Monday, June 27, 2011

Call That Brainstorming: Music Midway in 2011

Is 2011 a good year in music? Beats me. For every great thing (the rollout of and the rise of OFWGKTA) there are offsetting disappointing developments (Beyonce's disastrous new music and the premature deaths of Billy Bang, Nate Dogg and Gil Scott-Heron.) Well, I'm still here obsessing about music. Here are three lists containing sixty things I love.

25 Best Albums of 2011 (so far)
1. Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria- Lagrimas Mexicanas
2. Tech N9ne- All 6's and 7's
3. Reverend John Wilkins- You Can't Hurry God
4. Joe Lovano & Us Five- Bird Songs EPK
5. F*cked Up- David Comes To Life
6. David Binney- Graylen Epicenter
7. Mac Lethal- North Korean BBQ
8. The Go! Team- Rolling Blackouts
9. The Get-Up Kids- There Are Rules
10. James Farm- James Farm
11. Paul Simon- So Beautiful Or So What
12. Captain Black Big Band- Captain Black Big Band
13. Hospital Ships- Lonely Twin
14. Bon Iver- Bon Iver
15. Nicholas Payton- B*tches
16. Atmosphere- Family Sign
17. Israel Nash Gripka- Barn Doors and Concrete Floors
18. DJ 2-Tone Jones- Shaolin Jazz: The 37th Chamber
19. Pat Metheny- What's It All About
20. Terell Stafford- This Side of Strayhorn
21. Ambrose Akinmusire- When the Heart Emerges Glistening
22. Steddy P- What Happened Tomorrow
23. Mr. Marcos' V7- Sparkin' Your Mama
24. The Streets- Computers and Blues interactive film
25. Tyler the Creator- Goblin

25 Best Live Performances of 2011 (so far)
1. Joe Lovano & Us Five- Folly Theater
2. Deftones- VooDoo Lounge
3. Daniel Johnston with Capybara- Beaumont Club
4. Janelle Monae- Independence Events Center
5. Del McCoury with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band- Lied Center
6. Stone Sour- Rockfest
7. Kool Keith- Czar Bar
8. Bach Aria Soloists (tango concert)- All Souls Unitarian Church
9. Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience- VooDoo
10. Jonathan Butler- Gem Theater
11. Karrin Allyson- Folly Theater
12. Motley Crue- Sprint Center
13. Ingrid Fliter and the Kansas City Symphony- Lyric Theater
14. Old Crow Medicine Show- Crossroads KC
15. Diverse with Tony Tixier- Grant Recital Hall
16. Clutch- The Midland Theater
17. Todd Clouser- Record Bar
18. New Ear/Owen Cox- Union Station
19. Tribute to Miles Davis- Crosstown Station
20. Toots and the Maytals- Crossroads KC
21. Deborah Brown- Gem Theater
22. Snuff Jazz- Crosstown Station
23. Kenny Rogers- VooDoo Lounge
24. DJ P- Zebedee's
25. New Jazz Order- Polsky Theater

Ten Best Singles of 2011 (so far)
1. Tyler the Creator- "Yonkers"
2. Kelly Rowland- "Motivation"
3. Lil Wayne- "6 Foot 7 Foot"
4. Adele- "Rolling In the Deep"
5. Jill Scott with Anthony Hamilton- "So In Love"
6. Manchester Orchestra- "Simple Math"
7. Vybz Kartel featuring Sheba- "You & Him Deh"
8. Spoek Mathambo- "Control"
9. Ledisi- "Pieces of Me"
10. Mary Mary- "Walking"

(Original image of Motley Crue concert by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Priory

Priory performing "Kings of Troy" live, YouTube video stream

I laughed as I surveyed NPR's new "Best of the Year (so far)" list today. It's not that I'm dismissive of the selections. I respect The Decemberists, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Iron & Wine, Death Cab For Cutie and My Morning Jacket, six of the top ten picks. It's the predictability of the consensus voting that irks me. The problem is that developing and low-profile acts like Priory are inevitably overlooked. Like their better-publicized peers, the members of the Portland-based band are masters of melody and impeccable purveyors of discrete indie rock. The new self-titled album is very fine. Priory's primary flaw is that it exists in an overly crowded field- one that's already dominated by the aforementioned acts. Priory performs Sunday, June 26, at The Granada in Lawrence, and Monday, June 27, at the Riot Room in Kansas City.

Mike Waterson of The Watersons has died.

James "Pappy" Garrett of the area band Cadillac Flambe, was killed in a car accident last Sunday morning.

How dare I call the members of Motley Crue and Poison cartoonish! Here's my review of Tuesday's concert.

The devil is real. (Lord help me- I love these evil kids.)

The end is nigh, part two. (Love her, too!)

Kansas City Click: Norman Brown plays at Jazz In the Woods on Friday.

Del tha Funky Homosapien appears at the Riot Room on Saturday.

Crosstown Station hosts a tribute to Howard Iceberg on Sunday.

Priory plays the Riot Room on Monday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Take Me Out With the Crowd

People often say they don't like big crowds. Not me. I love attending outdoor festivals, sporting events and concerts in arenas. Even so, my affection for decidedly unpopular music often places me in nearly empty rooms. This is the scene at a performance I attended yesterday. The audience for a ten-piece band never numbered more than four while I was there. At least it was better than the same event on the previous Monday. I was the only listener last week. The music's great, but I don't think I can bear to go back. Warped Tour can't come soon enough.

This week's new releases, in order of personal preference: Ninety Miles, Bon Iver, Jill Scott, Gerald Wilson, Grieves, The Red Button, Dave Alvin, Gomez, Jim Lauderdale, In Flames, Laura Cantrell, Centro-Matic, The Black Dahlia Murder, The Bo-Keys, August Burns Red, Justin Moore, Messy Marv, Dave Valentin, Viva Voce and Pitbull.

Clarence Clemons has died.

Wild Man Fischer has died.

Rockabilly musician Mack Self has died.

I'm intrigued by a new set of ECM remixes.

Laurie Pepper has issued a 1980 session of Art Pepper recordings on her Widow's Taste label. A free download from the box set is available here. (Via Jazz Wax.)

Guess who has made a big band album?

Kansas City Click: Here's something I've never been able to write at There Stands the Glass: The New York Dolls are in town! The band is at the Sprint Center on Tuesday.

A Vibe Called Def will feature a live performance of Mos Def's Black On Both Sides Wednesday at the Blue Room.

The Lonely Forest is at Crosstown Station Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: David Bazan- Strange Negotiations

A lot of my acquaintances are baffled by my faith. Many people seem to think that drinking, cursing and headbanging are incompatible with spirituality. The most intolerant accusations, ironically, usually come from people who disdain religion entirely. David Bazan has dealt with these issues on a dramatic scale. While his relationship with God is none of my business, it continues to make for compelling music. Strange Negotiations, his latest post- Pedro the Lion album, combines the philosophical musings of vintage Richard Thompson with the toughness of contemporary rockers like F*cked Up. My favorite song on the album, "Virginia", is atypically austere.

The video for Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat's "The Copper Top" is devastating. Watch it and weep.

Pat Metheny continues to find new ways to blow my mind.

Carl Gardner of The Coasters has died. Here's my summer theme song.

I admired Old Crow Medicine Show's first concert in Kansas City, Missouri. Here's my review.

Kansas City Click: I don't know why another dude's name is attached to some of these blurbs, but these show previews- excepting the one for Ray LaMontagne- are mine. You can find my work every week in Ink Magazine.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sunburned and Constipated

I listened to the All Songs Considered podcast discussion of The Year's Best Music (So Far) yesterday. I enjoyed the effort even though I don't share the panelists' tastes. NPR Music, the forum's parent, offered a separate list that includes a handful of titles more to my liking. Even so, the sensibilities of these refined list makers is worlds removed from mine. "Sunburned and constipated," I responded when a friend asked how I was feeling yesterday. I blasted a rock station's broadcast of Korn's "Freak On a Leash" and Staind's "For You" during my commute from work last night. No, I don't have a CD player in my car. I don't even have A/C. My affection for disaffected music is undoubtedly related to that issue.

This week's new releases, in order of personal preference: Pat Metheny, Terakaft, Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce Da 5'9"), Aaron Goldberg/Guillermo Klein, Ledisi, , Erik Friedlander, Neil Young, Freddie Hubbard, Junior Boys, Madeleine Peyroux and Black Country Communion.

Marilyn Maye has been hospitalized.

I reviewed Deborah Brown's recent concert at Plastic Sax.

Music industry veteran Steve Popovich died June 8.

Seth Putnam of Anal C*nt has died.

Credentials HIp Hop, a Kansas City hip hop blog, is back on the scene.

Kansas City Click: March Fourth Marching Band performs at Crossroads KC on Tuesday.

Brandi Carlile is Wednesday's opener at Starlight.

Jason Ricci plays Knuckleheads on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Review: Mystic Number National Bank

Mystic Number National Bank- "St. James Infirmary" stream at YouTube

There are countless albums dating from the late '60s and early '70s by forgotten boogie bands. This is just another act with an embarrassingly overt debt to Cream. But because it's new to me, and because the band was from Kansas City, Mystic Number National Bank is among my current obsessions. I almost didn't give the self-titled album a try when I noticed that the opening track is titled "Blues Jam" and the closing song is titled "Blues So Bad." Thankfully, it's not all about Eric Clapton. The influences of the Mothers of Invention, Blood, Sweat & Tears and (unexpectedly) Neil Diamond provide balance. Kansas City's always been a boogie-happy town, but this album reminds me that the form doesn't have to be boring.

Here's a nice video synopsis of last week's amazing MidCoast Cares benefit for Joplin at Crosstown Station.

Chris Mills' notes on his experience at Wakarusa are illuminating.

All 6's and 7's, Tech N9ne's new album, is very good. Here's my review.

I reviewed a Kenny Rogers concert last night.

I reviewed Tuesday's performance by Toots and the Maytals a few days ago.

I don't know which I like more- Grieves or Rhymesayers' packaging EPKs.

Whoop whoop! The new Gathering of the Juggalos promo video is brilliant. The really good stuff starts around the 7:30 mark.

Kansas City Click: Deborah Brown is backed by a European band Saturday at the Blue Room and Sunday at the Gem Theater.

The People's Liberation Big Band return to the Record Bar on Sunday.

Ivan and Alyosha play the Record Bar on Monday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Review: Young Jeezy- The Real Is Back

Young Jeezy permanently changed my listening habits in 2005. The Snowman's impact on me wasn't directly related to the associated "No Snitchin'" mindset or the ingestion of drugs. I'd been deliberately avoiding succumbing to trap music, but "Go Crazy" forced me to realize that resistance was futile. I've been part of the problem ever since. "My President" aside, Jeezy has lazily repeated his recipe. His sing-song tributes to street life are musical junk food. I give the man credit for coming up with the formula, but there's been laughably little in the way of musical progression in the intervening years. A placeholder for Thug Motivation 103, the free mixtape The Real Is Back is more of the same. And yet I listen.

This week's new releases, in order of personal preference: Tech N9ne, Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent, F*cked Up, Artic Monkeys, Joe Jackson, Battles, Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian, Chick Corea, Joe Ely, Black Lips, Morbid Angel, Randy Travis, Craig Taborn, Ronnie Dunn, Frank Turner, Cults, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Tommy Castro, Dawes and Sondre Lerche.

I really like the new video for Tyler the Creator's "She." Does that make me a bad person?

Jazz pianist Ray Bryant has died. He's best know in pop culture for his hit "The Madison Time.

Benny Spellman has died. It doesn't get much better than this.

Andrew Gold has died.

Here's a new video featuring Mac Lethal and Irv da Phenom. (Via Tony's Kansas City.)

You'll need to fish around at his site to find the information, but Israel Nash Gripka is offering a three-song EP. Proceeds benefit Joplin's storm victims. Gripka's Barn Doors & Concrete Floors is my favorite folk-rock album of 2011.

Kansas City Click: Toots & the Maytals perform Tuesday at Crossroads KC.

Steve Poltz returns to Davey's on Wednesday.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat play the Record Bar on Thursday. Chatham County Line play Davey's on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Easy Does It: Lagrimas Mexicanas

"Aguela Mulher" stream at YouTube

It's been a noisy year. I've taken to relaxing to the sounds of Slayer and Albert Ayler. I'm geeked for tonight's Tech N9ne concert. Even so, the album I've listened to most in 2011 is Lagrimas Mexicanas, the quiet new collaboration between guitarist Bill Frisell and Vincious. The intoxicating project has even replaced Ali Farka Toure's The Source as my primary soundtrack during my regular visits to western Kansas. Sure- songs like "Aguela Mulher" could be characterized as fancy-pants easy listening music. Wanna make something of it?

That reminds me- "Have You Never Been Mellow?"

I don't regret downloading Young Jeezy's The Real is Back mixtape.

Here's a promotional video for my friend Corky's book of photography.

Members of The Kansas City Symphony are pleased with their new performance venue.

"Guntitled", the latest video from Ces Cru, features Mac Lethal. (Via Wayward Blog.)

I had my hopes up high. I expect great, not merely good, from Joe Ely. Here's my review of last night's performance.

Kansas City Click: Tech N9ne performs at the Midland Theater on Friday. Here's his ambitious new video for "He's a Mental Giant."

Bobby Watson collaborates with Bach Aria Soloists on Saturday.

Ben Harper performs at Crossroads KC on Sunday.

Sleigh Bells and Neon Indian play the Midland on Monday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)