2012 Favorite Records List. 50-41

Entering the final turn…

50
The Feelies 1980
Crazy Rhythms
Score: 484 W/L/T: 23 / 23 / 13
Reminds me of college. Rolling Stone said it was one of the best records of the 80s (London Calling won, IIRC). So we all went out and bought it. This was back in the pre-internet time, so Rolling Stone was a reasonable way to get music news. They were right! It is a great album. Just weird enough to be interesting but catchy enough to get the wary past the weird. None of us knew the Modern Lovers or the Velvet Underground, so it seemed like a totally unique sound, then. And so, yeah, it’s lost its sui generis status, as I’ve discovered their influences, but I still think it’s a fine effort.
49
Led Zeppelin 1975
Physical Graffiti
Score: 487 W/L/T: 21 / 32 / 3
And this is for just the first disc – the heavy one (Custard Pie, Houses Of The Holy, Trampled Under Foot, Kashmir, In My Time Of Dying, etc.). I’m not crazy about the second disc (In The Light, Down By The Seaside, etc). That first disc is just awesome – pure Zeppelin.
48
No Knife 2002
Riot For Romance!
Score: 487 W/L/T: 26 / 20 / 9
A very cool take on post-Fugazi punk with really strong hooks, interesting melodies, and some nice interlocking guitars. Loud vs quiet, mellow vs screech. There are some quiet moments which feel a bit like early-80’s Crimson. So, a great fusion of a bunch of things. It’s too bad they didn’t last past this album.

The drummer on this is now with Pinback, which seems appropriate. If you like Pinback, or Trail Of Dead…, give this a listen. Very cool stuff. Total rock action.

Seriously, if there’s one record on this list you all should check out, it’s this one.

And if you don’t believe me, believe the good and honorable, TBogg, who turned me onto them (they being both from San Diego).

This is a newcomer to the list.

47
Wilco 2002
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Score: 487 W/L/T: 18 / 12 / 10
Wherein Wilco takes get with the studio gimmickry, turning an album of otherwise simple pleasant songs into trippy experimental masterpieces. “All my lies are always wishes”.
46
Matt Pond PA 2007
Last Light
Score: 490 W/L/T: 37 / 16 / 8
Another first-timer.

Matt Pond writes excellent songs: ridiculously catchy songs, with beautiful melodies and smart lyrics. And they’re delivered so effortlessly (and he turns out so many of them!) as to make anyone who has ever tried writing a song shake an envious fist in his direction. And sometimes they even rock a bit. “Sunshine”, in particular, is just so fucking good I can’t believe it. Gah.

Great album. Another good one to cook to.

45
Pixies 1987
Surfer Rosa
Score: 506 W/L/T: 31 / 16 / 11
The Pixies’ gleefully sinister sound is always a good time. I’m so glad I finally got to see them this year.
44
Marah 2005
If You Didn’t Laugh You’d Cry

Score: 506 W/L/T: 21 / 12 / 8
Another first-timer.

Sometimes it sounds like there’s barely enough room between Marah and late-era Replacements (or solo Westerberg) for you to swing a beer bottle. It’s that same smirking swagger, hearts-on-their-sleeves, non-nonsense, melodic rock & roll that Big Star started and then Westerberg reworked once the Replacements started running out of angst. Marah puts a little more grime and soul into it than the Replacements did, getting a little Faces action in there. And they turn up the blue-collar earnestness in the words, which gets into more of a Springsteen feel. So, if you know those bands, Marah’s sound probably won’t startle you. Which isn’t to say they’re ripping anyone off, just that, you know: it’s a style. And anyway, influences aside, Marah is very good at what they do. This record is full of songs that sound like they came from some awesome but overlooked garage band from a couple decades back. And they did – except it’s only 7 years old. And the band is still out there. And they put on a great live show.

43
Sea And Cake 1994
Sea And Cake
Score: 516 W/L/T: 31 / 12 / 12
Here’s the Sea And Cake proving that post-rock doesn’t have to be cold and gray. This record is full of sunny & breezy, Afro-Caribbean-flecked tunes. It’s a calm and happy record, and nice to listen to when driving around on a sunny day.
42
Lilys 1994
A Brief History of Amazing Letdowns
Score: 517 W/L/T: 37 / 15 / 20
At 22 minutes, this isn’t quite the shortest record on the list: Pixies’ Come On Pilgrim beats it, with just 20 minutes. But four minutes of this are dedicated to a very skippable sound collage called “Evil Knievel”. So, maybe. Either way, it’s a great record. Imagine Teenage Fanclub with a shoe-gaze noise and haze thrown over everything. The first song (and first link, up there), “Ginger” is just a killer.
41
Rolling Stones 1978
Some Girls
Score: 532 W/L/T: 36 / 14 / 7
Wife’s out tonight. I’m listening to this record as I type this. And it’s turned up REALLY FUCKING LOUD – like, Freedom Rock loud. It’s even better this way. Tricksey is not happy about this. Whatever.

So, after a few years of putting out sub-par records, diggin on heroin, losing Mick Taylor, and eventually gaining Ron Wood, they got their shit together (thanks to the influences of punk and disco and NYC in general) and put out this scrapper. Just the sound of thing is a million times better than Black And Blue or It’s Only Rock And Roll. It’s all sharp and punchy and in your face. There’s plenty of slop and little misses, but that just adds to the impression that this is a band that’s getting its rock on. I like it. I don’t skip anything, on this one.