Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top Music Videos of 2012

1. Bonnie "Prince" Billy- "I See a Darkness"
How can something so disturbing fill me with so much joy? (Old song, new video.)

2. Doomtree- "Bangarang"
"In the style of Doomtree."

3. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis- "Same Love"
It's about time.

4. Pig Destroyer- "The Diplomat"

5. Willis Earl Beal- "Evening's Kiss" video
"Fading away."

6. Brother Ali- "Only Life I Know"
Don't look away.

7. The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band- "Devils Look Like Angels"
The devil is real.

8. Die Antwoord- "I Fink U Freeky"
Speaking of the devil...

9. Flying Lotus- "Until the Quiet Comes"
A dream supreme.

10. Psy- "Gangnam Style"
Keepin' it real.

I conducted a similar exercise in 2011.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Top Ten Kansas City Music Videos of 2012

1. SSION- "Earthquake"
Mac Lethal and Strange Music aren't the only Kansas City-affiliated entities making worthwhile music videos.  One of several brilliant Cody Critcheloe efforts tops the list of my ten favorite entries of 2012.    

2. Krizz Kaliko- "Hello Walls"
The sensitive side of Strange Music.

3. thePhantom*- "Say You Love Me"
Big time.

4. Diverse- "Ni**as in Paris"
Small budget humor. 

5. Ces Cru- "Colosseum"
Big budget humor.

6. Making Movies- "Hangover Blues"
Spot your favorite musician.

7. Steddy P- "Local Heroes"
"Love in the hometown."

8. Conflicts- "Nuketown"
Conflicts may be KC's best rock band.

9. AJ Young- "How Do You Deal"
Why isn't this guy a star?

10. Mac Lethal- "You're vs. Your"
Mac Lethal has mastered the medium.

Worthy videos by Ebony Tusks, Empty Spaces and Adam Lee & the Dead Horse Company were disqualified from consideration for being too cool for YouTube.  XV (316), Stik Figa (785) and Krystle Warren (+33) were disqualified because of their area codes. (I made an exception for SSION.)

I conducted similar exercises in 2011 and 2010.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jimmy McCracklin, 1921-2012

At the advent of the CD era I decided to build a comprehensive collection of classic soul and R&B.   I began the process by acquiring material by giants like James Brown, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke and Aretha Franklin.  I was amazed to discover that the rewards didn't diminish as I worked my way down to the less heralded artists.  Bobby Byrd's funk, for instance, continues to enrich my life.  The quality of Don Covay's music is similarly astounding. 

I bought the pictured Jimmy McCracklin compilation for $8.99 at a CD Warehouse on September 18, 1997.  (The receipt is tucked into the booklet.)  Its contents blew my mind.  McCracklin could be as raw as Bobby Bland, as raunchy as Joe Turner and as soulful as Otis Redding.  The revelations didn't end there.

I discovered that the Beatles' "Get Back" is an, ahem, "tribute" to a McCracklin song of the same name.  "The Walk," recorded in 1957, obviously inspired countless songs.  And perhaps most notably, McCracklin wasn't really a bluesman.  McCracklin was a rock artist in the tradition of Ike Turner and Chuck Berry.  That McCracklin's music languishes in relative obscurity is a "Shame, Shame, Shame."  (A YouTube or Spotify upload of the classic song doesn't even exist!)

McCracklin died on December 20.

Fontella Bass has died.

I bet you didn't know that one of the best-selling classical albums of 2012 is by an ensemble based in rural Missouri.  Here's the EPK for Advent at Ephesus by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

Year-end listening: I finally listened to Scott Walker's Bish Bosch.  In a parallel universe- perhaps one in which I'm a disgraced Hungarian prince- it's my favorite album of 2012…  I don't know how I overlooked Anaal Nathrakh's Vanitas while I compiled my year-end album list.  Songs like "Of Fire, and F***ing Pigs" are really working for me right now.  I'm not kidding…  And how in the world did I miss out on the Menzingers' "Good Things"?  It's even better than the Japandroids. 

Why haven't any of you jerks told me about nouveau honky tonker Jason Eady?  RIYL: The Hag.

I'm not surprised that Rhymes-with-snake is threatening to sue retailers for their use of a certain motto.  This blog receives cease-and-desist notifications for merely mentioning him by name. 

My discovery of the week: Oklahoma's Parker Millsap.  Kid has a voice.  RIYL: the otherwise annoying foot-stomping folk fad.

A lot of my pals are excited about forthcoming shows by Bloc Pary and Jeff Mangum,  I'm most looking forward to catching Danielle de Niese at the Folly Theater on February 1.

Kansas City Click: Parallax returns to Take Five Coffee + Bar on Friday.

Feel free to join me Saturday at the RecordBar for Bill Goffrier's show.  Alas, it probably won't sound anything like this.

Samantha Fish plays Knuckleheads on Sunday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Marva Whitney, 1944-2012

After learning that Marva Whitney had passed, I attempted to explain her career to a teenager.  "She's the original Janelle Monae," I suggested.  "Like Monae, Whitney was a beautiful musician from Kansas City, Kansas, who rose to fame through her association with another artist."  Monae, of course, collaborated with Fun on one of the biggest hits of the new millennium.  Whitney worked with James Brown.  Tim Finn's 2006 interview with Brown includes fascinating insights into his relationship with Whitney.  Her death also serves as a bitter reminder of my limited influence.  Knowing that Whitney regularly performed in New York and Japan up until two or three years ago, I lobbied club owners, event programmers and Whitney's manager to book Whitney in Kansas City.  It never happened.

I discussed the year in music on KCUR's Up To Date last week.  Details are here.

Oh, Mac Lethal!

KCUR offers a multi-media profile of Amy Farrand.

Year-end listening: Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox is  a really good pop album…  Patti Smith's Banga would have made my year-end album list if I'd given it a proper airing prior to last week…  What I've heard of Willie Buck's Cell Phone Man is excellent.  RIYL: Delmark Records…  Algiers' "Blood" needs to be heard by people who appreciate mashups of Sun Ra, Eazy E, Sonic Youth and B.B. King… I've spent a lot of time listening to authorized bootlegs of Nicholas Payton concerts in 2012.  This one seems particularly good.

The Melvins'  animated tour diary is hilarious.

Matador Records chatted with Tom Ray of Vintage Vinyl.

Is it wrong to laugh at Danny Brown?

A guy from reggae legends The Meditations (!) recorded an excellent in-studio session for KJHK.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

We Out Here Tryna Function: The Top Albums and Songs of 2012

The Best Song Wasn't the Single: The Top 25 Albums of 2012
Listen to the There Stands the Glass playlist at Spotify.

1. Frank Ocean- Channel Orange
My initial attempts to resist this album were pure folly.

2. Christian Scott- Christian aTunde Adjuah
A sonic wormhole that connects 1965 to 2045.

3. Meshuggah- Koloss
I required colossal sounds to ameliorate the challenges of 2012.

4. Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Fear of a Black Planet and Stankonia rolled into one.

5. Hilary Hahn & Hauschka- Silfra
To paraphrase Stevie Wonder, this is the music of my mind.

6. Pat Metheny- Unity Band
Everything that's good about Pat Metheny in one place.

7. Iris DeMent- Sing the Delta
The word "authenticity" was thrown around a lot in 2012.  DeMent is as real as it gets.

8. Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Smart and compelling, this great album raises the bar.

9. Lionel Loueke- Heritage
The Native Dancer of 2012 was produced by Robert Glasper.

10. Krizz Kaliko- Kickin' & Screamin'
Kaliko subverts the Strange Music assembly line to create a personal album about life as an outcast.

11. Lee Fields & The Expressions- Faithful Man

12. Gojira- L’Enfant Sauvage

13. Brody Buster Band- Will Die Young

14. Bob Dylan- Tempest

15. Esbjorn Svensson Trio- 301

16. Jack White- Blunderbuss

17. Robert Glasper- Black Radio

18. Making Movies- A La Deriva

19. Sly & Robbie- Blackwood Dub

20. High On Fire- De Vermis Mysteriis

21. Flying Lotus- Until the Quiet Comes

22. Slash- Apocalyptic Love

23. T.J. Martley- Meditations Vol. 1

24. XV- Popular Culture

24. Neneh Cherry & the Thing- The Cherry Thing

25. Steddy P.- Better Make Room

I'ma Show You How To Turn It Up a Notch- The Top 25 Singles of 2012
Listen to the There Stands the Glass playlist at Spotify.

1. Lil Debbie & Riff Raff- "Michelle Obama"
They're trolling.  (At least I think they are.)  I'm not.  (Or am I?)

2. Beach House- "Myth"
Helping me to make it.

3. Kix Brooks- "New To This Town"
Sometimes I get so very tired.

4. E-40- "Function"
It's harder than it looks.

5. Tracey Thorn- "Joy"
"Joy" is the best new holiday song in years.

6. Alabama Shakes- "Hold On"
"Come on girl- you got to get back up!"

7. Carly Rae Jepsen- "Call Me Maybe"
What's not to love about this slice of pop perfection?

8. Kasey Musgraves- "Merry Go 'Round"
A classic pain song.

9. Esperanza Spalding- "Black Gold"
The theme of self-respect is universal.

10. Eric Church- "Springsteen"
This one's personal.

11. Usher- "Dive"

12. Nicki Minaj- "Beez in the Trap"

13. The Weeknd- "Wicked Games"

14. Christina Perri- "Distance"

15. Twin Shadow- "Five Seconds"

16. Nas- "Daughters"'

17. Japandroids- "The House That Heaven Built"

18. Kellie Pickler- "100 Proof"

19. The xx- "Angels"

20. Stone Sour- "Absolute Zero"

21. Brandy- "Put It Down"

22. Carlos Vives- "Volvi a Nacer"

23. Elle Varner- "Refill"

24. Dierks Bentley- "Tip It On Back"

25. Scissor Sisters- "Only the Horses"

I conducted similar year-end surveys in 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.  My favorite concerts of 2012 are listed here.  The picks of many of my Kansas City-based colleagues are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

The 33 Best Live Performances of 2012

I realized a lifelong dream in March when I experienced a concert at Royal Albert Hall.  It's no surprise, consequently, that the fulfillment of my ambition is my favorite show of the year.  The death of Barney McKenna- the last original "flounder" of the Dubliners- three weeks later adds to a sad sense of additional significance to the show.

Mind-bending performances by Vijay Iyer, Enrico Rava and Tord Gustavsen assured me of jazz's ongoing artistic vitality.  CS Luxem's unhinged gig allowed me to relive of my roots in punk rock house concerts.  Primus appears at #7 not because I'm a big fan (I'm not), but because the 3D and Quadrophonic experience it offered permanently raised the bar.  I heard Philip Glass amplified and a sublime acoustic outing by Europa Galante.

Why 33?  I've witnessed 330 individual performances so far in 2012.  My streak of taking in at least 365 individual performances per year has come to an end.

The 33 Best Shows of 2012
1. The Dubliners- Royal Albert Hall

2. The Vijay Iyer Trio- Folly Theater

3. The People's Liberation Big Band- RecordBar

4. Enrico Rava's Tribe- Winningstad Theatre

5. Vivica Genaux and Europa Galante- Folly Theater

6. CS Luxem- FOKL Center

7. Primus- Uptown Theater

8. Pat Metheny- Folly Theater

9. The Tord Gustavsen Quartet- Queen Elizabeth Hall

10. Philip Glass and Tim Fain- Helzberg Hall

11. Slipknot- Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

12. The Matt Otto Quartet- Westport Coffee House

13. Dead Sara- Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

14. Kelly Clarkson- Independence Events Center

15. Trivium- Liberty Memorial Park

16. James Taylor- Starlight Theatre

17. The Anat Cohen Quartet- Folly Theater

18. Tech N9ne- The Midland

19. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra- Folly Theater

20. Lamb of God- Uptown Theater

21. Mission of Burma- RecordBar

22. Hammerlord- Beaumont

23. The Gipsy Kings- The Midland

24. Bob Asher's tribute to Fela- RecordBar

25. Parallax- Take Five Coffee

26. Danzig- Uptown Theater

27. Mutemath- Beaumont

28. Alaturka- Kansas City Academy

29. Eddie Money- Old Shawnee Days

30. Delfeayo Marsalis- Blue Room

31. Bobby Watson with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra- Unity Temple on the Plaza

32. Slash- The Midland

33. The McFadden Brothers- Gem Theater

The Ten Best Opening Acts of 2012
1. American Head Charge- Beaumont, for Mushroomhead

2. Foxy Shazam- The Midland, for Slash

3. Testament- The Midland, for Anthrax

4. Darius Rucker- Sprint Center, for Lady Antebellum

5. Christina Perri- Starlight Theatre, for Jason Mraz

6. Making Movies- Knuckleheads, for Los Lobos

7. Sylosis- Uptown Theater, for Lamb of God

8. Orgone- Crossroads KC, for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band

9. King's X- Uptown Theater, for Kansas

10. Uncle Lucius- Crossroads KC, for Shooter Jennings

I conducted similar exercises in 2011, 2010 and 2009.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ravi Shankar, 1920-2012

I'd be lying if I suggested that the music of Ravi Shankar provided me with a spiritual awakening.  Yet his very existence played a vital role in my development as a listener.  Learning about the classical music of India via Shankar's celebrity was a genuine revelation.   Through Shankar I first became aware of a musical universe beyond the radio and Soul Train.   Or as Sun Ra put it, "There Are Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)".  Shankar died earlier this week.

Here's the latest- and possibly the last- recording by the Natural State.  RIYL: Mumford & Sons, Emmylou Harris, First Aid Kit.

Man Bear's free new Infinity Cat EP is RIYL Big Star, Teenage Fanclub.

Bittersweet- listen to "Kevin Walsh working at Hitt Records on Christmas Eve".

I'd held off finalizing my year-end album list until I heard The Game's Jesus Piece.  I needn't have waited.  It's a bitter disappointment.

2 Chainz has arrived.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Jason Vivone & the Billy Bats- Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Jason Vivone is one of the most respected blues musicians in Kansas City.  He and his band recently won the Missouri Lottery King of the Roots competition.  The ensemble will also represent the Kansas City Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis next month. 

Vivone knows his way around a guitar.  He has a terrific voice.  His songwriting is clever.  His respectful admiration of women is commendable.  Vivone clearly knows what's good.  I just wish his new album Lather. Rinse. Repeat was better.  Sure, it's superior to the majority of the standard-issue boogie that passes for blues these days.  But I want more.  Vivone has the potential, I think, to achieve the artistic heights of Jack White, Robert Cray and Gary Clark, Jr.  I won't be satisfied until Vivone makes that climb.

Here's solid footage of Vivone and the Billy Bats performing Lather. Rinse. Repeat's "The Nina, The Pinta, The Santa Maria".

Lamb of God, In Flames, Hellyeah and Sylosis were excellent at the Uptown Theater on Saturday.  Here's my review.

Former Kansas Citian Ed Cassidy has died.  (Original tip via BGO.)

Jenni Rivera has died.

Fado Novato's recent performance on a local television show is wonderful.

The last Streetside Records outlet is closing.  The story makes no mention of the legendary Kevin Walsh. 

I gave Cat Power's Sun one last shot to sink in.  It didn't work.  I respect the effort but the album's just not for me.

Tracey Thorn gets it.  "Joy" is a track from her somber new Christmas album.

I finally got around to watching a recording of last month's Latin Grammys.  Three observations- Joan Sebastian gave the best performance.  Caetano Veloso is a genius.  And thousands of potential sales were lost because of Univision's ongoing failure to use captions to identify artists.

A video for Anna Gourari's "Ich ruf' zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ" is exceedingly lovely.  

Kreayshawn is freaky genius.

Big Dipper has issued a new album.  Shh- it's a secret!

Kansas City Click: High On Fire is Monday's headliner at the Riot Room.

If it's still standing, the Riot Room hosts West End Motel on Tuesday.

Brian Setzer does whatever it is he does these days Wednesday at the Uptown.

Nikki Hill tears it up at Knuckleheads on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012

Oh, so now everyone's a jazz fan?  That was my initial reaction upon seeing my social media feed light up with acknowledgements of Dave Brubeck's death yesterday.  Then I corrected myself.  The instant tributes from rockers, hip hop heads and people who I didn't even know cared about music were were entirely genuine.  Everybody, it turns out, loved Dave Brubeck.  He was a generous man and a groundbreaking musician.  And he had actual hits!  While I love the popular stuff, I'm particularly partial to 1975: The Duets: Originals, the sublime album pictured above.  Here's a solo version of "Summer Song" from the same era.  One last note- when I saw Chris and Dan Brubeck perform in January, they exhibited the same sort of warmth and humility associated with their father.  That's the highest praise I can offer the great man.  

Steve Paul surveys the Grammy nominations accorded to Joyce DiDonato (and the Kansas City Symphony by association), the Kansas City Chorale, Pat Metheny and Janelle Monáe (via Fun's "We Are Young).

"Go Jesus, it's your birthday!"  "Crustified Christmas" by R.A. the Rugged Man and Mac Lethal is hilariously sacrilegious. 

Earl misses his dad.

"F**kin' Problems", a collaboration between A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and Rhymes-with-Snake, is an abomination.

Jel & Odd Nosdam's free Geti Beats, Vol. 1 is RIYL hip hop circa 1983, Anticon, Stones Throw.

I usually don't care for hectoring, but dang, Brother Ali's scathing "Only Life I Know" is powerful.

Additional year-end discoveries inspired by best-of lists:
  • Delicate Steve's Positive Force reminds me of a gauzy George Harrison album.
  • I'd heard a few tracks by Tame Impala's Lonerism but I finally gave it a serious listen last night.  Don't tell the cool kids that Tame Impala is merely updating this.  (And I like it.)
  • I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that Ann Powers turned me on to Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" via All Songs Considered.  Great song. 

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Review: Goat- World Music

Along with thousands of other music-obsessed dweebs, I enjoy sifting through the avalanche of year-end lists every December.  While deriding or admiring the selections of list-makers is fun, my real goal is to discover titles I had overlooked.  Spin's list included World Music by Goat.  A blurb suggested it was "an atlas-worth of psychedelic sounds."  I obviously had to check it out.  Apparently, there's a backstory that has some factions of the indie-rock world abuzz.  As much as I like a good hoax in the vein of Yma Sumac and Klaatu, I really don't care who's responsible for the danceable haze.   Fela + Acid Mothers Temple?  I'm in.  Look and listen.

Kendrick Lamar's appearance at the Midland on Sunday infuriated me.  Here's my review.

Making Movies' Conciencia Colectiva, a free odds-and-ends mixtape, is very worthwhile.

I'm smitten by bentcousin's "I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You".


Dread in-a Babylon, indeed.

Kansas City Click: John Stowell performs with Matt Otto at Westport Coffeehouse on Tuesday.

Speedwolf performs at the Riot Room on Wednesday.

Miles Bonny does his thing Thursday at the Kill Devil Club.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Graham Parker & the Rumour- Three Chords Good

What's the opposite of nostalgia?  Antonyms for the word- they include forgetfulness, pragmatic and unromantic- don't really convey my tepid reaction to the reunion of Graham Parker and the Rumour on the new album Three Chords Good.  It's their first collaboration since 1980's The Up Escalator.

The profound experiences I associate with 1979's Squeezing Out Sparks mean so much to me that I hope to never hear the recording again.  I've spent years trying to work through the things I went through as the album sat on my turntable.  Although Sparks is like kryptonite to me, I've kept tabs on Parker's career and have purchased physical copies of at least a dozen of his albums.  Even so, I've been over Parker for years.  It's not him- it's me.  As I became more interested in hip hop, jazz and metal, Parker's angry blue-eyed soul became less relevant to me. 

In spite of my misgivings, I felt obligated to give Three Chords Good a fair shake.  Two things immediately struck me. Parker's soulful snarl has lost none of its bite.  He sounds fantastic.  And The Rumour, not surprisingly, remain a first-rate pub rock band.  The new album even features a few welcome jazz-tinged moments.  By finding the sweet spot between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sam Cooke, the title track captures much of what makes the tandem great.  Even so, I'm just not feeling it.  It doesn't help that Three Chords Good's last three tracks are unbearably shrill.  Even if I agree with the sentiments, I really don't want to hear a reproductive rights song titled "Coathangers," a protest song about the "Last Bookstore in Town" or the anti-war screed "Arlington's Busy." 

If I had a chance to catch the current reunion tour, I'd buy a copy of Three Chords Good just to so I could frame an autographed copy of my favorite album cover of the year.  Thanks for the memories, Graham.  You'll have to carry on without me.

I reviewed Megadeth's appearance Wednesday at the Midland.

Mickey Baker has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

Steddy P was interviewed on KJHK.

Here's another new video from Kansas City hardcore band Conflicts.

Team the Best Team is the title of a new documentary about the Doomtree collective.

Lew Prince of Vintage Vinyl met with Barack Obama and testified to Congress earlier this week.

Of all the screwball schemes I've encountered, the Zappa estate's Roxy By Proxy proposal takes the cake.

Making Dollars: Clearing Up Spotify Payment Confusion is essential reading for anyone interested in the finances of online streaming.

Dag- I almost forgot about Grieves.

My discovery of the week is Googoosh.

I submitted my year-end top ten list to the powers-that-be.  You can't tell me that a selection from my top pick isn't a worthy update of "Bennie and the Jets."

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: The South Memphis String Band- Old Times There

The opportunity to audition an album without harboring any preconceived notions doesn't come around much anymore.  Yet a copy of Old Times There mysteriously found its way into one of my MP3 players.  Aside from the artist's name- The South Memphis String Band- I had no insights or clues into what I was hearing as I attempted to liberate some fat from my gut.

Sit-ups hurt.  The ensemble's concept made me even more uncomfortable.  It's one thing to appreciate Gus Cannon's 1920s performances of "Turnip Greens" and "Can You Blame the Colored Man?".  It's another thing entirely to hear faithful renditions of the songs that contain language and a worldview that are wholly unacceptable in 2012.  An unironic version of "Jimbo Jambo Land" is similarly squirm-inducing.  The material and the performances contained on Old Times There are undeniably great, but the misogyny and bygone racial backdrop are deeply disconcerting.

Who are these daring musicians and what are their subversive intentions?  As sweat dripped onto a keyboard, I learned that the South Memphis String Band is tthe all-star trio of Luther Dickinson, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus.  Wow!  Why didn't any of you jerks tell me about this band?

The project's disquieting themes have likely prohibited it from garnering more attention.   But that's precisely why the rough-hewn Old Times There is "important."  What place do "land of cotton" conventions have in contemporary society? The South Memphis String Band is fearlessly exploring those divisive boundaries.

Anyone with an affinity for Furry Lewis, Document Records and greasy skillets is advised to get hip to the South Memphis String Band.

Austin Peralta has died.  (Tip via BGO.)

Call me a sap, but I'm actually looking forward to listening to Alicia Keys' new album.

Kansas City Click: Mark Lowrey plays at the Majestic every Monday.

Abel Ramirez's big band appears every Tuesday at Finnegan's Hall.

Crosscurrent performs Wednesday at Kill Devil Club.

The Faceless serve as Thursday's headliner at the Beaumont.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Review: Flood Fest 2012

Is that reckless woman throwing darts going to put my eye out?  And why are drunk men hitting on me?  Those are just a couple of the disconcerting questions that crossed my mind as Smash the State performed at a dive bar on Thanksgiving Eve. 

The opportunity to put myself in uncomfortable situations is one of the most appealing aspects of any ambitious music festival.  A $10 pass for Flood Fest 2012 bought me a chance to see 30 relatively unheralded acts in six venues.  Smash the State appeared in a place I usually associate with the gauntlet of panhandlers that often gathers on a nearby sidewalk.

Smash the State was convincingly authentic.  The band's official bio encapsulates its aesthetic- (f)ive dirtbags, thugs, bastards and hooligans who have gotten together to bring hardcore punk rock back to KC.  Smash the State's perfect performance in a perfect place made my night.

For those about to rave?  Beats Antique's remix of the AC/DC classic is available as a free download.

The Rosebuds have a new Christmas album.

P.O.S updates fans about his health.

I regularly mock overtly sappy Christian music, but this somehow manages to speak to me.

The Weeknd's "Wicked Games" makes most everything else on commercial R&B and hip hop stations seem like child's play.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In the Lab at The Science of Rock

As a know-it-all introvert, I don't represent the target audience for the new Science of Rock exhibit at Union Station. 

I'm not going to learn much from the informational displays and I'm too self-conscious to flaunt my talents as a vocalist, drummer, guitarist, keyboardist or storyteller in the exhibit's engaging interactive features.  Those are personal problems.  Most people will find that the Science of Rock offers an entertaining and educational experience.  (It's slated to run through April.  Here's KSHB's report on the exhibit.)

Displays don't merely allow visitors to show off their Guitar Hero-style skills.  At a patron's discretion, performances can be filmed and emailed.  That's pretty cool.  I also admired a control panel that allows for creative remixes of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."  Local artifacts on display include the original mirror ball from the El Torrean Ballroom. 

The Science of Rock may not be for me, but it's fully capable of inspiring a teenager to become the next Krizz Kaliko or Bob Walkenhorst. 

I reviewed Rosanne Cash's appearance at the Folly Theater.

I spent three hours watching Sunday's broadcast of the American Music Awards.  The only things that didn't make me want to join a terrorist group were the performances by Kelly Clarkson (I adore her), Justin Bieber (I'm not kidding) and Nicki Minaj (I can't get enough). 

A friend posted four more previously unreleased Jay McShann tracks.  This is my favorite of the batch.

Pat Metheny uploaded a track from his forthcoming album to YouTube.

Tech N9ne's Ebah and Boiling Point see a physical release today.

Warning- a critical upgrade of Channel Orange at There Stands the Glass is forthcoming.

Frode Thingnæs has died.

News flash- Bill Frisell and his band are pretty good.

I'm taking a beating at my jazz blog.  Are Bobby and Hunter right in suggesting that I'm out of line?

Kansas City Click: Rick Estrin returns to Knuckleheads on Tuesday.

Flood Fest is Wednesday.

I'm barred from ever returning to the annual Thanksgiving blues dance, but I encourage everyone else to catch Ms. Jody at the show.

(Original images by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kidney Stew

I was enjoying a live stream of a performance by Dayna Stephens last night when emcee Josh Jackson asked the saxophonist to discuss his dire medical condition.  Stephens needs a new kidney. 

I immediately thought of longtime There Stands the Glass favorite P.O.S.  After the musician posted a video titled P.O.S Health Situation and Tour Cancellation at YouTube on October 19, fans rallied around him.  Over $36,000 has been donated at a crowdfunding site named Stef Needs a New KidneyTime magazine wrote about the phenomenal support the underground hip hop artist has received from his fans.  I understand that a new kidney has been located. 

In an odd instance of synchronicity, Taylor Eigsti uploaded a video to YouTube titled Help Dayna Stephens Find a Kidney! on October 19, 2011, exactly one year prior to the P.O.S video.  While P.O.S' plea has been viewed over 41,000 times in less than a month, Eigsti's video has been seen under 5,000 times in the past year. 

The dramatically reduced role of jazz in popular culture isn't merely an artistic matter.  Lives are at stake.  Details are available at Help Dayna Stephens.

"Music is the weapon."  The trailer for The Awakening of an Icon, a documentary about Fela, is intriguing.

Marc Myers' extended sidebar about Lalo Schifrin is fantastic.

Flaco Jimenez is featured in an excellent edition of Tiny Desk Concert.

I wish I was a member of the cult of Lee Hazelwood, but I've never completely understood the appeal. 

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: UMKC Conservatory's Brass Chamber Ensembles Concert at White Recital Hall

The floor of White Recital Hall's stage may have been the most revolting spot in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.  Spit valves unloaded the slimy contents of trumpets, tubas, French horns, trombones and euphoniums during an otherwise lovely recital.

A few members of the audience of about 100 slept through the 80-minute showcase of students enrolled in the The Conservatory of Music and Dance.  I was riveted by the variety of  textures featured in the lively presentation.  Six student ensembles and one "graduate fellowship" group performed.  Here are a handful of observations:
  • The combination of two French horns and bassoon is absolutely splendid.  I need more of that in my life.
  • The ensemble with the best name was clearly Heavy Metal Task Force. 
  • After performing The Nebraska Plains, a composition by "geometric khemist" Kerwin Young, the members of a quintet acknowledged Young's presence.  
  • I won't divulge names or places, but I witnessed one participant sitting in with a jazz band on Saturday night. 
  • A portion of the prodigious belly of a musician was exposed every time he took a breath.  I was mesmerized by the sight.
I intend to return to White Recital Hall tonight (Monday) to take in the Conservatory's "Jazz Combos" recital.  I'll be the guy who's making certain his stomach flab isn't inadvertently exposed.

I reviewed Deborah Brown's All Too Soon at Plastic Sax.

Cherokee Rock Rifle issued an apropos video for "Dead City Girl".

Pig Destoyer's "The Diplomat" might be the best music video of 2012.

Eivind Aarset's Dream Logic is enchanting.

Riff Raff and Lil' Debbie are hilarious in "Michelle Obama".  They are trolling, arent they?

Kansas City Click: Clint Ashlock leads the Monday jam session at the Blue Room.

Avery*Sunshine sings Tuesday at the Blue Room.

"Last Child" is on the setlist of Aerosmith current tour!  I may have to splurge on a ticket for Wednesday's concert at the Sprint Center. 

The Twilight Sad perform Thursday at the RecordBar.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review: John Proulx- The Best Thing For You

When I sold prerecorded music for a living in the pre-Napster era, releases like John Proulx's new album The Best Thing For You allowed me to make a small but meaningful impact on the industry.   While my bread and butter was simply facilitating reorders of strong catalog and making bank on obvious forthcoming bestsellers, playing an active role in breaking artists provided me with a great deal of satisfaction.  The new effort by Proulx fits my parameters: 

  • Can I succinctly pitch the album with genuine enthusiasm?  Yes.  John Proulx is going to the be the male version of Karrin Allyson!  Or, if you will, an earthier version of Michael Feinstein!  In fact, Feinstein is on the album!  We're going to sticker the album with that!  And if you're into jazz, you'll want to know that the album also features Sara Gazarek, Bob Sheppard, Bill Cunliffe and Joe Labarbera.  In addition to standards and originals, Proulx covers material by Billy Joel, Sarah McLachlan and "Sing"- the Joe Raposo song everyone knows from the Carpenters' version.  Let's get this title set up in every listening station and in-store play opportunity available!  Anyone who likes Michael Feinstein, Michael Franks, Basia, Sade or Oleta Adams will buy The Best Thing For You if they hear it!  Let's get behind this album and make it a hit! 
  • Is the album released by a record label with marketing dollars?  Yes. MaxJazz is operated by smart people who stand behind their product.
  • Is the packaging appealing?  Yes. As with all MaxJazz albums, the handsome packaging immediately conveys the type of music it contains.
  • Is there a definable audience for the album?  Yes. gay/straight, male/female, black/white, ages 30-70.  People who like jazz vocals, easy-listening and smooth jazz are potential buyers.
  • Does the artist tour?  Yes.  He's in Michigan, New Mexico, California and Washington this month.
  • What's that?  You want to know if I like it?  Well, I respect it.  Say, let's go out for drinks before tonight's game.  What's your favorite place near the stadium? 

And it'd work.  The buyers at Borders' headquarters in Ann Arbor would buy in.  So would mom-and-pops that catered to adults throughout the Midwest.  I'd make a few hundred additional dollars.  Just as importantly, I'd feel as if I was doing something meaningful. 

I reviewed Chase Compton's Elevated Preview.

Steddy P's new mix tape is titled While You Were Sleeping 2: End of the World Party.

Trampled Under Foot has a Kickstarter campaign.

Tech N9ne is "Alone".

The Led Zeppelin concert film Ceremony screens again on Tuesday, November 13 at Town Center 20 with IMAX- Leawood, Barrywoods 24 with IMAX and ETX- Kansas City and at Cinemark 20- Merriam.

Elliott Carter has died.  He was 103.

Ted Curson has died.  Dig the sound of genius.

Vieux Farka Toure and Idan Raichel reveal What's In My Bag?.

Here's my Record Store Day/Black Friday wish list, in case you're in a gifting mood: 7" Clark,Gene- "Echoes/I Found You", LP Judas Priest- Screaming For Vengeance [Picture Disc] and 7" White Stripes- "Fell In Love With A Girl" [Opaque Red].

"Things To Do In Wichita."

There Stands the Glass readers partial to Adele, the the Shangri-Las, Duffy and Beach House will flip their lids over Kirby Kaiser.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Review: Califone- Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People

I once spent a lot of time with the music of bands like Mercury Rev, Sparklehorse, Richard Buckner and Lambchop.

The musicians in these acts were inspired in part by what Greil Marcus called the "Old, Weird America."  For the purposes of There Stands the Glass, I'll call 'em post-Tom Waits bands.  Their dusty indie-rock draws on Beatnik jazz, the psychedelic folk of Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson and Jerry Garcia and the sonic mayhem of late-career Waits.

One of the best examples of the form is Califone's album Sometimes Good Weather Happens to Bad People.  It's just been reissued on vinyl by Jealous Butcher.  The original 2002 release compiled two separate late '90s recordings. 

Although I don't listen to the stuff much these days, the creaky, hushed, experimental music still resonates with me.

I reviewed Primus' game-changing concert Friday at the Uptown Theater.

I reviewed Lindsey Buckingham's solid appearance Sunday at Yardley Hall.

I shared some of my favorite music on a program about Kansas City's music scene on KCUR's Up to Date last week.  The program is available here.

I sat in with Chris Haghirian and Michael Byars for the most recent episode of The Mailbox.

Here's a new song from Steddy P.

I'm hardly an expert on the source material, but the fascinating Egyptian Project seems to be a cross-generational roots-based effort.

Time magazine offers a feel-good story about P.O.S' kidney situation.

Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti and Charlie Haden collaborated as Magico thirty years ago.  RIYL: ECM, breathing.

Buke and Gase are donating proceeds from sales of their new single to a hurricane relief effort in Red Bank, New Jersey.  The duo's version of "Blue Monday" is very fine.

Here's excellent footage of Dan Deacon's recent show at the Granada.

Kansas City Click: David Bazan will perform "Priests and Paramedics" Monday at the RecordBar.

Snuff Jazz returns to The Brick on Tuesday.

Young Guru hits the Czar Bar on Wednesday.

Candace Evans plays at EBT restaurant on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breaking Beats with Beethoven

Perhaps I've been listening to too much electronica. 

During the free Beethoven in the Village concert at Prairie Village Presbyterian Church last Sunday, I detected elements of dubstep in Symphony No. 5. in C minor, Op. 67.  Was Beethoven the first breakbeat artist?  Something about being teased with strands of melody before getting clobbered by a massive bass drop has been lighting up the pleasure centers of human brains for centuries. 

While No. 5 invited ecstasy, a rendition of Mass in C Major, Op. 61 induced impatient squirming among the audience of about 1,000.  It seemingly goes on forever.  By the time the piece finally ended, every patron in the two pews directly in front of me had fled.  The novelty of hearing a 90-piece choir perform with an orchestra loaded with prominent musicians including violinist Elizabeth Suh Lane and percussionist Mark Lowry was no match for the church's thinly-padded seating. 

The opportunity to stand during the closing Hymn to Joy came as a blessed relief.

Terry Callier has died.

The new promotional video for Wakarusa 2013 makes me want to drive in the opposite direction when the annual festival takes place next spring.  I didn't realize I harbored such a visceral dislike of the combination of dirty hippies, dubstep and tie-dye today's counterculture.

Macy Gray covered Talking Book.  And I like it.

Arvo Part's Adam's Lament was released this week.

I find the group-think receptions accorded to both good kid, m.A.A.d city and Kaleidoscope Dream extremely unappealing.  I eventually came around on Channel Orange- maybe that'll be the case with both of these universally acclaimed "album-of-the-year" candidates.

Kansas City Click: Troglodyte are among Gwar's opening acts Tuesday at the Beaumont.

The Black Lillies appear at Knuckleheads on Wednesday.

Mike Moreno performs at the Blue Room on Thursday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: The Sword- Apocryphon

I occasionally feel the need to be pulverized by bone-crushing riffs.  The Sword's monumental new album Apocryphon does the trick.  The album's full of pulverizing moments.  The Sword doesn't deviate from the tried-and-true formula established by Black Sabbath forty years ago.  The straightforward approach temporarily vanquishes my everyday problems and alters my consciousness more effectively than the consumption of drugs or alcohol.  Further analysis is pointless.  Rawk!

The performance by the Vijay Iyer Trio turned my mind inside out last Friday.   Even so, missing Vicente Fernandez's final Kansas City appearance that night really hurt.  Here's Tim Finn's review.

Try as I might, I just can't resist the allure of Regina Spektor's maudlin "How".

Hexvessel! RIYL: Kansas, the Moody Blues, Renaissance.

Bucket list item #791.

A documentary on Ben Lee?

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: XV- Squarians, Vol. 1

I realize that allowing a free mix tape to fill me with anger, disgust and disappointment is silly.

Squarians, Vol. 1, a project released by XV three days ago, is an execrable effort that's forced me to reconsider the ways in which I've championed the Wichita-based rapper for over four years.  Popular Culture, XV's previous 2012 mix tape, was a smart, innovative and entertaining concept album.  I was convinced that XV was destined to become the most popular rapper from Kansas or Missouri for all of the right reasons.  Apparently, I was wrong.

Squarians, Vol. 1 is an extended celebration of drugs and misogyny.  He takes a shot at 2 Chainz on "Got This Year," then proceeds to be every bit as dopey on the subsequent track "Ganja and Pasta."  (Ugh!)  "That Bowl" wouldn't be worthy of Asher Roth or Sam Adams.  "Now Let's Go In" panders to the University of Kansas.  The only tolerable track is a remake of "Be There, Be Square", a song recycled from Popular Culture.

My L7s are no longer in the air.

I reviewed Friday's concert by the Vijay Iyer Trio.

I reviewed Hammerween on Saturday.

The Kansas City Star offers the backstory on the death of Creepy Face.

video of the Natural State performing in ankle deep water in a cave captures the band's appeal.  I reviewed a recent gig by the Natural State here.

The video for "Sewer Dweller" has me excited about Conflicts' forthcoming EP.  

Awful news for There Stands the Glass favorite P.O.S.- his tour is postponed to enable him to get a kidney replacement.  He talks about it here

Jim Wunderle of Springfield has died.

Manu Katché's new album sounds very nice.

August Burns Red has released a Christmas album.

Although they lack the support of a record label, Australia's The Rubens sure look and sound like the next big thing.  "My Gun" is RIYL Gnarls Barkley, the Black Keys, commercial radio.

The black comedy of Mark Eitzel's Don't Be a Stranger video series continues to amuse me.

Et tu, Death Grips?  Rapping over the original vocal tracks doesn't work for me.

Kansas City Click: Todd Snider serves as Tuesday's headliner at Knuckleheads.

Enter Shikari are on Wednesday's bill at the Beaumont Club.

Whitey Morgan & the 78s play the Czar Bar on Thursday.

(Original image of defaced promotional poster by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Elizabeth Cook- Gospel Plow

I worshiped at St Paul's Cathedral earlier this year.  I'm a far cry from Anglican, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a sense of how it's done by the high and mighty.  The ceremony was beautiful.  Even so, Elizabeth Cook's 2012 release Gospel Plow is a more accurate reflection of my faith.  Raw country gospel speaks to me.  Here's a live version of "Hear Jerusalem Calling," the least appealing song on the project.  My favorite selection is a harrowing reading of Lou Reed's "Jesus," which almost certainly reveals a great deal about me.

John Tchicai and David Ware have died.

Maybe I should re-immerse myself in punk.  Based on this performance by No Statik, it shouldn't be difficult to get up to speed.

I love to see real people talking about music.  In this case, the subject is Oddisee.

The Pitch reports that Earwaxx, a record store in Gladstone, is closing.  (Via S.S.)

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: The Fresh and Onlys- Long Slow Dance

I regularly nicked 200 as one of the stars of my bowling league when I was ten years old.  Those glory days only come to mind when I drive past bowling alleys in the rain.  Just as I no longer bowl, I rarely think about the old Let's Active, Windbreakers and Lloyd Cole & the Commotions vinyl that's gathering dust in my basement.  My dormant love of '80s jangle pop requires a unique combination of esoteric stimuli to be rekindled.

Already burdened by an agonizing personal problem, I happened to stumble across The Fresh & Onlys' expertly wistful Long Slow Dance a few days ago.   Waves of repressed memories came flooding back. 

The first five tracks- including the excellent "Presence of Mind"- force me to recall everything about my life in 1986.  The remainder of the album contains a few twists that break the spell.  "Fire Alarm" throws an Ultravox-style synth into the mix while "Euphoria" brings Joy Division to mind.

Thanks for the trip, the Fresh & Onlys.  Yet because indulging in nostalgic reveries feels sinful to me, I won't spend any more time in the comforting arms of Long Slow Dance.

My five favorite acts at Saturday's Rhythm & Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival?  Thanks for asking.  They are Brian McKnight, the McFadden Brothers, Linda Shell & the Blues Thang, the Charles Perkins and Gerald Spaits Quartet and Joe Louis Walker.  Here's my review.

Here's the video for Super Black Market's "Dancing Drunk.  (Via Back to Rockville.)

Matt Bauer's cover of Prince's "Under the Cherry Moon" is worth a listen.

I just found out about Lindi Ortega.  The roots rocker is the opening act on Social D's new tour.

It should come as no surprise to readers of There Stands the Glass that Anthony Hamilton's "Pray For Me" is one of my favorite singles of 2012.


Kansas City Click: ZZ Top return to the Midland Theater on Tuesday.

The Riot Room hosts the Hudson Falcons on Wednesday.

Rob Scheps' Kansas City band plays at Take Five Coffee on Thursday.

The legendary Vicente Fernandez performs in Kansas City for the final time Friday at the Sprint Center.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Mike Mictlan- Snaxxx

Mike Mictlan's new mixtape Snaxxx is a drug album.   The title of this blog notwithstanding, I've recently become an anti-drug zealot.  Snaxxx, consequently, should infuriate me. 

Doomtree's Mictlan is far too talented to be easily dismissed.  Besides, Snaxxx's glorification of intoxicants is tempered by several acknowledgements of their ill effects.  On "85 Low 105 High" for instance, he raps that "15 was L.S.D., 16 was B and E, by 18 couldn't make the letters spell G.E.D."   He expresses bitterness that a childhood flame has become a successful business woman while he's barely getting by on "MCAD".

Nothing on Snaxxx is as epic as "Prizefight" or "Game Over".  And I must insist that you not watch the revolting video for "Spicy Peen". P.O.S., the biggest star of the Doomtree crew, pops up on two tracks including the old-school tribute "Syke!".  Yet Snaxxx is far more than a placeholder until P.O.S.'s new album We Don't Even Live Here comes out in couple weeks.

My conscious won't allow me to fully support the druggy project, but I encourage There Stands the Glass readers to splurge on one of the 300 limited edition Snaxxx Pizza Box packages.  Otherwise, it's available as a free download at Bandcamp.

I reviewed Esperanza Spalding's concert at Helzberg Hall.

Here's the video for Ebony Tusks' "Sioux Empire".

Black Oxygen made a video for "Insane".

Jamie Searle created a Kickstarter campaign for My Brothers and Sisters.

Adele's "Skyfall" is stellar.  But you already knew that.

On Wednesday, October 17, Led Zeppelin's Celebration Day will play at the following theaters in the Kansas City area: Town Center 20 with IMAX (Leawood), Barrywoods 24 with IMAX and ETX (north of the river) and Cinemark 20 (Merriam).

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Review: The Kansas City Wind Symphony at Village Presbyterian Church

Allow me to escort the elephant out of the room.  The Kansas City Wind Symphony doesn't perform at the same level as the Kansas City Symphony.  A "volunteer ensemble of professional and accomplished amateur musicians selected by competitive audition," the Wind Symphony plays a different repertoire and has an entirely different sensibility than Kansas City's best known classical institution. 

Over 300 people- including plenty of friends and family of the musicians- attended Sunday's free season-opening performance at Village Presbyterian Church.  Titled "Something Old: Favorites from our Past," the repertoire showcased during the 90-minute concert was pleasant but conservative.  Dr. Phillip Posey, the ensemble's conductor, made a telling comment as he surveyed the forthcoming season. 

"I promise not to play any of that weird stuff I played last year," Posey said.

My thoughts about that unfortunate attitude are posted here.

The concert opened with Paul Dukas' brief but charming "Fanfare pour Preceder La Peri."  The forced festiveness of Felix Mendelssohn's "Overture for Band" almost sent me scurrying for the exit.  I simply couldn't abide the constant chime of what I assume was a triangle.  Although some of it was a bit hazy, Percy Grainger's nostalgic "Lincolnshire Posy" showcased the entire ensemble.  Dr. Maria Harman's beautiful flute feature on Kent Kennan's "Night Soliloquy" provided the concert's most intriguing moments.  Pieces by Julie Giroux and James Barnes were less compelling. 

I'm thrilled that the Kansas City Symphony is performing to huge audiences in its second season at Helzberg Hall.  Lovers of symphonic music would be doing themselves a favor by also familiarizing themselves with the noble efforts of the Kansas City Wind Symphony.

I reviewed a concert by Kansas, King's X and That I Guy.

I chose the Kansas City Wind Symphony over a free Delfonics' concert on Sunday.  Based on this fan footage, I made the right call.

Antibalas is featured in a new Tiny Desk Concert.

Modern bluesman Nick Curran has died.

Who needs Psy when there's Riff Raff?

The Tord Gustavsen Quartet continues to put its spell on me.

Kansas City Click: Say Anything, one of my favorite emo bands, plays the Beaumont on Tuesday.

Bob Log III will do bad things at Davey's on Wednesday.

Fado Novato will make its debut performance Thursday at Grunauer.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)