Jim Finnigan Poop 09

The women in Poughkeepsie / Take their clothes off when they’re tipsy
But in Albany, New York / They love the filthy way I talk
– Elvis Costello, Sulphur to Sugarcane


1 Jeb Loy Nichols tie Jeb Loy Nichols & Ian Gomm Parish Bar AND Only Time Will Tell
2 Michael Hurley & Ida Ida Con Snock
3 Various Artists Fire in my Bones Raw + Rare + Other-Worldly African-American Gospel [1944-2007]
4 Mary Anne Hobbs & various Dubstep artists Wild Angels Wild Angels
5 Various Skull Disco w/ Shackleton, Appleblim Skull Disco – Soundboys Gravestone Gets Desecrated By Vandals
6 Various w/ E.C.Ball, Michael Hurley, Pokey LaFarge, Bonnie Prince Billy Face a Frowning World – An E.C.Ball Memorial Album
7 Various w/ Ted Lucas, Gichard Crandell, Jim Ohlschmidt, Mark Lang Wayfaring Strangers – Guitar Soli
8 Jon Hassell & Maarifa Street Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street
9 Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavilion
10 Gary Lucas & Najma Akhtar Rishte

2009 FAVES

Ian Gomm & Jeb Loy Nichols / Only Time Will Tell
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Relaxa Records

Jeb Loy Nichols / Parish Bar
Ian Gomm & Jeb Loy Nichols / Only Time Will Tell

Variations on country dub – my favorite albums of the year. Great homemade Al Green Memphis backing on Parish Bar, more basic post-pub-rock country on the Ian Gomm collaboration. Wasn’t so impressed with the jazz piano on his third album this year – Strange Faith & Practice – his Nina Simone move? Promises of a full On-U outing next year. As On-U’s purported revival is sputtering feebly along, Adrian Sherwood seems to be reinventing himself as an acoustic/ country/ folkie/ dub producer for other labels. Worth checking is Ian King‘s Panic Grass & Fever Few: this here variant explores the Shirley Collins songbook inna English folk dub stylee. In a similar vein is Aussie folkie Dave Dobbyn‘s Anotherland, and Daby Toure & Skip McDonald‘s Call My Name, blues meets French Africa (Mauritania). There’s still some hard-On-U dub and funk stuff spilling out – check Lee Scratch Perry‘s Dubsetter set, Irish rapper’s RiRa‘s Horses Work for Donkey’s Wages, and the dub version of Mongrel‘s Better than Heavy.

Mary Anne Hobbs Presents Wild Angels
Skull Disco Soundboys Gravestone Gets Desecrated by Vandals
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Buy from Skull

In other dub- and electronica-related news, Mary Ann Hobbs (presents) Wild Angels finds the BBC DJ moving beyond hyperdub and dubstep to airy spacey dark dancefloor electronica. Sends chills down the spine. Skull Disco’s Soundboys Gravestone Gets Desecrated by Vandals features beats and bleats almost as scary as Wild Angels, and great dub echo effects, too. And I gotta give a mention to 5 Years of Hyperdub, a worthy summing up by premier dark dubstep label.

Fire in My Bones   Buy New or Used through amazon
Various Artisits – Fire In My Bones / Raw + Rare + Other-Worldly African-American Gospel 1944-2007 – Incredibly soulful downhome singles from local gospel groups and preachers mostly from east of the Mississippi. Song of the year has gotta go to Elder Beck’s anti-Rock & Roll sermon which is one of the hardest rockin’ thangs you will ever hear.

Felice Brothers / Yonder Is The Clock   Buy New or Used through amazon  OR   @ eMusic
Felice Brothers / Yonder Is The Clock – Sounding like a desiccated and languorous version of The Band. A misty-eyed reverie about the Cooperstown Hall of Fame. Tempo speeds up with Run Chicken Run, chickens don’t get no life after death Ü Pick to Click. Brother Simone’s outing as The Duke & The King was unforeseen 60’s folk-pop, and check the Robert Frost references – who’s he trying to be, John Sebastian? Cat Stevens? Norman Greenbaum? Worth watching to see how it develops.

Michael Hurley & Ida - Ida Con Snock
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The “freak folk” / “old-weird” movement is intriguing. Animal Collective‘s woozy psychedelic Merriweather Post Pavilion seems destined to justly pick up mucho bestof votes – the album is indeed sweet and pretty. Volcano Choir‘s Unmap wordlessly takes up the Bon Iver story from last year. Bon Iver‘s Blood Bank EP is ace, although it’s less ethereal than For Emma. All of these groups with high-pitched harmony choruses – AC, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver etc – remind me so much of an update to The Mamas & The Papas 60’s folk-pop sound. Michael Hurley & Ida‘s Ida Con Snock was my second fave this year, and it replicated much of the repertoire from last year’s Varga Gallery show – homey, smiley, fun, mellow. Hurley fans also gotta check out the Irish Snock fanzine Blue Navigator, some issues which come with a cool CD.

Face a Frowning World - An E.C. Smith Memorial Album   Buy New or Used through amazon
Face a Frowning World – An E.C. Smith Memorial Album was one of several great folk compilations this year. A great gospel songwriter, great lineup (including Snock again), tho’ the version of Tribulation here was topped by Peter Stampfel’s cover back in what, 1986? Both Hurley and Jeb Loy also appeared on Migrating Birds – The Songs of Lal Waterson this year, another fine folk comp.

Guitar Soli   Buy New or Used through amazon
Been getting into some so-called Guitar Soli stuff this year. I was turned onto James Blackshaw via his collaborations with lutenist Jozef Van Wissem, and of course I was turned onto Van Wissem via his collabs with Gary Lucas. Lucas turned in a fine collab with Najma Akhtar on their album Rishte – gotta love it when Gary starts playing Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro in the middle of an Indian love song. Rick at Rhino turned me onto the Numero Group’s Wayfaring Strangers compilation of forgotten 60’s guitar soli-ists. Where’s that patchouli oil?

Fennesz In The Fishtank   Buy New or Used through amazon
More ambient stuff: I was quite taken with Fennesz’s dark and noisy ambient stuff, although there’s some light moments on In The Fishtank, his collab with Sparklehorse. Roger Eno’s Flood set was bright and engaging, and Michael Fahres’s Frames was cool and relaxing. Also worth checking was White Rainbow’s New Clouds, which added some muffled mutant tribal drumming to the mix, and Choral by Mountains (about as far from Leslie West’s Mountain as you can get).

Jon Hassell Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street   Buy New or Used through amazon
Best ambient recording this year was Jon Hassell’s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street, very sleep-inducing, which is as good a criteria for assessing ambient recordings as any I can think of. Hassell’s concert at Carnegie Recital Hall was quite different from the album, as the electronics in this music were much more pronounced, most probably due to the hall’s excellent sound system and speakers on the ceiling.


Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart
Whatta sense of humor. Loved the 50’s backing vocalists [too bad Mitch Miller’s not around] and the Bettie Page photo. Woulda been better if he had just snuck these songs into an all-Christmas Theme Time Radio Hour. Or had Bettie Page sang the lead vocals, even tho’ she’s dead. However, you’ve got to give Bob a hand for not (totally) suppressing Kevin Ryan’s brilliant Dylan Hears A Who album – Oh the Thinks You Can Think.

Then there’s The Slits’ Trapped Animal
I really wanted to like this. Not only have I been avidly following Ari Up’s True Warriors and the Slits in concert, but also Adrian Sherwood mixed this. Too bad about the new material tho’ – right at the top of the album they let us know that they’ve got problems, but it sounds like the songs were written in 12-step meetings where the chief take-home message is Blame Blame Blame somebody else – which wouldn’t be bad if they expressed it with some song craft or humour, but here they’re artless and unimaginative. Some of other songs are good tho’, and the vinyl version has a less onerous song order, but it’s also less interesting. The other thing that nags me is all the choral vocal parts – it sounds more like a Girls At Our Best 25 year reunion than a Slits revival. Zoe Street Howe’s Slits biography Typical Girls was pretty good, tho’. And they had one of the top reissues of the year.

There were so many good gigs this year that I’m listing them all. This list does not include the bad gigs that I also had to endure – these are just the good ones:

Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians at Vassar’s ModFest 01/31,
Jon Hassell & Maarifa Street at Carnegie Zankel Hall 02/10,
Peter Stampfel’s Ether Frolic Mob at Jalopy Theater Red Hook Brooklyn with John Cohen, Annabelle Lee, Jeanne Scofield, Eli Smith 03/06,
Fast’N’Bulbous at Le Poisson Rouge 03/10,
the Battlefield Band at the Town Crier on 03/20,
Bernard Fowler & Tackhead at the Highline Ballroom 03/22,
the Felice Brothers at the Bardavon on 04/07,
two Trombone Gospel Shouts with Cedric Mangum’s Clouds of Heaven and the “primitive gospel” of the String Band in Charlotte on 04/24 and 09/08,
Merlefest 04/25-26,
the Full Moon Concert by Gamelans Chandra Kanchana & Giri Mekar at Bard 05/09,
the Moondog Madrigal Marathon by the Eupraxia Players at Southpaw 05/14,
Peter Stampfel & Baby Gramps at the Kitchen Cafe 06/15,
Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers with Little Benny at Battery Park City 06/16,
The New York Dolls at The Chance 06/26,
Scanner and Mountains at the World Financial Center 07/07,
Sonando at the Beacon Latin American Festival 07/12,
Bela Fleck & his film Throw Down Your Heart at Upstate Films 07/14,
Lee Scratch Perry & Dubblestandart with Ari Up opening for Alpha Blondy at Central Park Summerstage 07/19,
The Duhks at the Colony Cafe 08/02,
Rhys Chatham’s Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars and Liquid Liquid at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park 08/08,
John Fogerty’s Blue Ridge Rangers at the South Street Seaport 09/02,
Gary Kvistad’s Drumboogie Festival at Kingston’s Cornell Park with Nexus, Silver Cloud Native American Singers & Drummers, Gamelan Giri Mekar, Jerry Marotta & Tony Levin 09/18,
Leon Russell at Red Hook’s Hardscrabble Day 09/26,
Terry Riley at Bard 10/09,
and Greil Marcus “performing” Lipstick Traces at the Columbia Library 11/19
Doc Watson’s Merlefest 04/25-26 featured great sets by Roy Book Binder, Happy Traum, bluesman Jimmy Duck Holmes, Rory Block, BeauSoleil, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt & Los Campaneros De Nati Cano, and Violet Hensley, the Stradivarius of the Ozarks.

Best recipe Þ how to make a Black Cat Bone: boil a cat until all of the meat falls from the bones. Throw the bones in a river, and watch them – some of them will flow with the current, but some of the bones may stay in place or flow against the current. Retrieve the bones that flow against the current, because they have “power”.

Best Museum Opening: Lisa Goddel’s Subterranean Homesick Blues Bar & Museum in Kingston 09/26.

Some good rock & roll flicks this year – Pirate Radio was an appropriately slovenly retelling of the Radio Caroline story – two of my favorite things: boating and 60’s free-form radio – couldn’t miss.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil was the real Spinal Tap – funniest scene: the artwork in the bathroom. \
And Michael Hurley’s American Boogie – a home movie of a journey through the desolate high plains of the Midwest with 20’s blues records geeks, 30’s-style fingerpickers, 40’s tube radios, animals, animation, and water towers.

Speaking of Pirate Radio, my favorite radio is still Vassar’s WVKR – where else can you hear polka music followed by Bollywood filmi followed by a great hip-hop mix? Props go to John Vanderwe’s Pipes’N’Pizzazz, Brendan Daly’s Irish Show, Bill Skills’ Diggin in the Crates, Bill Eberle’s Classic Country and Radio Showtime, Reggae Spectrum with Dexie B, and Geetmala with Padma.


Pylon – Chomp More
Incredible String Band – Tricks of the Senses
Slits – Cut/unCut Deluxe Edition
African Head Charge – Psychedelic Africa
Harmonia & Eno ’76 – Tracks and Traces
Afrika Bambaataa – Planet Rock The Album
Shirley & Lee – Rock (Sweethearts of the Blues)
Monks – Black Monk Time
Elvis Costello – Live at the El Mocambo
Moondog w/ Julie Andrews & Martyn Green – Tell It Again – Songs of Sense and Nonsense
Peter Ivers – Wounded Bird reissues
Ian King – Panic Grass & Fever Few
Fennesz & Sparklehorse – In The Fishtank
Roger Eno – Flood
5 Years of Hyperdub
RiRa – Horses Work For Donkeys Wages
Mountains – Choral
Volcano Choir – Unmap
Kevin Ryan – Dylan Hears A Who
Felice Brothers – Yonder Is The Clock / The Duke & The King – Nothing Gold Can Stay