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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

ha’fway 2016

4th Jul 16 (Mon) Leave a comment

Happy 240th birthday, United States!

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Ah, the annual halfway through the year music recap where I never post an end of year recap. *eyeroll* Eh… I don’t blog much anymore… regardless, here goes for my Top 10 of 2016 so far…

Sia - This is Acting81toq1nqrhl-_sx522_71526zlzvzl-_sx522_
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Artist Album (style)

  1. SiaThis Is Acting (pop)
  2. RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool (rock)
  3. WussyForever Sounds (indie rock)
  4. Holy FuckCONGRATS (live electronic)
  5. Elliott SmithHeaven Adores You (soundtrack) (indie rock)
  6. Steve Taylor & the Danielson FoilWOW to the Deadness -EP- (indie rock)
  7. David BazanBlanco (indie rock)
  8. Allison Miller’s Boom Tic BoomOtis Was a Polar Bear (jazz)
  9. The Claypool-Lennon DeliriumMonolith of Phobos (rock)
  10. Damien JuradoVisions of Us on the Land (indie rock)

What’s still to come in 2016…

Chevelle, Peter Mulvey (it’s in the can), Alex Somers’ score for Captain Fantastic, John Zorn (about every month), TOOL (music done, lyrics nearing completion?), Sigur Rós (maybe 2017), Charlie Hunter, and based on kickstarters/pledgemusic that I’ve supported: Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate, Derek Webb‘s Mockingbird Remixed and Fleming & John, plus much more, I’m sure.

Will I continue with blogs in the future? I don’t know. :P

Dan – np: AuragamiFormation (single)
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PHOTOS: Booker T Jones, Charlie Hunter & Carlton Jackson @ Soul’d Out Music Fest (Dante’s, Portland – 4/14/13)

15th Apr 13 (Mon) Leave a comment

The first time ever playing together, Booker T Jones (keys, voice, guitar), Charlie Hunter (guitar magic) and Carlton Jackson (drums) ripped up a 70 minute set at the Soul’d Out Music Festival last night at Dante’s in Portland.  Booker T. actually played on many of, if not all of, the studio recordings of the classics played last night… such a legend!!

Here are some photos and the setlist:

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Setlist: ~70 minutes

  • Hip Hug-Her
  • Melting Pot
  • Born Under a Bad Sign (Albert King cover)
  • Green Onions
  • Oh Pretty Woman (Albert King cover)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
  • (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding cover)
  • Take Me to the River (Al Green cover)
  • Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers cover)
  • Time Is Tight
  • I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding cover)
  • Encore: Unknown (by me)

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan

REVIEW: John Zorn at 60 @ Walker Art Center & St. Mark’s (Minneapolis, MN – 4/6/13)

12th Apr 13 (Fri) Leave a comment

John Zorn - only pulled out his horn at the very end

John Zorn turns 60 this coming September, and Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center wanted to throw a Zorn Fest of sorts.  Since Zorn doesn’t like to travel, he wanted to keep it to a minimum: not a 3+ day fest, but hey, let’s do it all on one day!  And thus “Zorn @ 60” at Walker Art Center was born!

Check out what 60 of Zorn’s contemporaries have said about him… Part 1 & Part 2.

There have already been a  few great reviews already posted (Jazz Police / Walker Art / City Pages); so I’ll keep my write-up to my own personal reflections, and not as in-depth, per se.  Here’s who Zorn had with him for this fest, in different assemblies… Cyro Baptista, percussion; Joey Baron, drums; Greg Cohen, bass; Chris Cunningham, guitar; Marc Feldman, violin; Eric Friedlander, cello; Michelle Kinney, cello; John Medeski, piano, Hammond B3; Ikue Mori, electronics; Marc Ribot, guitar; Joey Schad, electric keyboards; Kenny Wollesen, vibraphone, percussion, and drums.

Well, first off, due to documentaries, I know what Zorn sounds like… and I was getting off the elevator at my hotel and I heard a familiar voice.  Then I looked up, and “whoa, John Zorn is getting on the elevator that I’m getting off of.”  I almost wanted to act like I forgot something in my room and ride up with him.  Alas, I wussed out.  Then in the lobby, Marc Ribot was futzing around on his phone, and Greg Cohen’s massive upright bass case was blocking the front desk.  It all added to my overall giddiness for the day…

John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither

The full day of Zorn @ 60 started at 3pm with a sit down with fest curator Philip Bither.  Zorn is a lively, humorous, acerbic character.  I kinda love him.  Probably more f-bombs and frivolity than most Q&A sessions, the near hourlong session was highly interesting.

The first part of the discussion talked about Zorn’s age… as the fest was all about his experience and what got him to where he is now in the scene at 60.  Zorn talked a little bit about other “60” celebrations he’s doing this year (of all things MySpace has the best list), and one that he’s doing at The Met (NYC) completely intrigued me… ten performances every hour on the hour in different galleries throughout the museum on September 1st (Facebook link).  if I can swing a way to be in NYC for most of September, I’d be happy.  Unlikely, though.

Some of the best quotes from the interview and Q&A (paraphrased from my scribbles):

[about turning 60]“You don’t have any more doubts.”

“They’ve been saying I’ve been playing ironically for decades… that’s bullshit. But they don’t believe me when I say that’s bullshit.”

“Ribot plays guitar like a mutha’fucka!”

“I live in a library [of books, LPs, CDs, DVDs]… I didn’t have a kitchen for over a decade, but I didn’t have cockroaches either!”

[on creativity] “There were probably Bach-types banging on logs [in the earliest times]. Creativity is mystical, spiritual, ineffable.”

[on his schedule for the day] “Eating is a drag… it’ll only slow you down.”

[on critics] “The secret to longevity is to stay away from negative people… all reviews are bad. We don’t need that bullshit.”

And while I write reviews (and perhaps this is one), I understand his take on the industry of critique.

Marc Ribot plays selections from The Book of Heads
(about 20 minutes)

Mark Ribot performs with Doveman at The Studio in Sydney Opera House for Vivid Live 5th June 2010. (photo by Daniel Boud)

John Zorn / Marc Ribot - The Book of HeadsFirst music of the day… Marc Ribot by himself with a guitar, some pedals, a violin bow, some balloons, and an intenseness in his eyes.  The Book of Heads, an album of solo Etudes composed by Zorn, is a very difficult listen.  It screeches, it hurtles into many different directions.  It’s hard to follow, it’s hard to even want to listen to at some times.  Seeing it live, though, was quite fascinating.  It’s highly composed, but seemingly improvised.  Just seeing Marc’s stern look at the sheet music showed the composition.  He was intently following the haphazard that was on the page.  When one of the greatest guitarists is using balloons as a key part of the music making process, you know things are weird.  Weird but gripping.

Ribot played the following Etudes (not necessarily in this order): 13, 23, 9, 24, 22, 27, 7, 2.

Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
(about 10 minutes)

John Zorn - Hockey

John Zorn - HockeyThe next piece was a trio game piece first created in 1978.  Zorn’s game pieces are a strict set of rules and is a structured, improvisational collaboration between the artists.  Hockey on record is OK to listen to, but like The Book of Heads and Cobra (below), it’s far more interesting in the live setting.

A game piece is…

As well as a sports game, a game piece may also be considered analogous to language: The performance is directed by a well defined set of rules (a grammar) but by no means fixed or predetermined (just as all sentences generated by the same grammar are not the same). The length of a piece may be arbitrary, just as a sentence can be of any imaginable length while still conforming to a strictly defined syntax.

This time is was Zorn on birdcalls, Kenny Wollesen on bird calls and percussion, and Erik Friedlander on cello.  With Kenny and Erik looking intently at Zorn for his verbal and hand motion directions.  The level of musicianship of these three players is amazing, and the game pieces are basically a way to stretch their creative musical muscles while making sounds that you’d never expect.  It’s not for the casual listener.

Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
(3 games; about 30 minutes total)

John Zorn - holding up cue card during the Northsea Jazz Fest

John Zorn heard off stage before Cobra started: “Just don’t make any mistakes!”

John Zorn - CobraCobra takes the game piece concept to whole new levels.  The rules are more complex, and John Zorn doesn’t play but directs at the front.  Based on the card he holds up and his verbal and non-verbal cues, the musicians go off on an adventure – never the same in any repeat performance.

With eleven players on stage (all listed at the top of this post), they played three games of Cobra.  This was my first time seeing Cobra.  It’s very interactive, starting with Zorn’s lead, but the players get room to lead things too.  It’s improv, but still with a structure.  Here’s a glimpse at the cue card structure:

John Zorn - Cobra cue cardsHighlight for me: Joey Baron’s smile.  I get such a kick out of watching him play.  He’s probably the musician having the most fun ever on stage every time I see him.

Cobra was the end of the first program, and the fest broke for a couple hours.

Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio, and
Bar Kokhba Sextet
(a little over an hour – total)

The second program was the chamber music segment (and also the part of the day where my notes have now gone missing).

Erik Friedlander plays Volac (John Zorn's Masada Book Two: Book of Angels)I’d seen Erik Friedlander before (both solo with his own stuff and playing Volac), and it was a great warm up for the increasingly larger groups playing music from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two set of music.  He played a gorgeous 20 minute selections from Volac.

Masada String TrioUp next was the Masada String Trio made up of the aforementioned Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, and Greg Cohen on upright bass.  While the music they played was composed (same with Bar Kokhba Sextet), John Zorn sat on the floor in front of them, conducting.  They played about 20 minutes from their Masada Book Two set.  Gorgeous players, gorgeous music!

Bar Kokhba SextetContinuing in the chamber music written & conducted by Zorn, the Bar Kokhba Sextet found the Masada String Trio joined by Joey Baron on drums, Cyro Baptista on percussion, and Marc Ribot on guitar.  This was probably the best part of the night for me – outside of the experience of seeing Cobra played for the first time.  The group effortlessly brought Zorn’s Masada tunes some groove, and seeing both Baron and Baptista work together percussively was a delight.

John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
encore:

John Zorn playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph
with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
(about 75 minutes total)

At the beginning of the third program, someone yelled out from the audience, “where’s your horn!?” to which John Zorn yelled back, “at home mother fucker!”  Irreverent and hilarious.  Even though he was lying (he brought out his alto sax for the final piece).John Zorn in Minneapolis 2013  Photo by Bryan Aaker.

Nova Express and The Concealed songs were played by Joey Baron on drums, show-stealer Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on cello, Mark Feldman on violin, Greg Cohen on upright bass, and John Medeski on piano.  These are two of Zorn’s better albums in the recent three years’ output (of ~36 albums!!!!).  Partly classical takes on Masada tunes (Nova Express), and partly mystical (The Concealed).

Zorn Zorn - Nova Express John Zorn - The Concealed

As mentioned, the only time John Zorn brought out his sax was for the visual installation piece Aleph – set to Wallace Bergman’s short cut-up film of the same name. Iit was a ripping, avant-garde piece in the dark, backlit by the film, with Zorn wailing on sax, Kenny Wollesen moving off of vibes on to the drums, and Greg Cohen on bass.  Stellar!

John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

John Zorn - hermetic organ

John Zorn - The Hermetic OrganA special free midnight performance of John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ was across the street after the final third program of Zorn @ 60.  Most of the crowd piled over to St. Mark’s Cathedral to watch the contrasting and turgid organ piece.  I stayed for about half of the 30+ minute set and then slowly started my 2 mile, midnight walk back to my hotel – content at the day’s musical gifts.

A brilliant, music-packed day!  If you want to check out some videos of what went down, the French Zorn website le zornographe has linked to some performances posted from the Walker Art Center “Zorn @ 60” fest on YouTube:

Bar Kokhba Sextet “Sother”

Masada String Trio “Bethor”

John Zorn’s Cobra (piece 2)

Erik Friedlander ” Sannul”

The Concealed “Towards Kafiristan”

Nova Express “Between Two Worlds”

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… Soul’d Out Festival’s Charlie Hunter with Booker T. Jones & Carlton Jackson (first time as a trio) @ Dante’s (Portland 4/14)..

~Dan – np: ElleryLying Awake
Ellery - Lying Awake

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000WDSRVY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000WDSRVY&linkCode=as2&tag=essentialmusi-20

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis (soon)

9th Apr 13 (Tue) Leave a comment

John Zorn @ 60 in Minneapolis was awesome… I’m still decompressing, but I should have a write-up posted this week sometime…

John Zorn

John Zorn @ 60 – McGuire Theater @ Walker Art Center :: Minneapolis, MN
John Zorn discussion w/ Philip Bither
Marc Ribot plays selections from Book of Heads
Game Piece: Hockey with Kenny Wollesen & Erik Friedlander
Game Piece: Cobra (for 11 players)
Erik Friedlander plays selections from Masada Book Two: Volac
Masada String Trio
Bar Kokhba Sextet
John Zorn’s Nova Express & The Concealed
John Zorn’s playing to Wallace Berman’s film Aleph with Kenny Wollesen & Greg Cohen
John Zorn’s The Hermetic Organ (midnight) @ St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

2012 mix

24th Dec 12 (Mon) 3 comments

Time for this year’s mix CD, except I decided to go CD-free again (like 2011’s mix). It’s still formatted to stay contained on one CD (21 tracks ~79 mins); so if you want to download the whole shebang and burn to a CD – go for it!

Check out prior year-based mixes: 2009 (CD) and 2010 (CD) and 2011 (digital). No major theme this time like some of my prior mixes (4 Elements & A-to-Z mixes)… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2012).  A few of the songs were technically released in 2012, but the album will hit in 2013.

This year’s mix ended up poppier and/or melancholier than prior mixes.  Sometimes that’s just how things shake out. I hope you enjoy.

The following songs were put on the mix from mostly lossless sources where possible and for promotional purposes only (read: free direct market advertising to people who decidedly love music). Most of the artists on this compilation are independent (put out the music themselves) or signed to smaller, independent labels. If you like what you hear, check out their music / support them with your wallet if you are able. The artists’ Webpage, Facebook, and Amazon links are available for each song below. I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

Download the ZIP File (140M) available *HERE*, extract then drag & drop the mp3 files to your iTunes (or other playback software).

All Songs Streaming Playlist (click arrows to skip back & forth… for individual songs find them below.)

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01 Brian Borcherdt / Dusted(Into The) Atmosphere” from Total Dust

Brian Borcherdt from Canadian live-electronic band Holy Fuck has done some singer-songwriter-y solo projects in the past, but this album in-between HF albums still held on to some electronics and keys versus the standard acoustic guitar fare.  This lo-fi, melodic, and haunting affair hit me well this rainy Oregon fall.

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02 O.S.I.Wind Won’t Howl” from Fire Make Thunder

The fourth album in the O.S.I. partnership of Kevin Moore (Chroma Key) and Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) isn’t a metal heavy as the other albums.  I love how there’s a bit of rock in this track to offset the melancholy delivery of Kevin’s vocals.  Guest drummer on the entire album is Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree.  The album fits in with what I’d call “glitch prog,” to which Kevin liked my moniker.  Organic/real drums cut up electronically alongside with prog rock keys & guitars.  This album is easily one of my favorites of 2012.

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03 Peter MulveyEgg Radio (instrumental)” from The Good Stuff

04 Peter MulveyGreen Grass” from The Good Stuff

Peter Mulvey is an American treasure. His lyrical storytelling, guitar prowess, and overall charm and earnestness make him a favorite artists of mine, period.  With his recent album, he put together a band and re-purposed others’ music… “new standards” if you will.  The instrumental “Egg Radio” is originally penned by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and “Green Grass” is from Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan.

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05 Levi WeaverTalk Me Down” from I Am Only A Tiny Noise [EP]

Less than a year ago, I had no idea who Levi Weaver was.  I joined a fantasy baseball league online (uncharacteristic of me) and met Levi via that.  I had no idea he was a travelling musician until he mentioned on twitter something about a documentary being shot about him (String Theory).  Then the cards fell in place for him to play a show at my house, and then I bought and fell in love with all of his records.  Such is my musical addiction.  Sometimes I luck into gems.  Levi put out the Tiny Noise EP in 2012, but I also strongly urge you to check out his earlier work.

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06 Emily WellsInstrumental (Lolo Remix)” from Mama Remixed

08 Emily WellsFire Song (Doctor Rosen Rosen Remix)” from Mama Remixed

Emily spans indie rock, chamber music, and hip-hop near flawlessly (check her cover of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy“).  With her latest album, Mama, she has continued in that vein… and then also released a remix album for free on Soundcloud.

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 Kim Taylor - Love's A Dog07 Kim TaylorSave My Life (demo)” from the forthcoming album Love’s A Dog

Heartfelt Cincinnati singer-songwriter Kim Taylor successfully Kickstarted her forthcoming album.  I loved this song so much; so here’s a glimpse in what is to come.  Since the Kickstarter is officially done, keep in the loop via her webpage and Facebook for when it’ll hit regular retail outlets in 2013.  Also, take a listen to her back catalog… her music has a special place in my heart.

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09 Sufjan StevensAlphabet St.” from Silver & Gold: Christmas Infinity Voyage [EP]

Five EPs of Christmas music released this year, and I find a non-holiday-forward Prince cover to break things up on this mix.  This song is more indicative of things on The Age of Adz versus the rest of the Christmas EPs.  Enjoy!  Skip below for the other Sufjan track on my 2012 mix for something different…

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10 Digital Noise AcademyMelting Inside” from the forthcoming album DNA

Way back in 2006, the Los Angeles Digital Noise Academy (LADNA) did a couple of shared tracks… passing around pieces via the internet as they’re all busy musicians in their own rights.  Back in those days, there was mention of releasing an album, but nothing ever materialized.  Well, in 2012, they changed things up to just DNA and finally had enough momentum to get a Kickstarter going – which succeeded on its 2nd try.  The album will come out in 2013.  DNA is the cooperative of Ken Andrews (Failure, On, producer/mixer of tons of rock bands), Charlotte Martin (pop singer-songwriter), Sharky Laguana (Creeper Lagoon), Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck & NIN), Fernando Sanchez (popular hired gun), and Jordan Zadorozny (Blinker the Star).

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11 Aimee MannLabrador” from Charmer

I don’t have much to say about this song outside of that I love Aimee Mann, and the video for it was a shot-for-shot remake of the “Voices Carry” video from her ‘Til Tuesday days.  Wacky and fun!

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12 The Album LeafStretched Home” from Forward/Return [EP]

The Album Leaf is Jimmy LaValle, and he’s had some good success making some great keyboard-driven, organic post-rock.  This EP almost escaped me, though, as the word on the street was faint.  Jimmy has an upcoming project with Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon); so I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes & ears peeled better!

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13 Damien JuradoMuseum of Flight” from Maraqopa

Damien Jurado is one of those pure songwriters that hits me hard with his lyrics.  This song has impacted me a lot this year, and I think I’ve listened to it more than 100 times, which knowing the amount of music I go through each year is saying something.  Maraqopa is a gorgeous record, and it will end up high on my list for 2012.

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14 Glen PhillipsStill Carrying You” from Coyote Sessions

Glen Phillips (the voice behind Toad the Wet Sprocket) can bend my ear no matter what he’s doing.  His latest self-release, Coyote Sessions (via bandcamp), is full of some old favorites that he’s done for a while in a live setting, but have never made their way onto formal releases.  A must purchase for the pop singer-songwriter in me.

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15 Charlie Hunter & Scott AmendolaNot Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead” from album of the same name

The ease at which Charlie Hunter plays both the guitar and bass parts on his 8-string guitar makes witnessing him in concert confounding. Fuck that guy! He’s too damn good to be an actual human being.  He’s been working with drummer Scott Amendola in several incarnations in the past (trios, quartets).  For this recent album and tour, it was just the two of them.  Stripped down, yet full of sound.  Highly recommended guitar jazz.

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16 Ben Folds FiveAway When You Were Here” from The Sound of the Life of the Mind

One of the saddest days was when I heard that Ben Folds Five broke up.  I kind of always hoped they’d get back together, but Ben Folds kept chugging away on his solo stuff… which was excellent, but not… you know, not “the same.”  There was a glint of hope a handful of years ago when Darren Jessee and Robert Sledge joined forces with their pianist brother for some live shows.  This year, they got back together for real in the studio!  They’ll hit the road in early Winter 2013.  I’ll be lucky to see them in Portland in February.  When I saw them back in the late 90s/early 2000s, they blew me away.  Truly a fun band to see live!

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17 Bad VeinsIf Then” from The Mess We’ve Made

Cincinnati rock duo Bad Veins should own the world.  Their 2nd full length is lush, hooky, and a perfect follow-up to their 2009 debut.  With the lushness on this record, Ben & Sebastien are probably giving “Irene,” their reel-to-reel band member, a good workout.  Hopefully they buy her new cords and oil her joints in between gigs.

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18 John ZornPathway of Fire” from The Concealed

One of nine releases from John Zorn this year, this album is a jauntier, more accessible jazz compared to some of his other work.  I desperately wanted to put on some screeching, grating stuff from Music & Its Double, but I spared you all.  I was *that* close to doing it, too.  You’re welcome!  Anyway, The Concealed album features some excellent packaging – embossed white inks on white digipack with die-cut shapes in the front.  Kudos to Tzadik’s designer Chippy for her always stunning work.  The music was written by Zorn and performed by the usual suspects in his arsenal – the stellar cast of NYC jazz cats: Joey Baron on drums, Trevor Dunn on bass, Mark Feldman on violin, Erik Friedlander on cello, John Medeski on piano, and Kenny Wollesen on vibes.

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19 Fiona AppleWerewolf” from The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

It’s Fiona.  What can I say? Great standout track on her stupendous new album. There’s “nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key.”

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20 Sufjan StevensJustice Delivers Its Death” from Silver & Gold: Christmas Unicorn [EP]

Sparse acoustic guitar and Sufjan’s angelic voice thrust this song into my head and heart like no other.  I take its lyrics as disappointment in the temporary, which can also be a call to do more fruitful things while we’re here.  Which I think is good advice for everyone.  This song is also not too indicative of most of what you’ll find on the Christmas EPs. I don’t really like Christmas music, but I think Sufjan makes some wonderful art.  And, whoa, his concert tour this year was amazing (see review with photos of the Portland/Aladdin show)!!!

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21 Au4So Just Hang On, Beautiful One” from the forthcoming album …And Down Goes the Sky

These Canadian soundscapers haven’t released music since 2006. I found them in the halcyon “MySpace days,” if that tells you anything.  Their first album (On: Audio) is amazing and textured.  Their 2nd album from which this song is from is out now (digitally) with an official release date in 2013.  It’s also textured and gorgeous, with a little mixing up on the vocal duties.  I’m still digesting it, but I can still very much recommend it!

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Let me know what you think… If you enjoyed what you heard, please support the music. Definitely feel free to pass the link the mix along:

http://tinyurl.com/MixyD2012

~Dan – np: Au4On: Audio

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

Dave Douglas – Be Still

16th Jul 12 (Mon) Leave a comment

My favorite living trumpet player is most definitely, without a doubt, the wonderful and talented melodic-lyricist Dave Douglas.  Next on the docket for him is Be Still, a collection of “deeply personal hymns and originals” with his new quintet featuring Americana vocalist Aoife O’Donovan.  It comes out on September 25, 2012, on Dave’s label – Greenleaf Music.

With Dave and (special guest) Aoife, rounding out the quintet is Jon Irabagon, Matt Mitchell, Linda Oh, and Rudy Royston.  Dave will also go out on a 50-date U.S. Tour in 2013 to celebrate his 50th birthday.  I hope to catch it, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen him.

More press on Be Still below…

Dave Douglas describes the title of his new release, Be Still, as “aspirational.” The continually evolving trumpeter and composer settles down for a ballad-like set that presents a series of hymns and folk songs with an intensely personal connection. Be Still brings out the most lyrical side of Douglas, and introduces both a newly configured Quintet, and an important new collaborator, vocalist and guitarist Aoife O’Donovan.

“Evolving” could easily apply to most of Dave Douglas’ releases, each of which seems to venture fearlessly into unexplored territory. This time, the journey is inward rather than outward, resulting in the most starkly personal album of his notable career. The intensity of Douglas’ focus on the music of Be Still is understandable given the album’s origins.

Douglas’ mother passed away last year after a three-year battle with ovarian cancer, and the hymns on this album appeared on a list she prepared for him to play at her memorial service. Douglas performed the music with his brass group at the service and an accompanying benefit concert. “Be Still My Soul” was one of those hymns, and the verses she chose to be sung felt to Douglas like a powerful imperative to go deeper with these church hymns and their meanings.

In the months after the service he continued to work with arranging the music, though initially reluctant to include the lyrics. On meeting O’Donovan in January of this year Douglas decided he had found the right vocal expression for the arrangements he wanted to make. The pieces on Be Still present a true marriage of folk song, congregational hymnody, sophisticated harmonies and rich rhythmic underpinnings.

When Douglas calls the album aspirational, he’s also referring to its title and the deceptively simple message it contains. “It’s a reminder to myself,” he says. “We are all so busy these days, and it’s a reminder to step back and reflect on creativity and depth of communication in the music. There are deep human interactions that go on in improvised music like this and they take time and patience to develop. Sometimes that means stepping away from the clutter of Twitter, Facebook, texting and traveling to focus on the essence of music in an intense way.”

Be Still marks the recorded debut of the new incarnation of the Dave Douglas Quintet, completed by four remarkably diverse musicians: saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Linda Oh, and drummer Rudy Royston. They are joined on six songs by the expressive vocals of Aoife O’Donovan of the progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still. The repertoire mines the rich melodies of traditional hymns and folk tunes, which gain even greater depth through Douglas’ intricate arrangements.

While the material on Be Still comes from traditions that Douglas may not have explicitly evoked in the past, the album is hardly out of character. His work has always concentrated on direct communication, basic emotions couched in complex expression. “I’m always looking, even in my own composition, to find some way to make something that might be very sophisticated still have these roots in something very simple,” Douglas says. “Jazz, even at its most complex, always has its roots in the music of the people, in popular music. That’s one of the reasons that I connected with these songs.”

Folk music purists would undoubtedly be affected by the crystalline clarity of O’Donovan’s voice on the tender “Be Still My Soul” or the Appalachian stomp of “High on a Mountain.” But underlying that back porch folksiness are intriguing harmonies and clever soloing, embodied by Irabagon’s pitch-perfect countrypolitan sax solo on “High on a Mountain.”

In addition to the classic songs, Douglas penned three new compositions for the album in the same spirit. “Living Streams” is a completely new setting for a traditional Scottish hymn, while “Going Somewhere With You” is as lushly tuneful as the surrounding material. The quintet tour de force “Middle March” was written just after Douglas heard the news of the death of legendary drummer Paul Motian and possesses a free-floating lyricism familiar from Motian’s own compositions.

Be Still is merely the latest new direction in a career that has been full of them, all pointing forward. One of the most influential and inventive composers and trumpeters in modern jazz, Dave Douglas leads several creative ensembles: Keystone, which performs his music composed for and inspired by film; Brass Ecstasy, the eclectic brass band; and his latest, the Sound Prints Quintet with Joe Lovano, Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh, and Joey Baron. He has served as the artistic director of the Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music at The Banff Centre in Canada for ten seasons, an honor he recently handed over to pianist/composer Vijay Iyer. Dave Douglas is also co-founder and director of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2012.

This latest incarnation of the Dave Douglas Quintet fully lives up to its diverse and ground-breaking predecessors. Saxophonist Jon Irabagon’s unpredictable career has led him from the off-the-wall antics of Mostly Other People Do the Killing to his decidedly straightahead leader debut The Observer, released shortly after he won the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. Matt Mitchell’s piano work strays from classical to the avant-garde, and lately has found him collaborating with innovators like John Hollenbeck and Tim Berne.

Chinese-Malay-Aussie bassist Linda Oh grabbed the jazz world’s attention with her self-released debut Entry in 2009, and further cemented her place as one of the music’s rising stars with this year’s Initial Here on Douglas’ Greenleaf Music. She reteams with her drummer from that album, Rudy Royston, in the Douglas quintet. Royston is best known for his long association with guitarist Bill Frisell, but his credits also include Ravi Coltrane, Jenny Scheinman, Jason Moran and Don Byron.

In the hands of these five musicians, these tunes are undeniably spiritual – but that’s less a result of their origins than the quintet’s deeply personal collective approach. “Music, in the way that I practice it, is my spiritual life,” Douglas says.

“My mother was pretty specific about the verses that she wanted sung, and as I started looking at them I realized I felt right at home here. You search a lot of places in your life. Especially from knowing so many evolved musicians I feel I’ve been exposed to many different traditions and different ways of viewing our place in the world. It’s amazing how all of them seem to lead back to the same place of unity and oneness. After working on this music and being in my mother’s church it felt like a return to the spiritual outlook I started out with, but with a deeper understanding and meaning for me. And now I don’t know, maybe that’s what she was really after!”

~Dan – np: Levi WeaverThe Letters of Dr. Kurt Gödel

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