All of this is just my opinion, I’m not speaking for the group in any way. Hell, I’ve probably forgotten enough of the stuff that I liked in January through May of this year that I’m not even accurately speaking for me. – Andy
So here are the best things I can remember from the last year:
Best JCBUS Headlining Show of 2011: Hell Dorado, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
After soundcheck, the owner took us all out for a kickass dinner. When we got back, the venue was packed with a crowd who was ready to dance, sing, and sweat. There’s video of our encore someplace. It was kind of ape-shit. At the merch table after the show, the autograph thing got pretty wild, too (in a PG way). Some girl asked us all to sign her shoes with sharpies. Then we boogied to the DJ with some local girls until the place closed. Bonus points to our road manager Danny for coming back and collecting Billy and me and taking us back to the hotel.
Coolest JCBUS Support Spot of 2011: Robert Plant at Ravinia
Most Surprisingly Fun JCBUS Tour Stop of 2011: The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas
Needless to say, Vegas is an overwhelming place. But I’m not a gambler, and I generally don’t like crowded, manic, enclosed spaces. Flashing things distract me. I’d never been to Las Vegas, and I had never had any intention of going. And while I will probably never go there as a consumer, I can’t even begin to tell you how cool it was to be there as the entertainment. Also, this hotel played awesome music in the lobbies and elevators. They played the kind of stuff I’d be listening to on my iPod if the music in the hotel had sucked. At various points I heard Jamie Lidell, Dirty Projectors, and The Meters (ed. note: and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings). Shockingly tasteful.
Classiest JCBUS Backstage Food: Sala Capitol, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Damn. That was a good spread. 15 kinds of cured pork, veggies, bread, multiple salads, berries, cheeses, spanish potato omelet, nuts, beer, wine, juice. I’m not doing this justice… let me go find the photos.
And here’s the non-JCBUS 2011 Best:
Most Surprisingly Awesome Live Set I Saw in 2011: TrentemØller at Metro
I was going to catch my buddy’s electronic pop band Xylos during their stop in Chicago a few months ago. I had planned to watch their set and then split, but they played so well I didn’t want to go home. So I hung around for the headlining act. Apparently Trentemoller is mostly known as a producer/DJ in his native Denmark, but him and his band put on a hell of a show. Dark, intense, hypnotic, mostly instrumental electronic rock. Great musicianship without being flashy. They mixed live instruments and canned beats better than almost anyone I’ve ever seen.
Biggest “What the hell is this?” Musical Discovery of 2011: “No Mas” by Javelin
Billy B. and I were sitting in this tobacconist/cafe in Iowa City and the woman behind the counter put this on. Song after song, this album kept me guessing. Was it recent? Was it from some weird band like Can that was just way ahead of its time? Was it a band at all, or a couple of guys with computers, or just one person? Turns out it’s pretty recent, made by some white American guys on Luaka Bop. Maybe some of that information should have disappointed me, but I gave them bonus points for making it all a little mysterious. This is a kick-ass, creative weird-fest, far superior to many others in the same vein.
Song/Album/Band That Everyone Else Knew That I Just Got Around to Loving in 2011: “Someone Great” by LCD Soundsystem
A lot of this band’s other, earlier stuff hasn’t really done it for me. I like good beats, I like cool sounds, and I like some silliness in my dance music, but I felt like the hooks were too few and far between. But with “This Is Happening”, the band’s music suddenly made more sense to me. And this song is the best one on there. Jesus, it’s excellent.
Most Awesome New Solo Album I heard in 2011: “Strange Mercy” by St. Vincent
I almost gave this one to Feist, but St. Vincent edged her out. She just slays me. Beautiful and creepy, clean and dirty, proggy and poppy. Not sure yet if I like it better than her previous one, Actor, but it’s damn, damn good.
Coolest Classic Album That I’d Never Heard Until 2011: “Folk Singer” by Muddy Waters
I’m going to come clean here. With a handful of exceptions, the blues just doesn’t usually move me as much as a lot of the styles that descended from it. The raw emotion of it often loses its punch through the repetition of the form. But I had a near-religious experience when Billy played me “Folk Singer” one night in DC. Just go out and get it!