Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ryan Interview Ryan about 2006

Recently, I got the chance to sit down with myself to discuss a rather eventful year. What follows is a partial transcript of the interview set to appear in Esquire early next year.

Ryan: As faithful readers of this list know, you don't know anything about music, which is why you resort to cheap tricks like interviewing yourself. Still, did you have any interesting musical experiences in 2006?

Ryan: Indeed. One was listening to Sufjan Stevens' Come on Feel the Illinoise while driving to Chicago. In response to the response "That's sooooo 2005," it was in January 2006. Also, I listened to the Shins Whincing the Night Away while being kicked in the Shins. In response to the response "That's sooooo 2007," that moment hasn't actually happened yet.

Ryan: Very well then. Anything interesting happening in the world of comics, which you do actually know something about, nerd?

Ryan: Let me finish pushing my glasses up my face and then I'll report. [pause] Ok. Yes, several great comics came out this year. Brad Metzler's JLA #0 was an excellent examination of the relationship between Batman, Superman, and Wonderwoman. Paul Dini's run on Detective Comics has been entertaining, especially 826, which was excellent. Alex Ross' Justice continues to provide everything you could ever want in a superhero comic. I finally started reading Y: The Last Man, which is consistently witty and intelligent. Craig Thompson's Blankets is a moving and identifiable story about first love, but it's overpriced, kids, so get it at the library. You, too, will find it impressive.

Ryan: Excellent. Speaking of you, too, how much has Youtube changed your life?

Ryan: Almost entirely, mostly because of this video, which should be watched on the fourth of July.

Ryan: Any moving deaths on television this year?

Ryan: Yes. Jonathan Kent's death on Smallville was respectfully handled and appropriately foreshadowed. In contrast, Edgar Stiles' death on 24 was shocking and painful. And apparently a lot of people died on Lost, and one of them was a hot chick who wore bikinis. Pity.

Ryan: What other entertainment satisfied you this year?

Ryan: Little Miss Sunshine has the most satisfying conclusion to a movie I can recall in some time. South Park's parody of Family Guy was funny and deserved, even though Family Guy has also been fairly funny. The Vanity Fair featuring ScarJo naked on the cover was a treat. Michael Martone's The Blue Guide to Indiana, which is an entirely fictitious travel guide to my adopted state, is a joy to read. Also, I just finished The Invisible Century, about Einstein and Freud, which will learn you something if you read it. And when Rosie O'Donnell asserted on the view that no one would question Mario Lopez's sexuality, I was entertained.

Ryan: Was Superman Returns a good enough movie to make up for the mediocre X-men movie which resulted from Bryan Singer's departure?

Ryan: [silence]

Ryan: Anything interesting in your personal world of automobiles?

Ryan: This year I went to my first demolition derby, which was a smash-em up good time, even though most of it is spent removing cars from the arena. My car was also hit by a school bus, which was not a smash-em up good time.

Ryan: Very well then. On the subject of car wrecks, do you find Fergie to be one of the most reprehensible and odious personalities in recent history, whose lack of talent, ugliness, and needless celebrity are only highlighted by constant media exposure?

Ryan: You took the words right out of my mouth.

Ryan: Great. Lastly, what should people have done with the time they wasted reading this post?

Ryan: They should have read the New Republic's November 27th issue, which presented 17 possible approaches to the Iraq conflict, all well reasoned. It serves as an altenative for people seeking serious dialogue between the cut-and-run and stay the course extremes. I have the issue as a pdf, if anyone wants it e-mailed. They also should be listening to Elton John's Step into Christmas to prepare for the holidays.

Ryan: Thank you Ryan. You are always a joy to interview, and devilishly handsome to boot.

15 Albums I Couldn't Resist In 2006 (By Thomas McMahon)

15. Crime In Choir – Trumpery Metier
Epic, instrumental rock and roll. Sounds like fleshed out renditions of music from some magical adventure game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Watch out for a searing saxophone solo!

14. Tunng – This Is … Tunng: Mother’s Daughter And Other Songs
Dark folk with some surprising electronic beats and manipulation. Reminds me a bit of Califone, whose new album I still haven’t bought yet for no good reason.

13. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country
Classy, charming pop from Scotland. Recorded in Sweden, though, if I’m not mistaken.

12. Midlake ­­– The Trials Of Van Occupanther
I usually try to avoid making comparisons like this (and it might sound unpleasant), but it just seems appropriate: Radiohead meets The Eagles. It’s smooth, to be sure, but with interesting instrumentation and lyrics that evoke the perils of country life in some bygone era.

11. White Whale – WWI
High-flying, piano-filled and somewhat-proggy rock. Akin to The Arcade Fire, but I much prefer this album to Funeral.

10. Lansing-Dreiden – The Dividing Island
This group’s music is hard to categorize. What I can say is that the melodies are unusual yet satisfying, synthesizers play a major role and there’s at least one song on this album that is best described as a “slow jam.” Also, the band members refuse to identify themselves, which is just an amusing detail.

9. Crystal Skulls – Outgoing Behavior
I didn’t find this album to be as consistent as their debut, Blocked Numbers. But I think that there are some stronger, catchier songs here, especially “Baby Boy,” which you must download if you haven’t already (see “Several MP3s” post below).

8. Liars – Drum’s Not Dead
Experimental, perhaps, but somehow melodic and accessible rather than just noisy. There’s a primal quality to the whole affair that you’ll really want to sink your yellow country teeth into.

7. The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
Three-part masterpiece “The Island” alone is worth the price of admission here. The organ jamboree in Part 2 (“The Landlord’s Daughter”) is the most thrilling musical moment I experienced this year. Who else can rock you down like that with an organ these days? Elsewhere on The Crane Wife, there are just a couple of tracks I haven’t warmed to that keep it from landing closer to the top of my list.

6. Hot Chip – The Warning
Fun and funny electronic music from a bunch of friendly-looking British lads. Saw them here in L.A. recently. Though they hardly moved on the stage, the crowd danced like it was MTV’s “The Grind” circa 1994. Less freaking, though.

5. James Raynard – Strange Histories
In the vein of Alasdair Roberts’ No Earthly Man (which was my top album last year), Mr. Raynard digs up some old tunes of the British Isles and presents them in stark arrangements. Many of these songs are from around the 17th century, and I imagine that they were performed similarly back then.

4. Supersystem – A Million Microphones
Could be described as “dance-punk,” but it’s much more fresh and interesting than you might suppose of something with that tag. To adapt a phrase used earlier in the jamboree: This is the album I wish The Rapture had come out with this year.

3. Peter Bjorn And John – Writer’s Block
This album exudes tunefulness and low-fi charm, which I expected going into it based on what I had heard from these gentlemen. But there’s an emotional resonance here that I didn’t expect, and it makes the album. I didn’t realize that Writer’s Block hadn’t been released in the U.S. until Cary mentioned it in one of his posts. Here’s a great place to order it and other Swedish treats:

2. Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye
The palette of sounds on this album and the atmosphere they create are captivating. It’s more downbeat than I anticipated after having heard “In The Morning,” and I was even a bit disappointed by the album initially. But I grew to love it. If I were wandering the wintry streets of some Canadian city at night, So This Is Goodbye is what I would want to listen to.

1. The Knife – Silent Shout
Ranking most of these albums was tough, but Silent Shout was clearly my favorite of the year. It is bold, beautiful and downright creepy. While it could be categorized as dance music, it’s hard to imagine it being played in any club in this dimension. It sounds like the soundtrack to some dark, intense cousin of The NeverEnding Story. The vocals are so warped at times that I picture them coming from trolls or some other crazy creatures. Not the type of music I normally listen to, but perhaps that’s why this album hit me so hard.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top 5 Lists I Thought About Posting but Never Got Around to

5. Top 5 Books I Read This Year There are two reasons why I didn't go further with this list: (1) somebody already did it, and (2) I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I think I only had time to read 5 books this year. And so that wouldn't really be a "top" five list; it would be an "all the books I read this year" list and I don't think that's what you guys are really going for.

4. Top 5 Albums of the Year Yet again, this list has already been done (and done, and done). But for the record, Gnarls Barkley would have been on MY list.

3. Top 5 Favorite T-Shirts Now the fact that I never posted this list is something that should really get you down. I had a plain white T-shirt in the number two spot, a shout-out to the long-sleeve Ts, and even an Early Man shirt with a unicorn on it. Basically, it came down to being fashion advice I was just unwilling to share.

2. Top 5 Veronica Mars Episodes of Season 1 Nancy Drew meets West Coast Mansions, the Internet, and sexual intrigue in this drama airing weekly on the CW. Trust me, rent the first season and you'll be hooked for the duration of 5 discs, dieing to find out the answer to the question on everyone's minds, "Who killed Lily Kane?".

1. Top 5 Paul Bost Farts For obvious reasons, I couldn't go through with this list. First of all, it's gross. And second, I don't want to embarrass him. But the list was funny (and smelly).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Katie Byron's Top Movies of 2006

1) The Science of Sleep—This movie is one of my favorites of all
time—It is beautiful and deep and so creative—It's like Eternal
Sunshine, but crazier and more surreal.
2) Stranger Than Fiction
3) Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious
Nation of Kazakhstan
4) Scoop
5) Little Miss Sunshine
6) For Your Consideration
7) X-Men: The Last Stand
8) Friends With Money—This movie ended, it seemed, in the middle—I
usually dislike lack of closure, but this ending really made me
think—I definitely left wanting more, but maybe that's a good
thing—Overall it made a very interesting comment on society.
9) The Break-Up
10) Superman Returns

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Best Albums of 2006 - Part 2 (Cary Clarke)

12) Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
My mom saw Gnarls Barkley at Coachella this past year, having no real prior knowledge of them other than the mix CD - 1 track by each band - I had put together for her trip to the festival. My mom totally lost her mind for this band. The success of "Crazy" as single was one of those rare moments when the radio powers-that-be seemed to remember that their programming was supposed to have something to do with quality and relevance. Not since "Hey Ya" have I seen a song so beloved by such a diverse audience - from me, to my mom, to students at my school, to the dude you pass on traffic singing along in his Hummer, to the hipster cyclist also singing along next to him, listening through the Hummer's open window. The whole record is terrific and hearing a DJ and hip-hop production methods paired with a vocal style other than rap is pretty revelatory.

13) Evolutionary Jass Band - Change of Scene
This Portland small jazz ensemble seems to be risen from one half of the combined original Jackie O. Motherucker lineups. Jackie O. Motherfucker was, for a few years there, the poster improv/noise/experimental collective, appearing on the cover of Wire, which is the journal of record for that scene. You wouldn't necessarily know it listening to The EJB, though. The Evolutionary Jass band was the big surprise discovery for me at this year's PDX Pop Now! festival. They play a brand of jazz I frankly thought was done - something floating between mid-era pre-totally-crazy Coltrane and early-crazy Ornette Coleman. Flirting with both big band melodies and noise-improv sonorities, but committing to neither, this 5-song album is really my favorite jazz record in recent memory.

14) Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
I was not a big fan of the Yoshimi record. It seemed as if The Flaming Lips had lost their passion for new ideas and terrific hooks and had gotten in a bit of a stylistic rut. This combined with the fact that I'd seen them play more or less the same stage show 4 or 5 times made this band seem very stale for a couple years. How exciting to see them rescue themselves from the brink! I feel like this record doesn't really get the credit it deserves, and I fear that the Lips may always be living in the shadow of The Soft Bulletin as far as fans are concerned. But this record opens up some new sonic territory for them, while recovering the memorable melodies that really make this band great underneath the LSD and Fridman. Good for them!

15) Peter, Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
I somehow missed the couple of days when this Scandinavian album's effective internet single "Young Folks" appeared on every blog. I just heard that song last week when beginning to consider my favorites of the year. I could not get it out of my head and went on a fruitless quest to buy the whole album at several local record stores before I discovered that it did not yet have American distribution. Shame on the US! There's just no good reason for this. So, I resorted to other means to obtain the album. And boy am I glad I did. Sure, this record is a throwback - there's some definite 60s worship going on, and, specifically, a pretty good John Lennon impression throughout on the vocal end of things. That said, how good are these songs?! This is the record I heard this year that my dad we be most likely to like as much as I do. Totally infectious melodies, great percussion work and a production aesthetic that harkens to bygone standard in a smile-inducting, non-ironic way. Who knows where I would rank this album were I to have lived with it for as long as my other entries, but for now this seems about right. Pick it up when it inevitably gets release here next year.

16) Talkdemonic - Beat Romantic
I have an emotional investment in this band, I'll admit. This band's rise from local obscurity to Pitchfork tracks more or less closely with the progress of PDX Pop Now! But they're undeniably a great band. An instrumental duo, consisting mainly of Kevin O'Connor's drums and Lisa Molinaro's violin, with same sequences, beats and synths thrown in tastefully as well. I liked this band when I first heard them on record, but I didn't really get it until I saw them live. The trick is to understand that the drums are not simply a backbeat to provide context for the strings and synths, but, rather, the drum kit is the FOREground. They are, so to speak, the frontman that everything else highlights. Without this knowledge, I might be tempted to think that this album was a placid, electronic affair. With it, I realize that this record, while beautiful, tuneful and radiating a sense of inner calm, is essentially a showcase for fantastic, live, loud drumming. Lisa Molinaro recently became the new violinist for The Decemberists, which caused Talkdemonic to cancel their tour. I truly hope that her commitment to Talkdemonic is not diminished, for as much as I talk up Kevin's rhythmic contributions, Lisa makes the band, too. Which brings me too...

17) The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
I have a hard time thinking of another band that has released both a record that I like as much as "Castaways and Cutouts" as well as one I hate as much as "Picaresque." Really. I never want to hear that latter one again. I can't stand the production (incidentally, can anyone tell my what happened to Chris Walla's production skills around the time of "Travistan"?) and despite repeated attempts to take something from that album, when I try to conjure up a melody in my head, I get nothing. I thought I was simply done with The Decemberists. But lo and behold - The Crane Wife is great and ambitious! "The Crane Wife 1 & 2" is a sprawling, captivating success, and "Sons and Daughters" is the catchiest the band has been since its early days. I don't love the 70s-style prog experimentalism, but I do like it, and I'm pretty darn happy listening to this whole record from start to finish. This is the album that my girlfriend and I most agree on from the year, completing the family-approved trio including Gnarls Barkely/My Mom and (I'd guess) Peter, Bjorn & John/My Dad. Plus it will always remind me of the week we spent together in Yosemite this fall. The Decemberists made a great record when it counted - on a new big label, with the potential to wrangle a bunch of new fans. Keep going! Of course, the Russian-major in me will never stop being irritated by the incorrect extra "e" in their name, between the "b" and "r." Really, a band with literary pretensions has certain obligations.

18) Thom Yorke - The Eraser
The mere fact that Thom Yorke could release a solo album, frustrating Radiohead fans' expectations for an album from the full band in 06, and have it not be despised is pretty remarkable. That the record was often beloved by said fans, as well as by those who never really totally dug Radiohead is nigh on miraculous. And for good reason - wide-open, memorable songs, and different enough from Radiohead to warrant the separate moniker.

19) Alela Diane - The Pirate's Gospel
This was another PDX Pop Now! discovery for me. Ms. Alela Diane had just recently moved to Portland from Nevada City, a Central-Northern California city that was home to only one other musician that I knew of - Joanna Newsom. And there's certainly a relationship - musical and personal - between the two. Diane is not the compositional genius that Newsom is, but she has an amazing, powerful, captivating voice and nice chordal sense on guitar. Upon first listen to this record - at the recommendation of my PDX Pop colleague who is himself from Nevada City - I thought "Eh. I don't really go in much for female singer-songwriter-guitarists." And that's true. But Alela Diane breaks the rule. The album isn't an ideal reflection of the talent that she radiates live, but for a first shot, it'll more than suffice.

20) M Ward - Post War
Truthfully, I don't love this record. I'm all for trying new approaches, and I like louder, bigger, rockiner ensembles as much as the next guy, but I miss the intimacy and quiet grandeur of Ward's last couple efforts. But I'm so nuts for a handful of this album's songs that they carry the slack for the forgettable numbers. "To Go Home" is just awesome. I'd heard Daneil Johnston before, but never really got him until I heard this cover. "Chinese Translation" is another classic. The dude can play guitar, and the dude can sing. Sadly, Matt moved away from Portland this year to New Hampshire to follow his girlfriend to grad school or something. Bummer. His rendition of "Paul's Song" - which is, as I understand it, a paean to Portland - at his show here was predictably moving. We'll miss you!

21) Final Fantasy - He Poos Clouds
Wow, is this record weird. Not as catchy and, well, likeable, as Owen Pallett's last outing as Final Fantasy, but probably more interesting. Can anyone tell me what kind of emotional space this album occupies? I can't figure it out. Hearing a born string-player with actual compositional training really throws into harsh light how stupid and trite most string arrangements in pop music are. Whether this is itself pop music, I'm not totally certain. I keep listening and keep hoping I'll figure it out, which means that the obtuseness of the album isn't off-putting, as it might be, but mystifying. Something about listening to this album reminds me of reading those Graham Baese puzzle books, like Eleventh Hour, when I was a kid. But with more gay sex.

22) Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead
Am I a hometown hack or what? Horse Feathers is another Portland band that came out of nowhere this year and, yes, played PDX Pop Now! Horse Feathers is a two-dude folksy duo - fragile male vocals, acoustic guitar, and a bevy of Americana-tinged acoustic instruments played by a 19-year old prodigy. This exists on the border between Iron & Wine and Tracy Chapman, but better than either of those referents. Actually, this album was just positively reviewed in Pitchfork today, so check it out here - I mostly agree with what this reviewer makes of things. Interestingly, this album was recorded at the same studio - Miracle Lake - by the same engineer - Skyler Norwood -as my band's ( At Dusk) last album. Additionally, Skyler recorded two other albums I've included on this list (Alan Singley & Pants Machine, Talkdemonic), so I guess that makes him my pick for producer of the year. Right on.

23) The Futureheads - News & Tributes
I think this is a transition record for The Futureheads. They began to find their own voice and to lose the overwhelming specter of post-punk that haunted their debut, and this album has some great tunes. However, the gains they made for originality and sonic variety weren't quite enough to make up for what they lost in backing away from the the single-mided frenzy of their last album. A good record - not as good as their last, and not as great as the one I feel that they'll give us all sometime soon.

24) Strength - Going Strong
Portland is full of twenty-something, skinny, hiply ironic lovers of dance music. This got in the way of my appreciating Strength for a few years. But after seeing them in a few new contexts this year - including as a wedding band - and hearing this record, which had been in production under the guidance of my friend, Chris Anderson, for what must have been a couple of years, I finally was ready to accept this band for what they are - SINCERE twenty-something, skinny lovers of dance music. This is disco music with the sound of a Quincy Jones album. It's unbelievably slick in a great way. You will groove to this, I promise. I remember Beck, when talking about what he found appealing in R Kelly and slojamz, generally, said something about how clearly sincere it was - you never doubted for a moment that Kelly DID like the crotch on you. As soon as I was willing to hear this album's lyrics about driving around together in trucks and bloody noses, I got it. I forgot about this when I typed up my best of Portland list; it should have been on there.

25) Juana Molina - "Son"
Juana Molina has made 4 albums, 3 of which I've heard. They're all terrific and bare no resemblance to other music that I've heard - except, to each other. "Son", in spite of its break from Molina's previous ordinal album-naming strategy, is pretty interchangeable with her other records. It's great, relaxing, convention-defying, deeply personal music - but I'm ready for Molina to try something strikingly different the way she did when she walked away from her career as Argentina's reigning comedic television actress to start recording beguiling electro-acoustic albums some years ago. Molina played what has to have been the best sound-check I've ever heard. She gave directions to the sound-guy in song, creating a melody with tech-talk, as she began playing her first number. I never realized what a fluent musician she was and how reproducible the best qualities of her music are in a live setting.

26) The Plastic Constellations - Crusades
We got to meet this tighter-than-tight Minneapolis quartet of lifelong buddies here in Portland this past spring and play a show with them. Man are they a fantastic live act. In hanging out with them post-show, I mustered the courage to ask them how they felt about 311, as their music suggested to me - and continues to suggest - that I might have found in them fellow connosieurs of the deeply unhip, but excellent, irrefutably original band. Alas, they were not fans. But 311 crossed with a late-90s Dischord band is still the best comparison I can come up with for these guys. "Crusades" is absent the playfulness of their last album "Mazatlan" but tries to compensate with relentless forward-moving intensity. This plan works pretty well.

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order by band):
Pretty Girls Make Graves - Elan Vital
Six Organs of Admittance - The Sun Awakens
Swan Lake - Beast Moans
Caetano Veloso - Ce

Biggest Disappointments:

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth
Kaki King - Until We Were Red
Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast
Outkast - Idlewild
Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
The Walkmen - A Hundred Miles Off

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Myspace Bands

Countless hours of bored-at-work myspace surfing led me to the conclussion that there's a lot of really crap bands on myspace. However, there are a few good ones. Here's my top 10 bands whose music I've enjoyed via myspace:

1. Snowden -
2. Margot and the Nuclear So… -
3. The Colour -
4. Devin the Dude -
5. Pipettes -
6. Menomena -
7. Deerhunter -
8. The Blow –
9. MF Doom -
10. The Hard To Get -

-Daniel Jacobs

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Steve Kerr = Justin Timberlake

Just thought I'd throw this out there.

Also, in relation to James' Southern Rock/Drive-By Truckers post below, check out this link to get an entire set of Patterson Hood performing Stones' songs.

For the record, my incessant commenting will soon resume (but probably not until I'm done w/ finals).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best Albums of 2006 - Part 1 (Cary Clarke)

Disclaimer: I have broken up my master best albums list into a few installments, the first of which you will find below. I will post a few more down the road. This is because I am too tired to write it all now, and because it's turning out to be so long that I think this will make it more likely that anyone will actually read my commentary. I suppose it's unorthodox to start with number 1 in a gradually unfolding list, but so be it - that's how it's going down.


If 2005 shook my faith in the future of music, 2006 restored it. In the former year, I was disheartened by a cavalcade of albums by good bands that were so bad I thought that my interest in their work had come to an end. This year, however, I was amazed by some thrilling debuts, some incredible follow-ups, and some return-to-forms. It was even possible to hear some of this year's best music on FM radio, something which has not been true for quite some time. Whether or not this attributable to the decline in FM radio's massive reach is a question I'd prefer to ignore in this regard. Last year I struggled to come up with ten albums that I thought were even good. This year I am including twenty-six albums in my Best-Ofs because that many records were really very good - no filler, no trim.

1) Joanna Newsom - Ys
The first time I heard Ms. Newsom's debut, "The Milk-eyed Mender" I was amused but not particularly interested. Two weeks later I could not get the album's songs out of my head, nor did I want to. Somehow, I failed to learn from this experience. Upon first listen to this record, I was left cold. Joanna's chops were undeniable, and her ambition and willingness to try something new were very admirable, but I thought this record just wasn't going to be for me. i was wrong. I was an idiot. Less than 24 hours later I could not get enough of this album. It is incredibly rare to find music simultaneously this complex, this heartfelt and this catchy. The fact that Newsom has released only two albums and each has been my favorite of its respective years means I'm a fan for the long hall. A major talent. Plus I've never had such a crush on someone I don't know.

2) TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
This was my favorite record for most of the year, and it may be the runner-up here just because it's less fresh to me. Record labels take note - this record leaked months and months before it was released stateside. If your music is readily available to even a casual user of the internet, it's ready to be mastered and released. I was intrigued by "Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes" and at times loved it. The follow-up is less bizarre and less unique, but better, catchier, and still totally unlike anything else out there. It is still As my friend Will pointed out, probably the best vocal lines going in music today. Political music that doesn't irritate me. Plus, the best live show I saw all year. Portland audiences are generally sedate and still, but this felt like a revival, and not just because of the soul stylings. People moved and touched each other, but there was no aggression. A cameraman who was documenting the show for a live DVD was so trustful of the audience that he stood on the lip of the stage and leaned backward into the audience to be passed to the back of the room and again to the front, camera in hand and rolling all the while. Any band that can make an audience be both respectful and energetic is doing something really right.

3 Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
This was one of the most exciting discoveries of the year for me. I wasn't familiar with the band's earlier work, and still don't love it. But this record is fantastic. Maybe the most well-matched production and song-writing of the year. Quiet exuberance is tough to pull off.

4) Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
Let me just say that i wrote my college thesis on Roma/Gypsies, and have spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe. Maybe I love this record because of its relationship to the Balkans, but I don't think so - the fact is, although the music is certainly referential of Gypsy music, it is hardly authentic, and that's to the album's benefit. If I want to hear real Gypsy music, I'll listen to real Gypsies. It sounds like a gimmick, but it's not. I don't really know what kind of music this is, but it's great. This dude is 19 and full of talent with a unique voice. Best debut of the year.

5) Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
This is the band that made me love rock music. The band who made me want to be in a band myself. There have been very few moments in their career that I did not respond to with utmost enthusiasm. "NYC Ghosts and Flowers" was one, and, honestly, "Sonic Nurse" was another. I love Jim O'Rourke, but it's clear that that affair came to a timely end. Sonic Youth have not rocked this hard...ever? How can a band this old sound so young in all the right ways? Plus, the album includes the only moment I can think of right now in which SY play out of 4. Freeing Kim up from having to think of her vocals and bass lines in conjunction with one another was a great move compositionally, and made for a fantastic live show. Incidentally, I met Thurston Moore this summer at a Mexican restaurant on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Kim and Coco were there. I have never been nearly so star-struck, in spite of having met Thurston a couple times before. My heart may still be racing. This time I tried to let him know how important his life's work has been to me. His nose hairs were very prominent, but this does not change my feelings about Sonic Youth in the least.

6) Liars - Drum's Not Dead
This is the first record that I've heard that I think can be legitimately tagged as neo-No Wave. It certainly wears its influences on its sleeve, but something original is contributed to the discourse nonetheless. Never before has so tuneless an album been so memorable. I never cared about this band before, but they've certainly got my attention now.

7) Aloha - Some Echoes
This is an album that got a fair bit of attention when it was released, but I get the feeling it's been largely forgotten since. I hope that's not true. This is a great album - certainly Aloha's best. It sounds the way I wish 70s rock sounded - inventive, smooth, controlled, with heart. Anecdotally an inspiring band - one of the few signed on the strength of demo, and one of the few to keep things going strong with band members living in different cities. Also anecdotally, TJ, Aloha's percussionist, mastered my band's album "You Can Know Danger" from this year. He was patient with us, did fantastic work and charged far less than I would ever guess someone of his considerable talent would. I wish this band the best.

8) Akron/Family - Meek Warrior
How can a band be this prolific and this consistently good? These guys march to the beat of their own polyrhythmic drum, and I'm happy to get to hear it. As I understand it, this album was mostly recorded after driving and not sleeping for several days after months of touring so as to make the recording session set up with famed jazz percussionist Hamid Drake, who is a prominent collaborator on the record. The album sounds like giddy, confused exhaustion. I hope these weirdos keep it up.

9) Parenthetical Girls - Safe as Houses
Man, it's gratifying when a terrific local band puts out a self-released record that gets the attention it deserves from something like Pitchfork. Constantly compared to Xiu Xiu, which is fair, but I love this record, and I don't much care for Xiu Xiu, so something more is going on clearly. Glockenspiel, toms, androgynous vocals, free song structures. Sounds something like a graphic novel, if graphic novels were music and not novels.

10) Alan Singley & Pants Machine - Lovingkindness
The guy who recorded this album refers to moments of it as a "dude party," which is probably the most accurate description I could imagine for the half of the album's songs which are boisterous, good-natured rock 'n roll. The other half is introspective, gentle singer-songwriter fare. All from the same wonderfully damaged mind. Great songs and great variety. Think Pavement, Burt Bacharach. Very in debt to the 60s, but unmistakably of the present day.

11) Sandro Perri - Plays Polmo Polpo
Polmo Polpo is the name Sandro Perri generally records under - enthralling, warm, massive, electro-acoustic ambient music. Since putting out a terrific record call "Like Hearts Swelling" a few years ago, Perri began performing his Polmo Polpo compositions live with an acoustic ensemble, and without computer or loop assistance . This record is the live documentation of that instrumentation, and it's wonderful, gentle and new. A remix record for people who don't like electricity. The best euphonium of 2006.

...More to come soon...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Katie Byron's Top 10 List that actually consists of 12: Favorite Albums

After checking the actual release dates of the albums that initially
came to mind as the favorite of this year, I realized that the
majority of those albums came out in 2005. This made me realize two
things: 1) time continues to pass faster and faster the older I get,
and 2) there was much more music released in 2005 that I liked than in
2006. Nevertheless, here is my top 10, or 12, list of albums released
in 2006.

1) Band of Horses—Everything All the Time
2) Owen—At Home With
3) Jose Gonzalez—Veneer
4) Snow Patrol—Eyes Open
5) The Stills—Without Feathers
6) Belle & Sebastian—The Life Pursuit (I don't like this album half as
much as Dear Catastrophe Waitress, but out of the albums I bought this
year, it still falls in my top ten—and they performed this album great
7) Gnarls Barkley—St. Elsewhere (this makes my top ten solely for the
way it makes me dance like I've never danced before)
8) Thom Yorke—The Eraser (a testament to the fact that I almost always
like solo albums better than the band as a whole)
9) The Strokes—First Impressions of Earth
10) Built to Spill—You In Reverse & The Decemberists—The Crane Wife (it's a tie)
11) Bonus: Sufjan Stevens—Songs for Christmas (I got the majority of
this album last year, but the new stuff he released in addition to it
this year is great)

Several MP3s And A Tenor (By Thomas McMahon, Baritone)

I’ll take a moment here to provide a few details on the photo that appears below the “1, 2, 3 … Jamboree!” header. It is three-fourths of the beloved vocal group Three Men And A Tenor. Indeed, the tenor (in yellow jacket) is not only seen as less than a man by the other members, he is taunted and not-so-playfully slapped during performances. This is a family-friendly ensemble that is available for school events and corporate picnics.

I’m still working on my albums-of-the-year list. Meantime, here are the fairest of the free downloads I found while asurf on the Internet this year:

10. The Black Angels – The First Vietnamese War
These ladies and gentlemen probably did not serve in that particular war, but they nevertheless captured it in song.

9. Bears – Walk Away
I picture the characters from the Country Bear Jamboree performing this irresistible number.

8. Citay – Nice Cuffs
Could be described as "hippie music."

7. Lavender Diamond – Rise In The Springtime
Precious and enchanting. Might have come out last year.

6. Midlake – Roscoe
Took me a while to stop picturing Mr. Thom Yorke behind the mic while listening to this one.

5. The Little Ones – Cha Cha Cha
Not sure whether this song has something to do with the Carribean-themed restaurant of the same name here in Los Angeles, but it’s just as delicious.

4. Beach House – Master Of None
Had to buy the album to find out the name of this tune, which reminds me of Mr. Cass McCombs. Was well worth it. For friends of the desert.

3. Tunng – Tale From Black
According to my dear wife, this group’s name means “heavy” in Swedish. I pointed out that it sounds like "tongue" in English. Watch out for two heavy surprises in this song at the 2:50 and 3:55 marks.

2. Crystal Skulls – Baby Boy
Boasts a chorus that you'll really want to hang your (cowboy) hat on.

1. Junior Boys – In The Morning
Great dance music for a pool party. Or a carpool party.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The 89 most redundant, repetitive cliches in music

Aol music released a funny and nostalgic look at The 89 most redundant, repetitive cliches in music (and as they say "because 100 would be cliche") Some are amusing and aome are lame, but either way, any music lover will appreciate the photos, clips and musings. A few of my favorites:

73. Long-Ass Emo Song Titles
Those emo boys sure have a lot to say. Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco both have song titles that exceed 15 words. Impossible to remember and forcing the publishing world to revive the use of " ... ," we can only hope it's a mere adolescent phase, much like their asymmetrical haircuts.

19. Dating Winona Ryder
Beck. Evan Dando. Dave Pirner. Ryan Adams. Tre Cool. Pete Yorn. Damien Rice. Paul Westerberg. Hell, raise your hand if you're in a band and haven't dated Winona. The world's most famous shoplifting groupie has been around more times than an old Beatles 45. Courtney Love put it best when she said, "You're no one in music until you have feuded with me or slept with Winona." Which means Dave Grohl is the biggest rock star EVER!

Kristen "k-lo" Lowrey

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Top 10 Best Reasons Of 2006 Why I Forgot To Put My Name In My Last Post

First off, my name is Matt Caliri. Second off, I wrote the brilliant post about cheap books and yadda-yadda. Third off, I was cordially reminded by one Paul Bost that I forgot to put my name in my post. Here are the top ten reasons in 2006 why I forgot to do that:

1) I forgot.

2) I didn't know any better.

3) I was thinking about all sorts of other things.

4) I had sea water in my ear from jumping into the temperate Pacific over here in Hawaii, creating an auditory imbalance that hindered my overral decision-making. It's day 2, and, yes, my ear's still clogged.

5) I had sinuses. Probably.

6) I was rather slapdash about the whole thing.

7) I was distracted--it is rather common to find me distracted, I'm afraid.

8) I was hungry. Probably.

9) I never learned cursive.

10) I'm Italian. This causes me to think of cultural comforts like "tomato sauce" when I should instead be remembering to write my name on things.

I hope you will forgive me in the midst of this holiday cheer we found ourselves. Good tidings and merry warmths.

Yours forever and ever,

Matt Caliri
Matt Caliri-Matt Caliri-Matt Caliri
Matt Caliri

Call Me When You're Sober (Stalin 2006)

Dear all: As always these have been fun to read. I probably shouldn't be until finals are done, but what the heck...Here are my top five ballads and singles of the year, as confirmed by my iTunes libray play count. It is what it is.

Merry Chrismukkah!

1. "Atlantic" by Keane (111 plays)
2. "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol (93 plays)
3. "Lessons Learned" by Carrie Underwood (52 plays)
4. "Without You" by Christina Aguilera (27 plays)
5. "Good Enough" by Evanescence (25 plays)

1. "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado (92 plays)
2. "Futuresex / Lovesound" by Justin Timberlake (74 plays)
3. "Jump" by Madonna (73 plays)
4. "Kiss Me" by Robbie Williams (38 plays)
5. "Take A Bow" by Muse (34 plays)

+Favorite LA music venue: The Music Box (Henry Fonda Theatre)

+Very cute list, Thom the V. Look forward to seeing you someday soon.

Paul Bost's Top 20 Albums

Okay. All introductory comments are escaping me at this moment, so I'm limited to saying: (1) all of these albums came out originally in 2006 (read: no re-releases) except one that came out in November, 2005, (2) as always, there are still a number of albums that I haven't yet heard that I'm sure will blow me away when their time comes, and (3) have you done the math? If Pitchfork reviews 5 albums a day 250 times a year (give or take), that's 1250 new records a year falling into their expansive, but still limited, coverage. How are we supposed to keep up? It's all too frustrating, but the following albums logged an abnormal number of spins in my car and on my computer.

20) Fun at the Gymkhana Club - Spektrum (like Basement Jaxx on a Kill Rock Stars budget)
19) Standing in the Way of Control - The Gossip (the first thing they've released that I've really latched on to; straight out of Searcy, Arkansas)
18) Frenetiko - Edu K (featuring my favorite song of the past year, "Popozuda Rock and Roll")
17) I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo (long title, long album [but some fine hits and 10-minute drones])
16) Fabriclive 29 - Cut Copy (outstanding mix only rivaled by the work of T.A. McMahon and Adam Willy, or, as I like to call them, Fire & Ice)
15) Outgoing Behavior - Crystal Skulls (I'd call them a Northwest Steely Dan if I was in the business of saying ridiculous shit)
14) Future Women - The M's (it didn't have legs, but for one month this album ruled the roost)
13) So Gone - The Evangelicals (only this band from Norman, OK can name themselves "The Evangelicals" and not look like pompous pricks)
12) Celebration - Celebration (Katrina Ford is one of the most captivating vocalists I've heard this year; this is the album I wanted the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to release)
11) Yoyoyoyoyo - Spank Rock ("ass-shaking competition champ")
10) Hey, Sugar - Bossanova (confirming Teen Beat as a nearly flawless label)
9) Tree Colored See - Nobody and Mystic Chords of Memory (Thom and I saw Mystic Chords of Memory's first show and it was like an unmemorable dream; this time, the dream is faintly memorable, if only for the talking animals and laughing birkenstocks)
8) The Life Pursuit - Belle & Sebastian (I was glad to hear that B&S didn't abandon the slick production after "Dear Catastrophe Waitress;" too bad the album had a couple tracks that never clicked w/ me)
7) Pieces of the People We Love - The Rapture (this album ends a bit slowly, but the first 6 tracks are dancefloor classics; if there was any justice in the world, they'd be playing the Super Bowl halftime show)
6) Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth (best guitar album of the year; I'm still amazed that a band of their age could pull off such a genuinely rocking record)
5) Everything All the Time - Band of Horses (this came out of left field and floored me; sublime)
4) Young Machetes - The Blood Brothers (on record and on the stage, they make a strong case for best band in America; "Set Fire to the Face on Fire" is my favorite album opener of the year)
3) A Hundred Miles Off - The Walkmen (this album is confounding and rebellious and gorgeous; aside from the Bad Brains tribute, I think the Walkmen live in a vacuum where the world ended in 1969)
2) Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins (reason #2 this is the year of the chanteuse; in interest of full disclosure, I couple this w/ some great weeks in April and May of this year)
1) Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - Neko Case (reason #1 this is the year of the chanteuse)

More lists to come later. Boy, am I glad I got all that off of my chest.

Wonderful World of 2006 (Daniel J. Dowd)

Favorite albums that I got into in 2006 (not necessarily released in 2006)
-Beach Boys – The Dowd Mix CD…not an album, but I made a very special beach boys mix for myself of songs almost exclusively not heard by me before 2006, considering i close-mindedly snubbed the boys for most of my life.
-New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
-Gal Costa - Nao Identificado
-Yo La Tengo…I am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
-Fred Neil - Everybody's Talkin'
-My Morning Jacket - Z
(How hipster)

Most Tender Paul Bost Moment: So many, but I'd have to say my fake birthday party in Athens, GA.

Favorite books read in 2006...
Wouldn't It Be Nice - My own Story - Brian Wilson. wow.
The Worst Team Money Could Buy: the Collapse of the New York Mets by Bob Klapisch.
Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live

Favorite thing that nearly landed me in therapy: my 2006 New York Mets.

Favorite Films Viewed For the First Time in 2006 By Me
-Fur…It's as if David Lynch made Teen Wolf 3…only Teen Wolf moves to Manhattan, it's the 50's and he hooks it up with Diane Arbus. But this time, Teen Wolf isn't Michael J Fox or Jason Bateman, he's Robert Downey Jr and he's all grown up and sophisticated and can no longer dunk or ballhog. See, that movie's not so bad if you take the right angle…That assessment almost sealed my divorce from my Fur loving wife. I don't know what that last sentence means.

-Nashville by Robert Altman

-Peep Show and Psych-Burn, by J.X Williams. If anyone reading this has an opportunity to see the films of JX Williams, please check it out, especially if you can see the full presentation done by the curator of his films. It's a gift that keeps on giving. This is the website, though it doesn't seem to be recently updated...

Best Pudding Flavor That I Ate in 2006: White Chocolate

Facial hair of the year:

(I love you) Johnny Cakes...

Mets 2nd baseman Jose Valentin. So classic. And, he trimmed it right before game 4 of the NLCS and got his only postseason multi-hit game.

The winner was Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Mike Commodore. It's not often the stanley cup is in a photo with something else and is overshadowed. Mike Commodore, your beard not only helped win the Stanley Cup, your beard then defeated the Stanley Cup.

I hope all of my friends and strangers here had a great 2006 and please accept my best wishes for 2007...


5 unfortunately funny quotes

here are 5 memorable quotes from 2006:

5. "If you are not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin." -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) during her failed election bid to represent Florida in the US Senate

4. “And though I am a committed Christian, I believe everyone has the right to their own religion - be you Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim, I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.” -- Stephen Colbert as President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner

3. "You're nothing but a whore! You're a slut! How could you do that movie?" -- Bob “Kid Rock” Richie to Pam Anderson about her work with Sacha Baron Cohen
Pam’s reported response -- “Pam is just very happy to not be in the same house with so much passive-aggressive hostility in it…"

2. "that's what happens when you interrupt the white man..." -- Michael Richards

1. “Sorry haters, God’s not done with me” -- impeached judge, currently Member of Congress Alcee Hasting's final words after being passed over to become the new Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

I find this last quote both witty and profound. Words to live by for 2007.

Jon Kemp

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Tommy’s Picks

Hi, my name is Tommy. I am negative five weeks old and I live inside Michelle McMahon’s womb. She is helping me type this since I don’t have access to a computer in here. This is a list of the best albums that I’ve heard my mom playing. I know they didn’t all come out this year, but I’m not even born yet, so cut me some slack.

10. Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
9. Jack Johnson and Friends, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George
8. Erlend Oye, DJ-Kicks (except for my mom doesn’t want me to listen to track seven because it’s called 2D2F, which stands for “too drunk to fuck,” but sometimes she forgets to skip it and I get to hear it, but I don’t know what all that stuff means anyway)
7. Colleen, The Golden Morning Breaks
6. Colleen, Everyone Alive Wants Answers
5. Jens Lekman, When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog
4. Classics for Kids, Mozart for Kids
3. Andrew Bird, The Mysterious Production of Eggs (I love that song about measuring cups.)
2. Ulrich Schnauss, Far Away Trains Passing By
1. Ulrich Schnauss, A Strangely Isolated Place (You’ve got to hear Ulrich Schnauss from inside a uterus some time. It’s great.)

I hope to meet you all some day. Now I have to go kick my mom in the ribs for a few hours.

Thomas Aloysius McMahon V

The Best Books I haven't Read Yet of 2006 That I Bought For Dirt, Dirt Cheap

Listen up! There's this thing going on: used Book stores are GIVING AWAY GEM-GOLD CLASSICS!

And these are just a few of the ones I have picked-up for myself this year. Keep in mind not one of these books have come out in the Year of our Great and Divine Lord, 2006. Au Contrawrberrys, all of these authors have long since died. Though there words live on--IN MY BRAIN!!!! MUWAHAHAHAHA!

Also note I cannot quite recommend any of these books having not completed and/or started to read them--but I am a fan of all the authors other works. So please, indulge me:

1) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (volume 1 & 2)
- somehow they fit it all into 2 volumes that read like biblical verse in the tiniest type you've ever seen. Mr. Shakespeare is known all over the world, but is not as well known for his tiny, tiny, tiiiinny fingers (though that's hardly relevant--ohhh silly jokes).

2) Demian, by Herman Hesse
- My favorite German writer (and I know I lived in Germany for 6 months!!!), his other novel, Steppenwolf, I consumed and and let loose a river of highlightation upon practically every other word. This, I presume, will be equally illuminating.

3) The Last Days of Socrates, by Plato
- Y'know, when he was all fucked up and shit.

4) (hahaha, sorry, I'm still enjoying no. 3)
Hiroshima, by John Hersey
- A detailed account of the atomic devastation in WWII Japan. Award-winning, Fear-gripping, Hershey-Chocolate associating.

5) Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky
- My favorite all-time author. I read this a long, long, time ago. Like, 40 years ago. I just saw it and suddenly wanted to own the living shit out of it. So now I do!

6) You Can Never Go Home Again, Thomas Wolfe
- Not to be confused with that communist, goat-cursing, scrabble-cheating, laundry-pilfering, muskrat-face looking louse Tom Wolfe, Thomas Wolfe died in 1939 at the age of 39, wrote 4 novels in his short lifetime (each about 14,000 pages), and stole my heart and brain and soul and adidas. I read his "Time And The River" in my college years on a trip to Vegas with my fellow hooligans and was nearly spun into another dimension ('course I was drinking severely, but regardless...). He was a great writer, whose oft passed over in literary circles. How I know this, what "literary circles" I'm exactly referring to, and what gives me the audactity to use the word "oft," I don't know. I just don't fuckin' know anymore, man. Jesus. Jesus, man. Merry Christmas.

Top Six Southern Artists of 2006

In no particular order, my top six southern artists from 2006. I'm talking about guys whose big picture performance in the past year has been stellar. And six artists because there's no reason to limit it to five and I don't have the time to write about ten.

Tom Petty - The man has a formula. And it's still not tired. He creates simple rock songs about simple, American life and gets his best friends (who happen to understand understatement perhaps even better than he does) to play behind him on the record and on tour. His solo album "Highway Companion" is evidence that something can be slick and honest at the same time. As usual, he toured for a great part of the year with The Heartbreakers brought out some top-notch opening acts like Pearl Jam and The Allman Brothers Band. Hometown: Gainesville, Florida

Drive-By Truckers - The five members of DBT have a stunning outlook on life in the gothic south and their work in 2006 evinced that view more clearly than ever before. Their latest work, "Blessing and a Curse," while slightly more accessible than their previous efforts, in no way compromised their blue collar sound or presentation and continued their tradition of exposing all the dirt and grime underneath the veneer of southern living. Lyrics like "They say every man's house should be his palace / But his castle stank of cat shit and alone" are so blunt that they're almost ironic - but strangely enough, in the context of a Truckers album, they seem stark and gritty. Hometown: Florence, Alabama and Athens, Georgia

Modern Skirts - The only band on this list who didn't release a new album during the year, The Skirts spent the last twelve months frantically pushing their 2005 work, "A Catalogue of Generous Men" and justifiably so. Relying on simple pop melodies, tight harmonies and hooks that reel in even the most skeptical of listeners, the band's sound has developed into something magnificently catchy - some type of guilty pleasure that you know you shouldn't feel guilty about in the first place. With the success that bands like Keane had in '06, expect Modern Skirts to make a noticeable splash in the mainstream in 2007. They also get extra points because their drummer and bassist lived two apartments over from me my senior year at UGA. Hometown: Athens, Georgia

Derek Trucks Band - Put the Duane Allman references aside. Derek Trucks is his own guitarist who has developed his voice as an instrumentalist to an almost scary extent. Hell, even Eric Clapton gets his ability (Trucks has been on tour with Slowhand's backing band since the fall). On the full band's 2006 record, "Songlines," Trucks and his bandmates show a beautiful balance of restraint and release, managing to be poignant instrumentally while keeping the tunes relatively easy to swallow, even for someone who isn't into the 15-minute versions of these songs you might hear at a live show. This is the guitarist that I'll be telling my grandkids about. Oh yeah, Derek is also in the Allman Brothers Band and managed to put on brilliant concerts with all three of his outfits for the majority of the past year. Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida and Atlanta Georgia

Glossary - Falling somewhere between the depressing realism of The Drive-By Truckers and the relative optimism of anything else on this list, the members of Glossary sound like they've culled the best from bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Uncle Tupelo and Centro-matic to create some sort of alt-pop-country that is simultaneously straightforward and complex. Musically they are succinct, lyrically they are direct and overall, they address life that's stuck in middle management in a way that, surprisingly, doesn't even come close to sounding cliche. "For What I Don't Become," their 2006 release, is forty minutes of fresh air that still makes you feel like you've been there before. Hometown: Murfreesboro, TN

My Morning Jacket - Critical darlings sometimes deserve the praise they receive. My Morning Jacket falls into that category. Their eerie pop-rock is stunning and frontman Jim James is at the apex of a creative streak that would make any half-way sane writer want to just give up. Their live release "Okonokos," recorded live at The Fillmore in San Francisco has turned heads as a followup to their 2005 work "Z." If after seeing a MMJ show live, you don't want to sell everything but your guitar and hit the road, you probably don't like rock 'n roll in the first place. This is the only artist on the list that doesn't sound southern to me. But based on the state alone, I'll keep 'em here. Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky



Portland, OR 2006 (from Cary Clarke)

Those of you who know me or remember my Portland proselytizing from past years will be unsurprised to see my first contribution (of hopefully several) to this year's jamboree deals with local music made here in Portland, OR. I maintain my position that we here are lucky to host the most exciting, vibrant and varied music scene in America, and the world has definitely been catching on over the past few years. This was a relatively quiet year for some of the bigger names here in town (Malkmus, Modest Mouse, The Shins, let alone the now defunct Sleater-Kinney), but some other acts broke through nationally in really exciting ways (The Thermals, The Decemberists, Viva Voce, The Blow). I'm uncertain yet whether I'll include PDX acts in my master Best of 2006 list, but in the meantime, here are my favorite 2006 releases from Stumptown, with links to mp3s, myspaces or what-have-you:

1) Parenthetical Girls - Safe As Houses
2) Alan Singley & Pants Machine - Lovingkindness (ed: Paul, I think you'll truly love this)
3) Evolutionary Jass Band - Change of Scene
4) Talkdemonic - Beat Romantic
5) Alela Diane - The Pirate's Gospel
6) Nice Nice - Fall EP/Winter EP (ed: This duo is one of the best live acts I've ever seen, and they just signed to Warp!)
7) Horse Feathers - Words Are Dead
8) Copy - Mobius Beard
9) The Blow - Paper Televison
10)Wet Confetti - Laughing, Gasping

If you have any interest in Portland music, I heartily encourage you to take a visit to the website for PDX Pop Now! which is a Portland-music-oriented non-profit I co-run up here. Among other things, we put on a 3-day, free, all-ages festival of local music, released a 2-disc compilation of local music, and put out a DVD of the 2005 festival. 2007 will be our 4th year - you should come for the festival in August!

I will also add that my band, At Dusk, released its 3rd album "You Can Know Danger" this year, all of which is available for download for free on our website.

As for 2007, I predict that Menomena's new album "Friend and Foe" is going to take the world by storm when it comes out next month.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Top 5 Fiction Books I Read in 2006

1. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close—Jonathan Safran Foer (I think I actually read this at the end of 2005, but, hey, it's my favorite book, I have to list it)
2. An Invisible Sign of My Own—Aimee Bender
3. Man Walks Into A Room—Nicole Krauss
4. History of Love—Nicole Krauss
5. Willful Creatures: Stories—Aimee Bender

Obviously, I stick with authors once I find ones I like. I am currently reading a great book recommended to me by Michelle McMahon, called Iceland. If I finish this before the New Year, this could bump Willful Creatures off the list. Looking forward to more posts!

Katie Byron

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Study Listening

Yeah, I'm pressing for a topic but I just couldn't wait to get the ball rolling. Here are the top ten live albums I've listened to while studying for finals these past couple of days.

10) Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again - Modest Mouse
9) Trials and Errors - Magnolia Electric Co.
8) Live - Built to Spill
7) MTV Unplugged in New York - Nirvana
6) Live in Tasmania - John Fahey
5) Live at the Palace, Hollywood, CA, April 24, 1994 - Pavement
4) The Rolling Stone's Rock and Roll Circus, December 11, 1968 - Various Artists
3) Live and Dangerous - Thin Lizzy
2) Live at Maxwell's - Reigning Sound
1) Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue - Bob Dylan

- Paul Bost, Co-Editor and Co-Founder

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Welcome, Best-Of Friends

Here we are in the twilight of our 2006. Let us gather our favorite and unfavorite things of this beloved year, rank or place-in-no-particular-order them, and display them here for several people to see. Check back often for new posts from other folks, and don't be shy about logging comments, be they kind, cruel, or neutral milk.