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251 Days

That’s how long it has been since my last post. Normally, I’d be totally ashamed about that, but all manner of crazy shit has been going on since we last spoke. I quit my job, moved to Minneapolis, started a new job, and bought a house–I even had a second (arguably) vestigial organ removed from my body, emergency-style.

I realize that 85% of blogs on the internet end with a post that starts: “Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while…”, so I was tempted to pick up like nothing had changed. I was prepared to ask you to pretend the last 251 days never occurred, and to suggest we’d both feel better about things that way. But the reality is, I’m now two organs short of a full body, and you deserve better.

Therefore, to get us back in gear, I decided to cull together a compendium of six random things I probably would have posted about had I been better at my not-job.

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Best Songs of 2010: An Obligatory Collection of Favorites, Part One

If you haven’t already noticed, it’s that time of year again. The time when everyone with an opinion (and a website or a blog) decides to share with you their “Best of 2010″ lists. While I’d love to pretend that Lagmag is different, we aren’t, so our two-part year-end coverage begins NOW.

Today, we kick things off with my “Best Songs of 2010″ list. You can click on the titles below for links to check out each song. Alternately, I set up a playlist on iTunes so you can easily follow, listen and purchase any of the songs that tickle your proverbial fancy.

Best Songs of 2010:

10. Disappears – Gone Completely

“Gone Completely” is the first track off Lux from Chicago’s Disappears, and if you aren’t hooked within the first 30 seconds, this record isn’t for you. It’s a fuzzed-out, scuzzed-up, and reverb-laden gem that perfectly sets the tone for the remaining 27 minutes of the record. Brian Case’s sneering “Do you ever think about / What if we had never met” also happens to be my favorite line to sing along with this year.

9. Best Coast – Boyfriend

There weren’t too many records released this year that melded a Spector-era girl group vibe from the ’50s with the darker minor-key sound of mid-’90s alt-rock, and none did it as successfully as Best Coast’s Crazy for You. “Boyfriend”, the opening track, is that perfect intersection. It’s catchy as hell, but it’s also kind of sad and universally relatable–which is really what great pop songs are all about.

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Hey, Check Out This Awesome Cover Art: AIDS Wolf

From time to time, I’ll see a record cover that makes me want to say to people, “Hey, check out this awesome cover art.” Thus, I am kicking the tires on a new feature called “Hey, check out this awesome cover art.” Enjoy!

AIDS Wolf - March To The Sea

March To The Sea
Artist: AIDS Wolf
Cover by: Seripop
Available in: LP/CD on SkinGraft Records
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Pick Three: Buke & Gass

Pick Three is semi-regular feature in which we ask an artist to pick three songs from their new or upcoming record, and give us their thoughts, stories or insight for each. Think of it as a director’s commentary track that you have to read.

Buke & Gass by Grant Cornett

Believe it or not, Brooklyn-based Buke & Gass (pronounced Byook & Gace, since I know you’re wondering) is a duo. Yes, that sound you hear coming through your speakers (or from that stage) is made by two people. Granted, these are peculiar sounds, but it’s the complexity that belies their true number. The peculiarity can be somewhat attributed to their self-built instruments. Arone Dyer plays the “buke” (a modified six-string baritone ukulele), and Aron Sanchez the “gass” (a guitar-bass hybrid), which are both filtered through various invented pedals and amps. Combined with complex percussion (played simultaneously with their feet, of course), Dyer’s intricate vocal melodies, and other miscellaneous hand-claps and snaps, and you start to see where this impressive racket comes from. In an attempt to gain some further insight into their process, we asked Dyer & Sanchez to talk to us about three tracks from their recent release, Riposte.

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Gayngs: Live from the Practice Space

The supreme party posse otherwise known as Gayngs kick off their tour tonight at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall. To celebrate/get you excited for a potential stop in your town, the MPLS TV’s City of Music posted this rehearsal video of Faded High, live from April Base Studio in Eau Claire, Wisc.

As you can see, the crew is stripped down from the 200 or so people that performed live at The Last Prom On Earth back in May, but if this footage is any indication, the lean(ish)/mean crew has no trouble pulling their weight. It also appears that tour-mate Glasser will be joining Ryan Olson and company on stage (at least for Faded High).

Go see Olson dance around awesomely in the back left-hand corner of a stage in your town. Check the tourdates over at Gayngs myspace page.

Pick Three: Chris Besinger of STNNNG

Pick Three is a new feature here at Ladies & Gentlemen. We ask an artist to pick three songs from their new or upcoming record, and give us their thoughts, stories or insight for each. Think of it as a director’s commentary track that you have to read.

Photo by Greg Schaal
photo by Greg Schaal

Minneapolis’ STNNNG has been honing their brand of chaos for 8 years now. Aggressive dueling guitars, spastic drumming and thundering bass lay the groundwork for vocalist/wordsmith Chris Besinger’s fitful rantings. It’s combative and contentious, but it’s also cathartic. There is an immense amount going on within every song, but it never sounds overwrought. If you break it down and listen closely, every member of this band is doing something insane and mind-blowing throughout. It’s a dizzying array of talent. It’s been four years since they released Fake Fake, and lucky for everyone, the drought is about to end. Smoke of My Will will be released in October on Modern Radio in a vinyl only edition. The aforementioned Mr. Besinger was kind enough to kick off our Pick Three series and discuss three songs from the new record.

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Satan Worshipping Doom

Do you work with anyone in a band called Bongripper? Well, I do, and yesterday he walked in and handed me a copy of this:

While Satan Worshipping Doom is Bongripper’s sixth release, it’s the first they’ve released on vinyl, and art-wise, they took full advantage of the extra inches.  It is a brutal (in the best way possible) full-color mess of blood, fire, demons, goats, tentacles and all manner of other evil shit.
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Nick Butcher Interview

Chicago artist Nick Butcher continues to make remarkable contributions to the world of independent cultural production. While dedicated to solo projects as a musician, painter and sculptor,  he is also a collaborator and a community builder. Butcher runs the print shop Sonnenzimmer with his girlfriend/partner Nadine Nakanishi. There, the couple works primarily with bands to make limited-edition prints. Butcher and Nakanishi have also established the Chicago Printer’s Guild, the first-ever screen printers collective in Chicago.

This summer marks the fifth anniversary of Butcher’s first album, The Complicated Bicycle. This anniversary, along with the record’s re-release inspired the following interview.

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Song of the Day: Robert Wyatt – Heaps of Sheeps

Well folks, I’m kicking off a new series here at Lagmag called “Song of the Day.” Chances are you’ve figured out the basic premise already, but I’m going to go ahead and talk it over anyhow.

From time to time, we’ll showcase a song (still with me?). It’ll be something we’ve recently discovered, rediscovered, enjoyed, or are generally obsessing over. It may not always be a new song, but it will always be a hot hit we think you, our beloved readers, should hear.

Robert Wyatt - Shleep

The first such post, features Heaps of Sheeps by Robert Wyatt. Wyatt was a founding member of  influential Canterbury band Soft Machine in the late 1960s, but by 1970, he had left the band and released his first solo record, The End of an Ear. He has released 10 (mostly) amazing solo records since, including most recently, the widely lauded Comicopera.

Heaps of Sheeps is the leadoff track on his 1997 solo record Shleep. It’s the only song on the record produced by Brian Eno, whose influence from both a production standpoint and synth work on the track is readily apparent. The track is phenomenal, not only because it leads off one of my favorite Wyatt records, but also as a perfect collaboration between two of my favorite musicians.

Robert Wyatt - Heaps of Sheeps

If you liked this track, go buy Shleep and many other Robert Wyatt records, it won’t be a decision you soon regret.

Oneohtrix Point Never Mixes it Up

Oneohtrix Point Never

Unless you don’t ever read about music, you’ve undoubtedly seen Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) written about pretty much everywhere the last few weeks. He has a new record out on Editions Mego, an Invisible Jukebox in the new issue of The WIRE, hell even Pitchfork has jumped on board with their signature brand of uh, praise.

Yes, Returnal is great, and I highly recommend checking it out if you like your soundscapes synth-heavy, off-kilter and occasionally bleak. But, it’s not what I’m selling today people. Lopatin recently contributed a mix to the FACT mix series, and it’s literally all I’ve been listening to for two days. I’m a huge fan of artist mixes, because I think hearing where musicians are coming from as listeners gives me a better context of where they are coming from as artists, and this one is no exception. In fact, I’ve actually enjoyed both Returnal and Rifts more after spending time with it.

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Recent and/or fantastic items of note:

The Playlist

Compiled by us, updated occasionally

  • Reading Rainbow - Prism Eyes
  • LCD Soundsystem - London Sessions
  • Supersilent - 11
  • Grinderman - Grinderman 2
  • Emeralds - Does it look like I'm here?
  • Kurt Vile - In My Time
  • Weekend - Sports
  • Hauschka - Foreign Landscapes
  • Idle Times - Idle Times

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