Here’s what’s being written about the undefeated Murray State University Racer basketball team:
“Our league doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Morehead State finished second in our league last year. We won the regular season. Our second-place team moved on to the second round of the NCAA tournament. And then two years ago, we went to the second round. Two out of the last three years, we had an NBA draft pick in our league.”
— Racer head coach Steve Prohm
The Murray State Racers are turning themselves into one of the most exciting and confounding storylines of the college basketball season. At 20-0, Murray State has a great shot at becoming the first college hoops team to go undefeated in the regular season since UNLV did it in 1990-1991, before losing to Duke in the Final Four.
There are close to 18,000 people in Murray, according to the 2010 census, and it seems that almost all of them have an opinion on the Racers. (“There are a lot of coaches in this town,” Prohm said.) They pack the 8,700 seats in CFSB Center on game nights, giving the Racers a distinct home-court advantage.
2010 probably won’t go down as one of the greatest years for music. Usually reliable artists like The Hold Steady, Band of Horses, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, and Josh Ritter seem to have taken a step back with their newest releases. Furthermore, there have been very few notable debut albums released in 2010. The result is a year that is without a truly great album at the halfway point. However, there have been several very good records released this year. Here are my 10 favorite albums of the past six months.
10. The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt The Swedish Bob Dylan tops his fine 2008 debut Shallow Grave. Best song: “King of Spain.”
9. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me The only triple-album of harp-driven indie-folk you’ll ever need. Best song: “Good Intentions Paving Co.”
8. Vampire Weekend – Contra Buzz band lives up to the hype with their second album of intelligent, bouncy pop. Best song: “Taxi Cab.”
7. Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions Stark, somber third album from Rhode Island singer/songwriter John McCauley. Best song: “Mange.”
6. Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame Philadelphia band adds The Flaming Lips to their potent mix of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Band. Best song: “Shame, Shame.”
5. Surfer Blood – Astro Coast Easily the best debut album of the year to this point.This Florida band has released the second best Weezer album ever. Best song: “Swim.”
4. The Morning Benders – Big Echo Guitar-driven pop backed by a “wall of sound” that would make Phil Spector proud. Best song: “Stitches.”
3. Spoon – Transference This isn’t their best album, but it’s still better than almost anything else released this year. Best song: “The Mystery Zone.”
2. The National – High Violet If you like your rock moody and literate, I’d like to introduce you to your new favorite band. Best song: “Bloodbuzz Ohio.”
1. The Black Keys – Brothers Career highlight for the Ohio-based blues/rock duo. The most complete and enjoyable album released this year. Best song: “Everlasting Light.”
I don’t expect nearly as much out of music as I used to. Let’s face it; at this juncture in popular music’s history, everything is derivative. The so-called “music snobs” who scour the internet in search of something truly unique usually end up settling for tepid and mediocre bands like Animal Collective, when their time would probably be better spent listening to old Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Dylan, and The Clash records. Akron Ohio’s The Black Keys have never claimed to be musical visionaries. Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have been making fuzzed-out, pummeling blues-rock since 2002’s The Big Come Up, on which they covered The Beatle’s, “She Said, She Said”, and “Do The Rump“, by Junior Kimbrough.