at the risk of properly using the word best to exclusively praise something above all others, i like to be realistic and describe all the things that have the most profound effect on me with this subjective term. so all of the following are the best things of the past year.
mix master mike and the sebutones - the marquee in halifax was never as packed as it was the night the beastie boy's dj dropped the needle. his turntable gymnastics, and ectoplasmic scratches displayed the talents of a jedi master. besides being a brilliant technical dj, and a charismatic crowd pleaser, he did all his turntable tricks without the aid of headphones. that's disturbing.
mixmaster's opening act was hali's heroes of hip hop, the sebutones. using a bizarre mix of classical music and heavy, bassy beats, buck 65 and sixtoo showcased their paranoid MCing skills, tag team turntable dynamics, and twisted senses of humour. the highlight of their performance was when the crowd was cheering them on at the end of their set, and the sebutones started encouraging everyone to boo them. it was beautiful when this packed bar erupted into jeers while buck and six too left the stage flipping everyone the bird.
ron sexsmith - the best singer/songwriter in the world took the marquee stage in an intimate solo performance of new songs, and old gems from his extensive catalogue. his gift for writing intelligent lyrics with beautiful melodies and his ability to perform these songs on his own with a sound as full as an entire band made his show an unforgetable experience. the songs of his new album (which is unreleased since his record label dropped him) sounded like they are destined to help sexsmith cross over from obscurity to getting the recognition he deserves.
slowcoaster - crammed into a small bar in sydney nova scotia during the no cases at the ecma's, i was exposed to a ferocious, original new band that sounded like none other. their roots range anywhere from funk to country to reggae, and it is not surprising to hear all of these influences blend seamlessly into any of their jams. songwriter, stephen macdougal, has a knack for creating smart, catchy songs, but his live persona spontaneously breaks out into improvised rhymes, or quotes cyndi lauper in mid-tune.
dutch robinson - i've referred to this man as god on several occasions, but that's because he is the only person who could inspire this white boy to shout out hallelujah. it's difficult to describe the overall feeling that his music conjures up in one's soul. this 54 year old singer's music is the real thing. pure, unadulterated r&b from a voice that is absolutely divine. i've seen him twice this year at the ecma showcases in sydney and the delta ballroom in charlottetown, and both shows were the only times i've seen standing ovations this year.
fermented reptile - this entertainer is difficult to classify. lyrically, pip b skid is a socially conscious rebel rapping against things glorified by most hip hop artists. but in performance, he is a maniac doing everything he possibly can to put on a show that will stick out in people's minds. he is a funny and intense artist with a unique perspective in rap music, and an ability to entertain at a level higher than most performers.
godzilla 2000 - this should have been THE blockbuster of the year. it had action, special effects, a little boy, godzilla, and all sorts of shit that most north american movie goers eat up with a spoon, but i guess it failed because the plot was too complicated for fans of hollywood. the ending was brilliant because it left me wanting more. "maybe there is a bit of godzilla in all of us."
blood simple/drunken master - these rereleases prove that most filmmakers today are not as good as they were 15 years ago. there were no films released this year that come close to the quality of these classics.
jesus' son - i liked jack black's performance in this movie more than high fidelity. too bad he's only in this film for ten minutes, but those ten minutes are pretty magical. the soundtrack is what saves the rest of this movie. k-tel music never sounded better.
wonder boys/high fidelity/almost famous - why bother trying to justify these movies. they are all nearly perfect, but not nearly as perfect as blood simple or drunken master.
the contender - the fact that this film teams up former big lebowski co-stars, jeff bridges and sam elliot, makes it worth seeing right away. but since there is a scene in a bowling alley, this may be the best movie of the year.
the eels - daisies of the galaxy - the songs seem simple, yet they are layered in imagery of loneliness, frustration, happiness, and hope. like an old blanket, this album is an intimate and warm companion that can comfort you when you are alone.