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Favorite Albums & Concerts of 2016

16th Dec 16 (Fri) 1 comment
To my fellow music friends… here are my favorite 25 albums that I heard/purchased in 2016… still more to discover as I dig into 2017 and catch up on 2016 stuff…
  1. Car Seat HeadrestTeens of Denial (lo-fi indie rock) fave song: “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” (#6)
  2. Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket) – Swallowed by the New (singer-songwriter) fave song: “Criminal Career” (#3)
  3. SiaThis Is Acting (pop) fave song: “Alive” (#2)
  4. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (rock) fave song: “Ful Stop” (#5)
  5. WussyForever Sounds (lo-fi indie rock) fave song: “Dropping Houses” (#1)
  6. Holy FuckCONGRATS (groove electronic) fave song: “Tom Tom” (#2)
  7. Elliott SmithHeaven Adores You (indie rock) fave song: “Plainclothes Man” (#6)
  8. Steve Taylor & the Danielson FoilWOW to the Deadness -EP- coffin (indie rock) fave song: “Wow to the Deadness” (#1)
  9. Circle of DustMachines of Our Disgrace (hard industrial) fave song: “Machines of Our Disgrace” (#2)
  10. Lily & MadeleineKeep It Together (singer-songwriter duo) fave song: “For the Weak” (#2)
  11. Charlie Hunter, Bobby Previte, and more – Everybody Has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth (jazz) fave song: “No Money, No Honey” (#7)
  12. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic BoomOtis Was a Polar Bear (jazz) fave song: “Fuster” (#1)
  13. David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) – Blanco (indie rock) fave song: “Little Landslide” (#7)
  14. Anna TivelHeroes Waking Up (singer-songwriter) fave song: “Black Balloon” (#2)
  15. The Jelly JamProphet Profit (prog rock) fave song: “Care” (#1)
  16. Dave Douglas’ High RiskDark Territory (jazz with electronics) fave song: “Celine” (#1)
  17. Amendola vs. BladesGreatest Hits (jazz) fave song: “Lima Bean” (#1)
  18. Damien JuradoVisions of Us on the Land (indie rock) fave song: “Exit 353” (#11)
  19. Greydon SquareOmniverse : Type 3 : Aum Niverse (rap/hip hop) fave song: “Defiant” (#5)
  20. Elysian FieldsGhosts of No (sultry indie rock) fave song: “Shadows of the Living Light” (#11)
  21. Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) – 4 ½ -EP- (prog rock) fave song: “My Book of Regrets” (#1)
  22. OpethSorceress (prog metal) fave song: “Will o’ the Wisp” (#4)
  23. ScandroidScandroid (keyboard electronic) fave song: “Aphelion” (#3)
  24. The Claypool-Lennon DeliriumMonolith of Phobos (weird rock) fave song: “Cricket and the Genie, Movement I: The Delirium” (#2)
  25. Kaada & PattonBacteria Cult (ambient experimental) fave song: “Immodium” (#7)
Stand-Out Live Music in 2016: chronological
  • {8 Apr} Peter Mulvey w/ Anna Tivel :: Alberta Rose Theatre :: Portland, OR
  • {22 Apr} Sufjan Stevens, BØRNS, Parov Stelar, LCD Soundsystem & more :: Coachella 2016 :: Indio, CA
  • {23 Apr} CHVRCHES, Guns N’ Roses, Gary Clark Jr., Ice Cube, GoGo Penguin & more :: Coachella 2016 :: Indio, CA
  • {24 Apr} Sia, Kamasi Washington, Wolf Alice, Joywave & more :: Coachella 2016 :: Indio, CA
  • {16 Jun} Holy Fuck :: Doug Fir Lounge :: Portland, OR
  • {25 Jun} Flight of the Conchords with Eugene Mirman :: Keller Auditorium :: Portland, OR
  • {28 Jul} Ozomatli :: HiFi Music Hall :: Eugene, OR
  • {29 Jul} Weird Al Yankovic :: Cuthbert Amphitheater :: Eugene, OR
  • {13 Aug} Buster Keaton’s The General film with live score by Mark Orton, Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, Todd Sickafoose :: Bohemia Park :: Cottage Grove, OR
  • {29 Oct} Failure presents Fantastic Planet’s 20th Anniversary :: Star Theater :: Portland, OR
  • {9 Nov} Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket :: Alberta Rose Theatre :: Portland, OR
  • {17 Nov} Car Seat Headrest :: The WOW Hall :: Eugene, OR
Looking forward to much more in 2017…
DT

* 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

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2011 *

29th Dec 11 (Thu) 6 comments

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. 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, Facebox pages, yadda yadda yadda. A lot 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…

Honorable Mentions: Iron & WineKiss Each Other Clean, Tres MtsThree Mountains, PomplamooseThe Album You Bought At Our Show (Thanks for That), MC FrontalotSolved and The RootsUndun.

BjörkBiophilia :: It started with an iPhone / iPad app… I was skeptical, but it turned out to be a really cool app and a really cool album.  I don’t think the actual music broke any new ground for Bjork, but her willingness to approach technology and manifest an album initially with a new format is what will keep her in the forefront for me.
Elysian FieldsLast Night on Earth :: Brooklyn-based sultry art rockers Elysian Fields don’t really tour outside of NYC often.  Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow find their way to Europe on occasion, but most U.S. fans only really have their studio albums to sate their musical desires.  This is their sixth full-length album in their near 16-year career.  Well crafted, well produced, lush vocals and folk meets dusky jazz.
BlackfieldWelcome to My DNA :: I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it out for this tour.  The album is good, albeit a little disjointed compared to their other two albums (probably due to Aviv Geffen doing more of the writing versus Steven Wilson who was busy with his solo album – see #9 below).  Nice orchestration and a solid offering from Blackfield.
Dream TheaterA Dramatic Turn of Events :: I almost didn’t buy this album.  I’m glad I did, but I’m still pretty pissed at the band for choosing to continue without founder/drummer Mike Portnoy after he expressed an interest in a short hiatus/breather.  They picked up a drummer I like (Mike Mangini, who i saw play with Extreme in 1995), but a BIG piece of what I loved about DT (after Kevin Moore left in 1994) was Mike Portnoy’s energy.  With his absence, I’m liking them less and less.  The album is good, but it’s way more bitter than sweet to me.
Foo FightersWasting Light :: Dave Grohl is a modern rock genius.  He rocks, he hooks, he continues to put out great music.
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory OrchestraMTO Plays Sly :: A trumpet-led tribute to Sly and the Family Stone with guests vocalists.  This superb collection is less funk, but still quite enjoyable.  My favorite is the Antony-sung “Family Affair.”
Florence + the MachineCeremonials :: Soulful baroque-rock chanteuse won me over with their first album Lungs, even though I didn’t pick it up this year.  Her second album solidifies her as more than a fluke.  The album is dancey and dark.  Great for fans of Tori Amos & Kate Bush!
IncubusIf Not Now, When? :: Incubus took some time off so guitarist Mike Einziger could work on his degree at Harvard and singer Brandon Boyd could put out some art as well as his solo album.  They regrouped and put out an album that had a similar vibe to the ocean-groove Morning View.  They aren’t breaking new ground, but they still have a solid position in my ears.
The Jelly JamShall We Descend :: The supergroup of Ty Tabor (King’s X), John Myung (Dream Theater) and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) finally found some time to hit the studio!  The result is an excellent rock album…
ChevelleHats Off to the Bull :: Chevelle are a sleeper in my collection.  I almost write them off and then with each album, I think how stupid it’d be to write them off.  Great hard rock with a vocalist that reminds me of Maynard (Tool, etc).  I really need to see this band live – I’ve yet to have a the chance…
My Brightest Diamond & Murat EyubogluLetters to Distant Cities :: A short spoken word album, featuring the words of Mustafa Ziyalan.  Words spoken by Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), backing music by Murat Eyubolu, with two songs sandwiching the poetry – one by MBD and one by Clare & the Reasons.  A great arty piece.
 
Jason LudwigTanglings :: Jason Ludwig returns to the Cincinnati music scene after his 2010 band break up (Noctaluca) with two full-length albums (Tanglings and Lost in Love).  Tanglings is my favorite of the two, but they’re both quite excellent.  Well-produced, well-arranged, creative singer-songwriter that reminds me of a cross between the pop of Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season and the Frames) and the creative of Daniel Johns (of Silverchair). If you don’t like these albums, I’d be surprised.
Hotel LightsGirl Graffiti :: Darren Jesse was the drummer for Ben Folds Five, and wrote one of my absolute favorite songs for them – “Magic” from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.  He puts down the sticks and picks up the guitar and vocal duties for Hotel Lights.  This is HL’s 3rd album, and he continues to impress me with his versatile skills.  Poppy indie rock.
EisleyThe Valley :: The long gap between The Valley and their last album was trying for the band.  After many contract dispute with their former label (Warner), they were finally set free.  Many bands don’t make it out of contract disputes alive – it’s easier to break up sometimes.  Well, thankfully it’s difficult for Eisley to break-up, as they’d still see each other at holidays and family get-togethers (the band consists of 3 sisters, a brother, and a cousin).  The Valley picks up where 2007’s Combinations left off.  Alt-pop-rock goodness.  Vocal duties traded off between sisters Sherri & Stacy…
Tori AmosNight of the Hunters :: This was Tori’s first album on classical label Deutsche Grammophon.  I was skeptical at first, not because of the classical bent.  I knew she could handle that… I was skeptical due to the first artwork that looked plastic (which sadly stayed) and her last studio album was a lackluster (IMO) holiday album (blech).  Tori enlists her daughter Natashya on some vocals, and delivers one of my favorite Tori albums since 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.
David BazanStrange Negotiations :: Continuing in his solo expressions after the official ceasing of Pedro the Lion, David Bazan manifests wit, a sharp tongue, and a questioning mind into his DIY-indie rock.  This year, he toured quite a bit, solo and with a band.  An album last year (Curse Your Branches), an album this year, and another on the way.  He’s slogging away, trekking all over the country, and making some great music on the way.
Steven WilsonGrace for Drowning :: Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson is a hard worker.  Whether he’s producing albums for others or making albums & touring with PT, Blackfield, No-Man, Storm Corrosion, or solo – he’s always busy each and every year.  This year brought his second solo album and a small tour.  The album is a bit more stripped down from his other projects.  It is reminiscent of Pink Floyd in spots – specifically this song “Home in Negative.”  He also rocks out a bit in the almost two hour double album… check out the video for “Track One” here (it’s a bit bleak then startling).  Gorgeous work.
WussyStrawberry :: Well, I was super happy when I found out that Wussy was putting out their fourth full-length studio album this year. They’re a fantastic rock quartet made up of Chuck Cleaver, Lisa Walker, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug. They write catchy, poppy choruses and meld it perfectly with Midwest Americana-meets-indie-rock grit (or “Midwestern drone” as their press says).   Vocal duties are traded off with Chuck (of Ass Ponys) and Lisa (of Magic Words).
RadioheadThe King of Limbs :: I could probably put an “indie” icon next to Radiohead… I think technically they put TKOL out by themselves.  But they’re a huge superpower of a band.  I like this record, but I’ll admit that it’s still sinking in… I need to give it some more spins.  This album spawned a seven 7″ vinyl remix set.  The video for “Lotus Flower” also spawned a silly “Thom Yorke dancing” meme… one of my favorites being the tennis/fish and the “Single Ladies” editions.
Jeffrey FoucaultHorse Latitudes :: Jeffrey Foucault is a favorite Americana artist that I got turned on to by singer-songwriter/storyteller Peter Mulvey.  Jeffrey and Peter work together in the band Redbird (with David Goodrich and Jeffrey’s wife Kris Delmhorst).  I didn’t pick up Jeffrey’s albums until the past year and a half.  He’s definitely more on the cusp of country than I tend to traverse, but I dig his authenticity, poetic wit and charm.  He’s a delight on stage and a fantastic John Prine-esque songwriter for the new generation.
OpethHeritage :: Mikael Åkerfeldt hangs up the cookie monster vocals and “Swedish death metal” rattle and puts out a solid heavy metal album that is a tribute to his progressive metal ancestors.  I’ll admit, I miss the heavier side, but it’s still good to see Mikael evolve.
Over the RhineThe Long Surrender :: For those that don’t know Over the Rhine, they started out as a four piece in Cincinnati in 1989 and put out their “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop” indie debut ‘Til We Have Faces in 1991. After about a decade as a four-piece, Ric Hordinski (guitars) & Brian Kelley (drums) left.  Karin Bergquist (vocals) & Linford Detweiler (keys) carried on the Over the Rhine flame throughout the years… moving away from a rockier feel to a more folky-pop-Americana thing. What I like about Over the Rhine is they continually change and evolve into a different band with each album and each outing. I’ve seen them rock out, I’ve seen them jazz it up, I’ve seen them happy, I’ve seen them somber, I’ve seen them celebratory, and I’ve seen them tell stories that will make you laugh and cry.
dredgChuckles and Mr. Squeezy :: I love this band.  I hate the album title, but I love the band.  Modern progressive rock, tons of talent, thoughtful lyrics, none of that “prog wankery” that is generally detestable.  While it’s hard for them to follow-up the stunning The Pariah The Parrot The Delusion (from 2009), this new album does a hearty job of maintaining their quality rock standards.
My Brightest DiamondAll Things Will Unwind :: Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) took some time off since her last album – 2008′s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth.  She put out some stunning collaborations in the past three years (see #15 above) including her first kiddo; so the lapse in studio work was a-OK.  On this album, Shara teams up with NYC-based ensemble yMusic to create a lush backdrop for her gorgeous voice.  I can’t praise this album enough!
PusciferConditions of My Parole :: Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan makes wine and makes other music in his time off from Tool and APC.  I loved Puscifer’s debut and the subsequent EP, but this album tops it all.  It’s a brilliant record, recorded in one of his wine cellars with his friends – featuring backing vocals from Carina Round.  It’s self-released by Puscifer music with a small distribution partner (available in indie shops, primarily).  The tour this year was great (I caught Seattle), and I’m glad they’re heading out in the spring again (I’ll be at Portland).

Check out the 2011 Mix for some samples, click the Amazon buttons for other samples, and support the music if you like what you hear!

My Other Favorites of 2011 Recaps:

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

* Favorite Instrumental Albums of 2010 *

30th Dec 10 (Thu) 3 comments

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

My Other Favorites of 2010 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Kevin MooreShine

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2010 *

29th Dec 10 (Wed) 7 comments

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

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

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

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

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

Top 20 instrumental albums coming up later this week…

My Other Favorites of 2010 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Kevin MooreShine

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

5th Jan 10 (Tue) 5 comments

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

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

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

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

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

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

18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

17 ~ Nellie McKay

16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3
15 ~ Over the Rhine

14 ~ Mike Patton

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

And now on to the final ten

~*~*~

10 ~ Glen Phillips

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

~*~*~

9 ~ Porcupine Tree (and Steven Wilson projects)

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

~*~*~

8 ~ Sufjan Stevens

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

~*~*~

7 ~ John Zorn (Masada and otherwise)

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

~*~*~

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

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

~*~*~

5 ~ Daniel Johns (Silverchair & The Dissociatives)

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

~*~*~

4 ~ Elliott Smith

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

~*~*~

3 ~ Sigur Rós

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

~*~*~

2 ~ Radiohead (and Thom & Jonny solo)

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

~*~*~

1 ~ Kevin Moore (Chroma Key & OSI)

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

~*~*~*~*~

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

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

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

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

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

4th Jan 10 (Mon) 5 comments

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

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

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

25 ~ Ben Folds (solo)
24 ~ Peter Mulvey

23 ~ Opeth

22 ~ dredg

21 ~ Holy Fuck

And now round 2

~*~*~

20 ~ Pedro the Lion (and David Bazan solo)

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

~*~*~

19 ~ Jurassic 5

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

~*~*~

18 ~ My Brightest Diamond

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

~*~*~

17 ~ Nellie McKay

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

~*~*~

16 ~ Secret Chiefs 3

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

~*~*~

15 ~ Over the Rhine

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

~*~*~

14 ~ Mike Patton

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

~*~*~

13 ~ Ani DiFranco

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

~*~*~

12 ~ Johnny Cash

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

~*~*~

11 ~ Dave Douglas

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

~*~*~

Tune in tomorrow for the final round…

My Other Favorites of 2009 Recaps:

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

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

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.

~*~*~*~*~

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…

~*~*~*~*~

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.

~*~*~

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!

~*~*~

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).

~*~*~

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 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

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2008 *

24th Dec 08 (Wed) 7 comments

Disclaimer section 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? I am a sell-out who includes ridiculously well-known artists such as Metallica on his list. Who the hell actually believes that Metallica could make a great album after their atrocious efforts post-1996? So go ahead and vent, then read Disclaimer #1 again.

My Other Favorites of 2008 Recaps:

As I start this post, I will say that this is the first year (ever) that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs (though after 12/31/07, 2007 instrumental albums have since overtaken 2007 vocal albums in the CD racks).  For that reason, the favorite vocal albums list goes first this go ’round… and now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Jude ChristodalCuba (indie) :: 2008 marked the first time in 8 years or so where I had the absolute pleasure to see Jude live.  He came through Portland in June, and absolutely blew me away.  This Cuba record didn’t necessarily “blow me away,” but it is full of some gems that for some reason or another never made their way onto a real release.  Call it a “b-sides” record.  Since Jude is totally independent these days, it’s available on CD Baby.  Favorite tracks are the title track and “One of These Days.” http://www.judemusic.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/judechristodal
Praxis – Profanation: Preparation for a Coming Darkness (Columbia Japan) :: Bill Laswell’s supergroup with Buckethead & Brain on just about every track with guests spots by Iggy Pop, Mike Patton, Serj Tankian, Killah Priest, Tatsuya Yoshida, Otomo Yoshihide, and more… It’s a veritiable onslaught of sound.  This is definitely on the heavier side of things, with a touch of the avant-garde.  As far as I know, it’s only available in Japan (or cool outlets like the Downtown Music Gallery in NYC). Favorite track is “Larynx” with Mike Patton. http://www.innerhythmic.com/
MetallicaDeath Magnetic (Warner Bros) :: Ever since May of 1996, I never thought I’d really care that much about another Metallica record again. Load, Re-Load, St Anger, and all of the crap in between was utter rubbish. St Anger being the absolute nadir of their recorded work, in my opinion.  Well, somewhere inside I hate to say it, “Death Magnetic is a great record.”  I don’t know if the band (specifically Lars Ulrich) can pull it off live… nor do I plan on spending a brazilian dollars for a nose-bleed seat to find out.  Anyway, it was good to hear the band in good form again (even with their ridiculous lyrics).  Sometimes it’s like it’s a comedy record with shreddin’ guitars behind it.  Favorite track is “Broken, Beat & Scarred.” http://www.metallica.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/metallica
Ty TaborBalance (Molken Music) :: A late release… just got it a few weeks ago.  Ty Tabor is one of my favorite guitarists around.  He’s got the whole “volume swell” thing down to a science, and while he can do some flashy work, he’s more of the subdued genius.  Being in King’s X, he’s one of the founders of the grunge sound (though rarely gets credit).  Anyway, he’s got the chops, but when he puts out a solo album… it’s usually more of a subdued affair.  Well, not this time… it’s definitely more rocking and shows off some of his great guitar work while still maintaining the balance of his usual songwriting.  I could totally skip the opening track (“Money Mouth”), but he recovers from it greatly (IMO).  My favorite track is “Good that Way.” http://www.tytabor.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/tytabor
OpethWatershed (Roadrunner) :: My favorite Swedish death metal band, Opeth, is known for their blistering drums, shredding guitars, cookie monster vocals, and… their softer side?  Eh, since 2006’s Damnation album of slower tunes, they’ve had that option to expand into more genteel tunes.  The two videos from Watershed thus far (“Porcelain Heart” and “Burden”) have (IMO) been a mockery of their sound.  I mean, regardless of Damnation, these videos are totally butchered into ballads that I don’t think are giving a good representation of Opeth’s sound.  Anyway, with that being said, the nearly hour-long 6.5 song album finds great favor to my ears.  My favorite tracks are “Heir Apparent” and the aforementioned “Porcelain Heart.” http://www.opeth.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/opeth
Mike PattonA Perfect Place (Ipecac) :: While Mike Patton has had some silver screen exposure (he “acted” in the indie flick Firecracker and was the voice of the evil animals in Will Smith’s I Am Legend), this was his first time scoring anything (though he’s on the docket to score the feature-length Crank 2).  Released as a double-disc (soundtrack CD and short film on DVD), this was a great way to get a small budget indie short film by Derrick Scocchera out to people who may never have seen it.  It’s got a twist of murder, idiocy, and humor.  Mike Patton’s score suits it well, and it also fits his eclectic back catalog fairly well also.  Favorite tracks are “A Little Poker Tomorrow Night?” and the title track. http://ipecac.com/
King’s XXV (Inside Out) :: King’s X rarely disappoints (2003’s release fit that rare disappointment category).  Anyway, getting beyond the opening track “Pray” (what is it with both King’s X and Ty Tabor leading off with doozies?) it gets into the great rockin’ groove that King’s X is known for.  Doug Pinnick covers most of the lead vocals on this album, but Ty handles a few, and drummer Jerry Gaskill also pulls out his excellent lead vocals this time around on “Julie.”  I also got to see them in August in Cincinnati (my review with pictures), and they were a tight 3-piece unit.  They’ve been making music together for more than 25 years.  I hope they continue for a little bit more.  Favorite tracks are “Move” and “Alright.” http://www.kingsxrocks.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/kingsx
NoctalucaStill the Wicked Rest (indie) :: I bought this thinking it was just some live CDR or something (I don’t pay attention sometimes).  When it showed up, I was all like, “holy cow, they went all out on packaging a live CD.”  Well, my mind was blown when I heard the first bursts from the newly recorded “Monkey Moon,” which didn’t make it on their last stellar album (2006’s Towering the Sum).  Let’s just say that I hope Jason Ludwig and Noctaluca can continue to make great music.  This sophomore studio record doesn’t disappoint at all.  It’s a great mix of grungy hardrock with dreams of Pink Floyd, Radiohead, and Alice in Chains with Rage Against the Machine meets Operation:Mindcrime lyrics.  And, yes, I’ll continue calling them one of my favorite local bands.  I still own property in Cincinnati (under duress due to the whole housing bubble elephant dump in Ohio); so they still count as local to me here in Eugene, Oregon. :)  Favorite tracks are “Monkey Moon” and “Hegemaniacal.”  And the vocal work by Jason at the beginning of “Doomed are the Killers Who Hide Behind the Banner of God” totally pwns me. http://www.noctaluca.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/noctaluca
Kaki KingDreaming of Revenge (Velour) :: Venturing more and more into singing… Kaki’s 4th album shows off her songwriting in addition to the reason I found her music – her superb fretwork.  She’s on my list of “why does she keep swinging through town when I can’t go see her” artists.  Anyway, excellent songwriting, excellent guitars… a beautiful record.  Favorite tracks are “Bone Chaos in the Castle,” “Life Being What It Is,” and “Can Anyone Who Has Heard This Music Really Be A Bad Person?.” http://www.kakiking.com/ -and- http://www.myspace.com/kakiking
Carla Kihlstedt’s 2 Foot YardBorrowed Arms (indie) :: Carla Kihlstedt almost made it on here with another album as well (her collaboration with Matthias Bossi & Dan Rathbun called Ravish and Other Tales for the Stage).  She’s an outspoken violinist from the SF Baby area, who works in the chamber music, avant-garde jazz, and experimental metal scenes with Tin Hat Trio, Book of Knots, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava, and many more.  2 Foot Yard is more of her string rock band with Charming Hostess’s Marika Hughes and avant-world guitarist Shahzad Ismaily (who has worked with the Secret Chiefs 3 & Marc Ribot to name a couple).  2 Foot Yard is a supergroup of sorts.  Anyway, their 2nd album, Borrowed Arms, is a tour-du-force… my favorite track “Octopus” grabs you with it’s first lyrical sting of confusion, pizzicatto strings, and reverse-sounding effects on the drums in spots… “I have three hearts and one’s for you.  It’s only big enough for two.” fwoup fwoup fwoup http:/www.2footyard.com/ -and- http://www.myspace.com/carlakihlstedt -and- http://www.myspace.com/2footyard
Greydon SquareThe CPT Theorem (indie internet release) :: As if being a rapper doesn’t bring you drama enough… Greydon is also an atheist who tends to have beefs with his own group of people (Brian Sapient and the Rational Response Squad).  Anyway, major drama notwithstanding, Greydon put out a great follow-up to 2007’s The Compton Effect.  With content like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens and style like Eminem (and some say Germaine Williams aka Canibus, of whom I haven’t heard), Greydon’s music really pops with me.  Favorite tracks are “Cubed” and “Judge Me.”  This album was an internet-only release; so it’s only available on iTunes and other e-music shops. http://myspace.com/greydonsquare
Hotel LightsFirecracker People (Bar/None) :: I loved Ben Folds Five… a lot.  One of my favorite songs of theirs wasn’t one of the quirky tunes, it was the sentimental “Magic” written by their drummer Darren Jessee.  Well, after Ben Folds Five broke up, Darren went on to form Hotel Lights.  He’s traded the skins in for a guitar and the vocal duties.  2006 brought the excellent self-titled debut.  Last year brought a great EP, goodnightgoodmorning.  And this year brought their sophomore record, Firecracker People.  My favorite track is the lead-off “Blue Always Finds Me.” http://www.hotellights.net/ -and- http://www.myspace.com/hotellightsmusic
Ani DiFrancoRed Letter Year (Righteous Babe) :: Ani DiFranco played a few tunes that made it on this record for us in Eugene in April.  It was a fantastic show, but it doesn’t take an accountant with a spreadsheet fetish to tell you that she was bound to release that album 9.38 months after her previous release, Canon.  Oh wait, yeah, it might take an accountant with a spreadsheet fetish to get that detailed.  Anyway, this is yet again a solid product put out by her indie empire build on car tires and chicken wire.  Sometimes her detractors think her albums have too much filler (and she shouldn’t put out so much music).  Well, with every song that doesn’t work like (IMO) “The Atom” (it might work better as a poem), she has gems like “Alla This,” “Present/Infant,” and the horn-driven “Red Letter Year Reprise.”  I think if she had a new album every other month, it’d still be more geniius than what’s hovering at the top of the Billboard charts. http://www.righteousbaberecords.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/anidifranco
Sigur RósMeð suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (XL) :: With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly… Sigur Rós continue to deliver excellent music in superbly and lovingly crafted packages.  This album might be their most “accessible.”  It took a bit to grow on me, though.  While it doesn’t seem as compelling as their earlier albums, I still dig it a plenty.  I also got the chance to see them in Portland in October (excellent show!).  It baffles me how this group of non-conformist, non-mainstream musicians from a small country like Iceland seem to have taken the indie rock scene by storm since 2001.  I mean how does it happen?  I guess I’m just glad that it did happen.  My favorite tracks are “Gobbledigook” and “Við spilum endalaust.” http://www.sigur-ros.co.uk/ -and- http://myspace.com/sigurros
CelldwellerSoundtrack for the Voices in My Head (FiXT) :: OK, this one actually fits my rules for an instrumental album… most of the tracks are instrumental industrial jams that Scott Albert (aka Klayton aka Circle of Dust aka Celldweller) has been kicking around since working on the follow-up to his utterly superb debut (under the Celldweller moniker).  However, one of the lead off tracks and other tracks intertwined in the CD have lyrics.  So, I’m making a judgment call and including it in this list rather than the instrumental list.  The truth is that my instrumental top list is getting jammed up and I needed to flip this one to the vocal list to make room.  I make the list… I can break my own rules.

I’ve been a fan of Scott/Klayton since, oh, 1995?  His music is mezmerizing, full of powerfully rhythmic industrial music with a very heavy dose of pop sensibility.  “Celldweller” is my favorite project of his, though his other musical work (even with magician Criss Angel) rank high in my music collection.  I hope the long-awaited sophomore Celldweller release sees the light of day before 2012.  Oh, this album is available for free in mp3 format (though the CD is cheap and comes with extra bonus tracks).  Favorite track is “Birthright.”  Check out his webpages for more info. http://www.celldweller.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/celldweller

Plover (Glen Phillips / Neilson Hubbard / Garrison Starr)Plover (indie freebie on the internets) :: I’m a big fan of Glen Phillips, whether with Toad the Wet Sprocket, solo, or side projects.  Well, this year saw him release a solo EP (which is grand), tour on his own (of which I saw when he came through Eugene), tour with Toad the Wet Sprocket (which I sadly didn’t see this time), collaborate with nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot, tour again with Jonatha Brooke (which I missed due to work schedules changing), sit on and break a glass coffee table and shred up his arm (he’s recovering nicely, I hear), and put out two solid A++ side-projects.  Plover is the more subdued side-project (compared to RemoteTreeChildren further down the list), but it really fits in well with Glen’s music.  I’d never heard Neilson or Garrison’s music before, but I like what all three artists brought to the table.  Also, it‘s absolutely free (if you want).  You can pay what you want for better quality 320kbps or FLAC (and you should, as it’s also the only way the artists get money).  Favorite tracks are “Wishing You Were Somewhere Instead of Wishing You Were Somewhere Else” and “All Eyes.” http://plovermusic.com/
ExtremeSaudades de Rock (Open E) :: What can I say?  I spent more than words on this band this year… I flew to Cincinnati to see them put on a kick-ass show at Union Center Blvd Bash.  Go here for my review with many pictures of King’s X and Extreme.  While I think there are a couple of snoozers on this record, overall it’s still a very solid record.  I hope Gary, Nuno, Pat and whatever drummer they bring along (sorry KFigg) continue to make great music.  And I hope it’s not another 13 years until their 6th studio album comes out.  Favorite tracks are “Comfortably Dumb” and “Interface” (one of Nuno’s from Dramagods). http://www.extreme-band.com/ -and- http://myspace.com/extreme
Steven WilsonInsurgentes (indie) :: I felt guilty paying for this limited edition release.  The original pressing was only 4,000 copies, complete with in a special coffee-table book photo edition. Well, I felt guilty until I got it and saw how beautiful it it turned out.  Great job Steven!  And the music is pretty damn kick ass as well.  For those familiar with Steven Wilson (and his many bands: Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, No-Man, Bass Communion, IEM, et cetera), this first solo album hit the spot for me compared to the most recent PT & No-Man releases.  It’ll be out in a “normal” version in Feb 2009.  My luck is that Steven will tweak it or add stuff to the Feb 2009 (or later) release(s) and I’ll have to buy it again.  He’s like that… hmph.  Favorite tracks are “Harmony Korine” and “Insurgentes (Mexico).” http://swhq.co.uk/ -and- http://myspace.com/therealstevenwilson
My Brightest DiamondA Thousand Shark’s Teeth (Asthmatic Kitty) :: When this album first came out, I liked it.  But I didn’t think it’d rise to be in the top 2.  I mean, I like it, but I liked her debut (Bring Me the Workhorse) a lot better right out of the gates.  This one was more of a slow burn.  I suppose seeing her play a lot of these tracks live last month also helped solidify the album in my mind as a gem.  Shara is charming, witty, powerful and sublime.  This is a great record, and there has also been a plethora of other MBD activity on the internets (iTunes EPs, remixes, etc) to keep me happy this year.  My only complaint… she needs to get her buddy Sufjan back in the studio and on the road.  Favorite tracks are “Inside a Boy” and the deliciously cute “Apples.” http://mybrightestdiamond.com -and- http://myspace.com/mybrightestdiamond
Remote Tree Children (Glen Phillips / John Askew / others?)Veteran of the Loudness Wars (indie freebie on the internets) :: OK, first off, this may seem totally unfair to the albums that were in my collection for longer… but as of December 9th, I had no idea about the impending pwnage of this record.  Then Glen Phillips posted a blog and dropped it on top of the internets’ head.  Then I downloaded it… and it’s such a slut, it made sweet love to my ear holes.  I think I spun it about 10 times that first day.  Actually, maybe my ears are th sluts.  Never one to not be hyperbolous, I think it’s great and it wins as my favorite vocal album of 2008.  And the kicker?  It’s absolutely free (if you want).  You can pay what you want for better quality 320kbps or FLAC (and you should, as it’s also the only way the artists get money and can continue to make sweet love to ear holes all around the world).  Favorite tracks are “You Will Be Pwned” and “Blood Pressure Rise.” http://remote-tree-children.com/

OK, so 3 of my top 6 are ones you can nab for free (legally).  So… go on… get some great music!

Top 25 instrumental albums coming up later… before year’s end, I promise.

~Dan – np: Goddamn Electric BillTopics for Gossip

* Favorite EPs / Vinyl / Live Albums & more of 2008 *

21st Dec 08 (Sun) 9 comments

Before I start… happy 68th birthday to Frank Zappa.  You are missed.  Ya Hozna!

This is sort of a precursor to my “official” Favorites of 2008 blog.  Up later this coming week or two, I’ll post my favorite vocal and favorite instrumental albums of 2008.  I’m still making my way through the re-listening phase.  Yeah, I know, I’m slow (or dedicated? or certifiable?).  I was waiting on a few to show up in my mailbox.  Anyway, on with the music pimping

My Other Favorites of 2008 Recaps:

  • Fave Concerts of ‘08 are recapped *HERE*

Favorite EPs of 2008 (coincidentally all indie artists)
1 Ellery You Did Everything Righthttp://www.ellerymusic.com/
2 Estradasphere The Pegasus Vaulthttp://www.estradasphere.com/
3 Glen Phillips Secrets of the New Explorershttp://www.glenphillips.com/
4 Kim Taylor The Greatest Storyhttp://www.kim-taylor.net/
5 Wussy Rigor Mortishttp://www.wussymusic.com/

Favorite Vinyl of 2008
1 Holy Fuck Lovely Allen 19″ single (7″+12″) – http://www.holyfuckmusic.com/
2 God of Shamisen The Science Fiction of Ray Bradbury Attack! 7″ single – http://www.godofshamisen.com/
3 Puscifer Dozo 7″ single – http://www.puscifer.com/
4 David Bazan (of Pedro the Lion) Jingle Bells / All I Want for Christmas (Christmas 7″) – http://www.davidbazan.com/
5 Puscifer Queen B 7″ single

Favorite Live Albums of 2008
1 Dave Douglas & Keystone Live at the Jazz Standard, April 2008http://www.greenleafmusic.com/ (this was 4 nights, 2 sets each night, 8 hours of music released as “instant live” within 24 hours of each performance… and fantastic)
2 Porcupine Tree We Lost the Skyline EPhttp://www.porcupinetree.com/
3 David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) Live in Gdańskhttp://www.davidgilmour.com/
4 Ani DiFranco Hamburg Germany, 10.18.07http://www.righteousbabe.com/
5 Tori Amos Live at Montreux 1991 & 1992http://www.toriamos.com/


Favorite Comedy Albums of 2008
1 Flight of the Conchords Flight of the Conchords
2 George Carlin It’s Bad For Ya
3 Mitch Hedberg Do You Believe in Gosh?


Favorite Reissues in 2008
1 Jurassic 5Jurassic 5 11th Anniversary
2 John Zorn, Bill Frisell & George Lewis News for Lulu
3 John Coltrane The Impulse Albums, Vol 2 (including John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, Impressions, Live at Birdland, Crescent, and A Love Supreme)
4 Ahleuchatistas The Same and the Other
5 Beck Odelay (deluxe edition)


Favorite Debut of 2008
God of Shamisen‘s Dragon String Attack! -and- Ashes Divide‘s Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright

Favorite Internet Only Releases in 2008
Glen Phillips had his hand in both of them… and they’re both free
PloverPlover -and- RemoteTreeChildrenVeteran of the Loudness Wars

Favorite Internet Leaks in 2008
Ben FoldsWay to Normal (fake version of the album leaked by Ben himself) -and-
Sufjan StevensSongs for Christmas, Vol VIII: Astral Inter Planet Space Captain Christmas Infinity Voyage (he made it for family & friends… luckily one of those also let it loose for the rest of us)

Favorite Artwork in 2008
NINGhosts I-IV each song in the download version had it’s own unique artwork attached to it.  Whether studio or nature or electronic, it worked well with this release.

Favorite Packaging / Design in 2008

  • Sigur RósMeð suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (deluxe edition)
    Steven Wilson Insurgentes (deluxe edition) – Both Sigur Rós and Steven Wilson came out with lush coffee table-sized books that housed the music. Call it an incentive to somewhat combat the illegal downloaders.  I call it great art.
  • Ani DiFranco Red Letter Year – Always a packaging visionary, this one was more subtle than recent efforts… the glow in the dark moon was a nice touch.
  • Metallica Death Magnetic – Not necessarily breaking new ground musically, their packaging for the return to form metal album evokes digging through 6 feet of fresh dirt to see if Lars Ulrich’s drumming sounds better than beating on a metal folding chair.  Thankfully it does… this time.
  • Secret Chiefs 3 plays John Zorn‘s Masada Book Two: Xaphan – I love what Chippy does for Tzadik Records.  The Masada Book Two series artwork and die-cut Star of David with offset colors that poke through is some of her best work.

Favorite “Local” Album of 2008
OK, they’re from Cincinnati and Portland (respectively)… but local enough for me… I’ve got my ears in two locales (the Cincinnati/Dayton scene will probably always have a shot at winning in this category).
Noctaluca‘s Still the Wicked Rest -and- Talkdemonic‘s Eyes at Half Mast

Favorite Soundtrack or Score
Joss Whedon‘s Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog -and- Mike Patton‘s A Perfect Place

Favorite Concept Album
Noctaluca‘s Still the Wicked Rest -and- Zakarya‘s The True Story Concerning Martin Behaim

That’s all for now… more coming in the next week…

~Dan – np: CelldwellerSoundtrack for the Voices in My Head

* Favorite VOCAL Albums of 2007 *

6th Feb 08 (Wed) Leave a comment

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*
Fav Instrumental Albums of ’07 are *HERE*

Favorite Vocal Albums of 2007
1) Silverchair Young Modern – Daniel Johns, leader of Silverchair, is one of my rock heroes. On Young Modern, he and the boys didn’t disappoint. This album is a continuation of the feel from Diorama, but perhaps more cohesive. Diorama was fantastic (A++), but this one seems less disjointed. Best album of the year, by far.

http://www.chairpage.com/
http://www.myspace.com/silverchair

2) Radiohead In Rainbows – This is a quintessential Radiohead album. Check out my track-by-track review HERE.

http://www.radiohead.com/
http://www.myspace.com/radiohead

3) Elliott Smith New Moon – I had many of the songs on this double-CD already from the demo stockpile on the internets, but this collection also had many new tunes from my favorite long lost songwriter. His death affected me more than any other “celebrity.” His words really cut through, and I’m glad that his unreleased music still made its way out.

http://www.sweetadeline.net
http://www.myspace.com/elliottsmithnewmoon

4) Ken Andrews Secrets of the Lost Satellite – Another rock hero of mine… I got into Ken Andrews via Chroma Key (Ken’s 1st On record was highly talked about by CK’s Kevin Moore, or Kevin was touring with Ken). Anyway, this newest solo album is a bit like On but also a bit like Failure & Year of the Rabbit. You can’t go wrong in my book, Ken. Some great hooky hardrock.

http://www.kenandrews.com/
http://www.myspace.com/kenandrews

5) Puscifer V is for Vagina – Another Maynard James Keenan side project. His main band (Tool) is still my favorite of his artistic outlets, but Puscifer has a really good vibe. Poor choice in album title (in my opinion), but I realize that it’s a stand against censorship (which I support.. meaning I support the stand against, not the actual censorship). Alas, the packaging for this album wins the Best Packaging Award for 2007. It’s built like an emergency airline pamphlet… and it’s quite hilarious. Kudos, Maynard!

http://www.puscifer.com/
http://www.myspace.com/censorshipisacancer

6) Iron & Wine The Shepherd’s Dog – Hush-toned singer-songwriter tour de force. Gritty and witty, subtle brutally honest lyrics. Nice story telling…

http://www.ironandwine.com/
http://www.myspace.com/ironandwine

7) Dug Pinnick (of king’s X) – Strum Sum Up – I love Dug/Doug. This is by far his best album. Great songs, and the extended jams are exciting, too (I kinda was disappointed when I first heard of the idea, but loved it once I heard the music). Wally Farkas (of the Galactic Cowboys) and Hal Sparks helped out on this record.

http://www.dugpinnick.com/
http://www.myspace.com/dugpinnickpoundhound

8 ) Michael Kelsey The Way It Rolls – Michael Kelsey gets added to the list of things I’m sad about moving away from Ohio. Michael Kelsey (not from Ohio, but neighboring Indiana) is a fucking Midwestern U.S. musical TREASURE. His records are always great, but his live show is one of legend. He blows your mind, the mind of the guy next to you, and the mind of the lady in the parking lot paying the meter… all with 6 strings and 37 fingers. I mean, the way he plays, he has to have 37 fingers. Doesn’t he?

http://www.michaelkelsey.com/
http://www.myspace.com/michaelkelseymusic

9) Wussy Left For Dead – Best local CD (Cincinnati, OH) for me in 2007. Lisa and Chuck are a great songwriting team. I dig both of their vocals, and the band knows how to kick it! Great rock and a well-produced sophomore record!

http://www.wussymusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/therealwussy

10) Nellie McKay Obligatory Villagers – Quirky, cute, brilliant songstress and obfuscator of journalists. Short and sweet third record. We got to see her this year in Eugene (concert review) this year. Fantastic show!! She rarely disappoints. I hope to hear more of her music now that she’s out of the clutches of Columbia/Sony/Artist Screwers Int’l.

http://www.nelliemckay.com/
http://www.myspace.com/prettylittlehead

11) Tegan and Sara The Con – Great indie pop rock record from this twin sister songwriting duo. This is their 5th record (by my count), and they truly get better with age.

http://www.teganandsara.com/
http://www.myspace.com/teganandsara

12) Abigail’s Ghost Selling Insincerity – For fans of Porcupine Tree… get this album now. It did for me what Steven Wilson didn’t do for me this year… get to 12 on my list. ;) Don’t worry, Steven Wilson continually impresses, too. Regardless, Abigail’s Ghost is right up a PT fan’s alley — lush progressive rock without the spandex, frizzy hair and crotch-too-tight falsetto.

http://www.abigailsghost.com/
http://www.myspace.com/abigailsghost

13) Blackfield Blackfield II – Ok, Steven Wilson made it to 13. I got to see Blackfield in NYC this year (concert review). Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson have a great chemistry. Blackfield II continues on the path laid out by BF I.

http://www.blackfield.org/
http://www.myspace.com/blackfield

14) Eisley Combinations – A harder-edged Sixpence None the Richer, perhaps. This five-piece band of siblings astonishes me. Mainly because if I could never be in a functioning band with my 3 other siblings. Add another… fahgetaboutit. Eisley brings great vocal harmonies and a rocky edge to what might have otherwise been sugary pop. Kudos on the sophomore album! I dig it.

http://www.eisley.com/
http://www.myspace.com/eisley

15) Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace – You may have heard some of their songs on the radio. Dave Grohl and Co know how to rock and grab you with a hook. That’s all I can say.

http://www.foofighters.com/
http://www.myspace.com/foofighters

16) Megadeth United Abominations – Chunka chunka chunnk. I’m glad Dave Mustaine is back at it. Sometimes cheesy lyrically, usually brutal and fun listen, though. A+.

http://www.megadeth.com/
http://www.myspace.com/megadeth

17) Dream Theater Systematic Chaos – Complex and more rewarding after each listen.

http://www.dreamtheater.net/
http://www.myspace.com/dreamtheater

18 ) Crunchy Loserville – Monty Colvin (of the Galactic Cowboys) knows how to write a good pop-punk song about being an outcast. Some may say that’s his downfall. Oh, but what a sweet downfall… or… er… resulting record. His 3rd record under the Crunchy moniker… it’s a welcome addition to my collection of Colvin art (I also own one of his paintings… he’s a superb painter, yo!).

http://www.montycolvin.com/
http://www.myspace.com/montycolvin

19) Finger Eleven Them vs. You vs. Me – I had no idea that “Paralyzer” was big this year. Just shows you how much I know about radio (I haven’t purposefully listened in going on 20 years). Anyway, I’ve been a big fan of F11 since Tip (late 90s), and I’m glad that their last two records have been solid consistent hard rock… with vocals that I love.

http://www.fingereleven.com/
http://www.myspace.com/fingereleven

20) Over the Rhine The Trumpet Child – Well, I got “fired” by the band for being a “bad fan.” It was equal parts embarrassing, and equal parts rewarding. Alas, I still liked this record enough to crack the Top 20. “If a Song Could be President” (while quaint in lyric) is one of the worst songs ever for me (way too country for me), but “Don’t Wait For Tom” makes up for it. Totally fun track… and a solid record overall. Oh, and, Karin… sorry for being a bad fan. I still like ya.

http://www.overthewhine.com/
http://www.myspace.com/overthewhine

21) Greydon Square The Compton Effect – Great rap style with free-thinking atheist lyrics too boot. Infectious rhythms and vocals. I hope his follow-up this coming year tops it. :-) I also hopes he catches on more and can tour more beyond skeptical/atheist conferences to which I can’t afford to travel.

http://www.greydonsquare.com/
http://www.myspace.com/greydonsquare

22) Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) – Into the Wild – Got this for xmas from my brother (and sis-in-law). Fantastic short set by Eddie. I really need to see this movie, too… it’s from a book that I actually read. :P

http://www.pearljam.com
http://www.myspace.com/intothewildmovie

23) Tori Amos American Doll Posse – Solid album by pop’s bad girl. I think her many personas are getting tiring (see, I’m a “bad fan” of more than just Over the Rhine), but she still brings her A game for 95% of this CD. I wish I’d have seen her on her latest tour, too… I heard it was killer.

http://www.toriamos.com/
http://www.myspace.com/toriamos

24) Porcupine Tree Fear of a Blank Planet – Their material on the Nil Recurring -EP- should have made its way onto this record. Great stuff nonetheless… it grows on me, slower than prior PT work, but solid songs nonetheless.

http://www.porcupinetree.com/
http://www.myspace.com/porcupinetree

25) Tomahawk Anonymous – Mike Patton and Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) on Native American sourced rock songs. Not as all over the place like prior Tomahawk records… which is unfortunately missed. Alas, Mike and Duane still bring it, and over up a wonderful take on traditional tribal melodies.

http://www.ipecac.com/
http://www.myspace.com/tomahawkofficial

honorable mentions:
Coheed and CambriaGood Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV – Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow / That1Guy and the Magic PipeThe Moon is Disgusting / La Mar Enfortuna (aka Elysian Fields) – Conviviencia / OzomatliDon’t Mess With the Dragon / My Brightest DiamondTear It Down (remixes)

myspace/coheedandcambriamyspace/that1guymyspace/lamarenfortunamyspace/ozomatlimyspace/mybrightestdiamond

That’s it for my 2007 lists… whew… next year it’ll take less time to do (hopefully)…

~Dan – np: George HrabInterrobang

* 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

Another Wave of Fave (2007)

19th Jan 08 (Sat) Leave a comment

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

Well, this “Round 3” is decidedly less flashy (sans pics)… I’ve got too much homework to do to be putzing around on my 2007 pontifications… :-) I have included MySpace links for artists represented on MySpace, whether officially or fictionally represented (just click their names and check out their stuff).

Favorite EPs

1) Porcupine TreeNil Recurring
2) Holy FuckHoly Fuck
3) Kelly EvansEasy
4) The Album LeafGreen Tour
5) Auragami+/-
6) SiaLady Croissant
7t) Sarah MasenMagic That Works
7t) Sarah Masen – A History of Lights and Shadows
7t) Sarah Masen – Woman’s Work is Alchemy
8 ) MúmThe Peel Session

Favorite Compilations/Re-issues
1) Secret Chiefs 3Path of Most Resistance: In History and Presence
2) Ani DiFrancoCanon
3) Sigur RósHvarf-Heim
4) Peter MulveyNotes From Elsewhere : solo acoustic
5) Derek WebbOne Zero (Acoustic & Remixes)
hm) Nick DrakeFamily Tree

Favorite Live Albums
1) Dave Douglas QuintetLive at the Jazz Standard
2) Ken AndrewsNever Say Never – Tour CD
3) ElleryWhat I’ve Said Out Loud
4) Dub TrioCool Out and Coexist
5) The Cracow Klezmer BandRemembrance: Live in Warsaw
hm) Ani DiFranco – Boston, 11.10.06
hm) Over the RhineLive from Nowhere Farm, Volume Two

Favorite Music-related DVDs (huge tie for 5th, obviously a rigged election… or a sign of getting too many DVD for xmas from family)
1) Sigur Rós – Heima
2) SilverchairAcross the Great Divide
3) That1Guy and the Magic PipeLive in the Land of OZ (late-late 2006 release)
4) Ellery – An Evening with Ellery
5t) Ben FoldsLive at MySpace
5t) EstradaspherePalace of Mirrors Live
5t) IncubusLook Alive
5t) Kaada / PattonLive

My final two rounds (Fave Instrumental & Fave Vocal Albums) should be posted next week or so. Yeah, I know. Whatever. :-)

~Dan – np: CrunchyLoserville

<prelim.oh.seven.fav.list>

5th Jan 08 (Sat) Leave a comment

Well, my 17-day vacation/ holiday break/ hustle-and-rent-the-house-2,600-miles-away trip went well… alas, my oft “too time consuming” year-end list of all that is fantastic to my ears is not done/barely started.

Now that I’ll be back to school, I’ll have some time to re-listen to my 2007 music. Expect something in mid-to-late January (perhaps). In the meantime, for those that care (all 2 of you)… here are some preliminary choice tunes from last year (in no particular order, except for likely the 1st two):

1. SilverchairYoung Modern
2. RadioheadIn Rainbows

WussyLeft for Dead
Ken Andrews (from Failure/On/Year of the Rabbit) – Secrets of the Lost Satellite
Puscifer (Maynard from Tool) – V is For Vagina
Elliott SmithNew Moon
AntibalasSecurity
Explosions in the SkyAll of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
HiromiTime Control
Holy FuckHoly Fuck LP2
Marc RibotMasada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 7 (Asmodeus)
John ZornSix Litanies for Heliogabalus
Dave Douglas & KeystoneMoonshine
The Lithuanian EmpireThe Lithuanian Empire

The full “Top ??” list will be jam-packed with more info, pictures, and links than you cared to know about said artists… as I would have it no. other. way.

~Dan – np: Gaston Zirko‘s experimental music on myspace

Favorite Concerts of 2007

24th Dec 07 (Mon) 2 comments

Well, there are still some 2007 CDs that may or may not arrive in my hands before the year’s over (specifically Eyvind Kang, Dave Douglas, Greydon Square, Radiohead, Doug Pinnick & La Mar Enfortunaall of which have Top 20 potential); so I’m not ready to post my “Best CDs of 2007” list, yet. Look for that one sometime in early 2008…

This blog is for my favorite concerts of 2007. I went to too many to recount in detail, but these are the tip-top ones…

  1. Music Now Festival 2007 (Pedro Soler, Bryce Dessner, David Cossin, the Clogs, the Havels, Osso, Amiina, My Brightest Diamond, Sufjan Stevens) at the Memorial Hall, Cincinnati-OH (4/5/07 to 4/7/07) my review
  2. Masada (John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen, Joey Baron) at the Rose Theatre at the Lincoln Center, New York-NY (3/10/07) my review
  3. Nellie McKay at the Shedd Institute, Eugene-OR (10/5/07) my review
  4. Silverchair at the Fillmore @ the TLA, Philadelphia-PA (7/28/07) review snippet
  5. Secret Chiefs 3 at the Bowery Ballroom, New York-NY (3/15/07) my review
  6. John Zorn’s Moonchild (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron) at the Moore Theatre, Seattle-WA (11/4/07) my review
  7. Holy Fuck at the Southgate House, Newport-KY (4/1/07) my review
  8. Antibalas at the Southgate House, Newport-KY (4/29/07) review snippet
  9. Noctaluca at the Taste of Cincinnati, Cincinnati-OH (5/28/07)
  10. Blackfield (Steven Wilson & Aviv Geffen) at the Bowery Ballroom, New York-NY (3/16/07) my review

OK, I guess I’ve still got coming up in 2007 Iron & Wine in Portland (12/2) and maybe David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) in Eugene (12/14); but the above concerts were my favorites of 2007…

Happy thanksgiving, yo! One thing I’m thankful for is definitely music… :-)

~Dan – np: npr jazz profiles (podcast) – duke ellington: the bandleader, pt. 1

12/24 Update: wow… I totally forgot the kick ass Zappa Plays Zappa show at Moonlite Gardens in Cincinnati, OH on 7/24/07. I think I forgot because I didn’t blog about it when it happened (gettin’ ready to quit my job and pack up and head west at the time)… but now reading this week’s CityBeat, tons of people listed it as a favorite, and man, I was at that show, too… Dweezil = awesomes! Ray White = awesomes! Frank on a big screen behind the band, singing and soloing with the live band = awesomes! 2nd time seeing the ZPZ tour in 2 years (completely different setlist, too). I think it needs to be a once-a-year thing… in perpetuity.

Favorites of 2007… local music, vinyl, internets, podcasts…

1st Dec 07 (Sat) Leave a comment

Well, this is Round 2 of the traditional year-end wrap-up… Round 1 (here) was all about concerts I attended. Since I’m still not ready for my favorite album recap, I’ll ease into with some non-standard categories…

Favorite Local Music 2007
Well, being caught in a move 2,600 miles away this year, my “local” is not quite Oregon-related, yet. In fact, I built up such a battalion of favorite local Cincinnati/Dayton artists, that I may always consider them “local” for me…

1) WussyLeft for Dead – Simply a fantastic record through and through. “Airborne,” from the first Wussy record (Funeral Dress), may be one of my favorite songs as of late… and the new Wussy record had many songs up to its caliber. Don’t be shocked if this album shows up in my Top 20-something overall albums of the year. It’s a beaut.

http://www.wussymusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/therealwussy

2) Kelly EvansEasy (ep) – I heard of Kelly Evans barely a year ago (MPMF in Sept ’06). Her debut -EP- is something of a gorgeous effort. Great guitarwork, great vocals, fun songs… sorta jazz with a world beat in spots. She’s posted roughly 10 more songs to her MySpace page over the year… this girl needs a full length record. :-) Her record is not in stores, as far as I know… so ask her how you can get one…

http://www.kellyevansmusic.com/
http://www.myspace.com/skyfeathervivella

3) Auragami+/- (ep) – This was a gift from a very talented bassist in the Dayton area named Michael Miller. I’ve been a fan of his music since Space (circa 1998). He’s got a great feel for groove, experimentation, and melody. To quote another SW Ohio bassist Mike Georgin, “bass is good.” His record is not in stores, as far as I know… so ask him how you can get one…

http://www.myspace.com/auragami

Favorite Backwards Technology Releases 2007
What’s not to love about vinyl? It crackles when you play it, scratches easily, and it a pain to put on your iPod, and some artists like to release things on it as special releases that won’t see the light of day in a more accessible format. That’s what not to love about it. With that being said, I still love it. Here are my favorite vinyl-only releases of 2007:

1) Secret Chiefs 3 – four 7″ vinyl singles – Cool design and music to boot. I wish they’d crank out some more music soon, but these vinyl singles were a good layover until Trey Spruance and the SC3 can get Book of Souls or his take on Masada Book Two out (in 2008).


http://www.webofmimicry.com/
http://www.myspace.com/secretchiefs3

2)
Pearl Jam (with U2) – Love Reign O’er Me (fan club 7″ single) – PJ and U2. Nuff Said.

http://www.pearljam.com/
http://www.myspace.com/tenclub

3) Sufjan StevensI Went Dancing with My Sister / Waste of What Your Kids Won’t Have (7″ single bonus with Seven Swans vinyl re-issue) – I dislike the “only way you can get this is by getting this, too” aspect of it all… but, hey, it was cheap(ish) and it is Sufjan. He’s new to my camp of “can’t do wrong.” I’m a sucker.

http://www.myspace.com/soundsfamilyre
http://www.myspace.com/asthmatickitty

4) Sigur RósHljómalind 7″ single – Of any current band that I’m happy to “grow up” with, this will be one that I’ll be happy to tell people 30 years from now that I saw live.

Sigur Rós is. They just are.

http://www.sigur-ros.co.uk/
http://www.myspace.com/sigurros

Favorite Internet-only Releases 2007

1) Ben ElliotFairytales (ep) – Rarely do those “band spammers” who claim to sound like “such and such” actually get much attention. Well, Ben Elliot actually bothered to message rather than just friend requesting me. His claims of Silverchair/Dissociative-ness seemed suspect. Alas, I found his music to be QUITE GOOD… so far his stuff’s only available online (no CDs), but well worth whatever change-per-song you throw his way. Do it!! You’ll thank me.

http://www.benelliot.com/
http://www.myspace.com/benelliot

2) Derek WebbOne Zero (Remixes) – I’ve been a fan of Derek since the Caedmon’s Call days. The “remix” notion wouldn’t seem like it’d fit a primarily acoustic singer-songwriter. Alas, it does. Fun stuff…

http://www.derekwebb.com
http://www.myspace.com/derekwebb

3) Xenuphobe2.0: Electrolux – OK, technically, this one is not internet-only… but I only had funds to get the download version. Xenuphobe is Wally Farkas (of Galactic Cowboys fame) and Ty Tabor (of King’s X fame). It’s an experimental, psychedelic, ambient rock album… I dig it a bunch. I loved X1, and this one beats that one… great works, guys!

http://www.xenuphobe.com/
http://www.myspace.com/xenuphobemusic

4) My Brightest DiamondTear It Down (b-sides) – I hate exclusives on iTunes… but at least I didn’t have to buy the whole album again to get these extra gems. I can’t wait for MBD’s next one, A Thousand Shark’s Teeth. Shara’s vocals are sublime.

http://www.mybrightestdiamond.com/
http://www.myspace.com/mybrightestdiamond

5) Puscifer Don’t Shoot the Messenger (ep) – Ah, Maynard James Keenan, you wiley tool of the devil. Not for the faint of heart or ears…

http://www.puscifer.com/
http://www.myspace.com/censorshipisacancer

Favorite Podcasts 2007
I blame two people for this new addiction of mine… Gary Lenaire and Kevin Smith. Gary Lenaire was interviewed on The Infidel Guy show, and I got hooked on that podcast. I had stayed away from podcasts until that show. And then, Kevin Smith started pod’ing with the also amusing über-producer Scott Mosier… ensuing hilarity. Anyway, podcasts help fill my “new audible content” addiction… for free.

1) Smodcast – Filmmakers Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier discuss things that probably should never be discussed. For fans of their movies/commentary tracks, this is right up your proverbial alley. Guests include Kev’s wife Jen, Jason Mewes, Walt, Bryan, Malcolm, and others in the askewniverse.

http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/smodcast

2) Real Time with Bill Maher – Posted a few days after the show airs on HBO. This show is fantastic. I wish I had HBO for this show (and Curb Your Enthusiasm), but this podcast is the next best thing. Great sociopolitical content, discussion, comedy, and world class guests (almost as world class as Ali G’s guests). :-)

http://www.hbo.com/billmaher/downloads/

3) Ken Laster’s In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond – There seem to be a bunch of jazz podcasts out there that are just plain weak or irregular… or play things that simply aren’t jazz. Ken plays a great jazz mix from old greats to up-and-coming to local… not too “smooth jazz” and enough hard bop and experimental thrown in to keep me interested.

http://jazzandbeyond.com/

4) The Infidel Guy: The Way of Reason – Reginald Finley, Sr. puts on a great free-thinker show, hitting many topics primarily revolving around religious dogma and other atheistic topics.

http://www.infidelguy.com/

5) Dogma Free America – RIP. It just ended at 50 episodes… after lasting about a year… it’ll be missed. (Note: this podcast came back to life in May 2008… woot!)

http://www.dogmafreeamerica.com/

6) NPR: Jazz Profiles – Superbly crafted A&E-type audio biographies on the greats. Duke, Monk, Bird, Dizzy, Miles, Billie… I came into jazz via the avant-garde scene (Zorn, et al); so getting some exposure to the founding fathers (and mothers) of jazz is awesome!

http://www.npr.org/programs/jazzprofiles

7) Jazz NW with Jim Wilke – A Seattle-based radio show that more often than not makes me happy to be living in the PacNW. Who knew there’d be such a great jazz scene? Favorite find thus far has easily been Seattle-based Monktail Creative Music Concern (and side band Reptet).

http://www.kplu.org/wilke.html

8 ) George Hrab’s Geological Podcast – I just got into this one… it’s fuuuuuuun. and his love for all things Zappa can’t be bad. Geo’s music is pretty damn good, too.

http://www.geologicpodcast.com/

9) Soccergirl, Incorporated – I just got into this one, too… because of GeoHrab. SG’s very similar to Sarah Silverman in comedy stylings — oft-raunchy, un-PC, oft-ridiculous. And that’s a good thing.

http://www.soccergirlincorporated.com/

10) Compassionate Cooks: Vegetarian Food for Thought – One word: quinoa. It changed my life with regards to home stir-fry, salads, burritoes, and all around superfood goodness. :-)

http://www.compassionatecooks.com/

best videocast: (tie) Les Concerts à Emporter -and- Liam Lynch’s Lynchland – One for intimate performances in public places by indie-rocks’ biggest indie-stars. One for crazy videos and tidbits from the guy who brought us the puppet-rific Sifl & Ollie (an unrelated pre-cursor to Greg the Bunny), who happens to be friends with the Tenacious D guys and Sarah Silverman, etc…

http://www.blogotheque.net/concertaemporter/
http://liamlynch.net/

best internet mini-series: Clark and Michael – Michael Cera (George Michael from TV’s Arrested Development) is one of the funniest young men in comedy. He is straight-man GOLD. He and Clark made a witty, pseudo-documentary, 10-episode internet series. Clever.

http://www.clarkandmichael.com/

That’s all for now…

~Dan – np: Iron & WineThe Sea and the Rhythm -ep-

Favorite Albums of 2006 (and Instrumental albums & EPs, too)

20th Jan 07 (Sat) Leave a comment

TOP 15 Instrumental Albums of 2006

1)
EstradaspherePalace of Mirrors (epic and cinematic) : A sibling band of Secret Chiefs 3… Estradasphere got their start on SC3’s label Web of Mimicry (and many of their members from SC3 as well). This is their The End Records debut, and it went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting. Their previous albums have been quite ADHD (a la SC3 and Mr Bungle), but they always had a gypsy-meets-cinematic feel. This album is quite epic and gypsy-cinematic throughout. It’s got a touch of metal in spots and some SC3-type middle-eastern roaming, but the production on this album is masterful compared to their prior works. It truly blew me away. Seeing them perform this year also helped the album’s appeal with me. Brilliant band. Web: http://www.estradasphere.com/

2)
Bobby PreviteThe Coalition of the Willing (groove-laden jazz) : A drummer-led jazz band with inescapable grooves, this CD was a “whim” purchase that totally paid off. It also features some of my fav NYC jazz musicians: guitarist Charlie Hunter & organist Jamie Saft, to name a couple… Web: http://www.bobbyprevite.com/

3)
Irving Fields Meets Roberto RodriguezOy Vey…..Olé!!! (klezmer jazz with a latin flavor) : This album is quite the engaging mix of Jewish and Latino musical culture. More of a collaboration than a mashup, though. Great stuff from a great bunch of musicians. My wife liked it, too… Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

4)
Frank ZappaTrance-Fusion (the return of meedley meedley meeeeee) : Apparently FZ fans have been waiting on this for 10 years… hell, I only found out about it a month before its release, but it’s a great guitar-centric album that fits nicely near the top of my Frank Zappa collection. Web: http://www.zappa.com/

5)
Dweezil ZappaGo With What You Know (the son of the return of meedley meedley meeeeee) : The lead-off track has vocals, but after that it’s an entire shredfest. Wicked fast, but with a nice groove that DZ usually delivers at a level on par with his father… *gasp* Web: http://www.zappa.com/

6)
Dave DouglasMeaning and Mystery (trumpet-led jazz quintet) : After getting into klez-jazz phenom Masada earlier this year, Dave Douglas quickly became one of my favorite jazz soloists. He’s got great sound, composition and groove. Web: http://www.davedouglas.com/

7)
Medeski Scofield Martin & WoodOut Louder (groove-jazz with guitars and a bit more meandering) : I dig MMW a bunch, and MSMW adds a familiar guitar tone to the groove-jazz. Web: http://www.mmw.net/

8 )
Cracow Klezmer BandMasada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 5 ~ Balan (klezmer jazz) : Masada still plays live, but I’m fairly certain that John Zorn’s quit writing tunes for them as a band. His new Masada tunes (“Book Two” as it were) are numbered upwards of 200-300 songs that he wrote over a few years, and different artists are recording them and putting their own spin on the music. Five Masada Book Two albums came out from different artists in 2006, and this one by the Cracow Klezmer Band was the most engaging (Jamie Saft Trio’s & Kobe Israelite’s were also good). 2007 looks to be awesomer, though… as Secret Chiefs 3 (one of my fav bands ever) is going to releasing their Masada Book Two angel-demon incarnation in May (or so). Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

9)
John ZornAstronome (glossolaliac noise metal) : I’m a big avant-garde, screamo fan. I dig many projects from John Zorn and Mike Patton that are so absurd that no one should really listen to them on a recommendation. This one is just that way. I don’t expect anyone to take a recommendation to check out Astronome (or Moonchild). If you’re curious, maybe check it out on iTunes… or shove a guitar into a blender with some avocadoes. I’m a big Fantômas fan — and for both Astronome and Moonchild (below), John Zorn has written some Crowley-influenced, magick-heavy “tunes” with vocal-utterance master Mike Patton in mind. The songs are all fairly instrumental, with the “vocals” not being lyrical, but rather very primitive. He rounds out the trio with fellow-Fantômas bandmate Trevor Dunn on bass and Masada drummer Joey Baron. Astronome beats out Moonchild only due to Mike Patton’s vocal acrobatics being more kooky. The third in the series is due in 2007. Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

10)
Jon Madof’s RashanimShalosh (klezmer rock) : Great fretwork with the sound of old culture seeping through. Of all of the radical Jewish culture series that I’ve gotten into this past year, Jon Madom & Rashanim stands out due to its “rock band” feel… Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

11)
Flat Earth SocietyPsychoscout (orchestral big-band with a sense of humor) : I first heard of FES while getting into bands on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label. They stood out as not really fitting the heavy, screamy type of band. Multi-instrumentalist big band with its hand in jazz and its other hand in orchestral scores. Fun stuff that’s very much “familiar” without being “all up in your junk.” More Ennio Morricone than, say, um… John Williams. Web: http://www.fes.be/

12)
Electric Kulintang (Susie Ibarra & Roberto Rodriguez)Dialects (percussive, yet smooth) : Two drummers making a very accessible instrumental record… crazy, huh? There are some non-lyrical vocalizations by Susie on some songs; but all in all, this is straight up instrumental fun. It’s way more poppy than I would have thought. Web: http://www.susieibarra.com/

13)
TalatThe Growl (klezmer jazz) : Lots of klez-jazz this past year… this one rose to the top. Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

14)
MogwaiMr. Beast (post-rock ) : Mogwai put out some solid material in 2006… the Zidane Sountrack is also good, but more mellow in spots (not head-butty, like I expected it would be). rolleyes.gif Web: http://www.mogwai.co.uk/

15)
John ZornMoonchild: Songs Without Words (glossolaliac noise metal) : Ditto reason as #9 (Astronome) above, ‘cept Moonchild had some neat-o artwork… Web: http://www.tzadik.com/

TOP 5 EPs of 2006

1)
Glen PhillipsUnlucky 7 (poppy singer-songwriter) : His full-length this year was good/OK, but this -EP- is what I feel is up to par with his prior work. Great stuff!! Web: http://www.glenphillips.com/

2)
David BazanFewer Moving Parts (melancholic singer-songwriter) : Two versions of five songs (one acoustic, one band format) from the former Pedro the Lion frontman. PTL was pretty much a one man band; so his “departure” doesn’t hurt me so much. I look forward to his “debut” full-length in 2007. Web: http://www.davidbazan.com/

3)
Thom YorkeSpitting Feathers (twitchy electronic rock) : This -EP- has some nice b-sides, a video and an extended version of “Harrowdown Hill.” Web: http://www.theeraser.net/

4)
O.S.I.Re: Free (progressive rock, remixed) : A great follow-up to a wonderful sophomore album. Web: http://www.osiband.com/

5)
TristezaEn Nuestro Desafío (organic electronic) : This -EP- was coupled with a great live DVD; which is fun, seeing as they never seem to come ’round these parts… Web: http://www.trstz.com/

Best Soundtrack/Score
Mogwai‘s Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (runner(s)-up: OutKast‘s Idlewild & The Beatles‘s Love: Cirque du Soliel)
/ /

Best Debut Album
My Brightest Diamond‘s Bring Me the Workhorse (runner-up: Ellery‘s Lying Awake)
/

Best Concept Album
Estradasphere‘s Palace of Mirrors (runner-up: Jóhann Jóhannsson‘s IBM 1401, A User’s Manual)
/

Best “I Found them on MySpace” Album
Au4‘s soaring On: Audio (runner-up: 8mm‘s sultry Songs to Love and Die By)
/

and now… my favorite albuims of 2006… at the time… note: I got lazy after I had written little blurbs for all of the instrumental and EPs by the time I got to the album list. Eh.

TOP 30 ALBUMS of 2006
1)
O.S.I.Free (prog rock meets trip-hop beats) : Web: http://www.osiband.com/

2)
Nellie McKayPretty Little Head (witty & spunky piano pop) : Web: http://www.nelliemckay.org/

3)
Sean LennonFriendly Fire (John would be proud) : Web: http://www.seanonolennon.com/

4)
Tool10,000 Days (art metal) : Web: http://www.toolband.com/

5)
My Brightest DiamondBring Me the Workhorse (quirky pop with operatic training) : Web: http://www.mybrightestdiamond.com/

6)
Peeping TomPeeping Tom (hard rock meets hip-hop meets pop-avant-garde) : Web: http://www.ipecac.com/bio.php?id=44

7)
Au4On: Audio (sweeping and lush atmospheric rock) : Web: http://www.au4-audio.com/

8 )
NoctalucaTowering the Sum (hard rock masterpiece) : Web: http://www.noctaluca.com/

9)
ElleryLying Awake (passionate Cincinnati songwriting duo) : Web: http://www.ellerymusic.com/

10)
Kim TaylorI Feel Like a Fading Light (singer-songwriter with a Berquistian voice) : Web: http://www.kim-taylor.net/

11)
Pearl JamPearl Jam (rock icons) : Web: http://www.pearljam.com/

12)
Sufjan StevensThe Avalanche (quirk-folk b-sides) : Web: http://www.asthmatickitty.com/musicians.php?artistID=5

13)
Ani DiFrancoReprieve (consistent folk hipster) : Web: http://www.righteousbabe.com/ani/index.asp

14)
BeckThe Information (electronic hip-pop) : Web: http://www.beck.com/

15)
DramagodsLove (melodic hard rock) : Web: http://www.dramagods.com/

16)
Thom YorkeThe Eraser (not kid a… maybe kid b ) : Web: http://www.theeraser.net/

17)
JudeRedemption (golden-voiced songwriter) : Web: http://www.judemusic.com/

18 )
EvanescenceThe Open Door (hard rock, angsty and hooky) : Web: http://www.evanescence.com/

19)
Johnny CashAmerican V: A Hundred Highways (his last complete work) : Web: http://www.johnnycash.com/

20)
IncubusLight Grenades (melodic hard rock) : Web: http://www.enjoyincubus.com/

21)
David GilmourOn an Island (longing for Floyd) : Web: http://www.davidgilmour.com/

22)
PlaceboMeds (post-punk brit-glamrock) : Web: http://www.placeboworld.co.uk/

23)
Red Hot Chili PeppersStadium Arcadium (funk rock?) : Web: http://www.redhotchilipeppers.com/

24)
IsisIn the Absence of Truth (heavy metal ambiance) : Web: http://www.isistheband.com/

25)
The Gotan ProjectLunático (modern tango) : Web: http://www.gotanproject.com/

26)
Ty TaborRock Garden (melodic rock) : Web: http://www.tytabor.net/

27)
Jurassic 5Feedback (rap) : Web: http://www.jurassic5.com/

28 )
Regina SpektorBegin to Hope (quirky piano pop) : Web: http://www.reginaspektor.com/

29)
The Blood BrothersYoung Machetes (screamo) : Web: http://www.thebloodbrothers.com/

30)
RivuletsYou Are My Home (Nick Drake-ian singer-songwriter) : Web: http://www.rivulets.net/

Honorable Mention:
AudioslaveRevelations / Cut ChemistThe Audience’s Listening / DJ LogicZen of Logic / Jars of ClayGood Monsters / MugisonLittle Trip / The ReceiverDecades

Best Album Packaging & Design
Peeping Tom‘s snazy pull-out casing (runner(s)-up: Anathallo‘s Floating World die-cut slipcase and Beck‘s The Information sticker set)

Best Album Artwork
Tool‘s 10,000 Days artwork, including “Net of Being,” by Alex Grey (runner-up: Au4‘s On: Audio)

Biggest Disappointment
Web of Mimicry Records not coming through with their “Fall 2006” promise… and way too many X-mas albums this year (including Over the Rhine‘s Snow Angels, Sufjan Steven‘s Songs for Christmas, Aimee Mann, Bootsy Collins, your mom, your grandma)… ugh. X-mas albums usually sucked (save parts of Sufjan’s and “Goodbye Charles” from OTR’s)

and since I didn’t want to end on a sour note, here are some more “Best Of” winners…

Best Book on CD
Noam Chomsky‘s Failed States (runner-up: Eric Schlosser‘s Fast Food Nation (Updated))

Best Music-related DVD
Tori Amos‘s Fade to Red (runner-up: Megadeth‘s Arsenal of Megadeth)

Best Live Album
dredg‘s Live at the Fillmore (runner-up: Over the Rhine‘s Live from Nowhere Farm Vol 1)

Best Internet-only Release
Iron & Wine‘s iTunes Live Session (runner(s)-up: My Brightest Diamond‘s Disappear -EP- and Celldweller‘s Remix -EP-)

Best Re-issue

Porcupine Tree‘s Stupid Dream (runner-up: Steven Wilson‘s UEM on black-CDR)

Best “Late Getter”
Masada‘s Alef through Sanhedrin (runner(s)-up: Elysian FieldsQueen of the Meadow and Cibo Matto‘s Stereo Type A)

Best “Best Of”

No-Man‘s All the Blue Changes (runner-up: Medeski Martin & Wood‘s Note Bleu: 1998-2005)

Best Side-project
Electric Kulintang (Susie Ibarra & Roberto Rodriguez)‘s Dialects (runner-up: Xenuphobe (Ty Tabor & Wally Farkas)‘s Xenuphobe 1.0)

Looking forward to in 2007: Secret Chiefs 3 x 6 (or so), Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, OTR, Mum, Megadeth, Andy Yorke, Tori Amos, Amiina, Jenn Ghetto’s S, Silverchair, John Zorn’s 3rd in the Magick series with Patton/Dunn/Baron, Monk (Ric Hordinski), Tegan and Sara, Coheed and Cambria, Time Lapse Consortium, Eisley, Tomahawk, My Brightest Diamond (remix album) …

~Dan

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