more tops

December 30, 2006

Okay, back to the ratings of things that needn’t be rated. This is the stock one — I didn’t buy enough new music in 2006 to devote an entire list to it, and honestly for a few months there I kind of hated music, so I combined a bunch of categories to divine my Top Ten Musical Experiences of 2006:

Old Time Relijun at AIR, May 27: It was a little tough to set up the sound optimally, but regardless, this show was one of my favorites of the year. Rarely does an odd little man playing mouth harp in his boxers make such an impact. Bonus points to this show because of the boy, age 15 or so, who was in awe of Arrington and stroked his beard like he was on E or something. Natura Nasa played one of my favorite sets of theirs, and Midnite Snake never disappoints.

Table of the Elements tour, March 11: While I was most psyched on Rhys Chatham, and he didn’t disappoint, Tony Conrad made this show wonderful. He had some issues setting up the visual portion (his sillhouette was projected, by a very bright lamp, onto a sheet draped across the auditorium that was being blown about by a couple large fans), but that wasn’t a big issue for me since I was sitting too close to the stage to really tell. The visuals that really struck me occurred when he would step directly between the lamp and me, creating something of a tiny eclipse. You’d think droning on a violin for 45 minutes wouldn’t be so exciting, but then, you’d be wrong.

Frida Hyvonen, Until Death Comes, Secretly Canadian: This may be the only full-length release of this year that I can say I jammed horribly hard. In a year when the hits of 1972 hit the spot for me, Frida fit right in: comparisons to Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell are tempting based on vocals alone, but the mix of light, near-novelty tunes and more weighty matters of the heart brings to mind early Elton John or, yes, Ben Folds Five.

Emperor X, April 6: Chad brought this year’s 7” (which deserves to be picked up, if you haven’t done it yet) and his unmatchable energy to ModernFormations and ran around and jumped up and down and sang along with a tape player I think, and he’s one of the best people writing songs right now, I think, so one day when he comes back, be there or suffer dire consequences.

Tour, May: As with any trip or show or series of shows, it of course had its ups and downs, but any chance to go to a bunch of places you’ve never been (and a few you have) and hang out and meet awesome people who for the most part care about the same things as you is pretty decent. Maine was beautiful even without moose; New Haven had tasty fries and guys who were stoked on vinyl and more secured wireless networks per square mile than anywhere I’ve been. New York was alright if you like overpriced bad beer and awful hipster disco punk bands that are so 2003. Etc. etc.

Belegost: I refer here to their side of the split LP (still available from Hardtravelin’ and Electric Human Project – do us all a favor and don’t put Q out of business), and their live show (I had the pleasure of seeing them a few times), and them as sweet dudes who are willing to help out in any way possible. If some permutation of these folks gets something together band-wise in the future, do give them a chance if they’re in your town.

Singing along with early-to-mid ’70s records in the kitchen: This kind of speaks for itself.

Sparrows, Swarm and Sing!: Their name is a little funny maybe, but this band is awesome and we got to play with them three times(?) They do fun things with glockenspiels and all that, and sometimes break into epic beautiful parts.

Negativland, Oct. 31: I wrote at length about this one, and it was only a couple months ago, so I’ll keep it short: it’s good that these guys are still playing(?) now and then, and their ideas have continued to develop rather than stagnating, which is the most important part.

Centipede E’est: I didn’t see them as many times as I would have liked, but I still saw them quite a few times. I’ll admit that when they first started playing I wasn’t as impressed as I felt I should be; by early this year, though, they hit their stride hard and are probably my favorite currently-operational band in Pittsburgh. Their album is wonderful and their live show is even better and they’re THE band to see in a bar in Pittsburgh, methinks.


a bad year for good music

December 29, 2006

Before a return to stupid ratings of things, a quick observation: 2006 was a brutal year for those individuals pointed out in the Arthur Conley song “Sweet Soul Music.” You know the song. The one that begins by asking the musical question, “Do you like good music?” and perhaps expects a serious answer. Otis Redding has been dead for years, but no less than THREE (3) others mentioned by name in this song kicked it in ’06. Lou Rawls died January 6, Wilson Pickett not two weeks later (January 19) and just last week, James Brown. I remember thinking, in fact, after Pickett went to rock’n’roll heaven, that JB’s days must be numbered. He held off longer than I expected, actually.

This leaves only Sam & Dave unaccounted for, and I looked it up so you don’t even have to click that link: Dave died in 1988, leaving Sam to fend for himself. That’s right: of the six people called out by Arthur Conley, ONE still survives. Hats off to you, Sam Moore. But watch out. There are two days left in 2006, and the year has been none to good to your comrades in soul.

As part of our continuing series, 2006: The Year That Was, Compartmentalized and Quantified, I bring you two top five lists:


Top Five Blog Posts I Didn’t Write in 2006

  • My thoughts on political philosophy and why, even though I don’t think exactly the same way as I did five years ago, I don’t disavow anarchy. This was promised at some point, I think it was earlier this year. It might have been last year.
  • A review of Capote: I think what I’d like to do at this point is to re-watch this, and watch that newer joint that looks like basically the same movie, and re-read In Cold Blood, and compare and contrast ’em.
  • That damn book meme: there’s still a few days left in the year, maybe I’ll do it. Or do parts of it. Or whatever. Sorry other Andy.
  • An essay on the Ben Folds Five trilogy, that being the three major full-length releases (S/T, Whatever and Ever Amen, and The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner), with notes on the significance of each in my own life. Forthcoming, I think.
  • A top ten list of blog posts that other people wrote in 2006. This year I resolve to bookmark good things that people write so that I can actually recap at some point.



Top Five Lyrics I Continued to Intentionally Sing Incorrectly in 2006

  • “In the corner of my eye/ I saw you and Brutus, you were very high” — From “Black Cow,” by Steely Dan. Actual line: “I saw you at Rudy’s.”
  • “A winter’s day/ In a deep and dark December/ I am the walrus” — From “I am a Rock,” by Simon & Garfunkel. Actual line: “I am alone.” (Promise, the way they articulate it, it works.)
  • “You’re where you should be all the time/ And when you’re not you’re with/ Some underworld spy or the wife of a postman” — From “You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon. Actual line: “Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend.”
  • “Tom, get your plan right on time/ I know you’re part of the Wolf Eyes” — From “Only Living Boy in New York,” by Simon & Garfunkel. Actual line: “I know your part’ll go fine.”
  • “Don’t be a lollipop! Bullshit!” — From a song, the title of which currently escapes me, by Sleep Little One Sleep, my roommate’s band. Actual line: “You tell me a lot about bullshit.”

here’s my dilemma:

December 27, 2006

I have another Top Ten list for you, and a pair of Top Five lists additionally, and they’re on my own laptop, and here I am on the computer at my parents’, and I have no way of getting the lists from one to the other. I lost my flash drive a couple months ago, and I can’t get the cable internet to work correctly with my computer. So when I finagle a way (probably when I find a sweet spot where to steal wireless from a far-flung neighbor), I’ll post some more. In the meantime, I continue to nurse a cup of tea and maybe some soup, as I am once again sick. I have had more colds and viruses so far this fall/winter than I have had in the past ten years of my life or so.

Perhaps I will soon regale you with my Top Ten Things to Complain About in 2006.

I return now to the parents’ house, where the internet is slow like molasses, for a bit. Enjoy your Christmastime and/or whatever you’re into celebrating, if anything, and rest assured I’ll have more stupid top ten lists when I return to the keyboard. I’m not saying when that will be. Because I’m not sure. Tomorrow? Tuesday? January?

Here I post part one of 2006: The Year That Was, Compartmentalized and Quantified. My first top-ten list: the ten best sponsored links I received with my emails through Gmail (for those not familiar, Gmail includes in the sidebar of each email you open a set of advertisements, based roughly on keywords it picks up on in your email). These are apparently all in one way another indicative of my personality and/or my conversations.

take a break!

December 20, 2006

We interrupt this productive workday to bring you the following information:

  1. Today’s City Paper is a keeper. It features: a cover story on Michael Bérubé, in which Potter — not once, but twice — refers to Bérubé’s beard as “Mephistophelian;” a page of four photoshopped “Brangelina at Fallingwater” images created by denizens of the infamous Message Board; and a snippet from this very blog, in the “Yinz Blog ‘n@” section, or whatever it’s called. Lucky for me, the output of mine that others apparently think is most valuable is the stuff I write about walking out of my way to the liquor store and getting drunk on egg nog while watching Christmas specials alone. I’ll get you yet, Potter Marty. (PS — welcome to all three people who actually read City Paper, and read that particular feature, and think it would be worthwhile to look at my blog after reading that stellar excerpt. I do have a self-published book available; place orders via e-mail.)
  2. More importantly, that Romanian web radio station that offers the 500 top albums of the 20th century streaming now also has a list of the 1001 Albums You Totally Need to Listen to Before You Kick The Goddam Bucket, or something. I am currently listening to “Sunshine Superman.”
  3. Hopperlady’s year-end best-of post made me laugh in a snort-y sort of way.