It’s hard to believe, but the end of 2012 is right around the corner. As such, I’ve begun the laborious, though enjoyable, task of going through the archives and culling candidates for this year’s “best of” lists, particularly the traditional Top 10 Vermont-Made Albums. It’s a huge task, and I’ve learned it pays to get cracking early.
Typically, as the year progresses, I make note of records that I think stand a reasonable chance of making it to the year-end list. Normally, that list rolls about 15 deep by November. This year’s list already contains nearly 25 recordings, with still a little more than a month to go. So either you folks have been making some seriously great records in 2012, or I’m just going soft. I’m hoping it’s the former.
Anyway, this week offers the chance to check out two bands who released records that, if they don’t make the Top 10, will certainly feature prominently in the discussion by the end of December.
The first is Michael Chorney and Dollar General, who released a thoroughly stunning record, Dispensation of the Ordinary, earlier this year. As 7D freelance reviewer Jarrett Berman noted in his take on Chorney’s latest, the album is a melancholy masterstroke. I’m inclined to agree. Berman cited it as a perfect cap to late-summer/early-fall nostalgia. I submit it works just as well as a soundtrack to the ebbing afternoon light of late fall and early winter. It’s a cozy yet complex album that warms like a good whiskey.
You can catch Michael Chorney and Dollar General at Signal Kitchen in Burlington this Sunday, November 18, as part of Zack duPont’s ongoing listening-room series. While you’re at it, drop by Seth Eames’ residency at Muddy Waters this Thursday, November 15, where Chorney and Eames will revisit songs from their excellent 2009 collaboration, It Disappears — a Top 10 pick that year, FYI.
Anachronist is likely a lesser-known commodity than Chorney, but the Montpelier band’s debut EP, Row, inspired this critic to harrowing fits of hyperbole in a review last month. And with good reason. Led by the criminally unsung Brian Clark — whose 2010 solo record, Solo Duo Trio, was an underrated gem — Anachronist delivered some of the most enjoyable 20-some minutes of music I’ve heard this year. Fans of atmospheric alt-country and indie rock would be well advised to stop by the Monkey House this Friday, November 16, when the band opens for the always excellent Anders Parker Cloud Badge.
Before we continue with this week’s installment, a brief detour.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sharon Van Etten’s show at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge last Saturday. Or I would have, were it not for the re-emergence of a particularly obnoxious strain of concertgoer: the show-talker. I haven’t had to browbeat these schmucks publicly in a while. And generally, most of the quieter shows I’ve been to lately have been free of their gabby, self-absorbed ilk. So I thought maybe, just maybe, we had turned a collective corner. I was wrong.
It started during Damien Jurado’s beautifully mellow opening set and, sadly, continued right on through Van Etten’s comparatively louder but still nuanced performance. So I gotta ask: why?
Why shell out good money for a show you’re obviously not interested in listening to? Going to see live music is a social experience, and a little bit of conversation is to be expected. I get it. In fact, it would be weird to go to a show at which everyone stood in complete silence. But there is a big difference between the normal concert din and the shenanigans that went on in the Showcase Lounge last Saturday.
Typically, there is an unspoken agreement among concertgoers that if you feel compelled to talk, you hang near the back of the room, usually by the bar where it tends to be noisier anyway. It’s a common courtesy. But on this night, you jackasses were inescapable. Regardless of where I stood to watch, I was treated to endlessly annoying conversations conducted at offensive volumes. Here’s a hint: If you notice the people around you frequently turning in your direction, it’s most likely not because they, too, are fascinated by your love life, your roommate situation or whatever other topic is on your mind. You’re probably being too fucking loud.
(Here’s another tip, free of charge: Cologne is best employed sparingly. Dude in the leather jacket and mom jeans, it’s time to cut back on the Drakkar Noir, chief. Sincerely, people with noses. P.S. Also, shut up.)
Lest you think this is just a case of your snarky, neighborhood music critic getting his skinny jeans in a bunch, I wasn’t alone — also, I don’t wear skinny jeans. Several people I spoke to during and after the show echoed the sentiment that the crowd noise was out of control. When the prevailing take on a concert is “It was great, when I could listen to it,” there’s a problem.
All we’re asking here is for a little common courtesy. By all means, enjoy yourself. Just be aware of your surroundings, considerate of your neighbors and, when necessary, shut the hell up. Because, you never know, you just might hear some good music.
Speaking of albums that could end up on local year-end best-of lists, Heloise Williams and Alexandria Hall — AKA tooth ache. — unveil a new project this week, dubbed Slow Oceans. The two will play their debut performance and release their debut album this Saturday, November 17, at the BCA Center in Burlington. I haven’t heard the record yet, but judging solely by the duo’s pedigree, I’ll venture to say it’s probably gonna be pretty cool. Williams has long been one of the area’s most dynamic vocal divas. And Hall, especially in the last couple of years, has developed into a fascinating artist in her own right, adored locally and beyond. So far, the only available description of the pair’s work is the rather mysterious “humid R&B.” Color me intrigued.
Catamount Arts received a huge boost this week when Vermont-based rock star — and bona fide ginger — Neko Case donated her 1960 Gibson Epiphone Texan guitar to the organization’s 28th annual benefit auction. The guess here is that the axe, which she used on her 2006 record, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, will fetch a pretty penny or two this Saturday, November 17, at the Catamount Arts Center in St. Johnsbury. Though personally, I’ll be waiting to bid until Ms. Case throws in dinner and drinks. (Call me, Neko!)
Last but not least, congrats to Kevin Byer, the winner of the first-ever Funniest Comic in Vermont contest, which concluded this past Saturday at Club Metronome. By winning, Byer scores some sweet prizes and cash. But most importantly, he earns the right to represent Vermont at next year’s Funniest Comic in New England competition. Byer will be joined by the remaining top-five finalists, who include Tracie Spencer, Jason Lorber, Marc Bouchard and Kyle Gagnon.
In this week’s episode of the Seven Days music podcast, “Tour Date with DJ Llu,” Llu sits down with Colin Clary, Dana Kaplan and Missy Bly of perennial BTV twee-pop favorites the Smittens. Tune in and listen to the gang dish on their latest album, the secret to their longevity and how a pair of snow pants started it all. Check it out at 7d.blogs.com/tour_date.