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Faves 2016   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 24, 2016 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2016!  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what music -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  Some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

CAR SEAT HEADREST:  The pseudononymous Will Toledo makes my Faves for a second year running with Teens of Denial, the morehi-fi and all-original successor to Teens of Style.  As far back as college, when people asked me why I like what was then "college rock," and has been equally poorly labeled as "alternative" orr "indie" music, one of my answers was (and is) the joy of watching or listenting to talent come into its own.  Sure, not every percolating band band will become R.E.M., U2, or even the B-52s or the Go-Gos -- and that's okay; it doesn't mean that you can't also enjoy the artists people only discover and appreciate years later.  Toledo is feeling his songwriting oats right about now and has the resources to realize his visions.  What's not to like?

BEACH SLANG: A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings is  near-perfectly named and an example of a certain genre of punk-ish rock --think early-to-mid Replacements -- that you likely won't beat this year.  Philsophically, "Future Mixtape for the Art Kids" (language warning) says what I just wrote, while musically, "Spin The Dial" and "Punks In a Disco" are shamelessly Westerbergian.  If you're going to steal, steal from the best; Lord knows Westerberg did.

PARQUET COURTS:  Insouciant, by turns angular and loopy, Human Performance tends to remind me of both mid-period Pavement and mid-period Meat Puppets without sounding very much like either of them. It's more the spirit of the album, which could easily soundtrack taking inventory of the imaginary record store in my noggin.

FRANKIE COSMOS: Next Thing, her first band-backed LP afaik, manages to be energetic without demaniding, and direct without being dramatic.  Not an immediate grabber, but it wears well.

BOB MOULD:  I really can't call Patch The Sky a return to form because for the most part, Mould is so dependably good.  If there's pleasure to be had in the discovery of new artists, there's also some to be found in that level of consistemcy.  It's a dark album, I suppose, but in that Townshendian "dance all over your problems" sort of way.

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD:  A confession: It would be more accurate for me to call Nonagon Infinity a guilty pleasure than a true Fave.  And I don't own it, but finding my self streaming it.  Is it early Black Sabbath meets early Metallica?  The Sex Pistols taking on Hawkwind? A roaring monster assembled from those bands plus everything from Aerosmith to the Allmans to Santana to prog and psych?  Yes. And by being all of those things, it manages to come off as relentless rather than tedious, with all the immediacy of a live performance.I probably could have used this spot to write about the great year Thee Oh Sees also had, but I suspect Pate bassist Mike Kelly will apperciate this LP far more.

ANDY SCHAUF:  The Party would never soundtrack a toga party, but it might be the perfect thing for that get-together with friends where you settle into overstuffed sofas and drink on a cloudy weekend afternoon, especially if your friends are into stuff like vintage Todd Rundgren. You know, more Something/Anything? than "Bang on the Drum."

THE LEMON TWIGS:  If Andy Schauf has a Rundgren-esque quality, maybe this brother act from Long Island bring more of a Harry Nilsson vibe on Do Hollywood. These two LPs make nice companion listening in that piano-based, 70's--pop influenced space.  Maybe I should toss Randy Newman in there also.  Maybe not as great as any of these, but the subgenre is one of my bags, baby.

RYLEY WALKER:  Another repeat from last year.  If Primrose Green had a bit of a early Van Morrison vibe, the finger-picking of Golden Sings That Have Been Sung reminds me more of Nick Drake.  A more upbeat Nick Drake, to be sure, but it would be tough to be a more downbeat one.  I think his vocals have improved also.

WHITNEY: That a couple of former Smith Westerns made Light Upon The Lake is a bit surprising, inasmuch as it channels a Laurel Canyon, early-70s singer songwriter feeling absent from their erlier band's work.  Then again, sometimes mucsicians find themselves more the second time around (just ask Matthew Sweet).

STURGILL SIMPSON: A Sailor's Guide to Earth may be the first Cosmic Country album to make my Faves list, as the Flying Burrito Bros clearly predate this website, let alone these lists. Plus, the Dap-Kings turn up occasionally to give the thing a Gram Parsons goes Muscle Shoals effect.

THE JAYHAWKS: I won't pretend that I think Paging Mr. Proust is among their best albums, but it's still quite solid and rewarding.  When you have a songwriter as talented as Gary Louris, the absence of Mark Olson stings less than it might otherwise (notice I said "less").

CHARLES BRADLEY: In a terrible year for soul fans in general, and Daptone Records in particular (after losing Miss Sharon Jones to cancer), at least we still have the terrific Changes, and Bradley fighting his own cancer diagnosis.  Do you need to hear his take on "God Bless America"?  You just might.

THE FRIGHTNRS: In another Daptone Records tragedy,  Nothing More to Say  wasn't released until a month after the passing of singer Dan Klein at age 33.  The Frightnrs fit in well at Daptone, even if their sound is retro-reggae instead of vintage soul.  When I was a college DJ, I filled in for one of the reggae guys on a Sunday or two, and the 60s/70s is where I always gravitated, so it's nice to have a new one.

THE JAMES HUNTER SIX: James Hunter continues to walk the path trod by Sam Cooke and early-to-mid Van Morrison on Hold On!  I may never tire of recommending him.

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: American Band got much attention in this election year for its political content.  But anyone who's listened to the band with any care know politics are woven into the band's back catalog as well. Fortunately, Patterson Hood is such a talented songwriter that it rarely comes across as didactic, even when (as here) it's a little more overt.

CASE/LANG/VEIRS: I would be tempted to call case/lang/veirs more than the sum of its parts, if Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs were not so excellent in their own rights.  This first joint effort -- not their last, I hope -- offers much of what is best about each, but it is also clearly the product of a collaboration that produces something a smidge different and excellent in its own right.

DAVID BOWIE: When Blackstar was released just days before Bowie's death, we didn't know he had been working steadily to maximize his output in the face of his looming mortality.  And Bowie being Bowie, he pushed the boundaries of popular miusic to the very end, bringing jazz. hip-hop, electronics and even a bit of folk into his last iteration of art rock. It's almost as if he was showing off to ensure we would miss him more.

LEONARD COHEN: Frankly, it's hard not to hear You Want It Darker in a similar vein to Blackstar.  Musically, the album is less experimental than Bowie, more of closing a circle by returning somewhat to his earlier folk-pop sound. But both men are great lyricists, and some of Cohens' lyrics, not to mention some of his last public comments, encourage the speculation that he knew they could be his final public statements.

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS:  And the tragedy keeps on coming. Skeleton Tree is pretty clearly related to the death of Cave's 15-year-old son Arthur, who fell off a cliff.  Cave has been spare and sombre before -- as on The Boatman's Call and even on Push the Sky Away --  but this album is so masterfully bleak, so painful a listen that it almost seems wrong to deem it a Fave.

SCOTT WALKER: Not the Wisconsin Governor, the one-time third of The Walker Brothers, who has traveled from Top 40 luminescence to bold and persistent experimentation over the decades.  Another confession: the soundtrack to The Childhood of a Leader  may not even be a Fave, but my internet buddy Jeff Blehar inspired me into a Scott Walker renaissance this year.  Ever ride the subway all night long?  If you do, you may want to put on The Collection 1967-70, or perhaps the late Walker Bros reunion LP, Nite Flights.  In fact, if you listen to those, you might also wonder whether Bowie wasn't having a similar renaissance when he was cooking up The Next Day and Blackstar.

IGGY POP:  Okay, enough of the wallowing; let's have some Pop. Or, as the fictionalized Lester Bangs in Almost Famous would have it, "Ih-gee Paaaahhp."  Post Pop Depression is anything but -- it's as lean, swaggering and bent on triumph as the man himself, seemingly drawing most from his Bowiest past work and drawing more raw power from Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age.

THE MONKEES: Hey, hey, I've been a fan since I was a child; my parents had some of the original LPs.  A fifth-grade classmate I would meet again in high school turned me on to the later and the weirder material; before long, I was onto Mike Nesmith's solo LPs.  All of this years before the Prefab Four's first MTV revival, though that was the tour I saw.  In a year with relatively fewer of them, why not give yourself over to Good Times!  How many albums will include vocals not only from the late Davy Jones, but also the late Harry Nilsson?  Roughly half is retooled from the Monkees' vault, with songs written by Neil Diamond, Jeff Barry,Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, and so forth.  The other half, aside from new Nesmith and Tork numbers, is penned by a newer generation of great tunesmiths, including Adam Schlessinger, Andy Partridge, Rivers Cuomo, and Noel Gallager & Paul Weller.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Teenage Fanclub, Radiohead, Wire, Paul Simon, John K. Samson, School of Seven Bells, Lucinda Williams, Cass McCombs, Robert Pollard, Andrew Bird, Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, Descendents, White Denim, Wilco and Dinosaur Jr. are just a few more of those who put out albums worth blurbing this year, if I had managed my time better.

A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  It's always somewhere on the net.

WKRP: "Turkeys Away," in its entirety. And here's the turkey giveaway by itself.

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. Not to mention the fights over kindergarteners dressing as Native Americans.  However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex.  Ultimately, Bradford quieted internal discontent by doing away with the collectivism of a company town and granting property rights.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include: Pixar's Moana, which is currently scoring 97 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Allied, which is currently scoring 64 percent; Bad Santa 2, scoring 26 percent, and Rules Don't Apply, scoring 59 percent.

1920 Reads

Minor Victories, James Vincent McMorrow, All Songs, Prince, Kitten   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


REGINA SPEKTOR shared a video for "Bleeding Heart."

MINOR VICTORIES played the Pitchfork Music Festival Paris

JAMES VINCENT McMORROW visited The Current for a chat and mini-set.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED celebrates songs they missed in 2016.

PRINCE: Hear the previously unreleased "Moonbeam Levels," recorded in 1982.

FATHER JAMES MISTY shares "Holy Hell."

THE WHO: "I'm A Boy."

R.E.M.: Rolling Stone runs a kind-of-making-of Out of Time for the 25th anniversary.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & DIANA ROSS received of the Presidential Medal Of Freedom.

THE POP GROUP: Mark Stewart talks to Aquarium Drunkard about putting the band back together.

INSPIRAL CARPETS drummer Craig Gill has died at the age of 44.

KANYE WEST is being treated for "exhaustion" at UCLA Medical Center after Los Angeles police responded to a disturbance call.

ADELE says she's having another baby

AMBER HEARD is the latest to face court action over London Fields, a film based on Martin Amis' celebrated novel, once set to make a splash at the Toronto International Film Festival only to be stuck in legal purgatory without a distributor.

GWYNETH PALTROW confesses that she was clueless about her raging sense of entitlement.

NICOLE KIDMAN remembers meeting Tom Cruise.

STAR WARS: Kathleen Kennedy talks to Variety about Rogue One and the Han Solo backstory.

HARD BOILED may be headed to the big screen with Tom Hiddleston.

A KITTEN works the hula hoop.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT: A suicide rodent attacked a Chicago alderman who has spoken out against the furry menace.

HERPES-INFECTED MONKEYS have been spotted in Florida.

A "DEAD" DEER fled the scene of a hit-and-run in Wisconsin.

1628 Reads

Tegan & Sara, Hiss Golden Messenger, Kate Bush, Monkey+Goat   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE AVETT BROTHERS share a video for "No Hard Feelings"

TEGAN & SARA played a Tiny Desk Concert.

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER, Live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nov. 15, 2016.

KATE BUSH premiered the entire second disc of Before The Dawn, featuring her performance of the second side of Hounds Of Love, on Tom Robinson’s BBC Radio 6 show.

THE AFGHAN WHIGS cover New Order's "Regret."

CLOUD NOTHINGS share "Internal World" ahead of Life Without Sound.

CATE LE BON  releases "Rock Pool," the title track of her upcoming EP.

NEIL DIAMOND performs "I'm A Believer" and " "Solitary Man" during a secret show at Erasmus Hall High School, where Diamond attended for two years

R.E.M.: Michael Stipe and Mike Mills talked about the election and the anniversary of Out of Time on Facebook Live and Today NOW.

WILCO: Jeff Tweedy talks to the Independent about the future, his band, his audience, and interviews.

THE SMITHS: Johnny Marr disussed his memoirs at Salon.

A HISTORY OF BOOTLEGS, told through 25 significant examples.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE is the latest Vanity Fair cover story.

ROGUE ONE has a new TV spot online.

CARS 3 has a teaser trailer online.

KANYE WEST abruptly canceled his world tour Monday.

BLACK PANTHER picks up Angela Bassett as T'Challa's mother.

FRENCH anti-terrorism police have arrested seven people in Strasbourg and Marseille and thwarted what the interior minister called a new potential attack.

RUSSIA: President Vladimir Putin has warned that his country will move its missiles closer to Europe in response to NATO "expansion" plans.

A BABY MONKEY befriends a goat... mass hysteria!

A NEWFOUND SPIDER masquerades as a dangling, partly dried-up leaf.

COWS are being forced to eat seaweed to reduce greenhouse gases.

FANTASTIC BEASTS are born at the Taronga Zoo.

1717 Reads

Sharon Jones, RIP, Magnetic Fields, Alejandro Escovedo, Arkells, Kittens   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 21, 2016 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl

SHARON JONES, a powerhouse soul singer with a gritty voice, fast feet and indomitable energy, died Friday of pancreatic cancer. She was 60.  Here's what I wrote after I first saw her back in October 2005: "Though my weekend schedule was in flux, I was able to scurry down to the Double Door (where Barry Jive and the Uptown Five played at the end of High Fidelity) to see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the last minute Saturday night. ... That band puts o­n o­ne helluva hot, sweaty, funky soul extravaganza. Indeed, the Dap-Kings did an entire power-packed set before they brought Sharon Jones out. the set included not o­nly highlights from Dap Dippin' With Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings and Naturally (an Amazon Best of 2005 (so far) pick and one of mine too), but also several new songs that were equally smokin'. It's like finding a big stack of Stax wax that somehow never got released in the late '60s or early '70's. You can see video at the Daptone records site, but it really doesn't do the band's James Brown Live at the Apollo energy level justice. Ms. Jones may be built more like Aretha, but moves like Tina Turner. Suffice it to say the Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" and Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately" have never sounded funkier."  This 2007 clip of Miss Jones and the band strutting and percolating thru Naturally's "How Do I Let a Good Man Down?", with a Brown-style introduction, captures what I was writing about pretty well.  Her cover of Marva Whitney's "Things Got To Get Better" also captures it pretty well.  They even sound pretty dang hot just rehearsing a James Brown medley with Lee Fields.  And while the band could bring it down for a ballad like "100 Days, 100 Nights"or go a little Motown on songs like "Retreat!" or "Stranger to My Happiness,"  I will always remember her working a crowd with mastery as in this Paris performance of "When I Come Home" where Prince stops by to solo. BONUS: Here's Sharon joining Iggy Pop on Bowie's "Tonight", and singing "Sweet Jane" with Lou Reed.

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS advance stream 5 songs from the upcoming 50 Song Memoir.

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO stops by The Current for a chat and mini-set. On his latest album, Burn Something Beautiful, Escovedo collaborated with R.E.M. alumni Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey.

THE ARKELLS also stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set.

THE ROLLING STONES brought Mick Taylor out for "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" at Glastonbury 2013.

SUICIDE: Pitchfork runs an uncondensed version of a 2002 interview the late Alan Vega did with author Simon Reynolds.

BRATMOBILE's Allison Wolfe shares the soundtrack of her life with Pitchfork.

ANDY SCHAUF talks to Now about the Polaris Prize, Christian pop-punk and why he doesn't leave his new neighborhood.

DWEEZIL ZAPPA talks to Magnet about his new LP and his family woes.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them domianted the chart with 75MM, but with a 180MM budget may need to make 350-400MM to break even; the additional 143MM it has grossed overseas suggests that's doable, esp since it has yet to open in China.  Doctor Strange places with 17.7MM on a 59 percent drop borne not only of the competition from Fantastic Beasts, but also the drop-off from a holiday weekend; global receipts are still on track for this one to make a decent profit in theaters.  Trolls showed close behind with 17.5MM on a 50 percent drop.  Arrival, the highly-acclaimed-including-by-me sci-fi flick, takes the fourth slot with 11.8MM on a 51 percent drop; it's just getting stararted in foreign markets.  Almost Christmas rounds out the Top Five with 7MM on a 54 percent drop, all tribute to how much oxygen the Potterverse consumed this weekend.  The Edge of Seventeen and Bleed For This, both generally well-reviewed, debuted seventh and eight, respectively.

EMILIA CLARKE (Game of Thrones) is joining the Star Wars Han Solo spinoff.

DEADPOOL 2 has a new directorJohn Wick‘s David Leitch.

KANYE WEST was booed at a concert on Thursday in San Jose, California, revealing that he didn't vote - but he would have cast his ballot for President-elect Donald Trump.

DWAYNE JOHNSON talked about his heavily publicized feud with Fast 8 costar Vin Diesel in a new interview with The Los Angeles Times.

MARC ANTHONY is separating from his wife of 2 years.

WEDDING CRASHERS is getting a sequel, or so Vince Vaughn told Isla Fsher.

KITTENS Make Everything Better.

GOAT YOGA: All the news that's fit to print, in the New York Times.

RIVER RAT is the hot new hambuger in Russia.

A HALF-DOZEN YAKS in British Columbia are looking for a home.

1660 Reads

Paisley Underground, Gillian Welch, Highly Suspect, Metallica, Hippo   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 18, 2016 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE PAISLEY UNDERGROUND!  A two-part (Part 1, Part 2) feature from the Old Grey Whistle Test on L.A.'s psychedelic-flavored, West Coast scene in the mid-80s. Bands featured include the Long Ryders, Prime Movers, Thin White Rope, Pontiac Brothers and the Rain Parade with a 6 minute live version of No Easy Way Down. The Long Ryders get short shrift so I'll add in their later OGWT appearance to play "Looking For Lewis & Clark." The term "Paisley Underground" is believed to have been jokingly coined by Michael Quercio of the band The Three O'Clock, so I'll toss in the clip for "Her Head's Revolving" as a bonus. Other bands associated with the scene not featured include Green On Red -- sometimes likened to The Doors for songs like "Two Lovers" and "Change" -- and The Bangs, a/k/a The Bangles, with an early track, "The Real World." DOUBLE BONUS:  The Guardian Music Blog has a link-rich piece on the Rain Parade and other Paisley Underground bands.

GILLIAN WELCH advance streams The Official Revival Bootleg.

HIGHLY SUSPECT advance streams The Boy Who Died Wolf.

METALLICA streams the double album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. 'Member when they sued Napster? I 'member.

THE DECEMBERISTS shared the demo for “The Crane Wife 1, 2 & 3."

THE ROLLING STONES: Mick & Keef do a little "Country Honk" acoustic.

DAVID BOWIE: Carlos Alomar excerpts part of his book.

SLEIGH BELLS: Alexis Krauss discusses the band's newest LP at the NY Observer.

THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN are releasing a new album, their first in 18 years.

THE 10 BEST LEON RUSSELL SONGS, according to Paste.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, which is currently scoring 83 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; The Edge of Seventeen, which is scoring 94 percent; and Bleed For This, scoring 65 percent.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM:  The continuation of the Potterverse is not as immediately compelling as J.K. Rowling's original saga.  Some of the characters are less sharply-drawn as the students of Hogwarts; indeed, I'd argue the secondary characters may be a bit more interesting than the leads.  But the differences drawn by moving the setting to America 1926 are intriguing enough to warrant the sequels already in development.  And there's a nice reveal at the end the WB kept hidden in plain sight.

KALEY CUOCO isn't afraid to talk about her plastic surgery.

CHARLIE SHEEN is addressing his ex-wife Brooke Mueller's recent ordeal with a poem.

CARRIE FISHER denies calling Harrison Ford bad in bed.

TOM HANKS spoke about the election at a Museum of Modern Art’s film benefit.

KING KONG: SKULL ISLAND hs a second trailer online.


A DEER struck a Gwynedd Mercy University cross country runner during the NCAA Division III Mideast Regional at DeSales University

A NEW SPECIES OF FROG, whose groin flashes orange to scare away predators, has been discovered in Australia.

AN OCTOPUS rode the tide to a Miami Beach garage.

1641 Reads

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