Sunday, December 25, 2005

Top 10 lists? Bah humbug

Tis the season where publications hit their writers up for a top 10 list. It's a nice ritual in that you might learn about some music you hadn't heard about or just learn how much consensus there is about certain albums. The one thing that cheeses me off about this is that there's never just 10 albums that I love in a given year but that's what I'm (and other writers) are stuck with. Another problem is that as soon as you hand in these lists, you think "maybe I should have included (insert record of your choice) instead..." These lists are usually just snapshots that change with time and such but we're not given the opportunity to update our thoughts and taste. That's why I think it's better to allow a larger list of albums to draw on which you may change the order of but you'll probably always find a bunch of favorites there. Of course, that doesn't account for albums that you find out much later after the fact but then again, these kind of things are always works in progress, truth be told.

So, for what it's worth, here's my big list of favorites. Slappy holidaze and see you in '06...

Garbage Bleed Like Me
Buck 65 This Right Here Is Buck 65
Clem Snide End of Love
Dalek Absense
Hot Hot Heat Elevator
Nikka Costa Can'tneverdidnothin'
Fountains of Wayne Out-of-State Plates
Bonnie Raitt Souls Alike
Saul Williams Saul Williams
The Willowz Talk In Circles
Rogue Wave Descended Like Vultures
Atmosphere You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having
Common Be
Eels Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Konono #1 Congotronics
Blacklicious The Craft
Princess Superstar My Machine
Amy Rigby Little Fugitive
Edan Beauty and the Beat
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall
Portastatic Bright Ideas
Ponys Celebration Castle
M.I.A. Arular
Kanye West Late Registration
Mountain Goats The Sunset Tree
Vex'd Degenerate
Jamie Lidell Multiply
White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan
Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine (pre-Sony version)
Gene Watson Then and Now
Perceptionists Black Dialogue
Four Tet Everything Ecstatic
Ellis Hooks Godson of Soul
Mike Ladd Negrophilia
the Fall Heads Roll
The High Dials War of the Wakening Phantoms
Spoon Gimme Fiction
Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell Begonias
Sarah Borges Silver City
Emma Roberts Unfabulous and More

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Michelle Shocked gets juvenile

Even after seeing her doing a decent job opening for Roky Erickson (!) last March, I'd kind of written of Ms. Shocked after an impressive, inventive debut, way back in the mid '80's. Now she's embarked on an ambitious trio of releases including a break-up album, a Latin album and a kiddie record. While you have to admire her spirit, these things usually have a way of sounding better on paper than on your stereo or MP3 player. But as even more of a surprise, her kiddie record Got No Strings is a small delight, even more amazing considering that she's chosen a bunch of Disney songs (and does better than the old tribute Stay Awake). "Got No Strings," "Give A Little Whistle" and "Wish Upon A Star" (all from Pinocchio) and "To Be A Cat" (aka "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat," a great song from the Aristocats) are all done in a quiet, easy swing vibe that you could not only play for the little ones but you could also listen to yourself and enjoy. Dan Zanes has already taken the kiddie route for a while and done something with it but Shocked sounds like such a natural here that she might want to consider her own Saturday morning cable show.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

John Lennon- Amnesty International's Greatest Hits

Much as I loved Lennon for who/what he was, what he wrote and what he sang, isn't it kind of morbid to have all these celebrations about his death? Other than Kennedy, who do we do this for? At the very least, it's a time to remember his genius and his work so that's not a bad thing.

One good way that he's being memorialized now is through a series of downloads at Amnesty International. At their Make Some Noise website, they're offering downloads of Lennon covers for $1/each. Listening to the selections, they go 3-for-4, which is a pretty good ratio. Black Eyed Peas' take on "Power to the People" is appropriately uplifting while Snow Patrol's "Isolation" and Postal Service's "Grow Old With Me" are sweet tributes. The Cure's "Love" is a little too goth for me though.

Since the U.S. government seems to keep forgetting what basic human rights mean and carelessly cede any moral ground in terms of prisoner treatment, a group like AI is needed more than ever now. By gobbling up these Lennon goodies, you can do something about it too by supporting them.