I still listen to the "new" stuff, as long as it takes itself not too serious. In my opinion, the alternative music scene (journalists hyping) of today do that to the core. They don't even know that they are as mainstream as the AOR eighties nowadays. The real alternative doesn't really excist, because you can't stay in the lo-fi underground forever. It's all in the mind. So, free your mind and.....!
2012 was a very good eclectic year! For me, these three young artists have stood out this year:
Michael Kiwanuka- Home Again
Retro (20, 30, 40ies, etc... next to the bloody eighties stuff) is the word since Amy Winehouse spread her voice all across the ether. So these nostalgic feelings do miracles in these troubled times. That's what is done on this album in very subtle, sympathetic way (like Labi Siffre seventies), with a warm soulful voice that never abandons his african roots. It's comforting, intimate, though familiar stuff.
Esperanza Spalding- Radio Music Society
A lot of great young interesting (mostly) jazz musicans come up today and yes, here's such a serious hard working and ambitious young lady at work. Challenging stuff rhythmically with sweet seventies George Duke- Stevie Wonder influences. Tight played and interesting chord progressions with lovely, floating melodies on top. She doesn't take the easy route, so it's a brave effort.
Cody ChesnuTT- Landing On A Hundred
As a whole it's not as quirky as his crazy debut, but the way he treats the retro-machine is very appealing to me. Ok, Marvin shines through in the vocals, but it's damn fine done. Colourful, uplifting, tighter as his debut.
Ok, now what about the older guys?
My absolute fave of the year is:
Loudon Wainwright- Older than My Old Man Now
Self-reflective as always, how to combine humor with the "growing older" symptoms. His conversation about sex with Dame Edna in "I Remember Sex" for instance. How it used to be. Hilarious. Thoughtful is his duet with son Rufus in "The Days That We Die", very recognizable that tricky family stuff. No more "Festen" needed. A tear and a laugh is enough for me. Let me grow old then...
David Byrne/ St Vincent- Love This Giant
Not satisfying on the whole, but these two different generations challenge eachother and do the trick with the horns, sometimes they overdo it. It's biting quirky stuff, but it doesn't hurt too much that it's killing me.
Yes there's more, like Mike Keneally, Rufus Wainwright (almost AOR), Joan Armatrading (back to the good seventies stuff) and Donald Fagen (no surprises, slick), Scott Walker (waiting for Scott 5, still interesting though). Well there is always more!
Pretty mainstream (or is it alternative?!) I guess. Not obscure. Well, it's a bit of everything and for everyone. Check them out!
By the way, my personal musical highlight (the bomb went off!), next to a release of a new album, was to be chosen as a fresh fave by Tom Robinson and to be played on his saturday evening show, next to the likes of Paul Simon, Marc Bolan and Pete Townshend. Thanks Tom, very grateful to be on BBC radio. Read: Tom Robinsonshow
Next to listening the new and old stuff, I'm addicted to biographies. Not especially the above artists, but everything, mostly working in the entertainment business. Here's a list of the books I've read past year:
Robert Sellers- Hellraisers (Peter O'toole, Oliver Reed, Richard Burton, Richard Harris)
John Densmore- Riders On the Storm (his personal experiences with Mojo Risin')
Jeff Kaliss- I want to take you higher (on Sly and the Family Stone)
Eric Burdon- Don't let me be misunderstood (his life in lows and highs)
Julian Palacios- Dark Globe (very detailed story on Syd Barrett)
Mark Wilkerson- The life of Pete Townshend
Dave Zimmer- Crosby, Stills & Nash
Levon Helm with Stephen Davies- This wheel is on fire (hot stuff!)
Dory Previn- Midnight baby (totally unique!)
Harry shapiro- Jack Bruce Composing himself
Peter Carlin- Catch a wave (on Brian Wilson's dark journey)
Stewart Copeland- Strange things happen (on Sting, Sting, hobbies and the Police)
Martin Heylen- In mijn hoofd (about Raymond van het Groenewoud, brilliant Belgian singer-songwriter)
Simon Callow- Hello americans (his second book about Orson Welles)
Janis Ian- Society's child (brave singer-songwriter!)
Christopher Sandford- McCartney
Lee Underwood- Blue melody (his times with and without Tim Buckley)
Hans Lafaille- Showbizz blues (Cuby & the Blizzards drummer tells his often funny story)
Bertus Borgers- Weg van hier (Sweet d'Buster sax-player reflects on his youth)
Billy James- A dream goes on forever (first of two books on Todd Rundgren)
And a lot of stuff I still have to read, before I go blind...O, and I watch movies, and, and...
Well, guess now you know it. The "Where did I get my inspiration from?"
That was 2012 for me. Hope we'll have an eclectic and energetic 2013 then, cheers!