Mike Taylor is another person on this list who I wish I saw more. He is an artist living in Brooklyn, NY, most notable for his zine, Late Era Clash, and completely unknown for his current band, Young Ruins. His solo show No/Future opens at Booklyn Artist Alliance on January 18th.
1.) Broken Water, live at Death by Audio, 5/13.
I was late arriving to this boat, but here I am now. Recorded, Broken Water sound just like, you know, S-----Y---- to me. Live, however, they are genuinely weird. When your ears or eyes correct a small gap in input, as in making moving film of stills or actual music digital sound waves…my mind did a similar thing as I watched Broken Water. The musical landscape is so cluttered with imposters that it sometimes takes a moment to recognize realness; it is often initially perceived as an imperfect facsimile. Japanther and Extra Feeler also played this show; it was a solid bill.
2.) Paul McCarthy all over Manhattan, fall, 2013.
I hate it as much as anyone when New Yorkers start that best city in the world shit, but I admit that it feels fortunate when one of the biggest cultural events of the year is Paul McCarthy taking over the Park Ave. Armory to stage a multimedia psychosexual Disney nightmare. As the centerpiece to his two simultaneous, completely different shows at Hauser and Wirth’s two Manhattan locations, WS at the Armory was Mannerist restaging of New York City at its most debased: a wrecked home within a Technicolor forest, full of ugly gnomes and beautiful Princesses throwing up all over one another.
This show was one of the most disgusting, humid pits I’ve been in for years. But I stayed and enjoyed it. Maralie and Eli of Humanbeast have been playing all sorts of music in the underground so consistently, it’s a pleasure to see them show up, plug in, and casually slay. They don’t have to try anymore, but they do. For you. Carlos Gonzales, of Russian Tsarlag, is America’s premier talent. I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on that point for the readers of this particular site.
I miss Witchhat already. They were one of the few bands that imagined Nirvana as a band that “actually mattered” (Nirvana was a fine rock band, but I personally reject the narrative that places them at the fulcrum of a cultural shift), and in doing so, made awesome Nirvanish rock music that swings afield of pop and further towards the genuinely ugly. At this show, they played a battle set with Dungeon Broads, which maybe is the ideal way to experience both bands.
5.) Neuron, by Robert Russett, at the New York Film Festival. This film was made in 1972, but was recently restored by the Academy Film Archive. Mike Stoltz invited a bunch of us out to the Lincoln Center to see the Views from the Avant Garde program at the NYFF, where we were treated to a wide swath of varying degrees of difficult viewing. Neuron, however, threatened to send people out of the theater. True psychedelia, all analog, nothing kind about it. Another hidden master in whose wake we’re still swimming.
6.) Lord Dog Bird, live at Silent Barn
7.) Lord Dog Bird, The Trinity Knot LP
For the recent incarnation of Lord Dog Bird, Colin has traded the guitar drone for organ. I first heard these songs live at Silent Barn and was wholly unprepared. I’ve known Colin since he fronted The Don Martin 3 in, what, 1995, 96? He has always, always been just enough ahead of the listener’s expectations. His new songs always land like buckshot; I remember thinking at each interval in the last 20-odd years, “OK, finally he has recorded some songs that just aren’t for me”, and without fail, the songs formerly in question become the new gold standard. I’m not sure if the record buying public is in agreement, but artists don’t seem to be making great livings off writing heart wrenching songs about truth.
8.) Total Control, live at 285 Kent
The first band ever from Australia was AC/DC. This is the second. Pretty good, for a bunch of 13 year old male models.
9.) Mary Robison
I’ll zero in on Why Did I Ever, a short novel comprised of 536 short chapters that began as index cards she used to write her way out of a severe spell of writer’s block in the 90s. Her most recent novel is One DOA, One on the Way. I haven’t read it yet. I just found Why Did I Ever this year, and it’s as terse and sad as all those Raymond Carver stories you already like, but the narrator has a heart, and a preference for things turning out OK. It’s easy to love minimal fiction, but it’s surprising when there is blood flowing between the wry observations and sad surprises.
10.) Mickey Z. /Michael Deforge/Patrick Kyle as a casual comics juggernaut. “Rain Comic”, “Butler Comic”, “Pixar’s Cars”, “Batman”, “Basketball”. As much as I am a fan of each of these artists individually, as a team they seem to highlight how everyone else just tries too hard. You can’t try to be funny and you can’t try to be weird.