Founding member of instrumental innovators, Godspeed You! Black Emperor & Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Efrim Manuel Menuck released his debut solo album, Plays High Gospel, this year and while it may not have made a splash on the charts, it has remained on high rotation in my waters since picking up a copy at Amoeba Records in San Francisco. Efrim’s voice is an incredible instrument, a blast of anguish from the depths of the human well. His lyrics, explore the loneliness of the road, urban and physical decay and recently, fatherhood. For me, Heavy Calls & Hospitals Blues is the track of the year… in the blues tradition, listening to it fills the chest with the sweetest ache.
And for those looking for some other fine listening from the year, here’s another handful of (in my opinion) wonderful releases:
X: X-Spurts – the first official release of Australian rock’n’roll misfits 1977 recordings.
Explosions in the Sky: Take Care, Take Care, Take Care – Texan instrumentalists broaden their sonic landscape
Okkervil River: I Am Very Far – Lyrically, this is singer/songwriter Will Sheff’s crowning glory
William Elliot Whitmore: Field Songs – A farmer and an acoustic guitar… doesn’t get more real than this
Steve Kilbey & Ricky Maymi: The Wilderness Years – The creative minds of The Church and Brian Jones Town Massacre team up