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* Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2010 *

30th Dec 10 (Thu) 3 comments

Disclaimer: No, I haven’t heard all 8,000+albums released this year. I’ve heard about 120 of them, which makes me at least 98.5% likely to be wrong. I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2010. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2010. And you might be right. And, I while I generally agree with John Roderick about Year-End Lists, I still find it quite fun to compile my own.

As I start this post, I will say that this is all very subjective and really put together for my own purposes.  I’ll also state that, yes, some of the music below does have some vocals (i.e.- the Beats Antique & Tin Hat CDs).  For the most part, it’s sequestered to a track or two on a long CD of mostly instrumental goodness.  My list, my rules, and/or my breaking of the rules.  With that being said, all of the artists below tend to be in the jazz and instrumental frame of reference anyway.

As said before… I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my third year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, SpaceBook & MyFace pages, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of these also made it on to my 2010 Mix CD.

OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: The Album Leaf‘s A Chorus of Storytellers, For a Minor Reflection‘s Höldum Í Átt Að Óreiðu, Yuka Honda‘s Heart Chamber Phantoms, Medeski Martin & Wood‘s The Stone Issue Four (great NFP/charity live release), and Jamie Saft‘s A Bag of Shells

Boy Eats Drum Machine20 Beats (self) :: OK, due to its title, 20 Beats had to come in at #20, right?  Regardless of wherever it hit, it’s a great album.  I first saw Boy Eats Drum Machine (aka Jon Ragel) open for That1Guy in Eugene.  I loved his turntablism, his sax playing, and his trippy sounds.  He’s a Portlander, too; so I’ve had a chance to see him twice this year.  Hopefully more in the near future…


John ZornFilmworks XXIV: The Nobel Peace Prize / In Search of the Miraculous / Interzone (Tzadik) :: John Zorn put out a ton of stuff in 2010.  Some of it didn’t make this list.  Some of it was great (these 3), and some of it was stupendous (some others higher up on the list). Filmworks XXIV is a more genteel offering. It is performed by the Rob Burger trio (and it’s a film score… duh). In Search of the Miraculous is in Zorn’s spiritual / “magick” subcategory (which has been hit or miss to me).  This album seems like a souped-up Rob Burger/Alhambra piano combo.  Quite delightful. Interzone is a return to Zorn’s “filecard” system and a tribute to William Burroughs. Some people on the Zornlist have raved about it… I find it good, but not amazing. Too much filler in the long-tracks… moments of brilliance, but also moments of meh-ness.  I’d rank it definitely better than “for the completist,” but lower than “legendary.”  All in all… solid experimental record.  The players are the usual fantastic Tzadik studio players: Medeski, Baptista, Dunn, Mori, Ribot, Wollesen and Zorn.
Mostly Other People Do the KillingForty Fort (Hot Cup) :: So, I’m a fan of composer Moppa Elliott and trumpet player Peter Evans. Peter’s solo show in Eugene a couple of years ago was an avant-garde delight. MOPDTK is a little more straight forward than Peter’s solo stuff. It’s a fun jazz group… very similar in feel and youthful, party jazz energy as Reptet (up in Seattle). This is their second album that I’ve heard but their fourth released. My favorite tracks are “Nanticoke Coke” and the title track “Forty Fort.” I’m looking forward to more from this killer band ensemble.
Masada String Trio plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two, Volume 16: Haborym (Tzadik) :: Greg Cohen, Mark Feldman, and Erik Friedlander are fantastic players, and their contribution to the Masada Book Two series is an essential release.  One of the best of the series, and the Trio’s first studio recording in five years (last one was 2005’s Azazel #5).  Masada Book Two Sidenote: Cohen was actually in the original Masada quartet, but all of the members of the String Trio have also shown up on other MBT releases – Cohen (Astaroth #1, Lucifer #10, Stolas #12 and Baal #15), Friedlander (Volac #8, #10 and the upcoming Caym #17), and Feldman (Malphas #3 & #10).
John ZornThe Goddess (Tzadik) :: The Goddess is a continuation of In Search of the Miraculous, but I fancy it far more.  It is also a souped-up Rob Burger/Alhambra piano combo, quite lyrical and melodic.  As the title suggests, it is dedicated to the feminine.  It also features some harp work from Carol Emanuel – who unbeknownst to me until now has been on quite a bit of Zorn’s releases.
Derek WebbFeedback (INO) :: From my original writeup: Feedback is a self-proclaimed “worship album.” I also love the general aesthetics of it. It’s definitely got some electronic elements, but it has a more sweeping feel as well. Some of it feels like a mix of a happier ambiance of Amiina/Sigur Rós meets an acoustic-electronic bridge in a Sufjan Stevens song meets a gentle Ric Hordinski lyrical guitar solo (I am in a Monk mood). It’s a great quality instrumental album from a man who I loved via his witty voice from the get go. It’s nice to see him expand outside his comfort zone. As an atheist, I take it as a conduit into introspection and the worship of the divine as I see it – music.
Secret Chiefs 3Satellite Supersonic Vol 1 (Web of Mimicry) :: A new format release of the 7″ vinyl singles that SC3 put out in the Spring of 2007.  Nothing majorly new, but still nice to have in this format.  Secret Chiefs 3 fans are still waiting on Book of Souls, the follow-up to 2004’s Book of Horizons.  Who knows if we’ll ever get it… but this compilation is a great “tweener” – especially if you weren’t able to get the limited 7″ vinyls or didn’t have a record player.
John Zorn’s Moonchild Trio (with Marc Ribot) – Ipsissimus (Tzadik) :: The Moonchild Trio is one of the more experimental / scary groups.  It’s a highly composed, but seemingly improvisational group made up of Mike Patton on voice (not lyrical), Trevor Dunn on bass, and Joey Baron on drums. Ipsissimus is the fifth in the series, and includes Marc Ribot’s guitar and John Zorn’s sax for more than just one tune (like on The Crucible).  This release is not for the faint of heart.  Purely energetic, glossolaliac noise metal.
AutorYnoPastrami Bagel Social Club (Tzadik) :: I am fans of some of the other Jewish rock acts on John Zorn’s Tzadik label: like Eyal Maoz’s Edom, Jon Madof’s Rashanim, and Yoshie Fruchter’s Pitom. The description for this AutorYno debut from Tzadik was “a wild klezmer/rock fusion by this crazed band of Paris-born punk rockers… AutorYno hits with a hardedged sound and an exciting musical imagination. Full of youthful energy, massive guitar and centered by a powerful beat, they present eleven instrumentals that combine the power of rock with a taste of Jewish tradition.” Regardless of Tzadik’s usual/expected hyperbole, I couldn’t not get it. I’m glad I did.  Utterly fantastic klez-jazz-rock blend.
Tin HatForeign Legion (BAG) :: The Bay Area acoustic group is no longer a trio.  They are currently made up of Carla Kihlstedt on violin & voice, Mark Orton on guitar & dobro, Ben Goldberg on clarinets, Rob Reich on accordion & piano, and Zeena Parkins on harp.  It also features Willie Nelson on guest vocals on a track.  The album is part European explorer, part cinematic, part chamber group, part tango.  I generally by anything Carla Kihlstedt is involved in.  So far, I haven’t been steered wrong…
Beats AntiqueBlind Threshold (self) :: I got to see Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique twice this year… once with Beats Antique during Eugene Celebration, and once with the Indigo Bellydance troupe as part of their Le Serpent Rouge tour. She had a knee in a brace during Eugene Celebration; so she lended her stage presence to additional percussion instead of dance – which was unfortunate. Beats Antique is a bellydance-friendly, electronic and live instrument band from the Bay Area. Elements of Balkan music and tribal-fusion dance music. “Egyptic” is indicative of their infectuous sound.
Anakronic Electro OrkestraSpeak With Ghosts (Balagan Box) :: One of my favorite EPs of 2009 was Anakronic Electro Orkestra’s The Yiddish Part. My only complaint with the EP? It was too short. Well, in mid-November 2010, unbeknown to me at the time, they came out with their debut full-length Speak With Ghosts. AEO hail from Toulouse, France, and crank out a mighty fine mixture of drum & bass mixed with Eastern European-fused klezmer. This album is a 40+ minute shuffle through a modern klezmer forest – including one song featuring David Krakaeur (another favorite musician of mine). I think AEO is also great for fans of Beats Antique and Balkan Beat Box.
Loose GripLooking Glass (Fabrikant) :: Loose Grip is a fantastic Edinburgh-based jazz quartet led by drummer Chris Wallace. This guitar and tenor sax infused contemporary jazz band is great for fans of Chris Potter and Joe Lovano on the sax angle, great for fans of the guitar jazz like John Scofield, etc. It’s a well made record, and clearly stands out amongst the many jazz records that came out this year.
John Zorn’s The Dreamers play Masada Book Two, Volume 14: Ipos (Tzadik) :: Let’s just put this out there now… with thirteen albums and a DVD out in 2010, John Zorn might seem to have more misses than hits. Well, I don’t think there’s been a more consistent set of songs than his Masada songs, and there hasn’t been a more consistently great series than the Masada Book Two series (Zorn’s Masada songs covered by others). The Dreamers is a supergroup, too: Marc Ribot, Joey Baron, Cyro Baptista, Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn and Jamie Saft – pillars in the adventurous, downtown NYC scene.
Charlie HunterGentlemen, I Neglect to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (Spire Artist) :: One of the most amazing things from this past year was watching Charlie play live (twice). His seeming ease at which he plays bass and guitar on one instrument is stunning (and curse-worthy for the guitar aficionado in the crowd). If you weren’t watching the stage, you’d easily be fooled that it was a quartet and not a trio. It’s quite an amazing thing to see and hear. He’s so unassuming about it, too… a showman without the show-off attitude. Gentlemen came out in early 2010, and is a great melodic romp.  For prior fans of Charlie, you won’t be disappointed.  For people who aren’t yet fans… you will be.
Dave Douglas & KeystoneSpark of Being (boxset) (Greenleaf) :: Dave and his fusion group Keystone were busy with this 3-CD boxset. All three releases were inspired by Douglas’ recent collaboration with experimental filmmaker Bill Morrison on the new multi-media project Spark of Being. The first release is the soundtrack to the film.  Two additional releases, Expand and Burst, feature Douglas and Keystone exploring and interpreting the themes of the film. Expand was also available on vinyl (a first for Dave’s Greenleaf label).
Dave HollandPathways (Dare2) :: I got into Dave Holland around the same time as a lot of other jazz. I got into jazz through the backdoor (John Zorn) and then slowly moved into the more straight ahead jazz. I think I can officially blame Ken Laster and his In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond podcast for playing a lot of Dave Holland. Anyway, shortly after hearing Holland, I picked up Extended Play: Live at Birdland and Critical Mass. Both are great, but the latter is quite fetching. Pathways is a superb combo and features some amazing playing by some other favorites of mine: saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Nate Smith.  Outside of Joey Baron (Masada, etc), I think Nate Smith is one of the most entertaining drummers to see play.  I love how Dave Holland surrounds himiself with amazing players.  Great band, great record!
Holy FuckLatin (Young Turks) :: Despite what you think of their choice of band name, these Toronto band continue to put out great, groove-infused live electronic music that is both experimental and a poppy-force in the indie rock movement. Latin, their third full length album, grabbed me immediately when it came out this past May… and it’s #1 with a bullet as far as instrumental albums go in 2010. To top it off, they swung through Oregon twice this year (both excellent shows), and they put out quite possibly the cutest video for the raddest song (“Red Lights” – click the kitty to the right). The video now has over 1,000,000 views on the YouTubes. Only 900,000 views are from me.

Where do I get most of these jazz and other instrumental releases?  My #1 favorite source for jazz is Downtown Music Gallery in New York.  Manny and Bruce and their great staff are superb… and being the official distributor for John Zorn’s Tzadik doesn’t hurt my affection for them.  I usually do a monthly Tzadik order (if the releases strike my fancy), and they have a ton of other non-Tzadik jazz and avant-garde releases as well.

And, no, I’m not affiliated, I don’t get a commission, and beyond my initial “big tax refund / gotta get caught up on Zorn order of 2005,” I haven’t gotten a discount with DMG.  I just love and support what they do.

Enjoy the New Years weekend!! Be safe! See you in 2011.

My Other Favorites of 2010 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Kevin MooreShine

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* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2010 *

29th Dec 10 (Wed) 7 comments

Disclaimer: No, I haven’t heard all 8,000+albums released this year. I’ve heard about 120 of them, which makes me at least 98.5% likely to be wrong. I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2010. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2010. And you might be right. And, I while I generally agree with John Roderick about Year-End Lists, I still find it quite fun to compile my own.

I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my third year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. For that reason, the favorite vocal albums list goes first this go ’round. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, SpaceBook & MyFace pages, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of these also made it on to my 2010 Mix CD.

OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: Finger Eleven‘s Life Turns Electric, Gnashing of Teeth‘s Walking the Appian Way, Kaki King‘s Junior, Kim Taylor‘s Little Miracle (out late Dec ’09 digitally), and That1Guy & the Magic Pipe‘s Packs A Wallop!

The WeepiesBe My Thrill (Nettwerk) :: Lush singer-songwriter husband/wife duo from Northern California. Syrup-y sweet & poppy, but regardless of my penchant normally against those types of things – The Weepies do it up right. A superb piece of well-crafted pop.
Chali 2NaFish Market Part 2 (Decon) :: Another great solo outing from my favorite rapper from Jurassic 5. This is Chali’s 3rd solo album, and while the sound and vibe hasn’t changed much – his consistency is most what I like about him. Hard hitting, booming voice, witting lyricism, and generally moving into more positive territory (he’s not a “bitches and hoes”-type of rapper).
Caedmon’s CallRaising the Dead (INO) :: I’ve been a fan of Caedmon’s Call for going on fifteen years. I’ve stuck with them through some (personal opinion) lackluster lyricism after the departure of my favorite Caedmon’s songwriter – Derek Webb. He came back to produce and be in the band for this one; and quite frankly, I think this is their best record since 40 Acres. Lyrically, it still has a religious bent; but being in a minority of “non-Christian Caedmon’s Call fans,” I still didn’t find it cringe-worthy like most “contemporary Christian music.”
RedbirdLive at Café Carpe (Signature Sounds) :: Peter Mulvey, Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst and David “Goody” Goodrich put out a great studio album of covers and originals in 2003. At the recent Mulvey/Foucault live shows this fall, they announced this new release. This new release is the live equivalent of the debut seven years ago (but different material) – a great mix of covers of people that influenced them, as well as a few of their own originals. Vocal duties split between Mulvey, Foucault & Delmhorst. I hope they are able to tour behind this in 2011.
Ty TaborSomething’s Coming (Molken) :: I’m a big fan of King’s X. As a trio, they put out a wall of sound, and a big component of their brilliance is Ty Tabor’s stellar guitar-work. His solo work also features his Beatles-esque vocals on top of his southern-grungy-rock sound. 2010 also saw the release of Ty’s Trip Magnet side solo project, Jelly Jam’s Additives bonus material, and the studio time with Jelly Jam (with John Myung & Rod Morgenstein) for their upcoming 3rd record. Whew, he’s been busy.
Ben Folds & Nick HornbyLonely Avenue (Nonesuch) :: I’m ambivalent about Ben Folds. I never know if I’ll like it; so I put off getting it. Then I get it and love it. This record was a collaboration between Ben and author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, etc). The lyrics are a little jumpier to me (Nick’s style versus Ben’s style), but it still feels very much like a Ben Folds record. They also feature a bonus song (iTunes version) with “video song” heroes Pomplamoose.
Jeanne CherhalCharade (Barclay FR) :: I first heard Jeanne Cherhal when we picked up her second album (Douze fois par an) when in Toulouse, France, for my MBA program in 2004. Only available in France, I’ve managed to get her albums via Amazon.fr (good thing the buttons are in roughly the same spot). I still don’t know what she’s saying, but I dig her style.
S (Jenn Ghetto)I’m Not As Good At It As You (Own Records) :: Carissa’s Wierd [sic] front woman promised this 3rd ‘S’ record back in… oh, 2007?? It was worth the wait. Haunting lyrics and vocals, simple yet complex acoustic guitar (that hearkens back to Elliott Smith). Bright emo and depressing pop music. Carissa’s Wierd also put out a retrospective (with a couple new tunes) and a small handful of West coast dates. Who knows – maybe they’ll get active again in the near future? I could dig it…
Greydon SquareThe Kardashev Scale (self) :: A little more mature in lyricism compared to The CPT Theorem. Perhaps it’s due to putting some of the ‘Rational Response Squad’ fighting behind him. Greydon, the foremost atheist rapper, made his 3rd record into what I think to be his most consistent. It’s solid, smart and superlative-worthy.
Damien JuradoSaint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian) :: I got into Damien Jurado via the Seattle-based melancholy, indie singer-songwriter scene (i.e.- Pedro the Lion / David Bazan). While similar in general geography and friendship, Damien strikes me as more of a pure “songwriter” when compared to David’s social critique set to music. Saint Bartlett fits well into Damien’s oeuvre. At a show this past February (6 months before the album came out), I hardly knew any of the songs but felt as though I did. That’s a testament to his craft.
ClogsThe Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (Brassland) :: I first saw Clogs at MusicNow 2007 (in Cincinnati). Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner (of The National) know how to make some interesting chamber pop. The album (as with the live premiere in 2007) features Sufjan Stevens and Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond). It’s quite a lush record – as the title suggests.
Sufjan StevensAll Delighted People (Asthmatic Kitty) :: Two albums in 2010, Sufjan’s 50+ minute “EP” hit us first. Beautiful and haunting in “The Owl and the Tanager” and primarily experimental and adventurous throughout, especially compared to his older material. Originally only released online via bandcamp, the EP saw physical form (CD & vinyl) earlier this month. I’m bummed Sufjan nixed future “State” albums, but I’m still glad with his 2010 output.
George HrabTrebuchet (self) :: George Hrab creates one of my favorite podcasts ever… the Geologic Podcast. It’s not about geology. It’s about science, skepticism, and his general life as a musician from Bethlehem, PA. He is both humorous and intelligent, and he puts out great albums as well. Trebuchet is his 6th studio album, and it features some great instrumental songs as well as some witty numbers fitting his skeptical, atheistic viewpoint. One of my favorite songs on it is “A Small Comfort,” which is about the death of his dog Oscar. I also give George some kudos for kicking off his album with the Christopher Hitchens’ inspired “God Is Not Great” (an atheist pop song). Bravo!
Damien & Drake JuradoHoquiam (St. Ives) :: Short and sweet and beautiful. My only gripe with this record… well, it wasn’t made available on CD, and the vinyl didn’t include a free download code for the mp3’s. Industry standard practice aside, the Jurado brothers put out some fantastic music. I borrowed a vinyl-to-mp3 device from my friend; so I could enjoy it on my iPod as well. So, my gripes have been abated.
ElleryThis Isn’t Over Yet (Set Adrift) :: Ellery is one of my favorite things in Cincinnati… I miss being able to see them multiple times a year (sad face). Husband/wife duo of Justin & Tasha Golden craft singer-songwriter pop songs… usually layered nicely on their albums with the help of producer, knob-twiddler Ric Hordinski (of Over the Rhine fame). This album, they switched it up with Malcolm Burn at the helm (Daniel Lanois / Bob Dylan / Iggy Pop / Kaki King / Emmylou Harris / etc).
Nellie McKayHome Sweet Mobile Home (Verve) :: Nellie McKay’s move to Verve (instead of Sony) has been good for her. They seem to give her free reign to put out Doris Day cover albums one year and an album of originals the next. HSMH is a return to the quirky, diverse collection of songs that drove me to fall in love with her. The album is full of Nellie’s modern piano jazz-pop, ukulele ditties, and even a pro-animal reggae tune. The album has grown on me nicely, and I’m looking forward to more Nellie in the near future. She seems to be in a period of prolificity as of late. This is greatly welcomed.
JónsiGo (XL) :: Sigur Rós-frontman’s debut solo album was going to be an acoustic affair, and then it turned into a lushly produced, Rós-ian opus with a multimedia firestorm of a tour (two U.S. legs with stunning stage design by 59 Productions). Jónsi is superbly brilliant and and ambivalently hyper-sensitively shy individual (ex. his abrupt cancellation of in-store performance tour) and boisterous-acting performer (ex. his magnificent stageshow). This album makes me excited for more solo work in the future, but I hope his day job with Sigur Rós is not on hold for too much longer.
Sarah Kirkland Snider & Shara WordenPenelope (New Amsterdam) :: Chamber pop featuring Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) is a theme this year (see #10). Quite frankly, I think Shara Worden has one of the best voices in indie rock. Period. Sarah Kirkland Snider is a new musical force for me… she originally wrote Penelope as music for a theater piece and then debuted it as a song cycle with Signal in May 2009. When Shara came aboard, Sarah revised and expanded the songs yet again, tailoring them to Shara’s talents and arranging them for a 25-person orchestra of strings, harp, percussion, drums, electric guitar and bass, and electronics (with sound design by Michael Hammond). It is gorgeous.
Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty) :: His second album of the year, The Age of Adz is a odd musical assembly. At first I didn’t know what to think of it, then I started to like it, and then after seeing him live – I truly loved the album. For those previously familiar with Sufjan, this album may not fit easily in with his prior albums – but I think if you have an open mind and a desire to explore, you may very well fall in love with this record as well.
Mike PattonMondo Cane (Ipecac) :: Mike Patton of Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas, et cetera is known for more boisterous, left of center fare. With Mondo Cane, he classes up the joint that is Ipecac Records. Mondo Cane, named after the film, is Mike’s homage to 50s Italian pop songs. He croons some classic Italian songs with the backing of the Orchestra Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini conducted by Aldo Sisillo. The artwork, in both CD digipack and vinyl, is stupendous. This is a magnificent record – both aurally and visually.

Top 20 instrumental albums coming up later this week…

My Other Favorites of 2010 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Kevin MooreShine

* Favorite EPs / Vinyl / Live Albums & more of 2010 *

28th Dec 10 (Tue) 5 comments

This is sort of a precursor to my “official” Favorites of 2010 blogs. Up later this week, I’ll post my favorite vocal and favorite instrumental albums of 2010. Anyway, on with the music pimping

Favorite EPs of 2010

  • Holy Fuck+Ghost (bonus disc with Latin)
  • AuragamiResistance (thanks, Michael)
  • Sufjan StevensAll Delighted People
  • Owen PallettDemo (with Shara Worden – FREE)
  • Haftor Medbøe GroupBox of Monkeys (technically 2009, but I got it late)
     

Favorite Vinyl-only Release of 2010

  • My Brightest Diamond & Dayna KurtzGone Away / Postcards from Downtown 7″
  • Erik FriedlanderAlchemy 10″
  • Isis / Melvins split 12″
  • Damien & Drake JuradoHoquiam 12″
  • John Zorn’s The DreamersThe Gentle Side 12″
    fave non-vinyl-only issue
    :
    Mike Patton‘s Mondo Cane 12″ (is luscious)

Favorite DVDs of 2010 (I didn’t really get any outside of music-related and an old H.Potter)

  • Porcupine TreeAnesthetize: Live in Tilburg
  • Steven WilsonInsurgentes
  • JónsiGo Quiet & Go Live
  • John Zorn & Richard ForemanAstronome: A Night at the Opera

Favorite Internet Only Releases of 2010

  • KembweKembwe
  • Derek WebbDemocracy Vol 1 (monthly series)
  • My Terrible Friend EP (a folky Pomplamoose spin-off)
  • CelldwellerWish Upon a Blackstar (a few chapters)
  • PuyaAreyto EP
  • Ty TaborTrip Magnet & Jelly Jam‘s Additives
  • Asthmatic Kitty‘s Library Catalog Music Series (I think they also put some of these out as vinyl)
  • Glen PhillipsTornillo
  • Kevin MooreShine (late, late 2010 – CD in early 2011)
  • RafterAnimal Feelings (maybe it came out on CD, too?)

Favorite Live Albums of 2010

  • King’s XLive Love in London
  • JónsiGo Live
  • Redbird (Peter Mulvey / Jeffrey Foucault / Kris Delmhorst / David “Goody” Goodrich) – Live at Café Carpe 2008 & 2009

Favorite Podcasts in 2010 (they’re free, yo! Search for them on iTunes)

  • George Hrab Geologic Podcast
  • Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC
  • The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC
  • Bill Maher‘s New Rules
  • The Adam Carolla Podcast
  • Kevin Smith & Scott MosierSModcast
  • Kevin Smith & Ralph Garman – Hollywood Babble On
  • Starfucking with Kevin Smith (OK, not free – proceeds for charity, though)
  • SMoviemakers with Kevin Smith
  • The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

Best Cover Art & Packaging in 2010 (all vinyl, but the CDs were cool, too)

  • Mike Patton Mondo Cane
  • Jónsi Go
  • John Zorn’s The DreamersGentle Side (vinyl, designed by Chippy)

Favorite Local Releases in 2010 (PacNW represent)

  • KembweKembwe (Ashland-based ambient, vocal alchemy)
  • I suck… that’s all the local-ish stuff I got this year…

Best Re-issues in 2010

  • Carissa’s Wierd‘s first three albums (Ugly But Honest / You Should Be Home Here / Songs About Leaving)
  • Mr. BungleCalifornia (on vinyl)
  • Frank ZappaGreasy Love Songs (deluxe re-issue of Cruisin’ with Rueben & the Jets)
  • Elliott SmithAn Introduction to… (career spanning compilation)

Best Not-for-Profit Release in 2010

  • Medeski Martin & Wood – The Stone Issue Four (for The Stone NYC)

Worst Music News in 2010 (for me)

  • Cincinnati rock band Noctaluca broke up.  Here’s hoping Jason Ludwig goes on to do some more interesting stuff.
  • Faith No More‘s reunion tour didn’t hit the U.S. proper.  Argh.

Best Late-Getter in 2010 (something that came out before 2010)

  • Abagail’s Ghostd_letion (from 2009)
  • Fever RayFever Ray (also from 2009)

Best Musical Novelty / Ingenuity

  • Tristan Perich1-Bit Symphony

Best Music Videos

  • Holy Fuck “Red Lights”
  • Turf Fienz “Rain Dance”
  • Cee-Lo Green “Fuck You” (original)
  • The Gregory Brothers & Antoine Dodson “The Bed Intruder”

So, yeah, this was the catch-all post… check back later this week for the more traditional year end wrap-up festivities…

My Other Favorites of 2010 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Anakronic Electro OrkestraSpeak With Ghosts

Favorite Concerts of 2010

23rd Dec 10 (Thu) 7 comments

Well, this year’s concert seasons were especially good to me… 365 days, 79 shows, 149 artists, many long nights driving home, and a lot of photos…

My favorite concerts of 2010:

  1. Sufjan Stevens :: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall :: Portland, OR {29 Oct} [review with photos] – completely stunning show
  2. Toad the Wet Sprocket :: Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR {28 Jul} [review with photos] – I am a slave to Glen & Co’s alt-pop
  3. Jon Þor “Jónsi” Birgisson (of Sigur Rós) :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {13 Apr} [review with photos] – stupendous stage show
  4. Nellie McKay :: Berbati’s Pan :: Portland, OR {31 Mar} [review with photos] – missed her Eugene show while at Sufjan, I heard that show was also “the bomb”
  5. Dream Theater :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {21 Jun} [review with photos] – made more special after Mike Portnoy left the band this fall
  6. Tegan and Sara :: Keller Auditorium :: Portland, OR {8 Apr} [review with photos] – first time seeing them, not too be missed
  7. Holy Fuck (twice) :: Mississippi Studios & Holocene :: Portland, OR {6 Jun & 14 Oct} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – one of the most consistently great live acts, Holocene show was better, but Mississippi was also rad…
  8. Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR {12 Jun} [review with photos] – keeping the FZ torch alive!
  9. Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy :: PDX Jazz Fest / Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR {28 Feb} [review with photos] – honestly, all of these Top 15 could be #1 in a slow concert year
  10. Over the Rhine (twice) :: WOW Hall & Aladdin Theater :: Eugene & Portland, OR {15 & 17 Nov} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – twice after three years of OTR drought for me
  11. Charlie Hunter Trio (twice) :: WOW Hall & Sam Bond’s Garage :: Eugene, OR {18 May & 16 Dec} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – Charlie has a pact with the devil… he’s too good…
  12. Peter Mulvey & Jeffrey Foucault (twice) :: The Woods & Sam Bond’s Garage :: Portland & Eugene, OR {22 & 24 Oct} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – both brilliant storytellers before VH1 made it a show
  13. Susan Enan :: House Show :: Eugene, OR {15 Jul} [review with photos] – at our house… super fun & intimate
  14. Damien Jurado :: Mississippi Studios :: Portland, OR {27 Feb} [review] – I didn’t know more than half of the songs, but it didn’t matter
  15. Medeski Martin & Wood :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR {25 Feb} [review with photos] – jazz dance party!

Runners-Up: Bill Frisell Trio at The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts, Fishtank Ensemble at a Eugene House Show, Pink Martini at The Hult Center / Oregon Bach Festival, Trio Subtonic & the Dead Kenny G’s at Mt. Tabor Theater, The Weepies at Aladdin Theater.  Even after honorable mentions, I cut some GREAT ones… 2010 was a great year.

My favorite concert photos of 2010: (in chronological order)


(all images are free to use under a creative commons designation, simply identify Daniel Temmesfeld with a photo credit and link to jazzsick.wordpress.com, or items noted with emobiephotography.com is photo credit Margaret O’Brien)

Past Favorite Concerts Lists:

Favorite music of 2010 will be coming soon… EPs/DVDs/etc, vocal albums, instrumental albums, artists of the decade

~Dan – np: nine inch nailsbroken

ha’fway 2010

4th Jul 10 (Sun) Leave a comment

Happy 234th birthday, United States!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

So, here are my faves of the first half of 2010… it’s all bound to switch around by year’s end:

Artist Album (label)

  1. Holy FuckLatin (Young Turks)
  2. JónsiGo (XL)
  3. Mike PattonMondo Cane (Ipecac)
  4. ElleryThis Isn’t Over Yet (Set Adrift)
  5. Charlie HunterGentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (Spire Artist Media)
  6. George HrabTrebuchet (Geologic)
  7. Damien JuradoSaint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian)
  8. AutorYnoPastrami Bagel Social Club (Tzadik)
  9. Clogs (with Shara Worden & Sufjan Stevens) – The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton (Brassland)
  10. Tin HatForeign Legion (BAG Production)
  11. The Dreamers play John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two: Ipos, Book of Angels, Vol. 14 (Tzadik)
  12. Charlotte Gainsbourg & BeckIRM (Elektra)
  13. Kaki KingJunior (Rounder)
  14. Jeanne CherhalCharade (Barclay)
  15. Loose GripLooking Glass (Fabrikant)

I didn’t get a few that already came out this year (yet)… the new Chali 2Na, David Cross, Hiromi, Johnny Cash, Beak>, et cetera; but they may make it to the list at the end of the year.

The 2nd half of 2010 promises to bring some potential great ones, too… a few more from John Zorn, Nellie McKay (in the fall), Over the Rhine‘s new one (or maybe that’s early 2011), Zero 7‘s new one, Secret Chiefs 3 Book of Souls (maybe), a new Sufjan Stevens (just speculating, I know he’s working on one), Ani DiFranco always has something coming out, Dave Douglas’ Spark of Being (Trilogy), probably something from one of Mike Patton‘s other bands, and I’m sure another dozen or more that I’ll dig from Tzadik.

Favorite concerts of 2010 (so far):

  • Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy – PDX Jazz Fest, Portland, Feb 28th
  • Tegan & Sara – Keller Auditorium, Portland, Apr 8th
  • Jónsi – Roseland Theater, Portland, Apr 13th
  • Kaki King – CD World, Eugene, May 16th
  • Holy Fuck – Mississippi Studios, Portland, June 6th
  • Zappa Plays Zappa – McDonald Theatre, Eugene, June 12th
  • Pink Martini – Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene, June 26th(click pictures below for review links)

~Dan – np: MelvinsThe Bride Screamed Murder

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#1 to 10)

5th Jan 10 (Tue) 5 comments

Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions (1/1/2010 blog link)

  • Dweezil Zappa
  • Tori Amos
  • Celldweller
  • Iron & Wine
  • King’s X
  • Derek Webb

Artists of the Decade (#21 to 25) (1/1/2010 blog link)

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

Artists of the Decade (#11 to 20) (1/4/2010 blog link)

20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)
19 ~ Jurassic 5

18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

17 ~ Nellie McKay

16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3
15 ~ Over the Rhine

14 ~ Mike Patton

13 ~ Ani DiFranco
12 ~ Johnny Cash
11 ~ Dave Douglas

And now on to the final ten

~*~*~

10 ~ Glen Phillips

At the turn of the decade / century / millenium, Glen’s band Toad the Wet Sprocket were breaking up. He went on to make several solo albums (Winter Pays For Summer being my fave thus far), several mostly brilliant side ventures (Plover, RemoteTreeChildren, WPA, Mutual Admiration Society), and even reunite with Toad for some tours. He’s as active as ever and also quite the tweeter (oft humorous / oft political).

~*~*~

9 ~ Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson projects)

Near the beginning of the decade, I was giving up on “prog rock.” Then a buddy told me about Porcupine Tree (thanks, SteveC). 2002’s In Absentia is amazing, and I quickly bought PT’s catalogue. The entire decade was full of Steven Wilson projects – whether Porcupine Tree or his many (and I mean many) side projects.  Speaking of… Steven’s 6th and final Cover Versions CD and 7″ vinyl will be out sometime soon in the coming months.

~*~*~

8 ~ Sufjan Stevens

Illinoise was Paste’s #1 album of the decade. I think it’s in my Top 10 (as mentioned earlier, I honestly can’t bring myself to widdle down my album list to 20 or even 50 for the decade). Illinoise was my first foray into Sufjan’s world. The infatuation was near immediate. He ranges from poppy, to eclectic folk, to avant-electronic, to chamber music… and I think his song titles, while sometimes considered pretentious, put him in my hero list. :) The later part of the decade showed a more secluded Sufjan and a recant on the 50 States “promise.” However, I’m still very excited about what’s up his sleeves for the next decade.

~*~*~

7 ~ John Zorn (Masada and otherwise)

I knew of Zorn in the 1990s (via the connection to Mike Patton and specifically Mr. Bungle), but didn’t get into him until 2003 or so. Even still, I didn’t know about Masada (his klezmer-jazz quartet) until mid-decade. Their recorded studio work was all in the 1990s, but they stayed active touring throughout the 2000s… and John Zorn kept actively writing Masada Book Two – which is a book of music covered by other bands and has seen a dozen fantastic releases on his label, Tzadik. I just counted, and I have 82 John Zorn related disks from the decade (CDs, DVDs, vinyl). So, um, yeah, he’s prolific. The Masada / Bar Kokhba / Electric Masada is my favorite category of Zorn releases; but his Filmworks series, Moonchild Trio (Mike Patton, Joey Baron & Trevor Dunn), and The Gift / Dreamers band are also key releases. 2010 has 12 new Zorn releases on the docket. *drool*

~*~*~

6 ~ Maynard James Keenan (Tool / A Perfect Circle / Puscifer)

One of the best singers in the world of rock, Maynard has kept busy… this decade: three bands and eight or so albums, several DVD releases, remix albums & singles, vinyl singles, and a new winery. While he doesn’t always nail it every time, his and his bands’ hit rates far exceed most. His solid work ethic points to more releases next decade. A recent interview leads me to believe that the touring side of things may slow down some, but I’m hoping that just means “less touring” and not “no touring.” There have been hints of Tool and A Perfect Circle studio stuff in the near future… and Puscifer seems alive and kicking (and keen on the internet EP thing). Puscifer is hitting the Midwest and East Coast in early 2010.

~*~*~

5 ~ Daniel Johns (Silverchair & The Dissociatives)

2002’s Diorama (by Silverchair) is a contender for best album of the decade for me. Daniel Johns followed that up with a side project with Paul Mac called The Dissociatives. Their self-titled debut (2004) is also a contender for best album of the decade… then Silverchair came roaring back in 2007 with Young Modern – another strong contender. Daniel Johns and his couple of bands has large gaps between studio releases, but they all score high every time for me. They’ve moved well beyond their debut (which they released in the 90s at age 15). 2010 promises the follow-up to Young Modern… so, look out, Best of 2010 lists…

~*~*~

4 ~ Elliott Smith

I found out about Elliott in early 2000, a little bit after Figure 8 came out. I had the opportunity to see him live at Southgate House (Newport, KY) on the Figure 8 Tour. He quickly became an important part of my musical diet. His albums hit me emotionally, but he left us too early (he died of apparent self-induced stab wounds to the heart on October 21, 2003). I still get goosebumps with his music and quite frankly have never been affected by a celebrity’s death like I am by Elliott’s. An album and more of his unreleased material has made its way out since his death. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there were one, I’d hope to get to meet Elliott and have a beer with him.

~*~*~

3 ~ Sigur Rós

Ágætis byrjun and ( ) may be the most beautiful things that I don’t understand due to language barriers – two perfect albums, if you ask me. This past decade Sigur Rós went on to make four full length albums, a handful of EPs and soundtracks, several world tours, an utterly gorgeous tour documentary called Heima (that rivals Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii in stunning beauty),  and still find time to take time off (well, time off except for Jónsi – who released a duo album with his partner Alex Sommers and is set to release a solo album in early 2010).

~*~*~

2 ~ Radiohead (and Thom & Jonny solo)

One of the most unarguably overrated bands of all-time… yet, one of my favorites. The decade started with Kid A and ended with some Thom Yorke solo activity… it was a full decade of albums, tours, solo work (the aforementioned Thom solo stuff plus two soundtracks from Jonny). They branch out and sometimes get more praise and credit than is merited (I know skads of indie artists doing the “pay what you want” method years before In Rainbows), but I suppose Radiohead were the first formerly major-label / international band to do so.  Anyway, Radiohead, despite public pressure, continue to evolve as a band. That scores major points with me. They’re hitting the studio in January 2010… yippie.

~*~*~

1 ~ Kevin Moore (Chroma Key & OSI)

Yeah, the #1 of the decade who few know about… Kevin Moore left the progressive rock band Dream Theater in 1994, shedding the seemingly antithetic “progressive” constraints of the progressive scene to make his own music.  Chroma Key’s debut Dead Air For Radios (1999) is my #1 album of all-time… but it came out in the late 90s. The 2000 album You Go Now is probably in my Top 10 of all-time as well. The branching out into scoring with Kevin’s solo soundtrack Ghost Book (for the Turkish horror movie OKUL), political/religious-imagery radio/mix-taping with Memory Hole 1, and the new band project with Jim Matheos called the Office of Strategic Influence (aka O.S.I.) solidified Kevin in my favorite artists list. I’m looking forward to more Chroma Key, O.S.I., Memory Hole, or solo work that Kevin puts out… hopefully soon.

~*~*~*~*~

As pointed out the other day, the 2010s are shaping up to be a great decade… see you on the other side!

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#11 to 20)

4th Jan 10 (Mon) 5 comments

Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions (1/1/2010 blog link)

  •  Dweezil Zappa
  • Tori Amos
  • Celldweller
  • Iron & Wine
  • King’s X
  • Derek Webb

Artists of the Decade (#21 to 25) (1/1/2010 blog link)

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

And now round 2

~*~*~

20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)

Pedro the Lion released their two most powerful and poignant albums in the early 2000s (Control and Achilles Heel), then frontman David Bazan decided to disband PTL and go solo (though by the 2000s, the writing was primarily Bazan anyway with hired guns for studios and tours).  Prior to his first full length solo album, he did a side project called Headphones, put out annual Christmas 7″ vinyls, and released a split electric/acoustic EP.  At the end of the decade, he hit the ground running with his fantastic “breaking up with God” record, Curse Your Branches.  He’s been touring in a solo fashion fairly regularly since 2007 or so and is going to hit the road again this coming spring…

~*~*~

19 ~ Jurassic 5

Jurassic 5 combined four well-versed, naturally flowing MCs (Chali 2Na, Soup, Marc7 & Akil) and two melodic, creative, musicianship-driven DJs (Cut Chemist and NuMark) to create some excellently catchy hip-hop and rap.  What I loved about them is that they weren’t all about the “drugs and bitches” that the gangsta rap had just previously been all about (don’t get me wrong, I love Dr. Dre’s The Chronic from the 90s, but J5 tended to keep it positive and definitely more musically-inclined).  All six members have gone on to do solo albums and/or side projects after the band’s official breakup in the late 2000s… my faves have been Cut Chemist’s The Audience’s Listening and Chali 2Na’s Fish Outta Water.  I still long for a reunion record, and I bet it’ll happen… maybe in the 2010s?

~*~*~

18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

Shara Worden’s utterly gorgeous, operatic voice is almost too much for the indie rock scene.  Almost.  It seems to fit in perfectly with Sufjan Stevens’ quirky folk and her own lush My Brightest Diamond string-infused indie pop (and the subsequent remix LPs/EPs centered around her studio albums).  In a live setting, her voice is powerful and sublime, and her stage presense is charming.  If you can get ahold of her pre-MBD band CDs, do so (AwRy was the name of the band).

~*~*~

17 ~ Nellie McKay

Her debut, Get Away From Me, is a 2-disc / 18-song satirical, poignant, humorous & angsty romp.  The tag-line of “Eminem meets Doris Day” rang true.  She followed it up with a couple of more subdued albums with the occasional harder edge tune, and then by decade’s end, she released a Doris Day only album.  It seems somewhere along the line, she lost the Eminem edge, but she ended up still topping my list with the more gentle album.  Her live performance for the Doris Day material was fantastic – which definitely helped its appeal with me.  She’s a vegetarian and animal rights activist, too… so, definitely on my friendly artists list.

~*~*~

16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3

Book M and Book of Horizons (both in the early 2000s) were SC3’s last officially “SC3 studio albums,” but since 2007, they have been busy with a handful of impressive 7″ vinyl singles, a “greatest hits” compilation, an amazing John Zorn Masada Book Two release in 2008 (Xaphan), a great concert DVD, a soundtrack to a made-up movie, and the ever-lasting promises of the Book of Souls (an album in the making… since… 2005?).

~*~*~

15 ~ Over the Rhine

In 2001, I think Over the Rhine made one of the best albums of their career… Films for Radio.  They followed with a stunning double-album (Ohio), several solo albums by pianist Linford Detweiler, four live compilations, a few more pretty darn decent albums (including a new holiday album), and continual touring every spring & fall/winter.  All in all, it was a pretty solid decade of a healthy work ethic.  I’m curious what the 2010s will bring in the land of Over the Rhine.  One can hope that they keep evolving.

~*~*~

14 ~ Mike Patton

Mr. Bungle broke up at the front end of the decade… but Mike continued on from Fantômas to Tomahawk to Lovage (with Dan the Automator & Elysian Fields’ Jennifer Charles) to Peeping Tom to multiple movie scores to many projects with John Zorn and back to Faith No More in 2009. As we lead into 2010, there are more Faith No More touring plans, more Fantômas plans, new bands Mondo Cane (50s Italian pop) and Crudo (DJ/rock-oriented), another Peeping Tom in 2011, and plenty else up his sleeve. Patton’s vocal versatility and hard work ethic make him one of my faves this past decade.

~*~*~

13 ~ Ani DiFranco

Similar to Tori Amos, the 1990s found a more consistently on her game Ani. While those days are gone, in the 2000s Ani kept delivering album after album after album and has way too many wins than loses, in my book. Revelling / Reckoning is quite possibly the most important release of her career (though not necessarily my favorite in this long oevre). She’s continually active and important in my musical world.

~*~*~

12 ~ Johnny Cash

This decade brought us American III, IV & V, and the Unearthed box set… all true genius from Johnny and Rick Rubin. The video for “Hurt” (a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song) is one of the most powerfully emotional videos I’ve ever seen (he really brought something new to that original NIИ song). If Rick Rubin never does anything important in the world of music ever again, he’ll still be the one who made Johnny Cash a legend (again).

~*~*~

11 ~ Dave Douglas

Founder of Greenleaf Music (a jazz label), and member of John Zorn’s Masada quartet… Dave Douglas is my #1 living trumpet player. My foray into a mega jazz love throughout the decade led me to be a fond admirer of Dave and his varied work.  His various incarnations – the Quintet, Keystone, Brass Ecstasy, the Big Band, and more – show that he’s a hard worker.  I can safely say, he’ll be back on this list in late 2019. :)

~*~*~

Tune in tomorrow for the final round…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Oh, and for those who say that the decade ends at the end of 2010… meh. I’m starting with 0 and ending with 9 (like a LOT of people). Rationale: the 80s, the 90s… you don’t say the 80s went from 1/1/1981 to 12/31/1990 or the 90s from 1/1/1991 to 12/31/2000.

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