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pig and monkey rodeo
Thu, Dec 23 2010
Top Albums of 2010
Topic: music

 

 

I don't claim to know what's best for anybody, but here are my
favorites for 2010:

1. Halcyon Digest - Deerhunter
2. Big Echo - The Morning Benders
3. Brothers - The Black Keys
4. True Love Cast Out All Evil - Roky Erickson w/ Okkervil River
5. Teen Dream - Beach House
6. Transference - Spoon
7. Innerspeaker - Tame Impala
8. Every Step's A Yes - The Bees
9. Travellers in Space and Time - Apples in Stereo
10. Swim - Caribou
11. The Archandroid - Janelle Monae
12. In Evening Air - Future Islands
13. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
14. You're Not Alone - Mavis Staples
15. ...Are the Roaring Night - The Besnard Lakes
16. Crazy For You - Best Coast
17. There Is Love In You - Four Tet
18. False Priest - Of Montreal
19. The High Roads - Broken Bells
20. Wake Up the Nation - Paul Weller

Top 3 EP's:
Broken Dreams Club - Girls
National Ransack - Elvis Costello
The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Song of the Year:
Good Intentions Pavement Company - Joanna Newsom

Reissue:
Exile on Main Street (remastered) - Rolling Stones


Posted by hammy154 at 1:00 PM PST
Updated: Thu, Dec 23 2010 1:03 PM PST
Sat, Jan 9 2010
Best Music of 2009 + Top 3 Albums of the 00's

 


 

Top 10 albums of 2009

10. Flaming Lips - Embryonic
9. Real Estate - Real Estate
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
7. White Denim - fits
6. Air - Love 2
5. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
4. HEALTH - Get Color
3. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
2. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs
1. Girls - Album

Honorable mentions: Richard Swift - Atlantic Ocean, The XX - S/T, Japandroids - Post-Nothing, Brendan Benson - My Old, True Friend, Fruit Bats - The Ruminant Band, Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor, Neko Case - Middle Cyclone


Some favorite Songs of 2009:

The Next Village - Sleeping States
VCR - The xx
Hindsight - Built to Spill
Ghost Mouth - Girls
Die Slow - HEALTH
16th & Valencia - Devendra Banhart
Countdown(Sick for the Big Sun) - Phoenix
Lady Luck - Richard Swift
Garbage Day - Brendan Benson
Prison Girls - Neko Case

Re-issue:
Betty Davis - Is It Love or Desire?
(1976 recording - never issued until 2009)

 

Top of the Oughts:

1. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - WILCO

2. Funeral - Arcade Fire

3. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots - Flaming Lips

4. White Blood Cells - White Stripes

5. Thickfreakness - The Black Keys


Posted by hammy154 at 1:39 PM PST
Updated: Thu, Dec 23 2010 1:04 PM PST
Thu, Sep 10 2009
lists in the scraps

In going through old notebooks, so as to transcribe writings to doc format, I found a few old lists from early in the century ;)  Here they are:

Best movies of 2001:

Mulholland Drive, Sexy Beast, The Man Who Wasn't There, Lord of the Rings, Amelie, The Princess and The Warrior, Brother, Momento, Ghost World, Royal Tenenbaums

Top shows ever:

Pixies @ The Moon, X @ GAMH, Brenden Benson @ BOTH, Miles Davis @ TPAC, Los Lobos @ Slims, Dylan @ The Greek, Neil Young & Crazy Horse w/ Sonic Youth @ Sun Dome, Iggy Pop w/ Janes Addiction @ Jannus Landing, Ben Harper @ Bimbos

End of the Line - witness to final shows/tours before disbanding/dying:

Pixies, Living Colour, Tony Williams, Nat Adderly, Beulah, Art Farmer

 


Posted by hammy154 at 12:48 AM PDT
Thu, Jun 4 2009
Album reviews for IAMTHEMUSIC

Friends created an app for Facebook called Iamthemusic and invited a handful of folks to submit initial reviews.  Here are reviews for several 2008 releases and a few older favorites:

 

The Kills – Midnight Boom

 

After a three year hiatus, the dirty duo of VV and Hotel hit back with Midnight Boom.  It did not seem like much of a salvo as I critiqued the new material along with favorites during a pre-release performance.  However, once I heard the album I was able to appreciate the new material in its more conceptual state.  And while guitar and snarl still dominate (as they do in the live set) there is a hodge-podge of pop flourishes (and theft) that really do flesh out the new tunes. 

 

“U.R.A. Fever” opens the disc with an Art of Noise style that includes machine-shop sounding guitars and telephone keypad tone notes; the lyrics even contain a passage from the 80’s hit “Pop Music” to further set the stage.  Hotel’s vocals are also more in the forefront on this album, as with “Getting Down”, “Sour Cherry” and the opener, and I’m not sure how I feel about it, really.  “Cheap and Cheerful” is about not playing it safe and embracing the darker side; the military drumbeat partnered with the repeated line “it’s alright to be mean” drives this point home.  “Tape Song” is another track where the riff is lifted directly from an early 80’s Brit Pop song and is smothered in Warren Cuccurullo (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons) style guitar.  There are plenty of songs that are all Kills, like “Hook and Line” and “Black Balloon”, plus the show stopper “Last Day of Magic”.  A song about the end of a tempestuous relationship is a driving guitar rocker that reminds me of a thematically inverted, strung-out version of Stereophonics’ “Dakota”.  The album wraps up with an “it aint shit these days” ‘tude in “What New York Used to Be” and finishes with the wonderful Lou Reed/Mo Tucker-like “Goodnight Bad Morning”.

 

Midnight Boom is exciting to listen to and probably not worth holding up to such inspection.  But any chance I get to rack my musical data-banks and blow ear-drums for a critique is time well spent.


She and Him – Volume 1

 

She and Him and the other members of the touring band assembled on-stage like a hipster Carter Family: Zooey, with her hair up ala Loretta Lynn 1967, and M Ward playing guitar/piano/mouth-organ at the end of the stage (the others in-between).  Both smiling with recognition of pride, definitely joy.  Their performance near note perfect, it could have been lip-synched.   I’m not one for an exact live retread of an album, which can sometimes leave me non-plus, but in this case a perfect soundtrack for a foggy festival afternoon.

The performance reinforced all of the reasons to enjoy this partnership while public and active. Volume 1 is fresh, not remotely groundbreaking and 100% satisfying.  Zooey’s vocals are like a nosey-throaty (not really a term, but whatever) Jeannie C Riley.  And the music very heart-felt and infectious.  The novel covers are well executed, the originals fit comfortably into the country-western genre and may themselves be fodder for re-interputation one day, too.  So where do I sign up for future volumes?!?


Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal

 

It’s a better world with Alejandro Escovedo in it.  Since his recovery from Hepatitis C in 2004, and even before that, he has kept busy with various autobiographical projects, including this latest recording.  Co-written and produced by Chuck Prophet, Real Animal is a musical time-line exploring people, places and scenes from Alejandro’s storied career.  “Nuns Song”, “Chelsea” and “Sensitive Boys” all evoke the sentiment of the early punk and alt-country days with great verve.  Where as “Swallows of San Juan” and “Slow Down” suggest what he has come through to get to this point in his life.  Fleshed out with moody, hypnotic songs like “Golden Bear” and “Hollywood Hills”, and coupled with the rocking “Real as an Animal”, helps secure this as one of the best albums of his career and 2008.

 


 

Dirty Dozen Brass Band – What’s Going On

 

In response to the destruction and tumultuous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band recorded Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On in its entirety with the aid of a strong vocal cast.  It’s not only a fine tribute to the source material but also a call to action.  There is also a great deal of funk and inspired musicianship at work here.  The title track “What’s Going On” is charged with a pointed rap by the incensed Chuck D and supported by an amazing horn section and infectious grove.  “What’s Happening Brother” follows with yet another funky drum beat and perhaps the most relevant narrative and vocals as provided by the incomparable Bettye LaVette.  “Flying High” is presented as a slow swinging instrumental that eventually moves up tempo and ends with the continual return of “help me somebody” with a surprisingly uplifting result.  “Save the Children” is another successful instrumental, phrasing Marvin’s words perfectly with music, including a searching and eventual honking sax solo. 

 

“God is Love” is yet another funky number lead by the passionate Ivan Neville and punctuated with B-3 organ and horn blasts.  G. Love’s vocal performance on one of Gaye’s finest, “Mercy Mercy Me”, feels flat and inflected, but give him credit for attempting a part that was probably turned down by others out of fear.  The horn part that plays the song out brings it all back, though, and returns the listener to the course of the album.  “Right On” is a little freer in interpretation, with its repetitive guitar part, tambourine rhythm and hot-ass sax, horn and trombone parts.  “Wholy Holy” is played like a funeral march, but the exploratory sax and horn parts take us to a higher ground.  Finally, the album culminates in the all too relevant “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”, with Guru on vocals and offering his take on the truth: that poverty is seen as a curse and even in 2006 a class of people can go unrecognized by the highest office of the land.

 


 

Fruit Bats – Spelled in Bones

 

Spelled in Bones is an uplifting propulsion of pop – a jet stream of substantive melody and affectionate imagery.  The Fruit Bats sophomore recording is an inventive folk-based rock sound with multi-track vocals, falsetto choruses, hand-claps and acoustic instrumentation (hello banjo solo!) melding with creative synth add-ons and overlays.  Great pop tunes that hold-up after wanton repeated listens, such as “Canyon Girl”, “Legs of Bees” and “Born in the 70’s” are perfectly matched with the more wistful “The Wind that Blew My Heart Away” and “Spelled in Bones”.  My personal favorite, “The Earthquake of ’73”, evokes a time and place that carries throughout the entire album; the piano-guitar duet with drop-ins of hand-claps and steel-pedal guitar and the glorious youthful images of skinned knees, roller skating, chipped tooth’s and losing one’s voice singing along to “Raspberry Beret” just deliver me to a very happy place. 

 

After the tour for this release, Eric Johnson took to the road with The Shins; and as there is no set plan for another Fruit Bats disc, his website claims he has been writing with hopes of making a new recording.  Here’s hoping so…

 


John Lennon - Lennon Anthology (boxset)

Lennon is god and this is his tome.

 

In the years after his death, there aired a weekly radio program on Sunday nights called The Lost Lennon Tapes.  Each broadcast discussed a portion of his work, presented interviews with Lennon and others and also included the treat of one or two musical rarities.  The demos, alt-tracks and unreleased all exhibited the same rawness and urgency in his best (and worst) work.  Anthology attempts to categorize and timeline a treasure trove of songs that range from historical to questionable.  One thing is certain, this box set (as many are) is much to dense for the casual listener (is there such a thing as a casual Beatle fan?) and will force even the most die hard to skip tracks multiple times (but there are multiple repeats, as well).  There are, however, hours of relevant music worth anyone's time among this five disc set.

 

The Plastic Ono Band recordings on disc 1 remind you what all the fuss was about: punch-you-in-the-gut, stripped down and raw, raw, raw ("God", "Mother", "Working Class Hero").  And for me, the disc covering the mid-1970's Phil Spector produced Rock n Roll sessions (including fiery and wacko interludes between Lennon and Spector in-studio) are a real treat.  The various live recording are in good shape and thoroughly rock; the countless demos are fascinating to hear in their early stages and are even down right moving.

 

The final disc covers the home recordings from the Dakota in NYC and offers a true glimpse of a relaxed artist and a happy family man.  "Beautiful Boy" is still one of the most moving tributes to flesh & blood ever recorded and the 4-track recording makes it even all the more endearing.  And the set ending demo of "Watching the Wheels" is a more satisfying resolve than I ever would have imagined, after hearing the song ad nauseam for three decades now.  Perhaps one of the greatest joys I took away from these recordings is that for a brief moment, however fleeting, Lennon is alive once again.

 

For a podcast of said Lost Lennon Tapes, visit here: http://littleabby.podomatic.com/

 

 


Charlie Rich – Feel Like Going Home: The Essential Charlie Rich

 

Arguably the most talented combination of singer/songwriter/performer to come out of Sun Records, and singular in his critical success in every American musical genre (rock-n-roll, blues, gospel and country), Charlie Rich deserves to be mentioned in the same class as his chief inspiration Ray Charles.  Better known for his Countrypolitan hits from the early 1970's like "Behind Closed Doors" and "Most Beautiful Girl", this collection also provides equal time for his early rockabilly A-sides and some of the finest rhythm and blues recordings from the 1960's including "I Washed My Hands in the Muddy Water" and "Big Boss Man".

 

There are very few artists whose "best of" collection is as solid and wide ranging as "Feel Like Going Home".  In fact, it would take the combination of Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Bobby Bland, George Jones and Ronnie Milsap just to cover the same ground! 

 

Get Rich or get lost.

 


Posted by hammy154 at 4:34 PM PDT
(now defunct) Fuzz.com music postings
Topic: music

Fuzz.com was a site dedicated to bands, musicians and music lovers.  I spent a little time there and these are the three pieces I posted during that time:

musical milestones - the formative years:

My first vinyl purchase was Magical Mystery Tour. I bought it off of a neighborhood friend who somehow ended up with it as a gift and didn't have the sense or taste to enjoy it. The gate-fold booklet actually made the film look entertaining - boy was I wrong. The opening to "Baby, You're A Rich Man" is still one of my all-time favs.

Every morning before grade school I would wake up at sunrise and watch an old-tyme bluegrass and farm report show that featured Tennessee Ernie Ford. I am uncertain of it being a live broadcast, since it was in black and white (although that could have just been the set I was watching it on).

I wanted my MTV! The station hadn't come to our regional cable provider yet, but I recall middle-school kids clamoring for the multi-colored MTV pins that were being passed around. But, other than the hype, the 12 hours of programming kept me away from homework and the outdoors. Videos like Pete Townsend's "Face Dances" and Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" fascinated me to no end and kept me glued to the tube. Many years down the road, 120 Minutes would keep me away from collegiate studies as well.

Gave up on current music scene in mid-1980's and only listened to recordings made prior to 1974. Chess, Stax,
Atlantic, Motown, RCA and Capitol label recording artists prevail.

Celebrated my high school graduation by attending a
midnight screening of "Monterey Pop" and reconfirmed my belief that Otis Redding is god.

Hearing alt takes of Bud Powell's 1st Blue Note session overhead in Vinyl Fever record store effected me like a nerve gas and has never let go. I purchased that album, plus Miles Davis' "On the Corner", and went home to blow my little mind.


  

Vinyl Reflections – Favorite Album Sides

Not all sides were created equal.  Here are a few of my personal favorites from the 1970's:

David Bowie - Heroes (1977) - Side A

No disrespect to the synth instrumentals that dominate Side B, as "V-2 Schneider" is one of
Bowie's best, or the drum-heavy "Secret Life of Arabia", either. The songs on side A are deeply layered, offering some of the strongest collaborations from Eno-Bowie; I would opt for this over Low's A-side, anyday.

Gerry Rafferty - City to City (1978) - Side A

A near-perfect side filled with solid song writing and radio favorites: "The Ark", "Baker Street", "Right Down the Line", "City to City" & "Stealin' Time".

Van Morrison - St. Dominics Preview (1972) - Side B

Both sides of this album are enjoyable, however, side b offers a trio of oustanding songs that reflect his time spent living and recording in Northern California: the inspired "St. Dominic's Preview", the sublime "Redwood Tree" & the epic "Almost Independence Day".
 


 

My Favorite Halloween Vinyl

 "Ghoul Favorites" was perhaps the title of this 45 rpm that actually contained much more than most 45's do. I discovered an ad for the disc in the back of a late-70's comic book, so the graphic and description sold me on the purchase. Side one featured short segments of various noises: torture chamber, banshee howling, screams. Side two was a narrative about a few boys, lost in a creepy dungeon or house, who were eventually eaten alive amid screams and laughter. A most effective disc that I wish I still had.

"Disney's
Haunted Mansion" was an LP that featured a narrative of a boy and a girl attempting to escape from the Haunted Mansion; the voice of the boy was performed by Ron Howard. The sound effects and story were quite compelling, especially on head-phones.

"Ronco's Funky Favorites" featured such classics as Monster Mash, Purple People Eater & Shimmy Shimmy Coco Bop. Great, cornball favorites.

"Halloween" soundtrack by John Carpenter - the synth soundtrack effected me in a weird way as a child. A high creep factor.

"Bad Music for Bad People" by The Cramps - Very short disc filled with b-side howlers and has since been replaced in my Halloween rotation with the live & rare double disc "How to Make a Monster".
 

 


Posted by hammy154 at 4:20 PM PDT
Updated: Thu, Jun 4 2009 4:21 PM PDT
Fri, Jan 30 2009
Top picks for 2008

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2008

1. Department of Eagles - In Ear Park
2. Alejandro Escovedo - Real Animal
3. Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
4. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
5. Fleet Foxes - S/T
6. Jeremy Jay - A Place Where We Could Go
7. Beach House - Devotion
8. Kassin+2 - Futurismo
9. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - S/T
10. Dr.Dog - Fate

11. Black Keys - Attack & Release
12. Spiritualized - Songs in A & E
13. White Rabbits - Fort Nightly
14. Deerhunter - Microcastle
15. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig Lazarus Dig!
17. The Dodos - Visiter
18. She & Him - Volume One
19. Black Mountain - In the Future
20. Paul Weller - 22 Dreams

FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2008

Man on Wire, Hamlet 2, Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day, The Machine Girl, The Wrestler, Let the Right One In, Frost/Nixon, Synecdoche New York, In Bruges, Vicky Cristina Barcelona


Posted by hammy154 at 4:40 PM PST
Wed, Jan 30 2008
Lies, Lies, Lies - Yeah!
Mood:  down
Topic: politics

As we get older it is harder to ignore how futile the election process can be; especially if power can go as unchecked as it has been (in the white house) for over the last 6 years.  take, for example, the malfeasance that presidents get away with.  sometimes lies to cover up sex scandals, or arms-for-hostages deals, or sometimes to start wars.  LBJ did it, to lend support to the Vietnam war, but then again he also signed in to law the civil rights act. 

So with this latest independent commissioned report on W's first couple of years in office it really is amazing to consider how powerful and corrupt lies can be and how much it can change the image and identity of a nation.  This is the detailed report on the 935 lies that followed 9/11, in support of going to war against Iraq, by the administration:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/WarCard/

So thank god for baseball, where honest achievement is rewarded.  And sure, Selig is a liar, too.  He's just laying the ground work so W can feel at ease when he becomes commissioner of baseball.  What a future it will be: yet another Clinton in the white house (so our entire voting history will look like bush/Clinton/bush/Clinton) and our national past time can be lorded over by a man who couldn't even make a positive mark in the Rangers organization.

Thank god I am a drinker.


Posted by hammy154 at 12:41 PM PST
Wed, Jan 9 2008
Favorite Films of 2007
Topic: Cinema

 


I managed to avoid the mega-plexes for most of the year, but then I also elected to wait for dvd rather than opt for a single-screen cinema, too.  I skipped on the summer movie-going temptation all-together, so my list of favorites really isn't complete.  I don't really fell like I missed out on too much, becuase prices and audiences are making it a challenge to really enjoy a movie these days. 

Sadly, these selections hardly match up to offerings of years past.  I really need to pay attention to the film festival screenings more often, because most of the crap that is getting distribution is weak, weak, weak.

And so, here are my selections for the "better-than-average" films of the year:

No Country For Old Men 

Into the Wild

Once

Eastern Promises

Grind House

Zodiac

The Savages

There Will Be Blood

Assasination of Jesse James

Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The following are technically 2006, but received 2007 US distribution and happily make my list:

The Lives of Others

Triad Election

Exiled

Honorable mention: Fido, Away From Her, Hot Fuzz, Year of the Dog, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Inland Empire, King of Kong, Sicko, I'm Not There


Posted by hammy154 at 4:07 PM PST
Updated: Fri, Jan 30 2009 4:43 PM PST
Wed, Dec 5 2007
Top Albums of 2007
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: music

It was a very good year for music.  A lot of great new titles, some bounce-back recordings and others who just cant stop the (good) music from coming!  Note: I have excluded the 2007 US release versions of Albert Hammond Jr's "Yours to Keep" as well as Sloan's "Never Hear the End of It" from this list.  These titles received 2006 international releases and, honestly, that year's best-of list needs those titles more than this year.

Here then is my list of favorites for 2007...


albums of the year:

  1. 1900's – Cold and Kind
  2. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
  3. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
  4. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
  5. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
  6. Dinosaur Jr. – Beyond 
  7. Caribou – Andorra 
  8. 1990's – Cookies 
  9. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder 
  10. Lucinda Williams – West

     

Honorable mention: 

Richard Swift – Dressed Up for the Letdown, Black Moth Super Rainbow – Dandelion Gum, New Pornographers – Challengers, Detroit Cobras – Tied & True, White Stripes – Icky Thump, Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger, Arcade Fire – Neon Bible, Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills, Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedada, Tupelo Honeys – Salute You  

Top 3 EP's:

Black Kids - Wizard of Ahhhs

Ladyhawk - Fight for Anarchy

M. Ward - To Go Home 

 

Best Re-issue:

Robyn Hitchcock - Black Snake Diamond Role

 

Best Box-set:

Robyn Hitchcok - I Want to go Backwards

 

Best Comedy recording:

Patton Oswalt - Lollipops and Werewolves

 

Best Spanish-language recording:

Los Straitjackets – Rock en Espanol Volume One

 

Best download-only album:

Radiohead – In Rainbows

 

Best Instrumental recording:

Antibalas – Security

 

Hope one or more of these finds its way to your listening device in 2008.

 

John


Posted by hammy154 at 1:32 PM PST
Updated: Fri, Dec 7 2007 5:16 PM PST

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