This is a slightly edited version of a message board reply I made in reponse to a great post about the “Matador at 21” event in Las Vegas this fall. The original poster, Barabajagal, described his feelings about the event as “a way of celebrating, yet leaving behind, this music that meant so much over the last 20 years,” and I got to thinking about my own feelings about this music as GLONO approaches its tenth birthday…
Twenty-one years. Think of that in terms of rock and roll history. Look at a label like at Atlantic Records. They started in 1947 as a jazz/r&b label and twenty-one years later they released Led Zeppelin. I realize that between 1947 and 1968 things were changing radically and quickly, but still.
Twenty-one years ago, no one had cell phones, and personal computers didn’t do much other than games and word processing. The world has changed pretty radically since 1989, too. But Matador albums still sound like Matador albums. Which is great, I guess. Look at this discography. They’re one of the most consistent labels out there (along with Merge), but it’s okay to get bored with it and to stop caring about new releases that sound like warmed up versions of stuff that came out 20 years ago.
But if you think things are bad now, just wait until the full-on 90s revival kicks in…any minute now…
• The Extra Lens – Undercard (More fine songs from John Darnielle.)
• Daniel Martin Moore & Ben Sollee – Dear Companion (Modern mountain music.)
• Pernice Brothers – Goodby, Killer (Joe proves he’s a badass.)
• Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (Overambition at its best.)
• Wavves – King of the Beach (Glad the kids still use drugs.)
• Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (I was happy with the 13 free G.O.O.D. Fridays songs, but dang…)
• Liz Phair – Funstyle (Goofy is better than boring.)
• Superchunk – Majesty Shredding (You can’t help but smile.)
• The Vaselines – Sex with an X (In a perfect world, this would be Top 40 pop.)
• Neil Young – Le Noise (Play it loud.)
• Weezer – Pinkerton (All the b-sides, and a couple newly discovered rarities.)
• Wings – Band on the Run (It sounds awesome.)
• George Michael – Faith (Extras are few and lame.)
• Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (Sounds worse than the 1993 remaster and Mick tinkered with the bonus tracks. Boo.)
• It’s a great album that is still in heavy rotation around GLONO West and seeing it live was no disappointment. Ben and Jay deliver.
• I can think of 101 more reason why this is the greatest rock and roll photo of all time, but then Jake would have to kill me.
• John Mayer is a douchebag but this shorty still brings in mad traffic to GLONO. He may not have a ghetto pass but we’ll gladly buy the dude a hot dog next time he’s in Chicago.
• Larry Crane is in the running for 2009’s Upright Standing Man of the Year award based solely on his meticulous dedication to preserving Elliott Smith’s music. What more can we ask of him?
• Because this was actually fun to write, and because it’s irrefutable evidence Jake and I are idiots.
• New song or an outtake…? I have no idea, but this is the best Stones song we’ve heard in over 25 years.
• First highlighted as a Cool Band Alert, Pancho San is still tearing up my turntable.
• I love a good debate and I love Macca. Them’s the ingredients for a classic GLONO bruhaha.
• Jake Brown packs up GLONO HQ and heads east to the land of Hash Bash and hairy chicks.
• A new congress is seated this week with Republicans in the majority in the House and a stronger minority in the Senate. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
• No, seriously. Bobby Keys is the coolest Rolling Stone.
• Jesse Malin loves rock and roll. I mean, he loves it a lot.
• Roky Erickson with Okkervil River – True Love Cast Out All Evil
• Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
• High On Fire – Snakes For The Divine
• Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation
• Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
• Vampire Weekend – Contra
• The National – High Violet
• Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
• Best Coast – Crazy For You
• Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
I have a full baker’s dozen with an extra 13 titles as honorable mentions over at the Glam-Racket. I love this shit.
The DaVinci 10
Having read The Lost Symbol this past year, I am now beginning to see patterns where no patterns seemingly existed before. Shows what little I perceived. Robert Langdon could have putt a smack-down on me in nothing flat.
But no longer will I be misled or uniformed. If he can do it, so can I.
Which leads me to be rather suspicious of the “Top 10 in 2010.”
Let’s take a look at what we have here. Why 10? Is it in some way a reference to Bo Derek, star of 10, which was directed by Blake Edwards. . .who died in 2010? Or how about bowling, which uses 10 pins, which leads us to The Big Lebowski, which then goes to Jeff Bridges who is presently appearing in Tron and True Grit but who won an Academy Award last year for Crazy Heart, for a character named Bad Blake, a film that T. Bone Burnett also won an Oscar for? Neither of whom is dead. And let’s take into account that the name of the album that’s subtitled “The Essential T-Bone Burnett” is “Twenty-Twenty.”
And what about those numbers. Top 10. 2010. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
While “Top 10” seems to imply an upward direction (i.e., going to the Top as in “Top of the Pops”), did you ever notice that there is typically a countdown, starting at 10 and then going to zero (or “liftoff”)? But then why when a band is going to start a song, their count-in is a count-up, as in McCartney’s “One, two, three, four” at the start of “I Saw Her Standing There” or the “Uno, dos, tres, quarto” that opens “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs?
Wait a minute. Pharaohs. Ancient Egypt. Pyramids. The Great Pyramid. The Lost Friggin’ Symbol.
Enough of this Top 10 stuff. There’s a mystery to solve.
Yeezy Taught Me
11. Kanye emerges from Wisconsin backwoods holding hands with Bon Iver. Twitter goes nuts.
10. Kanye joins Twitter. Twitter goes nuts.
9. Kanye follows a random dude, Steve Holmes, from England. Twitter goes nuts. The dude, Steve Holmes also goes nuts, says he’s just a “regular guy” that doesn’t “deserve” any attention.
8. Kanye begins G.O.O.D. FRIDAYS. Twitter goes nuts and the dude, Steve Holmes, that Kanye follows on Twitter falls back into obscurity.
7. The best interviewer ever (NOT) Matt Lauer interviews America’s least racist president ever, George Bush, and the former president says that Kanye’s remarks on his inaction during Katrina was “lowest point” in his presidency. Twitter forces Kanye to go nuts (see #6).
6. Kanye apologizes to America’s least racist President ever, George Bush, for saying “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” back in 2006 and white people on Twitter think about their tweets a lot (so that they’re not considered racist) before they tweet about Kanye’s apology, but still go nuts.
5. Kanye doesn’t tweet for a couple of days and Twitter searches the timeline of John Mayer to see if he’s doing anything racist like he did in that Playboy interview back in February which doesn’t count in the top ten things that happened in 2010 because only things that Kanye did count in 2010. Nobody cares about John Mayer’s tweets, Twitter misses Kanye.
4. Kanye drops RUNAWAY film. (a) Morgan Freeman isn’t in it and feels sad. (b) White people on Twitter don’t know what to think about a film where white people serve black people so the Twitter goes nuts but is confusing during this period.
3. Kanye drops My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy. Twitter loses its mind.
2. Kanye receives a 10.0 on Pitchfork. I regret not tweeting @pitchfork “reparations are no longer necessary now
that you have given kanye a 10.0.” I count to see if that was 140 characters.
1. Kanye “reupholsters my pussy” on Twitter and then I get lots and lots of followers on Twitter and become really famous and Twitter’s faith is restored in black women after Nicki Menaj’s big disappointment of an album.
• John Lennon’s 70th Birthday on October 9 and the 30th anniversary of his death on December 7 gave me chills good and bad that can only be described as a spiritual experience.
• Realizing that “stoner” music actually sounds much better sober, and that power-pop sounds better wasted.
• Ever think about the fact that there are literally millions of good rock musicians in the world, but only a few hundred good bands? Makes you realize the incredible importance of chemistry, teamwork and a shared vision in every band.
• Seen Spinal Tap lately? If you have ever been in a band or been around bands, this is the masterpiece! Watch it again! There really is “a fine line between stupid and clever.”
• Jimmy Page in “It Might Get Loud” wearing clothes that looked like he shops at The Gap and still somehow coming across as being the coolest motherfucker ever.
• “Monsters of Folk.” A superior album, superior songwriting, superior vocals that did not get the credit it deserves because it is the stupidest fucking name for a band ever!
• Do you realize that you will wake up one day and learn that Keith Richards has died?
• Finally discovering The Decemberists. I know I’m not a music junkie, but how did I not know about this band until this year?
• Finds it eerie how the Wilco albums lyrical content has mirrored my own life over the last decade and a half. Tweedy are you stalking me?
• My Morning Jacket on a long bike ride.
• Good heavy metal is the best anti-anxiety medication.
Alan M. Paterson
1. jonsi – go (stream the whole album here)
2. kanye west – my beautiful dark twisted fantasy
3. the national – high violet
4. drake – thank me later
5. eminem – recovery
6. big boi – sir lucious left foot…the son of chico dusty
7. lcd soundsystem – this is happening
8. janelle monae – the archandroid
9. major lazer & la roux – lazerproof
10. sade – soldier of love
single of the year: “unforgettable” by drake ft. young jeezy (youtube)
video of the year: “runaway” by kanye west (youtube)
My Top Musical Moments of 2010 (in Chronological Order)
1. Jackie Greene – Live At The Ark, Feb. 9
When I look back at my notes from this show, I see that I wrote “This is one of the great shows of all time. No one will believe me.” And why should they? Greene is a second-stage jam band act most famous for, well, nothing. I saw him open for Gov’t Mule a year earlier and was only mildly impressed. I went to this show because it was within walking distance of my house and I was in the mood to get loaded and see some live music, period. But Greene and his band really were extraordinary this night, rocking Ann Arbor’s tiny folk rock club with some really inspired playing, including covers of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” and Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home.” Of course, I don’t see a live recording anywhere on the Internet, so I’m never going to be able to prove to anyone how great he was this night. Given my level of inebriation, I’m not sure I can even convince myself, as the notes get confused, alternating between praise like “Sounds like Pearl Jam if they didn’t suck,” and the buzz-harshing criticism of “Now he sounds like Dave Matthews.”
2. Grace Potter And The Nocturnals – eponymous
This isn’t Grace Potter’s best album — that would be 2007’s This is Somewhere. In fact, the more I listen to it, Grace Potter And The Nocturnals is clearly the third of three studio albums, and a real disappointment. But it’s still so much better than anything else it’s competing with, a solid piece of commercial music that’s helped her raise her profile and hopefully insure that she gets to make another album. The single, “Paris” is a rocking, radio-friendly tune that serves as a recipe for how I’d like to see modern popular music swing back to embrace rock once again. Of course, that’s probably never going to happen, but we can always dream, can’t we? And there’s nothing bad about a dream that involves Grace Potter.
3. Scorpions Get Your Sting Tour
It’s not every band that knows when to call it quits. While the Scorpions arguably should have done so after Love At First Sting (or perhaps even earlier, like after Animal Magnetism), let’s give credit where credit is due. This tour was announced as a farewell, to give lots of stupid metal fans like me one last chance to get drunk and party with the Scorps. I did last summer and it didn’t totally suck. You can’t ask for much more when you’re dealing with the mainstream Ticketmaster/Live Nation-controlled live music industry. (Please don’t remind me that this tour is still going on, drawing out Klaus Meine and Co.’s retirement in a Brett Favre-like way.)
4. Laith Al-Saadi – Live At Live, Aug. 13
This guy is a friend of a friend and he can play some damn guitar. He has a regular residence at a small local club here in Ann Arbor and it’s everything you’d want in a Thursday night out. The first time I caught the act, I was rolling solo and wound up staying out way past my bedtime, digging his insane blues jamming and drinking Bell’s. “Live music is better,” say the bumper stickers, but live local music is the best.
5. Hoxeyville Music Festival, Aug. 20-22
Pure Michigan. I owe GloNo a full review of this music fest that’s now almost five months late. My excuses are thus: 1) It was so much fun that I’m embarrassed at having driven all the way to West Virginia to go to All Good the previous month. 2) If I write about how great it was, it will be more crowded next year. 3) I’m lazy.
6. Bang Camaro resurfaces, explains
These guys were going to save heavy metal from smug hipster ridicule, and for a brief moment they were the most exciting band on earth. Or at least the one with the most lead singers. I caught them in what turned out to be one of their final performances in spring of 2009, and despite how much fun the show was, it was clear that the band was something of a disaster. Then they disappeared, pretty much without explanation. This year they re-emerged to play a few one-off gigs, and finally offered up a statement on what happened. Seems that like so many awesome bands, the business of the music industry nearly killed them. Read the tale and find solace in that they escaped with their integrity intact. It’s a great story, actually, offering a lesson in how you can sell out without selling out.
7. Mavis Staples – You Are Not Alone
This is not a great album, it may not even be a good one. I wouldn’t know, because you can fit everything I know about gospel music into a record sleeve. But it does have two outstanding tracks on it, the title cut and “Wrote A Song For Everyone.” The former was written by album producer Jeff “I Am Wilco” Tweedy and the latter is a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover. Hearing Tweedy revisit a song from his deep past is lots of fun, but hearing Mavis belt out the underrated John Fogarty’s greatest song is chilling. Even better, “You Are Not Alone” sounds like the sort of simple alt-country track that made Tweedy what he is today, the sort of song he used to write and record before he became enamored with the sorts of noisy, arty stuff that Wilco has concerned itself with for the last several albums. While that may sound a bit harsh, we old school, Jay Bennett-era Wilco fans will grasp at just about any straw we can find that might indicate Jeff will get back to basics soon.
Furthur is the most recent iteration of the Grateful Dead, featuring original members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. I have seen a lot of classic rock bands on reunion tours and the like, old men pretending that they aren’t, making believe that it’s still 1972 and they are still relevant. When I was a kid and didn’t know any better, that was still pretty cool, in the sort of celebrity-worship way that it’s awesome to just be in the same physical space as somebody that’s important and important to you. Last year’s Dead tour with guitar god Warren Haynes could be written off as that sort of act, but Furthur is something much better. I saw them play this summer at All Good, but the shows I caught on the fall tour were transcendent. Former Dark Star Orchestra founder John Kadlecik has brought something new and exciting to the hippie party, a guitar style that seems more influenced by heavy metal and prog rock than the bluegrass that made his progenitor, Grateful Dead guitarist and figurehead Jerry Garcia, what he was. That Kadlecik comes from a tribute band only makes Furthur cooler. (Thank you to Judas Priest for solving rock’s biggest human resources challenge.)
9. Decemberists cover of “Row Jimmy”
I can’t really deal with the whiny and precious Colin Meloy, though there are far more unlistenable “I’m indier than you” rock bands out there (especially considering the Decemberist’s latest album, The Hazards Of Love). But these guys did a nice job covering this Dead tune, even if it’s one that’s suitably obscure and unpopular while still being accessible to the casual listener. That the following explanation (reprinted here from David Gans’ Cloud Surfing blog) was issued along with the song only makes it better:
I spent most of my young-adult life with a healthy, if somewhat misdirected, dislike for the Grateful Dead. What was this based on? I don’t know. Bob Weir songs. Songs that eschewed structure in favor of indiscriminate noodling. The ocean of hippies making their way towards Autzen Stadium while I hid in my University of Oregon dorm room, smugly blasting my “difficult” music. One thing, however, stuck in my craw: bands I loved seemed to, here and there, namecheck the Dead like it was a dirty secret. Case in point: Ira Kaplan sings “I’m listening to Wake of the Flood / I’m listening to Wake of the Flood / And I’m high!” in, in my opinion, the only truly decent drug song ever written, “Drug Test,” from [Yo La Tengo]’s 1988 President Yo La Tengo.
Then what happened: I met and married a self-professed deadhead. I joined a band with people who knew the Dead’s output inside and out. I moved back to Oregon.
So things change, you come around. I still don’t really like Bobby’s songs. And I kind of lose interest after ’74. But those first few records have a lot of amazing, amazing stuff that I often disparaged without really even listening to. One of those records is Wake of the Flood, (thanks, Ira) and “Row Jimmy” is undeniably one of Messrs. Hunter and Garcia’s finest moments. So we recorded it and it we had a good time doing it and I screwed up the words, but I figure that’s okay. I’m still new at being a Dead fan.
10. Z-Ro – Heroin
I haven’t really given a shit about a rap album in years. I’m a 38-year-old white guy with a six-year-old daughter, for Christ’s sake. Rolling around with the bass turned up, blasting songs about bitches and ho’s like I used to when I was 22 (cue the intro scene from Office Space) just isn’t cool anymore. But Heroin is a fantastic album that’s been in the CD player of my minivan nonstop since I first heard it. (Well, except for when the Disney Princess Christmas Album takes its place.) The back-to-back tracks, “Blast Myself” and “Do Bad On My Own,” are as good as anything recorded during the golden era of gangsta rap in the late ’80s and early ’90s. More than any other new music I listened to in 2010, this hateful, paranoid album on the famously misogynistic Rap-A-Lot label (Yep, the same people who gave us the Geto Boys) has renewed my hope for society. Yeah, that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, but neither does being a dad.
Ten Favorite Shows in 2010:
1. Jackie Green at The Ark, February 9, 2010
2. The Musical Box at The Vic Theatre, February 13, 2010
3. Buckwheat Zydeco at The Ark, February 22, 2010
4. Furthur & Friends at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (celebrating Phil Lesh’s 70th birthday!), March 12, 2010
5. Umphrey’s McGee at All Good Music Festival, July 9, 2010
6. Phish at Merriweather Post Pavilion, June 27, 2010
7. Ween at Royal Oak Music Theater, July 30, 2010
8. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe at Hoxeyville Music Festival, Aug 22, 2010
9. Furthur at Red Rocks Ampitheater, September 25, 2010
10. Zappa Plays Zappa at Congress Theater, Dec 11, 2010
Must Listen Hip Hop Albums from 2010 (in no particular order):
• Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot
• Nas and Damian Marley – Distant Relatives
• Curren$y – Pilot Talk and Pilot Talk II
• Z-Ro – Heroin
• Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids
• Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
• Rick Ross – Teflon Don
• Freeway and Jake One – The Stimulus Package
• Eminem – Recovery
• Bun B – Trill O.G.
• Jesse Malin – Love it To Life album and tour – a positive album for the new decade.
• Adam Green – Minor Love – a regular on my turntable throughout the year . One of the most hyperactive energetic gigs of the year at Newcastle Academy even after Adam spent much of the day in Witherspoon’s pub.
• The Libertines return for a tidy payday for the boys in the band to play nostalgic sets at Reading and Leeds. I feel a tad disappointed it has not led to new songs and more dates. I can’t blame them for taking the money.
• Sylvain from the New York Dolls asking to borrow the salt and pepper from my table at The Cluny in Newcastle before The Like gig there and a few weeks before their gigs at the same venue.
• New York Dolls playing three consecutive nights at the 350 capacity Cluny in Newcastle this September – what a way to end the summer.
• In-store gigs at independent record shops – I love them and it is important to keep our local record stores in business. I saw a whole host of bands at R.P.M. in Newcastle including Frankie & The Heartstrings, Happy Birthday, and Paul Smith
• My local music scene here in North East England – It was great to see Detroit Social Club making an impact with their debut album Existence. Looking forward to the albums by two others: the Chapman Family and Frankie and the Heartstrings.
• Edwyn Collins playing live – So pleased that he is making music and playing live again.
• The Doors movie When You’re Strange – Jim left us with some beautiful music all before he was 27.
• The Pogues – What the fuck, how does Shane MacGowan keep going? 2010 was their first farewell Christmas tour.