2011: The Backwards Relationship

Words: Jeremy Curry

The year 2011 felt like one of my past relationships going backwards. It started off long, frustrating and complicated, but it ended with excitement, wonder and a hell of a lot of questions. The reason for this is because I’ve moved from my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, to the monstrous super champion funzone of Tokyo, Japan. I am surprised the city has not eaten me alive yet. I’ve attended a couple of live events, but the city is so breathtaking and vibrant that anywhere I go turns out to be a fantastic treat. I have yet to find myself in a state of boredom or frustration. I am sure being unemployed will catch up to me soon. Anyway, I’ve seen loads of crazy outfits and cute cartoons and just plain weird junk, so let’s move on.

BURT BACHARACH

I’ve always loved Burt, but it wasn’t until this year that I heard the five disc anthology Something Big, that I really started to appreciate the guy. He creates these perfect pop songs that seem so innocent and fun, yet have this gushing feeling of love all over the damn place. Colour me sentimental. These songs can sound kind of corny sometimes, but man are they arranged in such a perfect way. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I play “(They Long To Be) Close To You” or “All Kinds Of People”. It’s like sitting by a roaring fire on a cold day, sipping hot chocolate while your border collie brings you your slippers and your daily newspaper (mine would be The Onion). Oh, and there’s a roast cooking in the oven too!

JIM O’ROURKE’S MANY ALBUMS RELEASED THIS YEAR

Jim O’Rourke is my favorite musician, so it was kind of crazy for me this year, when he released about eight albums I think? I don’t know if this is correct, but some great ones are the compilations Old News Vol. 5 and Old News Vol. 6. His album Indeed with Oren Ambarchi was like riding a death-cycle into No Man’s Land, and the album with Ambarchi and Keiji Haino, In A Flash Everything Comes Together As One, was a wonked out whirlwind of improvised freak outs, brain-blasting riffs and jarring electronics. He also worked with the group Fire! for a release on Rune Grammafon called, Unreleased? Yet the real gem I heard this year was called One Bird, Two Bird with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow. This is one of the most abrasive, brutal and awesome records I have heard all year. Gustafsson squonks out the gnarliest sax wails I have ever heard. Like his life depends on tearing up eardrums. Merzbow and O’Rourke flicker in and out with hisses, drones and wobbly tones that would have you think you’re in droid hell. For somebody who has been churning out an insane quantity of albums, the quality is still top-notch.

THE BEACH BOYS SMILE SESSIONS

It was so cool that this was released this year. I had no idea! Snuck out from under me, I guess. This is another pop masterwork that was never really finished and is considered to be one of the greatest American unfinished records. I don’t know who else you could lump into that category? Does Meat Loaf have a fantastic unfinished record we have yet to hear about? Doubtful. The Smile Sessions are pretty much as close as it gets to the completion of the record, with tons of extra stuff on the vinyl editions. It’s a great way to choose your own adventure as to how you think the tracks should have gone together, although I was quite happy with this result. Oh, I also forgot about Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. They didn’t finish that album, but they released it anyway because they didn’t give a shit.

Here are some good albums that came out this year:

DJ Quik- The Book of David

200 Years – s/t

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – YT//ST

Wild Flag – s/t

Thundercat – The Golden Age of the Apocalypse

P.J Harvey – Let England Shake

Master Musicians of Bukkake – Totem Three

Masami Akita, Mats Gustafsson & Jim O’Rourke – One Bird, Two Bird

Cyclo – id

Boston Spaceships – Let it Beard

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

Evil Madness – Super Great Love

FORMA – s/t

Gui Boratto – III

P.G. Six – Starry Mind

G-Side – The One… Cohesive

Ellen Fullman – Through Glass Panes

Rustie – Glass Swords

The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions (reissue)

LFO – Frequencies (reissue)

Savaging Spires – s/t

Mark McGuire – Get Lost

The Roots – undun

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up

Sonic Youth – Simon Werner a Disparu

Everything else? Kinda shitty.