I used to make year-end music lists. As part of my job. Top 10 Albums of the Year, mostly. This year, I don’t want to make a Top 10 Albums of the Year. Mostly because I didn’t love anything released in 2010 as much as Metric’s Fantasies, or Fever Ray, from 2009. And partly because I simply didn’t hear as many new records. Head down in Gothdom working on the encyclopedia, I spent most of my nights with the Siouxsie back-catalogue. Still, because I simply can’t not shout about music I love, here’s a short list of some of the records, songs, videos and live shows of a Gothy nature that made up the soundtrack to my 2010.
First, there were a few new albums to love that slid in nicely in-between the more Trad goth playlist: Zola Jesus‘ Stridulum II, Jonsi‘s solo debut Go, Aidan Baker‘s Liminoid / Lifeforms. Dax Riggs‘ Say Goodnight To the World. The National‘s High Violet. Jimmy Gnecco from Ours’ solo debut The Heart. The 10th anniversary box set from Akumu. And, like every other so-called rock critic in the land, I loved The Arcade Fire‘s The Suburbs.
Faith and the Muse at the El Mo, April 19
Magical. Mystical. Restoring my faith in Goth bands. And Scary Lady Sarah was in attendance, for extra Goth Points.
Killing Joke at the Phoenix, Dec. 7
My friend Dave, who has seen Killing Joke 6 times, warned me that they never play “Love Like Blood.” And then, second song in, they did. So they didn’t play it perfectly. It was the most perfect time I’ve ever heard it played by Killing Joke live.
Alice Cooper at Heavy MTL festival, July 24
My first time seeing Cooper, surprisingly. My friend and colleague Gary Pullin from Rue Morgue should hire himself out as a professional date for Alice Cooper concerts because I can’t imagine it ever being more fun to see that guy than with Gary singing at the top of his lungs alongside you.
Muse at ACC, March 8
Every year I seem to splurge on just one $100 ticket to a stadium rock show I’m not working. This year there were two — Lady Gaga and Muse. I dug Gaga’s Alexander McQueen outfits and latex nun’s dress immensely but nothing can compare the greatest laser light show ever unleashed upon my retinas. I realize the three Muse guys kind of play like robots and may in fact not have any souls but damn if I don’t love all of their songs. And did I mention the “lasers”?
Grinderman at the Phoenix, Nov. 11
My love for Nick Cave is unconditional, but there are rules. First, I never review his albums, or his shows. (I did interview him for The Death of Bunny Munro last year, but if you think I would pass up a chance to sit across from him drinking tea from fancy hotel teacups while staring at the tailoring of his striped Christian Dior suit jacket so as not to fall deeply into a trance from looking into his eyes, now that would be crazy.) Because I want to leave something to pure fandom, I want to be able to listen to him and never think of work, with its inherent frustrations and disappointments. Second, I must see him in person at least once a year. The amount of happiness I get, from the anticipation and the afterglow as well as the performance itself, well, it will last me all year. I also adore Warren Ellis, so much so that I wrote a poem about him (which was published in Carousel this year, hooray!) So it makes absolutely no sense that I almost missed the first Toronto gig from Grinderman because I didn’t buy a ticket before it sold out. Thanks to late night Craigslist trawling (and someone’s wife’s unfortunately timed surgery) I got my hands on one and was thus able to enjoy an evening of pure rock ‘n’ roll mayhem so mesmerizing and gloriously loud it stayed with me for days. I could tell you why it was so amazeballs (my new favourite word) but then it would be like work. So I’ll just say Grinderman is not the Bad Seeds but how amazeballs is it that we get two bands fronted by Nick Cave? Very. Here’s to whatever is to come from him in 2011.
Adult. world premiere of Traditions, Music Gallery, May 30
The only way to see the Adult. horror short films is in person, with the live score. Gratitude to Johnny and the Music Gallery crew for bringing this special event to town.
Also this year, some of my favourite artists scored some of my favourite films: Clint Mansell’s Black Swan, Trent Reznor’s Social Network, Daft Punk’s Tron Legacy. Seriously, it is such a delight to find, as I become more and more interested in film, people who’ve always been the soundtrack to my life in clubs still there as the soundtrack to my life in cinemas. I also love that some fascinating creative artists are sucking some of the Hollywood money away from L.A. douchebag types. All three of their scores stand on their own. (Even Tron, naysayers be damned!)
Monochromatic. Enigmatic. Futuristic. Fetishistic. Fantastic.