BEST ALBUM: Warm Cover EP JD McPherson.
From Oklahoma via Chicago, McPherson has one of the best singing voices to come along in a while. He has taken a vocal style of the past and made it his own. This four song collection (an EP, so actually not a true album) are all cover songs and every one is a winner. The understated production is brilliant.
Runner up: Don’t Cross Myrtle Big Lazy. Dark moods from the kings of instrumental guitar-based noir. Their best ever.
BEST LIVE CONCERT: Levi Dexter / The Lustre Kings / Sean Coleman and the Quasars at Rebel Night, Littlefield, Brooklyn.
This epic Brooklyn ‘music event’ in early December had it all — burlesque, fashion runway show, clothing vendors, and the legendary Levi Dexter (formerly from Levi and the Rockats) performing in NYC for the first time in 31 years. Levi can still deliver the goods and upstate New York’s The Lustre Kings (who in addition to playing their own set backed up Dexter on his) play old school rockabilly with passion and polish. When Levi and The Lustre Kings came onto the dance floor together to play their encore the skies parted. I should have stayed late to see Brooklyn’s Sean Coleman and the Quasars who I’ve heard very good things about. Next time.
Runner up: The Hipp Pipps and Crazy Mary at The Bowery Electric Map Room. Two local bands at the top of their game.
BEST BOOK: The Hip: Hipsters, Jazz, and the Beat Generation by Carr, Case and Dellar.
This is a coffee table style book that was initially published in the mid-80s but I finally got around to purchasing a used copy a few months ago. It looks back at the styles and art of the 50s and 60s that were hip then and greatly influence what is considered to be hip now. All pre-hippie era stuff with an emphasis on jazz, the rat pack, and beatniks. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously and is a good if short read. I particularly like it’s description of jazz trumpet player Chet Baker – “Mr. Chet. Had it. Blew it.” Are they referring to him blowing his trumpet or are they referring to him blowing his career as a top drawing musician by getting repeatedly busted for narcotics use (among other things)?
BEST NEW GUITAR PEDAL: Behringer Reverb Machine RV600.
Behringer is making some great pedals that are lower priced than most others because of their use of plastic casing. Their reverb pedal is a great value and takes reverb to another dimension. I use it all the time. (please note: this pedal’s on/off switch broke about a year later. It’s now permanently ON.)
BEST NEW FILM: Gone Girl
This film is a thriller with many plot twists and turns. Ben Affleck was a solid leading man and Rosamund Pike is a rising star. I’m curious to see what she’ll do next. At times this movie reminded me of a Hitchcock film. Gone Girl is not all time great but it was the best movie I saw in a theatre all year — I only go to 2-3 theatre movies a year average. Now I need to read the book which I’ve heard is excellent…
BEST PET(s): our two cats.