January 8, 2010

HT 25 Best Albums of 2009: Numbers 1-5

This year at Hidden Track, we concocted a little experiment for our year-end Best Albums of 2009 list. Instead of picking the old fashioned way – subjectively – we opted for something a little different: a collaborative, collective list that incorporates the opinions of everybody here at HT.

To begin, we devised an all-encompassing list of around 100 nominees and populated it in a Google spreadsheet – essentially anything that anybody who writes for Hidden Track liked at all, made the list. Then we invited our crew of writers to independently vote on the whole list (omitting anything unfamiliar) on a scale of 1 to 20 (20 = five stars). We ended up with 33 voters with varying degrees of familiarity with the nominees; some folks voted on just about everything, while some just a few. From there, we eliminated anything that did not receive at least three votes, calculated the average scores, and sorted it. We took the top 25 scores and presto: the Hidden Track 25 Best Albums of 2009. No bullshit, no big opinions; just the results.

We’ve come to the end of our week long countdown, let’s check out our Top Five…

5) The Flaming LipsEmbryonic

Key Tracks: Evil, Gemini Syringes, Watching the Planets, Powerless

Sounds Like: Trent Reznor, Mars Volta


Skinny: Beware Yoshimi fans, there’s a lot less beautiful stuff this time around. Alternatively, what the Flaming Lips forgo in placating, they more than make up for with dark themes, mayhem and a heavy storyline. While at times Embryonic gets weighed down by knobs and buttons (see Aquarius Sabotage), with some fatty basslines, a heavy dousing of effects and a deeply cynical overarching theme, the Lips provide more to think about and less with which to sing along. If there’s a credit to Wayne Coyne and crew, it’s an ability to push way beyond the conventional, while somehow getting through to the conventional.

READ ON to see the final four albums of our Top 25…

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New Year’s Eve Report: Umphrey’s McGee

In our fifth installment of New Year’s Eve Report this week, we’re taking a look at the Umphrey’s McGee 3-night run that started with one show at Chicago’s Vic Theater and continued with two nights at The Aragon Ballroom.

It was “throwback night” at The Vic on the 29th as UM played a venue a little too small for their current draw and all the merchandise onsale reflected an older “look” that was also mirrored in the show poster. It also looked like the music might be from an earlier era as the first hour featured songs that were all at least seven years old, including the fan-favorite rarity Front Porch which clocked in at twenty minutes. But UM made it clear that this would not be a night of exclusively old material when they closed the first set with The Floor, a tune debuted in 2007.

UM At The Vic

This setlist segment may not make sense to a lot of you, but here is how the second set opened:

Preamble > Mantis Ghetts > Pay the Snucka > Mantis > Mantis Ghetts > Mantis > Pay the Snucka

Preamble is just a short pre-recorded ditty that always precedes the epic track of UM’s 2009 release Mantis when played live. Mantis Ghetts was a bonus track issued to those that purchased the album online, and it’s essentially this gangster remix of an instrumental section of Mantis. Gangster shit was a theme that would continue (really for the whole run) as the band dropped into Pay The Snucka, a band anthem that intentionally rips off it’s first section from Eminem’s Kill You. This section was well executed and extremely well received by the sold-out audience.

To close the second set UM performed one of their original mashups from this year’s Halloween Las Tortugas Festival in Yosemite Park. This one combines sections of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls, Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times, and UM original Nemo. Basically it starts with just the Queen a capella vocal intro. Then there’s the hits from the GTBT intro, then UM starts playing the guitar lines from Nemo as keyboardist Joel Cummins sings the first verse of Fat Bottomed Girls. A straight verse of GTBT follows next before the Nemo vocals kicks in while the guitars still play GTBT. And so on, and so on.

A debut cover of Steppin’ Razor written by Joe Higgs but popularized by Peter Tosh rounded out the show nicely.

Click here to view UM’s official blog on the preparations for the 12/29 show.

READ ON for the review of the shows from the Aragon and more photos from Tammy.

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F4tF: Vancouver, A Foodie Trip PT. 1

A few weeks ago, I took a four-day weekend and went to Vancouver. The trip was part business, part seeing old friends & meeting new ones, part my birthday weekend and a big part…FOOD!

On Friday night, my friend and I went to a very under-rated & under the radar Sushi Restaurant called Lime on Commercial Drive. I was told this place was a great combination of quality and creativity and that their sushi chefs both left another place in Vancouver to work at Lime. We decided to do the Omakase.

Before the Omakase started the chefs gave me a taste of their fresh Albacore tuna. I put it in my mouth and it literally just broke apart.


Next up was the Tuna Tataki, Lightly torched local albacore sashimi with garlic sesame sauce and sliced onions according to the description on their site.


READ ON for more of this week’s Friday 4 the Foodies…

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Televised Tune: On the Tube This Weekend

Charles Barkley acts about as well as Lorne Michaels dunks so this week’s Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30PM) should have plenty of cringe-worthy moments. But musically, the show should fare

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Joe Henry Plans March Tour Dates

The incomparable Joe Henry will be performing some select dates in support of his moving and critically lauded new release Blood From Stars. A review of the album in Spin

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Tortoise Returns For February Shows

Tortoise, the world-renowned Chicago music pioneers, announce their first 2010 dates hitting several cities that they didn’t get to visit in 2009. "Beacons of Ancestorship" is the band’s first record

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