This installation has year end picks from heavy hitters like Liz Berg, Joe Belock and Rich Hazelton. For the rest of our year end favorites, click here.
Music Director Brian Turner's Favorites:
Sunflare - Young Love (Cubic Pyramid)
Roly Porter - Aftertime (Subtext)
Cyclobe - Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window (Phantom Code)
Twerps - s/t (Chapter Music/Underwater Peoples)
April In the Orange - When A River Meets the Sea (Slooow Tapes)
Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Constellation)
Blues Control + Laraaji - FRKWYS Vol. 8 (RVNG)
Key of Shame - Key of Shame (Planam)
Dan Melchior - Assemblage Blues (Siltbreeze)
Andy Stott - Passed Me By/We Stay Together (Modern-Love)
Kvelertak - Kvelertak (Indie Recordings)
Moon Unit - Hell Horse and Heavy Strata (Blackest Rainbow)
Sutekh Hexen - Luciform (Wanda)
The Men - Leave Home (Sacred Bones)
Zond - Zond (Kemado)
Plastikman - 1993-2010 (Minus 100)
Various - Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM (Dust To Digital)
Doug Hream Blunt - Gentle Persuations(No Label)
O.Rex - My Head's In 73! (Gulcher)
Various - Before the Fall (Ace)
Jack Ruby - Jack Ruby (UgExplode)
Various - Ongoku 70 (Hiraku)
Le Super Djata Band du Mali - En Super Forme (Musique Mondiale)
Vita Noctis - Against the Rule (Dark Entries)
Drakar - Let Draka/Flight of the Dragon (I Hate Records)
Lijadu Sisters - Danger (Knitting Factory)
Voivod - To the Death 84 (Alterative Tentacles)
Various - Krypton 10: Christchurch 1981-87 (Unwucht)
John Bender - I Don't Remember Now/I Don't Want to Talk About It (Record Sluts)
Paul McCartney - McCartney II (Capitol)
Much more below the fold!!
My new place in Brooklyn and being grillmaster of a yard at last
Crazy kids ripping ceiling out of the boat during Kvelertak Rocks Off cruise out in NY Harbor
Louis CK & Lee Ranaldo at the Bell House
Getting to play three NYC shows in Jowe Head's band, most fun ever
Bela the dog springing back to life after days at death's door, being found in a room sitting like Keiji Haino
Staying in Andee and Heather's guest room in SF and getting to go nuts ripping some of his 2 million CDs surrounding me
Seeing Jodorowsky and meeting Lindsey Buckingham in the same week
WFMU/FMA SXSW show w/Amen Dunes, El-G, Kurt Vile & the Violators, Whitehorse, Sun Araw, the Endtables
New Chavella's and now Guero's in Crown Heights
Veterans ripping it up live: Pere Ubu, Swans, PiL at Primavera
Visiting Dario Argento's boutique down the road from the Vatican
Wide Load at Hank's Saloon, true rock
NSK/Laibach etc. huge exhibit at MACBA in Barcelona
Little kids taking over Endless Boogie's instruments on UWS pier
Pussy Galore at Maxwells
Weeklong pigroast and jams in the Mojave at Bruce's
Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tribute at the Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ
The pleasure of hosting this year's guests on the show: Devin Gary & Ross, Call of the Wild, Mike Watt & the Missingmen, Wire, Mueran Humanos, Wooden Shjips, C. Spencer Yeh/Nate Wooley/Ryan Sawyer, Daniel Menche, Chop Shop, Dan Melchior Und Das Menace, Key of Shame, Oxbow, Tom Lax, Psychic Paramount, The Men, Ryan from Dais, Milk Music, Ice Age, Moon Unit, Slug Guts, Blank Realm.
Liz Berg's Favorites of 2011:
Here we go... listmania! Some of my favorite releases from 2011 in no particular order:
Noveller Glacial Glow (Weird Forest / Saffron) - beautiful minimal guitar experimentation | listen
Quintron Sucre Du Sauvage (Rhinestone / Goner) - basement party rock, grimy organ | listen
Sanso-Xtro Fountain Fountain Joyous Mountain (Digitalis) - pretty, chirpy electronic compositions | listen
Various Artists Chicas! Spanish Female Singers, 1962-1974 (Vampisoul) - swingin' Spanish babes | listen
Tristan Perich One Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe Music) - you control the bleeps and bloops | listen
U.S. Girls On Kraak (Kraak) - melted pop | listen
Thee Oh Sees Carrion Crawler / The Dream EP (In The Red) - hope for guitar-driven rock | listen
Balam Acab Wander/Wonder (Triangle) - mellow spacey beats | listen
Total Control Henge Beat (Iron Lung) - jangly post-punk | listen
James Pants James Pants (Stones Throw) - creepy dance hits and smoov beats | listen
Sonny Smith 100 Records 7" set (Ankara) - most elaborate pop concept album | listen
Various Artists BART: Bay Area Retrograde, Vol. 1 (Dark Entries) - nice collection of old new/no wave | listen
Here's the short list of my top picks from the Free Music Archive this year, with an extended mix tossed in for the hell of it. All tracks are free and legal to download!
Joe Belock's Favorites:
Since we will probably be wiped out by this time next year, here is my top 10 for 2012:
1. Lee Ranaldo - Between the Times and the Tides
2. Chuck Prophet - Temple Beautiful
3. The Hi-Risers - title tba
4. Dion - Tank Full of Blues
5. Dwight Yoakam - title tba
6. Dr. John - new LP being produced by Dan Auerbach
7. Guided By Voices - Let's Go Eat the Factory
8. Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light
9. D'Angelo - James River
10. Neil Young - Archives Vol 2 (yeah, right, the world will definitely end first)
Rich Hazelton's Favorites:
1. Life with Tamar - Every year when I sit down to write this list, I marvel at my luck in finding the right companion. How do I know I've found the right companion? Because she's always on the top of the list. Yes, I have negative moments, but they are either minor and forgettable, or tied to something that lies outside of our time together. And that's the key, recognizing that the outside can finds its place and settle inside and that the job of any relationship is to reverse that as much as possible. I want more inside moments outside and as much "with" as possible. I want to feel as we did earlier in the year in a screened-in porch on the Chesapeake Bay with two bottles of wine and a beautiful storm playing out over the water. Or, as on the next night, when we hired a captain and his sailboat to take us out on the Bay. Sitting up front on the boat, drinking good beer, watching the sky finding inner peace...* Where is the sky's navel? Zen and beer and you.
2. Tom Ze - Alice Tully Hall, July 19, 2011 - The definition of entertainer. During the course of the concert, Mr. Ze took apart his guitar and put it back together in various ways while continuing to play it; talked about his time in New York that day which led to two impromptu songs, a “911 Yellow Pages” song and a “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” song; leapt off the stage (very spry 75-year old) to bring a woman up on stage to participate in a song; played great music throughout with the help of his band. While I hate the term "life-affirming" (too Hallmarky, blue foil, Shelley script with wispy watercolors of something best described as "serious adult cute"), I no longer cringe as it brings to mind a "very happy to be here" moment for both performer and audience.
3. Punchdrunk - Sleep No More - June 7, 2011 - The McKittrick Hotel - So, we enter the hotel and are given white masks to put on, only our eyes visible, that we are not to remove during the performance. One of the concierges whispers in my ear "Never look back" as our masked groups enters the elevator. At the first elevator stop the door behind us opens and my wife exits; I am prevented from exiting. I run into her pretty soon afterwards though and we spend the next couple of hours wandering around a multi-floor warehouse of sets where various actors and actresses present a loose interpretation of Macbeth with a soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in a David Lynch film (the slowed down, lip-synched version of “Is That All There Is?” was missing big red curtains but you could swear that someone's doppelganger was about to show up). You can follow the performers or keep stepping in and out of various scenes. You can enter rooms and open up drawers, cabinets, see what's inside; perhaps it has something to do with the play, perhaps it does not. You may find yourself being kissed in a very sensuous manner by an actress playing Lady Macbeth (as the wife was); this leaves a smear of lipstick on your mask. Eventually you find your way to, or are led to, the banquet at the end of the play. I continue to wonder what would've happened had I not opened the phone booth? Number 2 and Number 3 are interchangeable this year.
4. The Necks - Roulette, September 19, 2011; The Necks - Mindset (ReR) - Other than the ICP Orchestra I can't think of another group that I immediately purchase tickets for. On this night, one of the first in the new Roulette, ghost sounds engaged in a call and response, channelled by the band through the three innocent instruments (piano, bass, and drums) that acted as their mediums. I have a fondness for hallucinations and those of the audio variety tend to be rare, but I could not understand where some of the sounds I was hearing were coming from (I knew they were coming from the three instruments I just wasn't sure how). The new record is the first time in awhile that the band has concentrated on shorter pieces (two 20-minute pieces rather than one 50-60 minute piece). While I do prefer the longer pieces the two tracks on this record hold up to Aquatic which is praise from these ears. The first piece gives an idea of what was being played while the spirits sang.
5. Peter Evans Quartet w/John Butcher - Cornelia St. Cafe, November 7, 2011; Peter Evans Quintet - Ghosts (More is More) - Having seen Peter Evans solo and with Nate Wooley, I know how fascinating his playing can be, but now, having seen him with his band I want to see them again (this does not hold true for every band, sometimes you catch the band at a particular moment and you know that that's it, you don't need to bother anymore, the next show could be even better but that particular moment that you were so heavily invested in has passed never to be repeated; e.g. The Fall, a Rova Saxophone Quartet show at the Knitting Factory during a snowstorm, et. al). Peter Evans and Jim Black have a great rapport going, and the second set had John Butcher playing in various combinations (the Butcher/Black duo was really impressive and someone should record them); sometimes too much is just enough. Ghosts is the first release on Mr. Evans' label More is More and it's the quartet with Sam Pluta on electronics which adds a nice flavor to the mix as the band works its way inside and outside the accepted vernacular.
6. ...i listen to the wind that obliterates my traces: music in vernacular photographs 1880-1955 - Steve Roden (Dust-to-Digital) - For many years I have jealously perused Mr. Roden's blog, Airform Archives (inbetweennoise.blogspot.com), for his great collection of old photos of people with instruments. Then out of nowhere Dust-to-Digital announce that they are putting said collection between covers along with 2 cds of recordings from his collection of 78s. This is a beautiful book filled with phantoms and murmurings; anonymity held beneath the light of a collector's aesthetic. One that sets out to catch and release the eye, enjoying the sport, the tease, the fight.
7. Foster Manganyi na Tintsumi Ta Tilo - Ndzi Teke Riendzo no. 1 (Honest Jon's) - This record puts a smile on my face. It makes me want to dance. It has a great asthmatic whistle sound that weaves itself throughout. It's also my favorite religious record since Mary Lou Williams' “Black Christ of the Andes” was reissued several years back.
8. Sun Araw - Ancient Romans (Sun Ark) - Music for the peak, for that moment when you know the sudden eclipse of your mind is about to give way and a corona appears offering an outline to those two little black holes filling your mirror. The clay from which you speak begins to harden; language meets its autumn. A center does not hold; it has no thumb. O little church of anthrax shine your light upon this questing soul. Listen for the detours.
9. Jason Kao Hwang/Spontaneous River - Symphony of Souls (Mulatta) - Jason Kao Hwang exorcizes his Bernard Herrmann in this all-strings (+ one drum) symphony. Guy Maddin, I'd like a film to go with this please.
10. Walt Kelly - Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Wonder, The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1 (Fantagraphics) - Perhaps the greatest comic strip of all time. Character-specific typography, the jokes and puns (sometimes three punchlines in four panels), the anger, but most of all, the language are ahead of and of their time. (There is a book to be written someday looking at language in comic strips from The Yellow Kid to Krazy Kat to Popeye to Lil Abner to Pogo, both comparative and their inspirations given and received.) Plus you get the Sundays which have their own storylines separate from the dailys (Albert as the Easter Bunny is my favorite in this volume). Eleven more of these to come.
11. John Luther Adams - Inuksuit - February 20, 2011, Park Avenue Armory/June 21, 2011, Morningside Park- Inuksuit is a piece that the audience is meant to move through. Composed for outdoor performance, it was performed twice this year in Manhattan; once, indoors at the Park Avenue Armory, and once outdoors at Morningside Park. I felt (literally) the combination of drums, gongs and sirens worked better indoors, while outside I enjoyed the addition of turtles and birds to the proceedings. I remain amazed by the fact that I didn't see any of the small children at either event touch the drums or gongs prior to, during, or after either performance. A recording of this piece could never do it justice.
12. ICP Orchestra - Le Poisson Rouge, March 31, 2011; Instant Composers Pool Orchestra: You have to see it - Ton Mijs/Kevin Whitehead (Mijs Cartografie & Vormgeving) - A really good performance that was marred by the fact that ICP didn't get to play a second set as they normally do. Sad also as this may have been their last American tour with Misha Mengelberg due to his health problems. And Philadelphia got them for three nights in a row, while New York got half a show. But those horns and those strings and Tristan Honsinger running around stage like a madman and Han Bennink plying his schticks (though somewhat subdued this evening) and Misha hitting a key every now and then all adds up to an event that feels the same but is always different. The book You have to see it is a series of photos of the band practicing and performing; it's for the fan which I am happy to say I am.
13. Alvarius B - Baroque Primitiva (Abduction) - Like sharing a very private trip with someone special. Morricone, John Barry, Beach Boys, self-penned tunes with a slight touch of the off or out; it's like that someone special is WFMU.
14. J.G. Thirlwell's Manorexia - Le Poisson Rouge, January 9, 2011 - A really nice performance. The band's so good at control and tension building that I would love to hear a radio play with Manorexia providing the live music. Something like a Suspense or a Light's Out or a Shadow.
15. Prince Rama - Issue Project Room, September 8, 2011; Prince Rama - Trust Now (Paw Tracks) - Hey, I got to bang a gong for an hour with the band...I believe that qualifies as a highlight (for me, probably not for the band). The record's all spacy, poppy female chanting over percussion; the sound of my adolescent dreams (singles of Lily, anyone?).
Five other things from this year that can easily be swapped out with numbers 11 to 15:
Chris Watson - El Tren Fantasma (Touch) - I love Chris Watson's field recordings; they can sound either alien or familiar, but almost all of them carry a sense of place. This record is a recreation of a journey by rail on the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico using original recordings and the inspiration of Pierre Schaeffer. More phantoms, more murmurings. This would be number 15 if I didn't get to bang the gong.
Jim Woodring - Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics) - A part of me believes that any new Jim Woodring work should always be in the Top 10; unfortunately (or fortunately), I went to too many wonderful events this year to include him in the numbered list. Definitely worth your time and eyes.
Ryoji Ikeda - The Transfinite - Park Avenue Armory, May 20–June11, 2011 - There must have been some great overlying theme, a connection or series of connections, to this installation; I think so anyway. Not great enough to obsess over but mysterious enough to nag at the back of my mind. I know the sound, the visuals, the numbers, they all add up to something but my linguistic abilities do not support the dialects of programming, I do enjoy listening to them speak however.
Zdenek Liska - Mala Morska Vila (Finders Keepers) - Gorgeous soundtrack from a composer who, hopefully, Finders Keepers will release more from.
Butch Morris - Verona (Nu Bop) - Two conductions from Italy (1994 and 1995). Both are fascinating documents; interplay and improvisation at a very high level. Butch Morris will be conducting at The Stone every Monday night from January 2 to March 26, 2012; great way to start off the year.
More records - another great year for music.
Amen Dunes - Through Donkey Jaw (Sacred Bones)
The Astronauts - Peter Pan Hits The Suburbs (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Julianna Barwick & Ikue Mori - S/T (FRKWYS)
Jac Berrocal/David Fenech/Ghedalia Tazartes - Superdisque (Sub Rosa)
Bjork - Biophilia (Nonesuch)
Daughters of the Sun - Ghost With Chains (Not Not Fun)
Day Lineal - What Will You Become? (Day Lineal)
Demdike Stare - Triptych (Modern Love)
Chris Forsyth - Paranoid Cat (Family Vineyard)
Gnod/White Hills - Gnod Drop Out With White Hills II (Rocket)
Group Doueh - Zayna Jumma (Sublime Frequencies)
Group Ongaku - Music of Group Ongaku (SEER Sound Archive)
Thomas Heberer's Clarino - Klippe/Thomas Heberer - One (No Business)
Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)
Khansahib Abdul Karim Khan - S/T (Mississippi Records)
Matsou Ohno - I Saw the Outer Limits (EM)
Moon Wiring Club - A Spare Tabby At The Cat's Wedding (Gecophonic)
Mostly Other People Do The Killing - The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed)
Evan Parker/Misha Mengelberg - it won't be called broken chair (psi)
Ranta/Lewis/Plank - Mu (Metaphon)
Religious Knives - Smokescreen (Sacred Bones)
Panda Bear - Tomboy (Paw Tracks)
The Paperhead - S/T (Trouble In Mind)
Michel Potage - Occupé (Alga Marghen)
Patrice Sciortino - Chronoradial (Omni)
Shackleton - fabric 55 (Fabric)
Sun Ra - The Soul Vibrations of Man (Saturn)
Supreme Dicks - Breathing and Not Breathing box (Jagjaguwar)
Temporal Marauder - Makes You Feel (Circuit Spools)
V.A. - Street Musicians of Yogyarkarta (Mississippi Records)
Chris Watson/Marcus Davidson - Cross-Pollination (Touch)
Weyes Blood and the Dark Juices - The Outside Room (Not Not Fun)
Ed Yazijian - Gansrud (HP Cycle)
John Hurt - Krapp's Last Tape (Samuel Beckett) - BAM, December 11, 2011
Wollesonics Sonic Massage - Roulette, December 4, 2011
Alejandro Jodorowsky, Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, November 1, 2011 (Q&A with a showing of El Topo)
Joe Frank, Radiovision Festival, Metropolitan Pavilion, October 28, 2011
The Threepenny Opera - Robert Wilson, Berlin Ensemble - BAM - October 6, 2011
Panda Bear, Brooklyn Masonic Temple, October 2, 2011
LaMonte Young, Marian Zazeela, Jung Hee Choi - Dreamhouse, 275 Church St., September 10, 2011
Thomas Heberer - Downtown Music Gallery, August 21, 2011
Group Doueh - Central Park Summerstage, July 3, 2011
The Shaggs: The Philosophy of the World - Playwrights Horizons, June 29, 2011- I may be wrong, but I believe that this is the only musical that has ever given thanks to Irwin Chusid and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Griot Summit - Wave Hill, June 21, 2011
Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet - Le Poisson Rouge, June 5, 2011
Susie Ibarra/Roberto Rodriguez - David Rubenstein Atrium, April 21, 2011
Masada Marathon - NYC Opera - March 30, 2011
Books - not necessarily published in 2011 but necessarily read during this year.
David Abram - The Spell of the Sensuous (Vintage)
Elif Batuman - The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (FSG)
Thomas Bernhard - The Loser (Vintage)
Werner Herzog - Of Walking In Ice (Free Association)
Curzio Malaparte - Kaputt (NYRB)
Geoff Ryman - [paradise tales] (Small Beer Press)
W. G. Sebald - Austerlitz (Modern Library)
Patti Smith - Just Kids (Ecco)
John Szwed - Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded The World (Viking)
Charles Yu - How To Live In A Science Fiction Universe (Pantheon)
Comics - All of these were published in 2011, but those marked with an * contain work done earlier
*David B. - The Armed Garden and Other Stories (Fantagraphics)
Marc Bell - Pure Pyjamas (D&Q)
Mike Carey/Peter Gross - The Unwritten (Vertigo)
Kevin Huizenga - Ganges 4 (Ignatz)
*Lorenzo Mattoti - Stigmata (Fantagraphics)
*Carla Speed McNeil - The Finder Library Volumes 1 & 2 (Dark Horse)
Carla Speed McNeil - Finder: Voice (Dark Horse)
Alan Moore/Kevin O'Neil - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1969 (Drawn & Quarterly)
*E.C. Segar - Popeye Vol. 5 (Fantagraphics)
*Lewis Trondheim - Absolute Continuum Comics (Fantagraphics); Little Nothings IV (NBM)
Movies - not necessarily released in 2011, but necessarily viewed for the first time during this year (marked with * not initial release in 2011)
Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life - Joann Sfar - amazing how many people looked like the people they were portraying and were actually talented enough to pull it off.
The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick - seeing through the baby's eyes were wonderful moments in a film that may have been better than I first thought, despite Sean Penn, whose "enlightenment" seemed like someone with Aspberger's having a flashback.
The Trip - Michael Winterbottom
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives - Apichatpong Weerasethakul
*Ikiru - Akira Kurosawa DVD (Criterion) - Best movie I've seen this year and one of the best I've ever seen. It's not easy to use death to illustrate life and keep it from becoming depressing.
*The Music Room - Satjayit Ray DVD (Criterion) - Best soundtrack I heard this year.
*Zazie Dans Le Metro - Louis Malle DVD (Criterion)
*Han Bennink - Hazentijd DVD (Data Images)
*Celestial Navigations: The Short Films of Al Jarnow DVD (Numero Group)
*The Up Series: 7 Up, Seven Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up - Michael Apted (First Run Features)
Lee Bontecou - Recent Work: Sculpture and Drawing - Freedman Art, 25 East 73rd St., NYC - October 27, 2011–February 12, 2012
Diorama exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design - especially the incredible zoetrope
Biorhythm: Music and the Body - Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, 540 West 21st St. - June 25
Louise Bourgeois - The Fabric Works, June 25
Steffen Dam - Mechanical Organics & Other Matters - Heller Gallery, 420 W. 14th St., Manhattan
German Expressionism - MOMA, June 12
*...while the captain shouts that the biggest urinals in New York City are located at P.J. Clarke's.