Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last Lists of 06

on top of all the musical lists below i figured i'd add a short list of non-recorded highlights of 2006, and it's pretty easy: meeting Bruce Springsteen, the Dems taking back congress, and of course the Carolina Hurricanes winning the Stanley Cup.

on the sadder side, as with every year we lost a lot of great musicians in 2006, i know i'll forget some, but the passings that struck me most personally included Anita O'Day, Lou Rawls, Buck Owens (who all lived long and quite eventful lives) and of course Grant McLennan, who left too soon. Grant wrote some classic, touching, and personally important songs in the way that songs are important as they mark of points in your life and can take you back to those points in a flash.

anyone reading feel free to post some 2006 highlights of your own....

Happy Holidays everybody!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Best of the Year 2006 III The Ladies, The Ladies

here are my top 10 albums of the year in no particular order...a list dominated by women or bands with women in them, or at least the word "girl" in the name of the artist, plus Hot Chip. what a great year for indie rock (as i think of it). and a year where some of the most hyped and acclaimed i found to be truly warranting...once again, Merge releases excluded, here you go:

Yo La Tengo "I am not afraid..."
Joanna Newsom "YS"
Neko Case "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood"
Boris "Pink"
Oakley Hall "Second Guessing" / "Gypsum Strings" tied
Girl Talk "Night Ripper"
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins "Rabbit Fur Coat"
Sonic Youth "Rather Ripped"
Hot Chip "The Warning"
Barbara Morgenstern "Grass is always Greener"

and because i was playing-by-the-rules enough to limit myself to Ten of those i'll also throw these out there as being pretty great and spending a good amount of time in the player this year too: Bob Dylan "Modern Times" Bonnie Prince Billy "The Letting Go" Ellen Alien/Apparat "Orchestra of Bubbles" Ornette Coleman "Sound Grammar" Built to Spill "You In Reverse" Grizzly Bear "Yellow House" Cat Power "the greatest" Mtn Goats "Get Lonely" Califone "Roots and Crowns" Concretes "In Colour"

and because i just can't leave well enough alone here are some specific songs of 2006 i found myself coming back to:

Lavender Diamond - "You Broke My Heart"
Bob Dylan - "Workingman's Blues #2"
The Concretes- "Song for the Songs"
Mountain Goats - "Woke Up New"
Pipettes - "Pull Shapes"
Hot Chip - "Boy From School"
Yo La Tengo - "Black Flowers"
Basement Jaxx - "Everybody"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Cheated Hearts"
Bruce Springsteen - "My Oklahoma Home"
Cat Power - "Lived in Bars"

{joanna newsom photo by lisa predko}

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Best of the Year 2006 AD Sec. 2

wherein we discuss reissues or just old stuff put back together in general:

Tom Waits "Orphans" - so many classics that were previously scattered about or unreleased altogether
Karen Dalton "In My Own Time" - i can't believe this is as good as it was hyped to be, but it is
Bruce Springsteen "Hammersmith Odeon London '75" - the video is great to see too! wool hat era tearing it up
Allen Toussaint "Southern Nights"
Crazy Horse at the Fillmore 1970 - live bands don't sound this good anymore
Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label - there's a bassline on here that i want to make my ringtone, and i hate ringtones
Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From the Canyon - almost spooky
Ethiopiques Vol 21: Ethiopia Song Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou - definitely spooky
Andrew Hill Solo box on Mosaic Select - still wading through this greatness
Tortoise "A Lazarus Taxon" - since i rarely pull out the 12"'s this is handy
Cocteau Twins "Lullabies to Violaine" - i loved this stuff when it was coming out (i think i got on board around "from the flagstones" and hopped off around bluebell knoll) and they certainly created a thing unlike anyone else's thing
Broadcast "the Future Crayon" - this band gets better with age and these random tracks play like another great Broadcast record
Miles Davis "Live in Tokyo" - the lineup with Sam Rivers that i didn't think was documented this well...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Best of the Year 2006 Pt. 1

and when i say "Best" i don't just mean "these are what I personally, in my not-so-humble (ha! jk! lol) opinion, think are the best" -- i mean studies have been done and anything listed on this blog indubitably and scientifically is one of The Best albums or songs or whatever of the year. i want to be clear about that, as so many year-end lists are basically "popularity contests".

ok now that that's out of the way we'll start with some excellent concerts i was lucky enough to see this year. some may be from last year, my memory's not great.

Best Live Shows 2006

Boris - Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC
Allen Toussaint - Joe's Pub NYC
Tom Waits - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium Asheville, NC
Wilco - Memorial Hall UNC Chapel Hill
Mountain Goats - Irving Plaza, NYC
Magik Markers live Tanned Tin Festival Castellon, Spain
Feist - Cats Cradle, Chapel Hill
Shellac - Cats Cradle, Chapel Hill
Oakley Hall - Local 506 & Tonic NYC
Deerhoof - Cats Cradle, Chapel Hill, NC
Girl Talk - Local 506, Chapel Hill, NC

some shows i barely missed but would liked to have seen include Mavis Staples at the Arts Center in Carrboro, Joanna Newsom at Pop Montreal, and Bruce Springsteen on the Seger Sessions tour.

also please keep in mind that when i make lists i exempt all Merge Recording Artists from said lists, so let's just assume that every Merge Band that i saw this year would also be in this and every other Best Of... list i'll be making.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ahmet Ertegun RIP

I've never felt much affiliation or admiration or even interest in "giants" of the recording industry because i don't really feel like what we do is a part of the "recording industry" and most of them seem like crass cheeseballs. but Ahmet and Herb Abramson started a pretty great little label -- Atlantic Records -- with just ten grand back in 1947. to think of the ground they covered in soul and jazz (not to mention rock, i can't picture a Led Zeppelin album without picturing the Atlantic logo) it's hard to really get your head around the place in American music that the Erteguns (i didn't realize that his brother Nesuhi didn't come on board until '55) carved out (with the help of friends like Jerry Wexler of course)... and while they didn't do what they did without playing some hardball, it always seemed like their success was based originally on their fandom, personal taste and instincts about the music itself. but what do i know?
Associated Press has the obit, though i'm hoping much more will be written in days to come.
image courtesy the fabulous Soulwalking site.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Superchunk in the Studio...

...though only for 13 hours or so! yesterday Superchunk went into the studio to record a new song for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film & soundtrack (film out March 16)...we wrote the song specifically for Aqua Teens and recorded & mixed it in a day at Overdub Lane with John Plymale (Indoor Living, Laughter Guns EP, Summer of the Shark, Be Still Please). the working title of the song was in fact "Meatwad's Lament" but in the end the song became something called "Misfits and Mistakes" and i'd say it's a real toe-tapper, except none of the Aqua Teens have toes. I speak about the show as if i know about it, but only recently did i get around to seeing it and while in general cartoons don't hold my attention i gotta say it's some funny stuff.

anyway, working on the song had me thinking of past soundtrack experiences and the
Suburbia soundtrack cd to which we contributed "Does Your Hometown Care" (which is a total Versus ripoff btw, and later collected on Cup of Sand ) was on the wall of the studio yesterday and we were looking at it. i'd forgotten that it's a cavalcade of stars! Flaming Lips, Malkmus with Elastica, etc... i've never actually seen the film and what do you know i pick up Entertainment Weekly in the office today and there's a little article about how the DVD isn't on the way anytime soon and Eric Bogosian's not too happy about it! (he wrote it) maybe i'll see it when i can Netflix it.

also, while we were in the studio we recorded a demo of "Learned to Surf" (we played that at Irving Plaza a couple weeks ago) so we don't forget how it goes...

Going Going Gone!

nice work, bidders! the Portastatic poster on ebay as part of the Merge charity auctions went for over $200!

thanks again!

PS there are new auctions up there now, including signed Robert Pollard cds and Tracy Maurice artwork!

Monday, December 11, 2006

West Coastin'

more Be Still Please touring to announce! Portastatic (as a duo) will be heading out west in February to do some dates with those fabulous Scots, Camera Obscura :

Mon Feb 12th Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Tue Feb 13th Vancouver, BC Canada @ Richards on Richards
Wed Feb 14th Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
Fri Feb 16th San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo's
Sat Feb 17th Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre

looking fwd to it....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Auction Time

there's this popular auction website on the internets called Ebay that one can exploit for the purposes of giving money to charity, and we (at Merge Records) are doing it again this year...there's a new auction up for a Portastatic Poster signed by yours truly, and the poster is a great one, designed by Sara Turner at Cricket Press for the recent Portastatic show in Lexington, KY.

there's another Merge auction up as well, for the "Merge Mega Bundle" -- all the merge releases of 2006 signed by their respective artists! the link to that auction is here.

all the proceeds from these (and some future auctions to come) auctions will go to Oxfam and Trosa. for more information see the Merge site or the auctions themselves...happy bidding & thanks!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday Listening

Nara Leao - Nara '67 (El) a primary female figure in the early Bossa movement, this is all great material from before Leao hooked up with the Tropicalistas and made a fabulous album with Rogerio Duprat.
Sonny Clark Trio (Blue Note) "Dial S for Sonny" is one of my favorite piano jazz records and this trio record from 1957 with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones is pretty awesome as well.
Various - Funk Soul Sisters (Ace) nice comp of 60's & 70's funk and soul released a couple years back featuring Fontella Bass (who was married to Lester Bowie & also recorded with the Art Ensemble of Chicago), Millie Jackson, and the strong & minimal "Why I Sing the Blues" by Betty Barney with the Pazant Bros.

Bush = WPE

i haven't had much trouble myself describing Dubya as the Worst President Ever, but then i wasn't around during Andrew Johnson's or Calvin Coolidge's or Warren G Harding's time, and while i did study history, i haven't really stayed on top of my scholarship as it were so it's good to hear one of my old college professors weighing in on just what a terrible president Bush is; here's Eric Foner in the WAPO dropping science on the matter...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Canes Blast Habs

last night was my first hockey game since the banner-raising back at the beginning of the season and it was a great one with the hometeam winning 4-2...the 'Canes seemed refocused after the last couple crapola showings, we'll see how long it lasts, & had FORTY-EIGHT shots on goal in the game, 20 in the third when they took the lead and then put it away. carolina outplayed mtl so badly that a loss (which in the 2nd seemed possible when we went down a goal despite dominating) would have been crushing, at least to a fan like myself. one thing that is clear is that Cole seems completely recovered, hitting hard, crashing the net (resulting in two goals) and is really freaking fast.