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Best of the Best of 2012: Ben Johnson

Who the fuck does this guy think he is? I’ve been in the business of making fun of music critics for eight years, and I’ve never seen a more lazy, entitled, hypocritical, self-aggrandizing talentless hack of a showboat. This guy writes like he’s got the entire world figured out, but he DOESN’T.
 
When people on websites start saying things like what Ben Johnson says, it makes me sick. It’s almost enough to make me want to write my own opinions down in some kind of a web-based log of my thoughts, but I won’t do that because despite talking nonstop I at least have enough sense to know that I SOUND LIKE A MORON WHEN I TALK. It’s called self-restraint. You should TRY IT SOMETIME, Ben Johnson.
 
This is the kind of shit the internet is stuffing down our throats against our will these days? If I wasn’t an idiot, I’d stop reading right now and do anything else with my life. Ben Johnson better watch his back, because I am going to leave a strongly worded Facebook comment about how wrong he is. About everything. In his life.
 
Here’s his piddlyshit excuse for a top ten of the year list:
 
12. The Doozer
Keep It Together (Woodsist)
Oh cute, his top ten list is twelve things. Go fuck yourself you precocious little dogfucker. I bet you love everything on Woodsist. Even Woods.
 
11. Bits of Shit
Cut Sleeves (Homeless)
All I hear is some shitty punk full of Australian accents with a dumb picture of a dog on it. Way to clock in at 20 minutes, guys. And nice motorcycle jackets. Are you guys in a gang or just in a band? Band? Just a band, huh? Intimidating.
 
10. Metz
Metz (Sub Pop)
How good could this possibly be if it’s on Sub Pop?
 
9. Cheater Slicks
Reality Is A Grape (Columbus Discount)
Nice try, Ben Johnson. I know you just put this on here because it’s super limited and you want to sell it for $60 on eBay. News flash: it’s super limited because it super SUCKS. These guys would be more overrated than Sonic Youth if anybody gave a shit.
 
8. Bare Wires
Idle Dreams (Southpaw)

Oh boo hoo hoo I can’t believe Bare Wires broke up and Matt Melton’s just going to call himself Warm Soda now instead. Get a job and/or a haircut, world.
 
7. Gap Dream
Gap Dream (Burger)
Oh wait, this is actually good. Okay. Well… okay.
 
6. Mmoss
Only Children (Trouble In Mind)
Oh yeah sure, because we could really use another J.K. & Co. Suddenly One Summer. That semiobscure album came out 43 years ago. Get over it.
 
5. Cheap Time
Wallpaper Music (In The Red)
What’s the matter, Ben Johnson? Eddy Current Suppression Ring didn’t come out with an album this year so you had to come up with some bullshit American equivalent?
 
4. The UFO Club
s/t (The Reverberation Appreciation Society)
The album’s highlight is a Seeds cover. Nice pick, idiot.
 
3. Tyvek
On Triple Beams (In The Red)
Oh right, the unthinking man’s Cloud Nothings.
 
2. Goat
World Music (Rocket Recordings)
What is this, a new Slits album featuring the guy from Dungen? Who’s that on bongos? Manu Chao? Aren’t these guys headlining the “our second album is gonna suck” stage at Bonnaroo?
 
1. Ty Segall
Twins (Drag City)
Never heard of him.

Best of the Best of 2012: Rolling Stone

Remember the movie Inception? The premise was something about having a shootout in people’s dreams and stealing their secrets or whatever. One of the things they talked about was how dreaming inside of a dream made you old really fast. Remember that? I barely do.
 
Anyhow, the Rolling Stone list of best albums is like that. If reality is reality, and the dream is the level of delusion you get from Pitchfork and A.V. Club and whatever other internet-based music publications I’ve been making fun of so far, then the Rolling Stone best of 2012 list is a dream within a dream, and it will make you old SO FAST.
 
Reading it, I found myself rooting for these guys to get something “right” and put Sharon Van Etten or Purity Ring in there, and I hate Sharon Van Etten and Purity Ring. Now that I’m familiar with the records that people are saying are supposed to be the good ones, I’m like, “No no no, Rolling Stone, didn’t you get the memo? You’re supposed to say you like Bat For Lashes now, not Band of Horses! You’re 4 years behind! Come on, buddy, get with it!”
 
And that’s probably how these lists end up looking so much like each other. It’s not so much hive mind as it is thousands of individuals afraid to stick their neck out and say something potentially embarrassing. What we consumers get at the tail end is the averaged-out version of what’s already happened, with all of the edges smoothed off. I say “we consumers” because I’m a fan, not a critic. If I’m not “doing this right” that’s only because there is no right way to listen to music, and anybody who thinks “how dare he” when I make a “silent but deadly” joke about Cloud Nothings needs to get over themselves.
 
Anyhow, I salute Rolling Stone. They have the courage of their convictions, and they are completely embarrassing and awful. They’re so embarrassing and awful, even the most embarrassing and awful of the embarrassing and awful current online music press gets to point at Rolling Stone and hold their noses and say “get with it, old man.”
 
Here is what the year in music looks like in an alternate reality where the music industry never collapsed and print journalism is still going strong:
 
50. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
In an interview, Dave Longstreth accused Rolling Stone of being a “total bozo magazine.” More than anything in my life I desire both the existence of and a subscription to Total Bozo Magazine.
 
49. Amadou and Mariam, Folila
I’m glad two blind people from Mali are out there making music for America’s divorced aunts.
 
48. The Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania
How psyched do you think Billy Corgan would be if you went to his house to tell him you liked this album? I bet he would assume you’d want to hang out with him all day. Next thing you know you’re out picking up Billy Corgan’s dry cleaning and answering his questions about what’s your favorite song on Siamese Dream (“uh, Silverfuck, I guess”) and sitting through his boring stories while yawning and glancing at your watch. By the end of the day you’d have a new best friend that you absolutely would not want.
 
47. Todd Snider, Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables
Sure, this Americana singer-songwriter jangle is the kind of folksy grown up tunesmithing I don’t ordinarily touch with a ten foot pole, but I could see why somebody with that bent would want to make a case for it. It’s at least unselfconscious.
 
46. Muse, The 2nd Law
If listening to entire Muse albums is a part of the job of being a serious music critic, then I guess I’ll just have to be stuck with “not very serious non-critic.”
 
45. Rick Ross, Rich Forever
I wish I knew where Rick Ross stood on Money v. Bitches.
 
44. Garbage, Not Your Kind of People
Shirley Manson is 46 years old and still singing songs called “Beloved Freak” about how you shouldn’t worry about being a social outcast because you’re special. 46 is old enough to have children who are old enough to be over it.
 
43. fun., Some Nights
I like “We Are Young.” It’s like putting “Rosalinda’s Eyes” on at a dance party except you don’t have to wait 25 years for it to be hilarious.
 
42. Allo Darlin’, Europe
I just realized that YouTube thinks I like all kinds of dumb shit now. I wish there was a “jokes” button I could press. It’s gonna take me years and years to get back to the point where it recommends “Beat Beat.”
 
41. The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
Speaking of YouTube, thanks a lot “Avett’s bassist on daughter’s cancer.” Now I feel like a real asshole for wanting to make fun of these heroically bland folk singers.
 
40. Escort, Escort
Hold on. Goddammit. I love this. Electronic disco music, danceable and fun? Something’s wrong. Can somebody please explain to Rolling Stone how we only like to party to some art school dropout with a futuristic haircut moaning about their feelings? It’s 2012.
 
39. Passion Pit, Gossamer
That’s more like it. Call me old fashioned, but I like my synthesizer-based pop to sound like I just poured a whole tube of whiteout into my ear.
 
38. Titus Andronicus, Local Business
Titus Andronicus decided to suck in a third of the time it took for Liars to make the same decision, so that’s pretty good.
 
37. Justin Townes Earle, Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now
Terri Schiavo’s favorite singer/songwriter. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know, okay? #believe
 
36. Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man in the Universe
This has almost the same cover as a Puffy Areolas 7” and it gets me unfairly excited every time I see it. I would pay a thousand dollars to see Bobby Womack front Puffy Areolas. I would pay zero dollars to see Bobby Womack front Blur.
 
35. Grizzly Bear, Shields
Grizzly Bear is the one that goes bah dum plunka plunka plunka “woo eee ooh,” right? Or is that Phoenix?
 
34. Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls
Did anybody catch their performance on that PBS show “Stay In Friday Night While Drinking A Half Bottle Of Wine On Your Leather Couch And Pretend You Went Out To See Some Tepid Live Music?” I heard it was great because they sang songs and there wasn’t any traffic.
 
33. Grimes, Visions
I know an old grump who once went 17 years between dental checkups, and when he went in the second time and had no cavities, the dentist commented on how remarkable it was, and the grump said something like “I think that says more about your profession than it does about me.” Anyhow, here’s Grimes. It’s not rocket science. She flosses.
 
32. Hospitality, Hospitality
Here’s some perfectly acceptable twee on Merge that none of these other lists told me about. Looks like a lucky dartboard strike for Hospitality. #32 on the Rolling Stone list! Like Comment Share.
 
31. Taylor Swift, Red
People on the internet love to photoshop this person’s face onto porn. I saw one that was just a picture from a magazine that some dude jazzed on and then posted on the internet as if to say, “Hello world, I’m the saddest.” If you want to jazz on a photo of somebody, do it the old fashioned way: while drunk and crying, on a picture of an ex-girlfriend, and in private.
 
30. Azealia Banks, 1991
She’s 21 and she raps about sex things and Rolling Stone loves it and that makes me uncomfortable. Look at the rest of this list and visualize a one person composite who loves all of this stuff, and then imagine that person calling Azealia Banks’s 1991 a “great appetite-whetter.” It’s like if Jabba the Hutt did the Buffalo Bill dance.
 
29. Dave Matthews Band, Away From the World
Apparently Dave Matthews is cyberpunk now. Ha ha, made you look.
 
28. Beach House, Bloom
Beach House is about as interesting as a coat of paint in a boring couple’s living room. Wait ‘til you hear the story of how they chose that color. It’s a real mindblower.
 
27. Gary Clark Jr., Blak and Blu
Can you guys believe the Redskins made it to the playoffs this year? I mean, sure down the line, but THIS YEAR? After going 3-6? It’s like some crazy dream. I’m sorry to throw sports in here, but if you’re actually listening to Gary Clark Jr. without also thinking about The Posse, I don’t want to be your friend. It’s like the deep cut version of Calvin Johnson/Calvin Johnson.
 
26. Django Django, Django Django
So we’re nostalgic for the 1981-1984 period where all the bands that were previously pretending to be punk started playing keyboards? I’ve read stuff from then and it’s striking how earnestly hopeful people were about Adam Ant taking things in a new direction. I realize I’m being naïve, but the extent to which everybody decided to start sucking instead of continuing with rocking is just incomprehensible. It’s like music’s money-versus-art Antietam. I’m real glad nobody in the music industry is making money anymore, because this is the kind of thing that happens when Mtv steps in and floods the market with cash.
 
25. Donald Fagen, Sunken Condos
When I was nineteen I had a summer job at the Coffee Beanery, and one time this extremely drunk middle aged dude came in at like 4pm and without any apparent prompt started blurting about “fuckin’ Steely Dan, man, good fuckin’ tunes.” Not me nor the 45 year old Nepalese guy I worked with had any idea what he was talking about. Presumably a Steely Dan song was on the satellite radio they made us listen to, and I had just completely tuned it out and couldn’t piece together that he was referring to something that was actually happening, and I thought he was just enthusiastic about Steely Dan in that moment and wanted to share. Maybe also he was mistaken and the song was really “Roundabout” by Yes. I can’t remember anything vividly except for the guy’s big sweaty head and “fuckin’ Steely Dan.” As the years go by, my perception of this memory has gone from ironically awesome to actually awesome to ironically sad to actually sad. It’s all of those things.
 
24. G.O.O.D. Music, Cruel Summer
I fucks widdit. Not really, but I wanted to say that as a joke one time before some grandmother in an Adam Sandler movie says it while footworkin’ at a skate park.
 
23. Divine Fits, Thing Called Divine Fits
I just cleaned up the apartment and found a mixtape I made for an old girlfriend in 2004. She must have given it back because she didn’t have a tape player in 2004. It starts off real smooth, full of great stuff she’d like, then loses interest and sort of meanders into some real weird territory that’s just whatever I felt like at the time, and then eventually it’s just filler I put in there to get to the end faster. Pretty appropriate metaphor for the relationship. There’s a Spoon song in the “I’m sure she’ll like this but pretty soon I’m gonna be out of ideas” portion, which is a metaphor for the music press’s relationship with music.
 
22. Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
I’d listen to this, but I don’t want to catch menopause. I hear it’s hell.
 
21. Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
When people describe what they like about this, it’s like they’re talking about other better albums that came out this year and just don’t know it. Tyvek, Cheater Slicks, and Apache Dropout come to mind. Those are just the ones that would also incorporate all the condescending musings about being stuck in the Midwest (living here is a justifiable choice that some people make even though it’s cold and has no “culture,” because people here act like human beings).
 
20. Killer Mike, R.A.P. Music
“Old guy lets loose” is Rolling Stone’s favorite genre of everything.
 
19. Band of Horses, Mirage Rock
Look out Leonard Cohen Old Ideas, there’s a new sheriff in the town of Albumtitlesthataresospotonitishilariousville.
 
18. Nas, Life Is Good
Because I love the idea so much I’m just going to assume this is Nas’s collaboration with Joe Walsh. You can’t tell me it’s not. Lalalalala infinity.
 
17. John Mayer, Born and Raised
What if this guy just said “fuck it” and decided to shred? Couldn’t he shred? Why won’t he shred? John Mayer: if you’re reading this, shred. It’s the only thing you could do that would make any sense at this point, because your life is Dave Navarro but your music is James Taylor.
 
16. Cat Power, Sun
I’m tired of making fun of Cat Power. Cat Power is great, you guys. Go buy this Cat Power album. What the fuck, right? #YOLO
 
15. Dr. John, Locked Down
You know what’s scary, you guys? After you turn 30, you’ll have entire days of your life when you want to listen to the blues. You won’t even be like “yeah but I don’t want to be one of those blues guys” about it, you’ll just go and listen to some blues and like it without even thinking about anything. It’s up there on the inevitability scale with going up a pants size or unclogging the drain and realizing it’s all your hair.
 
14. Best Coast, The Only Place
I think she used to be one of the Dum Dum Girls. (yes I am joking ha ha ha)
 
13. Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas
Leonard Cohen’s debut album is as old as the entire human of Vanilla Ice.
 
12. Jimmy Cliff, Rebirth
This is here because Rolling Stone correctly assumes that the world in 2012 needs a Jimmy Cliff protest song called “Afghanistan” in which he sings the word “email” and the chorus is “Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan Afghanistan.” I just hope this is the tipping point in an eleven year old war that we’ve already decided to end.
 
11. Mumford & Sons, Babel
These guys are for people who think the idea of music is cute.
 
10. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Psychedelic Pill
Oh look. Rolling Stone finally threw Guided By Voices a bone. Turns out all they had to do was be Neil Young.
 
9. Japandroids, Celebration Rock
These guys are almost as good as Green Day.
 
8. Green Day, ¡Uno!
See?
 
7. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Here
I heard Alex Ebert HATES Mumford & Sons and said not to bring that limey pussy shit over to this side of the pond. No I didn’t, but roll with it. Also: use hashtag #dothedew for a chance to win cool prizes. Come onnn internet.
 
6. Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city
Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick Lamarrrrrrr. Uhhhhhbububububububuh. Remember those fake GI Joe PSAs?
 
5. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser . . .
I’ll say this for Fiona Apple: she might set your car on fire but at least she’ll break up with you instead of dragging you to couples counseling and nagging you to get an MBA.
 
4. Bob Dylan, Tempest
If you haven’t gotten into Bob Dylan yet, this is a great place to shart.
 
3. Jack White, Blunderbuss
We’ve officially entered the phase of Jack White’s career where he’s just killing time until somebody invites him to guest conduct the London Philharmonic.
 
2. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
I’m so excited for this to be the last time I try to come up with a joke about Frank Ocean, it’s like using premature ejaculation as a birth control method.
 
1. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
In the interest of science, I calculated the average age of every solo artist on this list. (Solo acts because you can easily Google their ages; I’m not gonna go whole hog with this thing and average out every Cloud Nothing bassist or Garbage drummer) So solo artists only, using their name or a pseudonym only and not a band name even if it’s just Billy Corgan dicking around in a studio alone. Also disqualified, though old: Dave Matthews for putting “Band” at the end of his name, and Neil Young for insisting on additional billing for the also crazily old Crazy Horse. But I’ll count Cat Power, just because it’s funny to think of people saying “hey Cat!” or “excuse me, Ms. Power” to Chan Marshall.
 
There are a total of 22 solo acts on this list with an average age of 45. That feels like somebody throwing up their hands and saying “music hasn’t been good in 20 years!” If lists like this were the only way I heard about what’s happening in music, I’d feel the same way.

Jason Molina RIP

Monday, 10AM. Not the time you expect to get a telephone call from an old friend. But sadly, I’m accustomed to it. Far too much.

On Saturday night, March 16, 2013, Jason Molina, the songwriting force behind Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company died from a body that had been drowned in alcohol for years on end. He was far too young to die and his friends and fans have experienced a massive loss. Jason was 39.

I first met Jason back in the 90’s when touring musicians would book shows on a pay phone while on the road. Jason was having difficulty booking a show in Athens (I was living in Atlanta by this time) and I arranged him to have a show at a tiny bar on College Ave. That was 1998. After that, we became quick friends. He toured the South routinely and would stay at Chunklet HQ and we’d trade quirky stories and laugh our asses off.

Jason was great by himself, but once he had the touring entourage that became Magnolia Electric Company, he really shined brightly. Maybe too brightly.

What many of us were slow to find out is that Molina had a pretty significant drinking problem. This disease, which snuffed out his life, controlled Jason for most of the last decade.

What made Jason so endearing was his lack of pretense. For as intense as he wrote, he was a goofball. But maybe, just maybe, his music was alluding to what was fighting inside him. The demons. The ghosts. The pain. The disease.

I get it. And, sadly, I get it all too well.


Jason Molina by Wes Frazer

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an impassioned plea to Jason’s fans. His estranged wife and bandmates would direct people to the post to better understand what he was going through. As a friend and a fan, I didn’t want to sit passively while he killed himself. Of course, even with all of his friends never leaving his side, he cashed out on Saturday night in Indianapolis with nothing but a cell phone in his pocket. My sincerest condolences go to his family who received the news.

Jason leaves behind him an enviable body of work that will be continually rediscovered because what Jason wrote wasn’t fashion. It was his heart. It was his love. It was his demons. And ultimately, it brought his life to an end.

God’s speed, Jason. God’s speed.

(including a live performance Jason did a block from my house back in ’05.)


Me, JMo and touring bro at Barrie Buck’s, 2005

Jason Molina – live on Newton Ave ’05

Best of the Best of 2012: Spin

Making fun of mainstream media outlets for being off the mark with their year-end best of music lists is like walking up to a dead beached whale and then fucking its rotted blowhole. Sure, it feels great and the video gets a ton of hits on YouTube, but you end up with rancid whale juice all over your dick, and THAT can ruin a weekend unless you know just the right freaky deaky. I’m preachin’ to the choir here. I know that, guys.
 
The staff at Spin Magazine wrote down a list of their favorite albums, and it is tiiiiight as a suicidal humpback’s month old decay-fissured carcass.
 
50. fun. – Some Nights
Saying something is your 50th favorite is the same thing as saying you don’t like it, right? Like my 50th favorite sandwich is probably grape jelly and tuna on cabbage leaves.
 
49. Heems – Nehru Jackets
Are Europeans actually paying for music still? Is that what dubstep is? Just a bunch of Bulgarians who haven’t figured out how to Google things yet, and now all of us have to listen to this stuff in our brainy hip hop and Windows 7 commercials?
 
48. Best Coast – The Only Place
I swear to you this almost made me do an internet search for 10,000 Maniacs. I was seriously so close, you guys.
 
47. Metric – Synthetica

Lou Reed collaborated on one of these tracks. I think he’s trying to tell us something important about ourselves that we don’t want to hear because it sounds so shitty.
 
46. Spoek Mathambo – Father Creeper
This probably the best leftfield hip hop album I’ve heard since Subtle ExitingARM. Quick, before looking up Subtle ExitingARM, tell me if you A. know what it is off the top of your head, or B. like it, because A. exactly and B. exactly.
 
45. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
I like how there’s a rotating title for the world’s top pop music ass.
 
44. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
The Deftones are rounding the corner into their 25th year of existence. That’s 25 years as the soundtrack to bored teenagers in shitty towns getting fingerblasted in the back seat of a pot dealer’s RAV4 by a guy in a backwards visor. What an accomplishment, you guys.
 
43. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
According to the internet, Kathleen Edwards is Boning Iver. Let’s hope they’re dedicated practitioners of the withdrawal method.
 
42. Lindstrøm – Six Cups of Rebel
The Spin staff found their old Jnco jeans and there was an Mtv Amp Best of 1997 compilation CD in the back pocket that made them laugh so hard they snuck this in at 42 to see if anybody would notice.
 
41. Purity Ring – Shrines

Do they still make these? It’s weird when somebody’s vagina has a pull tab like one of those talking Pee Wee dolls.
 
40. Animal Collective – Centipede Hz
More like Centipede Hz Donut. (this kind of joke is called a “dud with a long fuse”)
 
39. Roc Marciano – Reloaded
This is exactly what hip hop is supposed to be for. Something to play really loudly in enclosed places in order to convince yourself you’re not too big of a pussy to go to the dentist.
 
38. Taylor Swift – Red
I know so little about Taylor Swift I get her confused with LeAnn Rimes, and I just had to Google “LeAnn Rimes” to make sure I spelled it right. That’s how little I know or want to know about Taylor Swift.
 
37. R. Kelly – Write Me Back
Has there ever been anybody funnier than R. Kelly with less of an idea why he’s funny? It’s like he’s spent years honing his comedy chops by total accident. This is a guy who had a giant Space Jam mural painted in his house, and then he had to sell the house, and then the realtor had to be like, “asking price is $3 million, and oh by the way the basement has a giant Space Jam mural in it.” I’m sorry, but that is funnier than Zach Galifianakis’s entire life’s work.
 
36. Beak> – >>
It’s weird how people on Twitter use the “greater than” sign to say things like “Bill Cosby > Madea Goes To Jail IMHO.” It’s like the mathematics of how opinions are boring.
 
35. Jack White – Blunderbuss
Is anybody else really rooting for Jack White to get really into cocaine and have an 80’s Robert Plant phase? Or is it just me? I’m ready for some pastel sport coats, receding gumlines, synthesized orchestras, and questionable sexuality (not as in “I question this person’s sexual preference,” but “I question that this person is behaving sexually”). We need this guy to more clearly demonstrate that he sucks.
 
34. Mala – In Cuba
I’m not sure if I can do this or even if I like music. That’s what all this is supposed to be, right? Music?
 
33. Thee Oh Sees – Putrifiers II
Not their best, but this is like when you take a break from painting a buddy’s apartment and he offers you room temperature Diet Pepsi and it’s so good you wonder if you even like cold soda anymore.
 
32. Goat – World Music
This is like if that room temperature Diet Pepsi gave you a blowjob.
 
31. The xx – Coexist
Oooh, a buffet of the worst things about music. I’d like to try the sonic insincerity of electronic music, with some of the cloying cutesiness in vocal delivery of twee, a big helping of the maudlin lyrical content of emo, all covered with the distant sheen of thousand-tracked overdone pop, please, and put it all into a plodding midtempo stew that you can’t dance to unless you’re on downers. That’s what I want. Thanks.
 
30. Frankie Rose – Interstellar
Like for instance this. I cannot for the life of me understand who this is for. Art school graduates who are also die hard Eurhythmics fans? How could there be such a thing?
 
29. Dinosaur Jr. – I Bet on Sky
I’m 33 years old. When you’re 33, you get to look back at your entire 20’s and say “who was that asshole and why was he so upset all the time?” I can’t imagine how stupid J. Mascis and Lou Barlow must feel on a constant basis whenever they’re in the same room together. It must be so omnipresent one of them could whack a tuning fork and it would say “sorry” and shrug like a Muppet.
 
28. Jessie Ware – Devotion
“Devotion” is such a sneaky word. I mean, loyalty is fine. Respect is great. But devotion? That’s code for somebody working too hard or too showily for no reason. Even in the best possible context, like “devoted father of three,” what is that supposed to mean, that regular fathers of three don’t give a shit, you’ve got to be devoted? Devotion is somebody with something to hide. For example: I would not have listened to this if it weren’t for my devotion to journalistic integrity.
 
27. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
I was all set to make fun of this, but instead I had all the fun I was supposed to make and now I’m way behind on my fun quota AND my ass is fat from eating all that fun.
 
26. Tame Impala – Lonerism
You could throw a rock anywhere in Australia right now and hit a better band than Tame Impala.
 
25. Action Bronson – Blue Chips
This big ups Ken Caminiti 30 seconds into the first track, so I’m sold.
 
24. Cat Power – Sun
Remember how much you used to hate vegetables as a kid? That’s like me with Cat Power.
 
23. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
Total missed opportunity not calling this “Go For Baroque.”
 
22. Torche – Harmonicraft
With the manslaughter charge Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe is facing in the Czech Republic, combined with the fact that Mastodon sucks now, best current metal band is up for grabs and Torche is in the conversation. That’s a thing I just said to sound like I know what I’m talking about. I don’t know what I expect anybody to do with that information. Probably disagree with it so strongly it’ll serve as confirmation that metal fans are weird. I guess I expect that.
 
21. Daphni – Jiaolon
Finally somebody understands that techno is supposed to be at least 70% dumb.
 
20. Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
More like Pallman Brotherer.
 
19. Traxman – Da Mind of Traxman
Apparently this is the king shit soundtrack of footworkin’. In that case I’m for it, because those kids don’t have a fucking chance in hell if they don’t invent something they can convince other people is really a thing.
 
18. King Tuff – King Tuff
I like this alright but more importantly so does my girlfriend, which is my version of the Old Grey Whistle Test.
 
17. Grizzly Bear – Shields
Hey now, hey now, don’t dreeeeam it’s overrrrr.
 
16. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel
Every time I admit to not liking Fiona Apple I feel like one of those Andy Capp cartoons where he tries to sneak into the house but then his wife throws a frying pan at him. Like in the instant where he thinks he’s made it.
 
15. Baroness – Yellow & Green
If I was one of those died in the wool metal fans I would be pissed as hell at the apparent metal-nerd/prog-nerd merger that happened in 2007 without my consent. Who agreed that keyboards are okay? Can we still have shredding, or are you just dangling the possibility of shredding in my face so I’ll sit through your boring sad songs about how God doesn’t love you? Do I hear violins? Wait a minute, is that guy wearing SANDALS? Are we sure it’s not okay for me to punch these people?
 
14. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
This is such a strange comeback. If fans of this band were a sect of Christendom they would be “Bored Again Holocaustials.”
 
13. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
I watched The Bourne Legacy the other night. These guys are like the bad guy from the other even scarier government program where they take Times New Viking and genetically remove all the fun.
 
12. Death Grips – NO LOVE DEEP WEB
Little known fact: the dick on the cover is the Nirvana Nevermind baby’s dick.
 
11. Future – Pluto
I thought we stopped using autotune once those guys made Katie Couric sound like a club banger three and a half years ago.
 
10. Santigold – Master of My Make-Believe
Not content to be a shitty but more reliably punctual and less distastefully political version of M.I.A., Santigold is now going for the same thing with being a shitty but domestic violence-free Rihanna. It’s all the multicultural pop hooks without all that thinking about anything baggage. I like her career. She’s like that video production house that makes the Transmorphers movies.
 
9. Ty Segall – Twins
Yeah, I’m not really that into rock music. It’s only like my ninth favorite thing.
 
8. Killer Mike R.A.P. Music
Of all the hip hop I listened to this year, this is… wait. I didn’t listen to hip hop at all this year.
 
7. Swans – The Seer
I’m glad that if you hang in there making loud angry insane noise for long enough eventually the artsy fartsy crowd will be able to prop you up as a venerable old artist type, and the rank and file pretentious music dickhead guys who wear trench coats and turtlenecks even though they’re 25 will line up to fork over their cash and pretend they were hip to your act the whole time, and you’ll enjoy a career twilight as a fashionably antiquated professor who can both go to bed early and get laid at the same time. All you have to do is keep up the appearance of being super serious about what you do. You can’t ever crack the veneer of art is important. No winking. If that sounds like hard work, it is, but the good news is since we’re dealing with noise music, this path completely (thankfully) sidesteps the idea of “talent.” Remember all this, untalented noise guys. Keep wailing. Or else, you know, don’t, because it’s the kind of thing that takes so much effort you can’t do it unless that’s really who you are.
 
6. Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man
The more of these I read the more it seems like most critics have no interest in altering the way culture unfolds. They’re just reporting. The attitude is here’s what’s happening now, here it is if you’re curious, and attached are some reasons to either like it or not like it, and I’m not going to make a value judgment as to whether things should sound like this because that would be “trolling” and “unprofessional” and therefore a potential turnoff to “the only people left in the world who have any money.” There are a lot of interrelated reasons for this that I can guess at but can’t exactly put my finger on, and they all center at the nexus of the internet and the end of revenue for content. In today’s “media landscape,” it’s impossible to know who is actually cynically colluding, who is passively participating in that collusion through laziness or gullibility, who is a zero-carat hustler merely parroting the results of that collusion in order to position themselves to participate in it, and who is a full blown actual fan of Bat for Lashes that genuinely loves this band and this album and sincerely wants things to sound like this and be like this in spite of the fact that this is exactly everything that there is already now and always too much of. There’s no way to know. The internet has robbed us of all authority, and instead of growing a pair of balls and shouting “Bat For Lashes SUCKS” to the hilltops, we’re out here in the cold tap dancing for our dinner. Fuck it, guys. There is no dinner. And the worst thing is: I’m railing against the 6th selection of some dead magazine’s top 50 list as if that’s an actual thing anymore, and it’s not. The custodian left, guys. Nobody knows we’re here. We can do anything we want. THAT MEANS WE DON’T HAVE TO EVER LISTEN TO BAT FOR LASHES. Unless, you know, you want to. In which case, congratulations on making it to the sunny side of the class division, congratulations on your recent condominium purchase, and go fuck yourself. You’re going to die someday just like the rest of us, and in the meantime you’re the reason everything sucks.
 
5. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
I like him because he’s so sexy.
 
4. DJ Rashad – TEKLIFE Vol. 1 – Welcome to the Chi
I take it back, THIS guy is the king shit of footworkin’. I hope you Bat for Lashes assholes are paying attention, because this is what your kids want to listen to in order to prove that they’re not like you.
 
3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Oh come on, go fuck yourselves.
 
2. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
Because Dr. Dre needs more money?
 
1. Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
Actually not all that bad, but I’m on a roll here. Pretend I finished strong.

A Friend That Knows What Being a Friend Is

Update: The date has been moved to Wed Nov 28th.

I’m sure you all know how bad we were hit here on the Northeast last week, so I’ll skip the hard sale. Anyway, Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween) is putting together a benefit show in Asbury Park. I’ve been a fan of Ween and Moistboyz and their circle of bands for a long time. This looks to be a killer show, and it would help some people out if you’re in the Jersey Shore area and can make it out Sunday night. Here’s what’s going on:

"Like a lot of people I know it’s hard to figure out where to best donate money and resources right now. To this end I’ve just arranged a benefit concert for my good friend Nick Honachefsky who lost his home and all of his worldly possessions in the storm. I’m hosting a benefit concert at the Saint in Asbury Park, NJ on Sun Nov. 11–"Dean Ween and Friends" featuring Claude Coleman, Glenn McClelland, Chris Harford, Dickie Moist, and the all of the usual suspects to help Nick get back on his feet. The evening will feature new music and old music by Moistboyz, Chris Harford, Jimmy Wilson, members of Ween, etc. More specific details to follow. Also, there is a fund set up for Nick at this address:

 http://nickymagnum.chipin.com/nick-honachefsky-fund

"These are trying times for a lot of my closest friends and family members as well as my brothers and sisters in the NJ fishing community. If we all pitch in a little bit it can go a long way towards a complete recovery and some sense of normalcy to an area which is so sacred to so many of us."

-Mickey

Below is a download of the 1999 Craters of the Sac album intentionally leaked by the band due to a dispute with their label at the time, Elektra Records. It’s not incredibly rare but it’s a great recording that’s reminiscent of their early years in case any of you casual fans missed it.

All That’s Gold Will Turn Black

The Pawns of War

Big Fat Fuck

Put the Coke on my Dick

Makin’ Love in the Gravy

How High Can You Fly

The Stallion (Pt 5)

Suckin’ Blood From the Devil’s Dick

Monique the Freak

Man…or Astro-Man? Scheduled To Release Second Volume of New Material in November

Man or Astro-Man? return (yet again) with more new material. In 2010, the original lineup of Birdstuff, Coco and Star Crunch reformed to play a series of live shows, and since then, they have been putting on some of the best performances of their career. This is the second installment in their Analog Audio Series and their string of hits show no sign of slowing down. "Communication Breakdown Pt II" and "All Systems To Go" are two tracks that will appear on their upcoming full length and "Chemical Cats" is exclusive to this release. Enough with the filler, here comes the killer.

FEATURES:
Packaged in a custom chipboard, die-cut cover with an acetate window and sealed with a foil sticker.
Recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio
Cut direct to lacquer at Chicago Mastering Service
Artwork by Aaron Draplin (fieldnotesbrand.com)
Available exclusively on light green vinyl only at chunklet.com
First 200 copies available on clear vinyl (only one per customer/order)
PREORDER!!!! SHIPS EARLY TO MID NOVEMBER!!!!

TRACK LISTING:
Side a: Communication Breakdown Pt II

Side b: All Systems To Go/Chemical Cats

There’s also a new reprint of Vol 1 of the astro single on RED vinyl for those of you that care about that sort of thing.

Chunklet To Go Go at Vice: An Update

Leaving the Record Store Empty Handed

There’s nothing quite like Friday or Saturday afternoon trip to local the record hop, following payday and flush with cash, determined to make a small dent in that want list of yours. Now we all have our favorite store. Perhaps yours is the small, single room, been there forever store, that’s so precious and few in numbers these days, or likely an even smaller store with predominantly young staff and young owners hoping to make an honest buck off this “kids like vinyl” thing. Speaking personally, there’s a store in the St. Louis metropolitan area called The Record Exchange that takes a large portion of my weekly paycheck. Now this store has a certain charm (or perhaps lack thereof) that the more frequented, trendier outlets in the city don’t really possess. The latter are tidy, organized, and tend to charge exactly what you would expect for trickier to find items. The Record Exchange basically leaves stacks upon towering stacks of to be priced items throughout the place for your perusal. And considering that the store is one of the largest in the Midwest, you can frequently stroll though what appear to be long forgotten hallways built out of record stacks so tall, you’re just a touch concerned for your safety.

I’m only slightly exaggerating, but the sheer number of discs available there makes it the ultimate browser’s store. Now by and large, this place serves as an effective means to pick up a large portion of the classic rock, soul, and classic country canon relatively on the cheap so you can easily endeavor to get your collection up to that John Peel level of expansiveness to make all the guys and gals swoon. But don’t expect any too many of your preferred and coming artists amongst the bins to represent your keen avant-garde taste as The Record Exchange’s measly “Alternative” section contains quite a bit of INXS, if that clues you into their concept of the term. However, there is indeed the occasional rare gem (and since the owner’s a big Elvis and late 50’s/early 60’s rock and pop fan, you’re likely to get it at a steal if it’s something that falls outside his purview) but you are going to have to work to find it.

But this little post is not about finding that rare, much sought after item buried in a long forgotten hallway, since not every trip to your local vinyl emporium has you coming out a winner and can occasionally lack the supple bounty of the dozen plus vinyl stack, leaving you with nothing but a full wallet, and a bitter attitude about the severe lack of Rapeman live bootlegs running through your town. In fact, while browsing though those alphabetized bins, there are certain titles that seem to come up again and again, serving as bad omens that today’s trip will not be a success. Using my preferred store as an influence, here’s a handy guide to the worthless platters destined for the discount bin that may help you recognize the beginnings of your lackluster raid.

DAVID BOWIE The “Historia De La  Musica Rock” series. What is it? Who put these often just plain baffling compilations together? Why don’t they have the decency to speak English? There are of course answers to these questions, but I doubt that we would find any of them all that interesting to actually bother with the research that would entail (after all if it’s not the first google result, it’s just not worth it). Their quite tacky covers were probably more likely to catch the attention of your mother, if you told her you liked David Bowie, only to ensure you got it at your birthday as you hid your disappointment, “Gee, mom…thanks.”   But it doesn’t matter if you’re perusing T. Rex or James Brown; this is most likely littering the bin and could be an awful sign of things to come.

MICK JAGGER This one, no matter how many times I’ve flipped past it, is always still in the shrink wrap, causing one to wonder if anyone ever got around to actually listening to it. It’s often thrown in at the back of the Stones bin so it serves as a clear sign that you’re not walking out with that Satanic Majesties lenticular cover you always keep hoping you’ll find. You know, Jagger has been finding his name tossed out in a lot of pop lyrics lately, whether it be Maroon 5 or Ke$ha. one has too wonder if She’s The Boss is representative of the ultimate sense of rock god cool that they apparently think they’ll evoke.

JAMES TAYLOR Like many of his soft rock 70’s brethren operates primarily in a nether-region between rock, soul, male, female (you know, because he’s kind of a pussy) and your standard singer-songwriter fare. But James Taylor succeeded where his contemporaries failed as he managed to be equally offensively boring with any genre he was dipping into. This album cover is particularly egregious as it fails to warn you anywhere that this is actually a James Taylor record you’re purchasing and not some long forgotten sequel to Diver Down.

THE DYNATONES
If you’re busy doing homework on the Dylan discography this will signal your point of no return. Often, Dylan fans have to be satisfied with copies of Empire Burlesque or Shot of Love to signal their coming disappointment, but for me this one’s always driven the point home. It could be worse, whenever I was searching for an old copy of Duty Now for the Future (since I didn’t want to pay for the reissue) an album by Cliff DeYoung (better known as the second Brad Majors from Richard O’Brien’s Shock Treatment) had to gently inform me that my trip would be a failure. Who are The Dynatones? With a name like that, it looks like we’re reaching dangerous ska territory, so let’s all just agree to move on and speak no more of them.

ZAPPACOSTA If you guessed that we were looking for some Zappa records here and came away empty handed, then you are indeed most wise.  Of course there’s always a Zappa record to be had at your neighborhood record store, just never of the ones you want. And even if you fancy yourself as an uber-completist, you’d still be in a better shape buying this than anything by both either Dweezil or Moon Unit.
 
SEALS & CROFTS This may be just me, but this album appeared to be following me everywhere I went throughout the store. In the dollar bin. In the S’s. In the Jazz section. In the COMEDY SECTION??? The feeling was remarkably eerie. Then I came to a horrible realization, the album is a virus. This was definitive dollar bin fodder that had the unique ability to spring to life and infect the VG to VG- albums around me and make copies of itself on any other album in the store that it saw fit. Soon the covers of everything from Birth of the Cool to Heaven Tonight were festooned with 70’s soft rock beards. Eventually Seals & Croft was not enough, Christopher “Fucking” Cross, Jennifer Welles, Phoebe Snow (my God, why are they all so ugly) were taking up every conceivable space in the store, not content to confine itself by genre, all aisles were overcome by the plague until the KISS solo albums seemed like a beacon of hope. Will the gently plucked Stratocasters ever stop? Does every song have to be backed by some soft, light, jazzy electric piano?  Soon I find I’m fully immersed and infected myself wondering, is there more to the Bee Gees than the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, how many Three Dog Night albums is it acceptable to own, and where the hell does Barry Manilow find the sheer nonchalance to name his debut Barry Manilow I”? As if he knew there would be a second! I stumble out of the store looking for a stiff drink, but every bar has been replaced by a Margaritaville, where the beverages are so watered down and the fish tacos so filling, by my third drink I’m still hopelessly searching for that light buzz. I turn on the radio to hear middle aged DJs puking out their spiel for free tickets to see geriatric soft rock superstars, HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD? You try to talk some sense into these people, but you’re told to “Chill out.” “You had to be there.” “This one got me through a lot of hard times.” Finally I escape home to the comfort of my own record collection finding a touch of solace in that at least Aja doesn’t completely suck.

You Know The Jolly Show Must Go On: Bill Doss 1968-2012

I’ve come to the point when I get an unexpected call from a friend, I’m dreading what I’m going to hear. About 30 minutes ago, one of my best friends Andrew Rieger called to tell me that Bill Doss had died.

Bill. Billy. A fellow freak. Dead. The cause has yet to be determined.

Bill Doss and I met each other in the din of Athens of the early 90’s when nobody outside of town cared about us. Cheap rent. Cheap booze. Good times. Let’s do this. Bill was always flanked by his childhood friends from Ruston, Louisiana, Jeff Mangum and Will Hart. At that time (late ’92/early ’93), they were in a band called Synthetic Flying Machine who were always considered nothing other than weird by Athens standards. Syd Barrett backed by the Minutemen. That’s how I think of them now, and still thought of them back then.

Bill had been recently discharged from the U.S. Army (as witness by his issued combat boots he wore in town) and was growing his hair out and expanding his mind in the Classic City. Athens was still a small town then (at least among those that weren’t students) and we’d run into each other everywhere. We had a mutual love of drone, noise and krautrock, not to mention a similar sense of humor. We just clicked. Very fast. And it still feels like yesterday.


Julian and Bill, Atlanta ’96

Synthetic Flying Machine would appear infrequently as Jeff was always traveling and Bill would tour with Chocolate USA. It wasn’t too far along before the Olivia Tremor Control (always note the "The" as it’s part of their name) started playing in town. Jeff named the Olivias as the Olivias named his new band, Neutral Milk Hotel. And so it became.

The gang of misfits and oddballs in Athens continued to grow, morph and develop. By the time I got up the guts to ask Will and Bill if I could release an Olivias record, they were mentioned far and wide, but rarely, if ever, in town. It was still a blissful and talented vacuum of naiveté. To call those years good times would be an understatement. Funny enough, the very first time I smoked weed was under Bill and Will’s direct assistance. He might be embarrassed by this fact, but like almost everything with Bill, he’d probably laugh and move on.

As things go, house parties led to coffee houses led to opening gigs for touring national bands and, eventually, The Olivias were established in Athens and got a record deal with Flydaddy and a well-connected booking agent. He toured. I worked. He came home. I toured. He went back on tour. I went on unemployment. It’s the age old story….

Oddly enough, when I left Athens to actually make a living wage in Atlanta, Bill and I still were close. I put on a number of Olivia shows at the Echo Lounge and we’d run into each other at out of town gigs. Always. ALWAYS. Always a great time. Smiling. Laughing. Bill.


Will, Eric, Bill and John, Athens ’95

He and his wife were very supportive of me during very difficult times and would routinely check in on me during some particularly trying times in the late 90’s. Bill was a bro. And as you go through life, you get very few of those. I’ll always cherish that about Bill.

And I’ve not even mentioned Bill’s musical prowess because, well, it all speaks volumes for itself. Yes, Bill was good. Will was good. Talented. But together? Forget it. They were a powerhouse. Unquestionably. Bill’s permanent legacy is his music. A wide swath of material that you wouldn’t imagine that came from a kid from the flatlands of Northern Louisiana. Bill left an indelible impression. No doubt.

Billy D is survived by his companion of over 20 years, Amy (who he continually dedicated "Jumping Fences" to while on stage), his other companion Will Hart, a loving family and a virtual army of friends and fans.

Out of respect to Amy, Will, the Olivias and the Doss family, please know that any memorial or funeral arrangements will be posted here for all those coming out of town.

UPDATE (2AUG12): Join us for a celebration of Bill Doss’ life. Saturday, August 4 from 2-4p.m. at the 40 Watt Club, 285 West Washington St. Athens, GA. (further arrangements are being made)

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make donations to Nuçi’s Space, a local musician support & resource center.


Bill’s personalized guitar. Landfill ’95.