Bay artists and contributors toast 2006's best
Total Shutdown, Death Sentence: Panda!, Murder Murder
(10) Bay Area representing and dominating at the End Times Fest in St. Paul, Minn., June 22–<\d>24.
(9) T.I.T.S., Throughout the Ages split double 12-inch with Leopard Leg (Upset the Rhythm) and live. Forest-witch psych never sounded so good.
(8) Fuckwolf CD on Kimosciotic and live. Dub done via destruction by way of swallowing glass and delay ...
(7) Burmese, White (Planaria) and live. Every time I see them I feel like I've been transported to a Beijing opera in 1790 and forced to watch it while strapped to a chair at gunpoint.
(6) Devin the Dude, live at the Red Devil Lounge, Nov. 6. Songs about fucking, drinking, and smoking weed sung so beautifully, like an angel.
(5) "Black Panther Rank and File" at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, March 18–<\d>July 2, and getting snubbed by Bobby Seale when I asked him about when he did stand-up comedy.
(4) Tracy Morgan doing stand-up live at Cobb's, March 3.
(3) Sergio Iglesias and the Latin Love Machine at Thee Parkside, Nov. 18, and the soccer circle that followed.
(2) 16 Bitch Pile-Up, Doomsday 1999, Ettrick with Weasel Walter live, March 15.
(1) (tie) Nate Denver's Neck at the Elbo Room, Oct. 14. I laughed, I cried, and I wanted to destroy someone for the first time since sixth grade; Skip Donahue's new wave extravo-bonanza at Casanova, April 20; Kurtis Blow at Mighty, Aug. 12; DJ Funk at the Rickshaw Stop, July 21; and ESG at Mezzanine, Oct. 27.
• Mountain Goats, Get Lonely (4AD).
• Beth Orton, Comfort of Strangers (Astralwerks). Shimmers with a modern kind of grace.
• Nic Jones, Game Set Match (Topic). My favorite wild-as-the-firth Brit-folk revivalist, live in the ’70s, resurrecting ballads and slapping the guitar like a preacher on a healing mission.
• Crooked Jades, World's on Fire (Jade Note Music). Old-timey troubadours sing with fire, then stomp it out so that there's nothing left to repent for.
• Various artists, Chrome Children (Stones Throw).
• Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, The Dust of Retreat (Standard Recording Co.).
• Sara Tavares, Balance (Times Square).
• Meneguar, I Was Born at Night (Magic Bullet).
• Mirah, Joyride: Remixes (K). The double album explores the songwriter's expansive journal-like stories.
• Joanna Newsom, Ys (Drag City). Surpasses Cat Power in my book of 2006 for the year's most sweetly sacrificial feline croon.
(1) E-40, "Tell Me When To Go" (Sick Wid It/Jive). Duh.
(2) Indian Jewelry and Celebration at South by Southwest.
(3) Lil Wayne, everything but especially "Shooter," Tha Carter Vol. 2 (Cash Money).
(4) No Doctors — just in general.
(5) Mute Era and In Corridors. The mystic protégés of the Minnesota-Japan rock ’n' roll exchange program.
(6) Gentleman's Techno at the Cave — especially OonceOonce DJ sets and Black William and the Gondolier live.
(7) White Williams, "Headlines," Let's Lazertag Sometime (Tigerbeat6).
(8) Watching Dusty Sparkles from Glass Candy and Danava do anything.
(9) Shawn Porter, a.k.a. Bloody Snowman.
(10) Erase Errata, Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars).
Levende Lounge resident DJ
(1) A lotta ancestors: from the great J-Dilla to LA DJ and community organizer DJ Dusk to SF native and NYC staple Adam Goldstone to rebel radio pioneer Michael "Mixxin" Moore to SF DJ and youth activist DJ Domino, the sky gained a lotta bring-ass stars.
(2) The Trackademics phenomenon. Comin' straight outta Alameda High, young Trackademics took the underground dance music world by storm, using broken beat, dance punk, and new soul sounds and smashing them into a hyphy hybrid that had kids going stewey from SF to NYC.
(3) Pacific Standard Time anniversary party. When Kool Herc stepped to the DJ booth at Levende Lounge in March, time sorta stood still for a few hours. He gave Frisco a taste of the magic that sparked a global prairie fire.
(4) Bilal, Something to Hold Onto. Probably the best major-label release of 2006 that never came out. His label blamed online leaks but probably just lacked the creative vision to market such a strange product — namely, inventive modern soul music.
(5) Tiombe Lockhart, "O Bloody Day, O Starry Night on the Bowery" (Bling47). Evil genius Waajeed and the brilliant Ms. Lockhart released the first of what should be many classic joints.
(6) GQ, "Better Must Come" (Calibud). Something about an eight-year-old having a number one hit with a conscious anthem just kinda makes me feel good about the future.
(7) Alice Smith, For Lovers, Dreamers and Me (BBE Music). Though the incredible Maurice Fulton remix of "Love Endeavor" isn't here, this album reflected a new direction for urban music.
(8) The hyphy movement. Kinda obvious, but its impact is hard to overstate. Bay Area club music took the world by storm in 2006, leading taste-making rags and bloggers from here to Denmark scouring the Web for the latest Bay Area slang, style, and sounds.
(9) Journey into Paradise: The Larry Levan Story (Rhino). After a couple attempts, 2006 saw a definitive two-disc collection of some of the songs that trademarked perhaps the most influential DJ of all time, besides Herc.
(10) TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope). I prefer the leaked version because "Wolf Like Me" is the shit, but it's still pretty damn good for a major-label debut, nyuk, nyuk.
GENE "BEAN" BAE
(1) Punk section at Amoeba, SF and Berkeley. I know I work there, and this comes dangerously close to an advertisement, but isn't it about time?
(2) Domino Records' Sound of Young Scotland series. Lovely reissues of Orange Juice, Fire Engines, and my current fave, Josef K. Courtesy of Franz Ferdinand's severance check.
(3) Boy, I sure picked a bad year to swear off box sets: This Heat's Out of Cold Storage (ReR) finally makes available all the in- and out-of-print recordings.
(4) Boy, I sure picked a bad year to swear off metal: Boris, Pink and live, and collaborating with Sunn O))) on Altar (both Southern Lord).
(5) The Bay Area represents: running into fellow local bands such as the Fucking Ocean in NYC and T.I.T.S. in Leeds, England, while on a too-long tour was the salve for the weary, homesick, itinerant musician. And by the way, the Fucking Ocean's new CD, Le Main Rouge, harks back to the heady times at the turn of the century when it seemed like every day a new band that didn't suck crawled out of a new crack in the sidewalk.
(6) It would be irresponsible of me to not mention the midterm elections.
(7) Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man was the best music-related film of the year. And it gave me more reasons to hate U2.
(8) Coming to a curbside near you: the Bay Area's best new venue, John Benson's decommissioned AC Transit bus converted into a biodiesel RV and mobile venue.
(9) Billy Childish's unplugged show, Mama Buzz Café, May.
(10) And one thing that sucked this year: Lance Hill quit booking and working the Stork Club. The man who brought you the club's happy hour and free admission during the Oakland Art Murmur — and who let Battleship record an album at his venue — has left the building. May the East Bay rise to the occasion and continue nurturing good local music.
(1) Mariee Sioux, A Bundled Bundle Of Bundles (self-released). So. Ridiculously. Good.
(2) Death Vessel, Stay Close (North East Indie). I've listened to this five billion times since I got it in October.
(3) Laura Gibson, If You Come to Greet Me (Hush).
(4) CMJ Music Marathon, accompanying Alela Diane and Tom Brosseau on banjo. When Brosseau breaks into the highest part of his range, it makes me almost believe in ghosts.
(5) El Capitan live at the Rite Spot, Oct 15. They did a medley covering and reworking other Bay Area artists' music — one of the most creative and heartfelt things I heard all year.
(6) Last of the Blacksmiths, "And Then Some"/"You Think I'm. O.K." 7-inch.
(7) Deerhoof, McCarren Park Pool, Brooklyn, NY.
(8) Standing onstage at Carnegie Hall. OK, I was only delivering a bass amp for Smokey Robinson. But it gave me chills!
(9) Jolie Holland's "Mexican Blue." Maybe my favorite song of 2006.
(10) Jeffrey Luck Lucas, Bottom of the Hill, Feb. 8.
• T.I.T.S. and Leopard Leg, Throughout the Ages/Leopard Leg split double 12-inch (Upset the Rhythm)
• Mon Cousin Belge, the Knockout, a couple weeks ago
• Bootleg of Black Sabbath Live in Paris 20 Dec. 1970
• Trin Tran (a.k.a. Trinng Tranng)
• Erase Errata, Nightlife (Kill Rock Stars)
Weasel Walter performing with Sergio Iglesias, Thee Parkside, Nov. 18
• Gay Beast, El Rio, Dec. 7
• Fuckwolf, anywhere, anytime
• K.I.T. dressed as mummies (or the Mummies)
• Halloween at 3rd Ward in Brooklyn
• Seeing The Sweet Smell of Success with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster on PBS twice (I don't have cable). Totally awesome creepy nastiness.
422 Records and MP3.com; Top 10 Hip-Hop
• Mekalek, Live and Learn (Glow-in-the-Dark). Time Machine's DJ-producer connects with various rappers for a supremely banging compilation-style album. Rhode Island, stand up!
• Motion Man, Pablito's Way (Threshold). Bay Area superlyricist knocks it out of the park on his second solo effort, produced by KutMasta Kurt, featuring Too $hort, Mistah FAB, and Q*bert.
• Snoop Dogg, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (Geffen). Though a bit bloated, Snoop's eighth album is still great, featuring bass-heavy beats and collabos with Nate Dogg, Dre, Cube, E-40, and others.
• Melina Jones, Swearing Off Busters (sampler). An immensely talented MC-vocalist from the SFC, Jones is the future. Check her out on MySpace and cop the album in early ’07.
• Dudley Perkins, Expressions (Stones Throw). Charmingly blunted soul-funk meanderings from underground icon Madlib and the artist formerly known as Declaime.
•<\!s><\i>Ghostface, Fishscale (Def Jam). The Wu's most consistent swordsman continues to impress, with help from Dilla, Doom, and Pete Rock.
• Rakim, Slims, Sept. 10. The R may be pushing 40, but he still knows how to move the crowd, running through timeless jams with Kid Capri backing him up.
• A Tribe Called Quest, Berkeley Community Theatre, Sept. 9. Rhymefest and the Procussions were cool too, but the reunited Tribe killed it.
• Ice Cube, Fillmore, April 25. Despite cred-killing family films and uneven recent material, Cube ripped it live, drawing from a thick catalog of Westside classics.
• Kool Keith, Mezzanine, June 17. At his first local appearance in years, notorious rap weirdo Kool Keith did an amazing set with lots of Ultramag and Octagon material, plus a random topless chick.
(10) Amy Winehouse, "Rehab" (Universal/Island).
(9) Cassie, "Me and U" (Bad Boy).
(8) Brick Lane, London, on a Sunday.
(7) Hot Chip, "Over and Over" (Astralwerks).
(6) Fingered Club at Little Pedro's in downtown LA.
(5) Final Fantasy, Bottom of the Hill, Aug. 11.
(4) Planning to Rock at Club Motherfucker, Bardens Boudoir, London, Dec. 9.
(3) Grizzly Bear, Yellow House (Warp).
(2) Lena Wolff, Needles and Pens, March 11–<\d>April 9.
(1) Field Mob with Ciara, "So What" (Universal).
• Brett Dennen, So Much More (Dualtone). The Central Valley singer-songwriter addresses political and romantic concerns in a craggy, tear-stained tenor.
• Kelis, Kelis Was Here (Jive). Although in-your-face sexuality is the Manhattan siren's calling card, it's hard not to also adore the way she blurs the lines between R&B, rock, hip-hop, and pop.
• Charles Lloyd, Sangam (ECM).
• Ann Nesby, In the Spirit (Shanachie). Nesby's glorious alto pipes often leap octaves in breathtaking bounds on this masterpiece of traditional African American gospel music.
• Joan Osborne, Pretty Little Stranger (Vanguard).
• Catherine Russell, Cat (World Village). Veteran background vocalist Russell steps to the forefront with a wonderfully eclectic set of tunes including "Back o' Town Blues," which her dad, Luis Russell, wrote with Louis Armstrong back in 1945.
• Candi Staton, His Hands (Honest Jons/Astralwerks).
• Irma Thomas, After the Rain (Rounder).
• Hank Williams III, Straight to Hell (Bruc). This intense honky-tonk country music is filled with visions so demented that the label's owner, former California lieutenant governor Mike Curb, spells his own name backward.
• Mitch Woods, Big Easy Boogie (Club 88). Marin County vocalist-pianist Woods creates the hottest set of 1950s-style New Orleans R&B since, well, the ’50s.
Charalambides; Top 10 Things That Didn't Happen in San Francisco
(1) Getting dosed at Terrastock, Providence, RI, and watching Lightning Bolt from high in the light rigging, April 23.
(2) On tour with Marcia, watching thousands of chimney swifts flocking into a smokestack during a light rainstorm in Portland, Ore., with a double rainbow to the east and a sunset to the west.
(3) Me and Natacha witnessing Comets on Fire's chalet get destroyed at All Tomorrow's Parties with a BBC film crew documenting the whole scene. Minehead, Devonshire, UK.
(4) Ben Chasny destroying with solo electric guitar at Arthur Nights, LA, Oct. 21.
(5) Jamming Buffy St. Marie's "Cod'Ine" for over an hour at 4 a.m. with Matt Valentine and Erika Elder in Guilford, Vt.; also Mvee and the Bummer Road's form-destroying set at ATP, Minehead, Devonshire, UK.
(6) Hearing the most killer noise CD-R ever in Nashville, recorded by Chris Cherry Blossoms' Boston Terrier.
(7) Gigging with Badgerlore at the Wire festival, Chicago, and eating pizza slices the size of surfboards with Glen Donaldson, Sept. 21.
(8) Laying down thick sounds with Shawn McMillen and the Starving Weirdos in Eureka and later watching McMillen toss tennis balls to a terrier on the beach in Samoa while hearing Steve Weirdo's roommate's tales of Sasquatch hunting and dodging bullets in the Yuroc reservation.
(9) Ashtray Navigation's Syd Barrett tribute at the beginning of their set, biker bar downstairs playing "Astronomy Domine" the same night in Leeds, UK.
(10) Gray-orange dust storm over the gash of the Rio Grande. Later that night, me and my girlfriend, Natacha, listen to Of's wedding CD-R and watch dozens of shooting stars and a distant thunderstorm over the mountains, Taos, NM.
RIP Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee, and whoever else I'm forgetting.