There are a number of songs that I keep returning to throughout my life, and they act as a sort of re-set, a yardstick for all others to be measured against. If there's a brand spankin' new fave tune in 2014, for example, it has to stand against "Sweet Jane" in order for me to comprehend where it belongs in the great rock & roll continuum. So I had this notion to compile those songs on a single mix. It seemed do-able at the time.
What I neglected to take into account was the sheer amount of stone cold classics I would be dealing with. That might seem like an obvious oversight - it's certainly obvious to me now. So then it became a matter of defining exactly what basis I'd have for including a track on the mix, and then attempting to remain consistent. What I ended up doing was focusing on the songs that are my bedrock. These are the songs that created my music preferences, for better or worse, and I can project forward or back from all of these songs to account for pretty much everything I like. Obviously I had to make some harsh omissions: there's barely anything from the 50s and 60s, there's no reggae, no soul or R&B or girl groups or anything recorded within the past 30 years. But like I said, all of those genres and eras are referenced directly or indirectly somewhere in these 22 tunes.
There's some odd choices, for sure. Out of the entire Stiff Little Fingers discography, I picked an obscure deep cut over "Alternative Ulster" or "Roots Radicals Rockers and Reggae" - and the only explanation I can offer is that I just fuckin' love "Silver Lining." Ditto picks from the Stones and the Ramones. And what's a Michel Pagliaro track doing on here? I dunno, man. That song just spears me between the ears. Sometimes it's just the little details in the arrangement that push a song over the top for me. I've been listening to Mott the Hoople's "All The Way From Memphis" for over 40 years now, and I still get shivers during the instrumental coda when Mick Ralphs' guitar shoulder-checks Andy MacKay's sax outta the way and rides the song home. That stuff is magic. It's alchemy. It's catching lightning in a jar. And each of these tracks caught it.
And yeah, I'm sure I've missed many of your favorite tracks, so leave a comment telling me which one(s). I'd love to read them, plus they might force me to compile a second (or third) volume.
1. Ve1vet Underground Sweet Jane
2. Mott the Hoop1e All The Way From Memphis
3. Chaap Trick Southern Girls (Albini mix)
4. Big Star September Gurls
5. Ro11ing Stones Sway
6. The Sex Pisto1s Holidays in the Sun
7. The Beat1es Revolution
8. The Undertones Teenage Kicks
9. The On1y Ones Another Girl, Another Planet
10. Genya Ravan Jerry's Pigeons
11. The Saints Know Your Product
12. Bruce Springstaen Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
13. Pretanders Precious
14. Iggy & the Staoges Search and Destroy
15. The Heartbreakers Born to Lose
16. The New York Do11s Personality Crisis
17. The Ram0nes Swallow My Pride
18. A1ice Cooper Under My Wheels
19. Stiff Litt1e Fingers Silver Lining
20. Pag1iaro Time Race
21. Faces Ooh La La
22. Patti Smith Gloria
I don't know how 2013 will be remembered, but, personally speaking, I'm pretty damn happy to get out of it alive. It was most definitely a weird year overall. Our mainstream culture seemed entirely obsessed with a minimally talented flap-assed skanklet who ran around with her tongue lolling out like an overheated dog on the streets of Calcutta. Meanwhile, the outsider underground continued to benefit from a resurgence of rock & roll true believers. I guess it's all just a matter of picking your kicks.
The Un-Herd Music Top 30 of 2013
1. The Bamboo Kids - Safe City Blues
30 songs chockful of everything these guys can think of, which amounts
to a glorious sprawl of punk rock, Stones licks, pianos, horns, hooks
and gutter wisdom.
2. J. Roddy Walston & the Business - Essential Tremors
An unlikely mix of Southern blooze rock, indie rock, and 70s UK glam rock, somehow pieced together in a way that makes complete sense.
3. The Computers - Love Triangles, Hate Squares
Takes their soul/R&B/rock&roll impulses and polishes it to a
sheen that illuminates the hooks, often sounding like what Elvis
Costello aimed at on Get Happy!, but incorporating a stronger
hardcore edge (as well as nabbing quotes from Little Richard).
4. Zachary James & the All-Seeing Eyes - Space Case
Zachary James and the All Seeing Eyes have reanimated the corpse of Ziggy Stardust and dragged it into
the new millennium,with lyrics of sci-fi romance and more musical nods to T.Rex than Bowie (and more to the Stones than either).
5. Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders - 14th & Nowhere
Rocks hard enough to frighten away most Americana fans, but Todd's also
capable of simmering it all down to a quiet fury, which seems to quest
after transcendence with equal parts pessimism and romance like a
secular, faithless Van Morrison.
6. James Younger - Feelin' American
This is expansive guitar pop, pulling a major influence from the Strokes
debut even while summoning comparisons to artists like Tom Petty, Elvis
Costello, and Paul Simon.
7. The Connection - Let It Rock!
Although the Connection plow the same field the Ramones already dug (albeit with an even
stronger influence from the 50s rock & roll source) they
miraculously have that same Joey Ramone gift for melody that prevents
them from falling into mere revivalism.
8. Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave
Steamrollers out of the gate like some unholy mutant cross between ACDC
and James Brown, and then picks up intensity from there.
It's a violent maelstrom of sound that might just reclaim
50 years of music to its rightful originators.
9. Chris Wilson - It's Flamin' Groovy!
Enlists help from fellow ex and future Flamin' Groovies Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney and creates an album that miraculously
combines Shake Some Action with Teenage Head.
10. Various - Rockin' Here Tonight: Songs For Slim
There's enough of a major artist guest list to interest something close to the
mainstream, but it's the 2nd tier indie royalty that really pushes this
over the top.
11. The Grapes of Wrath - High Road
12. The Yum Yums - Play Good Music
13. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages - Dig Thy Savage Soul
14. Glitz - It'z Glitz
15. Greg Pope - Pop Motion Animation
16. Attic Lights - Super De Luxe
17. The Cliks - Black Tie Elevator
18. The Suburbs - Si Sauvage
19. Red Jacket Mine - Someone Else's Cake
20. Modern Kicks - Rock 'n' Roll's Anti Hero
21. Missing Monuments - Missing Monuments
22. Bad Sports - Bras
23. Deer Tick - Negativity
24. Beach Day Trip Trap Attack
25. The Charlie Watts Riots A Break In The Weather
26. Wyatt Blair - Banana Cream Dream
27. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get...
28. Dirty Fences - Too High To Kross
29. The Crunch - Busy Making Noise
30. Night Marchers - Allez! Allez!
Grimm Generation - The Big Fame
Warm Soda - Someone For You
Ulysses - Kill You Again
Rich Hands - Dreamers
Primitive Hearts - High & Tight
Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Jungle - Pacific Oblivion
Wild Belle - Isles
The Bamboos - Fever in the Road
Nick Piunti - 13 In My Head
Roman Candle - Debris
Howe Gelb - The Coincidentalist
Oblivians - Desperation
Willis Earl Beal - Nobody Knows
No Tomorrow Boys - Bad Luck Baby Put The Jinx On Me
Vegas With Randolph - Rings Around The Sun
King Khan & the Shrines - Idle No More
Silver Seas - Alaska
The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
The Dirtbombs - Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-blooey!
1. Bamboo Kids Ain't A Man
2. J. Roddy Walston & the Business Black Light
3. The Computers Mr. Saturday Night
4. Zachary James & the All-Seeing Eyes Star People
5. Pat Todd & the Rankoutsiders You & Your Damn Dream
6. James Younger Two of a Kind
7. The Connection Girls in This Town
8. Grapes of Wrath Mexico
9. Chris Wilson Heart in Her Hand
10. Lucero(from Songs for Slim) From the Git Go
11. The Cliks Sleeping Alone
12. Black Joe Lewis Skulldiggin
13. The Yum Yums Too Much of a Good Thing
14. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages Bread
15. Glitz Paranoia
16. Greg Pope The Mattress
17. Attic Lights Don't You
18. The Suburbs Dumb Ass Kids
19. Red Jacket Mine Engineer
20. Modern Kicks So Many Nights
21. Beach Day Stay
22. Missing Monuments Another Girl
23. Bad Sports Let Me In
24. The Crunch A Matter of Time
25. The Sharks Turn On The Radio
26. The Charlie Watts Riots The More That You Change
This year, folks, let's all remember to keep the Chris in Christmas. And there's no better start to a drug 'n' alcohol-fueled holiday season than to download this collection of new Xmas classics and revel in the honorably pessimistic spirits on display. I'm trying out a new file service here, so with any luck it'll make the download an easier experience for all - let me know how it works - and in the meantime, have a great holiday (even you, christian conservatives) and I'll see you in 2014!
I'm posting this Faves compilation mere moments after learning of the passing of Lou Reed. It's difficult to place this kind of event into perspective without delving into exactly the kind of maudlin sentimentality that would probably make Lou himself scoff in derision, but I think it's safe to say that there isn't a band on this mix that would have existed if not for the direct influence of Mr. Reed. A lot of artists are deemed influential, but precious few of them can lay claim to the profound impact the Velvet Underground unleashed upon the world. "Sweet Jane" alone would place Lou in the pantheon of rock & roll immortality, nevermind the towering achievement of the entire VU catalogue, nevermind the always interesting output of his solo career, and nevermind all the bands and artists that followed in his hallowed wake. So RIP, you beautifully cantankerous contrarian, may your footsteps forever echo.
As for the mix itself, this is the last one of this year. The next task will be compiling the absolute best albums of 2013, and this mix presents a number of contenders. Albums by James Younger (Feelin' American), the Grimm Generation (The Big Fame), Bad Sports (Bras), Glitz (It'z Glitz), Barrence Whitfield (Dig Thy Savage Soul), and J. Roddy Walston (Essential Tremors) are pretty much certainties for the Top 30, but I wouldn't rule out any full-length release by any artist included here. Somewhere, Lou Reed is tapping his foot.
1. The Grimm Generation The Next Indie Boy
2. James Younger Monday Morning
3. Brand New Hate Sinners and Preachers
4. Black Joe Lewis The Hipster
5. The Strypes Hometown Girls
6. Deer Tick The Dream's In The Ditch
7. The Cheap Thrills Midnight Sun
8. The Temperance Movement Be Lucky
9. The Suburbs Turn The Radio On
10. Bare Mutants Cunt
11. Propeller Might Never Be The Only One
12. The Dirtbombs Crazy For You
13. Mark Crozer & the Rels Tell Me You Want Me
14. Star Anna Smoke Signals
15. Diarrhea Planet Babyhead
16. The Julie Ruin Just My Kind
17. The Charlie Watts Riots Metal
18. Bad Sports Rockin' The Noose
19. Glitz Don't Think About It
20. Needles//Pins Date Night (You Bring the Napalm)
21. Drivin' n Cryin' Hot Wheels
22. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages The Corner Man
23. J. Roddy Walston & the Business Marigold
24. Timmy Sean & the Celebrities Back to the Middle
Listen, I totally cop to the fact that these names mixes are a tad on the crazy side and, frankly, I'm as surprised as anyone that it's even possible for so many volumes to exist. But here's the thing: these songs are out there. And they're awesome. And, godammit, somebody has to compile 'em. And so it may as well be this little backwater blog that almost exclusively places its attention on non-mainstream oddities and confections, amirite? I mean, if not here, where else?
1. The Redwalls Robinson Crusoe
2. Dipsomaniacs Syd Barrett
3. Supraluxe Lester Bangs
4. Bad Books Forest Whitaker
5. Late Cambrian Ryan Gosling
6. Art Brut Martin Kemp
7. Barrance Whitfield Oscar Levant
8. Jet Electro Walter Cronkite
9. American Aquarium Abe Lincoln
10. The Prime Ministers Ron Wood
11. Bronx Cheerleader Ann Coulter
12. Dick Diver Michael Jackson
13. Cherry Blossom Clinic Bobby Baccalieri
14. Terry Andersen & the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team Willie Mays
15. Big Dipper Robert Pollard
16. Boxer the Horse Karen Silkwood
17. Saint Motel Benny Goodman
18. The Breakup Society Mary Shelley
19. Lily Wood & the Prick Joni Mitchell
20. The Rifles Robin Hood
21. The Courtneys KC Reeves
22. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin Harrison Ford
23. This Many Boyfriends Tina Weymouth
24. Bodeens Jay Leno
I guess the thing I find most puzzling about this digital age is how it's so incredibly easy to get the word out and yet the word still don't get out. I just don't understand why some indie bands come out of nowhere riding a wave of internet buzz while others are doomed to rage into an echo chamber of disinterest. Why, for example, do artists like Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees become Pitchfork-approved, while scores of other garage/punk/pop rockers - either more vicious, more fun, or more melodic - can't get even a whiff of a hipster's Pabst-stained neckbeard?
This new Faves mix is a case in point. So many of these bands have just released albums or EPs that deserve to get them enshrined in the hallowed halls of rock&roll immortality, and yet I'm not seeing much about them anywhere. Little Steven (godbless that awesome suminabitch) might be playing the hells out of the new Connection, and King Khan & the Shrines continue an upward trajectory, and maybe two or three others have received reviews in major(-ish) web zines, but the rest appear to have been roundly and unfairly ignored. If you haven't yet, search out the albums these songs come from (album titles included in the info) - and maybe we can get some of that buzz started. These Are The Things I've Come to Love
1. The Bamboo Kids Batshit Crazy
2. The Connection Wrong Side of 25
3. Wyatt Blair Sugar Lips, Cinnamon Hips
4. The Computers Love Triangles, Hate Squares
5. The Cliks Savanna
6. Rooni Ambulance
7. Jesse Dee Sweet Tooth
8. Beech Day Wasting All My Time
9. Primitive Hearts Falling Apart
10. Radio Days Get Some Action
11. Nick Piunti On The Way Out
12. Rev Gusto Click-Click
13. The Mergers Caught Beneath
14. King Louie's Missing Monuments Covered In Ice
15. Pat Todd & the RankOutsiders 14th & Nowhere
16. Jumgle Midnight Limousine
17. The Sharks Blow
18. Modern Kicks Crew'n Up
19. Rich Hands Tease (Pretty Pretty Please)
20. Attic Lights Say You Love Me
21. Indian Rebound Backlash
22. The Solicitors DDT
23. King Khan & the Shrines Bad Boy
24. Crocadiles Marquis De Sade
SWM, slim, attractive, likes candle-lit dinners, romantic walks in the rain, the purring of contented kittens, and pointing and laughing at the handicapped. No head games please.
Everything on this blog is an attempt to support bands and artists that I feel deserve more attention. If you have a problem with my use of a song or a link, please contact me directly and I'll simply remove it. T'ain't no big thang.