Happy 236th birthday, United States!
So, here are my faves of the first half of 2012… and outside of the Top 5, it’s all kind of random order on how I feel today… it’s all bound to switch around by year’s end (click album art for sound samples):
Artist – Album (style)
- OSI – Fire Make Thunder (glitch prog)
- Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (jazzy pop)
- Peter Mulvey – The Good Stuff (indie songwriter playing standards with a band)
- Damien Jurado – Maraqopa (indie rock)
- Celldweller – Wish Upon A Blackstar (electronica)
- Sigur Rós – Valtari (ambient icelandic)
- Emily Wells – Mama (chamber hip-pop)
- Floratone – Floratone II (jazz)
- s/s/s (Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux, Serengeti) – Beak & Claw -EP- (interesting)
- Storm Corrosion (Steven Wilson & Mikael Akerfeldt) – Storm Corrosion (ethereal proggy departure)
- John Zorn – The Gnostic Preludes (jazzy experimental)
- John Zorn’s Moonchild Trio (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn & Joey Baron) with John Medeski – Templars (noise rock)
- Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 2 (drone)
- The Chance Brothers – Growing Concern (indie rock)
- Regina Spektor – What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (pop)
- Ani DiFranco – Which Side Are You On? (folk pop songwriter)
- Buckethead – Electric Sea (gentler instrumental guitar)
- Bad Veins – The Mess We’ve Made (indie rock)
- Cosa Brava (Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt, etc) – The Letter (rootsy jazz adventure)
- David Krakauer plays Masada Book Two – Book of Angels, Vol. 18 (Pruflas) (klezmer jazz)
I didn’t get a few that already came out this year (yet) and whatever “et cetera” that the cool kids are listening to these days; but they may make it to the list at the end of the year.
The 2nd half of 2012 promises to bring some potential great ones, too… a few more from John Zorn, Mike Patton & Luciano Berio’s Laborintus II, Ben Folds Five’s reunion studio album, Ric Hordinski’s Arthurs Garden (physical CD, though the download came out a bit ago), the Dusted debut from Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, Erin McKeown’s kickstarter, and I’ve heard rumors of a new Nellie McKay disc for the Fall.
Favorite concerts of 2012 (so far):
- Penn & Teller and Cirque’s Zumanity in Las Vegas, Jan 18th & 20th
- Secret Chiefs 3 in Eugene & Portland, Feb 6th & 7th
- Nellie McKay’s I Want To Live! in Eugene & Portland, Mar 2nd & 4th
- Puscifer in Portland, Mar 14th
- Seun Kuti & the Egypt 80 in Eugene, Mar 18th
- Radiohead in Seattle, April 9th
- Roger Waters presents Pink Floyd’s The Wall in Portland, May 22nd
- Beck in Bend, May 27th
(click pictures below for review links)
This just in… new album from Ani DiFranco called Which Side Are You On? comes out January 17, 2012. It’s her first album in over 3 years (or 1,204 days – but who’s counting?). And, yay, Anais Mitchell & Skerik are on it!
Update 11/18 Tracklist (below) and pre-order info (ships 12/23 for the 1/17 release date):
Pre-order from RBR http://store.righteousbabe.com/departments/product/anidifranco/
Pre-order from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0060GVI2C/
Here’s the official press release:
ANI DIFRANCO RETURNS WITH HER FIRST NEW ALBUM IN MORE THAN THREE YEARS
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ani DiFranco has announced the upcoming release of her eagerly awaited new album. Which Side Are You On? arrives via the Grammy-winning artist’s own Righteous Babe Records on January 17, 2012.
Which Side Are You On? marks DiFranco’s first studio album in more than three years. The collection features 11 new songs alongside a radically reworked rendition of the classic title song, famously popularized by the one and only Pete Seeger nearly five decades ago, but no less relevant today. Backing DiFranco is a remarkably diverse line-up of stellar musicians, including members of her own crack touring band as well as such guest players as Ivan and Cyril Neville (of New Orleans’ first family of funk and R&B, The Neville Brothers), avant-saxophonist Skerik (Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bonnie Raitt, The Meters), acclaimed singer/songwriter (and Righteous Babe recording artist) Anaïs Mitchell, guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Amos Lee), and a host of New Orleans-based horn players known for their work in such outfits as Galactic, Bonerama, and The Rebirth Brass Band.
What’s more, Ani is joined on her stunning new version of Which Side Are You On? by the aforementioned Pete Seeger, whom she praises as “my elder, my forefather in folk music and political song.” DiFranco was inspired to record the famed protest anthem after being invited to perform at Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration at Madison Square Garden in May 2009. She contributed her own straight-from-the headlines verses to the song and has used it to close her own live shows ever since. The newly recorded version of Which Side Are You On? is a funk-fueled epic, incorporating not just Ani’s band, but Seeger himself on banjo and vocals alongside The Rivertown Kids, a Hudson Valley-based children’s chorus, and The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders, a brass band consisting of students from The Roots of Music, a music education program for at-risk middle-school students in New Orleans.
“All of my musical community, my comrades, are in there,” says Ani of the cross-generational recording. Which Side Are You On? was co-produced by DiFranco and her longtime collaborator Mike Napolitano over a series of sessions in 2010 and 2011. The basic tracks feature two slightly different versions of Ani’s touring band, recorded at Bogalusa, Louisiana’s renowned Studio In The Country, Brooklyn, New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Studio, and her own New Orleans home studio, The Dugout.
The album represents an extraordinary snapshot of DiFranco’s own life as well as her sense of where the country stands at this particular moment in time. The long gap since 2008’s acclaimed Red Letter Year offered an array of new opportunities, including a backlog of songs and the ability to painstakingly fine-tune new recordings. Many of the songs featured on Which Side Are You On? are reflections on growing older and being totally okay with that process. As she sings on “If Yr Not,” “If yr not getting happier as you get older/then yr fucking up.”
Elsewhere, Ani tackles some of the many crises that are currently confronting the nation and the world, spanning environmental disaster, government inaction, and a culture hooked on comfort and acquisition at any cost. Songs such as “Amendment” and “J” see DiFranco addressing these issues with a directness that is striking even for an artist long known for her activism and outspoken point of view.
“I’m testing deeper waters with the political songs on this album,” she says. “I feel a little bit frustrated, politically desperate. After having written hundreds of songs over decades, I think, ‘Now what? How far can I go with this? Can you sing the word ‘abortion,’ can you sing the word ‘patriarchy’ – what can you sing and get away with? I guess I’ve been pushing my own boundaries of politics and art. Seeing what people have the ears to listen to. How big is my mouth? What can I get out of it successfully?”
The last two decades have seen DiFranco staking a historic claim on popular music, spanning 16 studio albums and countless live recordings (including 1997’s RIAA gold-certified Living in Clip), EPs, and compilation contributions. Along the way she has amassed a devoted fan following, received numerous awards and nominations, earned rapturous reviews, and basically rewrote the rules of the recording industry.
Now Ani’s recommendation about the album’s opening track “Life Boat” can be said to apply to Which Side Are You On? as a whole: “Just listen, drop your idea of who is singing and what you already know they’re saying, and go somewhere else, open yourself up to a new story.”
CD, vinyl and mp3 digital download release.
- Life Boat
- Which Side Are You On?
- If Yr Not
FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM
Ani DiFranco comes through Eugene on just about every West Coast tour – which is always a delight. The crowd seemed a tad sparse… perhaps due to the lack of new Ani material out there recently. She’s prolific, but hasn’t put out an album since 2008’s Red Letter Year. She hasn’t even put out any new official live bootlegs since 2009. With that lack of apparent new music on the shelves (CD World or iTunes), one might think she’s taking a break. Well, as you’ll see from the setlist below, no break has occurred with her songwriting proliferation…
Super busy week; so I apologize in advance… I didn’t catch the opener Animal Prufrock this time. I saw her back in 2008 with Judy Grahn & Ani D. I enjoyed Animal’s raucous energy, but again… twas an uber-busy week, and I couldn’t make it to the McD for the early opener start time (Animal @ 7:30, Ani D @ 8:30!).
I got into the venue about 30 seconds before Ani and band hit the stage. Whew, perfect timing! Her band this time was the same as her prior Eugene gig… Andy Barger on drums, Mike Dillon on percussion, and Todd Sickafoose on contrabass. Fantastically gelled band… I love watching these guys play. In fact, I’ll be seeing Mike Dillon play again next week in Eugene. At the end of the Ani tour, he’s hitting the road with Skerik and the rest of the guys with Garage A Trois.
Tons of new stuff was played…
Setlist: around 90 minutes pre-encore
- Angry Any More
- Unworry (newish – she played it at Eugene 2009)
- Promiscuity (new)
- Gloating (new)
- W.O.W. (new)
- J (new)
- I Know This Bar
- See See “Still in Love with You” (new)
- The Atom
- If You’re Not (new)
- Untouchable Face
- Which Side Are You On?
- Encore: Overlap
- Angel from Montgomery
Due to a hectic week, I had to bail right before the encore. Based on other reports from this tour, she also played a few older tunes and maybe the newer tune “Mariachi.” Anyone with a good memory or notes throw a little help on what she played after “Which Side…” for an encore?
As far as the new stuff, I dug it… especially “Gloating,” “Jay,” and “W.O.W.” I will say one of the best things of the night was the main line to “If You’re Not”…
If you’re not getting happier as you get older, you’re fucking up.
A lot of new stuff to digest… I usually need some more time for the new material to kick around my brain. Perhaps with this glut of new material, she’s heading into the studio soon for studio album #18(!). Anyone catch her Crystal Ballroom show in Portland? Any major difference in setlist?
more photos below
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Ani DiFranco’s Site
- Ani DiFranco’s Social Media Links (see below)
- My Other Ani-Related Reviews~
- McDonald Theatre’s Site / Facebook / Twitter
Next show for me… Skerik, Mike Dillon, Marc Benevento and Stanton Moore are Garage A Trois @ Sam Bond’s 4/21.
ANI DIFRANCO PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution
(click for larger)
Photos and review of Ani DiFranco’s show at the McDonald Theatre in Eugene coming soon(ish)!
Check back Wednesday evening or Thursday morning for the report from Eugene!
Her Portland show is Wednesday… check it!
Ani DiFranco recently popped up to duet with the Twilight Singers on their latest album. The Twilight Singers album is coming out in early 2011 on Sub Pop Records. You can get a free mp3 download of the folky pop song OVER HERE.
I got this email this past week about a new album from Ani DiFranco drummer Allison Miller – who I can say was a delight to watch play when I saw her with Ani in the spring of 2008. The album description sounds fantastic to me! I can’t wait to hear it.
The example that Miller sets on BOOM TIC BOOM is that of a powerhouse drummer with an unerring sense of swing and a moving melodicism; an inventive composer with a gift for memorable tunes that leave ample space for bright improvisations; and a bandleader who ably marries these pieces with the right collaborators to breathe life into them. Here, those collaborators are pianist/composer Myra Melford; longtime collaborator Todd Sickafoose on bass; and guest violinist Jenny Scheinman on one track.
Half of the album is comprised of original pieces penned by Miller during a one-month break from the road during the summer of 2008. The diversity of influences evident in the music belies the short time span in which it was written but is reflective of the wealth of musical experience that makes up Miller’s résumé.
For BOOM TIC BOOM, Miller assembled a trio that she knew would stretch the limits of the music she had written. “I come from a straight ahead jazz tradition,” she explains, “but I play so many different styles of music that I don’t want to stick strictly to that tradition. So, for BOOM TIC BOOM I wanted more of an avant-garde approach to my semi-traditional compositions.”
I dig Allison, in addition to both Todd Sickafoose and Jenny Scheinman. I think this is gonna be right up my alley…
Artists of the Decade – Honorable Mentions (1/1/2010 blog link)
- Dweezil Zappa
- Tori Amos
- Iron & Wine
- King’s X
- Derek Webb
Artists of the Decade (#21 to 25) (1/1/2010 blog link)
25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey
23 ~ Opeth
22 ~ dredg
21 ~ Holy Fuck
And now round 2…
20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)
Pedro the Lion released their two most powerful and poignant albums in the early 2000s (Control and Achilles Heel), then frontman David Bazan decided to disband PTL and go solo (though by the 2000s, the writing was primarily Bazan anyway with hired guns for studios and tours). Prior to his first full length solo album, he did a side project called Headphones, put out annual Christmas 7″ vinyls, and released a split electric/acoustic EP. At the end of the decade, he hit the ground running with his fantastic “breaking up with God” record, Curse Your Branches. He’s been touring in a solo fashion fairly regularly since 2007 or so and is going to hit the road again this coming spring…
19 ~ Jurassic 5
Jurassic 5 combined four well-versed, naturally flowing MCs (Chali 2Na, Soup, Marc7 & Akil) and two melodic, creative, musicianship-driven DJs (Cut Chemist and NuMark) to create some excellently catchy hip-hop and rap. What I loved about them is that they weren’t all about the “drugs and bitches” that the gangsta rap had just previously been all about (don’t get me wrong, I love Dr. Dre’s The Chronic from the 90s, but J5 tended to keep it positive and definitely more musically-inclined). All six members have gone on to do solo albums and/or side projects after the band’s official breakup in the late 2000s… my faves have been Cut Chemist’s The Audience’s Listening and Chali 2Na’s Fish Outta Water. I still long for a reunion record, and I bet it’ll happen… maybe in the 2010s?
18 ~ My Brightest Diamond
Shara Worden’s utterly gorgeous, operatic voice is almost too much for the indie rock scene. Almost. It seems to fit in perfectly with Sufjan Stevens’ quirky folk and her own lush My Brightest Diamond string-infused indie pop (and the subsequent remix LPs/EPs centered around her studio albums). In a live setting, her voice is powerful and sublime, and her stage presense is charming. If you can get ahold of her pre-MBD band CDs, do so (AwRy was the name of the band).
17 ~ Nellie McKay
Her debut, Get Away From Me, is a 2-disc / 18-song satirical, poignant, humorous & angsty romp. The tag-line of “Eminem meets Doris Day” rang true. She followed it up with a couple of more subdued albums with the occasional harder edge tune, and then by decade’s end, she released a Doris Day only album. It seems somewhere along the line, she lost the Eminem edge, but she ended up still topping my list with the more gentle album. Her live performance for the Doris Day material was fantastic – which definitely helped its appeal with me. She’s a vegetarian and animal rights activist, too… so, definitely on my friendly artists list.
16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3
Book M and Book of Horizons (both in the early 2000s) were SC3’s last officially “SC3 studio albums,” but since 2007, they have been busy with a handful of impressive 7″ vinyl singles, a “greatest hits” compilation, an amazing John Zorn Masada Book Two release in 2008 (Xaphan), a great concert DVD, a soundtrack to a made-up movie, and the ever-lasting promises of the Book of Souls (an album in the making… since… 2005?).
15 ~ Over the Rhine
In 2001, I think Over the Rhine made one of the best albums of their career… Films for Radio. They followed with a stunning double-album (Ohio), several solo albums by pianist Linford Detweiler, four live compilations, a few more pretty darn decent albums (including a new holiday album), and continual touring every spring & fall/winter. All in all, it was a pretty solid decade of a healthy work ethic. I’m curious what the 2010s will bring in the land of Over the Rhine. One can hope that they keep evolving.
14 ~ Mike Patton
Mr. Bungle broke up at the front end of the decade… but Mike continued on from Fantômas to Tomahawk to Lovage (with Dan the Automator & Elysian Fields’ Jennifer Charles) to Peeping Tom to multiple movie scores to many projects with John Zorn and back to Faith No More in 2009. As we lead into 2010, there are more Faith No More touring plans, more Fantômas plans, new bands Mondo Cane (50s Italian pop) and Crudo (DJ/rock-oriented), another Peeping Tom in 2011, and plenty else up his sleeve. Patton’s vocal versatility and hard work ethic make him one of my faves this past decade.
13 ~ Ani DiFranco
Similar to Tori Amos, the 1990s found a more consistently on her game Ani. While those days are gone, in the 2000s Ani kept delivering album after album after album and has way too many wins than loses, in my book. Revelling / Reckoning is quite possibly the most important release of her career (though not necessarily my favorite in this long oevre). She’s continually active and important in my musical world.
12 ~ Johnny Cash
This decade brought us American III, IV & V, and the Unearthed box set… all true genius from Johnny and Rick Rubin. The video for “Hurt” (a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song) is one of the most powerfully emotional videos I’ve ever seen (he really brought something new to that original NIИ song). If Rick Rubin never does anything important in the world of music ever again, he’ll still be the one who made Johnny Cash a legend (again).
11 ~ Dave Douglas
Founder of Greenleaf Music (a jazz label), and member of John Zorn’s Masada quartet… Dave Douglas is my #1 living trumpet player. My foray into a mega jazz love throughout the decade led me to be a fond admirer of Dave and his varied work. His various incarnations – the Quintet, Keystone, Brass Ecstasy, the Big Band, and more – show that he’s a hard worker. I can safely say, he’ll be back on this list in late 2019. :)
Tune in tomorrow for the final round…
My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:
- Fave Concerts of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
- Fave EPs/Vinyl/Live/more of ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
- Fave Vocal Albums ‘09 are recapped *HERE*
- Fave Instrumental Albums ’09 are *HERE*
- Old Years: 2008I, 2008V, 2008ep, 2008C, 2007V, 2007I, 2007C, 2006, 2005
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.