shinobi Ninja posted a projected tour date on his MySpace opening for Cudi at SU. No definitive word of what happened was ever released, but Cudi has yet to play at SU (*cue Block Party 2011 rumors now*).

7. Sleigh Bells played where?

Yes, that’s the Spark Art Gallery on East Fayette St. and, yes, that is one of the most buzzed bands of 2010 playing for a crowd that couldn’t have eclipsed 100 people. It was raw and loud (speakers just on the ground in front of the band in fact) with folks crammed shoulder-to-shoulder as they basically shook the entire building. Sleigh Bells even said it was the most fun they ever had.

6. Pete Yorn v. Ra Ra Riot v. Phantogram

The three biggest modern acts with Central New York ties all released new albums in 2010.  In the debate of whose was best, you can take SU alum Yorn out of the equation (the best thing he’s done recently is a tongue-in-cheek cover of “Young Folks”). However, Eyelid Movies against The Orchard could be the most fun music-nerd debate campus had in awhile.  There was a chance to compare both live this semester with a benefit show in Geneva, but don’t ask Otto-Tune to pick a winner. We’ve been unashamedly supportive of both

5. Mouth’s Cradle has the hype

No matter what your feelings are on SU’s latest band to grow beyond campus, you can’t deny Mouth’s Cradle is making something happen. They went from playing house parties on Euclid to releasing an album and a mixtape that both found some genuine praise in the online critic community. Add a headlining show in NYC, a debut at CMJ and performances with the likes of Sleigh Bells, Passion Pit and Lupe Fiasco to that, and the duo built quite a resume for themselves in 2010. Just wait and see what happens when both members graduate.

4. SU adds another acronym: CMJ

The Bandier program has quickly become a force on campus with its students seemingly involved in every aspect of music life on campus. Who knew they’d expand their reach beyond so soon? The first ever all SU showcase at CMJ featured virtually every campus act you could name – The Fly, Sophistafunk, Sarah Aument, Northbound Minstrel Traveling Jug Band and Mouth’s Cradle.  At least one of their performances made a CMJ Best-Of list and making a splash there can lead to so much more (ask Ra Ra Riot).

3. University Union gets their money up front

It’s been a sore spot for UU for years – during SA funding allocations they are treated like every other student org: apply on a semester basis, receive funds on a semester basis. UU folks will tell you that system hurt in the competitive booking game since other schools could offer more money further in advance. This year, it finally changed when SA approved a proposal for UU to get their money up front on a yearly basis rather than a semester basis.  Like current UU president Andrew Beyda said, the change means "we're getting better artists before other colleges can get them." (Look for the real impact to come fall 2011).

2. “Top 10” Bands In (and around) CNY this year

No major explanation needed. Consider this list of acts who came around Syracuse this year AND have been critically praised in most year-end lists:

All of those are in addition to some of the critics’ favorites from ’09 (Phoenix at Cornell, Passion Pit at SU, Dirty Projectors at Hamilton), some rock legends (Dylan at RIT, The Flaming Lips in Canadaigua/Cornell), some major names (Bieber at the State Fair, M.I.A. at Cornell, Lupe Fiasco at SU) and our own CNY heroes also playing in the area. I know it’s not NYC, Chicago or Austin, but Syracuse (and a car) gave you access to some of today’s most relevant acts this year.

1. At least we still have the best basketball team…

No. 3 on this list promises to change this in years going forward, but it’s worth noting all of the shows above listed at other schools (not listed: Neon Indian at Ithaca, Phantogram at Hamilton, Dan Deacon at Hamilton, YACHT at Hamilton, Yeasayer at Ithaca) while the SU lineup in 2010 read as follows:

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