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Faves 2012   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND STARTS HERE... with FAVES 2012!  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.  And 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.


THE BLACK KEYS, FEIST and GRIZZLY BEAR: I might not rate El Camino, Metals or Shields as the best albums these bands have made (though some would in the case of Shields).  But they are really solid outings from bands reaching as close to critical mass as we might expect from alt-rockers on a fragmented musical landscape.  I have always rooted for the supposed mainstream to be as influenced by such bands as by the more obvious mass appeals; once this meant rooting for U2 and REM to compete with Madonna and Bon Jovi; now it means rooting for the Black Keys, Feist and Grizzly Bear over Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.  And the passage of time also instructs me that the good stuff from better bands tends to outlast the brilliant moments of the more transient artists (though the latter remain worth remembering).  I might also put MUMFORD & SONS' Babel into this lump for this reason, despite it falling into the sophomore slump box, imho.

THE dB's: Maybe it's because I just saw them (humblebrag), but once the reunited band's Falling Off the Sky made it back into my rotation, I became more impressed with it.  Smart as always, if more wise than precocious. In particular, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey once again demonstrate they are two of the most unique songwriting talents in America and never better than when supported by Gene Holder and Will Rigby. They all bring their post-dB's experiences to the table, and yet the result is undeniably dB's.

BOB MOULD: I suppose I might have put Silver Age into that opening bloc, but someone with the self-awareness to call an album Silver Age desrves his own slot.  Perhaps the most perceptive review of this album discussed the sort of melancholy that accompanies writing that an album represents a "return to form."  But the Sugar-y sounds of Silver Age are a welcome renaissance for Mould, if not a truly golden one.

JAPANDROIDS: Youngsters looking for their own Husker Du or Sugar could do much worse than Celebration Rock, aptly named and anthemic, even when the topics turn less pleasant.  Pete Townshend's comment about rock not solving problems so much as allowing you to dance over them for a while is also appropos here.

TITUS ANDRONICUS: Much of what I wrote about Celebration Rock applies to Local Business, which gets its own slot because -- as the hardestcore version of Springsteen or Hold Steady, frontman Patrick Stickles seems to grasp (knowingly or not) that the local is often more universal than one would suppose... and that the personal is more universal than one would suppose.

CLOUD NOTHINGS: I hope Attack on Memory won't suffer from short memories. This January release manages to be naive, loud, and nuanced in various measures, sometimes simultaneously.  I still have a natural preference for the hookier material that bridges from Dylan Baldi's debut, but he's more ambitious and emotional here, which is also a good thing.  A good companion to the Japandroids and Titus Andronicus offerings.


SHARON VAN ETTEN; Some will call Tramp more coherent than Epic; some will call it more same-y.  Both camps have a point.  Her third album is laden with cameos from her indie colleagues, but they rarely distract from her songs and her voice.

DJANGO DJANGO: This combo's self-titled debut is filled with a very particular flavor of psychedelia.  It's not heavy, Hendrix-esque stuff, or day-glo pop, or even very garagey, except for moments.  Rather, it tends to a more downbeat, acoustic flavor -- a less-arranged Byrds, a less-Latin Love, an un-Anglo Kinks.  Aside from being jsut palin good, it's nice to hear a band with such quiet self-confidence.

TAME IMPALA, otoh, wears its psych influences more on its sleeve. And while I never completely warmed to "Elephant," which seemed to be the bloggers' track of choice, there's plenty of trippy goodness to enjoy on Lonerism. Again, it may be more overtly retro, but I'm fine with that if you can do it well, and Tame Impala does.

TWIN SHADOW: I feel much the same about George Lewis.  Confess is a seamless melange of 80s synthy-pop, from the Human League to Prince to The Cars and more, with at least a hint of Morrissey in the crooning vocals.  Yet one never gets the feeling of a direct steal, and it serves a particular romanticism that rock seemed to have lost once MTV stopped playing music.

ARIEL PINK'S HAUNTED GRAFFITI: Mature Themes may not wear as well as Before Today, but it does occupy the unlikely space between Tame Impala and Twin Shadow, marrying some truly trippy, Syd Barrett-esque lyrics to mellow grooves more common in 70s soft R & B, or Spandau Ballet. An acquired taste, but one for which the hankering recurs.

AC NEWMAN: Shut Down The Streets finds the New Pronographers' songwriter taking a solo paternity leave through the 70s singer-songwriter genre.  It was thus not surprising that the two main critiques of the album were that Newman did not use the occasion to get even more personal in his lyrics, and occasionally broke the mood with tracks that seem better suited to his maing gig.  Nevertheless, for me, Newman's sheer tunefulness carries the day, which here is probably a rainy Sunday afternoon.

DIVINE FITS: Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Dan Boeckner (Handsome Furs) collaborate, sometimes sounding more like one than the other. But Daniel's funky, uptight bass thing and Boeckner's more wild guitar thing usually end up working like the musical equivalent of the peanut butter cup.  So why there's a cherry on the cover of A Thing Called Divine Fits is a mystery.

LEONARD COHEN: I feel as silly putting Old Ideas on a list as I did listing the last Tom Waits album.  You either dig him or don't, and I do.  Old Ideas can still be as good or better than new ones, or so James Bond tells me.

DIRTY PROJECTORS: Dave Longstreth's idiosyncratic project makes a breakthrough of sorts with Swing Lo Magellan.  Reportedly distilled from a wealth of demos, this LP is the project's most direct and coherent to date, while maintaining enough of an element of mystery to draw repeated listening.

FATHER JOHN MISTY: I thought J. Tillman's departure from Fleet Foxes to be madness, but his freak-folky solo vehicle is almost enough to convince me there was a method as well.

TEAM SPIRIT: End of Year lists will be far more likely to focus on Passion Pit's Gossamer than the EP from this side project, which is power pop for now people.  Similarly, DUM DUM GIRLS will fall off most radars this year, but their End of Daze EP shows an increasingly confident combo honing its craft on the downlow.

THE HEAVY: If 2011 had a glut of classic soul revivalists, 2012 had a drought.  So it was a good thing The Heavy returned with the Glorious Dead album.  How do I like them now?  Pretty much as much as always, even if this offering lacks the ubiquitous smash hit.

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.

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Father John Misty, Ben Gibbard, Free Energy, Chinchillas   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BRADFORD COX joins DIVINE FITS on the Ramones' "53rd & 3rd."

FATHER JOHN MISTY stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

BEN GIBBARD plays a Tiny Desk Concert at the NPR offices.

PRISSY CLERKS stopped by The Current for a chat and mini-set ahead of their debut release.

THE FRESH & ONLYS get a twofer and a video from World Cafe Next.

FREE ENERGY drops "Hangin'" ahead of Love Sign.

ELO: Because I "Can't Get It Out Of My Head."

METZ: The punk trio took five years to record an album, but they are the post-CMJ buzz band of the moment.

BILL WITHERS gets profiled by All Things Considered as a 9-LP box set drops.

KATHLEEN HANNA talks to The A.V. Club about Bikini Kill, growing up, and becoming a feminist icon.

THE FLAMING LIPS: Wayne Coyne tried to being a grenade on an airplane, being one of the few people of whom it could be credibly said to be an accident.

10 GREAT 80s BANDS YOU DIDN'T KNOW EXISTED: I knew nine of them.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include the animated Rise of the Guardians, which is currently scoring 75 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; the remake of Red Dawn (with North Korea as the invaders?), which is scoring 15 percent; and Life of Pi, scoring 84 percent. Silver Linings Playbook expands to about 400 screens at 91 percent.

DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ELMO: Kevin Clash, the longtime voice and puppeteer behind "Sesame Street's" Elmo character, resigned on Tuesday after a new allegation was made that he had underage sexual relationships.

LINDSAY LOHAN is quickly becoming the girl who cried "comeback" - but she swears this time she's serious about getting her act together. 

KOURTNEY KARDASHIAN is finally engaged to Scott Disick.

RHIANNA sort of apologizes to her press entourage on tour.

CAMERON DIAZ still enjoys stripping down for the cameras.

THR ACTRESS ROUNDTABLE: Awards contenders Naomi Watts, Helen Hunt, Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, Rachel Weisz, Marion Cotillard, and Sally Field sat down for a frank discussion about their biggest fears, their worst auditions, the roles they fought for and the secrets to surviving in Hollywood


PELICANS blown to Rhode Island by Hurricane Sandy fly back to Florida on a private plane.

A BIZARRE, MUPPET-LIKE BEAST was shot dead in the Namibian jungle. Oh, yes, it was.


2507 Reads

New Releases, Poor Moon, Bad Veins, Kitten + Pug   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DIVINE FITS break out "Baby Get Worse" at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

NEW RELEASES from Bad Brains, Massive Attack, the Twilight Sad (remixes), the 1975 and more are streaming this week via Spinner.

POOR MOON, featuring members of Fleet Foxes, plays some folky, lush pop tunes at CMJ via KEXP.

THE BAD VEINS stopped by KUT to record a live session in Studio 1a.

LIANNE LA HAVAS plays a soulful session at Morning Becomes Eclectic.

ERIC BURDON & THE GREENHORNES: Acosmically overdue collaboaration produces "Out of My Mind."

THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS: "Fall" and "Sleep Comes Down" for Twofer Tuesday.

CHARLIE WATTS talks to All Things Considered about what makes "(I Can't Get no) Satisfaction" so satisfying.

CHRIS CORNELL talks to All Things Considered about the Soundgarden reunion.

THANATOS: Pop's latest trend is a death wish.

AC/DC are finally releasing their back-catalog on iTunes.

DON'T SUE ME ELMO: The man who accused Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, of having sex with him while he was underage stands by his story, claims he was pressured into recanting it, and is now interviewing lawyers to help him undo his settlement.

LINDSAY LOHAN is about to have her probation revoked, if she is in fact charged with the criminal offense of lying to a police officer.

JUSTIN BIEBER & SELENA GOMEZ: Reconciliation dinner fail.

KRISTEN STEWART has signed on to reprise her role in Snow White and the Huntsman, but director Rupert Sanders -- with whom she she cheated on Robert Pattinson -- is out.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON's new boyfriend is a French journo.

OLIVIA MUNN is profiled by Vanity Fair, along with some swimming pool photos.


KITTEN SURPRISES PUG: Let's go to the video.

PARALYZED DOGS WALK after nose cell transplants.

APES have midlife crises, according to a new study casting doubt on your decision to by a motorcycle.

A TURKEY knocked out power in Sheboygan County, WI. Squirrels are sought for questioning.

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Patrick Watson, Field Report, Sera Cahoone, Cat + Chick   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 19, 2012 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DIRTY PROJECTORS brought "About To Die" -- and the yMusic quartet -- to the Ed Sullivan Theater.

PATRICK WATSON  played DC's 9:30 Club; you can stream the whole show on demand.

FIELD REPORT reported to The Current studio to chat with Mark Wheat and perform a few songs.

SERA CAHOONE soundchecked for Oregon Public Broadcasting before a recent performance at the Doug Fir in Portland.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: The Who, Local Natives, and Blackbird Blackbird highlight the latest edition.

U2: "Desire." Generally Autumnal leading to winter for me, tho it coulda been a great summer song.  Really, it's hard to mess up a good Bo Diddley beat.

MICK JAGGER talks to  All Things Considered about recording "Gimme Shelter" and preparing fr the Stones' 50th anniversary tour.

MUMFORD & SONS: How have four polite Englishmen become the fastest selling act in the US?

MAKING CENTS: Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi breaks down the meager royalties currently being paid out to bands by streaming services.

TITUS ANDRONICUS: The most important band of 2012?

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 predictably tops the cinema with 141 million, almost identical to the Part 1 opening -- which might cause some to wonder ifthe Harry Potter approach of doing the big finale 6 mos later in July would've been more profitable.  Skyfall places with 41.5 million -- a 53 percent drop, which is smaller than the 2nd frame drop for Quantum of Solace and even more impressive given that the sparkly vampires pushed Bond to smaller screens.  This Bond now has 161 domestic and another half-billion or so worldwide.  Lincoln's wide debut shows with 21 million (against a 60 million budget), impressive for early Oscar bait, given the competition.  Wreck-It Ralph drops to fourth with 18.3 million, holding on to the family audience before Rise of the Guardians appears over the holiday weekend.  Flight rounds out the Top 5 with 8.6 million, which is fortunately well into the black (61 million against a 31 million budget), as the drama competition only increases at year's end.

LINCOLN: Steven Spielberg's take on one of greatest presidents gets off to the overly-sentimental start one might expect from Spielberg, but quickly moves from the Hall of Presidents into a more interesting tale of political intrigue, with Daniel Day-Lewis (in his usual Oscar-caliber mode) balancing competing Republican and Democratic demands to pass the 13th amendment.  Day-Lewis isn't the only arresting performance here either; to name a few, Tommie Lee Jones hits a wide range of notes as radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, while James Spader and Jackie Earle Haley delight as political fixers brought in to insulate Lincoln from the more seamy deals cut on the road to ending slavery.  Tony Kuchner's screenplay builds on parts of Doris Goodwin's Team of Rivals for a piece that engrosses and entertains as it educates.

DON'T SUE ME ELMO: According to TMZ, Kevin Clash -- the voice of Elmo -- agreed to pay his accuser 125K, with one string attached -- that the accuser recant his story that Clash had sex with him when he was a minor.


TAYLOR SWIFT, enjoying the company of One Direction's Harry Styles.

BRITNEY SPEARS: and Jason Trawick had planned a romantic and intimate winter wedding, but after incessant fighting between the two, the impending nuptials have been called off, according to RadarOnline.

KRISTEN STEWART still feels guilty about cheating on Robert Pattinson, at least until the press junket for Twilight is over.

LINDSAY LOHAN has no plans to meet her newly-announced 17-year-old half-sister ... in fact, she wants nothing to do with her ... ever.

QUENTIN TARANTINO: Deadline has excerpts and outtakes from his Playboy interview, which is also a click-thru at the link.

ISRAEL: Violence accelerated in Gaza as Israel and Hamas exchanged air and artillery attacks. Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to widen its Gaza offensive. Israel continued to mass troops along the Gaza border.

EGYPT: Border guards allowed 400 political activists to cross into Gaza. Liberal secular representatives announced their withdrawal from the committee charged with writing Egypt's new constitution.

IRAN: A report from the IAEA said Iran had doubled the capacity at its uranium enrichment plant. Iran has postponed the startup of a nuclear reactor in Akak; the research reactor has the capability of producing plutonium for nuclear arms.

CAT and CHICK, cuddling together...Mass hysteria!

LIZARDS startle the Secret Service.

FOUR KITTENS whose mom died protecting them from a coyote have been adopted together.

THE PIG GENOME PROJECT could make bacon tastier? Unpossible!

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The dB's, Titus Andronicus, Matt & Kim, Patti Smith, Kittys & Duckies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 16, 2012 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE dB's!  Although the influential, but oh-so-unlucky modern pop combo will likely stress new material when I see them tonight, we have vintage video of "Happenstance," "Bad Reputation" and "Living A Lie" from Sweden circa 1982.  From the studio, we have the clip for "Neverland." Chris Stamey left the band (temporarily) after which we got the infamous, banned-from-MTV clip for "Amplifier," plus live takes of "She Got Soul" and "Not Cool" from the legendary Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ circa 1986.  From the same time period, you can see the band help close down Folk City in NYC with a cover of Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street."

TITUS ANDRONICUS stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

MATT & KIM dropped live tunes on the KEXP audience.

PATTI SMITH plays at Apogee's Berkeley St. Studios for Morning Becomes Eclectic.

IAN HUNTER stopped by World Cafe for a chat and mini-set.

NEKO CASE, with a 2007 live take on "Deep Red Bells," probably still my fave Case tune.

GRIZZLY BEAR is essayed at Filter, with some Ed Droste quotes sprinkled in.

AFGHAN WHIGS: Greg Dulli talks about the reunion and the future at SF Weekly. (Thx, Chromewaves.)

10 UNDERRATED 90s ALBUMS, according to Spinner.

CUTOUT BIN: From the Records to Bill Withers, from Blondie to the Beatles, from Mission of Burma to the Ohio Express, plus the Lyres, David Bowie, Jens Lekman, the Feelies and more -- this Friday's fortuitous finds are streaming from the Pate page at the ol' HM.

NOW SHOWING: This weekend's wide releases include The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, which is currently scoring 56 percent on the ol' Tomatometer (as if it mattered); and the expansion of Lincoln, which is scoring 91 percent.  Don't look for Abe to be a vampire killer.

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, PART 2 is selling out showings en route to a 130-50 million opening.

ROBERT DE NIRO & JAY-Z got into a tense beef at Leonardo DiCaprio's birthday bash.

JUSTIN BIEBER is constantly texting SELENA GOMEZ; she's busy blocking him from her devices.

LINDSAY LOHAN has a previously unknown half-sister.

BEN AFFLECK is GQ's Filmmaker of the Year. They may be right.

JON BON JOVI's daughter will not face criminal prosecution after allegedly overdosing on heroin in a college dorm yesterday - because the D.A. has dropped all charges.

THE PEOPLE CHOICE AWARDS nominations are out.

SOMALIA: Shabaab called on Muslims to support the Palestinians against Israel after airstrikes killed Hamas's military commander.

SYRIA: About 200 fighters from the "Eagles of the Golan," an al Qaeda-linked Salafist group, took over territory in the demilitarized area of the Golan Heights. France and the Gulf Cooperation Council recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

LIBYA: AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham said that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is thought to have been linked to the Sept. 11 assault on the US consulate in Benghazi.

PAKISTAN is handing over several mid and low-level Taliban operatives to the Afghan peace council.

IRAQ: Insurgents killed at least 20 people in a series of bombings in Kirkuk, Mosul, Bayji, Baghdad, Hillah, and Al Kut.

KITTENS and BABY DUCKLINGS, snuggling together...Mass hysteria!

A PET RABBIT was attacked by a man with a sword. Should've tried the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

AN ANGRY GOAT treed a Utah paperboy for over an hour.  Maybe he'll get it on the porch this time.

ANIMALS posing like humans.

2731 Reads

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