Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Favorite Albums of 2014

1.       Ty Segall – Manipulator
2.       St. Vincent – St. Vincent
3.       D’Angelo and the Vanguard – Black Messiah
4.       Parquet Courts --  Sunbathing Animal
5.       TV on the Radio – Seeds
6.       Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness
7.       Bass Drum of Death – Rip this
8.       Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit
9.       Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea
10.   The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream
11. Guided by Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit
12.   Meatbodies – Meatbodies
13.   Morgan Delt – Morgan Delt
14.   Protomartyr – Under of Color of Official Right
15.   Sturgill Simpson --  Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
16.   Blank Realm – Grassed Inn

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):
Dean Wareham – Dean Wareham
Sweet Apple – The Golden Age of Glitter
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
J Mascis – Tied to a Star
Passenger Peru – Passenger Peru
Iceage – Plowing into the Field of Love
White Fence – For the Recently Found Innocent
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
Drive-by Truckers – English Oceans
Scott Walker & Sunn O))) – Soused
Reigning Sound -- Shattered
Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth
Guided by Voices – Cool Planet
King Tuff – Black Moon Spell
Robert Ellis – The Lights from the Chemical Plant
The Bad Plus – Inevitable Western
Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Sprit Meets the Bone
Gruff Rhys – American Interior
Thee Oh Sees -- Drop
Hookworms -- The Hum
Black Lips – Underneath the Rainbow
J Masics – Tied to a Star
Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin
Ex Hex -- Rips
Kelly Willis & Keith Robison – Our Year
Lydia Loveless -- Somewhere Else
Tony Molina -- Dissed and Dismissed

Shellac – Dude Incredible

Friday, December 20, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2013

I had planned on a Top 30 combined "new release" and "archival" list, but I ran out of room.  Sorry, I don't have time for writing the usual capsule reviews for the albums on my list this year.  See you in 2014, mofos.

1.      Parquet Courts – Light up Gold  Spotify or Youtube

2.      Savages – Silence Yourself Spotify or Youtube

3.      Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou -- The Skeletal Essences of Afro Funk 1969-1980 Youtube

4.      Hookworms – Pearl Mystic Spotify or Youtube 

5.      Fuzz – Fuzz Spotify or Youtube

6.      Various Artists - Stand Up, People: Gypsy Pop Songs From Tito's Yugoslavia 1964-1980 Youtube

7.      Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady Spotify or Youtube

8.      Waxahatchee – Cerluean Salt Spotify or Youtube

9.      Mikal Cronin – Mc II Spotify or Youtube

10.   Wooden Shijps – Back to Land Spotify or Youtube

11.   Various Artists -- The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Bollywood

12.   Robbie Fulks – Gone Away Backwards

13.   David Bowie – The Next Day

*14.   Bob Dylan -- Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10

15.   Various Artists -- Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound

16.   Kurt Vile – Walkin on a Pretty Daze

17.   Tamikrest -- Chatma

18.   Grant Hart – The Argument

19.   Various Artists -- Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings From The 1970s & 80s

20.   Ty Segall – Sleeper

21.   William Onyeabor – World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor?

22.  Guy Clark -- My Favorite Picture of You

23.  Iceage – You’re Nothing

24.   Anna Calvi – One Breath

25.   The Fall – Re-mit

26.   Various Artists -- Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight to Ghana 1974-83

27.   of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar

28.   Jason Isbell – Southeastern

29.   Torres -- Torres

30.   Purling Hiss – Water on Mars

31.   Various Artists -- I Heard the Angels Singing: Electrifying Black Gospel from The Nashboro Label 1951-1983

32.   Richard Thompson -- Electric

33.   Bombino -- Nomad

34.   Charles Bradley – Victim of Love

35.   White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade

36.   Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

37.   Wire – Change Becomes Us

38.  Laura Marling -- Once I was an Eagle

*Bob's 10th bootleg series release is probably really my #1 album of the year, but sometimes I need to hide the degree of my Dylanphile-ness in order to maintain overall credibility.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2012

I planned on taking a stab at writing an erudite and compelling take on 2012’s music by exploring the notions of derivation and decentralization in the modern music scene.  Unfortunately, dear reader, I can’t find the time to deliver the goods.  Fortunately for you, however, you can read a post on this very subject on my friend's Best of 2012 list over at joys of speed.   It probably would just make sense for you to read his music blog on a regular basis, period. 

Let’s just suffice it to say that many (but not all!) of the albums on my list are either clearly inspired by bands I have already listened to on a regular basis from yesteryear, or are artists that I have been following for 5, 10, or 20+ years. 

Besides, we spend the clear majority of our home music time spinning country/western records from the 1950s to the 1970s and also archival Latin American and African music from the 60s and 70s on the turntable.  I can tell you a lot more about what was going on in Nashville, Cartagena, Austin, or Lagos in 1972 than I could tell you about popular music in the U.S. in 2012.

1.       Olds Sleeper –  Head First and New Year’s Poem

*Olds Sleeper is a medium-fi home recorder from rural, southern Pennsylvania.  For efficiencies sake, I'd describe him as sort of a cross between Bukka White, Townes Van Zandt, J.J. Cale, and Tom Waits.  I know that sounds like crazy talk, but I swear on my copy of TVZ’s “Live at the Old Quarter” it is true. Olds put out two albums in 2012 and I included both of them.  [Cheating, I know.  You better get used to it as it happens a few more times.] He also records albums as Jellyspine Jenkins.  All of his albums can be streamed for free (and downloads purchased) at his Bandcamp site:

2.       Goat – World Music

*Voodoo fusion from northern Sweden.  They never appear in public without wearing goat masks.  Can meets Fela meets Sabbath meets…and so forth.  Take a listen to the album on Youtube and then buy their album on lovely purple vinyl.

3.       Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse, Hair [with White Fence], and Twins

*A tremendous trio of albums by this fine San Francisco-based psych-freak-garage rocker.  He is prolific and has the creative stamina to match the productivity.  He has had an album on my year-end favorites list for 3 years running.  I finally caught him in concert with his band (and White Fence) in May ’12 at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI.  They rawked.  Take a listen to Twins on Youtube.

4.       Bob Dylan – Tempest

*Yet another obscure medium-fi home recorder—this time from the Midwest.  Wow, some dude from the Iron Range in northern MN releases his first album after a lifetime of working at a grocery store in Hibbing.  What a late bloomer!  I wonder which customer inspired the song “Pay in Blood” on the album?

5.       Patterson Hood –  Heat Lightening Rumbles in the Distance

*I had been a bit underwhelmed by the last two or three Drive-By Truckers (one of my very favorite bands of the last decade) releases, but Hood’s second solo album is a dandy.  This is a restrained album (don’t expect DBT 3-guitar wailing) with great instrumentation to go with his descriptions of life, violence, love, sorrow, and the 'southern thang.' 

6.       Lambchop – Mr. M

*Another mellow, haunting, quirky, and wonderful masterpiece by this orchestral, countrypolitan Nashville institution.  I’ve been buying and digging their albums since 1996. 

7.       Guided by Voices – Let’s Go Eat the Factory, Class Clown Spots a UFO, and The Bears for Lunch

*I was at the “final” Guided by Voices shows on Dec. 30th and 31st, 2004 at the Metro in Chicago.  If you would have told me after that farewell 3-hour concert that the “original” mid-1990s GbV lineup would be releasing three great new albums in 2012, I probably wouldn’t have remembered as I was exhausted from the 100+ songs played over the course of the two nights.  Though maybe I should have seen the signs of reunification through the foggy haze of those last two shows--Mitch Mitchell and Tobin Sprout played with Pollard those nights for the first time in some years and everyone seemed to be having a grand time.

8.       Japandroids – Celebration Rock

*To be honest, I thought they would have a sophomore slump after a great debut with Post-Nothing in 2009.  I was wrong.  This was a cornerstone of my early summer soundtrack.

9.       Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

*Third album by Ms. Van Etten.  Produced by that dude from The National.  Striking lyrics and that voice.  That voice!

10.   Alt-J – An Awesome Wave

*I don’t use a Mac but this album still rang the bell for me.  Plus, triangles are my favorite shapes too!

11.   Bomba Estereo -- Elegancia Tropical

*The sophomore album by a Colombian band that I started digging after a trip to the country in 2010.  Electro-rock that pulls from all sorts of traditional Colombian musical traditions.

12.   Iris DeMent – Sing the Delta

*Her first album in forever.  Nearly 15 years?  I am still kicking myself for missing the local Prine/DeMent show in the spring.

13.   King Tuff – King Tuff

*You may know him as the singer in J. Mascis’ doom metal band Witch, but this is his garage band project.  There is a bit more polish this go around as compared to the King Tuff debut release a few years back.  Hooks and drooling guitars abound.

14.   Bob Mould – Silver Age

*”Return to form.”  “Best release since Copper Blue.”  “Helps the listener make sense of his authored plots for his WCW pro wrestling gig.”  "Mould seems to be enjoying rocking again." Believe the hype.

15.   Tame Impala – Lonerism

*A top-notch retro (with modern flourishes), atmospheric, psych voyage from Oz.  I was underwhelmed by 2010's Innerspeaker but really dig this one.

16.   Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II

*The 1,447th album release since 2007 by these San Fran garage rockers.  This one has fewer rough edges—not necessarily a good thing but a nice change of pace.

17.   Jack White – Blunderbuss

*As JW’s appearance slowly morphs into Michael Jackson’s:  who will be his Elizabeth Taylor?

18.   Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

*She may very well need a chaperone.

19.   Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

*Embrace the squall.  Could any other artist sing lines like “Gonna get a hip hop haircut“ and “I used to dig Picasso“ to such great effect?

20.   Dr. John -- Locked Down

*The Doctor goes deep swamp on this fine rockin’ album.  While I’m not a big fan of The Black Keys, Dan A. does a great job with the production on this one.

21.   Ray Wylie Hubbard -- The Grifter's Hymnal

*Seriously.  Get up against the wall, red neck mothers.  Stop your sons from kicking hippies’ asses and raising hell.

22.   The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

*My favorite Darnielle release in some years.

23.   Shintaro Sakamoto -- How to Live with a Phantom

*By far and away my favorite Japanese sunshine pop-rock album of the year.

24.   METZ – METZ

*A booted kick in the head from this Canadian power trio.  My favorite “rock” album of the year.

25.   Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
*Really like this and it probably should be higher up the list.  My favorite since The Future.



My Favorite Albums of 2011

I'm only about 13 months late with this....have had it ready to paste for a whole year.

1.       St. Vincent –  Strange Mercy

2.       White Denim – D

3.       TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light

4.       PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

5.       Battles – Gloss Drop

6.       Tom Waits – Bad as Me

7.       Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread

8.       The Fall – Ersatz G.B.

9.       Wilco – The Whole Love

10.   Various Artists -- Sing For Your Meat: A Tribute To Guided By Voices

11.   Centro-matic – Candidate Waltz

12.   Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic

13.   Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

14.   Seun Kuti & Egypt ’80 –  From Africa with Fury: Rise

15.   Kate Bush – 50 Words for Snow

16.   Various Artists – This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark

17.   Tinariwen – Tassili

18.   Robyn Hitchcock – Tromso, Kaptein

19.   Boston Spaceships – Let it Beard

20.   Merle Haggard – Working in Tennessee

21.   Wire – Red Barked Tree

22.   Man Man – Life Fantastic

23.   Blitzen Trapper – American Goldwing

24.   Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

25.   The War on Drugs – Slave Ambient

Monday, June 6, 2011

Neil Young in 1984/1985

Neil's tours with the "International Harvesters" in 1984 and 1985 have provided me with some of my favorite concert bootlegs. The new "A Treasure" release next week provides us official release of 12 live tracks from those tours. The new album probably won't stack up to the complete Austin 1984 soundboard tape or 3-disc 1984 tour compilation that have been in circulation for a long while, but I look forward to hearing it nonetheless.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Upcoming Disaster Songs Compilation (Coming Summer 2011, mofos)

I have been working on my disaster songs mixtape for many a month. Here are two of the selections:

O'Death -- "Fire on Peshtigo":

Obviously, side B will open with Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald":

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The 4 things I am currently liking about TV on the Radio

1. New single from the forthcoming album Nine Types of Light which comes out April 12th on Interscope Records:

TV On The Radio - "Will Do" by Interscope Records

2. I preordered the new album on

3. The new album cover -- photo by band member Dave Sitek.

4. I just bought tickets today for a TV on the Radio show in April.

I am one happy TV on the Radio fan, mofos.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I've Been Partying with Jann Wenner

All apologies for the lack of updates in the last 7 weeks.

Ever since this blog was featured in the year-end music coverage in Rolling Stone (well, actually by a music column on, I have had little time to post. Once Jann's private jet picked me up on December 31st, I have been hitting the international rock-n-roll party circuit on Mr. Wenner's dime. Chatting about surrealist poetry with David Bowie and Chevy Chase at a party in Paris? Check. Making fun of Mick Jagger with Keith Richards and Johnny Depp on a rooftop in South Beach? Check.

I ducked out of the non-stop Jann-guided party right before the Grammys.  I had to draw a line somewhere.

I hope to provide capsule reviews soon on some of the new albums that I have heard this year--from the likes of PJ Harvey, the Decemberists, the Drive-By Truckers, New York Dolls, Wire, Radiohead, Gang of Four, Ghostface Killah, Yuck, Hayes Carll, The Dirtbombs, Wanda Jackson, Iron & Wine, Destroyer, Smith Westerns, etc.

I haven't watched the Grammys since 1998 [then it was mainly to watch the Dylan lovefest that culminated in Time Out of Mind winning album of the year], but I sought out this fine Janelle Monae clip from this year's Grammys. I am still beating myself up over missing the Monae/Of Montreal tour this past fall. Arghhh.

Be cool, stay in school.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Today was a Day for "Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals" by The Smiths

About 10 days back a handful of new demos and outtakes from The Smiths started circulating--the best copies seem to come from a gray market double-LP set that hit various record stores in the U.S. and Great Britain earlier in the month. Some of the demos have not been in wide circulation before this release. I am trying to track down the rumored connections to the Wikileaks document dump but haven't solved the case as of yet. I'll keep you posted.

Download this treasure trove of high-quality tunes for yourself here.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
Reel Around The Fountain
Rusholme Ruffians
The Queen Is Dead
Sheila Take A Bow
This Night Has Opened My Eyes
Untitled One (Marr Instrumental)
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Is It Really So Strange?
Frankly, Mr. Shankly
Shoplifters Of The World Unite (Reprise)
Girlfriend In A Coma
Death Of A Disco Dancer
Paint A Vulgar Picture
Untitled Two (Marr Instrumental)

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Favorite Albums of 2010

Last week I posted my list of Favorite Archival Albums of 2010. Today's list is comprised of albums of "new" material released during this calendar year. It wasn't really too hard to keep up with new releases in 2010, as streaming services like [for the first half of the year],, NPR's First Listen, and allow one to stream albums for free. As well, vinyl and CD prices are fairly low right now which allowed me to purchase a good amount of PVC and polycarbonate platters, respectively.

Anyway, let's get to the list. I have known my likely favorite album of the year since early summer, though the rest of the list has been in flux up to this morning. I was shooting for a top 15 list, but I couldn't make 'em all fit without cheating. Here is the list of my 16 favorite albums of 2010, along with some honorable mentions:

1) Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid (at and stream on grooveshark)

It was not really much of a competition for the number one slot. This was by far and away my favorite album of the year. This release is all over the map musically, with no song sounding the same as the one before it--funk, soul, Disneyesque interludes, tripped-out folk, paranoia-infused crooning, sharp electric guitar licks, wistful ballads, etc. Plus it has the added benefit of being a concept album set in a futuristic sci-fi world with an interlocking storyline of survival and rebellion. It is as if Ms. Monae intentionally set about the task of punching all your faithful blogger's buttons, both musically and lyrically. I hope she "keeps it weird" as her career moves forward and that she stays this ambitious.

2) Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (at and stream on grooveshark)

Angst --> Ambition --> New Jersey -->Indulgence -->Brilliance

3) Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer of the Void (at and stream on grooveshark)

Few albums were in more frequent rotation this summer than the 5th album by Portland's BT. Starting with the prog turn(s) in the opening track and on through the laid-back vibe of the remainder of the album, it was the perfect soundtrack to my June through August. I think I am probably in the minority on this album as I like it even better than 2009's Furr (and also 2007's Wild Mountain Nation). BT have a knack for getting away with some fairly schmaltzy lyrics at times (on par with early career Neil Young). Yet they somehow work. I am not sure how they pull it off. After the Gold Rush, mofos.

4) Ty Segall -- Melted (at and stream on grooveshark)

The Bay Area's one and only garage psych king. One of my great finds of the last year. I am now working my way backward through the Segall oeuvre. Don't make him carry the Jay Reatard (RIP) mantle--give him some breathing room.

5) The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack (at and stream on grooveshark)

Yes, there are Jonathan Richman, Velvets, and surf rock influences here, but I think the band gives us considerable value-added with the nifty songwriting and the churning arrangements. Play this loud, mofos.

6) Bee vs. Moth -- Acronyms (at

I reviewed this album (well, sorta reviewed it and linked to some of the album's tunes) a few months back.

7) Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me (at and stream disc 1 on grooveshark)

I gave this wonderful triple-vinyl album a lengthy review back on the 1st of May.

8) The Budos Band – III (at and stream on grooveshark)

The soundtrack to what you should be doing right now instead of reading my blog.

9) Roky Erickson with Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil (at and stream on grooveshark)

Look, I’m not one of those dudes who is at your local indie record store, flipping quickly through the crates of vinyl, wearing a Roky shirt, and muttering about creatures with atom brains; but I am a fan of Roky and glad he can surface again with this great artistic update. I am not a big fan of the Okkervil River production and some of the arrangements, but the albums rises above those shortcomings. Goodbye Sweet Dreams.

10) The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter (at and stream on grooveshark)

American translation: Get off my lawn. Get off my Goddamn lawn.

11) Of Montreal – False Priest (at and stream on grooveshark)

I know that this album is underwhelming to certain OM fans, but Side 1A of the double vinyl set contains the best LP side of pop songs of the year for me. Sides 1B, 2A, and 2B are each a nice spin as well. I look forward to seeing where OM go next. "I participated in all your protests / Supported your stupid little blog / Got a Bowflex / Wore colored contacts to match your dress."

12) Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (at and stream on grooveshark)

Keep on keepin' on, Mr. Cave. Weird to be following you into middle-age. Who woulda thunk it? Mofo is 53. I hit the big 4-0 next month. Listen to this album instead of reading Tom Wolfe's Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. And certainly don't do both at the same time, etc.

13) Various Artists -- Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine (at and stream on grooveshark)

A tribute album to one of my very favorite songwriters. The album includes prime Prine covers by the likes of Bon Iver, Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, Josh Ritter, Lambchop, Justin Townes Earle, The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sara Watkins, Drive-By Truckers, Deer Tick, and Those Darlins. I am only a fan of about half of these artists, but the majesty of Prine's songwriting shines through on each and every respectful track.

14) Ted Leo And The Pharmacists -- The Brutalist Bricks (at and stream on grooveshark)

Contains my favorite opening line of an album this year: "When the café doors exploded, I reacted, too. Reacted to you, reacted to you.”

15) Maximum Balloon -- Maximum Balloon [tied](at and stream on grooveshark)

This is Dave Sitek's (from TV on the Radio) solo album. Lots of special help on here: David Byrne, Karen O, Kyp Malone, and Theophilus London. I am very ready for a new TVotR release. Signs point to 2011?

15) Midlake -- The Courage of Others [tied](at and stream on grooveshark)

Grap your flute, don your cloak, and meet me in the forest. Hurry up, we have little time.

Some honorable mentions, in no particular order:
•White Denim – Last Day of Summer
•King Sunny Adé – Bábá Mo Túndé
•Mulatu Astatke – Steps Ahead
•Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am
•Various Artists -- Twistable Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to Shel Silverstein
•Willie Nelson – Country Music
•Harlem – Hippies
•Thee Oh Sees – Warm Slime
•Trampled by Turtles -- Palomino
•Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues
•Magnetic Fields – Realism
•AfroCubism – Afrocubism
•Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
•Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band – Legacy
•Nels Cline Singers – Initiate
•Ray Wylie Hubbard -- A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint: There Is No C)
•Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
•Marc Ribot -- Silent Movies
•Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way
•Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking it Easy
•Wolf Parade – Expo 86
•Alejandro Escovedo – Street Songs of Love
•The Steeldrivers - Reckless
•Bryan Ferry – Olympia
•Laurie Anderson - Homeland
•The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
•Orquestra De Tambores De Alagoas -- Bantus E Caetes
•The Black Keys – Brothers
•Mavis Staples – You are Not Alone
•Konono No. 1 -- Assume Crash Position
•Richard Thompson – Dream Attic
•Menomena - Mines