Sunday, December 18, 2005

Year Ending

I am not involved in selling product so I am going to continue not doing my Best of 2005 until it is 2006. This will, if nothing else, give me more time to listen to what I have yet to hear. And re-listen to what I got that didn't grab me the first time through.

I'm not doing a films list because I don't see enough of what I think I'll like to have much of an opinion on the matter.

What I will do now is revisit my 2004 list. I revisited my 2003 list last year... and didn't come up with much to say but, well, I think it's a decent idea anyway. Mainly because I hate making lists but when I see that I still like what I did last year I feel better about making one for this year.

I'll start with the honorable mentions:
Budget Sinatra (local): Either Way I Win; Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands; Detachment Kit: Of This Blood; Dios: Dios; The Libertines: The Libertines; Mission of Burma: On/Off/On; DJ Shadow: In Tune and On Time [CD/DVD]; Sons and Daughters: Love the Cup; Squarepusher: Ultravisitor; Tilly & the Wall: Wild Like Children.
  • 10. Mountain Goats: We Shall All Be Healed
  • 9. Earlimart: Treble and Tremble
  • 8. Sonic Youth: Sonic Nurse
  • 7. The Sun: Did Your Mother Tell You? - I liked Love & Death but their second EP is better.
  • 6. Wilco: A Ghost Is Born
  • 5. Clinic: Winchester Cathedral - I wasn't so excited about this after downloading "Vertical Take Off In Egypt" from the website before the album came out... then again an instrumental was an odd choice as an introductory song.
  • 4. Modest Mouse: Good News for People Who Like Bad News - Last year it was the White Stripes that made the list with their 4th best album (out of 4.) Who will it be next year?
  • 3. Rilo Kiley: More Adventurous
  • 2. Interpol: Antics - My favorite is "Take You on a Cruise." Usually.
  • 1. Electrelane: The Power Out - I've talked about this album and this band a lot. 11 songs; 2 instrumentals, 1 in French, 1 in Spanish with lyrics taken from Juan Boscan and 1 in German with lyrics taken from Nietzsche... and this is a very reasonable progression from the first album which was almost entirely without vocals.
If I were to rework that now the Clinic would move up a spot or two and the Wilco might move another spot too... but that's about it. Well, I guess I'm less happy with my honorable mentions. I haven't listened to/watched that live DJ Shadow much. That Libertines album annoys me more than it entertains me now. And I've still listened to the other Squarepusher albums I own more than Ultravisitor (even counting just the time since that new one came out.)

Those may be replaced by the these albums I hadn't heard as of January 2005: Arcade Fire - Funeral, the Fiery Furnaces - Blueberry Boat, Autolux - Future Perfect. They're all certainly honorable mention material... though for that matter I'm not convinced that they're not all Top 10 material.

Not coincidentally all three of these bands played Coachella in 2005.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


12/10/05, the Clubhouse Music Venue, Tempe, AZ

First off, I was happily surprised to see a big line outside the venue as a drove up. I had half expected this show to be fairly empty. I'm not sure if it sold out (capacity is something near 800) but it was close. I can't recall a show there that was this packed - and they showed up early, too.

Toys That Kill opened, I liked them better than when they opened for the Suicide Machines a few months back but still nothing that really grabbed me.

Greg MacPherson played next. It started out with just Greg playing guitar and singing. This was compelling on it's own... then on the third song a second guitars slowly worked his way in. A drummer was added soon after. I'm not sure how to describe the music, heavy singer/songwriter punk doesn't seem to make much sense. I'd note a passing resemblance to the Mission of Burma that was playing during the set breaks but that might do more harm than good. I was close to picking up a CD but I refrained.

Contrary to my expectations this was completely a Propagandhi crowd. The venue was packed and the crowd went nuts as they started. The first two songs were new but still got big reactions... though nothing compared to everybody singing along to "Less Talk, More Rock" I must say, that's just nutty. The lyrics are complex and full of big words that flow oddly... and the crowd just nailed them.

The crowd was wild, the Clubhouse has an elongated front crowd area so they could never quite develop a circle pit but there was still plenty of attempts. It's fun working hard to stand up, pulling people off the ground, watching folks hold up shoes and hats during song breaks.

The encore break was rather odd; they stopped for a moment to work on a bass and then just walked off stage. After a couple minutes they came back for the much-requested "Fuck the Border" and two more songs.

I can no longer remember any order (and I know either the new album nor the early material) but I do know they played "Haillie Sellasse, Up Your Ass," "Apparently I'm A PC Facist (Because I Care About Both Human And Non-)" with "Nailing Descartes to the Wall/(Liquid) Meat Is Still Murder," "...And We Thought That Nation-States Were A Bad Idea" and "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes" also.

Very good show, very fun. I could've used better sound and possibly less sweat from other folks and it's too bad neither Chris Hannah nor John Samson are involved anymore but who am I to complain?

Friday, December 09, 2005


Thanksgiving happened. University of Arizona losing to Arizona State in the football did too. Attending was, however, still engaging.

After the game I saw the Phoenix Symphony. This was the second concert of my half-season; they did Kabalevsky's Colas Breugnon overture, Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto and, surprisingly, Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. Some Prokofiev had been scheduled; I can't recall getting any information on the change. The Tchai was the highlight of the night (not surprising) and was a bit quicker overall than what we saw two years ago with Van Cliburn at the piano.

I failed to go to a couple shows for various reasons, finished the Left Hand of Darkness.

I also received, started and finished 33 1/3: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim Cooper. It is about that album by Neutral Milk Hotel... in a broad sense.

The most surprising thing was how exciting reading this book was. When I was alerted to the fact that this book was coming out I knew it was a good idea; everyone I know that owns this album would totally read a book on it... but the books in this series have been a little hit and miss, at least from what I've heard. Various reviews on OK Computer make it sound like it's a technical analysis of the music whereas the reactions seem very mixed to Unknown Pleasures, Harvest, the Velvet Underground and Nico and, well, Loveless and Endtroducing... aren't out yet. This book, however, is exactly what it should be.

It discusses what it took to get to the album much more than it touches on the album itself. This is a good thing, I think, as the one chapter devoted to track-by-track comments is probably my least favorite (but still interesting.)

Most of the people involved (Julian Koster, Scott Spillane, Jeremy Barnes, Laura Carter, Robert Schneider) except Jeff were interviewed and we hear from them quite a bit.

It concerns the history of the band from the early home recordings in Ruston, LA to later home recordings in New York, Athens and Denver (OK, fine the Denver recordings were the ones released on the CDs that we've been listening to for years but they were still fairly primitive.) It also discusses how things changed after the release of Aeroplane and what has happened since.

In other news I hopefully will remember to write something about the Propagandhi show tomorrow night at the Clubhouse and the Rogue Wave show next Thursday at Modified Arts.