Shedding My Skin Post-Sled

Words: Jeremy Curry // Photos courtesy of Sled Island

Well, it’s been another insane week of music, art, comedy, friends, foes, party riots, pool parties, BBQs, and way too many beers to count. It’s been a wild ride at this year’s Sled Island. Things were looking a bit suspect at first, but the line-up was scheduled so that there weren’t too many conflicting artists. I’m sure people would argue that point, considering we all have different tastes, but in my opinion, I didn’t miss out on a lot.

WEDNESDAY

Nü Sensae (photo: Crystal Sujata)

Wednesday was when things started rolling along, although it wasn’t a very good idea for me to start rolling along at 10:00 pm. The Russian Circles were playing at the Dicken’s Pub, and Boris were headlining as the “secret” guest. It wasn’t much of a secret, though. The line-up outside was huge, and everybody seemed to be waiting in line to see Boris play. The place was at capacity, so it was a better idea to move on down to the Bamboo for Nü Sensae. They’re a three piece from Vancouver that play some pretty insane punk rock, but have some pretty jarring riffs, sort of in the Sonic Youth vein. The vocals squeal like a hawk being captured by a bear, and the guitar/bass combo was ferocious. This got the crowd into a wild mood, which was kind of distracting from such a powerful set.

After that, it was time to chill out and go to bed. The next three days were filled with so many shows it was hard to keep up.

THURSDAY

Too High Crew (photo: Liz Collins)

Thursday started off with a pool party up on 14A Street. The place was filled with people yammering on about what shows they were “stoked” about. There were free hot dogs, beers and heaters for all until they ran out, which was pretty fast. Each Other, Sheer Agony and the Too High Crew kept the party chill while we kept it cool in the pool. That is, until some total asshole peed in it and ruined it for everyone. Thanks a lot, you pile of trash. Otherwise, it was a huge success! Like last year, the pool was filled with dry ice and ended up looking like a child’s cauldron.

After that, there was a show at the Hillhurst United Church by two Montreal titans. CFCF opened the show with a very soothing set featuring many tracks from his latest EP, Exercises. A lot of it sounded like Philip Glass incorporating drum samples into his music. The David Sylvian cover “September” may have been the highlight. The bass was so low, I thought about making a cocoon for myself and hanging out there for a while.

CFCF was followed by the slow building textures of Tim Hecker, who almost put the audience into “The Drone Zone”. The only illumination in the whole place was the natural light coming through the pane glass windows. It was getting darker, so the whole thing was a tiring, hallucination of sound. This was a good thing. It was a completely different experience from seeing any other band at the festival. I wasn’t sure if I was being encouraged to soak myself in the drones and take a vibrating nap or not.

Gold (photo: David Kenney)

Broken City was the next place to run to. Having a bike is necessary for the festival, and I broke mine last year. Sled Island did have some to rent, but apparently not enough. Walking is relaxing, but not when you have to get from one venue to the next, knowing the show could possibly be sold out. It was also an issue for Shabazz Palaces, because on this particular evening, the bar was at double the capacity.

Openers Rap X and Gold had a cozy audience. Gold was one of the more notable local bands playing this year. They had some pretty interesting guitar riffs, dreamlike vocals so tender they were falling off the bone, and just good times all around. A solid performance.

Shabazz Palaces (photo: David Kenney)

After this, the bar got pretty insane, filling up to the brim while Prince Rama performed. Luckily a lot of folks had elsewhere to go when Shabazz came on. Either that, or they left halfway through because they didn’t get it. Their loss I suppose, because it was one of the better rap shows to come to Calgary in a very long time. The grooves were slow and intriguing, with thumb pianos plink-plonking under a twisted lyrical adventure through space and time. It was blasphemy to leave this show.

FRIDAY

The Evaporators and Andrew WK (photo: Arif Ansari)

Another hearty day full of cool shit. I started at Local 510 to see another fantastic new local band, New Friends. Their set began like a witches’ ceremony. I thought we may be letting spirits, specters and ghouls enter the bar to terrorize patrons, but that wasn’t the case. The rest of the set was more along the lines of post-rock, but without all of that nasty build-up we’re so used to. What a yawner that would be. Instead, it was a real slab of icing.

Electronic bleep-bloop tape hiss guru Nate Young followed with a really interesting set. He dawned his shades and blasted out pretty pulsating, murky electronics with warped tape loops. People walking by outside on the street had no fucking idea what was going on. Were we building an evil robot indoors? No, just seeing a master at work.

A few doors down, the Evaporators were starting up a legendary set! They started off with the classic tune “Mario Cuomo Works at Domo”. It just got more fun and exciting as the show progressed. Andrew WK ended up onstage to play with the band, and even to play his song “Party Hard”. Everyone in the audience was totally psyched and had a really fun time. There was a lot of audience participation, which can usually be annoying, but with Nardwuar the Human Serviette, it’s an honour. He is definitely a Canadian treasure, and always fun to see. You will never see anybody with that much energy in your life. Combined with Andrew WK? It just makes me tired thinking about it.

Unfortunately for Feist fans it started to rain, and they had to watch the show at Olympic Plaza amongst the huge puddles. Oh well, my mom said it was good.

Thurston Moore (photo: David Kenney)

Over at the Grand Theatre, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan played a show that was visually fun and pretty goddamn loud. It was stepping into a psychedelic mountain of sound, dragons, hairy monster things, jingle bells, heavy jams, and one moment where I don’t think any of the band members even blinked for about 8 minutes during a song. For a band that also focuses on a visual component to their music, they were actually really fun to see. They opened the whole thing with “Queens”, one of the best build-ups to a furious jam I have heard in a while.

Thurston Moore followed with a pretty great set, filled with old numbers from the Psychic Hearts era, and a bunch of brand spankin’ new tracks from his forthcoming record with his new band, Chelsea Light Moving. The standout track from the new material was a song called “Burroughs”, which sounded like a classic Moore jam. The very best was when he played the title track from Psychic Hearts. Everyone’s head starting bobbing in unison. We were in a sit-down theatre, so we couldn’t really party down.

There were always so many choices after that show but because of missing Boris on Wednesday, I thought I’d make it up by seeing them at the Distillery after Thurston Moore. I have no idea why I thought this would be a good idea. If you have read any of my previous Sled Island articles, you would know that I think this is the most disgusting place in the city. This time it wasn’t totally horrible, aside from the dickhead bouncers and the bathroom that was literally covered in garbage. I don’t think I could see the floor at all in the bathroom, because it was covered in layers of trash! Besides that, it wasn’t so bad.

I arrived when a band called Black Mastiff started. They sounded like southern rock meets metal riffs. It would probably work well if I were rolling down a river with heavy rapids in hell. Ancients came on afterwards, starting off their set by yelling “tittays!!” into the mic. I don’t know about you, but I think this is really lame (but appropriate for the Distillery). I was expecting the worst from this band, but they weren’t that bad. They had some pretty crazy metal riffs going on, and made the crowd go pretty insane. Boris headlined the whole shindig with a pretty mixed bag of material, new and old. The new J-pop material isn’t all that fun, and I personally prefer the old heavy sludge jams, which were too few and far between. It was time to leave. I had heard they played the album Feedbacker in its entirety the previous night, so I was kicking myself for missing out.

BeatRoute was having an afterparty at their HQ, and it was a goddamn nightmare. It was so packed with people in some areas, and was a definite fire hazard. They ran out of alcohol very early into the party, which may have been a blessing in disguise, considering how incredibly wasted people were. I didn’t even know who or what was going on, because half of the time I was waiting for the bathroom, or waiting for somebody to move out of the way. Wait, wait, wait. It was time to hit the sack.

SATURDAY

Han Bennink (photo: Katie Hyde)

The last full day of the festival. Local 510 was having a free hangover breakfast with breakfast tacos! Ironically, I could not eat the tacos because I was too hungover. Way to go, old body. There were loads of good bands playing as well, but I was in such a bad state I couldn’t deal with loud sounds. I did eventually manage to catch the comedy at the Auburn Saloon, though. Why is it called the “Auburn Saloon”? It is hardly a saloon. Shit, I think I am actually trying to make a joke. I apologize.

Todd Barry was one of the funniest comedians to come to Calgary. He told a girl that came to the show with a personal fan that it was “pretentious”, and proceeded to make many fan jokes throughout his set. He was extremely sarcastic, worked the crowd so well, and never fell flat. Tim Heidecker followed with a set that was basically poking fun at shitty, unfunny, sexist comedians. Think of a comedian who tries to copy Andrew Dice Clay (who also sucks) and fails miserably and there you go. He dropped the mic many times, had to take cue cards out at every moment, and made fun of his wife, “the nag”. He was the perfect comedian to bring alongside Neil Hamburger.

I wasn’t too familiar with Natasha Leggero, but she was another incredible comic. Her observational humor was fantastic, and reminded me of all of the dumpy things I have encountered in America, including the revamped TLC channel. 19 kids and counting! Neil Hamburger closed the show with a lot of coughing, hacking, yelling at the audience, making fun of all of the “shitty” bands playing, and having a joke-tribute to the recently deceased Whitney Houston. It was possibly the best comedy show in Calgary in a very long time.

Had a long walk over to the Ironwood to catch a wild set from Dutch jazz drummer Han Bennink, Toronto saxophonist Brodie West and Terrie Ex, from legendary punk band The Ex. Bennink was one of the most incredible drummers I have ever seen, playing with his foot bouncing on the snare at one point, while West sqounked out some squiggly sax blasts, and Ex gnarled with a coat hanger across his guitar. It was a spectacle that I cannot believe was even playing at the festival. Snailhouse capped the show off with their last show (I think?). It brought back so many memories from my high school days. The song “Twenty One Years” had all of the old high school memories flooding back. It was a great song to put on mix tapes for babes. It probably still is! Anyway, it was a really great nostalgic trip, and still holds up. Chris Vail, Chris Dadge and Aaron Booth all played in the band, which was even better. They are very important local musicians here in Calgary. Thanks a lot to Chris Dadge for putting on such a great show!

From here I walked on over to the Legion to finish off the night with Andrew WK. A dance duo by the name of SNAKATAK & Tessa G were gettin’ busy when I arrived. The beats were pretty cheeseball, but the party was bumpin’. People were going wild, and all the songs were about dancing and having fun. It was contagious, because within a few minutes, I was dancing pretty hard. They were actually a pretty wild duo to see! The beats may have been a bit silly, but leave your briefcase at the door and just have some fun!

Cherie Lily (photo: David Kenney)

Cherie Lily came on afterwards with her “Houserobics” music or whatever it is called, and that turned out to be another really fun time to dance. The party was flowing pretty nicely, and everybody was in great spirits until… Andrew WK came on.

Now, Andrew WK is a fun person, does a lot of cool things and is very positive when it comes to partying and having fun. He even did a motivational talk earlier in the week about partying and having a fun life. Unfortunately, before he came on I kind of had a feeling things weren’t going to be as fun as expected. When it was announced he was coming on stage, people started getting a little pushy to get close to the front. I moved back, because I am not in the mood for thrashing around like a maniac. He came on, and the audience went insane. People were flying all over the place, and a huge group of kids ended up dancing on stage.

From there, it was people jumping off stage every one second, and even massive asshole dudes behind me were elbowing my friend and I in the back. It was a very unsafe place to be. People were coming out of the pit, injured and looking almost dead in some cases. Andrew WK warned the audience that if they kept up the wild times, the party would get cancelled. Sure enough, after another song, the lights came on and the party was over. It was pretty sad to see a crowd turn into a bunch of goons in a few seconds flat. We were having such fun before! Anyway, the ambulance came and everybody had to go home.

Sometimes Calgary can’t have nice things. People forgot all about respecting each other and keeping cool, so everyone can have a nice time. I wasn’t even in the pit and I was being elbowed in the back. Calm it down you goddamn goons! It kind of made Calgarians look like a bunch of Neanderthals. I heard a guy from a band when I was leaving saying he wanted to “get the fuck out of here as fast as possible”. Now, that is not what I want to hear! It sucks that a few bad eggs can ruin everybody else’s day.

SUNDAY

Duchess Says (photo: Doug Springer)

Sunday I woke up at the crack of 6 pm to catch the last show at the Republik. When I arrived, a great band called The Blind Shake was playing. They were a high-energy rock and roll band that just killed it on stage. Such intensity. I don’t think I blinked an eye during their set. I hear sometimes bands “kicked out the jams”, but I don’t usually see it in the literal sense. They did just that.

The band that closed the whole show was Duchess Says, a female-fronted group from Montreal. The girl had such a wonderful stage presence and such a cool vocal style that I told a friend of mine I wanted to marry her. A guy in front of me turned around and said “get in line”. She was so intense, yet really fun and got the audience involved. She let people come on stage, but instead of last night’s fiasco, everybody just danced harmlessly. I don’t know, is this band “dance-rock”? I don’t like that term, but I guess it suits them. Her vocal style was so wild and insane, like nothing I have heard before. The jams had everybody shaking their butts. It was so much fun.

So, besides a few bad eggs, it was a really great festival. There were a few new acts I want to get into, and a lot of older acts that were very impressive. Every year it is something for so many people to look forward to, for those who don’t like the Stampede that churns out a ton of assholes every year. It’s a great alternative for music, comedy, art and film lovers. Even if I moan and complain about the festival at the beginning because “the bands were better last year”, I’m usually wrong. There are so many new and upcoming acts to check out, and OK bands that end up putting on incredible shows. The best part is, Sled Island supports so many local artists, businesses, filmmakers, and bands. People come from all over to check out the festival, and it’s nice for people to come home and tell their friends about a cool local thing they saw. It was a pretty good show all around. Thanks a lot, Sled Island!

Banana Mania! :: Top 10 of 2011

Words: J.R. Cumming

1. Holy Other – With U EP

No question for me here. Though only five tracks and 22 minutes, I spent more time with this EP than any other release this year, and don’t imagine tiring of it any time soon. Mournful, ethereal, yet textural and incredibly mysterious, nothing had me more excited about new music in 2011 than With U.

2. Main Attrakionz – 808s & Dark Grapes II

Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N, two of the most prolific and talented in the game, finally followed through on a steady stream of great mixtapes with 808s and Dark Grapes II, their most consistent effort thus far. Aided by beat making whiz kids Friendzone, Clams Casino, Silky Johnson, Squadda himself and others, the record found the two taking their “cloud rap” to a whole new level, and even caused some of the mainstream to take notice.

3. Kuedo – Severant

The future? The 1980s’ idea of the future? Does it matter? Taking cues equally from “New Visions” style synths and contemporary UK dance music, Severant, the solo debut from Jamie Teasdale of Vex’d, was one of the freshest sounding releases of 2011. Incredibly ambitious but rarely missing a step, Teasdale moves with confidence from lightning fast UK Garage to cinematic and sorrowful synth interludes. The sound of streetlights reflecting on wet streets.

4. A$AP Rocky – Live.Love.A$AP

As Main Attrakionz’ east coast partner in crime, it’s incredible to think that 12 months ago no one had heard of A$AP Rocky, though his rapid ascension to critical/popular acclaim has been more than justified. Great, effortless rhymes on top of beats from Clams Casino (again) and personal favourite DJ Burn One, among others, Live.Love.A$AP was a huge improvement on the excellent Deep Purple EP, released only a few months before, and one of the best hip-hop releases of the year. Here’s hoping he keeps up the same level of quality into 2012.

5. Laurel Halo – Hour Logic

Not unlike fellow Brooklynites Blondes, Laurel Halo seems to make music too forward thinking for her own good. Seemingly too techno for most indie music crowds, while also too experimental and ambient for the electronic music crowds, Hour Logic sadly slipped through a lot of cracks. Part Steve Reich, part Oneohtrix Point Never, part Basic Channel and part Derrick May, the album may not yet be the crystallization of Halo’s unique sound, but remains a fascinating development nonetheless.

6. Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

After the unfortunate misstep that was Director’s Cut, 50 Words For Snow came as a heartwarming relief to Kate Bush fans. More focused and intimate than 2005’s Aerial, the record might even be Bush’s finest effort since The Sensual World. Built primarily around her delicate piano playing, accompanied by strings and percussion, the result is seemingly quaint and straightforward, but remains as dense and complex as anything we could expect from everyone’s favourite pixie.

7. Beaumont – Blush Response EP

Blush Response, the debut release from Glasgow’s Beaumont, definitely worked as 2011’s warmer compliment to CFCF, Kuedo or Babe Rainbow’s night bus vibes. With a more pronounced Italo and R&B feel, tracks like “Midnight” still come off like the soundtrack to a late night trip, though perhaps this time the passenger doesn’t ride alone…

8. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – YT // ST

I can’t help but feel embarrassed for sleeping on this one. Perhaps most accurately described as prog, YT // ST is one of the most ambitious and impressive rock records I’ve heard in ages. Everything from the album itself to the matching, Akira-inspired visual aesthetic is so well realized and cohesive it’s tough to believe it’s the group’s debut LP. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

9. Tropic of Cancer – The End of All Things

Like fellow west coasters The Soft Moon, the Tropic of Cancer managed to borrow strongly from their forebearers (ie. Danse Society, Joy Division, no wave) but move beyond pastiche to create one of the best minimal ’80s records since… the ’80s. Like most of the albums on this list, The End of All Things exists in its own world, creating a tremendous atmosphere that is cold, metallic, and frigid in all the best ways.

10. Omar-S – It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It

The boss. By this point in the game it’s almost unnecessary to give it up for Omar-S, who long ago staked his claim as the king of the techno/house underground. Though he hasn’t dropped in either quality or quantity of output in recent times, It Can Be Done But Only I Can Do It was the man’s first LP in six years and stands as some of his finest work as well as a testament to his talent.

Special mention: NGUZUNGUZU – The Perfect Lullaby mixtape

I’m quite certain I wouldn’t have survived the Montreal 2011 heatwave without this and banana popsicles.

Down the rabbit hole :: Jeers, cheers and sonic obsessions for 2011

Words: Jesse Locke

2011 was a year of riots, revolutions and people’s microphones, punctuated by heart-sinking stories with the occasional feel-good tale or extraordinary surprise. The speed of current events streaming through the tubes of the internet and spread like wheatpasted show posters made it hard not to become a full-blown news junkie in these 12 hectic months. Meanwhile, reading Chris Hedges’ column week in and week out delivered a rousing dose of real talk. Oh yeah, and this happened.

While the world continued going potty in all directions, I somehow managed to fulfill several musical goals of releasing an LP and joining the band of one of my favourite artists. Alongside dropping cassettes for some other current faves, I listened to more wig-peeling music from the fringes than ever before through daily operations as the editor of Weird Canada. In the end, this same rapid and unfiltered overload of media made it hard not to shut it all off and move into a treefort, but I soldiered on. Here are 10 sonic obsessions that defined my year.

Colin Stetson

This is the guy. My darkhorse pick for the Polaris Prize was seemingly everywhere in 2011, but the place he sounded best was within New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges. Jazzbo or otherwise, this monolithic LP is a jolting showcase of Gustafsson-style circular breathing blowouts and majestic Jurassic Park drones. Laurie Anderson’s narration adds gravity to be sure, but the real power comes from the fact that this is one man with bodybuilder lungs stacking polyrhythmic patterns on top of each other, tapping beats with his fingers and simultaneously singing into his horn without the help of an overdub, loop or effects pedal. I’ve seen him do it live twice now and still barely believe it’s real. Credit is due to the engineering geniuses at Hotel2Tango as well, who placed 20+ microphones on or around his sax to create a truly stereostropic soundworld. Interviewing Stetson proved him to be as much of a superhuman masterbrain as you’d imagine, but also just a talented guy who’s happy to get the chance to do what he does best.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

I first had my mind blown by this supercharged pan-Asian performance troupe with their set at Cool Fest 9 several years back. 2011 was the year that Yamantaka // Sonic Titan saw fit to transmit the first glimpses of their self-described ‘Noh-Wave opera’ into a recorded form, and the resulting LP from Psychic Handshake is even more goggling than I could have imagined. From face-shredding guitar riffs (courtesy of Grand Trine’s Shub Roy) to medieval organ prog and dreamy moments of Blonde Redhead-style pixie-pop, YT//ST is a monster of an album. I predict nothing less than world domination in 2012.

Femminielli

2011 saw Bernardino Femminielli fully develop his smooth-talking Giallo disco lothario persona with a jaw-dropping string of releases. From the Chauffeur 7″ for Fixture Records to the Carte blanche aux désirs cassette for his equally amazing label, Los Discos Enfantasmes, this icy electronic labryinth was one I didn’t mind getting lost inside. Sabrina Ratté’s 10-minute head-trip of a video for his song “Atlantida” might be the best place to start, while the glitching computerized vocals of his brand new tape, Telenovelas Mentales, point the way into the future.

The Offset: Spectacles

I have to admit here that my tastes in music have a pretty strong bias towards percussion. I’ll get into any song if I can air-drum along to it, and it’s why Electric Miles will always be my jam. I also find it strange, then, that a drumless, VU-inspired rock group with only cat-scratch guitars and gritty Cantonese vocals can be so damn captivating. Fuzz organ, electronics and screeching violin add texture, but The Offset: Spectacles remains as sparse as Dragnet-era Fall. This minimalist trio originally hails from Hong Kong, but relocated to Beijing to found the Rose Mansion Analog label (also home to cassettes from Canada’s Hot & Cold, Dirty Beaches and the oscillator duo Soviet Pop). The Offsets LP marks their first foray into vinyl, and it’s a stunner. Mail order must-grip.

Comedy podcasts

I live in Toronto but work in scenic Etobicoke, so hour-plus trips in transit are a daily occurrence. For my money, there’s nothing more enjoyable than waking up to something that makes you laugh so hard you start crying and blowing snot bubbles on a crowded bus while everyone around you thinks you’re a lunatic. The Best Show was my gateway drug, which soon led into The Pod F Tompkast and spiraled into an addiction. Everything on Earwolf Radio is quality, but especially How Did This Get Made?, Tig Notaro’s Professor Blastoff and the flagship podcast, Comedy Bang Bang. Host Scott “Hot Saucerman” Aukerman brings in a pair of comedian guests each week, one of whom plays a character like Charles Barkley, Jennifer Tilly (now in a relationship with Chucky) or Sappity Tappity the alcoholic Christmas tree. That probably doesn’t sound funny, but hey, it is. Deal with it. Marc Maron’s WTF is another go-to for his extended interviews with comedians that often result in candid and/or emotional revelations. Not always funny haha, and the show’s title is pretty apt. This year’s episode with Norm MacDonald going deep into his gambling addiction is especially great.

Lantern

Blitzkrieg proto-punk trio Lantern was originally formed by Zach Fairbrother and Emily Robb of Halifax’s longhair psych jammers Omon Ra II. After moving to Philly and picking up moxie-filled drummer Sophie White, they’ve since cemented their status as one of the best in the game. Breathing fire into the tradition laid down by Bo Diddley and his ilk with a twist of Hasil Adkins and some seriously shredding guitar moves, their 2011 cassette on Night People and 7″ from Mammoth Cave are both must-grips. Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well in these hands.

Wyrd Visions // Castlemusic

Five years after the hood classic Half-Eaten Guitar, double-neck shaman Wyrd Visions reemerged unexpectedly to share a 12″ split with Jennifer Castle. Toronto’s sweet and understated wisp-folk minstrel proved the perfect match on this two-song gem, with both artists delivering in spades. “My Boat” and “Voice of God” provided the soundtrack to my winter, starting off many mornings and lingering long into the frosty night.

Man Made Hill

Man Made Hill was my entry into Toronto’s musical subterrain after we booked the prince of darkness to play this summer’s first annual Wyrd Fest MTL. Randy has since become my personal avatar of awesomeness, representing all that is strange and beautiful about the city’s sonic happenings. Pumping out zonked electronics and intergalactic funk à la Mandre, he freaks the beat like an alternate dimension Andrew W.K. Look out for his latest alter-ego, Denim Reptile, and probably five more projects by the time you read these words.

Golden Retriever

These dogs were a late-year discovery, but have recently joined my regular rotation like a pair of favourite undies. The Portland duo of Matt Carlson (modular synth) and Jonathan Sielaff (bass clarinet) released three albums in 2011, all drifting through a dreamlike combination of Arp-style ambient nostalgia and heady cosmic jazz. The Arda Viraf cassette from Agents of Chaos is my go-to, highlighted by the gorgeous 15-minute title track. Yet unlike many of their overly prolific neo-kosmische peers, Golden Retriever match quantity with quality every step of the way.

Kris Ellestad

The fact that Kris Ellestad remains anything less than a household name is a baffler. This guy should be Groban famous, making grandmas swoon the world over. In all seriousness, Ellestad released his strongest collection of songs to date in 2011 with No Man is Land. And while the album received a few scattered pellets of praise, I still feel it’s a criminally underrated masterpiece. From the complex fingerpicked guitars to lush instrumental arrangements and Kris’s chamomile croon (not to mention his ridiculously clever lyrical wordplay), it can’t be recommended enough. For more fun, an ongoing YouTube channel of covers shows both his range and fantastic taste. Kris doing Michael Gira doing Dylan is essentially unimpeachable.