Wednesday, December 27, 2023

best of 2023, pt. 5: final shout-outs and farewells

[This is part 5 of 5 of the DFSBP 2023 rundown; find the other parts here.]

A few other assorted shout-outs:

The best pop song I heard this year was Tyla's serene, sensuous "Water" (just listen). That Blink-182 ballad really grew on me as well!

The best music book I read this year was Aidan Levy's encyclopedic yet somehow compulsively readable Saxophone Colossus, with nods to Michael Azerrad's newly annotated version of his definitive Nirvana bio Come as You Are, the latest volume in Jeremy Pelt's invaluable Griot interview-compendium series, illuminating memoirs by Henry Threadgill and Geddy Lee, Ray Padgett's engrossing Bob Dylan sideman tome Pledging My Time, and Alex Pappademas and Joan LeMay's hysterical and profoundly insightful Steely Dan companion Quantum Criminals

The best music doc I saw this year was The Drum Also Waltzes, Sam Pollard and Ben Shapiro's sensitive, unflinching chronicling of the life and work of Max Roach.

The best music Substack I kept up with this year was Vinnie Sperrazza's Chronicles, clearly the product of a soul-deep devotion to drumming, jazz and the miracle of music, with nods to Jake Malooley's unreasonably entertaining Steely Dan deep dive Expanding Dan, Nate Chinen's 360-degree jazz forum The Gig, and Piotr Orlov and Steve Smith's respective indefatigable NYC-focused resources on music both live and recorded, Dada Strain and Night After Night.  

Oh, and I wrote a lot less this year than I would have liked, but I'm really proud of this Tony Williams Lifetime deep dive for Pitchfork (thank you Jeremy D. Larson for the assignment!) and this Bandcamp Daily interview with death-metal visionary and Demilich mastermind Antti Boman.

Some other year-end lists/recaps I've enjoyed as I've made my way around the web in recent weeks:

John Delzoppo (also mentioned above but ICYMI!)
Melanie Loves Death Metal
Calder Hannan // Metal Music Theory
Last Rites crew
Rolling Stone crew
Machine Music
Nate Chinen
Giovanni Russonello
Phil Freeman // Ugly Beauty


And a moment of remembrance and tribute for a few personal heroes:

Tony Oxley, a beacon of truth and individuality who dreamed up a new universe of percussion.

Wayne Shorter, the eternal explorer, fun-loving enigma and composer nonpareil. 

Peter Brötzmann, the unrepentant extremist with a poet's heart.

Robbie Robertson, the guitar-wielding bard who showed America its deep-rooted song.

Richard Davis, the greatest bassist who ever lived.


Lon "Spoth" Hackett, bassist for Sulaco, a long-running Rochester outfit deeply dedicated to its depraved art, a fearless hybrid of noise rock and technical death metal. Following his death in May, they recorded the last two songs they wrote with him and released an excellent two-song single (fittingly titled Spoth) in his honor. Check this one out and explore the back catalog as well.

Chuck Stern, a contemporary and fellow traveler in the New York scene. I didn't know him well, but I shared bills and sat across tables from him on many occasions, and he was both a tirelessly driven creator and an unusually kind person. We will miss you, Chuck. For more on his impact and his output, see these words and this survey by his lifelong friend and collaborator Charlie Looker.

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