KEXP’s Year in Review: Lisa Shimizu, Programming – The View from the Other Side of the Booth

I’m Lisa, programming assistant and author of Life With Kevin (currently on hiatus while I wait for Kevin to do something interesting). Here’s a few things that I really dug this year:

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Neko Case could sing the phone book and I’d be spellbound. This album grew on me more with each listen, and has moved into place right next to ‘Blacklisted’ on my Sacred Albums list. When she played her phenomenal show at the Moore earlier this year I took my dad, and he really dug it. My dad’s an old school country guy, who never quite understood me and my punkish ways. Through KEXP we’ve finally found musical common ground. Another reason to love KEXP.

Skullbot – Skullbot
I love the ‘bot. They rock and they rock loud. They don’t hesitate to skip school for a gig, and their parents seem really cool. John played ‘Agent’ one the morning right when I walked in and made me truly grateful to work here. Having them on Live at KEXP Volume 2 alongside Death Cab For Cutie, Gang of Four, Lyrics Born and the like was one of the better decisions KEXP made this year.

Michael Franti and Spearhead – Yell Fire
Besides being an incredible human being, Michael Franti in Ballard was one of the greatest events of the year. Hello, Bonjour gets my eight-year old daughter’s vote for Song of the Year.

Transmissionary Six – Radar
Transmissionary Six is the band belonging to my friend Terri Moeller and her husband Paul Austin. Terri and I went to the same lame south Seattle high school and I always thought she was one of the coolest people ever. She still is, and the music that she’s making amazing. I’m proud to know her.(Pod Bay Doors – MP3)

Fujiya and Miyagi – Transparent Things
One of the nice things about sharing an office with Kevin Cole, is that you get to preview new music pretty much every day. (Yesterday’s’s tune was a weird Devo-like song about vibrating vegetables. Not sure that one made it on-air.) Kevin brought Fujiya and Miyagi back with him from New York in October, and my ears perked up the minute he turned it on. Initially I thought it was a couple of Japanese musicians, but it’s actually three British guys. It’s super catchy, beefy electronica that makes me groove.

Another great Kevin find: ESG – Keep on Moving. He and I went to the big Tower blowout sale last Saturday and I was psyched to find it in the import section for $8.50.

PJ Harvey – The Peel Sessions 1991 – 2004
PJ Harvey is a musical genius and her live show remains one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. This collection of recordings during John Peel’s BBC show are rough, raw, and brilliant. I’ve been wearing my Bobbi Brown lipstick in ‘Ruby’ in tribute to Sheela-Na-Gig ever since I got the CD. It’s a fine tribute to both PJ’s music and to John Peel.

Johnny Cash – American V: A Hundred Highways
The first time I heard this I was in my car driving across I-90. John played ‘Help Me’ and it made me cry. Maybe it was the crappy traffic. Most likely it was Johnny Cash lifting my spirit through his powerful, posthumous voice and heartfelt lyrics. It was recorded a few months before he died and is a powerful testament that never fails to move me.

Hidden Cameras – AWOO
No one at KEXP loves the Hidden Cameras as much as I do. Their music makes me happy. Joel Gibb’s voice is strong and beautiful, and the music stunning. Tracks like Death of a Tune and Lollipop are upbeat and fun; tracks like She’s Gone and Fee Fie are melancholy and touching. But they’re all joyous. I don’t know how they do it.

Live at KEXP Volume 2
How can I leave this CD off my list? ‘Parade’ by Gang of Four will rock my world forever. The whole thing is incredible from beginning to end and I’m proud to have been part of it.

Ghostland Observatory – Paparazzi Lightning
Everyone wondered what all the fuss was about when John and Cheryl came back from New York all apeshit for Ghostland Observatory. This summer we saw what they were talking about. One of the best bands ever to see live. Plus they’re really nice! Aaron chatted it up with my daughter after the show which always scores mega mom points. What a band; what a show; what an album. Their in-studio the day after the BBQ was my favorite in-studio all year.

My favorite non-Ghostland Observatory show:
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at Bumbershoot were AMAZING. Lord that woman can sing. She sounds like someone who’s been performing forever, but actually didn’t record an album until 2002. She tried to have a career as a singer in the 80s but it didn’t pan out and she wound up working as a corrections officer at Rikers Island of all places. At 50 she’s one of the most electric live performers around and it was awesome to see her. I talked to her backstage and she said she has more music in the works for next year, and more shows.

It goes to Eleven – Other Things I Loved in ‘06: Sparklehorse – Dreamt for Lightyears on the Belly of a Mountain, Asobi Seksu – Citrus, Joseph Arthur – Nuclear Daydream, The Decemberists – The Crane Wife, Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye, Jim Noir – Tower of Love, Cut Chemist – The Audience is Listening, Tom Waits – Orphans, My Morning Jacket – Okonokos, Thom Yorke – The Eraser.

For me, the best part of the holiday season is sitting at home on the last Friday of the year and listen to the KEXP 90.3 Countdown. It was awesome.

Lisa Shimizu

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