Tuesday, August 7, 2012

70 For 70: The Top 70 Albums of the 1970's

The task was simple, yet epic: to create a ranked list of the our 70 favorite albums of the 1970's. Myself (Tim Speaker) and MIM (Madison Institute of Musicologists) founder Pete Fahndrich took on the challenge, and responded with lists that were extremely painful to create. When in doubt, we chose the albums that meant the most to us, as opposed to what we thought were the best.

Pete tweets at https://twitter.com/pmstation

Without further ado, her is 70 For 70:

Tim Speaker's Favorite 70 Albums of the 1970's

70. Leonard Cohen—Death of a Ladies’ Man
69. Neu!—Neu75
68. Van Morrison—St. Dominic’s Preview
67. Patti Smith—Easter
66. Black Sabbath—Master of Reality
65. Nick Drake—Pink Moon
64. Leonard Cohen—New Skin For the Old Ceremony
63. The Kinks—Lola Vs. Powerman and the Money Go Round
62. Nick Drake—Bryter Layter
61. The Grateful Dead—Workingman’s Dead
60. T.Rex—The Slider
59. Television—Marquee Moon
58. Elvis Costello—My Aim Is True
57. Talking Heads—More Songs About Buildings and Food
56. Brian Eno—Another Green World
55. Patti Smith—Radio Ethiopia
54. Suicide—Suicide
53. Tom Waits—Closing Time
52. Pink Floyd—Meddle
51. Black Sabbath—Paranoid
50. The Grateful Dead—American Beauty
49. Talking Heads—Fear of Music
48. The Grateful Dead—Blues For Allah
47. David Bowie—Lodger
46. The Clash—Give Em’ Enough Rope
45. The Rolling Stones—Some Girls
44. Neil Young—After the Gold Rush
43. The Beatles—Let It Be
42. Patti Smith—Horses
41. Pink Floyd—Wish You Were Here
40. Big Star—Third/Sister Lovers
39. Brian Eno—Here Come the Warm Jets
38. Van Morrison—Moondance
37. The Doors—LA Woman
36. Patti Smith—Wave
35. David Bowie—Young Americans
34. The Who—Who's Next
33. The Grateful Dead—From The Mars Hotel
32. Bob Dylan—Desire
31. Led Zeppelin—In Through The Out Door
30. T.Rex—Electric Warrior
29. David Bowie—Diamond Dogs
28. Black Sabbath—Black Sabbath
27. Iggy Pop—Lust For Life
26. Lou Reed—Transformer
25. The Velvet Underground—Loaded
24. Iggy Pop—The Idiot
23. Led Zeppelin—IV
22. Led Zeppelin—Presence
21. Pink Floyd—Dark Side of the Moon
20. The Stooges—Raw Power
19. The Rolling Stones—Exile on Main Street
18. David Bowie—The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars
17. David Bowie—Aladdin Sane
16. Bruce Springsteen—Born To Run
15. David Bowie—Hunky Dory
14. David Bowie—Heroes
13. Led Zeppelin—III
12. Led Zeppelin—Houses of the Holy
11. David Bowie—Station To Station

Note: Only 1 artist per entry in the Top Ten
10. Pink Floyd—The Wall
09. The Clash—The Clash
08. The Sex Pistols—Never Mind The Bollocks
07. Bob Dylan—Blood on the Tracks
06. Joy Division—Unknown Pleasures
05. The Stooges—Funhouse
04. Bruce Springsteen—Darkness On The Edge Of Town
03. The Rolling Stones—Sticky Fingers
02. David Bowie—Low
01. Led Zeppelin—Physical Graffiti

Pete Fahndrich's Favorite 70 Albums of the 1970's
70.  Talking Heads - More Songs about Buildings and Food

69.  Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
68.  John Lennon - Plastic Ono Band
67.  The Who - The Who by Numbers
66.  Van Morrison - Tupelo Honey
65.  Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
64.  Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
63.  Queen - A Night at the Opera
62.  Faces - A Wink is as Good as a Nod to a Blind Horse
61.  Badfinger - Straight Up
60.  Patti Smith - Easter
59.  The Pretenders - The Pretenders
58.  The Kinks - Lola vs. Powerman and the Moneyground
57.  Big Star - Third (Sister Lovers)
56.  Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
55.  Roxy Music - Country Life
54.  Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life
53.  George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
52.  Neil Young - Harvest
51.  Van Morrison - Moondance
50.  Paul McCartney - Ram
49.  Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
48.  The Beatles - Let it Be
47.  Lou Reed - Transformer
46.  Billy Joel - The Stranger
45.  Elvis Costello - Armed Forces
44.  Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III
43.  David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
42.  Modern Lovers - Modern Lovers
41.  David Bowie - Low
40.  The Who - Who’s Next
39.  Pink Floyd - The Wall
38.  Van Morrison - His Band and Street Choir
37.  Big Star - # 1 Record
36.  Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo’s Factory
35.  Van Morrison - Saint Dominick’s Preview
34.  Iggy Pop - The Idiot
33.  The Ramones - The Ramones
32.  John Lennon - Imagine
31.  Velvet Underground - Loaded
30.  Joni Mitchell - Blue
29.  The Stooges - Raw Power
28.  Neil Young - Tonight’s the Night
27.  Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
26.  T-Rex - The Slider
25.  Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection
24.  Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV
23.  Iggy Pop - Lust for Life
22.  David Bowie - Aladdin Sane
21.  Elton John - Honky Chateau
20.  Bob Dylan - Desire
19.  The Who - Quadrophenia
18.  The Clash - The Clash
17.  David Bowie - Honky Dory
16.  The Stooges - Fun House
15.  Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
14.  Elvis Costello - This Year’s Model
13.  Brian Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets
12.  Talking Heads - Fear of Music
11.  The Rolling Stones - Some Girls

And the Top Ten Albums of the 1970's...
10.  David Bowie - Station to Station
09.  The Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bullocks
08.  Television - Marquee Moon
07.  Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
06.  David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
05.  Neil Young - On the Beach
04.  Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks
03.  The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street
02.  Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
01. The Rolling  Stones - Sticky Fingers

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflections On The State Of Music In 2011

or Why I Cannot Learn To Stop Worrying and Love Spotify

"It takes effort and attention...like most things, the more it hurts, the more it means…"
Frank Chimero commenting on The Tree Of Life

As true rock journalism has been replaced by blog/internet culture (which explains the ascendancy of the shoddy, short-sighted, pot-shot criticism of Pitchfork and their ilk) that seems to exist without correlation to rock history or lineage, it is as if many of the current rock “journalists” are so consumed with the post-modern tendency to simply link references rather than analyze with intelligence. It seems they cannot, or will not invest in the process of thoughtfully considering the work they are attempting to criticize beyond the most superficial of connective elements (again I’m looking at you Pitchfork).

Perhaps this tendency to connect rather than analyze is due in part to the entire catalogue of recorded music literally becoming available at your fingertips. This unprecedented access brings with it a wholly modern problem – access without filter; without a way to navigate this bottomless pit of history the rock journalist of today can merely attempt to connect like-objects in an attempt to plot a course in the wake of the collapse of the music industry. This is why I cannot learn to stop worrying and love Spotify—the discrepancy between access and education, breakneck opportunity and analytic understanding is staggering.

Yes, it is a dream to be able to access anything in the realm of music, but what are we losing? Unfettered musical access at the speed of light often causes surface dismissal, on-to-the-next-thing, shallow interaction (the topic of recent book TheShallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains). Rock criticism has now become similar to Tumblr, but for music—a rapid succession of images that “look” significant or rather become symbols for significance rather than doors to deeper, more meaningful interaction. In short, many members of youthful audiences can discern what significance “looks like”, but cannot elucidate why those images/peoples/texts/musics are actually significant. Imagine if you applied this method of criticism to other forms of art: if art history courses were only constructed as Tumblr-style image sequences without discourse and crucial support/contextual information; that the annals of film were only a series of YouTube clips; that the vast history of literature were only brief sentence summaries or worse, context-free quotations (this already is the only way that most young people interact with the classics—through Tumblr-loaded quotes or Disney-fied movie versions).

This lack of context positions all works of art to be of equal value as seen through the lens of an endless succession of quickly viewed/listened to works; the truly substantial and the commonly mediocre become indiscernible in the anonymous rush of material hissing past at hurried speeds. We are at the top of the ladder in our ability to access, but without means of navigation, we are kicking out the rungs beneath us. This can only end in a culture of art that is repetitive, unoriginal, and worst of all, cliché.

It is this superficial contact that I am attempting to make a plea against—in every area of art, be it literature, painting, film, design, or music. If venues like Spotify or Rdio are used in the right way—as modern conduits to connect us to the art we listen to, to contemplate, to investigate, to discuss—then they are certainly a positive. This screed may come across as the ranting of an old-timer, claiming that things were better “back then”. To be clear, I am no luddite; I am an avid user of Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, etc. But I fear that for those listeners who are at the outset of their formative listening experiences and critical listening development will not gain the ability to analyze, but rather to only be able to at best connect-the-dots, and at worst—never develop the ability to “listen” at all. 

SIDENOTE: I just want to publicly request that David Bowie shake free of his early retirement and get back into the ring this year. This is my biggest hope for the new year—Bowie, come back—we need you now more than ever.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2011 – Extended Selections

So every year I make additional selections by offering several awards outside of the "official" ballot. Here they are, my extended selections.

Holocene – Bon Iver
Listened to this song sitting in the window overlooking Old Town Saginaw when I got back from the hospital the morning my brother died. Seared into my soul forever.

Walk – Foo Fighters
Runners Up: Shake It Off – Florence + The Machine, Midnight City – M83, Discoverer – REM, Lonely Boy – The Black Keys, The Death of You & Me – Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, The World Is Yours – Glasvegas

SONGS OF THE YEAR (30 great songs, in no particular order)
We Are Augustines – Headlong Into The Abyss
Chelsea Wolfe­­ – Tracks (Tall Bodies)
Papercuts – Charades
Glasvegas – Whatever Hurts You Through The Night
The Horrible Crowes – Sugar
M83 – Steve McQueen
Zola Jesus – Collapse
The Black Keys – Little Black Submarines
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds – (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
Dirty Beaches – Speedway King
The Twilight Singers – The Beginning of the End
Girls – Vomit
M83 – Wait
Foo Fighters – I Should Have Known
Florence + The Machine – Only For Tonight
Chelsea Wolfe – Movie Screen
The Horrors – Changing Rain
Wild Flag – Romance
Glasvegas – The World Is Yours
I Break Horses – Hearts
We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
The Horrible Crowes – Behold The Hurricane
Wolf Gang – Lions In Cages
M83 – Reunion
Zola Jesus – Lick The Palm Of The Burning Hand
The Horrors – Oceans Burning
PJ Harvey – The Last Living Rose
Arctic Monkeys – She’s Thunderstorms
REM – Discoverer
Florence + The Machine – No Light, No Light

Badlands, Dirty Beaches
Redundant to bring this up again, but it really is fantastic. Check it out.

Lonely Boy, The Black Keys
In a weak year for the dying artistic genre known as the music video, this one was perfect.

Beady Eye—Different Gear, Still Speeding.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is a bigger Liam Gallagher fan on this planet than I am. And that’s not to say that that this album is bad—it’s just sort of…meh. I really like Beatles & Stones and The Morning Son but otherwise it’s kind of forgettable.
RUNNER UP: Glasvegas, ///Euphoria Heartbreak\\\ Repeat all of the above commentary for Beady Eye but insert the word Glasvegas.

The breakup of REM, obviously.

Back & Forth: Foo Fighters
This Foo Fighters/Dave Grohl/Nirvana doc does everything a great rock film should do—
RUNNER UP: From The Sky Down: The Making of Achtung Baby is also pretty great, but I wanted more.
SIDE NOTE: I also really liked Stones In Exile about the making of Exile On Mainstreet and Lemmy, concerning the handsome and debonair Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead. 

The Top 10 Albums of 2011

Ok, so it's really fifteen. But it was a really strong year so I went with more than ten.

15. Wild Flag—Wild Flag
The sound is the blood between me and you

Rock and roll is alive and well and living in the hearts of these four women. Killer top to bottom.

14. The Black Keys – El Camino
But everybody knows / That a broken heart is blind

Loving it, but since it just came out I haven’t been able to spend the kind of time with it that I need to.

13. The Twilight Singers—Dynamite Steps
All come alive in the present tense

The disappointment was in the buildup; the promise of Dynamite Steps was too great, as word of a new Twilight Singers album, following one of the best albums of the past decade—Powder Burns—would also feature Gutter Twin Mark Lanegan as well as erstwhile genius (and personal guitar-god) Nick McCabe of the Verve? The lure proved too much. Instead of an epoch-defining work, Greg Dulli and Co. return with another excellent album of noir rock. 

It’s tough to call this a disappointment, as it truly does have its moments (like the Song of the Year contender The Beginning of the End), but considering the buildup, it was hard not to feel a bit letdown. Again, that isn’t to say I don’t love this album, because I certainly do.

12. We Are Augustines—Rise Ye Sunken Ships
Well call the police, go ahead call your shrink / Call whoever you want but I won't stop the car

I love albums that have a good story behind them, and this one is a doozy. From Paste Magazine’s review:

Jim, the brother of lead singer and songwriter Billy McCarthy, had a very troubled past. Since high school, he lived in homeless shelters and on the streets of California after succumbing to excessive substance abuse. He was also committed to psychiatric hospitals on multiple occasions.

Jim eventually used a knife to attack a worker in a shelter where he was living. He then found himself in prison and diagnosed as a schizophrenic, unfit to stand trial and too dangerous to stay with the general public…For four years, Jim remained in solitary confinement, his only escapes being small stints at more psychiatric hospitals…While staying at one, he overheard he’d again be relegated to solitary confinement…He panicked…Then hanged himself.

Their mother, also a schizophrenic and addict, came to a similar demise. Lying on a cot in a homeless shelter, she overdosed on sleeping pills and cocaine…Next to her bed, she had scribbled two things on the back of a business card from a local mortuary: her children’s names…Billy, Jim and their sister never knew their father.

The funny thing about this album, one sprung from so much darkness, is that is sounds mostly triumphant. Though it does trail off a bit, a more honest group of songs you will not find this year.

11. Dirty Beaches—Badlands
Speedway / It's taking over me

Badlands sounds like it was unearthed from beneath the garbage barrels behind CBGB’s, the mutant offspring of a late night jam session between Suicide, The Cramps, and Elvis singing lyrics written by Charles Starkweather in an alley somewhere in my dreams. Very, very hard to leave this out of my top ten.

SIDE NOTE: This is the best album cover of the year, by far. To fully experience the album as it was intended, pick it up on vinyl like I did. Pressed on white wax, the grime sounds like a demented symphony, and the noir-ish photography provides ample evidence for the need to continue producing tangible packaging.

10. Bon Iver—Bon Iver
…and at once I knew I was not magnificent

Another tenderly brilliant album from Justin Vernon, Wisconsin’s most famous cabin dweller. The blatant Peter Gabriel-ism is a bit concerning to most, but since I actually like Peter Gabriel (and am not afraid to admit it) I am OK with it. 

Of anyone on this list, I think his next album will have the highest stakes (so to speak) of his career. 

09. The Horrors—Skying
The moment that you want is coming / If you give it time

Another set of gorgeous, post-punk warbles. The law of diminishing returns does govern this follow-up to my 2009 Album of theYear, Primary Colours, but it is still a strong batch of high quality, billowy, psych.

08. Chelsea Wolfe—Apokalypsis
We could be two straight lines in a crooked world…

Chelsea Wolfe snuck onto the musical landscape by releasing her debut album The Grime and The Glow in the final week of 2010. I discovered that album in late spring, and spent a considerable portion of the summer of 2011 playing Halfsleeper on repeat late into the night. Her follow up—Apokalypsis—was released in September and is an absolutely white-nuckle, horror movie scary collection of feral doomfolk. In a good way. 

This album has an atmosphere that is totally exclusive to anything else put on wax this year. Listening, you can almost smell the smoky haze of incense burning at some ancient, biblical rite taking place, being presided over by a feral priestess that may or may not be PJ Harvey. It kind of reminds me of the atmosphere created on the title track to the first Black Sabbath album, if that helps describe the late night, bizarre environment constructed here. 

I found myself in the month of December basically playing Tracks (TallBodies) on repeat, hypnotized by it's repetitive spell.

SIDE NOTE: Try as I might, I could not find this on CD or (extremely) limited LP, as it was mostly a digital only release. A sign of the times I guess.

07. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Self-Titled
Build a little fire where it’s cold…

This is the best album of the year while you are listening to it. Nothing makes you feel this good—so good that it feels like a collection of Be Here Now B-sides, which is the ultimate compliment I can give it. I ask you to listen to this record, and take a moment to appreciate the level of traditional English-with-a-capital-E songwriting here, as nobody else does this anymore. 

A dying art to be sure.

06. Foo Fighters—Wasting Light
I never wanna die / I never wanna die / I'm on my knees / I never wanna die…

Are Foo Fighters the last straight-up rock and roll band in the mainstream left in America? I must admit that the placement of this album was significantly influenced by repeated viewings of the extraordinary documentary Back & Forth. The album, like the documentary that chronicled its creation, is a look back in order to forge a new path forward. Many of the best songs here—Dear Rosemary, I Should Have Known, Bridge Burning, Miss The Misery, Arlandria, and the spectacular Walk—all deal with the subject of reflecting on past losses, past mistakes, past failures as a way to appreciate what you have now, today, in the present. A song like I Should Have Known is given incredible gravity not only by the subject matter—not being able to stop someone you care for from self-destruction, one of which is explicitly Kurt Cobain—but through the inclusion of Krist Novoselic (performing for the first time with Grohl post-Nirvana) and Pat Smear (now back in the fold as a full time member) a resonance that supersedes the Foo Fighters as a musical entity. 

Few albums are as life-affirming as this set from Grohl’s Army, and that alone set Wasting Light apart from most of the pack this year.

05. Florence + The Machine—Ceremonials
And would you leave me / If I told you what I've become?

Blown away by the power of her talent. Lyrically, musically, and vocally this album is phenomenal – I was totally caught off guard by Ceremonials. Superb in every category. Calling her a force of nature is not mere hyperbole, she seems to exert powerful sway over the elements. 

04. M83—Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
I woke up stronger than ever…

Epic in the best sense of the world, this sprawling shoegaze/technopop extravaganza should come with a map. Huge in sound and scope, this album steps forward from 2009’s John Hughes inspired masterpiece Saturdays=Youth. Should M83 mainman Anthony Gonzalez have decided to prune this back to a single disc, it certainly would have fought for Album of the Year. But forget about all that, just take it as it is – a bittersweet mix of upbeat heartfelt symphonies dedicated to the loss of innocence and youth. 

Beautifully confidant.

SIDENOTE: If Hurry Up, We're Dreaming was released when I was 22, it would have been the soundtrack to my life. Every song sounds like a movie. Also, I highly recommend seeing them live. They are absolutely massive live.

03. The Horrible Crowes—Elsie
If you should go there before I do / God's gonna trouble the water

This side-project from Brian Fallon (who may be my favorite young songwriter in America) reaches into areas of lyricism undiscovered in his day job as Gaslight Anthem’s director and guiding force. Elsie seemed to get better and better with each and every listen I gave it. An album about loss, in it's many forms. 

SIDE NOTE: You know when you lose your objectivity about quality because you feel so close to a work? This album has served as my companion through the long hours of grief in the wake of my brother’s death last August. I spent every available minute driving the backstreets of South Carolina in September and October listening to this album and I will always have a hard time listening to it.

02. Zola Jesus—Conatus
Cause it hurts, yes it hurts to let you in…

An operatic goth/synth/dance/dreampop tour de force. The Goth Queen of Madison, WI takes on a broad range of subjects and moods here; fitting for an album whose title—Conatus—is latin for moving forward. Conatus is a major leap ahead in terms of songwriting, production, and instrumentalism from her brilliant twin 2010 EP’s Stridullum and Valusia. The best compliment that I can give this is to say that it is a complete work, a true album in the sense that each song is sequenced with precision, and work as links to a whole. 

Heroic, picturesque, heart-wrenching, strong.

01. PJ Harvey—Let England Shake
Goddamn Europeans! / Take me back to beautiful England…

Not her first reinvention (my favorite would be the now over 10 years old, still phenomenal Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea) but certainly the most convincing and total, Let England Shake is a brilliant treatise on post-WWI Britain. It is of the utmost importance that artists continue to challenge their audience with complex, confrontational, or uncomfortable material and Harvey has found inventive and distinctive ways to do this since the early 90’s. Even in a very, very strong year for female artists, Harvey continues to be in a class unto herself.

SIDE NOTE: I find the current pre-eminence of PJ Harvey as an influence on contemporary, female based "rock" to be truly fascinating, as it is difficult—nearly impossible—to imagine much of the significant female work at present without her influence. A brief look at my Top Ten Albums of 2011 exemplifies this – Chelsea Wolfe, Florence + The Machine, Zola Jesus, and countless others bear her distinctive mark. It’s as if her particular brand of intelligent, literary, visceral rock and roll has aged with such formidable significance and dignity that what was once periphery has now become central to the post millennial, post collapse-of-the-music-industry, post rock-as-cultural-force, post rock-is-dead musical landscape (this same observation may also be applied to the work of Nick Cave). I am not certain why this is, but I think it is a worthwhile discussion to cultivate.

Top Albums of 2011 – 25 To 15

OK folks, it's that time again. Time for the Madison Institute of Musicologists to convene, place their ballots, and select their Top Ten Albums of 2011. As usual, I will be offering an extended version of the ballot. As this was an especially strong and competitive year, I have decided to include a full list of the Top Twenty-Five Albums of 2011.

More to come. So without further ado, here we go:

25. Diego Garcia—Laura

24. The War On Drugs—Slave Ambient

23. Papercuts—Fading Parade

22. The Kills—Blood Pressures

21. The Raveonettes—Raven In The Grave

20. Radiohead—King of Limbs

19. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart—Belong

18. Chapel Club—Palace

17. Girls—Father, Son, Holy Ghost

16. Glasvegas—///Euphoria Heartbreak\\\

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Top 20 Stone Roses Songs

The Stone Roses are one of the greatest bands of all time — this is fairly indisputable. Their recent resurrection is as improbable as it was amazing. More on this at another time.

For now, here is my Top 20 Stone Roses Songs of All Time, in honor of their return.

20. What The World Is Waiting For

19. Here It Comes

18. Standing Here

17. Fool’s Gold

16. How Do You Sleep?

15. Sugar Spun Sister

14. Standing Here

13. The Hardest Thing In The World

12. Mersey Paradise

11. Waterfall

10. She Bangs The Drums

09. Going Down

08. All Across The Sands

07. Made of Stone

06. Sally Cinnamon

05. Ten Storey Love Song

04. I Wanna Be Adored

03. Love Spreads

02. This Is The One

01. I Am The Resurrection

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top 25 Characters On The Wire

There are two types of people—those who have seen The Wire and know it's the best show of all-time, and those you haven't seen it yet.
—Tim Speaker

One of the many reasons why my favorite (and best) show of all time is The Wire are the characters. Fully three-dimensional, real characters either based on factual individuals, often played by non-actors, or amalgamations of real-life people, the characters on The Wire move far beyond any film or television series in terms of truth.

Most shows have a character, or a few characters, that keep you coming back. Yet when I thought to put this list together, I immediately thought of over 30 characters that I loved off the top of my head. I cannot imagine being able to do this with any other show. And that alone says alot for the quality of the acting on The Wire. Also, I had to leave out characters that I loved or felt were brilliant, in order to limit the list to 25 (sorry Herc, Prezbo, Clay Davis). This is astounding for a television show.

Here it is, my Top 25 Favorite Characters On The Wire:
25. Slim Charles
24. Carver
23. Chris Partlo
22. Snoop
21. Poot
20. Cutty
19. Brother Mouzone
18. Randy
17. Marlo Stanfield
16. Bunny Colvin
15. Dukie
14. Michael
13. Kima Greggs
12. Bodie Broadus
11. Wee Bey
10. Wallace
09. Proposition Joe
08. Lester Freamon
07. D’Angelo Barksdale
06. Bubbles
05. Avon Barksdale
04. Bunk Moreland
03. Jimmy McNulty
02. Stringer Bell
01. Omar Little
I know it's cliche to like Omar the best, but the brilliant Michael K. Williams portrayal of him is simply electric. He owns the screen every second he is on it, regardless of who he is sharing it with.

And fans can find a great home here, at WireFans.com.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Deus Ex Machina Releases First Book, Typically Brilliant

I love Deus Ex Machina. I love their bikes. I love their bicycles. I love their posters. I love their gear. I love their website. I love their branding. I love their spirit. I love their photography.

I do not love their prices, but that is more a personal problem (I'm broke as a joke) than anything they are doing per se.

And now? They release a new book via Blurb called The Temple of Enthusiasm and it's what you would expect - brilliance dripping from every page, and a drool-festival for a cover. Amazing. The problem? It's $146 dollars!

Oh well. I can dream right?

Buy one here. Check out Deus Ex Machina here.

Lines & Lives Of The Face Opens In Tryon

Last saturday I had the good fortune of being included in a brilliant show of portraiture at the Upstairs Gallery in Tryon, NC. What an amazing space! I was blown away by the great work by the artists involved, and the subtle curation by Nancy and Margaret. Truly a superb space operated by wonderful people. Tryon is this cool little mountain town (which there are tons of great ones in NC) where Nina Simone was born, and her monument park is directly across the street from the gallery - so cool.

David Slone - a fellow Art Bomber - was also included in the show, and created the above video to capture a glimpse of the show.

Check it out. The show runs through November 19th. More information at the Upstairs Gallery.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Postmodernism Film Is Clarifying

Postmodernism is one of those slippery terms to define. Want some clarification? Check this film out to coincide with the exhibition. Superb.

More information here.