"Best of?" Given the limited scope of what I've actually listened to, I'll just call it my favorites.
Album of the Year: Alice ColtraneWorld Sprituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (link)
Not a "new" album, but as the first wide release of this music, but new nonetheless. These songs were selected from four albums of Hare Krishna worship music Alice released between 1982 and 1995. Originally available only on cassettes directly from her ashram, the music has been re-mixed and re-mastered (not "remixed" though, just cleaned up). At many times this year, I've wanted to listen to nothing else. I have a hard time describing it... It's so many things together yet at the same time it sounds so detached from time and context. Hindu chants as gospel singing. Massive synths that feel like they should be from a specific date, but are more sui generis.
Honorable mentions in no specific order: GasNarkopop (link)
17 years since Pop and Wolfgang Voigt picks up the Gas moniker and dusts it off. It must be like riding a bicycle, because this is of the same stuff.
Sylvan EssoWhat Now
What if the Postal Service was more than a one-off, and the singer was a female with a lot of Americana influence, and the electronic musician was there in person rather than via tapes in the mail? It would be a lot like this.
Sarah DavachiAll My Circles Run (link)
Great near-classical ambient. Even though Gas is back doesn't mean those who took up that torch can't make their own great albums. Bonus marks for last year's Vergers, which I only first heard in the last weeks of 2016.
Aaron DillowaySwitches (link) The Gag File was touted and press-released, but I think this is a lot better, though I've learned nothing else about it. Noise-tape loops as Dilloway does them. Dread and menace.
Julien BakerTurn Out the Lights
Probably the only one that will show up on others' lists. A worthy follow-up to Sprained Ankle.
A new year is suppose to bring a clean slate, a time to start over. Politically, however, it seems rather hopeless. When things are dire what songs do you go to bring some hope? As usual Robert Pollard pretty much nails it with Hold on Hope, but I am sure there others. Also drop your lists.
We did the Holiday mix. It is awesome. A few new songs I didn't know and other ones that weren't in my regular rotation. Anyway, the awesomeness and previousness of that list doesn't mean this Friday we go silent on discussing holiday music. So. That's the thing.
I have a soft spot in my heart for songs that include a well placed cowbell. Typically at the end of a song when the cowbell comes out of nowhere and signals that the end of the song is upon us.
One great example is the cowbell at the end of the Rolling Stones’ Dead Flowers. The cowbell comes in right near the end of the song at the 3:48 mark. Two stark and clear peals, it’s off the beat and partly masks Mick’s singing but provides such a coda. The cowbell effectively ends the song and is the ultimate kiss off on what is an excellent kiss off song. It’s a great little touch from Charlie Watts.
Another great example is the cowbell at the end of The Replacements’ Don’t Ask Why. Different from Dead Flowers in that its part of the cacophony at the end of the song. It first comes at 1:41 of the song and and its three strikes mirror Paul singing “Don’t Ask Why.” Actually the first time there is only 2 peals and I always wondered if that was an error. Technically I don’t think this is a cowbell as there is an upward tone in the 3rd peal, although it could be where the bell is struck. Much like Dead Flowers, the bells put emphasis on what is another fantastic kiss off song. It drives me crazy. I was at the Replacements Tribute last weekend at the Turf Club and I missed it when the band didn’t have those bells.
Honorable mention goes to what I think is an electronic chime at the end of The Tourist from Radiohead. It’s literally the last thing you hear at the end of the song and the last thing you hear at the end of the entire album. I could write a whole post about the meaning of that chime.
Are there other small elements of a song that you always look for? Any good examples? Also drop your lists.
Sometimes there are songs that are played in TV episodes or movies that just... hit right. I'm thinking primarily of songs that already exist out in the world, and then get brought into the show/film. When they work right they just deepen the whole experience. The one that pops immediately to my mind is Moby's "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die" used in Stranger Things. I know there have been others throughout my life. I'm curious what has worked brilliantly in others' minds? Any times you've said "oh, they should have used this song instead!" or anything like that?
Is there a concert or recording session that you wish you were at to experience? Recording sessions would be cool to see how an iconic song or album was created and of course who wouldn’t want to see Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison or The Rolling Stones at The Excelsior Amusement Park?
A couple shows I’d love to have seen include The Beatles at the Cavern Club and maybe the Elvis Comeback show. Also when Dylan went electric at Newport to figure who booed.
Well, here you go, folks. One of these days I'm going to figure out how to break these into separate tracks, but today was not that day (too full, sorry). Please pick up your copy here (in two different file sizes; larger is higher quality). I think everyone got a track in, but don't hold me to that. Enjoy!
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Christmas All Over Again
Run Rudolph Run
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings (Feat. Sarah McLachlan)
Not the rad metal band, unfortunately. I am thinking about The Triple Rock, which is shutting down next week. It is my all time favorite venue, and I am pretty heartbroken to lose it. I didn't see a ton of shows there, but all of them were pretty memorable.
The first show I saw there was Okkervil River & John Vanderslice the weekend of my 22nd birthday. I took J to see The Wrens and Boris there. I was able to catch The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower on an incredible bill with The Locust. And in July, I got to see Mitski for the fourth time.
I'm sad I couldn't make it down for Boris last month. If I had more notice about it closing I probably would have done something to make it happen.
Does anyone else have good memories of the Triple Rock, or another now defunct venue? Drop those and/or your ten below.
It's the start of Wilco week here in the Twin Cities as our buddies from Chicago come to the Palace Theater next week for three shows. Apparently it will be Wilco's last three live shows for a while as they are taking 2018 off. We'll see. Wilco gets derided by some (including me at times) as Dad Rock, and let's face it songs like Box Full of Letters, definitely fit that bill. But Wilco puts out some pretty creative music too, especially since Nels Cline joined the fold. Above is Spiders (Kidsmoke) which I would argue is some pretty challenging music for dads to be rocking out to. Apparently they've been playing it a bunch on this tour. I'll get to see it on Thursday. I can't wait.
Hey , everyone, we're going to make a Holiday Mix this year!
I'll wait for the applause to die down...
Anyway, yeah, it'll be great fun. Here are the guidelines:
Place up to TWO songs in a 'Spoiler' box. Unlike the Summer Mix, the first choice does not automatically get in.
As with other mixes though, popularity reigns, so multiple nominations with increase the likelihood of selection.
No need to limit it to one particular holiday, but try to keep your choices within the "holiday season" theme.
Obviously there are plenty of different versions of the same song out there. If you want a particular performance, please note which artist you'd prefer (links wouldn't hurt just in case). If no artist is nominated, it will add weight if someone else did pick a specific performance of the same song.
The mix will tentatively be released on 24 Nov 2017 as that is the earliest possible date that holiday music is acceptable.
And finally, building on that last point, we request this post not be a discussion of your favorite holiday music, etc. We'll have plenty of time for that after Thanksgiving.
So, drop your lists, nominations, and any music news below (but chill on your favorite version of "Jingle Bells")!