Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2016: My Year in Music

2016 has been consistently labeled a "garbage fire" by people who like to repeat phrases they hear, thanks to nightmarish global victories for authoritarianism, neo-fascism, and xenophobia and the loss of many beloved inspirational public figures, but I tend to think of 2016 as a kid walking home from school and just noticing that a group of bullies have locked eyes on him. 2016 was the unpreparedness, the shock, the surprise, the dread, and the slow realization of what's to come, but 2017 will be the beating, with the faint possibility of a last-minute miraculous defensive strategy and plans for regrouping and revenge. Meanwhile, the kid either repressed or failed to notice that those bullies spent the past several years beating on a lot of other kids who weren't him.
2016 was rough. 2017 will be rougher, but I see little droplets of hope in the sludge. Check back with me next year.
People die every minute. The 2016 memes got a little out of control, but I can get off my soapbox and admit the losses in music, film, literature, etc, this year were pretty heavy, the heaviest I can remember since that stretch from 2009 to 2010 that robbed the world at large and the private world in my heart of Vic Chesnutt, Rowland S. Howard, Barry Hannah, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, Mark Linkous, Captain Beefheart, Ari Up, Solomon Burke, Harvey Pekar, Dennis Hopper, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, and Ronnie freakin' James Dio, among many, many others. And on that note, these year-end obituary wrap-ups keep forgetting to mention Richard Lyons from Negativland, even the ones that remember Alan Vega and Tony Conrad and Pauline Oliveros. Stop forgetting Richard Lyons.

What was good about this year, or any year? The answer is always music. I like a lot of cool music and a lot of uncool music, and I don't see much difference between the two, other than shinier or less shiny pants and faces, degrees of dank obscurity and/or massive popularity, ages of the participants, and how many coke-addled dirtbags are in and on the peripheral scene. These are the new albums and reissues I acquired this year that I liked and that were released in 2016. I don't know how to make definitive best-of music lists. I don't know which of these albums I like the most, which I will still be listening to years from now, and all that jazz. I have only scratched the surface and will keep discovering 2016 records until I am as dead as your favorite dead celebrity of 2016. I've heard two pieces from the 75 Dollar Bill album Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock that are way up my alley, but you won't find it on this list because I don't have it yet. That's the problem with these things, but they're fun, and I like making them and looking at other people's, so bug off.

New releases I found at least some pleasure and joy in hearing in the year of our lord 2016 (in reverse chronological order, sorta)

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - solo album series, released digitally every two weeks (A Lovejoy, Some Need It Lonely, Nom de Guerre Cabal, Zapopan, Weekly Mansions, Infinity Drips, Cell Phone Bikini, El bien y mal nos une, Umbrella Mistress, Arañas en la sombra, Blind Worms Pious Swine, Corazones, Sworn Virgins)
Neil Young - Peace Trail
The Men - Devil Music
Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances
Solange - A Seat at the Table
Mint Mile - The Bliss Point EP
Oneida & Rhys Chatham - What's Your Sign?
Lambchop - FLOTUS
ESP Ohio - Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean
Rihanna - Anti
People of the North - The Caul
Wilco - Schmilco
Angel Olsen - My Woman
Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
Sam Coomes - Bugger Me
Dinosaur Jr - Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Death Grips - Bottomless Pit
Neil Young & Promise of the Real - Earth
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs
John Frusciante - Foregrow EP
Melvins - Basses Loaded
Beyonce - Lemonade
Dalek - Asphalt for Eden
Destroyer - My Mystery EP
PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project
Guided By Voices - Please Be Honest
Mike & The Melvins - Three Men and a Baby
Kaada/Patton - Bacteria Cult
White Denim - Stiff
Robert Pollard - Of Course You Are
Waco Brothers - Going Down in History
Freakwater - Scheherazade 
Field Music - Commontime
Nevermen - Nevermen
Eleanor Friedberger - New View
Moonsicles - Bay of Seething
Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
David Bowie -

2016 re-releases, reissues, compilations, and repackaging of the old that I enjoyed in 2016

Joseph Washington, Jr. - Merry Christmas to You
Various - Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta
Various - Shanghai'd Soul: Episode 4
Dow Jones & The Industrials - Can't Stand the Midwest 1979-1981
Chapells - Are You Ready for the Chapells?
Meic Stevens - Outlander  
Pisces - Somewhere in Your Mind
Master Wilburn Burchette - Transcendental Music for Meditation, Music of the Godhead for Supernatural Meditation, Guitar Grimoire, and Mind Storm
Blonde Redhead - Masculin Feminin and Peel Sessions EP
Cheap Nasties - 53rd and 3rd
This Heat - Deceit and Health and Efficiency EP (also recommend This Heat, but I didn't get the reissue because I already have a good copy)
The Scientists - A Place Called Bad
Various - Afterschool Special: The 123s of Kid Soul
Tucker Zimmerman - Song Poet
Tommy McGee - Positive - Negative
Circuit Rider - Photograph Attached
White Zombie - It Came from N.Y.C.
Various - Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park
Joanna Brouk - Hearing Music
Various - Los Alamos Grind
Arrogance - Knights of Dreams
Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green - Summer Brings the Sunshine (not the president)
Various - 1st Annual Inner-City Talent Expo (March 26, 1972 Columbus, Ohio)
Various - Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music
94 East - The Cookhouse 5 (a teenage Prince on guitar)
Rob Galbraith - Damn It All
Various - Plastic Dance 1
Echo del Africa National - Recit historique de Bobo Dioulasso

Late to the party: 2015 releases I acquired in 2016

Boogarins - Manual
Soldiers of Fortune - Early Risers
Sun City Girls - Torch of the Mystics (reissue)
Harmonia - Complete Works (box set)

Live shows I seem to remember enjoying

Boogarins - Hotel Vegas residency
James Chance & The Contortions
Cobra Verde
Guided By Voices
Dinosaur Jr
Ice Cold Singles
The Residents
Eleanor Friedberger
Icewater
Waco Brothers
Freakwater
Protomartyr
Moonsicles

Bands I played shows with in Austin that brought the heat


Abigail und Hansel (three times)
Sado Massachusetts (twice)
Rabbit Fist
Mexmode
Mitch Fraizer
Quttinirpaaq
Desert Stars (twice)
Austi
RaDaM (formerly Rhett & Dean)
She Sir
Will Courtney & The Wild Bunch
David Israel
Angry Beige

Last but not least but maybe least but maybe not, copies of my band The Early Stages' two 7-inches are still available at Bandcamp and our own website