Friday, December 23, 2011

ok 2011 best of :

( liked best in no partticular order))
Bon Ivor: Bon Ivor
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
Josh T Pearson: last of the country gentleman

(Liked next best in no particular order)

Within and Without: Washed Out
Beirut: The rip tide
Antlers: Burts Apart
Danger Mouse / Luppi: Rome
Kurt Vile: Smoke Rings for my halo
Kate Bush: 50 Words for snow
Decemberists : King Is Dead

best reissue by far for me : Mickey Newbury: American Trilogy...check this one out....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My favourite new releases from 2011, in order of preference, are:

The Decemberists: The King is Dead
Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender
The Rosebuds: Loud Planes Fly Low

The only other 2011 albums that I own are Blessed by Lucinda Williams, which I really didn't like, and Like a Man by Adam Cohen, which I bought for my wife. That one's OK, but I'm not ready to put it on a list of favourites.

The truth is that I haven't actually heard a lot of the albums that the rest of you are citing. I haven't signed up for rdio because I rarely find time to sit and listen to music at the computer. Most of my listening is done while driving. I've recently re-subscribed to Paste with their new mplayer format - it offers weekly issues with half a dozen or so downloadable tracks for $2.99 per month. I'm hoping that'll help me catch up!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top Ten PopRock: I've been stewing over this for a while, moving bands and albums off and on. Silliness really. So, some that I enjoyed this year were:

Maritime - Human Hearts
Veronica Falls
The War on Drugs - Slave Ambient
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (likely my favourite album, liked it a lot more than their debut for some reason)
Real Estate - Days
Yellow Ostrich (Whale is one of my favourite songs)
The Feelies - Here Before
Hello Echo - Hello

Honourable Mentions to Widowspeak overcoming their their Mazzy-Star like derivativeness with great songs, Cymbals Eat Guitars for a strong follow up record, Malkmus's latest for sounding good again (and not sounding like Cymbals Eat Guitars), the Wire for making great music in their fifties, Sloan for the lifetime achievement award after 20 years (and Double Cross is very good) , and Iceage for rocking out with vim and vigour. Others that D and K have mentioned I also like - Lykke Li e.g.,

I'll throw a few jazz albums up later.
Taking a precious moment out of my extremely busy day here are my choices for my favourite (ie most listened to) records of 2011 in no particular order:

Mirrors - Lights and Offerings
Destroyer - Kaputt
Austra - Feel it Break
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Charles Lloyd - Mirror
Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

There done my bit.
More year end polls, this time w/ respect to film. Trying to follow the train of thought around the selection and ranking will likely do your head in but I thought you'd appreciate the list of films you missed this year and might want to rent/stream/buy me for Christmas.

Also, thank you all for taking the time out of your busy day to post your own favourite music from 2011. I've really enjoyed reading through them. You're all awesome. Truly.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Also, latest GBV, streaming at NPR.

(Btw, I loved the ad for the Complete Collection of Tony Bennett that precedes the live stream, particularly the number of cds in the collection. You gotta really love Tony.)
The tagline for Metabeats now reads 'Musings about music or whatever amuses'. As such, book recommendations are allowed. Also, Sarah quite liked The Sisters Brothers as well, so I'm not convinced gender should be a barrier to enjoyment. Just started it myself last night but only a few pages in so can't really comment further yet.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Apologies to all if a book related post seems out of place here but I wanted to reiterate my my belief that The Sisters Brothers is the best novel of 2011. It's not likely a book any of the women are going to want to read so this seemed as good a place as any to recommend it. If you don't trust my instincts you can read here.
I think it was Derek who pointed out the lack of consensus among critics this year as to the best or most accomplished releases of 2011. Here's a nice summary of those scores across publications/blogs that really underscore that observation. Apart from Polly J and Justin V, not even much commonality in the top 10s.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kyliep's 2011, for what it's worth (and in no particular order)

Several Shades of Why J Mascis
Let England Shake P J Harvey
Within and Without Washed Out
Fading Parade Papercuts
Yuck Yuck
Civilian Wye Oak
C'mon Low
Hurry Up We're Dreaming M83
Looping State of Mind The Field
The Harrow & The Harvest Gillian Welch

honourable mentions: Wounded Rhymes Lykke Li, Burst Apart The Antlers, Days Real Estate, In Love With Oblivion Crystal Stilts, Bon Iver Bon Iver (growing on me, Stu), No Time for Dreaming Charles Bradley, Art Deco Smiles Bela


"Ritual Union" Little Dragon

"Need You Now" Cut Copy

"Midnight City" M83

"Rolling in the Deep" Adele

"Belong" The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

"Amor Fati" Washed Out

"The Altar" Wye Oak

"Piste 1" Galaxie

honourable mentions:
"Second Song" TV on the Radio, "Whale" Yellow Ostrich, "Video Games" Lana Del Rey

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If anything, the usual year-end lists are at least prompting a revisit to some of the releases I previously had neglected or forgotten about entirely. My Morning Jacket released an album this year? Was surprised to read that. Even more surprised when I searched my library in Itunes this morning and discovered that I actually own it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The good news: Magnetic Fields coming. The bad: Sound Academy, though. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Okay, I decided to start from track 4 onwards this morning on the Austra disc and it's working better for me. The vocal style and more polished production on the front-loaded tracks are what were causing me some problems.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tuneyards (mixed case, but not in the jumbled mix anyone writing about them is supposed to either remember or look up) do suck. Or at least, they never get past the 'kind of fucking annoying' stage for me. I have read tons of good things about Austra but haven't made it past the first few songs, which sounded alarmingly close to Evanesence, at least on first listen. Will revisit, though.

One I'm enjoying right now, and was featured on the Guardian list I linked to a couple of weeks ago, is Jonathan Wilson's 'Gentle Spirit'. Info on him here and streaming at Rdio.
Looked at the Stereogum list and have a few questions and comments.

1. Do you know anyone who likes TUNEYARDS? (block caps on purpose)
2. Cold Cave is crap. It's the kinda crap I usually like but it's still crap.
3. I'm likely never going to listen to Drake or any Fucked Up record (well at least until they get a guy who can actually sing)
4. Has any one of you listened to a Ryan Adams record in the last 10 years?
5. If I'm being honest Austra's "Feel It Break" is my fave album of 2011.
2011 Listing....
No real surprises.
After re-listening to a few albums over the weekend, should have my list together online tomorrow, hopefully ahead of some other end of year lists.

Friday, December 09, 2011

I could go on and on about how much I loved the Wye Oak/Neko Case/The National show last night at the ACC. How I'm consisently amazed at how such a rich, expansive sound can come out of such a tiny framed Neko. How the National's live performance exceeded anything I've enjoyed on record. How it was almost guilding the lily to have a second opening act in the form of Wye Oak, a band whose latest album is hitting the very top of some year end Best Of lists.

But you knew I'd gush about these anyway. More interesting was how each act handled the venue itself which, to be honest, almost put me off going in the first place. I hadn't attended a stadium/arena concert since the 1990s (U2, The Tragically Hip) and wasn't all that keen on on watching stick figures battle with an acoustically hostile environment for three plus hours.

Credit to the ACC, which seems to have figured out how to make the space sound-friendly, halving the available seating and creating a semi-circle of seating around one of the goal ends.

Wye Oak, whom we'd all seen last year at the Horseshoe, actually benefited from the larger space, where the band's frequent, sudden quiet-loud-distortion transitions can ripple out like a wave into the bigger space. The only drawback was that, taking the stage around 7:00pm (or just before then, we arrived around 10 minutes past), they played to only a few hundred people at best.

Of the three, Neko was the most uneasy in the space. She made several jokes about being in a hockey arena that came across as slightly nervous or maybe resigned to the absurdity of being there. When she lamented that the sad ballad she was about to launch seemed ill suited to a place that's usually filled with joy and celebration, the ensuing audience laughter was likely less an agreement with her assessment but a collective howl at the absurdity of the notion that a space whose tenants include the Leafs and Raptors could be incongruous with lamentation. Still, the strength of her vocals and set carried her through her approximately 1.5 hour set.

Even The National initially seemed to have trouble connecting with the audience, at least for the first third of the show. Their performances were great--polished but with a more dynamic urgency than one might expect from the often laidback vocal delivery one hears on the album--and the audience seemed appreciative, but there was an almost unspoken tension or distance between the performers and audience. As if sensing this, though, the lead singer completely took the entire dynamic into his hands, or rather, to his feet, by venturing into the aisles and inviting the audience down to the area in front of the stage. He'd return later during the encore to walk through half the lower seating area, while handlers scrambled to keep track of a microphone wire, its sheer length almost impossibly long or perhaps designed specifically for the occasion. From that point on, the whole mood of the place transformed from reserved appreciation to full on, rousing glee. It was amazing to witness.

Needless to say, no such reservations about future shows, especially if they feature this type of line up. Oh, and I liked it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Kyle, lol.

Hey anybody out there listening to the remastered Some Girls? it was such a record for me as a kid, and the new maters sound sound mighty crisp. Nice. The second record of unreleased material has some quality songs on it as well, though in most cases it's obvious why the songs were excluded from the record......good insight into how to piece together something cohesive sounding from a process that at one stage must have felt pretty disparate, based on the longer list of 20 tracks. I've renewed my 30-year old fascination with some of those songs (hello Before they make me run) and the sound of the band overall.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Oooh! Oooh! Stomach pumped. Definitely. Wait, that was just an example. Right.

My suggestion for going forward: We dispense with the music entirely and pit potential contest formats against one another in a double-knockout elimination tournament. The winning format will not necessarily result in its adoption in an actual contest but will certainly earn the winner bragging rights that they can lord over the rest of the group until the next contest is proposed. The winner must bear in mind, however, that any acknowledgement of victory will be reluctant, begrudging, and qualified with the shared understanding amongst the losers that an unfair advantage, likely inherent in the format structure itself, was the primary reason for the win, not any skill, effort, or inspiration on the part of the victor.

Also, how many words are there for rain? Seems more suited to this December than any discussion of snow. Perhaps we need to consult someone in Vancouver.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Food for thought. I like Stuart's idea about the "completely open playlist" as Brian puts it, but, agree with Brian that we need to push it further. I think the completely open playlist makes some kind of great spontaneous casual game to accompany copious amounts of alcohol...that is if anyone can keep score.

I like the idea of exploring new territory but also like the idea of a fair game. How about we choose a series of sub-genres, say six for example (or focus more on fewer) , or a grouping of music that has some sort of significance, say a music "scene" or era or whatever. We then all dig around a little in all the genres spin the music off and score the tracks a la Dr D's description.

I find that the notion of pitting a track from one genre against one from other a little unfair because it becomes like saying which do you like more, wine or steak? Apples or butterflies? Oranges or a drive in the country? Having a tooth drilled or your stomach pumped?

To make things more complicated (or more significant) it might be nice to link the genres in some meaningful way. Say take five different genres that where all thriving over a five year period ...Or five genres that flowed from a single scene or city, say New York, the Northwest, Manchester, or Route 61 ...come to think of it that would be wicked; music's journey up the Mississippi. Might be a long evening but we could travel it's length from south to north. As well whoever is hosting will need to have the event catered with courses that follow the musical trek.

But seriously, I like the idea of Route 61, we could even keep the format "open" beyond limiting it to "Route 61" so that the evening has a nice flow to it. Something we might want to do is also allow tracks that were not actually produced within the focused "genre" or whatever we call it. Someone for example, might make an argument for the greatness of a track that was the first to introduce a significant sound of the blues to a whole new audience, as one could for Steve Ray Vaughn perhaps as he was from Texas and not from "Route 61" ....don't agree with the fit and significance of a track, you vote me down in part for bending the genre too much!
Derek, with all due respect (of which i have come to realise there is little around here) set me straight on something. The other night over beers you claimed to not be a fan of lyrics and exclaimed "who listens to lyrics?". That being the case how can you possibly like the new Kate Bush album in which the lyrics are so front and center; I call bullshit! Are the words just notes to you? Do you not hear the words? Do you not take meaning from them? If that is the case, that you do not take meaning from the words and have not thought about "50 Words For Snow" how can you disagree with me about my the offense to the song?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Ok Let's nail 'er down on the 23rd. There is evidence to suggest that this group has a high percentage of leaders, low percentage of followers. Ha. This is why I wrote a screenplay about you dudes.

Stu, unlike Stella and Amy and Dolores and Candy I'm not a
big fan of the completely open play lists....I like pushing us to go deep in an era or a genre, to find (to some degree anyway) some new and unexpected music.. Wide open will mostly mean playing our existing favourite music, and we've all been at this too long. The decades night was (mostly) a blast because it was different.
Also...a great question, whose answer is probably: because radio listeners either like or will tolerate whatever shit you feed them.
Not sure what's more impressive about your post, Mike: that it suggests you understand all the arcane rules and nuances that have been proposed thus far and are suggesting further improvements or the fact that you published it at 1:00 AM. Well done.

Again, think an all-options on the table, sitting at betty's with some pints in front of us, perhaps conferencing in mr. gaines for his input should he not want to make the 4 hour+ trek from the greater Ottawa area to join us in person, to finalize. propose this happen on december 23rd lunch or possibly sooner, schedules permitting.

In the meantime, and since we're in December and the throes of the season, a contemplation of the Worst Christmas Music. Much loved Band Aid does not fare so well but my favourite dig of the lot is,

"But for me, the nadir of Christmas music is the soulless keyboard-driven holiday cheer of Mannheim Steamroller. It sounds like the sort of music an Orwellian totalitarian state would pump into the air to help citizens dutifully celebrate the season. It baffles me that millions have embraced it by choice."

The problem I have with the introduction of selected years (the undisputed cleverness of the 25 year rule notwithstanding) is that we would only be able to cover 12 years between us. That includes less than a quarter of the music produced between 1960 and 2011. If we want to avoid getting dragged back to the summer of love over and over again, why not stipulate that none of us can play 2 songs from the same decade until we've played at least one song from 4 other decades.

I do like the idea of selecting our own sub-genre, and I like the idea of frequent voting - many small setbacks rather than one crushing defeat (from a glass-is-half-empty perspective). And perhaps there should be some kind of bonus if everybody agrees that your song selection does indeed belong in the proffered genre. Or perhaps a penalty if the majority disagrees with the categorization. I see lots of potential for genre wrangling here.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Think this will need to be decided at lunch at Betty's on the 23rd.

Also, the Guardian's 50-11th best albums of 2011.
I got lost somewhere between the 14th and 15th clause.... the 25 years rule seems arbitrary to me...I prefer rules easily understood when under the short , no rules...I agree we dont want all our music from 1965 to 95 ....and in short we all want to be the winner of this contest, (OK maybe Derek wants to be the winner more then most of us) ...
so why dont we allow anything any year any genre... In short , we use Marcs system for the basic format:

6 participants – names in a hat at the beginning of each so-called round. Names are drawn at random and that person (let’s say Stuart) is required to play 1 song. The next name drawn (let’s say Brian) is also required to play 1 song. The 4 non-participants then vote on the song that strikes them as being superior. Another name is then drawn from the hat (let’s say Kyle) and he has to play a song that then is pitted against the song last played (ie the song previously played by Brian) and another vote takes place.

but after this no rules....

Each person comes armed with their favorite tunes form any genre any year..... The beauty will be to wacth Brian beat Kyles uber death metal song with a track by the Egolilies... In short you hear the challengers song and then you can try to beat it with any song from any decade or genre.....damn simple....and the art is listening to the opening tracik and thinking about what type of song is best to beat it , there on the spot...

you can coin toss to decide who plays first vs who one can complain they were stuck with a crappy year or genre

I think we should have a random draw for the order of selection for everyone's 1st choice and then go in reverse order for the 2nd pick.
My vote is for #2 and the years, with the clever 25 year proviso that Derek has come up with, over #1, with the sub-genres. I like playing one song after another. More voting. Each song is potentially worth more. Only questions: How do we pick the year (s)? What if two people want the same year? If it's first come, first serve, can I take 1967 and 1992? :)
I’m having a hard time taking that “not taking northern culture seriously” line seriously. Philistines aside for the moment however as we should really kick into gear this upcoming music contest.

First the format. Marc has suggested, and others that I’ve mentioned it to seem to concur, that we should scrap the format of the last clash. Instead of having 3-song round robins where someone might not play a song for an hour or more and could also be eliminated from the contest before the night is half done we go with the following:

6 participants – names in a hat at the beginning of each so-called round. Names are drawn at random and that person (let’s say Stuart) is required to play 1 song. The next name drawn (let’s say Brian) is also required to play 1 song. The 4 non-participants then vote on the song that strikes them as being superior. Another name is then drawn from the hat (let’s say Kyle) and he has to play a song that then is pitted against the song last played (ie the song previously played by Brian) and another vote takes place.

And on it goes. Voting is thus taking place approx every 5 minutes so you need to be paying attention. Ties can occur with only 4 votes cast. That will result in a half point for each competitor as opposed to a full point for an outright win. At the end of the night total point tally wins the contest. This keeps everyone engaged and on their toes.

This was Marc’s idea so if I have misinterpreted your suggestion please chime in.

As for the content of the contest that is proving much more elusive. After another discussion with Brian last night let me throw out two ideas:

1) We stick with the sub-genre format (letting people select their own) perhaps from an approved list like Wikipedia’s which seems fairly exhaustive. It was suggested that each person have two sub-genres at their disposal and have to play a balance of songs from each of their selected categories.

2) Each person picks a particular year lets say 1976 and has to pick a second year but one has to be at least 25 years removed from the one first selected. So if you love 1976 you’re going to have to go back to 1951 or prior if working backwards or 2001 or later if working the other way. As with suggestion #1 a balance of songs from each year would be required.

Suggestion #2 arose as a result of my fear that with the sub-genre format we would once again be listening to the bulk of music coming from the 1965 to early 1990s period. Music in more recent times doesn’t seem to be categorized the way it used to be and I threw out some names (Sigur Ros, Beck, TV on the Radio) and wondered how these artists would be categorized under format #1.

Enough from me. Need to hear from everyone else so we can finalize this thing well before Christmas so I can spend the holidays ignoring friends and family and keeping my head firmly stuck up my musical ass.