Archive for December, 2010
New Yorkers! Sorry for the late notice (I’ve been working on this stupid 15 Best Albums thing all day and my time has gotten away from me what with the baby caretaking and all), but YOU MUST GO SEE CLAY MCLEOD CHAPMAN REPRESENT AWKWARD PRESS at Literary Death Match tonight. It’s not even an option.
Get yr. details right here: http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/upcoming-events/december-16-2010.html.
Update: CLAY WON!!! CLAY WON!!! Which means, by extension, that Awkward Press it the BEST LIterary Death Match team in all existence. Even though Clay is our only official team member. Well done, Clay! You are a monster!
Here’s the NY Times story:
Here’s a wrapup from the LDM:
And here are some pics:
2010! What a sneak surpriser of a year. Until I sat down and started compiling this list, I had a suspicion that 2010 had been kind of a bust. But once I really took a hard look at the records that came out over the last twelve months, I realized that this was, in fact, a kick-ass year for the art form known as music. In fact, I could expand this list to 25 records without batting an eyelash. But I won’t, because neither of us has the time. Or maybe I’ll just toss the final 10 in at the end as a bonus beat for all you hardcore readers who really want to know what’s up.
So then! On with the show!
15. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest is a difficult record to critique, because it sounds like a completely different album every time I listen to it. It’s not the kind of record that normally gets high marks from me … as an avowed fan of the pop hook, I generally gravitate toward music that gets stuck in my head. And every time I listen to Halcyon Digest I immediately forget what the songs sound like, making every listen a fresh experience. It has nothing to do with the hookiness of the songs … there are plenty of hooks, from the 60s radio shimmy of “Don’t Worry” to the Brit-pop of “Memory Boy” … but the hits rise up like sneaky venus flytraps out of the foggy audio swamp that permeates the record. Or swamp is a bad word, because that makes it sound like the record is muddy or bluesy, which it isn’t at all … if it’s muddy at all, it’s angel mud. And the venus flytraps are those Super Mario flytraps that climb up into the sky when you hit the right block.
(…and now one of those year-ending top-ten lists from guest contributor Mike Segretto of Psychobabble…)
I may purport myself to be some sort of authority on classic Rock & Roll, psych, pop, and punk records, but in reality, there are lots and lots and lots of them I’ve never heard. Nevertheless, I’m happy to say that I’m still discovering great old albums that are new to me, whether I’ve long heard about them but have yet to give them a spin or I’d never even been aware of their existences. Here are the ten finest retro-rock records that were new to me in 2010, presented in glorious chronological order…
1. We Are Ever So Clean by Blossom Toes (1967)
Having long read about We Are Ever So Clean, a real cult favorite of British psychedelia, I was a bit disappointed on first listen. “When the Alarm Clock Rings”, which concludes Rhino’s Nuggets II box set, was all I knew from Blossom Toes prior to hearing their only LP, so I was a bit taken off guard by how thoroughly daffy, and often cacophonous, it is. I’m glad I gave the record a number of additional spins. Now it sounds perfectly conceived, and that includes the more insane tracks, such as the borderline grating “The Remarkable Saga of the Frozen Dog” and “Look at Me I’m You”, which sounds like William Burroughs diced up the master tapes of Revolver, and reassembled them willy nilly. Still, the album’s best songs are its most straightforward. There’s the rousing “When the Alarm Clock Rings”, “I’ll Be Late For Tea”, a marvelous Kinks pastiche that fuses that band’s early heaviness with their mid-‘60s pastoralism, the groovy “Telegram Tuesday”, “What’s It For”, with its chugging cellos, and the Move-esque “I Will Bring You This and That”. Definitely the psychedelic find of the year.
2. Pandemonium Shadow Show by Harry Nilsson (1967)