Sunday, December 15, 2019

2019/2010s in review

*2019 all-genres-in-play list, plus runners-up, songs and shows.

*2019 jazz list.

*2010s all-genres-in-play list, plus runners-up and songs.

*2010s jazz list.

I've also updated the two archives of prior top 10 lists:

*All-genres-in-play lists, 2005 through the present.

*Jazz lists, 2008 through the present.


This year, I released 10 episodes of the Heavy Metal Bebop Podcast, featuring interviews with Black Sabbath's Bill Ward, Living Colour's Vernon Reid, Jan Hammer, Dave King and more. Please check them out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Podbean if you haven't already. More to come in 2020!

And thanks to these and other music/etc. podcasts that have enriched and inspired me; I strongly encourage you to give them all a look/listen:

-The 5049 Podcast
-The Trap Set
-Kreative Kontrol
-The Heavy Hole
-Dean Delray's Let There Be Talk
-Radical Research
-Crash Bang Boom Drumming Podcast
-Burning Ambulance
-Washed Up Emo
-Everything Went Black
-You Don't Know Mojack
-Henry & Heidi

I wrote a lot this year, but the pieces I'm most proud of were the King Crimson–related stories, namely:

*A Robert Fripp interview.

*A two-part deep dive into the history and influence of "21st Century Schizoid Man."

*And a career-spanning interview with Bill Bruford.

And thank you to anyone still making their way to this webspace! It's less active than it has been in years past as more of my work appears elsewhere, but it's still meaningful to me as a personal archive and occasional writing outlet.

Best of 2019: Overall top 10 + songs + shows

Here are my 10 favorite records of 2019, with corresponding links to prior coverage where applicable. (ICYMI, here's the jazz-only list.)

1. Moon Tooth, Crux
2. Tomb Mold, Planetary Clairvoyance
3. Arch/Matheos, Winter Ethereal
4. Sheer Mag, A Distant Call
5. Angel Bat Dawid, The Oracle
6. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You [she owned the culture this year, and rightfully so]
7. The Messthetics, Anthropocosmic Nest
8. Branford Marsalis Quartet, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
9. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains [this record made me realize just how much I'd overlooked w.r.t. the late, great David Berman. R.I.P.]
10. Hole Dweller, Flies the Coop [stumbled across this one only a few weeks ago; it's just fantastic — transporting lo-fi synthscapes inspired by The Hobbit!]

Here are some others that came close to making the cut:
-La Dispute, Panorama
-Bob Mould, Sunshine Rock [he just keeps making solid, no-nonsense rock records]
-Jeromes Dream, LP
-Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won't Hold [such a bummer that the band basically imploded during the making of this, but there are good songs here]
-Darkthrone, Old Star

Here are a couple more that I just really liked and look forward to spending more time with:
-Giants Chair, Prefabylon
-Liturgy, H.A.Q.Q. [this is visionary music, plain and simple]

Here is a reissue that absolutely floored me:
Santa Lucia, Perse Palaa

Here are 15 miscellaneous songs I loved this year:

Billie Eilish, "Bad Guy"
Luke Combs, "Even Though I'm Leaving"
Haunt, "Mosaic Vision"
Lizzo, "Juice"
Vampire Weekend, "Harmony Hall"
Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, "Old Town Road"
Sheer Mag, "Chopping Block"
Moon Tooth, "Crux"
Lizzo, "Jerome"
Mannequin Pussy, "Drunk II"
Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"
Haunt, "Callouses"
Billie Eilish, "Bury a Friend"
Orville Peck, "Hope to Die"
Sam Fender, "Hypersonic Missiles"

And here are 20 particularly memorable shows I saw:

Jan 25/26 - Black Flags Over Brooklyn at Brooklyn Bazaar
Mar 7 - Cannibal Corpse + Morbid Angel + Blood Incantation at Playstation Theater
May 9 - Feast of the Epiphany at Vital Joint
May 12 - Eyehategod + Sheer Terror at Kingsland
June 1 - Bikini Kill at Terminal 5
June 11 - Andrew Cyrille "Lifetime Achievement" concert at Vision Fest
June 15 - Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison at Central Park SummerStage
June 22 - Jawbox at Brooklyn Steel
June 29 - Moon Tooth at Amityville Music Hall
July 26 - Jeromes Dream at Saint Vitus
July 27 - Iron Maiden at Barclays
Aug 10 - Cheer-Accident at Ceremony
Sept 13 - Pat Metheny Side-Eye (w/ James Francies and Marcus Gilmore) at Sony Hall
Sept 21 - King Crimson at Radio City Music Hall
Oct 9 - Sheer Mag at Elsewhere
Oct 10 - Melvins + Redd Kross at Warsaw
Oct 18 - Battles at Max Fish
Nov 2 - Mike Watt and the Missingmen at the Echo (L.A.)
Nov 3 - John Zorn Masada (w/ Julian Lage, Jorge Roeder and Kenny Wollesen) at Village Vanguard
Nov 29 - Giants Chair at the Brick (KC)

Best of the 2010s

Rolling Stone recently compiled a list of the 100 best albums of the 2010s. Here, with some minor tweaks and additions, is the ballot I submitted to the staff vote. Where applicable, I've linked to a past DFSBP post where I discussed the album in question. (There's a jazz-only 2010s list here and individual all-genres-in-play lists for every year from 2010 through 2019 here.)

1. RVIVR, The Beauty Between (2013)
2. La Dispute, Rooms of the House (2014)
3. Francis and the Lights, It'll Be Better (2010)
4. Christian Mistress, Possession (2012)
5. Sheer Mag, Need to Feel Your Love (2017)
6. Future Islands, Singles (2014)
7. 40 Watt Sun, Wider Than the Sky (2016)
8. Freeman, Freeman (2014)
9. Rush, Clockwork Angels (2012)
10. Antemasque, Antemasque (2014)
11. Deftones, Koi No Yokan (2012) [no prior coverage here; I'm a late Deftones convert but I've come to adore both this record and its 2016 follow-up, Gore]
12. Moon Tooth, Crux (2019)
13. Mitski, Bury Me at Makeout Creek (2014)
14. Haim, Days Are Gone (2013)
15. Diarrhea Planet, I'm Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams (2013)
16. Metallica, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct (2016)
17. The Bad Plus, Never Stop (2010)
18. Frank Ocean, Nostalgia, Ultra (2011)
19. The Hotelier, Goodness (2016)
20. Carcass, Surgical Steel (2013)
21. Esperanza Spalding, Emily's D+Evolution (2016)
22. Alvvays, Alvvays (2014)
23. Meshuggah, The Violent Sleep of Reason (2016)
24. Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (2017)
25. Krallice, Ygg Huur (2015)

+10 runners-up

Clutch, Earth Rocker (2013)
Voivod, The Wake (2018)
Loincloth, Iron Balls of Steel (2012) 
Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork (2013)
The Bad Plus, Never Stop II (2018)
Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells (2018)
Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (2011)
The Men, New Moon (2013)
Dan Weiss Trio, Timshel (2011)
Pallbearer, Sorrow and Extinction (2012)

Update, 12/27/19: I now realize I was remiss not to shout out Gorguts’ 2013 masterpiece Colored Sands above. Just re-spun, and, man, does it smoke. Same goes for Kvelertak's Meir!


Rolling Stone also counted down the 100 best songs of the 2010s. Here are 60 of my favorites from the decade that's about to end. Some from the aforementioned albums, but many more are "radio songs" or just loose tracks from various other releases. The order is pretty arbitrary.

RVIVR, "Spidersong"
Francis and the Lights, "Betting on Us"
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"
CHVRCHES, "The Mother We Share"
Adele, "Someone Like You"
Miley Cyrus, "Wrecking Ball"
Julian Casablancas, "11th Dimension"
Alvvays, "Marry Me Archie"
Katy Perry, "California Gurls"
Nicki Minaj, "Super Bass"

Luke Combs, "Even Though I'm Leaving"
Maroon 5, "Moves Like Jagger"
Alessia Cara, "Here"
Drake, "Hotline Bling"
Haim, "The Wire"
Tobias Jesso Jr., "How Could You Babe"
Haim, "Don't Save Me"
The Weeknd, "Starboy"
Justin Bieber, "Sorry"
Metallica, "Moth Into Flame"

Code Orange, "Bleeding in the Blur"
Bob Mould, "I Don't Know You Anymore"
Haunt, "Mosaic Vision"
Sheer Mag, "Just Can't Get Enough"
Ariana Grande, "Thank U Next"
Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
Bruno Mars, "Locked Out of Heaven"
Lil Uzi Vert, "XO Tour Llif3"
Daft Punk, "Get Lucky"
Drake, "Marvins Room"

Nude Beach, "Walkin' Down My Street"
Sheer Mag, "Fan the Flames"
Beach Slang, "Punks in a Disco Bar"
Queens of the Stone Age, "I Sat by the Ocean"
Antemasque, "50,000 Kilowatts"
Ghost, "Ritual"
Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"
Adele, "Hello"
Frank Ocean, "Thinkin' 'Bout You"
Killing Joke, "The Great Cull"

The Strokes, "Gratisfaction"
The War on Drugs, "Red Eyes"
Rihanna, "Only Girl in the World"
Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"
Mastodon, "The Motherload"
PSY, "Gangnam Style"
Bob Mould, "The Descent"
Black Sabbath, "The Age of Reason"
Usher, "OMG"
Sia, "Eye of the Needle"

Magic!, "Rude"
fun., "Some Nights"
Kanye West, "Monster"
Robyn, "Dancing on My Own"
Frank Ocean, "Novocane"
Turnstile, "Real Thing"
Justin Bieber, "Let Me Love You"
Lady Gaga, "Perfect Illusion"
The Strokes, "Under Cover of Darkness"
Metallica, "Spit Out the Bone"

Best of the 2010s: jazz

Here's a list of my 20 favorite jazz albums of the 2010s. (Individual lists for each year can be found here.)

1. The Bad Plus, Never Stop (E1) [2010]
2. Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music) [2011]
3. Dan Weiss Trio, Timshel (Sunnyside) [2010]
4. New Zion Trio, Fight Against Babylon (Veal) [2011]
5. Billy Hart, All Our Reasons (ECM) [2012]
6. The Cookers, Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions) [2010]
7. Chris Lightcap's Bigmouth, Deluxe (Clean Feed) [2010]
8. Jack DeJohnette / Matt Garrison/ Ravi Coltrane, In Movement (ECM) [2016]
9. The Bad Plus, Never Stop II (Legbreaker) [2018]
10. Angel Bat Dawid, The Oracle (International Anthem) [2019]
11. Dan Weiss, Starebaby (Pi) [2018]
12. Craig Taborn, Avenging Angel (ECM) [2011]
13. Jason Moran, Ten (Blue Note) [2010]
14. Mark Turner, Lathe of Heaven (ECM) [2014]
15. Joshua Redman and the Bad Plus, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (Nonesuch) [2015]
16. Black Host, Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy) [2013]
17. Billy Mintz, Ugly Beautiful (Thirteenth Note) [2017]
18. Peter Brötzmann / Heather Leigh, Sparrow Nights (Trost) [2018]
19. Charles Lloyd & the Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blue Note) [2018]
20. Vijay Iyer Sextet, Far From Over (ECM) [2017]

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Best of 2019: Jazz

Here, via Rolling Stone, is a rundown of some of the 2019 jazz releases I enjoyed most. I'm not remotely able to keep up with everything these days, so I'm grateful to The New York City Jazz Record; Downbeat; Jazz Times; The Wire; Phil Freeman's monthly Ugly Beauty column at Stereogum; Giovanni Russonello's regular coverage at The Times; the work of writers such as Seth Colter Walls, Piotr Orlov, Andy Beta, Marcus J. Moore, Matthew Kassel and Mark Richardson at Pitchfork and other outlets; some of the same writers and others at Bandcamp Daily; and The Free Jazz Collective; as well as the artists and publicists who send me music directly, for helping me keep up.

The 2019 top 10 I submitted to Francis Davis' annual critics' poll, the results of which should be online before too long, is as follows. Each of these titles is discussed at least briefly in the RS piece; there are also links there to my prior coverage of some of the artists/albums, and links to hear/buy the music via Bandcamp, where applicable. Two notes on the selections:

1) Categories ultimately mean very little to me, but yes, I do think the Messthetics album could reasonably be called a jazz record; I argue the case a bit in the aforementioned article.

2) The 10³²K album did in fact come out in 2018, but it emerged late in the year, and I was not really aware of it till this year. Regardless, I think it's fantastic, and I stand by its inclusion here. This process remains very much an inexact science!

New Releases

1. Angel Bat Dawid, The Oracle (International Anthem)
2. Branford Marsalis Quartet, The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Okeh)
3. The Messthetics, Anthropocosmic Nest (Dischord)
4. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, To Whom Who Buys a Record (Odin)
5. 10³²K, The Law of Vibration (self-released)
6. Joel Ross, KingMaker (Blue Note)
7. Chris Lightcap, SuperBigmouth (Pyroclastic)
8. Blacks' Myths, Blacks' Myths II (Atlantic Rhythms)
9. Steve Lehman Trio & Craig Taborn, The People I Love (Pi)
10. JD Allen, Barracoon (Savant)


1. Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions (Resonance)
2. Horace Tapscott With the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and the Great Voice of UGMAA, Why Don't You Listen? Live at LACMA 1998 (Dark Tree)
3. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit, April Is the Cruellest Month (Blank Forms Editions)