Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Sickness

An ongoing battle with the flu has left me feeling like a desiccated bird.  The following loose ends are all I muster at the moment.

I reviewed Karrin Allyson's concert at the Folly Theater.

The Kansas City Star published a few dozen top album lists.

Deborah Brown is Plastic Sax's Person of the Year.

I participated in a Best Music of 2014 program on KCUR's Up to Date.  I also contributed Local Listen segments about BCR and Oleta Adams to the show.

I lost my mind over The Gobots' D-Boy Era in 2010.  What Happened to the World, the Jacka's new album, is the best thing he's done since then.  RIYL: Mac Dre, crack, Too Short.  Here's "Gang Starz".

I had to stop listening to Beautiful Life, Jimmy Greene's tribute to his late daughter, when a children's choir entered on "Ana's Song."

J. Cole's 2014 Forest Hills Drive is entertaining radio rap.  RIYL: Wale, rappers rapping about their careers, Kid Cudi.

I regret not listening to Sunny Sweeney's Provoked sooner.  It may be the best contemporary country album of 2014.  RIYL: Miranda Lambert, cheatin' songs, Kacey Musgraves.

Orange Goblin's Back From the Abyss is RIYL: Motorhead, beer, Black Sabbath.

Sleaford Mod's Divide and Exit is a hoot.  RIYL: Art Brut, getting yelled at, The Fall.

The hilarious Stromae demonstrates his great taste in a "What's In My Bag?" segment.

I respect the fact that a lot of my friends adore TV on the Radio's Seeds, but the album is not for me.  At every turn I expect the band to break into "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway."  RIYL: The Mars Volta, punk-prog, The Police's Synchronicity.  Here's "Happy Idiot".

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

No Quarter: The Top Reissues, Compilations and Soundtracks of 2014

Although the sounds on the top three titles listed below rearranged my DNA this year, I inadvertently neglected to include this list in my previous post.  Here's a corresponding Spotify playlist.

The Top Reissues, Compilations and Soundtracks of 2014
1. Francis Bebey- Psychedelic Sanza: 1982-1984
2. Various- Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960-1978
3. Various- The Sound of Siam, Volume 2- Molam & Luk Thung Isan from North-East Thailand 1970-1982
4. Miles Davis- Miles at The Fillmore: Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3
5. Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton (soundtrack)
6. Marshall Allen Presents: Sun Ra and His Arkestra- In the Orbit of Ra
7. Wheedle's Groove: Seattle's Finest In Funk & Soul 1965-75
8. Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label
9. Rolé: New Sounds of Brazil
10. Led Zeppelin- deluxe remasters

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Vote for Me Dummy: The Top Albums, Songs and Shows of 2014

The 50 Top Albums of 2014
Spotify playlist
I preferred Jim Lauderdale to Sturgill Simpson and Keyshia Cole to Mary J. Blige.

1. Flying Lotus- You're Dead!
2. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
3. Peter Schlamb- Tinks
4. Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens- Cold World
5. Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
6. The Architects- Border Wars (Episode II)
7. Kris Bowers- Heroes + Misfits
8. Keyshia Cole- Point of No Return
9. Joyce DiDonato- Stella di Napoli
10. Young Fathers- Dead

11. Budos Band- Burnt Offering
12. Jim Lauderdale- I'm a Song
13. Down- Down IV: Part II
14. Shabazz Palaces- Lese Majesty
15. Kelis- Food
16. Pallbearer- Foundations of Burden
17. Toni Braxton and Babyface- Love, Marriage & Divorce
18. Da Cruz- Disco e Progresso
19. Danilo Pérez- Panama 500
20. Leela James- Fall For You

21. The Jacka- What Happened to the World
22. Spoon- They Want My Soul
23. Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
24. Joyce Yang- Wild Dreams
25. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Kin
26. David Binney- Anacapa
27. Future- Honest
28. D'Angelo- Black Messiah
29. Rosanne Cash- The River & the Thread
30. Ambrose Akinmusire- The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint

31. Mutilation Rites- Harbinger
32. Black Milk- If There's a Hell Below
33. Various Blonde- Summer High
34. The Popper- Values, Respect, Loyalty & Beliefs
35. Angelique Kidjo- Eve
36. Ben Miller Band- Any Way, Shape or Form
37. SZA- Z
38. Lecrae- Anomaly
39. Coltsblood- Into the Unfathomable Abyss
40. Pharrell Williams- Girl

41. Takuya Kuroda- Rising Son
42. Triptykon- Melana Chasmata
43. Bob Mould- Beauty & Ruin
44. Mary J. Blige- The London Sessions
44. Ledisi- The Truth
45. Juilliard String Quartet- Elliott Carter: The Five String Quartets
46. GoGo Penguin- v2.0
47. Iceage- Plowing Into the Field of Love
48. The Project H- We Live Among the Lines
49. Bohren & Der Club of Gore- Piano Nights
50. D/Will- Reset

The 50 Top Songs of 2014
Spotify playlist
It may have been a weak year for albums, but 2014 was a stellar year for songs.

1. Skating Polly- "Alabama Movies"
2. Rick Ross, Kanye West and Big Sean- "Sanctified"
3. Michael Jackson- "Love Never Felt So Good"
4. Kendrick Lamar- "i"
5. Jack White- "High Ball Stepper"
6. Mary J. Blige- "Whole Damn Year"
7. Jeremih and YG- "Don't Tell 'Em"
8. Zara McFarlane- "Open Heart"
9. Jason Eady- "One, Two... Many"
10. Sam Smith- "Stay With Me"

11. Ledisi- "The Truth"
12. Guided By Voices- "Vote for Me Dummy"
13. Drive-By Truckers- "Primer Coat"
14. Joey Bada$$- "Big Dusty"
15. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks- "Lariat"
16. Freeway and the Jacka featuring Killa Mike- "Sunnah Boys"
17. Miniature Tigers- "Swimming Pool Blues"
18. Ex-Hex- "Beast"
19. Yelawolf- "'Til It's Gone"
20. Jhene Aiko- "The Worst"

21. Ume- "Black Stone"
22. Future with André 3000- "Benz Friendz"
23. Jenny Lewis- "Slippery Slopes"
24. Tech N9ne- "Strangeulation 1"
25. Robyn Hitchcock- "The Ghost In You"
26. T-Pain- "Drankin' Patna"
27. Black Lips- "Smiling"
28. Pharoahe Monch- "Damage"
29. Prince- "Funknroll"
30. FKA twigs- "Two Weeks"

31. Leela James featuring Anthony Hamilton- "Say That"
32. Rick Ross with Project Pat- "Elvis Presley Blvd."
33. Nick Waterhouse- "Sleeping Pills"
34. Die Antwoord- "Pitbull Terrier"
35. The Reverend Horton Heat- "Let Me Teach You How To Eat"
36. Doomtree- ".38 Airweight"
37. Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda- "Te Hubieras Ido Antes"
38. Tinashe- "2 On"
39. Yusuf- "Dying to Live"
40. Lizzo- "Paris"

41. Bonnie "Prince" Billy- "Quail and Dumplings"
42. Clipping- "Work Work"
43. Bobby Shmurda- "Hot Boy"
44. Beyoncé- "7/11"
45. Colbie Caillat- "Try"
46. Slipknot- "Custer"
47. F*cked Up- "Sun Glass"
48. Rickie Lee Jones- "Been on a Train"
49. Regina Carter- "Hickory Wind"
50. Big K.R.I.T.- "Cadillactica"

The 50 Top Shows of 2014
I'm going to fall about a dozen gigs short of my annual benchmark of 365.

1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds- Midland theater
2. Jessica Care Moore- Blue Room
3. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Topeka Performing Arts Center
4. Kraftwerk- Sony Centre (Toronto)
5. Bettye LaVette- Knuckleheads
6. Marijuana Deathsquads- RecordBar
7. Pharaoh Sanders- Blues Alley (Washington D.C.)
8. Miguel Zenón- Blue Room
9. Spoon- Liberty Hall
10. Lecrae- Independence Events Center

11. Kronos Quartet- Helzberg Hall
12. T-Pain- Crossroads KC
13. Living Color- Knuckleheads
14. Marmozets- Warped Tour at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
15. Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola- The Brick
16. Deborah Brown with Joe Lovano and Terrel Stafford- Prairie Village Jazz Festival
17. Chrisette Michele- Uptown Theater
18. Tony Bennett- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
19. Nicola Benedetti- Folly Theater
20. Maze- Municipal Auditorium

21. Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier- Folly Theater
22. Allen Toussaint- Folly Theater
23. Ladysmith Black Mambazo- Liberty Hall
24. Bahia Orchestra Project- Helzberg Hall
25. Shabazz Palaces- Riot Room patio
26. Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey- RecordBar
27. Nickel Creek- Uptown Theater
28. St. Vincent- Liberty Hall
29. Wolf Eyes- Riot Room patio
30. Joan Sebastian- Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

31. John Cale- Lawrence Arts Center
32. Black Label Society- Penn Valley Park
33. Morris Day & the Time- Parade Park
34. Burt Bacharach- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
35. Brad Cox- La Esquina
36. Marcus Hampton- Gem Theater
37. Regina Carter- Helzberg Hall
38. Lalah Hathaway- KC Live
39. Eric Taylor- Knuckleheads
40. Judas Priest- Midland theater

41. Brad Mehldau Trio- Folly Theater
42. Fitz & the Tantrums- KC Live
43. Eric Benét- KC Live
44. Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits- Town Center Plaza
45. John Scofield- Folly Theater
46. Guitarras Ibericas- Recital Hall at the Carlsen Center
47. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
48. Vine Street Rumble- Celebration at the Station at Union Station
49. Hunter Hayes- Sprint Center
50. Brother Ali- The Granada

The Ten Best Opening Acts of 2014
I get there early.

1.Suicidal Tendencies- Uptown Theater, for Slayer
2. Pusha T- Midland theater, for 2 Chainz
3. Kvelertak- Uptown Theater, for Mastodon
4. Electric Würms- Crossroads KC, for the Flaming Lips
5. King 810- Sprint Center, for Slipknot
6. Sarah Jarosz- Uptown Theater, for Nickel Creek
7. Thy Art Is Murder- Aftershock, for Emmure
8. Judy Collins- Knuckleheads, for Don McLean
9. Gary Clark, Jr.- for Kings of Leon, Sprint Center
10. Death Vessel- Horseshoe Tavern (Toronto), for Shearwater

(Original image of Hunter Hayes by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ian McLagan, 1945-2014

I've never met Mick Jagger.  It's probably just as well.  After all, what would we talk about?  I don't have any insights into jet ownership or luxury apartments in Cannes.  Talking to Ian McLagan was easy.  The occasional sideman for the Rolling Stones and a founding member of the Small Faces and the Faces was one of rock's most approachable stars.  Back when SXSW was more of a regional music conference than a global marketing platform, I made a point of catching McLagan perform at the Saxon Pub every March.  Watching a British legend joyously perform in a Texas roadhouse thrilled me.  His appearance in Kansas City at Davey's Uptown in 2004 (or maybe it was 2005) was even more rewarding.  Alas, McLagan's 2013 gig at Danny's in Lenexa was merely adequate.  McLagan died last week.

I reviewed Jenny Lewis' concert at Liberty Hall.

My favorite jazz performances of 2014 are listed at Plastic Sax.

It would be churlish of me not to share the "2014 Year In Review" promotional video from a company that employed me for several years.

Mary J. Blige's The London Sessions isn't quite as good as I'd been lead to believe.  RIYL: Keyshia Cole, pain, Charlie Wilson.

I'm horrified to confess that I find Room, the new collaboration between Julian Lage and Nels Cline, entirely unlistenable.

I sold my rarest Sun Ra vinyl years ago at $100 a pop.  Even so, I'm inclined to buy vinyl copies of Marshall Allen Presents: Sun Ra and His Arkestra- In the Orbit of Ra to give to my fashion-conscious friends this holiday season.  The new collection is an excellent introduction to Sun Ra.

Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of the Zombies are charming in their "What's In My Bag" segment.

"Yeezus Film" hints at the brilliance of Kanye West's 2013 tour.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Concert Review: Paolo Nutini at Knuckleheads

Sometimes you get what you pay for.

I jumped at the chance to catch a free show by the male version of Adele at one of my favorite venues on Saturday. 

Realizing that the room housing the primary indoor stage would reach capacity quickly, I showed up at Knuckleheads 75 minutes early.  As Paolo Nutini and his band conducted a sound check, I waited in line outside with a couple hundred shivering people.  I was the only member of the queue without a canned food donation.  The event was apparently promoted by 90.9 The Bridge as a charitable benefit, but I rarely listen to the station.

After buying a PBR man-can for $3.50, I secured a seat at the back of the room and immediately sensed trouble.  Everyone around me was in the celebratory mood associated with holiday weekends.  No one was talking about Nutini.

Sure enough, half of the people in attendance didn't even acknowledge Nutini and his band when the 55-minute show began.  After 15 minutes of not being able to make out individual songs, I fought my way to the front.  A generous friend found room for me at a prime table 20 feet from the stage.  I still couldn't hear. 

I sensed that  Nutini's sound crew created a lush mix that would have been ideal if no one was talking.  Yet chatter overwhelmed the music.  Two bros squeezed next to me were talking about "locking down" women, whatever that means.

While I couldn't make out individual instrumentation, Nutini's voice occasionally rose above the din.  His recordings don't lie.  Nutini is a superb singer who has staked out a prime territory between Otis Redding and Maxwell.

At least, that's what I think I heard.

I reviewed Slipknot's return to the Sprint Center.

I list the Top Jazz Albums of 2014 at Plastic Sax.

Ensemble Ibérica is releasing a new album next week.

Teddy Dibble conducts a show-and-tell with the face-themed album art in his vinyl collection.

Ottomans, the new album by Hidden Pictures, was released today.   RIYL: Crowded House, smart pop, OK Jones.

Bobby Keys has died.  I have a vague recollection of once seeing him perform as a member of Johnny Copeland's band.  Is that possible?

"Elvis Presley Blvd" is the best song on Rick Ross' entertaining Hood Billionaire.

I finally got around to listening to Eric Church's The Outsiders.  Like the little girl with the curl, when it's good, it's very, very good, but when it's bad, it's horrid.

How did I overlook Broken Ankles, the 2014 collaboration between Freeway and Girl Talk?  "Lived It" is excellent.

The Art of Conversation, the highly praised duet album by Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, is exquisite.  RIYL: tony clubs, New York City, elegance.

I'm not feeling De La Soul's new song "The People".

Syleena Johnson's Chapter 6: Couples Therapy is RIYL: Lalah Hathaway, heartache, Jill Scott.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)