Thursday, November 19, 2015

Not The Best Of 2015

I just read that the upcoming issue of Mojo magazine will include The 50 Best Records of 2015.


I'm struggling to come up with 15. And of those I did come up with, I just about like half of them. That's right, 7.5 of the records on my year-end list are there because I don't hate them, not because I love them.

So many disappointments this year from artists I've always looked forward to hearing.

Dan Auerbach's new project with Richard Swift, The Arcs got old real fast. It's all affected vocals and production. It works on the first tune, but got me twitching by the fifth tune.

Ron Sexsmith's "Carousel One" received favorable reviews when it was released in March and like most of Sexsmith's records contains more than a few fantastic tunes. But, something feels wrong. Sexsmith's delivery has always been melancholy, even on his upbeat tunes. Here, both he and the musicians sound sleepy. It taxis, but never takes off.

And what's the big deal with this new Adele tune? Hasn't the "Hello. It's me. How've ya been? Is your sister Muriel seeing anyone?" thing been done to death? And isn't it musically identical to about 5 other Adele tunes? What am I missing? I don't mind Adele. This isn't that. I just don't see the appeal of this very mediocre new single.

And speaking of "Hello, It's Me," I'm still not over the misery brought on by Todd Rundgren's "Global" and with each review of praise, my head spins and my pressure rises. And I love the man.

Speaking of misery, how about that tossed off piece of wanking from Wilco. Talk about disappointing. "Star Wars" confounds.

And speaking of confounding, how can someone with even a modicum of respect for music, get behind Andra Day? 

This is from Rolling Stone:

Why You Should Pay Attention: Don't be fooled by the images of Andra Day in doo-rags and vintage furs like a post-millennial Billie Holiday. Far from a retro artist, her music spans from "Forever Mine," which is inspired by the Flamingos' doo-wop classic "I Only Have Eyes For You," to the soaring empowerment anthem "Rise Up," which she performed last month on the BET Awards. "I'm not going to put myself in a box," she says. "Whichever chord progressions move me, whether it's rock, jazz, doo-wop or soul, I'm going to put it together and not be worried about whether people can put it in a lane or not."

"Far from a retro artist?" Someone actually wrote that. It must have been based on something, maybe Andra Day said, "I'm far from a retro artist." It is certainly not based on the music because the record "Cheers To The Fall" is nothing but retro. Worse though, it sounds like a Rutles parody of Amy Winehouse. It is a painful listen, not because Andra Day can't sing, or because the people involved--?uestlove, Raphael Saadiq, the Dap Kings--can't play. It is because it's an AMY WINEHOUSE RECORD!

Day even covers Winehouse.

I know. It's me. Blah blah.

The 15 records I like will be coming soon.


cmealha said...

Re: Andra Day
Don't know who she is but with the people involved and if it sounds like Amy Winehouse I'm in. Report to follow.

Sal Nunziato said...

May I suggest...Amy Winehouse instead.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"a Rutles parody of Amy Winehouse"

Enough for me to steer clear.

Most of my favorite records of 2015 were recorded in the '60's and '70's.

Five voloumes: "VA - Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels The Blissed-Out Birth of Country Rock"

Shriner said...

But there's still a month to go in 2015. Is everybody giving up on December?

whattawino said...

Just listening to this is making me ill. I'm not kidding...A colossal rip of a RIP girl.

William Repsher said...

You got to look at the big picture from a publication's point of view. They don't have the luxury of truth ... these days. Surely there are younger writers and editors who really don't know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the past 50 years of music. One would expect that. It really sunk in with me when people were carrying on about The Strokes back around 2000.

Older editors and writers want to keep their jobs. You know, like I do, in the back of their minds, they're thinking, "Christ, another dipsh*t soul singer who thinks he's Marvin Gaye but has more in common with Rick Astley." Rick Astley would be a god if he came out today ... isn't Sam Smith Rick Astley? But you'll read the kind of notices you do for this woman you just noted. We listen. We know the score. We're not being paid to hype it. We can be honest.

If you put out a music magazine where all you do is dump on a vast majority of current acts ... you're going to go out of business fast! Are you being honest? Sure. Are you right? More often than not, yes. Do you know what you're talking about? Undoubtedly. Can you point at previous better examples of what said artists are trying to do? Literally every time.

But that's not going to sell magazines or keep web and print ads rolling. Even in the best of times, major music publications were hype machines. Rolling Stone ,,, you could see the change as the 70's wore on. Where they first dumped on Led Zeppelin without breaking a sweat ... by the end of the decade? They would never do that. The way they hyped someone like Springsteen was beyond belief, like reading press releases from a P.R. firm. It's always gone on, regardless of whether the artist was worthy of "genius" tags or this week's latest flavor.

And you have the other end of the spectrum with Pitchfork style publications where the most esoteric, half-assed 80's retro bands are written about in glowing terms, and you'll get burned just as much following their advice most of their time, even though they know exactly what they're writing about.

It's a pretty nefarious way of life that I lost the urge to navigate after a certain point. You have to listen to a lot of utter shit. So that when something halfway decent rolls around, you're floored. You over-react. You do so with a nod and a wink, knowing you're full of shit to a certain extent, but also knowing you're not completely wrong on this.

Take this formula and multiply it out over the course of decades. This is how we got where we are today.

cmealha said...

Re: Andra Day
So I listened to the entire album courtesy of my finally succumbing to the Apple Music free-trial hype.
You know how Miracle Whip can't be called mayonnaise because of a few critical missing ingredients?
That's what Andra Day is to Amy Winehouse. The producers were clearly aiming at Amy (couldn't stop myself) but what is missing was Amy. Andra is not a bad singer but by comparison it's no contest and the songs are just not up to the task. This shouldn't be on anyone's top anything list.

kevin m said...

I think Sal brought this up in a earlier post but the degree of 4-5 star reviews in magazines such as Uncut,MOJO, Q and indeed Rolling Stone is just ridiculous.

I sometime wonder that since payoloa in radio is pretty much dead these days, are the writers accepting bribes for favorable reviews?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Sal.
Is this a joke?
("Rutles version of Amy Winehouse" is my vote for priceless Sal quote of the week)
This is Rich Little.
It's karaoke.
It's Momentary Lapse Of Reason!
A fraud executed by talented forgers.

ASWAN said...

Sal - What do you think of Ike Reilly's "Born on Fire"?

Sal Nunziato said...

ASWAN-- I really liked the Ike Reilly. To be honest, I listened to it once and enjoyed it, though not enough to go right back and do it up again. But the plan is to do just that.

Noam Sane said...

Amy Winehouse had roots; she loved and lived with the torch singers, the early soul singers, and so on. She knew her Motown and Stax, Hi Records, the early Atlantic stuff, right up through the still-great 70s soul, the late-millenium reggae and dub that the Brits find gear; and it all came through in her music.

You can't start with Amy, any more than you can start with Animal Collective or whatever laptop-recording indie horseshit is influencing the crap I hear on what passes for progressive (aka college) radio now. But that's where it would seem we're at. There are a lot of very shallow people listening to very shallow music these here days.

Lawn, etc.

Sal Nunziato said...

With your permission, Noam, I would like to start a new blog collective and call it "Lawn, Etc."

Anonymous said...

When you've been to the top of the mountain why settle for only 1/4 of the way up.

Also, my heart is broken by the new Los Lobos album which may be their worst studio album ever.

Capt. Al (Hey there's been lots of great music released this year, it just sounds like it was recorded in 1971.)

cmealha said...

RE: "May I suggest...Amy Winehouse instead"


Sal Nunziato said...


So is John Lennon and George Harrison, but you won't find me listening to the cast recording of "Beatlemania."

peabody nobis said...

@Anonymous-Re:Los Lobos/Gates Of Gold-Sadly, I must agree with your impression of their latest album. It's not "bad" per se, it's just not memorable. It seems as if they looked at a blueprint of a Los Lobos album, and then endeavored to fill all the slots, only this time with weaker versions of past triumphs.
And it makes me sad. Sometimes I fear that my music appreciation has outlived the abilities of the musicians' imaginations.

dogbreath said...

"How about that tossed off piece of wanking from Wilco" - that's the best slice of piquant criticsm I've seen in an age. Not the most sophisticated perhaps (and the Algonquin Round Table need not worry) but I agree with it and some of your other observations. It made me laugh out loud (please not LOL - Ed), no mean feat in itself, and I'm fresh from digesting the Times Literary Supplement which has not managed to pen such a concise summing up in all its 110 years or so. I look forward to seeing what your top 15 records brings forth.

Jobe said...

The thing about picking a top 15 is, I have bought more than 15 Cd's this year but none of them are by bands or artist that have come along within the past 5 or 6 or even 10 years. So I'm really looking forward to your post of a top 15. I'm hoping you'll have bands or artist that I should spend money on,that I have missed. My pick for most boring album of the year would have to be Keef's album. Have listened to it 4 times and I still can't find the track that moves me. Best reissue has to be Bob's. But there is hope Paul Westerberg is about to release a new one with Juliana Hatfield(whom I've never heard) So I guess my real question here is were there 15 albums that came out this year that are worth anybody's time? Thanks

music lover said...

I'm wondering who the artists are who have disappointed you the most, and the greatest, over the years -- or albums that you bought with some anticipation and ended up with the biggest regrets for having shelled out for them and having now having them in your collection. I'm going to give this more thought, but the first two names whose albums have landed with the most disappointment over the years are Van Morrison and Neil Young -- two fabulous artists who have also given me untold pleasure. I guess you have to love someone or something in order to be really disappointed. And then, once in awhile they still come up with something really excellent. It's the old principle of intermittent reinforcement at work.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Andra Day, probably not her real name. I'm guessing she's referencing Lady Day.

BTW I absolutely love JD McPherson - Let the Good Times Roll (2015).

zillagord said...

Concur. Very few noteworthy releases from 2015, not many consistently compelling music to which I have returned after several spins. Big exception is Daniel Romano's "If I'm Only One Time Asking," which has been played repeatedly, has grown and revealed more and more depth with time, and is hands down my favorite of the year. Hope to see it on your list.