I've never understood the idea of a top 10. I mean, I get it, but I don't see how it's possible. When you write up a 'Top 10 of the Year,' it's assumed that in a 365 day cycle ten things have made themselves important enough in your life to negate everything else to complete irrelevancy. Why not a top 7 or, if necessary, a top 34?
I decided to discipline myself. Since this "List of the Day" column conveniently comes to you in short, five unnumbered doses, I decided to offer up four of them that would encompass the 20 albums that were released this calendar year that I played more than once and probably played enough to annoy everyone else around me. I haven't numbered anything because I don't think of this as a competition. I haven't lowered the bar to make everyone a winner either.
Best of all, however, in clinical studies it's been proven that these albums will make you a better person. I don't know how it happens. It just does.
As that cuisine genius and marketing expert herself Rachael Ray might say about something completely unrelated to this column, "How Cool is that?"
I read somewhere that long time fans don't like this album that much because it doesn't sound like their old ones. Which seems like an odd complaint. Because when I buy a new album, I'm usually hoping that I'm buying something I haven't bought before. This sorta sounds like the Misfits gone rockabilly by way of X. But different.
Alasdair Roberts - The Amber Gatherers (Drag City)
This is one of those dreary folk records that always find its way onto my stereo where it spends more time entertaining me and annoying others. I'm not sure why this is. Doesn't everyone like the sound of a singer who sounds like his leg is caught in a fence? I think it's dandy.
This album was left for dead when their major label gave up. But they managed to get it released once the initial round of hype and momentum was dissipated. Lots of people hate these guys for the same reasons they like other bands. Supposedly they act like rock stars. They're too derivative. They're noisy. I don't know. I don't care. They amused me. Maybe they stole my wallet. I didn't check. Maybe they'll take down the entire human race with their immoral messages that are backward-masked somewhere on here. Hey, you only live twice!
I've come to respect these gentlemen because they make music that always sounds like someone else. And to be able to do that takes a lot more talent than making the same record over and over. They're like the Rich Little of rock. But even better. Because whether it's mariachi static from the radio or some '70s funk party that's run out of 'ludes, these guys take you there. Mighty nice of them and I hear they're nice to their mothers.
Graham Parker - Don't Tell Columbus (Bloodshot)
Old British songwriters never die. They move to America and pretend to be interested in country music. Graham gave it half a shot awhile back and got to stick around on a decent independent label who no longer ask him when he's going to do that album of Gram Parsons covers once and for all. Instead, he writes about things that interest him and then calls a few friends who call a few friends and next thing you know he's got an organ rolling through the songs and he's singing better than he did back when people used to give him rave reviews and the covers of magazines. Somebody give him a reality show. -30-