Best Music of 2015 According to the Only Person Who Matters, Me

What’s this? A new post?

Hey, don’t blame me! Not my fault I can’t find a company to work for that won’t fucking implode because it’s run by morons who’ve bought into this whole start up BS. Polishing resumes is getting to be a full time job.

But, anyway here’s a list of the best albums of 2015, in bullet point order. Because there are no special flowers in music:

Best EP of 2015

Best old album discovered in 2015

  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — The Good Son

And there we go! Collecting all my Twitter best of. Will there be more reviews this year? Who knows what lurks in the shadows of sleepy blogs? Do people even know about blogs these days? Are blogs the new vinyl?

Lock Down This Rock!! – 29 – Milk Music/Cruise Your Illusion

Milk Music goes where the wandering guitar solo goes. Every song is an adventure. Sometime it stumbles to an awkward halt. Sometimes it explores odd corners of the mind and gets stuck. That’s my favorite outcome.

Cruise Your Illusion (man, I don’t think Axl ever thought that title had such satiric legs) often goes nowhere, and fails to gel. Singing is wrought. Sometimes overly so. And much like Magnum’s little voice, I know what you’re thinking: that doesn’t sound like a good review!

But I like Cruise Your Illusion. I find myself turning over guitar noodles in my mind at odd times during the day. Reminds me a bit of Thinking Feller’s Union 242. Don’t worry if you don’t know who that is. I barely do.

No, Nothing, My Shelter is the song where everything gels and is a great single. And I want to know Lacey’s Secret. It seems like Fat Possum is obsessed with crusty old indie acts, and really, really young bands. Hoping for another Wavves, I’m sure. Which always leaves me wondering what will happen on the next album.

Check’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 28 -Bob Mould/Silver Age

Oh, Bob Mould. Where to start?

At the beginning: I really didn’t want to buy this album. You see, I’ve made the mistake of reading interviews of Bob. The guy has a talent of saying the exact wrong words. I think he was born with a parasitic foot in his mouth. If you like his music, don’t listen to what he has to say. And thank me later.

But, I justified it by wanting to kick Jon Wurster some support. Jon is his current drummer, also of Superchunk, and The Best Show on WFMU. In the end, everybody wins.

This album comes out swinging with the hanging power chords that carved a path through the late 80’s, and they’re gunning for the kids of today. Bitter? Oh yeah. Don’t hate Bob’s game.

But the pace doesn’t stop, and there’s lots of catchy parts to like in Silver Age. I like it because it’s a relentless sound train that drowns out all outside stimuli when using earphones. You know, for the bus!

My resident expert on Bob is Art, who wasn’t so hot on this new one. For him, every song is a clone of an older song. Which may be the case. I like Husker Du, I kinda like Sugar. I don’t love them. So I really only have Zen Arcade, and Copper Blue. It’s all I need. I wouldn’t know if these building blocks have been used before ad nausium. Ignorance is bliss. Or at least an excuse to jam out an album.

I don’t think this will make the top 10 this year. But, you never can tell.

Check it out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 27 – The Ribeye Brothers/Call of the Scrapheap

It always gives me a happy fuzzy when I get a CD from CDBaby, and on first listen, I know I’m going to review it. It makes up for listening to women berate their children on the bus. Because that’s the other thing I had going on this morning.

So, the Ribeye Brothers… they’re not completely hurting for exposure, and are not fresh faced hopefuls. They’ve got a band of veteran musicians kicking around New Jersey, and sport a member or two from Monster Magnet. Is good stuff. Stuff deserving of a a wider distro than CD baby.

Their bio claims they do a little of this and that, but I’d call it straight up rock. Yes, there are nods to garage and psychedelia. But I think we’re far enough along the rock spectrum to agree that a backwards guitar track doesn’t necessarily expand the mind. It just sounds good. When done well. Like the Brothers do it.

I wouldn’t lump them in with the revivalists, because they have their own sound and voice, and I love, love, love the opener and closer. And there are lots of high points in-between. The songs I like least are a bit too rock, and are missing some catch, but never bad. And rock might be your thing.

And that’s just, like, my opinion man! Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 26 – The Men/New Moon

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

The Men are chameleons. And I mean that in the nicest way.

Why to I start with such a lukewarmly divisive statement? Because their new album New Moon continues in their grand tradition of channeling other artists. A bit of Young and The Band this time around. All chopped up and tossed with their own brand of sonic vinaigrette.

It’s the job of every band, young and old, to eat the dead. Especially young, vibrant bands. In fact, just this week I described Parquet Courts to my buddy Art thusly: “Their first song has an entirely Timbuk3 vibe. Seriously. These kids today know not what they do*.”

Sitting down to learn the entire cannon of underground music before writing a single note is not the way to prolific songwriting. Besides, the Ramones took the only three chords worth caring about ages ago.

So on to the generically titled The Men/New Moon. Still a few oasis of sonic assaults, but somebody cranked up the country rock knob in places. With both positive and negative results. There are no train wrecks (always appreciated).

In the end, The Men sound like they’re riding a wave of enthusiasm, buoyed by moderate success and novelty. This feeds their infectious energy. So what if their songs are a bit slight, or may have been heard somewhere before? I don’t care. I like this album.

*Or maybe they do?

Check’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 24 – Woolen Kits/Four Girls

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

Let me tell you about one of the many ways you know you’re old.

When fresh, young bands start revivals of scenes you saw the first time around.

So, lots of stuff coming out of Australia on the rock front these days. I assumed from the label involved, that Woolen Kits were from Melbourne. And while I listened, I was amazed they weren’t from New Zealand.

Anyway, I knew they were from New Zealand (even though they aren’t) from their jangly, gangly, clean lo-fi pop. The stuff that seems to grow so well in the verdant land of mountains and hobbit folk. Reminds me of the (underground) explosion of the Dunedin Sound, Flying Nun Records, all the stuff you should probably know about.

Four Girls is charmingly shambolic, and probably shouldn’t work as good as it does. A couple really good ear worms, and mind worms stick with me for hours after a listen. I often contemplate how if I look good, I feel good, and if I feel good, I get shit done.

I’m thinking that a few more practices, and a few more songs, and they’ll put out a solid album that isn’t nearly as charming as this. But, I’m often wrong. Don’t listen to me. Listen to Four Girls! And come to your own wrong conclusion!

Check it out!!

Lock Down this Rock!! – 23 – Karl Hendricks Trio / The Adult Section

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

Today’s review starts with two thoughts: My Bloody Valentine and Treepeople. Let me see if I can merge them for you.

I asked Rich at practice yesterday if he had picked up the new My Bloody Valentine album, 22 years in the making. He previewed it, and passed. It’s good. But he’s not the same record buyer he was 22 years ago. So the album is probably 18 years too late.

I bought the new Karl Hendricks Trio after hearing a track on the freeform station to the nation, WFMU. Didn’t even know the track title, but I was humming the chorus to The Adult Section while doing dishes. This convinced me that I had to buy it.

And it reminded me of something. And that something was Treepeople. Treepeople hail from MBV times.

Following so far?

So, that means that I’m listening to the same stuff I was 22 years ago, right? I have not evolved one iota. Unlike Rich.


Look, you can’t play a player. The Adult Section drips with the bitter aftertaste of someone who has been playing in a band for 22 years, and not a guy coasting on a ancient breakthrough album. I’m not familiar with Karl, or his past band history. But his music says he had a band in the 90’s. But he’s making music for today. Unlike, apparently, Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine.

The title track is a great pop song, and there’s some fine, meandering guitar all over the place. I’m not so into the bitter stuff, but that’s just a personal thing. I’m bitter enough, and I’d like to not be.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the scenic route!

Okay, now I’m off to Wikipedia to see if I got Karl pegged correctly!

Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 22 – Yo La Tengo/Fade

I like music. I have a band. I’m gonna tell you all about it. 

 What I look for in rock: guitars, melody, guitars, energy, guitars, and guitars.

The illustrious Tom Scharpling, he of The Best Show on WFMU, introduced the new Yo La Tengo with a warning: don’t take things for granted, because they won’t be around forever. I think that’s a fine sentiment to attribute to Fade.

For a band that’s been around for 25 years, I don’t have much of their output. Their particular brand of low energy rock has been toned to a very fine edge on Fade. The post-rock kids vaulted YLT to fame, but I never though they really belonged in the category. As I’m not much of a fan of post rock. Ira is always quick to bust out the most tasteful, blistering rock solo in the middle of a wandering song. Keeping the course. Plus, you get some songs where you get to pretend that Mo Tucker didn’t turn out all tea party crazy, and still writes fine pop numbers.

Timing. After all these years, Yo La Tengo knows how to keep a song languid, but not boring. Meditative, but not tiresome. It’s perfect for the winter blues. I know, I’ve been self medicating with Fade.

Check ’em out!

End Of Year List, Part 1 — 2012

Why My Top 10 is Better than The Onion AV Club’s (and Probably Yours)

In my youth, I tried my hand at writing music reviews professionally. This was a bad idea on many fronts. For example, industry pay rates are still stuck in Charles Dickinson times (for real), and freelancing causes a tax situation so fucked up that you will hate yourself for the poor choices in life you have made. Namely freelancing.

Anyway, this is my way of saying that I have experience in music criticism, and I know why my list is better than the AV Club’s. There are two major reasons:

#1 — Endurance

Professional: When you are reviewing professionally, you get an endless stream of free, shitty music. And you get piles of stuff that may not be bad, but is completely not to your tastes. After slogging through this mighty slush pile, week after week, your senses dull.

Suddenly, a mediocre, competent album breaks the tedium. You fall in love with it! It’s not shit! The End Of Year list is filled with the best of the shit pile!

If you are lucky. If you’re not, then you also get whatever reviews someone has paid bribes to promote. Trust me, even back in the Zine era, I knew popular “good guy” publications that only had a review section for it’s revenue stream. I get the sense that the AV Club is above this. They are not the “good guy” I’m alluding to.

Me: I vet, buy, and listen to ALL of the music I review. I not only have personal but monetary investment in this music. I buy the best, and list the best of the best.

#2 – Trial by Committee:

The AV club has some fucked up nomination/vote combo that makes sure that whatever individual vision put into the list is homogenized to tasteless oatmeal.

Also, they have a self loathing streak that forces them to review mass market dreck like Ke$ha. See, they’re not snobs!

So there. That’s my argument. I may be wrong. I may be hard on the AV Club, but I read those guys every day. I like to think that’s the greatest complement you can pay a writer.