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Posts Tagged ‘2009’

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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*

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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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?

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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).

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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.

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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?).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

Artists of the Decade – 2000s (#21 to 25)

1st Jan 10 (Fri) 5 comments

So, I can’t / won’t do a Top XX Albums of the Decade… it’s probably more “can’t” than “won’t.” There are so many great albums from the past 10 years… but, what I can do is recount the artists that have been my chief form of musical pleasure for the past 10 years.

But first…

Artist of the Decade – Special Mention

Dweezil Zappa only had a couple albums in the 2000s, but he gets a special call out for carrying on Frank Zappa‘s music since 2006. Dweezil & Co have toured for the past three and a half plus years, playing Frank’s music in a new setting each year. I hope this continues. It’s a fantastic tour, every time I’ve seen it.

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Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions

Tori Amos ~ In the 1990s, she ruled. I still love what she does, and she’s very important in the foundation of my musical interests. The fact that she’s still active with albums and touring all throughout the decade gets her an honorable mention.

Her best albums of the decade…

Celldweller ~ He’s only released one regular album in the entire decade… had he done more, he’d probably make the proper 25 list. Despite the one album, he has released a mostly instrumental soundtrack, a handful of internet-only singles and Eps and a skad of remix CDs and EPs. He’s been far from lazy. I look forward to the 2nd full length Celldweller release sometime in the 2010s.

His most excellent debut and instrumental “score” release…

Iron & Wine ~ I got into Iron & Wine mid-decade, but immediately fell in love with Sam’s flourishing vocals and interesting guitar work. He has a beautiful whispy voice, a penchant for storytelling, and a great eye for videos (prior to music, he taught film down in Florida, and the videos he’s produced for his band and other bands have been fantastic).

My favorite release of his this decade…

King’s X (and related solo & side projects) ~ Between the regular band albums, all three solo members’ albums, the side projects, the live albums, and the indie demo issues – there are probably close 30 releases in the 2000s. Prolificity abounds. This is one band that keeps on ticking, and for that, I am grateful.

A few gems from this decade…

Derek Webb ~ Creative and exploratory since leaving his first band, Caedmon’s Call, Derek continues to push the boundaries of what a singer-songwriter is supposed to do. His latest, Stockholm Syndrome, is a fantastic exit from the 2000s and entrance into the 2010s. Rumor is that he’s working on one (or multiple) Caedmon’s Call-related releases with his old band, too… should be interesting.

My faves from this decade…

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Artists of the Decade

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)

The Five were no longer at the turn of the decade / century / millennium, which left the name sake on his own. Ben Folds was one of the first to ditch the full length and rapidly release several EPs all in one year. He saw the writing on the wall for the eventual, slow death of the CD format… and his solo albums (all in the 2000s) were generally fantastic – yeah, they are always a few tunes on each one that are doozies. He ended the decade with a cute (and enjoyable) acappella tribute album to himself from various college singing clubs. I was skeptical, but once I got it, I was very pleased with the covers.

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24 ~ Peter Mulvey

Peter Mulvey is one of my favorite singer-songwriters around. He’s a hard worker, touring all around from Alaska, the entire U.S. (including Alaska) and Europe.  He’s put out more albums to count on two hands in the past 15 years.  He started off the decade with the stunning The Trouble with Poets and ended the decade with the fantastic Letters from a Flying Machine.  He’s a truly wonderful storyteller, and if he comes near your town… GO!

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23 ~ Opeth

From singer-songwriter to Swedish death metal… roar!  Opeth came along with the “getting into prog band Porcupine Tree” period of the decade for me (check in later for Porcupine Tree’s position).  The string of three Opeth albums produced by PT’s Steven Wilson rank among the BEST metal out there… ranging from melodic rock to sweeping progressive movements to the in your face “cookie monster” vocals.  The first in the series, Blackwater Park, may be my favorite metal album of all-time (sorry, Dave Mustaine, you’ve been trumped).

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22 ~ dredg

I showed up early to a Coheed & Cambria show and was blown away by the opener… once I dug into dredg’s music, I really fell in love.  They run a tight ship of well-crafted, melodic neo-progressive rock music.  Gavin’s vocals and lyrics are a major selling point, too.  Their latest album (The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion) is my favorite album of 2009 – hands down.

~*~*~

21 ~ Holy Fuck

Starting out as a more experimental “live electronic” noise-jazz band and evolving into a more groove-oriented electronic jam band, Holy Fuck shot up on my hot list quickly.  Their 2nd full length is superb, and their live show is not to be missed.  Raw energy, dual keyboards, groovy rhythm section, crazy film-reel instrumentation, and uncanny dance-ability.  They’ve also embraced the vinyl comeback… score!

~*~*~

The rest of the decade recap to follow in the next few days… more musical variety awaits…

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.

* Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2009 *

31st Dec 09 (Thu) 10 comments

Disclaimer (with a nod to Andy Whitman of Paste): No, I haven’t heard all 8,000+albums released this year. I’ve heard about 200 of them, which makes me at least 97.5% likely to be wrong. I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2009. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2009. And you might be right. So go ahead and vent. Enjoy!

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. 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.

Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out their webpages, SpaceBook pages, yadda yadda yadda. OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year on the mainly instrumental front…

Honorable mentions: Uri Gurvich‘s The Storyteller, John Zorn‘s Filmworks XXIII: El General, AhleuchatistasOf the Body Prone, Secret Chiefs 3‘s Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini (The Severed Right Hands of the Last Men), and Skerik & The Dead Kenny G’s Bewildered Herd.

Osso String QuartetRun Rabbit Run: A Tribute to Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit (Asthmatic Kitty) :: I feel lucky that I got to witness the world premiere of Osso playing Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit at MusicNOW Fest 2007 in Cincinnati. I think almost immediately after that show, I emailed Asthmatic Kitty to see if they were going to release audio or video of that performance. Little did I know that they’d do me one better by putting Osso into a studio to record the full length stringed tribute. Huzzah! While the novelty of the initial project has worn off for me, the musical arrangements stand firm. I really dig Osso and I’m looking forward to their further collaboration with Sufjan, My Brightest Diamond, or their own pieces.
Mike PattonCrank High Voltage Score (Lions Gate) :: Well, Mike Patton pretty much took a year off of Ipecac stuff due to Faith No More reuniting. I supposed this score satiated me, but I would have loved for Mondo Cane to make its way out the door in 2009 (as was initially promised by Patton himself). Anyway, this album has a couple of vocal tracks, but overall, it features Mike’s voicebox gymnastics and razor-edged composition schizophrenia that I’ve loved since I first got into Mr. Bungle… Fantômas… and the rest of his vast body of work…
Feldman / Caine / Cohen / BaronSecrets (Tzadik) :: This album snuck on me as I was re-listening to my 2009 CDs. It has that klezmer jazz feel as is common in the Tzadik Radical Jewish Culture series, but it also has a much more accessible feel as well. With Uri Caine’s piano in the mix, he almost adds a Vince Guaraldi aspect to the klez-jazz that permeates.
Jónsi & AlexRiceboy Sleeps (indie) :: Sigur Rós is one of my favorite groups, and a few years ago frontman Jónsi started an arty project with his partner Alex. At first it was a hand-printed notebook and a few musical things on MySpace, but it transformed into a full album as time went along. It’s much more ambient when compared to Sigur Rós – but definitely appeals to fans of Jónsi’s main band. In other news… they have a raw, vegan cookbook PDF on their website (for free)… holy cow… I’m totally gonna make some raw strawberry pie when the season comes around. That and many other recipes look flippin’ delicious… much like the music. Yeah, this is a music blog, right? Sorry for my drooling over “Icelandic rockstar” recipe books.
Wadada Leo Smith with Jack DeJohnetteAmerica (Tzadik) :: I love trumpet… I have some of Wadada’s other work, and I usually find it to be hit or miss. I wasn’t coming in with a lot of preconceptions or whetted appetite about this album, and after the first spin, I loved it. It’s fairly sparse sonically, with only Wadada on trumpet & flugelhorn and Jack on drums. The sound from his horns is so brilliant and melodic, yet searching. I hope they can get together for a 2nd duo outing sometime soon. This wins my “best surprise” award for instrumental albums in 2009.
The Fantastic Terrific MunkleMusic To Dance To (Jazz Groove Australia) :: I got into the Fantastic Terrific Munkle via band member Julian Curwin, who put out his fantastic Tango Saloon out on Ipecac a few years ago. Munkle and Tango Saloon have similar jazz meets groove meets world music meets danceable rhythms. This one was harder to get, as I had to directly order it from Australia (but at least they accept PayPal in US dollars). I wish I could find similar luck with Tango Saloon’s second album, Transylvania (still no stateside release, and the AUD to USD conversion is killin’ me these days).
900XMusic for Lubbock, 1980 (Asthmatic Kitty) :: I got this download for free from Asthmatic Kitty along with the other Library Catalog Music Series (they’re great in supplying review subjects to music bloggers), and the 900X album simply surpassed the others in the collection, if you ask me. I ended up buying it on vinyl… a great addition to the collection. I don’t know if 900x (or James McAlister dba 900x) have any future plans for further releases of this nature. I hope so.
McTuff (Skerik & Joe Doria)McTuff, Volume 1 (indie) :: Joe Doria’s tribute to Jack McDuff has turned into a great Northwest jazz quartet (and trio when Skerik isn’t available). I’m lucky to have seen them a couple times thus far. Skerik’s sax is fantastic, Doria’s hammond keeps the groove, Lewis’s drums are killer, and Coe’s guitars really know how to burn (which I didn’t really pick up on until the 2nd time seeing them live).
Roberto RodriguezThe First Basket (Tzadik) :: Roberto Rodriguez’s Cuban-meets-Judaic music have been some of my favorites out of Tzadik the last few years… this one was a bit different. It’s a score to a film (of the same name) that follows the history of Jewish basketball… its scope covers klezmer, classical, rock, dixieland, and more. Its variety is what helped this album beat out his other 2009 album from the list this year (Timba Talmud is also really good).

Medeski Martin & WoodRadiolarians II & III (Indirecto) :: Starting in 2008, MMW set out to record three albums back to back to back, heading out on a short tour before each album and going directly into the studio and then out on the road again. They swung through Eugene in late 2008 as part of the Radiolarians III Tour. By that time, only R1 had come out; so the crowd didn’t really know the material being played. They played two sets, one set of experimental meets groove and one set of the eventual R3 material. Near the end of 2009, they released the Evolutionary Boxset (all Radiolarians albums with tons of extras: vinyl/live/remixes/DVDs)… great material from a fantastic groove-oriented jazz band. I’m stoked, as they’re coming through Eugene again in Feb 2010. Yay!
Wynton MarsalisHe and She (EMI Blue Note) :: Wynton is a great trumpet player, puts on a great live show, writes and releases great music, and he’s also a jazz bigot. Sigh.
Eyal Maoz’s EdomHope and Destruction (Tzadik) :: Great Jewish instrumental rock. I dug Eyal’s first album, Edom. It appears he’s made an official band out of it… yay. I don’t have much else to add; so I’ll leave it with Tzadik’s P.R. niblit… “Hope and Destruction presents powerful Jewish rock instrumentals from a cutting edge guitarist who combines the harmonic lyricism of Bill Frisell with the angst and skronk of Marc Ribot.” Ribot and Frisell influences… me likey.
Jon Madof’s RashanimThe Gathering (Tzadik) :: Similar but a bit rockier compared to Eyal Maoz’s Edom, Jon Madof has been on my radar since his first instrumental Jewish rock album, Rashanim (which subsequently turned into the band name similar to Edom’s recent evolution). Anyway, this is Madof’s third album under this band moniker. Guitars, bass, drums… banjo… banjo bass… jaw harp… glockenspiel… melodica… tiple… chonguri… it all sounds great!! Jon also has another band called CircuitBreaker that I’m waiting on with baited breath.
Stabat AkishStabat Akish (Tzadik) :: From Toulouse, France, this is one of those rare Tzadik releases that fits into the “Composer Series” that doesn’t bore me to tears. Don’t get me wrong, there are some gems in the CS catalogue, but most of them are violin noodlers. This is more of the rock band variety of composers. It has elements of French street music (which I witnessed first hand in Toulouse, coincidentally), elements of Zorn’s schizophrenia, and elements of the ever excellent Frank Zappa… thanks to the vibraphone and bass marimba acrobatics.
ZuCarboniferous (Ipecac) :: I got this due to Mike Patton’s involvement… he actually sings on one track (and vocal instrumentation on another). Despite that Patton vocal song, this is definitely an instrumental band and a chiefly instrumental album. Zu is powerful rock from Rome, sometimes lumped in with the math rock scene, sometimes with metal. They have had their hand in the jazz scene in the past, too (their album placed in The Village Voice‘s 2004 jazz poll). This album is my only experience with them, but I hope to get into their diverse and vast back catalogue soon.
SF Jazz CollectiveLive 2009 (SF Jazz) :: SFJC 2010 will not quite be the same… they lost Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, and Miguel Zenon – all key players in the 2007 through 2009 seasons. This 2009 season was dedicated to the music of McCoy Tyner and also features great compositions by the eight members of the band. It is truly a collective of many great musicians, not just a band fronted by a few.
Tim SparksLittle Princess: Tim Sparks plays Naftule Brandwein (Tzadik) :: A fingerstyle guitar virtuoso, I’d heard Tim on some other Tzadik releases, but I think this one is my favorite of his. This album is a trio of Tim, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Greg Cohen on bass. I think the added players helped fill out Tim’s sound – which was awesomely virtuosic, but a touch too sparse on prior releases.
Dave DouglasA Single Sky (Greenleaf) :: This was the third of three Dave Douglas releases this year. It features three new Dave Douglas tunes and four rearranged Douglas tunes by Jim McNeely and his Frankfurt Radio Bigband. The entire album has a great big band feel, something I’m a sucker for – obviously. I love Dave Douglas’s prolific nature – 2009 was good to his fans.
John ZornAlhambra Love Songs (Tzadik) :: One of the more accessible albums in Zorn’s catalogue, this is his ode to his favorite San Francisco Bay Area artists and musicians: Vince Guaraldi, Clint Eastwood, David Lynch, Mike Patton, Harry Smith, and more. The music is played by the Rob Burger Trio (Rob + Greg Cohen & Ben Perowsky). The albums leads off with the very Guaraldian tribute to Vince himself – “Mountain View.”
Dave Douglas & Brass EcstasySpirit Moves (Greenleaf) :: Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy is coming to Portland / PDX Jazz Fest this coming February! I’m so stoked. This band features Dave on trumpet, Vincent Chancey (French horn), Luis Bonilla (trombone), Marcus Rojas (tuba) and Nasheet Waits (drums). The tuba really adds that bouncy backbone that I love (I’m also a fan of the rockier band Drums & Tuba). Check out DD&BE’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert (video).
Sufjan StevensThe BQE (Asthmatic Kitty) :: It is atrociously difficult to read the lettering on the front cover… maybe as easy as navigating the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in rush hour. This was Sufjan’s first foray into studio album land since the Avalanche (but that was more of a b-side collection of 2005’s Illinoise). Anyway… it’s a moving, 40 minute piece dedicated to NYC’s traffic clusterbomb. It comes with a film to accompany it, and if you get the double-gatefold vinyl, you get a spiffy comic book written by Sufjan and a fantastic full-color booklet. I like it how Sufjan “keeps it weird” when he’s “keeping it real.”
John ZornO’o (Tzadik) :: While the music is stunning, I think longtime Tzadik artwork designer Chippy deserves a ton of credit as well. This album is the band from The Dreamers: Baptista, Baron, Dunn, Ribot, Saft, and Wollesen. It carries on that world music / surf / exotica sound, but adds the element of nature: being a tribute to rare birds (the album is named after an extinct Hawaiian bird).
Tides from NebulaAura (indie from Poland) :: Tides of Nebula is powerful, evocative progressive post-rock goodness from Poland. They have links on their MySpace page on how to get their CD. It’s really, really, really, good. It combines the huge sound from post-rock giants like Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, but adds a tight edge as well – similar to if Brit progressive rockers Porcupine Tree tweaked some Explosions or Mogwai songs. This is one of those bands and albums that I had no idea about even this summer, and then out of nowhere – BAM! Way up to the top of the pile. I’m looking forward to more from this great group.
Masada Quintet & Joe Lovano play Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 12: Stolas (Tzadik) :: The original Masada quartet’s last studio album was in 1999. They continued as a quartet (John Zorn / Dave Douglas / Joey Baron / Greg Cohen) throughout most of the 2000s (I got to see one of their last shows in March 2007). Zorn moved on in the 2000s with writing a 2nd book of Masada tunes, not to be played by Masada, but rather interpreted by other bands. The past 11 albums in this series have been fantastic (Secret Chiefs 3, Medeski Martin & Wood, and the Bar Kokhba Sextet (related-to-but-not-Masada) albums have been my faves). I would never have imagined that Zorn would “allow” Masada to record an album for this Masada Book Two series. Well, he didn’t (sort of). He added pianist Uri Caine and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano to the mix. A great “supergroup” album!!

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.

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Brian BorcherdtTorches

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2009 *

29th Dec 09 (Tue) 20 comments

Disclaimer (with a nod to Andy Whitman of Paste): No, I haven’t heard all 8,000+albums released this year. I’ve heard about 200 of them, which makes me at least 97.5% likely to be wrong. I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2009. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2009. And you might be right. So go ahead and vent. Enjoy!

As I start this post, I will say that this is the second 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 pages, yadda yadda yadda. OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: Jars of Clay‘s The Long Fall Back to Earth, U2‘s No Line on the Horizon, Madeleine Peyroux‘s Bare Bones, Piano Magic‘s Ovations, and Ember Swift‘s Lentic :: 子玉.

ChevelleSci-Fi Crimes (Epic) :: I don’t find Chevelle to be all that original. I mean, I found them early on (the Squint days) and I liked them due to their sound similar to Tool. I don’t know… I continue to like what Chevelle puts out, regardless of its similarities to other bands. They have good hooks, vocals, and melodies. I’ve yet to see them live… they tend to always show up where I’m not. Maybe I’ll get lucky on their next batch of tour dates.
Kim TaylorLittle Miracle (indie) :: Kim is a Cincinnati favorite of mine. She tours a lot with another Cincinnati band, Over the Rhine – which is how I first heard of her (so many years ago). Anyway, if you’re in Cincinnati, swing by her coffee shop – Pleasant Perk (and buy a CD along with the Mocha you’re craving). This record came out only about a week ago. It still needs to sink in, but it’s got that Kim Taylor vibe – sultry/smoky vocals with heartfelt lyrics. This album is more stripped down than her prior releases, full of warmth.
Tori AmosAbnormally Attracted to Sin (Universal) :: Tori’s heyday for me was the 1990s. Sin hearkens back to those days, but still remains in this weird phase of “I don’t know if I like, but I do kinda like it” for me. It’s not classic Tori, but it is a good record. Her live show this year in Portland helped me get into this album a bit more. After 20 or so years of touring, she still delivers the goods consistently.
Chali 2NaFish Outta Water (Decon) :: Chali 2Na was always my favorite rapper in Jurassic 5. I dig all of those gents, but Chali has that powerful booming baritone with quick delivery. His first official solo album [he had a mixtape type thing a few years back], this one doesn’t disappoint the J5 fan in me.
Alice in ChainsBlack Gives Way to Blue (EMI Virgin) :: New singer, same great grunge sound. Jerry Cantrell and Company are back with a great new hard rocking record. While Layne can’t be replaced, the band goes on and it doesn’t disappoint. Their live show this year was excellent as well.
IsisWavering Radiant (Ipecac) :: Post-rock, post-metal, ambient metal… I don’t know what you want to call it. I first saw these guys open up for Tool a few years back, and I subsequently quit putting off getting their music. They’re on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label (so I had heard of them prior to the Tool gig), and they are both meandering and powerful. This is not a metal band full of riffs… they would fit more in the camp with post-rockers Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed! You Black Emperor than with Metallica and Megadeth.
Talking Snakes (Gary Lenaire)Nonogram Zen (indie) :: Former guitarist/vocalist for metal band Tourniquet, Gary Lenaire, released his book An Infidel Manifesto a few years back. This album is his first solo album as being an out atheist. I love the music and lyrics in Nonogram Zen. I think this album stacks up to anything he did in Tourniquet (OK, Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance still “owns” Gary’s catalogue, in my opinion). Musically, Nonogram Zen ranges from really heavy, to electronic-tinged, to more melodic pop songs (with auto-tune… *shudder*) – but all in all, I’d consider it to be a metal/hard rock album. It’s only currently available as a digital release, but perhaps it will see a physical form in the near future.
Dream TheaterBlack Clouds and Silver Linings (Roadrunner) :: I bought the special edition of this record, mainly for the CD of completely instrumental versions of Black Clouds songs. While I love the instrumental versions better, the entire album is really well crafted. As much as I think James LaBrie’s vocals and Mike Portnoy’s oft-clunky rhyme-writing get in the way, I think this album holds up in their ever-expanding catalogue.
Bad VeinsBad Veins (Dangerbird) :: Three years in existence and the band finally gets their debut album out the door. While I think it’s a solid album, and I think the song-writing is superb, I think my fondness of their early live shows and acoustic / in-studio sets have more musical magic to me. I did get a chance to see Bad Veins twice this year, which was quite the coup – as they live 2,300+ miles from me. I’m glad that this album finally made its way out and I hope there’s another one to follow in less than three years time.
dUg Pinnick (of King’s X) & RAZR 13RAZR 13 (RockArmy) :: Doug Pinnick (aka dUg) has an amazing voice; so when he starts lending his voice out to other bands, well, I am not complaining. This collaboration finds dUg rockin’ out with Austin metal band RAZR 13. It is more like his prior metal collaborations with The Mob and 24-7 Spyz than the more straight-ahead Supershine or Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament collaborations. 2010 promises another dUg Pinnick collaboration in the new group with 24-7’s Jimi Hazel called A.N.M. Yay, more metal Pinnick!!
Regina SpektorFar (Sire Warner) :: Regina’s latest album grew on me slowly. By the time I saw her in Portland (in early November), I was digging this latest album the best out of her material thus far. It is quirky, poppy, and makes you think (especially on “Laughing With”). Her live show is energetic and quite a full night of music.
Extra GoldenThank You Very Quickly Vol. 3 (Thrill Jockey) :: I didn’t know about Extra Golden until about 3 or 4 months ago, when my friend Aaron told me about their set at Eugene Celebration. I went to that show and was a fan. They are a half American, half Kenyan group… and they play sort of jammy, sort of African songs. It’s a great melting pot of sound. Their record and live show are highly recommended!
Various Artists (produced by Ric Hordinski) – Notes From the Monastery (indie) :: Rarely do I buy a “various artists” album… in the age of iTunes, it’s easier (and usually beneficial) to just buy the few tracks from artists that I know. Well, this compilation is all music produced by a person who I enjoy and respect… Mr. Ric Hordinski. He was a founding member of Cincinnati band Over the Rhine, the creative force behind the more meandering band MONK, and the knob-noodler for his Monastery Studios. This album features all new, previously unreleased songs by Ellery, Over the Rhine, Sarah Masen, Ric Hordinski, Phil Keaggy, David Wilcox, and more. There is not a bad song on the whole disc. Kudos, Ric!
Works Progress Administration (featuring Glen Phillips)WPA (Elite Artist Services) :: While I often lump this in the “Glen Phillips side project” category, it that doesn’t really do it justice. My favorite songs are the Glen ones, but Luke Bulla and Sean & Sara Watkins (of Nickel Creek) round this album out into an important Americana album in 2009. Let’s just say, I came to find WPA due to Glen, but I stuck around due to it being a great band with a great new record.
FanfarloReservoir (indie) :: The best way to build a fanbase overnight… have a moderately successful internationally touring artist pimp your music directly via their website and offer your album for a $1 download months before it’s available in shops. Sigur Rós’s web viewers and mailing list got a first taste and nudge to check out Fanfarlo, and that’s all it took – a gentle nudge. While Fanfarlo isn’t really all too much like Sigur Rós, I can see why their fans intersect… gentle songs with complex and often unusual instrumentation. I missed Fanfarlo as they swung through the Pacific Northwest, as I was on vacation, but I hope they come through again soon.
Tegan and SaraSainthood (Sire Vapor) :: This T&S album is rockier than their last few albums, but after the second listen, I think I like it more than both The Con and So Jealous (and, yeah, their pre-Jealous ones, too). I think with The Con, they had started to really figure out to write really hooky yet still mature songs. While Sainthood heats it up on the rockier edge, I think the songs are better overall. This was their first album where they wrote a large chunk of the songs together in the same room – maybe that was their secret formula. I’m looking forward to their upcoming tour… April 2010 in Portland!
The Swell SeasonStrict Joy (Anti-) :: The ONCE soundtrack sunk in immediately after I heard it. While Strict Joy took a while to sink in, I think it’s a more solid record than Once. While this album represents their personal “break up,” I hope they keep working together as a band. I’ve heard some of Glen’s work with The Frames, and it’s good – but Marketa and Glen together really seems magical.
David BazanCurse Your Branches (Barsuk) :: The oft-used tagline for this record is “David’s break-up album with God.” Sure, OK. I never really thought his prior albums were all that ostentatiously “God-y” anyway. I admired David’s doubting and questioning in his prior Pedro the Lion music. His move to a more agnostic / atheistic-leaning artistic expression is a-OK with me. I realize that it’s a personal journey, and as long as he keeps putting out challenging and witty lyrical numbers, and he keeps touring & bringing some fun Q&A time to stages near me – I’m fine with whatever his philosophy moves towards.
O.S.I.Blood (Inside Out) :: What, a Kevin Moore album at #7 in its release year? I know, I know… Chroma Key and the first two O.S.I. albums were at least Top 3 spots in their respective years. While I have been moving towards a lot more instrumental music, this year’s vocal albums that I did get had some great music… the Top 10 vocal albums for me this year are especially strong albums, regardless of my bent towards the sans vocal route. Anyway, I really dig this new O.S.I. record. I wish more news and touring from Kevin Moore would leak out… I mean, news bites are few and far between. It gets a bit frustrating in this era of readily available information. Chroma Key or O.S.I. album #4… I hope not too far out there.
Nellie McKayNormal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day (Verve) :: While I dig Nellie’s own music better than this batch of mostly Doris Day cover songs (there is one Nellie original), this may be the most perfect tribute album. From the cover art, to the campy photos inside, to the delivery that truly honors Doris Day, to Nellie’s excellent jaunt with The Aristocrats – this album I think is more than the sum of its parts. Back on a major label (this time Verve instead of Sony), I hope they give Nellie some creative control to go back in the studio to make her next originals album.
Porcupine TreeThe Incident (Roadrunner) :: I think I like the non-concept songs on disc 2 more than the individual parts in The Incident concept disc. Regardless, I think Steven Wilson has turned the corner away from Fear of a Blank Planet, and maybe he’s heading back into a more interesting progressive arena. The tour was also great this year, but maybe they play their instruments too perfectly. I almost felt as if I could have gotten as much out of the DVD of the show as the actual show (hey, my only negative about this latest effort is that they play “too perfectly”). Go figure!
Peter MulveyLetters From a Flying Machine (Signature Sounds) :: Half spoken word, half poppy singer-songwriter tunes… that doesn’t scream “Top 5” album release. But it is. I think this is Peter’s most solid piece of work in a while, and it ranks amongst The Trouble with Poets and Kitchen Radio for me. Peter is still fairly unknown… but he is quite prolific (12+ full lengths in 17+ years), hard-working (constantly touring all places from Alaska to Ireland), quite witty (he could be a comedian if the whole music thing doesn’t work out), and energetic (he did a 1,100 bicycle tour this year – playing gigs from Michigan to Massachusetts). He plans to do a bicycle tour from Wisconsin to the West Coast in 2010… yay!
Derek WebbStockholm Syndrome (INO) :: I grew up with Derek Webb as he made his musical start in the contemporary christian music scene – with Caedmon’s Call. I always loved his songs and vocals the best; so when he left the band, I followed. His latest album gets it right in both music and lyrics… calling out those who hate others due to their sexuality (the “controversial” What Matters More) and calling out hate in the name of God (“Freddie, Please” dedicated to Westboro Baptist’s jackass preacher). I feel that even though I have differing (non-)religious beliefs, I still can call Derek Webb a compatriot. The more electronic-tinged music is also welcome from his more “guy & a guitar” days (though, he carried that sound well, too). I look forward to his upcoming subscriber series in 2010 – Democracy, Volume 1.
WussyWussy (Shake It) :: Wussy just keeps getting better. Lisa and Chuck & Company have really stepped it up on their third full-length. I wish I still lived in Cincinnati sometimes after seeing their “hey, we’re playing at Northside Tavern” posts on SpaceBook and MyFace. Anyway, I’m utterly delighted with this record, and they’ve unofficially promised to hit the West Coast in Spring 2010. Fingers crossed…
dredgThe Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion (Ohlone) :: dredg has evolved from “good opener” the first time I saw them to “really good rock band” after I delved into Catch Without Arms (specifically “Ode to the Sun” and the b-side “Stone By Stone”) to one of my favorite bands with this new release. Quite honestly, from the first full listen back in June, I knew this would be my #1 album for 2009. It’s a concept album based loosely on Salmon Rushdie’s “Letter to the Six Billionth Citizen,” and, well, it shows off dredg’s great vocals, subtle progressive guitars, and unique and inspiring drumming. I hope album #5 is not another 4 years away… or, if it is, I hope they keep touring. I got to see them twice this year – both fantastic shows.

Top 25 instrumental albums coming up later this week… still making my way through them at this point… oy…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

  • Fave Concerts of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave EPs/Vinyl/Live/more of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave Instrumental Albums ‘09 are coming soon
  • Fave Artists of the Decade are coming soon
  • Old Years: 2008I, 2008V, 2008ep, 2008C, 2007V, 2007I, 2007C, 2006, 2005

~Dan – np: Roberto RodriguezThe First Basket

* Favorite EPs / Vinyl / Live Albums & more of 2009 *

28th Dec 09 (Mon) 6 comments

This is sort of a precursor to my “official” Favorites of 2009 blogs.  Up later this week, I’ll post my favorite vocal and favorite instrumental albums of 2009, as well as my favorite artists of the decadeAnyway, on with the music pimping

Favorite EPs of 2009

  1. CelldwellerWish Upon a Blackstar Chapters 1 & 2
  2. Emily WellsDirty
  3. PusciferC is For…
  4. Anakronic Electro-OrkestraThe Yiddish Part
  5. EisleyFire Kite
    hm: ElleryDown, Down, Down
    hm: One EskimoTour EP

Favorite Vinyl of 2009

  1. Symphony of Science featuring Carl SaganA Glorious Dawn 7″
    (best song of the year, too)
  2. Holy Fuck & Off the International RadarHot Lips 12″
    (playable at 33 & 45)
  3. ReptetAgendacide 7″
    (great jazz from Seattle)
  4. Sufjan StevensThe BQE special edition
    (luscious packaging)
  5. Melt Bananainitial t. 5″

Favorite DVDs of 2009 (I didn’t really get many)

  • Michel GondryVideos 2
  • Dollhouse: Season One
  • Bill Maher’s Religulous
  • Criss Angel Mindfreak: Collector’s Edition
  • Secret Chiefs 3 Live at the Great American Music Hall 2007

Favorite Internet Only Releases of 2009

  • Jenny Owen Youngs “Hot in Herre”
  • Anakronic Electro-OrkestraThe Yiddish Part
  • My Brightest Diamond Shark Remixes
  • Celldweller Wish Upon a Blackstar Ch’s 1 & 2
  • Eisley Fire Kite EP
  • Glen Phillips “Little Bunny Foo Foo”
  • Talking SnakesNonogram Zen
  • Puscifer C is For…
  • Ellery Down, Down, Down
  • Kim Taylor Little Miracle

Favorite Live Albums of 2009

  • Over the Rhine Live from Nowhere, Volume 4 (’08 Reunion Taft show)
  • Noctaluca Unplugged
  • Ani DiFranco – the Saratoga and Chicago shows

Favorite Audiobooks of 2009

  • David Cross I Drink for a Reason
  • Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth
  • Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant, and Karl Pilkington The Guide to… (series)

Favorite Podcasts in 2009 (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
  • Kevin Smith & Scott MosierSModcast
  • The Adam Carolla Podcast
  • The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

Best Cover Art in 2009

  • Celldweller Wish Upon a Blackstar Chapter 1
  • Nellie McKayNormal As Blueberry Pie
  • John ZornO’o (designed by Chippy)

Worst Cover Art: Tori AmosMidwinter Graces

Best Packaging in 2009 (de-lux!)

  • Sufjan StevensThe BQE (gorgeous double-gatefold layout, super hero comic book, fun stuff)
  • Porcupine TreeThe Incident (deluxe edition: sturdy hardback book with arty photos)
  • Steven WilsonInsurgentes (deluxe edition: sturdy hardback book with arty photos)
  • FanfarloReservoir (deluxe edition: complete with a small board game)
  • John ZornFemina (standard size, but nice clear slipcase and 52 page booklet.  Tzadik has been kicking it up a notch!)

Favorite Local Releases in 2009 (PacNW represent)

  • Douglas DetrickThe Turning Point (Eugene jazz)
  • Hashem AssadullahiThe Strange Neighbor (Eugene jazz)
  • I didn’t get jazz trio from Portland Trio Subtonic‘s CD yet… but soon…

Best Greatest Hits Releases of 2009

  • Iron & WineAround the Well (tons of b-sides and new songs)
  • IncubusMonuments and Melodies (ditto)

Best Re-issues in 2009

  • Radiohead – vinyl re-issues (I got the Drill EP on vinyl)
  • Radiohead – Capital Special Collector’s Editions (2 CD + 1 DVD for their first 6 albums)

Best Surprise / Adaptation in 2009

  • Despite the horrible cover art, Tori Amos‘ holiday album Midwinter Graces was quite delightful

Best Late-Getter in 2009 (something that came out before 2009)

  • RoninHolon (from 2008)

Favorite iTunes iPhone Apps

  • Facebook
  • Lose It
  • BeatMaker
  • I Am T-Pain
  • Veg Out (Around Me for Vegetarians)
  • Veggie Passport (international translator specific to vegetarian concerns)
  • Vegan Yum Yum (like Epicurious for veg only)
  • Vegan Xpress (find veg items on national chains menus)
  • Shop Saavy (bar-code scan and price shop)
  • Dragon Dictation (speak an email or text message)

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

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

  • Fave Concerts of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave Vocal Albums ‘09 are coming soon
  • Fave Instrumental of ‘09 are coming soon
  • Fave Artists of the Decade are coming soon
  • Old Years: 2008I, 2008V, 2008ep, 2008C, 2007V, 2007I, 2007C, 2006, 2005

~Dan – np: Mike PattonCrank High Volume Soundtrack

Favorite Concerts of 2009

22nd Dec 09 (Tue) 10 comments

Well, this year’s concert seasons were especially good to me… 365 days, 70 shows, 119 artists, 1 wine-tasting rock show, many long nights driving home, and a lot of photos…

My favorite concerts of 2009:

  1. Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer (2 nights) :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {14&16 Nov} [reviews with pictures – night #1 & night #2]
  2. Nellie McKay & the Aristocrats :: Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley :: Seattle, WA {20 Oct} [review with pictures]
  3. dredg :: Hawthorne Theatre :: Portland, OR {3 Apr} [review]
  4. Holy Fuck :: Doug Fir Lounge :: Portland, OR {4 Jun} [review with pictures & video]
  5. The Swell Season :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR {23 Nov} [review with pictures]
  6. Zappa Plays Zappa :: Hawthorne Theatre :: Portland, OR {2 Jan} [review]
  7. Flight of the Conchords & Arj Barker :: Arlene Schnitzer Hall :: Portland, OR {14 May} [review]
  8. SFJazz Collective 2009 with Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenon, and more focusing on the music of McCoy Tyner :: The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts :: Eugene, OR {19 Mar} [review with pictures]
  9. Opeth & Enslaved :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {12 May} [review]
  10. The Melvins (2 sets) :: John Henry’s :: Eugene, OR {9 Aug} [review with pictures]
  11. My Weekend with Peter Mulvey & Krista Detor :: Alberta Street Pub/Sam Bond’s Garage :: Portland/Eugene, OR {7&8 Nov} [review with pictures]
  12. Hiromi’s Sonicbloom :: Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley :: Seattle, WA {16 Jun} [review with pictures]
  13. David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) :: House Show :: Eugene, OR {25 Jul} [review with pictures]
  14. Madeleine Peyroux :: The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts :: Eugene, OR {25 Mar} [review]
  15. Patton Oswalt :: Newmark Theatre :: Portland, OR {13 Sep} [review]

Runners-Up: Emily Wells & PCP at Cozmic, UofO’s Percussion Ensemble Tribute to Frank Zappa, David Cross at Newmark, Porcupine Tree & That1Guy at Roseland (Portland), Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Hult Center, and Spinal Tap at Paramount (Seattle).

Biggest Disappointments: missing Zappa Plays Zappa in Eugene in late November due to them getting stuck in California due to snow, missing Tristeza in Portland in early December due to a bad sinus infection, missing Melt Banana in Portland due to freezing rain & fog, seeing Yann Tiersen play an utterly dreadful show in Portland, and not seeing Over the Rhine for the 2nd year in a row (we’ll have to make up for it in 2010).

And to end on a positive note…

My favorite concert photos of 2009: (in no particular order)

  • The Swell Season in Eugene

  • Sweethead, opener for Puscifer in Portland
  • Carina Round and Maynard James Keenan behind their boxes for Puscifer in Portland
  • Sin Fang Bous, opener for Múm in Portland
  • Hildur Guðnadóttir of Múm screaming her heart out in Portland
  • Nellie McKay in Seattle
    Nellie McKay and the Aristocrats in Seattle 2009
  • Aimee Mann smiles in Portland
  • Sara Watkins of Works Progress Administration in Eugene
  • Alice in Chains iPhone shot in Portland
  • Gavin from dredg moves too fast for me in Portland
  • King Buzzo of The Melvins in Eugene
  • Zoë Jakes dancing with Beats Antique in Eugene
  • Jerry Gaskill’s stick action with King’s X in Portland
  • Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck in Portland

(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)

Past Favorite Concerts Lists:

Favorite music of 2009 will be coming the week of Dec 28thEPs/DVDs/etc, vocal albums, instrumental albums, artists of the decade

~Dan – np: Anthony ColemanFreakish: A Tribute to Jelly Roll Morton

Kim Taylor – Little Miracle

21st Dec 09 (Mon) 1 comment

Cincinnati artist Kim Taylor just put out her latest full length, Little Miracle (and I mean “just”).  It’s digital only at this time (but DRM free)… pick it up via her Nimbit store at http://kim-taylor.net/

I’ll be picking it up tonight when I get home… and you know what this means?  My Top 25 for 2009 is not done (crap – I just finished it yesterday).  Eh, it just means my current #25 (U2‘s No Line on the Horizon) is very likely getting bumped.

Support indie music!  With Kim Taylor, you can’t go wrong!  Srsly.

~Dan – np: SF Jazz Collective2009 

2009 mix

12th Nov 09 (Thu) 2 comments

Well, thanks to a certain bigwig, I got off of my duff to make a mix CD for his round robin dealio.  No major theme this time like prior mixes… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2009).

{If you aren’t part of the round robin and want a CD, contact me.  If you’re local, even better. I’ll get ’em out around Thanksgiving.}

The following songs were put on the mix CD from lossless sources for promotional purposes only (read: free direct market advertising to people who decidedly love music).  Most of the artists on this compilation are independent (put out the music themselves) or signed to smaller, independent labels.  If you like what you hear, check out their music / support them with your wallet if you are able.  The artists’ Webpage, MyFace & Spacebook (whether official or not), and Amazon links are available for each song below.  I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

PDF front liner is available HERE (designed to print double-sided).

UPDATE (12/18): free download / bonus track #18 below

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01 Nellie McKayDo Do Do” from Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day
Well, the person who got this round robin going (Brad) was a direct influence in me getting into Nellie McKay back when Get Away From Me came out.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  I think GAFM is my favorite of hers, but she’s still quite consistently entertaining to me.  Her latest album is a tribute to the late great Doris Day.  It’s missing some of Nellie’s sly wit, but is definitely fitting in her “I wish I was born in another era” wishes.  The album art is 135% fitting for Nellie, too.  Perfect choice!

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02 John ZornMiller’s Crake” from O’o
I could have put on some more skwoky Zorn, but I opted for a more accessible number.  John Zorn is prolific, but this was actually a slow year – I only count six Zorn-related releases.  O’o is twelve lyrical and adventurous instrumentals combining world music, surf, exotica, soundtracks, easy listening, and minimalism dedicated to twelve different birds (Chippy’s artwork is amazing).  “Miller’s Crake” is a delightful Guaraldi-esque jaunt from the band that came out of the Electric Masada / The Gift / The Dreamers sessions: Marc Ribot, Jamie Saft, Kenny Wollesen, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron, and Cyro Baptista.

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03 Extra GoldenGimakiny Akia” from Thank You Very Quickly Vol 3
I was planning on going to Eugene Celebration anyway, but I got a call from a friend who suggested that we meet and definitely go to see Extra Golden.  Um, OK, sure.  Then I saw them, and wow… fuuuuun.  I love African music, but sometimes it’s gets all too similar unless you do something fun (a la Fela Kuti, Antibalas, etc).  Well, Extra Golden are half Kenyan and half American (which I guess is the “something fun” part?  I don’t know).  They fuse some great jam-rock with Kenyan beats* and singing… great stuff.  Fantastic live show, too. *-Though, coincidentally, not so much Kenyan beats on this track.  Yeah, sorry.

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04 Ember SwiftHollowed Bones 空骨” from Lentic :: 子玉
Ember Swift (yes, her real name) is finally starting to head in a new direction.  I mean, I dig her a lot, but her past albums have been slightly derivative of Ani DiFranco (with maybe a little more adventurism).  She’s from Canada, but has spent time living in China recently.  In fact, I think she’s still living there (don’t quote me on that)… that culture has definitely had an impact on her music.

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05 Works Progress Administration / Glen PhillipsRise Up” from Works Progress Administration
This song first showed up on the Concert to End Slavery compilation as a Glen Phillips solo song.  It’s my favorite from WPA, but it’s not very representative of the album.  The album is more folky / americana via the heavy influence of Sean & Sara Watkins from Nickelcreek and Luke Bulla (from Lyle Lovett’s band).

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06 Madeleine PeyrouxDamn the Circumstances” from Bare Bones
I am usually not a fan of vocal jazz… it’s usually too full of schlock, if you ask me.  Well, Madeleine’s smoky voice overrides that generalism for me.  She’s a fantastic vocalist, a throwback to the golden era of jazz vocalists.  This album is her first of non-covers.  All original, either written solo or co-written, Bare Bones moves her from a “fantastic standards” singer to bringing vocal jazz back into fresh territory.

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07 dredgGathering Pebbles” from The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion
dredg is one of my favorite bands now.  2005’s Catch Without Arms floored me, and I was eagerly awaiting the follow-up.  It took too long (4 years), but it was well worth it.  The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion is by far my favorite album this year.  It was inspired by Salmon Rushdie’s essay “Imagine There’s No Heaven: A Letter to the Sixth Billionth Citizen.”  In fact, this past fall, dredg and Salmon did a joint show that was captured by Spin magazine.

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08 Porcupine TreeFlicker” from The Incident
The best progressive rock band around, Porcupine Tree’s The Incident is a 55-minute epic concept album/song.  “Flicker” is actually a session b-side from the 2nd disc from the collection.  I got a chance to see Porcupine Tree this September, and Steven Wilson & Co delivered the impeccable studio sound to the stage.  It’s almost magic.

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09 O.S.I.Terminal” from Blood
I really like this 3rd record by O.S.I. (formerly know as the Office of Strategic Influence).  O.S.I. is a joint collaboration of Chroma Key’s Kevin Moore and Fates Warning’s Jim Matheos.  Most of Blood is heavier progressive rock, but I tend to like the more Chroma Key-esque tracks like “Terminal.”  The album has guests Gavin Harrison (of Porcupine Tree) on drums, Mikael Åkerfeldt (of Opeth) on vocals for one track, and Tim Bowness (or No-Man) on vocals for one track as well. The 2nd disc also features a Kevin Moore-sung, rockin’ tribute to Elliott Smith (“Christian Brothers”).

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10 900XThe Black Beach” from Library Catalog Music Series: Music For Lubbock, 1980
Sufjan Steven’s label Asthmatic Kitty is really becoming a favorite.  They host music by Sufjan, My Brightest Diamond, Fol Chen, Osso, and now the excellent experimentation from the various Library Catalog Music Series artists.  The 900X release is my favorite of the six releases so far.  I received the high quality mp3s from the record label for free, and I loved it so much that I bought it on vinyl.

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11 Chali 2Na featuring Talib KweliLock Sh*t Down” from Fish Outta Water
I’m still sad that Jurassic 5 broke up, but now we get albums from Portable Payback (Marc7 & Soup), Cut Chemist, DJ Nu Mark, Akil the MC, and, of course, Chali 2Na (my favorite from the group).  Chali’s got that deep booming voice that makes you pay attention.  This song’s lyrics (and video) are kinda cheesy, IMO, but it still features some nice flow from the “lyrical manphibian.”

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12 Peter MulveyVlad the Astrophysicist” from Letters From a Flying Machine
Storytelling has always been a fantastic part of Peter’s live shows.  Nine years ago, when his first niece was born, Peter got into the habit of writing physical letters to his nieces and nephews (now 17 kids in total).  This album is interspersed with spoken word letters and new music.  I think it’s his strongest album since 2000’s The Trouble With Poets.  I like a lot of different music, but with that being said, I think Peter is by far my favorite singer-songwriter.  Support indie music!

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13 David BazanCurse Your Branches” from Curse Your Branches
I wanted to put on “Hard to Be,” but due to space limitations, I went for a shorter song.  This is David’s first full-length solo album since disbanding the indie rock band Pedro the Lion.  PTL was really David’s thing anyway; so him disbanding the band isn’t that big of a deal, if you ask me.  This album also marks his first decided move away from the “religious guy” things into the “heavily agnostic thing” (kudos to him, from me at least).  This album is peppered with his thoughts and doubts of his religious upbringing – even moreso than in his prior Pedro days.  It very well called a “breakup letter to God” by some.

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14 John ZornNovato” from Alhambra Love Songs
Alhambra Love Songs is a set of 11 songs that are an eclectic homage to San Francisco Bay area musicians.  This particular song is dedicated to Mike Patton (and, no, that’s not why I picked it).  The album is played by pianist Rob Burger, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Ben Perowsky – and also falls into the “more accessible” John Zorn camp.

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15 WussyLittle Paper Birds” from Wussy
This little band that could from Cincinnati is getting some good buzz in major publications (I know Spin has featured them several times).  I went to college with their female lead singer, Lisa Walker, and remember when she did a more folky thing.  I think Wussy’s sound suits her well (and vice versa).  Anyway, this is their third record, and features some great songs from both Lisa and Ass Ponys’ Chuck Cleaver.

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16 The Dead Kenny G’sBirther Blues” from Bewildered Herd
Prior to moving to the PacNW, I had heard of saxophonist Skerik via John Zorn and other avant-garde connections.  I never got to hear him until I moved here and saw him at Sam Bond’s.  He seems to be down here in Eugene every other month or so, in different band incarnations.  The Dead Kenny G’s features Skerik on tenor sax & pianos, Mike Dillon on drums (who I recently saw drum with Ani DiFranco), and Brad Houser on bass & baritone sax.

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17 Ikue MoriRedeye Skimmer” from Class Insecta
Ikue Mori is an interesting instrumentalist.  She mostly utilizes a laptop, and I saw her play live with Ellery Eskelin & Jim Black in NYC in 2007 and was wowed by the improvisational nature of her craft.  Most of her albums are more avant-garde.  She has one album that I’d consider to be much more accessible (1995’s Painted Desert on Japan’s DIY/Avant label).  Class Insecta is also more accessible than most of her work.  I suppose if you like well composed, electronic music dedicated to insect species, it’s for you!

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18 Derek WebbWhat Matters More” from Stockholm Syndrome
(bonus mp3) DOWNLOAD it >> http://www.derekwebb.com/387/WMM.zip
Stockholm Syndrome is an album that I’m bummed I didn’t get fit on the CD version of this compilation.  It’s going to place fairly well in my year-end “Best of 2009” list.  I think it’s the best thing Derek’s ever done, including Caedmon’s Call and prior solo work.  It has a great overall vibe, and a message that I can agree with, even though I don’t agree with his religious philosophy.  This song, while not the best on the album (IMO), has a great lyric and pro-gay marriage position and was actually banned by his independent Christian label (INO Records).  He subsequently released an “uncensored” version of the album, and now has the song available for free on his site.

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Let me know what you think…

unfortunately missing (due to space or flow limitations, or that I simply didn’t get them in the mail yet): pop from Regina Spektor, Zero 7 & the Swell Season; jazz from Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy and A Single Sky, Masada Quintet + Lovano, and The Fantastic Terrific Munkle; comedy from Flight of the Conchords; and some metal Ahleuchatistas, Megadeth, Isis, Dream Theater, Puscifer, Tides From Nebula & Alice in Chains.  Oh well, those may make it on my “favorite albums” of 2009 list.

~Dan – np: PusciferC is For…

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

New in 2009

31st Dec 08 (Wed) Leave a comment

What I’m looking forward to in 2009?

The 3rd O.S.I. record, the next dredg record, Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane, a new Fantômas, the debut of Crudo (Dan the Automator & Mike Patton), more John Zorn including Masada Book Two releases (one with Dave Douglas & Uri Caine), the new U2 record in March, Medeski Martin & Wood‘s Radiolarians 2 & 3,  another Nellie McKay, Steven Wilson‘s cover version VI, Porcupine Tree in September, new Tegan & Sara (they’ve got 40 songs ready), Galactic Cowboys guitarist Wally Farkas‘ solo debut, The Zappa Family Trust’s Lumpy Money, solo albums by Jurassic 5 rappers Chali 2Na & Akil the MC, Eisley‘s 3rd record, new Megadeth, new Dream Theater, Derek Webb‘s “electronic-tinged” album, new Incubus, three OutKast-related releases, new EminemYann Tiersen‘s Tabarly (a stateside release, please?), OSSO string quartet’s debut, Wussy‘s 3rd record and/or The Magic Words debut record, a new Ani DiFranco (based on Sir Isaac Newton’s Law of Ani DiFranco Will Release Something Every Nine Months), and a 5th Lagunitas Frank Zappa beer (might I suggest Cruisin’ with Ruben and the Jets Pale Ale, Uncle Meat Porter, or Hot Rats Stout?).

And some maybes (as far as “maybe they’ll come out” if we’re lucky)… Secret Chiefs 3‘s long awaited-always promised-never delivered Book of Souls, the Daniel Johns / Luke Steel project called Hathaway/Palmer, another Sufjan Stevens state album, Carissa’s Wierd singer Jenn Ghetto‘s 3rd S album, Saviour Machine‘s Legend III:II (8 years in the making?), Celldweller‘s sophomore album, another Peter Mulvey (he’s due), George Hrab‘s 6th album, Incubus guitarist Michael Einziger‘s end.>vacuum project, the debut from Ken AndrewsLos Angeles Digital Noise Academy project…

~Dan – np: George Hrab – Geologic Podcast #97

Categories: Music News Tags: , ,

* Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2008 *

29th Dec 08 (Mon) 9 comments

Disclaimer section is again shamelessly plagiarized from Andy Whitman at Paste

Disclaimer #1: No, I haven’t heard all 8,000 albums released this year. I’ve heard about 200 of them, which makes me at least 97.5% likely to be wrong. But hey, this isn’t math class, and I make no claims to objectivity. These albums are my favorites from 2008. You might think that the one you’ve heard that I haven’t heard is the best album of 2008. And you might be right.


Disclaimer #2: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just get it out of your system now and be done with it. I am deliberately trying to be obscure. Who the hell has even heard of these people? So go ahead and vent, then read Disclaimer #1 again.

My Other Favorites of 2008 Recaps:

  • Fave Concerts of ‘08 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave EPs/Vinyl/Live/more of ‘08 are recapped *HERE*
  • Fave Vocal Albums ‘08 are recapped *HERE*
  • Old Years: 2007V, 2007I, 2007C, 2006, 2005

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.  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.

Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else.  But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out their webpages, MySpaces, my fave song recommendations on iTunes (in 30 second bursts), yadda yadda yadda.  OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year on the mainly instrumental front…

Honorable mentions (aka my list is too jam packed, and I still really love these records, too): Bill Frisell‘s History, Mystery (with Eyvind Kang, Jenny Scheinman, Kenny Wollesen, etc); Charlie Hunter‘s Baboon Strength; John Zorn‘s Filmworks XX & XXI: Sholem Aleichem & Belle de Nature / The New Rijksmuseum; Medeski Martin & Wood‘s Radiolarians I; and Dub Trio‘s Another Sound is Dying.

ReptetChicken or Beef? (Monktail Creative Music Concern) :: I feel like I’ve written too much (especially on my Top 20 Vocal albums blog); so these descriptions / raves might be shorter… we shall see.  Reptet is a great 6-piece jazz band from Seattle.  I heard about them via Jim Wilke’s Jazz Nothwest podcast back in late 2007, when a collaboration of Seattle jazz & avant bands called the Monktail Creative Music Concern played a gig that got aired in its entirety.  Anyway, Reptet is one of my fave bands in the MCMC.  They’re a quirky jazz band with an odd sense of humor.  I dig it… a great, modern brass-forward jazz sextet.  Favorite tracks are “Reptet Score!” and “Eve of Thrieve.” http://www.reptet.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/reptet
Daniel ZamirI Believe (Tzadik) :: I have some of Daniel’s Satlah project, of which I dig a plenty.  This one was outside of the Satlah camp, enlisting NYC scene heavyweights Uri Caine, Greg Cohen, and Joey Baron.  I waffled on including it until I heard it again recently.  It’s really gorgeous.  More on the mellower, nee spiritual, side of the the music coming out of the Radical Jewish Culture series, Zamir really offers up his soprano sax melodies as prayers.  The title of the album and the music really match up perfectly. Favorite tracks are “Poem 10” and “Poem 51/52.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/danielzamir
John ZornFilmworks XIX: Dimitri Geller’s The Rain Horse (Tzadik) :: John Zorn put out a handful of Filmworks this year, and all of them are good.  FW XXI would have made it on the list as well, had it not been for the too often used harpsichord in The New Rijksmuseum scoring (the parts for the Belle de Nature score are really gorgeous, though).  Anyway, the Filmworks series are usually some of John Zorn’s most accessible. The Rain Horse is a subtle trio of Erik Friedlander on cello, Greg Cohen on upright bass, and Rob Burger on piano.  Favorite tracks are “Parable of Job” and “Tears of Morning.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/johnzorn
TalkdemonicEyes at Half Mast (Arena Rock) :: No, their album cover doesn’t really do the animation thing (a la Tool’s Ænima).  I just couldn’t help using that animated GIF from their MySpace page.  This Portland post-rock duo swung through Eugene at least twice this year.  I caught their brilliant February show.  Their album didn’t come out until later in the year, and it continues in the sound from their prior two albums.  Great electro-acoustic post-rock… drums, viola and electronics. Favorite tracks are “Duality of Deathening” and “Tides in Their Grave.” http://talkdemonic.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/talkdemonicmusicmaking
NIИ Ghosts I-IV (halo) :: Sparse and haunting, Ghosts I-IV reminds me of a soundtrack meets demos for Trent’s next album.  Perhaps that’s where they came from, ideas kicking around in his head.  For a fan of instrumental music, it’s a highly enjoyable 110 minute journey into many different soundscapes.  For the download version, each track has it’s own artwork attached in the file which is a nice addition even though I hate the shift towards the potential eventual demise of the “album.” Favorite tracks are “14” and “31.” http://www.nin.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/nin
Bobby Previte & New BumpSet the Alarm for Monday (Palmetto) :: A new version of Previte’s Bump the Renaissance, this group includes two of my favorite players – – Ellery Eskelin on sax & Steven Bernstein on trumpet.  Drummer Bobby Previte does many projects, some more in the avant-garde scene… but New Bump definitely fits into an accessible range (similar to Coalition of the Willing with Jamie Saft & Skerik).  This album is really “jazz-cinematic” a la a private investigator drama soundtrack perhaps. Favorite tracks are “I’d Advise You Not to Miss Your Train” and “There Was Something In My Drink.” http://www.bobbyprevite.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/previte
Steven BernsteinDiaspora Suite (Tzadik) :: This is Bernstein’s fourth in his Diaspora series for Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture, and it very well be my favorite.  It seems much more adventurous than the past efforts, which is what I like about Steven’s trumpet playing and compositions.  I think Suite fits better in with his larger Sex Mob and Millennial Territory Orchestra catalog (but from a decidedly Jewish musical culture standpoint, obviously).  I hope I get a chance to see him sometime… he played in Ohio just after I moved away, and he played in Seattle in November (as part of Earshot Jazz Fest), but being on a Wednesday… well, I didn’t make it up for the show. Favorite tracks are “Zebulon” and “Judah.” http://stevenbernstein.net/ -and- http://myspace.com/stevenbernsteinmusic
AuragamiEsoteric (indie) :: Auragami is a former Dayton, OH, now San Diego-based bass guitarist named Michael Miller.  This album isn’t commercially available, as far as I know.  I know Michael Miller from going to shows around Dayton (and surrounding).  We’ve got a lot of the same leanings with the rock stuff (Galactic Cowboys, King’s X, et cetera), and I’m happy that I made it on his Christmas card list… because the Christmas card list has been a new CD of his for the past few years. Esoteric is a 40-minute record with the melodies, crunch and remix-friendly bass that I’ve come to love about his music.  He also collaborates with others on this album (a personal fave, Mike Georgin, being one of them).  As far as the sound, it’s very much a bass with drum loop affair… some subtle melodies, some heavier/grittiness (a la NIN), and some organic-electronics that fit well with another San Diego artists, The Album Leaf and Goddamn Electric Bill.  Not being commercially available officially, you can check out his music on MySpace and maybe see if he’ll sell you a copy.  It seems to be a crime to not be out there.  Anyway, thanks for the Christmas gift, Michael! Favorite tracks are “Colab” and “Clover.” http://www.myspace.com/auragami
Goddamn Electric BillTopics for Gossip (99X) :: GdEB is a one-man electronic band from San Diego (Jason Torbert is his name), similar in that sense to The Album Leaf, but I’d say GdEB is less ambient and definitely more in the electronic / remix realm when compared to TAL.  GdEB might compare similarly to Frog Pocket, but maybe less… um… buzzy & bleepy.  I don’t know.  I suppose me comparing a little known San Diego electronic artist to another lesser known Scottish electronic artist doesn’t help much.  Check GdEB out for yourself… Favorite tracks are “The Morning Commute” and “The Shallows.” http://www.goddamnelectricbill.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/goddamnelectricbill
Hiromi’s SonicbloomBeyond Standard (Telarc) :: Hiromi Uehara is a freakin’ whiz on the piano.  I got into her with her 2007 CD Time Control after a few clips on BMG’s website (I was trying to round out an order).  Her style is very much a jazz-rock fusion, which I’d almost say the rock element comes from her piano skills rather than the rest of the band.  You wouldn’t expect this sound just based by the cover alone… the 29 year-old Hiromi amidst bright colors.  You’d think it were some Japanese bubblegum pop or something.  Anyway, this is her 2nd Sonicbloom album in as many years.  She played a several date run at the Triple Door in Seattle this past summer.  If she does it again soon, I’m totally making the drive up. Favorite tracks are “Led Boots” and “XYG.” http://www.hiromimusic.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/hiromimusic
Medeski Martin & Wood play John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two – Book of Angels, Vol. 11: Zaebos (Tzadik) :: Medeski Martin & Wood have been in the Tzadik family for a while.  They contributed a track to the Unknown Masada album, which was sort of the initial idea that eventually brought out the Masada Book Two series (i.e.- new, previously unrecorded Masada book tunes not recorded by the Masada quartet).  John Medeski has also appeared on many other Tzadik releases in a studio musician sense.  With that being said, MMW’s inclusion into the Masada Book Two series came as a total shock, though.  I think it was announced in early June ’08 for a July release.  Whereas Secret Chiefs 3’s Masada Book Two release was announced in winter ’07 for a May ’08 release (almost a year and a half).  Anyway, MMW’s Zaebos is a great record.  I’d say it doesn’t rank as high as Xaphan and Lucifer for this year’s releases in that for some reason I don’t think the MMW Masada tunes work as well with their style as the tunes work with Secret Chiefs 3 or Bar Kokhba Sextet’s style.  All said and done, it’s still a brilliant record for 2008 and for both the Masada and MMW catalogs. Favorite tracks are “Chafriel” and “Tutrusa’i.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://mmw.net/ -and- http://www.myspace.com/medeskimartinandwood
Tiptons Sax QuartetLaws of Motion (Zipa! Spoot) :: Similar to Reptet, I got into the Tiptons via Jim Wilke’s Jazz Northwest podcast.  I found out about them literally a day after they had been in Eugene in Dec ’07.  D’oh!  Anyway, I believe that this is their 3rd full length CD, though they had some former releases with different members under the name the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet.  They’re an all-woman sax quartet (plus drums) from Seattle.  They’ve got ties to some great jazz musicians & composers (Eyvind Kang & Wayne Horvitz for example).  This album has some vocals, but all in all, it’s a jazz record with a touch of eastern European music (balkan-klezmer per my untrained ears) thrown in. Favorite tracks are “Fallout” and “Number Six.” http://www.tiptonssaxquartet.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/tiptons
Mostly Other People Do the KillingThis is Our Moosic (Hot Cup) :: I saw trumpeter Peter Evans in Eugene in February, and it was a mind-blowing avant-garde set.  This band on the other hand, led by Moppa Elliott, is more of a Sex Mob-influenced jazz funk romp.  Great music from these NY gents.  You can get their albums on CD Baby (please, support indie moosic). Favorite tracks are “The Bats in Belfry” and “Drainlick.” http://www.moppaelliott.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/mostlyotherpeopledothekilling
StebmoStebmo (indie) :: Multi-instrumentalist Steve Moore has played with Earth, Sunn 0))), and enlisted some friends (Eyvind Kang, Matt Chamberlain, Todd Sickafoose, Tucker Martine and more) to help out on his first solo album.  I saw him open for Skerik’s Maelstrom Trio this past spring as well as play with Earth in June.  As mentioned in the live review, his album is a bit like the organic/melodic elements of the Album Leaf mixed with the building nature of an Explosions in the Sky set mixed with a heaping handful of electronic jots & tittles like those that may have hit the Kid A cutting room floor. Favorite tracks are “Dark Circles” and “Waiting Game.” http://stebmo.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/stebmo
John Zorn’s Moonchild Trio (Mike Patton/Joey Baron/Trevor Dunn) – The Crucible (Tzadik) :: This album is a rare December release on Tzadik (since 2000, they’ve taken the month off).  Continuing in the Moonchild Trio’s glossolaliac noise metal theme, this album also adds John Zorn’s wonderful sax trade-off with Mike Patton’s screaming utterances.  Guitarist Marc Ribot also adds very Led Zeppelin riffage on one track (“9×9”).  When the original Moonchild album was released (2006), I thought it was going to be a one off… well, four albums in, I’m definitely hoping it continues a bit more… Favorite tracks are “Almadel” and “Maleficia.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/johnzorn
Swami Late Plate (Bobby Previte & Jamie Saft) – Doom Jazz (Veal) :: The album’s title, Doom Jazz, says it all.  This album fits well for fans of Sunn 0))), Earth, Bohren & Der Club of Gore and others in the slow rock, doom, sludge movement.  I find it completely compelling… Favorite tracks are “Malignant Cloud” and “The Bearded Man Cannot Help You.” http://myspace.com/swamilateplate -and- http://myspace.com/doomjazz
God of ShamisenDragon String Attack! (Reptile) :: God of Shamisen is Kevin Kmetz, an I first heard of him when he was playing with world metal band Estradasphere.  He’s also played (briefly) with Secret Chiefs 3.  He’s had a few solo albums, but this year saw GoS release two band efforts: the 7″ vinyl for “The Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury Attack!” and then their full-length debut this past fall.  I picked up this debut at their show in Eugene (go here for my review with pictures).  While it has some minor vocals on a song or two, it’s still primarily a instrumental attack.  Japanese metal fusion… excellent stuff. Favorite tracks are “The Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury Attack!” and the spread across the album in several waves “Dragon String Attack!” http://godofshamisen.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/gos
MogwaiThe Hawk is Howling (Matador) :: Much more enjoyable to me than their recent tour (review link). I can control the volume… yay! I dig this record A LOT. This Scottish band has put out some consistently great records. This one bounces back from their mellower Zidane with more gusto, more power, yet still retaining the melody. You know… the melody that gets drowned out in their live show. Favorite tracks are “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead” and “The Precipice.” http://mogwai.co.uk/ -and- http://myspace.com/mogwai
Yoshie FruchterPitom (Tzadik) :: Wow… I’m definitely looking to more from Yoshie Fruchter in the future.  Like Jon Madof’s Rashanim and Yves Weyh’s Zakarya, Yoshie Fruchter brings in a great rock vibe to the Radical Jewish Culture series. Favorite tracks are “Go Go Golem” and “Lungs and Spleen.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://www.yoshiefruchter.com/
SF Jazz Collective 2008 (Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenon, and more) – SF Jazz Collective 2008  (Wayne Shorter feature) (SFJAZZ) :: I became a fan of this band because of one man: trumpeter since their 2007 band, Dave Douglas.  I also got to see them this past February at the PDX Jazz Fest (see my combo SF Jazz & Ornette Coleman review here).  This jam-packed 3-CD set is full of Wayne Shorter arrangements and originals by the band members.  It’s a little step on the price by today’s standards, but it helps support the not-for-profit SFJazz organization. Favorite tracks are “Aurora Borealis,” “Secrets of the Code,” and “Aung San Suu Kyi.”
http://sfjazz.org/
John ZornThe Dreamers (Tzadik) :: Played by the Electric Masada band, The Dreamers continues with the motif and accessibility of 2001’s The Gift… mixing world, jazz, exotica, surf and more into a very pleasing John Zorn package.  Combined with the fantastic cute animal art by Chippy, this one will most definitely rank in the top Zorn releases.  I hear it may find its way onto vinyl, or perhaps that’s just me stoking the embers of the rumor house’s fireplace. Favorite tracks are “A Ride On Cottonfair” and “Nekashim.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/johnzorn
Jason Schimmel’s Orange Tulip ConspiracyOrange Tulip Conspiracy (Web of Mimicry) :: Jason Schimmel has played with two bands that I love: Estradasphere & Secret Chiefs 3.  This album continues on with Estradasphere’s Palace of Mirrors’ eclectic world music sound, but also brings in a bit of exotica, cinematic sound.  I saw them in Eugene in November, and John Whooley’s sax blew me away as much as Jason’s guitar work. Favorite tracks are “Fall Creek” and “Rendezvous.” http://orangetulipconspiracy.com/ -and- http://www.myspace.com/orangetulipconspiracy
EarthThe Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (Southern Lord) :: I went to their show at WOW Hall in Eugene in June after getting into Stebmo (see #12 above).  They pretty much played stuff from their latest album.  After the show, I quickly nabbed their prior work from Amazon used (and whatnot).  Great band in the slowcore genre.  They have deep ties to the Seattle scene, co-mingling with Kurt Cobain, the Melvins, Sunn 0))), and others.  In fact, Kurt Cobain even guested on Earth’s 2nd EP, Extra-Capsular Extraction.  With that being said, they’re definitely not grunge, they’re not rock, they’re not metal… they’re what you might call drone rock.  Slow but powerful. Favorite tracks are “Engine of Ruin” and “Rise to Glory.” http://www.thronesanddominions.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/earthofficial
The Bar Kokhba Sextet plays John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two – Book of Angels, Vol. 10: Lucifer (Tzadik) :: The Bar Kokhba Sextet showed up in 1996 as an almost direct spin-off of the Masada book; so them doing a Book Two album was almost a given.  Holy cow, it’s a brilliant record… but I always loved what the Sextet had done previously.  The Sextet is the tour de force of Cyro Baptista, Joey Baron, Greg Cohen, Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander, and Marc Ribot.  This is one band in my list that I wish I’d seen… I’m crossing my fingers that Earshot Jazz can bring ’em over to the PacNW sometime. Favorite tracks are “Sother” and “Abdiel.” http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://www.last.fm/music/Bar+Kokhba+Sextet
The Secret Chiefs 3 play John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two – Book of Angels, Vol. 9: Xaphan (Tzadik) :: I shant write too much about Xaphan, as I wrote a fairly in-depth review of it back when it came out.  I will say that it aged well and still held the Top spot all year.  It’s a GREAT record.  My main disappointment is that I wish they’d have played some from it at their tour this past fall.  Favorite tracks are “Shoel,” “Bezriel,” and “Balberith.” http://webofmimicry.com/ -and- http://tzadik.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/secretchiefs3

Well, I bought ten (10) John Zorn CDs this year (unless I’m misscounting), and 2 of them didn’t make it anywhere on the list (the Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson improv benefit CD for The Stone NYC & the score for The Last Supper, aka Film Works XXII)… so, you can’t say that I’m totally biased towards John Zorn. :)  Though, I do buy just about everything in his label Tzadik’s Archival series, Key series, and Radical Jewish Culture series (and a handful of the rest of the other series).

What I’m looking forward to in 2009? More great music…

~Dan – np: Miles DavisMiles in the Sky

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