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Every year, I like to take a look back on the amazing things that happened and learn from the events that could be improved on. Without a doubt, 2010 brought plenty from both columns. Overall, RPandTA saw some major changes at the start of the year and rolled with them like champs.

Fun facts about 2010:

  1. In 2010, Ryan Paul & The Ardent rehearsed for a total of 45 minutes…
  2. Having rehearsed 45 minutes, we introduced a handful of new tunes
  3. None of those tunes were gone through at that rehearsal

There’s a new boss in town…
At the end of 2009, I was in meetings with Invisible Button Entertainment and turned control over to Lily Troia on January 1st of 2010. With Lily taking a great deal of responsibility from my shoulders, I was able to discern where I wanted the band’s sound to go. After conferring with mentors and band members, prayer and reflection on the previous year, I decided to ask my friend Cory Eischen to play keyboards and to help me define some of the noise that was going on in the back of my head.

It’s like a piano, but goes weeeoooo…
Cory Eischen took the call, took the job, and was thrown into his first show without a rehearsal. He was then thrown into six months of shows without practice. Cory will tell you that this is not how he would’ve planned it. It wasn’t ideal for the band either, but it was how the calendar worked for us. On top of the heavy gigging schedule, we pulled Cory into the studio in February with 10 hours to perfect an EP.

10 hours…
After discussion with Invisible Button, we decided it was important to document the changes in the band with a studio project. We went on to track Cute Souvenirs EP, which was tracked and mixed in 10 hours. Believe me, I would have liked more time, but we had very little cash to make this thing happen.

In the humblest of places…
It’s funny how you meet heroes in the strangest places. Almost none of my favorite stories start out with a band playing their dream show and were suddenly met by an industry professional or legend. No, in fact they all seem to happen under the worst circumstances. Such is the case with my meeting Al Kooper.
We were playing at Palmer’s in the West Bank, on the floor, with no drummer (and a drum machine to fill in) and hardly playing our best. Of course, Mr. Al Kooper walked in with Lily and Adam Levy. After our set, Al asked to speak to me. The first words out of my mouth were “We didn’t have a drummer.” I am guessing you can imagine Al’s response.
My relationship with Al continues to this day and he has been a valuable source of insight (being that he is usually the first to hear my songs when I record them in my living room in the middle of the night).

I love lists. I’d like to give you two:

Top 5 Shows of 2010:

  1. EP Release concert at Bryant Lake Bowl Theatre (July 1, 2010)
    – Amazing performance by Zoo Animal. We were joined by Janey Winterbauer, Alexander Young, and Mark Shwandt on stage. Sold out performance.
  2. Salvation Army Benefit at Aster Cafe (November 11, 2010)
    Alpha Consumer + Dosh and Minor Kingdom played killer sets. We raised hundreds of dollars for Salvation Army. Sold out performance.
  3. Jennefit, a benefit for Jenn Barnett at the Turf Club (March 26, 2010)
    – Too many amazing artists to list participated in this show. Lots of money was raised for a great artist. Jeremy Ylvisaker helped us kill our set.
  4. Palmers with Patches & Gretchen (April 29, 2010)
    – Not many people at this show. Steve Goold couldn’t make it. We set up on the modest floor of Palmers. But then Al Kooper walked in…
  5. ARTCRANK 2010 at Shelter Studios (April 10, 2010)
    – I don’t think we’ve ever played for as many people. The mood was right. The art was great.  It was too much fun!

Top 5 covers of 2010:

  1. “You Never Give Me Your Money” – The Beatles (video)
    -Sung with Janey Winterbauer. We love her so.
  2. “Death of a Disco Dancer” – The Smiths (video)
    -At the Jennefit, Jeremy Ylvisaker and Steve made this song cruise!
  3. “Pictures of You” – The Cure (audio)
    -I am unblushingly affectionate about The Cure and this song has been a pleasure to play.
  4. “What Goes On” – The Velvet Underground (video)
    -While it is impossible to do Lou justice, it is a blast to try.
  5. “Untitled 101” – Peter Wolf Crier (audio)
    -Is it lame to cover your friends? Possibly, but I couldn’t resist.

My favorite moment of 2010: Here you go.

2011…
I believe in setting goals. I know that no goal can be met without a solid plan. In the last three months, I have been developing methods to achieve the (possibly lofty) marks I have set for this band for the upcoming year. I realize that I am just one person and that it will take a community to make all of these aspirations a reality.
I am humbled by the talent that I have in place in THE ARDENT. I am grateful for the skills and talents of Lily Troia. I am fortunate to have friends in this city who are talented enough and embody the know-how to get things done.
Charles Youel from ARTCRANK said, “I can’t help it. I know cool people.” in one of our recent discussions. Charles does know cool people. And I know cool people too (Charles is one of them) and I think it is time to start asking for input from that solid group. Our 2011 release is planned to be done at several different studios around Minneapolis. Because of a tight budget, we will be producing the record ourselves, but Adam Levy has graciously offered to swing by and give us tips and pointers as we go along. One of the studios we had planned on working with was Instrument Control studios in St. Paul. That studio was raided and robbed on Christmas day. Please help in the search for that equipment.
rp

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We were pleased to see that Ryan Paul’s top 5 local & national records of 2009 were published by Metro Magazine. Here’s a clip:

“As the year comes to a close, you’ve probably been inundated by year and decade end lists. We thought that you might want to hear what Twin Cities musician’s favorite albums are, rather than getting our two cents. It’s pretty hard to hone in on the local music scene, even for those of us who are attuned to national music trends. So, we used the good old Internet and got in touch with some of our favorite local artists.”

Ryan Paul & The Ardent
National
1. Grizzly Bear // Veckitamest – This album gets my best of 2009. I’ve heard all of the banter about whether or not it will last. I’ve heard all the talk about them “selling out” with Veckitamest. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve listened to Grizzly Bear since Horn of Plenty and sister band Department of Eagles. There is certainly a difference in Veckitamest, but it is one that I have seen coming for awhile.

Daniel Rossen has been growing into his pop sensibility very slowly and the maturation grew into this record. It is an absolute masterpiece. I can’t find a single fault in it. The album lacks nothing. Can they keep it up? Surely. However, Daniel and the boys may grow into something else and I’m sure that will be just as jaw dropping as the rest of their career.

Favorite Track: “Ready, Able”

2. Jim O’Rourke // The Visitor
Jim O’Rourke has played on well over 100 records in the past 20 years, but left an 8 year gap from his last solo album. Anyone who knows me heard my excitement for weeks leading up to the release of The Visitor. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but managed to anyhow. When I got my pre-ordered copy, I nervously put it in to find that it was only one track. One 38 minute track. (This isn’t rare for O’Rourke’s noise records) This album (or song) had over 200 separate recorded parts and they were all layered perfectly. I liked how one reviewer called it “genre-hopping melange of organic and electronic influences”. I’ll even get behind Pitchfork’s statement that The Visitor “plays hide-and-go-seek with dozens of instruments, textures, and motifs before refusing to deliver the climax you might have expected”. I mainly summed it up with a dropped jaw. I have listened to it dozens of times and I haven’t even begun to soak it all in.

3. Elvis Perkins in Dearland // ST/Doomsday EP
I liked Elvis Perkins’ solo effort. “Ash Wednesday” was a great start, but it was missing something. It was missing Dearland. I’m not sure how these guys seemed to pick up on Elvis’ behind the beat writing, but they did. I am including Doomsday EP because it was recorded at the same time as the self titled album and is mainly B-Sides. I can’t wait to hear what Elvis and Dearland do next.

Favorite Track: “Shampoo”

***PLEASE SEE CORRECTION BELOW***

4. Phosphorescent // To Willie
Am I crazy to pick a cover album in my top 5? Possibly. But I feel that this particular cover album is the best Willie Nelson cover album ever done. This particular album got more spins on my player than many others on this list. Done in the same vein as Willie Nelson’s To Lefty, this album is brilliant. I knew, from the second I saw the cover, that I was going to fall head over heels with To Willie. Many have tried to cover Willie Nelson and nearly all have failed. This album plays Willie like a young Willie would do Willie. Houck spares no detail and even playing nearly every guitar solo with the melody line of the song (just like Willie). If you want to cover Willie, be Willie. Don’t try to put a new spin on the Red Headed Stranger. He is one of a kind.

Favorite Track: “Can I Sleep In Your Arms” (There are moments where I actually prefer this to the original. I know. It’s practically heresy.)

5. The Bad Plus // For All I Care
Every single time I have seen The Bad Plus play live, I have always stood in line to get in early and plant my butt in front of Dave King’s drum kit. That was, until Wendy Lewis started singing with them. The two times that I witnessed The Bad Plus (joined by Wendy Lewis), Wendy seemed to be the only force that could drive my eyes and ears from King’s wicked drumming. I happened to run into Lewis at a Dosh show in 2008 and listened to her talk about what was going on down at Pachyderm. I could not wait to hear this record. The day I picked it up, I sat in my room short of breath. Seeing them live, a friend had to remind me to inhale and exhale. It goes without saying that Dave King is masterful on “For All I Care”. I don’t need to tell you that Reid Anderson is a hell of a bass player. Ethan’s piano playing is about as dependable as his wardrobe. This is a wonderful record.

Favorite Track: “Comfortably Numb”

Local
Bad Plus // For All I Care
Brad Senne // Aerial Views
The Pines // Tremolo
Gary Louris/Mark Olson // Ready for the Flood
Peter Wolf Crier // Inter-Be

*I’d really have the Daredevil Christopher Wright album on there, but Western WI is still WI.


***CORRECTION: Klaus Voorman let me know that The Doomsday EP was not recorded at the same time as the Dearland LP. The tunes are not B-sides either.

I appreciate the correction. This is why I am a musician and not a journalist. I take things that dudes at the record store tell me as fact.

Being that they were not recorded at the same time, I am amending:

#3. Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Dearland LP
#3.5 Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Doomsday EP


OFFICIAL Ryan Paul & THE ARDENT Site

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