December 19th, 2012
First – let me say all my favorites for the year were released on Green Monkey, but here’s my favorites from the rest of the world. And yes I want to do the Gangnam Style Horsie Dance, but that is a whole ‘nother matter.
1. Can – Lost Tapes. The music on this box set was unearthed when they moved Can’s studio in Germany. Crazy good. Amazing that this has been hidden away for years. “Waiting for the Streetcar” repeats that line over about 940 times. Pretty great.
2. Alec K Redfearn & The Eyesores – Sister Death. I have been a Alec K follower since I was back in Rhode Island, where he domiciles. If you don’t know, Alec is the king of distortion pedal accordion. He’s got lots of records but this is probably his best. “Fire Shuffle” takes the basic shuffle beat of The Door’s “Roadhouse Blues” and pounds it into bloody submission. Most enjoyable.
3. The OF – Oh No, It’s the OF. This record is John Carey’s weird brainchild and was featured as April Album of the Month at Green Monkey. John does songs about little crabs and French fries. He does excessive Zappaesque guitar noodling. The OF wear outfits involving tinfoil and colendars on the head. Their song “You’re In Love with The OF” – it’s brilliant, Watson! If you want to be the hippest person on your block, get this – only 200 made.
4. Fergus & Geronimo – Funky Was the State of Affairs. I bought this at Easy Street just because I liked the cover. I brought it home and loved it – sorta punky fun without being cute or kitschy. Smart allecky. Has appearance by female Earthling. Stupidly cool.
5. Ian Hunter – When I’m President. Ian is 70 years old. He does not care. He has been cranking out the albums the last few years. I do not agree with the critics who say they match his heights of Mott the Hoople days, but I think them pretty damn fine. And well worth investing your ears in. This one is highly satisfying.
6. The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me. Lars started out making low-fi punky poppy albums. Now he makes hi-fi poppy punky albums. This one is loaded with great tunes. Two completely different bands. Lars counts to 47 on the first song. Who doesn’t want to hear that?
7. Yokokimthurston. One part Yoko – two parts Sonic Youth. Just about the basic noise fest you would expect. I’m not sure I will listen to this one million times, but I am quite pleased it exists.
8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor- ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! – My son told me about these guys a couple years ago and I liked ‘em. Their new album is a vague accent into noise with little discernible purpose that I can detect. Suits me fine.
9. Captain Beefheart -Bat Chain Puller. This is the original version recorded for Frank Zappa that went into legal limbo and then got completely re-recorded and released on Virgin. John French (Drumbo) has always maintained this is the superior version. Well, the proof is in the pudding and I agree. Fabulous. If you want it you have to buy it from the Zappa family site.
10. Scott Walker – Bish Bosh – Scott Walker is one odd duck. This just came out. I think this is music. Pretty arty and so far not a song on it I can hum along with. That may change with time. Still, it draws me in and makes me want to keep listening.
10a. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist. Some people (hey Ben) think I am lame because I dig Macklemore, but I am good with his hometown partisanship and overt sentimentality. As Mixalot once said, “Seattle ain’t bullshit.” “Thriftshop” is the hit, but “Jimmy Iovine” is the funnest – makes me laugh.
10b. AAIIEE - See You In Seattle. I found out about these guys because they were playing a show with The Gum at Darrell’s in North Seattle a month ago. They have been around since 1981. This record is ridiculous. It is a tribute to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, done in a very rocking manner. Where else you gonna find a song about The Bubbleator I ask? Available directly from AAIIEE.
Honorable Mention: Mark Baumgarten – Love Rock Revolution: K Records and the Rise of Independent Music Technically speaking, this is a book. That usually won’t get you on the best music of the year list. However, it is a pretty fun read that gives a reasonable feel for the whole Olympia – K Records thing. It qualifies as a top album because if you go to Mark’s site there is a free K sampler download that gives you an excellent soundtrack to the book.