Top Shelf

Bacchanal, Brothers Keeper and Bar D

by Chris Aaland

This is the two-week bacchanal end-o-year issue of the Durango Telegraph, giving staffers valuable time to do their last-minute shopping. There are no doubt several New Year’s Eve events that escaped my watchful eye … but you know the drill: arrange safe travel, slam shots and beers at your favorite bar or party, and plant a big, fat kiss on 2015’s cheek. So let’s be brief with the highlights:

Brothers Keeper featuring John Popper and Jono Manson returns to town to play the Animas City Theatre on New Year’s Eve (doors at 9 p.m.). They last played an impromptu gig at El Rancho in August 2013. Brothers Keeper is a Vail-based Americana/rock group that just released its debut album, “Todd Meadows.” It features Popper, the legendary lead singer/harmonica player from Blues Traveler, and Manson, who pioneered the Wetlands NYC scene that launched such bands as Phish and Spin Doctors.

One of Durango’s favorite holiday shows, the Bar D Wranglers Christmas Jubilee, returns to the Concert Hall at 7 p.m. tonight (Thurs., Dec. 18). Gary, Richard, Matt and Joel are guaranteed to entertain the whole family.

Brothers Keeper, featuring John Popper and Jono Manson, plays a New Year’s Eve shot at the ACT.

The ACT hosts Late Night Radio and Krooked Drivers in an “Ugly Christmas Sweaters FLC Graduation Party” at 10 p.m. Fri., Dec. 19. The two Denver-based groups play electronic and electro-hip-hop.

The Durango Celtic Festival and the Irish Embassy Pub present their fifth annual Celtic Christmas at 6 p.m. Sun., Dec. 21, at the Embassy. Patrick Crossing plays traditional and original Celtic music, honoring the deep spiritual roots, joy and lively banter that is characteristic of Irish music. They hold “Pub Church” at 10:15 a.m. each Sunday at the Irish Embassy Pub Underground.

The Lawn Chair Kings and the Crags play Venture Snowboards and Ska Brewing’s 10th annual season kickoff party at 7 p.m. Sat., Dec. 20, at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton. The event benefits the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies and also features giveaways like a custom Venture board, Ska schwag, door prizes and more.

The Sheridan Opera House and Telluride Conference Center host a handful of concerts between now and New Year’s Eve that may pique your interest: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue on Sat., Dec. 27 (sold out), Seryn on Sun., Dec. 28, Shawn Colvin on Mon., Dec. 29, and Wynonna Judd with Olivia Lane on New Year’s Eve.

Moe’s events include Funked Up Fridays with DJ CK from 8 ‘til close on Fri., Dec. 19, and a graduation party the following night featuring DJ Codestar and Inspire on Saturday (get a free drink if you bring your tassel!)

This week’s Top Shelf list is provided by KDUR Program Director Jon Lynch, host of “Audience of One,” aired from 1-3 p.m. each Monday afternoon. Lynch was supposed to provide his Top 10 albums of 2014, but the lad fails at math and instead provided 13. The following are Lynch’s faves of 2014, listed alphabetically, quite purposefully, rather than numerically. These are the records he revisited for multiple listens and will be just as likely to revisit for years to come. Anyone who doesn’t think 2014 was an incredible year in music wasn’t paying attention.

1. Abigails, “Tundra.” Call it Americana, alt-country or Laurel Canyon psych fuzz … the genre identifier means very little to me. This was one helluva record.

2. Allah Las, “Worship the Sun.” Fuzzy U.S. garage rock/surf pop, incipient psychedelia, primitive beat music and the Byrds’ trebly jangle. There were overt echoes of the Seeds, the Ventures and the Animals, but also the occasional Hispanic flourish and bossa nova rhythm.

3. Amen Dunes, “Love.” Melodic, outsider folk. Sonically intoxicating. If I had ranked albums numerically, this would’ve made the Top Five easy.

4. Aphex Twin, “SYRO.” The best record of 2014 that had nary a guitar lick present. Likely the record I was listening to while zoning out and avoiding conversation with my headphones in at whichever grocer you saw me at.

5. Marc Demarco, “Salad Days.” Canada’s favorite son makes a record of absurdist indie folk ‘n’ roll that is saccharine and infectious.

6. Iceage, “Plowing into the Field of Love.” Danish punk rockers foray into Nick Cave-ian dark, Americana pop. Stand out track “The Lord’s Favorite” was a contender for single of the year.

7. Old 97’s, “Most Messed Up.” Hands down the best album from the Dallas-via-Chicago alt-country quartet since making two near-perfect records in 1995’s “Wreck Your Life” and 1997’s “Too Far to Care.”

8. Angel Olsen, “Burn Your Fire for No Witness.” I knew after a couple of listens she’d end up on this list. Americana, indie rock, folk or whatever else you want to call it.

9. Parquet Courts, “Sunbathing Animal.” The Brooklyn band released one if the best rock & roll records of the year. It’s EXACTLY what I want to hear. Side note: Just this week, they’ve released another new album as Parkay Quarts.

10. Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 2.” Killer Mike and El-P made the OTHER record that I was likely listening to anytime you saw me with headphones on. Easily the most anticipated album of 2014 and hands down the one that lived up to expectation. “RTJ2” also featured the track I’d call the best closer of the year in “Angel Duster.”

11. Strand of Oaks, “Heal.” It followed no clear linear path from start to finish. This record zigzagged through a variety of styles, but managed to do so in a seamless, coherent manner. “JM,” which pays homage to Jason Molina, is yet another one of my favorite tracks of 2014.

12. Swans, “To Be Kind.” Michael Gira and co. created an orchestral, churning, psychotic behemoth of a record … one that is complex and fascinating. It surprised me with something new and interesting with each subsequent listen.

13. Timbre Timbre, “Hot Dreams.” Mellow, dark, indie folk made by Canadians. The follow up to 2011’s “Creep on Creepin’ On” and well worth the wait.

The following artists had totally and completely notable mentions that could’ve easily made the above list: Under Cover of Official, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Ex-Cult, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, White Fence, Sun Kil Moon, Sturgill Simpson, Ty Segall, Natural Child, Spider Bags, Reigning Sound, Black Lips, the Men and Ex Hip.

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