Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Albums of 2005 That You Probably Ain't Hearing

I have this feeling that everyone blogs and everyone posts year end lists that are essentially the same. Which is why I'm going to try this in reverse. And I'm looking for comments. I know there are a few people that actually read this rusty ol' thing. Therefore, I'm declaring this a work in progress. If there's an album you think has been overlooked this year, leave a comment. I'll add it to the list. I'll give you credit for it. I might even find mp3s. Sheesh. This is actually turning into work!

Here goes:

Clem Snide - End of Love (submitted by Scott France)
Try: Fill Me With Your Light

Archer Prewitt - Wilderness

M Ward - Transistor Radio

The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday (do people not like this album at all?)
Try: Your Little Hoodrat Friend

Crooked Fingers - Dignity and Shame

Sons & Daughters - Repulsion Box

The Rosebuds - Birds Make Good Neighbors
Try: Back to Boston (not from the new one, but soooo good)

Crystal Skulls - Blocked Numbers
Try: Airport Motels

Out Hud - Let Us Never Speak of It Again (again, I think I'm possibly the only person who likes this)

Konono No. 1 - Congotronics

Laura Veirs - Year of Meteors
Try: Fire Snakes

John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt
Try: Trance Manual

The Hasid and Santa

I love Yo La Tengo.

One Hanukkah show down, 2 to go.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Top Shows of the Year

I go to a lot of concerts. I just counted. It's late, and I know not everything I went to see this year made it onto my calendar, but I think I'm at about 75 shows this year. Last year was 69 shows, so it's approximately the same. A hectic schedule, to most people. At least it gives me something to post about at the end of the year, when people get nostalgic for the best albums they listened to. I could tell you how I enjoyed Sufjan and Colin and Ben but I won't. That's not quite challenging enough for this late hour. Therefore, you get top shows of the year, starting with tonight's.

1. Living Colour (12.16.05) and The Yohimbe Brothers (1.13.05). Both of these bands feature Vernon Reid, who is amazing. Tonight he played his guitar so hard he nearly fell over. He's truly a sight to behold. And seeing Living Colour tonight, in a small venue where I got to stand up close and add to my hearing damage was totally worth the expensive ticket. I started off the year with this Yohimbe Brothers show, at the tiny Tritone, which after a day of jury duty was just terrific. Why no one knows about the Yohimbe Brothers is a mystery to me.

2. Teenbeat Records' 20th Anniversary show(s) (2.24.05 and 2.25.05). Teenbeat Records started in 1985 when I was 8. This trip to D.C. was a blast because it snowed and the U.S. government shut down for a little bit of slush AND I got to see Unrest (!) along with Versus and Tuscadero and +/- and a host of other Teenbeat bands AND my sister saw rock star crush #2, Guy of Fugazi. Yay!


3. MIA at the Uki (3.20.05 - Palm Sunday). This is, like all the best venues, a Ukranian social club. This was early on in MIA's conquering of the States. This show was pretty awesome, and a far better show (and far less crowded) than her show later on this year that I saw. She has beats, and she's sassy and I can't complain about that. Plus some kid asked me to dance, a laughable prospect at the very least.

4. M. Ward with Devotchka and Northern & Western (4.9.05). Wow. This show was all the way back in April? Well, honestly, as much as I loved M. Ward's and N&W's set it was Devotchka that stole my heart. They're awesome. I can't say enough good things about them. They have this gypsy sensibility mixed with a little bit of tex-mex-y goodness. Plus the lead singer has the sexiest voice this side of the Allegheny Mountains.

5. Prefuse 73 and Battles (5.2.05). This show totally blew me away. I knew nothing about Battles and they were terrific. I hope to catch them again in the future. I'd missed Prefuse 73 at Coachella the other year, and I wanted to catch his act. I didn't know if it was going to be boring and full of computer replicated crap, but it was a live set of jams. Jams, folks! I like jams!

6. The double header of Caribou/Russian Futurists/Junior Boys and Okkervil River/Earlimart (5.7.05). This was an ambitious night of music. Two totally different shows. Surprise of the night? Junior Boys! They were awesome! Caribou was also amazing, but I couldn't see a thing due to the fact that I gave up my prime spot for a drink of water. Okkervil River is surprisingly really popular here, and the entire crowd left before Earlimart's set. Too bad for them, because Earlimart is one of my faves.

7. The combination of Need New Body and the Marshall Allen Arkestra (5.28.05). Besides the fact that Need New Body puts on a crazy and intense live show, Marshall Allen is 81 years old and still plays a mean set.

8. Sam Prekop and Inara George (6.6.05). If only because the church basement flooded and the show got moved to the sanctuary and I got to sit in the first row. And I love Sam Prekop.

9. The Go-Betweens (6.11.05). This show was so great. It's nice to see that people like this band. I yelled at some girls for talking the last time I got to see them. The Go-Betweens are from Australia. They don't tour much. They are pop geniuses. I met my boyfriend at this show. I didn't know he'd be my boyfriend at the time. All the more reason to be amused and amazed at the outcome of this night. Forster and McLennan. Keep them with you.

10. Yo La Tengo does Sounds of Science (7.9.05). I've seen Yo La Tengo about 15 times now, and I'm about to see them 3 more times within the next 2 weeks. That being said, this was the most awe inspiring performance I've ever see them do, where they scored a bunch of silent sea life films. Who knew that sea horses and octupuses could be so beautiful?

11. Teenage Fanclub and the Rosebuds (7.21.05). I love Teenage Fanclub. How they play such tiny venues here is a weird thing. They should be pop music's heroes. Plus the Rosebuds played, and one of these days when they are super famous, I'll say that I sat next to them at Sound Fix and totally kept my cool. They are probably one of the year's most underappreciated and underrated bands. Check 'em out. And check out Teenage Fanclub's Man-Made while you're at it. It's a pretty terrific album.

12. The Feelies pseudo reunion with Antietam (8.23.05). Matt was supposed to come to this show but bailed. Alas, he missed this quasi-reunion of one of my favorite things about New Jersey. The Feelies are great. Antietam were great. I got the feeling this was a little bit of a family reunion of sorts, and seeing Ira Kaplan waltz into the Indian place I had dinner at with my sister and not freaking out too much was an accomplishment for me.

13. Ted Leo at South Street Seaport (8.26.05). While technically I enjoyed the show on 12.2.05 I saw better, this makes the list for being outdoors. It was pretty. I got to watch the sunset. I had half a hot dog. I can't imagine a better way of ending a hot summer day. The Of Montreal show I saw the next night was pretty special too.

14. The Roots/Deerhoof/TV on the Radio (9.16.05). Purely because it was at the Kimmel Center and because the Roots had the best entrance and exit I've seen this year (to a New Orleans brass band).

15. Q and not U's third to last show (9.21.05). I stood on the stage. It was fantastic. And sad. I miss them already.

16. John Vanderslice (10.12.05). I love John Vanderslice. He's so nice. He gave me a hug. We chatted. I hear he eats a vegetarian burrito everyday.

Honorable mentions. Sons and Daughters because I saw them twice in one day. Gang of Four for being old men and breaking a microwave into pieces. The dB's, Slint, and Dinosaur Jr. for being bold enough to reunite. Sharon Jones and the DapKings for the funk. Patti Smith for kicking ass for the last 30 years. Seu Jorge for pulling off David Bowie covers in Portuguese. The Mountain Goats for not being annoyed at the annoying college kids (and our campus police escort). All the Canadian bands I saw this year and loved to pieces. And many others that are too numerous to mention.

Disappointments:

Phoenix with Dogs Die in Hot Cars. I expected more of Phoenix. They sucked. They were like a French Maroon 5. What happened?

Joe Pernice (solo). The opening acts sucked. And Joe barely played. He almost seemed shy. The crowd clamored for more and we just didn't get it.

Having to skip the Hold Steady show I had a ticket to because some asshole broke in the rear window to my car.

British Sea Power. They were kinda boring. And one of their plastic birds fell on me. I honestly went to see Feist, she opened for them. She was great. BSP leave something to be desired.

All the stuff I missed! You'd think I'd have seen everything I wanted to see this year, but I actually skip a lot of stuff. 2006 should be all about seeing 100 shows. I'm getting closer!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Long Overdue

Even though I probably should be headed for bed, seeing as that I can barely drag myself out of it when it's time to wake up in the morning, I've been meaning to post about all the lovely things that have been going on these days.

First, the Ted Leo and the Rx show from 2 weekends ago. Granted, it made me feel old to see that the only people profiled as having gone to the show (in the City Paper?) were no older than 17, but oh well. It was a great show. I stood in the front row. The scoop I've got is that the show was filmed for a possible future dvd, but you should check the comment board at Timorous Me if you're truly concerned about that sort of thing. I took some cool pictures, but Blogger is pissy about uploading them. Oh well.

Just prior, Patti Smith and her band celebrated 30 years of Horses. This outing was to celebrate my sister's birthday. We all love Patti Smith, you (the reader) included. I got in trouble for taking pictures of this event, but there's little they do to you at BAM other than sternly scold you. Special guests for the evening included Tom Verlaine and Flea. Yup. Flea. Flea is amazing. Even if you don't enjoy the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and actually, I do) you can appreciate the fact that Flea is a talented and very energetic musician. That, and Patti Smith is 59 years old and rocks the socks off musicians a third of her age. She's great. She's from New Jersey, and if the New York Times has anything to say about it, she's damn proud of it. Okay, apparently the New York Times doesn't archive their "New Jersey" section, but there was an article about her in it this past weekend. I'm a big fan of the New Jersey section because it's like reading the Star Ledger, but with bigger vocabulary words. This show was well worth the pricey entrance fee, if only to hear the most fantastic version of "Rock and Roll Nigger." I love that song.

It's 11:11 - I should be wishing.

I'm supposed to be reading The Power Broker about New York City's favorite urban restructurist, Robert Moses. This is a really big book, the biggest book I've tackled in quite some time. I'm lucky to make it through the paper on a daily basis. So this is a big step for me. The book is off the shelf and next to my bed. Wish me luck.

In other news, I spent the past weekend with Matt in Philadelphia for the first time in over a month. We went to see X. They were pretty awesome. It would seem that I've been on a kick of reunited bands/bands with older members/bands that had their day waaaaaaay before my time and well, you're right. I can't help it. X is better than whatever the kids are talking about these days. Arctic Monkeys, still? Love Is All? The Decemberists signing to Capitol Records so that Colin can properly take care of his baby? I can't keep up.

Also, was anyone other than me a little disturbed by the Inquirer's cover Sunday news story? That teens have a secret "web network" - aka things like MySpace where they can post provocative pictures! brag about drinking! look for sex! and drugs! Seriously? Is there nothing more important to write about? No wars? No dead comedians? Not even something salacious about Britney dumping KFed? Really disappointing. I'd rather be throwing a zillion snowballs at Hurricane Schwartz.

And, for your listening pleasure, check out John Vanderslice's website where he's giving away a recent concert of his for free. I heart the 'Slice. I don't know if he knows that. He's the only rock star to have given me a hug all year, and that's not something I forget too easily.

Keep an eye out for my end of the year list. I'm working on it. Best concerts of the year. That, and the best albums of the year that you're not hearing list. Because frankly, you'd be bored if I told you how much I enjoy listening to Sufjan Stevens. It's been done.