2020 IN MUSIC (PART 4 OF 4) – ALBUMS 25-1

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 Saturday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Part 2 continued with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Yesterday’s Part 3, covered my favorite LPs listed 50-26 with brief reviews to each record. Today’s final offering is my favorite 25 records of the year. Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 IN MUSIC (PART 3 OF 4) – ALBUMS 50-26

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 Saturday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Part 2 continued with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Today I continue with Part 3, my favorite LPs listed 50-26 with brief reviews to each record (the final installment, Part 4, covers records 25-1 and is here). Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 IN MUSIC (PART 2 OF 4) – Albums 175-51

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 yesterday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Today I continue with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Part 3, 50-26 is here (the final installment, Part 4, covers records 25-1 and is here). Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 in Music (Part 1 of 4) – Favorite 25 songs

I can’t recall a recent year from memory that will leave such a stark set of distinct memories as 2020 will, the result of a year full of ominous events and much hardship. Major historical events came, from hellacious wildfires to a global COVID-19 pandemic, every week lurched forward as the months slowly passed, you gradually learned that getting out of bed meant scrolling what only promised to be more bad news. Then, at the end of May, more did come when a Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin murdered African-American George Floyd who was in his custody for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. The punishment—putting the full brunt of his weight on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 full minutes, effectively suffocating him—was extreme for such a relatively small crime, or any crime for that matter. But given it was caught on video tape, it ceased to be merely another in a string of assaults, or worse murder, at the hands of the police, and sparked world wide protests in response. Some, in various degrees, remain. Then there was was the constant anxiety offered from the White House, whether it was impeachment at the beginning of the year, or a COVID-19 response that skirted scientists, preached the virtues of possibly drinking bleach as a cure, and generally always bordered on a circus clown show. Then, the eventual questioning of the democratic process as a whole, 2020 couldn’t go out any other way. More specifically to Pop, as any year can attest, we lost a number of true legends, from legendary pioneer Little Richard, drummer Neil Peart, Soul Makossa, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, folk balladeer John Prine, Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, trailblazer Millie Small (who authored ‘My Boy Lollipop’ one of the sweetest pieces of Pop confection you’ll ever hear), Phil May, Ennio Morricone (who touched Pop only briefly, but did hundreds of great soundtracks that have transfixed rockers since his earliest efforts), Peter Green, Wayne Fontana, electronic originator Simeon Coxe, Toots Hibbert, Johnny Nash, guitar maverick and virtuoso Eddie Van Halen, Gordon Haskell, Spencer Davis, Charley Pride, and Leslie West, amongst dozens of others.  

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My Favorite 150 Records of 2019

It was, by nearly all accounts, a tremendous year for Pop. Of course, given the nearly limitless ways new music can be offered out and streamed, this is true for any given year. There are never bad years for music, just as there are never bad years for movies, the only difficulty is perhaps the opposite; the extreme over-abundance of riches and the difficulty to stream all, or even a reasonable percentage of it. Meaning, I’m presenting a huge list this year because I listened to a lot, being blessed to work at a job where hours are spent working with headphones affixed in my ears for long passages. Thus, I got to well over 250 new releases this year, and sampled dozens more enough that I could make judgement. But still I know there are masterpieces that I haven’t even heard of, and probably never will. Such is life, but I do hope I offer enough of an argument to prompt listens to new music that a reader here wasn’t previously aware. I remain, as ever, a devoted follower in the Church of the Sonic Guitar.

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2018 in music, my favorite 90 records

I tweak how I present my top 50 every year, sometimes picking a top disc and then offering the next dozen or so unranked. Other years I merely put the 50 selections in three tiers, and then separate out a definitive, standout top 5. Sometimes, I’m straightforward, and do a full 50-1 ranking in the best order I can manage. In attempt to always mirror what I feel is most appropriate given the years output, this year, I’ve found a clear top favorite, but also a number of terrific EPs. Thus I’ve included many EPs this year in an otherwise strictly albums list. The additional twist this year is I’ve gone all the way to 90, since I listened to so much new stuff this year, and attempted to include most of what I thought was truly exemplary. Then, I tried to thanklessly rank it all, knowing full well that after about 10 or 20 it’s all pretty arbitrary, and I hope that the small right ups will provide enough information for listeners to potentially hone into stuff they might find particularly agreeable.   

Happy listening. Protect your ear drums boys and girls, you only get one set.

My Favorite Album of the Year, 2018:

1. IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Merely attacking toxic masculinity is low-hanging fruit, but discussing its systemic roots in song is altogether more illuminating. But why IDLES second is so tremendous is that they also offer ways out, or refuge for the victims of such an environment. That it is often heartbreakingly touching and always at the cusp of noisy, brilliantly performed rock n’ roll music, it was places it at the top of my list. The best songs—the pro-immigration ‘Danny Nedelko’, the depression lifeline ‘Samaritans’, the tense ‘Colossus’, and the body image drenched ‘Television’—are some of the best of the year, and after their triumphant display on their Jools Holland introduction, you’re in for the next of the great English rock bands. They’re here.  Continue reading

Wolf of the Steppes

 

This Halloween season, I’m happy to unveil a mix outlining a story about a man/wolf hybrid, otherwise loosely know in Horror as the Werewolf. I grafted in the idea that this man perhaps isn’t an actual Wolf, but merely symbolically one, not unlike the idea at the center of Herman Hesse’s great metaphysical novel Steppenwolf. The idea that inside a man is his darkest monster, and when this is the truth, it often renders that man an ultimate loner, not unlike the wolf of the Steppes, an arctic wolf that lives its entire life in virtual solitude, merely attempting to survive into the next day (the species can be seen in one of those recent Planet Earth videos on Netflix). From there, some of the ideas in Universal’s 1941 The Wolf Man added additional heft. While I love the foggy moors of Wales depicted in that film, I thought of a swamp here and the imagery conveyed offer a cool idea of a wolfen-man oarsman drifting into the marshes and swamps of ‘Southern Georgia’ and pushing bodies overboard, tied with rocks and engine manifolds to that they sink to the dark abyss. It adds to the delusion of his mental state too, sung so romantically you almost think he mourns the losing of loves, never realizing that they’re being lost by his own hands. For additional story flow help, an audiobook of Steppenwolf was employed. I hope you enjoy it this spooky season, and as always, with the stereo quality, I urge listeners to use headphones.  Continue reading

Songs I Love: Who Makes the Nazis?

I’d commented earlier to a friend upon being shocked at hearing the news of Mark E. Smith of the Fall’s passing that at least, living into 2018 and seeing the world’s truly fucked up global political events of 2017, that we could take solace knowing that he’d seen his query posited on 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour’s ‘Who Makes the Nazis?’ answered. Of course, you listen to the song, and you quickly get that he already knew this, and the question was rather rhetorical. Of course he did, he was maybe the greatest intellectual rock has ever seen. RIP.

Who makes the nazis?
Who makes the nazis?
I’ll tell ya who makes the nazis
All the Os
Wino
Spermo
29 year old
Arse-licking hate old
Who makes the Nazis?
Bad Tele-V
Who makes the Nazis?
etcetera.

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THE BEST RECORDS OF 2017, PART 3 (15-1)

Part 1 (50-31) can be seen here, while Part 2 (30-16) can be seen here. If you’d like to hear a spotify playlist of my favorite songs off my top 50 in order that they appeared, go here in the spotify app.

Irreversible Entanglements – Irreversible Entanglements
If there was a record this year that really floored me, even if mostly out of being caught of guard, it was this one. It’s nearly a straight avant-garde jazz record, with a political beat poetry sensibility recalling the trailblazing works of Gil Scott-Heron/The Last Poets. The thing that seems different is the violence in the air, or the decades of music that have come between. Since The Last Poets we’ve had punk, hardcore, thrash, riot grrrl, and gangster rap and that all matters here, as even if we don’t touch them sonically, their anger simmers in the boil next to these arrangements. It produces a stew that even when it’s as cool and detached as jazz can be, there seems to also be a siren in the room, a fevered burst ready to spring. It makes the record taut and uneasy, even if we listen knowing their isn’t a false misstep anywhere. Here come the assassins, and they’re checking their lists.  Continue reading