Listen Up: Michael Tedesco’s Top Music Picks for 2011

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Favorite new unsigned band: Mamarrazi – Like some illegitimate love child of Fela Kuti and Frank Zappa & the Mothers, this eight-piece self-described “afrofunk hip hop jazz mathrobeat” band with MC Tavi Fields is the best-kept secret in Brooklyn, N.Y. “Gangster” from their debut disc Bewilderness is the best single in living memory.

Favorite new release: Kate Bush, 50 Words for Snow  – Another concept album from Kate. Seven songs that live up to the name, with titles like "Snowflake" and "Misty," all painted in her signature moody tones. With a simplicity not seen since Lionheart, her voice and piano dominate this disc and capture the feeling and sound of the darkest parts of winter. This is not a recording for parties; it is for short days, fireplaces, howling winds and ice storms. As an added treat, Elton John’s singing on the duet “Snowed In At Wheeler Street” is the best he’s sounded in years.

Favorite reissue: Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On, 40th Anniversary Edition – Most of Motown’s classic artists did songs with social commentary, but Marvin did an entire album’s worth at a time when the message in the music mattered more than units sold. Inspired by his brother’s letters from Vietnam, Gaye wanted to “write songs that would reach the souls of people” from the viewpoint of a soldier returning to the country he had been fighting for, only to find a divided nation, environmental degradation, hatred and injustice. Not certain if it’s remarkable or tragic that the message still rings true, but it’s apparent we still need to hear it.

Best live show: Paul McCartney, "On the Run" Tour, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 4, 2011 – Sir Paul and his up-to-the-task band turned out a 37 song, 3-plus hour set, including 25 Beatles classics, some performed live for the first time. Midway through, the 69 year-old vegetarian silenced the 41,256 audience members with nothing more than his voice and an acoustic guitar on "Blackbird" and "Here Today." Anyone who has performed music professionally for half a century ought to be pretty freaking amazing by now. He is.

Greatest loss: Gil Scott-Heron – If all you know about Gil is "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," it’s long past time to get acquainted with the Godfather of Rap. Try Pieces of a Man or Winter in America from the 1970s, 1981’s Reflections or 1993’s Spirits. Everything you need to know, including his last album I’m New Here, is available from his web site

Favorite Local Aggregation: Any Colour  – The band that plays Pink Floyd better than Pink Floyd did on some nights, and with more enthusiasm. It’s as if David Gilmour was guitarist Nick Dzuban’s dad, and at a young age, Dave pulled Nick aside and said, "Listen, son. Don't play it like I do. Play it as I would”. You can't get in a time machine and see one of the most popular rock bands in history, but you can see Any Colour perform complete albums like The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall and even tracks like "Echoes" spectacularly well. Just go.

Best Radio Show: Dave Baer, Radio Free Athens, WOUB 1340 AM, Saturdays, 12 p.m.-3 p.m., EST  – Some of you have seen him play bass with Stella or the Lennon Orchestra. Maybe you know him because he got that drunk and disorderly charge against you dropped. But did you know he also does the best music show on the wireless? Tune in as Dave reminds us why deejays matter.

In addition to stints as a guitar technician, tour manager, concert promoter and independent record label director in the 1990s, Michael Tedesco has performed in the U.S. and Europe as a guitarist with Trap Door and Robert Fripp & the League/Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists. When he's not hosting "Radio Free Athens" on WOUB 1340 AM, he works at Ohio University as an IT and web services specialist.

This is the ninth in a series of year-end blog posts by WOUB staff, volunteers and contributors, as well as area musicians, music retailers and plain old music fanatics. Think we missed something? Let us know at