Sunday, December 27, 2009

The End!

Now that Christmas is over and everyone else in the world has sent out their end of the year lists and I have successfully avoided reading the ones most likely to annoy the hell out of me, here is the Bad Idea Potluck Year in Quality Music Recordings. Bands and musicians will be in bold on first reference in homage to Joe Carducci. (If you want the condensed version you'll have to wait until it comes out in Stomp and Stammer in January.) I've arranged it into categories because it's a long list. First, I'd like to draw your attention to/remind you of the many feminine divinities who tossed us a perfumed flower this year just when we were sure we'd never hear from them again.

Among them is Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, whom Momar liked so much. And I could include The's because of the rad double LP of their singles that came out.

After years of absence from the music scene, the legendary 
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Running For The Drum appeared with an odd mixture of rhinestone-cowgirl adult contemporary songs to puzzle over and tracks featuring native American drumming so sick that M.I.A. or Diplo should hurry up and see if she wants to do lunch sometime.

Almost as surprising, Exene Cervenka's somewhere gone is a great soundtrack for whatever you plan to do to revisit the '90s now that it's time, and I mean that in the best way possible. It's a poetic statement from Exene the wandering troubadour that reminds one of punk's roots in beatnickery. 

Then, even though their newer dub-reggae-gypsy-punk side is comparatively more orthodox than the
primitive stylings they’re known for, The Slits are in many ways more bizarre than they’ve ever been on Trapped Animal and, in fact, more bizarre than anyone else currently making music.

The year was better for all of them, but the strange and beautiful and only briefly absent Antony may have bested them all with the strange and beautiful Crying Light. That is, he might have were it not for Is It Love Or Desire, recorded by the even stranger and equally beautiful Betty Davis and only released this year thanks to Light in the Attic.

The ladies had a good, good year and as did rock music. Those two lines converged for me in Screaming Females' Power Move, which was absolutely the best rock album this year. I have no idea why Screaming Females isn't selling out stadiums where people buy expensive tickets so they can go inside and cry and cut themselves in abject worship.

Mika Miko put out a fun-to-the-point-of-being-meatheaded album and then split up, leaving a void that was quickly filled (at least in my little world) by any number of exciting all-girl messes.

Though nothing for me can top the rush of C.Y.S.L.A.B.F, Pens in particular seems to reach for the Pony Thrash Crown with Hey Friend, What You Doing? I include Vivian Girls in this category easily, because the band's sophomore album Everything Goes Wrong shows off a capacity for wild energy formerly concealed by the cool perfection of the eponymous debut. And then there was Brilliant Colors' Introducing and Finally Punk's Casual Goths. Get them all and make a mix and then jump around on the bed. 

(But if you really want to dance put on Kid Sister's debut Ultraviolet. I'm listening to it right now and it's making me feel like taking crazy risks, like, I don't know, buying another hip-hop album again someday. Plus, I want nails like she has on the album cover. I want them badly.) 

It all takes the sting out of letting go of Mika Miko. And Vivian Girls are coming close to filling the gaping hole that Sleater-Kinney left in my life. It works out see: Sleater-Kinney has a song called "I Wanna Be Yr Joey Ramone" and Vivian Girls has a guitar player named Cassie Ramone and they are both badass trios. Okay, it's working out for me.

The second best rock album of 2009 was In the Valley of Sickness by Thomas Function. Other favorites that didn't disappoint include Reigning Sound with the gently heartbreaking Love and Curses, Hunx and His Punx with the Gay Singles collection, The Dutchess and the Duke teaming up with Greg Ashley on Sunset / Sunrise, Pissed Jeans' King of Jeans, The Ettes with Do You Want Power, King Khan and BBQ Show with Invisible Girl, and especially The Mountain Goats with The Life of the World to Come.

And my beloved Stuart Murdoch went off on quite a tangent with God Help the Girl. It's a lovely, but not incredibly memorable album. It makes my list because it tells a memorable story that I plan to revisit. Still hoping the movie comes out.

I discovered new music this year too. Check out: Bloody Panda, Summon. I saw them live and the singer/screamer genuinely frightened me. They're some kind of art/death metal and I'm in love. 

But most of the stuff I got into this year is a lot easier on the ears. Pick up on: The Beets, Spit in the Face of People Who Don't Want to Be Cool; Thee Oh Sees, Dog Poison; Nite Jewel, Good Evening; Those Darlins, Those Darlins (Like Patsy Cline, Holly Golightly and a hot toddy. Extra points for random drunk driving PSA.); Music Go Music, Expressions; Madeline, White Flag; and Paramore, Brand New Eyes, because Jessica Hopper made me do it.

The best of all of these that I heard only this year were Thao with the Get Down Stay Down with the stunning, stinging Know Better Learn Faster; the ridiculously catchy and deliciously dark Blank Dogs, Under & Under; and The Rural Alberta AdvantageHometowns. This last one has love songs on it that give maturity a good name. The kind that make you want to go home and hug your old man. I hadn't heard anything like that in a long time. 

One last phenomenon that I really appreciated was the smattering of wide releases of previously obscure gems. Light in the Attic released, not just Is it Love or Desire, but gave Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 Histoire de Melody Nelson to Americans on CD this year. Then Drag City gave us Death, ... For the Whole World to See. The Numero Group gave us the amazing double LP of '70s soul that pairs with the photography book Light: On the South Side. Putting things like this in CD stores where the feckless likes of me can find them is the lord's work, I tell you. Special thanks to these great and wise record labels. So, that's it. Or at least that's how I remember it.

Editor's Note: I don't know what to tell you about what's going on with all the fonts and typefaces here. Sorry.


7inchatlanta said...

Good job tying The Vivian Girls to Sleater-Kinney. That was funnier than it was probably intended to be.

Bev said...

Now see, I'm damned if I say I thought it was funny and I'm damned if I just leave it alone.

7inchatlanta said...

I bought a Dead Milkmen t-shirt because I thought the one Cassie Ramone wears looks cool.

You know what they say, there's no stopping them once they dictate men's fashion.