Saturday, January 11, 2014

Best of 2013

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!

Honorable Mentions:

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!

Don't You Know The World Is Still Unfolding

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