Links to all my year-end/decade-end lists, for my own convenience and yours.
Happy New Year!
Favorite Shows of 2009
Favorite Shows of the Decade (+ Favorite ResideNYC's of the Decade)
Favorite Albums of 2009
Favorite Albums of the Decade
Favorite New (To Me) Artists of 2009
Favorite Artist of the Year
Favorite Artists of the Year for the Decade
Favorite Movies of 2009
Favorite Movies of the Decade
31 December 2009
Links to all my year-end/decade-end lists, for my own convenience and yours.
30 December 2009
Another great year of live music! Almost got to the century mark, but hit a wall of inertia, weather and holidays in early December and haven't been out in 3 weeks. That's OK, had my fill. One more show to hit this year tomorrow night, Bad Plus on New Year's @ Village Vanguard. Something tells me there's room for that on on this list.
The raw data:
Number of shows: 95
Number of different bands seen: 180+
Number of bands seen for the first time: 119
Band seen most often: Phish (12)
Number of different venues: 39
Venue hit most often: Mercury Lounge (15)
Number of cities hit: 16
Number of states hit: 7
Number of festivals: 4 (in 4 different states)
Here are my favorite 50 or so...
- 6/11-14/2009 Bonnaroo: Manchester, TN -- every year I've looked at the Bonnaroo lineup and thought about how amazing it would be to go; this year I confirmed my suspicions. Would love to be a regular, but glad I've made it at least once.
- 10/31/2009 Phish: Empire Polo Grounds Indio, CA -- Phish on Halloween. In a perfect setting. Not much more to say
- actually let's call this 2A -- for every other time I saw Phish this year. The band is back and sounding great and would likely litter the rest of this list. I've listed/ranked my favorite Phish shows I saw this year below.
- 2/25/2009 Krantz/Lefebvre/Carlock: Sullivan Hall -- I've seen these guys play together plenty and am always blown away. This might have been the best yet. No words.
- 2/7/2009 The Dreamers/O'o: Abrons Arts Center -- in my opinion the most talented band out there playing at the highest level imaginable. Pity they don't play more often, but more special when they do.
- 8/5/2009 Portugal. The Man: Mercury Lounge -- my new favorite band. Saw them 5 times this year, this was easily the best. Review here. More PTM love here.
- 2/20/2009 Medeski, Martin & Wood: City Winery -- looks like I saw a lot of mind-melting shows in February. Wish I had seen all the intimate MMW shows during this week, but this one will suffice.
- 1/1/2009 Surprise Me Mr Davis|Benvento/Russo Duo: BB King's -- 2009 was barely an hour or so old when this party got going. Masterful weaving of sets by two distinct bands with that distinction getting blurrier and blurrier as the morning went on.
- 1/10/2009 The New Mastersounds/Rana: Southpaw Brooklyn -- there's always room for the Freaks Ball on this list. Was also my 35th birthday which meant extra fun... until things went black.
- 3/23/2009 Allman Brothers Band: Beacon Theater -- the Allmans went extra large every night this past March and the show I caught was no exception with JB and Jimmy Herring highlighting some exceptional sit-ins and stellar jamming.
- 7/13/2009 Wilco: Keyspan Park Brooklyn -- Wilco playing the best rock show you ever saw is like you tying your shoes. They just know how to do it and do it every time without fail. Great spot for a show, great weather, great people, great music.
- 8/1-2/2009 Newport Folk Festival: Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI -- killer line-up straddling all sorts of musical boundaries. Such a wonderful festival. Can't wait to go again in 2010!
- 10/16/2009 Portugal. The Man, Hockey, Drug Rug: Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ
- 11/22/2009 Bela Fleck and the Flecktones: Tilles Center, Brookville, NY -- the original Flecktones with Howard Levy and no saxophone... superlative playing of all old-school Flecktones material. A hop, skip and a jump from home. Now that's a Sunday night!
- 10/20/2009 Bustle In Your Hedgerow: Brooklyn Bowl -- old standby favorites at the best new venue in town.
- 5/14/2009 Bill Frisell Trio: Village Vanguard -- the Wilco of brain-probing post-jazz guitar music. Never miss Frisell when he's in town @ the Vanguard... never!
- 6/18/2009 Andrew Bird: Radio City Music Hall -- review here.
- 2/28/2009 Clutch/The Bakerton Group: The Crazy Donkey, Farmingdale, NY -- thanks to C-Dawg for inviting me to this one! Always a pleasure to stand at the fringe of a most pit down route 110.
- 2/17/2009 The Bad Plus w/ Wendy Lewis (Yacouba Sissoko opened): Bowery Ballroom -- TBP in a rock club doing amazing covers/standards with Lewis on vocals. Awesome!
- 10/23/2009 Portugal. The Man, The Temper Trap: Bowery Ballroom
- 4/15/2009 Of Montreal (Janelle Monae opened): Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- review here
- 4/29/2009 El Ten Eleven: Mercury Lounge|11/20/2009 Pianos -- love these guys. Do not sleep on El Ten Eleven!
- 8/27/2009 Widespread Panic/Allman Brothers Band: Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY -- did I really see the Allmans more times than Panic this year? Guess so. This was fun.
- 5/14/2009 The Bad Plus|Benevento/Mathis/Barr: Merkin Hall -- somehow in my mind this combination was more awe-inspiring... but it was still pretty damn good.
- 7/17-18/2009 Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival: Oak Hill, NY
- 9/5/2009 The Black Hollies: Mercury Lounge -- another one of my new favorites. review here
- 11/12/2009 White Denim (Brazos opened) Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- review here
- 10/17/2009 Avett Brothers: Terminal 5 -- review here
- 10/16/2009 Bonerama: Sullivan Hall
- 9/10/2009 Do Make Say Think/Charles Spearin's Happiness Project: Miller Theater
- 11/9/2009 Wolfmother: Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- review here
- 10/13/2009 Clem Snide: Mercury Lounge|3/18/2009 Bowery Ballroom -- review here and here
- 2/27/2009 Blitzen Trapper (Plants & Animals, Alela Diane opened): Bowery Ballroom
- 2/6/2009 Masada Sextet: Abrons Arts Center
- 3/28/2009 Les Claypool, O'Death, Secret Chiefs 3, Saul Williams: Terminal 5
- 7/15/2009 Emergency Party/The Stationary Set: Mercury Lounge -- review here
- 6/26/2009 The Slip: Bowery Ballroom -- review here
- 9/8/2009 Mike Gordon (Marco Benevento (solo) opened): Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn -- review here
- 11/21/2009 Surprise Me Mr Davis/Land of Talk: Mercury Lounge -- review here
- 11/4/2009 Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (Portland Cello Project opoened): Bowery Ballroom -- review here
- 10/7/2009 Rana, Chris Harford, American Babies: Brooklyn Bowl
- 11/21/2009 Serena Jean: The National Underground
- 8/13/2009 NOMO: Mercury Lounge
- 10/18/2009 Bustle In Your Hedgerow: Studio House, Middle Island, NY
- 7/28/2009 Jenny Scheinman/Robbie Fulkes: Barbes
- 12/9/2009 Krantz/Lefebvre/Carlock: Sullivan Hall
- 10/16/2009 Ben Allison Quintet: Jazz Standard
- 9/25/2009 Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band: Mercury Lounge
- 11/20/2009 Jonah Smith: Rockwood Music Hall
- 10/8/2009 Thee Oh Sees: Mercury Lounge
Ned's 2009 Phish shows
- 10/31/2009 Indio
- 12/4/2009 MSG
- 3/6/2009 Hampton
- 3/7/2009 Hampton
- 6/2/2009 Jones Beach
- 11/1/2009 Indio
- 5/31/2009 Fenway
- 12/2/2009 MSG
- 6/12/2009 Bonnaroo
- 10/30/2009 Indio
- 6/14/2009 Bonnaroo
- 8/16/2009 SPAC
29 December 2009
An addendum to the last post about my favorite shows of the 2000's, here are my favorite NYC residencies, either long-running or one-off's, that made the decade what it was...
- Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar, Thursdays -- this residency came to a close a year or two ago, sadly. I'm quite certain that this high a level of music was not made consistently for this long on a weekly basis anywhere at any time. The backbone was the K3 trio, but no matter who was playing with Wayne, it was pure magic.
- Benevento/Russo Duo @ Tap Bar, Knitting Factory, Thursdays 2002 -- every up-and-coming band should come to New York, find themselves a weekly gig and just play as long as it takes to find "it." If "it"'s out there, they'll find it. Here is the quintessential it-finding.
- Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes, Tuesdays -- the only on this list that are still going, and perhaps the most intimate and special. If you happen to be in Brooklyn early on a Tuesday night, make your way to Park Slope and hope that Jenny is playing. Doesn't matter with whom she's playing, just go.
- Marco Benevento @ Sullivan Hall, 1/2008 -- even when this sucked it was pretty awe-inspiring.
- Rana @ Tribeca Rock Club 1/2003 -- the residency that was. I may be imagining it, but I think Pink played drums with them during this run?
- Robert Randolph @ Lakeside Lounge 11/2000; @ Mercury Lounge 4/2001 -- watched a guy go from too shy to even speak to shaking his hips with any young lady who dared step on stage in a matter of 5 months. Now that's a residency!
- Joe Russo, Matt Rubano et al (Summer Sessions) @ Lanksy Lounge, Summer 2001 -- short lived at an even shorter lived venue, but it was some magic. Turned me from a Joe Russo admirer to a full-fledged zealot. Residency went on to reside at other venues, but none were the same as Lansky.
- Allman Brothers Band March of every year @ Beacon Theater -- what could be said?
- Derek Trucks Band 3/2000 -- Back in 2000, Derek was already amazing, but still young and hungry as heck. While the Allmans did their thing uptown, Derek hit every venue he could playing jazz clubs, rock clubs and all those places in-between. Sometimes a lot of people came to see him, some times just a few, but it was always amazing.
- Marco Benevento 11/2006 @ Tonic -- Marco makes this list thrice -- he's the ResideMVP!
OK, so keeping tabs on these things, I was able to go back and see that I've seen right around 850 concerts in the past decade -- ~85 a year! Not too shabby seeing as I also had two children, got a PhD and maintained a happy marriage over the same period.
Here is a limited list of some of my absolute favorites over the past 10 years, with some comments where appropriate; it's possible that more recent shows got more love due to my fading memories
- Bonnaroo 2009 -- I have to admit I've never been to a real orgy before, but I imagine it would be something like the weekend I had in Tennesee this past summer. I literally saw live music from noon til 4am every night, discovered tons of great new music, saw plenty of my favorites and had an all-around amazing time. Put it this way, I saw two pretty decent Phish shows and neither was in my top 10 moments of the weekend. That good.
- 9/12/2000 One for Woody -- Allen Woody's passing hit me as hard as any musician's passing in the 2000's and this tribute show was utterly befitting the man. With emotions running rampant throughout, the music was both hard-hitting and phenomenal. It was a little bit of everything and a whole lotta love.... and Warren. I'll never forget Haynes singing Low Spark with the videos flashing images of Woody -- powerful stuff. Also notable for the first Phil and Friends lineup with Jimmy/Warren/Rob/Molo which became one of the nastiest bands to play the entire decade.
- 10/30-11/1/2009 Phish in Indio -- the perfect weekend.
- Panic Halloween run @ UNO 2000 -- WSP played some great weekends in NOLA, but this has to be my favorite.... and they didn't even play on Halloween proper Bustouts, breakouts, blow-outs, special guests and plenty of sickity-sick-sick playing, I don't think I've ever had as much fun at run of shows as I had that weekend in New Orleans.
- 9/2003 -- Zorn month @ Tonic -- In September of 2003, John Zorn celebrated his 50th birthday by taking over a month at one of my all-time favorite venues of the decade. I reviewed it here for Jambase but suffice it to say, it was a month to remember (and I only saw a sliver of it!).
- 9/17/2005 -- Burton/Lent wedding, Whitehall, NY -- the wedding to end all weddings... Joyce and Bret are the only people I know who not only get a top-notch band (Col Bruce & Codetalkers) to play their wedding, but have a late-night aftershow that tops just about everything else. NYC/Neddy faves Rana played the epic set to end all epic sets in a cloud of smoke (yes, smoke machine in full effect) in a tent in upstate NY. Fuelled by Makers Mark and a whole lotta love and lovely people, it was illegally fun. And the food was pretty darn good, too!
- Freaks Ball I-IX -- like my own children, I love them all. Starting in 2001, every year of the decade was marked by a party for the NYC-Freaks that was inevitably the party of the year. It'll be much the same next year and the year after that. So long as I can remember it all in the morning...
- 4/28/2001 Phil & Friends @ Asbury Park -- For a while, it seemed the best band on the planet was the "Phil Lesh Quintet" and, undoubtedly, this was my favorite show I saw from these guys. Standing front and center and watching Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes pick each other's brains clean via the electric guitar was a sight to behold.
- 9/10/2001 -- Project Logic @ Wetlands Preserve -- It was the night before the world changed, but all we knew at the time was that the Wetlands was closing and we'd better get boogeyin'! Featuring sweet sit-ins by Mike Gordon and Warren Haynes, the Project kept it going until well into the morning of the 11th. It was the end of an era in more ways in one, but mostly it was a really amazing night (and morning) of music.
- 5/4/2003 -- Rock N Bowl New Orleans -- Hanging with two of my favorite people in the world, this turns out to be my favorite Jazzfest show I ever saw. The bill was Snooks Eaglin, Anders Osborne and Sonny Landreth = 3 Louisiana guitar giants... and they all played like giants. So much fun.
- 12/1/2006 - MMJ/Duo/Slip @ Electric Factory, Philly -- my review
- 1/2008 -- Benevento Residency @ Sullivan Hall -- wow, just wow! Reviews here (1/3/08), here (1/10/08) and here (1/31/08)
- ACLFest 2004, 2005, 2007 -- looking back it's hard to separate these. Easily my favorite festival of the decade was ACLFest. Quite perfect for my own personal sensibilities. Hoping to get back there some day and you should make it a point to get there yourself. 2007 reviews day 1 day 2 day 3
- 1/20/2005 -- Rana w/ Hell is For Children opener -- whole residency turned me from mere mortal fan to superfan in a matter of a few weeks, but coupled with this opener, whew! Review here.
- Krantz/Lefebvre/Carlock: 2/1/2001 @ 55 Bar (1st time), 4/2/2004 @ Tribeca Rock Club, 2/25/2009 - @ Sullivan Hall -- almost every time K3 plays together is absolute magic and utter insanity. Here are three of my favorites including the 1st time (you always remember your first time).
- 2/19/2004 - Broken Social Scene @ NYU -- My wife was 7 months pregnant with our second, but still a card-carrying NYU grad student, so we got a babysitter and trekked into this show. The Big Squeeze bulging amongst a small crowd of maybe 100 freshmen and sophomores, the band who's album I dug a whole bunch showed me a new level of awesometown that I couldn't have imagined existed.
- 8/29/2003 - Duo w/ Metzger - Zeppelin cruise -- I've had some good ideas in my day, usually no one listens, but this time someone did. The idea was "why doesn't my beloved Duo play a set of Zeppelin;" the facilitator was Jake S. who added some Scott Metzger; the venue was the Half Moon Cruise Ship floating on the east river; the results were rock and roll history. The opening notes of "Song Remain the Same" still give me tingles when I remember that opening riff, but things weren't the same after that night on the boat.
- 5/11/2001 -- Randolph & Friends @ Walker St Studio -- some parties just work better than others, and this private gig set up in a loft in Tribeca worked out perfectly. Robert Randolph playing with Marc Ribot, John Medeski, Tony Trischka and others (with a keg tapped in the back) was like some surrealistic fantasy coming true.
- 4/26/2002 -- late night "nasty" jam @ Lennox Lounge in Harlem -- speaking of surreal; every once in a while you go to a show and look around and think "what is going on here!?!" This was one of those nights. Perhaps the funkiest show I saw in the decade... ladies and gentlemen, Justin Wallace.
- 11/21/2000 Robert Randolph @ Lakeside Lounge -- first time for everything. Just the right amount of whiskey in my system; just the right number of people in the room. The fog in the window and people looking in with a "what's going on in there?" look on their faces. The music, oh that sound! Chills thinking about it.
- 7/28/2000 - Panic @ Atlantic City -- I saw a lot of Panic shows in 2000, maybe too many. This one stands out all these years later.
- 7/18/2003 - Stephen Malkmus @ Prospect Park Bandshell -- Let's put it this way, Malkmus & Co. were so good the good wife and I stood in the pouring rain the entire set. Even better -- we made our 1 and a half year old daughter sit in a barely-protected stroller in the same downpour.
- 2/29 & 3/1 /2008 - Dreamers/Filmworks @ St Ann's Brooklyn -- What would my decade have been like without John Zorn? I could do a best Zorn of the decade list, too... this would be near the top. Review here
- 6/20/2004 - Phish @ SPAC -- I will admit that Phish didn't do a whole lot for me between 2000 and 2008, but this night seemed a bit different. With things winding down, the band proved it still had it inside of them. I figured this would be their last shot, so both the kids were in attendance this night on a beautiful night on the lawn in Saratoga.
- 3/21/2002 -- Benevento/Russo Duo @ Tap Bar -- first time. Maybe 5-10 people there in the old Tap Bar. And then every other time after that. I do miss the Duo.
- 11/6/2001 -- Widespread Panic, Syracuse -- This was a special Panic show for a couple reasons. One is that I took my Dad -- he doesn't know WSP from Adam, but I always trace my love for the band to my discovery of his record collection, so it was great to find that he really enjoyed the show (except drums!) -- and we even got some Blind Faith (Do What You Like). The second reason is that this is the last time I saw Mikey Houser play. The third reason is that it was a really nasty, deep dark Panic show in my hometown. I've made many pilgrimages up to the Cuse for music and rarely has it been worth it. It was worth it on this night.
- 10/25/2002 -- Anders Osborne @ loft in SoHo -- The private party by which I will measure all others. You know how there's "drunk" and then there's drunk. The difference between them was the difference between a party/show/night and what transpired in this private space on Houston St. A Halloween to remember.
- 12/31/2002 -- Electric Masada/Marc Ribot>Gov't Mule>Robert Walter/Duo -- I had tickets in my hand to see Phish's post-hiatus return @ MSG and parlayed those into 3 shows each of which I am positive I enjoyed more than I would have enjoyed the Garden. One of my all-time favorite NYE's. Review here.
22 December 2009
Just looking back over my list from 2008 and realized I've got nearly the same number of albums for this year and can recommend about the same. Few disappointments and plenty to pick at. Here are my favorite 60, grouped in 10's. Usual caveats apply: these are my favorites, not pretending these are the "best" or that your opinion will jibe with mine; also not pretending that I've heard every album there is... if your favorite isn't listed, there's a good chance I didn't hear it. Don't whine, just recommend, I promise I'll take your opinion to heart.
Here it is:
The top ten (alphabetical):
The Bad Plus (w/ Wendy Lewis) -- For All I Care
The list of "can't do no wrong in Neddy's eyes" musicians is a short one, but any regular reader should know that The Bad Plus is near the top. The most postmodern piano trio in the history of the piano takes it to the next logical step, adding a vocalist on an album of covers. I could write 10000 words on the levels of deconstruction and meta-music and commentary on music and jazz and pop and how we listen to what we listen to and like what we like that may or may not be going on over the course of this album, or I could just tell you that it's plain brilliant.
Andrew Bird -- Noble Beast
Usually a musician with the set of talents that ABird has at his disposal ends up lacking something in the soul department. That doesn't seem to be a problem here as Andrew has (once again) put together an album made up of lots of little masterpieces. Each track stands on its own and within each song, each moment seems to do the same. But taken together... mmmm. Be sure to get your hands on the companion "just messin' around" Useless Creatures release: instrumental forays from a self-admitted instrumental hater. Good stuff.
Neko Case -- Middle Cyclone
With this album, Case has evolved into her own entity: untethered to another band or musicians, disassociated with any genre or type. Haunting voice, unique point of view, wonderful songs from top to bottom.
The Flaming Lips -- Embryonic
For Wayne Coyne, going into cruise control would seem to be so easy and yet, at the same time, utterly impossible. It's not like they've zigged when you thought they'd zag, but rather that in some manifestation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, once you've tried to pin them down and get a good look at the Flaming Lips, you've lose total track of how fast and in what direction they were heading. This is a psychedelic epic, hard edged and yet totally accessible -- on the scale of "Yoshimi."
Bela Fleck -- Throw Down Your Heart
The synopsis of this story is: Bela Fleck goes to Africa and makes music with everyone he meets. What could be bad? Once again, Fleck rises above. What is banjo music? What is music? Seems like these are the questions Bela is always trying to answer, but never before in such a fundamental way. Mixing old and new, western and African, traditional instruments with their forebears as well as voices and smiles that shine right through the stereo, Bela Fleck has done it again.
Heartless Bastards -- The Mountain
Looking at this list, it seems like maybe I forgot how much I love the f'in rock and roll. Well, I'm not sure anyone rocks harder and with higher fidelity than the Heartless Bastards. The ingredients are few: guitar, drums, bass and the baddest female rock vocals you'll ever heard. They are mixed together at just the right proportions and poured into some kick ass songs right to level. The title tracks may be my favorite song of the year.
Portugal. The Man -- The Satanic Satanist
I couldn't have written all this and not had PTM on this list. In the studio, the songs that trip the light fantastic live reveal themselves for the well-crafted gems that they are. Just as powerful through the headphones as blared through the loudspeaker, just as penetrating acoustic and quiet as they are loud and electric. Pull them out track by track and dig deeper, or play the whole thing and let yourself go. And don't sleep on the psychedelic packaging which only enhances the listening experience.
Dave Rawlings Machine -- A Friend of a Friend
This is the machine that drives Gillian Welch, now out front with his own thing. This release is one of those perfectly formed pieces of Americana with fantastic covers, heartfelt originals, plenty of tasty guitar picking and the most genuine pair of voices you can find.
Charles Spearin -- The Happiness Project
In 8 tracks Spearin (of Do Make Say Think) has reinvented, for me, what music, sound, speech, love and happiness. You can learn about the Happiness Project here, but in a nutshell, Spearin went out and recorded people talking, nominally about "happiness." Taking snippets of these recordings or large swaths of speech, he wove a tapestry of music, pulling meaning not just out of the words but the way that they are spoken, finding music in the syntax and beyond. The result has given me the chills, literally, every single time I've listened to the album... which has been plenty - I think I had it on repeat for about a week straight when I first got it. My description does it no justice, if you buy one CD this year, let this one be it.
Wilco -- Wilco (The Album)
Yeah, this is kind of a surprise to me, too. But it shouldn't be. Is there a band out there that consistently comes out with new great music so regularly for so long? Maybe Radiohead? Here Tweedy and Co. are evolving only slightly from their former selves, slowly integrating Nels Cline into the sound more and more, but remaining true to the Wilco sound.
Black Joe Lewis -- Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!
The Decemberists -- The Hazards of Love
Do Make Say Think -- Other Truths
Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Radiolarians III
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band -- s/t
Elvis Perkins -- In Dearland
Phoenix -- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down -- Know Better Learn Faster
Various -- Dark Was the Night compilation
John Zorn (Cohen/Perowsky/Burger) -- Alhambra Love Songs
The Black Hollies -- Softly Toward The Light
The Dead Weather -- Horehound
Doves -- Kingdom of Rust
Iron & Wine -- Around the Well
Grizzly Bear -- Veckatimest
Norah Jones -- The Fall
Jorma Kaukonen -- River of Time
Medeski, Martin & Wood -- Radiolarians II
Wolfmother -- Cosmic Egg
John Zorn -- Filmworks XXIII - El General
Air -- Love 2
The Avett Brothers -- I and Love and You
Andrew Bird -- Useless Creatures
The Clientele -- Bonfires on the Heath
Dirty Projectors -- Bitte Orca
Lisa Hannigan -- Sea Sew
The Phenomenal Handclap Band -- s/t
Jonah Smith -- Lights On
White Denim -- Fits
John Zorn -- O'o
Akron/Family -- Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
The Bakerton Group -- El Rojo
Derek Trucks Band -- Already Free
The Fiery Furnaces -- I'm Going Away
Hopewell -- Good Good Desperation
Masada Quintet -- Stolas
Elvis Perkins -- Doomsday EP
Rashanim -- The Gathering
Tortoise -- Beacons of Ancestorship
The Wooden Birds -- Magnolia
Apostle of Hustle -- Eats Darkness
Califone -- All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
Eels -- Hombre Loco
Feldman/Caine/Cohen/Baron -- Secrets
Bill Frisell -- Disfarmer
Patterson Hood -- Murdering Oscar
Marissa Nadler -- Little Hells
Roman Candle -- Oh Tall Tree in the Ear
St. Vincent -- Actor
Southeast Engine -- From the Forest to the Sea
21 December 2009
18 December 2009
Kid-free this week, so got to see a couple movies. Updated list (original below):
- A Serious Man
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- Broken Embraces
- The Hangover
- I Love You, Man
- The Informant!
- Funny People
- Crazy Heart
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Let the Right One In
- The Class
- Up in the Air
- Whip It!
- Cold Souls
- (500) Days of Summer
- Two Lovers
- Monsters Vs. Aliens
- District 9
As usual, I didn't get out to see as many movies as I'd have liked, there are some I think would make this list in retrospect once I see them, but, until then. For my tastes this was both a very strong and very weak year for movies. Probably my three favorite filmmakers all had potentially "career best" showings and "The Hangover" might just have been the funniest movies I've seen in quite some time. There's a pretty serious drop-off after that and all told I couldn't come up with much more than these that I really "liked." For better or worse, half the movies I saw in the theaters were with a 7 and 5 year old, which may reflect in the list.
- A Serious Man
- Fantastic Mr. Fox
- The Hangover
- I Love You, Man
- The Informant!
- Where the Wild Things Are
- Let the Right One In
- The Class
- Whip It!
- Cold Souls
- (500) Days of Summer
- Two Lovers
- Monsters Vs. Aliens
- District 9
17 December 2009
More than you need to know... of course, there are plenty I haven't seen, particularly in the last year.
- No Country for Old Men
- Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- A Serious Man
- Spirited Away
- Fantastic Mr Fox
- The Incredibles
- Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
- High Fidelity
- The Hangover
- The Royal Tennenbaums
- Wet Hot American Summer
- O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Gosford Park
- Pan's Labyrinth
- The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
- Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- The Prestige
- Capturing the Friedmans
- Talk To Her
- A History of Violence
- Punch-Drunk Love
- Donnie Darko
- Dancer in the Dark
- Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle
- Best In Show
- The Proposition
- Lost in Translation
- Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
- Requiem for a Dream
- Moulin Rouge
- American Splendor
- Tropic Thunder
- Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkhaban
- Me, You and Everyone We Know
- The Triplets of Belleville
- Grizzly Man
- City of God
- Synecdoche, NY
- 8 Women
- Little Miss Sunshine
- Half Nelson
- Y Tu Mama Tambien
- Almost Famous
- Anchorman/Talladega Nights/Walk Hard/Old School
- Bourne Supremacy/Bourne Ultimatum
- Burn After Reading
- I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
- Pineapple Express
- Vera Drake
- The Illusionist
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- In the Shadow of the Moon
- 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
- Shaun of the Dead
- Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2
- Touching the Void
- Minority Report
- Mulholland Drive
- The Informant!
- The Queen
- Where the Wild Things Are
- The Visitor
- The Fast Runner
- There Will Be Blood
- Howl's Moving Castle
- School of Rock
- The Class
- Encounters at the End of the World
- Hotel Rwanda
- Good Night and Good Luck
- The 40-Year-Old Virgin/Knocked Up
- The Man Who Wasn't There
- A Scanner Darkly
- The Simpsons Movie
- The Lives of Others
- The Orphanage
- Wedding Crashers
- The Host
- In the Mood For Love
- United 93
- The Savages
- Amores Perros
- Let the Right One In
- The Matador
- The Life Aquatic
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
- Bad Education
- Iron Man
- Man Push Cart
- The Last King of Scotland
- Napoleon Dynamite
- The Descent
- I'm Not There
- Swimming Pool
- Michael Clayton
- Kung Fu Hustle
- Small Time Crooks
- Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
- Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
- Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
- Broken Flowers
- Billy Elliott
- I Love You, Man
- Wendy and Lucy
- Monster's Ball
- About A Boy
- 8 Mile
- Chicken Run/Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Chop Shop
- The Death of Mr Lazarescu
- The Squid and the Whale
- Devil's Playground
- The Departed
- Black Hawk Down
- Eastern Promises
- Sunshine State
- Little Nemo
- Yi Yi
- Catch Me If You Can
11 December 2009
In Super Bowl numbers, X means 10; sometimes it means "prohibited," but on a pirate's map, X is where the treasure is buried and mighty fine booty is what you're gonna find at Freaks Ball X. In 10 years of Freak Ballin' it, we've always tried to balance great party with great music, big-time kick-ass national acts with local up-and-comers and old friends-of-Freaks favorites.
For the big 10th anniversary, we've pulled out the stops and got it all...
Freaks Ball X
X Marks the Spot
January 23, 2010
Sullivan Hall - NYC, USA
Doors at 8:30
Music at 9:00
Anders Osborne from NOLA (2 sets)
The Black Hollies from NYC/NJ
3rd act to-be-announced
Tickets: $27 ($30 d.o.s.)
Onsale now at Ticketweb or with no service fees at Sullivan Hall on any night they're open for a show.
Freaks Ball X on Facebook
* I don't think Anders Osborne needs any introduction to you Freaks.
Whether in NOLA or NYC, the man can flat out wail and the party can
never be far behind. His last Sullivan Hall show is quickly becoming
the stuff of legend (see some of it here, starts around 8mins in), and no doubt his next will be much of the same.
I hope you're psyched, because this will be a Freaks Ball for the
* I've been wanting to check out the Black Hollies for a while now and
earlier this year I finally got my chance and I do not exaggerate when
I say they blew me away. Old school, psychedelic garage rock music --
the kind your grandparents rolled joints to. It's a total magic
carpet ride with fuzzy guitars and possibly the best drummer you've
* We're still ironing out a couple details on the third act, but
didn't want to wait to get this officially announced and on sale.
Never fear, it'll be plenty more of the awesome friend-of-Freak rock
you've come to expect from the Freaks Ball.
So come early, stay late... stay until late becomes early again. Get
your peg legs and eye patches at the ready and let's celebrate 10
years of being freaky.
Spread the word, see you there.
There will be reminders.
Enjoy some vids:
10 December 2009
09 December 2009
OK, here's one of my more ridiculous lists yet... this is a somewhat arbitrary snapshot of what I'd consider my favorite albums from the last decade. A bit all over the place and if I sat down and listened to all of them right now, the list would probably change drastically. So take it for what it's worth.
Still a fun exercise.
Presented without further comment:
- My Morning Jacket -- Z (2005)
- Electric Masada -- At the Mountains of Madness (2005)
- The Flaming Lips -- Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
- Wilco -- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)
- The Bad Plus -- These Are the Vistas (2003)
- Benevento/Russo Duo - Best Reason to Buy the Sun (2005)
- Broken Social Scene -- You Forgot It In People (2002)
- John Zorn -- The Gift (2001)
- Stephen Malkmus -- Real Emotional Trash (2008)
- Midlake -- The Trials of Van Occupanther (2006)
- Neko Case -- Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2006)
- Charles Spearin -- The Happiness Project (2009)
- Andrew Bird -- Armchair Apocrypha (2007)
- The Bad Plus -- Prog (2007)
- Iron & Wine -- Our Endless Numbered Days (2004)
- Benevento/Russo Duo -- Play Pause Stop (2006)
- Badly Drawn Boy -- Have You Fed The Fish (2002)
- Of Montreal -- Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer (2007)
- The Arcade Fire -- Funeral (2004)
- The Postal Service -- Give Up (2002)
- Radiohead -- Kid A (2000)
- The White Stripes -- Elephant (2003)
- My Morning Jacket -- Evil Urges (2008)
- John Zorn -- The Dreamers (2008)
- Rilo Kiley -- Under the Blacklight (2007)
- Wolfmother -- Wolfmother (2006)
- Marco Benevento -- Invisible Baby (2008)
- The Raconteurs -- Consolers of the Lonely (2008)
- The White Stripes -- Get Behind Me Satan (2005)
- TV On the Radio -- Return to Cookie Mountain (2006)
- Gnarls Barkley -- St. Elsewhere (2006)
- Damien Rice -- O (2003)
- The Flaming Lips -- Embryonic (2009)
- The Bad Plus -- For All I Care (2009)
- Ryan Adams -- Gold (2001)
- Gillian Welch -- Soul Journey (2003)
- The Decemberists -- The Crane Wife (2006)
- Radiohead -- Hail to the Thief (2003)
- Apollo Sunshine -- Shall Noise Upon (2008)
- Blitzen Trapper -- Furr (2008)
- Sufjan Stevens -- Illinois (2005)
- Heartless Bastards - The Mountain (2009)
- Elvis Perkins -- In Dearland (2009)
- Wilco -- A Ghost Is Born (2004)
- St Vincent -- Marry Me (2007)
- The Slip -- Eisenhower (2006)
- Portugal. The Man -- Satanic Satanists (2009)
- The Sea & Cake -- One Bedroom (2003)
- Fiery Furnaces -- Bitter Tea (2006)
- Gnarls Barkley -- The Odd Couple (2008)
- Elvis Perkins -- Ash Wednesday (2007)
- Ryan Adams -- Cold Roses (2005)
- Blonde Redhead -- 23 (2007)
- Loretta Lynn -- Van Lear Rose (2004)
- Iron & Wine -- The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002)
- Ratatat -- Classics (2006)
- The Word -- The Word (2001)
- Air -- Talkie Walkie (2004)
- LCD Soundsystem -- Sound of Silver (2007)
- Fiona Apple -- Extraordinary Machine (2005)
- Persephone's Bees -- Notes From the Underworld (2006)
- Radiohead -- In Rainbows (2007)
- Daniel Lanois -- Shine (2003)
- The Bad Plus -- Give (2004)
- Franz Ferdinand -- Franz Ferdinand (2004)
- Explosions in the Sky - Friday Night Lights Soundtrack (2004)
- Todd Sickafoose -- Tiny Resistors (2008)
- Neko Case -- Middle Cyclone (2009)
- Fiery Furnaces -- Blueberry Boat (2004)
- Jenny Lewis w/ the Watson Twins -- Rabbit Fur Coat (2005)
- Fleet Foxes -- Fleet Foxes (2008)
- Dr. Dog -- We All Belong (2007)
- The Sea & Cake -- Everybody (2007)
- Brendan Canning -- Something for All of Us (2008)
- O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack -- (2000)
- Apostle of Hustle -- Folkloric Feel (2004)
- The Arcade Fire -- Neon Bible (2007)
- The American Analog Set -- Set Free (2005)
- White Denim - Fits (2009)
- Spoon -- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
- Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band (2009)
- Wilco (The Album) (2009)
- Rashanim -- Shalosh (2006)
- My Morning Jacket -- It Still Moves (2003)
- The Decemberists -- Her Majesty, The Decemberists (2003)
- Super Furry Animals -- Rings Around the World (2002)
- Old Crow Medicine Show -- OCMS (2004)
- Bill Frisell -- The Intercontinentals (2003)
- Bill Frisell -- Unspeakable (2004)
- North Mississippi All Stars -- Shake Hands with Shorty (2000)
- Tin Hat Trio -- Book of Silk (2004)
- Oysterhead -- The Grand Pecking Order (2001)
- Amy Winehouse -- Back To Black (2007)
- Feist -- The Reminder (2007)
- The Black Keys -- Attack & Release (2008)
- John Zorn -- Masada Guitars (2003)
- Outkast -- The Love Below/Speakerboxxx (2003)
- Mike Gordon -- Inside In (2003)
- Earl Greyhound -- Soft Targets (2006)
- Derek Trucks Band -- Songlines (2006)
08 December 2009
This year I was lucky to get turned on to a lot of new music. A lot! Both live -- I saw over 180 different bands this year and more than 40% of them were musicians I had never heard or seen before -- as well as on CD from great recs from friends and the web. And most of it was really great. So, I'm passing these on as recommendations to you.
Some of these have been around for a while and are just new to me, or stuff I was aware of and finally got to check out this year. I've marked each with "l" for a band I've seen/rec live and/or "cd" for studio stuff worth checking out. The lack of one or the other most likely means I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Links provided to any reviews, etc. written during the year, otherwise it's up to you and Google to find out more, it's worth it, I assure you.
Without further ado, my favorite "finds" of 2009 in some sort of order. Should be something for everyone in there...
- Portugal the Man (l/cd)
- El Ten Eleven (l)
- The Black Hollies (l/cd)
- White Denim (l/cd)
- Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band (cd)
- Janelle Monae (l)
- Black Joe Lewis (cd)
- Surprise Me Mr Davis (l)
- Hymns (l)
- Phenomenal Handclap Band (cd)
- Jonah Smith (l/cd)
- NOMO (l)
- Forro in the Dark (l)
- Miike Snow (cd)
- Brazos (l)
- Land of Talk (l)
- Ben Sollee (l)
- Vandaveer (l/cd)
- These United States (l)
- Jessica Lea Mayfield (l/cd)
- Alela Diane (l)
07 December 2009
Picking up where I left off with my artists of the decade list...
By all metrics, it would make sense that my personal band of 2009 was Phish. I mean, in case you haven't heard, Phish is back. I saw them 12 times in 5 different states with the results ranging from impressive to downright, flabbergastingly good. And yet, and yet... there was another band who blew me away with virtually every note I saw them play, released an album that is truly one of the best of the year (in my opinion) and, were you to ask me to choose between seeing them and the big PH tonight, I would probably have to choose them.
That band is Portugal. The Man.
At Bonnaroo this past June I saw a crapload of music, almost all of it amazing, but nothing touched me like PTM. And to think, maybe I wouldn't have seen them at all, amazing how fickle fate can be. I was in one of the tents checking out Hockey who had come very highly recommended. They were good, not mind-blowing, but I could see what the big fans saw in them. Fortunately, in these situations I get a bad case of festival ADD and found myself twitching to see what else was afoot. I crossed the grounds and made it to the other big tent halfway through the opening song for PTM.
It took less than a minute before I was utterly floored. Another reason to love Twitter, I can go back and pinpoint the moment:
June 11, 8:57: "Portugal The Man = some heavy, proggy shit. Awesome. Wish I was closer.
June 11, 9:17: "Holy shit! Just wow!I think Portugal The Man is my new favorite band. Like My Morning Jacket crossed with Trespass-era Genesis (but better)"
Quick judgments aren't the best, but after 4 more PTM sets in the ensuing months, including an acoustic afternoon set the next afternoon in Tennessee and a two-river jaunt to Hoboken, I still do declare that they are my new favorite band. These guys are deep in my wheelhouse: extended, rocking explorative rock and roll (think 21st century Pink Floyd/old Genesis) crossed a Motown falsetto-heavy soulfulness and songwriting that stands tall both as arena rock and quiet acoustic gem.
These guys have dumped out an album a year for the last couple and their newest, 2009 release: The Satanic Satanist is probably the best of all of 'em and evidence that the best for these guys is probably ahead of them. The track "People Say" has got to be one of the best songs of the year and will dig a hole in your brain and burrow down for a couple weeks requiring repeated listens and lots of shampoo shower serenading. A warning: don't just download the album or a few tracks, buy the CD itself, the actual thing. The physical packaging is a stunning, confounding trippy tangle of paper and artwork that only enhances the listening experience.
I have but only a couple regrets -- 1) that no one had once mentioned the existence of this band to me beforehand. I can't imagine a better fit for my musical tastes and going to shows with 250 people already deeply in tune with the material was a bit distressing to me who considers himself an early adopter. I even went back and searched 3+ years of GMail archives -- not a mention. How did this slip past my radar? What else am I missing? Don't hold back on me, people! 2) that even with getting in 5 Portugal. The Man shows this year, I still ended up missing 2 or 3 area shows due to those darned circumstances.
C'est la vie. Last year's artist was Apollo Sunshine who rubbed me the right way all up and down 2008. Sadly, they disappeared in 09 completely -- totally off the map. So, my one wish for 2010 is that the same doesn't happen with Portugal. The Man.
A few links:
- My review of their Mercury Lounge show
- Audio -- Downloads (if you have/know of any PTM live recordings, please share!):
- KCRW Morning Comes Eclectic appearance
- acoustic set from Bonnaroo
- Bonnaroo set
- Some videos from P.TM shows seen by me this year:
Plenty more at YouTube, of course.
01 December 2009
So, now it's December -- time to start looking back. This year's a bit different as it's also the last month of the decade. The rest of the month I'll be sprinkling a couple year-end and decade-end lists on the ole blog. As always, these only reflect my personal opinion or experience, nothing more, nothing less.
First up, I'm anointing my own personal "artist of the year" for each year in the decade. Last year was the first year I actually picked one, but fun to go back and see who was making it happen for me over the course of each year.
- 2000 Widespread Panic -- I saw these guys 29 fucking times in 2000 in 17 different states and one District of Columbia including possibly ill-advised trips to Richmond, VA and a frigid November midwest. That's flippin' insane!! More than I've ever seen any other band in any other year by a long shot. But I loved every minute of it and the band was at another level from the moment struck midnight on the decade to the moment it ended 12 months later. (runner up: Phil Lesh Quintet)
- 2001 Robert Randolph -- undoubtedly, 2001 was the year I fell in love with the Sacred Steel. Robert played on my birthday at the old Wetlands and the first Freaks Ball in January and I couldn't get enough of him the rest of the year.
- 2002 Benevento/Russo Duo -- Thursdays in 2002 meant just one thing: Joe and Marco in the Tap Bar... for free!! That was the old Tap Bar which was tiny and intimate and the perfect cauldron for these two to mix some magic. Best deal evah!!
- 2003 John Zorn/Marc Ribot @ Tonic -- it only took Zorn one month to make him the man of the year. His birthday celebration at Tonic in September 2003 was the stuff of legends. I only regret not being able to be there every single night. Of course, the star was Ribot and I saw plenty of him the rest of the year. End it all up with another stellar New Year's with Electric Masada and... and... MAN I miss Tonic!
- 2004 Broken Social Scene -- "You Forgot It In People" didn't come out in 2004, but it burrowed deep into my soul around this time. I will never forget being in a small auditorium with my 7+-months pregnant wife and about 100 people half my age getting absolutely blown away by BSS. A triumphant ACLFest appearance and small club show in Austin and my concept of what a sick live band could be was permanently redefined.
- 2005 Rana -- The Rana resideNYC(tm) at Tribeca Rock Club is the stuff of legends for those few who "got it." But there was plenty of at-their-peak Rana all year long, with the absolute peak being the Joyce&Bret wedding insanity up in Whitehall. Not coincidentally, 2005 also marked my peak drunkenly-spilling-whiskey-on-myself performance.
- 2006 Jimmy Herring -- almost the same week it was announced that Jimmy would be taking over the lead guitar slot in Widespread Panic, I saw him play with Rodgers and Sipe in Teaneck. The show was off-the-hook -- we are strolling through the halls of the gods level goodness. A month or so later, I saw him singlehandedly reach into the fiery wreckage of Panic and save a band I so sorely loved and missed. For the first notes of that first show at Radio City, he made my year.
- 2007 St. Vincent -- It's a rare thing to go see one band and then be so taken with an opening act that everything else is incidental. Annie Clark, solo on the stage, opening for Midlake was one of those moments. I bought her EP on the spot then caught her again to make sure I wasn't nuts. By the end of the year, she had a brilliant debut album under her belt and was headlining the Bowery Ballroom herself. I was smitten. (runner up: Jenny Scheinman)
- 2008 Apollo Sunshine -- read last year's post on Apollo Sunshine
- 2009 TBA soon...