David Fricke's Year in Rock 2017

Tom Petty's final tour, Phish's Bakers Dozen, the rebirth of the Dream Syndicate and other musical highlights from the year that was

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Alvarius B

Alvarius B

With a Beaker on the Burner and an Otter in the Oven (Abduction, available at Forced Exposure)

What started as a lively email exchange with Alvarius B – a.k.a. singer-guitarist-songwriter Alan Bishop, formerly of experimental Arizona troupers the Sun City Girls – became an immersion in this marathon ride: 35 songs across a three-volume set of LPs (or two CDs), conjured over three years of sessions in Cairo from an iridescent sandstorm of Southwest desert blues, truly outlaw country, spectral psychedelia and North African-guitar mojo by Bishop's Egyptian-American band. The handful of covers – Ennio Morricone, Gene Clark, Sly Stone, the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band – give you an idea of the surrealistic distance and exploratory wonder Bishop covers in the earthy, funky confrontation of his own writing.

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