20/20 on 2012
Much anticipated, highly debated and energetically disparate, 2012 had some high highs and some low lows. But as it is now water under the bridge, what were the musical highlights and happenings that made me jump up and down?
From my perspective, musical innovation was scant and far between. Too much of what I heard in 2012 was regurgitations of rhythms and melodies that were flaccid the first go around. Electronic music was the ONLY arena that held my attention for more than a moment and the swelling numbers at these shows emphasizes its validity and importance.
One band dominated my top live show slot in 2012, Big Gigantic (coming again to the Orpheum Theater in Madison on 2/7). Even though this Colorado duo has just 2 albums to their credit, they are headlining festivals and selling out venues large and small across the US. Dominic Lalli’s live saxophone playing complemented by Jeremy Salken’s impressive drumming are as unique as they are infectious, and the future holds big big things for them. (biggigantic.net)
Most reality TV music shows host names and faces unknown, but not always, as I found out. A pleasant surprise was finding Feeling Band (reviewed here in July of 08) vocalist Nicholas David on THE VOICE. Although he didn’t win (but captured a very respectable 3rd place), Nicholas’ soulful crooning and down to earth values offered a glimmer of hope against all the glitzy plastic pop that has been steamrolling our senses at every turn. Bravo Nicholas! (www.thefeelin.com)
Like Minded Freaks
Milwaukee’s Dead Man’s Carnival blew into Madison on 12/28 at the High Noon Saloon to showcase their vaudevillian enthusiasm and sideshow abnormalities for those in attendance.
This unique group showcases a house band, Sir Pinkerton and The Magnificents, as a complimentary back drop for performers to work against. Puppeteering, hula hooping, juggling, and strong man feats were all part of the mix for the evening.
The three standout performers for the event were Mr. Titano, Miss V Valentine and Gypsy Jeff.
Titano is the strong man of the group and performed some very impressive working act feats of strength including tearing a license plate in half, pounding nails into a board with his bare hands and lifting a heavy ball weight with his septum (that thing in the middle of your nose).
Gypsy Jeff offered puppetry, slapstick, juggling, tight-rope walking and great segue-ways between acts.
No vaudeville review would be complete without a strip tease act, and DMC’s was provided by the stunning starlet Miss V Valentine, who closed the show and brought down the house with her tantalizing bath tub scene. (www.deadmanscarnival.com)
February in Madison is gonna be rockin! First off, on Feb 1 high-minded jammers Papadosio make another appearance at the Majestic, followed on the 2nd at the Orpheum Theater by bluegrass legends Yonder Mountain String Band. Then, on the 6th, French downtempo producer Wax Tailor will do his thing at High Noon Saloon, followed on the 8th by the ethereal electronic outfit, Lotus, with openers Moon Hooch (two sax players and a drummer!) at the Barrymore Theatre. How exciting! Cabin fever getting you down? Get out and see some music!
This Month's Rating Scale is from 1 is Red - 10 is Black
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
Album title: Until the Quiet Comes
Record Label: Warp Records
Steven Ellison is Flying Lotus (or FlyLo by fans). His experimental laptop compositions are filled with layers of intense expression. The minimalistic beats find a home in jazzy passages of nocturnal awakenings, while subconscious mystical states of unfocused attention draw listeners into journeys of elegant melodic interplay.
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Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Meat and Bone
Album title: Meat and Bone
Record Label: Mom & Pop Music
Eight long years have passed since their last studio album, but this legendary lo-fi blues crew has again unleashed a caterwauling cacophony that will storm your eardrums listen after listen. Blending punk, hardcore and rusty rock n roll with biting blues, these 12 cuts fling more energy and groovy rhythms than you may be ready for, but the challenge will be worth the effort.
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Zammuto - Zammuto
Album title: Zammuto
Record Label: Temporary Residence
Founder and band namesake Nick Zammuto has been doing some serious innovating for several albums now and this is no exception. Tantalizing experimental progressions of widely varied rhythms and song structures offer no doubt of his visionary talent. Heavily edited for your enjoyment, this is a great example of how experimental music can be intriguing and highly enjoyable rather than callously weird and unapproachable.
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