Tuesday, January 04, 2011

And They All Led Me Straight Back Home To You

Important Update:  We Have Received a Take Down Notice from blogger for one or more tracks on this post.  We're pretty damn sure we know which artist was the offended party (hmmm...could it be the major label act?).  But until we find out which track caused someone millions of dollars in lost revenue, we've removed all sample mp3's.  We'll be contacting most of the artists on this list to make sure it wasn't them.  As we find out who's safe, we'll be adding the sample mp3's back to this post.  We apologize for this inconvenience to y'all, and we apologize to the artist who's life we've ruined by encouraging folks to listen to their music.  Again, please check back over the next couple of days for the return of the "safe" music samples.  We'll have a lot more to say about this in a week or so.  And please continue to support independent artists...we're pretty sure they don't mind people hearing their tunes and buying their records. 

And here it is.  Part 4 of our countdown of our Favorite Records of 2010!  This is the Top 10, so brace yourselves for some sonic tastiness.  We're certain we've missed a ton of great records, but that's just how it is.  If we've missed a favorite of yours, let us know.  And, of course, take a look at our previous few posts to see what else we dug this year.

A few  records showed up at our door on New Year's Eve from a notoriously slackerly record label that we love dearly, which was way too late to include in this list, but we're guessing at least one of 'em will show up on next year's list.  And we also have a "mystery" advance CD-R of a record that should be on this list, but that album's  been delayed, and we're not allowed to talk about itWe promise that once we get the go-ahead from the record label that sent it to us, we're gonna gush like a geyser, so keep yr ears tuned. 

So whatta we got today? One  major label record. Three 7 inchers.  Nine Independent label releases.  A lotta Country and Deep Blues.  Some Trash.  Some Soul.  Albums from some of our favorite record labels.  Yep, that sounds about right for this here little corner of the world.

There's a twist to this final Top 10.  We simply felt a "ranking" in this instance was ridiculous.  How the hell do we discern the difference between, say, a #7 and a #6?  Well, we can't, and we're not gonna do it.  Consider each and every one of the following records as the #1 Record Of The Year.  We might secretly have a personal pick for which of these was our very favorite, but we aint tellin'. 

We've already got the next great record of 2011 on tap, and some long overdue Deep Blues interviews to share, so keep coming back for more.  Here's hopin' this New Year will be a busier time here at The Mountain.  That's our resolution.

And, as ever, most of these tracks are ripped from vinyl.  So take that into account.  

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Favorite Records of 2010, Part 4
The Top 10 (In alphabetical-ish order)

catl.: With The Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place

A glorious start to our Top 10.  We can't even begin to give this record justice in a mere few written words.  Here's our attempt, when we interviewed 'em earlier this year:

"catl's got some nasty voodoo in 'em, a trio of shakers and shimmy-down low. Swamp-bottom surge and cracked-wall shanty groove, a speakeasy stomp and lord let it rain cuz the devil's in the strings and there's fire in them there fields.

Got a hootenanny on wax, then, a band with a wail for a whisper and sour-mashed guts, preaching the circuit and electric mainline juice flowing the darkest veins. Singer/guitarist catl, himself, breaks down banks of mighty Mississippi, mudded and souled, dirt on the strings from the very crossroads, a voice that yowls and drives, swing low sweet Cadillac. Drummer Johnny LaRue is a tribal leader, pounding and fucking the kit like sex-mad demon, all rhythmic pagan-blues ritual. And Sarah Kirkpatrick rattles and cooks, greasy organ, moon-madness maracas on amphetamines, and called-out vocal response and chant.

It's a shimmy-she-wobble, then, amped and driving, straight to the end of times, baptized in the waters of Babylon, and the lord sayeth, repent."
You really need to own this record.  It's very highly possible that this is our true #1 record of the year.  Just sayin...

catl.: Working Man Soul (mp3)

Walter Daniels and the Gospel Clodhoppers: Harmonica! 7"

You already know Walter Daniels.   Big Foot Chester, '68 Comeback, South Filthy, Jack O'Fire....those are just a few of the bands he's led or been or associated with. 

A masterful and grease-soaked harmonica player, with his feet planted firmly in a mutated Blues and Country tradition, Daniels' body of work is a testament to the underground "old, weird America" aesthetic, grimy'n'dirt-clogged and junk-yard rusted.

On this 7" (which is sold out in vinyl form, but can be purchased digitally here), Daniels enlists the aid of folks like John Schooley, Jeff Pinkus, Ralph White, and the helium-twanged Texacala Jones, for two tunes that shake yr heathen soul back to dirt floor roots.  And sometimes all you need is two songs, the argument for the 7". 

And, yes, the following track is supposed to sound like that


Guinea Worms: Sorcererers Of Madness (4rd Year In A Row!)

This is a double LP gatefold sprawl of a record.  In the tradition of the old "psych" gatefolds of the late 60's and early 70's, this album is all over the place, and in a very good way.  From murmered grimey trash workouts, fucked-up sleaze, to country-fried blooze booze blasts, a transmission from static AM dashboard flickered neon motel pool cleaner.

A guaranteed classic that folks will be talking about years from now.  Set the lo-fi standard (whatever that is) and dial out the lines, in waves and revolution, between the grooves, the crackled fuzz, the concrete street as kudzu substitute, drop a tab and drop out baby in a frenzy.  The happening now...


Halden Wofford And the Hi-Beams: Saints & Sinners

Quite possibly, actually certainly, the best honky tonk band you've never heard of.  Which is a shame, since this band has consistently strode mightily across the floorboards and mountain stages of the West, breaking yr heart and swinging yr ass in a two step old as the hills.  From Halden's hiccuped yodel of a voice, to Ben O'Connor slapped stand-up bass (and occasional vocal), to Bret Billings steel-guitar genius,  the Hi-Beams make Country the way god intended it.

On this record, the band pulls in even more elements to their sound, adding some 70's outlaw hoe-down, sweeping steel-soaked Western balladry, and even an experimental take on the great Americana poets of our time.  But at the heart, the beating honky tonk heart,  this is a sepia-toned, boom chicka thrill of a Country record.  This band deserves to be on every Country lover's playlist.  Do yourself a favor.

We're gonna have a full review, and an interview, coming up.  But why wait?  It's essential.  

Halden Wofford And The Hi-Beams: Mauvais Song (mp3)

Halden Wofford And The Hi-Beams: Till Night Is Through (mp3)

Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song

Well.  Lookee here.  A major label record.  And worth every goddamn bit of hype thrown it's way.  You had George Jones.  You had Willie and Johnny and Waylon.  You had Townes.  You had Mr. Steve Earle.  You had James Hand and Hayes Carll.  And now, it's Jamey Johnson.  And his name deserves to be in that group. 

There's nothing assembly-line Nashville about this record.  It's a hard-lived, hard-drunk travelogue into the very soul of Country music.  The proverbial bad boy, shit kicking his way to the top with keenly bloodshot eyes cast at life lived.  The music is pure honky tonk, the voice is as aged as moonshine, and the record is a revelation of worn-heart highway pavement.

Seriously, just listen to it.

King Lee (w/Quintron): Tire Shop 7" 

A big slow jam, with yr jacked car jumpin', from the mind of Mr. Quintron and King Lee himself.  According to Quintron, here's who King Lee was:

"He was a man of the streets who lived by his wits.  He would do whatever just to survive. I never knew him to have a real nine-to-five job where he wore a uniform, but he was always around the St. Claude Tire Shop. We struck up a friendship years ago. He has a really great syrupy voice.  When he talks, it's like music."
Yr summer busted radiator, then, a hosed-down, bust tire thumper.  Apparently "all the extra clanky sounds are samples from the actual tire shop"

King Lee w/ Quintron: Tire Shop Part 1 (mp3)

Jim Mize: Drunk Moon Falling 7"

Welll, you know by now how much we love Jim Mize.  With this 7", he's put out the best work of his career, and that's sayin' something.  With last year's #1 John Paul Keith playing along, Mize lays down some stark hardscrabble Country Blues, stripping bare a soul with a howl and laid waste.  The title track, "Drunk Moon Falling" , is a revelatory act of storytelling, heartbreaking and midnight-ready, organ and guitar godhead backdropping Mize's voice and lyrics.  I won't post it here.  You need to own it.  Just do it.  The B-side, "I Won't Come Back Again" is equally brilliant.  Consider it a teaser. 

Jim Mize: I Won't Come Back Again (mp3)

Possessed By Paul James: Feed The Family

Big stompabilly hootenanny, and seemingly personal, a cacophany of punk blooze strum and foot pound rattling.   Banjo madness.  Fiddle de diddle and drop down boogie.  Everything you want for yr Texas sand-blasted fire pit, back porch shindig.

A full review and interview coming up...

Possessed By Paul James: Four Men From The Row (mp3)

Pure Country Gold: Tough Tuesday

Another band we've ranted about endlessly.  For good reason. And this record is prime Pure Country Gold.  Patrick Foss is a Soul singer at heart, and guitar mangler of the highest order.  Jake Welliver beats the drums like Satan on holiday in a brothel, primal and full of rhythmic lust.  But don't take our word for it.  Take our word for it from a previous post: 
"Pure Country Gold is pure trash. Tasty, nasty and loud. And sleazy. Sleazy like the barroom floor at last call, you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here, and who're you gonna pick up to take home for a quick rut just to say your weekend wasn't a total waste, burning sensation be damned...Yeah, it's that good. ...It's complete (glorious, sonic) junk masquerading with a name designed to confuse. But, they've got that sensibility, if you know what we mean...Imagine some urban cowboy wandering into a local jukejoint only to be faced with this glorious racket, shit-amped guitars through busted speakers, some guy hollerin' wounded goat over the bluespunk mess. Feller would probably crap his Lee's...Hyper-amped, garage-fuelled, amphetamine muckity muck. "
Man, this record's gonna kick yr ass.

Pure Country Gold: Wasted Day (mp3)

Ten Foot Polecats: I Get Blamed For Everything I Do 

We reviewed this earlier this year.  I don't think we could say it any better now.  If you don't own this record, what's wrong with you?

"The record kicks off with a couple of defining tunes.  "Chicken Headed Man" is a T-Model Ford (who they've played with) joint that the Polecats own, paying both homage and laying down a gauntlet, beat this, motherfucker.  Chilson's guitar is a surging travelouge of juke-floor shanty hypnosis,  Scheffler intones a bourbon-braised bbq yowl, and Darling is tribal Spam, spare and primordial.  They follow this burner up with "So Good To Me", a swaying, gauzey, mud-bottom drone of a love letter ("you make me want to be good...so good to you baby"), late-nite booze pleading and booty call-ready.

The template is set, and the record rockets on from there.

Travel is a common theme, with tunes like
"Tears On My Windshield" (a Mississippi raver),  "Couple More Miles" (a lights on the empty highway, 2 A.M.,shimmered ,hypnotic and menacing beauty..."you can't do what I do/and expect everybody to like it"), and one of our favorites, "Big Road", which races like smokestack lightning past lakes and rivers lit with oil-stained fire.

Tracks like the
"I'm Going Crazy", "Bar Hoppin",  and  "Dryspell" are the logical conclusion to the mystery of where Punk and Blues met, and what crossroads they found themselves at, each song a raging, amps to 11 swirl of R.L. Burnside meets Howlin' Wolf meets Hank Williams meets The Sonics meets Billy Childish.   Yet doesn't sound like any of 'em, leastaways not any of 'em by themselves.

Throughout the record guitarist Jim Chilson gives a fuckin' clinic on the greasy, fried frenzy 6-string dragger, from meditative, open-spaced Southern back-road space-blues like
"So Good To Me", "Brokenhearted", and "Couple More Miles" to tight-fisted trashcan clap-trappers that take up the rest of the record.  He's a man to watch, as he feels each groove, seemingly in his very soul, sweating out each electified, gutter trash, shattered string-fest.  And Jay Scheffler's vocals are a revelation, channeling Howlin' Wolf in his most primal and menacing, a glass-gargled whiskey glass of Blues 'n' Booze need and desperation, alternately pleading and demanding, full of the vinegar of life and the very love of loss.

And goddam, indeed.  Check it out...both songs.

Ten Foot Polecats: Big Road (mp3)

Ten Foot Polecats: Couple More Miles (mp3)

There you have it.  Hope y'all approve, and support the artists, whether through record sales or a live show or both.  We'll be back with more good shit shortly. 


schoppenaas said...

Kick ass list! catl., that's voodoo alright! I would say Tandoori Knights deserve a top spot as well, as does Daniel Higgs (Say God). And everything John Wesley Myers layed his greasy magic hands on last year.

bigrockcandymountain said...

Can't argue with you on Tandoori Knights too much...I tend to group Sultan and Khan (and now Bloodshot Bill) together due to a similar aesthetic...and it's a shame they had such a public falling out.

The dirty little secret is that the ranking system is bunk. I honestly can't say a #36, say, is better than a #35, or even a #13, or whatnot. That's mainly why I threw out a ranking on the Top 10. There's nothing definitive about it. Tandoori Knights fell where they fell in the list sort of randomly to tell the truth.

Max Frost said...

I'm guessing it was the Jamey Johnson track that got you in hot water. And here's the thing--I went out and paid for that album after reading about it and listening to the track on your blog. I never would've bought it otherwise. That's what these guys will never understand. BTW, you were right, it's a great record. And if it wasn't Jamey Johnson, I apologize to him. Really. He could totally kick my ass.

bigrockcandymountain said...

Max...yeah, I'm almost certain it was the Johnson track as well. I've heard back from six of the other bands/artists/labels and they were frankly offended about the take-down notice, and encouraged me to put their tracks back up. Which I'll get to tomorrow.

It's hard to blame Johnson, though. I'm sure it was some shill at his record label who's paid to search for stuff like this and take the tracks down. Johnson's probably got nothing to do with it personally (as if he's even heard of this site...hah!).

It's still a great record, and I'd still encourage folks to pick it up, cuz some of that money's gotta make it's way back to him. The only caveat, of course, is some of that money goes to the record label, who pay people to tattle on minor bloggers posting a couple of tracks...quandry, then.

I'll have more to say about this shortly.

Graham Parker said...

Mercury's a major label? Isn't that an oxymoron? LOL

Jamey Johnson's a badass, I bought it already.

bigrockcandymountain said...

Mr. Parker,

I know exactly what you mean about Mercury.

Not sure if you're "the" Graham Parker, but thanks for stopping by. Reminds us that we're long overdue for a post on Parker. Overview or specific period? Partial to "kid with butterfly net", for very convoluted reasons...

stupiddle said...

Good art survives what middlepersons conspire to thwart its success.

Guuzbourg said...

Move to Wordpress. I had to when Blogger took me down, should've moved waaay earlier. No hassle there.

bigrockcandymountain said...

I actually have a wordpress "mirror" site for just such an occasion. Oddly, I like the layout over there better, as well...the problem being...how many readers will I lose if I make that my main site?