Monday, December 15, 2014

Vote for Me Dummy: The Top Albums, Songs and Shows of 2014

The 50 Top Albums of 2014
Spotify playlist
I preferred Jim Lauderdale to Sturgill Simpson and Keyshia Cole to Mary J. Blige.

1. Flying Lotus- You're Dead!
2. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
3. Peter Schlamb- Tinks
4. Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens- Cold World
5. Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
6. The Architects- Border Wars (Episode II)
7. Kris Bowers- Heroes + Misfits
8. Keyshia Cole- Point of No Return
9. Joyce DiDonato- Stella di Napoli
10. Young Fathers- Dead

11. Budos Band- Burnt Offering
12. Jim Lauderdale- I'm a Song
13. Down- Down IV: Part II
14. Shabazz Palaces- Lese Majesty
15. Kelis- Food
16. Pallbearer- Foundations of Burden
17. Toni Braxton and Babyface- Love, Marriage & Divorce
18. Da Cruz- Disco e Progresso
19. Danilo Pérez- Panama 500
20. Leela James- Fall For You

21. The Jacka- What Happened to the World
22. Spoon- They Want My Soul
23. Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
24. Joyce Yang- Wild Dreams
25. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Kin
26. David Binney- Anacapa
27. Future- Honest
28. D'Angelo- Black Messiah
29. Rosanne Cash- The River & the Thread
30. Ambrose Akinmusire- The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint

31. Mutilation Rites- Harbinger
32. Black Milk- If There's a Hell Below
33. Various Blonde- Summer High
34. The Popper- Values, Respect, Loyalty & Beliefs
35. Angelique Kidjo- Eve
36. Ben Miller Band- Any Way, Shape or Form
37. SZA- Z
38. Lecrae- Anomaly
39. Coltsblood- Into the Unfathomable Abyss
40. Pharrell Williams- Girl

41. Takuya Kuroda- Rising Son
42. Triptykon- Melana Chasmata
43. Bob Mould- Beauty & Ruin
44. Mary J. Blige- The London Sessions
44. Ledisi- The Truth
45. Juilliard String Quartet- Elliott Carter: The Five String Quartets
46. GoGo Penguin- v2.0
47. Iceage- Plowing Into the Field of Love
48. The Project H- We Live Among the Lines
49. Bohren & Der Club of Gore- Piano Nights
50. D/Will- Reset

The 50 Top Songs of 2014
Spotify playlist
It may have been a weak year for albums, but 2014 was a stellar year for songs.

1. Skating Polly- "Alabama Movies"
2. Rick Ross, Kanye West and Big Sean- "Sanctified"
3. Michael Jackson- "Love Never Felt So Good"
4. Kendrick Lamar- "i"
5. Jack White- "High Ball Stepper"
6. Mary J. Blige- "Whole Damn Year"
7. Jeremih and YG- "Don't Tell 'Em"
8. Zara McFarlane- "Open Heart"
9. Jason Eady- "One, Two... Many"
10. Sam Smith- "Stay With Me"

11. Ledisi- "The Truth"
12. Guided By Voices- "Vote for Me Dummy"
13. Drive-By Truckers- "Primer Coat"
14. Joey Bada$$- "Big Dusty"
15. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks- "Lariat"
16. Freeway and the Jacka featuring Killa Mike- "Sunnah Boys"
17. Miniature Tigers- "Swimming Pool Blues"
18. Ex-Hex- "Beast"
19. Yelawolf- "'Til It's Gone"
20. Jhene Aiko- "The Worst"

21. Ume- "Black Stone"
22. Future with André 3000- "Benz Friendz"
23. Jenny Lewis- "Slippery Slopes"
24. Tech N9ne- "Strangeulation 1"
25. Robyn Hitchcock- "The Ghost In You"
26. T-Pain- "Drankin' Patna"
27. Black Lips- "Smiling"
28. Pharoahe Monch- "Damage"
29. Prince- "Funknroll"
30. FKA twigs- "Two Weeks"

31. Leela James featuring Anthony Hamilton- "Say That"
32. Rick Ross with Project Pat- "Elvis Presley Blvd."
33. Nick Waterhouse- "Sleeping Pills"
34. Die Antwoord- "Pitbull Terrier"
35. The Reverend Horton Heat- "Let Me Teach You How To Eat"
36. Doomtree- ".38 Airweight"
37. Julión Alvarez y su Norteño Banda- "Te Hubieras Ido Antes"
38. Tinashe- "2 On"
39. Yusuf- "Dying to Live"
40. Lizzo- "Paris"

41. Bonnie "Prince" Billy- "Quail and Dumplings"
42. Clipping- "Work Work"
43. Bobby Shmurda- "Hot Boy"
44. Beyoncé- "7/11"
45. Colbie Caillat- "Try"
46. Slipknot- "Custer"
47. F*cked Up- "Sun Glass"
48. Rickie Lee Jones- "Been on a Train"
49. Regina Carter- "Hickory Wind"
50. Big K.R.I.T.- "Cadillactica"

The 50 Top Shows of 2014
I'm going to fall about a dozen gigs short of my annual benchmark of 365.

1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds- Midland theater
2. Jessica Care Moore- Blue Room
3. Pat Metheny Unity Group- Topeka Performing Arts Center
4. Kraftwerk- Sony Centre (Toronto)
5. Bettye LaVette- Knuckleheads
6. Marijuana Deathsquads- RecordBar
7. Pharaoh Sanders- Blues Alley (Washington D.C.)
8. Miguel Zenón- Blue Room
9. Spoon- Liberty Hall
10. Lecrae- Independence Events Center

11. Kronos Quartet- Helzberg Hall
12. T-Pain- Crossroads KC
13. Living Color- Knuckleheads
14. Marmozets- Warped Tour at Cricket Wireless Amphitheater
15. Charlie Hunter and Scott Amendola- The Brick
16. Deborah Brown with Joe Lovano and Terrel Stafford- Prairie Village Jazz Festival
17. Chrisette Michele- Uptown Theater
18. Tony Bennett- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
19. Nicola Benedetti- Folly Theater
20. Maze- Municipal Auditorium

21. Sam Baker and Mary Gauthier- Folly Theater
22. Allen Toussaint- Folly Theater
23. Ladysmith Black Mambazo- Liberty Hall
24. Bahia Orchestra Project- Helzberg Hall
25. Shabazz Palaces- Riot Room patio
26. Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey- RecordBar
27. Nickel Creek- Uptown Theater
28. St. Vincent- Liberty Hall
29. Wolf Eyes- Riot Room patio
30. Joan Sebastian- Cricket Wireless Amphitheater

31. John Cale- Lawrence Arts Center
32. Black Label Society- Penn Valley Park
33. Morris Day & the Time- Parade Park
34. Burt Bacharach- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
35. Brad Cox- La Esquina
36. Marcus Hampton- Gem Theater
37. Regina Carter- Helzberg Hall
38. Lalah Hathaway- KC Live
39. Eric Taylor- Knuckleheads
40. Judas Priest- Midland theater

41. Brad Mehldau Trio- Folly Theater
42. Fitz & the Tantrums- KC Live
43. Eric Benét- KC Live
44. Peter Noone's Herman's Hermits- Town Center Plaza
45. John Scofield- Folly Theater
46. Guitarras Ibericas- Recital Hall at the Carlsen Center
47. The Kansas City Jazz Orchestra- Muriel Kauffman Theatre
48. Vine Street Rumble- Celebration at the Station at Union Station
49. Hunter Hayes- Sprint Center
50. Brother Ali- The Granada

The Ten Best Opening Acts of 2014
I get there early.

1.Suicidal Tendencies- Uptown Theater, for Slayer
2. Pusha T- Midland theater, for 2 Chainz
3. Kvelertak- Uptown Theater, for Mastodon
4. Electric Würms- Crossroads KC, for the Flaming Lips
5. King 810- Sprint Center, for Slipknot
6. Sarah Jarosz- Uptown Theater, for Nickel Creek
7. Thy Art Is Murder- Aftershock, for Emmure
8. Judy Collins- Knuckleheads, for Don McLean
9. Gary Clark, Jr.- for Kings of Leon, Sprint Center
10. Death Vessel- Horseshoe Tavern (Toronto), for Shearwater

(Original image of Hunter Hayes by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Ian McLagan, 1945-2014

I've never met Mick Jagger.  It's probably just as well.  After all, what would we talk about?  I don't have any insights into jet ownership or luxury apartments in Cannes.  Talking to Ian McLagan was easy.  The occasional sideman for the Rolling Stones and a founding member of the Small Faces and the Faces was one of rock's most approachable stars.  Back when SXSW was more of a regional music conference than a global marketing platform, I made a point of catching McLagan perform at the Saxon Pub every March.  Watching a British legend joyously perform in a Texas roadhouse thrilled me.  His appearance in Kansas City at Davey's Uptown in 2004 (or maybe it was 2005) was even more rewarding.  Alas, McLagan's 2013 gig at Danny's in Lenexa was merely adequate.  McLagan died last week.

I reviewed Jenny Lewis' concert at Liberty Hall.

My favorite jazz performances of 2014 are listed at Plastic Sax.

It would be churlish of me not to share the "2014 Year In Review" promotional video from a company that employed me for several years.

Mary J. Blige's The London Sessions isn't quite as good as I'd been lead to believe.  RIYL: Keyshia Cole, pain, Charlie Wilson.

I'm horrified to confess that I find Room, the new collaboration between Julian Lage and Nels Cline, entirely unlistenable.

I sold my rarest Sun Ra vinyl years ago at $100 a pop.  Even so, I'm inclined to buy vinyl copies of Marshall Allen Presents: Sun Ra and His Arkestra- In the Orbit of Ra to give to my fashion-conscious friends this holiday season.  The new collection is an excellent introduction to Sun Ra.

Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone of the Zombies are charming in their "What's In My Bag" segment.

"Yeezus Film" hints at the brilliance of Kanye West's 2013 tour.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Concert Review: Paolo Nutini at Knuckleheads

Sometimes you get what you pay for.

I jumped at the chance to catch a free show by the male version of Adele at one of my favorite venues on Saturday. 

Realizing that the room housing the primary indoor stage would reach capacity quickly, I showed up at Knuckleheads 75 minutes early.  As Paolo Nutini and his band conducted a sound check, I waited in line outside with a couple hundred shivering people.  I was the only member of the queue without a canned food donation.  The event was apparently promoted by 90.9 The Bridge as a charitable benefit, but I rarely listen to the station.

After buying a PBR man-can for $3.50, I secured a seat at the back of the room and immediately sensed trouble.  Everyone around me was in the celebratory mood associated with holiday weekends.  No one was talking about Nutini.

Sure enough, half of the people in attendance didn't even acknowledge Nutini and his band when the 55-minute show began.  After 15 minutes of not being able to make out individual songs, I fought my way to the front.  A generous friend found room for me at a prime table 20 feet from the stage.  I still couldn't hear. 

I sensed that  Nutini's sound crew created a lush mix that would have been ideal if no one was talking.  Yet chatter overwhelmed the music.  Two bros squeezed next to me were talking about "locking down" women, whatever that means.

While I couldn't make out individual instrumentation, Nutini's voice occasionally rose above the din.  His recordings don't lie.  Nutini is a superb singer who has staked out a prime territory between Otis Redding and Maxwell.

At least, that's what I think I heard.

I reviewed Slipknot's return to the Sprint Center.

I list the Top Jazz Albums of 2014 at Plastic Sax.

Ensemble Ibérica is releasing a new album next week.

Teddy Dibble conducts a show-and-tell with the face-themed album art in his vinyl collection.

Ottomans, the new album by Hidden Pictures, was released today.   RIYL: Crowded House, smart pop, OK Jones.

Bobby Keys has died.  I have a vague recollection of once seeing him perform as a member of Johnny Copeland's band.  Is that possible?

"Elvis Presley Blvd" is the best song on Rick Ross' entertaining Hood Billionaire.

I finally got around to listening to Eric Church's The Outsiders.  Like the little girl with the curl, when it's good, it's very, very good, but when it's bad, it's horrid.

How did I overlook Broken Ankles, the 2014 collaboration between Freeway and Girl Talk?  "Lived It" is excellent.

The Art of Conversation, the highly praised duet album by Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, is exquisite.  RIYL: tony clubs, New York City, elegance.

I'm not feeling De La Soul's new song "The People".

Syleena Johnson's Chapter 6: Couples Therapy is RIYL: Lalah Hathaway, heartache, Jill Scott.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I'm Not the Player of the Year

Although a poster of Bootsy Collins has watched over me for years, I haven't seen a performance by the funk giant in eons.  A few hours before I intended to drive to Collins' concert on Saturday, I peeked at Ticketmaster to confirm the schedule.  Only then did I notice that the casino event was a seated show.  Left with a choice of spending $75 to be tethered to a chair or spending $50 to stand in the back recess of the room, I opted to save my money.  I'm still pouting.  Here's Joel Francis' review.

I reviewed a Burt Bacharach concert.

I contributed a Local Listen feature on Kasey Rausch to KCUR.

Here's the video for Ces Cru's "Double OT".

Jimmy Ruffin has died.

The Oliver Lake Organ Quartet's What I Heard is excellent.  RIYL: Charles Gayle, genius, John Patton.

Beyoncé wins. Again.

The Last Southern Gentlemen, a new recording led by Delfeayo Marsalis is lovely.  RIYL: Al Grey, sophisticated swing, Vic Dickenson.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Album Review: Keyshia Cole- Point of No Return

I like it when Keyshia Cole gets angry.  She's furious on Point of No Return, a dark song cycle in the tradition of Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear.  I admire the album so much that I've even talked myself into liking features by three of 2014's most annoying rappers.  Future's profane rap on the despairing "Love Letter" provides context.  Cole punks an unwitting 2 Chainz on "N.L.U.".  Juicy J helps Cole pull of the ridiculous "Rick James".  I won't argue if There Stands the Glass readers suggest that Point of No Return is a second-rate imitation of Beyoncé's self-titled 2013 release.  It's still my jam.

I reviewed a concert by Black Veil Brides, Falling in Reverse, Set It Off and Drama Club.

I reviewed a concert by Hunter Hayes.

I contributed a Local Listen segment on Gene Clark to KCUR.

The Architects are "Out of the Woods".

Molly McGuire has released a new album.

Kyle James made a video for "This Is Love".

A recent performance of "Heliophonie," a new composition by Dwight Frizzell & Thomas Aber, was documented for posterity.

Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang has died.

I'm mildly disappointed by Dave Hollister's Chicago Winds… The Saga Continues.  RIYL: R. Kelly, grown-and-sexy music, Johnny Gill.  Here's "Spend the Night".

Jeff Coffin & the Mu'tet's Side Up is RIYL: Lenny Pickett, jazz with humor, Steve Turre.

St. Vincent gets Sound Advice.

Frank Catalano's Love Supreme Collective is RIYL: John Coltrane, the right kind of tribute album, Pharaoh Sanders.

(Original image of D.I.A. by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Darn That Dream

I wandered into a packed coffeehouse in the shadow of Oregon's capitol building last Thursday.  For a few intoxicating minutes, I thought I'd stumbled across a vibrant jazz scene.   A student big band from a nearby university had just played and I was convinced that the jovial crowd was primed to hear a professional band play a headlining set.

The low turnout in Kansas City for the one of the most celebrated artists in jazz was still fresh in my mind.  Although he's pictured on the cover of the current issue of Downbeat, was featured in a 6-minute segment on NPR the previous day and was spotlighted in The Star's jazz column, Miguel Zenón attracted just a few dozen people to the Blue Room last Monday.  (Here are my notes.)

Yet Salem turned out in equal numbers for a superb regional ensemble.  Alas, half the audience fled after 15 minutes of this.  Ten people remained after 30 minutes.  The deliberate evacuation was one of the most discouraging refutations of jazz I've witnessed.

I featured Sara Swenson on KCUR's Local Listen segment.

Making Movies appear in a Tiny Desk Concert.

Manitas de Plata has died.

Call me a Maggot.  Slipknot's Slipknot- .5: The Gray Chapter rings true to me.  RIYL: rage, Slayer, frustration.

Cat Stevens is the comeback artist of the year.

(Original image of the Salem jazz debacle by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

It's the Talk of the Town

My traveling companions nixed my plan to catch Bob Dylan's concert in Denver on Saturday night.  One associate had seen him three times.  That was plenty for her.  Another had attended a Dylan performance as a child but was aware of his dubious reputation as an entertainer.  A glutton for punishment, I can't get enough of Bobby. 

As Dylan played elsewhere, I found myself at a David Sedaris reading at Macky Auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado.  I was astounded that over 2,000 people paid $40 and $50 to hear an author read.  I laughed a lot during the show, but never as heartily as when fans triumphantly raised their arms in the air when the presentation began. 

The reading was a revelation for this music-centric scribe.  I finally located the missing audience for the likes of the Kronos Quartet, Ambrose Akinmusire and Mary Gauthier.

I contributed a Local Listen segment about White Girls to KCUR's Up to Date.

Mr. Acker Bilk has died.

Wayne Static of Static X has died.

Here's T-Pain's viral Tiny Desk Concert.

Run the Jewels 2 is about as imaginative as its title.  I expect more from two of the smartest men in hip-hop.  RIYL: 2 Live Crew, songs about genitals, UGK.

I can deal with the passing sirens on "Improvisation No. 3," but I wish Branford Marsalis' otherwise sublime solo recording In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral didn't include vibe-killing bursts of applause.  RIYL: echo, John Coltrane, reverb.

The Stanley Clarke Band's new album leans towards the cheesiest versions of Return to Forever and Weather Report.

Here's a video trailer for a new set of Trip Shakespeare reissues.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)