Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade (top 25 ish)

Has it really been a year of these scattershot missives? Might as well take it out the same way we started, typing madly after a long days work with one eye open in the dead of night, waiting for the fireworks that will undoubtedly scare the bejesus out of the dog that snores next to me...

Everyone else is doing a Decade list, so what the hell...we like our lists here, yes we do...also pretty fond of those ellipses, i a nutshell, albums that kept me going through the Miserable Years, as history surely will look back on at least eight of those years...

25) DIPLO/SANTOGOLD top ranking (2008)
24) RYAN ADAMS gold (2001)
23) THERMALS the body, the blood, the machine (2006)
22) DRESDEN DOLLS yes virginia (2006)
21) NEKO CASE fox confessor brings the flood (2006)

20) CAT POWER you are free (2003)
19) OKKERVIL RIVER black sheep boy (2005)
18) ARCTIC MONKEYS whatever people say i am, i'm not (2006)
17) SPOON ga ga ga ga ga (2007)
16) WILCO yankee hotel foxtrot (2002)
15) SLEATER KINNEY the woods (2005)
14) AT THE DRIVE IN relationship of command (2000)
13) SUFJAN STEVENS come on feel the illinoise! (2005)
12) FUGAZI the argument (2001)
11) PORTISHEAD third (2008)

10) ...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD source tags and codes (2002)
9) DANGERMOUSE the gray album
8) BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE you forgot it in people (2002)
7) WHITE STRIPES white blood cells (2001)
6) BLACKALICIOUS nia (2001)
5) RADIOHEAD kid a (2000)
4) GRANDADDY the sophtware slump (2000)
3) GILLIAN WELCH time the revelator (2001)
2) SUN KIL MOON ghosts of the great highway (2003)
1) PJ HARVEY stories from the city, stories from the sea (2000)

final thoughts...heavily weighted to the beginning of the decade, interestingly enough...make of it what you will...the main point is to tip albums you might not know, or inspire rediscovery...and let's call #26) YO LA TENGO i am not afraid of you and i will beat your ass

happy new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

top ten time...

Ah, finally cleaning up the's the dreaded 'end of year list''...Fascinating year, and deep, lots of quality music...many oldsters-i so thought about having junior/senior lists, but what the all it's glory, here we go:

Honourable Mention: (VA) dark was the night, Joe Henry, Neko Case, Fanfarlo, Avett Brothers, Le Loup, Norah Jones, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs get the Honorable Mention...

As for the toppermost, it would be:

10 BROWNIES ourknife yourback
A spastic blast of good old rock and roll from the UK...In the wake of Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Kasabian, and for god sakes Muse, you really had to wonder what had got into the old chaps...was there really no life left in the form whatsoever? Here is your answer, everything great, rude, crude, and socially unacceptable in one neat little package...

9 YO LA TENGO popular songs
Still defiantly barking up their very own tree...this one's front.loaded with great songs, and then finishes with three long jams ranging from sublime to spiky. It could only be Yo La Tengo!

8 ANTLERS hospice
Happy surprise in the form of a desperately dire concept record...(see title). Actually uplifting, in that downbeat kind of way...

Along with Mission of Burma, Dinosaur Jr has managed to pull off the rare reunion that transcends its original work. Their reunion album Beyond was a great return to form, but Farm ups the ante with an emphasis on tightness, and Mascis' amazing guitar work.

6 GIRLS girls
Buzz band with a crazed backstory and a Phil Spector/Jesus & Mary Chain fuzzball sound makes waves w/their debut...compulsively listenable...(& yet another show i missed this year, sigh...)

5 MOS DEF the ecstatic
A serious return to form; Mos hits it hard and doesn't quit, effectively cancelling out the 'WTF' that was 'True Magic, with a lean and muscular record. He's totally committed, riding over some jawdropping samples, culminating the whole trip with a Black Star reunion on key track, 'History'

4 SONIC YOUTH the eternal
Aging gracefully is such a rare thing (to paraphrase Ornette Coleman), and while their peers made marginal records, broke up, reformed for big $$$, Sonic Youth kept the bar raised...Some records were gauzier and less linear, some sharper and shorter, but they maintained a certain level, and never backed away...
Perhaps inspired by their trotting out of Daydream Nation for ATP shows and a move to Matador, this is a career record in terms of looking back across the landscape of their career and bringing all the different elements of noise back under one roof, while maintaining their cohesiveness.

3 GRIZZLY BEAR veckatimest
How to follow up Yellow House? Grizzly Bear chose ostensibly the harder road, the arrangements getting denser, the hype starting with internet leaks of early mixes, a summer tour slot opening for Radiohead, and a sense of having to lay all its cards on the table.
Veckatimest is a magnificent success, the very definition of a 'grower' record, one that seeps into your senses, and crawls under your skin.

2 MISSION OF BURMA the sound the speed the light
The latest salvo in the second wave of Burma is, like Sonic Youth's 'Eternal', at once a summation record of all the strands that made them great, and a statement of current purpose...Never have they rocked harder...each song building upon the previous with little let down. Perhaps no individual songs will match the Burma anthems of yore, this relentless disc as a whole could well be their finest album.

1 DIRTY PROJECTORS bitte orca Stunning from the first listen, still revealing months and months later, like a crystal held to light...Dirty Projectors come into their own.

Misc cleanup...still haven't heard Bat For Lashes new one...loved the first, and how did she not get the Mercury Prize?! Did they turn into the Grammy's when i wasn't looking? Also, just got new Trail of Dead, back in business in a big way. I think both of those would have tussled for a spot on this list if i had it together...

Forward Ho! in the 010, already can't wait for Spoon's new album, 'Transferences', as well as new records from Los Campesinos! , the Besnard Lakes, Shearwater, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Midlake, and Shearwater. In the studio as we speak, (w/no reported release dates), are both Radiohead and Arcade Fire...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh Morrissey...

When last we checked in with one Steven Patrick Morrissey, Spring was in the air, (along with the smell of burning flesh...the smell...of victory, etc).

Today's quick off topic quiz: After Bob Duvall's 'Napalm In The Morning' speech in Apocalypse Now, what is his very next, (and maybe the movie's finest), line?

Ah, sweet digression...but back to Morrissey. At Coachella in April, he came on strong, but ultimately fizzled out with an up and down set marked by his patented pronouncements/tantrums, (indeed, part of his charm...), so it was interesting to see where we were at presently. Most recent Moz notes were a spot of ill health, (stage collapse in Swindon), and being bottled in Liverpool, (left stage after two songs, see ya...), as well as a recent cancellation in California, (Indio-bad voice), so it was definitely w/baited breath that we awaited the man, the legend, for yet another go around, this time supporting 'Swords', a b side collection that he's already unloaded in the press about his label butchering.
The stage was, as they say, set.

Call it home field advantage, but the Mozzer ruled, from the opening get down on out...threw in enough Smiths tunes to keep the wolves at bay and the crowd churning, lost his shirt 10 minutes in, and never looked back. He was in control the whole ride, and in his own arch way, loving it. Last show of the tour and the band was ferociously tight. A pleasant reminder that when he's on form, there's really only one Morrissey.

(oh yeah, quiz answer: 'Someday this war's gonna end...')

Friday, December 18, 2009

new Mos Def...

zSHARE - 01 24 Hour Karate School.mp3

Brand new jam '24 Hour Karate School' has the Swiss Beatz touch, and lives up to the title...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

J is for Jawbox reunion! (& late night notes...)

Yes indeed. Jawbox rehearsing for "Late Night".. first appear... on Twitpic

(thanks to 'brainofjaocohen' for rehearsal photo!)

4pm) Update from DC reminding me to (ack!) watch tv tonight. There's a concept. Nothing so far, not even my man Questo, has enticed me to brave the wilds of 'The Fallon Show', but tonight that must end. For the first time in a dozen years, the one and only Jawbox will reunite on the show...(the Q says, and i quote:
@questlove: 'so Jawbox reunites after a 12 year break. they treat their fans to an Hr soundcheck in our studio: they are kicking ass and taking names. )

Should get home in time to see this...yay Pacific Time...

12.20 am) headphones in, watching Conan O'Brien's mouth move...not hearing him. Bliss that soon will be interrupted. Full Disclosure: Got off the SNL boat about '78, thought Letterman's uptight morning gig was as dramatic as comedy could be, never did manage to transition to the post.Letterman generation, i.e. O'Brien, Stewart, etc. I was well off the tv train by then...I'm told Fallon was on SNL, but i only glimpsed it occasionaly, when Mr Walken would intersect with it, and i don't recall Mr Fallon, although i did wait on Molly Shannon once, who was perfectly delightful, and also, as the kids informed me...on Saturday Night Live. Interesting. So I'm in no position to judge Mr. Fallon; he has major goodwill points with me for providing a happy home for Questlove & the Roots as house band.

12.35am) at last...hip opening, & love to the Roots, and then...apparently i missed the constitutional amendment that made opening monologues mandatory on night matter how ill the fit. Nice suit though...I hope he blinks soon; I feel bad for him...
Hey, he read the NY Times today...drinking water is dirty...that would be a news flash...

12.43am) Monlogue over intro's reveal an excited and likeable Fallon...interesting. Hopefully over time they'll play with the structure & go with his strengths, which don't seem to be addressed by shoehorning him into this comedy format. At the risk of angering the talk show gods, it reminds me of Chevy Chase's ill.fated late night endeavor...i remember the same painful feeling watching his gig, of a man trying very hard, (as opposed to the Leno gig, which just makes me reach for shoes to hurl...), and just not breaking through, except for the one shining moment that i watched just to see Henry Rollins, figuring, no matter what, the big H will keep it hopping...
In one of those 'fall down the rabbit hole' moments, the conversation twists to them discussing 50's jazz...(huh?!)...both big fans, apparently. So off the path, and a welcome change from the endless promotional carousel that these interviews usual are. An actual human moment, go figure. Alas, poor Chevy...(to this day he won't address that show...) I've been scouring YouTube to try to find this, but so far to no avail...

12.59am) Rachel Maddow interview...entertaining. She confesses to wanting to pickpocket crowds gawking at the Rockefeller center Xmas tree...

1.07am) HP laptop add pimping Windows 7...i'm sorry, it makes me giggle.

1.08am) Disclaimer on Abilify ad is longer than the ad, and horrifyingly impressive.

1.11am) Maddow is mixing drinks (?!) Promising...

1.19am) Why don't they give more space to the Roots? (biased, i know...)

1.20am) Tom Ford hits the stage, pimping his transition from fashion design to film direction ('A Single Man', looks promising)...turns out Fallon is in one of his suits...Ah, synergy. (really is a nice suit, though). Ford doing an entertaining cliff notes bio...interesting cat.

1.31am) finally! Wow, they look great, ripping through 'Savory', intermittently more tender and more abrasive than the original. Totally look like they're having major fun (go kim!).
Is this a one off, or the beginning of a Reunion...hmm. I'll save the whole reunion thing for a later piece. Whichever way they go, what a thrill to see them back at it. Amazing band that never got it's proper due...
See for yourself...

endnote: J. Robbins shirt is a reference to his son Callum, who's suffering from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. For more info, go here...

mo' endnote: would have loved to have heard the Roots do a take on FF/66...imagine the tuba getdown! (this, of course, from the guy who was drooling for a collaboration between the Roots & Willie Nelson when they played back to back at Coachella a few years back...a man can dream)

finally, thanks to NBC for making available the non.aired songs online. Very nice...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Long long way from Watergate...

Roving correspondent Mr. Heckman contributes this gem of a correction from the Washington Post:


Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.

Hee hee, poor Ben Bradlee...this wouldn't have gone down on his watch. He had the Finger on the Pulse. Probably a good opening here for the ahistorical nature of Hip Hop as well, but i'm just too tired to come to grips with it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

And then it was December...

Funny how time slips away...deep in the holiday season, it's post as one can, and here, for your general amusement, is the one & only Buddy Rich, sweet talking his band as only he could...

On the other extreme, some hardy soul went to the trouble to cobble together stage chatter from various shows of the DC underground stalwarts, Fugazi. Ah sweet always seemed like a weird dichotomy that a band capable of such prodigious noise & energy would willfully sabotage the pacing of their shows to keep a (relatively) violence free atmosphere, and it is missed. Also, while the music can come off as dour, a great sense of humor reveals itself onstage. All in all, a welcome blast from the past.