Monday, December 26, 2005
End Hits on the Radio
Hope y'all had a good day yesterday.
I'm sitting here with Children of Nuggets playing, a Christmas gift from the lovely Mrs. Mountain. It's too late to include it on my top ten list for the year, and a little unfair to the albums that have kept me warm and cool over the past year. But the set seems indicative of my fairly irritable attitude towards the piles of crap we've been inundated with over the year. Let me say first, that I'm really digging the Children box set. Collecting (from 1976-1996) bands influenced by the groups collected in the first two Nuggets sets, it's a hodgepodge affair, running the gamut from the Dukes of the Stratosphear to the Mummies. The Cramps to Teenage Fanclub, and a million points inbetween, before, and after. We've even got our pal Billy Childish represented. The styles and production values vary wildly. And, truth be told, some of the songs sound incredibly dated. Whether the songs weren't that great to begin with, or that the influences are too obvious, or, possibly, the subsequent bands influenced by the influenced were actually better, it's hard to pin down. What made these songs exciting when I, and others, heard them, 10-30 years ago, was how different they sounded to our mostly untrained ears. It seemed as if you could only find this music in the dustiest of corners. Radio didn't play it, music magazines didn't cover it, your friends didn't know who these bands were. Maybe you only found out about that 7" single from some greasy asshole at the local record store. Or you read about it in a one-off 'zine (remember 'zines? The paper/mimeographed version of blogs.).
REM used to be cool. It's true. It's very in vogue now to discuss how much they suck. And they do suck now. Michael Stipe is a cartoon. It's hard to communicate just how revolutionary those first few notes of "Radio Free Europe" sounded back in the early 80's. It was weird, melancholy, and had nothing in common with Boston, Bad Company, or Bob Seger.
I don't know if it's a sign of me embracing getting older, or fighting against getting older that I find myself less and less interested in the "important" music being covered in Spin, Rolling Stone, Magnet, Uncut, Mojo, and all over this world wide web thingy. My list of favorite albums doesn't match up well. I don't want to clap my hands and say yeah to a bunch of skinny white boys with keyboards; not with Al Green and Mick Collins, and Andre Williams still making albums. Bright eyes cause mine to dim. I'd rather have a Jook Block party than a Bloc block party. September gurls over decemberists. You get the picture. I never liked prog rock, never liked "new wave", never liked shiny, happy people, never liked "goth". So, I'm not going to start now, when all these bands are repackaged, re-named, re-clothed, and force-fed to me by tastemakers, payola-rich radio programmers (I'm talking to you, Franz), ad grubbing magazines, and tv stations aiming for the lowest common denominator. Before music splintered into a million little sub-genres, you had to make a great album to get noticed. Now, you just have to make a good enough album to win out/over your demographic. We live in the marketing age of Adequate.
Doom and gloom, woe is me. One of the many problems with my rant above is that music isn't dead. There are still artists churning out great albums and great songs. Amps are still getting cranked to 11, and folks are still shouting, grunting, churning, twisting, dancing, and fucking.
Another problem with my rant above is that some folks, by nature, do like different things than other folks. I like greasy, others like smooth. I like organs and fiddles, others like drum'n'bass. Perhaps it's not so bad that everyone's taste is a little different. Maybe it's the struggle of the duality of populist and elitist. I have to turn one of those cards in. I'm not a music critic, I'm just a guy who listens to records.
Did I just wimp out?
So. Now I start my 5-day roundup of what were my favorite albums of the year. Yes, I said favorite, not best. Who the hell knows what the best albums of the year were? You don't, I don't, Rolling Stone doesn't. Get back to me in 10 years, and we'll discuss who we're still listening to. Of this list, 8 are brand spanking new albums, one is a retrospective, and one is:
10. Reverend Frost Presents: Spread the Good Word! A Rock'n'Roll Jamboree
This could easily have been number one on the list. 35 greasy, pounding, soulful, rockin', hoppin' and wailin' tunes. The best mix cd I've ever received, courtesy of The good Rev. at Spread the Good Word. I honestly don't know if a day has gone by that I haven't listened to this mix. If you're not visiting Rev. Frost's website daily, there's something wrong with you. Sorry, but there is. If you want the true roots of rock'n'roll, it's all there. I don't know how he does it, and I covet his record collection. And for fuck's sake, somebody sign this man to a record contract. I had a hard time picking just one song to share, so I let Mrs. Mountain choose her favorite.
Evelyn Freeman: Didn't It Rain (mp3) (RapidShare Link)
9. Scott H. Biram: The Dirty Old One Man Band (Bloodshot)
Magnet hated this record. That's a good thing, since Magnet prefers trends over music. If you've been missing a new album from Bob Log III, this should tide you over just fine. One man, greasy slide guitar, lots of stompin' and harmonica-izing, Scott H. Biram gave me my favorite dirt on the strings, hillbilly hollerin', mutant inbreds, nasty groove sweat-type album of the year. Obsessed with truckers, chickens, and bbq's, it's a grand affair from the seediest dive you've ever been to.
Scott H. Biram: Whiskey (mp3) (RapidShare link)
More music, less ranting tomorrow. Shop locally, cuz Amazon doesn't want you to.