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Guest Lists

December 19, 2009

For parity’s sake I have decided to give you, my readers, a break from my opinion. I am always happy to share with you exactly what I am thinking, but after a week it’s time for some fresh ideas.

With that in mind I present to you the lists of some of my friends. These gentlemen are among the most talented that I know and the addition of their ideas to the blog will be welcome. They bring insight, humor and the ability to trash talk yours truly. I hope you enjoy their selections as much as I do.

Thanks so much for reading and an even bigger thanks to my friends for helping out.

After the jump, Alex Reside, Pat Elifritz, Patrick Lyke and Ryan Brokamp’s lists.

Alex Reside

Alex is the current photo editor for the Daily Vidette and served as a photo intern at Rolling Stone over the past summer. He has met some of the most incredible names in music today and I value his opinion very highly, even if he is a Ravens fan. I’m very lucky to be able to share his photos on my site.

Hi, My name is Alex Reside. I saw over 50 concerts this past year. No, I am not some cracked out music freak, I have not been following the Jonas Brothers to every tour stop, and I am definitely not a music connoisseur like Chris Davies. I am a photographer.

I got my start photographing small punk bands in Central Illinois during high school. As my music tastes evolved, so did my photography. I began a 3-year stint in journalism working at The Daily Vidette, Illinois State University’s campus newspaper. Like every other junior in college I scrambled to get an internship for the past summer. I applied everywhere, and luckily I had an amazing opportunity to intern at Rolling Stone in New York this past summer.

Since I saw a ridiculous amount of bands live this last year, I thought I would share my photos and my top 10 concerts I saw this last year. I hope you like it!

10: Explosions in the Sky – Central Park Summer Stage, NYC

Explosions in the Sky

Bands without singers are hard to shoot, because the whole time you are thinking, “Who do I focus on?? Who do people want to see?” I went to this concert with an old friend who told me how amazing their guitar player is. I watched him nearly come to tears as he shredded harder than I have ever seen anyone shred before.

9: Spank Rock – Siren Music Festival, NYC

Spank Rock

This show was a hot mess. I got invited to shoot the show from the stage. Everyone was wasted, and still performed their hearts out. Even Amanda Blank made a guest appearance. DJ Spank Rock pulled some random scantily clad women on stage. The police cut the power. CLASSIC.

8: Matt and Kim – Pier 54, NYC

Matt and Kim

I love Matt and Kim so much. I was pumped to shoot their show on Pier 54, because it is literally a Pier. There was water on each side and the sun setting on New Jersey behind the stage at the end of the pier. It was too cute for words. They never stopped smiling.

7: Jenny Lewis – July 4 at Battery Park, NYC

Jenny Lewis

I couldn’t imagine spending my Fourth of July any other way. Jenny came out on stage with an American flag wrapped around her as the crowd in the park screamed. She killed it, flat out.

6: Lykke Li – Highline Ballroom, NYC

Lykke Li

This was my first assignment from Rolling Stone. I just remember how cool it felt to tell the bouncer that I was “Alex Reside from Rolling Stone.” Lykke Li came on stage with a giant scarf around her and began singing “Dance. Dance Dance.” I saw her a total of 3 times this summer and every time was completely amazing.

5: Vampire Weekend – All Points West, New Jersey

Vampire Weekend

I’m a huge fan of Vampire Weekend, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the torrential downpour during the entire 3 days of All Points West festival. I’m pretty sure the storm was at it’s peak during this performance. My camera got completely soaked. Luckily there was no damage, but even if there was, it would have been totally worth it.

4: Coldplay – All Points West, New Jersey


I had high expectations going into this concert, and they exceeded my expectations completely. I dare you not to cry as they perform “The Scientist.”

3: Jay-Z – All Points West, New Jersey

Jay Z

HOVA. nuff said.

2: Tallest Man on Earth – Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Tallest Man on Earth

Kristian Matsson is a folk god. He finger picks better than anyone I have ever seen before and he has that twangy howl that is reminiscent of Bob Dylan in his prime. He becomes one with his guitar and one with his audience. I left the concert with my mouth wide, I called my friend and told them I saw the best concert ever, and then I went to his second show in New York the day after. He’s fantastic live.

1: Phoenix – Terminal 5, NYC


The best concert I saw this summer was Phoenix at Terminal 5 in New york City. The place is a 3000 person venue and was completely sold out. I remember looking back from the photo pit before Phoenix came on stage and their was a sea of people all the way to the back wall and all 3 balconies were lined with people. Phoenix came on stage and the crowd erupted. Thomas Mars had amazing stage presence spinning in his cowboy boots and belting the catchiest tunes I’ve ever heard before. The photographers got kicked out of the photo pit after the first 3 songs, so I shoved my way to the stairs and I saw the rest of the show from the top balcony. They sounded perfect. It was one of those rare cases where they actually sounded better live than they do on their CD. They closed their concert with 2 encores of 2 songs each. It was unforgettable.

For more information on Alex visit a lot of his work can also be found on in the photography section. If you like his photography as much as I do you can pick up one his of zines for a nominal fee right here.

Pat Elifritz

As a member of one of the finest ambient musical groups around, Good Night & Good Morning, Pat brings an artists credibility to the blog. A constant professional, Pat has always had a good ear for music and he has been unapologetic in sharing his thoughts. For Skinny Ankles Pat has compiled his take on the best albums from 2009.

Nine Albums from 2009

Here We Go Magic – Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl, February 24)

Under this moniker Luke Temple sculpts spinning vocals, swimming percussion and surreal textures into an indefinite, enchanting and three-dimensional soundscape, executed with a charm and complexity not found on his two previous albums, released under his given name. The magic of Here We Go Magic is its depth and ambiguity. For fans of getting lost.

Marissa Nadler – Little Hells (Kemado, March 3)

As chilling and melancholic as 2005’s The Saga Mayflower May and 2007’s Songs III: Bird on the Water, Little Hells displays Nadler’s haunting soprano and lugubrious guitar with a certain tact and authority unique to this poetically dismal 2009 release, a sonic expansion beyond past albums. Concerned with American folklore and themes of “mortality, love, faded love, death, memory, nature, and beauty,” these songs are fit for those hazy late-night self-reflexive meanderings.

Balmorhea – All is Wild, All is Silent (Western Vinyl, March 10)

With an organic palette, Balmorhea allows their 2009 release to compose and transpose itself into a cryptic tonal body, intricate and poignant in its vivacity, subtle and reserved when required. This album is certainly an appropriate soundtrack to melt to.

Lewis & Clarke – Light Time (La Societe Expeditionnaire, May 12)

Lou Rogai’s unostentatious songwriting, rich in content, allows room for a subdued orchestration fit for a charming sort of traveling music. For fans of the honest and ephemeral, these songs translated into an enchanting late-summer performance at Chicago’s Hotti Biscotti.

James Blackshaw – The Glass Bead Game (Young God, May 26)

The Glass Bead Game echoes a pastoral landscape, as intricate as it is tender, as three-dimensional as it is emotive. These songs blossom and retreat, at times confining the listener to the most somber chamber, at others releasing them into a sobering countryside. Such honest and accomplished guitarwork is a case-in-point for the niche that Blackshaw, at 28, has carved out for himself alongside the late Jack Rose and the heroic American folk guitar of John Fahey.

Sharon Van Etten – Because I Was In Love (Drag City, May 26)

Her first formal release of full-measure, Because I Was In Love‘s eleven tracks of stripped-down elegance showcase Van Etten’s harrowing, trembling soprano, illustrating a grim disquiet with a certain subdued authority. Shallow in their presentation, fabricating an air of closed-quarters, these songs range from uncomfortably piercing to uncomfortably delicate.

J. Tillman – Year in the Kingdom (Western Vinyl, September 9)

Josh Tillman’s recognizably intimate and transparent voice echoes throughout this album with the most peculiar persuasiveness. In many ways cut from the same fabric as 2007’s Cancer and Delirium, at the most fundamental level Year in the Kingdom is constructed from the same untreated home-recoding atmosphere. However, on the 2009 release this air of intimacy at times becomes just one fold of a complex body of layered tones, both instrumental and vocal, which holds an ambiguous place within unintuitive timbre and subdued dissonance, yet still grounded in Tillman’s unmistakably honest songwriting. Concerned with memory, particularly its uncertain and creatively selective nature, this album is as conceptually sound as it is tonally. The title track made for a lovely encore at the end of his early-November set at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, which also hosted his brother, Zach Tillman. Performing in Josh’s band as well as opening under the moniker of Pearly Gates Music, Zach’s self-released EP, Daddy Wrote You Letters, nearly made this list. From 2002-2004, both Josh and Zach Tillman performed with post-rock outfit Saxon Shore, mentioned below.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Ashes Grammar (Mis Ojos, September 15)

Often floating, untethered and bounding, the real charm of Ashes Grammar is its lack of anchor. On this album movement is rapid and orchestrated, at times guided by swallowed percussion, at others left to dissolve itself. This cloudy release serves as ASDIG’s second of full-measure, (and full indeed, with its twenty-two tracks across sixty-three minutes), following 2007’s Scribble Mural Comic Journal.

Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions – Through the Devil Softly (Nettwork, September 29)

While the records on this list are not ranked, (rather, organized by release date,) given the question of my favorite two-thousand-nine album, we would indeed wind up here. Through the Devil Softly is Sandoval’s first release since 2001’s Bavarian Fruit Bread, and only the second since Mazzy Star’s final 1996 record. My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Cíosóig weaves Sandoval’s dream-pop-touchstone voice into haunting song framework with unarguable delicacy. However, delicacy should not be confused with fragility, as these songs employ a concreteness and solidity not often associated with Sandoval’s 2001 debut. Perhaps I am still under the spell of this album, but its thoughtfulness is not something I can easily dismiss. Missing Hope’s performance at Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater this past October undoubtedly makes my “Nine Regrets from 2009” list. I will not bother going into the other eight.

Speck Mountain – Some Sweet Relief (Carrot Top, March 17)
Atmospheric, cinematic, psychedelic.

Saxon Shore – It Doesn’t Matter (Broken Factory, May 26)
Deepening, transposing, enchanting.

Tiny Vipers – Life on Earth (Sub Pop, July 7)
Plural, ephemeral, spiritual.

To listen and learn more about Good Night & Good Morning visit their MySpace page.

Patrick Lyke

This Pat is a man about town in Champaign, Ill. A drummer and guitarist, Pat can be found with his hand in multiple musical projects at any given time, and for good reason. Pat is probably my favorite person to talk music with and I’m very glad that he was willing to submit his list for the site. Here is what Pat deemed worthy of noting from this year.

Before the inevitable robot takeover that we all know is coming, I thought it would be a good idea to give you the top 10 albums of 2009. I suggest you listen to these albums sooner rather than later considering that the only music the robots will let you listen to in their holding cells will be Daft Punk and Justice. You may think robots are something for future generations to worry about but face facts, this is the future and shit like this ALWAYS happens in the future. If you’re not at all afraid of the robot takeover then you probably are a robot.

The List: (I could tell you about these albums but the written word is bullshit and we need to move past it.)

10. Cursive – Mama, I’m Swollen
Key Tracks: “Mama, I’m Satan,” “What Have I Done,” “I Couldn’t Love You”

9. Omar Rodriguez Lopez – Xenophanes
Key Tracks: “Mundo de ciegos,” “Asco Que Conmueve Los Puntos Erogenos,” “Desarraigo”

8. Silversun Pickups – Swoon
Key Tracks: “There’s No Secrets This Year,” “It’s Nice To Know You Work Alone,” “Substitution”

7. Tides of Man – Empire Theory
Key Tracks: “Create Couldn’t Keep Up,” “Empire Theory,” “Descent”

6. Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything to Nothing
Key Tracks: “I Can Feel a Hot One,” “The Only One,” “The River”

5. Muse – The Resistance
Key Tracks: “Guiding Light,” “Unnatural Selection,” “I Belong To You”

4. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
Key Tracks: “Potion Approaching,” “Cornerstone,” “Pretty Visitors”

3. Brand New – Daisy
Key Tracks: “Daisy,” “Noro,” “Gasoline”

2. Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures
Key Tracks: “Reptiles,” “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up,” “Scumbag Blues”

1. The Mars Volta – Octahedron
Key Tracks: “Teflon,” “Cotopaxi,” “Luciforms”

Honorable Mentions

Music by: Headlights, El Groupo Nuevo Omar Rodriguez Lopez, …and You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Jay-Z, The Dead Weather ,Death Cab ,The Dodos, HOMiE project, Weezer ,Julian Casablancas, Yeasayer, Kevin Devine, Drake, Monsters of Folk, Neko Case, Passion Pit, Tegan and Sara, The Thermals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (band of the year!!!), 3, Throw Me the Statue, Lily Allen, The Veils, The Fiery Furnaces, Raekwon, The xx, Dredg, The Decemberists, The Flaming Lips, No Doubt, The Bird and the Bee, Dan Auerbach, Miike Snow, Blackroc, Portugal. The Man, Wilco, Davis Bazan, Japandroids, Wolfmother

The best DVD’s this year were put out by: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Hold Steady, The Killers, Coheed & Cambria

Ryan Brokamp

Mr. Brokamp is a writer for the Champaign-Urbana arts and culture Web site Smile Politely. A noted music fan and smart ass Ryan has a sharp wit and quick pen. Frequently Ryan serves as my concert-going buddy and it’s a pleasure to be able to post his list here. Here is Ryan’s best guess at who made the best albums over this glorious last year.

10. Discovery – LP
Members of two great bands collaborate to form what I consider, a great new sub-genre of music. Just what that genre is, I’m not quite sure, but Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles had me hooked from the first track. Some highlights include a remixed version of “Can You Tell” entitled “Can You Discover?” and a cover of The Jackon 5 classic “I Want You Back.”

9. Wilco – Wilco (the album)

Not Tweedy and Co.’s best effort, but still a very solid album from one of the best in the business. Also, I really dig the album art.8. Fanfarlo – Reservoir
Breakthrough band, breakthrough album. If you haven’t had a chance to check this one out, go buy yourself an early Christmas gift.

7. M. Ward – Hold Time

I was hoping for something to hold me over until She and Him’s “Volume Two” but instead found my favorite M. Ward work to date. This album strays a bit from his usual folk feel but the fluidity of the album makes it very easy on the ears.6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
I listened to this one so many times through I almost got sick of it. Almost. Probably deserves a top five ranking, but just couldn’t fit it in there.5. Passion Pit – Manners
Best singalong album of the year! Super catchy, and no lack of talent.

4. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
“1901” is probably my favorite track of the year. Bought the album after hearing it and was very impressed.

3. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
Highest ranking “concept album” ever. Love the story it tells and the music to go along with it. Only trouble is, you pretty much have to listen to the album all the way through every time.

2. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
While certain critics may call it simply “noise,” I really got into this one. If you dare take the plunge, don’t judge after just one listen. Definitely takes time to grow on you, but once it does, very awesome.

1. The Antlers – Hospice
First heard of this band thanks to the Pygmalion Music Festival, and so glad I did. Great Album, 10/10. Also, if you ever get the chance to see them live, do so.

Be sure to check out Ryan’s writing at

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 19, 2009 8:14 pm

    I thought this is a real nice post and i also bookmarked your site to look for more updates. thanks.

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