I have yet to scribe my definitive best films of 2009 list (a favorite ritual of mine) because here in the Midwest, we're late to the late-season flick parade. I can rightfully put Role Models, Inglorious Basterds, Drag Me To Hell, Up, and Antichrist on there, but I've yet to take in the Hurt Locker or Fantastic Mr. Fox or Knowing for that matter. Knowing? Yes. Thanks to Werner Herzog, I'm back on a Nicholas Cage kick. Herzog let him run loose in New Orleans and the results are hilarious, intriguing, and as maniacal as any film in Herzog's oeuvre -- and it's all set against the canvas of a cliched made-for-tv cop movie. One thing I'm sure of, I won't see a better film from 2009 than Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. "His soul is still dancing."
A few years ago I had the good fortune of seeing one of Lindstrøm's first ever U.S. performances in Austin, TX. Of course the frenzy of SXSW had him spinning in an ill-equipped, douche-ridden, cowboy bar directly on 6th St. and of course his mostly chill yet undeniably psychedelic-house rhythms, were too abbreviated to really get lost in -- the fully lit, wood-paneled environs, splayed with televisions airing March Madness games didn't help -- but I got the gist. He has a gift. The Norse DJ is a cut above his peers with a vision for craft that transcends beyond the electronique boutique.
That brings us to the now. The 2010. I'm not going to prognosticate all Indie Rock Nostradamus, because after all, what do we have to look forward to in the dawn of this new decade? Vampire Weekend? Spoon? Well, I am intrigued to hear how James Murphy has morphed LCD Soundsytem for a new era, but for now, the only release I'm genuinely excited for is Lindstrøm's collaboration with siren-singer Christabelle. Real Life is No Cool might actually supplant LCD as the party record of the near future. This LP is ripe with jams veering between the malleable parameters of Prince/Suicide/ELO/Moroder -- zig-zagging from fully disco-balled Italo skin-brands to spacey specked minimalist melodies that ravage the subconscious in sleep. I've listened to this multiple times since discovering it and have yet to find a clunker. Album of the Year? We still get the Pantha du Prince album any day now, so hold your Merriweather Post Pavilion applause until all the chips are counted.
Fan made vid here for "Music in My Mind" -- spliced with scenes from Vicky Christina Barcelona. I can't complain...it's not as if my adoration for Penelope Cruz is a secret.
It happens every year. I whittle down top twenty lists and still have tons left over that I want to purge about. Then the holidays roll around and you end up consuming even more music and things get itchy. Here's my personal page on the Agit-Reader, and what keeps intriguing me are the albums I suggested that I was pretty sure nobody heard. Please take the time to re-visit. Especially that Odawas record and the Night Control. Then's there's the case of Circulatory System making a welcome and dense return, while my fav idol runner-up, Alison Iraheta head straight to the cut-out bin though her debut is one of the best pop records of the decade. Seriously, "Beat Me Up" ? Please go read some of this, then go listen. I'm still calculating film lists and (gasp) decade lists (am I late?), so look for more soon.
Sub. Ref. agit-reader
I'm always amazed how iconic a song so utterly "British" is among the classic songs of Christmas. My ubiquitous mandatory workplace Christmas selections are heavy on the "christ" side of the holiday spectrum, but every four hours or so the sound of Paul Young's voice permeates the stale air. For that matter so does George Micheal's who dominates parts of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and has the second best British Christmas single in "Last Christmas." The voices on "Do They Know It's Christmas" are penetrating -- Bono, Sting, Boy George, Bananarama. This song is the regal Christmas we all see in provincial dreams of a snow covered London -- the bells, the swells, the choir of bad teeth.
Little did the rest of the world know there was Band Aid II (see if you can name more than five artists here, BROS.) Or that there was a Band Aid 20, with Chris Coldplay no less, and a repeat performance from Bono. Still, nothing touches the original.
Sade hasn't released an album in a decade. Somehow, after looking over her astounding statistics as a platinum artist (every one of her five studio records was a top ten), I doubt the prolonged absence will steal her thunder. Who hasn't been enraptured by "Smooth Operator" once in their life? She is the ultimate quiet storm, but also a force on the pop charts, and bigger than life outside of the states. Why has it taken so long for me to realize the power of this luxury music. It may be the preferred luxury music for luxury people (imagine Tiger Wood's lover's suite), a smooth jazz staple, bourgeois exotica, but the force of her voice and the function of that voice to transport any listener to North African opium cabanas and Bangkok moonlight is something we need to reconsider as a cultural touchstone. Especially considering she's survived for decades and doesn't seem to age. I'll admit the "Soldier of Love" single is a tad out of touch, but I likely thought that the first time I heard "No Ordinary Love" (shit's like Tricky for your dad). Enjoy a tiny retrospective.
And now I've discovered her videos were as ambitious as Bjork's. W.O.W.
Sub. Ref. late night
Could I be somewhat bored with rock music, or just infatuated enough with the entire dubstep universe that I'm digging into 12"s and hour-long mixtapes more than I ever had before? A bit of both. Still just dipping my toes in this pool for now, but with each passing day I'm finding myself researching more and more, falling further down the rabbit hole. Pictured above is Joker --- and I heard a recent live show in Austin was nothing but his own material for two hours plus. That's something I can get behind. Is this the new psychedelic? Well, it's the warmest, most introspective and personal version of electronic music I've heard since....what....the Krauts.
So, I'll have to admit my base knowledge when it comes to "who" is the best -- I'm preferring Guido, the aforementioned Joker, the "legend" Burial, Gemmy, Zomby, Cooly G, Subeena, Rustie....and the list goes on. I'll have to admit I'm not sure how the sub-genres of dubstep are distinguished from one another yet -- I'm preferring "wonky." And, unfortunately, I've yet to see someone build these beautiful nightmares in a live setting. Don't think Columbus will ever be a magnet for the circuit. Maybe I'll try? For now, I'll have to trust things like the excellent Passion of the Weiss (an excellent L.A. writer who seems to have a grasp on all the up and comers), Resident Advisor (the global source for all things electronic), and staying up late with Mary Anne Hobbs on her BBC 1 Program, where she reports on the pulse of dubstep's epicenter in Bristol. Below is a primer, made by Hobbs, proliferating this "movement." We are on the brink.
Every 'round here keeps talking about the best local albums -- if we parcel off records by TNV and the Psych-Horse as "national" then it's really slim pickings. Despite those on the peripheries "trying" to save the slump -- besides the gold mine that is Columbus Discount Records and a few stray releases from their roster (Cheater Slicks, Cheater Slicks) -- it's really slim pickings. I thought I liked Karate Coyote, but what have they given men in return? Love the Lindsay, but want some vinyl guys. Anyone else? Waiting for a Flu Faker record. A Nick Tolford record. Mike Rep bluegrass. Nudge UFO concept album. Tommy Jay two-fer. With the bounty of new bands that have propped up in the last 12 months, how come you kids can't start your own label? Where is the vinyl?
By default, but that would be an insult really, the greatest band in the land right now, and currently winding down their best year ever -- is El Jesus De Magico. With three excellent releases, Scalping the Guru LP, Unclean Ghost 7" and the recently released Klip Aught EP they kind of swept the "local" grammys. If there's one pile of records you want to surprise your sweetie with this x-mas, go with these -- you won't find better in this town.
Here's video of the boys and girls playing the Agit-Reader one-year anniversary back in June. Recognize.
Notice "Box Seats" is a tag herein. I've changed my stance on seasonal highs -- it's no longer Opening Day, it's now Reds Fest. I felt maybe I was in St. Louis for a day. A place where the fans show up even in early December, even when the Cincinnati Bearcats can maneuver a National Championship bid, even when the streets of downtown Queen City are as barren as.....well, the streets of downtown Queen City is on Saturdays in early December. You've wasted your city, so let's not waste the team. Optimism seemed at an all time high. Even when getting photos and autographs with Drew Stubbs and Chris Dickerson.
While I'm a long-time supporter, I can honestly say these cardboard heroes are the closest I got to a team. All kidding aside, I have hope. Seeing Edison Volquez, broken as he may be, strutting through the promenade as the franchise, gave me hope. We missed quite a few legends (Tom Browning, GLENN BRAGGS (take that Wavves), and Joe Oliver) due to autograph hounds virtually clogging the lines (who needs an autograph these days? Adam just wanted to stare), but fortunately got within ear-shot of others.......
Like Eric "The Red" Davis, who looked as if he could still easily play CF in place of Willy Tavares. In all actuality, though I saw Brandon Phillips hamming it up in the Kid's Line, could have been named "Most Genial" Red of the entire day. Then there was George Foster -- the Redleg's HR King, who we glimpsed giving autographs through the entire Convention Center. The whole spectacle was kind of overwhelming. I can't imagine what it was like for a 10-yr old with a Beckett waiting to meet 1B Hal Morris for the first time.
The only bad karma that flooded the place was Bronson Arroyo's Stained covers (seriously, doesn't Arthur Rhodes make ghetto country, or something?) and the overwhelming buzz that Chris Sabo was total "dick" on Friday. The whole celebration was a little overwhelming, really. 'Specially when we heard the Bearcat's triumphant/lucky comeback on the "flat" drive home. At least Adam got his picture taken in front of the "biggest Reds jersey in the world."
The day was somewhat teetotal by the extremes of when the sun went down and I attended my first ever Rock Potluck. As a patron of the Columbus arts I am ashamed of my absence for those that came before this one. I've been invited to participate a few times before, but something (mostly work and/or Brazil came up) kept me from creeping. I will admit that one of those years I worked, got off early, and found a completely empty (and haunted) Milo, only to find out the "thing" was canceled. This one though? This town always finds ways to surprise me. As much of an old codger as I sound, re: the local scene, something like this is inspiring. Still, I'm intrigued more by the pieces of the scene being thrown together at a wall than the pieces real bands.
As the night wore on, and more packed, I was unable to hear the names of said assembled, off-the-cuff, day-of bands. Above though, is a pic of the monstrously towering Dusty, in the middle of his jam with Golden Nugg. The stage was flanked by guitarists who were ultimately "feeling it." Headbands, bell bottoms, and vintage gear in tow. I loved how this psychedelic love-fest started the evening off.
Besides some excellent highlights provided by David Holm (his ode to Columbus was spot-on) and a cover of "Mama Said Knock You Out" by Nick Tolford, the best memory of this year's Potluck came from Party Room -- Joe Peppercorn, Nick Shuld, Melanie Holm, Eve Searles, and one extremely talented participant who I was unfamiliar with. They started their set with a monolithic shoegaze rager complete with lyrics from the instructions from a Candyland board game -- then headed straight into a cover of Wilson Phillips "Hold On." Yes. That's true, and it was wonderful. I wish we could have Potlucks and Redsfests once a month/quarter, but then, what fun would that be?