Top 30 CDs of 2011 (and 10 Honorable Mentions!)
2. Cults, Cults (Columbia).
3. Sleeper Agent, Celebrasion (Death Panda).
4. Beirut, The Riptide (Pompeii Records).
5. Eddie Vedder, Ukelele Songs (Universal Motown).
6. M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute).
7. The Records, de Fauna et Flora (Foolica).
8. The Black Lips, Arabia Mountain (Vice).
9. Zenith Myth, Zenith Myth (Vibra Cobra).
10. Washed Out, Within and Without (Sub Pop).
11. The Twilight Singers, Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop).
12. Motopony, Motopony (Tiny Ogre).
13. Still Corners, Creatures of An Hour (Sub Pop).
14. The Vaccines, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines (Columbia).
15. Primus, Green Naugahyde (Prawn Song).
16. The Orb, C Battery C (Malicious Damage).
17. Grace Jones, Hurricane (Pias America).
18. Vetiver, The Errant Charm (Sub Pop).
19. Shriekback, Life in the Loading Bay (Malicious Damage).
20. Wire, Red Barked Tree (Pinkflag).
21. Boy With A Fish, I Put My Tongue on the Window (boywithafish.com).
22. Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing (Sub Pop).
23. Joan As Police Woman, The Deep Field (Play It Again Sam).
24. Adele, 21 (XL).
25. DeVotchka, 100 Lovers (Anti).
26. Nitzer Ebb, Industrial Complex (Artists’ Addictions).
27. Crocodiles, Sleep Forever (Fat Possum).
28. Suckerpunch Soundtrack (WaterTower).
29. Elbow, Build A Rocket Boys (Polydor UK).
30. MOJO Magazine compilation 1-2-3-4! The Roots of The Ramones (MOJO).
Honorable Mentions: Wilco, Low, The Decemberists, Kasabian, Blind Pilot, Cage the Elephant, Mogwai, White Lies, Bell X 1, Death Cab For Cutie, and Mr. Glen Campbell.
Favorite records for 2011
I have been too busy fighting the class war to write reviews lately, but I did have a chance to listen to some music. What a surprise! There are new releases on my list!
Terrible Feelings, Tied Up and Impending Doom 7”s (2011).
Iron Savior, The Landing (2011).
Swingin’ Utters, Here, Under Protest (2011).
Ghost, Opus Eponymous (2010).
Autistic Youth, Idle Minds (2010).
Articles of Faith, New Normal Catastrophe (2010).
Knugen Faller, Lugna Favoriter (2007).
Scorpions, Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years (1998).
Blyth Power, Alnwick and Tyne (1990).
Stormwitch, Walpurgis Night (1985).
Top Secret! sountrack (featuring Val Kilmer) (1984).
Shining, Blackjazz (2010).
Anthrax, Worship Music (2011).
Primus, Green Naugahyde (2011).
These shows and records are in no particular order.
Shows: I attended more shows in 2011 than in any year in my middle-aged life.
MerleFest: In May I attended MerleFest with SoDak. Over the last few years, I have been getting increasingly interested in Americana and Bluegrass music. MerleFest was well organized, had great sound, and the focus of the entire town was music rather than trying to drain attendees of their life savings.
Mudhoney: Dave and I went to see Mudhoney at Dantes in Portland, OR. After sitting through one of the worst opening acts I have ever had the misfortune of hearing, I was rewarded with the brilliance of Mudhoney. I have been a fan of theirs for most of a decade, but was unexpectedly blown away by their live show. Holy shit their bass player can rip it up!
The Black Angels: Perhaps the most surprising show of the year was the Black Angels at The Wonder Ballroom in Portland. I am the type of concert goer who shoves his hands in his pockets and bobs along to the beat. I never dance, but the Black Angels had me bouncing.
Meat Puppets: How the fuck have I managed to miss the phenomenon known as The Meat Puppets? 2011 was the year of the Meat Puppets. I saw them at the Doug Fir in Portland. Wow! I am now obsessed with this band.
Brown Bird, Salt for Salt (2011).
Across Tundras, Western Sky Ride (2008).
Harvestman, In a Dark Tongue (2009).
Jerry Reed, Koko Joe (1971).
The Meads of Asphodel, The Murder of Christ the Jew (2010).
Wrack, Graveyard Poetry (2009).
The Black Heart Procession, Six (2009).
Meat Puppets, Lollipop (2011).
Munly, Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots (2004).
1. Going on a music binge with Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B. I had so much shit, I had to put back some Saxon I already had on cassette. Pity! Thanx for showing me and the missus a good time!
2. James McMurtry show in St. Louis in March. I bumped into him in the lobby of the hotel after his show. We exchanged pleasantries about the fucked up elevator that had no numbers in the fucking thing. I then pointed him in the direction of a late night bar.
3. Seeing Testament and Death Angel. Testament still rocks, and I was seeing Death Angel for the first time. Anthrax was not half bad.
4. That is about fucking it. It has been a couple of fucked up years personally and musically. My rage is deteriorating into a generalized pissyness regarding every little fucking thing. I am so fucking don’t-give-a-shit that it’s been almost a year since something provoked my rage enough to poke a fucking hole in the basement wall, or post a fucking music review. All I can manage now is a muttered “fuck it” and a defeated plop into my recliner. For the depths of my despondency, see #3 under my Festivus Grievances.
Top 16 of 2011
1. The Joy Formidable, The Big Roar (Atlantic 2011).
2. Motörhead, “Get Back In Line” Video (UDR 2011).
3. Willie Nelson, Spirit (Island 1996).
4. Pink Floyd, Relics (Capital 1971).
5. Cannibal Corpse, Global Evisceration DVD (Metal Blade 2011).
6. Pearl Jam, Twenty DVD (Vinyl Films 2011).
7. Malignus Youth, Ephemeral / Missa Brevis LP (Youth- Ink 1998).
8. OFF!, First Four EPs (Vice 2010).
9. Blood Ceremony, Living With The Ancients (Metal Blade 2011).
10. Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship
11. The Smiths, The Complete Smiths Box Set (Rhino 2011).
12. Nausea, The Punk Terrorist Anthology Vol. One (Alternative Tentacles 2010).
13. La Traviata Live Opera DVD featuring Anna Netrebko (Deutsche Grammophon 2006).
14. Motörhead, The World Is Yours (UDR 2011).
15. Lemmy: 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son Of A Bitch DVD (Red General 2011).
16. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Sour Mash 2011).
Unexplained Happenings of 2011
I keep listening to Rihanna. Direct all questions to SoDak.
Favorite records this year, followed by top five concerts.
Ryan Adams, Ashes and Fire (2011).
Keelhaul, Triumphant Return to Obscurity (2009).
Bruce Cockburn, Small Source of Comfort (2011).
Ted Leo, Shake the Sheets (2004).
Motörhead, The Wörld Is Yours (2010).
Gillian Welch, The Harrow and the Harvest (2010).
Revocation, Chaos of Forms (2011) and Existence Is Futile (2009).
Johnny Cash, American Recordings series (1994-2010).
Patti Smith, Just Kids (2010).
Cynic, Carbon-Based Anatomy (2011).
And here are my top 5 concerts.
Brendan Perry - Mixed in some Dead Can Dance tunes with his newer solo stuff; I was depressed the place was only 3/4s full, if that. A totally underappreciated artist.
Bruce Cockburn - Saw two intimate shows back to back, reminded me of why, if I had to name a favorite artist, it would probably be Cockburn. Slightly awkward when I met him afterwards and showed him some of his lyrics I have tattooed on my arm, and realized how crazy I seemed—but he was very nice about it, until I asked for a lock of his hair.
Opeth/Katatonia - Never saw the latter before despite being a big fan; they were great. Have seen the former at least every time they came through NYC/NJ for about 10 years (plus some other random shows), but this was the first time seeing the “post-death metal” Opeth. Still one of the fucking greatest bands alive, although I do miss the growls.
Cynic - A special (one of a kind?) acoustic performance by Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert in a tiny bar packed full of metal nerds. Played the new stuff from EP and two other songs, so it was a quick but very memorable set. I was lucky to catch it.
Billy Bragg - Just him and a guitar. Thought I would enjoy the show but was surprised by how much I did. Sent me back to the Billy Bragg catalog for a couple of days (and he revealed that Mermaid Ave III, another installment of the Woody Guthrie-derived album series with Wilco, is coming in 2012).
I still have boxes filled with CDs and records that I picked up, but have not listened to, this year. I would like to go on a long road trip in order to listen to this music. Nevertheless, I devoted countless hours listening to new music and rediscovering past favorites. My list is in no particular order.
Dolorean, The Unfazed (2011).
Crooked Fingers, Breaks in the Armor (2011).
Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong (2011).
J Mascis, Several Shades of Why (2011).
Black Lips, Arabia Mountain (2011).
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Here We Rest (2011).
Jethro Tull, Aqualung, fortieth anniversary edition (1971, newly remastered 2011).
Motörhead, The Wörld Is Yours (2010).
Two Cow Garage, Sweet Saint Me (2010).
Primus, Green Naugahyde (2011).
Wire, Red Barked Tree (2011).
Alice Donut (their entire fuckin’ catalog).
The Bomb, Speed Is Everything (2009).
Report Suspicious Activity, Destroy All Evidence (2008) and Report Suspicious Activity (2005).
Ghost, Opus Eponymous (2010).
Concerts/Shows: Below I list only a few of the standouts shows.
Motörhead. Finally had a chance to see Motörhead with my friend Critter. Of course, it was loud. What? I said it was loud. But it was awesome. It was a night filled with great songs by a band that seems to love playing music.
June Star. I saw June Star play a couple times in Chapel Hill, NC, in a shitty little bar. June Star consistently puts out great Americana records. Andrew Grimm is a terrific songwriter and a very cool person. Check them out.
Mike Watt. Mike Watt is an amazing bass player. I stood at the front of the stage and watched his three-piece band knock out Watt’s most recent rock opera. Sweat was flying and I had a huge smile, enjoying every moment.
Bottlerockets. I saw the Bottlerockets open for Lucinda Williams in the late 1990s. They were incredible and I wish they played a longer set. This year I saw them play again. They definitely knock out the tunes, playing a lot of songs in one show. They did not take time between songs to change guitars or tunings. It was straight ahead rock and roll with twang. Wonderful.
Judas Priest. I was supposed to attend this show with Kloghole, but he was not able to join me. My partner and I went to the show. Thin Lizzy were forgettable. Black Label Society was horrible. But Judas Priest was awesome. The crowd was very cool, singing along throughout the whole show. The band played a song from almost every album. The new guitar player was good.
Merlefest (tons of artists, including Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan, Lyle Lovett, Sam Bush, and Tony Rice). Jimmy (Explosive Diarrehea) B. and I spent a couple days at this festival in western North Carolina. I was very impressed with the organization of the festival and the variety of stages. We saw a lot of good music. Both of us ended up with nasty sunburns. But we were quite happy with the music, minus the Doobie Brothers.
Sam Baker/Jon Dee Graham. This year, I finally saw Sam Baker and Jon Dee Graham, two amazing songwriters. During this show they took turns playing songs. The show was very spontaneous, given the lively banter between them as well as with the crowd. They told great stories between songs. Their performances were wonderful.
Joy Formidable. Null has been praising this band all year. I was fortunate to see them play, arriving at the venue just before they took the stage. The drummer was fuckin’ unbelievable. They put on a high-energy performance. I am still singing songs from the show, even though it was a couple months ago.
Tinariwen. I was pissed that I missed Tinariwen perform last year. Fortunately, I saw them play this year. The two main front men took turns leading the band throughout th night. The band was engaging and powerful. No one in the crown was standing still, as the music was infections causing everyone to bounce around, smiling.