Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's never too early to do your end-of-year Top 10, is it?

1) Pinkish Black - Pinkish Black. Two 20-year veterans of the North Texas band wars take alienation, grief and loss, and make from them a music that's dark and heavy but mindful of the structural considerations of pop.

2) Neneh Cherry and The Thing - The Cherry Thing. Don Cherry's hip hop diva daughter joins with three top-flight Swedish avant-jazzmen to make a record that's both sexy and challenging, replete with covers of Ornette and the Stooges.

3) The Black Keys - El Camino. A postmodern take on the eternal verities of '70s blues (and glam) rock. Finally, one of those two-piece punk-blues bands that doesn't suck. And Dan Auerbach just might be the best American rock singer of the decade.

4) Patti Smith - Banga. Maturity becomes the erstwhile boho punk poetess and recent best-selling author. A work of stunning spiritual completeness, filled with hope and healing for the world.

5) Tyshawn Sorey - Oblique-I. A thinking person's composing drummer in the manner of early Tony Williams, with significant influence from both Morton Feldman and Anthony Braxton, here he takes a traditionally configured post-Bitches Brew quintet down some fascinating rabbit holes.

6) Wally Shoup and Paul Kikuchi - Aurora Distillations. From Seattle, the confluence of a stalwart improvising saxophonist and a percussionist who specializes in creating moody ambient soundscapes.

7) Dennis Gonzalez Yells At Eels featuring Wojtek Mazolewski - Bandoleros en Gdansk. The always imposing Dallas trumpeter and his ever more awesome family trio joins with two Polish musicians for a brief set of exploratory intensity and surprising humor.

8) Nomads - Solna. Durable Swedish garage-rockers return with an album that recaps their signature strengths and makes the case for the Rawk as an older man's game here in the Teens.

9) The Move - Live At the Fillmore 1969. A dream release, demonstrating how representative of their live show of the time Shazam! was, with some extended versions and two spiffy Nazz covers as the icing on the cake.

10) Captain Beefheart - Bat Chain Puller. Finally the Zappa Family Trust gets off the dime, and if it isn't a better record than Shiny Beast (and shows how strapped Don was for material his last few years in music), it's at least a fascinating glimpse of a possible alternate reality.


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