Good gravy, we've got a ton of new shit to cover. Let's wrap up last year and get on with it! The Top 10 Records of 2013, according to yr expert witness, The Big Rock Candy Mountain!
The previous list of records could be shuffled around a bit, depending on listening pleasure, but the following are pretty special, and we're sticking with 'em. We think they're gonna be albums y'all will return to again and again...there's a reason they place where they do! We make no apologies for bias, of course. Some new bands, some old favorites, some surprises.
As always, support the artists in any way you can. If we don't, all we're left with is corporate crap. And who wants that?
Enough blathering...let's get on with it!
The Big Rock Candy Mountain Favorite Records of 2013 (Part 5)
10. Daniel Romano: Come Cry With Me
A pure country rekkid, heavy on mid-tempo whiskey swillers, echoed in twang. Lots of pretenders these days, amidst the conrnpone dreck and pseudopunk country that seems all the rage, but this cat's the real deal, crafting true blue honky tonk in the James Hand mode, bathed in a tub of corn liquor, don't be fooled by imitation. This rekkid, and previous ones as well, has spent many late nights on our playlist, swinging us sad across the dance floor, or soundtracking the darkest moments alone clinking ice against a tumbler. Without a doubt the best Country rekkid we heard all year, and a boon from the stale...no pretense, no juiced-up junk as masquerade...a moving (yes) and "don't let the stars get in your eyes" tribute and furthering of a tradition that speaks back mythically, but hollers forward. A stunning collection of tunes that sound as fresh and new as dandelions in the snow.
Daniel Romano: Middle Child (mp3)
9. Guadalupe Plata: Guadalupe Plata
Destruction of every trope you wish to adhere to. A psychedelic Blues masterpiece, but owing nothing to the generic 60's hippie shit you think that applies to. This is true pysch obliteration, playing the deepest of Mississippi mud and destroying every roadhouse from here to Mars (and beyond). Fully realized for headphones and splattered truck, a record of incredible power and soul, leavened with trashcan holler and wail. Bombing the expected with geetar strangled and fucked, a voice so distant and so real chewing muddy waters in space suits and rocket fuel. An astonishing debut that only promises even better things. Get. This. Record. Now.
Guadalupe Plata: Esclavo (mp3)
8. John Paul Keith: Memphis Circa 3 AM and John Paul Keith and Amy LaVere: Motel Mirrors
Well, heck, haven't we already pimped John Paul Keith enough times? Well no, we haven't...so let's continue. The Last Great Songwriter, the man who has the hook you can't deny, and the swing that is pure perfection. His record Memphis Circa 3 AM is a must...a swoozled mixed drink stirrer, the end of night dancer and lothario. Pure cowpop'n' Memphis desire. The record demands a longer review.....But here's the kicker....His all-too-brief record with Amy LaVere is an even better slice of brilliance...Here's a portion of what we wrote before...
Some posit that the proper "duet" record is dead, with too many one-song, 10-line "collaborations" and not enough meat. Motel Mirrors is the perfect prescription for that kind of thinking.
The record is too short, only 7 songs, it's an EP. That would be our only criticism. We wanted more. Much more. But perhaps that's a good thing. Always leave your audience hungry. And hungry we are. It's a stunner, perfect in it's brevity and astonishing in scope. Amy LaVere has a voice that will break your heart, partly because she demands you love her, shy and demure one moment. And partly because she aint takin' no shit from ya, cool and detached when demanded. It's a great weapon, sultry and detached, warm and inviting, sometimes all in one line. And it plays perfectly to John Paul Keith's classic vocal style, a southern twang and Holly hiccup. We haven't heard such a perfect pairing since George and Tammy, Prine and DeMent, Dolly and Porter. Their voices entangle into a classic combo of kiss-off and love.
Every track on this EP is perfect, and we can't pick a favorite.
John Paul Keith and Amy LaVere: Dearest (mp3)
7. Obnox: Corrupt Free Enterprise LP, Three Times Dope 7", Canabible Ohio 2X 7", Smoke Woody Haze EP
An artist of unparalled brilliance. Putting Bob Pollard to shame in terms of sheer output, Obnox, (aka "Bim") has played with both The Bassholes and the Puffy Areolas...not counting his solo and collaborative efforts outside of our linking(which we're gonna cover soon..full credits coming....)....What Obnox does is destroy your speakers with a phalange of sound...from Soul to Hip Hop to Trash and nasty Blues. Over a slew of releases, Lamont Thomas has redefined expectation, and fucked with yr head, spinning transistor crackle into full fledged rawk'n'roll....Cleveland trashy and dirty, a swim in nuclear water, grooved and filthy, expressway to yr skull....we've got more to say on this cat...but for now...revel, record and rejoice in a singular vision, a singular artist who could give a good fuck about your comfort....Grab every damn rekkid you can....You'll be sorry if you missed 'em....
Obnox: Raindrops (mp3)
6. The Hooten Hallers: Chillicothe Fireball
The day...Deep Blues Fest 2013....Dangerous storms arriving...80 mile per hour winds...an apocalyptic torrent a'comin', like a prophet, shredded rags and oil cloth spill.....The Hooten' Hallers unplugged from the sparking sockets and proceeded to bash and trash the living fuck out of the darkened, neon-cell phone lit crowd...alone against the raging tide. The stuff of legend, sure, if the record didn't match the unholy tide...but the record does....kicking corn liquor into the corner, two insane men bleeding for your sins...a holy hootenanny of shouted and drum'n' geetar madness, taking you down the wrong alley, your wallet open and emptied, the echo of a moment of transcendence buzzing in the transistor of your mind...a gutbucket shake 'n' holler backporch revival.
The Hooten Hallers: O, Jolene! (mp3)
5. Bloody Ol' Mule: Grady County Kitchen Table Tapes Vol, 1/ A Gentleman In Your Home Of Ill Repute: The Anthology/ To The Delapidated Dreamers All Ghost Like and Dreaming
Shilo Brown, aka Bloody O'l Mule ....one of the most important artists out there...It's hard to keep up with his releases as he's incredibly prolific, with no drop in quality. Quite the opposite.
As a published author and owner of a bookstore (where we would love to shop...he's got perfect taste), Brown finds the tiniest nuances in place and character, and scans the darkest realms of humanity and finds the core of being. This carries into his music, a one-man-band of incredible range and power. From raging cowpunk stompers about "truck stop whores" and booze-soaked bad behavior, to songs about god and the devil, to back porch laments and slow, easy dissections of lost love and desperate times, Bloody Ol' Mule maps the state of life, pushing you to dance the night away and also take solace in the space between moments, those moments when, sitting in yr chair with whiskey in hand, you watch the world at 2 AM...crickets or cars, fire on the mountain, dusty nature, or the blackness of the soul.
We hope to have an interview and full post on Bloody Ol' Mule up soon...for now, just take our word for it (have we ever steered you wrong?). Below are two tunes that, while hardly even close to representative, will give you a taste.
We're not joking when we suggest his importance...This cat's the real deal.
Bloody Ol Mule: Holy Ghost Power (mp3)
Bloody Ol Mule: Something About Those Pretty Girls Tonight (mp3)
4. White Trash Blues Revival: Now Honey Now Baby Now Listen
The rumor is that the sessions that produced this rekkid was paid for by these cats from Fort Wayne winning a "Worst Band Competition". We can only speculate what the audience was for that show. Probably a bunch of REO Speedwagon douchebags. Editorial on that aside...
White Trash Blues Revival use homemade instruments....The geetar, (a "Skiddely-bo") is a skateboard with strings. The bass is a broom with rope, played upright, natch. And the drums are hubcaps, old metal kegs, cardboard boxes, tinfoil and any other kind of bucket or item to pound on. And it is glorious. A tribute to the actual musical skill of the band...transforming into a greasy and highly rhythmic cacophony of rode hard, dick up, pussy wet sweat and shiver party til the break of dawn, the furthest fields of Mississippi plowed under, and tradition respected and fucked with. The history of the Blues, and numerous other forms of music, is rich with the creation of "at hand" instrumentation. And these cats carry that scarred and blackened torch forward, the fields on fire.
Again, we can't stress enough the sheer dirty and devil-raising boogie that ensues.
Their live show is becoming the stuff of legend (occasionally joined by "Sausage Paw" of Left Lane Cruiser on additional percussion (sit back and imagine that!!!!))
This brief record is only a hint at what's to come. We can't wait...
White Trash Blues Revival: Dimestore Salvation (mp3)
3. T. Valentine and Daddy Long Legs: The Vampire
Last year we named the Daddy Long Legs rekkid, "Evil Eye on You" the best record of the year. Nothing has changed our opinion on that. And now they're back...not only back but "backing", as in settin' up the mighty and legendary T. Valentine on this slab of garage r'n'b...deeply sinister, nasty, devilish and greasy in all the right ways. The band lay down some seriously funky and ground-down swampy grooves to accentuate Valentine's Dadaist rants on sex and the supernatural....the subject not for the faint of heart or the pale of rawk! A grit-dirty rampage on yr ass, making it move so low down the floor looks like up! Hands down, thee party record of the year, if yr soul aint dead and yr spirit still moves to the filthy rhythms and hollerin' sleaze of life. Get sweaty, get juiced, git down!
T. Valentine and Daddy Long Legs: Shake Your Funky A-S-S! (mp3)
2. Georgiana Starlington: Paper Moon
A stunning rekkid...one for the ages...we'll go ahead and quote what we already said about this piece of perfection...
There's a special place in the world for the "burnt desert" song...a world of sneaky rattlesnakes and echoed canyon noir, songs of traveling and dust, the cactus dry yet alive, the kicking vintage truck transporting all manner of bad behavior and innocence freighted belief. Where the laws of men inhabit the expected, and the pistol could jam with sand and the Mariachi band is playing not for profit but for survival. The outpost is an empty tank away, the beer is on ice, melting, and the lizards are scrambling, hissing and flared. Step into the sepia-toned light, then, with bleached bones and death rattle and cosmic, red-hued hum..Georgiana Starlington.
Not a person, but a band. The darkest twilight criss-crossed lightning across the plains, finding the patter of a windstorm on vagabond tin-roof porch, beat beat beat the rhythm of safety and danger, lone yet part of the mythology of the West. Georgiana Starlington is made up of husband and wife Jack and Julie Hines (also of the mighty K-Holes), along with Daniel Sheerin on drums and percussion , Andy Curtin on pedal steel, and Vashti Windish on singing saw. Their record, Paper Moon (out on Hozac), occupies the space inbetween the raindrops. The curdled muddy footsteps of bad deeds and the sinister sway of hardboiled regret. Jack and Julie trade vocals, occasionally as cow-noir duets, his voice a bourbon ramble, hers a gauzy gingham chanteuse, and surround themselves with hazy blanched rhythms and sound. A rumbled sand-surf guitar line, lonesome desperate pedal steel, the keening of a singing saw, midnight church harmonica. All hymns of hazy, steepled mesas.
Georgiana Starlington: Dry As A Bone (mp3)
1. Oblivians: Desperation
It's been 16 years since the last blast of snotty joy from America's last great Rawk'n'Roll band. Jesus. Really? You couldn't tell from this record.
The members of the band, Jack'n'Greg'n'Eric (last names "Oblivian" of course) have kept themselves busy over the last 16 years: Starting an essential record label (Goner, dontcha know), forming a seminal band (Reigning Sound,naturally) and creating killer solo rekkids that seem to make our list of favorites every goddamn year (Jack, of course, who remains my favorite)...it probably shouldn't work, getting back together "officially" (they've been playing together on and off over many years)...but, sweet honey in the rock, it does, oh so deliciously.
We could go on about history 'n' all dat, but that's what the Wiki thing is for (and deserves a full post, not a "brief" record review)...but trying to give a modicum of context...but, who cares? The record, then...
A sonic blast, buzzing transistor trash, killing eardrums with buzzsaw mud and attitude...fuck the man tribal destructo guitar and teenage thrill. Each member trading hollerin' vocals over neon-bathroom light punk sneer, walking back alleys with swagger, and sometimes folks forget how soulful the Oblivians can be, inserted into garbage can bashing, the last band at the end of the world.
Rawkn'nRoll, baby...don't get any better...the garage doors open, and the smell of booze and sex seeping into the street, leather jacket with collar up, cigarette dangling, cheapest beer in crushed can, your heart will be broken, but fuck that shit....the soundtrack to every night on the street, middle finger proudly up. And you're broken-hearted and pissed, smash yr head against the punk rock.
We're sure the band would resist any attempt to label, but maybe calling this a rock'n'roll record will be enough...there's a little Country here, a little soul and r'n'b (all filtered through distortion and snot). But it's exactly what you need to shake and shimmy and pogo the night away.
Fuck the man, fuck indie lameness, fuck corporate bullshit. The Oblivians are back, baby, and they're not compromising...Garage/Trash/Soul/Cowboy/Snot/Punk/Rawk...however you want to call 'em...
The best record of the year, not even close..and you deserve this...yes you do. If rawk is to die, then it dies with this record. Don't blame the Oblivians...they kicked yr muthafuckin' ass!
Oblivians: I'll Be Gone (mp3)
Thanks...we'll be back soon with more love!