Monday, December 5, 2011

The 50 Best Records of 2011

2011 was a much better year in music than I was expecting. At the beginning of the year there wasn;t a whole lot that I was really looking forward to, but as the year progressed, a lot of good records cam out. Listed below are my top 50 from the past year, with #1 being my absolute favorite. Who could have guessed that Kate Bush would have new music, let alone the best of her career. As usual, most are available on vinyl and should be purchased at Music Saves for maximum listening pleasure. And now, the list:

  1. Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow
  2. Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Beans, and Hprizm - Knives from Heaven
  3. Zola Jesus - Conatus
  4. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
  5. Tune-Yards - Whokill
  6. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
  7. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
  8. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
  9. James Blake - S/T
  10. R.E.M. - Collapse Into Now
  11. People Like Us - Welcome Abroad
  12. Battles - Gloss Drop
  13. TV On the Radio - Nine Types of Light
  14. Février - The Lover
  15. Brian Eno & Rick Holland - Drums Beween the Bells
  16. Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes
  17. Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams and He Gets Me High EP
  18. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
  19. Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  20. Esmerine - La Lechuza
  21. M83 - Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  22. Wild Nothing - Gemeni
  23. Active Child - You Are All I See
  24. The Black Keys - El Camino
  25. Radiohead - The King of Limbs
  26. Austra - Feel It Break
  27. Can’t - Dreams Come True
  28. Les Cousins Dangereux - Play “All Sprinkles”
  29. Washed Out - Within and Without
  30. Cults - S/T
  31. Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
  32. Zomby - Dedication
  33. Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
  34. Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for my Halo
  35. Feist - Metals
  36. John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
  37. Cœur de Pirate - Blonde
  38. Class Actress - Rapprocher
  39. Twin Sister - In Heaven
  40. Tennis - Cape Dory
  41. Gill Scott-Heron and Jamie XX - We’re New Here
  42. Frankie Rose and the Outs - S/T
  43. Danger Mouse & Danielle Luppi - Rome
  44. Okkervil River - I Am Very Far
  45. Efrim Manuel Menuck - Plays “High Gospel”
  46. Das Racist - Relax
  47. Cloud Nothings - S/T
  48. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- It’s A Corporate World
  49. Wye Oak - Civilian
  50. Daryl Hall - Laughing Down Crying

Here is the part where I usually list the best reissues and archival recordings. Well, there were some good ones in 2011, but only one really matters - The Beach Boys' Smile Sessions. This has been 40+ years in the making and is worth every penny. Yes, you really do need an entire CD of Good Vibrations outtakes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Record Store Day 2011

Saturday 16 April 2011 was the fourth annual Record Store Day, my favorite holiday of the year. For those of you out of the loop it is a celebration of independent record stores with a lot of exclusive limited edition releases that sell out in a matter of minutes. In order to get these releases one must line up outside his or her favorite record store well before they open. My day started at 8:00 am when I got up, got ready, and headed out to pick up the most awesome person in all of Cleveland. I picked her up and we headed east to the Waterloo area of Colinwood. But first, we stopped off at the Root Café for some much needed coffee. Once we arrived on Waterloo we promptly got in line for the best record store in Cleveland, Music Saves. We arrived at approximately 10:30 and there were already around 20 people in line. The store doesn't open until Noon. It was raining and we had one crappy $1.99 umbrella to share between us. We made some small talk with the other folks in line and made another coffee run, this time at the Arts Colinwood Café. At 12:00 sharp the store opened and a mad rush of people ran inside. Despite the insanity and huge mass of people in the small store I was able to get almost everything I wanted. The only things I didn't get were the Nirvana EP and the Beach Boy's 78s. I did get some pretty awesome stuff though.

Sonic Youth Whore's Moaning EP

RSD 2011-1 RSD 2011-2

Grinderman Evil 12"

RSD 2011-3 RSD 2011-4

Grinderman Palaces of Montezuma 12"

RSD 2011-15 RSD 2011-16

Television Live at the Old Waldorf double LP

RSD 2011-9 RSD 2011-10

James Blake's debut self titled double LP

RSD 2011-8

Shoreway's debut 7" Daylight Dream b/w Empty Lot

RSD 2011-19 RSD 2011-20

The Villagers & Charlotte Gainsbourg split 7"

RSD 2011-21

After we got what we wanted, we headed down the street to Blue Arrow Records, Cleveland's best used record store. Here I picked up a few used records to fill in some holes in my collection.

Hall & Oates Abandoned Luncheonette

RSD 2011-6

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

RSD 2011-7

Henry Mancini The Pink Panther OST

RSD 2011-5

Next, we headed to Star Pop Vintage. They primarily sell vintage toys and collectibles but do have a small use vinyl section. I picked up Men Without Hats Rhythm of Youth for nostalgia reasons. I used to own the cassette in my younger days and thought the vinyl would be a nice addition to my collection.

RSD 2011-11

At this point we were getting hungry and needed a cocktail. We headed to the Beachland Tavern for brunch where we had some yummy bloody Marys and some delicious food. We then wandered downstairs to This Way Out where I bought a few more records.

Sly & The Family Stone Greatest Hits

RSD 2011-12

Esquivel Strings Aflame

RSD 2011-17

Bonjour Tristesse OST. Purchased just for the Saul Bass cover art.

RSD 2011-14

We then stopped by Native Cleveland and browsed their selection of cool t-shirts and other Cleveland centric goods. I picked up a P.O.C T-shirt which is pretty fucking cool if you ask me. The rest of the afternoon was spen alternating between Music Saves, The Beachland Tavern, and Blue Arrow records to catch several local bands. At around 8:00 or so we headed up to the Heights and grabbed some dinner at Tommy's. Food was delicious and the milkshakes are the best in Cleveland. Next up was the Grog Shop to see Zola Jesus. Nika Roza Danilova has one of the best and most powerful voices in music today. The show was amazing. I bought some ore records at the show.

LA Vampires Meets Zola Jesus EP

RSD 2011-13

Zola Jesus Souer Sewer 7" single

RSD 2011-18

We bumped into several friends during the show and all decided to go to La Cave du Vin for a nightcap. I had a Stone Old Guardian Belgo which was absolutely amazing. A barleywine brewed with a Belgian yeast strain. Great conversations with friends made last call arrive too quickly. Drove back to the west side and ended the long day with side one of Miles Davis' Miles in the Sky. A perfect way to end a perfect day. Now to start counting down to Record Store Day 2012.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fuck the Academy Awards!

Well, it's that time of year again. Awards season. If you know me in real life, you know that I don't give a flying fuck about most of these film awards. It seems like every year there is some new awards show since we don't seem to have enough. The Oscars are the biggest of them all and I do kind of watch them every year. Although recently it has been more as background noise while I follow along on Twitter or some on-line forum making fun of the nominees and the presenters. Every year the ceremony gets longer (10 best picture nominees!?!?!?!) and the films being honored get even more mediocre than in the past. Instead of doing my usual best of list I decided to make my own Academy Awards nominees list. Now obviously I haven't seen every film released last year, or even all the ones I wanted to. I am a film lover but it is impossible to see everything. I know a few key films (Carlos, White Material, Another Year, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Film Socialisme to name a few) may have made this list, but I haven't seen them. Most haven't played in Cleveland yet. This list is based on what I have seen and is done completely from memory. I may have liked a film a lot earlier in the year, but if I can't remember fuck all about it now it couldn't have been that good. All of these films have made some kind of impression on me and deserve some recognition. Feel free to list your own picks in the comments. Nominees listed in bold are who I would pick to win. I listed directors next to my best picture nominees as I was too lazy to look up the producers. And remember, fuck the Academy Awards!

Best Picture
The American, Anton Corbijn
Mother, Bong Joon-ho
Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance
Enter the Void, Gaspar Noé
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Oplev
I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino
A Prophet, Jacques Audiard
Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974, Julian Jarrold
Somewhere, Sophia Coppola
Winter's Bone, Debra Granik

Best Director
Jacques Audiard, A Prophet
Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine
Debra Granik, Winter's Bone
Gasper Noé, Enter the Void
Niels Arden Oplev, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Nathaniel Brown, Enter the Void
George Clooney, The American
Stephen Dorff, Somewhere
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Michael Nyqvist, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Josh Brolin, True Grit
Vincent Cassel, Black Swan
Bill Murray, Get Low
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Admas, The Fighter
Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy
Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
Paz de la Huerta, Enter the Void
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Adapted Screenplay
Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen, True Grit
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Winter's Bone
Robert Harris and Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Rowan Joffe, The American

Original Screenplay
Thomas Bidegain, Jacques Audiard, Abdel Raouf Dafri and Nicolas Peufaillit, A Prophet
Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis, Blue Valentine
Luca Guadagnino, Barbara Alberti, Ivan Cotroneo and Walter Fasano, I Am Love
Lucile Hadzihalilovic and Gaspar Noé , Enter the Void
Nicole Holofcener, Please Give

David Boyd, Get Low
Roger Deakins, True Grit
Benoît Debie, Enter the Void
Andrij Parekh, Blue Valentine
Yorick Le Saux, I Am Love