Monday, December 30, 2013

No Postcode Envy: The Top Albums of 2013

My lifelong fantasy of securing instant access to most of the world's recorded music was realized in 2013 when streaming services became seamless.  I listened to almost 1,000 new releases in their entirety this year.  It's no coincidence that 96 of my favorite 100 selections are represented on this corresponding Spotify playlist

1. Earl Sweatshirt- Doris
2. Pat Metheny- Tap: John Zorn’s Book of Angels, vol. 20
3. Kanye West- Yeezus
4. The Grisly Hand- Country Singles
5. José James- No Beginning No End
6. Dave Holland- Prism
7. Kvelertak- Meir
8. Ghostface Killah- Twelve Reasons To Die
9. Tech N9ne- Something Else
10. Lorde- Pure Heroine

11. Beyoncé- Beyoncé
12. Terri Lyne Carrington- Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue
13. Fidlar- Fidlar
14. M.I.A.- Matangi
15. A$AP Rocky- Long Live A$AP
16. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- Push the Sky Away
17. Mark Lowrey- Tangos for 18th Street
18. John Legend- Love In the Future
19. Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil
20. Barbara Hannigan and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France- Dutilleux: Correspondances

21. George Strait- Love Is Everything
22. Revocation- Revocation
23. King Khan & The Shrines- Idle No More
24. Gary Burton- Guided Tour
25. Otis Clay- Truth Is
26. Baptists- Bushcraft
27. Joe Lovano's Us Five- Cross Culture
28. Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba- Jama Ko
29. James Blake- Overgrown
30. The Architects- Border Wars Episode 1

31. Pusha T- My Name Is My Name
32. Bill Frisell- Big Sur
33. Charles Bradley- Victim of Love
34. Alaturka- Yalniz
35. The Haxan Cloak- Excavation
36. Pat Metheny- The Orchestrion Project
37. Buika- La Noche Mas Larga
38. Orrin Evans- It Was Beauty
39. Frank Wess- Magic 101
40. Childish Gambino- Because the Internet

40. Diarrhea Planet- I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
41. Jay Z- Magna Carta... Holy Grail
42. Monsieur Doumani- Grippy Grappa
43. Brandy Clark- 12 Stories
44. Skeletonwitch- Serpents Unleashed
45. Janelle Monáe- The Electric Lady
46. Rudresh Mahanthappa- Gamak
47. The Delfonics- Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics
48. Vieux Farka Touré- Mon Pays
49. Willie Nelson- Let's Face the Music and Dance
50. Ka- The Night's Gambit

51. Il Sogno del Marinaio- La Busta Gialla
52. Ben Goldberg- Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues
53. Brad Goode- Chicago Red
54. Deafheaven- Sunbather
55. Deer Tick- Negativity
56. Action Bronson- Saaab Stories
57. King Carnage- Ounce of Mercy, Pound of Flesh
58. Umphrey's McGee- Live From Summer Camp
59. Salif Keita- Talé
60. Cowboy Indian Bear- Live Old, Die Young

61. Pistol Annies- Pistol Up
62. Booker T- Sound the Alarm
63. Soweto Kinch- The Legend of Mike Smith
64. Dan Nicholls- Ruins
65. Mulatu Astatke- Sketches of Ethiopia
66. L'Orange & Stik Figa- The City Under the City
67. Bad Rabbits- American Love
68. Marc Cary Focus Trio- Four Directions
69. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell- Old Yellow Moon
70. DJ Muggs- Bass For Your Face

71. Dutch Newman- Schorre's Son
72. Quest- Live In Paris
73. Matmos- The Marriage of True Minds
74. Wavves- Afraid of Heights
75. Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle- The Freedom of Expression
76. Psychic Ills- One Track Mind
77. Damir Out Loud- Graduation Day
78. Helker- En Algun Lugar del Circulo
79. Lyal Strickland- Balanced on Barbed Wire
80. Broadcast- Berberian Sound Studio

81. Hospital Ships- Destruction In Yr Soul
82. Children of Bodom- Halo of Blood
83. Wayne Shorter- Without a Net
84. No Age- An Object
85. Wampire- Curiosity
86. Kasey Musgraves- Same Trailer Different Park
87. Pissed Jeans- Honeys
88. Samba Touré- Albala
89. Reggie B- DNA
90. The Relatives- Electric Word

91. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside- Untamed Beast
92. Ellery Eskelin- Mirage
93. Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals- Walk Through Exits Only
94. David Binney- Lifted Land
95. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels
96. Akkilles- Something You'd Say
97. Son Volt- Honky Tonk
98. Jaimeo Brown- Transcendence
99. Linda Oh- Sun Picture
100. Justin Timberlake- The 20/20 Experience

I conducted similar year-end surveys in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Top 40 of 2013

These songs- each is a single released in 2013- made me glad that I still listen to the radio.  Here's a corresponding Spotify playlist.

1. J. Cole featuring TLC- "Crooked Smile"
A most unlikely civil rights anthem.

2. Lorde- "Royals"
The zeitgeist.  

3. David Bowie- "Where Are We Now?"
The lion in winter.

4. Pusha T- "Numbers On the Boards"

5. Gary Allan- "It Ain't the Whiskey"
Drinking the pain away.

6. K. Michelle- "V.S.O.P."
Classic old-school R&B.

7. Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu- "Q.U.E.E.N."
"Am I a freak for getting down?"

8. Miley Cyrus- "We Can't Stop"
Can't stop, won't stop.

9. B.o.B- "We Still In This Bitch"
The soundtrack of the January 20  inauguration.

10. Ace Hood- "Bugatti"
Ridiculous but undeniable.

11. Action Bronson- "Strictly 4 My Jeeps"
12. Kelly Rowland- "Dirty Laundry"
13. Robin Thicke- "Blurred Lines"
14. Alice In Chains- "Stone"
15. Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake- "Holy Grail"
16. Toby Keith- "Drinks After Work"
17. A$AP Rocky- "Fashion Killa"
18. Marc Antony- "Vivir Mi Vida"
19. Justin Timberlake- "Suit & Tie"
20. Charlie Wilson- "My Love Is All I Have"

21. Volbeat- "Lola Montez"
22. Ms. Jody- "Still Strokin'"
23. Black Sabbath- "God Is Dead?"
24. Future- "Karate Chop (Remix)"
25. Foxygen- "San Francisco"
26. Jaheim- "Age Ain't a Factor"
27. Carlos Vives- "Como Le Gusta a Tu Cuerpo"
28. Ashley Monroe- "Like a Rose"
29. Tamar Braxton- "Love and War"
30. Yo Gotti- "Act Right"

31. Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly- "Cruise (Remix)"
32. Chris Brown- "Fine China"
33. Arctic Monkeys- "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?"
34. Bruce Springsteen- "High Hopes"
35. Lady Antebellum- "Downtown"
36. Dr#@e- "Started From the Bottom"
37. Alicia Keys featuring Maxwell- "Fire We Make"
38. The Uncluded- "Delicate Cycle"
39. Steel Panther- "Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World"
40. 2 Chainz- "Feds Watching"

Here's a Spotify playlist of my favorite singles of 2012.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ray Price, 1926-2013

Now blue ain't the word for the way that I feel…

I had a rocky relationship with my dad.  The outlaw country of Waylon, Willie, Kris and Bocephus was one of the few things we could agree on.   My dad also kept a more conventional hits collection by Ray Price in regular rotation.  I've continued to love those songs in the two decades since my dad died.  I saw Price for the first time at Knuckleheads in 2007.  Although I was "working," I shed simultaneous tears of joy and grief during much of the legend's vital concert.  Here's a representative performance.  Price died earlier this week.

I reviewed concerts by Steel Panther and Stone Temple Pilots.

I played music by Terri Lyne Carrington, Bobby Rush, Brandy Clark, Frank Wess and Stik Figa on KCUR's Up To Date yesterday.

Guitarist Dave Higgs, a founding member of Eddie and the Hot Rods, has died.  (Tip via Big Steve.)

My favorite tracks on the The 12 Days of Christmas (and Voting) compilation are by the Doo-Dads and Making Movies.

Because the Internet is the first Childish Gambino recording that speaks to me.  RIYL: emo rap, sad guys, Kid Cudi.

I can't stop thinking about last month's spectacular Kanye West concert.  An intriguing detail- ambient music including Burial's "U.K." provided the low-key soundtrack to the construction of the imposing mountain that served as West's backdrop.

There will always be a place in my life for albums like Scott Hamilton's Swedish Ballads… and More. RIYL: Ben Webster, moldy figs, Coleman Hawkins.

"As the Palaces Burn", the new documentary about Lamb of God, looks great.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 30 Best Live Performances of 2013

I caught a relatively meager 300 live performances in 2013.  The following list is a ranking of the ten percent I enjoyed most.

1. Bobby Rush- Living Room at Knuckleheads

2. Kanye West- Sprint Center

3. François Rabbath- Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel at Park University

4. Mary J. Blige- Sprint Center

5. Julian Lage and Jorge Roeder- Yardley Hall

6. Rakim- Riot Room

7. Miranda Lambert- Sporting Park

8. Miguel Zenón- Blue Room

9. Mumford & Sons- Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

10. Grizzly Bear- Uptown Theater

11. Alejandro Fernández- Sprint Center

12. Volbeat- Penn Valley Park

13. Dave Douglas- Blue Room

14. Vusi Mahlasela- Yardley Hall

15. People's Liberation Big Band- RecordBar

16. Diana Krall- Midland Theater

17. Lisa Henry- The Conference Center at Kansas City Kansas Community College

18. The Grisly Hand- Take Five Coffee + Bar

19. Limp Bizkit- Granada

20. Bonnie Raitt- Midland

21. Eliane Elias Trio- Folly Theater

22. Appleseed Cast- Riot Room

23. Iron Maiden- Sprint Center

24. The Mavericks- Knuckleheads

25. Kurt Elling- Gem Theater

26. Elena Urioste and Gabriela Martinez- Folly Theater

27. Bettye LaVette- 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival

28. Ben Sidran- White Theatre

29. They Might Be Giants- Crossroads KC

30. Sweet Honey In the Rock- Muriel Kauffman Theatre

I conducted similar exercises in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Concert Review: Ben Sidran at White Theatre

A bit of ugliness marred an otherwise engaging presentation by Ben Sidran at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday afternoon.

Following Sidran's lecture and demonstration, a befuddled man in the audience of about 200 seemed to mistake a question-and-answer session for a meeting of Racists Anonymous.

In a jarring monologue, a man who identified himself as a Christian repeatedly upheld a handful of Jewish stereotypes.  The subsequent commotion spoiled the remainder of the presentation and was the only thing I heard people discussing as they exited White Theatre.

It's too bad.  While promoting his current book There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream, Sidran made a convincing case for the importance of what he called "the Jewish meme" in American society.  He suggested that that not only is American popular music shaped in large part by Jewish musicians, composers and businessmen, but that Americans in the 20th century adopted the Jewish dream as the American dream.

Sidran performed material by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel to make his case.  He also parsed "Take Me Out To the Ballgame" and "Over the Rainbow" as (his phrase) "Jewish music."  During one of his many digressions, Sidran implied that a significant portion of Louis Armstrong's brilliance was inspired and guided by Jewish culture.

Sidran touches on many of the same themes in this recent discussion.

Joe Bihari of Modern Records has died.

Sterlin, the new album by She's a Keeper, was released on December 11. RIYL: The Lumineers, kids with banjos, Punch Brothers.

Eight months late- here's the video for Devon Allman and Samantha Fish's version of "Stop Dragging My Heart Around".

My top jazz albums of 2013 are posted at Plastic Sax.


Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Concert Review: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the Sprint Center

What kind of jerk spends $50 to see an artist he dislikes?  Me, that's who.  I can't even mention the name of the headliner at the Sprint Center on Saturday.  Google sends me a takedown notice every time I publish his name.  But that's not why he bugs me.  I just don't enjoy his raps. 

Yet there's no denying that he's changed the game.  And I've always relished seeing popular musicians at the peak of their fame.  That's why I bought the cheapest available ticket to see the Canadian.  Jeneé Osterheldt and Natalie Gallagher convey the excitement of the evening in their reviews.

Unlike them I was disappointed in Miguel's opening set.  It was my first time seeing Miguel, and I'd hoped that I'd finally understand why so many people I respect have been raving about him.  Maybe it was the lousy mix, but I remain unconvinced.

I am certain, however, that I spent my $50 wisely.  He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named may become even more popular, but he had his "moment" in Kansas City in 2013.  And I was there to hate it.

Chick Willis has died.  I spent a few nights dancing to his performances at area clubs and at festivals on both sides of the state line.  (Via BGO.)

Jim Hall has died.

I like the lineup of the Big Ears 2014 festival so much- Steve Reich! John Cale! Television! Marc Ribot!- that I looked at airfare between Kansas City and Knoxville.  It's not gonna work.

Dessa's Tiny Desk Concert is RIYL: Ani DiFranco, talent, Doomtree.

I finally made it all the way through (the official) Black Flag's new album What the….  It's not very good.  I liked it anyway.  RIYL: Greg Ginn, impotent rage, SST Records.

Albums discovered via 2013 year-end album lists (continued):
#9- Chucho Valdes' Border Free, RIYL: Gonzalo Rubalcaba, 1952 Havana, piano heroics.
#10 Sadao Watanabe's Outra Vez, RIYL: Stan Getz, octogenarians, Clare Fischer.
#11 SimakDialog's The 6th Story, RIYL: Soft Machine, wanky instrumentals, Tom Coster.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, December 06, 2013


Here's yet another confession that reflects poorly on my character.  During Vusi Mahlasela's performance at Yardley Hall a couple months ago, I kept wishing that the South African would focus on showcasing his rapturous singing rather than talking at length about Nelson Mandela. 

My companion didn't share my frustration.  She's since repeatedly reminded me of the Mandela-inspired ideal of forgiveness that Mahlasela spoke of that night.  Furthermore, it was apparent that Mahlasela viewed art and politics as inseparable parts of the same entity.

Much of my anxiousness derived from the fact that so few performers from the African continent appear in the Kansas City area.  The only African musicians I saw in 2013 were Mahlasela and the Malian kora master Yacouba Sissoko.  It wasn't always this way.

There was a glorious, twerk-filled era- I'll estimate that it spanned the years between 1985 and 1995- when African musicians regularly toured the midwest.  I frequently caught acts like Congo's Kanda Bongo Man and Nigeria's Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey in clubs.  These types of shows were so common that I can't recall if I ever saw Congo's Tabu Ley Rochereau.  I do remember that the pictured CD was in heavy rotation in my apartment in 1994-95.  Such joy!  Tabu Ley, one of the originators of soukous, died on November 30.  (Initial tip via Big Steve.)

"Toyokana," Tabu Ley sings on "Requistoire"We must understand. 

My review of Tuesday's under-attended concert by Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar became a meme.  Reddit (over 4,000 comments), the Drudge Report, Radar, the Huffington Post and Gawker are among the outlets that picked it up.  As the most read story at The Kansas City Star's site for several hours, it's racked up over 800 comments.  The general consensus: 80% hate West, 15% defend West, 5% think the reviewer is an idiot. 

The Kansas City Star published a few year-end top ten lists, including my own.  Fear not, There Stands the Glass readers- an expanded list will appear at this site soon.

I reviewed Bobby Watson's Check Cashing Day at Plastic Sax.

Here's Tim Finn's wrap-up of the "best local music of 2013.

Billboard published a breathless profile of the Strange Music empire.

Akkilles' video for "Your Only One" works for me. RIYL: Sea Change, stock footage, Wilco.

"Blind Tiger", the latest video from L'Orange and Stik Figa's collaboration, is excellent. RIYL: J Dilla, backpacks, Gang Starr.

Radkey's video for "Start Freaking Out" is representative of the band's shows.  RIYL: The Misfits, teen angst, Danzig.

DJ and producer Wrillez Basics is profiled in a five-minute video. RIYL: awkward dudes, basements, EDM. (Via Tony's Kansas City.)

"Wanna Go" is the latest video from Chase Compton.  RIYL: Tyga, marijuana, Mac Miller.

Junior Murvin has died.

Dick Dodd of the Standells has died.


Last week's Soul Train Awards may have been a crass vehicle to promote programs on BET and Centric, but the music was excellent.  I loved performances by Big Daddy Kane, Ron Isley, Bobby Caldwell, Slick Rick and Tamar Braxton.

Phox may become huge.  The band recently appeared at Lawrence High School's Classroom Sessions.

Doomtree is "Team the Best Team".

Albums discovered via 2013 year-end album lists:
#1-Charlie Parr's Barnswallow, RIYL: Split Lip Rayfield, the real deal, Dave Van Ronk.
#2 Oblivians' Desperation, RIYL: The New York Dolls, body odor, Fidlar.
#3 Dawn of Midi's Dysnomia, RIYL: headaches, Philip Glass, metronomes.
#4 Karnivool's Asymmetry, RIYL: Tool's first album, Tool's second album, Tool's third album.
#5 Suun's Images du Futur, RIYL: Deerhoof, motion sickness, Spiritualized.
#6 Violent Soho's Hungry Ghost, RIYL: Wavves, nostalgia for 1993, Silverchair.
#7 Tim Easton's Not Cool, RIYL: Wayne Hancock, new sounds from artists you'd pigeonholed, Nick Lowe.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)