bestuv 2007, muse, uck: Honorable Mentions, and Best

(originally published on March 8, 2008. let’s revisit these recs before we dig into the voluminous 2008 list. retrospective remarks, everybody?)

bottomless pit: hammer of the gods

you never know how it’s going to play out in the culture war in your own head. you never know which moments will end up canonical memories, and which’ll end up forgotten til somebody says something, or you smell something reminiscent ten years after. well, sometimes you do, actually. back in 2006, the family and i went to the touch and go 25th anniversary in chi-town, and that was obviously a big event.

there, tim and andy from silkworm played with a rhthm sctin as “tim and andy,” for an early public performance after skwm drummer micheal dahlquist’s death. that was an emotional, serious personal ‘art moment’ for me, a special one.

regardless, what’s cool about this record is that it’s not a eulogy…it’s got an emotional hangover vibe, doubtless, but it takes place months after the primordial grief period. so it’s in ways even darker, but it’s painted with more subtle, more-sorrowful-than-somber tones both lyrically and gtr-wise. oh yeah, this record is at least as vivid, and far more expansive gtr-wise than anything by SKWM, and reminds me more of the art-rock-for-grown-ups virtues of a Sonic Nurse, say, than any of the Chicago/Albini bands people naturally bring up when they bring up SKWM. oh, and i think the drummer is the guy from Seam.

ryan adams, easy tiger

better than just “not bad,” featuring high points that are clearly as high as anybody on this list’s best stuff. but it doesn’t sound like an album, even though the story line goes that this was Lost Highway’s alb more than Ryan’s, a sort-of “sorry for being so effed up on the powder and the spike” gesture. speaking of being high, i felt like a wheezing, peaking phish head when ryan announced only releasing double-lps of live material from now on, supplemented with the occasional, kind of “best of” cd.

brandon butler, lucky thumbs

how many of the players on your top 10 records from the 90s reappear on your top 10 from the 00s? not many for me, actually… but butler fronted KC’s boys life, whose departures and landfalls looms large as the closest thing that post-Slint emo music has to an Edward Hopper painting. and then he started Canyon, whose Empty Rooms stands with 100 Miles Off and Magnolia Electric Co. as a 00s-era record i like to rock when i’d like to sing and rock around the house. it’s no wonder jay farrar snapped up canyon’s drum man and key man for son volt, believe me.

nowadays bradon’s going it alone with producer Brendan Canty making things happen on the controls. three or four of these songs have fabulous lyrical runs, and one or two almost match Canyon for that weird, chrome shimmer they can make happen. but no, it’s not the same…. i cannot for the life of me understand why somebody with this much talent might feel a need to keep trying after early steve earle-ish yarnspinning. yet. mebbe you’ll produce a hammer on the next one, Brand?

!!!, myth takes

these dudes lay a deeper groove than most of the other fan-friendly post-p/funk outfits… similarly, their albs weild more deep cuts. what can i say, other than that this was big with me when it came out in march, but hasn’t survived the summer/fall in terms of staying in the rotation. there’s some brilliant hits such as “must be the moon,” but en general i guess my listening to actual funk/disco/soul has sorta somehow overtaken my focus on its indie inheritors. that’s far from commonsensical if you’re me, and shouldn’t be read as a statement on the relative c/nc status of !!!, who, by the way, also performed at the touch and go thing in 2006 when we were younger. bye.

radiohead, in rainbows

really nice work, guys. the thing about being this kind of multiplatinum, multimillion dollar b(r)and is that with it comes the same freedom you’d associate with other such independently wealthy, tasteful whiteboy gestures. thom yorke et al are hip dudes with interesting musical ideas and their own take on cultural critique going on, but ultimately their art is a sign of the times in the same way that Abstract Expressionism is…has nothing to do with the fact that the practitioners of In Rainbows or painterly abstraction were “against” something or other…. it has to do with a certain diffuse sense of angst in the context of a (formal) will away from representation, towards pure form, which is, shucks, formless.

oh, and “weird fishes” mebbe best song of the year. it’s up there.

thurston moore, trees outside the academy

oh shucks, it’s sonic nurse on acoustic guitars with violins, etc.

oh shucks, it’s sonic nurse on acoustic guitars with violins, etc.

oh shucks, it’s sonic nurse on acoustic guitars with violins, etc.

this year i made an acoustic-guitar based art-rock record. so did thurston moore. his is better, but i think mine is related to his in some way, if only a derivative one. basically, it’s sonic nurse on acoustic guitars with violins, etc. what that means for you depends on you.

deerhunter cryptograms

Hey! The South has a band that sounds like this now! And it’s awesome. The South may actually end up being the best for this kind of music, now that it’s up and running with it. Wow, it’s like a bunch of androgynous Liars roadies decided to cover Sonic Youth. They’re drunk, not stoned, and there’s one guy in the band who really is more of a Nirvana/Pixies guy, who keeps replacing Santiago-ish minor melody for the Moore-ish drone. If you don’t understand how the above description could be earnest and laudatory and not “damning with faint praise,” then stop reading my wordpress thing.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Living With the Living

Sure.
Ted Leo was a biggie of an influence on me in more ways than you wanna know…I first met him when Chisel still aped Superchunk more than the Small Faces. So again, full disclosure: I’m not, uh, “Mr Objectivity Harrison,” over here.
A long time ago, Chisel’s third record reminded me to listen to my inner-dude’s heartsong and remind myself how much I loved Joe Jackson. In a “ten years later” kinda way, this is like that. Which is great. Face is always saved on Leo records when, no matter how much his production tastes creep towards the late early eighties, his “punk” songs still “kick your judgemental face down the street.” I’m even “convinced” by the reggae, but then, I convince myself to identify as a fucking Dem, so…
And there’s the big, money-shot “Jersey Boy” verse in “Bottle of Buckie” that gives me the hots (– which reminds me of something in a contradictory enough kind of way. I definitely, unambiguously prefer the Oregon Coast to the Jersey Shore, pizza pie notwithstanding. Sor…)

Sea and Cake To Everybody

Okay, so every one of these reviews is dampened/tempered/nullified by peculiar, parochial proclivities (paroculiaries?). That said, none is more dampened than this one, chits.
I stopped stealing from Sam Prekop a long time ago. Now I just run and hide behind his music: the solo stuff and S + C is like my most reaffirming, blankie-like, Coat-of-Arms-Embossed Shield.
So when I say “I love it, it’s great,” what do I really mean? Maybe I just mean “Feed Me” or something.

“Up On Crutches,” though, and the guitar break coming out of “Exact to Me” are worthy of big trophies. On the latter I can hear McEntire’s cymbal smiling.

Heaviness s/t

…..Anyway, this Heaviness thing was recommended by the Built on a Weak Spot guy, and it hits me right between my My Bloody Spleen and Flying Saucer Kindey. Awesome dissonant bliss guitars AND synths AND primitivist sci fi drum “sequences.” I’m a sucker for this, I was made for this, so take my rantings in that context. Ooooh! I love this.

wilco sky blue sky

one crowd sees this as a sort of regression from the “experimentalism” of the last two records; the other sees it as a positive, rockist statement worthy of “rock n roll hall of fame” grandeur. “ah, this guy’s cleaning up a little, and really feeling things.” bullshit on both fronts. first of all, Sgt. Peppers‘ came out almost 40 years ago, and there’s nothing on Yankee Hotel that’s not mapped out on that or Notorious Byrds or Sister Lovers. talk of them wilco being experimental is like the same talk about radiohead: you can only fall sway to delusions of a vanguardism about them if you haven’t heard neu!. but seriously, folks… i like wilco much (r-head, too), but not because they’re paving new free rock territory. tweedy is a serious songwriter and his band kills. he’s been crazy prolific this century, with no major fuckups. on the other hand, i don’t think he’s been listening to buttloads of james taylor or something…not any more than he’s always listened to, anyway. actually, more i listen to it the more this record sounds like the recent Loose Fur record (not as good, though.) it’s fun to play this record.

ryan adams follow the lights: maybe i listen to ryan adams too much. i spend too much time in my own head, making arguments for how he’s actually somehow cool. but in the end it may be a very personal thing: i identify with his self-indulgence, or his 1974 fm dreams, or his succession of personal failures that bely all outward successes, or his always falling short of feeling cool?

who knows why this ep was released? it features precious little new material, and a bunch of mostly deep cuts reworked in the newly-enshrined cardinals’ style. yet i still wonder if this ep – why was it released? – shouldn’t’ve been the one put in the starbucks kiosks. album rock for james blunt fans, but also good? i know it’s weird.

shellac, excellent italian greyhound

when i talk about that new band i’ve been talking about for the last 2 years, i’m actually talking about two different bands. one is coming out of the 154-era wire and early Burma pocket; the other is a combination of the recent, “comeback” Burma albums and this long awaited Shellac epic, which sounds like Codeine a lot, sounds as intelligent as any latter-day Fugazi and even has one of two non-bullshit protest songs i’ve heard this time around. it must have something to do with Bob Weston, whose tone is so ampeg that it’s transcended tone, and just thuds you across the face like a concrete floor.
this goes for his tape manipulations as well as his bass.

magnolia electric company, sojourner
best thing of the year, though with a moody asterik because the albs were all recorded years ago, just only released now. i had lived a lifetime – not necessarily the loveliest one – with these songs by the time they came out. they are unfailingly appealing and great. the separate albums each have their own tone, and nobody alive sings like Jason Molina.

really, great stuff. i just haven’t felt like listening to it in a long while though i cannot wait for the live show to come back around. and of course Jason’s saying the occasional nice thing about my music has always meant a whole bleeping lot. it’s the newest installment in the rich highway-rock sweepstakes. i just haven’t been at a (figurative) truck stop, or (figuratively) marooned on the (actual) road in a very long time.  i have different dilemmas for the moment, neither better nor lesser than those skirted and represented by this important american writing.

coming up soon….The Winners, and Bestuv 2007 mix cds for download…

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7 Responses to “bestuv 2007, muse, uck: Honorable Mentions, and Best”

  1. andrew Says:

    worth the wait / weight

  2. daveedo Says:

    i just discovered ted leo via living with the living this year, great record (though it could’ve been edited down to 10-12 tracks). found it at the library. would love to get recommendations from you on his back catalogue.

  3. kyle Says:

    Top 3 based on playback in the Kyle/George household/carhold:

    1. Bottomless Pit
    2. Shellac
    3. Ted Leo

    For the record, Patty and I’ve hardly talked about/recommended these records to each other at all.

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  5. gabbagabbahey Says:

    Trees Outside the Academy – I came to that late, as in January/February this year. Good stuff. I’m assuming your record didn’t feature J. Mascis on lead guitar either?

    Heaviness – that came out last year? I remembering dl’ing it with a bunch of other modern shoegazing albums. Also good stuff.

  6. Bestuv 2008, pt. 1: Haven’t Heards, Haven’t Heard Enoughs, General Trends « The PrisonShip Says:

    […] Deerhunter: Yeah, this is really something. It’s on everybody else’s list, so lemme just say that this is the album I knew they could make, but was never sure they would make. I gather that their live show is still really the thing, but damned if this alb doesn’t qualify as “fully realized.” For whom is this unlistenable? How? Congratulations, blokes. (for an earlier description of these lads and their, i dunno, Greg Oden-ish well of potential, see here.) […]

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