Monday, January 05, 2015

My favorite music of 2014, or geezers > youngsters/my year playing music

I usually write about my favorite films of the year on my movie blog, but I've never tried to do a favorite music of the year post because I thought it would be too much work to figure out. This year, I realized that the Date Added button in my iTunes and a few music and indie-label web sites would make that process easy.
This year really hammered home what a 37-year-old American man and Robert Pollard fan I am, but come on, people. The cliche that most artists only do work worth listening to early in their careers is fashionable bullshit. The stereotype was once true when the Baby Boomers (those monstrously self-absorbed assholes who think the '60s were the only decade that ever happened (so self-absorbed they make the millennials look like St. Francis) who fucked up, and continue to fuck up, everything) made great music in the late '60s and early '70s and then proceeded to suck lazily for the next 40 years (insert many notable exceptions here), but it's not really true anymore (and wasn't true of the old jazz and blues guys who influenced them). The people of later generations learned from their mistakes. Also, those Boomer rock gods and goddesses became multimillionaires and even billionaires, and rich people can't make art once they learn they're rich. Money and superfame are worse than drug addiction at extinguishing the creative spark, in my armchair not-fact-checked opinion.
I am continually creatively juiced up by new music made by people my age and older, on both the international and local levels, and underwhelmed by a lot of the music made by the post-tween set (again, insert the many notable exceptions here). At the Fun Fun Fun Fest I attend every year in Austin, the old folks regularly play mindblowing sets while the hyped attractive youngsters flail and pose and play songs that sound like Don Henley making love to Hall & Oates in a convenience store bathroom (which actually sounds pretty fantastic on paper, come to think of it). I like not relating to the youth of today, and I don't feel bad about that. I am getting older and I would like to glean the wisdom from the artists hitting that patch of road ahead of me instead of chasing the eternal youth mirage. All that being said, damn does that precocious lil' guy Ty Segall float my boat. Good job, young man.

Here are some 2014 records I enjoyed a great deal in 2014, in the order I added them to my computer (don't kick me in the taint, btw, I bought most of them first on vinyl or CD b/c artists should be paid for their work (except for the jerks who get paid way too much)):

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Wig Out at Jagbags
Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights
Guided By Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit and Cool Planet (Cool Planet is better but Motivational Jumpsuit has my favorite GBV song of the whole reunion: "Alex and the Omegas")
Beck - Morning Phase 
Damaged Bug - Hubba Bubba
The Men - Tomorrow's Hits
Doug Gillard - Parade On
Sweet Apple - The Golden Age of Glitter
Vertical Scratchers - Daughter of Everything
King Buzzo - This Machine Kills Artists
Neil Young -  A Letter Home
J Mascis - Tied to a Star
The New Pornographers - Brill Bruisers
Ty Segall - Manipulator and $INGLE$ 2
Le Butcherettes - Cry Is for the Flies (minus the two minutes of Henry Rollins poetry that precedes one song)
Shellac - Dude Incredible
Circus Devils - Escape
Mark Lanegan Band - Phantom Radio
Melvins - Hold It In
Moonsicles - Creeper
Thurston Moore - The Best Day
Guano Padano - Americana
Eyehategod - Eyehategod
Sleaford Mods - Chubbed Up +
D'Angelo - Black Messiah

2014 albums with some great moments that I enjoyed to a lesser extent overall than the above
The Unsemble - The Unsemble
The Afghan Whigs - Do to the Beast
Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Thee Oh Sees - Drop
Death Grips - Niggas on the Moon
Twilight - III: Beneath Trident's Tomb
John Frusciante - Enclosure
Teenage Guitar - More Lies from the Gooseberry Bush
Split Single - Fragmented World
Tweedy - Sukierae
Neil Young - Storytone (the solo disc is good, the orchestral disc is pretty cheesy)
tetema - Geocidal

Older albums and box sets reissued in 2014 and 2014 compilations of old stuff put together for the first time in 2014 that I had a lot of time for (2014 edition) (2014) (it's two-thirds Numero Group) (2014)
Josefus - Dead Man
Al Green - Let's Stay Together
Unwound - Rat Conspiracy and No Energy
Various - Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles
Sandy Denny & The Strawbs - All Our Own Work
Various - Music of the Mountain Provinces
Ned Doheny - Separate Oceans
The Brothers & Sisters - Dylan's Gospel
Nikki Sudden -all the solo and Jacobites reissues and Kiss You Kidnapped Charabanc with Rowland S. Howard
Bulbous Creation - You Won't Remember Dying
Led Zeppelin - III
Various - Eccentric Soul: Capitol City Soul and Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label
Sensational Saints - You Won't Believe It
Solaris - The Waves of the Evernow
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - CSNY 1974
The Montgomery Express - The Montgomery Movement
Various - Local Customs: Cavern Sound
Various - Country Funk Vol. 2: 1967-1974
Various - Night Walker: The Jack Nitzsche Story, Vol. 3
Bedhead - 1992-1998
Jordan de la Sierra - Gymnosphere: Song of the Rose

Local business:
My band The Early Stages released our first hard-copy meat-space vinyl single in 2014, which you can still purchase and/or stream (see the post just below this one to find out how). We proved to be slightly less unpopular in the rest of the world than we are locally as no local stations played any of the three songs at any point in the entire year, not even at 3 a.m. Our local cachet, never that high to begin with, continues to plummet. (Humblebrags ahead.) However, Jon Solomon of Comedy Minus One Records played us on his show on New Jersey radio station WPRB, and Maximum Rocknroll played us on their online radio show. We were also reviewed favorably in Maximum Rocknroll and Wire magazine. That Wire review, which, if I may braggadociously point out, is an international publication, netted us one whole sale. Who says analog is dead, right? Stop backing away from me.

Austin bands we played shows with this year who played sets I particularly enjoyed:
James Arthur's Manhunt
The John Wesley Coleman Band
The John Pauls
New China
Rabbit Fist
Woozy Helmet
Foot Patrol

Our local brushes with fame and semi-fame: We played with a Rush cover band (Central Texas' premier Rush cover band, I've been told), Angelo Moore from Fishbone, Lesley Rankine from Silverfish, Pigface, and Ruby and her brother who is Public Image Ltd's current bassist and who has also played with Elvis Costello and Spice Girls (to an audience of 12 people), and got a nice compliment from Babes in Toyland's drummer (who was one of the 12 people in the audience). Gerard Cosloy walked out of two of our shows clearly bored. Prince sat in with us and played "When Doves Cry" and "Uptown." (I made one of these up, but it's not easy to spot. If you think you've found the untrue anecdote, write it down on a postcard depicting a tropical beach scene and send it to Can-Smashing Robot Lie-Spotting Contest 2014/15, 666 Fake Address, Blair, NE, 69854. If you guessed the lie correctly, you will receive a crate of organic California prunes and my power of attorney.)

Happy new year, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England. Don't fill up on bread, and keep it street legal.