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The Best Albums of 2016

The Best Albums of 2016

2016 was a terrible year in many ways, but it was a great year of music. Here is my list of the best albums of 2016.

1. Skeleton Tree, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This album was started before Nick’s son Arthur died in 2015. Understandably, that tragedy weighed heavily on Nick as he wrote the songs for this album. The album is sad in a beautiful way. If you haven’t seen the movie, One More Time with Feeling, that played in cinemas around the globe on the eve of the release of this album, you should.

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The Best Music of 2014

The Best Music of 2014

The album I listened to the most this year is the number one album of 2014: Angel OlsenBurn Your Fire for No Witness. The song that first caught my attention was “Hi Five”. After hearing it I immediately went out and bought the album. It has several great songs in styles ranging from pop rock to the very quiet, beautifully sung, intimate rumination, “Windows”, a song Pitchfork wrote off as an “indistinct closer”. I like it, so here’s the video.

The second best album of 2014 is Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else. I didn’t know about Lydia when her album Indestructible Machine came out in 2011, otherwise it would have been on my 2011 list. Anyway, here’s a live recording of the title track to this year’s album.

Number three is Sharon Van Etten – Are We There. Sharon has one of the most powerful voices in music, and she shows it off quite well in this song.

Number four is the third in a series of The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project titled Axels & Sockets. It’s a collective of many of my favorite musicians including Nick Cave, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, Lydia Lunch, Warren Ellis, Mick Harvey, Kid Congo Powers, Iggy Pop, Mark Stewart, Thurston Moore, Jim Sclavunos, Primal Scream, Cyprus Grove, Ruby Throat, and Andrew Weatherall. They all work together to interpret the songs of the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce. I find myself listening to it all the time. Here’s a video for “Constant Limbo”.

Number Five is Thurston Moore – The Best Day. It’s like a really great Sonic Youth album, except there’s no Kim Gordon. Here’s the title track recorded live at KEXP.

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Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Dum Dum Girls, and Perfect Pussy

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Dum Dum Girls, and Perfect Pussy

It’s Friday and Lydia Loveless, the firecracker country punk from Ohio, is playing at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard. Zippy, Sporty and I will be at the show. After watching this video, give me a good reason why you shouldn’t be there.

Dum Dum Girls will be performing at Neumos on Saturday night. Be there too.

What is Perfect Pussy? Is there Perfect Pussy? Who is Perfect Pussy? Answer: Meredith Graves and her band from Syracuse, New York. After reading this Pitchfork review of the album Say Yes to Love and watching this video, you’ll want some Perfect Pussy too.

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

KEXP 40th Anniversary Top 40 of Past 40 Years

All week during KEXP’s pledge drive, they have been playing the top albums of the past 40 years as voted on by their supporters to celebrate their 40th Anniversary. The list is 650 albums long. Like me, you probably liked a lot of it, and didn’t like some of it.

You can read the whole list of 650 albums on the KEXP Top 40 of the Last 40 years here.

Here is their top 40:

1

NirvanaNevermind

2

RadioheadOK Computer

3

PixiesDoolittle

4

The ClashLondon Calling

5

U2The Joshua Tree

6

Arcade FireFuneral

7

David BowieThe Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust

8

RadioheadKid A

9

Pink FloydDark Side Of The Moon

10

WilcoYankee Hotel Foxtrot

11

Bob DylanBlood On The Tracks

12

Sex PistolsNever Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

13

Beastie BoysPaul’s Boutique

14

The Rolling StonesExile On Mainstreet

15

Michael JacksonThriller

16

Joy DivisionUnknown Pleasures

17

Pearl JamTen

18

Prince and the RevolutionPurple Rain

19

The CureDisintegration

20

PixiesSurfer Rosa

21

Neutral Milk HotelIn the Aeroplane Over The Sea

22

RadioheadThe Bends

23

Talking HeadsStop Making Sense

24

Led ZeppelinHouses Of The Holy

25

Fleetwood MacRumors

26

R.E.M.Automatic For The People

27

Paul SimonGraceland

28

New OrderPower, Corruption and Lies

29

The SmithsThe Queen Is Dead

30

Smashing PumpkinsSiamese Dream

31

The Flaming LipsYoshimi vs. The Pink Robots

32

RadioheadIn Rainbows

33

Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti

34

Beastie BoysLicensed To Ill

35

WeezerWeezer

36

Violent FemmesViolent Femmes

37

Neil YoungHarvest

38

Jeff BuckleyGrace

39

Sonic YouthDaydream Nation

40

Sufjan StevensIllinoise

41

R.E.M.Murmur

And now you may be asking yourself why this list of the top 40 goes to number 41. Well let me tell you: In my opinion, Sufjan Stevens’ album is not worthy of being on this list and R.E.M.’s Murmur is.

Sufjan bores the hell out of me.

Placement matters. Fore example, when KEXP did their top 903 albums of all time back in 2008. Sufjan placed 15th of all time, and Patti Smith placed 104th. (Anyone that tells me that Illinoise is better than Horses I immediately dismiss as a fool). So as I am glad to see that enough people have come to their senses to drop Sufjan’s album 26 places since 2008 and move Patti Smith’s Horses up 52 spots from 104th to 52nd, I still cannot accept that Illinoise is in KEXP’s top-40 list. Again I must ask who the hell are my fellow KEXP supporters and why do they like such boring music? And I won’t go too far out on a limb to predict that, in the next multi-generational poll, the fools will all have forgotten Illinoise, and Horses will prevail.

Enough of that…

What’s most interesting about these lists besides who made it to the top ten (Congratulations to Nirvana for taking the Number One spot over Radiohead, who usually places Number One in these polls, and yes I have come to appreciate Radiohead more since the last multigenerational poll [more about that here, although I prefer The Bends over OK Computer, but nevermind]) are the albums missing from the list.

What’s missing?

Scott H. Biram – Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever

Capsula – In the Land of Silver Souls

The Duke Spirit – Cuts Across the Land

Jim White – Wrong Eyed Jesus

Nick Cave – every album except Let Love In that placed 591st.

Richard Hawley – True Love’s Gutter

Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine

Alejandro Escovedo – Gravity

Just to name a few…

I can’t blame KEXP for these omissions, because they play and promote all of the above artists who are missing, so all I’m left with is their listeners.

Wake up KEXP listeners! There are way better artists than many of the 650 listed, but you just aren’t paying attention. Maybe some of the ones I’ve pointed out are not in your wheelhouse. I get that, and I also get that expanding your horizons is why KEXP is so loved around the world.

So next time you hear Capsula, Jim White, The Duke Spirit, Scott H. (the “H” stands for “FUCK YOU”) Biram, Alejandro Escovedo, or Lydia Loveless – pay attention and expand your horizons. You might really like some of this stuff. You might even like it more than you think you like Sufjan Stevens!

Oh… I forgot I was done with that.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Bob Dylan, and Richard Hawley

Friday Night Videos Featuring Lydia Loveless, Bob Dylan, and Richard Hawley

Here’s Lydia Loveless performing “Crazy” from her 2011 album Indestructible Machine, that would have made my top-ten list for 2011 had I only been smart enough to buy the album a year ago. She will be performing live at The Sunset Tavern on Saturday, October 13th.

Bob Dylan has a new album out, Tempest, and it’s getting rave reviews: Uncut Magazine gave it a 10, and MOJO Magazine gave it five stars. Here’s the video for the opening track, “Duquesne Whistle”.

Here’s the title track from Richard Hawley’s new album, Standing at the Sky’s Edge, that’s been on my hot rotation for the past couple of weeks.