Top 10 Lists for 2011

Top 10 for 2011

Top Ten Photos & Writings in each Noise issue of 2011

February: Photo: Jenny Dee on the cover (by Ahsan Rahman). CD Review: The Bandit Kings CD Precious Stones (by Francis DiMenno).

March: Photo: Niki Luparelli’s Big Shot (by Vintage Girl Studios) . CD Review: Ed Moose Savage “Go To Helldorado”—a tribute to Billy Ruane (by Francis DiMenno).

April: Photo: Ann Marie’s Big Shot (by Louise). Review: Willie Alexander & Preacher Jack live review (by T Max).

May: Photo: Sophia Cacciola’s Big Shot (by Rachel Leah Blumenthal). Story: Three Day Threshold’s Middle East diary (by PJ, Gina, Kier, Emily, Evan, and David).

June: Photo: Anais Mitchell and Hadestown crew at Me & Thee (by Cliff Garber). Review: Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library live review (by Oliver Gunther).

August: Photo: Alan Estes on the cover (by Louise). Story: Doug MacDonald (by Julia DeStefano).

September: Photo: Heather Maloney’s inside shot (by Richard Young). Story: Steve Berkowitz interview (by AJ Wachtel).

October: Photo: Chelsea Berry, Alan Estes, T Max, Julie Dougherty, and Sal Baglio singing at the 30th anniversary party (by Ray Dollard). CD Review: Ramona Silver Small Circle of Light (by Harry C. Tuniese).

November: Photo: Liz Frame & the Kickers inside shot (by Daniel DP Perry). Story: The Bandit Kings (by Samantha Goddess).

December: Photo: Julie Dougherty on the cover (by Dawn Kingston). CD Review: Franc Graham CD Steady (by Mike Loce).

Eclectica: Top Ten CDs of 2011


2. NRBQ Keep This Love Goin’

3. DESOLATION BELLS Jangle & Dischord

4. DAMON & NAOMI False Beats and True Hearts





6. THE LONGWALLS Careers in Science

7. THE BYNARS The Bynars

8. KAREN ZANES Radio Flyer


10. P.J. O’CONNELL Join the Crowd

Reissues and Compilations:


Ed’s Redeeming Qualities (the Band); Ed’s Kitchen; Guess Who This Is

2. DMZ/LYRES Radio Demos/Live at Cantones Boston 1982

3. LA PESTE La Peste (DVD)

Honorable mention:

1. THE BANDIT KINGS Precious Stones

2. BAYLIES BAND All Clowns, No Lions


4. MY OWN WORST ENEMY Electric Like the Moon


6. THE CATBIRDS Viborate

7. CADILLAC HEART Cadillac Heart

Top Ten That Made Me Squee Like A Schoolgirl in 2011

10. Four Point Restraints

9.   Endation

8.   Stu 2

7.   Radio—Union Sq.

6.   Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling in TIME magazine!!

5.   Count Zero —New Album/shooting a video with Michael Pope

4.   Curious Ritual/360s reunion—celebrating the life of a departed friend

3.   The Hush Now

2.   Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys Halloween Shows

1. Watch City Studios—Waltham

Top Ten CDs and Live Combo
In no particular order:

1) DIRTY BOMBS, Alpha Transmission CD


3) THE IN OUT, The Venal Column vinyl LP


5) HIP TANAKA (Reunion), THE LUXURY, at Great Scott, 4/23/11

6) THE FATHOMS (“Polynesian Pounce Night”), at the Midway, 5/14/11

7) RICK BERLIN, Paper Airplane CD

8) THE CRANK-TONES, at the Midway, 11/23/11

9) THE ROYS, Balls to the Wind cassette, remastered, free download

10) Tie: LITTLE BANG, Boom CD, ROY SLUDGE, Too Drunk to Truck CD

Top Ten Musicians I Hope To Work With Again In Boston Someday Soon:


Glenn Yoder

Sean Staples

Jake Brennan

Tim Gearan

Jimmy Ryan

Duke Levine

Billy Beard

Johnny Ransom

Jim Fitting

Joe Pleiman

Ten Things That Made Me Smile in 2011 (in no particular order, except for #1)

1.        The Dents reunion show at T.T.’s.   Possibly my favorite Boston band of all-time and definitely one of the top five live acts I’ve seen, local, national, international or intergalactic.  My friend, Brian, and I went to see The Foo Fighters two nights before.  It was a great show, but we both agreed that The Dents blew them away.  Please don’t let it be five years before we get another show.

2.       The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ Hometown Throwdown.  This is on my list every year and for good reason.  There is nothing in the world that would make me miss these shows.   They pick amazing openers, both local (The Ducky Boys, Have Nots) and national (H2O, The Slackers), and they show their fans a ton of respect by playing very different setlists each night; I believe they played fifty-four different songs over the course of the three nights.  As I write this, my voice is still shot from screaming, and my legs are still tired from dancing.

3.       Ted Leo at Brighton Music Hall discussing his love of Buffalo Tom and then covering their classic “Reason Why” on a night when Bill Janovitz was his opening act.  There are a few musicians I respect more than Leo and Janovitz, so this set my music nerd radar all aflutter.   Janovitz looked legitimately touched.

4.       Speaking of Janovitz, Buffalo Tom taking a well-earned bow with a series of shows at Brighton Music Hall, celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary.  This made me smile, but it also made me feel very old.  Buffalo Tom is one of the few bands I loved as a kid that I still love.

5.       Armageddon Shop celebrating the first anniversary of their Boston store.   It’s beyond refreshing to actually go into a record store where the employees are nice to the customers.  I have to limit my visits or else I’d be broke.  Here’s hoping to many, many more anniversaries.

6.       Andrea Gillis, Michelle Paulhus and Marc Pinansky’s charming set of classic country covers at The Lizard Lounge.   I don’t see Gillis play as much as I should.   Maybe that should be one of my 2012 resolutions.   In addition, Amy Griffin’s opening set was amazing as always.  Her voice and songs are so rich and deep.   Please make a solo record, Amy!

7.       The New Alibis reunion show at Great Scott.   I was both sad and surprised that this great band’s run ended so quickly.  It was nice to be able to hear classics like “Angel Over Me” one more time.

8.       Corvette Somerville’s set at Mixtape: 1978 at The Rosebud Bar.  It’s hard to beat a Boston punk rock supergroup covering The Ramones, Blondie and Generation X.  Their set-closing version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” turned into the most raucous sing-along I’ve seen in years.

9.       Have Nots second album, Proud.   I played the ever-loving crap out of their first record, so I was glad to see that its excellence wasn’t a fluke.  Very few bands can balance the personal and political like Have Nots, and if there’s a better punk rock bassist than Jameson Hollis, I’ve yet to hear him or her.

10.   The Hotel Vernon in Worcester.   Not so much for the show I attended, which was good, but for the almost indescribably bizarre atmosphere.  From the regulars all staring my friend, Brit, and I down when we walked in to the fact that they felt the need to post a sign banning dogs, this place is truly an original.  And for the record, there was at least one unattended pit bull hanging out inside the bar all night.  Stay classy, Worcester.

Top Ten Local Products (not downloads – actual physical discs!) of 2011:

The champs:

The Grownup Noise:  This Time With Feeling   [Totally sensational from start to finish! Progressive pop Amerimusicana. These kids should be huge!]

Ramona Silver:  Small Circle of Light  [The delightful Ramona returns with some her best insightful tunes – ever!]

Bird Mancini:  Tuning In/Tuning Out  [Came out in late Dec. 2010, but officially released in January. Great pop/rock/folk/blues/swing from my fave married duo!)

and some more fascinating artists that tickled my musical fancy:

Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi:  Still You Lay Dreaming

Little Bang:  Boom

Sarah Blacker:  Come What May

Heather Maloney:  Time & Pocket Change

27:  Brittle Divinity

Marissa Nadler:  Marissa

The Duke Robillard Band:  Low Down and Tore Up

Adventure Set:  Centuries to Go

Jon Macey:  Intention

Ben Schwendener:  Industrial Folk Music

Birdsong At Morning:  Annals of My Glass House

Top Ten Bitchin’-est Band Names of 2011

1) Count Zero—cool cyberpunk name referencing William S. Gibson.

2) Dirty Virgins—a naughty little paradox that’s just plain fun to say.

3) The Fagettes—as clever as it is risqué.

4) Giantist—conjures some mad scientist and his unholy genetic deformity.

5) Grey Valley Ghost—supernatural and, dare I say, biblical in evoking Psalm 23.

6) The Old Edison—nothin’ says blue-collar like naming yourself after an old abandoned factory.

7) Mighty Tiny—an oxymoronic Tom Waits reference. ‘Nuff said.

8) Pray For Polanski—some nice black humor that just rolls off the tongue.

9) The Swaggerin’ Growlers—no explanation necessary.

10) Young Tremors—as energetic and rambunctious as teens on Ritalin.

Top Ten Fave New England Acts 0f 2011
(in alphabetical order and without explanation)


Barrence Whitfield & the Savages

Daniel Ouellette & the Shobijin

The December Sound

Endless Wave

The Milling Gowns

One Happy Island

Orange Nichole

Soccer Mom


some band that I’ll probably not hear about until next year…

Top Ten “Top Ten List” Items That Came To Mind But Couldn’t Be Worked Into One Cohesive Theme For 2011:

10. The gross injustice and disservice to humanity that Chris Horne’s new band The Flipsides haven’t played outside Maine yet

9. Hey, wasn’t there supposed to be some Alan Radio Knives/Chrissie Killer Abs/Vicky Sugabomb band?

8. Babies! Everywhere!

7. Also new cd/vinyl babies from the Queers, Cuban Heels, Furiousity, Evil Streaks, Jordan Valentine,  Andrea Gillis, and Muck

6. Desperately need to reason to mention Jay Allen & Archcriminals and Jenny Dee & Deelinquents

5. Desperately needed to see more of the Curses and Sprained Ankles

4. Top highlight #2: Triple Thick’s Rumble set

3. Top highlight #1: Dents reunion show

2. Andrea Gillis’ striped halter (see Item 5)

1. Really really really missed JJ Rassler!

Top Ten Best New England Acts I Saw For the First Time

1) Fat History Month (life changing)

2) Big Mess (my favorite instrumental band)

3) Saralee (best New England vocals)

4) The Exposure (awesome reverb)

5) The Sinbusters (some of Lowell’s finest)

6) Hurricanes of Love (most memorable)

7) The New Highway Hymnal (best showmanship)

8) The Party Pigs (crazy, but tight)

9) Thick Shakes (nice mish mash of garage and noise)

10) Witchita (they have only played a few shows, but they show a lot of promise)

Top Ten Bands That I Will Be Shooting A Lot More in 2012




Roy Sludge Trio

Ebenezer Blood

The Handymen

Real Synthetics

Sinners & Saints

Movers & Shakers

Flat Rabbits


Top Ten Photo Subjects

AnnMarie (the Bandit Kings)










Top Ten Restaurants to Visit Before a Show

Church, Boston ( – A trip to the House of Blues in Boston cannot be complete without a visit to Church. It’s a bit of a jog from Kilmarnock Street to Lansdowne Street so you’ll want to plan time for the walk, but what’s better than a brisk walk to work off a good meal? Church’s menu is an eclectic mix of American fare featuring food from local farms. My menu favorites are the Pressed Cuban sandwich and Chicken Breast “under a brick” with sweet potato tater tots. Throughout the year Church features specialty dinners of various themes, often tied to the seasons or beer and spirit tastings. Did I mention that Church is a music venue in its own right? With one of the best small club sound systems in the city, Church is also the perfect place to check out an up-and-coming local or national act.

Central Kitchen, Cambridge ( – Entrees at Central Square’s Central Kitchen can be a little pricey and their small dining room fills up quickly but despite these draw-backs it is one of the best places to start a night out to the Middle East or T.T. the Bear’s. Their limited but scrumptious menu makes the choices simple and their top-notch beer selection will satisfy any thirst.

Green Street Grill, Cambridge ( – Green Street is another choice in the Central Square area of Cambridge and another oft pricey and busy pick but, like Central Kitchen, the dinner is worth the extra cash if you’re looking for something more than a slice of pizza at HI-Fi Pizza. I suggest starting with their always interesting Artisanal Cheese Tray before diving in to their fantastic Macaroni & Cheese, with tomato and bacon. (Note to reader – I’m not responsible for your cholesterol problems if you decide to follow this recommendation)

Ricardo’s Café Trattoria, Lowell ( – Before we even get to the menu let me mention—when you leave a message to make reservations, it’s Ricardo that returns the call—when you show up for your table, it’s Ricardo that greets you at the door. If you’re looking for a neighborhood feel, you can’t beat that kind of welcome. The menu is traditional Italian fare, complete with lots of pasta choices. Ricardo’s is a great choice if you’re heading north of the city for a show at the Tsongas Arena or Boardinghouse Park.

Blue Taleh, Lowell ( – If you’re in the mood for Asian food and sushi while in Lowell, Blue Taleh is the only choice as far as I’m concerned. Their sushi creations are impeccable and their Thai/Japanese cooking have enough variety to satisfy any taste. If you’re visiting during the warm months choose a seat on the deck overlooking Lowell’s canals. It’s a wonderfully relaxing way to begin your evening.

Sugar and Spice, Cambridge ( – Heading out to the Lizard Lounge or another club in the Porter Square area? The best Thai choice, in my estimation, is Sugar and Spice. The only drawback is that you may be overwhelmed by the bazillion menu choices that they offer. The good news is that you could simply close your eyes, open to any page and blindly drop your finger on the menu. There’s nothing on this menu that doesn’t taste fantastic. Sugar and Spice can take even things I don’t like and make them taste wonderful.

Sunset Grill and Tap, Allston ( – I won’t even try to comment on the Sunset Grill and Tap’s beer menu. Suffice it to say that if it’s not on their menu, then it probably doesn’t exist. I’ll focus instead on the food. By way of selection and variation, the best comparison is to the encyclopedia that they slap in front of you at the Cheesecake Factory. I use this comparison not to defame the Sunset Grill and Tap but to instead give you an idea of how many selections you’re going to be faced with. If you’re visiting the Paradise Rock Club on this outing plan extra time, not only for the walk to the club, but also for the time it takes to make a choice from their extensive menu. I always find their home cooking selections the most satisfying.

The Independent, Somerville ( – Heading to Somerville for a show? Try The Independent next time. You’ll be surprised by their eclectic twist on the traditional Irish pub. I know it’s not exactly an Irish specialty but I feel compelled to recommend the Mexican Hot Dog—a bacon-wrapped hotdog accompanied with avocado, refried beans and pineapple salsa. Yikes!

Redbones, Somerville ( – It’s not exactly a secret that Redbones has some of the best barbeque in the greater Boston area. If you’re headed to the Davis Square area of Somerville, Redbones is the obvious choice in this regard. Grab a stack of napkins and Hand-i-wipes and dig in. My only caution is to order the spiciest things on their menu at your own risk. The last time I ate one of their Jamaican Jerk sandwiches I felt it for nearly a week afterwards.

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, Boston ( – I almost left Lolita off the list because of its location. Nestled between Newbury and Boylston Streets, it’s not exactly convenient for most show-going nights. But—given the fact that I ate there just a few weeks ago before seeing David Wax Museum at the Arlington Street Church—I figured I could justify its inclusion. You’ll be glad that I did. The experience alone is worth the trip. Dinner starts off with their signature “palette cleanser” of shaved ice and grapefruit dowsed in tequila and ends with a bucket of cotton candy. In between you are treated to some of the best high-end Mexican fusion cooking I’ve ever had. Plan for an early dinner because Lolita is a trendy nightspot at which hipsters line up around the block for entrance as the night gets later.

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