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.