In tribute to…..
…..my longest freelance relationship, here are portions of the annual best-of dance with The Memphis Flyer. So as not to alienate those that do not live in Memphis, some local kudos are skipped. I’m fairly certain that Memphians do not read this blog. To see the entire local celebration, web editor foul-ups and all, go here. My painfully original choices:
1. Silver — Jesu (Hydrahead): To be kind, once I turned 20 or so, Godflesh wasn’t exactly “to my taste.” Justin K. Broadrick’s calling card from 1988 until 2002 (after leaving Napalm Death at age 16) was a long stretch of misfires with occasional greatness, which his latest project, Jesu, completely shames. Early Swans meets My Bloody Valentine meets perfect pop, and even though those three things have been around for a while, it’s never been done like this.
2. Pink – Boris (Southern Lord): Another case of bombast meets shoe-gazer rock. It’s odd that a band this brutal and heavy gets the amount of favorable press that Boris racked up in 2006, and for a reference point, they are far more unbridled and discordant than other heavy and brutal bands that get a lot of positive press, like Mastodon.
3. The Obliterati — Misson of Burma (Matador): The comeback album that’s better than the actual comeback album (they released the reunion On/Off in 2004), The Obliterati erases all other angular guitar rock, most of which is made by people half Mission of Burma’s age.
4. The Night Ripper — Girl Talk (Illegal Art): Party music made from 100 percent illegal samples. So dense that the craft and result is very similar to the traditional construction of pop music. Catchiest album of the year, hands down.
5. Since There Were Circles (reissue) – Bon Lind (RPM Records UK): An import at domestic price (check Amazon), Since There Were Circles was Bob Lind’s “lost” album from 1972, released and swept under the rug before Lind retired from music. This differs greatly from Lind’s two 1966 baroque folk-rock albums (those are essential as well) in that it carries a Buffalo Springfield country-rock vibe common to the time period. Features a guest performance by Gene Clark and Doug Dillard that no one seemed to know existed. It’s worth spending days or weeks obtaining this for the title track alone.
Honorable Mention: You in Reverse — Built to Spill (Warner Bros.); Don’t Fear the Reaper — Witchery (Century Media); Instinct: Decay — Nachtmystium (Southern Lord); Thunder Down Under – Hot Snakes (Swami); Ticket Crystals — Bardo Pond (ATP Recordings).
1. Dinosaur Jr. at Young Avenue Deli: Being the superfan that I am, it’s odd that I was too lazy or broke to travel when the first round of Dinosaur Jr. original-lineup reunion shows was traversing the States. When the band finally hit Memphis in April, the performance lived up to earlier reports and exceeded expectations with an energy and mind-shattering volume that was simply unbelievable for a band whose heyday was in the late ’80s.
2. Big Business/Torche at the Hi-Tone: Another absurdly loud and rocking show, though far fewer people saw this one. The two fellows in Big Business are now two-fifths of the Melvins; as this incarnation, they are a bass and drums duo that will reestablish any lost faith in the power of the two-piece. And Torche make extremely catchy avant-metal out of the Melvins blueprint and, as such, are probably the loudest pop band in the world.
3. Backyard Shows: A couple successful shows at Two Chicks and a Broom/Light Years Vintage and lots of shows at multiple locations for the kid-friendly Rock & Romp series: Was 2006 the return of the backyard show? I sure hope so. Since Memphis no longer has a proper winter, we certainly have the weather for it. Laid-back, cheap alcohol, sonics unencumbered by troublesome “acoustics,” no smoke clogging up the room, and the ground softer than a club floor in case you need to fall down or become involved in a drunken brawl: There’s no more enjoyable road to passing out at 8 p.m.