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Favorite Concerts of 2010

23rd Dec 10 (Thu) 7 comments

Well, this year’s concert seasons were especially good to me… 365 days, 79 shows, 149 artists, many long nights driving home, and a lot of photos…

My favorite concerts of 2010:

  1. Sufjan Stevens :: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall :: Portland, OR {29 Oct} [review with photos] – completely stunning show
  2. Toad the Wet Sprocket :: Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR {28 Jul} [review with photos] – I am a slave to Glen & Co’s alt-pop
  3. Jon Þor “Jónsi” Birgisson (of Sigur Rós) :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {13 Apr} [review with photos] – stupendous stage show
  4. Nellie McKay :: Berbati’s Pan :: Portland, OR {31 Mar} [review with photos] – missed her Eugene show while at Sufjan, I heard that show was also “the bomb”
  5. Dream Theater :: Roseland Theater :: Portland, OR {21 Jun} [review with photos] – made more special after Mike Portnoy left the band this fall
  6. Tegan and Sara :: Keller Auditorium :: Portland, OR {8 Apr} [review with photos] – first time seeing them, not too be missed
  7. Holy Fuck (twice) :: Mississippi Studios & Holocene :: Portland, OR {6 Jun & 14 Oct} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – one of the most consistently great live acts, Holocene show was better, but Mississippi was also rad…
  8. Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR {12 Jun} [review with photos] – keeping the FZ torch alive!
  9. Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy :: PDX Jazz Fest / Crystal Ballroom :: Portland, OR {28 Feb} [review with photos] – honestly, all of these Top 15 could be #1 in a slow concert year
  10. Over the Rhine (twice) :: WOW Hall & Aladdin Theater :: Eugene & Portland, OR {15 & 17 Nov} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – twice after three years of OTR drought for me
  11. Charlie Hunter Trio (twice) :: WOW Hall & Sam Bond’s Garage :: Eugene, OR {18 May & 16 Dec} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – Charlie has a pact with the devil… he’s too good…
  12. Peter Mulvey & Jeffrey Foucault (twice) :: The Woods & Sam Bond’s Garage :: Portland & Eugene, OR {22 & 24 Oct} [reviews with photos #1 & #2] – both brilliant storytellers before VH1 made it a show
  13. Susan Enan :: House Show :: Eugene, OR {15 Jul} [review with photos] – at our house… super fun & intimate
  14. Damien Jurado :: Mississippi Studios :: Portland, OR {27 Feb} [review] – I didn’t know more than half of the songs, but it didn’t matter
  15. Medeski Martin & Wood :: McDonald Theatre :: Eugene, OR {25 Feb} [review with photos] – jazz dance party!

Runners-Up: Bill Frisell Trio at The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts, Fishtank Ensemble at a Eugene House Show, Pink Martini at The Hult Center / Oregon Bach Festival, Trio Subtonic & the Dead Kenny G’s at Mt. Tabor Theater, The Weepies at Aladdin Theater.  Even after honorable mentions, I cut some GREAT ones… 2010 was a great year.

My favorite concert photos of 2010: (in chronological order)


(all images are free to use under a creative commons designation, simply identify Daniel Temmesfeld with a photo credit and link to jazzsick.wordpress.com, or items noted with emobiephotography.com is photo credit Margaret O’Brien)

Past Favorite Concerts Lists:

Favorite music of 2010 will be coming soon… EPs/DVDs/etc, vocal albums, instrumental albums, artists of the decade

~Dan – np: nine inch nailsbroken

2 Sufjan & The National & Arcade Fire Xmas songs…

21st Dec 10 (Tue) Leave a comment

Thanks to Between Hipsters and God… two Christmas rarities of Sufjan Stevens (from 2006) have been unearthed.  They are off the still unreleased Songs for Christmas Volume 6 (Gloria!) featuring The National‘s Aaron & Bryce Dessner as well as The Arcade Fire‘s Richard Reed Parry.  They were out via the National & Arcade Fire DJ set on BBC6.

The 6th Christmas EP is yet to be released officially… Xmas EP #8 came out in 2008… so, maybe next year, Asthmatic Kitty will release another 5 EP boxset?  We can only hope…

~Dan – np: Ty Tabor – Trip Magnet EP 

2010 mix

18th Dec 10 (Sat) 2 comments

Time for this years mix CD… check out 2009’s over here.  No major theme this time like prior mixes… the only rule I placed before myself was that everything is current (i.e.- released in 2010).

The following songs were put on the mix CD from 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, MyFace & Spacebook (whether official or not), and Amazon links are available for each song below. I’ve also included concert review links if I’ve seen the artist recently.

If you want one of these mix CDs, message me (see my “About” page).

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

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01 Mike PattonIl Cielo In Una Stanza” from Mondo Cane

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.  It’ll rank near the top of my upcoming year-end lists…

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02 Charlotte Gainsbourg & BeckIRM” from IRM

IRM came out in late November 2009 – which was after I had done last year’s mix; so I’m sneaking it into this year’s mix.  Beck collaborated with singer/actress Charlotte on the whole album (outside of one song).  It’s a nice poppy-electronic mix… some French tunes as well (her father is French musical legend Serge Gainsbourg).  The album and track were inspired by her head trauma in 2007 (“IRM” is the French acronym synonymous with what we call an “MRI machine” in the US).  My favorite part may be that the IRM delivers rhythmic support to the track.

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03 ElleryPieces (live)” original from This Isn’t Over Yet

This version is from Ellery’s live album that preceded their wonderful 2nd studio album that hit this year.  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 is with Malcolm Burn at the helm (Daniel Lanois / Bob Dylan / Iggy Pop / Kaki King / Emmylou Harris / etc).

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04 Comic WowNice Chaps” from Library Catalog Music Series: Music for Mysteries of Mind Space and Time

Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music Series (LCMS) is much more hit than miss.  There have been a couple albums that didn’t interest me for multiple listens, but Comic Wow’s settled nicely from the get go.  LCMS (as a series) is made up of instrumental albums designed for possible use in films and television, background sounds for home or office.  Per the P.R., “Comic Wow are sonic illustrators, alchemists, designers, dilettantes’, poets, teachers, Socialists, and outdoorsmen whose advocacy of affordable colored cod pieces helped influence the look of thirty-third century America.”  Whatever you call it, I like it.

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05 Holy FuckRed Lights” from Latin

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.

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06 Damien JuradoBeacon Hill” from Saint Bartlett

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.

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07 Jeanne CherhalCertains Animaux” from Charade

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.

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08 Nellie McKayThe Portal” from Home Sweet Mobile Home

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 Portal” is one of the mellower tunes from the album… the rest of 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.

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09 PusciferThe Humbling River (Duet Mix)” from C is for… EP

When Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan isn’t rocking with those bands (both had touring activity this year), he’s usually tending to his grapes or noodling around on some mildly offensive, but well-crafted music with his other side-project Puscifer.  The C is for… EP actually came out last year, but since it was digital only at that stage and since the 2010 CD & vinyl releases contained a touch of new material – it fits the criteria for this year’s compilation.  He also put out new mixes / remixes for the Blood Into Wine documentary (about the Arizona wine scene).  That record is called Sounds Into Blood Into Wine.  As I type this, I actually got a call from my local Eugene Oregon wine/beer shop (16tons).  They have my Caduceus/Merkin order in stock… so, coincidentally, I’ll be dropping some major coin on some of Maynard’s wine very shortly… glug glug.

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10 Haftor Medbøe GroupPneumatic” from A Box of Monkeys EP

This is another record that came out in late 2009… but I got it in 2010 and iTunes recognized it as 2010 (plus it was too late to be stricken from the CD mix rolls, as I liked it too much).  The track faatures some nice guitar-based jazz, and the EP also features some songs with vocals that aren’t too unlike Björk or Under Byen (also known as “a-OK with me”).  It’s a delightful EP that put Haftor on my radar… for good.

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11 Sufjan StevensFutile Devices” from The Age of Adz

The first Sufjan track that made its way onto this 2010 compilation comes from his second release from 2010.  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.  This song is actually one of the songs that I fell in love with right away.  For those not familiar with Sufjan, this track fits better with some of his earlier work and not so much with Adz as a whole.  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.

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12 AutorYnoOverture Automatique” from Pastrami Bagel Social Club

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, and I will say that it will rank high amongst my instrumental finds in 2010.

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13 Glen PhillipsThe Innocent” from Tornillo

The voice of Toad the Wet Sprocket has been putting out some fantastic albums since his first solo album (2000’s Abulum).  Tornillo was recorded in 2003 with David Garza, but was shelved / lost.  Many of the songs were re-recorded and put out on 2005’s Winter Pays For Summer (a favorite of mine).  Regardless of some of the songs making their way out to the fans, there are still some never-before-released gems on here.  Glen put it out about a month ago via his bandcamp page.  $7.  A total steal.

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14 Beats AntiqueEgyptic” from Blind Threshold

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.

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15 The WeepiesEmpty Your Hands” from Be My Thrill

Syrupy singer-songwriter pop is not my bailiwick, but I do find myself drawn to it on occasion.  I guess even my CD collection needs a “rom-com” soundtrack every now and again.  The Weepies write well-crafted songs about love and life.  It’s hard to say anything bad about them.

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16 JónsiKolniður” from Go

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 cancelation 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.

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17 George HrabHai Yookito ‘Ya” from Trebuchet

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’d put it on a mix CD, but it honestly makes me cry everytime I hear it.  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!

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18 Kaki KingFalling Day” from Junior

Kaki King is a guitar phenom, and this is her second album in a row that seems to be moving more towards turning into a more vocal, indie rock songstress.  It’s still full of her amazing guitarwork, but brings in a whistful lyricism.  I’m still getting used to her “vocal legs,” but I like what I hear so far.

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19 John Zorn’s The Dreamers Hashul” from Masada Book Two: Book of Angels, Vol. 14 (Ipos)

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.

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20 Sufjan StevensThe Owl and the Tanager” from All Delighted People EP

This is my favorite song from Sufjan’s 50+ minute “EP” from earlier this year.  Beautiful and haunting, and again, not as characteristic of the rest of the EP, which seems more experimental and adventurous compared to “Owl” or his older material.  Originally only released online via bandcamp, the EP saw physical form (CD & vinyl) earlier this month.  I’m looking forward to spinning the vinyl when it hits my front porch.

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Let me know what you think…

unfortunately missing (due to space or flow limitations, or that I simply didn’t get them in the mail yet): Kevin Moore’s Shine, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl)’s Acoustic Sessions, Mogwai’s Special Moves/Burning, Zero 7’s Record… and John Zorn’s Moonchild Trio Ipsissimus, because I didn’t want to scare you.  Oh well, those may make it on my “favorite albums” of 2010 list.

~Dan – np: Radiohead101010 (aka OK Computer & In Rainbows cross-fade mix)

for more on the Radiohead cross-fade mix, check out Puddlegum

there are no torrents, free mp3 or other downloads available

Sufjan Stevens “Too Much” (music video)

22nd Nov 10 (Mon) Leave a comment

Sufjan Stevens made his network TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on Friday 11/19 (), and now the release of the “official music video” for “Too Much” from The Age of Adz today…

It is the video that played behind his band during the recent tour (my photo from the Portland show above).  The video is as energetic and enigmatic as the Fallon performance.  I’m digging it.

~Dan – np:  MúmYesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is Ok 

Sufjan plays “Too Much” on Jimmy Fallon

20th Nov 10 (Sat) Leave a comment

Sufjan Stevens and his Age of Adz band hit Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night.  Quirky, to say the least.  I love it… check the video over on Stereogum (sorry wp.com doesn’t support all flash video formats):

http://stereogum.com/583011/sufjan-plays-fallon/video/

Check out photos from the Portland Oregon show a few weeks ago…

~Dan – np: Peter MulveyThe Trouble with Poets

REVIEW: Sufjan Stevens @ Schnitzer (Portland, OR – 10/29/10)

30th Oct 10 (Sat) 12 comments

FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM

So, the last few months has been a flurry of unexpected, yet superbly exciting information coming from Sufjan Stevens and Asthmatic Kitty.  First was the tour announcement (on Aug 9th), then a week and a half later came the immediate release of the All Delighted People EP, and less than a week later came the news of the new full length album The Age of Adz (pronounced ‘odds’).  Outside of the orchestral The BQE piece, Sufjan had been silent for a couple years (which we recently found out was due to nervous system health issues).  Within the past two months, he came roaring back in 2010 with a North American-spanning tour and two new adventurous albums (the “EP” is 58+ minutes).

The new music from Delighted and Adz is a little less accessible compared to Seven Swans or his “State” albums, but a little more poppy/accessible compared to BQE or Rabbit.  I think the new music strikes a nice balance between the adventurousness and electronic-ness in his past music… possibly “A Sun Came! updated for the Sufjan listener in 2010.”  While I don’t think it’s a repeat of A Sun Came! (at all) – that’s the best Sufjan repertoire comparison I can muster.  It’s sweeping and glitchy, quiet and loud.  But how would it translate into a live show?

Before we could find out, labelmate DM Stith hit the stage.  He only played 20 minutes, but was a good warm-up.  Nice singer-songwriter fare, with Sufjans’ horn section on “Thanksgiving Moon.” I’d heard DM’s music via AK samplers and free downloads.  It never struck me as solidly as Sufjan has, but in the live setting, he seemed to carry himself well.  After he did his tunes, he left to go put on shiny pants for Sufjan’s band.  I was slightly disappointed that he left after only 20 minutes, but that disappointment soon went away as the anticipation for Sufjan mounted.

Sufjan and his 10 piece band hit the stage around 10 ’til 9pm in shiny outfits.  His band was comprised of DM Stith on keyboards, two drummers, a 3-member torn section, a guitarist, bassist, and two backup singers/dancers.  After a short hello, they went immediate into “All Delighted People” and didn’t stop with the new material until 10:30.  I’d been listening to the new material for the past week, and glad they played some personal favorites: Heirloom, Futile Devices, The Owl and the Tanager, and the 20+ minute Impossible Soul.

Sufjan’s “slow jam” dancing to “I Walked” was charming.  The projected graphics and dark, hallowed lighting during “Vesuvius” made my friend mention that it seemed like a weird, ancient worship service.  The auto tune hip-hop near the end of “Impossible Soul” is one of my favorite parts, and it really worked in the live setting. I wish cameras had been allowed near the end, as a large luminescent diamond descended*, and Sufjan busted out the jams in front of the back-lit, strobe-diamond facade.  While that was his most “rockstar moment,” most of the show, he was talkative, yet unassuming and grateful to the audience.

* Amanda McAuley got some photos of it (some shown below), plus I found an “Impossible Soul” part 2 video snippetsee alphaleonis’ youtube for more from the show.

Setlist: about 2 1/4 hours

  • All Delighted People
  • Too Much
  • Age of Adz
  • Heirloom
  • I Walked
  • Futile Devices
  • Vesuvius
  • The Owl and the Tanager [Sufjan solo with backing vocals]
  • Get Real Get Right [with story about Royal Robertson]
  • Enchanting Ghost
  • Impossible Soul
  • Chicago
  • Encore: Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois [Sufjan solo piano]
  • Casimir Pulaski Day

It was a brilliant show.  He was quirky and subdued, gentle and cacophonous, amusing and bewildering, and all around charming.  He saved the old tunes for last, and only three Illinois tracks made the cut.  I got goosebumps as he hit the intro for “Concerning the UFO Sighting.”  While the older tunes were nice (and I wish there had been more sprinkled in), I can honestly say that the new tunes hold their own.  There’s a reason Sufjan has a piece of our hearts.  Seeing the new songs live definitely elevated those albums to being amongst my favoritesfor 2010.  After seeing them performed live, I think they fit better within his catalogue, too.  I hope it’s not another 3+ years until I get to see Sufjan and his band of musicians again.

Sidenote: Sufjan’s one of the only artists who could have pulled me away from a reported, equally awesome Nellie McKay show in Eugene (check back tomorrow for Nellie McKay photos from Margaret O’Brien – who went in my place).

many more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Check out more tour dates below.

~Dan –Dave Douglas & KeystoneSpark of Being: Expand

SUFJAN STEVENS PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2010 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

Sufjan’s 2010 Tour Dates

  • Tuesday, 12 October – Metropolis Theater, Montreal QC
  • Wednesday, 13 October – Massey Hall, Toronto ON
  • Thursday, 14 October – Royal Oak Music Theater, Royal Oak MI
  • Friday, 15 October – Chicago Theater, Chicago IL
  • Saturday, 16 October – Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis MN
  • Sunday, 17 October – Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO
  • Tuesday, 19 October – The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin TX
  • Wednesday, 20 October – McFarlin Memorial Auditorium, Dallas TX
  • Friday, 22 October – Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theater, Mesa AZ
  • Saturday, 23 October – The Wiltern, Los Angeles CA
  • Tuesday, 26 October – The Paramount Theater, Oakland CA
  • Thursday, 28 October – Orpheum Theater, Vancouver BC
  • Friday, 29 October – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland OR
  • Saturday, 30 October – The Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA
  • Monday, 1 November – Kingsbury Hall, Salt Lake City UT
  • Tuesday, 2 November – Paramount Theatre, Denver CO
  • Thursday, 4 November – Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis IN
  • Friday, 5 November – Bijou Theater, Knoxville TN
  • Saturday, 6 November – The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA
  • Sunday, 7 November – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville NC
  • Wednesday, 10 November – Kimmel Center, Philadelphia PA
  • Thursday, 11 November – Orpheum Theatre, Boston MA
  • Sunday, 14 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY
  • Monday, 15 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY

 

theYage’s Attack Ships on Fire

29th Oct 10 (Fri) Leave a comment

Experimental electronic artist theYage finally put out their new album, Attack Ships on Fire.  It’s a great combination of drum & bass, jungle, hip-hop, and some hardcore/metal as well.  Utilizing two vocalist/MCs laid across a plentiful beats and breaks.  The album speaks of an apocalyptic, post-Bush era world – pieced together with dark and emotional influences and ties.

I’ve dug theYage’s music for a while, and it’s nice to see the fruits of their labors on this CD.  It’s available on CD or digital download at bandcamp.  The CD version is superbly designed (and think it would also translate well to a 180g vinyl format).

In other news… Sufjan Stevens show is tonight in Portland (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall)!!!  Check back Saturday for my review.  I’ll also have a representative at the Nellie McKay show at the Shedd in Eugene; so check back over this weekend for photos from that show as well.

~Dan – np: Dave Douglas & KeystoneSpark of Being: Burst

Sufjan Stevens reveals health problems

22nd Oct 10 (Fri) 1 comment

New info from Sufjan Stevens during his recent Toronto show…

“I probably shouldn’t go into the gory details of what I went through, but I will say that I did get very sick last year and had some serious health issues that were really confusing and mysterious and debilitating. For several months, I couldn’t really work and was forced to focus on my physicality and restoring myself. It took several months before I could even get back to working again and recording music…It was a virus I had that affected my nervous system and I no longer had control of my responses to circumstances and events…It was really bizarre.”

Read the rest over at Exclaim.

His Fall 2010 tour is underway now.  One week until the Portland show… squeeee…

~Dan – np: Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz

no free download of mp3 flac torrent on this site, ever.  if you like music, support it.  buy it.

Shara Worden & Sarah Kirkland Snider – Penelope

12th Oct 10 (Tue) 4 comments

On October 18th, at (le) Poisson Rouge in NYC, Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) will be performing the music of Sarah Kirkland Snider backed by yMusic, a six piece chamber ensemble with violinist Rob Moose at the helm (who has played on MBD’s albums).

The album, entitled Penelope (which comes out on October 26th) is a 60-minute song cycle composed by Snider for Worden and the orchestral group, Signal, based on texts by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, derived from the music theater piece of the same name she and Snider wrote together in 2007-2008.

Here is a free taste: “This is What You’re Like” mp3

Penelope is up for pre-order on the Amazons

The songs loosely tell a story: A woman’s husband appears at her door after an absence of 20 years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of a modern war, he doesn’t know who he is and she doesn’t know who he’s become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband’s memory and the terror and trauma of war.

Oh, and sorta related to My Brightest Diamond… her labelhead, Sufjan Stevens‘ new album The Age of Adz comes out today, and it’s on special deal over at the Amazons.  $3.99 for the download version (for a limited time).

But it’s also out on CD & vinyl, and you know those are better for your diet anyway. :)

~Dan – np: Holy FuckLatin

no free mp3 download or flac torrent ever. if you like music, support it by buying it

Sufjan’s AGE of ADZ (in its entirety)

26th Sep 10 (Sun) Leave a comment

The entire Sufjan Stevens‘ album The Age of Adz is streaming over at NPR until its release date (October 12th).

THE NPR LINK

You can pre-order the record here: CD / VINYL / digital

~Dan – np: Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz

no free flac torrent of mp3 download here ever.  if you like music, support it – buy it

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz

26th Aug 10 (Thu) 1 comment

Last week they announced the All Delighted People EP. And the week before the fall tour was announced. And today, Asthmatic Kitty announced the upcoming release of The Age of Adz (pronounced Odds), the first song-based full-length from Sufjan Stevens since 2005’s Illinois.

8/27 update: Preview of “I Walked” HERE.

http://asthmatickitty.com/the-age-of-adz

The Age of Adz tracklist
1. Futile Devices – 2:11
2. Too Much – 6:44
3. Age of Adz – 8:00
4. I Walked – 5:01 preview
5. Now That I’m Older – 4:56
6. Get Real Get Right – 5:10
7. Bad Communication – 2:24
8. Vesuvius – 5:26
9. All for Myself – 2:55
10. I Want To Be Well – 6:27
11. Impossible Soul – 25:35

The Age of Adz will drop on October 12th (CD, MP3) with a double-LP following on November 9th. For the next three weeks you can pre-order the CD or LP, and receive an MP3 download on September 28th, two weeks before the release date.

Per Asthmatic Kitty:

It’s much too soon to cast descriptive lots, but we can say the new album sounds nothing like the All Delighted EP (although it shares similar themes of love, loss, and the apocalypse). Nor is this new album built around any conceptual underpinning (no odes to states, astrology, or urban expressways). We can say it shows an extensive use of electronics (banjos and acoustic guitars give way to drum machines and analog synthesizers), and an obsession with cosmic fantasies (space, heaven, aliens, love), to create an explicit pop-song extravaganza, augmented by heavy orchestration, and maybe even a few danceable moments. Enjoy Your Rabbit meets the BQE. But with songs. Verse, chorus, bridge, backbeat. Gated reverb. Space echo. Get your boogey on. The ‘Adz’ of the title loosely refers to the apocalyptic paintings of outsider artist Royal Robertson (1930-1997), whose work is used for the album cover, interior design, and as general inspiration for the tone of the album.”

Wow… 2010 is the Year of the Sufjan.

~Dan – np: John Zorn, Bill Frisell/Marc Ribot/Tim SparksMasada Guitars 

no free mp3 download or flac torrent here ever.  if you like music, support it.  buy it.

Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People

20th Aug 10 (Fri) 2 comments

So, announced and released today, August 20th… Sufjan StevensAll Delighted People EP…

http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/

1. All Delighted People (Original Version) 11:38
2. Enchanting Ghost 03:39
3. Heirloom 02:55
4. From The Mouth Of Gabriel 04:03
5. The Owl And The Tanager 06:38
6. All Delighted People (Classic Rock Version) 08:07
7. Arnika 05:13
8. Djohariah 17:02

A near hour-long “EP”… yippie… also from Asthmatic Kitty:

The EP, All Delighted People, is built around two different versions of Sufjan’s long-form epic ballad “All Delighted People,” a dramatic homage to the Apocalypse, existential ennui, and Paul Simon’s “Sounds of Silence.” Sounds delightful, yes! The song was originally workshopped (oh we hate making workshop a verb, but time is money!) on Sufjan’s previous tour in the fall of 2009. Other songs on the EP include the 17-minute guitar jam-for-single-mothers “Djohariah,” and the gothic piano ballad “The Owl and the Tanager,” a live-show mainstay (and Debbie Downer if you ask us; what’s it doing on a “Delighted” EP?). If you don’t have five dollars, you can stream the EP for free right on Bandcamp. Or if you’re into tactile sensations, we are making All Delighted People available on single-CD and double-LP formats later in 2010 (we’re aiming for December, fingers crossed). 180-gram vinyl.

~Dan – np: MasadaLive at Tonic 2001

no free mp3 download or flac torrent here ever.  if you like music, support it.  buy it.

Sufjan Stevens on Tour 2010

9th Aug 10 (Mon) 3 comments

Sufjan Stevens, who has been on an extended touring hiatus as of late, is returning to the road in October / November 2010.  A double scoop of dates, playing larger theatres.  Pre-sale tickets go on-sale Tuesday, August 10th at 1pm EST (10am PST).

  • Tuesday, 12 October – Metropolis Theater, Montreal QC
  • Wednesday, 13 October – Massey Hall, Toronto ON
  • Thursday, 14 October – Royal Oak Music Theater, Royal Oak MI
  • Friday, 15 October – Chicago Theater, Chicago IL
  • Saturday, 16 October – Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis MN
  • Sunday, 17 October – Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO
  • Tuesday, 19 October – The Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin TX
  • Wednesday, 20 October – McFarlin Memorial Auditorium, Dallas TX
  • Friday, 22 October – Mesa Arts Center – Ikeda Theater, Mesa AZ
  • Saturday, 23 October – The Wiltern, Los Angeles CA
  • Tuesday, 26 October – The Paramount Theater, Oakland CA
  • Thursday, 28 October – Orpheum Theater, Vancouver BC
  • Friday, 29 October – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland OR
  • Saturday, 30 October – The Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA
  • Monday, 1 November – Kingsbury Hall, Salt Lake City UT
  • Tuesday, 2 November – Paramount Theatre, Denver CO
  • Thursday, 4 November – Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis IN
  • Friday, 5 November – Bijou Theater, Knoxville TN
  • Saturday, 6 November – The Tabernacle, Atlanta GA
  • Sunday, 7 November – Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville NC
  • Wednesday, 10 November – Kimmel Center, Philadelphia PA
  • Thursday, 11 November – Orpheum Theatre, Boston MA
  • Sunday, 14 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY
  • Monday, 15 November – Beacon Theatre, New York NY

His last record, The BQE (an instrumental affair dedicated to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), came out in October 2009… so perhaps this tour is a ramp -up for a new studio album?  We can only hope.

~Dan – np: MasadaSanhedrin

Shedding Light on New Sufjan Stevens LP

15th Jun 10 (Tue) Leave a comment

From Exclaim.ca

The National’s Bryce Dessner Sheds Light on New Sufjan Stevens LP
6/10/2010 By Ian Gormely

Sufjan Stevens’s Axl Rose-like recording pace is enough to get even casual fans wondering if the guy’s got another record in him following the triumph of 2005’s Illinois. In the five year’s since its release, he’s managed to produce an outtakes disc, an album of Christmas tunes and even a tribute to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. But he also admitted his 50 State project was just a promotional gimmick. And despite sneaking some new tracks into set lists last fall, in November he told Exclaim! that “I don’t really have as much faith in my work as I used to,” leaving a proper follow-up looking ever more doubtful.

Well, good news, kids: according to The National’s Bryce Dessner, Stevens is indeed hard at work on a new album and is currently recording in the band’s Brooklyn studio.

“We’ve played on some of the tracks and been listening to some of the stuff as he’s been working on it,” Dessner told Exclaim! in a recent interview.

Dessner, who described Stevens as “very solitary in what he does” and “one of my closest friends” didn’t want to reveal too much about the new as-yet-untitled Stevens album. But when asked if the new material sounded like Stevens’s older records, Dessner offered a resounding “no.”

“It’s going to be incredible,” he adds. “It’s going to probably blow people’s minds.”

I consider this to be most excellent news… any new Sufie on the horizon is a-OK with me.

~Dan – np: John LennonAcoustic

Derek Webb – Democracy Vol 1 #5

27th May 10 (Thu) 2 comments

One a month in 2010…

Derek Webb‘s Democracy Vol 1 is rolling along… This month, it’s “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens. Not as lush as the original instrumentation, but fantastic nonetheless.  Thanks, Derek!!

For those not in the know, Democracy Vol 1 was part of the Stockholm Syndrome pre-order package, but you can still join in over at the DW store. My plea for Derek to cover Tori Amos’ “Crucify” is likely not gonna happen. Oh well… I like the first five months’ output regardless.

  • January: The Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • February: Coldplay – Fix You
  • March: Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’
  • April: Gnarls Barkley – Who’s Gonna Save My Soul
  • May: Sufjan Stevens – Chicago

If you missed the Derek & Jennifer Knapp tour, check out my review and photos from the Portland Oregon show at the Aladdin Theater on April 27th.

~Dan – np: Isis Wavering Radiant

Democracy Vol. 1 is the first in a series of subscription based albums of cover songs that Derek will be recording annually, starting January 2010. Those who participate will not only receive the exclusive album, but will democratically decide what songs Derek will record.

Ever wished you could hear Derek cover your favorite Beatles song? Or Backstreet Boys song? Or even re-record your favorite old Caedmon’s Call song? Here’s your chance. Songs will be nominated and voted down to 12. Derek will record them (demo quality) and deliver them digitally (320kbps MP3s), one song per month for 12 months. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this unique collaborative project with Derek Webb!

Clogs w/ Sufjan & Shara

13th Jan 10 (Wed) Leave a comment

I got a chance to see Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) and her singing debut with Clogs back in April 2007 at MusicNOW Fest in Cincinnati.  I’m stoked that this album is finally hitting the shelves with Sufjan Stevens and OSSO, too…

the clogs

When he’s not crafting epic indie rock in The National, Bryce Dessner teams up with Australian composer Padma Newsome to record hushed, intimate chamber-folk in the ensemble Clogs.

On March 2, Clogs will release their fifth album, the Newsome-composed song cycle The Creatures in the Garden of Lady Walton, via Brassland. My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden sings on six of the album’s 10 songs, and Sufjan Stevens and National singer Matt Berninger contribute one guest vocal each. The Sufjan-affiliated string quartet Osso also contribute.

Read the rest on Pitchfork

Clogs – “On the Edge” [ft. Shara Worden]

~Dan – np: Mostly Other People Do the KillingForty Fort

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.

* 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

Sufjan Steven’s “States a gimmick”

2nd Nov 09 (Mon) Leave a comment

I think deep down, we all knew this was the case… here’s Sufjan Stevens from a recent Guardian article

“I have no qualms about admitting [the Fifty States project]
was a promotional gimmick.”

Oh well… I’ve heard some of his new stuff, and it’s delightful.  So, regardless of statehood, I’m looking forward to more Sufjan.

~Dan – np: Peter MulveyLetters from a Flying Machine

Music for Insomnia

6th Oct 09 (Tue) Leave a comment

I mentioned the Asthmatic Kitty Records‘ Library Catalog Music Series back here (yeah, buried amongst 8 other music stories).  Anyway, 900X’s will likely not be my only multiple-spinnable one (sidenote: I just got the 900X album on vinyl… yay!).

Coming out in December are three more in the all-instrumental series…

  • Lowell Brams: Music for Insomnia
  • Yuuki Matthews: Music for Savage Tropical Imagery
  • Roberto Carlos Lange: Music for Memory

Bryce Dessner (of The National) and Sufjan Stevens are all over the Lowell Brams: Music for Insomnia release.  Find out more on the AK webpage.

PSAimee Mann at Portland’s Aladdin Theater tonight.  Yay!  Look for a review (and hopefully photos) later this week.

~Dan – np: Finger ElevenGreyest of Blue Skies

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