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ABC Best of the Year: Queens Of The Stone Age, TV On The Radio, Sleater Kinney, Titus Andronicus

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I have decided to look back at this past year in alphabetic order,…

Q as in Queens Of The Stone Age: no new album this year, but they were very much in the spotlight for very happy and very sad news. First, there was this secret show at the Teragram Ballroom and not only I got a ticket but I got a front row view! They were welcomed like heroes, guitar heroes, and the show looked and sounded like a thunderstorm falling over our heads. The quintet played a breathtaking set, without letting the energy come down at any moment. The show was like a physical test, and their alchemy produced this aching concoction of aggression and fragile beauty. Then there were the tragedy in Paris, and Josh Homme’s close friend Jessie Hughes in the middle of a terrorist attack, but finally safe and sound… Josh and Jessie did an interview together for VICE, and you could see the immense guilt and pain on their faces. A world-altering event and a life-changing tragedy at the same time.

R as in TV on the Radio: I was lucky enough to see them twice this year, as they were touring a lot after the release of ‘Seeds’ last year. I enjoyed both shows, but the first one, at the beginning of the summer, may have been the most impressive because I had the best spot and because outdoor concerts often have that special magic element. During the whole show they seemed to send lasers in the sky with a supersonic intensity, singer Tunde Adebimpe had a magnetic presence, and David Sitek’s guitar had a a funk-punk restless sound. This is a band with a complex music, mixing funk, punk noise and fuzz, grooves and catchiness, going from electronic post-dance parties to synth funk and furious punk urgency. During the second show at the Ace Hotel, Miguel showed up and the show took a more R&B sound, although they also covered CAN. They are sonic adventurers.

S as in Sleater Kinney: This year, the world’s greatest riot grrrl were back with a great album ‘No Cities to Love’ and although I did not see them in 2015, Iman did and he wrote this: ‘The band are beyond tight: they play right up against each, and when they harmonize it is a magical womanhood much more important than self evident stuff (to an audience of 30 something’s mind) about Planned Parenthood.’ There was a time when I was not appreciating Sleater-Kinney for some reasons that totally escape me now. The amazing energy in their songs, the crescendo of the guitars with the pounding drums combined with Tucker’s famous yell are a total thrill, it’s an empowering full-force ride that culminates into some loud and riotous damage.

T as in Titus Andronicus: I saw them twice in the same day first at Permanent Records, Marc Maron’s land (he is a big fan), then at the Roxy the same night. They must have annihilated the place at each song, bringing a tempest and slowing down like survivors after a hurricane. Everything was played with dense assaults and a punk spirit, Stickles’ grand gestures and pissed-off attitude, and some impressive stage moves, they were all restless, bringing the show to epic heights with successive explosions and chaotic nonsense…. They released ‘The Most Lamentable Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus’ this year, and Iman (he is a big fan too) reviewed it many times, ‘I don’t wish it was shorter and I don’t wish it was better,’ he wrote in one of them, exactly like my sentiment for their shows.

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