Friday, December 22, 2006

My top 10 for 2006

By which I mean "What I have been listening to in 2006," since I barely bought any new music. Despite the fact that it's numbered from 10 to 1, they are not meant to be in any real order.

10. Angry Samoans-"You Stupid Jerk" from Back From Samoa or 31 Garbage-Pit Hits or The Unboxed Set

At 23 seconds--–angry seconds--–I listened to this song at least 95 times this year, taking a sum total of 36 minutes. I think I just put it on repeat one day, so it was a concentrated dose, and not spread out. Here are the lyrics, in their entirety.

"You stupid jerk/I can't take it no more/your face makes me want to puke/and your mother's a whore/oooooooohhh/you stupid jerk." Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

A close second was their catchy song "The Right Side of My Mind." Not the live version. The studio one. Pick up The Unboxed Set. It's got four offensive albums worth on one CD.

9. The Eternals-"Space Dancehall" from Rawar Style

I cycled through favorites on Rawar Style, including "Shilouette" and "The Beat Is Too Original," but I paid more attention to this song because I was trying to figure out the lyrics. Ask me to sing it sometime. I didn't get all of them, but I can fake it. The band blows my mind if only because they make catchy music that sounds so unlike anything else, and Damon Locks is a great lyricist and probably the most charismatic frontman I have seen live.

8. The Spinners-"I'll Be There" from A One Of A Kind Love Affair-The Anthology

This was a radio staple when I was growing up. When I finally bought it--–first on 45, then on LP, then on MP3--–I was sort of surprised at how sad it actually was. I always thought it was an ode to love in general. Actually, it's sort of a pleading and desperexhortationtion of someone who was recently dumped. The cynical Joe Garden would say that this is how all love songs actually end. The happily married Joe Garden just loves the vocals and feels bad for singer Philippe Wynn, who died on stage in 1984.

7. Joe Bataan-"Chick A Boom" from Let's Boogaloo

Speaking of making me happy, Joe Bataan's Robin Hood-themed number is definitely a classic. Bataan recoded for the Fania label and was a prime mover in the Latin Jazz movement of the late 60s and early 70s. "Chick A Boom" was recorded a few years ago with some stringers, and it jumps. I've had it for a few years, but for some reason, I really played the hell out of it this year. When he hits the lyrics "You'll find out what we've known all along/By trying to keep us down you made us strong," the hairs on my arms stand up. You can have your Bob Dylan. This is protest music you can dance to.

6. Tyondai Braxton-"Hold On To Distance" from History That Has No Effect

I saw Tyondai on my birthday. I couldn't have asked for a better present. He starts out with a stark beat-boxed rhythm track and builds on it, layering more and more sound until it reaches the sky. "Hold On To Distance" is a melancholy track, and it fills me with undefined yearning when I hear it. I can't wait 'til his next album comes out, but in the meantime, there's always Battles, the band he's in with members of Don Caballero and Helmet.

5. The Birthday Party-"Capers" from Prayers On Fire

I've been suffering from nostalgia in the past year. As I've grown further from new music, I dip into my CDs, realize that I haven't listened to this in about 8 years, rip it to my iPod and spend the next 14 days listening to it every day. This harkens back to my whole Nick Cave/Birthday Party phase, but "Capers" was actually written by Rowland S Howard. Really, it's a terribly dreary song; stumbling rhythms, growled vocals and wailing music. It's really more interesting cacophony than music.

4. Tom Vek-If I Could Change My Mind from We Have Sound

I discovered this song, and the following one, in St. Paul while listening to Minnesota Public Radio. They actually have a rock station, and I was surprised by the breadth of the music that they played, and was impressed enough to go to the website to look up some of the songs. Based on what I heard on iTunes, Tom Vek is kind of a Beck wannabe. I mean, lookit him! At this point, I'm not even sure we need one Beck, let alone two. But on "If I Could Change My Mind," he comes off as more of a Mark E. Smith wannabe, but a damn good one.

3. No Lay-"Unorthodox" from Run of the Road Vol. 2

"Oh," says I. "So this is 'grime' music.'" For the first time, a song made me feel old. It's like when I read about the outcome of the Super Bowl in the New York Times. Great song, though.

2. The Exciters-"Tell Him" from the 45

For a 60s girl-pop song, this has a great beat, and it's fun to sing along. The first two or so seconds of my 45 is worn out from cuing it up, so it sounds like you're listening on a jet.

1. Electric Light Orchestra-"Sweet Talkin Woman" from

10 years ago, my friend Matt Quigle told me how good ELO is. I was skeptical. I mean, I had memories of roller skating to "Don't Bring Me Down" and feeling aaaaawfuly alone. But here it is, 2006, and my wife plays Electric Light Orchestra telling me how great it is. And then, two months later, I had "Swet Talkin' Woman" ineplicably lodged in my head.

...and one extra, which came out of left field and really surprised me.

Roy Clark-"Just Another Man"

I can't remember what album this is from. I think it's Yesterday, When I Was Young, but I could be way off base.I'm away from home, or I would check. I bought it when I was on a country record buying jag, and Anita put this on a country mix she made for a friend's birthday party. Most of my inpressions of Roy Clark come from the show Hee Haw, in which he would leer and mug his way through numerous songs and sketches. But "Just Another Man" is a sweet song about a freewheeling guy who is conflicted by the fact that he has fallen for his one night stand. It really sticks with you, lyrically and melodically.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Knuckel Drager Is Still King

If you haven't, and you should have, go see Knuckel Drager. For those that don't know the band, they hail from Madison, WI, as far from the beach as imaginable, but they manage to play some of the tightest garage/surf/drag racing music around. Also, they re-recorded their song "Mod Top" for the theme to Vote Joe, and it it kicks ass.

They opened for Exene at a crummy little club called Rebel (I mean, who names their club Rebel? Why not just name it "Rock and Roll Club Bar" or "The Peach Pit After Dark?"), then three of the band changed outfits and backed Exene. I bought as much merch as I could afford and still buy beer. Thanks to my wife, Anita, for buying more beer when I ran out of cash. Anyway, they played a great set, then they looked like they were having a ball backing Exene. Not just "Hey, I am enjoying my life as a musician," but "Holy shit, we are backing Exene and this is the greatest time I have had ever!"

Please, just give them a listen. If you disagree, then I still like you.