I'm not a big fan of end-of-year best-of lists. I think they are a somewhat meaningless way to compare artists and are lazy content filler. In addition, they almost universally get published before the year ends. What if something good gets released in late-December? But I play along, although I have a different take with my annual "List of Things" (patent pending). Still, let's hope nothing good happens before the end of the year, shall we?

2018 List of Things: A lucky seven categories, but more than seven bands. What a world!


I had the ticket in my hot little hand December and thought I would enjoy it, but wasn’t prepared for how great it was to see LSP in concert. [I wrote a little about it here.]  I still smile when I think about it. Legend.


Let’s agree up front that the death of MES in January was very sad news. He was The Fall, had a long and brilliant career, and was one of my favorite artists. That said, he did have a bit of a reputation as a curmudgeon, known for fighting (sometimes even on stage) with and frequently replacing band members.  So reports that fisticuffs broke out at his funeral seemed both appropriate and humorous to long-time followers. RIP MES.

BEST OPENING ACTS: Shy Boys and Ohmme

You never know what you’ll get with opening bands, but I saw two really good ones this year. Shy Boys drove from Kansas City to open for Fleet Foxes at an outdoor show I attended in the spring. Their musical approach reminded me a bit of the Minutemen in that their songs were often on the shorter side, and they didn’t seem overly concerned with genre labels - just with performing good tunes. More recently I got to enjoy Chicago’s Ohmme, who opened for Iron & Wine. Ohmme is a three piece and their two guitarists blended their voices and instruments dreamily. The headliners at both shows were pretty dang good too, but bonus points for the opening acts.



Sometimes I miss a band or an album when they are new. Sometimes it takes me a few months or a couple years or (ahem) a decade to catch up. Enter Kokolo. Not sure how I ended up playing “Love International” as I knew nothing about it, but one day I was (half) listening to this album for the first time while doing other things. I enjoyed the groove of their Afrobeat-based songs immediately, but I was still focused elsewhere. That is, until I caught a lyric that seemed to quote a Clash tune. I wondered to myself if it was coincidental or meant as a tribute. And then I heard the next line and realized it was a cover of “The Magnificent Seven.” Now they had my full attention, and this full album is magnificent. I hope Kokolo can forgive my tardiness.

BEST ACTUAL 2018 RELEASES I LISTENED TO: Check out this half-dozen

Despite ample evidence in this list to the contrary, I do listen to some new music when it’s released too…honest. Here are some things I liked this year. Are they the best six records of the year? Who knows; who cares. I just know they’re all really good:

- Superchunk “What a Time to be Alive” – A feisty state-of-the-nation bulletin. Play it loud then hit the streets.

- The Spirit of the Beehive “Hypnic Jerks” – Hard to describe this one in a sentence; lots of it sounds slightly off-kilter, but it’s a weird and wonderful journey.

- Tenderlonious “The Shakedown” – Modern mellifluous jazz.

- Sleaford Mods “Sleaford Mods” EP – Typical very mellow offering from…haha…no way. I’m not too objective when it comes to these guys. I love everything they do, and this one measures up to their high standards.

- No Age “Snares Like a Haircut” – Not only is the title great, but the noisy guitar and song hooks are awesome. It’s been a few years for No Age; worth the wait.

- Shame “Songs of Praise” – Modern take on post-punk, I guess? This noisy debut album blesses us with its presence.



I’ve mentioned my son Rhombus on these pages. He inherited an excellent taste in music from his parents and he’s also a very talented musician (although we have no idea where that came from – probably all the practicing!). Regardless, this year he got together with some of his talented friends (sometimes as a quartet, sometimes as a quintet, and sometimes, believe it or not, as a quintic polynomial-tet) and they released a jazz EP called “Apropos of Nothing.” The tunes are really great and really catchy, and before you accuse me of parental bias, check it out for yourself and I think you’ll agree.

BEST 50th ANNIVERSARY: “S.F. Sorrow” by The Pretty Things

Hard to believe (at least to me) that this album is 50 years old. It’s credited by many as the first rock opera, and it’s a psychedelic gem. The story itself is not a happy one for the most part, but the music is excellent. Many think it was an inspiration for “Tommy” (although The Who deny it). I, in turn, wonder if The Pretty Things were inspired by The Dukes of Stratosphear; we may never know who inspired whom. Reading about this 50th anniversary pointed me to yet another album I hadn’t heard before. Philippe DeBarge (always fabulously described as “French playboy”) basically hired The Pretty Things to help him make an album. The result was released as “Rock St. Trop” about 40 years after it was recorded. The back story sounds like it could lead to a music disaster, but not so. It’s very 1969, but surprisingly good.

That’s a wrap on a crazy and often troubling year. But at least the world got to celebrate one pillar of stability this year - the 25th anniversary of the European Single Market. Oh wait, I forgot…Brexit. Oh well, at least there’s always lots of great music to see us all through. Cheers.

2017 List of Things: Five solid items in a somewhat liquid year

This has been a tough year with some friends suffering hardships, some governments (*cough* United States *cough*) out of control, some old-school throw-back worries like the threat of nuclear war and whatnot…but do not despair. I still managed to find a few positives for my highly acclaimed Annual List. Let’s try to take a moment to celebrate some happier things, shall we?


I wrote something early this year (which you’ll find if you scroll down the Main Page here) about George Clinton’s recent book and something I found in the Trapezoid archives from one of the Parliament/Funkadelic concerts I attended back in the day (“back in the day” meaning before we all had computers and my personal high tech device was an electric typewriter…don’t be jealous all you manual typewriter owners out there). It’s always nice when I get a reaction to something I post, but it’s really nice when I get a perfect crazy one like this: 


Please don’t take it personally that I selected a Twitter reaction that wasn’t yours; I do love you all dearly and cherish our conversations. But c’mon…this is George Clinton we’re talking about! It couldn’t have been more perfect.


Gentle Giant created the type of music of which a friend of mine used to say “This is why they invented punk rock.”    I know I heard Gentle Giant back when they were active, and I know they didn’t do anything for me then. And that logo/character they often used – my God I hated that thing.  

Flash forward to a few years ago when I downloaded a free 4 song sampler. Don’t ask me to defend why, but let me just say I had two large Ipods that weren’t going to fill themselves. But a funny thing started to happen when any of those four tracks would pop up – I kinda got to like them (he said nervously, looking to make sure none of his punk rock friends overheard). So this year, armed with my Spotify account, I decided to dig deeper. The result is a higher appreciation for them than in the past; they did some (at times) interesting and complex music. While I won’t be curating that extensive playlist I envisioned, I still like my four song sampler and may dip my toe into their catalogue on occasion in the future. Still despise that logo, though.

And my related question on this topic is: Could Gentle Giant have been (at least one) inspiration for the band Queen? Maybe a stretch, but check out this track from 1970, the year Queen formed:



Actually, I did see Joe Jackson live in New York City back in the 80’s, but that was while I was in the midst of arguing with the manager of a movie theater and Joe was waiting in line to see a flick, but that’s a story for another day. I'll just say while technically I saw him live then, no music performance was involved so it didn’t count in my personal record book.

My nice sister Alberta gifted me tickets to see Joe’s tour this year and it was, in a word, fantastic. He had a tight band and played things from throughout his varied career. There was lots of nice interaction with the crowd. Oh, and there was long-serving bass man Graham Maby too, who received much well-deserved recognition from the audience. And finally, I was reminded what a really great revenge song “On your Radio” is:



I finally started my Wire Tapper series this year (more soon). While I was working on it I followed Olga on Facebook since she was one of the artists that stood out to me. After I did, I received a note from her informing me that I happened to be her 500th follower and she offered me a copy her latest music since I was a “milestone” follower. I already had it, but thought it was great of her to offer and just an overall nice interaction.

You should follow (and listen to) Olga too. Here’s part of what I said previously: “I was immediately captivated by… “I'm Never Not Thinking About You”…It’s featured on her album “Maps and Mazes” which is full of amazing compositions that you need to submerge yourself into.” Go get it.


This may be one to explore deeper in 2018, but the Neil Young Archives recently went live and it is something to behold. If you’re a diehard Neil fan, you absolutely have got to check it out, but probably already have. I’m a casual fan but I was pulled in exploring one day. It will keep you occupied for sure.  

This topic gives me the opportunity to  pre-celebrate the upcoming 35th anniversary of the Neil Young and The Shocking Pinks album which almost everyone seemed to hate, but I loved “Wonderin’” and it’s delightfully odd video:

That’s it for 2017. Good riddance and here’s hoping your world is looking up in 2018. I know I’m going to see Lee “Scratch” Perry soon and my son Rhombus now has a jazz quartet, so who knows what other good crazy things might happen. Stay tuned.

2016 List of Things: Six categories, but seven items This Year! Whhaaaatttt?

Why yes, friends, it’s time once again for the too early totally unscientific and not necessarily related only to this past year annual list of the year’s best things for 2016. It’s silly but serious, or something like that. As always, let’s hope nothing good happens the rest of December.


Every time I stumble across an old song or video of hers, I am simply captivated. For example, watch this, or skip to the guitar solo about half way through:

Is it possible to not feel good watching her? I don’t believe it is possible

BEST VAN PERFORMANCE: Konrad Kuechenmeister

Speaking of feeling good, behold Konrad Kuechenmeister. I was at an outdoor show in a local city park, enjoying some cool bands on the main stage. There was this van parked off to the side maybe 50 yards from the stage. After one main stage set there was an announcement that there would be a performance over by the van. Not really expecting much, we wander over and there was Konrad in the midst of this set up (photo borrowed from Konrad’s Facebook page):


Konrad was a one man show with the talents of a full band. He mixed various acoustic and electronic instruments with vocals (sometimes singing, sometime beatboxing) all fed through some looping equipment to create…magic. His performance was infectious with joy.

BEST NEW (well, to me anyway) BAND: The Early Stages

It’s always great to find a new favorite. I’m a little embarrassed about how obsessed I became with The Early Stages this year. No, that’s not true…I’m not embarrassed at all…they are AWESOME. I’m only embarrassed about the restraining order they took out to keep me out of Austin, Texas. But don’t let that stop you.

BEST LIVE SHOW: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

A wonderful evening with Lyle and his friends. I’ve never seen him live before this year, and he did not disappoint. Great stories, lots of humor, and that music! Amazing musicians across the board and it was great to see the wonderful Francine Reed is still part of the gang. And, as is Lyle’s wont, he had a local gospel group singing along too. Sublime.


Children, meaning my children. Both the boys came through with good music recommendations this year. Now I’m not suggesting these are necessarily new artists you’ve never heard of, but I can’t keep up with everything! First up, my son Sphere turned me on to Rizzle Kicks, who are just plain fun. Among other things, they sampled The Clash on one of their songs (always a plus in my book) (I’ll let you try to figure out which song) (something else in parenthesis), and created this total ear worm:

Alternative son Rhombus always has his ear to the ground for cool music, which makes no sense as the air is usually a better place. Regardless, just the other night he showed me this video of Moon Hooch:

I was totally blown away. The chaos, the energy, the creativity, and that drummer! Influences no doubt include free jazz and no wave, and maybe even some EDM. And even if this is not your cup of tea, I’m sure we can all agree this is the best use of a traffic cone in music this year. I may just give The Early Stages a break and obsess over Moon Hooch for the coming months.

BEST CRY: In the Aeroskank Over the Checkered Pattern

Maybe the best way to sum this up is to call it idiotic genius. Some nutty boys who dubbed themselves Skanktral Ska Hotel decided the world needed a ska version of the classic Neutral Milk Hotel album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea”, and who am I to disagree? It’s one of those things you don’t know you need until you find it. Just listen here and be amazed. Why did I cry? Because I was laughing so hard. You may cry in horror. The important thing is: you’ll cry.

So that’s it for 2016. And the way this year has gone for losing great musicians, the sooner the better. My almost new year’s pledge: more music more often in 2017.

2015 List of Things: Seven Items This Year! (Or, maybe eight depending on how you count them.)

It’s now a well-established tradition here at Trapezoid Global International LLC, this annual list of things. Inspired by the meaningless lists that are all over the place used as click bait (“The ten best movies you didn’t see in 2015!”) and lazy year end content filler. Alas, I play along in my own way with my annual list of mostly good music-related things. I am sneaking this in just under the standard deadline of before the year actually ends.

As I’ve pointed out previously, these best of random time period pieces are always seemingly done and shared before the actual end of the time period covered. Why just the other day I saw the Critics’ Choice Award nominations had to be reopened to add the new “Star Wars” movie to their best movie of 2015 candidates.

Speaking of Star Wars (remember, I mentioned that in the paragraphs above?)…


Intellectually, I understand I should like Wilco a lot. I have many friends who love Wilco and are not shy about expressing that to me. I periodically pick up one of their albums and give it a listen. All this, to no avail. I don’t necessarily dislike Wilco, but they just don’t do anything for me.

They surprised fans by dropping the latest album “Star Wars” earlier this year for free. So, what the heck? After alerting the Wilco partisans in my life, I downloaded a copy. And you know what? I liked it a lot. There was something that felt a little more loose and fun to me than their other music. While this is not a “road to Damascus” conversion story, perhaps it will serve as a gateway as I go back to their earlier work and try again. At minimum, “Star Wars” is in the rotation now.



Let’s start with The Best of Times: “Your Band Sucks” by Jon Fine. Jon was a founder of the band Bitch Magnet. This book is a very entertaining trip through the life, death, and rebirth of his band. If you wonder what the glamorous life of an indie rocker is really like, here’s your answer. Great stuff.

As for The Worst of Times, that goes to the Billy Idol autobiography predictably titled “Dancing With Myself.” With the highs and lows Mr. Idol has seen, I thought this book would be full of juicy and wild stories. Maybe the elements of that imagined book are there, but they were just not put assembled properly. I sent “Dancing With Myself” to the boys in the lab to have it examined, and here is the summary analysis of the text that came back:

  • Clichés – 18%
  • Clumsy “Penthouse Letter” quality sex scenes – 7%
  • Tortured prose – 26%
  • Attempts to maintain his punk credibility – 23%
  • Self-congratulatory credit for song quality and/or being ahead of his time – 24%
  • Self awareness – 1%

(Doesn’t add to 100% due to rounding.)

In summary, go buy Jon Fine’s “Your Band Sucks,” not Billy Idol’s “My Book Sucks.”


Has it really been 35 years? Indeed it has been that long since the last studio album from The Pop Group.  This one does not disappoint; agitated funk, distorted guitars, assertive lyrics, and occasional disorientation. Do not go gentle...



My local library sells used and donated CD’s as part of their fundraising efforts. I spotted this one and grabbed it based solely on the title; it was a no brainer. Surprisingly, it’s actually a compilation of calming ambient tracks. Just kidding…it’s actually exactly what you would expect. Thank you grown up Oi! fan who donated your collection to the library.


I can guess what you’re thinking: “He has an IPod he still uses. How quaint.” Actually, I have two with a ton of music on each. This year I was able to listen all the way through one of my IPods in “song shuffle” mode. Not in one sitting, that would be crazy; it took months and months. Anywho, here was the last track that shuffled up:


What does it all mean? Nothing. As noted in the title of this category this is purely useless information.


I am a really terrible singer, and that is not false modesty. Despite my trepidation, I decided to try attending a monthly Pop-Up Chorus event held nearby. I cannot express how much fun this is. People just show up, learn two songs, and sing them with the final performance recorded for posterity. There are enough good singers that I don’t ruin it, but the sense of community, acceptance and joy is worth the potential that someone might actually hear me. Here’s one we did at Halloween; see if you can spot me:

BEST NETLABEL FIND: Noise From Hell compilations on the Mindblasting Netlabel

Regular readers are aware that I am a big fan of Netlabels. And, I also contribute occasional reviews to Netlabelism Magazine (shameless self-promoting tie in link). This year I ran across the Mindblasting Netlabel  which, working with Noise From Hell, posted their “Noise From Hell” compilation series. As I said in my review of volume 1, “It’s a shaken beer bottle full of punk, grindcore and metal, ready to explode when you break it open.” They’ve posted at least 9 volumes of this series; collect ‘em all.