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* Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2011 *

31st Dec 11 (Sat) Leave a comment

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

As said before… I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my fourth year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, Facebox pages, yadda yadda yadda. Some of these also made it on to my 2011 Mix CD (free streaming/download).

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

Product Details Cyro Baptista’s Banquet of Spirits plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 17 (Caym) :: The Masada Book two series is some of my favorite music coming out of Tzadik.  Banquet of the Spirits is the touring band of Latin percussionist Cyro Baptista, a long time Zorn collaborator.  Each track touches upon a different world tradition, steeped in Zorn’s klez-jazz score.  Lyrical and moving and fun!

Artichaut OrkestraT For Teresa :: Featuring four young musicians  from Toulouse, Artichaut Orkestra mix jazz, klezmer and classical music, blending rock energy with improv.  This is their debut record, and I’m definitely looking forward to more coming from them in the near future.
Curtis MacdonaldCommunity Immunity :: To be honest, this was an impulse purchase.  One of my favorite record labels is Greenleaf Music – founded by my favorite living trumpet-player Dave Douglas.  I was picking up some new music from DD and figured, “eh, what the hell!”  I was impressed with Curtis’ melodic compositions and emotive alto sax playing.
MogwaiHardcore Will Never Die, But You Will :: Stunning double-disc set from post-rock’s Scottish kings.  I’ll still probably forgo seeing them live again (too loud, beyond their needs), but they put out some amazingly beautiful music.

(3 CDs)
John ZornNova Express / At the Gates of Paradise / A Dreamer Christmas :: Three discs made the cut of the six Zorn releases in 2011.  Nova Express combines quirky atonal classical lyricism with a touch of the cut up techniques of Naked City and virtuosity of the Masada songbook. Zorn scored this for Joey Baron (drums), Trevor Dunn (bass), John Medeski (piano), and Kenny Wollesen (vibes).  Paradise features the same band as Nova Express, brings some Medeski organ into the mix and adds more of Zorn’s “mystical” ambiance.  The Dreamer Christmas album was an oddity for me.  Why would a Jewish jazz musician put out a Christmas album?  Because he can!  The Dreamers is one of my favorite Zorn-assembled ensembles: Joey Baron (drums), Cyro Baptista (percussion), Trevor Dunn (bass), Marc Ribot (guitars), Jamie Saft (keys), and Kenny Wollesen (vibes).  Very accessible, but not smooth jazz!  Adventurous!  Mike Patton joins them on the final track for a croon-y “chestnut roasting.”  The holiday album was also put out as a 12″ vinyl and a 7″ single – both with gorgeous artwork and design by Chippy.
yMusicBeautiful Mechanical :: The yMusic Ensemble had a kickstarter earlier this year for their debut album – with songs composed by Son Lux, Annie Clark, Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond), Saraha Kirkland snider (who penned a favorite album Penelope last year), and Gabriel Kahane.  Their string-heavy, indie chamber rock approach excites me.  Being the musical backdrop for My Brightest Diamond’s All Things Will Unwind album (my #2 vocal album in 2011) doesn’t hurt.
Peter Mulvey & David GoodrichNine Days Wonder :: Peter Mulvey has toured all over the US and the world for about 2 decades.  Some of the first times I saw him in concert, he had “Goody” with him on backing guitar.  They don’t get a chance to tour together much lately, but they did find some time to hole-up inside a studio to write and record some instrumental guitar duets.  While I love Peter’s vocal storytelling, it’s nice to hear his and Goody’s instrumental interplay tell a different story.
Goddamn Electric BillJazz :: GdEB is the one-man brainchild of Jason Torbert.  He hits the spot for organic electronic meets post-rock for me.  Ambient at times, melodic other times.  His latest work has featured some vocals, but he’s primarily a groove-induced soundscape kind of guy.  Chirps and glitches, too.  Excellent stuff!
The Dead Kenny G’sOperation Long Leash :: The Dead Kenny Gs is a duo started by saxophonist Skerik and drummer/vibes Mike Dillon in 2004.  shortly thereafter, they started adding Brian Haas, keyboard genius, when he is able, as well as Brad Houser, bassist from another Skerik band – Critters Buggin.  They push through the jazz/rock minefield to fight “injustice, cheese, and dishonesty in music, and society.”
TalkdemonicRuins :: Portland-based chamber-indie-post-rock… goodness.  So much sound from two people.  If you’re in Portland, they’re playing a big NYE show tonight… if in Eugene, they’ll be through our way (at Sam Bond’s) on Feb 24th.  Not to be missed!
Mike PattonThe Solitude of Prime Numbers :: I had to put this album as #13.  This chiefly instrumental album is a tribute to the book (by Paolo Giordano) and film of the same name.  The score is 16 tunes spread out over a 53 tracks, with the only tracks with content being 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, and 53. *slow clap* Clever, Mr. Patton!  For people who bought the CD, you can thank me for entering in the info to CDDB (t’was a pain).  The score/album fits more with his prior score for A Perfect Place – more accessible when compared to Patton’s usual schizophrenic output.  The packaging design is also brilliant – a gorgeous die-cut leaf that fold outwards.  I’d always recommend getting physical releases from Ipecac versus the digital download version.

Garage A TroisAlways Be Happy, But Stay Evil :: Skerik, Stanton Moore, Marco Benevento (who replaced Charlie Hunter) and Mike Dillon make their way through Oregon quite a bit.  They are a sight to see – you don’t know exactly what kind of show you’ll get, but it’s definitely a fun time.  Fun, groove-oriented “new jazz.”
Explosions in the SkyTake Care, Take Care, Take Care :: If not jazz, this list is also overtaken by post-rock.  it’s a love of mine, and Explosions in the Sky are one of the best in that game.  Epic, sweeping guitars crashing over a hearty drum & bass end.  This is another album where I’d recommend the physical edition – the  case can be unfolded to form a model of a house, where if viewed from the inside, the view from the door of the house is overlooking a tornado across a plain.

Erik FriedlanderBonebridge :: I started 2011 seeing Erik perform his John Zorn-penned Volac album in its entirety… brilliant and moving.  Later in the year, he came out with Bonebridge – a new band/concept that takes his Broken Arm Trio (with Trevor Dunn & Mike Sarin) and adds slide guitar player Doug Wamble to the mix.  What you get is a perfect chamber-Americana-jazz album.  I hope there are more where this came from…
Kevin Moore – Shine (Küçük Kıyamet Soundtrack) :: Kevin Moore’s main projects are the trippy/sample-heavy Chroma Key & heavier prog collaboration band O.S.I. (with Jim Matheos). Shine is the soundtrack to the 2006 Turkish film Küçük Kiyamet (“Little Apocalypse“).  It came out in early 2011 after a successful Kickstarter in 2010.  The next album from O.S.I. comes out in February 2012 on Metal Blade.  I can almost guarantee it will be my Top album of 2012, and I haven’t heard a shred of it yet.
ReptetAt the Cabin :: This Seattle-based jazz sextet is fuuuuuuuuuun – both on record and in the live setting.  I wish the distance on I-5 between me and them wasn’t 5-6 hours, as I’d see them far more often if I could.

Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, Dan PhelpsModular: Sonic Explorations :: Gorgeous soundscapes from Matt Chamberlain, Viktor Krauss, and Dan Phelps.  The Modular Project is the collaboration of the aforementioned musicians working together to “discover what the spontaneous and organic manipulation of sound can yield. Inspired by the world around them, they set out to discover what it might sound like when continents shift, clouds form, and roots push through soil.”  The track, “Everest,” features one of my favorite cellists – Eyvind Kang (who has worked with Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Bill Frisell, Mike Patton).  It’s a great mix of cello, vibes and soaring atmosphere.  The album is only available digitally or on vinyl (it’s a luscious triple-gatefold!)…

(3 CDs)
Dave Douglas – Three Views: GPS Series – Rare Metals, Orange Afternoons & Bad Mango :: Originally released as the “Greenleaf Portable Series” (download only), these three different releases in 2011 finally got a proper physical (boxset) release.  Dave’s prolific writing comes out with different bands on each record: Rare Metals features Dave’s most recent band Brass Ecstasy; Orange Afternoons features a specially put together quintet with Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh, and Marcus Gilmore; and Bad Mango paired Dave’s trumpet with So Percussion’s marimba, drumset, glockenspiel, musical saw, toy bells, shruti box, crotales, and more.  Three very different records tied together with Dave’s fantastic playing.

Tides From NebulaEarthshine :: This Polish post-rock group won my heart in 2009 with their debut, Aura (in 2009).  They continue to tease me with emails or news that says “tour” until I open and can’t pronounce the names of the cities that they’re hitting.  Drat!  At least their music will keep me company!  Earthshine is perfect for those fans of Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, and the like… and seeing as it beat out both those groups on my 2011 list, well, that should tell you something as well.

Michael KelseySubmerged :: Michael Kelsey is a HUGE amount of what I miss from the Midwest music scene.  He’s a musical genius – rarely paralleled on the frets.  Seeing him live (which I did any chance I could) was a site to behold.  His records do their best to capture his virtuosity, but they usually fail to capture his energy, too.  Catching fire in a bottle is tough.  Regardless, this one is a gem and also marks his first all instrumental affair.  Check him out, and if you live within a state or two from central Indiana, I count you a lucky one.  Go see him if he stops by your town.

Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 :: More riff-oriented and melodic compared to the prior drone doom albums, Earth bring a cello into the mix for the first time and create an ominous soundscape that is both elegant and dreadful.  The follow-up, Angels & Demons 2, comes out in Feb 2012… and you can almost guarantee it’ll rise to the top of my list next year as well.

Note: Ric Hordinski’s Arthur’s Garden (which made it on my 2011 Mix) is technically a 2012 release, hence its absence above.

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

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

Enjoy the New Years’ weekend!! Be safe! See you in 2012.

My Other Favorites of 2011 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Trent Reznor & Atticus RossThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

ha’fway 2011

6th Jul 11 (Wed) 2 comments

Happy belated 235th birthday, United States!

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So, here are my faves of the first half of 2011… it’s all bound to switch around by year’s end (click album art for sound samples):

  
  
  
  

Artist Album (style)

  1. Murat Eyuboglu & My Brightest DiamondLetters to Distant Cities EP featuring the words of Mustafa Ziyalan (spoken word/indie rock)
  2. Over the RhineThe Long Surrender (folk-americana)
  3. RadioheadThe King of Limbs (anti-radio rock)
  4. David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) – Strange Negotiations (indie rock)
  5. dredgChuckles and Mr Squeezy (modern progressive)
  6. EarthAngels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 (drone metal)
  7. Tides from NebulaEarthshine (postrock)
  8. Garage A Trois (Skerik & Co) – Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil (groove jazz)
  9. Kevin MooreShine (Küçük Kıyamet Soundtrack) (movie score)
  10. Explosions in the SkyTake Care, Take Care, Take Care (postrock)
  11. ReptetAt the Cabin (horny jazz)
  12. Goddamn Electric BillJazz (organic electronic)
  13. Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (postrock)
  14. Yoshie Fruchter’s Pitom – Blasphemy and Other Serious Crimes (instrumental klez-rock)
  15. Tres Mts (Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam & dUg Pinnick of King’s X) – Three Mountains (rock supergroup)
  16. Eisley – The Valley (modern rock)
  17. Michael Kelsey – Submerged (Midwest guitar virtuoso)
  18. Trey Parker & Matt Stone / Original Cast Recording – The Book of Mormon (sacrilegious broadway)
  19. Elysian Fields – Last Night on Earth (lusty indie-pop)
  20. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean (whispy indie rock)

I didn’t get a few that already came out this year (yet)… the new Hiromi, Gangpol & Mit, 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 2011 promises to bring some potential great ones, too… a few more from John Zorn, (including The Dreamers Xmas CD & the Rovo Sax Quartet collaboration), Secret Chiefs 3 Book of Souls (maybe), Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer (2nd album), some digital releases from A Perfect Circle, the doomy Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Opeth‘s 70s throwback album, Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson‘s 2nd solo album, My Brightest Diamond is wrapping up one in the studio (will it be out in 2011?), Ani DiFranco always has something coming out (it’s been a while though), probably something from one of Mike Patton‘s other bands (Fantômas live DVD, Tomahawk’s 4th album, more?), and I’m sure another dozen or more that I’ll dig from Tzadik.

Favorite concerts of 2011 (so far):

  • Erik Friedlander plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two – The Shedd, Eugene, Jan 8th
  • Reptet – Luckey’s, Eugene, Jan 14th
  • The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl) – The Woods, Portland, Jan 28th
  • Nels Cline Singers – Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, Jan 30th
  • Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Crystal Ballroom, Portland, Feb 18th
  • U2 – Qwest Field, Seattle, Jun 4th
  • A Perfect Circle – The Schnitzer, Portland, Jun 29th
    (click pictures below for review links)

~Dan – np: Secret Chiefs 3Book M

New Music April…

28th Apr 11 (Thu) Leave a comment

Sorry for not having much new to post as of late.  I did recently get the following CDs… all of them great in their own right, and all of them worth checking out!  Click on the album covers for mp3 sound samples.

Foo FightersWasting Light
melodic hard power rock

Explosions in the SkyTake Care, Take Care, Take Care
moving post-rock, brilliant packaging

Shara Worden & CoLetters to Distant Cities
short & sweet indie rock, spoken word

~Dan – np: Foo FightersWasting Light


Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (pre-order)

9th Mar 11 (Wed) Leave a comment

Post-rockers Explosions in the Sky have a new album coming out called Take Care, Take Care, Take Care.  It drops on April 26th, and it’s available for pre-order now.  The packaging looks wicked cool…

(click for larger)

1. Last Known Surroundings
2. Human Qualities
3. Trembling Hands
4. Be Comfortable, Creature
5. Postcard From 1952
6. Let Me Back In

It’s available for pre-order on the Amazons:

Compact Disc
quad-gatefold LP
(with download code)
digital mp3/FLAC (soon)

~Dan – np: Tres MtnsThree Mountains

Explosions in the Sky (due April 2011)

26th Jan 11 (Wed) Leave a comment

Texas post-rockers Explosions in the Sky come at us with their 5th studio album in April.  Take Care, Take Care, Take Care will release on April 26, 2011.

1. Last Known Surroundings
2. Human Qualities
3. Trembling Hands
4. Be Comfortable, Creature
5. Postcard from 1952
6. Let Me Back In

It was recorded on a pecan ranch in West Texas by their good friend and frequent collaborator John Congleton.  Esteban Rey did the artwork.  And of course, the proverbial… “the music on it feels different than anything else we’ve done before and we’re very excited for you to hear it.

www.facebook.com/ExplosionsInTheSkyMusic
www.twitter.com/EITS
www.myspace.com/ExplosionsInTheSky

~Dan – np: Ghost of a Saber Tooth TigerAcoustic Sessions

new post-rock gems

28th Sep 08 (Sun) 3 comments

AristeiAHow to Kill a King -EP- :: This band from Portland caught me by storm like the warrior’s prowess that their Iliadic name suggests*.  This debut CD is truly great post-rock for fans of Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, and others in that vein.  My favorite track is “Feedback King,” and it’s all-in-all a solid outing.  Their packaging of the CD is also quite unique… it’s a hand sewn golden pouch** with oversized liner cards and a paper sleeved CD.  It doesn’t fit nicely in my standard rack (between Argyle Park & Arrested Development); but it definitely stands out and shows that they put effort into their record as a whole, not just the music.  I’m excited about seeing them live in October when I’m up in Portland for work.  Check them out at:
….http://www.myspace.com/aristeiaband

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TalkdemonicEyes at Half Mast :: Yet another band from Portland, but I got into them back when I lived in SW Ohio.  I finally got a chance to see them live (review link) in February.  They are a great two piece that is more on the subtler, gentler side of post-rock.  Perhaps “electro-acoustic chamber rock” is their subgenre. :)  Anyway, Eyes at Half Mast picks up where their past two records left off… nary a disappointment.  I’ve been waiting for this record since they mentioned it as “upcoming” at their show in Feb…

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MogwaiThe Hawk is Howling :: 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, or band from Scotland (so all three bands are from places that end in “land”), 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 (::rolleyes::).  Anyway, I think this record will stand up as one of the better releases in 2008.

2008 is a banner year for great instrumental music.  Every year I get more and more instrumental music, but this year is shaping up to be the first year ever where instrumental music beats out vocal music on CDs making their way on my shelves (and it’s by a landslide at this point).  These three records above are a good indication why I’m leaning towards the vocal-less preference lately.

~Dan – np: Ani DifrancoRed Letter Year

*– gotta love Wikipedia
**– though it is fraying a bit, they could have used some pinking shears***
***– gotta love Wikipedia

* Favorite INSTRUMENTAL Albums of 2007 *

23rd Jan 08 (Wed) 2 comments

I do mainly music-related blogging. I like lots of different musics. If you want to subscribe to my blog, lick here. With your mouse, not your tongue.

My Other Favorites of 2007 Recaps:
Fav Concerts of ’07 are recapped *HERE*
Fav Local / Vinyl / Internet-Only / Podcasts of ’07 are *HERE*
Fav EPs / Compilations / Music DVDs of ’07 are *HERE*

Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2007
Most of what I’m really enjoying lately doesn’t include vocals. Maybe I’m getting sick of normal music, I don’t know. I still love a good pop song, but I’m definitely more into jazz and avant-garde the past two years. That’s why this “Instrumental” list keeps expanding and my “normal” Fav Albums list seems to be shrinking. Alas, here are my favorite instrumental (or largely instrumental) albums of 2007:

1) Holy FuckHoly Fuck LP2 – Brilliant groove-oriented “live electronic” post-rock. I saw these guys (almost twice) in 2007. Brilliant live show, excellent moving melodic-yet-avant-garde songs. Great stuff. Less than fortunate name, I know. Great music, though.

http://www.holyfuckmusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/holyfuck

2) Dave Douglas & KeystoneMoonshine – A new one from trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas. This CD also includes interactive stuff online (remix source tracks, videos, bonus tracks). Trumpet is one of my favorite jazz instruments, and Dave Douglas is at the forefront of melodic, compositional-meets-improvisational trumpet in the current era.

http://www.davedouglas.com/
http://www.myspace.com/greenleafmusic

3) John ZornSix Litanies for Heliogabalus – A completely powerful noise-rock onslaught from John Zorn’s Moonchild trio (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron) plus a choral, electronics by Ikue Mori, keys from Jamie Saft, and John Zorn himself on saxaphone. This album is not for the faint of heart. It’s all over the place, but completely composed (hard to believe). I saw the trio in Seattle in Nov 2007. It was insane.

http://www.tzadik.com
http://www.myspace.com/theatreofmusicaloptics

4) FloratoneFloratone – This album is a wonderful jazz gem from Matt Chamberlain (who I’ve seen drum for Tori Amos and A Perfect Circle), Bill Frisell (jazz guitarist who needs no intro), Tucker Martine, and Lee Townsend. It also has guest spots from Eyvind Kang (Seattle violinist on my “fav” list), Viktor Krauss, and Ron Miles. This fits with the Barnes & Noble clientele, but it’s enjoyable to a fan of the lower eastside NYC/downtown music scene, too.

http://www.floratone.com/
http://www.myspace.com/floratone

5) Explosions in the SkyAll of a Sudden I Miss Everyone – I have a hard time defining “post rock,” but I know I like it. Ambient, wall of sound, momentous… anyway… Explosions in the Sky fits in well with other post-rock favs of mine like Mogwai, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Euphone, Boards of Canada, and even the borderline post-rock Sigur Rós. Anyway, EITS is a welcome addition to my collection. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is quality, moving ambient music.

http://www.explosionsinthesky.com/
http://www.myspace.com/explosionsinthesky

6) AntibalasSecurity – OK, not entirely instrumental, but probably at least 90% instrumental. Antibalas is an afrobeat band in the mold of Femi Kuti, et al. Driving rhythm, multi-percussionists, horns, guitars, political lyrics (when there is singing). Quality live show, too.

http://www.antibalas.com/
http://www.myspace.com/antibalas

7) The TiptonsTsunami – A sax quartet with drums from Seattle. I just barely missed them when they came through Eugene, but I’ll see ’em next time for sure. Thanks to Jim Wilke’s Jazz NW podcast for getting me into these wonderful musicians.

http://www.tiptonssaxquartet.com/
http://www.myspace.com/tiptons

8 ) The Lithuanian EmpireThe Lithuanian Empire – Funky horn-based klezmer jazz. Klezmer music is really interesting. I’m going to blame John Zorn’s Masada quartet and Tzadik label for my fondess. The Lithuanian Empire isn’t connected with Zorn in any business sense, but they connected with my ears. Great stuff…

http://www.thelithuanianempire.com/
http://www.myspace.com/thelithuanianempire

9) Ric HordinskiThe Silence of Everything Yearned For – Ric Hordinski knows how to put layers of guitar down that build slowly, smooth throughout, and hit you with a wall of sound when you’re not paying attention. He’s a true midwest treasure. I’m gonna miss him now that I’ve moved across country.

http://www.richordinski.com/
http://www.myspace.com/richordinskimusic

10) IncubusLook Alive – OK, this was a shock. Incubus isn’t an instrumental band. They’ve got a fabulous vocalist, Brandon Boyd. This CD was merely a bonus CD with the concert DVD. It contains 11 tracks of musical joy (plus 6 bonus live tracks with vocals, which are good too). These 11 tracks really show off the band’s music writing. I knew guitarist Mike Einziger could write some great instrumental jams (based on 2003’s Time Lapse Consortium live album), and I’m glad he and the band are still up to the vocal-less challenge, even though they’ve got one of my favorite vocalists in rock music today.

http://www.enjoyincubus.com/
http://www.myspace.com/incubus

11) Method of DefianceInamorata – A flood of avant-garde mayhem unleashed by Bill Laswell. A mix of music collaborations (whether intentioned or illegal) from usual Laswell friends Buckethead, John Zorn (& Zorn’s Masada Strings), Bootsy… but also unlikely mixes with Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, and more… masterful and avant-garde, heavy industrial and ambient meets jazz.

http://www.myspace.com/methodofdefiance

12) Hiromi’s SonicbloomTime Control – Cutting edge piano-based jazz on the primarily classical Telarc label. Hiromi runs circles around her tight band. a very enjoyable disc… I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t pay for it (the BMG club system = awesomes).

http://www.hiromimusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/hiromimusic

13) For a Minor ReflectionReistu Þig Við, Sólin Er Komin Á Loft… – A band from Iceland that is on the same foreign label and same audio approach as another band from Iceland, Sigur Rós. For a Minor Reflection are one of my “best surprises” of the year. They even sent me the CD for free. I said I liked their sound from the MySpace player, and I think they were trying to break into the U.S. or something. I don’t know. I dig their sound a lot, though. Just don’t ask me to pronounce their album title…

http://www.myspace.com/foraminorreflection

14) John Zorn played by Marc RibotMasada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 7 (Asmodeus) – A spastic take on new Masada tunes, not unlike Marc Ribot’s other guitar adventures on John’s Tzadik label.

http://www.tzadik.com
http://www.myspace.com/marcribotmusic
http://www.myspace.com/marcribotsceramicdog

15) Pocket Change4 – Blues based jazz/funk from Seattle. They play Eugene every once in a while, too… I hope I can check ’em out the next time they’re here.

http://www.pchangemusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/pocketchangefunk

16) Ned RothenbergSync with Strings: Inner Diaspora – A moving set of Jewish music on Zorn’s Radical Jewish Culture category on Tzadik. This set also features string-masters Mark Feldman and Erik Friedlander (who are part of Zorn’s Masada Strings group, among other Zorn incarnations).

http://www.tzadik.com
http://www.myspace.com/nedrothenberg

17) John Zorn played by Erik FriedlanderMasada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 8 (Volac) – A quite moving set of arrangements on new Masada tunes. I’m really enjoying the Masada Book Two songs and the concept of having different artists tackle each batch makes for some interesting listening. I’m still waiting for the Secret Chiefs 3 one, though… next year…

http://www.tzadik.com
http://www.myspace.com/erikfriedlander

18 ) Boris MalkovskyTime Petah-Tiqva – Klez-classical, but hard-edged in spots (not heavy, though).

http://www.tzadik.com
http://www.myspace.com/borismalkovsky

19) Alex KontorovichDeep Minor – More klez-jazz. Again, it strikes my fancy. Sue me. :-)

http://www.myspace.com/deepminor

20) Kenny WernerLawn Chair Society – Piano based jazz with Dave Douglas on trumpet & Chris Potter on sax. You had me at Dave Douglas, and Chris Potter made me a fan earlier in 2007 when I saw a show at Raymond Walter’s College in a north Cincinnati suburb. Anyway, Kenny’s piano playing is quite a feast as well.

http://kennywerner.com/

honorable mentions:
Brian Bromberg
Downright Upright / Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead)There Will Be Blood -soundtrack- / Eyvind KangThe Yelm Sessions / Medeski & MartinMago / Rob Price Quartet (with Trevor Dunn, Ellery Eskelin, Jim Black)I Really Do Not See the Signal

myspace/brianbrombergmyspace/radioheadmyspace/eyvindkangeyvindmyspace/martinmedeskigutbrain.com/

I feel bad due to some likely gems didn’t make their way into my basket this year… David Buchbinder‘s Odessa/Havana, Anat Cohen, et cetera… but I guess you gotta stop somewhere and just make a damn list (or at least I do…).

The “regular” list in a week or so… it’s slow goin’ this year…

~Dan – np: Nellie McKayObligatory Villagers

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