(2014 end-of-year lists) – SERGE YARED

I asked some of my musician friends from Beirut, to list their 10 favorite albums of 2014…
Or the music they’ve listened to the most during the past year, regardless of date of release

Serge Yared (The Incompetents)


1. Hobocombo: Moondog Mask
2. Scott Walker & Sun O)))): Soused
3. Richard Reed Parry: Music For Heart & Breath
4. Perfume Genius: Too Bright
5. Marianne Faithfull: Give My Love To London
6. Aphex Twin: Syro
7. Brian Eno & Karl Hyde: High Life
8. Baxter Dury: It’s A Pleasure
9. Chuck E Weiss: Red Beans & Weiss
10. Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens: Cold World


1. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico
2. Jon Hassell & Brian Eno: Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics
3. Bob Dylan & The Band: The Complete Basement Tapes
4. Various artists: C86
5. Captain Beefheart: Sun Zoom Spark 1970-1972
6. Yo La Tengo: Extra Painful
7. Ariel Kalma: An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings 1972-1979)
8. The Unicorns: Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
9. Led Zeppelin: III
10. Craig Leon: Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos/Visiting



(2012 end-of-year lists) – SERGE YARED

I asked some of my favorite musician and artist friends, from Beirut and beyond, to list their 10 favorite albums of 2012…
Alternately, they could also provide me with a list of the records they listened to the most in 2012, regardless of date of release.

Serge Yared (musician, The Incompetents)

1- Scott Walker: Bish Bosch
2- Dr. John: Locked Down
3- Julia Holter: Ekstasis
4- Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
5- Beach House: Bloom
6- The Weeknd: Trilogy
7- Spiritualized: Sweet Heart Sweet Light
8- Sun Kil Moon: Among The Leaves
9- Ry Cooder: Election Special
10- Frank Ocean: Channel Orange

(2011 end-of-year lists) – SERGE YARED

I asked some of my favorite musicians from Beirut and beyond, to tell me what their favorite records of 2011 were…

Serge Yared: musician (The Incompetents)

“I start the list by cheating. The album was recorded in 1966-1967, was available as a bootleg but was released officially for the first time this year! As a long-time Beach Boys obsessive I have to put at the top of my list the …

1SMILE boxset. And by boxset I mean the hardcore one with 5 hours of outtakes and demos. The idea of listening to a work in progress might sound tedious and in most cases it is. But when you have a piece of art that complex being built sonically brick by brick before your eyes (ears, actually – your friendly editor), it takes this game to another level.

2– For the sake of coherence I will include another reissue here: the release of the legendary 1973 concert by the Rolling Stones titled A Brussels Affairs: The Rolling Stones Live In Belgium, only available here… http://www.stonesarchivestore.com/Product.aspx?cp=53655&pc=BGDDRS67 .

This album is a masterpiece of raw energy. The band is literally propelled by Mick Taylor and reaches its zenith with the proto-post rock of “Street Fighting Man”. You can listen to this version on YouTube and you will see the missing link between the Stooges and Spiritualized.

3 & 4–  Now the ‘political’ albums: British polls almost unanimously praised PJ Harvey‘s Let England Shake, I preferred its American counterpart, the excellent Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down by Ry Cooder, adapting Woody Guthrie’s protest-song tradition in the late 2000s’ economic crisis context. A highly rich melting-pot mixing pop, rock, mariachi, folk, jazz, reggae, ragtime etc. To me these two albums capture the spirit of 2011 in terms of content and themes.

5, 6 & 7– 2011 marks the comeback of three voices and sounds. Duane Eddy‘s legendary twang guitar sound rejuvenated by Richard Hawley in the excellent Road Trip. In these days of rockab’ revival his style remains unmatched. The second good surprise comes from Kate Bush‘s 50 Words For Snow. This album is totally… off, showing, if need be, another display of her artistic insularity. Kate is in her world: a world preserved from economical and political crises, a world unaffected by contemporary sounds — why should it be, since most contemporary artists try to replicate hers, a world in which collaborating with Elton John is still a good thing. Last but not least 2011 marks the Return of the Sweet Ogre. Tom WaitsBad As Me is an almost perfect album: traditional and experimental, sometimes political, sometimes sentimental and nostalgic: there is something for everyone

8, 9 & 10– I managed to absorb in extremis three contemporary albums that captured the sound of 2011 to me. M83Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Bon Iver‘s and James Blake‘s self-titled albums.

I will definitely listen a lot to M83’s epic double album in 2012. It is in line with the tradition of classic double albums in which each song explores a genre. One can think of course of the BeatlesWhite Album, The Clash‘s London Calling, Stevie Wonder‘s Songs In The Key Of Life, Prince‘s Sign O’ The Times, Bruce Springsteen‘s The River, Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, etc.
I picked an album I admit I won’t listen to very often: it is Bon Iver’s. He forced my respect by (already…) reinventing himself, breaking this loner folky image he built with his first album.
Last but not least, I chose James Blake because he managed to mix perfectly the warmth of white soul with dubstep. He reminded me of Bowie‘s similar effort three decades or so ago to mix white soul with motorik sounds in Station to Station (1976).

11– Forget about Lady Gaga! My favorite pop album is Beyonce‘s 4.

12– Impossible not to cite it. ‘It’ is of course Loutallica‘s Lulu that kept me busy on Facebook for almost two months. A glorious first-degree nadir that could have been totally forgotten had Lou Reed restrained from arrogantly proclaiming it ‘best album ever made’. Reed got used of seeing his albums vilified by the critics before being later re-appraised: it happened with White Light, White Heat, it happened with Berlin, it happened with Metal Machine Music, it happened again with Street Hassle. But no! Lou, it won’t happen with The Raven and it won’t happen with Lulu either, despite its elegiac ending (“Junior Dad”).”

THE INCOMPETENTS // 2nd Ruptured Session // 17 Oct 2011

With a new album (almost) in hand, two concerts scheduled for late October and early November 2011, and another full-blown album in the works, it was high time that The Incompetents (Serge Yared & Fadi Tabbal) took over the studios of Radio Lebanon for the second time, with their ranting, raving, on-air arguments, and of course, some pretty competent music playing!

Incompetents (part 1) + Incompetents (part 2)

Track listing:
The Incompetents LIVE *Disposable Valentine
The Incompetents LIVE *Cannibal Blues
The Incompetents LIVE *This Gun’s for Hire
The Incompetents LIVE *Prelude To An Abyss
The Incompetents (Daniel Johnston cover)
The Incompetents (Tom Waits cover)
The Incompetents LIVE *Closing Time
The Incompetents LIVE *Cannibal Blues (bis, because the first take did not work out so well!)
The Incompetents LIVE *After Hours (Velvet Underground cover)
The Incompetents (feat. Wissam Charaf)

[Photos by Tanya Traboulsi & Ghalas Charara]

THE INCOMPETENTS // 1st Ruptured Session // 26 Jan 2009

Le Lundi 26 Janvier, le groupe de rock psychédélique libanais The Incompetents, un favori de ces émissions, se produisait en concert dans les studios de Radio Liban, 96.2FM.

incompetents-live-ruptures-1 + incompetents-live-ruptures-2

Track listing:
Disposable Valentine
Monster Song #2
Urinal Blues
Bloody Rainbow (Daniel Johnston cover)









(2008 end-of-year lists) – SERGE YARED

I asked the main actors of this here blog (mostly musicians, of course, but also friends, family, support-givers…) to provide me with a list (5 to 20 albums) of their favorite records of the year.

The results are slowly coming in. There are surprises, resemblances, similarities, incongruous choices… I’ve left the responses intact, exactly as I received them, along with my friends’ comments. So here goes:

Serge Yared: musician (Incompetents)

“Avec grand plaisir
Voila mes selections. As usual j’ai rajoute quelques trucs”

Top erm…. 16:

1- Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes
2- TV on the Radio: Dear Science
3- Portishead: Third
4- Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago
5- She & Him: Volume 1
6- Sparks: Exotic Creatures from the Deep
7- Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part One
8- Randy Newman: Harps and Angels
9-The Last Shadow Puppets: The Age of Understatement
10- Goldfrapp: Seventh Tree
11- Willard Grant Conspiracy: Pilgrim Road
12- Hot Chip: Made in the Dark
13- Department of Eagles: In Ear Park
14- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: “Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!”
15- Brian Wilson: “That Lucky Old Sun”
16- Sebastien Tellier: “Sexuality”


1- Dennis Wilson: Ocean Pacific Blue
2- Nina Simone: To Be Free
3- Roy Orbison: The Soul of Rock and Roll

Odds and Ends (various singles, iTunes only LPs or EPs, guilty pleasures and other niceties)

1- John Howard: “Songs from the Room Upstairs” and “More Song from the Room Upstairs” (iTunes Only)
2- The Bird and the Bee: “Live at the Palms” EP, “One Too Many Hearts” EP, “Please Clap You Hands” EP
3- Robert Wyatt/ Bertrand Burgalat/ Hot Chip: “Perfect Night” (single)
4- Various: Mojo’s “White Album Vol.1 + 2” compilations
5- Antony and the Johnsons: “Another World” (EP)
6- Various: “The Radio 1 Live Lounge” compilations

They’re good, yet they’re annoying because they’re over-hyped:

1- Black Kids
3- Tings Tings

Best Concerts I saw in 2008:

1- Akron Family in Barcelona
2- Roisin Murphy in Barcelona (Sonar Festival)
3- Sparks’ extravaganza concerts: Plagiarism/ Lil Beethoven/ Exotic Creatures of the Deep in London (Islington)
4- Goldfrapp in Barcelona (Sonar Festival)
5- Sebastien Tellier in Beirut (Byblos Festival)