Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Hickory Wind

Ok!  Here we go!  The Top Ten Big Rock Candy Mountain Favorite Records of 2011!  Hide yr wives and husbands, cuz we're taking this mofo to 11!  Can you stand the excitement???  Already figured out #1??

A great year of music, fuck cynicism.  The rawk is still alive and well, and we're here to testify!

What will be keen on in the coming year?  Who knows?  Stay tuned!

Before we begin, a final "best of"...

Band of the Year:  The Bunting Pussies!  (we got to see this seminal band in a tiny bar in Brooklyn before the start of the Norton Records blowout.  They've promised a website coming up.  We managed to snag their essential 7" "Wiggle Waggle Woggle b/w "Dickey Pearce"" from them direct, and are absolutely enamored!  Got a chance to talk to singer Lord Fairley McSquat after the show and he's promised a full LP before the end of the year.  The sheer greasy, loud, boozed up energy of this band is like nothing we've heard before.  We're incredibly pleased to have been a witness to their resurgence, and will be covering that 7" and their future LP once it comes out.  Keep yr eyes peeled!)

And, finally, The Top 10!

The Big Rock Candy Mountain Favorite Records of 2011 (part 5 of 5)

10. Juke Joint Pimps: Boogie The Church Down

Hallelujah trash, deep and primal shouting, distorted AM radio filter in robes smeared with semen and sermon the Church of the Blues, baptized holy moonshine water, sanctified by the holy holler, god in the Juke Joint (indeed), shimmy wobblin' the midnight hour, chasin' tail and salvation, and he's taking the devil home at the end of the night.

Juke Joint Pimps: Juke Joint In The Sky (mp3)

9. Reverend John Wilkins: You Can't Hurry God 

From a previous post: "Reverend John Wilkins is the son of legendary blues man Robert Wilkins,  and they say still waters run deep, but the waters are moving like a pentecostal baptismal on fire, and run deep blues, baby.  Wilkins brings a Mississippi hill country trance to the dirty gospel, and Soul, good Soul, where the spirit is lifted and swayed in secular and salvation.  Wilkins' voice, the very sound of repent personified, is the highlight of it all, of course, a lost crackle in heaven's transistor.  At the end of the day it's a road to glory tabernaclin' sweatbox of a gospel record,  sex and salvation swing low, big tent revival meetin' hootenanny.  The path to salvation starts here."

Reverend John Wilkins: I Want You To Help Me (mp3)

8. The Spartan Dreggs: Forensic R'n'B 

Got this record as a "single of the month club" deal, ahead of the regular  regular release.  Some of the vinyl is different from the final product.  That's typical, and very, very, good.  So.  It's Billy Childish.  Every damn year we include a Billy Childish joint in our list.  There's a reason for that...he's one of the most important voices in rock 'n' roll over the past 30 years or more.  Until we turn the man into a million-seller, well, we're gonna keep pimpin'. 

This new incarnation of his is full on rawk, 60's inspired, full of piss and loud as a motherfucker, out of control and singular.  Situationist, but furious and angry, the very essence of punk aesthetic filtered through Huddie Ledbetter and The Sonics.  The best "pure" rawk record of the year. 

 The Spartan Dreggs: Forensic R 'n' B (mp3)

7. The Speaking Tongues: The Speaking Tongues

(Note: proper review coming shortly) Two men.  One big-ass sound, grooved out surge and demon-swilled dirt bombed primal rawk, slide-shit fuck yr mama geetar and satan drummed insanity,  a velocity of hound dogs trailin' garbage scent and filthy blooze destruction!

The Speaking Tongues: Hell Down Below Me (mp3)

6. Left Lane Cruiser: Junkyard Speed Ball 

From our review of the record:  ""Giving Tree"  is the lowest of low down groove, a dirty diamond of rough, aching, swirling James Leg keys back-dropped by muted and fuzzed slide shimmer guitar.  A voice, still growled in pure soul underneath, wounded and in love, lost and rambled, fighting through the sonic din.  It's a stunner of a song, and nothing like we've heard before by these cats.  A revelation.

The rest of the record is high point, followed by high point, nasty (again) and loud, driving and slathered butter'n'pork rawk.  Themes appear...the road (
"Road Again"), as befits their name, and food ("Cracker Barrel", "Pig Farm", "At The Denny's").  That the sheer sonicness of their sound can be fed through an AM radio dial in your '72 Chevy Nova or slapped down on yr turntable when you want yr latest house rent party to get sweaty is a given.  That they've fed the Blues through a blender and come up spittin' nails on the other side is a given.  That what they do to the guitar and drums aesthetic is probably illegal in most states is a given.  That Freddy J IV's vocals are a shattered glass yowl of stomped larynx glory is also, and again, a given.  But what's missed most, and what is most important, is that Left Lane Cruiser is a Soul band.  As informed by Mississippi, they've got a little Memphis in 'em as well.  And, of course, as befits the name, a thousand or more miles of gravel in the headlights and in the rearview mirror."

Left Lane Cruiser: Giving Tree (mp3)

5. James Leg: Solitary Pleasure 

 The mighty lord of the Beelzebub Fender Rhodes and Black Diamond Heavy goes solo, crafting a record of nasty grease and Soul, daddy-o!  The sound of the soul alone, wailing and mud-smeared blown gasket holy rhythm junk-shop destruction.  Sick with clattering sweet and wet spot jackenanny groove, whiskey soaked crusted preacher rhythm and hellfire solitude!

James Leg: Have to Get It On (mp3)

4. John Paul Keith: The Man That Time Forgot 

More review goodness we did awhile back: "We've preached before that Mr. Keith is a songwriter with a timeless brilliance: 2 1/2 minute songs, honky bar-hook-filled and longing, desperate and full of belly up to the bar observation.  It's rock'n'roll, without the pretense, country-fried, soulful, a little boozy, a little trashy, a little bit dance 'til the end of dawn.  Imagine, if you will, that Buddy Holly took the template for "Rave On", and made a long player record with that aesthetic.  Seriously, stop for a moment, and imagine it.  But he didn't.  John Paul Keith did.  And the world is a better place for it.  Oh, and John Paul Keith has better hair than you.

rom the punkish, Summertime Blues jab of  "Anyone Can Do It" to the Here Comes a Regular regret of the title song,  "The Man That Time Forgot" is a bar record, running the gamut from entry to last call .  12 songs.  That's all you need (that's all you ever need).  Especially when they're these 12 songs.  Follow the track listing from braggadocio to reflection, with all the classic moments in between.

Gonna track this record from start to finish.  It's not a "concept" record in any way other than our perception.  But we're gonna work on theme of our own creation, and in the process hope to convince you why this record is a masterpiece.

Kicking off with the raver (all hand-claps, greasy organ, and raving vocal),
"Never Could Say No", , and the immortal line "Flying overseas with the Flipside Kid" (a Jack Oblivian reference, who Keith tours with and backs), Keith sets the stage, a willful roue, blaming others for his appearance at said joint.  Follow that with the rollicking,  barrell-house piano two-stepper "You Devil You"  (he sees the girl), and we've got a situation. 

The next three songs set the stage.  The aforementioned
"Anyone Can Do It" shows a punkish strut, and "Songs For Sale" is the 50's-informed groover, the sensitive guy laying out his cred.  "Afraid to Look", led by greasy keys, is the dance, the manly man strutting his shit.

But with any encounter, self-doubt creeps, and
"The Man That Time Forgot"  weighs in with an early night lighter-raiser, a honky tonk ballad full of ripped guitars and reflection. Follow that with "I Think I Fell In Love Today".  Like Tom Waits' "I Hope I Don't Fall In Love With You" , we're looking at the weird moment between booze-fueled courage and resignation.  But the night is still young...

So John Paul Keith takes a break, and in the garage-country track
"Dry County", full of rave-up geetar and hollered backing vocals, we leave the bar with our best buds,  looking for a little balm to heal the perceived wounds.  But, consarnit, we're stuck in a land without liquid, back to the bar, and an atonement..."Somebody Ought to Write A Song About You".  This song is pure Southern Soul, scratched guitar and more greasy organ.  We're back at the bar, and the girl's still there, and our hero wants to transform  his perceived love into the immortal. But...and but...he's "Bad Luck Baby", another surging riposte on condition, and why men are bad, bad news.

Fumbling into the night, then.  another ramped-up organ-led moment,
"Work At Night".  Who's he working for?  That's up to you, but DAMN, the band gives us a greasy workout!

And, finally, the most completely Country song on the record,
"The Last Last Call". Pure Country weeper. The ultimate barstool lament..."So here's to you and to me". Does he get the girl?  You'll have to find out for yourself. But he's toasting, and we're drinking, and our boots are on the floor, and we're gonna wake up, and probably do it all over again."

John Paul Keith: Never Could Say No (mp3)

3. Barry Brusseau: A Night Goes Through

What we said when we reviewed it the first time:  "What Brusseau produced is nothing short of  genius.  Really.  No hyperbole involved.  A shimmering hymn of midnight moon and morning dew.  The record is very much, as it's title suggests, a midnight to six am listen, inviting you into a warm room, your favorite chair facing the window, a bottle of whiskey on the table, and a broken heart mending with each beat.  Brusseau's voice: a lowered, single malt bartione,  whispering in yr ear from behind, urging you into the stars fell night, taking you through the small hours with each hushed prayer. Each whispered line a reflection of headlights on broken pavement.

"Why'd I even agree to come, agree to come
It was probably cause I'm drunk, cause I'm drunk
I haven't shaved my face in months, not in months
The coffee table's mine, can I put my feet up one more time?"
Musically, the record picks and trips and gorgeously wanders, at times stripped and naked, at times delicately baroque.  Each passage is a Koan, a heart-broken melody, strung and neon-lit, the fireflies and the fading campfire, the salvation in yr crackled AM leading home, or at least to the fizzled motel in the end of the world.

"I am tlll and frayed, I'm shaking in and out
And I see the woods, and the rust
Relax, your voice will come sit back and feel the sun
The colors bright and blue, and the warmth"
What is crafted, what you hear,  and what is communicated... a singular vision, a man in the forgotten hours, and the forgotten years, laid bare, a vision of the smallness and grandness of the in-between time, a moment of slipping and catching, while the world is sleeping.  And, while the world is sleeping Barry Brusseau is breathing a sound of the moment between waking and dream.

"Float so high I hear angels sing, hear them sing
Float so high I hear angels sing.  Got stars all over their wings."

Barry Brusseau: Thrift Store Buzz (mp3)

Barry Brusseau: A Night Goes Through (mp3)

2. Molly Gene One Whoaman Band: Folk Blues and Booze

A singular artist, one for whom we are left speechless...shocking, we know.  But, let's try... The mighty voice, a growl to a wail, powerful and full of sin and sex,  riding down the burned out mountain on the nastiest slide guitar and kick-drum racket, drunk on the sound of the end times, shaking the shotgun shack to the ground, churning up bloody dust on the backroads of old, weird America, spent rifle shells littering rusted out floor of a dilapidated pickup truck, moaning cowblues revival.  Full review coming soon, but for now, take our word for it.  You won't be disappointed. 

 Molly Gene One Whoaman Band: Country Lover (mp3)

1. Tom Waits: Bad As Me 

Most of those that know us suggested that we write this review with a mere "Duh"One word, that reflects perfectly how our, yes, obsession with the enigma that is Tom Waits. They would be correct, in that this is the least surprising pick we've madeWe'd prefer to let Mr. Waits' music speak for itself, but...and, well, but...what has to be recognized is legacy. Nobody wrote a sadder song this year.  Nobody wrote a louder, more abrasive song this year.  A record that defined the past, and, in typical fashion,  looked more forward than any artist was bold enough to attempt.  An old man (as our current definitions would have us believe), who continues to redefine who he is, and who he has been.  No artist has been more willing to search the nature of sound and how it reflects the human condition.  No artist has continued to grow like Mr. Waits, to push the boundaries and retain their singular voice.  Every song on this record is a travelogue, a meeting of having been and will be.  It will break your heart in places, and will stir your soul in others.  It will rattle yr ears, and poke at the hidden places of your sadness.

Tom Waits has always played a "character" in his records.  Very few, least of all us, could pretend to know the true man, lost as we are in his carny barker meets barfly con job.  But what we take from this latest missive is a culmination, a shaking down of mirrors, a shivering and stomping throw down.  When god and satan meet, and the tires are burned off, the rubber melting on the road to who knows when.

 Mr. Waits' management preferred we not post an mp3 sample.  That's fine.  Here's a couple approved videos from his new record.  Just buy the goddam thing, already!

Records are good. Records stores are good.  We're all good!


schoppenaas said...

Hurrah! I knew Left Lane Cruiser & James Leg would make the final cut! And Barry Brusseau... what beauty (the lyrics! the artwork!)
Completely missed the #1 Tom Waits album and the Molly Gene One Whoaman Band – some serious catchin’ up to do.
Excellent charts again Mr. Big Rock!


Records are good, record stores are good, we are all good! and your site is badass. Great list...couldnt of done a better one

Max Frost said...

Somehow missed the Through and Through Gospel Review, thanks for the tip there.

And Reverend John Wilkins, well, more people have to hear that record. Great that you put it on your list. I'd suggest searching around on his label, Big Legal Mess Records, great sounds all around there, including Reverend Dready Manning.

Thanks for the blog, I really enjoy what you do here.

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