Thursday, January 29, 2015

ALEX TURNER - Top Ten of 2014

I'm only going to list one thing this year...

  • Black Lives Matter

all the punk shit seems infinity less important

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MIKE TAYLOR - Top Ten of 2014

   Mike Taylor is an artist, writer and musician living in NYC. I wish he was more present in my life, but this is how we live. Here is a tiny picture of him and his top ten list.

Oh! Mary Robison I just discovered Mary Robison this year. This book was originally a set of 3x5 cards she would make notes on to work her way out of writer's block.  It reads like that- staccato, abbreviated, curt. But her way with minimalism is martial art...the most solid single kick to the chest.

George Saunders I read both Tenth of December  and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline this year. I don't want to say too much about people who use the short story as their main mode of expression, because it's enough to just say that. I'm more into Saunders' use of the theme park as potential site for everything to fall apart.

Dan Talbot "Small Hallucinations" tape., Wasp Video Roadhouse I know Dan as a painter from Providence days, but when I went to see Russian Tsarlag recently, he was there playing these songs live. Really weird stuff...almost like The Shaggs, in that he plays really long, through composed phrases under pretty catchy  lyrical arrangements. I didn't even know he played music! Bonus points for thorough confidence for a man in a new context.

Survival Knife "Loose Power" lp/live, Glacial Pace Justin Trosper, from Unwound. His new band. Like Jimmy Page as Black Flag's second guitarist. Lifers. I love it. I bought the record at the show, that's fun. I saw them at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, which is the lamest possible place for a show. It's like watching Tiffany on her tour of shopping malls, but it's Brooklyn, so everyone there is 100% positive they're fucking a model that night. The band made it worth it though. Adult rock, but for decent adults.

Matt Thurber "Art Comics" Matt spends more time drawing than online, which sets him apart from most contemporary cartoonists.

Patrick Kyle "New Comics" Patrick blew up in the comics world this year, which is like having the shortest possible set of stilts, if you don't know. He's best known for his "Distance Mover" series, but this comic is his best written and best drawn by miles.

Black Rainbow-LP Not just because they're friends, but it's really good!

Rat Columns- live at Death by Audio Recorded, they sound like Love and Rockets, live, it's like if Wire were from Berkeley circa 1992.

Maher Shalal Hash Baz- Live at Issue Project Room I wasn't aware of this band at all, but when Jacob and Sakiko invited me to go see them, I went. Turns out the nucleus of the band, Tori Kudo, is a star in a slightly different constellation than I rotate in. I want to remember it as a 13 piece band, but that's not as important as you checking them out. The music is written as songs, but played without rehearsal by a rotating roster of musicians. It's everything good about basement punk shows: the possibility of the crash, the intensity, the noise. It's political and loving and true only to itself.

Wayne White- "Invisible Ruler" at Joshua Liner Gallery I went to several openings that night, but this was the only one that was full of people smiling. Wayne was there, surrounded by fans of all ages waiting to pump his arm. he seemed really happy. The work, if you don't know it, ranges from the abject cartoon sculptures he designed for Pee Wee's Playhouse, to text blasts imposed over photoreal landscapes saying things like, "I Wanna See The Manager". Zero pretension.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

CLYDE PETERSEN - Top Ten of 2014

Clyde Petersen makes films, talks shit, met my grandma, plays music as YOUR HEART BREAKS and once tolerated me yelling about an apple for a long time.

1. Chopping off my tits. Fucking awesome. Now I look like David Hasselhoff.

 2. This animator who made a Nintendo Power Glove into a blue tooth animation controller.

 3. I got a huge fucking grant from the Dale Chihuly foundation and all I did was talk about loving perverts at the panel interview. I was like, I love John Waters, Paul Rubens and George Quaintance.

 4. I built a giant cardboard castle for the city of Seattle. Then I gave it away on Craigslist to a person who said they ran a shelter at home for rabbits and guinea pigs and that they “would just LOVE it”.

 5. I convinced the Henry Art Gallery to pay me to put on a huge concert on the water with 15 bands. It was free to the public and hundreds of people showed up. We rented all the canoes so no frat boys could use them, and we didn’t even get permits.

 6. I found out about Glow in the Dark Spray paint.

 7. Eastbound and Down. A television show I binge watched after I crashed my bike on the trolley tracks and tore my shoulder. Lots of drugs and hours with some dude named Kenny Powers. This show is so fucked up. I don’t think its for everyone, but it was a good distraction.

 8. Getting together a real rocking new version of Your Heart Breaks. We even have Saxophone Solos. We’re making a new album in May.

 9. I didn’t meet my doing it quota for 3 times a day, but I sure fucking tried.

 10. Resolving for 2015 to never wake up before noon if possible. No alarm clocks. Embracing the night owl.

Friday, January 16, 2015

MARS DIXON - Top Ten of 2014

   Mars is one of my favorite humans. Every time I see him, he's somehow more amazing. Mars plays guitar in AYE NAKO, wears flower-print denim better than anyone, is totally fucking hilarious and loves dogs.

I didn't put things in an order. I just wrote them in this order.

I heard Sammus late in the on Christmas Day having some alone time listening to my podcasts. Listening to Another M reminds me of this sort of heroic melancholy I used to feel while playing Metroid as a kid. I always felt gloomed out about Samus’ story and how she was all alone exploring and fighting all these monsters. Most chiptune music I’ve heard hasn’t really been my thing, but these beats are so tight. They say:
“Another M is a seven-track EP that retells the story of intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran from the classic Nintendo game Metroid as she is imagined by producer, rapper, and feminist warrior Sammus. Using the vehicle of self-produced hip hop beats inspired by the game’s soundtrack in combination with heartfelt lyrics and delivery, Sammus takes listeners on a journey from Samus’ lonely childhood with the Chozo race to her epic battle against the evil Mother Brain.”
On the same day I found Sammus, I also started researching how to make my own chiptunes and am trying to find my copy of Metroid for Gameboy in my closet.
ßLK G33K$ R ©oøL! 8)

Earlier this year, I got invited to a basement show at a house I’ve never been to in Brooklyn. I missed most of the show because I’m anxious as hell and it keeps me from leaving the house on time. I was just climbing down the dark stairs which were barely lit up by Malportado Kids’ projections on the wall behind them as they were playing. I didn't know much about them at that point but right away I knew I was where I was supposed to be. Since then we’ve played a few shows with Downtown Boys and have become band friends. I told Victoria, the vocalist in both bands, how I aspire to be as poignant and unmistakably passionate as her with the things I say in between songs but she pointed out me that my style of stage banter/song explaining is just as meaningful so that's cool. <3 o:p="">

(photo by joe mccann)

 3. The reanimation of my personal love for and deep obsession over video games:  I was born with a NES controller in my hand. Betwixt the year after moving out of my mom’s house til my birthday this past summer, I stopped playing video games pretty much completely, an era of unnecessary self-deprivation. All those years, I would dream video game dreams and sometimes they started off where I’d just be playing the game like normal but then somehow get sucked into the TV and become the character I was playing. I’m so glad to be back where I belong. This has always been my favorite form of escapism. Keeping up with these newfangled ways of communicating via social media, I came up with the hashtag #limpwristedgaming hoping it catches on soon. My gaymer name is xn0txhumanx btw. Much thanks to all my friends who got together and surprised me with a PS3 for my birthday!

Back in March, I went to the release show for his comedy album Waiting For 2042 at Union Hall with the friend who, years ago, told me he was one of the so very few stand up comedians that was actually funny. Janeane Garofalo, Ted Leo and one or two others opened for him. The album title refers to the year white people in America will be the minority according to statistics. Heh heh.

5. Limp Wrist at Chicago’s Fed Up Fest
It was supposed to be a surprise! To keep the bros out, it had been unannounced til a few hours before they played. I found out the night before though. It’s been a while since I went so nuts at a show that my glasses fell off, since my shirt got so soppin’ wet I had to take that shit off and put it in a plastic bag (that I ended up forgetting about for a day -- PU!) and then the new shirt quickly became uselessly soaked too. This was one of my favorite weekends this year.

6. Kendrick Lamar -  i

There were some rough ass weeks in November and December that only felt manageable partly by watching this video and listening to this song on repeat, and singing along to the chorus: “I love myself/One day at a time/Sun gon’ shine”. I struggle to tell people I love them. It’s quite unfathomable to tell myself. This is a 'fake it til you make it' situation.

7. My highlights of hilarious things I’ve posted on Tumblr that helped me get through the year:

They were on my list the last time I made a top 10. Still my favorite band. We played a few shows with them this year, most recently, at Glasslands with Mary Timony’s Ex Hex. It feels cool to be inspired by friends. According to Spotify, all the songs on this EP were in my top 10 list of songs I listened to the most this year.

9. Friends & Community
Growing up in the racist-ass, small-minded town of Horseshit, Arkansas, I would have never thought I’d find myself surrounded by people who actually like and care about me. I purged a lot from my real life contact list. The “friends” who had no respect for me as a black person because they are having a such a great life being colorblind and willfully ignorant. So grateful to have friends who came and visited me while I was recovering from surgery or wrote me letters/emails/texts. So grateful to have friends who hear me when I say I’m not doing ok as I am constantly traumatized by the brutality of police, white vigilantes and the state. So grateful to have cool black friends in my life to relate to and I keep making more like every month.

10. Old stomping grounds (I hate that phrase) - visited Arkansas and the Bay Area
I hadn't really spent time in my hometown in like 6 years til this past summer. It's only ever been painful and exhausting to return but I felt like I needed to. I took some pretty amazing footage of my mother in different environments and some of me exploring one of my elementary schools that had been closed and boarded up. Months later, I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all -- What happened? How do I feel about my family?

It had been 4 years since I brought my goofy ass to the Bay. I don't know what took so long. I missed it so much despite how much things have changed there. I loved seeing and hanging out with old friends. The times I walked around alone, I'd find myself totally captivated by the hills, the water and the cloudless sky. That shit is so pretty. Carolyn, you're a turd. I love you!

(Failed panoramic of my mother at one of the many lakes we visited that day.)

(Grumpy on my birthday in my mom's bathroom.)

(Taken by Julia Booze. We met a puppy at Lake Merritt.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

CARLOS GONZALEZ - Top Ten of 2014

    Carlos is a mysterious figure. I once referred to him as my favorite musical performer and I wasn't even sure if he knew how to play an instrument. You can find Carlos performing under the name RUSSIAN TSARLAG or drawing comics like Test Tube and Lost Canyon. Contact him through and see what he has to offer. Here is his top ten....

Life is rough, ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Reading a good book can ease the burn and in some special cases it can even help you savor the burn. For me it also helps me slow down my thoughts and get out of my own head, which is good. My head is a cesspool where people are mud wrestling giant snakes and alligators and the wrestling turns into a strange coupling that is lubricated by pus.

Get me outta there, great authors of human history! None of these books are 'new' and they are not rated in any order, these are just ten great books I read this year. I hope it proves helpful or perhaps mildly interesting. So without any further ado....

'Dirty Snow' by Georges Simenon
this one is pretty bleak but incredibly compelling. A euro-noir tale in the style of Jim Thompson where you look through the eyes of a young sociopath in war torn France. Pretty brutal, but perfectly told.

'Crime and Punishment' by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Most classics are 'classic' for a reason and this book has earned that status a million times over. As grim as a lot of the subjects are, I forget how much dark humor he puts in his novels. Don't let this one collect dust and credibility on yr book shelf. Read this shit!

'The Woman in the Dunes' by Kobo Abe
A Japanese classic about an entomologist who gets stuck in a strange
town in the depths of a sand dune where people are constantly shoveling sand to keep their community alive. Truly weird and truly great.

'Outer Dark' by Cormac Mccarthy
I have yet to read a bad Cormac Mccarthy book. This is one of his earlier novels set in the south about a poor brother and sister who have a child together. They split up and you follow them both through the backroads and woods as she searches for the child and he just rambles doing odd jobs. I'm not going to ruin endings but the ending to this book is INSANE.

'The Lime Works' by Thomas Bernhard
An incredibly original book that mostly dwells in the insane inner monolog of an old man who just killed his wife in a huge abandoned lime works where he lives and has been planning and failing to write a massive book on the human sense of hearing. Great premise and a great execution.

'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte
They are classics for a reason! I was supposed to read this book in high school like so many others but the lazy rebel in me just wouldn't let it happen. Well, I finally read this Gothic romance classic (yes, I'll say it again.) and it was a distinct pleasure. I've yet to read another love story with as multi-faceted characters as Heathcliff and Catherine, and I am always a sucker for books set in mansions that are in disrepair or in the bleak English country side and this has both.

'Molloy' by Samuel Beckett
A stream of conscious style narrative about a decript old man with a
bad leg and a detective that goes into the woods with his son to track
him down. This book is incredibly funny and evocative. The first in a three part series.

'Buddenbrooks' by Thomas Mann
This book covers four generations of merchant family in Germany in the 19th century. Might sound boring but it's anything but. Weddings, funerals, divorces, vacations, births, and revelations all well told. Taking the wide angle and also zooming in to witness some deep human disappointment in the parlors and salons of the wealthy.

'Black Dahlia' by James Ellroy
A delicious neo-noir that uses the real life murder of the 'black dahlia' as a springboard for a dark, nasty, detective story that keeps lifting the veil to reveal more human depravity then you're likely to find at your local bikini bar. Using the city of Los Angeles as vital and fascinating a character as any in the book.

'The Stand' by Stephen King
I'm technically still reading this, so maybe it's a cheat but I'm almost done and it's so good I had to throw it in here. Stephen King might get a lot of shit because A. He one of the most famous writers in the world and B. You can buy his books at supermarkets and they're accused of being plain spoken 'entertainment' instead of 'art'. But most of the 'art' that hits me the hardest is often of the 'low' comic book/b-movie variety so I never have any qualms about opening one of his books. They're good and this one is so so good. A massive story about a super flu that wipes out 99% of the US population. The people that are left have collective dreams about a 100 year old woman playing a guitar on her porch in Nebraska and about a very evil dude in denim and cowboy boots with red eyes and no face. The old woman's people gather in Boulder, CO and the evil dude's people gather in Las Vegas and other western states. Eventually they have a 'stand' off.
Super fun, and compelling. Don't be intimidated by the size, it so readable and dynamic that you'll tear right through it.

Well that's it. I hope 2015 is a great year for all. I hope to be exposed to more powerful stories and with any luck a little bit of that power will rub off on my own stories. 
Thanks Greg!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

ERIN YANKE - Top Ten Of 2014

   It's that time of year again. Actually it's past that time of year, but my computer is breaking and I've taken it as a sign to reduce my time online. I'm gonna skip the long, flowery intros and just let you know that everyone featured on the top ten lists this year are people I respect and people who have opinions worth knowing. Starting off, Erin Yanke lives in Portland, is the program manager at KBOO radio, makes amazing documentaries (both through visual and audio mediums) and has been a great friend throughout the years.

Big Crux - Ponchito (Not Normal Tapes, B
Easy and lazy reviewing comparisons that are none the less true: Big Boys, Minutemen. Sure, it’s there, but so’s the heat, a modern groove, and what I can only call their own life experiences. Also, some of the more epic vocal styles and  They aren’t a tribute, but took a message from the bands and people that came before: “shut the fuck up, this life is for living” for whatever fucked up and nasty things are out there, so is comradery and discovery. “Lamento Demente” is my current favorite song on this record. I’m bummed I was sick the night they played Portland.

"Dreams" was made in collaboration with Barry Bermange (who originally recorded the narrations). Thanks Barry! Dreams is a collection of spliced/reassembled interviews with people describing their dreams of running, land, falling, water, and color. It’s dreamy in the sense of surprising and disconcerting, and also how banal they are individually, but collectively add to my sense of awe for content and structure. I’m happy to have this on vinyl.

When I was pissed off this year, which was a lot of the time, I turned to the old favorites for catharsis. However, when Fuck Off came out, and came into my life, it moved right on to the turntable for seemingly months. Stripped down to the basics, clear and loud in their anger at life in general and specifically... the perfect metamorphose of real life bullshit to art. I found much of what I needed this year in this record: expression of feelings and ideas long held, togetherness and joy.

The intro to Exhaustion is one of my favorite musical moments of the year. It just grabbed me and never let go... and still hasn’t. That groovy angry riff is so fuck you in such a gleeful way... the rest of the album is also fantastic, but that part is what makes this launch into the top ten.

The perfect mix of catchy snotty heartfelt noisey deep and real and ragin... what else is there to say?
Mülltüte plays a live version of Exzess, the first song on the single. (Pick out our friends in the audience!)

Not a record, but a double CD packaged in a bible, described as “a musical essay that looks at monotheism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, neuroscience, suicide bombers, 9/11, colas, war, shaved chimps, and the all-important role played by the human brain in our beliefs.” it’s traditional Negativland, found music, radio recordings, sound collage, amazing mixes, and of course, snotty and fun and smart.

On the Goner website, it says that this record “arrives just in time to land a spot on your Top Ten of 2014.”  Which is TRUE. It’s sharp, full of bravado and scars, synth and guitar, driving and moving. Great record for listening to before going out, ups your energy for protests OR parties.

My easiest choice this year, not only the record I listened to the most but also the one that most shared my experiences of 2014. Lots of fucked up shit happens, but you just get through it and then you move on and you’re not ever the same as you were before. Seems to me that Greg Cartwright had this year a few years ago, got to turn the wounds into scars into songs, and then makes a record that provides the perfect soundtrack for my year of loss and love, dead friends, collaborations, new responsibility, changing minds and changing hearts, and now here at the end some settling in and some peace. “If You Gotta Leave” is a great song, and probably the best on the record. My favorite songs on the record still keep changing. “Never Coming Home” is my current favorite. Last month it was “My My” (last month was a sassier month than this one). There is so much here, easily my favorite record of the year.

Callie Danger is a genius, and I’m stoked that I get to follow her radio show, but I’m also stoked she’s making compilations for Mississippi of her radio hits. This record is curated perfectly from her unusual garage and soul records. She makes a scene out of people who have never met, and has great flow that is both deep and encompassing. Some of Callie’s finest work.

Various Artists - Science Fiction Park Bundesrepublik (Cashe Cashe)
This German electronic experimental compilation has taken my radio station by storm, everyone who hears it goes out and gets a copy, and now I’m hearing it on the air all the time. I love it! It’s the fun part of electronica, with weirdo sounds, noise that presses on you, surprises, and humor! The liner notes talk about summing up a time and a place, the bedroom studios of “doomdenken”, early 80’s, as well as so much more. Totally compelling. Thanks Felix Kubin!
CHBB is a band I knew before this comp, but this is their track on it:

The One That Got Away:
Neu Ist Zeit-Augsburg 1979-84 LP

Honorable Mentions - the records that would have made it in if it were an all punk top ten:
Frau - Punk is My Boyfriend
In School - Praxis of Hate
Poison Girls - Hex/Chappaquiddick Bridge
Secret Prostitutes - Punks is Disco
Total Control - Typical System

And hey, if any of you are in Portland on Feb 5th, I’ll be having my 45th birthday party featuring DJs Fredly Weapon, Callie Danger, and Marcel. 45s only! See you there! -Erin Yanke