Catching up on a plethora of performances released last year, some of which are shoo-ins for my “best of” list coming later in January.
One of the best and most interesting guitarists on the New York scene (which means anywhere), Brandon Seabrook combines elements of metal, jazz, punk, noise, and free improv into a guitar style uniquely his own. He also plays banjo in a way that might put all those jokes to rest. He has an amazing new record out with Mike Watt and percussionist, Mike Pride, Stove Top [Rare Noise], under the band name Three Layer Cake. Recorded remotely, it nevertheless sounds interactive and cohesive enough to be mistaken for live, save for the terrific textures and additional instruments they overdubbed. We talk about all of the above, the joys of the ZT amps, and more.
Many of this year’s picks were recorded before 2020, for obvious reasons. Works by veterans (Sharp, Alcorn, Björkenheim) joined some newer voices (Naylor, Yalvaç, Gargaud) in offering us quality distractions from a nightmarish year. If you hear anything you like, please purchase something from the artist. With touring off the table, times are tougher than usual for experimental artists.
Mike Baggetta joins a rarified cohort of guitarists—Bill Frisell, Nels Cline, Eivind Aarset, and David Torn—where serious technical ability meets a mastery of sonics. His band mssv with bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE, The Stooges) and drummer Stephen Hodges (Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, David Lynch) has a new album out, so it seemed a good time to catch up. We talk about the difference between the first studio record, Wall of Flowers, and this one, and go deep into Baggetta’s bag of sonic tricks (check out the photos of his pedal setup).