Monday, January 10, 2011

2010: A Difficult Year for Music That I Like.

what i would like to say about 2010 is:
there weren't a whole lot of records that really grabbed me.

the truth about 2010 is:
i got really really REALLY fucking busy and kinda stopped obsessively buying & listening to records and going to shows. like, i think i maybe bought 10 7" records, rather than the usual 100 (or so).

this is both good and bad but it also makes me sad.

ANYWAY... i was still able to cobble up a fairly significant list. oh, and on the "records that didn't really grab me" tip: it is true that not a lot of what i heard in the garage/punk/rnr world caught my attention enough to make it. this is unusual. i'm hoping this is because not a lot of truly awesome stuff came out, and not because i'm turning into an old lame-o. i'm committing myself to a better 2011 in terms of listening and paying attention.

that said, here are my favorite THIRTY recordings of 2010, in no particular order:

Super Wild Horses- Fifteen (HoZac)
Frankie Rose & the Outs- S/T (Slumberland)
Swans- My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope to the Sky (Young God)
Caribou- Swim (Merge)
Antony & the Johnsons- Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)
Dum Dum Girls- I Will Be (Sub Pop/HoZac)
Tamaryn- The Waves (Mexican Summer)
Night Gallery- Constant Struggle (Rainbow Body)
Grinderman- 2 (ANTI)
White Wires- WWII (Dirtnap)
Roots- How I Got Over (Def Jam)
Slices- Cruising (Iron Lung)
Nothing People- Soft Crash (S-S)
Pierced Arrows- Descending Shadows (Vice)
Robyn- Body Talk (Konichiwa)
Grass Widow- Past Time (Kill Rock Stars)
Sweet Cobra- Mercy (Blackmarket Activities)
Three Mile Pilot- The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten (Temporary Residence)
Clockcleaner- Auf Wiedersehen 12" (Load)
Kings Go Forth- The Outsiders are Back (Luaka Bop)
Harvey Milk- A Small Turn of Human Kindness (Hydrahead)
Effi Briest- Rhizomes (Sacred Bones)
Ty Segall- Melted (Goner)
Personal & the Pizzas- Raw Pie (1-2-3-4-Go!)
Kylesa- Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
Cee-Lo Green- The Lady Killer (Elektra)
Nobunny- Motorhead With Me 7" (HoZac)
Golden Triangle- Double Jointer (Hardly Art)
The Whines- Hell to Play (Exiled/Meds)
Zola Jesus- Stridulum/Valusia 12"s (Sacred Bones)

honorable mentions aka i loved you but not enough:
LCD Soundsystem- This is Happening (DFA)
Thee Oh Sees- Warm Slime (In the Red)
Nobunny- First Blood (Goner)
Intelligence- Males (In the Red)
Kurt Vile- Square Shells 12" (Matador)
Matthew Dear- Black City (Ghostly International)
Wild Nothing- Gemini (Captured Tracks)
Gunslingers- Manifesto Zero 12" (World in Sound)
Marnie Stern- S/T (Kill Rock Stars)

best band i discovered who did not technically put an album out this year:

album i purposely left out even though i love it so (but it's embarassing):
My Chemical Romance- Danger Days

live shitz/best shows:
Pierced Arrows/Vee Dee @SubT, Swans @BL, Grinderman @Aragon, Cold Cave @Bottle, The Mat Arluck Memorial/Benefit @BK, Cap'n Jazz @BL, Nobunny/Mickey @Crown Liquors, Shellac/Ex @BL, Johnny & the Limelites/Mickey @Laurie's Planet of Sound, SLAYER @UIC, Gentleman Jesse at the Vegas Shakedown, GORIES @Bottle, The Clean @BL, Other/Outer Minds @Bottle, New Canyons @Late Bar.

Friday, February 19, 2010

ZOO MUSIC'S best tracks of 2009.

a couple months late but here it is: 100 of my favorite tracks of 2009 in 4 downloadable parts.

disclaimer: a few faves are missing, and sound quality is not always awesome.


Zoo Music's Best of 09, Pt. 1

Zoo Music's Best of 09, Pt. 2

Zoo Music's Best of 09, Pt. 3

Zoo Music's Best of 09. Pt. 4

Thursday, February 4, 2010


more on the 2009 recap tip, but on a more personal note. . .

two very good pals of mind passed away at the end of last year, and i'd like to take a moment to pay tribute. 2010 is going to be all about "living free" in honor of these two ridiculously awesome human beings.

Roseann behind the bar at Club Foot.

Roseann Kuberski was a bartender at Club Foot and i had the absolute pleasure of DJing on one of her nights for several years. aside from being the sassiest, coolest, whipsmart-iest and funniest ladies on this entire earth, Roseann could tell some freakin' awesome stories. her legacy as: one of Chicago's early punk rockers (she WAS there), a longstanding bartender at a few of Chicago's early punk bars (O'Banions, Artful Dodger, etc.), and a fixture in the early San Fran punk scene (she was one of the original Mabuhay Gardens bartenders!) led to a LOT of awesome stories. not to mention, Roseann (aka "Roz" aka "Big Red") was a fierce activist for Greenpeace and was extremely active in the AIDS activism community. in addition to all the awesome things she did and lived through, Roseann was the epitome of fierce and independent living. she taught me a lot about life and men and music and her advice was always candid, funny, honest and full of truth. i can only strive to be such an awesome woman. she passed away suddenly at home on October 19, at the age of 58, and is sorely missed.

Donations in Roseann's honor can be made to the Howard Brown Health Center, one of her favorite non-profit organizations.

Mat at one of our legendary Maplewood Ave. house parties, most likely around 2002.

Matthew Allen Arluck was a major player in chicago's punk, metal, and skateboarding communities. He played in a shitload of bands, but just to name a few: Horace Pinker, Cooler by the Lake, Sweet Cobra and Deminer. i met Mat when i interned at Choke Distro in 1999 (at the time he was the warehouse manager) and we instantly became friends and bonded over our extreme love for heavy metal. Mat was THE sweetest, most hilarious, kindest, and ridiculous dude, and over the years we continued to have serious hangs and nerd out over sweet thrash and metal records. the awesome thing about Mat was that although he was a super-cool skateboarder/musician/all-around popular guy, he was fucking nice and accepting and friendly with EVERYONE. he taught me almost everything i know about metal and, more importantly, taught me the importance of LIVING; putting life before work, cherishing the now, and how to grow up without "growing up". totally the definition of rad. Mat succumbed to a long battle with cancer on Thanksgiving Day. today would've been his 40th birthday.

Donations in Mat's honor can be made to Grind for Life, an AWESOME organization that provides help and financial assistance to cancer patients and their families.

let these folks inspire you, k?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

best of 2009: good listens vs. major crappenings.

my favorite line from my favorite horrible film very accurately describes the end of the decade:
As long as the music's loud enough, we won't hear the world falling apart
-from Derek Jarman's Jubilee
introspectively (and on a posi note), 2009 was a year 100% devoted to metamorphosis and top serious change. on the other hand, 2009 was full of sudden and not-so-sudden painful deaths, massive stressors, debilitating illnesses, shitstorms, cutoffs, line cuts, and other off-handed disasters.

as per usual, i'll take the good with the bad. here are the 30 records that kept me from the "falling-apartness" of '09 (in no particular order at all):

Vee Dee- Public Mental Health System
Nick D'Vyne & co's psych/garage/fuzz/rnr double LP opus, and my personal A+ #1 favorite of the year. (totally not biased at all, btw).

Pissed Jeans- King of Jeans
(Birthday Party + Black Flag + Jesus Lizard) + completely insane frontman + unbridled sarcastic anger + loud and disjointed = YES.

Antony & the Johnsons- The Crying Light
more horribly tragic, beautiful, weepy torch songs from my favorite genderqueer. lush, orchestral, heartwrenching and generally top notch.

Black Heart Procession- 6
one of my favorite bands since 1999; this is their first record in 3 years and their best one since "3." Bad Seeds influence abound!, and appealingly depressing, as usual. lack of saw is kind of a bummer, but whatevs.

Woods- Songs of Shame
lo-fi psych weirdness, everyone loves it, etc.

Thee Oh Sees- Help
i've been following John Dyer's various bands from the days of Pink & Brown and Landed, i love everything ( a degree) that he does, and i daresay that this is the best record he has ever put out (???). perfectly broken, fractured, decontructed garage rock by a complete maniac!

Cold Cave- Love Comes Close
apparently they have a song in a commercial or something blah blah blah sold out to Matador wah wah wah....whatever, they perfect synthpop/80s/darkwave weirdness and they deserve whatever HUGE AND NOW UNAVOIDABLE fame/acclaim a Radio Shack commercial may make available to them (zzzzz...).

Kurt Vile- Childish Prodigy
Matador got really lucky in 2009. out of the lo-/no-/shit-fi grouping comes this fucking ridiculously "heavy, man" singer/songwriter and his Matador debut is a gorgeous collection of guitar-picked, psych-tinged gems.

Evangelista- Prince of Truth
6 words: Carla Bozulich Can Do No Wrong. more horribly agonizing experimental weirdness from my Favorite Lady in (Anti) Rock.

Liechtenstein- Survival Strategies in a Modern World
totally underrated all-lady Swedish indie-pop band most excellently bordering twee and postpunk.

Big Business- Mind the Drift
on their 3rd full-length, they do not stray from their formula, which is basically the same as the Melvins' formula. but it's still FUCKING EPIC.

King Khan & BBQ Show- Invisible Girl
Mark Sultan and King Khan, back together again! this just tickles me pink. how can you NOT like dirty, gritty, hilarious songs done in a minimal 50s rnr/doowop style? best.

Baroness- Blue Album
my favorite metal album of the year. pummeling and brutal, and with JUST enough pop element (see: Torche) to add a shimmering glimmer of loveliness (clearly i really like "pretty" in my metal).

Strange Boys- And Girls Club
bluesy, shuffling, SUPER whiney Nuggets-style garage rock done to perfection.

Mastodon- Crack the Skye
a lot of Mastodon fans hate this record. i think it's their best. go figure.

Ganglians- Monster Head Room
Beach Boys comparisons abound, this was the summeriest, sunshiney, marijuana-hazey, happy-go-lucky non-jam jamband record of 09.

Ty Segall- Lemons
another incredible, frenzied lo-fi 60s garage-style record (ALL the rage in '09!) from a former Traditional Fool.

Wizzard Sleeve- Make the World Go Away
i heart you, HoZac records, for putting out this slab of goth/garage insanity. more bands need to get into this whole doomy gloomy psychedelia-tinged punk thing.

Coathangers- Scramble
21st century riot grrrl = frank songs about boobies and dumb boys amidst a jumble of dancey art-punk.

Lady Gaga- Fame Monster
only Gaga can summon the teensiest tiniest interest in popular music that typically lays dormant within my psyche.

Bat For Lashes- Two Suns
i ignored her for a long time because Pitchfork loved her so much, but as an unapologetic HUGE fan of both Tori Amos and Kate Bush, how could i stay away? now i regret ignoring her, and i listen to this album all the fucking time and creepily watch her videos on youtube.

Fever Ray- S/T
i really like The Knife. therefore, i really like this.

Cococoma- Things Are Not All Right
Chicago's best rock'n'roll/garage band are now a 5-piece and their 2nd Goner full-length is like the most fun thing to happen in 2009.

Sir Lord Von Raven- Please Throw Me Back in the Ocean
file under: Nobunny, 50s rock and roll, Chuck Berry, KK&BBQ, sockhops, psychedelia, Nuggets, "the twist," and all that fun stuff.

Fresh & Onlys- S/T
weird psych-pop meets Joy Division with a lot of jangle and a little bit of darkness and soooooo gooooood.

Marked Men- Ghosts
i don't really pay attention to pop-punk anymore but this album (by the only band that makes pop-punk still matter in the 2000s) is the only pop-punk album that mattered in 09.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart- S/T
i love 'em and their do-gooder prettiness, goddamnit!

Gunslingers- No More Invention
technically, this came out in 2008 but it was all French-y and hard to get so i'm just throwing it in this year. that said, this is some of the best/weirdest/most intense punk shit i have EVER heard and i cannot even do it justice in words....just read what Julian Cope wrote about it here.

Converge- Axe to Fall
i did not like their last two records and almost passed over this one, which would've been a HUGE mistake because they now rule above all hardcore bands forever and ever (again). last 2 tracks of this record are like WHAAAAAT so epic!!

Tranzmitors- Busy Signals
completely fun, catchy and easy power pop/punk rock... easy peasy!

others that i loved but not enough to make the cut:
(the 2009-released albums by) Hollows, Screaming Females, Box Elders, Silk Flowers, Cheer Accident, Mika Miko, Grass Widows, Zola Jesus, Jay Reatard, Hex Dispensers, Test Patterns, Moderat, Shitty Limits, King Tuff, and Andrew WK.

Breeders- Fate to Fatal 12"
Tamaryn- Led Astray, Washed Ashore 12"
Mayyors- Deads EP
Shannon & the Clams- Hunk Hunt 7"
Mayfair Set- Young One 12" & S/T 7"
Buzzer- Teachers Pet 7"
Timmy's Organism- 2x7"
Mickey- She's So Crazy 7"
Personal & the Pizzas- all 7"S released
Sweet Cobra- Bottom Feeder 12"
Acoustic Family Creeps- Play Live in the Woods 12"
Lover!- No Dreams Please EP

reissues/"new" old releases:
Death- For the Whole World to See
13th Chime- The Singles 1981-1983
Pisces- A Lovely Sight
The Units- History of the Units
Arthur Russell- Sleeping Bag Sessions
Michael Hurley- Armchair Boogie LP
"You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk" DVD/LP sdtk.
Mute's CD reissues of the first 4 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds albums
Television Personalities LP reissues
The Monks- Black Monk Time & The Early Years reissues
Zero Boys- History Of
Girls at Our Best- Pleasure reissue

awesome live times:
Antony & the Johnsons @Vic
Fucked Up @Empty Bottle
Nobunny @some house, Empty Bottle, etc.
PIZZAFEST (Lover!, Personal & the Pizzas, Timmy's Organism, etc.) @all over chicago
Harvey Milk and Torche @Subterranean
Throbbing Gristle @Logan Square Auditorium
Blank Dogs/Woods @Cobra Lounge
Melvins @Double Door
Thee Oh Sees/Fresh & Onlys @Schuba's
Killdozer/Urinals @Abbey
Jesus Lizard @Metro
Sunny Day Real Estate @Metro
Pierced Arrows/Lover! @Empty Bottle
Vee Dee @Empty Bottle, Beat Kitchen, etc.
Teenage Jesus & the Jerks @Empty Bottle
Black Heart Procession @Bottom Lounge
Devo @Vic
BURNING FIGHT FEST (esp. Bane, Disembodied, Unbroken) @Metro
Yakuza & Sweet Cobra (last show with Mat Arluck) @Beat Kitchen