last of the lists!

image borrowed from Christen Press’ insta

Beatrix Madell: My top ten: soccer players of the year (this took forever, too many to choose from)
1. Christen Press
2. Alexia Putellas
3. Catarina Macario
4. Kristie Mewis
5. Katie McCabe 
6. Alyssa Naeher
7. Sophia Smith
8. Jenni Hermoso
9. Caprice Dydasco
10. Beth Mead
Beatrix Madell is a 13 year old who lives in Brooklyn and loves music (playing and listening), theatre and film, science, and women’s soccer.

image via Will Hermes site

Erin Moran, A Girl Called Eddy
1) Love Goes to Buildings on Fire. Best book I’ve read about music since Viv Albertine’s  Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
2) Jim’s Organic French Roast Decaf 
3) Get Back
4) Singing on Burt Bacharach’s latest record Blue Umbrella
5) SolaWave Skincare Wand. It’s a red light therapy/microcurrent thingamajig doing yeoman’s work trying to lift my jowls
6) Call My Agent! on Netflix. French, funny, smart
7) The ramen at Menkoi Sato, 7 Cornelia St. NYC
8) Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
9) Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry. Not a film about a young boys’ journey from Milan to Minsk, but a perfume. Oh the almond-y/Vidal Sassoon shampoo smell of it
10) The Dodo on instagram

Janice Headley (KEXP, chickfactor): Ten Things I Liked in 2021 (In No Particular Order)
1) Season 3 of Stath Lets Flats (to be fair, my partner Joe did not like it AT ALL, so your mileage may vary.)
2) Zoom karaoke w/ west coast pals
3) The podcast Films to Be Buried With with Brett Goldstein
4) Huichica Music Festival (I now wish every music festival was held at a winery.)
5) Japanese stationery store niconeco zakkaya [263 E 10th St in NYC]
6) HBO’s Insecure 
7) Glossier’s Monochromes eyeshadow sets (particularly in Heather)
8) Blake’s Hard Cider Strawberry Lemonade 
9) Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
10)  Licorice Pizza (except for the unnecessary racist Japanese bullshit, and yes, I know Paul Thomas Anderson has a Japanese mother-in-law [Maya Rudolph’s stepmom], but that is still no excuse.)

Nancy Novotny’s top records
Rather than calling it a “best of” list, I’d say that these are the 30 albums & EPs (culled from a list of over a hundred favorites) that possessed something “je ne sais quoi, oh so very special”* for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary. In no particular order:
Merope – Salos (Stroom)
Andy Aquarius – Chapel (Hush Hush)
Meril Wubslin – Alors Quoi (Bongo Joe)
Blue Chemise – Flower Studies (B.A.A.D.M.)
Nathan Salsburg – Psalms (Quarterstick)
Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou (Fire)
Conny Frischauf – Die Drift (Bureau B )
Derya Yıldırım & Grup Şimşek – DOST 1 (Bongo Joe)
Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment (Trouble In Mind)
Richard Dawson & Circle – Henki (Domino)
Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victim (Matador)
Monokultur – Ormens Väg (Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox & Ever/Never)
Hawthonn – Earth Mirror (Ba Da Bing!)
Henry the Rabbit, Beatrice Morel Journel & Semay Wu – Songs of the Marsh (Moon Glyph)
Tarta Relena – Fiat Lux (La Castanya)
Grouper – Shade (Kranky)
Hamilton Yarns – Outside (Hark!)
Steven R. Smith – In the Spires (Cold Moon/Worstward)
Oddfellow’s Casino – The Cult of Water (Nightjar)
Dechmont Woods – November ’79 (Woodford Halse)
Blod – Missväxt (Grapefruit)
Midwife – Luminol (The Flenser)
Green-House – Music for Living Spaces (Leaving)
Doran – Doran (Spinster)
Various Artists – Incantations (Seance Centre)
Beautify Junkyards – Cosmorama (Ghost Box)
Shirley Collins – Crowlink (Domino)
Laura Cannell & Kate Ellis – October Sounds (Brawl)
Jonny Nash & Ana Stamp – There Up, Behind The Moon (Melody as Truth)
You’ll Never Get to Heaven – Wave Your Moonlight Hat for the Snowfall Train (Seance Centre)

Some notable singles:
Claire Cronin – “Bloodless” (Orindal)
Bas Jan – “You Have Bewitched Me” (Lost Map)
Constant Follower – “The Merry Dancers on TV” (Shimmy-Disc)
Large Plants – “La Isla Bonita” (Ghost Box)
Astral Brain – “Five Thousand Miles” (Shelflife)
Burd Ellen – “The High Preistess and the Hierophant” (Thread)
Dean McPhee – “The Alchemist” (Hood Faire)
Garden Gate – “Tarot” (Library of the Occult)
La Luz – “Tale of My Lost Love” (Female Species cover) (Numero)

Some notable reissues/archival anthologies:
Persona – Som (Black Sweat)
Aurita y su Conjunto – Chambacu (Mississippi)
Alice Coltrane – Turiya Sings (Impulse!)
The Doubling Riders – Doublings & Silences Vol. 1 (Btx3R/F01101/Exe)
Aunt Sally – Aunt Sally (Mesh-Key)
Alison Knowles – Sounds from the Book of Bean (Recital)
Oh OK – The Complete Reissue (HHBTM)
Kiko Kids Jazz – Tanganyika Na Uhuru (Mississippi)
Pamela Z – Echolocation (Freedom to Spend)
Kiri-uu – Creak-whoosh (Stroom)
Joel Vandroogenbroeck – Far View (Drag City)
Michèle Bokanowski – Rhapsodia / Battements solaires (Recollection GRM)
Michael Ranta – Taiwan Years (Metaphon)
Roger Fakhr – Fine Anyway (Habibi Funk)

Nancy is a voice actor, a sacred harp singer and a DJ at Freeform.

courtesy of the dark web

Gail chickfactor’s top things of 2021
Roy Kent
Dairon Asprilla
Sophia Smith
Queer Eye (why can’t they release a new season every week!?)
Sex Education
Another Round

Vegan BBQ at Pure Soul
You people
Creativity
Comfort (loungewear, noodles, bobble hats, blankets, flannel, umami)
My own culinary skills: I am a genius
Horsegirl, Billy
Rachel Love, Picture in Mind
The Umbrellas, The Umbrellas
Magic Roundabout, Up
Marisa Anderson & William Tyler, Lost Futures
Pearl and the Oysters, Flowerland
H.E.R., Back of My Mind
La Luz, La Luz
OneTwoThree, OneTwoThree
Damon & Naomi, A Sky Record
Silk Sonic, An Evening with Silk Sonic
Jennifer O’Connor, Born at the Disco

Sukhdev Sandhu’s best of 2021 list

Jens Lekman’s ‘Smalltalk‘ column appears irregularly on his website. It’s always quiet and wise. One column dealt with going bald. “What bothered me the most was the pressure to be proud of myself. It didn’t allow for a natural transformation. I remember people shouting at me, ‘Be proud. Take off your hat. You look great.’ But my face had just made a U-turn. What used to be a frame for the canvas that was me had disappeared. I wanted to mourn.”

Lots of friends spent lots of time in hospitals this year. In December I read an old History Workshop Journal obituary of Clive Goodwin (1932-1977), widower of English pop artist Pauline Boty (1938-1966) – “In America, whoever calls for medical attention for another person is responsible for paying the bill. Clive was killed by capitalism.”

A track on Dutch electronic producer Legowelt’s Pancakes With Mist LP – “Side By Side We Ride Against The Hordes of EDM.”

Ancient historian Robin Lane Fox’s gardening column in the weekend edition of the Financial Times. He’s been writing it for over 51 years and is unfailingly equable except for his dislike of gnomes.

Andrew Tuck’s wry and calming weekly essay on Monocle on Saturday radio show. Common threads: walking the dog, the weather (meteorological or otherwise) in London, how to be a good work colleague.

Wanting to give Gabriel (played by Grégory Montel) a long hug every time he lost a client in Call My Agent. And an extra can of whipped cream.

Laura Barton’s impossibly sad account of travelling to Greece during the pandemic to begin a round of solo IVF. She wrote it in 2020, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it in 2021. “For a week I feel truly pregnant. And then suddenly I do not. One day I wake to feel a tangible distance between the synthetic hormones and my own body. I do not tell anyone. Instead I walk down to the water, stay out far beyond the mandated hour. I marvel at the flicker of tiny fish moving between the boats in the harbour. I look at the bright yellow tangle of fishing nets, the deep pink of wooden shutters, the distant mountains, snow-peaked against the bluest sky.”

Pallavi Aiyar’s The Global Jigsaw Substack. Aiyar writes about China, about cats, about travel. She’s also, unfashionably though not necessarily incorrectly, in favour of cultural appropriation. “As a writer, and as a person, I’ve desired to stretch my identities; to be supple. The imagination’s work is to bend and twist around the policing of boundaries— political, religious, gastronomic, temporal. The writer, the reader, or any curious person, really, has a proclivity towards inhabiting the past and the future, as much as the present. They extend themselves beyond their ethnicity, gender, colour, sexuality, and empirical experiences to imagine other lives in other places and times.”

Belatedly discovering the writing of Jewish educator and children’s rights champion Leila Berg (1917-2012). Her autobiography Flickerbook (1997—and republished last year by CB Editions) is a funny, raw, diaristic account of coming of age in the 1930s—“Fancy Joan Littlewood and Jimmy Miller getting married! We all talked about it. Fancy concentrating all that spikiness together, and having double-spiky agitprop children!”

As always: Everything But The Girl, Night and Day; The Style Council, The Paris Match; Blueboy, The Joy of Living. But also: Shelleyan Orphan, Beamheart; Steve Beresford, Vous qui passez sans me voir; Time Is Away on NTS Radio. And and and – all of Kings of Convenience’s first LP for 12 years, Peace Or Love. Sad, tender, bitterly gorgeous.


Jeffrey Underhill (HoneyBunch, Velvet Crush) pays tribute to a few artists we lost in 2021

Photo of Jeffrey by Gail O’Hara / Portland, OR, 2021

susan anway: I’m presently listening to the wayward bus/distant plastic trees cd for the 1000th time – give or take a hundred. it’s the first magnetic fields collection that I fell in love with, and the record I’ve shared the most with close friends and passersby. 
(back in the day, I think I bought a handful and gave them away in an effort to impress its brilliance upon everyone I could.) susan anway’s voice was a huge reason why. 
like many fans, my introduction to the band probably came via the “100,000 fireflies” single. not long before – or after – I saw the ramshackle orchestra that was the magnetic fields live band at the time, with stephin singing. I remember really enjoying them, well enough to buy the cd when it became available and was completely blown away by the songs, the instrumentation, but most of all – feeling deeply moved by susan’s voice. she had the perfect mix of sweetness and world-weariness – so well-suited to the diversity of songs. it would be impossible for me to pick a favorite vocal performance from this record – all of it: the mournful appalachian ballads (“tar heel boy”), the synthetic disco pop (“tokyo a’ go-go”)…resonates equally. there’s magic in the songwriting and recording for sure – but for someone i’ve never met, the impression she left on me is deep and long-lasting.

michael nesmith was the singer of my favorite monkees songs (“don’t call on me” & “what am i doing hangin’ round”) – but I never heard those songs when I was young. the song of his I knew and loved best for years and years was his 1970 single “joanne.” I think mainly because I’ve always loved melancholic & melodramatic songs and singers – that song affected young me as much as anything by roy orbison. I don’t remember exactly how i got there – but at some point I discovered his 1972 album, archly titled and the hits just keep on coming. life is full of little sonic discoveries that leave you wondering how you had not heard a thing before now? from the haunting opening chords of “tomorrow & me” to the stomping closer “roll with the flow” – it’s a packed record in every way except for the instrumentation, featuring just michael and pedal steel player red rhodes. a record full of deep observations and seemingly simple songs that in a fairer world, would be given equal reverence to gene clark, or gram parsons’ best work.

Read our 2011 interview with Susan Anway, which was only published after her death in September here.

Read Theresa Kereakes’ tribute to Mike Nesmith here.

Tracy Wilson’s best-of 2021 list!

Custom Trish action figure made for Tracy by Jen Lemasters

Two spectacular birthday presents are the inspiration behind my 2021 end of year list. My husband surprised me by commissioning Jen Lemasters to create Trish Keenan and Laetitia Sadier action figures. These thoughtful, one-of-a-kind gifts are the highlight of a year otherwise filled with tedious monotony. I began the pandemic channeling my stress into genuine productivity. I flourished for a spell, however the one note feeling of chronic emptiness crept in late summer and stayed. I realized only recently that I have been quietly grieving for the death of our collective loss of life. Not just the very real people who have passed away during the pandemic, but for all of our own lives that evaporated in March of 2020. In truth, this year was hard. 

Custom Laetitia action figure made for Tracy by Jen Lemasters

Miraculously, music has continued to offer me a meaningful connection to the world at large and create a bridge to my prepandemic self. Music and friendships forged over the past two years, remind me that there is still plenty of good in this world. This has made a hard year, gratefully much softer.

Circling back to my end of year theme, I wanted to share 10 artists (in no particular order plus a playlist of even more music) that I as a fan of Broadcast and Stereolab, have really enjoyed this year. Opalescent with their rainbow array of influences from around the world and multiple decades, 2021 was a VERY good year for fans of retro-futuristic pop.  
Wishing you all love, joy, kindness, great music, and good health in this year.

Astral BrainThe Bewildered Mind (Shelflife) 

Beautify JunkyardsCosmorama (Ghost Box) 

Cobalt ChapelOrange Synthetic (Klove) 

Kit SebastianMelodi (Mr Bongo) 

Vanishing TwinOokii Gekkou (Fire Records) 

DummyMandatory Enjoyment (Trouble in Mind) 

Tara Clerkin TrioIn Spring (World of Echo) 

The Mind Open Up the Window and Leave Your Body (Lumpy) 

Jane WeaverFlock (Fire) 

KCIDYLes Gens Heureux (Vietnam) 

Chickfactor EOY Tracy Wilson · Playlist

Tracy Wilson runs bi-weekly new music newsletter Turntable Report and the online shop Courtesy Desk. Also check out her series on RecordCollectHER insta account!

Corvair’s top music doc binges of 2021

Since we couldn’t play this year or go to hardly any shows, we watched a lot of late night music documentaries to get our fix. These were our favorites, unranked.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (2021)
Heather: Todd Haynes made something so exuberantly creative here. It hits the head and the heart simultaneously. It’s fascinating to me that Lou Reed knew he wasn’t naturally a great player or singer but was sure he was born a rock star. And he kept making great records long after he won the argument.
Brian: I love art, and I love artists. Sometimes artists can be too arty doing art for art’s sake. I appreciate some of VU’s droney soundscapes and simple & rough pop songs but for the most part this documentary reminded me that this band is pretty terrible and Lou Reed seems like a snob. 

STEELY DAN – AJA: CLASSIC ALBUM SERIES (1999)
Brian: This is a master class on how to nitpick and tweak until something is absolutely perfect. This goes against what many rock bands believe is the proper approach to recording and writing but Steely Dan proves that being mind blowingly anal and fighting for a vision can produce something sexy and brilliant.  
Heather: This blew my mind. Michael McDonald’s weird backing vocals on “Peg” (“foreign moo-vee!!”), all the wildly different parts they auditioned for each song. Fagen and Becker muttering commentary over each other like an old married couple. The weird celeste in “Deacon Blues.” I don’t think there’s a song that captures the wiry feeling of a 6AM solo cab ride into New York better.

AIR STUDIOS – UNDER THE VOLCANO (2021)
Heather: The ambition of AIR Studios was crazy. It was supposed to be on a moving sailboat but alas George Martin settled for a remote island and they had to roll the massive console in on logs. Recording there seems like the most immersive studio experience ever–and Duran Duran hated it, which says a lot about them. And then the Earth swallowed the studio with back-to-back natural disasters–it’s pretty biblical. 
Brian: This satisfied my itch for more behind-the-scenes footage of studio work in remote tropical places. I’ve always fantasized about being locked up in a faraway place with nothing to do but record. One thing that stuck out was how much writing was done in the studio by many of these bands. Ah, the lost art of slowly creating new material while the studio racks up a massive bill that the label will pay, then take out of your royalties. 

BEATLES – GET BACK (2021)
Heather: We just finished this the other night, and it took us 6 viewings, but it was edifying, a balm for my black and withered heart. The love between John and Paul is so palpable. I wept through the final rooftop concert because Double Fantasy era John was my first love. 
Brian: I loved this so much. It was too short!!! Now I want so badly to see detailed footage of bands recording my favorite records. Let it Be is my least favorite Beatles record, yet I gained so much respect for every member of the band. The working relationship, brotherly love, and work ethic these guys had, all while eating toast. They were sloppy when they were allowed to be and perfect when they needed to be. And I’m happy to know that so much of the drama between Yoko and them was just hype. 

PINK FLOYD – LIVE AT POMPEII (1972)
Heather: My whole life, I could never sit through this–instant narcolepsy!–but it is in fact awesome and so weird. David Gilmour is an angel; he exudes a steady grace. Roger Waters strikes me as the kind of guy who’d come up to you at a bar just to mock your shoes.
Brian: I’ve seen this many, many times since my first viewing as a 16 year-old peaking on some stuff I tried for the first time. It was a religious experience. The scene of David singing at the end of “A Saucerful of Secrets” brings tears and chills to this day–I think this is the most perfect male vocal ever recorded, as well as the most amazing video of a male vocal performance. I love this part so much I completely stole it for a song in 1999, two years after Radiohead stole it for “Exit Music (For a Film)”.

BEE GEES – HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART? (2020)
Heather: I do not know what celestial channel Barry Gibb’s spiritual radio is tuned to, but it is the rarest of talent. Also Robin’s voice–what is that? I love Idea or 1st era BeeGees but this made me reconsider Main Course as a pretty cool inflection point. Plus I love watching stuff about sibling bands because I was in one for a long time; it can be painful to make art together when you have the exact same wounds.
Brian: I liked learning much more about the early Bee Gees and how they got sucked into the world of disco. I feel the film tried to overhype their place in disco, but I walked away not thinking that they helped create a movement, but rather appropriated it and sold it out. It makes me wonder what they would sound like under the influences of today’s popular music. Ugh. 

Brian and Heather from Corvair (photo courtesy the band)

ZZTOP – THAT LITTLE ‘OL BAND FROM TEXAS (2019)
Heather: I always thought ZZTop was what happened when three pervy unwashed uncles formed a band. But I was wrong. They are unwashed pervs who also are singular musicians. It gives me great pleasure to imagine them playing a small bar in Texas way back when and the crowd realizing how fucking good they are after about 3 minutes and just losing it. 
Brian: It’s so satisfying to see this band perform and learn about their beginnings. They’re much more artistic and weird than people give them credit for. One of the best live bands on earth, and one I still listen to on cassette in my old Chevy van whenever I’m making a run to the dump. 

THE SWEET – ALL THAT GLITTERS (1974)
Brian: These guys are simply amazing. In some ways one of the best rock bands ever. Each player was immensely talented and could sing. They put on incredible shows and took control of their management and trajectory. Very underrated. Watch clips of their old stuff! 
Heather: I was surprised to learn that the Sweet started as a boy band. I remember reading years ago that Motley Crue idolized them–and it really showed in their early bubblegum Satanism. 

WOODSTOCK ’99 – PEACE, LOVE AND RAGE (2021)
Heather: Neither of us could sleep after watching this, it was so dark. The Korn Era totally defiled “alternative” music. This movie was mostly just watching shitty people be inspired to be way shittier, to a very shitty soundtrack. Happy New Year everybody!!!!!
Brian: I really believe that the rage Fred Durst tapped into with the crowd was the seeds of the Trump presidency. Only instead of burning food carts and port-a-potties, they grew up and lit America on fire. 

JUDAS PRIEST  – BRITISH STEEL: CLASSIC ALBUM SERIES (2001)
Brian: My favorite album by one of my favorite bands of all time. Yes, I grew out of heavy metal when I was 16 but I will always love this band and album. Rob Halford is perhaps the best rock singer of all time and the production on this record is astounding. I love that they recorded in Ringo’s house and used his cutlery to create the clanking “metal” sound on one song. Every single song is great and this doc, though cheesy and slow, gives much insight into that. 
Heather: I cried a LOT because I can’t watch Rob Halford without projectile crying. He is incandescent with Love– for his audience and the world. Our friend got us great seats at a Priest show a couple years ago and Rob changed outfits like 8 times. He truly loves what he does!

Find out more about Corvair here!

the best of 2021

Daniel Handler: Best breakfasts I had in 2021

Huevos Rancheros, Pork Store, San Francisco CA

Cream-cheese icing cake, unknown shop, Oxford UK

Kimchee fried rice, Robert’s house, Boonville CA

Leftover flank steak, fried eggs, homemade tortillas, Air BnB, Napa CA

5-minute egg, rye toast, off-season strawberries, home in SF

Peanut butter toast, my sister’s car after various ocean swims*

*most frequent

Clare Wadd’s Books I Read in 2021: the ones I loved and the ones that will stay with me
1. Dreamland, Rosa Rankin-Gee
2. I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain, Anita Sethi
3. Small Pleasures, Clare Chambers
4. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal
5. My Rock ’n’ Roll Friend, Tracey Thorn
6. Skint Estate: A Memoir of Poverty, Motherhood and Survival, Cash Carraway
7. Fake Accounts, Lauren Oyler
8. The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford
9. Mort Sur La Lande (Vera), Ann Cleaves/Claire Breton
10. Pirenesi, Susanna Clarke
With apologies to the boys as none of them made the cut

Photo courtesy of Beth

Beth Arzy’s Top 13 Records
The Shop Window, The State of Being Human
Lancashire Bombers, Into the Sun
Wild Billy Childish & CTMF, Where the Wild Purple Iris Grows
The Umbrellas, The Umbrellas
Massage, Still Life
Hadda Be, Another Life
Reds, Pinks and Purples, Uncommon Weather
Swansea Sound, Live at the Rum Puncheon
The Jazz Butcher, The Highest in the Land
The Catenary Wires, Birling Gap
Durand Jones & the Indications, Private Space
Chime School, Chime School
Shoestrings, Expectations
Beth plays in The Luxembourg Signal, Jetstream Pony, Lightning in a Twilight Hour 

Michael Azerrad’s Ten Best Vegetables and Fruits of 2021 
1. Snap peas 
2. Peaches 
3. Ramps 
4. Borlotti beans 
5. Corn 
6. Small russet potatoes* 
7. Heirloom tomatoes 
8. Golden Russet apples 
9. Lion’s mane mushrooms** 
10. Red Boston lettuce 
* Higher skin-to-flesh ratio 
** Yes, I know they’re technically not a vegetable or fruit.

Photo courtesy of Gilmore

Gilmore Tamny’s Chronicle of Things of Note 2021 List.
1. I started talking to myself more, drinking my coffee black, painting in earnest, eating lots of wavy potato chips, wearing eye makeup (per resolution 2021), and getting up at 5:30 a.m.
2. Turns out, I like ambient/ASMR video. There are a lot of crackling fireplaces and candles. Are the auteurs morally obligated to show responsible fire safety? I found this question more central to ethical code than I would have thought. 
3. I drank coffee and made a to-do list at about 6:00 a.m. while watching a pre-recorded video of myself drinking coffee and making a to-do list about 6:00 a.m. on youtube as part of the Non-Event TV 24-Hour Fundraiser
4. I decided I wanted to grow my hair long at least once before I croak, whether it is flattering or not. 
5. I enjoyed hearing Mero (of Desus and Mero) describe watching the Jan. 6 insurrection.  
6. My tomato plant grew and grew and grew and finally produced one single chestnut-sized tomato. 
7. Cottagecore? Hmmm.
8. I need a soap dish and discovered in resulting search I have a fairly narrow and inflexible idea of the soap dish I want. 
9. Was on the receiving end of possibly the dirtiest look someone’s ever given me. No threat, –just weary disgust. 
10. After watching and reading about secret societies in history, I tried to figure out a way to talk about secret societies without sounding credulous. Harder than I might have thought. 
11. I found a good gingerbread recipe. Works very well with substitutes to make it vegan. 
12. I discovered a friend was named after the Hawthorne story “The Old Stone Face.”
13. Learned: always close the door – car door, outside door to your building, your own apt./condo door – and lock it behind you (watch enough true crime—you’ll take my point). Stalin was involved in a bank robbery. My cat doesn’t just want me to throw any toy—but a specific toy—bouncy ball not wool ball, rattle mousekins not stuffed mousekins, etc. Hull isn’t where I thought it was. Lenin and Trotsky were Freemasons. 
14. Sciatica.
15. While practicing genuine gratitude for having a roof overhead, union job, good human friends, and cat friend, I stopped smothering my distress to death with gratitude. 
16. Miriam Toews’ book Fight Night is great. 
Gilmore Tamny lives and works and frets in Boston, MA.

Mike Slumberland: The list nobody wants… my top new jazz/jazz-adjacent records of 2021
1. Nat Birchall – Ancient Africa (Ancient Archive of Sound)
2. Tara Clerkin Trio – In Spring (World of Echo)
3. Emanative & Liz Elensky – The Volume Of The Light (Home Planet)
4. Sam Gendel – Fresh Bread (Leaving)
5. Makaya McCraven – Deciphering The Message (Blue Note)
6. Natural Information Society – Descension (Eremite)
7. Sons of Kemet – Black To The Future (Impulse!)
8. Emma-Jean Thackray – Yellow (Movementt)
9. Rosie Turton – Expansions and Transformations: Part I & II (no label)
10. Wildflower – Better Times (Tropic of Love)

Photo courtesy of Angelina

Angelina Capodanno’s 2021 lists 
(Team CF, also Sony Music / Legacy Creative +  Packaging, Brooklynite, Destroyer’s #1 fan)

My favorite 2021 albums: 
1. Hand Habits – Fun House 
2. Bachelor – Dooming Sun 
3. Cory Hanson – Pale Horse Rider 
4. Wednesday – Twin Plagues 
5. Colleen – The Tunnel and the Clearing 
6. The Mountain Movers – World What World 
7. ANIKA  – Change 
8. Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg 
9. Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment 
10. Painted Shrines – Heaven & Holy 

Plus 13 more albums I liked a lot:
Nightshift – Zoe
The Goon Sax – Mirror II
Pip Blom – Welcome Break
Lewsberg – In Your Hands
Kiwi Jr – Cooler Returns 
Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime
Jane Weaver – Flock
John Andrews and the Yawns – Cookbook
Caleb Landry Jones – Gadzooks Vol 1
Snapped Ankles – Forest of Your Problems
Weak Signal – Bianca
Goat Girl – On All Fours
Circuit does Yeux –io

Favorite Concerts
Yo La Tengo Hanukkah + Low + Fred Armisen @Bowery Ballroom
Yo La Tengo Hanukkah + 11th Dream Day + Joe Pera @Bowery Ballroom
Young Guv @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Sweeping Promises @ Cat’s Cradle Back Room
Wet Leg @ Baby’s All Right
Mdou Moctar @Motorco Music Hall

Favorite things I watched:
PEN15 
The Velvet Underground 
The Wire 
The White Lotus
Syracuse’s surprise Sweet 16 run in the 2021 NCAA tourney 
The Card Counter
Insecure
Curb Your Enthusiasm 
Breaking Bad

Favorite things I read:
But You Seemed So Happy – Kimberly Harrington
Love and Trouble – Claire Dederer
Empty: A Memoir – Susan Burton
Blow Your House Down – Gina Frangello
Somebody’s Daughter – Ashley C Ford
Sleepovers – Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
Detransition, Baby – Torrey Peters

Favorite Podcasts
The Experiment
Let’s Talk to Lucy
The Devil’s Candy: The Plot Thickens
Radiolab – Mixtape
Ali on The Run
Running Rouge 
Shattered


a tribute to mike nesmith (1942–2021)

by theresa kereakes

The very existence of Mike Nesmith inspired me my entire life, whether I was aware of it or not, from the time I first heard “Different Drum” until I took an early retirement from PBS.

Mike Nesmith was a fearless visionary. He was not afraid to follow his whims, and he was not afraid to defend himself.  If all he had done was compose “Different Drum,” he’d still be lauded, but for decades after writing the song that would put Linda Ronstadt on all our radar, he continued to experiment and invent delightful escapes into storytelling, whether through book, song, or visuals.

Little did I know in 1966, when I was 8 years old, I was completely swept up in boy-band-mania because of the excellent job NBC-TV’s PR team did when they launched The Monkees television show. TV Guide first introduced me to The Monkees and in short order, a magazine called Tiger Beat appeared out of nowhere and featured them all the time. I also didn’t realize that the publishers of Tiger Beat had a stranglehold on the teen “consumer” market and worked in lockstep with the television networks and record companies for mutual benefit.  It makes sense now, and it also doesn’t matter because it was through the pop culture mill that I discovered the Monkees, the Brill Building songwriters, and Mike Nesmith, who passed away on December 10, 2021, just 20 days shy of his 79th birthday. 

The TV Guide introduction to The Monkees set them up as a parallel to The Beatles, whose own image was turned into a cartoon series debuting on television one year earlier. The story had brief bios on each band member/actor, and to this kid, they all seemed bonafide. Clearly, the TV Guide writer and editor were copying the NBC press releases as they identified Nesmith as “Wool Hat,” which was not only a stupid nickname, but never caught on. Again, I realize this 50+ years later.

During my childhood and adolescence, all things Mike Nesmith slowly seeped into my consciousness and formed my artistic preferences. It was no mystery why I liked his Monkees songs the best. He wrote “Different Drum,” a hit song for the Stone Poneys that I cranked whenever it came on the radio. When I bought Monkees’ singles, I always preferred the Nesmith-penned B-sides, particularly “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” over the hit A-side, Neil Diamond’s “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.” And from this, I also learned about songwriters and the Brill Building, for in addition to Neil Diamond, Carole King and Gerry Goffin were supplying songs for The Monkees.

In the situation comedy itself, while we’ll never know if the screenwriters crafted the TV Monkees’ personalities to match the real-life Monkees’ personalities, Mike always came across as the normal one and the one true musician.  Mike Nesmith set the bar for 8-year-old me and how I would evaluate musicians in the future.

During the year I started working at PBS, the organization made a deal with Nesmith’s prescient video production and distribution company, Pacific Arts, to distribute PBS produced programs (most notably Ken Burns’ The Civil War, as well as a slew of other less noteworthy bulk). At a point in the relationship, things soured, and my employer was so clearly in the wrong. When you work in law firms or corporate legal departments, you work to develop a clear separation of how you feel versus the job you must do.  But this one was impossible to rationalize. My relationship with PBS lasted as long as Nesmith’s. While his relationship was filled with lawsuits and trials (in which he prevailed, and gloriously), mine was an easy exit. As a government-funded entity that must have its operating budget reauthorized by Congress every three years, many of the stations made attractive early retirement packages for employees.  I took one the year that the Pacific Arts relationship crashed. Although I was a member of the legal department, I was not involved in the Pacific Arts deal. But due to my membership on this team, I was peripherally part of the ruination of Mike Nesmith – my childhood idol – and his pioneering media company.

However, by also seeing peripherally into what Mike Nesmith had forged in the media landscape brought me back to punk rock and DIY. Mike didn’t invent punk rock, but he most certainly took DIY to new heights at a parallel time. I’m sorry I never saw a Monkees reunion show, but I cherish my old 7-inch singles and will continue to travel to the beat of a different drum.  I thank Mike Nesmith for putting a name on it.

Learn more about Theresa Kereakes here in our interview.

punk photographer theresa kereakes’ 2021 list

It is December 30, 2021, but it feels like just yesterday, and also a decade ago that the Years of the Pandemic began dividing our time into manipulated managed segments with the end result being that I have no idea what day, month, year, or decade it is. I had to verify that the following entries on my list were all from 2021. I could have sworn I’ve seen many more movies, but that was 2020, when I was still a film fest juror and screened perhaps 200 films in 6 weeks, and then never “attended” the festival (online) because by October, after 7 months at home, in front of the computer, I longed to be watching films from anywhere but there.  

In 2020, I strived to maintain some semblance of emotional normalcy during the lockdown and post-tornado recovery, and invited people over on Sundays during the summer for cookouts and listening to music in the backyard. But in 2021, I embraced the solitude and devoted my leisure time to headphone listening and viewing. The records and movies I took in were for comfort more than entertainment. Comfort AND familiarity (I’ve watched TWISTER a half dozen times this year, on cable; HARRY POTTER too) were the criteria. In some cases, confirmation bias just made me feel better regardless of the quality of the programming.  I attended maybe 5 concerts in person but enjoyed countless live-streamed shows.

The theme for my 2021 in life and culture was “swaddle self in comfort; believe the women; support POC and science.”

ANALOG LISTENING

  • Aimee Mann- Queens of the Summer Hotel
  • Sleater-Kinney – Path of Wellness
  • Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Georgia Blue
  • Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Carnage 
  • Reigning Sound – A Little More Time With Reigning Sound
  • Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Barn

ANALOG ATTENDANCE

Movies

  • Summer of Soul – documentary, director: Questlove

Concerts

Movie theatres can get away with selling fewer seats to maintain a safe distance between viewers, but concert promoters cannot.  I took few chances with congregate settings this year.  I chose iconoclasts and I believe I chose well.

  • Elvis Costello & the Imposters – Atlanta, GA
  • Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy Ways tour – Beacon Theatre, NYC      
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers Holiday Show – City Winery, Nashville, TN

INTERNET LISTENING/VIEWING

  • Mondays – Instragram to Table – Alice Carbone Tench (Instagram Live)
  • Wednesdays – Sweet Home Quarantine /Live From Tubby’s – Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift (Mandoline)
  • Thursdays – Post-Apocalyptic Malone – Bryan Malone (FB and YouTube)

BOOKS

  • Dracula – Bram Stoker with illustrations by Edward Gorey (Sterling)
  • Crime & Punishment – new (2014) translation by Oliver Ready (Penguin Classics)

SMUG CONFIRMATION BIAS CONSUMPTION FOR PASSING THE TIME

  • Don’t Look Up – director Adam McKay
  • Being the Ricardos – director Aaron Sorkin (watched on Prime, not in theatre)
  • State of Terror – novel by Hillary Clinton & Louise Penny

Learn more about Theresa Kereakes here in our 2020 interview with her.

rob pursey from catenary wires’ top ten things about starting a label

The most exciting thing for me in 2021 was that Amelia and I started a record label (Skep Wax). We first talked about it 30 years ago, so it’s had quite a long gestation.

I guess lockdown is to blame. Prior to this we’d never had enough spare time, and suddenly we had loads of it. We only released our own records to start with, partly because we couldn’t face the idea of messing up other people’s. But it’s gone pretty well, so in 2022 we will be ‘expanding our roster’. 

Rob and Amelia from Catenary Wires, Swansea Sound, European Sun & Skep Wax (courtesy Rob)

Anyway, I thought I’d share my ten best things about starting a label.

  1. The local post office.  Despite the Tories’ best efforts, there are still elements of the state’s architecture that still function. The postal service is one of them. Things arrive on time.  You don’t worry about your item being chucked around.  The couple who run our local post office are really friendly. Occasionally other customers can get irked – it probably is annoying trying to collect your pension if the person in front is mailing fifty cassette singles to various parts of the world. But the British like queueing, and even more than that they like grumbling about the people in front of them in the queue, so this isn’t such a massive problem.
  2. Having a song played on the radio. This was always the most exciting thing about being in a band, but it’s doubly exciting now, especially as DJs tend to be quite good about naming the record label.
  3. Seeing your record in a shop. Again, this was always exciting but now it’s even better.  There’s the thing that you have made, waiting patiently in the rack for someone to fall in love with it.
  4. Getting to know the community of writers, bloggers, online DJs. Just under the radar of the mainstream, there are hundreds of people keeping the independent music scene alive by sharing their enthusiasm. There’s some really good writing out there too.  It’s a good gang to be part of.
  5. Getting to know people who run cool record stores. Those places were the conduit to a better world when I was a teenager (in my case, Revolver Records in Bristol) and I’m probably still a bit starstruck when I go into them.  Now that we are adults and have records to sell, it’s like getting permission to go behind the scenes at the theatre. You’ve been in the audience for years, wondering who’s doing the lighting, putting the props on stage, directing the actors – and now you are backstage chatting with those people. They are immensely knowledgeable and generally very supportive.  
  6. Rubber stamps. We’ve got a ‘Skep Wax’ rubber stamp that gets applied to the envelopes for the records we mail out personally. It’s the most analogue object in the world and creates a pleasingly imperfect image every time.
  7. Co-releasing with other indie labels. There is a very strong sense of solidarity amongst people who are working really hard to do something good without any expectation of making a lot of money.  
  8. Being local and global at the same time. Everything we do happens on the dining table, or in the spare room (with occasional trips up the road to the post office). And then, a few months later, people in Brazil, Indonesia and America get to hear the results.
  9. Choosing which medium to release on. There are so many options – cassette, CD, vinyl, download, streaming. You don’t have to do all of them. You can choose the one that’s best for the release in question. If you want to do a 3” CD, you can. If you want to do a one-sided 7” single with a 50-page book, you can.
  10. ‘Expanding our roster…’  The fact that other bands are prepared to trust us with their art is a good feeling, if a little nerve-wracking.  But it does mean that 2022 won’t be boring.

Skep Wax will soon announce Under the Bridge, a compilation album that will be very exciting for anyone who liked Sarah Records.

The Umbrellas’ Top 10 list of San Francisco’s Best Taquerias

Photo by Ezra Gonzalez

1) La Corneta As 3/4th of the members of The Umbrellas are vegetarians, our criteria stems from the quality of: the beans, rice, salsa & tortilla (chip quality is also taken into account). The rice in a La Corneta burrito is what really elevates this place to the top; two ingredients unseen in any other SF Taqueria: peas & carrots. The Glen Park location is walking distance from where Morgan lives, and we’ve had so many fond memories eating there before and after gigs. 

2) El Burrito Express Both the Divisadero location and the Taraval location are great (and anyone who thinks the quality differs from one location to another has their head up their ass). They by far have the largest selection of veggie burritos, and an option to add french fries to any of them. All members of The Umbrellas have lived within walking distance to the Taraval location and would eat here on a regular basis. Matt and Nick in particular ate here every Thursday from 2016-2018.

3) El Buen Sabor Located on 18th and Valencia, this is the spot of choice for employees of the Chapel (where Keith works). Partially due to convenience, partially due to quality… but overall, just a consistent option. They have a great “Veg. California Burrito” chock full of vegetables.

4) El Pancho Villa Hands down one of the finest salsa bars the city has to offer (the chipotle salsa being a favorite of ours). The employees are always super accommodating (and have the spiffiest uniforms of any taqueria). When you’re on the main strip of Mission and 16th, this would be our pick. 

5) Mi Familia Once known as Zona Rosa, this Haight Street staple has maintained their quality even after a branding change. This is the closest burrito spot to where Morgan and Nick work and has been a great option when hungover on the clock. Some of the absolute sweetest folks own this establishment and are nothing but kind. The real kicker is their salsas (which they used to have squeeze bottles of on their tables pre-covid).

6) Taqueria Los Mayas This Richmond taqueria is the go-to spot of your favorite fog rockers (members of The Telephone Numbers, April Magazine & The Reds, Pinks & Purples all live a few blocks away). Their focus is on Mayan fare, so they have quite unique options you can’t find elsewhere. They have a wonderful plantain burrito and excellent tortas that are both highly recommended. Their mango salsa is also some of the best in the city. Make sure to get the burrito “Dorado Style” when you stop in… You won’t regret it.

7) Taqueria Cancun How many times have we played or gone to a show at the Knockout and stopped at El Cancun as well? Too many times to count… You can never go wrong with this beloved taqueria. Their bright yellow sign and interior attracts burrito-lovers like bees to a flower. While their chips and salsa are subpar, they are free. You can never go wrong getting a little something in your stomach before a night of drinking Hamm’s next door at the KO.  

8) Los Coyotes This is another taqueria on that main strip of 16th Street between Mission and Valencia. Sometimes this taqueria feels more in the vein of fast food, as they have french fries that closely resemble that of McDonald’s fries. They have an incredible Veggie-California burrito, which incorporates these McDonald’s-esque fries. They have a stunning selection of salsa and El Yucateco hot sauce bottles on every table! There are lots of extra accoutrements like: grilled poblano chiles and onions, pickled carrots, and extra spicy peppers. This is probably the most fun you’ll have at a taqueria, given the amount of space their restaurant has and all of their options. 

9) El Farolito Often cited as the best and most popular taqueria in San Francisco, there is a reason there are five locations throughout SF and South SF… The burritos are GOOD. El Farolito embodies what every taqueria should aspire to be: filling, cheapish & consistent burritos. They are the least stingy when it comes to stuffing a burrito to the brim (this is especially appreciated with the amount of avocado they manage to pack in). Most of their locations are open until the wee hours of the morning and is a must before catching the OWL bus home. Many folks have their opinion of El Farolito, but we felt we couldn’t have a list of “Best San Francisco Taquerias” without at least mentioning El Farolito. 

10) Taqueria Zorro (Voted Worst) For fun, we included our most despised burrito of San Francisco… Zorro’s burritos should not be consumed under ANY circumstances. Even if we were stuck on a desert island and it was the only viable option for sustenance, we STILL would not go anywhere near one! Located in the heart of North Beach, right next door to The Hungry I gentlemen’s club, we don’t know why we were expecting a decent burrito from a neighborhood that’s known for its exceptional Italian fare. The burrito was dry, the atmosphere was strange, and we were lamenting on the fact that Golden Boy Pizza was right up the road. Next time you’re in North Beach, please don’t be adventurous… Just go get pizza and eat it at Vesuvio like a normal person. 

you probably already have but listen to the umbrellas here!

vim + lene from punk girl diaries’ 2021 best of list!

We are two grown up English punk girls. We write a blog and make a print zine called punkgirldiaries, so people often assume that we’re forever harking back to 1976 with Siouxsie and Poly Styrene. But that’s only part of it; we try to trace a line of women in innovative rock-based music that probably starts with Suzi Quatro and Fanny and continues through punk, no-wave, indie-pop, shoegaze, riot grrrl, pop-punk and we also love to promote some of the music that women and girls are making now. 

So here’s our list of a few great 2021 songs, with links to the videos — mostly women musicians — that caught our attention and that will live on in punkgirldiaries playlists:

 Voice Of The Ages – Piney Gir

Like something that you’d have seen on Top of the Pops in 1973, this song from Kansas-born Piney has that electric piano stomp and cleverness that just endears her to us. 

 Primrose Hill- Rachel Love

It’s the dreamy voice of ex-Dolly Mixture Rachel emerging from an expansive timeless soundtrack that means that we have this on repeat, and then even more repeat.

ARXX – Not Alone But Not With You ( Official Video)

We love how this starts with the lo-fi demo version from the duo and then bursts into the urgent poppy anthem. Arxx are a great live band, too.

 Self Esteem – I Do This All The Time (Official Video)

In the middle of lockdown wilderness, this release was a smart commentary on modern British girl-angst and a great groove too.

 Coach Party – ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t’ – (Official Video)

The way the chorus swells up to a higher octave is cracking! We interviewed Jess and Steph from the Isle of Wight band and now want to hear more of their desperate pop-punk.

 ĠENN – Feel (Official Music Video)

From the album Liminal, this dreamy but slightly menacing song has the earthbeaty feel of early postpunk Raincoats/Slits whilst still being a solid 20s vibe.

 Peaness – What’s The Use?

All-female trio Peaness are great musicians who got together at uni. Their most recent song has that melodic stop-start thing, the gorgeous harmonies and a wiseness beyond their years. It was really fun interviewing Peaness for our Blogzine 8. 

 Wet Leg – Chaise Longue (Official Video)

An endearing deadpan spoken track that captured our Little House on the Prairie interest with a cool video this year. Another band from the Isle of Wight.

We hope you have a great 2022,
Luv, Vim and Lene 
(get their issues here!)