New Releases

Low Anthem – Smart Flesh
It’s too bad the Foo Fighters already called an album “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” because that title perfectly describes the new effort by the Low Anthem. To record the follow-up to 2008’s buzz-building “Oh My God, Charlie Darwin,” this Rhode Island-based folk-rock outfit set up shop in a former pasta-sauce factory outside Providence; the group’s goal was to capture an explicitly handcrafted vibe not much in vogue in these days of Pro Tools and Auto-Tune. Read the Full Review on LA Times

Adele – 21
Somewhere in 21, there is an honest, direct, sonically mature record fighting to get out with personality intact. You never would have guessed that a quirky bossa nova cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong” would work, but it does. Read the full review on the Guardian

G-Love – Fixin’ to Die
The enigmatically smooth and uber-cool Garrett “G. Love” Dutton has always ninja’d a few small red herrings of country and classic Americana into his famed and now nearly flawless meld of hip hop and blues, but there was always the sense that he was unwilling (unable?) to outwardly throw it into his mix. Turns out, it took the nudging of Seth and Scott Avett (better known at the Avett Brothers) to get him to really turn it out, and when they got into the studio with him to produce “Fixin’ to Die” after sharing the stage together at last year’s Summer Camp Music Festival in Illinois, they ended up helming one of the most important albums of G’s career. Read Full Review on Sacramento Press

Latest Vinyl Releases #7


Asobi Seksu

Bright Eyes

Hayes Carll

Celph Titled + Buck Wild


Drive-By Truckers

Funeral Party

La Sera

Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra



Shogo Toromaro

Twilight Singers

Yellow Ostrich



Bonnie “Prince” Billy

G. Love

Low Anthem

Scissor Sisters

Six Organs of Admittance

Esperanza Spalding



Drive-By Truckers- Southern Rock Opera

Kyle Fischer- Open Ground

Grand Funk- We’re An American Band

Sonic Youth- Bad Moon Rising

Sparklehorse- Good Morning Spider


The Books- Lemon of Pink

Spiritualized- Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase

New Releases

PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
“The West’s asleep,” PJ Harvey declares on the first line of her new album, Let England Shake, before spending the next 40 minutes aiming to shame, frighten, and agitate it into action. When Polly Jean Harvey burst into the public consciousness in the early 90s, her gravelly voice, outsized personality, and often disturbing lyrics gave the alt-rock world a crucial shot of excitement. That early work is still among the most raw and real guitar music to emerge from the past few decades, so no surprise, it’s a version of PJ Harvey a lot of people still miss. But if you’ve paid attention to her in the years since, the one thing you can expect is that she won’t repeat herself. Read the full review on Pitchfork

Mogwai – Hardcore will never die, but you will.
Mogwai have hardly ever been as accessible as they are on Hardcore…. Only three of the 10 songs break the six-minute mark and when they do, you’ll hardly notice. The vocoded lyrics and steady click-beat of album highlight “Mexican Grand Prix”, for instance, are so enrapturing that the song glides on and on with ease. Track six, “Letters to the Metro”, sees Mogwai take a page from Godspeed’s well-worn book, painting about as movingly evocative a picture as could possibly be put together in just under five minutes. The dirge-like funeral march of “Too Raging to Cheers” again instantly calls to mind Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s signature movie score-like musical quality, but with more than enough of Mogwai’s guitar-oriented sound to avoid sounding too imitative. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound

Bright Eyes – The People’s Key
For every fan of Conor Oberst, there has been a moment when this precocious voice of troubled youth has come of age; to my mind, this really is the one. What sets The People’s Key apart from Oberst’s prodigious output over the past 15 years isn’t its lyrical density or conceptual assurance, but the taut, bright, propulsive vitality of its musicianship. This is practically a pop album – albeit a pop album about time, the universe, life as a hallucination and spiritual redemption. Read the full review on The Guardian

Overlooked: Comets On Fire – Field Recordings From the Sun

This is it. The pinnacle. The heights of what rock music from whence it was birthed has reached and shall be measured. Comets On Fire‘s 2002 sophomore record, Field Records From the Sun, is the album that obliterates the bar for which high energy music is set. You can stack all the metal, punk, noise, hardcore, noise punk, grindcore, free jazz, free jazzcore, and on and on and none if it can touch the astronomically chaotic universe found within this record’s thirty-seven minutes. Nothing even comes close. It’s thirty-seven minutes of cosmic evisceration and psychedelic carnage that somehow remains wholly listenable without putting on the airs maybe found in any one of those aforementioned genres (save perhaps whatever the phrase “trippy, dude” gets you). Which is an achievement in itself. This record is built from influences that certainly front energy as a priority, if not its main priority (Hawkwind, MC5, The Stooges), but none of those have (arguably) stood the test of time, in terms of intensity, when confronted with three decades of rock and metal and everything else. And Field Recordings’ penitent for bombast isn’t really built on anything that’s come before–classical music maybe? Jazz? That simultaneously gives it way too much credit and undermines its power, found in the human impulse given to create choas. But there’s a point I’m getting at, which is Field Recordings exists completely on its own as a statement of universal creation in the form of blistering sonic destruction.

It’s very possible most of society and rock music itself, has moved on from being concerned with how heavy and raw and destructive music is and can be. Those descriptors in themselves denote anger and angst and tension and even self-indulgence relegated, once again, to genre-based music. Field Recordings never even approaches an engagement in the emotions of anger. If anything it’s celebratory, even as it destroys. But found on the record is an instant argument for the relevance of heaviness and destruction. It’s one of those records that overcomes limitations in music in order to express itself. If an artist’s objective is to create a feeling of loneliness in his or her songs, they can do so in a number of ways–stripped down melodies, minimal arrangements, softly damaged vocals, etc etc. That’s just one way. Perhaps it’s too much to assume Comets On Fire’s primary goal was to create feelings that conjure what it must have felt like when the universe was created, but this record feels like that was the primary intention. Secondary is the intention of forming a psychedelic rock band and making some killer tunes, dude. That’s a dynamic not discussed enough in music–what’s the best way to express a particular emotion prior to the arrangement. None of those genres I mentioned above are in it for anything other than rocking the genre (which is fine), but what we get with Field Recordings is an album that skips over the limitations of genres and gives us a statement that makes us forget its psychedelic rock with some Hawkwind and MC5 influences. Field Recordings is totally singular in that regard. Maybe I’m infusing it with more pretension than it actually deserves, but, regardless, it exists outside of those  claims.

I first heard the album in 2007, quite a while after it was released, and I’m in no way surprised it was lost in the shuffle and dwarfed by Comets On Fire’s 2004 followup, Blue Cathedral. BC is a better record in the traditional  sense. It has a more varied tone and more varied song structures. It’s not all just amps-to-11 and search-and-destroy-everything-in-our-path-all-the-time-forever. There’s some folky numbers and some more strung out jams and some tighter display of reserve. It’s certainly the record that got them some attention. It does have the sonic workouts in tracks “The Bee and The Cracking Egg” and “The Antlers of the Midnight Sun,” which does a good job matching the intensity on the previous outing. The record’s great, but it remains a psychedelic record. And after a hundred listens of each, BC feels a bit more glossed over in comparison.


So that’s a lot of talk about nebulous shit–what does Field Recordings actually do musically? Comets On Fire get a rap for piling on the guitars to the absolute breaking point, but in reality, they may get one or two overdubs in over the duel riffing of Ethan Miller and Six Organs of Admittance‘s Ben Chasny. They definitely do a lot of point breaking with what’s there, letting the fuzz grind into the earth and the feedback ring to the stratosphere in all its abrasive glory. But the record’s success is found in its miscellaneous players, its pretty intricate arrangement of the madness, and the holy-fucking-christ drumming of Utrillo Kushner.

Noel von Harmonson who is credited as “electronics” is responsible for the group’s live vocal treatment. When the Comets played live the dude stood on stage, armed with an Echoplex placed on a stool and he mangled vocalist/guitarist Ethan Miller’s voice by whipping the echo device’s tape back and forth. Sounds gimmicky, but damn, do they push it, and on the record it comes in at some pretty key moments, turning the vocals into an instrument of stuttering abrasion. He also gets mistaken as guitarist much of the time as he’s often just creating feedback and noise to linger like exploding stars all over the mix. His job really is to create texture and by doing so he adds an extra layer that pushes its way into the corners of the stereo-field, alluding to a grander more astral-bound timelessness.

I remember reading somewhere Utrillo Kushner called “two Keith Moons.” It sounds pretty good. It might be hyperbole, Moon might have packed a little more subtlety beneath the flash, but it’s not far off. Kushner’s drumming is fill-heavy enough for it to sound like he’s just wildly soloing along with the mass of monolithic noise at times, though he’s obviously driving it. He doesn’t stay in one place for long, and his chops are only trumped by his energy, which in many cases is a point of reference for the listener and their perception of the colossal freak-out.

Tim Green is the man behind the boards. He recorded and mixed Field Recordings and it’s not exaggeration to say the album’s success in the transcendent department might be owed solely to him. On first listen, the record might sound like the aural equivalent to the shear clusterfuck of a nuclear bomb detonating, but on repeated listens, the mixing and production reveals itself to be downright meticulous in its placement of every single noise squall. Green doesn’t obscure everything in reverb either, but arranges things on multiple levels of clarity, communicating the sensation (I would imagine) of listening to spacebound dogfights looping in on each other.


Then of course there’s just the song craft owed to Comets’ leader, Ethan Miller. The riffs are mountainous and they don’t linger. Hooks pop up here and there, but most of the time the band is dead set on heading, light speed, straight for the sun. Every single change in course is huge and sweeping beyond anything most rock groups can muster and it’s all guitars and all three-chord attack. The songs fall in between six and nine minutes, but as a certain punk legend once said, “we play slow songs really fast,” and the Comets pack the conception and destruction of whole worlds into each track. Opener, “Beneath The Ice Age” begins with layers of feedback wafting gently over some sporadic tribally percussion that soon gets steamrolled by the oncoming army of noise. It’s hard to even keep track of the directions and sonic destinations the song takes, but it somehow ends up with drums and guitars randomly firing canon bombasts and the whole band chanting in unison. There are only five tracks to speak of–one of which is an acoustic interlude–so it’s a pretty quick ride, all said, but it ends with a pretty satisfying climax. My original claim is exemplified two-fold in the ten-minute closer, “The Black Poodle,” which has the most diabolical riff I’ve ever heard and it hits with the force of a death-from-above apocalypse (you know–like the one that killed the dinosaurs). Not to mention the epileptic saxophone freak out and Kushner’s non stop fill rhythm. But it’s when Ethan Miller screams one long wordless note over the whole thing that it becomes something transitory.

If Comets On Fire did anything right on Field Records From the Sun, it was to find a balance in which all the other elements discussed followed. The group balance intricate and contained spontaneity with carefully crafted sonic annihilation and it creates a whole that I find hard to believe will ever be matched in intensity. Musically, it’s the success of never letting the listener not be battered by something new and bombastic. Nothing ever repeats itself in the orchestrated barrage of noise missiles. It all adds up to a dense uncomprehendingly deep whole that does what it sets out to do from go and builds into a transcendent almost spiritual experience that never compromises its apocalyptic vision. This isn’t a record of long range improvisational meltdown like the Acid Mother’s Temple do and it isn’t a record of free range noise making (though it gets there); it’s an album of exceptional craft with a specific focus in mind: when destruction becomes creation.

Field Recordings isn’t going to appeal to everyone. It’s a record that quite loudly and violently demands the listener match its energy, which, understandably, not everyone is willing to do. But there is a record here that contains something truly wonderful and unmatched in all of music. It’s the ultimate end of a singular emotion. One that rock was arguably born from and has been reaching for since its conception.

New Releases

Death – Spiritual Mental Physical
n the case of this half-hour release, we get a brief chance to eavesdrop on a band of unique genius at its most raw, its most prankish and its most fun. It almost makes up for the chills, the sweat and the free cans of watery domestic.

The fidelity may be demo-grade. But, clearly, the rhythmically complex, relentlessly urgent math-metal opener “Views” and the unapologetically cheesy Route 66 rocker “Can You Give Me a Thrill??” are greased up and ready for the big time. Loud, proud and catchy as hell. And when it tries a post-Dylan-style electric ballad, we get “World of Tomorrow,” which ain’t shabby. Read the full review on Dusted

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
The tremendous The Shepherd’s Dog, from 2007, found Sam “Iron and Wine” Beam’s musical muse tugged in turn towards the influences of Tom Waits, Brian Wilson, Calexico and African guitar bands. Kiss Each Other Clean is much more focused and homogenous, but there’s still a lingering sense of abundant inspiration, eager to carry the songs… Read the full review on The Independent

Akron / Family – S/T II The Cosmic Birth and Journey Shinju TNT
…A conscious effort to pocket the hacky sack. Songs such as “Silly Bears” and “Another Sky” retain the group’s recent crowd-pleasing guitar work, but a few knob twists put the searing tones closer to the distorted, bracing territory of Liars or Women. It’s on the ballads where the group’s time machine best hits its mark: “Cast a Net” and the album-closing cool-down of “Canopy” and “Creator” find the trio’s voices merging in alien harmonies while acoustic and electric guitars unfold as gently as ancient parchment. Whether raucous or tuneful, Akron/Family’s melodies tend to sink below the music — leaving lyrics such as those of “Silly Bears,” perhaps the first sludge-rock anthem applicable to a future “Winnie the Pooh” movie soundtrack, wisely out of the spotlight.
Read the full review at The LA Times

Will’s 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

The cool thing about music is the good shit never stops. First some speculative picks:

Okkervil River is due for a new one after a decent turn as Roky Erikson‘s backing band on last year’s True Love Cast Out All Evil. They’re still hanging on a high note with 2008’s The Stand Ins. While great, it didn’t quite stack up to the masterpiece that is Black Sheep Boy or its superb followup The Stage Names.

Another speculative release, more than overdue, is from dubstep’s catalyst, Burial. Okay, it’s only been three years, but after his contribution to the 2009 Hyperdub compilation 5, it’s hard to sustain patience for a followup to the watershed record, Untrue. I say a prayer before I turn in each night that said followup might grace our ears in 2011.

Here’s the stuff that’s all but officially announced if not already been so:

10. The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts

Nothing out of this camp is ever going to match the eclectic madness of Thunder, Lighting, Strike, but 2007’s Proof of Youth certainly wasn’t a dud. It gave us the manic roller coaster track “Keys to the City” if nothing else. From what I’ve heard, Rolling Blackouts more than keeps pace with its predecessor and there’s still something about double-dutch chants mashed up with car-chase-horn-bombast that doesn’t get old.

9. Panda Bear – Tomboy

Full disclosure: I haven’t heard any of the singles from this one yet, and I have been a little disappointed  that Panda is apparently moving away from his signature sample sound found on Person Pitch. It makes sense though, as more than a few have ripped the style from top to bottom. Despite the text descriptions, it’s still Panda Bear.

8. Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine

I was way late to last year’s Causers Of This. Late enough that Underneath The Pine is only a few months following to these ears. That said, goddammit, I can’t get enough of the young producer’s blurred-80s-sleaze-meets-J Dilla aesthetic and the man still seems to be on the sharp upward arc in his career.

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The 2009 debut did a more than satisfactory job at distilling the best aspects of late 80s, early 90s dream pop and shoegaze into a consistently rad long player. My only concern is the group, which previously recorded with barely any budget, has seemed to have gone the glossy high production route. We’ll see how reserved they’re able to remain with the final product.

6. MillionYoung – Replicants

I may have already heard most of this album, but the potential of a long player from one of 2010’s best sleeper acts is pretty exciting. MillionYoung is still pretty grounded in the chilliest of chillwave, but there’s just a little bit more reverb here and just a little bit more subtlety there that hooks me into the unabashedly bedroom-based output. Also, the album is titled Replicants.

5. James Blake – James Blake

The UK producer absolutely annihilated last year and now has the chance to be a potential dubstep crossover hitter with this LP. Grandeur aside, James Blake just makes damn good music and I’m super excited to see how he shapes a full-length.

4. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

In Ghost Colors, in my humble opinion, is one of the best dance pop albums ever crafted. It sets itself up for greatness every single track and just delivers ten-fold at every pivotal point. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the Aussie trio has in store for a followup.

3. Radiohead – TBA

Um…enough said.

2. M83 – TBA

Other than the lackluster debut, everything M83 has done feels as if its been pried straight from my wildest musical dreams. 2008’s Saturdays = Youth is a spacey John Hughes film score–in all it’s over-dramatic and angsty glory. 2005’s Before The Dawn Heals Us especially ignited my aural pleasure centers, conjuring one of the sign posts of my imagination, Blade Runner, with it’s cityscape cover art and it’s Vangelis synth textures. The good news is, Gonzales is returning to Dawn‘s dramatic soundtrack-styling flair, as he told Pitchfork late last year. I’m so goddamn excited.

1. The Avalanches – TBA

It’s probably disingenuous of me to put this on the list as this record has been supposed to come out for the last four years or so, yet still doesn’t even have a title. The group has been apparently clearing samples or something in the interim. My expectations for this one are so high that they’ve somehow lapped themselves back into cynicism. 2000’s Since I Left You is one of the best, most ambitious, and technically profound electronic records ever created. It was a sound collage that somehow worked as a dance mix. Seriously. Let’s hope they’ve used the last eleven years to make the followup worthy.

Those are my picks. Keep in mind, that most of these are scheduled for the earlier part of the year. In reality, I’m most excited about the surprises that come in the form of late announcements and little indie darlings.

So what are the patrons of Pure Pop looking forward to in 2011?

New Releases

The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
Recorded in a converted barn on Oregon’s Pendarvis Farm, The King Is Dead eschews the high, mystical wailing of British folk for its North American counterpart. Rustic and roomy, the record nods to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, early Wilco, the Band, Neil Young, and especially R.E.M. In places, it almost feels like a disrobing: “Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,” frontman Colin Meloy bellows on opener “Don’t Carry It All”, his voice loose and easy, freer than he’s sounded in an awfully long time. Read the Full Review on Pitchfork

Cage The Elephant – Thank You Happy Birthday
Having gained notoriety a couple of years back for intense live shows and memorable singles like 2008’s slouchy, sexy “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” Shultz and his pals, including brother Brad on guitar and secret weapon Daniel Tichenor on bass, stand at a crucial juncture. Can Cage the Elephant survive the scrutiny of jaded aficionados who call its drum kit-toppling yet sweet-toothed approach to guitar bashery nothing but a rehash of flannel rock? This set of ripping rave-ups and effortlessly tasty singalongs answers YES, in all caps. Read the full review on LA Times

Madlib Medicine Show 11
Funkadelic, psychedelic, jazz infused break-beats mixing influences and sounds of electronic, soul and a whole lot of Hip Hop – Madlib’s eleventh installment to the Medicine Show series, entitled Low Budget High Fi Music, is a welcomed addition to this multi-instrumentalist’s repertoire of work. With the longest track of the album being 4 minutes and 37 seconds long, the rest of the songs fall in the realm below the 2 minute mark. Each track is laced by Madlib’s incredible ability to capture a motivating groove accentuated by melodies whose instrumentation drives its listeners forward. Combined by great pacing, seamless jumps between tracks (and at other times intentional abrupt stops to melodic flowing sounds), the hilarious skits, commercial-styled breaks, interesting samples and ear-perking interludes excuses the fact that some may be turned off at the length of the entire album (42-tracks long). Read the full review at

Guess Pure Pop’s Top 10 Selling Albums of 2010, win the respect and admiration of millions, 15$ gift certificate.

We love a good challenge, we know you do too (you wonder why we’re always moving the sections around…to keep you on your toes.) Well, here’s another one for you, intrepid pure pop fans – guess the top 10 selling albums for 2010 here at Pure Pop Records in proper order, and win a 15$ gift certificate. It’s that simple. We’re even gonna make it easier for you and give you a pool of 30 potential artist/albums to choose from. Submit your numbered titled list on The facebook to be entered into the competition.

Choose your top 10 from the following 30

(these are in alphabetical order.)

Arcade Fire – Suburbs
Avett Brothers – I & Love & You
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms
Beach House – Teen Dream
Black Keys – Brothers
Broken Bells – Self Titled
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Deerhunter – Halycon Digest
Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
Go Go Bordello – Trans-continental Hustle
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – I learned the Hard Way
Ray Lamonagne – God Willin’ and the Creek don’t rise
LCD SoundSystem – This is Happening
MGMT – Congratulations
Anais Mitchell – Hades Town
Mumford & Sons – Sigh no More
The National – High Violet
New Pornographers – Together
Joanna Newsom – Have one on me
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Self Titled
Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street
The Roots – How i got over
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Up from Below
She & Him – Vol. 2
Spoon – Transference
Vampire Weekend – Contra
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
xx – Self Titled

Herb’s Best of 2010

Rookie of the Year Award

Twin Shadow – Forget
I really like everything about this album. George Lewis Jr has a beautiful voice and write terrific songs. Forget features a thrilling production that recalls ENO’s early albums and 80’s Indie Rock. Let’s hope the next one is even better!


Old-Timer Award

Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation

Paul Weller is a dinosaur. He recorded his first album on a fucking pterodactyl. Nonetheless, Wake Up the Nation isn’t merely 2010’s best album from an elder-statesman of music, it’s one of the year’s best hands-down. Just listen to this gem, featuring production from My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields.


Continue reading Herb’s Best of 2010

YearEnders: Jason Cooley

My Pure Pop Top Ten Of The Year List
by Jason Cooley

Well, it was a better year for me this year than it was last year. That acne problem that kept threatening to explode on my face finally just packed up and went away to wreck some other kid’s complexion. Whew! Sophomore year has been a lot cooler to me than Freshman year, that’s for sure. On to the list…

(in no particular order)

Depeche Mode, Violator
This record is just killer, man. I know people talk a lot of shit about Depeche Mode, but Music For The Masses was a pretty great album and this one is even better, especially for the one-two punch of “Blue Dress” and “Clean” at the end. The CD single extended mix of “Personal Jesus” is awesome, too. 95 Triple XXX had this stupid thing where they put two new songs up against each other and people call in to vote for which one is good/bad. “Personal Jesus” went up against “Cherry Pie” by Warrant. Guess who won? Some dumb redneck chick said the breath-break on “Jesus” was “gay”.

Faith No More, The Real Thing
Where the fuck did this album come from? The CD says it came out last year, which is weird. “Epic” is already a goddamn…well, epic song, but then the rest of the album is epic, too. There’s a fantastic instrumental at the end called “Woodpecker From Mars” that blows my mind. I made a mixtape for this girl I’m trying to steal from my best friend and I’m having a hard time deciding which tune should close it out: “Woodpecker” or “Clean” from the aforementioned Violator. Apparently Anthony Keidis is angry with them for stealing his band’s funk-metal stylings. I keep forgetting that the Chili Peppers invented funk when they were swimming in their daddy’s balls.

Jane’s Addiction, Ritual de lo Habitual
Goddamn! Finally, the new Jane’s comes out a few days after my 17th birthday! What an album! After I got it I took it over to my buddy Chris Lentz’ house and we listened to it on his back porch, particularly marveling at side two. The “erotic Jesus” part of “Three Days” had us rocking our asses off, happily.

Fugazi, Repeater
The new tape by Fugazi is just plain fucking awesome and that’s that. Nobody can or will deny it. “Shut The Door” and “Blueprint” are just…oh God help me.

Pixies, Doolittle, Bossanova, Here Comes Your Man CD single
So after a few months of trying to figure out who plays that “Wave all through the nation” song I taped off of WRUV last year, a TV ad for the new movie Pump Up The Volume had the song! I took the bus to Pure Pop to look at the soundtrack and there it was: “Wave Of Mutilation (U.K. Surf)” by The Pixies! Yay! A new band to get into. I initially ignored them because Rolling Stone kept pushing them on me, but alas, I have found The Pixies and they are great! Bossanova is their new tape and I listen to it a lot in my room with only Christmas lights on. It makes my room look like the cover. Fuck, everything this band does is awesome. They’re kinda edging Jane’s out of their position as my favorite active band…

Public Enemy, Fear Of A Black Planet
Wow, this tape is fucking insane! Some of it is impenetrable. It’s just soooo fucking dense. It came with a little fold out page with all of the rhymes. Jesus, Chuck D. is the greatest rapper alive. It starts with the holy fuck “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” (I wonder what 1995 is going to be like) and ends with “Fight The Power.” God fucking DAMN.

Sinead O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
I kind of fell in love with her last year when she sang “Mandinka” at the Grammys with the PE logo shaved into the side of her head, but when I saw the premiere of the video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” on 120 Minutes, wow. I really fell in love with her. Gorgeous, so gorgeous, especially her eyes. Mmmmmmm. Here I am, 16 years old, crying to a Prince cover. The rest of the album is pretty great, too.

Sonic Youth, Goo
Well, they’re on a major label now: Geffen. We’ll see how long that lasts. I don’t like Goo as much as Daydream Nation, but it’s still on the fantastic side of things. My favorite song off of this so far is “Disappearer”. It reminds me of when I lived in Manchester, NH and would ride my bike around various tall apartment complexes on overcast days. The video for “Dirty Boots” is pretty funny. I wonder if I’ll ever get to see them live.

The Velvet Underground, ALL
Last year I got New York by Lou Reed and dug it a whole helluva lot. I did some reading up on him and found this band he used to be in called The Velvet Underground. Everything is starting to make instant sense now. I know where so many bands are coming from, what inspired them, etc. It was this! Luckily, all their tapes are cheap as hell. I asked for them all for Christmas and got them except for Loaded, which I’m getting next. What an amazing band! How did I not pick up on them earlier instead of listening to all that hair metal? Fuck. I don’t really know where to begin with all of this, but I can say that “Sweet Jane” is now probably my favorite song of all time (it’s on a greatest hits thing). I’m still trying to figure out: is their drummer a boy or a girl? I honestly feel bad for not being able to tell.

Wild At Heart, Twin Peaks Soundtracks
This year has been the year of David Lynch. After four years of silence after Blue Velvet, he’s just suddenly all over the place. First Twin Peaks came along in April (on TV!!!) and rocked my fucking world weekly, and then Wild At Heart showed up in August to blow every movie I’ve seen so far this year out of the fucking water. The music is great, too. Angelo Badalamenti is a fantastic composer. The Twin Peaks soundtrack is creepy and awkward at times, but in a totally good way. The Wild At Heart soundtrack has some of his stuff, but also Chris Isaak’s AWESOME “Wicked Game”, Koko Taylor (she’s even in the movie! Wow…), Them! (with Van Morrison), and even some speed metal by a band called Powermad (they’re in the movie as well). Go, angriest dog in the world. Go.

11. Madonna, Justify My Love
It’s hard to talk about the song without talking about the video so fuck it, I won’t even try. Me and my friends heard this on the radio on our way to school on one cold fall morning, and I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but I wanted to beat off so bad for the rest of the day. Sexxxxxxxxxy sexy sex-sex. Then the video came out. Creeeeeeeepppy creepy creep-creep. Why does Madonna always hang out with douchebags (with the exception of Sean Penn)? This Tony guy looks like he got rejected from The Village People for looking too weird. But yeah, Madonna: SEX.

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mother’s Milk
I know this came out last year, but the Peppers came to play live in Burlington at Patrick Gym with the Violent Femmes in April. Personally, I thought the Femmes made the Peppers look like a bunch of poseurs, except for John Frusciante. Everything out of Keidis’ mouth was rehearsed. “I must be in Rome…cuz you all look like a bunch of Gods!” What am I, at a fucking Whitesnake concert? The high point of their set was Frusciante playing “Tiny Dancer” between songs. The Femmes played every song from their first album except for “Good Feeling”. They were just great. This should really be a Violent Femmes record, but they didn’t come out with one this year.


Honorable mentions:
Bob Mould, Black Sheets Of Rain
Iggy Pop, Brick By Brick
The Soup Dragons, Lovegod
Living Colour, Time’s Up*
House Party, soundtrack

*I really feel I should let you know that in hindsight, this record should actually be on the Dishonorable list. One of my biggest regrets as a music fan was being duped into singing along to the chorus of “Elvis Is Dead” when they played at Memorial Auditorium in 1991. I was a PC alt-rock sheepdick that night, and if I could go back in time I’d rip both myself and those guys a new asshole. What an insipid, ignorant, and race-baiting song that was. Since then I’ve learned that good music is good music and shitty music is shitty music no matter what the color of your skin is. The story of Elvis Presley is one of the most uplifting, saddest, and emotionally complex stories ever told. The story of Living Colour? They played crappy metal versions of James Brown and Talking Heads classics, sued the TV comedy show In Living Color for trademark infringement (that’s some solidarity, yo) and finally broke up when everybody realized they actually sucked. Now it’s reunion money gigs. People are still buying Elvis records. Living Colour records? Stick it up your Stain, Vernon.

Dishonorable mentions:
Vanilla Ice, To The Extreme
Prince, Graffiti Bridge
Roger Waters and Various Artists, The Wall Live In Berlin
Gerardo, Mo’ Ritmo

20 Years Later:

1. LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening

and in no particular order:
2. Jay-Z, Decoded (yes, it’s a book.)
3. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
4. Girl Talk, All Day
5. OFF!, First Four EPs
6. Curren$y, Pilot Talk
7. Chemical Brothers, Further
8. Ariel Pink, Before Today
9. Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record
10. M.I.A., ///Y/
11. Gorillaz, Plastic Beach
12. The Sword, Warp Riders
13. Big Boi, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
14. Four Tet, There Is Love In You
15. Caribou, Swim