Friday, December 24, 2010

Big sighhhhh. Forced to defend my beloved New Porns right to the very end of the musical year. I suppose since it was released early in the spring it did get many repeat listens throughout the summer and it is a very good record. It didn't make my year end list as perhaps it had worn out its welcome by the time the crisp autumn weather rolled in. That didn't make it any less of a worthy choice for 2010 and yes it did make some year end lists in Pop Matters and Now Magazine.
Hey boys my favourite pop and near-pop records for the year were (in no order):

Dean and Britta - 13 Most Beautiful Songs
Midlake - The Courage of Others
Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett
Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
Laura Veirs - July Flame
Broken Bells (self-titled)
Avi Buffalo (self-titled)
Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
The Morning Benders - Big Echo
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

HM's to Les Savy Fav, Belle and Sebastien, Badly Drawn Boy, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Sufjan, and MGMT.

The Mediocre-is Being-Kind Awards go to every one of Kyle's list (100% concurrence) plus the Pernice Brothers, Apples in Stereo, and Matt Pond.

And the You-Like-These-Guys-Way-More-Than-Me awards in 2010 are reserved for the three most prominent bands in this category, with well reviewed releases by the National, Arcade Fire, and the New Pornographers (who were mostly absent from the Best Of's?).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'll second that emotion where Brooklyn Rider is concerned. One of the few, of not only disc, with a classical bent that got any sort of heavy rotation for me in 2010.

As far as jazz is concerned I really enjoyed the Vijay Iyer "Historicity" disc, the Gareth Williams Power Trio and their album "Shock", Dave Douglas' "The Spark of Being" Get the Blessing's "Bugs in Amber" and a couple of oldies Bobby Jackson's "The Cafe Extra-Ordinaire Story" and The Lloyd McNeill Quartet's "Asha".

Unlike Brian I have not come to love Liam Sillery's disc with repeat listens. This got a rave 5 star review in Downbeat and I've really tried with this one but it leaves me cold.

As for the best in pop/rock etc for 2010 here's my list in no particular order with the exception of #1 which goes to the lovely Charlotte Gainsbourg's "IRM". The rest:

Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett
Forest City Lovers - Carriage
High Places - High Places vs Mankind
Women - Public Strain
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
P.S. I Love You - Meet Me at the Muster Station
Mice Parade - What it Means to be Left Handed
Lower Dens - Twin-Hand Movement
Massive Attack - Heligoland

I think I'm with you Kyle on the Jonsi disc which has a few decent tracks but never really comes together as an album and the Book's disc I've almost come to like less with each listen.
another interesting classical disc i picked up recently at emusic was brooklyn rider. since you aren't going to be at lunch on thursday stu, i'm gonna email you a link to your christmas cd in mp3 form, via mike, one's headed your way too. likely sometime tomorrow morning.

finishing work shortly so this may be my last post of 2010. merry christmas and happy new year to all!
thanks for the classical and jazz tips, will look into it...I will posty my music picks later, i have been sick and am now in catch up mode...interesting how most of the picks posted this month in all genres have been emusic available.....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Also, keen to carry on our discussion from last Friday about whether year end lists contain certain types of sounds vs. strong artistic vision/songwriting. Someone who can better recap or state this can chime in.
More 2010 recapx:

Honourable mentions: Avi Buffalo, Kanye West, Flying Lotus, Thermals,

Dishonourable mentions: Stars (meh), Plants and Animals (blech), Besnard Lakes (yawn), Magic Kids (no longer on emusic? lucky you!)

Just not happenin but suspect others here may like (derek, esp on last two): Sufjan, Jonsi, The Books (all on emusic still).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Perhaps I need a few more tastes (or a few more years) before I can indulge, then.

For now, my best of 2010:

10. Mount Kimbie - Crooks and Lovers

Took a few listens before this really began to catch on with me. Standout track (dance track?) above, but really, this is less about individual cuts per se than it is about enjoying the journey of beats, feedback loops, and incantative vocal samples that are at times challenging but mostly soothing.

9. The Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme

Dreamy gauzy shoegazer vocals over poppy electronic and dub beats at times, lively guitar at others. Easy to dismiss after one or two listens as ear candy but there was enough variation and redeeming moments on the album that kept me coming back.

8. Olafur Arnalds - ...and they have escaped the weight of darkness

Slightly sad piano and string dominant Icelandic instrumental music. Quiet and beautiful.

7. Wild Nothing - Gemini

Another dreamy pop one for me, of course, this one channeling 80s guitar work (Johnny Marr, Peter Hook) for the most part. Damn catchy without being too derivative.

6. Beach House - Teen Dream

Didn't quite care for this one on the first couple of listens but it's easily their best release, with the characteristic drone-like female vocal style paired with more straitforward pop song structures without giving up any of that 'washing over you' feel to their music that defines it (and why it resonates for me). Kudos to Stu for lavishly overpraising it to me, forcing me to give it the additional spins it needed to really gel.

5. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

Mostly on the strength of four to five tracks like the one above are enough to overlook some of the weaker tracks on the disc as whole.

4. Surfer Blood - Astro Coast

The Pavement-like jangly guitar bits on the track above are just one reason I dig this one. Not really a bad track on an album of power chords and judicious use of distorion.

3. The National - High Violet

This one is good and it's probably their best, and I couldn't really choose the order of the top three so it's here but could easily be #1. Accomplished is probably the best way to describe this album. The songwriting is impeccable. There are no missteps. It's restrained, expansive, poetic, depressing, uplifting and sincere without being preoccupied with being sincere, poetic, expansive, etc. Sorry haters.

2. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

Consistently puts out interesting work, this may be his most accomplished. Love the sweet harmonies on tracks like this one and that driving immediacy on tracks like 'Revival' and 'Fountain Stairs'. Not a miss.

1. Tame Impala - Inner Speaker

Beatles influenced psychedelia? Check. Early 90s shoegazer? Check. Well put together collection of songs that manages to be groovy and cool without sounding like it's trying to be groovy or cool? Done.

List of stuff I hated or didn't give a crap about to follow...
That kind of singing (and song) is a bit of an acquired taste....I really love it, but I understand your perspective. It's just another sign that I'm getting old, I guess.
Just listened to the samples and though I love the Mehldau piano work, the Von Otter participation has me running for the hills (and not to joyously inform them that they are alive with the sound of music).

Also, I notice that TPL has 0 holds on any of Kopatchinskaja. Yes, this is Stuart-bait.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stu - a few classical recordings I liked this year (some may be late-ish 09):

-Helene (the beeyootiful) Grimaud has a new-ish recording of Austrian composers' solo piano music, including Mozart, Liszt, and (my fave) Berg which is very good.
- Younger, less beautiful violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja's recording of Ludwig Von B's complete works for violin and orchestra is great. Period instruments and austere stylings make it different from so many similar recordings.
- I really enjoyed a recording of guitar in symphonic settings by Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang, including (of course) Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez, but also pieces inspired by and written by Isaac Albeniez which are great. I've really grown to love the guitar as a classical music instrument in the past couple of years.
- One of Mendelssohn's less famous works, his 2nd Symphony, with conductor Andrew Litton leading the Bergen PO, is worth a listen as well. It's a big bombastic symphony with choral parts in the final movement or two, kind of a lesser cousin to LWB and Mahler's more notable efforts in that style. I liked it.
- Mehldau accompanies singer Ann Sophie Van Otter on two disks - the first a Mehldau composed song cycle that is contemporary classical, and the second a selection of "modern" songs, many French. I very much enjoyed this, each disk for its own reasons.

The Kopatch, Mehldau, and the Litton are on emusic.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Though I probably only picked up a handful of jazz releases this year (support for Stu's hypothesis?), "Historicity" was one of them and a great record through and through.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another quite wonderful jazz artist is pianist Vijay Ayer, who had two strong releases on 2010, "Historicity" (trio setting) and "Solo", in a well, setting by himself.
Hey Stu, re your question on good jazz a few posts ago, I've had a reasonable year on that front (probably more so than in the pop rock vein). A few that I think are really interesting are:

Phenomenology, by Liam Sillery. Fantastic. Somewhat "free" in style though it has enough structure and melody to hold your interest. Definitely hear some peak-period Wayne Shorter influence. Grows with each listen.

Yesterday You Said Tomorrow - by Christian Scott. Really strong modern trumpet based jazz, with tons of soul, groove, and indigo moods. Might be the first of these to try.

Tapestries for Small Orchestra - by Bill Dixon. He's an old free jazz war horse, but this is brilliant stuff. So much space and mood in these long lingering pieces. Not for all tastes but I love it.

Mirror - Charles Lloyd Quartet. Mr reliable....this is a nice, expressive ballad-based bop session with Chuck bringing out the most from each number - many of which are standards. He has a remarkable band, sounding somewhat classic-Coltrane-quartet-esque at times. The version of the Beach Boys' Caroline No is a good starting point.

Things Have Got to Change - Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet. Another record filled (from late 09) with creative jazz built loosely from the bop tradition. Piano-less quintet with the horns up front, but with a a focus on rhythm and interplay. The lack of piano opens up the core of the music as it always does.

Weary Already of the Way - Matt Bauder. Sax player who works (on this record) on large scale modern composition (though small number of instruments and found sounds)....same school as Bill Dixon above, if anything, more chaotic.

Saturn Sings - Mary Halvorson Quintet. My second record by this guitar player, diverse and complex music. Horns play a big part, often muting the guitar bases of these songs. Some tracks are energized and wild, others like Crack in Sky much softer and layered. Very interesting.

The new Guillermo Klein sounds really interesting 0 I loved his record form a couple of years back, and I discovered pianist Craig Taborn this year - his last album where he led the session was "Light Made Lighter" from 2007, which is a stunner. He also plays on Michael Formanek's much-lauded 2010 release The Rub and Spare Change...which I like a little less than his own work. Jim Rotondi's 100 Rainbows from 2010 is really good - fairly straight ahead post-bop with his trumpet front and centre.

I'll try to catch up on some other posts over the Christmas break.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great pic, Marc. For any of you planning on traveling through the southwestern states, do try the Shiner Bock, a case of which is featured in the photo.

Now that my business travel for 2010 is done like dinner, time to get things rolling with the end of the year list, if only so I can then start reading through the lists on some of the usual websites and publications.

Top songs of the year first, in Grooveshark Playlist for your pleasure, in no particular order:

Heads up: the Kanye track is NSFW.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Still reviewing what's gone down in the last year and i finally got around to ripping and labelling "The Bottle Let Me Down" and found some appropriate artwork on mIphone from our trip through Freidricksburg Texas. Thanks Stuart, i'm lovin' the cuts. ...admittedly there was much consumption but little "reliance" on the bottle on our trip. Incidentally, back in June Stuart made reference to "skunky Jack Daniels in a dusty Cotton Field" so i thought i would google image that and try and find an image for my album pic and i landed on a photo of an obscure little town that we visited, Bisbee Arizona. ha! ...but pic from our lovley cheapo italian meal on New Years eve in the sleepy (sleeping) town of Freidrickdburg.... hey Stu ...there's your Peroni!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey Stu, not sure what you are looking for or if you have heard of Wadada Leo Smith, but check him out. Jazz ain't dead ....yet" Particularly like South Cental LA Kulture. It ain't dinner jazz but nor was Kinda Blue when it came out.
AS the year rolls to an end, I wonder if any of you have found stellar classical or jazz cds this year. I seem, to not be bying nearly as much of this as I used to and could do with some need to rank, jsut stuff that has stayed on your cd player / ipod...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just call him Captain 'cus Kirk's out of this world! Beam me up Scotty!
I borrowed a stack of Rahsaan Roland Kirk from Derek on Friday and m.e. and i is both diggin' it so far. Ecclectic, not always serious, flippant, at time soulful and a little crazy a times. It ain't always dinner jazz! Reminds me at times of Gil Scott Heron ...or the other way around ...the whole art of the spoken word, the oral tradition and the birth of rap. Speaking of which, Gil Scott Heron, the anthology that i brought to the playdate a few years back ...i have never grown tired of it and it remains a staple in my workaday life ...surprising.
With regard to the TPL's holds, this is a fine example of how researchers set out to demonstrate a hypothesis and seek out data to support it.
Now i guess that every kid is different but my nephew who is now 19 seems to enjoy the books on music, film and pop art that i get him ...either that or he is overly polite ...he has always enjoyed reading and history. He is also big into vinyl and seems to appreciate the tactile quality of collecting it so records always seem to go over well whether they be new releases of used classics. ...i saw he recently picked up some Nena Hagen ...WTF?

I am always glad to be able to hit the mark on a gift that i feel is worthwhile and opens his eyes to something he was not previously aware of but always fear feeling like i am simply imposing my taste or views of what is important. I guess it is a little bit of chicken or the egg ...i started him on some "cool" music when he was young (not that his mother has no influence in this department) and that helped foster an interest ...always nice to pass on the passion.

Other options have often included pop art t's and hoodies etc. something a little unique, local and often ironic like irony these days ...hows that for a blanket statement.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I've got 2 teenaged boys (16 and 15) and I can tell you what mine generally want. They ask for video games and DVDs. They also like to buy clothes for themselves, so they like money or gift certificates to stores like American Eagle. Of course fashions and trends change fast, so we tend to avoid store-specific gift certificates. We either use cash or mall-wide certificates. They don't want CDs because that generation pretty much helps itself to anything they want on-line. They are also both tied to their cellphones - we've bought media cards and cellphone cases for them. We've bought them headphones for their ipods. They hang posters on their walls, but you have to know what movies, bands, sports teams etc. they like of course.

On another note, there's been a lot of Beatles chatter of late and I hesitate to add more (it would be terrible if they were overexposed) but a friend recently showed me a film that is worth watching. Apple posted a video of their first concert in the US (7000 fans at the Washington Collesium in 1964) in its entirety. It's a 45 minute set of their early hits, and it is very strange to see how low budget and unorganized it was. They hit the stage and then spend 2 minutes getting their stuff set up and oriented properly before they play a note. They have absolutely no idea of the phenomenon that they are on the cusp of becoming. Definitely worth watching.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hey Stuart if it makes you feel any better there are 50 copies of Justin Bieber's 2009 CD in the TPL and only 2 holds. Whereas Arcade Fire's the Suburbs has 174 holds on 80 copies. There's a voice in me that wants to say something about lies, damned lies and statistics.

More relevant to your point is that Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" has 34 holds on 25 copies. That disc was lavishly re-issued this year but the single disc copy in the library is from 1999.

So people, to some small extent, are still paying attention to jazz, the major problem being that the mainstream media gives jazz no airtime to speak of unless we see, as in this case, the re-issue of a groundbreaking jazz record by a very major player.

Still holding my breath here for all those creative ideas re gifts for late teenage boys. I wasn't joking when I asked for assistance.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

sonny rollins tenor madness, 24 copies, 0 holds, saxophone colosses, 17 copies 0 holds,
davis, kind of blue 17 copies 0 holds, sketches of spaion, 16 copies 0 holds.......(toronto public library), sort of tells the story of where jazz is in the publics eyes....when you combine those stats with the death of live jazz venues in toronto, its very very depressing

Monday, December 06, 2010

I've been known to have a chilling effect on conversation. Nice post Derek. I'm going to start off my top ten list with the top posted sentence of the year ....goes to DM for referring to being fed the not so fab four "since i was running around in nappies eating rusks in the rain" ...lovely image that a pint I see that little runt holding in his other hand?
Well spotted, Deeman. Also here's the christmas playlist you created and emailed, here for everyone's listening pleasure. Tried embedding but there must be something wrong w/ their code.
Yes Black Eyed Peas. And I didn't Google this. Right, wrong or not even close?
Also overwhelmed with all the music out there that's apparently quite good. At the same time, glad that I continue to studiously avoid releases described thusly in a review in the Globe over the weekend:

"...a senseless album of futuristic beats, robotic vocals and dance songs about dance songs...a one-hit-wonder-band four times over...bruise humanity, insult intelligence and commit rape against the beauty of music"

Can you guess the band?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Apparently ye all have headed south for the winter. What gives? Marc shows up on the blog after a very extended absence and everyone else scurries off like moles to their little holes.

Since we are now in to December and the year-end is looming perhaps it would be cool if some of you (anyone?) could post yer best ofs for 2010.

What I find amazing around this time of the year is when I start reading various blogs that are already starting to post lists for the current year is just how much music is out there and how little of it I actually get to listen to. And I listen to music at every available opportunity. Kids or no kids that hasn't really changed. It's all a bit overwhelming. (the barrage of music not the kids).

Speaking of kids my nephews are now 16 and 18. WTF do you get for xmas for boys/men at this point in their lives. No smart-ass answers please. I would ask my sister but that would require me to have to speak to her.