Top Five Posthumous Releases of '06
By Singer/Songwriter David Wolfenberger (bluejordan.com/david)
Bob Dylan: Modern Times
In case we'd forgotten just how old Zimmy was, he put out this gem of an album that sounds like it could have been recorded in the Catskills in the 1930s. Nevertheless, as a card-carrying Dylanphile I can quote just about every word of it to you if you let me. "The buying power of the proletariat's gone down and money's getting shallow and weak." That's a good one that's true now and then. I celebrate Dylan release dates like an autumn holiday and always end up at Everybody's Records in time to snag one before they're gone.
Bruce Springsteen: We Shall Overcome -- The Seeger Sessions
The Boss had what he thought was a better idea, and that was to put out a load of songs that actually are older than he is. I'm not much for $1 million remakes of $40 songs, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that these songs were true to the spirit of the originals and at the same time incredibly current, powerful and meaningful. If you didn't know better, you'd swear Springsteen was starting a revolution in listening to this album.
Paul McCartney: Ecce Cor Meum
Not to be outdone, Macca put out an album that sounds like it could have been recorded in the 15th century. I admire his dedication to try to expand the breadth of his career in addition to its length. I haven't actually listened to more than parts of this and probably wouldn't except that it's a Christmas tradition in my family for me to buy a new Beatles-related album for my older brother every year. I don't think a year has gone by that there hasn't been one.
Paul Simon: Surprise
The other Paul put out his most relevant CD in well over a decade and proved that he is still in the running for greatest living popular songwriter.
Neil Young: Living With War
If this were a Spinal Tap album, it would have been called Shark Sandwich. Despite sucking, it's still a great CD because of its immediacy. Unlike Springsteen, I think Neil Young has started a revolution. This album celebrates those of us in the middle -- let the right wingers and left wingers take that fight out in the parking lot so someone else can get in there to run a country. That's what this one says to me. The songs sounded much better fleshed out, as they were for the CSN&Y tour this summer.
Imagine my surprise to find out that all of these people were, in fact, still alive. In that list resides four of my Top 10 musical influences. The only plus to there not being any real music radio anymore is the fact that the record companies continue to encourage greats such as these folks to ply their craft so that they at least have something to sell in record stores.
I did listen to music by people who weren't collecting social security this year but was shocked while doing a Top 10 list for a Dutch Web site to find that most of it was recorded in 2005. Once again an industry that has no means of developing new artists must continue to push the few that do until it reaches such mass saturation that even I (a happily distracted new father) knows about it in Cincinnati.
So the album of the year goes to...
Calexico: Garden Ruin
Why is it that hardly anybody in the Midwest has even heard of these guys? I knew these guys personally before I ever heard a note of their music. So I thought I would give them a listen a few years back. It's a great flavorful mix of most of the things I like. Just get it. Unless you like living within a genre box, you're sure to enjoy it. Good luck trying to see them live unless you live on the West Coast or in another country. This band was born from a Giant Sandworm ridden by Howe Gelb across the Mojave Desert.
Of Montreal: Sunlandic Twins (What, that was 2005? Well it's still a runner-up)
This one might be their best yet. This is what Syd Barrett would have sounded like had he been the genius that everyone (including me) thought he was. By the way, I went on a great Syd Barrett vinyl bender this last summer listening to his old LPs. The next week I decided I'd look him up on the ol' Internets and realized the date of his death was the previous day. I naturally assumed that the Web site must do that every day as a joke, because I hadn't heard a thing about it. It turns out the band waited a day to announce his passing and he had in fact just died. I did the same thing with George Harrison a few years back, and he died the next week too. It's starting to creep me out.
Local Cincinnati Music
Heartless Bastards: All This Time
Juana Molina: Son
Charles Lloyd: Sangam
Cansei De Ser Sexy: CSS
Chris McCoy & The Gospel: Colder Chicago Sept. Hymns
Dub Trio: New Heavy
Sparklehorse: Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain
Joanna Newsom: Ys
James Hunter: People Gonna Talk
Thom Yorke: The Eraser
A Timeless 10
By Rob Ervin of Rob Ervin & The High-Strung Lifters (highstrunglifters.com)
Music and art are timeless. Therefore my Top 10 list is not limited by The Man waving a jive calendar in my face. Or it could be that I'm so out of it anymore I don't know one year from the next. Regardless, here, in no particular order, are 10 or so cool musical things from 2006:
Marty Stuart's Souls' Chapel and Live at the Ryman CDs and his gig at the Southgate House. The man can play and sing, and his heart is certainly in the right place. I guess that counts as three.
Tom T. Hall's In Search of a Song and The Rhymer and Other Five and Dimers. One album from 1971 and one from 1973 on one convenient CD! I love the two old albums on one-CD format. In the good old days records were only 35 minutes long anyway, but the whole record was good. Now these kids with their 75-minute albums still only have 35 minutes worth of good music on them, but it's padded with 40 minutes of self-indulgent crap. Anyway, I got this record (which is really two records, did I mention that?) last Christmas and it didn't leave the kitchen CD player 'til long past Groundhog Day.
Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. I listened to this CD a lot in 2006. Partly because I didn't feel like ejecting it and partly because it's pretty good.
"Rocks Off" by The Rolling Stones. One day in September, a friend and I listened to this track off Exile six times in a row and wondered why anybody ever bothered making another Rock record after that.
My performances of (The Box Tops') "The Letter" at various and sundry upscale karaoke bars is a musical highlight of every year.
The Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way CD and their Shut up and Sing movie. I haven't heard the whole album and I haven't seen the movie. They're on the list just because so many people hate them so much. Country music is so awful now, and the fans are such dingbats.
The Flaming Lips' At War with the Mystics. Whacked-out, cool, poppy, fun and interesting all at the same time.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Show Your Bones. I don't have this CD, but every time I hear it on the radio I say, "Dag-gone, I gotta get that."
Hannah's '06 Playlist
By Hannah Roberts, CityBeat
Mute Math: "You Are Mine"
The theme song to my first new home was playing when I burned a dime-sized area of flesh with spray-stripper. After trading blows (an expensive move, in retrospect), a bitter union was formed to "Everyone has their obsession/ Consuming thoughts, consuming time." Since the rest of the album is great, subsequent tracks (thankfully) coincide with fonder memories.
Radiohead: "Karma Police"
OK, before anyone states the obvious, this decade-old gem was part of a stunning two-hour set at Bonnaroo 2006. Thom Yorke made our eyes swell, our skin tingle, our ears twitch. And then a friendly giant tickled the moon until it laughed, which was ... well, pretty weird actually, but, anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, great show.
Twilight Singers: "Forty Dollars"
When I mentally married Mr. Dulli, I promised to defend him for better or worse, so if you're still irked about his bad attitude at the Southgate House in November give it a rest. You're paid 12-fold in gold with Powder Burns. Besides, the cigarettes are gonna kill him -- he says so.
The Hold Steady: "Chips Ahoy"
Well, hi there, world. It's your old pals Rock and Roll here. Just letting you know that we're alive and well. Oh, you saw us at the Southgate House last weekend? Sorry we didn't say hello. We must have been busy gobbling toxins and banging your girlfriends in the bathroom. Yessssss.
Aberdeen City: "Pretty Pet"
I really hope the city will toss Nick Spencer & Co. a few more dollars for next year's Desdemona Fest. While other riverfront events might generate more dough, there are revelers who described this year's Party in the Park as "off the hook!" when prompted by local radio personalities to describe the scene. They seriously said that. Out loud, and near other people. Need we further evidence our plight, Cincinnatus?
Regina Spektor: "Fidelity"
This was every girl's "MySpace song" for a spell this year. There's a haunting resentment in her sweet voice, which channels everything from Billie to Tori and reminds us, children, that well-behaved women rarely do make history.
Ray LaMontagne: "Crazy"
I liked the Gnarls Barkley version immediately (and probably better than this one), but after the umpteenth million time hearing it, Ray's take was a cool rinse. Plus it begs mention of LaMontagne's new record, Till the Sun Turns Black, which sounds like skin, smooth and tough.
Death Cab for Cutie: "I'll Follow You into the Dark"
What does it mean when you pull up next to a 16-year-old driving a tricked-out Hyundai Accent and you get to hear what an achingly beautiful song sounds like with "mad bass" behind it -- at which point you feel suddenly and strangely perverse? In any event, Death Cab, you have truly touched us all.
Ten Emcees You Might Have Missed in the 06
By Kevin Britton, CityBeat
NY Oil: I don't know about the moniker, but this guy makes even Public Enemy look mild. Players, pimps and hustlers beware!
Lupe Fiasco: I can only hope the Chicago-bred conscious emcee can stay the course.
Papoose: Not exactly a newcomer, this Brooklynite has already dropped some timely verses about the late November shooting of an unarmed man in NYC.
Immortal Technique: Angry, intelligent and articulate, Harlem's heir to Public Enemy's throne has been making the college speaking rounds and plans to drop a new LP soon.
Vibe-One of The Watusi Tribe: Is he an emcee? Producer? Hip Hop activist? All of the above, and that's what Hip Hop needs right now.
Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian: His debut solo LP, The 5% Album, exposed a new generation to the science of the Gods and Earths.
Jean Grae: An Okay Player favorite, the South African-born emcee recently signed to Talib Kweli's Blacksmith Records.
Supernatural: The undisputed, off-the-dome rhyme guru broke the world freestyle record by rapping for over nine hours straight in August.
Bahamadia:This Illadelph-born emcee's latest work can be found on the Army of Pharoahs' debut LP, The Torture Papers.
K-Salaam: OK, so he's not an emcee. But the Minneapolis-based DJ/producer brought together some of Hip Hop's top talent on his 2006 debut LP, The World Is Ours.
The '06 CLOCMAs (Chris Lee Official Cincinnati Music Awards)
By Top Cat's booker/16 Piece Bucket guitarist Chris Lee (myspace.com/chrisleesolo)
After the highly positive response of the 2005 CLOCMAs, a decision was made by the CLOCMA committee (me) to continue what will now be an annual tradition. Remember, winning a CLOCMA is a highly prestigious honor -- so you bands or artists who win, enjoy the fame and fortune that comes along with your trophy. You are the few, the proud, the elite ... the CLOCMA Winners.
1. The "Everyone Talks About Wanting a Record Deal but We Got off Our Butts and Landed One" CLOCMA goes to Beneath the Sky, who signed a deal with Victory Records (beneaththesky.net)
2. The "No Overly Pop Punk or Emo Music Allowed Here ... We Are All About the Old School Sound" CLOCMA goes to Eighty Sixed (myspace.com/eightysixedu)
3. The "We Don't Party but We Will Still Thrash Your Face with the Intensity of Our Music" CLOCMA goes to Suffocate Faster (myspace.com/suffocatefaster)
4. The "Who Needs Band Members When I Write the Songs and I Have an Acoustic" CLOCMA goes to Billy Carri (billycarri.com)
5. The "Yeah It's Pop Music but, Damn, These Guys Sure Can Write the Catchy Tunes" CLOCMA goes to Oval Opus (ovalopus.com)
6. The "Remember When We Worked at Uno's Together and Ralph from Bludstone Worked There Too" CLOCMA goes to Hogscraper (hogscraper.com)
7. The "Hey, Didn't That Guy Play Drums in Beel Jak?" CLOCMA goes to Meeoow Motherfucker (myspace.com/meeoowmotherfucker)
8. The "Best Use of a Top Cat's Drink Menu Drink within a Song" CLOCMA goes to Definition for incorporating the "Hefty Smurf" drink into one of their songs at a recent show. Rumor has it they're working on a full song dedicated to the Hefty Smurf and it might end up on their next album. (Side note: Definition are the first artists to win a CLOCMA in both '05 and '06) (myspace.com/illpoetic)
9. The "Their Singer Likes the Steelers but Don't Hold That Against Them Because They Rock Hard" CLOCMA goes to Dark Soul (myspace.com/darksoul)
10. The CLOCMA Hall of Fame
Afghan Whigs (myspace.com/theafghanwhigs)
The Amoeba Men The Auburnaires
Bu Bu Klan (myspace.com/bubuklan)
Deus Vult (myspace.com/deusvultmusic)
Feeder The Reduced
Sound Mind (soundmind.net)
And the 2006 CLOCMA Hall of Fame Venue inductee is:
The Jockey Club, Newport (home.fuse.net/hohorecords/jockeyclub.htm)
Shiv's 10 Favorite Musical Discoveries of '06
By Matt Shiv of woxy.com
In alphabetical order:
Bad Veins: Caught this Cincy duo opening up for Snowden at alchemize and was blown away.
The Big Sleep: I'm not normally into instrumental Indie Rock, but I had to make an exception for this Brooklyn trio. Their debut album, Son of the Tiger, is terrific and their live set is even more intense.
Birdmonster: Insanely catchy self-released debut disc No Midnight got such raves that they ended up pulling a distribution deal with spinART. Also one of my favorite WOXY "Lounge Acts" of the year.
Bound Stems: This young five-piece from Chicago are reaching beyond the normal Indie Rock soundscapes and creating a sound of their own. Appreciation Night has my vote as best debut album of the year.
The Eames Era: Hailing from Baton Rouge La., these Indie rockers survived an accident escaping Hurricane Katrina, which almost sidelined promotion of their debut disc Double Dutch. Look for their brilliant second album, Heroes and Sheroes, to be released in early 2007.
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris: Is it cheating to call this a discovery? Certainly I was familiar with Mark and Emmylou but never would have imagined them together. All the Roadrunning teamed up these legendary performers and the results were magical. One of the year's most pleasant surprises.
The Little Ones: This L.A.-band self-released their great Sing Song EP early this year and ended up signing to Astralwerks, who have reissued it in stores with a bonus track. Look for a full-length disc next year.
Mason Proper: There Is a Moth in Your Chest was the debut full-length album from this band out of Northern Michigan. Their sound is influenced by bands like The Flaming Lips and Grandaddy and, with several band members under 21, I can't help but feel like they could catch up to those bands real soon. They've recently signed to the Dovecote label out of NYC, which will re-release Moth in the new year.
The Oohlas: Best Stop Pop really came out of nowhere for me and quickly became one of my favorites of the year. Featuring former Everclear drummer Greg Eklund, his brother Mark and female vocalist Ollie Stone, this band is highly recommended to fans of '90s bands like The Breeders, Belly and Veruca Salt.
Various: While their debut disc The World Is Gone might be hard to find in stores, filed amongst the "Various Artists" compilations, they're actually a duo from the U.K. Comparisons to Massive Attack and Portishead are not incorrect, but there's also a distinct Folk element to many tracks on the disc.
10 Things That Happened in the Local Music Scene That Made Daniele Realize She Has Feelings
By Daniele Pfarr, CityBeat
Desdemona Festival: Hands down the most fun I've had in this city. It was three days of musical dreams come true, complete with too much alcohol and a lot of heat, but fun nonetheless. I'll also remember buying two huge pina coladas in the big souvenir cup and realizing I wasn't feeling anything. I was mad because I paid $14 for two non-alcoholic drinks.
Breaking the Elvis bust at Northside Tavern: Yeah, I did it. Sorry. I tripped on a cord, and the demise of the memorable Elvis bust has weighed on my conscience ever since.
Seeing Main Street close all those bars: This was definitely a rude awakening, considering I was downtown almost every day of the week. I have high hopes for the Main Street district, but it's going to take some time. I miss bar-hopping and finishing the night with Lucy Blue pizza.
Being soaking wet throughout MidPoint: I was so uncomfortable. My jeans were cold, sticking to my leg, and my Chucks were soaked, but I still had a great time. Seeing Buffalo Killers playing in that small room with free beer was definitely a highlight.
Sam Nation: Losing Sam was tough for everyone. I have distinct memories of his smile, and every time I would see him at a show he'd call me "pretty lady." I'll also remember when we were doing a photo shoot for the first "Exile on Main" event and he was climbing a lamppost on the side of Main Street. He didn't want us to just stand there for the picture, so he made his own fun out of the boring situation.
Cari Clara is back: Eric Diedrichs is writing new songs, and after all these years I still get giddy when I find out they're having a show in town. The brief hiatus was worth the wait.
Watching 500 Miles to Memphis morph into a solid band: This year was definitely a trying time for them, but seeing the band now, you'd never guess. Their fan base gets bigger at every show, and they've matured into a respectable and professional presence in the scene. Ryan Malott also wrote "Sunshine in a Shot Glass," my favorite song of the year if not one of my favorite songs ever. Daniele foresees a bright future for these boys.
The Turnbull AC's album release: When Dan Mecher is going to release an album, he leaves no stones unturned. Their debut album release, which spanned three days, was heavenly. The venues rocked, especially Ludlow Garage, and the lineups were out of this world.
Discovering Lions Rampant and The Sheds: As the year winds down, I'm excited to discover two bands that have been around sporadically but are now hitting the scene hard. They're extremely talented, and Stuart Mackenzie (of Lions Rampant) is an excellent chef from what I hear. I'm waiting, Stuart.
South By Southwest with MOTH and The Sundresses: I was stuck in a van for 18 hours with MOTH on the way there and came back home with The Sundresses, complete with a steak dinner along the way. Being in Austin, Tex., and running into a lot of people from Cincinnati (and seeing them going to our locals' shows) was a fantastic prideful moment. Oh, and I had a Bloody Mary for breakfast every morning. Let's not get too sentimental here.
A couple of years ago, I never would have thought I'd see this much activity in the underground. In a world where the corporations have infiltrated almost every aspect of underground culture, it feels like people are standing up and taking it back. In 2006, I've been as excited about all the activity in the underground as much as I was in 1987, when it was all new to me. The art, the culture and the ideals are alive and well. Thankfully.
Touch & Go 25th Anniversary and Festival (summer): Corey Rusk at Touch & Go has almost single-handedly provided the soundtrack to your best skate sessions and your best fist-pumping sing-alongs, and he's taken up all of your shelf space with records he's released and the records from other independent labels he's inspired.
7 Seconds and Naked Raygun together at the Riot Fest in Chicago (fall): 7 Seconds are one of the few survivors of the early Hardcore explosion of the 1980s, and they recently released a new album showing us all how it's done. Probably the fastest and heaviest stuff they've ever written. Similarly, Jeff Pezzati of Naked Raygun has also been keeping at it. While the Naked Raygun reunion might be short-lived, his new band, The Bomb, made its way through Covington in October and put us all to shame.
97X directly contributed to my interest in music and the bands I listen to. In elementary school, I was turned on to groups like Hüsker Dü, The Pogues and Circle Jerks at a time when WEBN was playing Rush and Journey songs. By junior high, 97X started the show Gridloxx and introduced me to the likes of Fugazi, Bad Religion, Fear and countless others. It took only a few episodes before I went out to the old Camelot store at Northgate Mall (this was probably 1989) and bought Fugazi's first EP on cassette. My entire love of music was transformed. Because of the ideas and philosophies of what was, at the time, one of the only radio stations in the country playing a 24-hour rotation of truly alternative music, countless people have been inspired and turned on to new music. Thankfully, 2006 saw the relaunch of the station's Web-based version at woxy.com.
The Neus Subjex: Shawn, Dave and Andy at local 'zine The Neus Subjex have been plugging away for a little over 10 years now. Some of the biggest supporters of underground -- and I mean underground -- music and culture. Their support comes straight from within the trenches. They've all been in countless bands, their articles, reviews and now Podcasts never cease, and you'll find them at plenty of shows. We could all learn a lot from these guys about staying true and doing something positive and constructive with your time. The hand-made, photocopied zine survived nearly 10 years in our current world of desktop publishing. Recently, The Neus Subjex made the transition over to a Web-based 'zine, but the emotion hasn't been lost.
Similarly, Adam over at CincyPunk (cincypunk.org) has been equally supportive of local underground art and music and has made a great name for CincyPunk with his non-profit festivals. This year was no different. CincyPunk still blows me away with the fest's size and magnitude.
Fat Robot Radio. Brad Bugos, who's been involved in broadcasting and writing zines for years now, started a Podcast out of his Illinois home in 2006 called Fat Robot Radio. He and counterparts Ben Philips and Tony Motherfucker have brought the art of radio back to life. Discussing subjects such as "Ideal Setlists," "An Alec Baldwin Mystery," "The Jackass Gets the Girl," "Eugene Levy" and a live, on-air record-review service in each episode, Fat Robot Radio reminds us that radio can be fun. At a time when Howard Stern uses the radio as an excuse to fondle his porn star guests and Clear Channel has spoon-fed the public the most god-awful crap, FRR is an example that the art of radio still exists. (fatrobotradio.com)
Rumble Records opened their doors in Covington. (rumble-records.com)
Hot Snakes. Thunder Down Under. Swami Records. Need I say more?
Scouts Honor, out of Peoria, Ill., released their second full-length, I Am the Dust, on No Idea Records this past spring. Undeniably one of the hardest-working bands around, they tour non-stop and make some of the most exciting and energetic music by any Punk band around these days. Kind of a Folk Shellac. One of my personal favorites in 2006.
Ampline's new LP, Rosary, on the local Shake It label. It's been a few years since these guys have made a record, but the wait was worth it! I'm entirely biased on this one 'cause these guys are friends of mine and I played percussion on one song.
Top 10 Music Happenings in '06
By C.A. MacConnell, CityBeat
10. Pearl Jam rocked out a new self-titled album and tour, pulling in another generation of fans, still wearing shredded combat boots from the '90s. Ed Vedder sounded and looked strong, angry and mischievous as always. Just less meat on his bones.
9. Alive since 1983, Red Hot Chili Peppers pumped out another one, Stadium Arcadium, touring and jumping on stages like fleas. Anthony Kiedis was newly coherent, healthy and muscle-ripped, more meat on his bones, outdoing Vedder (sorry).
8. The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards, particularly Freekbass' new sweet drummer, who sported bright blue nylon workout shorts and sweatbands while beating skins like a macho spider, backed by acid-worthy visuals. Hello, flashbacks!
7. The Working Title's About Face. Emotional Rock with love, sex and "I miss you/ I want you/ I don't like you/ Fucking go away, you're in my head" songs. Waning men on guitars and verse-chorus format still lives, thank God.
6. New albums by Get Sweaty, The Sheds, Sohio and The Hiders. New duo, Bad Veins. Badass.
5. Akron band The Black Keys' The Magic Potion. Yes, magical and soulful.
4. Baltimore rockers Lake Trout. OK, Not Them, You came out in 2005, but their last show at the Southgate House still gets me a year later. Can't figure out what the hell they were on, but it worked, and I want some.
3. The White Stripes' Grammy and Meg White's "Bam Bam" percussion style. I love a woman that gets off by pounding and slapping it for her "brother."
2. Blind Melon ain't giving up. This year, they reformed with new singer, Travis Warren.
1. Ray LaMontagne's Till the Sun Turns Black. No explanation needed.
Top 10 Albums to Listen to While Designing
By Jason Snell of The Chocolate Horse (myspace.com/thejasonsnell)
When Mike Breen asked me to construct a "Top 10 List" for CityBeat, I first consulted a dear friend of mine, Soft J, from the self-proclaimed "Greatest Country Band in the Universe," The Spurzz. He was still suffering from what he called "a worthless at best mid-term election, where a bunch of granola-eating, flash-dancing liberals won."
Thus, I moved on. Next, I spoke with another friend, one Michael McDonald Number One, of the experimental band The MM5. He was unavailable for comment, due to "snacking."
I was left to my own devices. What should my "Top 10 List" relate to?
I'm a designer. I spend many late nights meeting deadline after deadline. While designing, I do everything from drawing and making art to reading and doodling. Most importantly, I listen to music.
Many of you likely spend countless hours before the computer monitor, too, so I want to give you my "Top 10 Albums to Listen to While Designing."
10. I tend to start off kind of "moody" and ease into the design process. I love all the Mogwai records but really love starting with Come on Die Young. It's simply a brilliant record to flex the creative muscle to.
9. I tend to listen to my records like a roller coaster. The Notwist's Neon Golden blends solid songwriting with simple, strong beats. Play this record on the headphones to hear all the great little bells and whistles.
8, 7 and 6. I always find myself with a tight deadline and need something quick and upbeat. I love a record that will challenge me to finish my work by the end of the album. Iggy and the Stooges' Raw Power is an easy one. It's heavy, catchy and out in about a half an hour. Perfect. Another one that might not be as obvious is N.W.A. 's Straight Outta Compton -- it's Punk Rawk at its finest, a new idea that's both aggressive and innovative. Wire's Pink Flag is another great album from start to finish. It hits loud and has plenty of hooks to keep me rolling on my project.
5. Jump up and down to a quick Broken Social Scene You Forgot It in People break. An incredible record from one of the best labels out today, Arts and Crafts. This record is all over the place. Instrumentation is amazing, songwriting is sick and it might be one of my all-time favorites. For now, it's my record to listen to while designing anything.
4. Macha's Macha has all the late-night design session qualities. It's moody with dark but with enlightening textures and pounding when it needs to be. Where have the McKay brothers gone? I need a new Macha record ... and I don't mean Forget Tomorrow (that was a lackluster attempt at best).
3. Swervedriver's Mezcal Head and Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights. I realize they should be No. 2 and No. 3, but it doesn't work that way for "Top 10 Albums to Listen to While Designing." These are two glorious records that should be listened to from start to finish while pounding a pot of coffee and staring into the keys of the abyss.
2. It's no surprise that this record is the perfect album to get inspired to -- Ágtis Byrjun by Sigur Ros is both beautiful and atmospheric. Time flies while creating with this record on the headphones. I've spent many nights working on some of the most mundane design projects only to put this record on my iTunes and quickly turn the project into something memorable. It's a must-have in any creative's catalog.
1. Guided By Voices' Bee Thousand. I know what some of you are saying: "Yes, it's one of the greatest albums ever recorded, but ... while designing?" I answer this by saying it has all the elements of a perfect record to listen to while designing. First, it has quick, fast-hitting songs that get the blood flowing. Second, it has amazing anthems and gorgeous hooks that keep bringing my ears back to it while under an insane deadline. And third, you can keep playing this record well after you've met the deadline and then celebrate with a cocktail or two, singing verse after verse and chorus after chorus until you have to regain your marbles and do it all over again. Thank you Guided By Voices -- with you, designing is a blast!
The Bossman's Top 10 Gigs of '06
By Dan Bockrath, CityBeat Co-Publisher
For me, nothing beats the experience of a great live music performance. Whether it's at a small club or on a field of green, I've always appreciated the anticipation, the energy and the emotion associated with a concert event. No single show stood out this year, so here are my faves INPO:
Pearl Jam and Bob Pollard, U.S. Bank Arena: Ol' Bob took full advantage of the big stage by cranking up the amps. And he looked positively giddy playing "Baba O'Riley" with Eddie. Pearl Jam was in peak rockin' form.
Oasis, Taft Theatre: Noel and Liam strutted their stuff in front of a raucous house at the Taft. Bad boy Brit Rock at its finest -- loud, great hooks and lots of attitude.
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Southgate House: Props to Dave Purcell for turning me on to Ted Leo. He brought the heat at the Southgate on a cold winter night.
Steely Dan, Riverbend: Got my Jazz guitar fix courtesy of Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and their crack backing band. One of those groups you appreciate more once you've seen them perform in concert.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Golden Gate Park: So I was all bummed out to be missing Tall Stacks due to a business trip to San Francisco. What? There's a free music festival that weekend featuring none other than Jerry Douglas, the one performer I most wanted to see at Tall Stacks? As a bonus, I caught sets by T-Bone Burnett, Billy Bragg and Steve Earle, among others. A nice and unexpected treat.
Erika Wennerstrom solo acoustic, CityBeat's MidPoint pre-party at J-Hall: Just Erika, her guitar and that amazing voice.
Editors and stellastarr*, The Mad Hatter: Franz who? Arctic where? I didn't know much about either of these bands but was persuaded to check them out thanks to a Sound Advice tip in CityBeat. Glad I did, as both groups came through with impressive sets.
Lindsey Buckingham,Taft Theatre: A finger-picking virtuoso on guitar. Buckingham wove his Pop magic at the Taft before an embarrassingly small (but enthusiastic) crowd. His madman solo on "I'm So Afraid" never ceases to amaze me.
Son de Cali, CincyLatino Festival: Their booty-shakin' tropical dance music on the riverfront during the Sawyer Point festival was Salsarific!
Black Crowes and Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Riverbend: You just can't stay in your seat when Robert Randolph is on stage. And the Crowes had it workin' with sizzling, soulful, sultry jams that had my wife and me lost in the groove. Killer show -- too bad most of Cincinnati missed it.
The Who and The Pretenders, Schottenstein Center: And a bonus pick thanks to a last-minute show last week. Arguably the greatest frontwoman in Rock, Chrissie Hynde still has the swagger. ("Who does this remind you of?" she asked as she did a Stevie Nicks imitation with a tambourine. Most of the crowd didn't get it. "I thought it was obvious," she said.) And Martin Chambers is still one of Rock's most entertaining drummers. Seeing him bounce sticks off his kit brought back memories of their amazing Columbus show in 1981, one of their last with the original lineup. The Who had an off night. Roger Daltrey croaked through his set with a bad case of bronchitis. But as he said when he addressed the crowd, "It was either we cancel the show or we play. But it doesn't fucking matter. It's Rock & Roll, right?" True, indeed. That's why The Who are legends. Long live Rock!
A Few of Greg's Favorite '06 Things
By Greg Gaston, CityBeat
Dylan's XM satellite radio show: Bobby reinvents old-time radio in his patented kaleidoscopic swirl of cornball humor, noir soundscapes and a showcase of American Roots music from Louis Armstrong to Beck -- and all stops in between. The best thing I've heard all year.
Tom Waits' Orphans: A three-disc ace summation of Uncle Tom's mad streetcar visions, scrapyard lullabies and blustery blue bastard shanties. Who dares say this broken-voiced man can't sing?
The Flaming Lips live in Columbus: Performance art at its peak, and still the wildest, most inspired show out there now. In this increasingly desperate world, Wayne Coyne, the Lips' pied piper, wants you to embrace the fantastical and then shows you how.
The Replacements' Don't You Know Who I Think I Was?: A belated but rich compilation of the Mats' greatest misses. America's best band from the '80s, bar none, and a gloriously wrecked, shotgun marriage of alcohol-frayed passion, bittersweet romanticism and Paul Westerberg's songwriting brilliance.
Bob Dylan's Modern Times: The Man and the Myth is back with the last eclectic installment of his latest trilogy. Jump Blues, Roadhouse Rock, Swing Jazz and his rumbling, ruined voice still haunting the crossroads, highways and rivers that crisscross America's nexus.
Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome -- The Seeger Sessions: A rowdy, ramshackle brace of Folk covers delivered in The Boss' best barnstorming style. Drink a few cold ones, pick up your squeezebox and just dance. He hasn't been this loose since the early, gypsy E Street days of yore.
Richard Buckner's Meadow: Tone poems, sweet bourbon Blues and shards of ache filtered through a dusky-voiced troubadour of the first order. His voice is a wounded, husky marvel, like few others.
Chris Smithers' Leave the Light On: The excellent acoustic Blues guitarist's latest and perhaps finest record. A combination of Lightnin' Hopkins and Dylan covers, with Smithers' own understated songs of late night lyricism and topical Blues leading the way.
Madeleine Peyroux's Half the Perfect World: A deceptively cool collection of after-hour reveries, covers and Jazz accompaniment. Her smooth, graceful voice hovers somewhere between Billie Holiday and Norah Jones and exudes warmth, regret and determination.
The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America: From its Jack Kerouac-inspired title onward, this Minneapolis band swaggers its way through tales of drug love, salvation and scripture among the ruins of modern America. Springsteen-style poetic epics fleshed out with Thin Lizzy thunder guitar riffs.
Ric Gives a Hickey to '06
By Ric Hickey, singer-songwriter/CityBeat
Francis Dunnery at a private "Living Room Concert" in Newport: A gifted guitarist and songwriter who's been around for some years, Dunnery recently struck out on a unique course -- performing private concerts in the homes of hardcore fans willing to plunk down the cash to bring him in and sell tickets to their friends. Employing no microphone, PA system or guitar amp, Dunnery played acoustic guitar like Michael Hedges on acid and sang like Peter Gabriel on a drunken philosophical spree. Over the course of his two-hour show Dunnery played only six tunes! In between songs he lectured light-heartedly and at length on deep spiritual and psychological themes, doling out spontaneous and hilarious anecdotes from his own life story. Afterward he hung around and drank beer with us, happy to pose for pictures and eager to make a personal connection with everyone in attendance. So much more than a "concert," this was a profoundly moving and soul-stirring experience. As I walked out of this show, my shoes did not touch the cold sidewalks of Newport, my heart held no memory of (nor capacity for) bitterness and my head spun with the warm glow of new hope. This show changed my life.
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival: "Sensory fucking overload" was the theme of this four-day freakfest of drink, drugs and non-stop music on 12 stages under the blazing sun. On assignment for CityBeat, photographer extraordinaire Keith Klenowski and I had such an unbelievably good time that I think we'll be returning to Bonnaroo for many years to come. Casting ourselves adrift in a teeming sea of 80,000 like-minded car campers and music lovers, we partook in an unparalleled musical feast that featured Radiohead, Tom Petty, My Morning Jacket, Buddy Guy, Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint and dozens more. Our press credentials were the sweetest thing, granting us entry to several backstage press conferences and up-close-and-personal access to Bonnaroo performers like Matisyahu, Les Claypool and Phil Lesh. Next spring I plan to flat out beg CityBeat to send us back. Shit, I'll start now: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can we do that again?
Tom Waits at The Palace Theater, Louisville: A show I never thought I'd see, at the most beautiful theater that I've ever seen -- this show was like a dream come true. When Waits sat at the piano and belted out "Tom Traubert's Blues," the tears streamed down my face. A brief summer tour, several TV appearances and the release of the three-CD box set Orphans equaled a bountiful and unprecedented harvest of previously unheard recordings and rare public performances from one of my all-time favorites.
Black Stone Cherry: From the hills of Kentucky, BSC hit the ground runnin' in 2006 with a blazing debut album that brought a rambunctious and mischievous boil to my blood like the Hard Rock heroes of my youth. At their totally unhinged gas-fire of a performance at the Madison Theater, drummer John Fred Young played with a fire and ferocity I hadn't heard since Keith Moon. Seriously, with every beat of every song he looked like he was trying to destroy his drum kit. It seems the discovery of a great new Hard Rock band is no less gratifying today than it was when I was a kid! This shit keeps me young.
Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.: "The 7th Largest Attraction In Tennessee" is kinda like a smaller-scale Graceland with a much warmer, down-home, backwoods feel. An hour west of Nashville you'll find Loretta's sprawling estate replete with campgrounds, an outdoor amphitheater, BMX trails, horseback riding, the obligatory museum, the mansion, replicas of the log cabin she grew up in and the coal mine where her daddy worked and a gift shop that features literally thousands of items autographed by Loretta. (Some of these made more sense than others. An 8-by-10 photo? Sure. But a porcelain baby with Loretta's signature on its belly? A cast-iron Model-T convertible with Loretta's signature on the rag-top? Hmmm, OK. Maybe she's trying to drive down the re-sale value of her autograph on the collector's market.) Loretta lives in a newer, bigger house behind the famous mansion open to the public, and at the time of my visit the crowds were a-buzz with the rumor that she was home convalescing after falling and dislocating her shoulder. But I suspect she was just giving her hand a well-deserved rest after signing all those autographs. Seriously, though, Loretta's ranch tour is well worth the trip. Everybody loves her, but after touring the mansion and museum, seeing her hundreds of gold and platinum records and gleefully absorbing a crash course in Loretta 101, I left this place a certified superfan.
And the Runners-up: Bob Dylan's Modern Times; Frank Zappa's Trance Fusion; Donald Fagen's Morph the Cat; Tall Stacks Music, Art and Heritage Festival 2006; and the Black Crowes at Louisville Palace Theater.
Gargano's 10 Best Albums of '06
By Jason Gargano, CityBeat
The Coup: Pick a Bigger Weapon
Marxism has never sounded this sexy. Now let's not wait another half-decade, Boots.
Ghostface Killah: Fishscale
A humorous modern-day noir with heart? Yep. And the delivery, uh, kills.
The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America
The hardest working boys in America drop their third straight riff-engorged, word-obsessed gem.
J Dilla: Donuts
A friend: "Hey, is this skipping?" My answer: "Yeah, ain't it great?"
Joanna Newsom: Ys
Precious? Oh yes. And wonderfully so.
Sonic Youth: Rather Ripped
Somebody erect the statue -- SY is now an institution.
TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
Gloriously textured soundscapes that sound as fresh and unpredictable on the 99th spin as they did on first contact.
Tom Waits: Orphans
This behemoth is as vital and varied as anything he's coughed up. And the packaging rules.
M. Ward: Post-War
Dusty, deceptively simple tunes that not only evoke the guy above but also carve out their own place in one's lonely heart.
Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass
I gotta admit that their best days appear behind them, which just shows how far ahead of the game they were.
Mean Breen's 10 Musical Highlights of '06
By Mike Breen, CityBeat
Sirius Satellite Radio: Remember when you could count on radio to expose you to new, interesting ideas and music? If you're under 30, probably not. I hadn't listened to radio to hear music for several years when I got a Sirius radio for Christmas last year. Now I can't stop listening to the radio. I confess I wanted it for Howard Stern but fell in love with the myriad music channels, which feature practically every genre imaginable (and few, if any, commercials). Sirius enabled me to hear the mesmerizingly shambolic final CBGB's show featuring Patti Smith live in my kitchen, and I love listening to Mojo Nixon's Lying Cocksuckers political talk/music program and waking up on the weekends to music critic Dave Marsh's amazing Kick Out the Jams show. If you truly love music, put it on your Xmas list now.
Jake Speed's "Speedy Delivery" Column: Jake Speed is a local music treasure, and I look forward to his "singing editorials" for citybeat.com (where Jake does a weekly song about current events in his affable traditional Folk style) every week. It's like Woody Guthrie hosting The Daily Show. I'm sad it'll be over soon (Jake signed on for a one-year deal, which is up at the end of December). It's one of the coolest things CityBeat has ever been involved with.
Viva La Foxx's CD Release Party: The best "night out" I had all year. The "Sex Punk" foursome celebrated the release of their debut, I Knew It Wasn't Love But..., at Jacob's in Northside in June. I showed up at about 11 p.m., thinking the show would start any second. An hour later, I was treated to an amazing, hour-long drag show/benefit for a dog's eye surgery (long story). Viva followed with a stunningly sweaty, sultry set that was equal parts seductive and scary. The capper? A night-closing, ground-rumbling set by Cleveland's This Moment In Black History (whom I love and had no idea were even playing) well after normal "closing time."
Kid's music: Thank you They Might Be Giants, Johnny Cash, Jason Ringenberg, Joel Caithamer, Dan Zanes, Jon Langford, Woody Guthrie, Miss Joanie, Zak Morgan, Ella Jenkins and everyone else who made music I could listen to with my 2-year-old and not want to blow by brains out.
Desdemona Music Festival: The inaugural three-day Indie music festival at Sawyer Point gets my vote for the year's "Best Fest" (Tall Stacks gets points off for overcrowdedness -- the price of success, I suppose). The huge undertaking by promoter/alchemize club owner Nick Spencer was worth the headaches with the city and naysayers (well, for me anyway). Ghostface Killah, Apples in Stereo, Enon, The Walkmen, Rogue Wave, We Are Scientists, Radio 4 and a few handfuls more, all for the price of a couple of beers. Wow.
Interviewing Napoleon Maddox from IsWhat?!: The jazzy loca