Thursday, December 31, 2015


December 1, 2015
"Give Love On Christmas Day" performed by The Jackson 5
"Hello It's Me" performed by Nazz
"Hello It's Me" performed by The Isley Brothers

"Is There Something I Should Know?" performed by Duran Duran
"How Beautiful You Are" performed by The Cure
"Dynamo" (live) performed by Johnny Marr-WSPC PREMIERE
"Decline And Fall" performed by  Flesh For Lulu
"Save A Prayer" performed by Eagles Of Death Metal-WSPC PREMIERE

December 2, 2015
"Let The Mystery Be" performed by Iris DeMent
"Dear God 2.0" performed by The Roots with Monsters Of Folk
"I Want You" (live at MSR Studios) performed by Elvis Costello and The Roots
"P.D.A. (We Just Don't Care)" performed by John Legend
"Knock Yourself Out" performed by Jon Brion

December 3, 2015
"Her Hair Is Growing Long" performed by Jonathan Wilson
"Knights In Shining Karma" performed by XTC
"Wild Is The Wind" performed by David Bowie
"State Of The Art" performed by Jim James
"I Am Secure" performed by Pete Townshend

December 4, 2015

All songs performed by Stone Temple Pilots except where indicated
"Between The Lines"
"Big Bang Baby"
"Mockingbird Girl" performed by Scott Weiland
"Blind Confusion" performed by Scott Weiland
"Barbarella" performed by Scott Weiland
"And So I Know"
"Sour Girl"

December 8, 2015

"Watching The Wheels"
"Mind Games"
"Instant Karma"
"Working Class Hero"
"Give Peace A Chance"
"Oh Yoko!"
"Dear Yoko"

December 10, 2015
"Homeward Bound" performed by Simon and Garfunkel
"Woodstock" performed by Joni Mitchell
"Losing It" performed by Rush
"The Roof Is Leaking" performed by Phil Collins
"Winter Wonderland" performed by Dean Martin

"White Christmas" performed by Otis Redding
"This Christmas" performed by Donny Hathaway
"Please Come Home For Christmas" performed by Charles Brown
"This Time Of Year" performed by Brook Benton
"Spirit Of Christmas" performed by Ray Charles

December 11, 2015
"Rich Man's War" performed by John Truedell
"The Other Side Of The Mountain" performed by Planet P. Project
"Hey Frederick" performed by Jefferson Airplane
"People Are People" (live) performed by A Perfect Circle
"War No More" performed by Wyclef Jean

December 13, 2015
"Suffer" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Good Shepherd" performed by Jefferson Airplane
"End Of The Night" performed by The Doors
"Heroin" performed by The Velvet Underground
"Not Ready Yet" performed by Jon Brion
"Creep" (live at Coachella 2008) performed by Prince

December 14, 2015
"Jimmy Jazz" performed by The Clash
"Between Something And Nothing" performed by The Ocean Blue
"Tender" performed by Blur
"Promised Land" performed by Julian Cope
"Ring Ring Ring" performed by De La Soul

December 18, 2015
"Lazarus" performed by David Bowie-WSPC PREMIERE
"I Will" performed by The Fixx
"Wouldn't It Be Good" performed by Nik Kershaw
"Same Old Scene" performed by Roxy Music
"City Of Dreams" performed by Talking Heads

December 19, 2015
"Bop Gun (Endangered Species)" performed by Parliament
"So Good At Being In Trouble" performed by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
"Ingenue" performed by Atoms For Peace
"Breaker" performed by Deerhunter-WSPC PREMIERE
"Jingle Bells" performed by Moe Berg and the Berg Family-WSPC PREMIERE

December 20, 2015
"Let It Happen" (live) performed by Tame Impala
"Nucleus/Day After Day" performed by The Alan Parsons Project
"In Any Tongue" performed by David Gilmour-WSPC PREMIERE
"Three Dollar Hat" performed by The Dead Weather-WSPC PREMIERE
"Allas Sak" performed by Dungen-WSPC PREMIERE

December 21, 2015
"Deck The Halls" performed by Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea
"What Will Santa Claus Say?" performed by Louis Prima
"Zat You, Santa Claus?" performed by Lois Armstrong
"Santa Baby" performed by Eartha Kitt
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" performed by The Ramsey Lewis Trio

"Six To Eight Black Men" performed by David Sedaris

"Cosmik Debris" (live) performed by Frank Zappa

December 22, 2015
"Winter" performed by The Rolling Stones
"If You Want My Love" performed by Cheap Trick
"I'm Losing You" performed by John Lennon with Rick Neilsen, Bun E. Carlos and Tony Levin
"Cold Turkey" (live) performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Winter" performed by James Iha

"January" performed by Modern Mod
"To Love Somebody" performed by The Bee Gees
"Redemption Song" performed by Joe Strummer
"99 Floors" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins

"Christmas Is Coming" performed by The Vince Guaraldi Trio
"The Man With All The Toys" performed by The Beach Boys
"Christmas In The City" performed by Marvin Gaye
"Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" performed by The Jackson 5
"Countdown To Christmas Party Time" performed by XTC as The Three Wise Men

December 23, 2015
"Postcard From London" performed by Ray Davies with Chrissie Hynde
"Fairytale Of New York" performed by The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl
"Wombling Merry Christmaa" performed by The Wombles
"Merry Christmas Everybody" performed by Slade
"I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" performed by Wizzard
"Wonderful Christmastime" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings

"It's A Wonderful Life (Gonna Have A Good Time)" performed by Fishbone

"Thunder And Lightning" performed by Phil Collins
"Kim" (live at Carnegie Hall) performed by Ryan Adams
"Take The Hand" performed by Nazz

December 24, 2015
"The Little Drummer Boy" performed by Lou Rawls
"Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)" performed by Bob Dorough with The Miles Davis Sextet
"Christmas" performed by The Who
"12 Days Of Christmas" performed by Bob and Doug McKenzie
"Christmastime" performed by Aimee Mann
"The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth" performed by Bing Crosby and David Bowie

"Xmas Time Of The Year" performed by Green Day-WSPC PREMIERE

December 25, 2015
"Spectre" performed by Radiohead-WSPC PREMIERE


December 26, 2015
"Holidays" performed by The Roches
"Kaze Wo Atsumte" performed by Happy End
"Sova" performed by Dungen
"O.B.E." performed by Dam-Funk-WSPC PREMIERE
"Country And Eastern Music" performed by Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer

December 28, 2015
"Hold Me" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Too Young" performed by Phoenix
"Perth" performed by Beirut-WSPC PREMIERE
"Child Of Vision" performed by Supertramp
"Secret Love" performed by Steve Nicks

"De Doo Doo Doo, De Daa Daa Daa" performed by The Police
"Dark Ages" performed by Jethro Tull
"Life Is White" performed by Big Star

"Save A Prayer" performed by Duran Duran and Eagles Of Death Metal-WSPC PREMIERE

December 29, 2015
"Gangsters" performed by The Specials
"Till The End" performed by Motorhead-WSPC PREMIERE
"Dust N' Bones" performed by Guns N' Roses
"For Your Life" performed by Led Zeppelin
"Too Nice To Talk To" performed by The English Beat

December 30, 2015
"Tapioca Tundra" performed by The Monkees
"In The Meantime/Some Other Time" performed by Badfinger
"I Reach For The Light" performed by The Raspberries
"Oh Dear Diary" performed by Sloan
"Someday Man" performed by The Monkees

"Back Seat Of My Car" performed by Paul and Linda McCartney
"Harmony" performed by Elton John
"Mystic Rhythms" performed by Rush
"Heaven Somewhere" performed by Common
"Mystery Title" performed by Robert Plant

December 31, 2015
"Someday We'll Know" performed by New Radicals
"Days Like This" performed by Van Morrison
"Days" performed by Kirsty MacColl
"Fading Lights" performed by Genesis
"Life Goes On" performed by The Kinks

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


DECEMBER 2, 2015
1. "Cheer Down" performed by George Harrison
2. "(Just Like) Starting Over" performed by John Lennon
3. "Not Guilty" performed by The Beatles
4. "Hey Bulldog" performed by The Beatles
5. "Wah Wah" performed by George Harrison
6. "Crippled Inside" performed by John Lennon
7. "I Need You" performed by The Beatles
8. "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" performed by The Beatles
9. "Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him" performed by John Lennon
10."Remember" performed by John Lennon
11."If I Needed Someone" performed by The Beatles
12. "All Things Must Pass" (demo version) performed by George Harrison

1. "When I Was A Boy" 
performed by Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra
2. "I Love You All The Time" performed by Eagles Of Death Metal
3. "Vega (stripes on)" performed by Van Hunt
4. "Global Nation" performed by Todd Rundgren
5. "Ohio" performed by Post Social
6. "Franks Kaktus" performed by Dungen
7. "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)"
performed by My Morning Jacket
8. "People On The High Line" performed by New Order
9. "Phoenix" performed by Paul Weller
10."Reality In Motion" performed by Tame Impala

1. "Let The Records Play" performed by Pearl Jam
2. "Sluts" performed by Modern Mod
3. "Why" performed by Wednesday Week
4. "This Year's Girl" performed by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
5. "Andy" performed by Frank Zappa
6. "You Destroyed Classic Rock" performed by The Know-It-All-Boyfriends-A WVMO-FM EXCLUSIVE!!!!
7. "The Worst Band In The World" performed by 10cc
8. "Magnets" performed by Disclosure featuring Lorde
9. "Cry Like A Baby" performed by Bourgeois Tagg
10."She's Not Me" performed by Jenny Lewis
11. "Come" performed by Fleetwood Mac

1. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" performed by The Jackson 5
2. "Christmas Day" performed by Detroit Junior
3. "Little St. Nick" performed by The Beach Boys
4. "Jingle Bells" performed by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
5. "Mary and the Holy Ghost' performed by Todd Rundgren
6. "Alone On Christmas Day"performed by Phoenix with Bill Murray
7. "Thanks For Christmas" performed by XTC a.k.a. The Three Wise Men
8. "Rui Chiu" performed by The Monkees
9. "Everyday Is Christmas" performed by The Chamber Strings
10."I Want To Spend Christmas With Elvis (Heartbreak Noel)" performed by Debbie Dabney
11."I'll Be Your Santa Baby" performed by Rufus Thomas
12."Christmas Wrapping" performed by The Waitresses
13."Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year" performed by JAMES BROWN

1. "Rudy, A Message To You" performed by The Specials
2. "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" performed by Taking Heads
3. "777-9311" performed by The Time
4. "Long Breakdown" performed by Oingo Boingo
5. "Get Innocuous!" performed by LCD Soundsystem
6. "Wrong" performed by Everything But The Girl
7. "Discipline" performed by Nine Inch Nails
8. "Every Little Word" performed by Flesh For Lulu
9. "I Must Go" performed by Lindsey Buckingham

Monday, December 28, 2015


Released October 2, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: It is a shame that it often takes a tragedy to become  greater acquainted with a musical artist or band but that is indeed what has happened between myself and Eagles Of Death Metal.

Due to the terrorist attacks in Paris, and most specifically, the shootings that occurred during the band's performance inside Le Bataclan, I found myself  heading to B-Side perhaps a week afterwards to purchase the band's current album, their first in seven years. Now, certainly being a fan of Joshua Homme and his work within Queens Of The Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, I had heard of EODM but for no reasons whatsoever had I not really listened to his two man project alongside lead vocalist/guitarist Jesse Hughes. After finally hearing the musical speedball that is "Zipper Down," I am deeply inclined to check out the remainder of their catalog.

Quick and to the point, "Zipper Down" is good ol' high octane, sleazy rock and roll that showcases a surprising studio sheen and even some glam rock sensitivity alongside its bad boy garage rock attitude. Of special note is the band audaciously faithful cover of Duran Duran's "Save A Prayer" without narry a nudge or a wink.  
Released November 1969
Released 1976
Released February 26, 2013
Released March 31, 1976
Released September 9, 2003
"NO, NO, NO"
Released September 11, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: I actually just picked this up near the very end of the year based upon some kind words I had heard from friends and songs that were played upon the WSUM radio show "The Mixtape" hosted by the illustrious DJ Nightway.  While I have now only heard the album in full perhaps twice, I am immediately struck with bandleader/songwriter/singer/multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon's blending of musical genres certainly, but I am a sucker for the overall warmth that is found in live drums, gentle brass and electric pianos and analog synths, So far, so good...
Released December 4, 2015
NEW 2015 MUSIC: The six string dreams of Johnny Marr as he and his crack band perform his solo selections alongside the music he created with both The Smiths and Electronic in a live setting. What else could I want?

...and from the SAVAGE LIBRARY...

Publisher: Blue Rider Press
1st Edition October 13, 2015
688 pages

"There is music that seems to belong to you the moment that you hear it, and music about which you must be patient, awaiting the hour when it may reveal itself to you."

Within the nearly 700 page tome that is the luxuriously written memoir by Elvis Costello, those above words provided me not only with such uplift, but also with a certain connection to a musical figure whom I always have felt to be so defiantly inscrutable. Yet, after these past two and a half months of reading, while not remotely a "tell all," Costello has provided demonstrably more than I ever could have asked from him regarding his life story and his continuing adventures within music and songwriting.

Elvis Costello's Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink eschews the standard biographical memoir trajectory for a more non-linear approach that almost serves he way actual memories tend to work: in waves, from anecdote to anecdote, how one memory triggers another and therefore, how they all link together into a cohesive whole. In many ways, every chapter feels like a movement within the symphony of his life story.

Costello's impeccable and brilliantly detailed memory plus meticulous research ensures that this memoir not only delivers the goods regarding Costello's musical life, and of that, there is a tremendous amount of material. He presents to us his first hand accounts of his initial brushes with fame and fortune, the dalliances and self-destructive behavior that inflicted wounds within his personal life and relationships. 

We are given copious glances into his past alcoholic periods and he also delivers what should be the final word concerning his infamous comments regarding Ray Charles over 30 years ago. We are given new avenues to witness the likes of Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, the late Allen Toussaint and Paul McCartney behind the scenes. And mostly, we view Costello as being a figure just like any of us reading his book: a fan learning, enjoying, loving and forever becoming transfixed with music. Costello's dense prose is filled with self deprecating wit and the sharp witticisms that have populated his lyrics from the beginning of his career. And while I remained awed by his skillful songwriting, of which the book provides many examples peppered throughout the narrative, he often strikes a bemused pose, honestly stunned at his good fortune with having maintained a career in music and having brushed shoulders with so many heroes and contemporary legends for nearly 40 years.   

Augmenting the music, the book also works as an exploration of Irish and English history, a journey through Costello's family tree, and most touchingly, at its core, the book serves as a tribute to the relationship he shared between himself and his Father, also a musician.

While not a quick read by any means, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink is an exquisitely written remembrance that should not only satisfy Costello's generations of fans handsomely. It should satisfy any lovers of fine literature. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015



For all of the music that I purchased and listened to in 2015, I think a common theme was one of sonic adventurousness. It seemed that the albums I responded to the very most were the ones that truly captured my attention by arriving from a landscape that was either more left of center or more unexpected. Studio wizadry was not the only factor in thinking about compiling this list. When I think back to all that I have listened to this year, my mind just travels to the music where just the composing, performing and presenting the music in a fashion that made my ears tingle ecstatically mattered the very most.

As with past years, this list is not presented in any discernible order other than the top two albums..and with that, let's get to the list!

Surprise...and just under the wire at that. "HITNRUN: Phase Two," Prince's second album of the year (following September's "HITNRUN: Phase One"), the fourth album released since 2014 and his 39th overall, was released on December 12, 2015 without warning, hints or preparation and frankly, I could not have asked for a better musical Christmas present this year.

Unlike the previous "HITNRUN" installment where Prince was found taking a backseat on his own album to the likes of  guest stars and Producer Joshua Welton who orchestrated and engineered the bulk of that album's more electronic dance soundscapes, "HITNRUN: Phase Two" showcases Prince fully in the driver's seat with a release that is defiantly more organic, analog recorded and gloriously featuring a 16 piece horn section (made up of The NPG Hornz and Minneapolis' celebrated The Hornheads) that often creates sonic flourishes that sound like 21st century updates of Duke Ellington.

Over the course of just under one hour, Prince unleashes the orchestrated protest song "Baltimore," the previously digitally released selections "Rock And Roll Love Affair," "Screwdriver," "Xtralovable," and the rapturously outstanding "Groovy Potential," plus the new, fully infectious jams of "Stare" (which incorporates references to both "Kiss" and "Sexy Dancer"), the spiritual psychedelia of "Revelation" and even the extended, almost mini-suite jazz/funk fusion of "Black Muse," which does recall the landscape of "The Rainbow Children" (released November 20, 2001) or his instrumental albums "Xpectation" (released January 1, 2003) or "N.E.W.S." (released July 29, 2003). 

Throughout the entire album, and especially as expected from an artist this towering, Prince continues to deliver his nimble, peerless guitar work, proficiently propulsive bass playing and I especially loved the clean, full, dry sound of his drums and those warm electric piano keys, all suggesting a trip into the intimate setting of a late night jazz club that somehow decided to throw itself into the DEEP funk!

As with the two albums he released last year, "ART OFFICIAL AGE" and "PLECTRUM ELECTRUM" (released September 30, 2014), "HITNRUN: Phase Two" finds Prince fully engaged, rejuvenated, inspired, committed and connected, therefore making a cohesive work that stands firmly with his '14 releases, each of them the best works he has delivered in decades.

It would be extreme hard pressed to find another album of 2015, that referenced the full purpose of its intent and execution within its own title as correctly and as brilliantly as Composer/Producer/Arranger/Saxophonist Kamasi Washington's 3 disc/3 hour jazz fusion excursion. 

"The Epic" is indeed a fully demanding work yet it is not unaccessible. Actually, I believe that you will find much warmth and invitation throughout the course of the album even though the songs are defiantly unafraid of length (the album longest track is Latin tinged "Re Run Home," which rolls onwards for 14 plus minutes). The work is enormously melodic, rhythmically propulsive and overall staggering in its fierce and flowing musicianship that often recalls Charlie Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Ornette Coleman while also firmly staking his own powerful claim. 

One of 2015's most addictive albums arrived from Madison's very own Post Social as they debuted their second full length release this Autumn and which you are still able to download for FREE from their Bandcamp page. The young collective of Mitch Deitz, Shannon Connor, Sam Galligan and Brendan Manley have again created a work that transfixes due to their hypnotically interlocked guitar rhythms but this time, the band takes a post-punk rock approach and emerges with a more aggressive set of music than their dreamy debut release, and the overall effect is thrilling due to their endlessly inventive songwriting and superior musicianship.
(Full album profile can be found in the October 2015 section)  

After the successful "Black Radio" series, which included two album plus a remix EP, Pianist/Composer Robert Glasper reunited with his trio bandmates Vicente Archer (acoustic bass) and Damion Red (drums) and recorded a set of unorthodox cover songs (from the likes of Joni Mitchell, Musiq Soulchild, John Legend as well as reinterpretations of his own selections) live at Capitol Studios for his latest release. It is a dreamlike release, where Glasper's free flowing musicianship is transportive while also containing a certain edginess, as displayed in the group cover version of Radiohead's "Reckoner," the more dissonant 13 minute "In Case You  Forgot," and the mournful political protest statement "I'm Dying Of Thirst." 

If you are looking for a terrific headphone album, the debut release by The Arcs is a perfect find, as this latest project from The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach is a wildly diverse collection that mines deeper, wider territory than his primary band...and also gives Jack White yet another reason to be angry as I feel that Auerbach has been creatively trumping White in recent years.

Trust me, The Arcs have got it all over most alternative rock albums including the latest release from White's The Dead Weather (which--I'm sorry--is filled with decidedly underwhelming, overly recycled material and moves) as "Yours, Dreamily" casts a wide musical net to include not just the staples of rock and the blues, but also booming psychedelia ("Outta My Mind"), nods to hip-hop ("Put A Flower In Your Pocket"), Ennio Morricone influenced acid country ("Everything You Do"), grindhouse porn movie soundtracks ("Come & Go") and even more, making for an album that is exciting and unpredictable. 

Note to Jack White: If you just focused more on just making the music rather than twisting yourself inside and out proclaiming that you are the bearer of some prefabricated sense of authenticity, you could also be making albums as strong as The Arcs. 

As with The Arcs, singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Van Hunt has also released a striking headphone album this year. While I do feel that he could share the same musical space as idiosyncratic R&B/funk artists like Bilal, D'Angelo and maybe morseo someone like Cody ChesnuTT, Van Hunt has not remotely received the level of attention those figures have and he most certainly deserves to.

Using a bit of a nod to Ernest Hemingway, "The  Fun Rises, The Fun Sets" showcases two sides of a musical coin: moody funk during the first half and even moodier soul ballads during the second half, and all of the songs filtered through a simultaneously state of the art and lo-fi production style that always catches your ears of balance, therefore making a listening experience that keeps you guessing as to what exactly you heard while your hips are swiveling and your head is nodding. Van Hunt, who handles the lion's share of the album's instrumentation single-handedly, is unafraid to turn melodies inside out, throw out oodles of lyrical conundrums and utilize the instruments and the studio itself in ways that may initially sound completely "wrong" but are indeed infectious.

It is as if, he took Prince's most obscure, most arcane songs and utilized them as a base to leap from, and the effect is intoxicating.


The second most left-of-center album on this list (the top tiered title is forthcoming) and one of the most enjoyable albums I've heard this year. Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden is Dungen, which loosely translates as "The Groove," highly apt as this band provides a 1970's influenced blend of psychedelic rock, jazz, folk and fusion that made for more addictive listening for me this year. Aside from the general descriptions that I have provided, the music of Dungen is nearly indescribable, therefore urging you to take a chance and listen to them for yourselves via their website or You Tube or some avenue that you can utilize as a tester.  But, trust me. I'd never steer you wrong. This is a warm album. An inviting one. A work filled with confidence, exploration, experimentation, and a certain adventurousness that will send you through the wormhole and back again.
The legendary Paul Weller, former leader of both The Jam and The Style Council, has emerged with what may be one of his finest solo releases to date, and this is already counting the wonderful "Wild Wood" (released September 6, 1993) and "22 Dreams" (released June 2, 2008). 

With "Saturns Pattern," his 12th release, Paul Weller also releases a wildly diverse collection that opens with the roaring "White Sky," continues with the psychedelic soul of "Pick It Up," the McCartney-esque confection of "Going My Way," the poignantly introspective "I'm Where I Should Be," all the way to album spectacular triptych that features the glorious "Phoenix," the 21st century travelling blues of "In The Car..." and the high flying slow jam of "These City Streets." 

Throughout all of the inspired performances and production, Paul Weller's supremely soulful vocals function as the sonic glue and carries every song to its highest peaks, demanding the entire album be experienced allover again immediately. A terrific work without question.


For their first album without co-founder/bassist Peter Hook, New Order must have felt as if they had something to prove and they met the challenge head on and delivered their finest album in over 20 years.

"Music Complete," deeply enveloping and absolutely sensational from start to finish, finds New Order utilizing their signature blend of propulsive dance rhythms with melancholic angst that takes the listener on an odyssey from existential unease to personal resolution over the course of 11 tracks and a hair over 64 minutes. From the nightclub heights of the extraordinary "Tutti Frutti," "People On The High Line," "Singularity" and "Plastic" to the more turbulent "Academic," "Restless" and "Nothing But A Fool" to the growling intensity of the Iggy Pop spoken word "Stray Dog" and more, the album serves as a spectacular high point for an outfit that honestly has nothing left to prove.
(Full album profile can be found in the October 2015 section)

The year's most left-of-center album from one of the most idiosyncratic artists we have ever been blessed to have. "Runddans" is one of two albums released this year from Todd Rundgren, (the other being "Global"). In collaborating with Norwegian musicians Emil Nikolaisen and Hans-Peter Lindstrom, Rundgren has released a work that is so far ahead of the curve that the only musical reference that I could use to compare it with would be work Rundgren released 40 years ago. This time, he has finally caught up to himself and extended even further!

While almost impossible to truly describe, here goes..."Runddans" is essentially the mostly instrumental journey through the life cycle as depicted through a repetitive eight musical chord sequence that shifts, divides, mutates, elongates, shrinks, explodes and restructures itself over and again. As the album lasts a mere 39 minutes, it feels like a complete universe, making for an album that is personal yet universal, intimate yet epic, singular yet designed for the masses, and fully inviting while seeming impenetrable. If you could somehow take Writer/Director Terrence Malick's "The Tree Of Life" (2011) and turn it into a synthetic rock album, then Todd Rundgren has achieved it.
(Full album profile can be found in the May 2015 section)

This album floored me.

The second album by singer/songwriter/former Fleet Foxes drummer Father John Misty is a literary infused and darkly romantic song cycle that spins the non-linear tale of his romance with his wife Emma through a sonic palate that suggests the music of Pasty Cline as produced and arranged by Brian Wilson. Emotionally exhausting and completely filled with firecracker lyrics and cinematic widescreen harmonics, Father John Misty where every song serves as a short story in the novel of Misty and Emma's relationship as well as a turbulent ride into Misty's tormented psyche.

Throughout, I was consistently upended as every time I thought that I had found my bearing from song to song, Misty would then deliver a body slam of a phrase, an unrepentant vulgarity, an ever increasingly disturbing deep dive into self-loathing as if daring the listener to remain beside him during this arduous inner journey, no matter how lushly romantic the music sounded.

"I Love You, Honeybear" is a labyrinthine expression and exploration of love as it truly exists as well as a walk through the corridors of Misty's personal heartbreak hotel. And by album's end, the wind is not only knocked clean out of you, you do indeed realize what a miracle love actually is.
(Full album profile can be found in the August 2015 section)


For my personal tastes, if 2015 were to have some sort of an M.V.P., that artist would have to be none other than Ryan Adams, who this year returned to releasing music at his legendary prolific nature and then some, all the while retaining the high quality of his art. For me, this is all the more remarkable as he rarely voyages into any sense of studio wizadry, sticking solidly to the basic combination of vocals, guitars, bass. drums, piano and augmented with minimal keyboards or orchestral fourishes.
In April, Adams released "Ten Songs From Live From Carnegie Hall," select performances culled from the 6 LP complete set, and what that album delivered to me was a sense of what a solo acoustic performance from Adams just may be like--especially, as I have seen him perform with his now defunct backing band The Cardinals on two occasions. In contrast to his hysterical and profanity laced stage banter, this set presents Adams in a pin-drop quiet setting weaving a magical spell with minimal instrumentation, and the wonder of his beautiful vocals, which give the lyrics a grander and even more focused and fragile context in such stripped down arrangements. Simply beautiful.
There is no reason whatsoever for me to be listening to Taylor Swift. That being said, when Adams revealed that he was indeed recording his version of Swift's mega popular "1989," my ears perked upwards. It is no secret that Adams is quite the studio obsessive and he has been known to re-record albums that he has enjoyed in the past. This time around, and as he was recovering from his recent divorce from Mandy Moore, Adams took to the studio to re-craft the entire album from top to bottom, and completely without irony, somehow making the album sound as if it was always his to begin with, almost serving as a sequel or companion album to his own "Gold" (released September 25, 2001), "Love Is Hell" (released May 4, 2004) or even "29" (released December 19, 2005). Imagine a mellow Bruce Springsteen fronting The Smiths and you'll have a sense of the melancholic glory Adams has achieved with this set.

And then, there's what Ryan Adams has recorded and released in a bit before and in between his two official new albums, a collection of 7 in vinyl/digital singles, each containing three or four selections that run the gamut from his acoustic ballads, punk rock excursions, power pop bangers, Euro-pop dreamscapes and even comical studio odds and ends. All of them, readily available upon I-Tunes (all of the vinyl versions are long SOLD OUT), will give you a front row seat into Adams' restless creativity and also help you understand that he is an artist miles ahead of many. 

As I first stated back in July, my own specialized brand of synesthesia has continuously received the grandest workout due to this album, the third release from Tame Impala, without any competitor is my second highest favorite album of 2015.

Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker, who wrote, sang, produced and performed every single, solitary sound on the album all by himself, created a gorgeous, resplendent sounding masterpiece that provocatively extends from his previous palate of psychedelic guitar workouts to a more keyboard based soul/R&B psychedelia, therefore challenging himself as well as his audience and the results were nothing less than spectacular. 

Leading with what I feel to be the song of the year, the nearly 8 minute wonderland of "Let It Happen," Tame Impala's "Currents" utilizes its oceans of analog synths and interstellar slow jams complete with deep, hip-swaying bass guitars and finger snaps to take the listener (as well as Parker himself) upon a dazzling emotional journey that closely touches the immediacy and melancholic greatness of The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" (released May 16, 1966).

How easy it would have been for Parker to have taken Tame Impala into a repetitive musical headspace, which would have easily been successful. But Parker's restructured his own musical approach while growing his overall sense of artistic intent and vision into a stunningly composed and sequenced album that exists as a swirling, dynamic euphoria. LP4 cannot arrive soon enough!!!
(Full album profile can be found in the July 2015 section) 

And here we arrive at the tip-top, the finest album I have heard this year...and maybe it is the best album of the last five years at that. 

Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" is a pulverizing work. Dense, demanding, staggering in its audaciousness, creativity, inventiveness and power, Lamar has unrepentantly created an album that harks back to the past not just by incorporating the worlds of live instrumentation and free jazz and poetry into the world of hip-hop, he has created a work that forces the listener to focus solely upon the music for the duration of its massive, complex, 78 minute length. For us, Kendrick Lamar has created a work where the listening IS the experience itself and believe me, there is no way to be distracted from its strength and vision for even one second.

Functioning simultaneously as an introspective drama, political protest statement, spiritual allegory and cultural commentary about what it means to be Black in 21st century America, Lamar, through his astonishing almost Shakespearean lyricism and the master class delivery of his entire vocal performances, creates a narrative containing psychological meltdowns and spiritual ascension so thorough, so deeply mined that we are hearing the evolution of a young man completely from the inside out. It is a journey that contains as much self-laceration as enlightenment and Lamar presents everything through a veritable hurricane of words, characters and voices that makes so much of the current state of music sound completely trite. This is political music that confronts racism, self-loathing and self-love without blinking. It is demonstrably in-your-face and defiantly multi-layered. The only thing this album is missing is a complete libretto!

Thankfully, Lamar, working in lockstep with figures like Kamasi Washington, George Clinton, Robert Glasper, Thundercat and Flying Lotus among others, has ensured that the songs live and breathe musically, through melodies as well as rhythms, therefore making the words sing and soar as their most vibrant.  

Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" is a masterpiece without question. It is not remotely passive, it is definitely not an easy listen and it is also decidedly vulgar--therefore reflecting precisely the world we are all co-existing within. It will indeed give listeners much to debate, discuss and discern while telling a story that is individual and cultural, local and global and all leading to a hopeful plane of spiritual deliverance. 

Filled from beginning to end with feverish determination and ambition, Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" is the finest album of 2015. 
(Full album profile can be found in the April 2015 section)

And with that, the musical year of 2015 comes to a close. 2016, I'm READY FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015


DECEMBER 11, 2015

In a year where I attended an unprecedented amount of live concert performances, this night delivered a perfect ending to my experiences and additionally, it was a night where everything came full circle.

Dear readers and listeners, it was around one year ago when I was first introduced to the music and musicians of Madison local bands Post Social and Modern Mod. My experiences with both bands have been chronicled upon the digital pages of this site throughout 2015, including the two extended interviews which can be found in the September and November sections, respectively. It truly has been a wonderful experience getting to know these young people, their music, their ambitions and to witness their unquestionable talents first hand. So, when I was informed that Modern Mod would be performing as an opening act at the Barrymore Theater, my musical venue of choice, and on a Friday night no less, it was a no-brainer that I would at long last get to see this band in action in a beautiful, historic and intimate setting where the sound system is perfect no matter your vantage point.

When I later discovered that Modern Mod would be opening for The Know-It-All-Boyfriends, a high profile cover band featuring none other than Butch Vig and Duke Erikson of Garbage as two of the main participants, that was nothing but the greatest bonus that I could have wished for. When I then further discovered that the night would serve as a benefit concert for Joey's Song, a local charity whose mission is to raise awareness for epilepsy research and program resources for children with special needs, plus Gio's Garden, a local therapeutic respite center for children with special needs, it already proved to become a night not to be missed.
Upon arriving at the Barrymore and walking through the parking lot behind the theater, I smiled to myself as I could easily hear Modern Mod performing their original composition "Undefined" during what was presumably a soundcheck. By the time I had reached the theater, I was surprised to run into Wisconsin State Journal writer Samara Kalk, who also happens to be a former high school classmate, as well as a longtime transplant from Chicago, like myself. After catching up with her, as she was heading into the theater to perform her duties as an usher, who should then begin to approach me but Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley of both Modern Mod and their latest project Dash Hounds.
As with our past encounters, both Kleinfeldt and Manley continued to prove themselves to be warm and inviting individuals as our conversation flowed easily. Asking them about how they were feeling about the night ahead, Kleinfeldt quipped that she was "chill" while Manley, on the other hand, was admittedly nervous. It was then that they informed me that while Guitarist Cal Pocernich would again be absent from this performance (this time due to academic responsibilities as Finals Week is looming), Guitarist Henry Stoehr, who performed with the band this Autumn, would return in Pocerich's place. I wished the twosome well as they ventured off to find their bandmates, while I finally entered the theater to claim my front row/lip of the stage vantage point for I wished to see the action up close and personal.

Entering the inner sanctum of the Barrymore, my good spirits were elevated even further as James Brown's collection of Christmas songs played over the speakers as the requisite pre-show music. The members of Modern Mod passed through the theater once again, giving me ample opportunity to speak once again with Lead Singer/Guitarist Emily Massey, who remained as beguiling as the day I first met her this past Spring on Record Store Day. Henry Stoehr soon introduced himself, having spotted me at the premiere performance of Dash Hounds several weeks ago, and we immediately hit it off as he explained that he is a member of three different bands and we also shared our mutual affection for Kendrick Lamar's "To Pimp A Butterfly" (released March 15, 2015) and the artful nature of the full album experience. 
Conversations between myself and the band felt to be so casual that I could almost forget that soon the foursome would be upon the stage, performing as the first act of the night's triple bill. In fact, before I even realized it, Modern Mod had taken the stage and began strapping on their guitars, bass guitar and Manley had taken his spot at the drum kit, which I then realized was Butch Vig's own trap set!

And after a few brief moments of introduction by John Urban, Madison photographer/filmmaker and the former host of the long running syndicated music television show "Urban Theater," my epic night of music duly began.
Alivia Kleinfeldt: Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals

Brendan Manley: Drums
Emily Massey: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Henry Stoehr: Guitar

As the band launched in to their chugging composition entitled "SLUTS," and over the course of the following 30-35 minutes of their set, Modern Mod took to the stage with a self-assured confidence that was instantly impressive to me. Whatever jittery nerves that may have existed within any of the band members were not apparent whatsoever and frankly, they looked to be completely at home upon the Barrymore stage. Just as Post Social has proven to me on two occasions, Modern Mod is an especially tight band, performing with a skillful precision and rambunctious energy where there is not one stitch of jadedness and their joy of being a band in their unique position is fully infectious to regard.

The first quality I noticed was how the band flowed quickly and effortlessly from one song to the next. Nothing felt tentative for even a moment. Running the gamut from their own material to terrific cover versions of The Ramones "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" and David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" (during which Stoehr simply NAILED that song's interstellar guitar solo), Modern Mod delivered the goods with quick, punchy, to the point flashes of strongly crafted power pop songs which surprisingly phased into more complex, darker, heavier and even psychedelic material by set's end.

This tonal shift in the songs is notable to me as the band performed two self-penned yet still unrecorded/unreleased selections that stretched out beyond the material that made up their debut album "Tunnels" (released April 21, 2014) and sounded as if seeds of  Husker Du, The Doors and The Smashing Pumpkins had inserted themselves somewhere within the DNA. The songs, with the working titles of "A Reminder" and especially, "Capture" (during which Manley extended his already impressive drumming furiously) fully demonstrated the band's growth, and to my ears, paved considerable roadway for whatever music should they choose to create next.
As the band's frontwoman, Emily Massey was completely within her element as her smooth confidence cut an almost ethereal presence on stage. It was as if she was gliding around, and at times, above the material (often looking quite bemused) yet, make no mistake, she was as comfortable as she was commanding. You just couldn't take your eyes away from her.
Flaking Massey, were both Kleinfeldt and Stoehr, who expertly provided a grounded and more openly aggressive stage presence. Alivia Kleinfeldt, complete with her Alice Cooper T-shirt, displayed a greater musical urgency than I had previously seen with her excellent debut Dash Hounds performance. Whether providing strong vocals or a propulsive melodicism to her bass playing, Kleinfeldt was a figure in constant motion who demanded the audience's attention wonderfully.

While more of an auxiliary rather than official member of Modern Mod, Henry Stoehr inserted himself within the band seamlessly and skillfully. And while he exuded clear respect for the absent Cal Pocernich, he most certainly made a name for himself with his superb ability to be a team player and then shoot for the stars with his lead solos.
Surging the band forward like a jet propelled engine was Brendan Manley. Never overwhelming his bandmates but unquestionably a force to be reckoned with, Manley's strength and power made the "Tunnels"-era material (during which Manley was not a part of the band) soar higher and drove the newer unrecorded material brilliantly--so much so, that for a spell, Manley was not playing Butch Vig's drum kit, Butch Vig was soon to play Brendan Manley's drum kit!
What was proved to me by the end of Modern Mod's performance, and I expressed as much to the band afterwards, was that however they found themselves within the position of being asked to be a part of this special evening, they fully deserved to be upon the Barrymore stage as top-flight representatives of not just themselves, but as they next wave of musicians to join ranks within the Madison music community.

A community that was just beginning to fully reveal itself to me.
Tony Cerniglia: Drums, Backing Vocals
Briana Hardyman: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Michael Massey: Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Joel Pingitore: Guitar
Frank Queram: Bass Guitar

In describing the powerful 50 minute or so set by the night second's band, Stop The Clock, I was honestly confused as to how exactly I would write about them without falling into well-worn cliches and descriptions. But, maybe, those descriptions would not be so well-worn considering how I feel the need to display to you what I heard inside of the sheer effectiveness of their performance.

In comparison to the somewhat rawer edge of Modern Mod, Stop The Clock presented themselves as a richly seasoned attraction. Rugged and earthy yet fully road tested and therefore, slick and sleek. In a way, you might be able to say that Stop The Clock has a strong foothold and foundation within the world now known as "classic rock" but one that has also been deeply dipped into the genres of blues, country and soul. Kind of think about a band like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers but fronted by a woman who exists somewhere in the musical universe between the likes of Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks, and you will have a sense of what Stop The Clock sounded like...and what a persuasively robust sound it was!
Lead singer Briana Hardyman, while small in physique, was a powerhouse vocalist without question. In contrast to Emily Massey's elegantly transfixing approach, Hardyman projected an earthy quality that was tough, muscular and resilient. She commanded your attention in a more vigorous fashion, from her rhythmic gyrations at the microphone all the way to the band's triumphantly fits-like-a-glove cover version of Janis Joplin's "Me And Bobby McGee."
Yet, for me it was within the show's huge ballads, including a touch the sky version of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," where Hardyman was purely dynamic, making a very familiar song sound passionately and personally lived in. No small feat and she handled each and every song, most of them Stop The Clock originals, with grit, blood and fire.
Hardyman was supported valiantly by her bandmates who performed like the proverbial well oiled machine. Where Drummer Tony Cerniglia and Bassist Frank Queram created a rock solid foundation, Guitarist Joel Pingitore's fluid, sparkling lead solos spiraled throughout the theater majestically.
Rounding out the band and serving heroically as the subtle connective tissue holding all of the elements together was veteran local musician, Keyboardist/Guitarist/Backing Vocalist Michael Massey, who incidentally happens to be the Father of Modern Mod's Emily Massey!
Whether trading licks with Pingitore, sharing vocals directly alongside Hardyman or providing the ephemeral colors and shadings to the proceedings, Massey was indeed Stop The Clock's secret weapon. Never claiming the spotlight for himself but you always knew that his musical presence was essential to the mix, which by the set's end was genuinely roof raising.

And to think, the roof was then about to get itself blown off the hinges...
Bill "Stick" Bielefeld: Bass Guitar
James "Pie" Cowan: Percussion
Duke Erikson: Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Bass Guitar
Freedy Johnston: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jay Moran: Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Butch Vig: Drums, Backing Vocals 

With a third return to the stage for introduction by John Urban and the band's acronym now blazing to life in lights, the night's headlining act, The Know-It-All-Boyfriends took to the stage and delivered nearly two full hours of cover songs with a surprisingly wide range of diversity and genre. With Freedy Johnston initially taking lead vocals, the band launched into two valiantly performed versions of both Badfinger's "No Matter What" and Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind," songs that instantly plastered a grand smile across my face.
That very same grand smile seemed to be plastered across everyone's faces through the venue from patrons to the performers themselves. Where not every sung note may have hit the precise mark from time to time or the band may have sounded a hair ragged here and there (the band's publicity notes claim that they never rehearse), any rough edges were entirely part of the sustained and superb charm of the entire evening, most notably when Duke Erikson took the mic and crooned Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." We were in the palms of the band's collective hands as we sang right along with them.
The band was clearly in high spirits and having fun with each other and that feeling translated throughout the Barrymore blissfully, especially when the night's special guest stars all took their turns fronting The Know-It-All-Boyfriends. I was thrilled to witness The Ocean Blue's David Schelzel arrive to perform a pounding and faithful cover of his band's "Between Something And Nothing," as that band and their music were staples upon my college radio show. But beyond that great moment, the night functioned as a cavalcade of Wisconsin music royalty as well as ascending figures.
Appleton, Wisconsin native and folk rock artist Cory Chisel made an appropriately rustic appearance. Evansville, Wisconsin resident, former member of Neko Case's backing band and local songstress Kelly Hogan joined Eriskon for a warmly rousing version of Sonny And Cher's "I Got You, Babe," and she also provided a stunning version of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon," as well.

And after KIAB's just perfect re-creation of the extended opening section of Lou Reed's "Rock And Roll Animal" version of "Sweet Jane," out walked the inimitable Sam Llanas, formerly of Waukesha, Wisconsin's acclaimed The BoDeans, to sing the eternal rock classic as well as a thunderous version of The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil," a selection Llanas joked was an old song he "used to sing in church."
Over the course of the night, The Know-It-All-Boyfriends' line up was augmented and further fleshed out by the horn section of Madison's highly celebrated cover band Steely Dane and even Stop The Clock's Michael Massey joined in on keyboards. Yet, it was the core group of musicians who continuously dazzled me with their ability to adapt to each and every performer, consistently remaining deep inside the pocket, and clearly enjoying every moment together upon stage.
Yes, Duke Erikson and the heavy hitting Butch Vig (of whom in particular, I was graced with a dead center vantage point for the entire night, as I just wanted to see and study his drumming technique), were the center of my primary focus at first. Yet, soon, I found myself witnessing the roles of their bandmates, especially Percussionist James "Pie" Cowan, who really cut an eccentric styled stance.
Both Freedy Johnston and Jay Moran were superlative yet down to Earth frontmen. Whether taking the leads on songs like Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl" and War's "Low Rider," they each struck me as affable, approachable, fully accommodating to their bandmates and undeniably accomplished musicians ready and able to roll with whatever musical punches came flying into their respective directions.
By the show's finale, where the entire stage was packed to the gills with performers, all euphorically pounding out AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long," the magic of the night came into its fullest fruition for me. I had truly witnessed and extremely special night of music as I was gathering a healthy gaze through the window into the world of the larger Wisconsin music community, a very rich community made up of music fans just like all of us in the audience.

Even with the significant presence of the world renowned Duke Erikson and Butch Vig though their musical exploits and adventures with Garbage, this night was not one of being in the ardent company of the unattainable. It was also not a night of musical competition and one-upsmanship. This was a night of connectivity and community, where the threads between all of the musicians upon the stage as well as the threads that connected the musicians to the audience members (through the collection of familiar songs we all sang together) was paramount to the enjoyment of the night as a whole.
Between the three acts of Modern Mod, Stop The Clock and The Know-It-All-Boyfriends, we (again, the audience and performers) all had the opportunity to bear witness to an aspect of Wisconsin music history as well as its vibrant present and exciting future. For the older musicians, I can only imagine what viewing young, extremely talented and excited musicians like Modern Mod could have been for them, inevitably finding themselves reminiscing to the points when they were roughly in the same position as Modern Mod find themselves in right now. To that end, what of Modern Mod being able to be in the league with this specific stream of musical veterans, perhaps catching a glimpse into their own potential artistic futures. However all of the bands regarded each other, I was indeed touched by the solidarity and support that was obvious and ephemeral between the musicians, thus creating a specialized sense of blissful alchemy that permeated the theater.

Ultimately, what I witnessed reminded me very much of the extraordinary Martin Scorsese feature length concert film "The Last Waltz" (1978), which detailed the farewell performance by The Band on Thanksgiving night 1976 and featuring a procession of their contemporaries and influences, now all of them legends, including the likes of Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John and Bob Dylan among others. Yet, unlike that film which depicted an epic finale, the concert performance by The Know-It-All-Boyfriends, with their special guests and opening acts, showcased a night of warmth, musical versatility and continuance that the longer I think about it, the more thankful I am that I was there to experience it.