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Booking agent at BSP Kingston and promoter at Output Agency
I thought 2014 was a particularly good year for new music! I'm a sucker for hook-heavy riff rock, so the two records I've probably spun the most are Broncho's Just Enough Hip to Be Woman (Dine in Records) and Ex Hex's RIPS (Merge Records). The West Coast well of lo-fi guitar maniacs was as deep as ever: Ty Segall's Manipulator was my favorite of his since Goodbye Bread (both Drag City Records), and he also made crucial contributions to LPs from White Fence and newcomers Meatbodies. The most artistically bold record for me this year was Too Bright from Perfume Genius (Matador Records); there is so much pain in this dude's struggle to be gay and feel "normal" and "accepted," it makes for some absolutely heartbreaking and compelling material, no matter what you're into. I had the pleasure of booking some bands who put out great records this year too: the War on Drugs, Future Islands, Viet Cong, and there are so many great bands from the Hudson Valley who are breaking through on a national level. Look for big things in 2015 from locals Quarterbacks (Poughkeepsie), What Moon Things (New Paltz), and Breakfast In Fur (New Paltz).
Author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever, senior critic at Rolling Stone, NPR contributor
I haven't played any record this year more than Brill Bruisers (Matador Records) by The New Pornographers, who I guess qualify as an honorary local band now. I just never took it out of my car's CD player. Irresistible hooks, shout-along harmonies, sly wit. I think the debuts by FKA Twigs and Sylvan Esso were the most compelling electronic pop records of the year—beautifully realized and deeply emotive. I also spent a lot of time with Commune (Sub Pop Records) by the psychedelic Swedish band Goat, and Electric Ursa (No Quarter Records) by the Kentucky alt-folk singer Joan Shelley. They just hit my aesthetic sweet spot. And I'm working on a biography of Lou Reed, so I've been deep in the stacks on his work. It's hard to calibrate who is "local" these days, as musicians especially are often on the move. I'm always interested in what John Medeski is up to, ditto Jamie Saft—another improvising keyboardist who I've seen twice locally with New Zion Trio, though he's got many other cool projects. I generally dig anything Elizabeth and Dan Littleton are involved in. And I'm super stoked lately for the curation at BSP Lounge, Club Helsinki, the Falcon, Team Love Ravenhouse Gallery, the Tin Roof Sessions, and other adventurous local outposts. It's a good bet that anything they're presenting will be high quality. Locally, there are new LPs due from Shana Falana, Breakfast In Fur, and Quarterbacks that I'm psyched about.
Musician, producer, and big daddy of Hudson Valley kids' music
My most-played album of the year is Juana Molina's Wed 21 (Crammed Discs). I think she's a genius. She's created her own little world and I love going there. She plays everything herself and I can't figure out half of what she's doing. Inspirational. Other favorites: Son Lux's Lanterns (Joyful Noise Records), Alash, Toumani and Sidiki Diabate, St. Vincent, Kasai Allstars. Also, I'm mostly working in the world of music for kids, and there are a lot of great things happening right now. Gustafer Yellowgold, the Pop Ups, and Frances England are just a few that are doing unique and fun music that I listen to with my kids, and when they're not around. I'm loving a lot of the music coming out of our area right now. So many great things. But I just have to draw attention to one of my musical heroes, Paul McMahon. When I listen to music, I mostly tune out the words, but I love this man's words and mind. I'm hoping that someone volunteers to be his sugar daddy/mommy and funds a retrospective recording of all his songs. Paul's music should be documented and dispersed. Things I'm looking forward to? There's so much out there. I'm just always thrilled that it's so easy to search and find out, for instance, what music was happening in Kinshasa in 1955, and then see what's happening there now. There are always hotspots of musical innovation, like, say, Jamaica in the '60s, and I love the hunt for where the hotspots are now, and where they've been throughout the history of recorded music. A lifelong pursuit. Forgot about Michael Hurley, too. Probably my second-most played artist this year.