Saturday, January 29, 2011

TCJ's Top 100 Comics (#91-#100)

If you haven't seen the intro/index post, check it out first. Short story shorter: I'm counting up The Comics Journal's 100 Best Comics of the 20th Century, 10x10. Here's the first installment...


no. 91 Watchmen
1986-1987
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

91 Watchmen
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "In narrowed circles, Watchmen will be dismissed for merely being the fare-thee-well vision of superheroes. True, the 1986 tale is indebted to genre conventions, but it additionally refurbishes devices from science fiction and the mystery novel, specifically the 'murder at the club' sub-species. Here, however, the cast of indelibly delineated members just happens to wear masks. With this, the psychological implications of dress-up heroism are acknowledged, examined, and then folded into richer, more complex patterns of human behavior than covered in any crime fighter's handbook." (Rich Kreiner)

Headspace sez: "Uh, it's Watchmen... Believe the hype! I won't say that it should have been in the Top 10 of TCJ's list, but this ranking is a travesty. The first significant, successful attempt at a literate mainstream (DC) comic series. A huge factor in the next decade of the mainstream: grim 'n' gritty angst, the existence of DC's Vertigo line, indirectly Image Comics, Alan Moore's ubiquity. Plus you have the actual content of the work itself. It's just plain better than #91."



no. 92 "Pictopia"
1986
Alan Moore, Don Simpson, et al

92 Pictopia
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "But writer Moore and artist Don Simpson would critique society's sanctioned heartlessness using brutal superheroes as a metaphor. Along the way, they would raise a lament to the demise of comics themselves, both as a social institution and as a valued industry. That's a lot to pack into a 13-page story, one of the shorter works in this list of 100. Moore, a clever student of comics' history and already a jaded hand in the field, was at his most trenchantly concise and riding high dudgeon." (Rich Kreiner)

Headspace sez: "Pretty surprising to have a 1986 Alan Moore work that I'd never actually heard of, much less seen myself. Uhhh... Quick, look over there!! Indeed heavy. I like the Little Nemo homage in the beginning, and I detect a bit of an influence on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, two years later (1988)."



no. 93 Dennis the Menace
1951-1994
Hank Ketcham

93 Dennis the Menace
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "Dennis began as a fairly conventional gag panel but in a short time both the humor and drawing attained a remarkable level of sophistication. (Surely the early widespread popularity of the winsome five-year-old rapscallion and his exasperated but infinitely patient nuclear family had much to do with its timing at the height of the post-War baby boom.)" (Gary Groth)

Headspace sez: "Just goes to show how much marketing and merchandising can have an effect. I can't help but think of the tv series, refrigerator magnets, 365-Dennis flip-calendars, and probably movies and other swag. I can understand considering Dennis the Menace superior to, say, Family Circus. But I still think of it in the same category: formulaic gag strips with easy, repetitive humor that gets old pretty quick."



no. 94 The Humor Comics of Basil Wolverton
1942-1973
Basil Wolverton

94 Basil Wolverton
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "No one working in such a 'cartoony' style ever achieved that same sense of real-life possibility - that one of Wolverton's deformed-to-abstraction critters could be in the same room, sweating, grinning innocently, and looking up at you... Basil Wolverton's art and approach to comics remains influential today... a launching pad for many of the wilder forays of the underground generation's work, and all comics holding to that tradition." (Tom Spurgeon)

Headspace sez: "The name rings a bell, but it's that kind of name. I like that his art appeared in Lil' Abner ('40s), Kurtzman-era Mad ('50s) and DC's humor title Plop! ('70s). What, Not Brand Echh wasn't hiring?!"



no. 95 Los Tejanos
1982
Jack Jackson

95 Los Tejanos
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "Los Tejanos is the story of the Texas-Mexican conflict between approximately 1835-1875. Jackson's view of the conflict is seen through the eyes of the tejano (literally Texan of Mexican as distinct from anglo heritage) Juan Seguin... Seguin is a pivotal and tragic figure who, due to inexorable political circumstances and innate nationalistic prejudices, was considered suspect to the anglo Texans and, ultimately, a traitor from the Mexican point of view." (Gary Groth)

Headspace sez: "Sorta reminds me of Chester Brown's Louis Riel (1999-2003), which I dug big-time and which obviously came later - in the following century. Except about crazy early Texans, rather than crazy early Canadians."



no. 96 Dirty Plotte
1990-"Present"
Julie Doucet

96 Dirty Plotte
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "With 'My New York Diary' in the tenth through 12th issues of Dirty Plotte, Doucet came into her own for the first time. The story of a woman adrift in a new city while caught in a relationship gone not dreadfully but pitiably wrong is evocative and genuinely moving while at the same time it maintains the artist's distinctive visual look, albeit toned down a notch." (Bart Beaty)

Headspace sez: "Personal accounts of urban depravity were a-dime-a-dozen in the grungey '90s small press, but I really like Doucet's art style. It could even make me enjoy the stories, and she seem more likeable and fun-loving than purely self-debasing. More pages at the link above..."



no. 97 "The Hannah Story"
1994
Carol Tyler

97 The Hannah Story
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "Tyler's 12-page 'The Hannah Story,' about the early death of her sister Ann, and the circumstances that finally enable her mother Hannah to confront this bottomless sorrow, avoids all these pitfalls and emerges as perhaps the saddes and certainly most beautiful of the '90s 'autobiographical' comics." (Kim Thompson)

Headspace sez: "Unfamiliar with this one, but I was never big into the '90s wave of autobiographical comics (and there were soooo many). Not too keen on the art style myself."



no. 98 Barney Google
1919-1942
Billy DeBeck

98 Barney Google
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "Initially, the strip was merely another ne'er-do-well husband and overbearing wife domestic comedy, but on July 17, 1922, creator Billy DeBeck changed all that: Barney acquired a race horse named Spark Plug, and the sad-faced nag, most of whose anatomy is hidden underneath a moth-eaten, shroud-like, horse blanket, became the Snoopy of the roaring '20s. Barney entered the horse in a race, and DeBeck quickly discovered the potency of a continuing story for captivating readers..." (R.C. Harvey)

Headspace sez: "When she was a young girl, my grandmother's father won a Shetland Pony while gambling - and he named it Spark Plug. Personally, I mainly remember Snuffy Smith (Barney's hillbilly cousin introduced in 1934), who always seemed a racist caraciture of white country people."



no. 99 The Bungle Family
1924-1945
Harry Tuthill

99 The Bungle Family
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "Tuthill's grubby, uningratiating drawing style and the verbose density of balloon prose hardly make a good first impression. Tuthill's genius was as a writer able to put over one of the darkest visions of American life this side of Nathaniel Webster. The lower middle-class Bungles, George and Josephine, have no more charm than the style they're drawn in: they are petty, mean-spirited, with no self-awareness, constantly bickering and back-biting among themselves as well as their neighbors and landlords." (Art Spiegelman)

Headspace sez: "I'd never heard of this strip before this article, and I've never heard of it elsewhere either. You can find more examples on this page. Seems like a whole lot of bickering..."



no. 100 Prince Valiant
1937-1971
Harold Foster

100 Prince Valiant
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "A superb draughtsman and a master of complex composition, his work is never formulaic: whether drawing a wistful maiden lost in thought on a parapet, or rendering a warrior manning a catapult on a chaotic battlefield, each is always depicted as an individual possessing distinct characteristics of dress, physical appearance, and expression. His charming and earthy rendering of everyday domestic life also balances the more romantic elements." (Greg Cwiklik)

Headspace sez: "As a kid occasionally reading the Sunday funnies, Prince Valiant always struck me as alien as Mary Worth or Steve Roper. Something you had to follow every day, through each week. But I would still check it out, because it looked and felt much, much cooler to a little boy."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Le voyage - The Alps (#4, 2010)

The Alps have mellowed out somewhat on their latest LP. Their previous III (#9, 2008) had a dreamy, sleepy vibe - but more like a noisy, hallucinatory quiet-storm. Le voyage seems a half-step more traditionally quiet, with acoustic guitars, pianos, and naturalistic field recordings. Still in the imaginary soundtrack ballpark, but even more aligned with Floyd's late-'60s filmwork.



The way I see it is... If time ran backwards, then 40 years from now, the perfect band to provide music for Zabriskie Point would be located, and they would be heavily influenced by The Alps. Instead we've got this universe, and they had to make do with Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead (and Jerry Garcia), John Fahey, and Kaleidoscope. Which was definitely alright too...



"Drop In" from Le voyage (2010)

Side A beings with the sparkling, drifting guitar figure of "Drop In," which follows a path so natural it might as well be through a forest. A rustling, flute-like lead hovers, and a few raindrops of piano fall lightly. A stronger lead with pedal steel accompaniment wanders in and out. A tune as inevitable and unforced as a river.



"Crossing the Sands" from Le voyage (2010)

The next "song" is the only one that might be called rocking - the insistent tribal beat of "Crossing The Sands" only shows up here. The freak-out wah-wah breaks and crashes back in, rock 'n' roll style, while the acoustic rhythm just builds forward momentum.

The first half of "St. Laurent" plays like a more full-bodied cousin of "Drop In" - with a strong bassline, drums, more dramatic dynamics, and a violin? It's got that same natural beauty, though. The tasteful beat, the descending guitar line, the lead that actually follows closely to the tune's structure... And then the quiet echo played over on piano for the back half. St. Laurent is, among other things, a type of grape.



"Saturno Contro" from Le voyage (2010)

You like Pink Floyd's mid-early period (c. 1969)? I sure do!

Three brief noise interludes break up Side A, between each of the regular tunes. "The Lemon Tree" is the longest, 2 minutes of various synth squiggles over a shifting backdrop. "Petals" is the best but shortest, moving quickly from sturdy drones to a plucky keyboard. "Marzipan" is the weirdest with Francophone female ecstasy, running water, alien chamber-music, and explosions.

Not sure I fully support the approach - not everything needs to be weird. But I guess that's just part of who The Alps are... And these pieces do break up (though don't mask) a fairly similar (though very good) sounding first side.


Le Voyage reverse
Side B is different. "Black Mountain" sets a melancholy piano against an Indian sympathetic resonance drone machine (the tambura), and amid outdoorsy field recordings.

This leads directly into the longer-ish title track, neither an epic nor the centerpiece. Not so much an epic due to both length (under 10 mins) and formlessness ("Le voyage" translates roughly to "the voyage"). But since it is longer, I'm going to say that it's a lot like a prog tune, minus the bombast, with different movements, that with enough ingenuity you could probably equate to an actual or imaginary journey, from history or literature. It is the centerpiece of Side B, though.



"Telepathe" from Le voyage (2010)

Finally, the tambura returns to close things out on "Telepathe" - this time with added bomast. Like drum rolls and fills all over the place! I originally found it odd to call back this "foreign" sound so soon, but it makes sense with what seems to be the structure(s) of the tracklist, alternating back and forth with each song, restlessly moving on and tacking back. Something something about some kind of voyage, right?

Recorded, mixed, and bass by Philip "Tic-Tac" Manley of Jonas Reinhardt (and others), who has a new solo album on Thrill Jockey: Life Coach. Also, check out this 2009 live performance by Portraits - here: one Alp, all of Barn Owl (#11, 2010), the tambura player and field recordist on Le voyage, plus others.


Summer Trips
The Alps also put together their ranked free online mix "Summer Trips" Typecast. You can stream or download (arrow button) with this thing:



Whilst looking up that one, I just noticed for the first time Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's solo Typecast: "Wolf Moon Mix", which looks pretty cool also.


Le voyage

Genre - Easy Noise
Official/Myspace - myspace.com/thealpssf
Location - San Francisco, CA

Review - Pop Matters
SoundCloud (stream) - Le voyage
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), Amazon (US), Boomkat (UK)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Comics Journal's Top 100
Comics of the 20th Century

A short time ago, I dropped into local anarchist hangout Sedition Books for the first time. Lucky for me, they had a well-worn copy of Seth Tobocman's War in the Neighborhood - which I promptly stole. Or liberated. Or negotiated a mutually-acceptable exchange of goods or services or legal tender. I'd been casually looking for it awhile now, and I thought it had appeared in this comics list - but it must have been somewhere else, because I checked and it actually wasn't on the list at all.

Locas by Xaime
I'm no kinda comic book philosopher or theorist or critic, but you know who is? The Comics Journal, that's who! It's not the only publication to attempt a sustained, serious look at all things comics, treating the entire medium as worthy of critical analysis - but arguably the biggest and best.

There are two published, ranked lists that have exerted a big influence on me, a confirmed list-maker. First would be the SPIN Alternative Record Guide (1995). The other appeared in TJC #210 (Feb 1999): their Top 100 (English-Language) Comics of the (20th) Century. So every week or two, I'll go through 10 entries in the big list, counting all the way up to #1.

It'll look a little something like this...


no. 210 "The 100 Best Comics of the Century"
Feb 1999
The Comics Journal

TCJ No. 120
[Click to enlarge ~ source]

TCJ pull quote: "This list is a call for a[n] uncompromising re-examination of the comics medium in terms of its best works. It is our hope that in viewing the achievements of the comics art form across a century - from the lurid, pulpy fun of its adventure comics to the well-crafted drama of its serial strips to the startling idiosyncratic delicacy of its high-end artistic triumphs - comics readers will see the medium in a new light. Casual or occasional readers may find a number of comics worthy of their attention, while more serious readers may re-discover them." (Tom Spurgeon)

Headspace sez: "I am one of those casual or occasional readers. I'm only passingly familiar with many, many of these titles. And completely unfamiliar with many... which is fine. TCJ will always be way more focused on pre-WWII newspaper strips than I ever will. And where I do know what they're talking about, I have several serious beefs with rankings - also fine. Hopefully, it will make for an interesting series of posts, if inevitably for a limited audience."


Really spaced
Very nice magazine cover by Seth (#52). I'm estimating that in 1999, I could've identified the character, comic, and/or artist for 35 of the 56 figures (only 62.5%). Answers towards the end of the series, many moons hence...

I'll add in the Top 100 list below, with links to each post o' ten...


Watchmen
#91-#100 Full post HERE

91. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
92. "Pictopia" by Alan Moore and Don Simpson
93. Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham
94. The humor comics of Basil Wolverton
95. Los Tejanos by Jack Jackson
96. Dirty Plotte by Julie Doucet
97. "The Hannah Story" by Carol Tyler
98. Barney Google by Billy DeBeck
99. The Bungle Family by Harry Tuthill
100. Prince Valiant by Hal Foster


[Click to enlarge ~ source]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Heavily Cloudkicking Vinyl

One-man metal machine Cloudkicker has moved - from Google.UK to a new Bandcamp site. And maybe to America? I called The Map Is Not the Territory the #20 record of 2009 (Metalloid division). And it was free, as are all his download releases.


Beacons
Then, recently, somewhere I go for news had a composite list of 2010 metal releases, and I was surprised to see Cloudkicker even make the cut - it was a pretty long list. Newest album, Beacons (Sep 2010) is downloadable for name-your-price (including Free), and has been pressed up on vinyl ($15) and CD ($10). It's instrumental metal with computerized back-up, but the song titles seem to tell a story of some kind of military/spaceship/technical mishap via snippets of crew dialogue. Just now getting it, but sounds great so far - and I'll probably pick up the LP.



"Oh, god." from Beacons (2010)


"I admit it now. I was scared." and "We were all scared."
from Beacons (2010)

You can stream the whole thing, and all his output, at the Bandcamp site. And that's where you'd download or order more stuff.


A New Heavenly Body
I'd missed the 3-song ]]][[[ EP earlier in the year, then it was redone and renamed as A New Heavenly Body (Nov 2010). Haven't even touched this one yet, but I'll definitely get around to it pretty soon.



"What it is Impossible Not to Know and What it is No Longer Permissible to Believe in the United States"
from A New Heavenly Body EP (2010)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Escobarb - Pong (#3, 2010)

What can I say? I'm a huge fan of Pong - going way back to when 3/5 (now 3/7) of them were Ed Hall. I mean, I made videos for all the songs on this album, even "Applesauce." Which is kinda frightening... I'm surprised no restraining orders were involved! But this ended up being much stronger even than I'd originally thought.

The older live favorites were excellent of course, but some of the unheard stuff was just as good... Especially the ever-more-mindblowing title track. I still think of Pong as primarily a live in-person event, so this their 3rd album continued a progression - taking them beyond just awesomely documenting the current accumulated live set.

Pong with strobe-globe
A few of these pull apart the slightly funky, somewhat edgy, space-vibe party-rock components and rebuild them into even weirder shapes. Also, I haven't done a scientific analysis, but I think Escobarb has the richest sound palette of Pong's three albums. Most noticeable on the synthesizers, but also female vocals, different instruments, and various treatments and effects...

I've already said a whole lot about the music on Side A and Side B. As I so rarely do here, what with all the instrumentalism - let's look at the lyrics. A lot of people will tell you to ignore the words - just bug out and/or dance - but not me. Like all great sci-fi, Pong give us a low-culture trash perspective (usually the best) on high-falutin' concepts - or so I can think.



"Rocket Fuel"

Maybe a Thoreauvian DIY blast-off: we, let's, us. Then it inverts the Major Tom dynamic for outsiders. Rather than Pong to Ground Control, it's "please send a message." Like they're not patched in directly? I can imagine Pong in their home-made rocket (in orange jumpsuits), flying past Mir and signalling for a little help. Escape velocity, new philosophy, and trajectory - maybe this "other world" is only in the mind? If so, where can I get some of this rocket fuel?



"Laika" (live light-show rehearsal)

I think the key to "Laika" is the line, "My name is God, if you spell it backwards." A lot of the situations Laika faces with us could also be our questions posed to God. "I've flown through space, yet I call you master?" And in times of trouble, "wonder why you call me your best friend..." All the instruments sound really good here, but especially the guitar-bass-guitar stop/start pattern like at the very beginning.


"Suicide Cat"
I can't reconcile the first verses with the rest. The mundane first-to-second person address comes from a different place than the surreal third-person omniscience describing the café scene. Is it the reverse of Valis' fractured resolution from Horselover Fat back to PKD? And is "think of the future" helpful when talking down the suicide cat? I'm not sure whether it's acid house or techno or whatever, but I think the beat and flow tones down some kind of big electro-club style.



"Superwrong"

Swappin' DNA always reminds me of "RNA" and "mutants wearing tight genes" from the previous two albums. I had called this song "It's Great," "Super-great," "Super-eight," and maybe even "Super-right." Which all ended up being sortawrong. The instrumental breaks are classic Pong noise-bump. "This thing's stuck on On." Intense sounds!


Escobarb
"Applesauce"
"Can you hear me go...? Now here we go..." Raise the roof, a little bit softer now. Miminalist collage moto-funk ambient, with hushed booty-call rapping and hip-hop beatz? Ayup.


"Umbrella"
Nah, yer just paranoid. With a callback to the "New World Order" (from their 2001 debut), dodging the authorities to avoid being locked up and the key thrown away takes on all new meaning after the last 5-plus years. "Run from Big Brother... there'll be no place to run." I've become a bit more of a believer in this song. I like the various parts and with a different arrangement (less farmyard breakdown), I could see it working better overall.



"Sunshine"

A great mash-up of John Denver and Philip K. Dick (again!). A long long time ago, I heard someone describe "Sunshine On My Shoulder" as the epitome of poetry, because of its universal tactile resonance. The same could be said for "Your hands all over my body / oh, and I get overstimulated." That fat synth sound gets pretty overstimulated, and there's quite a bit of craziness going on between it and that hyperkinetic drumbeat, then all of a sudden... drowsy peacefulness. And soon to sleep, perchance to dream?



"Escobarb"

Pure Shakespeare, baby!! The cast of characters, the underground king of the music scene, the baseball guys, Escobarb's tape, Munsingwear, "you don't look really beat up." Reinforcing (or influencing) my Rocket Fuel theory is "we built a spaceship in my front yard." Echoing my Suicide Cat theory are the shifting (or cycling) perspectives throughout this one - definitely between time frames, possibly between characters, even genders... There are a couple of so-far-unintelligeable sections. So many mysteries!!



I think you need to be aware of this bizarre and recently unearthed tidbit, from a 1995 Austin Chronicle article on the state of Ed Hall right before their last album:
However, Chester's most salient early influence was Escobarb, a mysterious rock band/secret society that existed at his school around 1980.

"There was this guitar player when I was growing up named Sean Kelly," Chester relates. "He was this total rock god, but he never graduated high school. Then he decided he never wanted to leave his house. We thought he was the head of this supposed underground cult conspiracy called Escobarb. They played this music that was really weird, like Gong. They had all these really weird lyrics, and they were supposedly all these popular figures at the school with secret names. They would send their tapes to Sean's house in a carved-out book wrapped in Munsingwear underwear like some kind of spy thing. It got really intense. Then, they sent a book called Escobarb R.I.P., saying they had become the New Zandergroids. The book had pictures of every person who had ever been in Escobarb and my picture was in there. No one ever figured out what Escobarb was or where the tapes were coming from."
"You don't know it, but you are, already in Escobarb." Weird, huh?

P.S. I just made up the adjective "Thoreauvian," but apparently that is actually correct!


Escobarb

Genre - Party-Down Space Rock
Official - pongsongs.com/
Myspace - myspace.com/pongpongpong
Location - Austin, TX

Review - 29-95
Download - n/a
Purchase - Amazon

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Demdikes for Sale

Unfortunately, I couldn't synchronize this with the #8 Record(s) of 2010 full write-up, because here's ½ of it!

Tryptych
The three physical (as opposed to downloads), song-related (as opposed to mixes) Demdike Stare releases from last year. Formerly vinyl-only, now on a 3xCD set, with 40 minutes of bonus material!! From Boomkat, it's only £17 (around $27 at the moment).

Read more at Modern Love Records.
The music Demdike Stare make is hard to pin down, based largely around archival musical sources ranging from obscure library records to long forgotten jazz, early electronic, and industrial recordings, alongside an array of Iranian, Pakistani, Turkish and Eastern European material largely unknown in the Western world. Demdike Stare absorb and re-align these found sounds via their ever-expanding array of analogue machinery, ending up with something that is in part Plunderphonic, but ultimately completely new. Their music has sometimes been lumped-in with the Hypnagogic, Hauntological and, most recently, ‘Witch House’ movements, but ultimately Demdike Stare should appeal to anyone with an interest in everything from classic KPM library records through to the music of Basic Channel and all the way to the smudged, altered-realities of James Ferraro and The Caretaker.

You can also stream the three 2010 releases on their individual label pages:
1. Forest of Evil

2. Liberation through Hearing

3. Voices of Dust

YouTube's not really a good delivery method for Demdike Stare, but o well...


"Matilda's Dream" from Liberation through Hearing (2010)


Also, I again suggest you check out Boomkat's HOT OFFERS.

Now includes cd's of Demdike Stare's Symbiosis (their previous song-related collection, 2009) and Osmosis (their first mix-CD of 2010), The Alps' Le voyage (#4, 2010) and III (#9, 2008), Black to Comm's Alphabet 1968 (#1, Drone/Ambient 2009), Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age (#6, Drone/Ambient 2009), Rene Hell's Porcelain Opera (#33, 2010), The Caretaker's Persistent Repition of Phrases (2008), and the Leyland Kirby 3xCD set (#3, Drone/Ambient 2009), Grouper's Dragging a Dead Deer up a Hill, William Fowler Collins's Perdition Hill Radio (#8, Drone/Ambient 2009), and many more. Mostly for around $10 or less!!

I noticed many of those are on Type Records, a terrific label. Good music, free streaming preview of entire albums, and regular excellent artist-mix "Typecast" downloads... Check 'em out!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Does It Look Like I'm Here? -
Emeralds (#2, 2010)

This past year, Does It Look Like I'm Here? was easily the single most listened-to record for my ears. I was finally able to get the sold-out-on-vinyl 2009 self-titled album when it was re-released on CD. Otherwise, I might have given up after not especially digging What Happened (2009). You can read my first impressions here - featuring most of the same video samples...

Living with Yourself
But there's just so much to hear... We've got 6 separate Emeralds-related releases, and the main album and one re-release are double-albums! So I'm not even going to try covering everything. I'll just try to pair up one Does It Look track with one from each of the side-projects, private presses, collaborations, re-releases, or whatever. It's on!!



"Now You See Me" from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)


"Clouds Rolling In" from Living with Yourself (2010)

Mark McGuire successfully transplanted my favorite part of Emeralds (the guitars, of course) onto a great post-rockish solo-album. Emeralds remains mainly synthesizer driven, but I can't imagine them without McGuire's contributions.

"Now You See Me" boasts the most prominent guitar on the Emeralds record, so I figure that's a good place to start the introductions. Really lovely, and the space-relay sequencer works to focus attention on the different layers before it drops out. The solo "Clouds Rolling In" picks up the pace, with the speed of a high-pressure front leading into an expansive "Brain Storm (for Erin)."



"Double Helix" from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)


"Soaring Yellow / Glowing Net" from Glowing Net E.P. (2010)

Ahhh, "Double Helix" - what a great tune! High energy, to the point, with those dramatic key changes, tasteful guitar licks, and that pulse buzzing around like some wobbly UFO. In the context of the album, it punctuates a leap off into some of the most wide-open and exploratory material. Title-wise, it kinda bridges the previous domestic names with the following clinical science-style ones.

Glowing Net EP
Mist teamed up John Elliot (of Emeralds) with Sam Goldberg of Radio People for an E.P. of neo-New Age jams. Or compositions... This actually seems the least improvisational of Elliot's three side projects on the list. Or the least in the spirit of "the tape was rolling, so why not?" Fairly minimalist compared to Emeralds, including the missing instrument - but really smooth sounds.



"Candy Shoppe" from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)


"Sea Channels" from Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks (2010)

The opening cut from Emeralds also gets a video made by the band (Mark McGuire, I believe). This tune is really nicely constructed. Things seem to meander a bit while different elements get introduced, then about half way through, a subtle shift coalesces into a single direction. All the parts start gradually moving together and build up momentum towards the end of the song. Pretty sweet trick.

Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks
Colored Mushroom and the Medicine Rocks finds Elliot collaborating with people on more synthesizer-based workouts (with beats). It seems very much "the tape was rolling," which leads to some interesting results and a couple that interest less so.



"Summerdata" from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)


Side C Track 2 from Imaginary Softwoods (2008/2010)

"Summerdata" brings back that noisy inertia we all remember so much from early last year. Is that just me? Oh... With so much material, I expected more like this - but it seems more interesting within a bigger, more diverse picture.

Imaginary Softwoods
You can read more about Imaginary Softwoods' abstract drones here, including the explanation for my own "Brains in Slo-Mo version" of C2. Double-disc, real good at any speed!



"Genetic" [part 2] from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)


"Overboard (Off the Deep End)" from Emeralds (2009/2010)

Sure, "Genetic" is 12 minutes long. All the moment-to-moment changes might either obscure or enhance the possibility of limited micro-level variation. Like an optical illusion, the perspective keeps shifting from the chalice of repetitions to the two faces of a whole lot going on - and back and forth. Is the guitar playing different patterns or the same pattern differently? Can you follow the breadcrumb trail of arpeggio sequences, or are you baked inside the loaf? How long can you retain the sound before you're distracted by right now? What was just going on a minute ago?

Emeralds
This entire year was a process for me with Emeralds. Not really getting What Happened in January... Finding more to like in the self-titled's CD release in May... Being blown away by Does It Look Like I'm Here? in July... and continuing to explore since then. "Geode" video has been removed, so I went with mine for the opening track on the crucial Emeralds (2009).



"Does It Looks Like I'm Here?" from Does It Look Like I'm Here? (2010)

With the double-album, it just seems to keep giving and giving. The title track is the only other really long-form exploration. Otherwise, pick any tunes at random. You can compare the phasetastic pulse backed by languid guitar of "It Doesn't Arrive" to the amorphous synth burble over intermittent guitar rhythms in "Access Granted." And no-one ever talks about "Goes By"... it's really good.

Believe it or not, that isn't even close to all the Emeralds-related releases from this year. I never could find the Outer Space record, I missed all of the 7" singles, and there's no way I could keep up with the CDr and cassette releases.

Does It Look Like I'm Here?

Genre - Kraut-Drone Synth Improv
Official/Blog - Cleveland Wagon
Location - Cleveland, OH

Review - Treble Zine
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure, Amazon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Turn On Astral Bonus Space

Dragontears (#2 of 2008) finally released Turn On, Tune In, Fuck Off!! (#13 of 2010), apparently the last album by the group. And I wrote a little about it there, but still felt this was worth highlighting as a special 7"...


"Astral Flash/Space Fuck" from Turn On, Tune In, Fuck Off!! (2010)

The LP edition came with an otherwise unavailable bonus single, and it's right up there with the rest of the record (in quality if not style). The A-side, "Astral Flash," rocks out a good space-drone exploration with the album title chanted over 'n' over. The flipside, "Space Fuck," rides a similar vein - but maybe a little more Hawkwind rifftastic than the dronier side. Some real sweet added material - and nice for rewarding the vinyl!


Alt cover

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Æthenor Out Today

Not too long ago, I was wondering when we'd see a new record out from Æthenor (#7, 2006 and #16, Non-metal 2009). And now it's here, a double-live!! En Form For Blå (2011), recorded over a June 2010 three-night stand in Oslo, Norway.

En Form for Bla (live)
Æthenor ist supergroup! Stephen O'Malley from Sunn O))), Daniel O'Sullivan from Guapo (#2, 2006), Kristoffer Rygg from Ulver, and Steve Noble (Rip Rig & Panic? also Derek Bailey). The avant-garde, baby!

They're kinda improv, kinda noisy, and kinda heavy. Although I knew they'd been playing live occasionally, I didn't expect an actual concert album. Their previous records probably grew out of improvisational playing, but they've seemed so conceptually unified - sculpted into form, like. So, I guess this gives us a look at the raw materials - count me in!

You can listen to samples or buy it (CD: $10, 2xLP: $18) here at VHF Records. Or check out these audience vids...












Totally righteous - amirite?

Funny Book Flyers!

I've got a major comics-related series in mind, but I'm still working out the approach. I've only posted a couple of times on comix: strongly encouraging you to seek out Hark, A Vagrant, and highlighting 5 artists for the ages.

I was checking for more recent Gnod downloads. (Noticed that they also linked to the Top 10...) And their new live gig flyer reminded me of the only such one that I've ever done. So, here are both!!


GNOD flyer
Here's the original, by Jack "The King" Kirby.

PONG flyer
Hey, my Steranko original's also featured at the same site!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pyramid of the Sun - Maserati (#1, 2010)

Whoa. Dude. At the beginning of all this (#50), I said that "I welcome the renaissance of John Carpenter appreciation." Well here we are, and Pyramid of the Sun begins with "Who Can Find the Beast?" as introduction - a very Carpenterian synth-drone, with anguished talkbox/vocoder wails. Unexpected! Although maybe sort of a cousin to the "Join Us Mystic Sister" intro on their side of the Zombi split-LP (#2, 2009).



"Pyramid of the Sun" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

Maserati had at least two full songs they'd been playing live for awhile. "Pyramid of the Sun" had been going by "Chug" since at least SxSW in March 2009. So I thought this would be a pretty decent record. And sure enough, the road-tested material comes out early. I distinctly remember the drum breakdown from when I saw them - and that swirling, cresting, delayed guitar arpeggio/drone. Several moving parts keep slipping in and out, especially the two guitars, constantly overlapping, interlocking and breaking apart.



"We Got the System to Fight the System" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

This was the other long-established tune, although it kept the same name. It's a little more typical of the Maserati sound, but really plays to their strengths - forward motion and gear-shifting speed. After losing a crucial player (drummer Jerry Fuchs) and then committing to use his already-recorded drum parts, Maserati seemed to be fencing themselves in. But not at all. Even with self-imposed drum constraints, they broke out more diversity than they've ever shown - only somewhat due to the synth assist from Steve Moore of Zombi.

Like when "Ruins" crashes waves of datastream guitar-delay apocalypse over an ominous tape-manipulated drumbeat of war. Flanking that transitional piece are the pair of "They'll Suffer No More from Thirst" and "They'll Suffer No More from Hunger." Thirst (co-written by Moore) tends more towards their disco-drone side, while Hunger is more stop/start breakneck speed-freakdom. Kind of like taking Maserati's two main axes of sound out to further extremes.



"Oaxaca" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

Having stretched the field and rounded the bases, Maserati takes it on home with the last couple of tracks. "Oaxaca" (also co-written with Steve Moore) throws in everything but the kitchen sink: synth sequencer intro, Italo disco drums, chiming guitar weave, pressure-drop dynamics, an extended space-out breakdown. In a lot of ways, it almost seems built like a dancefloor hit. Or maybe a 12" remix, given that it's over 8 minutes long. Possibly my favorite on the album, which is saying quite a lot!



"Bye M'Friend, Goodbye" from Pyramid of the Sun (2010)

The title's meaning is pretty obvious. When I saw the tracklist, I kind of assumed this would be something more quiet or somber. And it starts off pretty mellow, just a pulse, some choral voices, and a sad tambourine. Some guitars join in, and then Jerry unleashes the drumkit. They just keep taking it up another notch more, cycling through leads, bridges and breakdowns, playing actual riffs! The intensity builds up into a kind of ecstatic release, and then fades out for good.

Coming so late in the year, and with all the factors in play, I definitely didn't expect this to end up a legitimate #1. I was already a fan, but I'm pretty confident this is the first record I've ever called a triumph here so far. Truly.



"Pyramid of the Moon" [edit] from Pyramid of the Moon (2010)

The "Pyramid of the Moon" 12" was released about a month prior to the album. The title track redoes "Sun" at almost 9 minutes, and goes through various twists and turns. The B-side is a remix by The Field - not sure if I've gotten around to listening to it.

Pyramid of the Sun

Genre - Motorik Delay-Action Post-Rock
Official - ihaveadagger.net/
Myspace - myspace.com/maseratirocks
Location - Athens, GA

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Temporary Residence Limited

"Mea Culpa!!" (A Funny Story)

So last Thursday, I put up a video from John Elliot's solo alter-ego, Imaginary Softwoods. Eventually the Top 10 posts will begin... One of a few Emeralds-related re-releases from last year (collectively #2 of 2010), the self-titled double-12" is full of repetitive, hypnotic synth drones. Not my best videowork, but serviceable.

Then on Friday, Pitchfork does a 7.7 review of the album, and all of a sudden I've got like 300 views! Pretty cool, but I'm a bit wary of too much internet attention. So, here it is:


The "C2" video in question, from Imaginary Softwoods (???)

Listen to it... Whaddya think? I like it - very primal, overlapping analogue drones, with ebbing and flowing intensity. And I got one YouTube thumbs-up, and one comment, "Woah - this is good." Not bad, not bad... Then the trouble starts.

Due to some atypical weekend flakiness on my part, I was in communication with a friend about bailing on some plans. When I see an e-mail notification of more YouTube comments - Steven Seagal 1984 had informed me that I "might wanna try 45 rpm since its ripped at the wrong speed." Woah, indeed.


Imanginary gatefold
I remembered that the 2xLP package contained very little information, like track names or credits or whatever. But I pull it out to see if I'd missed anything. Plain paper sleeves, no inserts, nothing on the gatefold cover, but there... in the text etched amidst the run-out groove: "45 RPM" - on both 12" vinyl discs. How'd I miss that?!



Side C, track 2, from Imaginary Softwoods (2010)

So now we're up to 500 views and three thumbs-up, all people who have been drastically misled by my screw-up. Kind of. Anyway, I re-rip side C at 45 rpm and video-ize track 2, rename the first video the "Brains in Slo-Mo version," and try to make it obvious with comments/links. And another 100 people have watched the wrong version...

But let's look at the situation. Setting aside correctness and authorial intent, is one of them better than the other?

Softwoods back
I liked my original version just fine, having listened to the full album "wrong" several times without any real issues. I mean, the whole album is somewhat similar to this track, as discussed by Pitchfork. There's no vocals, drums, or any other benchmarks that would indicate (to me) that I'd played it too slow. The hidden message (at least to me) about record speed, especially being unusual for 12"s, seems a bit suspicious. Although it's probably more that the overall package design left minimal room for helpful text - and I have to admit I had found the ABCD side designations in the run-out text. But still...

Maybe I'm just trying to rationalize my mistake, but the nature of the music and the somewhat obscure placement of the unusual RPM for 12" discs - maybe it was at least foreseeable, if not intentional. (I believe Tribes of Neurot's 2002 Adaptation and Survival project might have allowed for different playing speeds for the vinyl discs.) Plus, one thing about synth/noise music that sometimes bugs me is overuse of the really high-range tones - so maybe I'm predisposed towards the lower-end. Maybe I would have preferred the 33⅓ rpm version anyway, if given a choice. Maybe... but I'm going to hold onto my "wrong" edition of the album regardless. If it turns out I prefer it slower, I'll be getting like 50% more music that way!! And I can accept being wrong.

I don't really draw any conclusions from the whole mess, but it made me think about certain aspects of the more abstract music I listen to. Which is alright.


original vinyl cover
Funnily enough, a very similar story was told in the review I linked to for Blut Aus Nord's What Once Was... Liber I (#16, 2010).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gnod Out for Free!

Woke up this morning, what did I see? Someone at the awesome Rocket Recordings noticed the Top 50 Albums list, and posted about it on their label blog. I'm legitimately psyched about it. Because Rocket has put out some great records... last year's Gnod/White Hills 2xLP (#5) and Teeth of the Sea's EP and LP (#10). Plus the first album from TOTS (#9, 2009) and a great White Hills/The Heads split-LP, Collisions, v.1 (2009). Beyond some others by those bands, they've released stuff from Ufomammut, Mammatus, Oneida, Grey Daturas - but I really want to check out their V/A promo CDr's. No luck so far on those...

Rocket!!
Anyway, enough about me. You're here for the free stuff! Per the Rocket blog, UK electro-psych-noise-somethings GNOD have posted several older, private, OOP, CDr, tour type albums for download. I'd already been searching for both the 2009 self-titled and Aquarian Downer (a 2008 collaboration with White Hills), but this goes well beyond...

>> Go HERE now!! <<


Bonus downloadable rehearsal jam HERE too!
[Just follow the pointing-down arrow button...]


GNOD lp
Late breaking extra bonus! Teeth of the Sea appear in an Italian film blog's free sountrack-covers download comp. So far, so good - it's "Fight Night 2010" from here: I 400 calci blog.

Also, Teeth of the Sea's Your Mercury was sold through Rough Trade with a bonus disc (which I just learned about). Get that one here at SoundCloud! Butthole Surfers, Sun Ra, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Umberto, Broadcast, Nico, Videodrome, the RZA... Yep.

HOWARD SHORE - "Welcome To Videodrome"
SLAUGHTER - "Tales Of The Macabre"
EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN - "Kalte Sterne"
MICHAEL MOORCOCK’S DEEP FIX - "Time Centre"
MICK FARREN - "Carnivorous Circus Part 1"
KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN - "Generator 7B"
MOONDOG - "Bug On A Floating Leaf"
JOHN GIORNO - "Vajra Kisses"
NEON JUDGEMENT - "Fashion Party"
FANFARE CIOCARLIA - "Hora Cu Strigaturii"
PROSTHETIC CUNT - "Dog Got Knocked The Fuck Out"
THE MUMMIES - "You Must Fight To Live On The Planet Of The Apes"
BUTTHOLE SURFERS - "Something"
THE SCREAMERS - "122 Hours Of Fear"
UMBERTO - "Red Dawn"
XELA - "Halloween"
SUN RA - "Astro Black"
RZA - "Love Jones"
MICHAEL BUNDT - "Tropic Of Night Frost"
BROADCAST - "DDL"
ODYSSEY - "Who"
NICO - "Evening Of Light"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 10 Live Shows of 2010

I've been working on this one for quite awhile, but here it is - at long last. My choices for the official Top 10 Live Shows of 2010 Awards. Winners!!


1. PONG Escobarb fiesta!!
Sat, Mar 6 - Record release show - Continental Club [Austin]
Fri, Apr 2 - In-store event - Cactus Records, 5:30-6:30pm
Fri, Apr 2 - Headline gig - Super Happy Fun Land [Houston]


"Laika" live at Nomad Sound, 2009

Not too surprising. Great live band, releasing a great new album (#3 of 2010). Plus, Pocket Fishrmen opened the record release party. One of Pong's guitarists played bass for them, and I saw them open a Butthole Surfers show - '90 or '91, also with Ed Hall, if I remember correctly. They were great, as was Pong - now with a 2nd new member added. More vocals, and female! Then a month later, they were touring and came through Houston on the way to New Orleans. We scored a bonus in-store at Cactus Records, which sounded excellent and was awesome fun (including new unreleased song "Fish Sauce"). Leading up to the all-out show at SHFL's new weirdhouse locale (including personal fave "Click O.K."). Unfortunately, I missed more Pong shows this year than I saw (no Louisiana, no Zombie Ball, no NYE) - but they were great ones nonetheless!


2. Ween over Texas!
Fri, Aug 27 - House of Blues [Dallas]
Sat, Aug 28 - Stubb's [Austin]


"Let's Dance" from House of Blues, 8/27

With Ween, setlists are a big thing for me, because generally the performance is going to be reliably top-notch. The pro's here: awesome songs. The con's: too much overlap for back-to-back Texas shows. Dallas setlist kicked off with "Pork Roll Egg & Cheese," and included "Did You See Me?" An old-school three-way of "Tick," "Wayne's Pet Youngin'," and "Sketches of Winkle!" And semi-rarities "What Deaner Was Talking About," "Polka Dot Tail," "Touch My Tooter," and "Homo Rainbow" (which I think was my first time seeing). Also, David Bowie's "Let's Dance," which was new for this tour... The Stubb's setlist has "Baby Bitch" and "Piss Up a Rope" - always fun to see. "Stroker Ace" and "Booze Me Up and Get Me High" practically guarantee a party. The "Voodoo Lady" epic broke down into Prince's "Kiss" and went back out. Local soulster Sarah Jones sang "Freedom of '76," which was out of Gener's range from the beginning. "The Golden Eel," "Mutilated Lips" and the title track from the awesome Mollusk are no guarantees. They did Bowie again, and encored triumphantly with "Fiesta," awesome song "Sorry Charlie," CSN&Y's "Ohio," and crowd favorite "Roses Are Free" (for the wooks). Both shows replayed a lot of great songs like "Gabrielle" and "Buckingham Green" - and the Meat Puppets opened both shows! It was awesome.


3. Butthole Surfers play Locust Abortion Technician!!
Fri, Oct 29 - Scoot Inn [Austin]


"Graveyard" at Scoot Inn, 10/29

1987 is the next upcoming 20th century Top 10 list, and Locust Abo. is certain to rank pretty high. The evening gets pretty murky later on, but the performing of the album and the early second set were enough to go on. The last few years have been better for Buttholes shows than several before that. In addition to more regular playing, it comes back to setlists. Most recently, they seem to be playing the quality songs from throughout their history. The few years prior to that focused more on early material (pre-Locust), and before that was focused on more recent stuff (post-pioughd). Anyway, the tunes were there, the band seemed into it and on top. O yeah, and here's "Human Cannonball" too!


4. Project Grimm reunites!
Sun, Dec 26 - Rudyard's [Houston]


"Melville" at Rudyard's, 12/26

This one snuck up on me. I just happened to see Project Grimm listed on Rudyard's ad in the local free weekly. Wow! I really dug them back in the day, naming their debut Lying Down as the #4 Album of 1996. I've never been able to find their 2nd (and last) album, but I was able to get it at the show. They kicked off the show like this: "Delivery Man's Threat / Through the Day." They played "Chrysanthemum Tea" of course. Even for bands that I really like (like Ween or Project Grimm), it's always cool to see a good band play a cool cover. One song was intro'ed with a section of "Cinnamon Girl." For someone's birthday (who apparently wasn't there), they covered The Judys' "Man on a Window Ledge" - quite a shock! And finally, they encored with the cover I remember them playing way back, the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Great show all around! Here are some tunes from their rehearsals: "Durian" and "Realized." Clouded also reunited to open. There's a family connection between the bands, but I just don't remember ever going to see them.


5. Roky Erickson II
Wed, Feb 24 - Continental Club [Houston]


"Creature With The Atom Brain" at the Continental Club-Houston, 2/24

Not so much supporting the new album (#26 of 2010), Roky made it back to Houston. Last year, I finally got to see him live for the first time ever (#1 Live Show). If anything, the band was looser - and added a 2nd Elevators tune to "You're Gonna Miss Me." So awesome, but probably nothing will top that first show. Chase Hamblin opened this one.


6. Black Mountain "Dropout Boogie" tour
Wed, Nov 17 - Warehouse Live


"Wucan" at the Kessler Theater-Dallas, 11/20

This post is taking me way too long, so abbreviated summaries ahead...

Double bill! With Black Mountain touring their new one, Wilderness Heart (#17 of this year). They were spectacular, and the back room's sound was the best I've heard. Much more than expected from In the Future (#10, 2008), and an awesome "Druganaut!" The Black Angels (from Austin) headlined the shows in Texas, supporting Phosphene Dream (#32 of 2010). I like the band, but they should've gone first... Here's another BM song from Dallas: "Buried by the Blues."


7. Linus Pauling Quartet
Sat, Oct 23 - Record release - Khon's rooftop parking [Houston]
Sat, Dec 19 - Girls Rock Band Camp benefit - Rudyard's [Houston]


"Monster" plus others, live at Terrastock 7 (Louisville, KY), June 2008

I enjoy seeing LP4 rock out, and was bummed to miss the 7" release show with ST-37. Khon's rooftop venue featured as many from next year's record as from Horns of Ammon (#14 album of 2010), but did include an epic "HAWG!!" as an encore. The Mathletes opened this one. Home again at Rudz, the benefit show explicitly previewed the upcoming Bag of Hammers material. Expect some heavy stoner nerdcore with titles like "Crom," "Saving Throw," "Homonculus," "Star Chimp," and (finally) "StoneBringer"... "Bongfire" as encore! Omotai and Anarchitex opened that one, both were extra cool too.


8. Flaming Lips & a few others @ FreePress SummerFest
June 5 & 6 - http://www.freepresssummerfest.com/index.html - Eleanor Tinsley Park


"Do You Realize??" by Flaming Lips, at FreePressSummerFest, 6/6

Unbelieveably, the Flaming Lips had not played Houston since supporting Beck in 2002. Here's how they returned: "Intro/Worm Mountain." Unfortunately, no huge surprises from the Lips. Mostly ongoing live standards and songs from the most recent Embryonic (#13 Non-Metal of 2009). At least most of the newer tunes were ones I liked the most, except for "I Can Be A Frog." They also played an especially rocked-out version of "Powerless." I still have yet to see most of the older stuff that's been revitalized ("Love Yer Brain", "Mountain Side")... and not even any DSOTM covers! But it was great to see them here, especially when they cancelled a few festival shows immediately prior. Due to the ridiculous weather, I didn't see too many other acts. Golden Axe and The Entrance Band were the best of what I caught.


9. Amandla
Sun, Sep 5 - Rudyard's


"Jesus & Tequila" at Lakeside Lounge (NYC), July 2010

Like I mentioned about covers... That one's the Minutemen, and here's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (maybe at Maxwell's on Main, Doylestown, PA - May 2010?). Neither song played at the Houston show. The cover they did at Rudyard's was EODM's "I Got a Feelin (Just Nineteen)" - which was very cool. At any rate, this was a tasty show - with Claude Coleman, Jr. (drums, Ween) much better on the guitar and vox and songwriting than I'd expected. The whole trio was really on, and they seemed like very good dudes.


10. Mono
Thu, Jun 10 - Rudyard's


"The Kidnapper Bell" at Rudyard's, 6/10 (???)

Looks kinda like Rudyard's, or maybe it's just the YouTube comment: "wow what a horribly rude crowd." Still not as bad as last year at Walter's (#7 Live Show, 2009). Openers The Twilight Sad was so offputting that I came home and considered not returning. But fortunately did, and walked in to the opening strains of first song "Ashes in the Snow." Lucky! The show ended up being really excellent, and though late and tired and alone, I actually made it all the way through the end. Score.

Butthole Surfers
This was a good chunk of the shows I saw this year - hope to see more in 2011. Also worth noting were... Finally seeing Exterminating Angels live (on Halloween in Austin)! Joe 'King' Carrasco at Discovery Green! A couple of Wild Moccasins gigs - record release with Giant Princess and Roky Moon + Bolt! NYE with Golden Axe and Hamamatsu Tom! Post-Ween freshmillions surprise at The Mohawk! And High on Fire was good live, but I regret missing Bison B.C...