Sunday, December 31, 2017

Songs for Cineastes: 2017 Edition

Click here for the 2016 edition. Links lead to my concert previews for The Stranger

Top 10
1. Tony Allen - The Source (Blue Note)
2. Beaches - Second of Spring (Chapter Music)
3. Juana Molina - Halo (Crammed Discs)
4. Mountain Movers - Mountain Movers (Trouble in Mind)
5. Jlin - Black Origami (Planet Mu)
6. Spoon - Hot Thoughts (Matador)
7. Ambrose Akinmusire - A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)
8. Mark Fosson - Solo Guitar (Drag City)
9. Oh Sees - Orc (Castle Face Music)
10. Sleaford Mods - English Tapas (Rough Trade)

11. Lee Ann Womack - The Lonely, the Lonesome and the Gone (ATO)
12. SZA - Ctrl (Top Dawg-RCA)
13. St. Vincent - Masseduction (Loma Vista)
14. Frankie Rose - Cage Tropical (Slumberland-Grey Market)
15. Headroom - Head in the Clouds (Trouble in Mind)
16. Kedr Livanskiy - Ariadna (2MR)
17. Saint Etienne - Home Counties (Heavenly)
18. Zola Jesus - Okovi (Sacred Bones)
19. Shabazz Palaces - Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star
and Quazarz vs. the Jealous Machines (Sub Pop)
20. The Blow - Brand New Abyss (self-released)

Second Runners-up
21. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN. (Top Dawg-Interscope)
22. Obnox - Niggative Approach (12XU)
23. Myrkur - Mareridt (Relapse)*
24. Circuit des Yeux - Reaching for Indigo (Drag City)
25. Uniform - Wake in Fright (Sacred Bones)
26. Metz - Strange Peace (Sub Pop)
27. Jason Isbell - The Nashville Sound (Southeastern)
28. The Devil Makes Three - Redemption and Ruin (New West)
29. Dead Moon - What A Way to See the Old Girl Go
(Voodoo Doughnut Recordings)
30. Laura Marling - Semper Femina (Kobalt)

 * Asterisk due to ignorant statements about Islam.

31. Wand - Plum (Drag City)
32. Luna - A Sentimental Education (Double Feature)
33. Gunn-Truscinski Duo - Bay Head (Three Lobed Recordings)
34. Actress - AZD (Ninja Tune)
35. Six Organs of Admittance - Burning the Threshold (Drag City)
36. Bill MacKay - Esker (Drag City)
37. Ty Segall - Ty Segall (Drag City)
38. LA Witch - LA Witch (Suicide Squeeze)
39. Molly Burch - Please Be Mine (Captured Tracks)
40. Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble -
Find Me Finding You (Drag City)

41. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Kid (Western Vinyl)
42. The Weather Station - The Weather Station (Ba Da Bing!)
43. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spung (Sargent House)
44. The Courtneys - The Courtneys (Flying Nun)
45. Hurray for the Riff Raff - The Navigator (ATO)
46. Cherry Glazerr - Apocalipstick (Secretly Canadian)
47. Jay Som - Everybody Works (Polyvinyl-Double Denim)
48. Savoy Motel - Savoy Motel (What’s Your Rupture)
49. Total Control - Laughing at the System (Alter)
50. Lovozero - Moroka (Full of Nothing)

Note: Solange’s A Seat at the Table would’ve made my top 10 for 2016 if I had heard it in time, and it’s too late for 2017, but her Bumbershoot set ranks as my favorite of the year. Also, I was tempted to include Wolf People’s Ruins, except it’s a 2016 release, too.

Top Reissues & Compilations
1. Alice Coltrane - The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop)
2. Jackie Shane - Any Other Way (Numero Group)
3. The 6ths - Wasps' Nests (Universal Records-Captured Tracks)
4. Maria Monti - Il Bestiario (Peer-Southern Productions)
5. U-Men - U-Men (Sub Pop)
6. Harry Nilsson - Popeye (Varèse Sarabande)
7. Buzzcocks - Spiral Scratch and Time’s Up (Domino)
8. Medicine - 2.0 Extraneous (Drawing Room)
9. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge)
10. Soundgarden - Ultramega OK [Expanded Edition] (Sub Pop)

Top EPs
1. Sudan Archives - Sudan Archives (Stones Throw)
2. Luna - A Place of Greater Safety (Double Feature)
3. Tony Allen - A Tribute to Art Blakey (Blue Note)
4. Kikagaku Moyo - Stone Garden (Guruguru Brain)
5. Coathangers - Parasite (Suicide Squeeze)
6. Weyes Blood - Myths (Mexican Summer)
7. Exploded View - Summer Came Early (Sacred Bones)
8. Crumb - Locket (self-released)
9. Blonde Redhead - 3 O’clock (Asa Wa Kuru)
10. Vorhees - Black Horse Pike (Styles Upon Styles)

Kikagaku Moyo at the Sunset Tavern.
Top Singles
1. Beaches - "When You’re Gone" (Chapter Music)
2. Charlotte Gainsbourg - "Deadly Valentine" (Because Music)
3. SZA - "Drew Barrymore" (Top Dawg-RCA)
4. Shabazz Palaces – "Shine a Light" ft. Thaddillac (Sub Pop) 
5. Thundercat - "Show Me the Way" ft. Michael McDonald
and Kenny Loggins (Brainfeeder)
6. Beth Ditto - "Fire" (Myra's Child-Virgin)
7. Khruangbin - "Maria También" (Night Time Stories)
8. Kedr Livanskiy - "ACDC" ft. Martin Newell (2MR)
9. The Blow - "The Greatest Love of All" (self-released)
10. Patrick Cowley - "One Hot Afternoon" (Dark Entries)

11. Olden Yolk - "Takes One to Know One" (Trouble in Mind)
12. Ibibio Sound System - "Give Me a Reason" (Merge)
13. Hinds - "Caribbean Moon" (Mom+Pop)
14. The Limiñanas - "Shadow People"
ft. Emmanuelle Seigner (Because Music)
15. Loma - "Black Willow" (Sub Pop)
16. Ty Segall - "Every 1's a Winner" (Drag City)
17. Hollie Cook - "Superstar" (Merge)
18. Coco Hames - "I Don’t Wanna Go" (Merge)
19. Childhood - "Cameo" (Marathon Artists)
20. R.L. Boyce - "R.L's Boogie" (Waxploitation)

Also worthy of note: The Babe Rainbow - The Babe Rainbow (30th Century-Columbia), Banditos - Visionland (Bloodshot), Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice (Matador), Kadhja Bonet - The Visitor (Headcount-Fat Possum), Bonobo - Migration (Ninja Tune), Molly Burch - Not Even Happiness (Ba Da Bing!), Destroyer - ken (Merge), Everything Turned to Color - Life Imagined (Ear Buddy), Filthy Friends - Invitation (Kill Rock Stars), Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway (Nonesuch), Hand Habits - Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), The Horrors - V ( Wolf Tone Limited-Caroline International), Malia - Late Bloomer, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Polygondwanaland (self-released), Mogwai - Every Country’s Sun (Temporary Residence Limited), Monster Rally - Flowering Jungle (Gold Robot), Randy Newman - Dark Matter (Nonesuch), Odonis Odonis - No Pop (felte), The Peacers - Introducing the Crimsmen (Drag City), Perfume Genius - No Shape (Matador), Peter Perrett - How the West Was Won (Domino), Shamir - Revelations (Father/Daughter), Dr. Lonnie Smith - All in My Mind (Blue Note), Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel (Nine Mile), Second Still - Second Still (Manic Depression), Tonstartssbandht - Sorcerer (Mexican Summer), Gyda Valtysdóttir - Epicycle (figureight), Úlfur - Arborescence (figureight), Vacant Lots - Endless Nights (Metropolis), Carmen Villain - Infinite Avenue (Smalltown Supersound), Walt Wagner - Reworks (Sub Pop), Who is She? - Seattle Gossip (Father/Daughter), Widowspeak - Expect the Best (Captured Tracks), Wire - Silver/Lead (Pinkflag), Woods - Love Is Love (Woodsist), Mikey Young - Your Move Vol. 1 (Moniker), Zebra Hunt - In Phrases (Tenorio Cotobade).

1/20/18: Circuit des Yeux's Reaching for Indigo (Drag City), Kelly Lee Owens' self-titled debut (Smalltown Supersound), Locust Toybox's Drownscapes (Brainfeeder), and Moon Duo's Occult Architecture Vols. 1 and 2 (Sacred Bones) would've made my list if I'd heard them in 2017.

Endnote: Not counting music-oriented film reviews, I concentrated on short-form pieces this year. My only essay-length piece was a de-
fense of the Moody Blues
, which stirred up some lively debate. I'm sure I had nothing to do with it, but the band will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018, which will mean very little to their de-
tractors, but I'm pleased. Thanks to Keith Harris for the assignment.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Movies for Music Lovers: 2017 Edition

Paula Beer and Pierre Niney in Frantz.  
Click here for the 2016 edition.

This year, like every year since I started to review film professionally--21 years ago--assigned titles took priority, so I missed more notable films than I saw, and yet I still saw a lot. I managed to squeeze in several television shows, too. I also did a little more living than usual...with all the pain, pleasure, and consumption of my limited free time that that implies.

For the time being, I've decided to forgo all but the most minimal commentary, but if there are any films you feel strongly about that you don't see listed below, feel free to let me know. I have screeners for many of the ones I missed, so getting caught up will be easier than usual, thanks to my membership in the Seattle Film Critics Society.

Links lead to my reviews for or podcast contributions to Cinema Squabble, SIFFBlog, SIFF '17 program guide, and The Stranger (some also appeared in The Portland Mercury). My reviews for Video Librarian live behind a paywall or by way of a print subscription.

Top 10
1. Frantz (François Ozon)
2. Get Out (Jordan Peele)
3. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)
4. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
5. Graduation / Bacalaureat (Cristian Mungiu)
6. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki / Hymyilevä Mies (Juho Kuosmanen)
7. Raw / Grave (Julia Ducournau)
8. Colossal (Nacho Vigalando)
9. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
10. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)

Koreeda at SIFF '17 with programmer Stan Shields
11. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch)
12. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman)
13. Kedi (Ceyda Torun)
14. Lady MacBeth (William Oldroyd)
15. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve)
16. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies)
17. Okja (Bong Joon-ho)
18. Maudie (Aisling Walsh)
19. Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman)
20. After the Storm / Umi Yori Mo Mada Fukaku (Hirokazu Koreeda)

Second Runners-up
21. The FixerFixeur (Adrian Sitaru)
22. The Lost City of Z (James Gray)
23. Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda)
24. Columbus (Kogonada)
25. T2: Trainspotting (Danny Boyle)
26. Happy Hour (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)
27. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
28. On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo)
29. A Stray (Musa Syeed)
30. The Square (Ruben Östlund)

Lipitz at SIFF '17 with the lovely ladies of Step.  
Top Documentaries
1. Dawson City: Frozen in Time (Bill Morrison)
2. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
3. Last Men in Aleppo (Feras Fayyad)
4. I Called Him Morgan (Kasper Collin)
5. Jane (Brett Morgen)
6. The Work (Jarus McNairy and Gethin Aldous)
7. Faces Places (Agnes Varda and JR)
8. Escapes (Michael Almereyda)
9. My Journey Through French Cinema (Bertrand Tavernier)
10. The Farthest (Emer Reynolds)

Doc Runners-up
11. Step (Amanda Lipitz)
12. Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
13. Sonita (Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami)
14. Tokyo Idols (Kyoko Miyake)
15. Jackson (Maisie Crow)
16. Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band (Carol Bash)
17. Risk (Laura Poitras)
18. Whose Streets? (Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis)

Note: Ex Libris will be coming to PBS in 2018. I’m glad I got to see it at the Walker Art Center, the highlight of a fine fall day in Minneapolis, a city I had never visited before.  

Also worthy of note: 20th Century WomenThe Ardennes, Baby Driver, The Bad Batch, Bad BlackThe Beguiled, The Big Sick,
Boris Without Béatrice / Boris Sans Béatrice, The Breadwinner, The Commune, Danger Diva, The Disaster Artist, Dunkirk, East LA InterchangeEndless PoetryThe Fabulous Allan CarrFirst They Killed My FatherThe Florida ProjectThe FoundersFree Fire, Ghost in the Shell, A Ghost Story, Good Time, Handsome DevilI Am the BluesI, TonyaThe Journey, JulietaThe LandingLandlineLane 1974, Lemon, Logan, Manifesto, Mixed Match, A Monster Callsmother!, Mudbound, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), The Nightmare / Der Nachtmahr, The OathOvarian Psycos, PatersonPatti Cake$, The Post, Professor Marston and the Wonder WomenSami Blood, The Shape of Water, Signature Move, SilenceStar Wars: The Last Jedi, Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, Strike a Pose, Their Finest, Toni ErdmannA United Kingdom, VioletWar for the Planet of the Apes, Winnie, and Wonderstruck.

Schwarz at SIFF '17 with programmer Clinton McClung.
Note: 20th Century Women, PatersonSilence, and Toni Erdmann didn't open in Seattle until 2017, or they would've figured significantly in my 2016 list. It says something about me, I suppose, that I prefer Mike Mills' California coming-of-age film to Greta Gerwig's, with which it shares mother-child parallels, in part because he's a peer and she isn't (she's also really good in his film).

Missed or haven’t seen yet: Abacus: Small Enough the JailAll the Money in the WorldThe Ballad of Lefty Brown, Battle of the Sexes, Beatriz at Dinner, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Blade of the Immortal, BPM (Beats Per Minute), Bombshell: The Hedy Lammar Story, Brad’s Status, Chasing CoralChasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, City of Ghosts, Coco, Crown Heights, The Death of Louis XIV, Detroit, Dolores, Downsizing, A Fantastic Woman, Gerald’s Game, Girls Trip, God’s Own Country, Gook, Hermia & Helena, Hostiles, Human Flow, In the Fade, In This Corner of the World, Ingrid Goes West, It Comes at NightJim and Andy: The Great Beyond, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Karl Marx CityThe Killing of a Sacred Deer, Last Flag Flying, Logan LuckyLong Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead, Lucky, The LureMolly's Game, My Cousin Rachel, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea, My Life as a ZucchiniNorman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, The Ornithologist, The Phantom Thread, PrevengePrincess Cyd, The Reagan Show, Spettacolo, Split, Strong IslandThirst StreetThor: RagnarokWind River, WonderWonder Woman, The Wound, and Your Name.

Note: The point of the above isn't to list every film I wanted to see, but to call out those that 

have showed up most frequently on other critics' lists or that have received awards consider-
ation. Also, I like to watch films in order when I can, so I intend to catch up with Everybody 
Wants Some!! before Last Flag Flying, the only two Linklater features I haven't seen. And 
I'm quite certain that I'll love Logan Lucky. Pity it didn't have a longer Seattle run.  

I did not like: Brawl in Cell Block 99 and The Glass Castle.

Endnote: Goodbye to the Seven Gables and Guild 45th Theatres where I saw a few of these films. They will be missed. And in case you're curious, these are the books I enjoyed the most: Marcus O'Dair - Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt, Jah Wobble - Memoirs of a Geezer, Philomena Lynott - My Boy, Justin Spring - Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, and Colson Whitehead - The Underground Railroad. I also started, but haven't finished, Jeannette Walls' memoir, The Glass Castle, which completely obliterates Destin Daniel Cretton's big-screen adaptation.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

December Reviews

Carolyn Genzkow as Tina in The Nightmare.
These are the reviews and other pieces I'm working on this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Kim Gordon, Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire, Horror, Thrills, a Techno Party—All Are in One Movie Called The Nightmare and The Moral of South Korean Film On the Beach at Night Alone: "Men Are All Idiots."

The Stranger Music Things to Do: Metz, Moaning and KEXP Yule Benefit: Shabazz Palaces, the True Loves, Falon Sierra.

Video Librarian: Jeff Beck - Live at the Hollywood Bowl [Blu-
ray+CD set]Brainstorm, American Masters - When Patsy Cline Was...Crazy, The Founders, Mirrors to Windows - The Artist as Woman, Portraits of a Search, The Same Difference, The Shelter, Tokyo Idols, Portrait of Jennie [Blu-ray]I Called Him Morgan,
CMA Awards Live - Greatest Moments 1968-2015 [10-disc set],
M.F.A. [Blu-ray], and The Defiant Ones [Blu-ray+DVD disc set].

Endnote: The Nightmare / Der Nachtmahr image via Koch Media.