Friday, December 26, 2014

Favorite Rock Albums of 2014

Loved these albums the most in 2014, in some particular order:

Dum Dum Girls
Too True

Shoegaze meets goth in 2014, with luscious results. Every track on this album is a treat.

The New Pornographers
Brill Bruisers

Sixteen years on and this Canadian supergroup (still featuring Neko Case!) keeps putting out amazing pop hits. The title track here starts with a relentless hook and never lets up. (Different song, favorite album lyric: "They say we can't make this stuff up. But what else can we make?")

The Earth
Keltic Voodoo Boogaloo

My favorite album of 2014. Welsh band featuring rock guitar, big bass sound, tasteful electronic keyboards, and wonderfully soulful vocals. Every song's a winner. Here are my two favorites, one creepy and one lighter:

Bob Mould
Beauty & Ruin

Ex-Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman Bob Mould releases another strong album, and this one rocks mightily. Bonus points on this video for the humorous two-minute intro featuring Colin Meloy (Decemberists), filmed in my hometown of Portland.

Aaron Freeman

Nice how Aaron's last name forms the title of his second solo album. Now in recovery (from alcohol excess) and freeing himself of his Ween legacy, this album covers much stylistic ground and features both rave-up rockers and delicately personal songs, sometimes in one song.

Monster Magnet
Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol

Heavy and psychedelic, this "reimagining" of last year's good album "Last Patrol" makes it even better. Great music to get lost in. And this is one heavy, bad-ass video to accompany the release (featuring Fugazi's Ian MacKaye as The Scientist!)...

Peter Murphy

Another great album by a veteran artist. His voice is strong and the music is powerful. Murphy has written some of the best goth music, then and now.

Reverend Horton Heat

Another veteran act, rockabilly genre. Great album, uptempo and lots of fun.

Chrissie Hynde

Hard to believe this is the Pretenders frontwoman's first solo album, as she's been in the game for about 35 years now. I liked this as much as any Pretenders proper album of the last 30 years.


Debut album, and it rocks. This is the kind of music that showed up just under the radar in the late 80's and early 90's that I was really digging. Keep it up! Looking forward to more from this band.

The Feeling
Boy Cried Wolf

What a wonderful band. Powerful but vulnerable, cinematic music. Just the way I like it.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Missing Ween a little less

Alt-rock pranksters Ween broke up a few years ago. For about 20 years, they were funny, weird, musically diverse, and talented in equal measure, but never predictable. The story goes that Aaron Freeman ("Gene Ween") of the band achieved sobriety and couldn't maintain his relationship with Mickey Melchiondo ("Dean Ween") who wanted to sustain his lifestyle of...oh who knows...but apparently involved drinking to some extent. Good for Aaron for doing what he must to take care of himself, but sad for Ween fans like me.

Well, Aaron just released a solo album this month and I'm happy to report it goes a long way to my getting over the grief of losing the band. There are sensitive moments, snarky moments, reflective moments, and just pure oddball musical moments, often in the space of a three-minute song.

While Aaron's music often sounds vaguely like someone else (say 10cc or Eels for example) the total package is wholly his own. Good for you Aaron! It will be interesting to hear what Mickey comes up with, if he decides to take a break from guiding fishing tours to make more music (and good for you Mickey for doing something you love as well).

Here are two samples. This album is going to stay on my active playlist for a good while.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Best album art this year... for the Little Dragon single "Klapp Klapp."

Made me chuckle, and want to check out the music. And the music is GREAT. (Even if the video is a little dark. Made me think of Madonna and the Exorcist movie simultaneously. At least it has a cool ending.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Favorite Rock Albums of 2013

OK, I think I've now heard all the candidates that have a chance at making this list. As in the past, these are NOT necessarily the BEST albums, or the most popular, or the coolest, or anything else other than just the ones I enjoyed the most and tended to play most often in the past year. So, in no particular order:

Extended Plays

Kinda like early 90's Ride, call it "tuneful, mostly upbeat shoegaze." I just can't get enough of this sound. It was a movement that moved on too fast the first time around, so I'm glad the genre is being revisited by the youngun's.

!!! (chk chk chk)

I got tired of Michael Jackson's Thriller a long time ago, but this album of the same name (sort of) is fresh stuff. Groovy, head-bopping good times. Great for driving around or walking around city streets, keeps you moving.

Rat Farm

Welcome back, Meat Puppets! These toasted boys from the Southwest have been around since the early 80s and I thought they'd lost it more than 10 years ago, but here they are again with another winner. Only Curt Kirkwood can come up with these lyrics. How does he do it? Only his druggist knows, I think. "Don't leave me here down on my knees, in a waterfall of color..."


Ah, the days when listeners had patience to let a song develop, and bold music sprang forth with grandiose gestures and big dynamics (loud AND soft). These guys somehow sound retro, while being utterly fresh and new. Can't wait to see where they go from here!


It's hard to imagine (no, REALLY hard) that TMBG will ever beat Flood for best, most clever, most tuneful album of their illustrious catalog (though a couple of their children's albums could be close), but IMHO, this one comes closest in a looong time. Very catchy, very fun, I liked this more each time I heard it.

Crimes Of Passion

And here's MORE "upbeat shoegaze" rock. Yes! This reminds me of late 80's Jesus & Mary Chain but produced by Phil Spector. A winning combination!

Lost Control

Any band that takes their name from the happy ending of the children's book Go Dog Go (that's my theory and I'm sticking to it) is on the right track. This is like the Ting Ting's but better, because the whole album is strong. Ramones-y, but closer to The Muffs, this has been done before, but I'm far from getting tired of it.


This is truly unhinged music from Japan. And I love it. Hyper, crazy, fun, Devo-on-speed. I DARE you to check it out. This is the band I most want to see live. PLEASE come to the US!!

Yes, It’s True.

More great music from my favorite 25 piece (well, I think they're down to about 17 nowadays) band. Feel-good music, but with some slight melancholic edges to keep it real, I'll be listening to this for years to come.

Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action

I love, Love, LOVE this band. Catchy as hell, guitars that intertwine and jam like a funky machine, and vocals that are smooth but energetic. So happy they've kept it going this long, while others of their type have fallen by the wayside.

Run Fast

This band is the latest incarnation of original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre), and this is just as good as anything she's done before. Punk, but better than punk. Angry, but having too much fun to be really angry. Riot on, Kathleen.