2023 chickfactor lists, round two

Photo by Harmony Reynolds
The Umbrellas’ Top 10 San Francisco Date Spots
Hey… February is right around the corner… Love is in the air… Wink wink!1. Musée Mécanique
2. Vesuvio Cafe, City Lights and an Italian dinner
3. Top of the Mark
4. Lands End/ Sutro Baths
5. Audium, and THEN Tommy’s Joynt
6. Free Gold Watch
7. Royal Cuckoo on Sundays
8. Conservatory of Flowers
9. A cable car ride with a tallcan!
10. Giants game at Oracle Park

image courtesy of Theresa Kereakes

Theresa Kereakes, punk photographer and historian
When I was a kid, I recall reading a column in TV Guide called “Cheers & Jeers,” and I think that’s what 2023 calls for….

Cheers:
The World According to Joan Didion by Evelyn McDonnell.

All my dots connected in this book – California, women writers, inadvertent movers & shakers. The intellectual rigor combined with passion for their respective subject matters from both the author and her subject make this book a must-read. I don’t want it to end. More than a biography, it is a consideration of the times, and how Didion lived and wrote in them.

Maestro – believe it or not! If you know me in real life, you know I am no fan of Bradley Cooper and a huge fan of Leonard Bernstein. With low expectations, I watched it and was not disappointed. I don’t care that Cooper is not Jewish and he wore a prosthetic nose. Movies are smoke and mirrors and if one chooses to criticize on this point, then criticize the superb Irish actor, Liam Neeson for portraying the German Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List. Bottom line: for a mainstream movie featuring the movie star as actor and director, this was most serviceable and Lenny is introduced to a whole new audience.

Tim: Let it Be Edition – The Replacements. My favorite album of 2023 is a reissue of an 80s record, remastered to sound the way it should. It’s perfect.

Eddie Izzard- The Rewind Tour. It was a delightful time hearing the old sketches and how prescient Izzard’s comedy was in the 80s. Dress to Kill is probably still my favorite stand up performance by anyone- seeing a reprise of “Tea & cake or death?” made my night.

The Algonquin Cat – best thing about Midtown Manhattan- the historic hotel has a cat. His name is Hamlet and whenever I am in NYC, I stop by the hotel JUST FOR THE CAT!

Jeers:
War
Barbie – subtle as a flying mallet
Media coverage of Taylor Swift’s dating life
For me, the overall vibe of 2023 is “hurry up 2024,” and I dream of more interesting times.

Top 8 shows Seablite went to in 2023
Sweeping Promises – The Chapel, San Francisco (LM)
Underworld – The Warfield, San Francisco (LM)
The Charlatans and Ride – The Fillmore, San Francisco (GT)
Suede – O2 Academy, Glasgow (GT)
Love and Rockets – Fox Theater, Oakland (JM)
Patti Smith – Golden State Theatre, Monterey (JM)
Mo Dotti – Permanent Records, Los Angeles (AP)

Aluminum – The Makeout Room, San Francisco (AP)

Papa Slumber (right) with Nommi and Gaylord, London, 2022 (photo: Gail O’Hara)

Papa Slumber’s Lucky 13
01 Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin – Archetype (Aquarii)
02 Autocamper – You Look Fabulous! (Discontinuous Innovation)
03 Nat Birchall – The Infinite (Ancient Archive of Sound)
04 The Clientele – I Am Not There Anymore (Merge)
05 John Haycock – Dorian Portrait (Second Thoughts Records)
06 Kode9 / Burial – Infirmary / Unknown Summer (Fabric)
07 The Lost Days – In The Store (Speakeasy Studios)
08 Malombo Jazz Makers – Down Lucky’s Way (Tapestry Works)
09 Primal Scream – Reverberations (Travelling In Time) BBC Radio Sessions & Creation Singles 1985-86 (Young Tiki)
10 The Southern University Jazz Ensemble – Goes To Africa With Love (Now Again)
11 Sam Wilkes & Jacob Mann – Perform The Compositions Of Sam Wilkes & Jacob Mann (Leaving Records)
12 Yaw Evans – The Bits (GD4YA)
13 The Oakland Weekender – great music, great friends, can’t wait to do it again!

Jennifer O’Connor’s favorite records
MeShell Ndegeocello – The Omnichord Real Book (Blue Note)
Steve Gunn & David Moore – Reflections Vol. 1: Let the Moon Be a Planet (RVNG Intl.)
Emahoy Tsege-Mariam Gebru – Jerusalem (Missippippi Records)
Armand Hammer – We Buy Diabetic Test Strips (Fat Possum)
Feist – Multitudes (Polydor)
King Krule – Space Heavy (Matador)
Meg Baird – Furling (Drag City)
Roge – Curyman (Diamond West)
Everything But The Girl – Fuse (Buzzin’ Fly/Virgin)
Mitski – The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We (Dead Oceans)

Rachel Blumberg (drummer): Top Ten Portland Area Pooches Who Have Spent Time At Our Humble Abode, The Two Fir in 2023…
1. Winnie Dean Underberg!  We adopted her in November and shortly thereafter learned she is a purebred McNab! Whoever knows what this is without googling it wins a prize. She is so sweet and super smart and we love her so much.
2. Arrow, fur child of Sarah Fennel (Night Brunch) and Matt Sheehy (Lostlander).
3. Tizate, also known as Sweet T, fur child of Joanna Bolme (many, many bands and also Reverse Cowgirl, the country cover band we both play in along with Rebecca Cole), and Gary Jarman (The Cribs). Sweet T quickly made her way to our heart with her snuggling ways and “dead bug in the sun” pose. She came to Joanna and Gary through Street Dog Hero, a great dog rescue organization based in Bend, OR.
4. Ringo, fur child of Adam Selzer (M.Ward, Norfolk & Western, Type Foundry Recording Studio). He is super smart and recently Adam discovered the most hilarious thing. Sometimes his recently baked sourdough bread would go missing. He could never find the missing bags that held said sourdough, until a few weeks ago he found a stash of  plastic bags hidden behind the cherry tree in the corner of their yard!  RIngo was hiding them there after eating the bread!
5. Sal, fur child of Sam Farrell (Fronjentress, Graves, Curly Cassettes, Family Reunion Music Festival) and Sarah Paradis ( Cush Upholstery)
6. Rankin, fur child of Rankin Renwick (Oregon Department of Kick Ass)
7. Oney, fur child of Cory Gray (Old Unconscious, Graves, Federale) and Nicky Kriara (Niko Far West Ceramics).
8. Bella, my sister’s pup, who is a golden sweetheart.
9. Sufi, my cousin’s pup. Tall elegant black poodle with sweet eyes.
10. Sparky,my father’s pup.
Cheers to these 13 wonderful  Music Related Things of 2023 that I either played  or enjoyed from the audience!
1. All Girl Summer Fun Band/Lunchbox/Field Drums summer house show in our basement!.
2. Your Heart Breaks/Matt Sheehy Magic Event/Cynthia Nelson Band house show in our courtyard!
3. Multiple shows and tours  and recording and releasing a new record (Villagers!) with Califone!
4. Friday night happy hour shows at the Laurelthirst drumming with Michael Hurley!
5. Two shows at Turn Turn Turn! with Field Drums, the first featuring Jeffrey’s songs based on Shel Silverstein poems, and the second with our new bass player!  Recording in 2024 is the goal!
6. Drumming and singing with the Cynthia Nelson Band at our house hosw and at Turn Turn Turn! on many several occasions!
7. Playing with Old Unconscious at the Curly Cassette Family Reunion Music Festival at Camp Wilkerson in August.  Playing with GSO there too!
8. Reverse Cowgirl shows and rehearsals. SO fun. Country dance covers with a band of ringers  (Joanna Bolme, Rebecca Cole, Anita Elliot and Arrin Schoedinger)
9. ESG at Polaris Hall!
10. The Papercuts at Mississippi Studios!
11. The Softies at Polaris Hall!
12. Quasi at The Doug Fir!
13. Yo La Tengo (two nights) at The Wonder Ballroom!

Michael Azerrad (author): Ten Best Vegetables of 2023
Puntarelle
Castelfranco radicchio
Salad Bowl lettuce
Sugar Snap peas
Leeks
Corn
Shishito peppers
La Ratte fingerling potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Fiddlehead ferns

CF contributor Julie Underwood’s Top 10 Albums: 

  1. boygenius – the record
  2. Olivia Rodrigo – Guts
  3. SZA – SOS
  4. Mitski – The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We
  5. L’Rain – I Killed Your Dog
  6. Girl Ray – Prestige
  7. The Tubs – Dead Meat
  8. The Reds, Pinks and Purples – The Town That Cursed Your Name
  9. En Attendant Ana – Principia
  10. Jess Williamson – Time Ain’t Accidental

Lyle Hysen (the Royal Arctic Institute, Das Damen):

“Slow Horses”
“Showing Up”
A History Of Rock Music In 500 Songs
“Godzilla Minus One”
“Eretz Nehederet/A Wonderful County”
Bun E’s Basement Bootlegs
Dapper Goose – Buffalo restaurant
Make It Stop by Jim Ruland  
I Must Be Dreaming by Roz Chast (that is findable!)
The Adventurists by Richard Butner (ok that was 2022)

Thomas Mosher (My Lil Underground label, A Certain Smile):
Top 10 Daycare Plagues we survived this year:
1) Covid (again) [all of us]
2) RSV (all of us)
3) Hand, Foot, and Mouth (Me and Tilly)
4) Influenza A (Me and Tilly so far)
5) Ear Infection (just Tilly)
6) Sinus infection (Me from RSV)
7) double bout of Food Poisoning (Me and Justine)
8) Medication Allergy Rash (Just Tilly)
9) at least half a dozen colds (all of us)
10) there is still 4 days so we will see…

Photo via Shawn B

(OG CF cartoonist) Shawn Belschwender’s Best 2023 “New to Me” Reading discoveries:

  1. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926). Title character is tired of being a dependable aunt. In midlife, moves to a remote village. Joins a coven. Speaks to the Devil himself and discovers him to be rather stupid, but also, and more importantly, that he will leave her alone. From the Devil, and even the well-meaning, Lolly Willowes wishes to escape.
  2. Lynne Tillman. You’ll know whether or not you’ll like Lynne Tillman if you read her “By the Book” in the NYTimes, as I did. I thought it was one of the best of those things they’ve published. This year I picked up and read What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (a collection of her nonfiction, from 2014) and her novel Men and Apparitions (2018), in which she diagnoses us, through her ethnographer narrator, as The Picture People. Men and Apparitions is about images and their place in our lives, and men and their place in the world after/under feminism. Next Tillman book I am going to track down and read: Weird Fucks.

Some of the tracks I listened to the most in 2023:

  • “A Sleep With No Dreaming,” k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang, from their album Sing it Loud (2011). Possibly my favorite track on definitely my favorite k.d. lang album, which I think is a tour de force. I got into k.d. lang that first pandemic summer, when I was coming unglued, but it took me until this year to hook on to this album in particular, hard.
  • “If I Could Breathe Underwater (feat. Mary Lattimore), Marissa Nadler, from her album The Path of Clouds (2021). I would insist that this is objectively Marissa Nadler’s best song. That it features another of my favorite musicians, Mary Lattimore, is a bonus. I saw Mary Lattimore at The Colony in Woodstock, NY in 2022, and it is one of the concert-going highlights of my life. Anyway, I built a “Summer” playlist around this track and the k.d. lang above, I love them both so much.
  • If you want to talk masterpieces, that Purple Mountains album is one, and the death of David Berman is a tragedy, I don’t need to tell you. I listened to “Nights That Won’t Happen” from it the most.
  • I was confused when Saint Etienne was at its peak, owing to the Fox Base Alpha album cover, which made them look like they were Camera Obscura only not good (I like Camera Obscura). There was just too much knitwear for me to digest, at the moment. Finally, I downloaded all the Saint Etienne, and now I can’t get enough of “Nothing Can Stop Us.” I was then thrilled to stumble upon the Dusty Springfield track it samples from (“I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face”).
  • “Au début c’était le début (feat. Bertrand Belin)”, The Limiñanas & Laurent Garnier, from the album De Película (2021). One day, before I die or they die, I wish to travel to France specifically to see The Limiñanas and Bertrand Belin perform, separately or together. If I could only see one, it would be Bertrand Belin. Sadly, I can’t find my fellow Belin Heads in the USA, and Limiñanas freaks are thin on the ground here, so I understand that I have to go to them.
  • “Anti-glory” by Horsegirl, from Versions of Modern Performance (2022). Wouldn’t have known about them if Gail O’Hara hadn’t alerted me to their existence. I missed a chance to meet ’em and take their picture, but it was the second pandemic spring and I was in the process of moving and falling fully apart. Are they referencing Conan O’Brien in this? Or the Barbarian? I don’t know what the lyrics mean, but I don’t care too much.
  • “Billy Jack,” Curtis Mayfield, from There’s No Place Like America Today (1975). It was written after that embarrassing movie Billy Jack, but it has nothing to do with it. “Ah, it can’t be no fun / Can’t be no fun / To be shot, shot with a handgun.” This is true. Peak Mayfield I’d known nothing about until this year.

Chatting with the Softies About Their New Tony Molina Collaboration

The Softies with poutine / Photo: Heather Johnston

When we put The Softies on the cover of chickfactor 18 back in 2018, we had no idea they would be coming back together to MAKE A NEW ALBUM and TOUR! Just a few weeks before Rose Melberg and Jen Sbragia set out to play a short Pacific Northwest tour with Tony Molina and All Girl Summer Fun Band and Mo Troper, we asked them a few questions about how this all came to happen. The split cassette tape in the images below features the Softies covering Tony’s entire album Dissed and Dismissed and Tony covering three Softies tunes, will be available at the upcoming shows and is being co-released by Slumberland Records and Alicia Vanden Heuvel’s (Poundsign, the Aislers Set) label Speakeasy Studios. Interview by Gail

Chickfactor: Why Tony Molina?
Jen Sbragia
: I first heard Dissed and Dismissed when Rose played it for me in her kitchen, in 2017. At the time I wasn’t listening to any new music really and was just focused on other stuff. I was blown away because of the genre-blending and was a little jealous I hadn’t thought of it first! I just thought it was a genius blend of my two favorite kinds of music—crunchy, squealy, distorted guitars and perfect pop. Not to be too dramatic, but that record changed my life.
Rose Melberg: As Northern California natives, Jen and I both feel a deep connection to the California-ness of Tony’s music. It’s difficult to put a finger on what that means, it’s just a special kind of magic for us.


How did you guys and Tony M. know each other?
Rose: We had been in touch as mutual fans of each other’s work but only met in person the first time when Tony played in Vancouver in 2019. He and his band stayed at my house and he and I stayed up talking until 5am on my porch talking about life, music, songs, etc. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise together to solidify a friendship forever 
Jen: We met in person at the Oakland Weekender, but had been texting each other about music and guitar stuff. I got his number from Mike Schulman, because Tony isn’t on any social media and I just wanted to introduce myself as a label mate, make that connection, and to gush about how much I loved his music. It was funny and weird that we were all big fans of each other. There were loose plans for me to sing with him at the Weekender during his secret/surprise set, but it didn’t work out. I joked that we should collaborate and release a split 7″ on Slumberland so we could “play this thing next year”. And weirdly, something very similar is happening.

The Softies in the olden days / Photo: Hannah Sternshein

How did this mini tour / new tape come about?
Jen: He just texted me and asked if we wanted to play some PNW shows, simple as that. I wasn’t sure which band would work but then it became both Softies and AGSFB. The cassette was Mike and Alicia’s idea. 

Please explain what the record is, what format, how people can get it, etc.
Jen: It will be a cassette-only release, available at the merch table. Co-released by Slumberland and Speakeasy Studios. 

If you are willing to say anything, what is going on with the Softies?
Rose
: We’re writing new songs and will be putting out a new album in 2024.

New recording? Record deal? Shows? Etc.
Rose
+ Jen: All of the above!

The Softies with Alicia Vanden Heuvel and Gary Olson at CF20, Bell House, Brooklyn, 2012. Photo: Tae Won Yu

How has your songwriting (style, content, tools, etc.) changed from the olden days?
Jen
: Attending the Oakland Weekender after so long in quarantine was huge for me. Not only just traveling again and seeing old friends and live bands, but the prep I put in beforehand of researching all the bands and listening to new music again so that I would know the songs and be extra excited to see them played live. After I came home, I felt such renewed excitement about playing music again for the first time in years and my creativity sort of exploded. I started playing guitar every day, writing little riffs and bits of lyrics and songs, and shared the more Softies-esque ones with Rose. She is the true mastermind IMHO. She took those ideas and we made whole songs. She’s writing too, of course. So these new songs are more collaborative than ever before. 

We have had several songwriting trips over the past year where we traveled here and there to work on music. Often we would meet in Seattle because it’s a pretty good halfway point between Vancouver and Portland. We have been recording our new songs in demo format so we can each work remotely using Garageband, but we have time booked at Anacortes Unknown over the summer to record our new record.

Poster by Jen Sbragia (The Softies will not be playing in Eugene)

Can we expect to hear new stuff at the shows?
Jen: There are definitely some new ones on the set list.

What else is happening?
Jen
: Mostly practice! I agreed to do double duty, (which I have done before, Softies and AGSFB toured California 24-ish years ago) It never occurred to me that it might be too much for me presently—I was too excited. So now, that equals a LOT of practice. Practice is my middle name right now. But I couldn’t be happier. CF

chickfactor 18 with the Softies on the cover is still available in our shop as well as various other outlets including Quimby’s, K Recs, Jigsaw, My Vinyl Underground, Record Grouch, Main St. Beat, Grimey’s, Atomic Books, among others.

Follow the Softies on Instagram and Bandcamp here.

Poster by LD Beghtol

the reds, pinks & purples (glenn donaldson) interview!

Photo courtesy of Glenn Donaldson

Our interview with San Francisco songwriter GLENN DONALDSON (currently of the reds, pinks & purples and vacant gardens, formerly of skygreen leopards and art museums, etc.) is long overdue, as he’s been making great jangly music for decades. Of course everyone is still listening to Uncommon Weather, and Summer at Land’s End comes out today/on Feb. 4 but the U.S. vinyl has been delayed thanks to satan, I mean Adele or something. Collector nerds: If you haven’t already preordered the vinyl LP, do it. There are two vinyl editions: a limited-edition double yellow vinyl record with a bonus album of instrumental songs not on the album, which is only available in the U.S. from Slumberland, and a green single vinyl LP version. UK people: the vinyl is actually out today (Feb. 4) on Tough Love. Interview by Kevin Alvir 

Summer at Land’s End

chickfactor: What is your life like these days in San Francisco? 
Glenn Donaldson: Pretty simple and hermit-like. I work from home, take walks around the neighborhood, record songs. I’m really into making vegan stews from scratch lately. It’s all about having a base of shiitake mushrooms and fermented bean paste. They are pretty good!
cf: This is very chickfactor: What were you like as a teenager?
An insecure dork, but maybe most people were like that. I was hung up on girls and moping around.
cf: also chickfactor: What is driving you mad?
Constantly entering passwords, which is 90% of remote work.
cf: What spurred you into making music?
Punk was alive in Fullerton when I was a youth, and that was the siren song. It felt like a place where a loser like me could be great. In my hometown we had Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, etc. These are world-class bands, so it felt like anything was possible.

Photo nicked from the Reds, Pinks & Purples’ Bandcamp page

cf: Did you always see yourself doing music? If it were not music, what else do you think you’d be doing?
I wanted to be an artist of some kind, maybe a poet or a painter or a musician. I wanted to wear striped sweaters and drink espresso in dimly lit cafes.
cf: Do you do anything else outside of music? Gardening, visual arts, etc…
I’m a crude artist as well, mostly collage, some painting and bad stoner drawings…and now photographing my neighborhood I suppose? I have a book of collage art coming out this year on a micro-press.
cf: Your work has a cinematic feel to it. I get a sense you are inspired by movies and books. Are you? Can you elaborate on that? 
That’s a nice compliment, thanks. My favorite writer is Denton Welch. He had a way of taking everyday events like a walk through a garden and making it epic. Movies sure… but I feel like I’m more directly influenced by comedy, the idea of really opening yourself up as a performer and dealing with raw and personal stuff.
cf: Anything that you are watching on tv or (shall I say) streaming?
I like that new HBO series Somebody Somewhere. It probably won’t find a huge audience, but I think it’s beautiful. An old favorite is Detectorists. I love small stories.

Photo nicked from the Reds, Pinks & Purples’ Bandcamp page

cf: A great question for our auteurs: Do you prefer to play live or record?
Definitely recording. There’s nothing more satisfying that putting the final touch on a song, painting on some bits of feedback or melody lines. I struggle with even wanting to play live, but it is rewarding and helps you move onto the next bit of inspiration.
cf: Can you tell us what your first song that you wrote was like?
It was definitely a rip-off of a Dischord-type hardcore song. I didn’t play any instruments until much later, so this would be just me imagining hardcore riffs and writing really bad lyrics about “Justice” or something I knew nothing about.
cf: Is there a source of inspiration or influence that people who follow your music may find surprising?
I love Lana Del Rey. She’s my favorite contemporary songwriter. The more cringey she gets, the more I eat it up. “Arcadia” is the best song out right now. I’m a student of classic songwriting, so my list of favorites would be very long (see below), but I’ll mention Leonard Cohen, Kirsty MacColl and Peter Tosh off the top of my head.
cf: Can you describe your worst live music experience? As a performer / audience member.
Someone threw a lit cigarette at me at a festival in Belgium and almost set my shirt on fire. For some reason they stuck my band Skygreen Leopards, an acoustic band, on before BORIS, and the Belgian doom metal fans were enraged. It was totally stupid and insane but very memorable!

Uncommon Weather

cf: I’ve asked you this over social media, but what does Astral Projection feel like? Reds, Pinks & Purples have a song called “I’d Rather Astral Project.” Hence, my audacity to ask this… I think I may have experienced this—I do a ton of meditation… but I would love to hear what other people have to say about it.
Oh, interesting left turn! That song is a bit tongue-in-cheek about having social anxiety basically, but I do wonder about the power of the mind sometimes, powerful stuff, especially if you get into visualization and meditation. I have taken LSD a few times, and you can definitely arrive without traveling. 
cf: How do you feel the past two years have changed you? (y’know – the pandemic)
I am more comfortably and colorfully dressed with many clashing patterns. Also, I am into colorful sneakers all of sudden after never wearing them at all. I am suddenly more successful as a musician than I have ever been, and yet I barely leave my neighborhood. 
cf: When things get back to workable normal, what do you want to do with yourself / yr music?
I want to tour and play some enormous festivals, really sell out and make big gestures like Bono. Set my shirt on fire with cigarettes and lose my mind permanently while onstage, then crash hard coming back to reality, realizing that it’s all pointless. CF

Records Glenn Cannot Live Without
Unrest, Imperial f.f.r.r.
Long Fin Killie, Houdini
The Magnetic Fields, The House of Tomorrow
Tracey Thorn, A Distant Shore
Cocteau Twins, Blue Bell Knoll
Bad Brains, I Against I
Colin Newman, A to Z
Codeine, Barely Real
The Smiths, Meat is Murder
Reptile House, Listen to the Powersoul
East River Pipe, Shining Hours in a Can
Jones Very, Words & Days
The Jam, Sound Affects
Augustus Pablo, East of the River Nile
Galaxie 500, Today
Die Kreuzen, Century Days
American Music Club, Engine
Hüsker Dü, Warehouse: Songs & Stories
Go-Betweens, Liberty Belle & the Black Diamond Express
Eyeless in Gaza, Caught in Flux

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


JEANINES!

Alicia and Jed from Jeanines!

When it comes to indie-pop flame keepers, few do it better than the East Coast band Jeanines. We love their 2019 debut album and cannot wait for the next one out early next year on Slumberland. We caught up with Alicia Jeanine and Jed Smith (My Teenage Stride) to see how they’ve been holding up, what they’ve been listening to and doing over the past few strange years since we saw them play in January 2020 in a chilly basement record shop in Portland. Interview by Gail

CF: What has changed since the pandemic happened? Did you have to cancel plans? Change residence? Change your working style? 
Alicia: The week we were supposed to leave for Europe to play the Madrid Popfest plus two other dates, the entire world basically shut down. That was super disappointing, of course, but we hope to get to Europe eventually! I also graduated library school in May 2020 and moved to Western Massachusetts for a new job this February, which totally changed our working style. We used to go to our practice space together weekly and work on recording stuff, but now we have to do almost everything separately. Jed helped me get a super basic recording setup in my apartment here, but things still take much longer and aren’t as fun, unfortunately.
Jed: What Alicia said, plus a West Coast thing in September that got canceled. Since Alicia moved we’ve seen each other plenty, either me up in Massachusetts or her down in the city for shows, but we can’t really practically record in the same way, so that’s a bit frustrating and the process definitely isn’t as fun. 

What were you like as teenagers? 
Alicia: I was socially maladjusted and had very few friends. I was definitely slowly getting into more and more indie bands, but not many people I knew were into that kind of thing. I was pretty isolated and grew up in suburban sprawl not super close to any cities.
Jed: From ages about 13–18, I was more or less completely asocial. So all of junior high and high school, basically. I wasn’t picked on or anything and actually had good social skills—I remember people even trying to befriend me and I’d just…not take them up on it. All of my teen years were spent alone recording songs on a 4-track pretty much as soon as I picked up drums and guitar at 14, doing special effects makeup (I kid you not), and painting (poorly). I can’t really regret not hanging out with anyone during those years because I spent it being creatively productive. Oh, I did have a weird sort of uh…love triangle in like 11th and 12th grade with two girls at school—I was totally in love with one of them who had a boyfriend and the other one had a crush on me and it was fraught and sad and stuff but this all happened at school—I never hung out with them outside of school, nor did I try. So yeah, I was a weird, very much intentionally solitary teen I guess. Okay, that was wayyyyy too much info sorry. 

Are you from musical families? 
Alicia: Yes, my mom has a degree in music and used to teach piano. She only cares about classical music, though. I’m glad to have that foundation (I was forced to take piano and violin throughout my childhood) but I never wanted to be a classical musician. I definitely think some of my ability comes from my mom, though!
Jed: Yeah, my grandmother was a piano player, basically a stride piano player like Jelly Roll Morton or Fats Waller; she was a virtuoso with perfect pitch, wish we’d recorded her. My grandfather played drums a bit in church jazz bands and my mom is a jazz musician semi-professionally. So I grew up with a lot of jazz. 

When did you write your first song, what was it about, what was it called? 
Alicia: I didn’t write my first song until about six years ago, actually, with the encouragement of Jed. I don’t remember what it was called or what it was about, though!
Jed: The first song I remember writing, which I can still recall completely, like arrangement and everything, was when I was 7, and it was called “Salt Water Up My Nose.” It had a sort of music hall McCartney arrangement with groovy drums and bass arpeggios like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. I didn’t start playing instruments till I was 14 though, so I had no means to record any of my ditties till then. I was always obsessively doing it though. 

What is your songwriting process like? 
Alicia: Usually I sit down with the guitar and try to will something into my mind, the beginnings of a song. Often it works but sometimes it’s just not the moment. Other times I’ll get a little snippet of a melody or a phrase in my head and sit down and try to work it into a song.
Jed: Either a song pops into my head and I go record it, or I think about a song I want to exist and I work out the arrangement and everything in my head, including the production aspects, so it’s more like writing a record than a raw song. I don’t sit down with an instrument to write, so it’s an entirely uh…cerebral process, which makes recording it a joyless, obsessive sort of act of transcription. Working with Alicia changes that process and it’s way more fun.

Where do you write and record? 
Alicia: I write songs at home. Most of the recording happens at the practice space in Brooklyn, but now I do some recording in my apartment in Massachusetts.
Jed: I write when I’m doing something mundane like shopping or cleaning or showering—mowing the lawn used to be a good time for thinking of songs. It’s good to have the nervous part of me busy with some other task so I can free up the good part of me to think about songs. I record everything in my practice space/studio in Bushwick. 

Your debut album is awesome! What were you going for when you recorded it? 
Alicia: I always say I write sad folk songs and Jed turns them into indiepop gems. So yeah, I handed them to him as simple acoustic things, and he transformed them into pop hits! We both were super into adding lots of harmonies.
Jed: Thanks! Alicia’s early songs were more often than not minor key songs written with acoustic guitar. I liked the idea of up-tempo, super short minor key pop songs, that’s really the main concept I personally had in mind. I couldn’t think of that many examples of it that were contemporary besides Veronica Falls. We also both really love multipart harmonies including hymnal stuff. 

What’s it like being on Slumberland/WIAIWYA? 
Alicia: Being on Slumberland is a dream come true, and Mike Schulman (Papa Slumber) is the nicest, best person you could hope to have on your team. Working on the EP with John from WIAIWYA was also great.
Jed: Same as Alicia, having a record on Slumberland was always a dream and a lot of my friends over the years were in bands I really loved like Cause-Co Motion and Crystal Stilts, who had records on Slumberland—but my first Slumberland obsession was Aislers Set, and I still consider Linton to be one of the greatest songwriters and pop musicians of the past 20+ years. Their stuff was really inspiring to me. WIAIWYA are another great label with great bands and it’s been an honor having a record there. 

What is the pop community like where you live? 
Alicia: In Brooklyn the pop community is doing all right, perhaps not as vibrant as it’s been in the past. It definitely skews older currently. In Western Mass I’m still trying to find any pop community that might exist!
Jed: Brooklyn/NYC has had a lot of great guitar pop…some you could call indiepop, for whatever it’s worth, but some like the aforementioned Cause Co-Motion and Crystal Stilts, who for me were more part of the continuation and mutation of the sort of 60s music that’s always been the core of my musical DNA. Right now it’s disjointed. But there’s always great music being made everywhere, even if the people making it aren’t letting anyone hear it. 

Whose lyrics do you adore? 
Alicia: Nothing is coming to mind right off the bat, but I’ve always found the Siddeleys’ lyrics quite clever.
Jed: I’m always reticent to say it, but I think Mick Jagger is one of the greatest lyricists of all time when he’s not being childishly misogynistic, and weirdly underrated in that sense…especially considering they’re the second most famous band of all time. Other than that, Linton from Aislers Set’s lyrics are one of the things about them that’s exceptional and makes them stand out from other bands associated with indie pop. I also think Kim Deal is one of the most underrated lyricists of all time, especially on Pod. Chris Knox also. 

Where in NYC are you living now? If we came to visit for one day, what should we do? 
Alicia: Jed lives (and I used to live) in Ridgewood, Queens, right next to North Brooklyn. Depends what you like to do! Ridgewood has some great restaurants and bars (both old and new). The music scene right now is kind of in flux/trying to emerge from the pandemic.
Jed: I live in Queens right over the Brooklyn border next to Bushwick. NYC is a horrible place for a day trip or a several-day trip, I think it’s best experienced by actually living here. 

How has NYC changed since the crazy time started? 
Alicia: A lot of places have closed but some haven’t. A lot more outdoor seating, of course! 
Jed: It’s weird and traumatic and wonderful as ever. The music venue situation is upsetting but I think it’s finding ways to mend. Andy Bodor deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. Cakeshop forever. 

Can you cook? What is your specialty? 
Alicia: I can cook but don’t like to. Sometimes I make this thing with green beans and kidney beans that sounds boring and bad but tastes quite good.
Jed: For about four years, I was an obsessive bread baker—like three times a week or so, back in like the mid-2000s. Other than that, Mexican and Italian are my things since forever. 

What’s in the fridge? 
Alicia: Eggs, yogurt, fruit, salad stuff, seltzer.
Jed: Yogurt, too much cheese, beans, too much seltzer. 

What day jobs have you had? 
Alicia:
 Librarian, proofreader/editor, software tester, admin stuff.
Jed: Special education, barista, video store/music store, proofreader/editor, copywriter, internet “journalist,” music lessons, recording engineer/producer, soundtrack composer. Past couple of years it’s mostly been copywriting and recording/producing, paid work–wise. I also do wet work for the CIA occasionally. Not really though. OR DO I REALLY THOUGH?

What are you reading/watching/eating at the moment? 
Alicia: I’m about to start reading something that looks really good, but I don’t remember the name! I’ve been watching so much Masterchef, it’s very dumb.
Jed: If I visit Alicia it’s nonstop Masterchef, so I guess I have to count that. World/American cinema from 1935 or so to 1985ish. Reading, I’m on a Joan Didion kick right now and just finished Kiss of The Spider Woman by Manuel Puig. I also read books about sharks and deep sea life as often as possible. 

What radio shows/DJs/podcasts do you love? 
Alicia: Lately into podcasts by Jamie Loftus; the current one is about Cathy comics. Also love Maintenance Phase (about bodies/dieting/health fads) and You’re Wrong About (rehashing historical moments with witty banter).
Jed: My friend Neal Ramirez has a great show called Sound Burger, and my friends Owen Kline and Sean O’Keefe both have wonderful, unpredictable shows on this indie station called K-PISS (no, really.)

Fave record stores? 
Alicia: None in particular, but I love places with a great and well-priced used selection.
Jed: Earwax, Captured Tracks store, Academy Records, Deep Cuts, and Rough Trade, all in Brooklyn except for Deep Cuts, are/were all great. 

How do you consume music? (Platforms, formats)
Alicia: Spotify and records, mostly.
Jed: I rarely listen to music casually so it’s usually one song or piece, on YouTube, staring at the screen, or my iTunes library. I think YouTube is the best option for music on the internet outside of Bandcamp (for newer/smaller artists).

Do you use any apps or software in to make music? 
Alicia: Logic to record; Voice Memo to jot down ideas.
Jed: Logic for recording and production, voice memo to remember a vocal melody occasionally. In the past I’ve also used Audacity and Garageband.  

Who is your style icon? 
Alicia: No one?
Jed: No one. Though David Hemmings’ white pants in Blow-Up make him 10x more foxy. 

What are your day jobs? Hobbies? Pets? Kids? 
Alicia: I’m the outreach librarian at the public library. Music is my hobby, I suppose. I have two beautiful cats—a calico named Heidi, and a gray and white tabby named Biscuit. They are delightful.
Jed: I’m a copywriter as my regular thing, peppered with recording/mixing/soundtrack work throughout the year. My extremely lovely black cat Elsa is my familiar. 

What would you do this summer if money and COVID were not in the way of your dreams? 
Alicia: Travel more and maybe tour.
Jed: Buy a car and do a road trip across the country and then drive up the coast of California listening to “Babylon Sisters” on repeat. Help some friends out.

What bands/venues do you want to play with/at? 
Alicia: Dream pairings that won’t happen—Aislers Set, Dear Nora. 
Jed: Alicia’s picks are good. My Teenage Stride played in this cool outdoor venue at Primavera years ago. I’d like to do that again but having rehearsed more. 

Future plans? Upcoming tours/records? 
Alicia: We have a new LP coming out in early 2022 and we are hopefully playing some dates in California at the beginning of January around the SF Popfest!
Jed: New Jeanines LP in early 2022 on Slumberland as well as new Mick Trouble LP on Emotional Response in January, with a special limited edition w/flexidisc bonus thingie for Rough Trade which I’m excited about. Touring Jeanines and Mick in SF Popfest and the West Coast in January also. 

Records Alicia Cannot Live Without
Dear Nora – Three States
The Siddeleys – Slum Clearance
Les Calamités – C’est Complet
The Aislers Set – How I Learned to Write Backwards
Nice Try – S/T (2016)
The Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
Elliott Smith – all?
Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
Go Sailor – S/T
Connie Converse – How Sad, How Lovely

Songs That Jed Cannot Live Without
“All My Hollowness,” Tall Dwarfs
“Nothing But Heartaches,” the Supremes
“This Angry Silence,” Television Personalities
“Anything Could Happen,” The Clean 
“Myself When I Am Real,” Charles Mingus (from Mingus Plays Piano)
“Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” The Four Tops
“Luck of Lucien,” A Tribe Called Quest
“Back Up Against the Wall,” Circle Jerks
“Doe,” The Breeders
“Quick Step,” The Adverts
“Ready Teddy,” Little Richard
“Hit It and Quit It,” Funkadelic 
“They Don’t Know,” Kirsty MacColl 
“Don’t Believe the Hype,” Public Enemy 
“Oogum Boogum,” Brenton Wood
“Lady Rachael,” Kevin Ayers
“Solace- A Mexican Serenade,” Scott Joplin
“Dawn,” The Four Seasons
“Get Right Back,” Maxine Nightingale 
“I Bet You,” Funkadelic 
“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath- Black Sabbath
“Theme de Camille” from Contempt/Le Mepris soundtrack- George Delerue 
“Queen of Fools,” Barbara Mills
“Do I Love You,” Ronettes 
“Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper
“Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home,” Kinks
“Gideon’s Bible,” John Cale 
“Touch the Hem of His Garment,” Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers
“Mona,” The Beach Boys
“Electric Funeral,” Black Sabbath
“Sweet & Dandy,” Toots & The Maytals
“Into The Groove,” Madonna
“After Eight,” Neu!  
“Your Heart Out,” The Fall
“No Side To Fall In,” The Raincoats
“Street Fighting Man,” Rolling Stones
“When I Grow Up,” The Beach Boys
and every Velvet Underground album