End of Year, Part 2 — 2012

#1 Red Kross — Researching the Blues

Tagline!: The high-highs far out way the lows.
I’m not going to bore you with another review (as you can read the original), but I will say this: there are some great songs here, and some not so great. Other albums were much more consistent, but Researching the Blues, despite it’s dumb name and low parts, hit lots out of the park. Maybe you can’t achieve greatness if you play it safe?

#2 Pujol — The United States of Being

Tagline!; Hyper caffeinated pop songs with well thought out lyrics.
How many albums manage to get out two or three good songs before reaching into the filler barrel? Answer – many. Not this album. Released on a label much more known for music of the electrical bent, there’s a lot of honest rock here. Did I just called electronic bleep bloop music dishonest? Don’t tell anyone!

#3 White Wires — WWIII

Tagline: The funnest album of the year, minus some dumb lyrics.
Yeah, you’ve heard some of these riffs before. Maybe even in a Rick Springfield song. What’s that, you’re way too young to know who Rick Springfield is? Well, rock away, then!

#4 Royal Headache — S/T

Tagline: The energy is infectious.
This album never lets up. It’s always great to hear such joy in hammering on instruments. Which is always kinda funny with such clean guitar tones.

#5 The Men — Open Your Heart

Tagline: A solid long player I kept returning to.
I found faults, but I played this album all the time. That says quite a bit.

#6 Mind Spiders — Meltdown

Tagline: Another solid album that keeps it’s eye on the prize.
All the songs hum along and kept this album in constant rotation.

#7 The Golden Boys — Dirty Fingernails

Tagline. Takes some risks, takes some stumbles, and puts out some fine songs.
Texas rock-y. Expansive, detached songs about feelings are the rage these days. Give me The Golden Boys.

#8 Mount Carmel — Real Women

Tagline: Nostalgia worship done well.
Joe Walsh is still kicking, and writing crotchety songs about how using a cell phone sucks. If he’d quit playing with his ham radio, and hit the cocaine again with the James Gang, we might have something like this album.

Top Songs:

  1. Red Kross – Choose to Play
  2. Red Dons – Auslander
  3. Pujol – Black Rabbit
  4. Golden Boys – California
  5. Superchunk – This Summer
  6. Torche – Letting Go

Amazing Artists I Discovered This Year that Didn’t Happen to Put Out an Album This Year. And EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE I discovered right after they played in Portland.

  • Reigning Sound
  • Wussy
  • M.O.T.O.

Bands that missed the deadline, but could have been contenders:

  • Woolen Kits – Four Girls
  • Call of the Wild – Leave Your Leather On

Obligatory “I’m Alive” Post!!

Hey, I was pretty regular there for a while!

Times were good. I’d buy albums. People would send them to me. I’d write words about them. I’d put them on WordPress every week. But times change. I buy albums. People take their sweet time sending me vinyl with no mp3 download codes. My record player’s power cord disappeared without a trace. You know the drill…

How does a record player power cord disappear?

That’s not the only excuse. But it’s a good one. Also, I’d have to find the time to rip all these from vinyl. And I’m getting married, so officially ALL of my discretionary income is going to savings. So, you know who pays? You, the free web consumer, that’s who!

I used to have an official stance where I’d only review music I had purchased. During this time of austerity, I’m bending this rule. Bands may send me music. This isn’t going to happen, so don’t expect a flood of reviews.

But DO expect year end lists! All the other ones are wrong. Mine are right! Also, some reviews. My will is often tested. For example, I just signed up for the big Singles Going Home Alone Matador singles club again for next year.

Hey, they’re only doing 750 subscriptions!

Lock Down This Rock – 21 – Radar Eyes/Self Titled

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.


Hey Bands, and Labels,

I’d review more of you faster, if you sent purchases out in a timely manner! Otherwise Gordon Lightfoot dominates my iPod. You don’t want to lose out to Gordon Lightfoot, do you? Consider yourself duly warned!

So here’s an album from a prompt label… Radar Eyes. And yes, they have much more going on than fulfillment skills. Lots of warm, fuzzy psychedelia Sometimes the melody gets lost in the wash of feedback, but I understand that’s sometimes how it goes when one lets go of the reigns. I particularly enjoy the song about being high and puppies. I think it succinctly summarizes Radar Eyes’ worldview.

One track, ‘Disconnection’, sounds like if J Spaceman woke up after 3 days with nothing in his room but pillows, the remains of crushed pills, a hooka filled with the resin of some exotic, powerful herb, and a master tape of the song.

And one more observation. If the name of your band isn’t Jethro Tull, I’m not sure you can use the phrase “In the shuffling madness…” in a song. Can you? I dunno. Maybe I should try?

Check ’em out!!

Recharging…

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.


Music done run out!

That’s the problem with art. By nature it defies quantifiable measurements. Sometimes you find stuff you like, sometimes you don’t. It’s like fishing. And chaos.

Don’t worry, another payday approaches. Meanwhile, I’m studying deep cuts of The Clean for recording inspiration, and relying on Redd Kross and Mind Spiders to transport me anywhere in the world that isn’t sitting on mass transit. Happy places that are devoid of desperately unhappy people and pee smell.

Also, I missed out on this first Grinderman album the first time around. At the time I was obsessed with the second one. Rock and roll is becoming an old man’s game. For once in my life, maybe I’ll be in the right place at the right time!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 20 – Mystery Band/Mystery Album!

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.


So, I’m going to review an anonymous album I have. Why would I do this? Am I a coward?

Probably. But this is a complicated issue. I have an entire illogical philosophy built up about who i will promote, and why, and not being negative, and much more. You’ll have to trust that it makes sense to at least me. Plus, now you have a puzzle to try and figure out. Email me! If you have the right answer, I’ll send you an email certificate of puzzle-ry!

Anyway…

This album is filled with big, indolent pop songs written by a guy who hasn’t seen a day of professional strife in his life. Each one different, a flight of fancy easily indulged because of a charmed career that consisted of being in the right place, at the right time, and sounding like a more popular artist. Early fame lead to early accolades, and built an army of yes-men and women that has convinced this artist that he can do no wrong. Is that bad? Not necessarily. But it shows.

What we have here is a collection of songs about girls with problems. Sad girls. But it’s not that simple. These are songs about fictional sad girls that only exist in the songwriter’s head. He’d like to think he knows these girls. About what makes them tick. But at most they’re romantic caricatures.

There’s quite a bit of pop sensibility, and it goes a long way toward power washing away much of the bullshit on the album. But it’s also telling that the best song on the album, by far, relies on the talents of another singer to take it to the stratosphere.

I can’t help think that the target audience for this are mopey, indie girls that grew up to be mopey, reluctantly normal mothers. And me, I guess. We all get adult contemporary, eventually. Me, I’m going to play that duet. Like, a lot.

Payday!

On Payday, I like to exchange money for musical goods and services. This is what I bought!


  • River City Tanlines – Coast to Coast: Heard on the Cherry Blossom Clinic.
  • Pebbles 3 – Also heard on Terre T’s show.
  • Red Dons – A Forced Turning Point, Pariah, Death to Idealism: Like the Auslander 7″ so much, I went back for more.
  • And one other album that was released by a major label, which I refuse to list because I only promote what needs promoting. You gotta pay me to promote something backed by a marketing juggernaut. Yay, I’m petty!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 19 – Dum Dum Girls/End of Daze

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.


Why aren’t Extended Players more popular?

You’ve heard me reference that a common failing of most albums put out in to the world is the 7th song slump. The band front loads the disk with their best songs, and once you’ve passed the mid point, the steam begins to peter out. That’s where the mid temp, half formed songs go. The Hail Mary’s that don’t connect. The filler before the hopefully strong ending number(s).

With an EP, you get rid of all of that cruft. But the market clings to the album model, even in this age of post material product. Perhaps it’s the value add of MORE SONGS.

Enough rambling. More Dum Dum Girls.

I do enjoy the Dum Dum Girls. There’s a lot of catty, backstabby gossip about the band out in the wild, but I quite like their girl band worship. Giant, lush, reverb drenched pop. There’s a real world story arc behind their last few releases that reflect a mother’s sickness, death, and in this End of Daze EP, closure. That is to say these songs are structured from sad to happy.

And at the end, I want more. Maybe that’s why people don’t buy EPs.

Check ’em out!!

Lock Down This Rock!! – 18 – Nude Beach/II

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.


What can you say about a band that writes Tom Petty songs, and then sings them like The Boss?

Yes, I realize that last sentence was horribly reductive in a way that only the most hacky of the hack music critics indulge in. But what happens when it’s true? Should I ignore it completely? Go out of my way to pretend the blatant influences that are worn like retro leather bomber jackets don’t exist? But how can I when you sing the word “Baby” like that? What am I to do with you Nude Beach?

Well, I’m an Elephant -in-the-room kinda guy. So there the pachyderm is, right on their album II. Tom Petty fronted by Springsteen. Well crafted jangle pop with some earnest wailing, and a stack of Byrds records.

And none of the above is a criticism. I bought the vinyl, after all. With all the cookie cutter freak folk, and tepid garage* overexposing the wells I draw from, it’s a welcome change. I will say that I’m a much bigger fan of the upbeat singles than the mid-tempo numbers. Wield those hooks, boys! Wield them like two-handed swords!

Check ’em out!!

*Obviously, there’s good stuff in these genres, but the wannabes are currently driving the bus into the lake.

Lock Down This Rock!! – 17 – I Like New Stuff!!

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.


I’m into uncovering bright, new, shiny gems. My friend Rich is into digging deep in the past to uncover tarnished, old, vintage gems. Who knows why I do things the way that I do, but I’m guessing that in this case the key is: context.

Music is new once (pretty deep, eh?). The times in which we live set up a unique context. Years add history, lore, and mythology. And those are fine. But there is magic in freshly baked music, still warm enough to melt butter.

That being said, here’s what stuff I’ve been listening to that isn’t current:

  • REM – The IRS albums (mostly Document, Reckoning, and Fables Of The Reconstruction): For many years, I held that Murmur, and the greatest hits Eponymous, was all you needed until Green came around. My friend Art maintained that I couldn’t be more wrong. I see what he’s getting at. There’s lots of deep cuts just as rewarding as the hits. Damn, those guys pumped out quality.
  • Guided By Voices – Get Out Of My Stations: Rarely a week goes by that I don’t listen to GBV.
  • Melvins – Houdini: They don’t riff like this anymore. Unless you’re the Melvins. Another band that has kept the quality level up over the years. When they’re not trying to sound like a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
  • The Lawn – What is the Sound Of…: Don’t front. There’s no way you know this band. The world’s loss. Syd Barrett by way of loopy, psychedelic prog. Reunion please!