For our year in review, we asked over 55 Dallas artists, musicians, radio personalities, and general arts facilitators to weigh on their favorite concerts, records, and events from 2014. Some people gave it to us straight and some pondered at length what the year meant to them. I enjoyed the diversity in responses so they’re all included here, mostly uncut. Here are the musicians:
(Bukkake Moms, Bitch Teeth, Problem Dogg)
Albums of the Year
1. White Suns — Totem
2. Child Abuse — Trouble in Paradise
3. Guerrilla Toss — Smack The Brick
4. Xiu Xiu — Angel Guts: Red Classroom
5. Doomsday Student — A Walk Through Hysteria Park
6. Swans — To Be Kind
7. Zu/Eugene Robinson — The Left Hand Path
8. Scott Walker & Sun O))))) — Soused
9. Eat Avery’s Bones — Touch My D*ck Underground
10. Full Of Hell & Merzbow
Shows of the Year
1. Bob Crusoe at Saint Vitus August 11th. Weasel Walter, Bukkake Moms, Load-in and Cartoon also performed.
2. John Weise, S.S.B.T, Bludded Head, Stefan Gonzalez//Filth collaborative set at Crown and Harp some time in March.
3. 9/11 Noisefest at Club 1808 in Austin
4. Bradford Four, Yells at Eels at Beefhaus
5. Hellhouse at Deep Ellum Windows
6. Bruce Hacked, Ulnae, New England Patriots, Bukkake Moms Macaroni Island on 4/20
7. H.P. Hatecraft at Dreamy Life Records
8. The Sediment Club, Drug Mountain, Geistheistler, Bukkake Moms at Rubbergloves
9. Cokskar, Orgullo Primitivo, Cerulean Giallo, Thou at Taqueria Peditros
10. Swans, Xiu Xiu at Trees
11. Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions at Crown and Harp
(Nervous Curtains, Little Beards)
On the albums of the year:
The Body — I Shall Die Here
This is a blistering doom album from the depths of suicidal despair as deconstructed and reimagined by the always brilliant Haxan Cloak which sounds completely singular; an immersive listening experience that is both terrifying and life-affirming.
Swans — To Be Kind
This album is a sprawling masterpiece of Western culture that encapsulates everything I love about music and art. Although I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to play a miniscule role by adding some piano, harpsichord and synth parts to this record, I’ve listened to it repeatedly as a fan.
Total Control — Typical System
Playing brilliant post-punk with equal parts angular guitars and arpeggiated synths, this Melbourne band was my most exciting discovery of the year. Typical System sounds almost like it could’ve been a lost gem from 1979, yet it’s completely fresh and always surprising.
Pallbearer — Foundations of Burden
I was prepared for this follow-up to their perfectly-formed 2012 debut to be the disappointment of the year, but somehow Pallbearer has managed to match, if not exceed, that initial accomplishment. This is a glorious and epic album with plenty of crossover appeal for non-metalheads that sacrifices none of its devil-horn conviction.
Run the Jewels — RTJ2
I’ve been following Killer Mike and El-P, respectively, for the past decade, and this collaboration sees both artists surpassing all peers lyrically, performance-wise, production-wise, all around. After repeated listens, the male bravado reveals itself as a metaphor for the modern struggle for human rights in the face of corruption, mass-incarceration, big money, and corporate control.
Tombs – Savage Gold
It’s kind of like Children of God-era Swans played by a black metal band. What’s not to love?
Iceage – Plowing the Fields of Love
The third album from this young Danish post-punk band sounds likes these now-early-twenty-somethings perhaps recently binged on Rowland S. Howard and The Gun Club. Remarkably, the addition of piano, violins, mandolins and slightly less slurred vocals remarkably do not diminish this band’s raw, explosive and expressive energy.
Marissa Nadler — July
Other-worldly folk songs drift through a rainy Pacific Northwest haze of reverbed cello and synth drones (courtesy of Steve Moore from Zombi/Goblin). July is the best record of Nadler’s career.
Reigning Sound — Shattered
Greg Cartwright only makes classics, and this is no exception.
Pig Eyes – Pig Eyes
A late-year discovery with which I instantly fell in love, Pig Eyes is a Swedish band that plays a perfect mix of doom riffs and propulsive post-punk dual-drummer rhythms.
John Feezy is a DJ who regularly plays at Candleroom, but also makes appearances at Red Light Lounge and Double Wide on occasion. He chose five records:
1. Recondite — Iffy Anthem alert: “Levo”
2. Ilovemakkonen — Sneak Lady – Somehow ILM channels meatloaf in the 21st century. Context to be had here.
3. Starfoxxx Baby — I’m Off Drugs and Ready to Marry You (album) – The title is pretty much spot on.
4. Stimming — “Southern Sun” (single) b/w China Sea (both)
5. Theophilus London – Vibes (album)
Nan Little Kirkpatrick
(Little Beards, Frauen)
Tom Jones: I could barely keep my underwear on when I found out Tom Jones was coming in back in May. I have several Tom Jones records; I don’t just like him ironically. The things I remember most about the show were how great his voice sounds live, how tight his pants were, and, yes, about six pairs of underwear being thrown at the stage at various points in the performance. Oh, and I remember all the old people dry humping each other, which seemed kind of sweet, actually.
Annex: Annex is post-punk from McAllen, Texas. I saw them at Wardance at Crown and Harp, and they first came to my attention because they were on a Joy Division tribute compilation. The frontwoman had a really confident presence, which was exciting, and they got those cool post-punk bass lines that really drive me wild.
li´e: li´e is from Canada, and I saw them here in Dallas around SXSW. I am terrible at naming types of music, but their Facebook “About” says they’re “dark-punk, cold-punk, post-punk.” They’re three women playing loud and aggressive music. I like that.
They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy: TStWMTC is a new project from Sarah Ruth (Cerulean Giallo) and Gregg Pricket who is in or has been in about a bagillion projects, including Dead to a Dying World. TStWMTC blew me away. Sarah has a really innovative spirit, and what she does with her operatic vocals is interesting and not always focused on being beautiful. If you see them listed as playing out somewhere, go.
Angel Olsen: Angel Olsen’s album Burn Your Fire for No Witness has dark and haunting moments, which is just my style. She’s also got a fun side, especially live, and I love that, too. She was funny! I like funny ladies. But beyond having an entertaining stage presence, she writes great songs and sings real purdy.
Five albums I added to my collection this year were:
Howard Jones — Dream Into Action
George Michael — Faith
Paula Abdul — Forever Your Girl
Hall and Oates — Big Bam Boom
Ferrante and Teicher — Themes From various Broadway Shows.
My husband, Sean, buys a lot of artsy post-punk and synth records, which I then get to listen to for free, so most of my personal collection is centered on my love of 80s pop and groovy 60s instrumentals. I live in the used bins at Deadwax in Carrolton. So I’m afraid I’m not going to be much help for people who’re wanting to get turned on to new music, but if you’ve never heard of Hall and Oates, then you’re welcome.
For this list, I will assume full bias and only list shows that occurred at Two Bronze Doors this year:
Hardon Collider – Mulatto Thunders – Luuli
Circuit bent toys at earsplitting frequencies – braindead detroit techno – breakcore with a megaphone. There were 5 people at this show. none of these artists are making anything closely resembling ‘a living’ from monetary compensation for their work. this is one of my favorite lineups ever.
Somehow we managed to put together what basically amounted to a pit stop for roughly 12% (my calculation) of the artists performing at Jonathan Cash’s (Tx Noise/Austin Noise artist) annual Sux By Suxwest festival. That’s 14 artists. Drums Like Machine Guns, Dromez, Saginaws own Headcleaner, Full Metal F*ggot, Peasant, BOAR, I Like You Go Home and many amazing others. 15 people needed a place to stay that night, the residents were not happy about that. The cops didn’t get called, somehow.
Headless Television Consumer: Josh Westerman + Kiki Ishihara | Orgullo Primito | V:H
This show centered around a staged performance by Seth Victorious and Haultaine III, which pertained to themes such as the complex power dynamic between media and the users who must content with it. The performance almost counts as a time-based installation, with wall-to-wall projections, wearable tv monitor-helmets, and scene unfolding between two actors.
Lily Taylor | Silent Land Time Machine | C10| Black Taffy| Reversus | Breakdancing Ronald Reagan
A walking talking Fedora, Johnathan Cash asked me to hold his camera and record his set for him, so that I would stand close to the front when he pulls out the sheet metal and begins to grind sparks into the audience. Here’s the footage.
Also: Unconscious Collective, New Fumes, and Cerulean Giallo
I really got into financial corruption documentaries that day, then i walked over to the show and got to see some of my favorite local artists play for the first time at the house.
Patrick Romeo’s ‘Actually’ solo show at Beefhaus in late september was the most innovative but effortless utilization of a show space I have seen so far in Dallas. The piece that caught my imagination the most consisted of a lightbulb connected to a photovoltaic cell and a light meter in the middle of the chain. The light meter is giving a reading in real time, which intuits the user to cover up photovoltaic cell to manipulate the values. After testing how low I could depress the reading, the light meter emits a perfunctory BEEP to let you know you have activated an arbitrary action. I had just recently watched a play-through tutorial of the Silent Hills “Playable Trailer,” in which the player must explore a looping sequence of rooms to trigger increasingly esoteric action events in order to advance. Comparing this piece to the mechanics of that game really put User Experience into new perspective for me.
Extra Shout Outs to:
- Every instance of Track Meet Crew’s Angelfire
- THRWD’s #NorthOakCliffDoesNotExist, though it was a bit of a cluster
- Outward Bound Mixtape sessions, and the countless number of shows Stefan contributed to this year!
- Josh Westerman’s adventurous Ghostwood Sessions series
- Every show at Taqueria Pedritos
- Every show at the Black Lodge
2014 in a single:
Cascada – Truly, Madly, Deeply (Nightcore)
This was my music listening playlist at work for the entirety of 2014.
Chin Yi – “RUG”
I had this track set as my alarm clock for a good part of the year. It got me bouncing around ready to break something while the tea kettle screamed in the kitchen before work…
Laughing Hands – EE(WELDER’s BIBLE)
This album got the most mileage on my ipod this year. Way ahead of the curve for its time; atmospheric/rhythmic/cryptic which is kinda exactly what I look for…
Control Unit – BURN
Italian industrial/no wave outfit. tracks drift from haunting and atmospheric to white knuckled and frothing from the mouth. It’s abrasive, bizarre, and cathartic. The ABC’s of a good time…
Low Jack – GARIFUNA VARIATIONS
This one was creeping thru the background while record shopping on tour, a sudden violent mutated bend in what I initially thought was an indigenous field recording arrested my attention and I had to find out what it was; a bed of hypnotic rhythms recontextualized with industrial swells and psychedelic treatments
Muslimgauze – Chasing the Shadow of Bryn Jones 1983–1988
(Lange says he is just glad the Muslimgauze box set.)
“Submission” Traxx | Corporate Park | Cygnu | TX Connect | Jackdover (A venue in Cleburne, TX): North Texas live electronic tag team set the stage for a blistering marathon freakout by TRAXX; was driving on adrenaline back to Denton at the break of dawn…
Goblin | Pinkish Black (Texas Theatre, Dallas TX): One of those I was there kind of shows. Prog macabre of the highest caliber and atmosphere you could cut with a knife
Summer Scum Tour: Filth | Dromez | Corporate Park | Public Health
1 car, 5 people, 4.5 seats, 16 shows, 17 days, 4500 miles. Still trying to process all of that experience. We were all kinda going insane on the home stretch drive thru Oklahoma…
Brighter Death Now | Raison D’etre | Deutsch Nepal | Steel Hook Prosthesis | Black Leather Jesus | Filth (RGRS, Denton TX): I actually preferred this show to the one in Austin. Rubber Gloves seemed the proper setting for the raucous maximalist
expression of this lineup and was met with avarice from those in attendance.
Good/Bad Art Collective — Forever (Broadcast): Given a platform via the Nasher Xchange project and executed in the form a 3 part presentation. ONE-NIGHT INTERACTIVE EVENT, EXTENDED DISPLAY EXHIBITION, and finally an pseudo-infomercial BROADCAST. the local misfit art collective brought the prank to the people during the twilight hours of tv.
Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions: I could easily have included this with the other music events, but Stefan Gonzalez’s continually mutating serial curation/creation is so much more than musical potpourri. The compliment/contrast of disparate elements is about is as core to the creative process as you can get regardless of medium.
Rock Lottery: The Rock Lottery this year succeeded more so than some prior incarnations. The curation embraced a broader variety of participants to some controversy but I felt provided a more engaging event than the temptation of merely assembling local buzz-worthy names for self-congratulatory backslapping can offer.
Under the Skin (Dir. Jonathan Glazer): A phenomenal film: Narrative. Photography. Score. Slow-burning and surreal with heavy doses of alienation.
Top 5 Albums / Songs of 2014:
Gigi Masin – Talk to the Sea
Moodyman – S/T
ROM-DOS – Desire-Systems
Fatima – Yellow Memories
Rae Sremmurd – “No Flex Zone”
Top 5 Shows:
- Dam-Funk at Crown & Harp
- Michael Palma playing his own arrangements of Coltrane classics at Twilite Lounge
- Lord Byron at Sundown at Granada
- Luke Sardello (Josey Records) DJ set at The Windmill Lounge
- Yells at Eels at Crown & Harp
Five Miscellaneous Art Events:
Nicolas Miller & Andrew Miller performing Robert Ashley’s In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women
Kimbell’s acquisition of Poussin’s Sacrament of Ordination
Pure Duration — videos by Jeff Gibbons and Gregory Ruppe at Beefhaus
The Work of David Bates at Nasher Sculpture Center
Tape Mastah Steph
It’s always good to see EL-P and Killer Mike otherwise known as Run the Jewels perform. Their show at Trees was incredible and their follow-up album is just as good as the first. However, my favorite concert would have to be playing alongside Freestyle Fellowship at the Crown & Harp. Not just for the fact that I’ve produced several joints for one of the members, Myka Nyne, but because they’ve been a class hip-hop act since I can remember growing up on the west coast. It’s their showmanship and lyricism that speaks to something more than the average Joe. Plus, it reminded me of the smaller intimate shows at San Jose’s Cactus Club I used to rock back in the nineties. Definitely a rare treat for Dallas.
Another great moment in 2014 was the release of We From Dallas, a hip-hop documentary. In my opinion, living in Dallas for the last ten years, it was really fresh to be exposed to some of the earliest roots of Dallas’ part of hip hop history I didn’t know about. Not only that but to see the homie Alvaro aka “Minus Won” on the big screen—was quite an honorable accomplishment. Definitely a milestone and a step in the right direction for the Dallas Arts and Music community.
Although I’ve recently relocated to my birthplace in France, I’m especially proud of the DJ community that continues to keep vinyl alive. I’ve had a chance to visit, dig in the crates and purchase from the enormous megastore Josey’s Records off 635 and Josey. It’s like much like Amoeba and Rasputin’s or Tower Records revisited, but with a new twist. In essence, Dallas has come a long way this past year.
(Hares on the Mountain)
Brent Best, Ryan Becker, Tony Ferraro, Grady Sandlin as Roky Erickson at Dan’s Silverleaf on Halloween. Unrehearsed and perfect. They brought the energy.
Maria Taylor at City Tavern in January. I listened to Azure Ray a lot in high school. Maria’s band got stuck on the road and they didn’t make it to this particular show, so she asked me to get on stage when she heard me singing in the audience.
Cliffs of Insanity every time I’ve ever seen them. Quick, dirty sludge pop. No drum fills, no guitar solos, and f*cking awesome.
Foxygen at Index Fest in Dallas. Lots of melodrama.
Ugly Beats at Fred’s in Fort Worth in August. Jangly and fun, straight from a Hanna Barbera cartoon. We danced a lot. Well, I did.
Daniel Markham – Pretty Bitchin’: I love every song of Daniel’s that I have ever heard.
Neil Young – American Stars and Bars: Acquired this record from Doc’s on Record Store Day and I’ve listened to it non-stop.
Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet: Found for cheap at Mad World. It’s just so bad and I love it so much.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: This record gets played pretty much non-stop when I’m on the road. It’s loud and beautiful and drowns out everything else.
Rachel’s – Music For Egon Schiele: Quite possibly my favorite album of all time. It’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed this record a lot this year.
- Holiday Hangout (White Water Tavern in Little Rock, AR): The one weekend of the year when dear friends from all over are celebrated and treated like royalty in this little dive bar. People sell art, Michael Casey performs a magic show, and on Sunday there is a pop up book fair care of the Tree of Knowledge.
- Denton Arts & Jazz Festival: Friends selling their wares, children’s dance class recitals, tons of food, and lounging on blankets under trees. This is one of my favorite events of the year.
- I ended up at a ‘Final Friday’ at Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, KS. Great records, free (delicious) tacos, and on this particular day, a taco-themed art show. They even shipped a piece to me after the art show.
- Darin Bradley’s book release for Chimpanzee at Dan’s Silverleaf. Darin and contributors of the audiobook read an excerpt aloud.
- Does the Denton Community Market count as a miscellaneous art event? Local food, jewelry, prints, crafts, coffee, music, and a week’s worth of groceries. It’s something I look forward to each week.
I’m trying to think of a cliche to describe my year. Bitter sweet? A two sided sword? I have pretty much gone from the hospital straight to a venue. I have suffered every side effect possible. As I write my vision is blurry and I I have had an ever-lasting brain swell that had lasted over a week. Plus two seizures. I’m saying all this because my year has been centered around Bludded Head. I missed a lot of important shows because of hospitals. I’m not sure when the last time I went to a art exhibition that I can remember. I have seen some amazing groups all across the country but I’m more proud of the local scene. Unconscious collective, Pinkish Black, The return of Sub Oslo, Orgullo Primitivo. A new group I’m excited about is Wire Nest. Of course these are my friends so I’m biased. Nervous curtains played a great set at Three Links at some point. One of my favorite weekly events is Stefan’s Monday night at Crown and Harp. A big rock and roll show was Judas Preist (Thanks, Erik). Problem Dogg is an awesome spectacle. Bukkake Moms developed leaps and bounds this year. Diamond Age and Def rain! Are making leaps and bounds. I wish I can remember more. My last brain surgery has made my brain hazy. I need to start writing stuff down.
Top 5 Records of 2014
1. LVL UP — Hoodwink’d
2. Lowell — We Loved Her Dearly
3. Ariel Pink — Pom Pom
4. Charli XCX — Sucker
5. TV girl — French Exit
I also want to mention “Last Chance to Dance” by Ekkah was one of my favorite songs this year and loved listening to Def Rain throughout the year.
1. La Luz & The Shivas (Washington Hall in Seattle, Short Run Comix & Arts Festival)
2. Pure Bathing Culture (Doug Fir, Portland)
3. Screaming Females (at a show put on by She Shreds Magazine in Portland)
4. Metronomy (Neumos, Seattle)
5. Alvvays (City Tavern)
Honorable mention to Fishboy for his 15 legendary guitar solos at City Tavern. Claire Morales also hosted a lovely Christmas Party where Claire, Jesse Gage, Dylan B. Kellam, and Chase Weinacht played in Claire’s dreamy home!
1. Design Week Portland
2. Austin Zine Fest
3. Timothy Goodman speaking at DSVC about 40 days of dating & his work
4. Bob Odenkirk’s stand up & book signing
5. Sign Painters movie screening with Sean Starr at Thinline Film Fest
1. Bugatti – Tiga
I loved Design Week in Portland and if I could do anything over, I would get tickets to see my design hero Stefan Sagmeister before they had sold out. However, I was really happy to go to the XX + UX happy hour at Instrument!
(Vocalist, various projects)
On “Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions” at Crown and Harp:
The thing that most stands out this past year would be the Stefan Gonzalez curated “Outward Bound Mixtape Sessions” every Monday night at Crown and Harp. As an attendee, there’s always something new that resonates with me which I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. As a performer, I’m inspired to take more chances as the audience for these events are generally more open and receptive. Stefan curates the evening with a unique warmth and sensitivity that is really appreciated.
(Errant New Music Collective, Pansy Moon)
I am absurdly thankful for 2014 not being 2013. Whereas at this point last year I was sitting on my hands, seven months into wondering what my newly-acquired BM in Composition was going to afford me in life, this time around I’m taking a breather from writing 60-something album one-sheet mailers to non-commercial radio stations; a fun change-up to be sure. I joined an awesome avant-pop band, started to run sound for a bar, reveled in the shared audacity of a composition collective, began to apply my experiences into advising Tarrant County College music students, and performed across a wide range of stages and genres, but then holy sh*t did North Texas get so much more!
I got to do more, but ended up consuming less – so while my list certainly doesn’t cover all the amazing things I saw the lot of you do and recap around our respective digital water coolers (they all looked rad), I think it is still pretty damn great. Now for next year.
• MUTEMATH (SAT) / Dan Deacon (SUN), main stage at Index Fest
• The highly refined energy and showmanship of Dan Deacon’s live show is something I think
everyone should get to experience at least once in their lives; ridiculously fun. And while
some may look at me funny equating the two, the exact same statement can be said of
• Ex Mus 9: The Politics of Pulse (CentralTrak): Beyond Beth Dodd’s excellent take on the percussion of James Tenney, I will never miss an opportunity to help perform Terry Riley’s seminal miminalist work, In C. Joshua Westerman curated this edition of Ex Mus beautifully.
• Boulez Campbell Soup Hour (Andy’s Bar & Grill): This may have been the high point of my year, seeing such an eclectic showcase kick off in the most un-pretentious of venues. Love you, Errant New Music Collective.
• Pansy Moon Night on Elba release show (Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios): Any billing with The Mothers and Lily Taylor is fun, but the sweet catharsis of sharing in Pansy Moon’s full album performed live was amazing.
• Denton Bach Society: Graupner Rises (First Presbyterian Denton): J.S. Bach’s 300 cantatas (of which we only have 215 or so) isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Graupner’s 1450 of them.
Five Records from 2014:
• Gabriel Kahane — The Ambassador: The songwriter’s master guide to evoking time and place, emotion and consequence.
• Olga Bell — Край (Krai): Love those infectious vocal stylings that Dirty Projectors is known for? Well great, but now Olga gets to show herself in her natural habitat, and its splendid.
•Sisyphus — Self-titled: Some collaborations are disastrous, but never seemingly any of Sufjan Stevens’ – especially when its with Son Lux and Serengeti.
• clipping — CLPPNG: More hip-hop should look to inventive electronics and sound design. Let this be a marker, world.
A Far Cry — The Law of Mosaics: I love chamber orchestras. Like, reaaaaally love them. A Far Cry is the sort of chamber orchestra that is fulfilling the purpose of what new music can and should do: advance the art and its medium with the utmost professionalism and passion.
Five Miscellaneous Art Events
• This picture from Michael Briggs of Rock Lottery 15 and the absurd dialogue it produced
• Thin Line Film Fest
• Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, Perot Museum of Nature and Science
• A large collection of Nevada Hill’s screen printing scraps acquired from friends who moved to the Pacific Northwest
• Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra: Arvo Pärt’s Psalom, Bass Performance Hall
(Dubious Rothchild, The Vliets)
Zammuto – Nick Zammuto, formerly of The Books, puts on one the most impressive live performances I’ve seen to date. Each member is so notable and brilliant that it was difficult to commit my full attention to just one for any amount of time.
Alex G – He’s one of those artists who sound almost unrecognizable live compared to recordings, I love that. The occasional scream in some otherwise mellow songs go a long way for me.
Also worth mentioning are Mogwai, Pinback and Bukkake Moms
“mbube” by kissed her little sister – Jeff Morisano is one of the great undiscovered artists of our time, in my opinion. He’s released three albums since 2010 and each one has been my favorite of the year.
“Anchor” by Zammuto – Nick Zammuto is another under appreciated artist that continues to release some of the more interesting music around.
“Summit” by Wax Stag – A new song that I’m pretty excited about off of “II” set to be released early 2015.
Also, “The Green EP” by Bibio and “Enclosure” by John Frusciante
I may be completely out of the loop, and a generally unpopular person, but I think it’s worth mentioning that all of the memorable events I’ve attended this year were headed up by Arthur Peña. He’s involved in some great things happening around town. The Vice Palace shows were really something special as well as the installations at Ware:wolf:haus, the work of Matthew Koons in particular. I may be completely out of the loop, and a generally unpopular person, but I think it’s worth mentioning that all of the memorable events I’ve attended this year were headed up by Arthur Peña. He’s involved in some great things happening around town. The Vice Palace shows were really something special as well as the installations at Ware:wolf:haus, the work of Matthew Koons in particular.
I’ll just apologize right from the start for a list that is neither coherent, comprehensive or organized, and somewhat fairly incestuous and narcissistic. But what else would you expect.? I’m completely unable to categorize, so I simply have five experiences that I can recall that were memorable for 2014.
The Behind the Screen Music Series (Texas Theatre): As many people know, my manager and occasional friend is the lead promoter for these events. I’d love to take some credit in the excellent bands he curates each month as I must’ve whispered the names of each and every one of them into his ear whilst being driven to the tanning or nail salon each Tuesday morning.
The Last Resort (Band residency): Speaking of curating a musical event, I was afforded the opportunity to not only curate some of the best local and regional bands, but I was also allowed the space to let my imagination run completely amok. It was a great experience being responsible for nearly every single facet of the production and somehow managing to execute the concept as planned with my #1 favorite band (dancers included – see below) – my own. I’d just be any other pretentious asshole in a funny suit without these special people.
Under the Skin: I was already a huge fan of Jonathan Glazer after having seen Sexy Beast, but watching this sonic/ visual mindtrip hungover at 10 in the morning became an unforgettable and disturbingly lovely experience. Plus, Scarlett…
The Danielle Georgiou Dance Group’s Dirty Filthy Diamonds and Nice productions: Of course I am exceptionally lucky to have collaborated with this superior talent and her ilk, but I just can’t express enough the remarkable and unique experience to be present during these events. They are like no other form, even conventional dance. Everything is broken down and reassembled in such a strange and beautiful way that allows for pure escapism and socio-political reflection almost simultaneously. The dancers are disciplined and wild; controlled and unhinged. The perfectly insane music by Jermy Johnson and Paul Slavens is the sweet air you breathe on Planet DGDG.
Sealion (Club Dada, Dallas Observer Music Awards Showcase): I finally got a chance to catch Sealion and it was bittersweet. They were electrifying, ecstatic and everything great about being young and awesome while the audience exploded with appreciation around them. I stood at the back, applauded politely and aged 1000 years in half an hour, my hair growing long and white, my gum and hairline receding rapidly , skin graying and sagging on the bone, absolutely loving every moment of it.
1. Little Dragon (The Showbox, Seattle)
2. Sondre Lerche + TEEN (Doug Fir Lounge, Portland)
3. Paul McCartney (The AAC, Dallas): Happy to report that he still plays “Lovely Rita”)
4. Pure Bathing Culture (Three Links)
5. Field Trip Festival in Toronto, CA: Broken Social Scene and many others, including Kevin Drew feat. Feist. Their flirtatious ex-lover rapport on stage slays me. I hope they tease each other forever.
1. Bad Law — Sondre Lerche (“Bad Law” remix by Fancy Colors is also super sick. I go back and forth about whether it’s better than the original title track)
2. Alvvays — Alvvays (My ex-bandmate Jena sent me this album after I moved to Seattle this summer. Listening to it is still really bittersweet for me, because I can hear Layer Cake sensibilities in their writing—especially in my favorite track “Ones Who Love You”). I can often hear a third or fourth harmony I think we’d have added if the songs were ours.)
3. Nabuma Rubberband — Little Dragon
4. Haha Sound — Broadcast
5. The Anthology (1964-1971) — The Kinks
Miscellaneous Art Events
1. Stowell-Sendak production of “The Nutcracker”, with costumes designed by Maurice Sendak
2. An Evening with Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad feat. Zoë Keating
3. Bob Odenkirk standup and book signing
4. Screening of “Sign Painters” film + Q&A by Sean Starr at Thin Line Film Fest
5. CONAN show taping in Dallas
I’m old. I didn’t notice it really until this year. I’m hoping it’s just a phase. The result of my getting older this year actually meant that I sort of dispassionately approached seeing shows/concerts, listening to new music, or seeing things like gallery shows and theater performances. I skipped SxSW for the first time in 10 years, I opted out of going to Psych Fest after attending the previous four. I stayed home a lot more and felt less sorry about it than I once would have. I wanted to feel sorry about it. I really did. But wanting to feel sorry and actually feeling sorry are two different things.
There were a few things that stuck out for me. I can honestly say that the Too Fresh 45s nights they do monthly at Crown and Harp were some of the most fun I had going out this year and continue to feel a little bit like a secret (even though they’ve been well publicized). The couple of Outward Bound Mixtape nights at C+H that I attended were pretty great, as well. Stefan is doing something special with that. Crown and Harp, in general, is hosting shows and events that seem like, in any other town, there would be a line down the block of people trying to get in.
I saw Def Rain a couple of times this past year and loved it. I saw Bethan a ton of times this year, and I enjoy that what they do doesn’t feel like something I’ve seen much of anywhere else in this town.
As far as records, most of the ones I bought this year were from the 1970s. If I’d started with that, you could have more easily just said, “He’s old and so much less relevant than I’d hoped,” and saved a lot of time reading through this, but part of being old makes one do things like starting off with all of the peripheral details and dragging on and on before getting to the real info. Sorry about that. If it makes you feel any better about your initial instincts, I do plan to get out and see a lot more in 2015. I’ve already decided that I miss having feelings of hate and secret/not-so-secret love for arts of all types. For now, I can just pretend much of 2014 didn’t happen. Luckily, since, as I mentioned, I’m old, it won’t be long before I actually don’t remember that 2014 happened. Good luck with what you’re working on. I look forward to reading what relevant people with actual opinions have to say about a year I’m pretending to forget.
(Solo Artist, Various Projects)
2014 can’t get behind us fast enough. I don’t know about your feed, but I’ve hidden all the fake-positive people from mine so I know that no one actually had a good year. For some it was their worst and that pisses me off on their behalf. Rather than combing month my month through the drain full of back-hair that was last year, I’m just calling out a few gems that I enjoyed:
1. Lana Del Rey “Ultraviolence” – I don’t like to discuss her, but the music and voice is intoxicating even filtered through Auerbach’s goofy production gimmicks and whimsical analog spitballing.
2. Eagulls at Three Links – If anything could get me out of the house for live music in 2014 it was 5 malnourished British boys playing post punk guitar music with garbled lyrics. I even joined the Odd Fellows (reference to the club’s name) this year to feel some, like, sense of belonging or some shit. DIDN’T WORK.
3. Happy People – Werner Herzog narrating a long documentary of solitary hard work in the frozen Taiga? Dude pile it on. Watched at least ten times now, possibly due to some of the most soul questioning depression I’ve experienced in my life related to failing at the “cool job, good money” game.
4. Every art show or cultural event I missed – Strange thing to like? You bet! I haven’t skipped out on more gallery shows and museum visits than I did in 2014 (literally every single opportunity was declined) and it took a spiritual toll. That is a lesson I will take to 2015 and beyond. Since early childhood, visiting museums and galleries has been my church and avoiding them out of whatever sad hardship life becomes makes living so, so poor. It’s important to me to feel small often, and lacking the proximity to mountains or an ocean, the artistic accomplishments of your fellow humans past and present can help reveal smears of beauty inside yourself when everything around you is trying to rip that feeling from your life.
5. 2015 – I bet it’s better than f*cking 2014’s greedy, destructive ass.
(Solo artist, resident at Two Bronze Doors, co-curator of Ex Mus, Viola at Las Colinas Symphony)
1. Palace of Wind, Battle Trance
2. The Ride, Lily Taylor
3. The Unnatural World, Have a Nice Life
4. Lou Harrison: Works for Chorus and Violin with American Gamelan, Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
5. The Chronic, Bukkake Moms
1. Bukkake Moms Album Release Party, Oliver Francis Gallery
2. George Quartz at Vice Palace
3. Ghostwood Sessions X, Two Bronze Doors (it was mine and it was one of my favorites)
4. SYZYGY New Music Ensemble “Ligeti Adventures”, SMU Caruth Auditorium
5. Christeene at the Double Wide
Favorite Miscellaneous Art Events
1. Flinching Eye Collective, Centraltrak
2. Death and The Powers, Tod Machover; Dallas Opera
3. Dirty Filthy Diamonds, Danielle Georgiou Dance Group
4. Viral Fantasy XII: Final Viral, William Sarradet and Two Bronze Doors
5. The Voice’s Folds, Two Bronze Doors ft. Michael Morris, Morehshin Allahyari and Jenny Vogel
Any and all concerts/events involving Lily Taylor, Sean Miller, Michael Morris or William Sarradet must be acknowledged as being of superior quality and most stirring in nature. I wave farewell to my second home and favorite place in Dallas, Two Bronze Doors.
1. Gary Numan – A packed house in March at The Granada Theater, the 80’s synth god rocked my world with classic Numan and showcased his amazing new material from the album “Splinter” like “Love Hurt Bleed” and “I Am Dust” – both favorites on the PANOPTIKON dance floor. Numan’s music today threads influences from his collaboration with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and was evident from the stage.
2. Canadian electro/synthpop, Trust, came through Dallas in April for an intimate show at Club Dada. Trust is one of my favorite bands of today. They performed most of their latest CD,” Joyland,” along with other favorites from the past four years – filling the crowds insides with electro bliss and the venue with layers of thick fog.
3. VNV Nation – This German-based synthpop, industrial-electro band hit Granada’s stage in April with lots of club favorites and, of course, featured tracks from their latest album, “Transnational,” including a PANOPTIKON favorite, “Retaliate.” The coolest thing that later happened is several of us caravanned the band back to PANOPTIKON for a super cool after party. About an hour later, Ronan Harris, the lead singer, asked if we could pick up his road crew. We did and the party rocked on.
4. The legendary Peter Murphy (former lead singer of gothic legend, Bauhaus) graced The Granada Theater July 2014 with haunting Bauhaus classics including “She’s In Parties” and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” Murphy dropped many tracks from his latest release, “Lion,” which we partnered with his label, Nettwerk Music Group to host a CD give-away party at PANOPTIKON a couple weeks before the show.
5. A Flock of Seagulls – Growing up in the 80’s, A Flock of Seagulls have always been a favorite. They came through Trees back in October, and though the original band is down to just the Mike Score, the lead singer, Score delivered a dynamite show with an audience jammed packed full of 40+ fans. (I was also invited to DJ this show, and that was certainly a bonus.) Oh, and the infamous hair no more.
1. Zola Jesus is one of my singers of today. With a voice compared to a young Siouxsie Sioux, her voice is haunting and rich. Her latest album, “Taiga,” continues to reach back to her avant-garde/experimental influences like Diamanda Galas and Throbbing Gristle (two of my personal all-time favorites) while taking us on awesome melodic journeys. We recently partnered with her label, Nettwerk Music Group, for a promotion CD give-away party for “Taiga.” Zola Jesus comes to Trees February 4, 2015
2. Robyn with Röyksopp – the Swedish pop star, Robyn teamed up with the Norwegian duo, Röyksopp, and released the amazing EP, “Do It Again.” My favorite from this release is “Say It,” which pulls from Speak & Spell (yes, the 70’s learning game) and “Numbers” from Kraftwerk. I occasionally play the music video for “Say It.” All eyes are drawn to the monitors in awe.
3. Seabound (German synthpop) and Iris (American synthpop) each put out and album this year, “Speak in Storms” and “Radiant,” respectively. While I am way more drawn to the heavier electro sounds from the Seabound release, my favorite is a track called “Phenom” which is a collaborate between Seabound and Iris and featured on both releases. “Phenom” is quickly becoming a PANOPTIKON club hit.
4. The 2014 release of “Joyland” from the Canadian electro/synth band, Trust, is one that I still play non-stop. I am a Trust addict and “Joyland” just feeds my addiction. A few favorites from the CD: “Capital,” “Ichabod,” and “Mister, Mister” – all get played at PANOPTIKON.
5. While not new this year, Linea Aspera from London is a dark-wave band I just discovered about a month ago and I fell in love. “Synapse” from the self-titled, features the deep echoing vocals of singer, Alison, backed by a melodic, simple dance incantation. I have been working this track into my format at PANOPTIKON for weeks now and every week I get asked about it. While their discography is limited, everything they have released is truly worth the listen.
Unfortunately, I did not get to attend nearly the number of art shows I would have liked to in 2014, but one local artist really grabbed my attention this year: Patricia Rodriquez. Rodriquez’s is developing a reputation around town as one to watch. She is recognized for her colorful and whimsical canvas paintings, mural art, and also for her astounding paintings on 12” vinyl records. Her work has been getting nice attention throughout 2014 and featured in galleries throughout Dallas including Kettle Art Gallery in Deep Ellum. Her works can be seen here.
(New Science Projects, Bad Times)
1) Shellac – Dude Incredible (big surprise, it’s a Shellac album, you know exactly what it sounds like already, but this one has the band playing tighter and more adventurous music than any previous release. Almost exciting, you could say.)
2) Thou – Heathen (the sound of a falling boulder crushing your chest. Thou is somehow innovating in the seemingly stagnant genre of doom and it’s great.)
3) Two Knights – Shut Up (Whether you’re in it for the emotional connection or the outrageous song titles, Shut Up finds Two Knights hitting a stride in their recording career. Catchy, complex, and screamed at the top the lungs.)
4) Boy Parts – I’ve Been Better (A musical groundhog, designed to burrow into your brain and never leave. Incredible sing along hooks created by the burliest and sweetest band from the middle of nowhere Missouri.)
5) Life In Vacuum – 5 (An incredible album put out by some of the most talented Canadians I’ve ever met. Catchy riffs, driving bass ostinatos, noisy guitar, right up my alley.)
The best show I saw this year happened in April and it wasn’t even in Texas, let alone Dallas. In April, I flew to Los Angeles to see Motörhead for the first time, at Club Nokia, a venue crammed into the multi-level strip mall that sort of extends from the Staples Center like a creeper’s arm across the back of some girl’s couch at 3am.
Sweden’s Graveyard and middle school viral video superstars Unlocking the Truth opened, and while Motörhead was as awesome as I expected, what really made the show were three pieces of banter: an earnest exhortation from UtT’s frontchild Malcolm Brickhouse (and what a name that is!) to “make a circle pit”, and then, following Motörhead’s encore, Lemmy’s half-hearted exhortation to “give it up for the other bands”, and to thank “Slash, our famous guest!” During the encore, Slash had emerged from a cloud of fog to solo over “Ace of Spades”, and I kind of hoped that he and Lemmy had made some backstage jokes about kids not knowing who Guns ‘n Roses are.
I bring this show up because I saw Slash play guitar for a second time in August, opening for Aerosmith at AAC; the Aerosmith concert was probably my third-best show (the second-best being San Diego’s heavy super stoner jam band Earthless at the Gas Monkey, of all places), because they dug fairly deep into their ‘70s catalog with stuff like “Kings and Queens” and “Mama Kin,” while reminding me that when I was 14, I begrudgingly enjoyed “Livin’ on the Edge.” What made that song even better was that they tried to perform it along with the video from 1992 in all its dated non-glory, and of course the Jumbotron’s video feed was hilariously out of synch.
Coming in at number 4, the Toxic Holocaust show at Three Links in January was relevant to me on two counts, the first being that I had been obsessed with 2013’s Chemistry of Consciousness for about two months, yet for whatever reason, after I actually saw the band, I didn’t listen to them again. Secondly, Toxic Holocaust showed me the commercial importance of looking exactly like what your music sounds like. Toxic Holocaust’s driving force is guy named Joel Grind, who looks like if a mid-‘80s X-Men storyline featured a mutant who fronted a metal band, which basically means Joel Grind looks like Longshot. Toxic Holocaust’s throwback thrash sounds like a reverse-engineered Kill ‘Em All, and if KXT had a metal show, it would probably just play this band.
As for my fifth-best show, Future Islands’ performance at Index Fest was as great as everyone said it would be, and Spune gets big points for having Russian Circles in the festival’s lineup, too.
Timothy Jarrod Smith
(Timothy Jarrod Smith and the Hot Coffins)
Philip Glass (Winspear Opera House): I’m a fan of philip glass. Most notably his 1992 contributions to the soundtrack of Clive Barker penned “Candyman.” This performance was well seasoned and accompanied by violinist, Tim Fain, who did his best to show up the minimal arrangements Philip Glass prepared for the performance. The first song, “Opening” from his 2001 release “Glassworks” raised goosebumps, by the end I was ready for bed.
Neutral Milk Hotel (Majestic): I’ve listened to this band, like everyone else, for over a decade, and while “Aeroplane Over the Sea” continues to sell more copies every year, I was much more impressed by his solo performance in Massachusetts in 2011. Its pretty obvious that Jeff Magnum didn’t tour with the band for almost 15 years because he would destroy his voice, which had almost definitely happened by the time NMH played Majestic Theatre Dallas last February.
Bruce Wood’s Touch (Dallas City Performance Hall): Bruce Wood, one of the most prolific choreographers of the last 30 years, and a protege of “the father of American Ballet”, George Balanchine, died recently before the debut of his final piece “Touch”. This piece was accompanied by several other powerful dance arrangements, set to my surprise, to short and apocalyptic compositions by Philip Glass. One of the most moving performances I’ve seen this year.
Ante-Masque (Trees): Say what you want about the cosmic wanking powers of Omar Rodríguez-López on guitar, he and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, are really killing it with their latest act. I saw them on the same stage for their “Relationship of Command” tour with At The Drive In, in 2001. Cedric, known for years as a tempestuous and frenetic front-man personality, apologized to random members of the crowd for shooing them away before the show, due to a goodnight phone call with his year-old twin boys.
Tim and Eric (Majestic): Accompanied by John C. Reilly this time, Tim and Eric sang, danced, and ruthlessly plugged themselves and their latest Adult Swim offering “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories”. Bob Odenkirk severed and devoured toes, while John C. Reilly, Academy Award Nominee, taunted women in the crowd and attempted to marry his dying best friend’s wife. I was pretty fucked up and sobered up while having sex with the girl who gave me her extra ticket on top of the parking garage across from the majestic while other exiting patrons looked on in horror.
Of Montreal (Trees): This band has been a guilty pleasure of mine for a long time, each record has an array of flavorful psych pop gems, but their live show has coalesced into something really spectacular and totally hetero-flexible. Fractalline projections of spinning skulls superimposed over a funk-rock band, framed in a vaudevillian snake oil presentation, that quickly melts into a psychedelic oblivion.
Death from Above 1979 (Granada): Im absolutely not a fan of this band’s new record. That being said, a ton of people who never got to see them before they broke up 8 yrs ago, gathered in November to scream like they were witnessing the second coming of the fucking Beatles, which I didn’t really get. The band was really sloppy, and despite this, I saw on more than one instance, young women with faces covered in blood running from the security officers trying to escort them out for medical attention.
Sarah Jaffe | John Congleton (Dan’s Silverleaf): Sarah Jaffe I’m pretty take it or leave it on, but I get a pretty good hard-on for John Congleton’s mostly hideous voice and dark song stylings.
Fishboy (Macaroni Island): One of the only artists that makes songs that remind me of what excites me about music in the DFW metroplex is Fishboy and his menagerie of characters, set stylings, and really genuine song stock.
Danny Diamonds | Wonderboom (Macaroni Island): I love Danny Diamonds and hadn’t a chance to catch him this year until December. His tunes aren’t as haggard as his demeanor and stage presence, which I absolutely adore. WonderBoom reminds me of Brian Eno split into two separate stage personalities, making church music, this is a local treat.
(Solo Artist, Various Projects)
Neutral Milk Hotel (Majestic Theater): In the Aeroplane over the Sea has only gotten better with time; I knew this show would be special but really had no idea at all. NMH so thoroughly conveyed all the messy beauty of their recordings, and then some – it was breathtaking stuff.
Robert Gomez + Moonbather (Dan’s Silverleaf): Robert’s an incredible talent on his own; add Steve Hill, Evan Jacobs, Aaron McClellan and Peter Salisbury and you’re talking about just an insane band. This show was huge. Moonbather was recently reconfigured as well – they’re in a really cool place, I think.
Swans (The Showbox, Seattle): Swans is church.
Sondre Lerche + Teen (Nectar Lounge, Seattle): Sondre and his band are in amazing form these days, and playing a really great batch of songs. Same goes for Teen! So much amazing musicianship, and so tastefully delivered.
Sinkane + Helado Negro (Barboza, Seattle): Helado Negro opened this show with one of the weirdest, coolest sets I can remember: these eerie, lounge-y vocals supported by some really cool electronic textures and accompanied by several dancers in these faceless, tinsel-covered costumes. Felt Lynchian!
Robert Gomez — Earth Underfoot
Robert’s covered so much ground over the years, and his records just keep getting better. I’ve tried listing my favorite songs on this record before and it ended up just being the entire tracklist – but ‘Ghost’ and ‘Periscope’ are certainly two good places to start.
Caribou — Our Love
I got into Caribou pretty late in the game, with Swim. There’s something about the electronic stuff on these records that feels and sounds really organic to me. I think my favorite track on this record is ‘Second Chance’, to which Jessy Lanza contributed vocals. Her record Pull My Hair Back would be on this list if it came out this year.
Nathan Phillips — River Run Through
I always look very forward to whatever’s next from Nathan Phillips. River Runs Through has challenged me in a few really good ways. I really want to know what he’s been listening to! ‘Rails’ and ‘Carried Away’ are my favorites.
Jen Wood — Wilderness
Been anticipating this record for a while, and it was well worth the wait! The songs are solid, Jen’s voice sounds great, the production and arrangements are really interesting – everyone who contributed to this record did an amazing job. My favorite track is ‘I Never Thought’, and album closer ‘In The End’ is one of the sweetest songs I’ve heard in quite a while.
Grouper — Ruins
It’s hard not to lose myself in this record; put this on if you want to feel many things at once, and feel them a lot. ‘Holding’ pretty well captures the feel of the record and features some really gorgeous vocal harmonies.
Seems like most of the really great stuff came out really late in the year – or else I was just too stuck on Blood Orange’s *Cupid Deluxe*, which came out late last year, to notice much of anything else for a while.
I don’t get out to the symphony, theater, or visual arts shows near as much as I’d like – I need to get better about keeping my eyes and ears open for goings-on other than bands coming through town. Here’s what I did catch:
February 24: Philip Glass + Tim Fain (Winspear Opera House, Dallas): I feel like I’m sort of cheating putting this here instead of under ‘Concerts’, but this was as close to the symphony as I got this year, I’m afraid. I’m sure I’m a ‘pop fan’ or something; it was the score to The Hours that turned me onto Glass’ music, and I don’t know his deep cuts or anything. But I didn’t need to to appreciate the hell out of this inspiring performance! Bonus: the insightful Q&A that followed.
Neil Hamburger (Barboza, Seattle): I’m gonna count comedy here as well. Highlights of this set by America’s Funnyman included the recounting of an improvised history of the venue, as well has his cheering up the Barboza staff, who would have to grin and bear the dance night that followed his set, with a series of knock-knock jokes about ‘DJ Diplo’.
Jad Abumrad + Zoë Keating (Benaroya Hall, Seattle): Apparently the impetus for Jad Abumrad’s development of this lecture was a technical difficulty, and the resulting frantic effort to save the show, during a previous Radiolab performance in Seattle. Abumrad calls that space between ‘the Gut Churn’, and this multimedia exploration of that facet of the creative process was fascinating!
Stuff I missed: the farewell season of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker, featuring choreography by Kent Stowell and costume and set design by Maurice Sendak; and Curtis Glenn Heath’s live scoring of the 1927 silent film Wings (first Academy Award Best Picture! first wide release to show nudity! first on-screen kiss between two men!) at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.