Photo courtesy of L’altra Faccia Della Donna (Translation: The Other Woman’s Face) Magazine.
Now that we are just a couple of short weeks away from kicking off a spectacular New Year, full of art, music, pink things, bacon and free food, I would like to ask you, Dear Readers, how was your year? I hope it was awesome. As you can see from this Rad Blog you are now reading, I got to do some fun things in 2011, including going on my most fun vacation in many years when my sister and I took a 7 day Caribbean cruise, with three days in New Orleans on the front end. Holy cow, was that ever fun! Such adventuring! Such fine dining! Such ridiculous humidity! I’m still sweating.
What this all means is that it’s time again for the obligatory Year End Top Ten List, so, instead of going with the predictable, rote, yawnfest Top Ten CDs list I’ve decided to do more of a Pop Culture Mixed Bag, if you will. Because that is how I roll. Let’s get started.
Best Album: Manraze, PunkFunkRootsRock. Take guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard, team him up with drummer Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols and add Simon Laffy, the bassist from Phil’s former Glam band, Girl (because every power trio needs a bassist), and you’ve got a record that sounds, well, like a raunchier version of Def Leppard! We especially love Phil’s Lemmy impersonation on “Over My Dead Body.” Record of The Year! Read my interview with Paul Cook at This Link.
That’s Me in the Back Row: Third in from the Left
Best Game Show: The Kostabi Show, where a panel of three Art critics and/or celebrities compete to title the works of modernist painter Mark Kostabi for cash awards, while a jury votes on which title suits the painting best. I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the jury for a taping this past summer and went home with $6 cash more than I had when I arrived, plus a Kostabi coffee table book signed by Mark. Bonus: free pizza! Kostabi, who is an accomplished pianist, also released a swell modern classical CD, The Spectre of Modernism, this year, which has been in heavy rotation on my iPod for ages now.
Best Beatles Thing: Dave Depper’s Ram Project, an authentically covered version of Paul McCartney’s second solo album complete with off-key Linda-esque backing vocals! So good!
Best Rock Book: Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil, a memoir of the British rock critic’s life and career in the 1970s. Everyone knows that all of the best music happened the Seventies , so I will admit that, as both a writer and fan, I certainly would have loved to have lived that life myself, save for the messy heroin addiction part.
Best Fashion-Related Museum Exhibit: Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Four words: Crown of Thorns Headdress. The Savage Beauty Exhibit set all kinds of ridiculous attendance records for the Met and was just insane. Insane!
Best Homage to Eighties Alternative Goth: Chris Connelly’s Artificial Madness. David Bowie Meets Killing Joke plus Bauhaus sautéed lightly with Magazine and a little Ministry on the side. Homage!
Best Rock Documentary: Fix, The Ministry Movie. Kids: Don’t Do Drugs. Or do a lot of them. One or the Other.
Best Seventies Southern Rock: The Sheepdogs, Five Easy Pieces EP. Bonus points to the band for their fan-winning appearance on the most recent season of Project Runway!
Reality TV (Competition): Top Chef, because Celebrity Chefs are the new Rock Stars!
Pop Culture as Art: The Suckadelic Art Toy Universe Retrospective and Pop Up Store at Boo Hooray Gallery (NYC). The judges and critics on the second season of Bravo’s Work Of Art didn’t really dig the SuckLord’s artwork too much, but his parodies of Star Wars toys served up with a serious side of snark made for one of the most subversive, hilarious and memorable art shows of the year! Art!
Honorable Mention: Kasabian’s Velociraptor, MGMT Live at the Guggenheim, The Zombies at City Winery, Single Fare Please Swipe Again at Sloan Fine Art, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, Jeremy Dower’s Canis Mortuus Familiarus at Bold Hype Gallery, American Horror Story, Maurizio Catellan’s All Retrospective at The Guggenheim, Patti Smith at Webster Hall, The Wyld Olde Souls’ Ensoulment, Jeremy Fish Listen & Learn at Joshua Liner Gallery, Robot Chicken, Tosh.0.
Happy Holidaze and all the best for 2012!
This list previously appeared in a slightly abbreviated form on the East Portland Blog Dot Com.
In contrast to the ethereal, romantic, midnight cabaret vibe of Blonde Exodus, my favorite album by Scottish expat Chris Connelly, Artificial Madness, the latest from the ex-Ministry/RevCo vocalist is fierce, briskly paced and vibrant with frenetic energy. Oh Chris, why did you stay away so long?
While the undeniable bombast of Connelly’s impressive musical pedigree is in full evidence over the course of these eleven tracks, he’s also imbued these tunes with the essence of eighties-era bands that, in effect, carried the torch for all that came along in the nineties. “Wait for Amateur” would sound right at home book-ended by “Terror Couple Kill Colonel” and “Dark Entries” on a Best-of Bauhaus album and “The Modern Swine” resembles an aural bow to Howard Devoto’s Magazine, whether intentional or otherwise. As always, Connelly’s sublime Bowie-esque croon takes even Peter Murphy’s embodiment of the Thin White Duke past the realm of homage and into the arena of a vocalist whose imprint is arguable matched only by Bryan Ferry among those currently recording. If you enjoy music with a serious pulse, there is no reason not to add Artificial Madness to your collection.
Chicago-area fans can catch the Artificial Madness record release show on Friday November 18, 2011 at The Hideout. For this show, Chris will be joined by the those who backed him on the album including producer Sanford Parker (Minsk, Nachtmystium), Noah Leger (The Karl Hendricks Trio, The(e) Speaking Canaries, Head of Skulls), Will Lindsay (Indian, Nachtmystium, Wolves in Throne Room), and Dallas Thomas (The Swan King, Circle of Animals, Asschapel).
Malevolent, beautiful, creepy and compelling all at once, Artificial Madness, out on Relapse Records on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, is one of my favorite releases of the year.
Me with Bill at a Modern Drummer Party
On This Date, December 12th, in 2008, Modern Drummer Editor Bill Miller passed away after a long and hard-fought battle with melanoma. Bill was just 47 years old. I still miss Bill every day and I know that everyone at Modern Drummer does as well. He was not only a great editor who taught me so much about drumming and how to write about drummers, he was also a good friend. Rest in Peace, Bill.
June 1st is the Birthday of ex-Smiths drummer Mike Joyce (1963), Alan Wilder (formerly) of Depeche Mode (1959) and Barry Adamson, composer and former bassist for Magazine (born 1958). Although we don’t hear much from Joyce or Wilder these days, Barry Adamson is still making some crazy music and composing soundtracks for mind-tweaking films such as David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The soundtrack of Lost Highway is worth owning on the strength of Adamson’s atmospheric soundscapes alone. Happy Birthday, Guys!
Thanks to The P5 Blogspot: This Day in 80s Music, for bringing the Birthday Love!