Offering up our year end list a couple of weeks ago just wasn’t enough. So I put the call out to a group of individuals – you know, the gang – who make a different in the music scene here in Louisville, asking them to collect a “best of” or “year end” list in whatever format they choose. I discovered some releases that I totally slept on this year. Perhaps you will too. I also discovered some personality quirks in some of my friends I didn’t know existed before. For example, Dom from Phantom Family Halo does not want to attend your potluck. I can appreciate that.
Connor Bell is Shedding, and Shedding is Connor Bell. His latest album Tear In the Sun is sick. Connor’s also a school teacher, which is awesome. I don’t think any of the teachers I had growing up liked music, and if they did, it was, like, Vertical Horizon or some bullshit. Connor also adds “shit, I realized I spaced on the Shipping News, Parlour, and Straight As albums… so let’s make this a top 10 inspiring Europe releases list so I don’t feel bad.” Done!
SND – Vandyk-k Integ Paradise (DS93)
Of all the minimal electronic groups of the late 90s/early 00s this group stuck with me the longest. They seemed to disappear in the mid 00s but they’ve returned with some brilliant work the past few years. There’s something innately funky in its lack of funk that drives me wild in the same way as Neu! or Gang of Four. Stiff, smart, and skeletal. The finest crisp digital funk out there.
Mark Fell – Multistability (Raster Noton)
Mark Fell of SND has been prolific lately and this release is similar funk as the SND EP above. Harsh at times and highly intellectual but still very fresh and funky in its own way. It’s the kind of music that makes me want to actually understand high level math and dance at the same time. When DJs start jamming this in town I will be very happy to hit the dance floor.
Christoph Heemann – Mighty Joe Young (Dom Bartwuchs)
Christoph Heemann has been a favorite of mine for some time and these two songs are hypnotic and repetitious in a way that conjures both Terry Riley’s work and Frederic Rzewski’s underrated “Attica, Coming Together” masterpiece (someone reissue that please!). When I listen, I imagine I dove far underwater and am now staring into the distant shimmering light above the surface. [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not to be confused with this fine movie]
Autechre – Oversteps (Warp)
I don’t think they can really do any wrong. I sort of lost interest in their work for some time but have gone back recently and I think they have also gone back. They have returned to a more approachable format while still maintaining their dizzying skill in crafting exotic jams.
Bill Fay – Still Some Light (Jnana)
I think this is his first new work in around 20 years since being unearthed and praised by David Tibet and covered by Wilco/Jeff Tweedy. Well-crafted and honest songwriting with wonderfully loose layers of vocalism and mournful lyrics.
Paul White – Paul White and the Purple Brain (Now Again / One-Handed Music)
British disciple of Dilla who has truly arrived with this album. It’s a dreamy blend of hip hop beats and eastern psychedelia. Beautiful double vinyl put together by the Stones Throw imprint Now Again. This is the kind of hip hop you can never fully unravel or understand. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s another example of something that would’ve passed me by if it weren’t for Connor, because publicists seem to think I care more about horseshit like Asher Roth than an amazing discovery like Paul White. Hate all y’all.]
BJ Nilsen / Stilluppsteypa – Space Finale (Editions Mego)
BJ Nilsen has been killing me the last few years and his collaborations with the Icelandic group Stilluppsteypa are no exception and in some ways are perhaps more intriguing than his solo work on Touch. They seem more fun and risky. At its core it is a glacial drone record but it has an ,at times, rather terrifying science fiction flavor that makes it just right for late night listening. Turn out the lights and blare it.
Wareika – Harmonie Park (Perlon)
Bizarre hybrid of a live dub/jazz band and minimal tech project on the can’t miss Perlon label. I really can’t fully wrap my head around this yet. Hypnotizing and lush.
Reformed Faction – Until (Greytone)
A reformed faction (cough cough), formerly of Zoviet France (an insanely underrated outfit most active in the 80s/90s), are back in the swing of industrial collage. They forego the tribal clanging of some of the ZF records for a more Mirror-esque (see also: Christoph Heemann) drone album. I’m glad they’re making music together again.
Prins Thomas – Prins Thomas (Full Pupp)
I’ve never really fully understood the Scandinavian disco revival that he’s normally affiliated with, but this is an inspired album. A blatant tribute to the kosmische of the 1970s but so perfectly constructed and meticulously produced that it is absolutely ideal not only for blasting but also for studying.
Dom Cipolla is the man behind the curtain of Phantom Family Halo. Though he recently relocated to Brooklyn, he makes a laudable effort to come back often and spook you. Dom became a hero back in April when Phantom elected not to soften their face-melting edge during their Live Lunch performance on WFPK. You could hear listeners at the $150 level and higher flip off their radios throughout town during the band’s 20+ minute acid jazz saurkraut rock patty melt. Dom even did the station identification in the middle of the jam! Mazel Tov! Dom choose his favorite shows and/or performances he caught in 2010.
1. Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono Band reunion – Feb 16 – Brooklyn Academy of Music
2. Psychic TV – Dec 9 – Club Europa – Brooklyn
3. The Legendary Pink Dots – Oct 29 – Le Poisson Rouge – NYC
4. Glenn Branca – Nov 20 -Le Poisson Rouge – NYC
5. Gary Numan (pleasure principle all the way through!) – Oct 23 – NYC
6. John Cale – Feb 15 – MOMA- NYC
7. Robert Fripp – Dec 4 – winter garden – NYC
8. Ghost – Feb 1 – Andy Warhol Museum – Pittsburgh, PA
9. Acid Mothers Temple – April 14th – Cosmic Charlies – Lexington, KY
10. Ace Frehley – March 21- Nokia Theatre – NYC
Top 5 Disappointments
1. most contemporary music
2. Leslie Neilson’s passing
3. Mystic Dancers
4. The Roots and Boots Movement (you know who you are)
Glenn Branca – Lesson No. 1 For Electric Guitar
Yoko Ono – Mind Holes
Ghost – Part 3: Aramaic Barbarous Dawn
The Legendary Pink Dots – Faded Photograph
Acid Mothers Temple – Ange Mecanique De Saturne
Gary Numan – Films
Brett Shepherd is one half of concert promoter Shark Productions, one whole of “Sweetest Threads in the Metro Area” Productions. Brett collected his favorite releases in no particular order, save for Beach House’s Team Dream. It is, as he proclaims, “his shit.”
Beach House – Teen Dream
Teen Dream embraces a classic sensibility without sacrificing originality and depth in the process. Alex Scally knifes out exquisite melodies and delivers occasional Shieldsonian soundscapes through notably more immediate guitar stylings. It’s the perfect accompaniment to Victoria Legrand’s soaring, gorgeously lush vocals. Stevie Nicks can eat ‘er cut-off denim shorts for all I’m concerned! Their Mercy Lounge show back in late April was downright riveting.
Phantogram – Eyelid Movies
Phantogram’s September 26 performance at Zanzabar (Shark Production’s first show) was both sonically and visually stunning.
LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Twin Shadow – Forget
Catch George Lewis Jr. and his crew at MOTR Pub in Cincinnati on January 15.
School of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire
The Radio Dept. – Clinging To A Scheme
Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
Four Tet – There Is Love In You
Warm Ghost – Claws Overhead
Beach House – 10 Mile Stereo
Phantogram – Mouthful of Diamonds
LCD Soundsystem – Pow Pow
Twin Shadow – I Can’t Wait
School of Seven Bells – Bye Bye Bye
The Radio Dept. – Heaven’s on Fire
Gold Panda – You
Four Tet – Circling
Warm Ghost – Open the Wormhole In Your Heart
William Benton is the lead guitarist for both Phantom Family Halo and Lucky Pineapple, a time bandit from a bygone era, front desk general at the celebrated 21c, curator of the latest installment of Burn to Shine, and keeper of the fire. You wouldn’t know it from his bands’ generally restrained compositions, but dude shreds.
1.) Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New Here
2.) Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
3.) Grinderman – Grinderman 2
4.) Devo – Something for Everybody
5.) Syl Johnson – Complete Mythology
6.) Shipping News – One Less Heartless to Fear
7.) Hank Williams – The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings
8.) Johnny Dowd – Wake Up the Snakes
9.) The Black Heart Procession – Six
10.) Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and the Cairo Gang – The Wonder Show of the World
Top 5 disappointments:
3.) That pot sticker place on Baxter [EDITOR’S NOTE: yeah, that place looks whack]
4.) My social skills
5.) The digital age
Dane Waters is keyboardist and vocalist for Softcheque and Louisville’s 13 (or so) member freak ensemble Sapat, as well as a widely recognized opera singer. If Sapat ever comes to your town, go see ’em, mach schnell! Pure, unadultrated, unfettered insanity… and it’s beautiful. While she considered it a disappointment, maybe the chemicals in the Ohio River help cultivate the strange and wonderful music that incubates in this city?
1. Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
2. Rachael Grimes – Book of Leaves
3. Parlour – Simulacrumfield
4. Wax Fang – The Astronaut, Pt. 1
5. Akira Rabelais – Caduceus
6. The Phantom Family Halo – Music for Italian TV
7. The Knife – Tomorrow, In a Year
8. M.I.A. – Maya
9. The return of MONTAG (Headliners, 6.25.10)
Top 5 disappointments
1. The Oil Spill
2. Louisville Orchestra’s Bankruptcy
3. Finding hexavalent chromium in the water supply
4. When favorite bands fall apart
5. Not having enough time to listen to everything
Sean Bailey is the event coordinator/smiling figurehead at ear X-tacy, not to mention “nicest dude in Louisville” as proclaimed by Velocity Weekly. He’s so nice that any person found complaining about the friendliness of the ear X staff is immediately rendered a shithead upon fraternizing with Monsseiur Bailey. Sean chose his favorite local releases of 2010.
Shipping News – “One Less Heartless to Fear” LP
“RISE: A Louisville Lip Records Tribute to Kinghorse” CD
Cerebellum – “S/T” 10 song LP reissue
Coliseum – “House With A Curse” LP
Wax Fang – “The Astronaut” (Digital EP)
Parlour – “Simulacrenfield” LP
Chime Hours – 6 song EP
Cheyenne Marie Mize – “Before Lately” CD
Minnow – “Hello Hubris” CD
Shedding – “Tear in the Sun” LP
Coliseum – “Goddamage” Deluxe Reissue LP
Jonathan Glen Wood/Natural Geographic Split 7”
Young Widows – “Live Radio Performance April 6, 2009? LP
Phantom Family Halo – “Music From Italian TV” LP
Lee Van Cleef – “Terror Blood” CD
Bonnie “Prince” Billy – “The Wonder Show of the World” LP
Another 7 Astronauts – “Music for Photographs” CD
Frontier(s) – “There Will Be No Miracles Here LP
The Young Scamels – “Tempest” CD
Interstates – “Arrival Without Departure” Digital EP
Tim Furnish has been a central figure in the music community for quite some time. His large ensemble Parlour enjoyed a successful 2010 with their first release in five years, Simulacrumfield, garnering rave reviews. Tim’s also been known to make noise in Shedding and the legendary art punk act Crain. If you don’t know, you better call somebody (or click play on the MP3 I provided at the bottom).
1) Shedding – Tear in the Sun
2) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Social Network Soundtrack
3) Robyn – Bodytalk parts 1 and 2
4) First Aid Kit – The Big Black & The Blue
5) Four Tet – There Is Love In You
6) Thomas Prins – Prins Thomas
7) Shipping News – One Less Heartless To Fear
8) Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer
9) Holy Fuck – Latin
10) Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Top five disappointments:
1) The growth of the Tea Party
2) The Oil Spill
3) Demise of Skull Alley
4) My own productivity
5) The job market
As always, thanks for all the readership, support, and hate mail throughout 2010. Talk to you all next year. Big changes coming too!