The Best of 2019

The last year of this decade was an easy one for me musically.  There were two albums that mattered, both by women, one seventeen, one twice that age.  To choose between the two as best album of the year has proven impossible, as least to me.  Just when I think one has won me over, the other starts haunting me with never-ending ear-worms.  Both were brilliant in completely different way, and no one else even came close.

So, the two best albums of 2019 are:

When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? By Billie Eilish

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and

Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey

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First the Eilish.  This is the best punk album of the past 5 years.  And if you don’t think of it as punk, you ain’t listening.  It breaks so many rules, its as if Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, who recorded this in her bedroom, don’t even know any rules exist.  The bass comes across like a weapon of mass destruction.  The songs themselves are deconstructed, perhaps frightened to pieces by the bass, or simply by the darkness of Eilish’s lyrics. She sings not just about what every teen fears, but about what we all fear, what we all feel.  She is the voice of every generation. And if you had played this for me a year ago I would have figured it to sell a couple thousand copies as they traveled the country in a small van playing shows to crowds of 50 to 100 strong. It feels too smart, too fucking brilliant.  It’s not McDonalds, as most mainstream music is.  It’s a meal at Vedge in Philadelphia, with a scoop of Jeni’s Ice Cream at the end.  And yet somehow it caught on.  One of those rare instances when the general public got it right.    

As for the Lana Del Rey: you’ve got 14 tracks that begin with the line “Godamn, man child. You fucked me so good that I almost said, ‘I love you'” and end with a song entitled “Hope is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have (But I Have It),” and cover every emotion in between.  The dark corners of lust and longing, of losing, of just not giving a fuck, or perhaps being destroyed by caring just a little too much.  Stories worthy of Raymond Carver, she has written a masterpiece for the ages.  Nothing punk here, this is a classic record which sounds as if it were produced by John Lennon in 1975. Lana’s vocals have never sounded better, bordering on jazz stylist with hints of  Peggy Lee.  The production, by Jack Antonoff, who should limit his duties to behind the boards and skip trying to front bands, is what Lana has been looking for since the “Video Games” single eight years ago.  The build in “California” alone should have most of you awash in goosebumps.  Lush, but never over-done, the album lures you into her clutches, her heartbreak, her joy, and it’s not that it doesn’t let you go.  It’s your choice.  And you choose to stay.  

As for the best of the rest.  Some really great albums that in any other year might have topped this chart.  In order, they are:

Midnight by Stef Chura – this is probably the record people would have expected to top my list.  Pop noise at it’s finest.  Angst, feedback, anger, repeat.  And did I mention those guitars?  Can someone say Archers of Loaf?  And it ends with the best Billy Idol cover I’ve ever hear. 

Ode to Joy by Wilco – A slow burn of a record from admittedly one of my favorite bands.  And while I’ve only loved one album (“The Whole Love”) since Jay Bennett was removed from the lineup, this is the other album that come closest to capturing the noisy, experimental, darkness of the three ground-breaking records to which Bennett contributed.

Inner Monologue, Pt 1 – Julia Michaels – Ok it’s an EP.  But if most albums had songwriting this powerful, music would not be in such a sad shape.  Michaels is best known for the songs she writes for others (including “Sorry,” which was original recorded by Justin Beiber, but turned into something amazing by Lydia Loveless).  Here she let’s us into what feels like a drunken therapy session. Playful but fucked up as hell.  

Better Oblivion Community Center by  Better Oblivion Community Center, aka Connor Oberst & Phoebe Bridgers – I’m not sure there’s anything that Bridgers can do wrong at this point, and in this case she made Oberst relevant again, or at least enjoyable.  This is a great classic pop record, all melodies and hooks, sung by two voices that work despite the fact that they shouldn’t in your head.  A stunning surprise.

No Saint by  Lauren Jenkins – This is the sort of record I so wish Taylor Swift would go back to making.  Simple production, focus on brilliant songwriting, and a voice that’s just vulnerable enough to break your heart.

White Noise/White Lines – Kelsey Waldon – perhaps because she so reminded me of Lydia Loveless crossed with Dolly Parton.  And that’s pretty damn high praise.  Gutsy, dark, and listen to those guitars.

AF by Superchuck – while not a new album, it was a beautiful reimagining of one of the great records of all time, “Foolish.”  Stream it, or better yet, find the vinyl and just listen from start to finish.  Bravo Mac, Laura, and company.  Bravo.

Only nine in all you might note.  I tried.  I feel as if I listened to hundreds of records.  But when you push those aside and keep going back to two in particular, well, that pretty much tells you what you need to know.

Best Song/Best Music Video of 2019:

“Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish – This could not have been easier.  Her “duh” definied 2019, as did the crunch, the humor, the power, and that fucking bass.  If ever there was a song that got stuck in my head, and I wanted it to stay…as for the music video, it’s serendipitously chaotic and funny as all hell.  One of the few music videos in recent years I can watch more than a few times and still be entertained. 

Runners Up for Best Song of 2019:

“Fuck It I Love You” from Lana Del Rey

“Lullaby” by Kalie Schor

“Anxiety” from Julia Michaels

“Dylan Thomas” from Better Oblivion Community Center

“Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You” by Julia Jacklin

MOST DISAPPOINTING ALBUM OF 2019:

Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen – Never have I used the words boring and overproduced to describe a Springsteen record (Hell, I have a dog name Springsteen, I love his music), but this is a cluster fuck of mediocrity.  It’s as if he set out to make a bad James Taylor record…and succeeded. 

BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE:

Her Smell from director Alex Ross Perry – it’s taken 42 years, but this might finally be the perfect punk rock movie.  And Elizabeth Moss turns in the bravest performance I’ve seen since the combined cast of “Dogtooth.”  It plays like an like a two-hour existential guitar riff from the fingers of the Sex Pistol’s Steve Jones.  Watch, don’t turn away, and you will see what indie film is supposed to be. 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice from directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman – a nearly pitch perfect rock doc that portrays the importance of Ronstadt in the history of rock and roll without ever side-stepping her humanity, her drive, her independence, and her voice.  

BEST TV: 

Fleabag – This is Seinfeld or I Love Lucy quality TV with no censorship.  As good as any season of any show in the history of the medium.  Brash, funny, and yet the genius that is Phoebe Waller-Bridge will still get you to cry,  And she got to fuck a hot priest.  What more can you ask for in television?  Nothing!

BOOK OF THE YEAR:

My favorite book that I read this year is a paperback release of a book from last year…but still I can’t stop thinking about Sigrid Nunez’s stunning The Friend.  If you happen to love dogs AND great literature, then this is probably your dream read. 

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And for those of you who love smart mysteries, or thrillers if you will, please check out the vast collection from author James Sallis.  I read Sarah Jane this year, and though it is his 18th novel, it was my first exposure to Sallis. These are slender volumes filled with damaged people who are doing their best to get through one shit-storm day after another.  I look forward to reading them all.

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As for the rest of my 2019:

The highlights of 2019 were honestly my two vacations with my wife Kris.  With the exception of missing our dogs, the aforementioned Springsteen and his kid sister Dylan, our week at the Wilco-currated Solid Sound festival at MassMOCA, and again seeing Wilco twice in one day (first at Grimy’s New & Pre-Loved Music, then at the Grand Ole Opry) in Nashville as an anniversary vacation in October were blessed breaths of relaxation, amazing music, and great food with the person I most love on this planet. 

Also doing the first reading of my original story “Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out” at the opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library, and having the story then published in the So It Goes literary journal, was an honor.  I have long credited Vonnegut with lighting the creative spark in me.  And rereading “Cat’s Cradle” this year I understand why.  It’s like putting on “London Calling” or “Exile on Main Street,” it never gets old.

I was also very proud of what we were able to accomplish with NHdocs: the New Haven Documentary Film Festival.  In it’s sixth year we screened over 110 films, and had Michael Moore as our special guest.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  But then again, stay tuned for NHdocs2020.

As for my feature films…

Pizza, A Love Story – finally complete after 11 years.  Playing film festivals (who would have thought a film about New Haven apizza would pack houses in Alabama, Arkansaw, Washington!!!), and currently working on distribution.  Everyone will be able to hold a DVD in their hand by summer.  Updates/screenings here.

Seniors, a Dogumentary – Our happy animal rights documentary opens on March 5th in Nashville and will also be on DVD later in the year. Updates/screenings here.

Where are you, Jay Bennett? – my 6th rock doc will also be complete this year.  Finishing it up now, and just beginning the film festival submission process.

FACTORY – we’re about halfway through film interviews for our look at the crazy life behind the New Haven Clock Company building.

Normal Valid Lives – this film is finally coming together with its new editor.  We’re looking for grants, and figuring out what the next interviews will be.

And we’re about to announce our next documentary subject soon.  Keep watching the social media pages…but here is a little hint:

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Thank you to all of the people who collaborate with me on my films, NHdocs, and other projects: Dean, Chloe, Katherine, Brianna, Haley, Colin, Mira, Sam, Max, Tony, Cassandra, Ed, Lindsay, Jay, Fred, Scott, Diane, and another Scott, and others I’m sure I haven’t named.  I could not do this without you.  Let me repeat that louder: I COULD NOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOU!

As for writing, my long-in-the-works literary deconstruction of The Replacements Let It Be album, from which the above-mentioned short story derives, will be published.  It’s a different sort of novel, a collection of short stories, all connected with the same lead character at different stages of her life, and yet like an album, you can read them in any order, on shuffle-play if you will.  Stay tuned…

As for music in 2020 we can expect new records from Archers of Loaf and Lydia Loveless, so I’d say next year’s list writes itself!

In the meantime, be well, hug your dog, share a drink with people you love and respect, eat good pizza, drink hot coffee, laugh, rock, play it loud, try not to let the political climate get you down, and be kind to everyone you meet (no matter what side of the aisle they’re on). 

 

 

The Best of 2017

A very good year in music.

First off nice to see both Sarah Shook’s Sidelong (my co-album of the year last year) and Lydia Loveless’s Boy Crazy collection on many year end lists. They’re not on mine only because they’re reissues. You already know how I feel about both of these artists.

Speaking of reissues, they truly rocked this year. From the Savage Young Dü collection from Hüsker Dü to the amazing deluxe reissues of Wilco first two albums AM and Being There. As did live records. Both The Replacements’ For Sale and Lydia’s Live from the Documentary Who Is Lydia Loveless? (which, yes, I am responsible for bringing to life) are as good, if not better, than any studio album released this year. But that’s not the essence of my top ten list.

It’s about new music.

So, here now, are my ten favorite records of 2017.

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The Order of Time – Valerie June – There was no album I returned to on a more frequent basis that June’s brilliant sophomore effort. This record is all about a vibe that just sinks its slightly gritty under the nails claws into you and never lets go. Part old school Americana (think the old 78s that were recorded live in the 20s), part soul, with a voice that sounds wise beyond its years. Add to that the most perfectly subdued production and a collection of songs that seem to get better with every listen, and you’ve got an instant classic. This is a record that will sound even better a decade from now.

Deep Dream – Daddy Issues – Finally a new take on the riot grrl sound. Noisy and sweet at the same time, any band that could make Don Henley’s Boys of Summer worth listening to has to be doing something right.   This is the late night, drive fast, slam your fist against the steering wheel, scream along album of the year. Fuck, yes!

Anything Could Happen – Bash N Pop – The best solo record from a member of The Replacements since Westerberg’s Stereo/Mono seventeen years ago. Tommy Stinson just knocks it out of the park with a great collection of songs. His voice has never sounded better, and that familiar guitar sound is like an old friend coming to visit carrying a bottle of good bourbon and a six pack of beer. I’m not putting this on the list because he’s a former member of the Mats, it’s here because it’s a damn good record.

Out in the Storm – Waxahatchee – I loved Waxahatachee’s first album American Weekend (it topped this list a few years back), but the next two left me bored. So I am very happy to report Katie Crutchfield is back with almost the perfect companion piece to that first record. Except this time instead of haunted lullabyes we’re treated to a full-on sonic assault of guitars, bass and drum. This is her rock album. A wall of pop melodies coated in noise syrup brilliant from start to finish. Love this record.

After the Party – The Menzingers – The closest we’re going to come to The Clash thirty-five years after they split up. I would call this my feel-good record of the year. From the opening guitars of Tellin’ Lies the album made me feel young again, and never let up.   And maybe this is new for old dudes. I don’t give a fuck. I’m an old dude. And this one rocked.

Turn Out the Lights – Julien Baker – She sings one note and my heart is broken. A whole album, and I’m reduced to tears. She is the heir apparent to Nick Drake or Elliott Smith, someone to take us into the dark spaces, and hold our hands with the confidence in her voice. Everything will be okay with Julien leading the way.

Gilded – Jade Jackson – While we all wait for new records from Loveless and Shook, dig into Jade Jackson spectacular debut. It’s a collection of heartbreak and longing with guitars a little too crunchy for country-western. The raspy catch in her voice will grab you from the first note and not let go.

Notes of Blue – Son Volt – The best alt-country record of the year. And in a year in which guitars seemed to blessedly rule again, this is a freaking guitar masterpiece.

Losing – Bully – Old school riot grrl done right: fuzz, melody, fuzz, drums, fuzz and Alicia Bognanno has a voice made for the genre. Just one of those records you put on endless repeat on a drive from Minneapolis to Fargo.

Spades and Roses – Caroline Spence – Best straight out country record of the year. Spence is an amazing songwriter, but it’s her delivery that just breaks your heart. With production just sparse enough, and yet more killer guitar riffs, she takes us through a collection of songs that sound like great southern literature. Short stories turned to song.

BEST SONG OF THE YEAR: Lydia Loveless take this for both sides of a single: Desire/Sorry. The A-side, a gut-wrenching tale of an affair with a married man gone bad, was truly my favorite track from her last LP Real, but it ended up on the recording studio floor, so to speak, though it was a centerpiece of my film Who is Lydia Loveless? The B-side is a cover of the Justin Beiber song which was easily my most played tune of the year. Lydia makes the song her own, as if every word meant something special to her and the person and/or persons she singing it to. Gave me goosebumps more times than I care to admit. I’ve said it before that she has the greatest voice on the planet. And I’ll say it again. She fucking kills me every time.

Listen to Sorry on bandcamp here.

OTHER GREAT SONGS:

Sixteen from Diet Cig – the opening verse is all you need to know: “When I was sixteen/I dated a boy/With my own name/It was weird/In the back of his truck/Moaning my name/While trying to fuck.”

(I Just Died) Like an Aviator – Matthew Ryan – the greatest song in the world can become downright annoying when you direct and edit a music video for it. There’s only so much you can hear one song. Right? Well, wrong, in this case. Despite hundreds and hundreds of listens over a two week period, the first track from Ryan’s stellar Hustle up Starlings lp stands the test of time as one of the best rock tracks of the year. (Even if I no longer picture the words coming out of Ryan’s mouth.)

BEST LIVE SHOW: Lydia Loveless, Todd May, and Casey Magic at the backroom at Cat’s Cradle on December 15th and 16th. She was on fire these two nights, playing solo and with Todd, rearranging, ranting, reinventing European, breaking our fucking hearts every time she opened her mouth. Goddammit, Lydia!

BEST HOLLYWOOD NARRATIVE FILM: I, Tonya – a mocumentary, that was funny at times, heartbreaking the rest. A brilliant cast, superb script, and a sharpness of vision we rarely see with any sort of budget.

BEST INDEPENDENT NARRATIVE FILM: Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig might be the Lydia Loveless of independent film: funny, awkward, damaged, opinionated, and always completely charming. And that showed through in every frame of this magnificent directing debut.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FILM: The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography – Errol Morris’s short, subtle masterpiece. A film that leaves you wanting more, which is rare indeed today. His portrait of a quirky photographer who was one of five people on the planet who owned a 20×24 Polaroid camera. Love, love, love!

BEST TV: TV is the new indie film. And it just keeps getting better and better. Thus just a list of a few of this year’s standouts: Stranger Things II, The Five, Master of None, Ray Donovan, The Keepers, Big Little Lies, The Deuce, and GLOW. (And I’m not even mentioning my guilty pleasure love for reality TV like Big Brother, Survivor, and Top Chef.)

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Mary Miller’s brilliant Always Happy Hour: Stories and Jeff Goodell’s terrifying The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World. The former is a collection of writing to rival the dark despair of Carver, the latter a look at how the coastlines of the world will not be recognizable in a few decades. Both so worth reading, perhaps for the same reason.

As for the rest of my 2017:

Four releases this fall, of which I am quite proud: Who is Lydia Loveless? on DVD with a shitload of great extras, the Record Store Day vinyl-only release of 6 tunes from the film, Live from the Documentary Who is Lydia Loveless?, my first film Disconnected on bluray (with extras that include my long-lost first documentary Twenty Questions), and Psychos In Love on bluray. (The last two both brought to you from the amazingly twisted folks at Vinegar Syndrome.

As for what’s next: five documentaries in various stages of production:

What it Takes: film en douze tableaux – a quirky portrait of Sarah Shook and the Disarmers as they record their new album Years for Bloodshot Record. You can expect to see this at film festivals in late Spring.

Seniors – A documentary that celebrates the brains, energy & sass of some of the coolest senior dogs on this planet and the people who love them. It’s mostly filmed. Editing now.

Pizza, A Love Story – in the works for ten years and being edited now, we hope to finally have our epic love poem to the Holy Trinity of pizza (Sally’s, Pepe’s, and Modern) completed by mid-year.

Normal Valid Lives – our look at a horrible case of bullying in a school district north of Minneapolis. We still have a little filming to do, and hope to have this completed for film festivals in early 2019.

Where are you, Jay Bennett? – A feature-length documentary on Jay Bennett, a legendary musician, who as a member of Wilco, was a large part of the genius behind three seminal albums, who went on to a critically acclaimed solo career, before dying tragically at the age of 45. Filming and editing now.

And of course, NHdocs 2018 is coming your way on May 31st for 11 days of great films. (might have a surprise or two from me in there!)

That’s it.  Another year in the books. Be well, hug your dog, eat good pizza, drink hot coffee, and be kind to everyone you meet.

 

 

Best music of 2008

To take a quick reprieve from dogs and assholes…

A top ten list of sorts.  Not from either field which I call home (films, novels) but from my truest passion, music.  The best albums of 2008, in unequivocal order.  Don’t argue, you know my tastes, you know where I stand, just open your Amazon account and order those not in your collection.  It’ll be the best hundred bucks you’ve spent in a long while.

#1 – Delta Spirit – “Ode to Sunshine” – Hands down the one masterpiece of 2008, the best cd by the best new band.  Eleven tracks that evoke all things good in rock n roll from the Replacements to the Beatles, yet manage to sound original at the same time. Start with “People C’mon” or “Children,” but really there isn’t a weak or false beat on this cd.  Fucking amazing!

#2 – Paul Westerberg – “49” – a glorious mess, one never ending 43-plus minute track comprised of PW’s best work since “Stereo/Mono.”  Songs, clips, covers, noise, it’s a stream of unconsciousness from the greatest songwriter of our time.  Not for everyone, because most people won’t get it or have the patience, but if you do the rewards are never ending.

#3 – The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Hometowns” – I gave this album a shot because of a review that simply read “In the aeroplane over Alberta.”  And while not in the same league of the most perfect piece of art ever created (yes, you read that right), “Hometowns” is an instant indie noise-pop classic, loose strumming, twangs, all off-kilter and remarkably catchy.  Download “Edmonton” and you’ll be sold.

#4 – Bon Iver – “For Emma, Forever Ago” – Nine hauntingly beautiful tracks that bring to mind Nick Drake or perhaps very early Elliott Smith.  As fragile as a teenager’s heart, Justin Vernon (who essentially IS Bon Iver) has a voice that you will never forget.  Listen to the album’s final track “Re: Stacks,” a better song has not been released this year.

#5 – Langhorne Slim – “Langhorne Slim” – Another voice unlike no other, Langhorne Slim yelps and croons as if he were having way too much fun playing these songs. He picks his guitar like the 80-year-old blind man who invented the blues.  There’s a lot to like here, especially “Hummingbird,” one of the greatest songs ever written about having no choice but to move on from a relationship that just couldn’t work no matter how hard either partner tried.  It’s heartbreakingly real and so sadly beautiful. You’ll want to give Langhorne a hug.

#6 – Santogold – “Santogold” – This year’s M.I.A., poppy, bordering on the danceable, and usually nothing I would ever listen to if it weren’t so damn infectious.  Download “Lights Out” and see if it doesn’t remind you of the greatest 80s pop cd you never heard,

#7 – The Gaslight Anthem – “The 59 Sound” – if Bruce Springsteen and Paul Westerberg had a kid, this Jersey band would be it. Great, anthem-like rock n roll.  Start with the title track and you won’t let go.  And don’t let the crap emo bands they tour with turn you off.  These guys are the real thing.  (They should be touring with Wilco.)

#8 – Coldplay – “Viva La Vida” – This is not your grandfather’s Coldplay.  First off they suddenly discovered guitars, and then they discovered how to rock.  None of the wimpy ballad crap, the last four songs (starting with the title track) are as strong as any you’ll hear on almost any cd this year (except for perhaps the first three on this list).  If you’ve never liked Coldplay (I detest their other cds), now is the time to give them a shot.

And that’s my list.  Only 8 cds…there are certainly a few worthy of honorable mentions: Matthew Ryan’s “Matthew Ryan vs. Silver State,” Nada Surf’s “Lucky,’’ Crooked Fingers’ “Forfeit/Fortune,” and Mudcrutch’s self-titled cd.  But overall it was a ridiculously disappointing year, when even the usual culprits (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, The Hold Steady) bored me to tears.

I will give Ryan Adams kudos for the tune “Magick,” which proved the boy knows how to rock, I just wish he’d stop whining and stop writing the same song over and over again (really the new cd sounds like bad outtakes from last year’s far superior “Easy Tiger”).  Ryan it’s okay to sound like the Replacements, it’s what you do best. 

As for the worst cd of the year.  Wow, this is so easy; I don’t even have to think about it.  It’s a cd that epitomizes all that is bad about rock music and the self-proclaimed messiah critics on the web.  Gutless, sounding like a group of 8-year-olds with child-sized instruments trying to play rock n roll, the album in question is the self-titled debut from Vampire Weekend.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.  Really, if you like Vampire Weekend put out an A.P.B. on your balls, because they have seriously gone missing.

That’s it for me.  I can only hope for a better 2009, though I’m ending on a Springsteen high.  Not the Boss, but my new pup.  (See photo below).  He was one of the wild packs of hounds menacing the streets of Tennessee.  We got him through Paws4Rescue.org.  Everything about this organization is top notch and professional.  (And if you’ve been reading this blog you know the issues I’ve had with other so-called rescue groups.)  Well, these guys are the real thing.  Donate, get your next pup from them, and/or recommend them to a friend: www.Paws4Rescue.org.

In the mean time, and while you’re surfing the web, check out the updated site for our new movie FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS): www.FWBmovie.com  

Then order a copy of the YOU ARE ALONE dvd: www.YouAreAlone.com

And read a free short story on my site: www.GormanBechard.com

 

Now I close with another top ten list, written by one of my closest friends, Matt Bialer.  I finished my list without seeing his, and visa-versa.  I present his now, unedited, and knowing there’ll be plenty to argue about:

 

 

Top 10 CD from Matthew Bialer

No order: titus andronicus: the Airing of Grievances.  I’ll say. One big drunken, sloppy Jersey fuck you to all.  If you like beer and more beer, great songs, the Clash, Pogues, Bruce, Mekons….      

The Gaslight Anthem: the ’59 Sound.   Great anthemic rock that is like Bruce meets the Clash.  It is what rock n roll is all about.  Has balls and evokes a lot of rock n roll iconic shit. 

Land of Talk: Some are Lakes.  I love Liz Powell’s voice and songs.  Just great stuff.  Kind of evokes girl grunge, I suppose. 

Delta Spirit: Great record. And no Gorman, it’s not Replacements derived.  It’s like Arcade Fire meets the Zombies. 

Frightened Rabbit: the Midnight Organ Fight.  Great Scot Pop.  If you like Orange Juice, teenage Fanclub, the Twilight Sad.  

Tapes ‘n Tapes: Walk it Off.  Fuck everyone who dissed this sophmore effort. Fuck you all. I like it and I still play it.  And it’s better than most of Pitchfork’s top ten including Fleet Foxes, No Age and Deerhunter (some great songs but a little filler there, ey?)

Guns n Roses: Chinese Democracy.  Because I like bands with “n” in the middle and because Axl Rose on a bad day (day? Bad 15 years, I guess) can still kick a lot of bands asses that critics swoon over.  

A.A. Bondy: American Hearts. Kind of in the same spirit of Deertick.  Mellow. Acoustic. But tough. The singer was the main dude from Verbena.  Really good.

Birdmonster: From the Mountain to the Sea. Another great record that Pitchfork really shit on. Well I think this record is superb. For fans of Wilco, Dylan, great roots rock.  I love this record.

Overpraised records: Vampire Weekend.  I admit to tapping my foot a bit but not a great band.  Also, they are like the second coming of Haircut One Hundred down to the preppy sweaters.  And where are Haircut One Hundred now?? Exactly.  And Haircut were better and even had more balls (gumball sized, as opposed to none).  

Fleet Foxes: something fey and pretty here but I don’t get the critics going nuts over them. A few good songs but not terribly exciting to me.

No Age: I like some of this but anyone who plays this over and over and over again has to be suspected of brain damage.  I wish they had more “songs” here but there is talent. 

TV On the Radio: don’t get them. And what is this horseshit that they “speak for the times”.  Yeah, for the times bumming around in a cafe in Williamsburg. 

I wanted to like the new Hold Steady because I like them but this new one is weak to me, despite a few good songs. 

The Walkmen.  The guy is like Englebert Humperdink fronting a wedding band on only its “rock out” numbers.

 

Springsteen
Springsteen