Back in my radio days at KUGS at WWU in Bellingham, Chuck Berry was a staple of the Saturday afternoon “Roots Rock” show. He was perhaps the first rock n’ roll guitar god, he was a talented songwriter, and a master showman. His disciples include first and foremost The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, The Animals, and many more.
“If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” – John Lennon
2016 was a terrible year in many ways, but it was a great year of music. Here is my list of the best albums of 2016.
1. Skeleton Tree, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. This album was started before Nick’s son Arthur died in 2015. Understandably, that tragedy weighed heavily on Nick as he wrote the songs for this album. The album is sad in a beautiful way. If you haven’t seen the movie, One More Time with Feeling, that played in cinemas around the globe on the eve of the release of this album, you should.
I don’t know why it took me so long to put together this list of The Best Albums of 2015. Just too busy I guess. But now that football season is over, I’ve not much else to do this Valentine’s Day Sunday. Right now I’m just sittin’ around listening to vinyl, drinking Batch 15 IPA and eating some chocolate. Just the right combination to get me motivated enough to list the best albums of 2015 and embed some cool videos.
Wilco surprised everyone by dropping Star Wars for free! Not that I would download a crappy mp3 or anything like that. I waited for the hard copy and also saw them live at Marymoor Park on a warm summer evening last August. Here they are live on Stephen Colbert’s show performing “Random Name Generator”.
Melody Gardot is not on a lot of people’s radar, probably because her albums are found in the Jazz section of your local record store. Her latest album, Currency of Man, is jazz leaning towards blues and rock, and it has a sharp political edge to it. Perfect for the troubled times we live in. Here is the real standout track “Preacherman”. It’s a pretty intense video with a long introduction, so be patient. The song starts at about 2:50.
I’ve been a big fan of Johnny Dowd ever since I heard his 1999 album, Pictures from Life’s Other Side, and saw him live at The Tractor Tavern. His new album is titled That’s Your Wife on the Back of My Horse, and here’s a quirky video for “White Dolemite”.
Kurt Vile has been pretty prolific over the past few years, and every album he puts has something really great on it like “Pretty Pimpin'” from b’lieve i’m goin’ down.
I had not heard of Houndmouth before 2015, but they got some airplay on KEXP, and I liked what I heard, so I bought Little Neon Limelight. And I’m glad I did.
Nadine Shah has one of the most powerful singing voices. I love what she does with it on Fast Food. Too bad she isn’t appreciated much on this side of the Atlantic, because she should be. Then maybe she would tour here and I could see her live.
I heard about Israel Nash from friends who are really into his music. I bought 2014’s Rain Plans some time in 2015 and loved it. I missed his sold out show at The Sunset Tavern, but I did see his ridiculously short 30-minute set at Bumbershoot, and then saw what was one of the best shows of the year at The Crocodile in December in support of his latest album Silver Season. Here’s “Have You Seen L.A. Lately”.
And here’s ten more favorites from 2015 listed without video support.
For reasons unknown to me, Bumbershoot lost money last year even though it drew pretty big crowds and had one of the better musical lineups of the past decade, including The Replacements. As a result of the loss, One Reel handed over the reigns to AEG Live for 2015.
I hadn’t bought tickets in advance, and heard on Saturday that it was sold out that day. I really wanted to go on Sunday to See Israel Nash and Neko Case, so I checked the paper Sunday morning and read about how the torrential thunderstorm shut it down for a while. I’m glad I didn’t go that day. But that wasn’t the only thing wrong. I read this by Danny Westneat: …
Seattle super group RAW POWER. From left to right that’s Duff McKagan on bass, Mark Arm singing, Barrett Martin on drums, and Mike McCready on guitar. They played a forty-five minute set of Iggy and the Stooges covers at this KEXP/Market Foundation fund-raising event.
Today is the first full day of summer, so you need a list of songs that sound great on a hot sunny day. I’ve been listening to summer-themed songs and music that just feels right on a sunny day, and here’s my final list with a few comments and videos.
Where is the Sun? – Stag (2014)
I heard this song on Quilty’s show on KEXP a few weeks ago on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. Seattle is normally cloudy and damp until July 5th every year. So it’s no wonder a Seattle band would ride a somewhat melancholy song asking when the sun will show up. I stayed away from most songs that were a bit of downer, but this one works for an opening track because by the end it’s pretty upbeat. I should also mention that Seattle has had a great summer so far, even though summer didn’t officially start until today. We’ve already had seven days with high temperatures over eight degrees in June. We don’t normally get this kind of whether until July.
Pipeline – The Chantays (1962)
Perhaps my all-time favorite surf song. I never get tired of this classic.
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys (1966)
Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues – Eels (2000)
Summertime Boy – Seasick Steve (2015)
I hadn’t really listened to Seasick Steve until this year when he put out Sonic Soul Surfer. Here’s the video.
Hot Fun in the Summertime – Sly and the Family Stone (1969)
Low Rider – War (1975)
Yes I know they have a song titled “Summer”, but I like this song in this set because it feels like summer, and if you are a fan of War, then it makes you think of “Summer”.
Mexican Radio – Wall of Voodoo (1983)
Driving and listening to the radio, and sometimes not understanding a word that is said.
After putting up that last post, a couple of earworms wriggled their way into my internal playback loop.
Say man, when you going back to Florida? When am I goin’ back to Florida? I don’t know, don’t reckon I ever will. Ain’t you worried about getting your nourishment in New York? Well, I don’t care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die.
Florida, Florida, the redneck riviera Florida, Florida, there’s no more pathetic place in America Yes a man must make unpopular decisions, surely from time to time And a man can only stand what a man can stand It’s a wobbly volatile line
Florida, Florida, the water table is fucked Florida, Florida, there’s no more perfect place to give it all up A man must take his life in his own hands Hit those nails on the head And I respect a man who goes to where he wants to be Even if he wants to be dead
Florida, Florida, its a tropical paradise Florida, Florida, there’s no more perfect place to retire from life
That’s all of the lyrics to Vic Chesnutt’s “Florida” from the album West of Rome and, if you don’t own it already, you really should just stop what your doing and buy it right now.
I am an old man and I’ve been listening to rock ‘n roll bands since I was twelve. How is it that only about a month or so ago I heard of Radio Birdman – a great punk band from Australia that put out so many great songs? I have no idea. Neither do my pals Zippy and Gorby, or my rocker friends Rob and Shane. And we thought we knew our shit! sigh…
I found out about the band via Tulip Frenzy, and I am very grateful (So are Zippy and Gorby).
So this edition of Friday Night Videos is devoted to a band that you, if you were clueless like me, have never heard of. Note: they put out there music from ’74 – ’78, so there are no official videos.
Let’s start with “Hand of Law”
…and then “Aloha Steve and Danno”,
…and here’s a real treat – a live performance from 1977 recorded at the Marryatville Hotel (which appears to have turned into something very different than what it was in 1977). Four songs: “What Gives”, “search and Destroy”, “Burn My Eye”, and “Descent into the Maelstrom” plus some band interviews between songs. Turn it UP!
What the hell, let’s throw in an encore. It could be the best… “New Race” live.
You few regular visitors out there must have noticed that the site has been down for extended periods during the past few weeks. Well it’s up now, so I am putting up a couple of photos from their show at The Sunset Tavern.
Here’s one of Martin setting up his array of switches and peddles that he uses to great effect during the shows.
And here’s one of all three of them (mostly Martin).
And this is how the show ends in a blaze of distorted harmonic feedback loops.
The Sunset has one of the darkest stages in the city, so it’s difficult (for me anyway) to get shots in focus, so I did resort to using a flash for quite a few photos, but most of those didn’t turn out because of all the backs of heads in front of me that turned bright white when the flash fired. Oh well… There are better photos out there. Capsula posted some on their Facebook page taken by Sandra Cox that are worthy.
And they were selling their new live album, Dead or Alive, at the show for $10. For more about the importance of it and why you should buy it, as usual I direct you to Tulip Frenzy.