Eric Fine Poop 04

hmmm. Well, I know I heard new music this year, but there are so few records I remember. I know, every year I start off with the same bitter rant. I’m the music nerd equivalent to the old high school jock longing for beers after the game with the guys. Indie rock of the 90’s? Now, that was when music was real. Flash back to better times, POOP 1993, 1994, doesn’t matter: Sebadoh – Bakesale; Giant Sand – Center Of The Universe; American Music Club – Mercury; David Gray – A Century Ends; Uncle Tupelo – Anodyne; Matthew Sweet – Altered Beast; Afghan Whigs – Gentleman; Sugar – Copper Blue; Jon Spencer – Extra Width… You get the idea. Given that, I could easily spend an entire POOP on reissues, but I certainly wouldn’t want to throw off Mark’s sophisticated grading system, so I’ll play nice and talk about the few current things I did like in some reasonably organized manner. And then I’ll spew on the reissues.

wilco - a ghost is born Buy from amazon
Wilco – A Ghost Is Born
Bitter and better with each listen. They are the new Beatles and this is Pop music for a new millennium. And with a good addiction under his belt, Jeff can really be spoken of in the same breath as rock music’s heroes of yore. If he keeps setting his own bar this high with each release, expect perfection real soon.

anders parker - tell it to the dust Buy from amazon
Anders Parker – Tell It to the Dust
I’m sure one would think that this would be a charity vote, but there’s no playing favorites in POOP. It must be worthy to be on any list, right? And this is certainly as worthy as anything I’ve ever written about. More mature and confident as a songwriter and musician, perhaps his most complete work to date.

elliot smith - from a basement on a hill Buy from amazon
Elliot Smith – From A Basement on the Hill
I have to begin with a moment of silence for another fallen hero. Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the music. What I really love about Elliot’s songs is that you could pull out the best off of any of his records, and they are all timeless classics that are replaceable from any album. It doesn’t matter; what matters is how beautiful his voice and guitar sound together. Instead of crying over what we’ll never hear again, let’s toast and be thankful for what we do have.

ray lamontagne - trouble Buy from amazon
Ray LaMontagne – Trouble
So what, I’m a poser. If Elliot Smith sounded like Van Morrison circa Astral Weeks, or let me rephrase that, if Van Morrison was from the US, and was extremely sad, this is what he’d sound like.

cake - pressure chief Buy from amazon
Cake – Pressure Chief
Go ahead, laugh all you want. I like these guys and I think this might be their strongest work to date. The cover of Bread’s The Guitar Man is the cover song of the year. When did anyone say rock music had to stop being fun?

Honorable Mentions (albums I liked a song or two from but not so sure I would consider it worthy of a top ten, even though some are technically still within my ten favorite records of the year…)

Starsailor – Silence Is Easy The latest wave of English pop is not too shabby.
Magnet – On Your Side When I heard them for the first time almost ten years ago, I thought it was cute having Moe Tucker play with them. Their cover of Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay is confident sounding, giving it their own personal touch.
Mason Jennings – Use Your Name This is the Jack Johnson record that never came out this year.
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand Sure, why not. This is the new sound of classic rock.
Stereolab – Margerine Eclipse I’m such a sucker for anything these hypnotic hipsters put out.
Calexico – Convict Pool Both the Love and the Minuteman covers are instant classics in the traditional Calexico vain.

Things I want to talk about but don’t really have too much to say:
Joss Stone – Mind, Body, & Soul I’m a sucker for her soulful sound;
Modest Mouse – Good News for People Who Love Bad News great title, long overdue credit;
Phoenix – Alphabetical sweet;
Ted Leo – Shake the Sheets remember when Green Day had something to prove;
Tom Waits – Real Gone another great growl;
Komeda – Kokomemedada pop from around the world;
American Music Club – Love Songs for Patriots yea, it’s not Mercury, but not much else is;
Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose appreciation from a new generation.

Reissues, Box Sets, and Other Random Noises:
Jeff Buckley – Grace: Legacy Edition
Man, was I wrong about this the first time around. The reissue has bonus material galore, including DVD of classic live footage.
Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain I’m not even sure I enjoyed or appreciated this as much the first time around, so thanks for the opportunity to relive and recapture.
The Cocktails – Pop Corn Box I’m sure if I went through the boxes of crap I have I’d find each and every single or unreleased track this set offers, but to find it all together in this neat box is truly a gem.
Talking Heads – The Name of this Band is the Talking HeadsThe one good think about waiting for this is that I forget how good it was and still is today.
The Velvet Underground – Live at Max’s Kansas City Alright, I know if wasn’t that good the
first time, what makes it better this time? Nothing, but it’s the Velvet Underground. Enough said.
Nirvana – When the Lights Out Great packaging and good collection. Helps to see the evolution of a spokesman for a generation.
Grateful Dead – Beyond Description 1973-1989 The complete picture of some of their more ambitious studio musings, some which hold up today, some which only hold up under the influence.
Garden State – Soundtrack Really nice mix of the hipness of today’s indie rockers and yesterday. Sounds like a ktel advertisement.

And like last year, in the immortal words of Michael Stipe, “This one goes out to the one I love”. And for my bride to be, I toast my glass to finding good music to compromise on for the rest of our lives. For the rest of our lives!!!