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23

Dec

2013

Top 23 of 2013: Stephen J Nereffid

By Stephen J. Nereffid. Posted in Classical | No Comments »

Yes, top 23: this was a very good year of classical releases for me, and it turns out that the number of albums I want to mention doesn’t correspond exactly with the number of fingers and toes I possess. To buck convention even further, I’m not going to rank the albums, aside from my favourite of the year. The usual provisos apply; the list is some distance away from being representative of the year’s classical releases as a whole.

littleprince#1. Petitgirard: The Little Prince
Laurent Petitgirard conducting
(Naxos)

A mysterious, sombre and beautiful ballet from 2010, based on the classic book. Petitgirard makes use of a choir and a handful of instrumentalists; if I describe the music as like a softer, French-accented Philip Glass, this doesn’t do it justice but at least might give you some idea of the sound-world.

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SONY DSC

There are only a few things in this world I love more than seeing live music.  I’ve actually kept a list of every artist I’ve ever seen (the first entry is for Dino), along with a grade for the performance and a few words about the show.  While I don’t get to as many shows as I’d like, I was able to see 48 different sets by 46 different artists in 2013.  So I thought I’d give a Top 5 live performances for this year.

Before getting into the Top 5, though, here are some other performances that I want to highlight:

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Any list implies criteria, but let’s eliminate some obvious candidates. This is not a list of the most original, or significant, or skilled, or successful releases of 2013. There is so much that I simply did not listen to that those kinds of judgments are out of reach (for me as for everyone else). Instead, I asked myself: if I were to be separated from my music for a month or two and could only keep 20 albums from my collection with me, all released in 2013, which would I choose? This approach keeps me from adding or skipping things because I somehow feel I ought to. Worthy or not in the ears of the world, this is what I liked most from this year’s releases. Listen in; who knows, you might like it too.

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2013 was another banner year for the Twin Cities music scene.  Prince introduced his new band, 3rdeyegirl, and started making more appearances than he had in the last few years (including a pajama party at Paisley Park), The Replacements (well, half The Replacements) reunited to record some music to raise money for former guitarist Slim Dunlap and to play some out-of-town festivals (we’re still waiting Westerberg and Stinson…as if you didn’t know), local O.G.s The Suburbs and Run Westy Run also reunited, Low played a 30 minute festival set consisting of a single drone, and Rhymesayers snagged Snoop Dogg for Soundset.  Oh, and on top of all that a ton of great new music was released by artists both new and old, with a ridiculous amount of that music being released by one local label that is absolutely killing it right now.

For my “Top 20 of 2013” list I limited myself to a single word or phrase about each album.  I think the technique worked in that context because each of the albums on the list already had thousands of words written about them.  When it comes to the top releases by Twin Cities artists, however, that isn’t necessarily the case.  Accordingly, while I’ll still be limiting the amount I write about each album, there will be more information than in the Top 20.  Of note, four of the albums in the Top 10, and several more honorable mentions, are available for free download.  So, if you’re at all interested in exploring the Twin Cities music scene circa 2013, get downloading!

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MiG jumps into the year end ‘Best of’ lists, with Craig McManus leading off with his Top 20 albums of the year:

In the past, I’ve always written a blurb about each album explaining it’s inclusion on my list.  Over the years of checking other people’s lists, however, I’ve noticed that I rarely read similar blurbs.  Instead I scroll through to see what made it, what I agree with, what I disagree with, and with what I am unfamiliar.  Then I move on to the next list.  As I highly doubt I’m alone in this technique, I’m going to dispense with the paragraph of explanation and instead simply note the word or phrase by which it is best encapsulated.  Think of it as a ‘Best of’ word association.  It’ll save me time, and perhaps someone will actually read it rather than skimming to the next image.

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Sometimes a song gets tangled in with life, and the threads twist together for a while. That happened to me a few months ago during a trip to Indonesia. As I walked around Jakarta and Surabaya, Robert Wyatt’s song “Catholic Architecture” (from his 1991 album Dondestan) kept nibbling at the edges of my mind, tugging my perceptions. It goes like this:

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11

Aug

2013

Happy Birthday Hip Hop!

By Craig McManus. Posted in Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

 

1520sedgwick_avenueOn August 11, 1973, a young man going by DJ Kool Herc hosted a “Back to School Jam” in the rec room of the above building in the Bronx.  That party is now recognized as the birth of hip hop.  That’s right, hip hop is 40.

 
Winter's Fire - The Ashes of Piemonte

Winter’s Fire – The Ashes of Piemonte

A palimpsest.

First layer: Blood and hate and keening grief. In the mid-17th century the Duke of Savoy pursues a brutal campaign to suppress communities of Waldensians living in the mountains of Piedmont. The Waldensians are followers of Peter Waldo, a Bible-oriented group excommunicated in 1215 because of their departure from various Catholic teachings. Despite repeated persecution, they have been able to establish small mountain communities. In 1655 an attempt at forced conversion meets with rejection, and is followed by an orgy of rape, torture, and murder that shocks Europe. 1700 men, women, and children are burned alive, dismembered, variously and gruesomely massacred.

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Fury Things

In a music scene as crowded as the Twin Cities’, it can be difficult to stand out.  This can be particularly the case when you are a gimmick free, rock trio playing loud, fuzzed out rock that would have fit in perfectly in late ’80s to early ’90s Massachusetts.  Nonetheless, Fury Things is quickly finding their way to the top of the local heap and setting their sights beyond the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  I recently chatted with the band about honest music, the Twin Cities music scene, and the future for Fury Things.  After checking out the interview, make sure to head over to Bandcamp and pick up their 2 EPs for the price you want to pay.

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Savages

Every year the Twin Cities benefits from Pitchfork Music Festival being in Chicago when several of the bands add a stop on their way to or from Chicago.  This year that meant the first local date for the ferocious post punk buzz band of the moment Savages.

The show was at the 400 person capacity Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis, and sold out so quickly (despite shows at the Triple Rock selling out rarely enough that a sign on the door announced “Tonight’s show is completely sold out.  Seriously.”) that a return date has already been added at the 1,500 capacity First Avenue Mainroom in September.  If you read nothing else of this review, read this: See them now before the rooms get even bigger.

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