Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best of '06

Like the Dup and Vegh I love the Top Ten/Year's End lists. But I've always been shy about them, prone as I am to regrets and second guessing. But I never had a blog now did I? Inspired by DBD's list, I'm going to give it a go (I'm even going to second some of his choices).

Joanna Newsom Ys

This album has been hyped to the hilt, I know, but it's so damn good. Seeing it performed live made me regret not giving that voice a chance sooner ("Bridges and Balloons" on the "Golden Apples of the Sun" comp was my only exposure and I thought there was no way I could take a whole album of that voice). But this is an amazing work, and it'll be the only album of this year people are listening to in twenty years (statements like that should show why I come to regret these lists, and should also remove any doubt that I am a white guy).Fuck that dreadful album cover.

Bob Dylan Modern Times

I wasn't into the last few albums; all that praise seemed like condescension to a master for not turning into, I don't know, The Stones. But this record sent some chills down my spine, really drew me in. Sure, it's not in his top ten albums, but it's easily the thirteenth best. And god bless him for stealing lyrics from that Confederate poet. Speaking of Bob, has anyone else seen this bizarro documentary "Rolling Thunder & the Gospel Years 1975-1981?" It's four hours long and unauthorized (meaning it contains no actual Dylan music),has absurdly cheesy graphics, and the interviews are conducted by a Dylan impersonater. But he manages to get some great interview subjects and it's pretty damn interesting if you're a, say, more than casual Dylan fan. The more-than-casual Dylan fan who can stand listening to Dylan's Bible School teacher, that is.

Gnarls Barkley Saint Elsewhere

Fun! With just enough undercurrent of Cee-lo's paranoia to make it soulful in an Endtimes sorta way.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy The Letting Go

Getting to see the ever freaky Mr. Oldham project these songs live with the woman from Faun Fables really solidified my love of this album. Gorgeous. I forgive him all those crap ep's.

Tom Waits Orphans

Tom's the King. I'm a sucker for nearly everything this man has done and so I can't say if this is his best work ever (okay, I can: It's not), but even his throw-aways are golden (it's not his fault that "Sea of Love" is a stupid song). "The Road to Peace" is my favorite political song of the last ten years (I'm making up the number of years).

Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit

There's nothing as fine for the ego as feeling like you've "discovered" a band. That hasn't happened much to me (I was the first kid in my school to like U2, but "Sunday Bloody Sunday" was already on WHCN...the great station of my youth which I was heartbroken to discover is now called The River. The. Fucking. River.), but I think I can almost claim Belle & Sebastian. I was in a coffee shop in London and I asked the woman what was playing and it was If You're Feeling Sinister. Okay, so I didn't technically discover them, like hang out at their art school, lurking with a stuffed tiger or anything, but I can claim that when I went looking for it the next morning at the London Tower they looked at me like I was nuts. "Nope, don't know 'em. You know 'em, Alistair?" "No, Cyril..." et cetera. I did eventually did find If You're Feeling Sinister, and loved it. Everything after that seemed good, but just more of the same, until The Life Pursuit. It's a delight. Now they're a band that was great in concert until Stuart starting talking between songs. He really didn't shut up. Hmmm... moving on...

Brightblack Morning Light S/T

Who needs drugs?

Yo La Tengo I am Not Afraid of You and I will Beat Your Ass

Gosh, I wish these guys would stop playing the Showbox so I could stand to see them again. They are great live and this album is a rough gem, though sometimes too Kinks-y (is that really possible?). I have to say that only Joanna can start an album with a song as long as this first track. What I really want them to do is release the soundtrack to Old Joy.

Korean Hebden and Steve Reid The Exchange Session Vol. 1

I don't have the vocabulary even for good ol' fashioned rock and roll so how do I talk about this: Drums. Electronics. Seems like the future, or at least a nice stop along the road.

Califone Roots and Crowns

This isn't my favorite thing by these guys (Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People is, but that's maybe because it was the first thing I heard), but it's still pretty great. If you like the newer Tom Waits stuff, or the Old Weird America Dock Boggs buried decaying sound, this is your next favorite band. The cover of Psychic TV's The Orchid alone is worth the price of admission (though I haven't heard the original...Genesis P. Orridge kinda scares me).

In other '06 news:

Karen Dalton In My Own Time

This came out in '70 or something, but no one really knew it until this year. I'm a sucker for a rediscovered lost treasure (Shuggie, Vashti, Skip) and this is worthy of the title. In a better world she would have risen to the top with that voice. I'm not a big fan of covers generally, and I sure as hell never would've thought a Billie Holidayesque hippy's version of When a Man Loves a Woman could stir me so...

Tortoise A Lazuras Taxon

Three discs proving that even their ep's and sidework are amazing.

*Some notable concerts: Joanna Newsom performing the entire Ys album at the dreaded Showbox. The Books at the weird UW HUB cracking us up with bizarre film clips while amazing us that they can pull that sound off live (when are they coming out with a new album??). Elton John at the Key Arena changing my mind about everything I thought I knew about the world (seriously: You would've thought W. gave me a sly wink and I melted into Christopher Hitchens. But in a good way). Os Mutantes at the Moore: Rarely has something that started so awkwardly ended in such transcendence.Nelson Sings Nilsson at Town Hall...the thrill of watching such a ballsy balancing act go down not only without a hitch, but with that rare magic that just one-time-only performance can ever really have. Like theater, right?
* See You in Spokane!
*The Road to Guantanamo You can rent this now. So rent it now.
Time for me to watch Meet the Press.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Did anyone else know about this live Lyrics Born album and not tell me??

An interesting article about Lou Reed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

SaveDarfur.org has a post called "Lobby Congress" that's worth checking out...

You can help pressure Congress to do more to help the people of Darfur by meeting with your congressional representative or members of his or her staff. Now that the elections are over, we are asking our activists to meet with their Representative and Senators before the new Congress convenes. …

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's been a while since I posted, but I was writing a novel. 50,000 words! Whew. Now I'm re-reading it, and so far it makes sense. The prose is lame, but the thing moves forward and there's something to build on. Now comes the years of revision. Big congrats to my cohorts Dup, Tina, and Lia for finishing as well. It was exciting... Lia really kicked it hard at the end, 14,000 words in the last four days I think. Wow, that's tough. If you've ever had Paperback Writer stuck in your head, you should try this next year. NaNoWriMo.

But I wasn't just novelling, I was also having a great time with Carolyn's family (including Momster and Jonnynonoin CO. Snow! It was gorgeous. And we managed to miss the insane Seattle snow where everyone freaked out.
Last night I saw Joanna Newsom at the Showbox and I'm still jawdropped. Best saw and harp duet this week.

So far.
Did everyone else realize that Jessica Walter, the mom on Arrested Development played the psycho in Play Misty for Me??