Friday, December 15, 2017

Self Help Radio 121317: Gary's Favorite Music 2017

(Most, if not all, of the album covers were found on Discogs.)

Year-end list!  Music I enjoyed!  Hope you like it too!  The show is now at the Self Help Radio website.  Two hours, two parts, what's in the parts (spoiler alert) is below:

(part one)

"Hitchhiker" Neil Young _Hitchhiker_
"Gone Gone Gone" The Feelies _In Between_
"The Sleep Of Reason" Billy Bragg _Bridges Not Walls_

"Something Falls" Last Leaves _Other Towns Than Ours_
"Let Down" Gingerlys _Gingerlys_
"Mirror" The Drums _Abysmal Thoughts_
"Plimsoll Punks" Alvvays _Antisocialites_

"Buy Me Dinner" Miss World _Waist Management EP_
"Ow Ow Ow" Spud Cannon _Next Time Read The Fine Print_
"In My Dreams" Makthaverskan _III_
"Dead Tree! Dead Tree!" The Blue Aeroplanes _Welcome, Stranger!_
"Rain In Soho" The Mountain Goats _Goths_

(part two)

"Have You Seen It In The Snow?" The Magnetic Fields _50 Song Memoir_
"Moonraking" The Cleaners From Venus _Martin Newell's Jumble Sale_
"There's Nothing More Beautiful Than A Well-Made Machine" The Luxembourg Signal _Blue Field_
"What's That Perfume That You Wear?" Jens Lekman _Life Will See You Now_

"Judy" Momus _Pillycock_
"Two Motorbikes" ShitKid _Fish_
"Virginia Woolf" Robyn Hitchcock _Robyn Hitchcock_
"Mississippi Swells" Nana Grizol _Ursa Minor_
"Buyer Beware" The Granite Shore _Suspended Second_

"Trouble" Girl Ray _Earl Grey_
"End Times" Roya _Roya_
"Me & You" Parekh & Singh _Ocean_
"Forever" BMX Bandits _BMX Bandits Forever_

Now, like this is a Marvel movie, here's a bonus section of this blog post:  the top forty records of 2017 as voted on my the folks who participate at Rate Your Music, & my brief comments on them:

1) Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks: Limited Event Series Soundtrack

While I mostly enjoyed the return to Twin Peaks, I felt like the ending was a betrayal to the fans & the series, & I also didn't notice much new music from Badalamenti.  The soundtrack appears to have music that was performed on the show, most of which I was pretty unimpressed with.  So I never bothered to give this a listen.

2) Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

It is surely one of my many failings, but my experience with commercial hip hop has been so disappointing I don't really seek it out to listen to.  So I never heard this.

3) Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked At Me

I have always liked Phil Elverum's work & I appreciated this record for what it is, but even though I've lost a dear loved one to cancer, there was some kind of block between this record & me, some barrier to translate its empathy to mine.  That's obviously my problem.

4) Tyler, the Creator, Flower Boy

See my comment to # 2 above.

5) Brockhamptoon, Saturation II

See my comment to # 2 above.

6) Converge, The Dusk in Us

I don't listen to any kind of metal, so its possible greatness would be utterly lost on me.

7) Big K.R.I.T., 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time

See my comment to # 2 above.

8) Slowdive, Slowdive

Oh I have friends who swear up & down this is a great record, & I enjoyed it, but it wasn't something I felt the need to return to much.

9) Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up

This band - I've tried to listen - they bore me silly.

10) Brand New, Science Fiction

Strange, I've never heard of these guys before.  Do you like them?

11) John Carpenter, Anthology (Movie Themes 1974-1998)

Carpenter's stuff is fun & diverting, but it's hard to separate them from the movies they're in, & when they're not in the movies, they seem to me to lose some of their magic.

12) Kristofer Maddigan, Cuphead

The info here is that this is video game music.  I don't play video games & so whatever is charming about this in regards to the games would be lost on me.

13) LCD Soundsystem, American Dream

Another record that several folks I know really loved.  It didn't do much for me, except make me go back & listen to earlier LCD Soundsystem, & realize I didn't like it as much as I thought.  Oops.

14) Keiichi Okabe & Keigo Hoashi, NieR:Automata

See my comment to # 12 above.

15) The Ruins of Beverast, Exuvia

See my comment to # 6 above.

16) Richard Dawson, Peasant

This is a remarkable record, & a hell of a listen, but for some reason I haven't returned to it since the first week I got it.  I remember being very impressed by it, but it wasn't something I listened to all year, which is kinda criterium number one for me.

17) Vince Staples, Big Fish Theory

See my comment to # 2 above.

18) Elder, Reflections Of A Floating World

See my comment to # 6 above.

19) Shoji Meguro, Persona 5 Original Soundtrack

See my comment to # 12 above.

20) Alvvays, Antisocialites

By gum, one of the records I loved this year made it onto the list!

To sum up, of the twenty most loved records currently on the Rate Your Music top 1000, I listened to seven of them this year (seven & a half, if you count the repeats on the Twin Peaks record), & only one made my favorites list.

How did the others stack up on the Rate Your Music list?  The ones that made the list (they don't say after 1000) went like this:

20) Always, Antisocialites
136) Magnetic Fields, 50 Song Memoir
214) Mountain Goats, Goths
218) Makthaverskan, III
283) Jens Lekman, Life Will See You Now
408) Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
595) Nana Grozol, Ursa Minor
766) Feelies, In Between
797) Billy Bragg, Bridges Not Walls

Less than half of what I played.  Well.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Whither Gary's Favorite Music Of 2017?

(Image from here.)

If it hasn't already been made clear, tonight's show is not, emphatically not, a "best of 2017."  I'll say it all through the show, probably.

Just now I checked a couple of sources to see how my picks might stack up against their choices.  On the AV Club page, none of the bands I'll play tonight appear.  I actually haven't listened to most of those choices - they're just not music I enjoy.  I did like the Priests record, & if my show were three hours long, they would probably be represented.

More democratic is the Rate Your Music page, & in fact one of my favorite albums made it into the top forty there.

But this all underscores how arbitrary the process is.  What does it say when some faceless critic on a pop culture website tells you what "the best" is & you don't agree?  Do you therefore like less than the best, or even the worst?  Of course not.  All you got was that critic's opinion.  Ignore it, & concentrate on what you want to listen to.  Or if you agree with the critic, enjoy the experience.

As for me, tonight I'll play some songs from records I listened to a lot this year.  You may not like them, which is cool.  You will notice that some of the bands make my year-end favorites regularly.  That's to be expected.  You may also be surprised that a couple of my favorites didn't make the cut, & that's because I was disappointed by their releases of the year.  But even I don't think of this as my "best of 2017."  As I mentioned yesterday, I'm sure I've missed something that, when I finally find it, will knock me out, & I'll regret not having it for tonight's show.

You can listen to the show in Lexington at 93.9 fm (that's WLXU) & you can listen everywhere online at Lexington Community Radio dot org.  It's on from 9-11pm eastern, & maybe later you & I can listen to your favorite music of the year.  I'd like that!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Preface To Gary's Favorite Music 2017: I Repeat Myself About "Best Of" Lists

(Original image here.)

Every year I like to do a show playing my favorite releases of the year but I more & more dislike the idea of calling such a list a "best of."  Last year I enumerated my reasons for that, & I repeat what I wrote now since I can't really put it better:

If you've ever read this blog around this time of year, or heard any of my year-end shows, you know I absolutely hate the whole concept of "best of" lists.  It's arrogant in the extreme, & is nothing but a list of the opinions of one or more people, representing some magazine or other organization.  It no more determines what is "best" than sales or awards do.  Here's why I don't think anyone can say what is "best" in a list form:

1) No one has listened to every album or single or ep released that year.  Sorry.  You may think you have, but it's impossible.  If all you're listening to is major label stuff, you are most definitely not listening to the best music out there.  You've fallen into the trap of believing that commerce determines what is "best" like the Grammys.  But it's almost guaranteed that half of the commercial shit you think is best will be forgotten in a few years.  Anyway:

2) Fuck popular culture.  Music is not about heavily choreographed events.  Music is not about moments created by publicists & teams of "songwriters" whose contributions are focus-group-tested.  Radio, as it always has, caters to the moneyed musical interests & plays the same shit over & over, but that no more makes something great now as it did in the past, where there's a graveyard of "successful" & "best of" records that no one thinks about anymore.  & even imagining that you as a critic free yourself of the influence of the corporations that send you shit for free, there's the fact that:

3) You can't compare "best" albums through different genres.  This may sound like somewhat fatalistic, but can you really say a hip hop album is better or worse than a bluegrass record?  Even if you have an unusually broad taste in music, you surely have a favorite genre, & you're going to prefer one over another.  In the end, when the jazz gal likes a record by some other genre, it's peer pressure & good ol' familiarity, it being played constantly around the office.  & those sites that let every critic have a vote & somehow tally those votes?  How fucking stupid is that?  Because:

4) Nothing is "great" because of popularity.  I repeat this for emphasis, because this is something that just baffles me.  Why does anyone think something is good because a bunch of people like it?  Perhaps I am genetically disposed to dislike something because of hype, but I most certainly don't believe something is great because of the money it makes or the fans it has.  & when it comes to critics, listen: people usually like critics that agree with them, or challenge them, but if you believe that just because someone can write or talk eloquently about things they love or enjoy, you're dealing with an artificial insecurity, because:

5) No one opinion is better than another.  At best, you can call an opinion better informed.  For example, if you said you hated Bob Dylan because you didn't like his voice, I wouldn't put much stock in your opinion about his records.  But that doesn't mean you're wrong that Bob Dylan isn't your cup of tea - it just means that you're wrong if you think his music is bad & music you like is good.  That's just a personal opinion, & as I've said, that means you can never say what is "best" except for what you like & think.  & therefore:

6) Everyone should retire stupid year-end "best of" lists.  No one knows what's best.  They can't.  It's impossible.  They can say what they like, & they can back it up with information & opinions & pretty words.  But that no more makes it "best" than album sales or popularity or awards or the consensus of critics.  What makes it "best" to you is personal to you.  You see:

7) Opinion is always & forever subjective.  Just say it's your favorite music of the year, or something else that isn't a statement that suggests it can be prove right or wrong.  Because you don't have any clue whether something is the best of the year any more than any other person.  Maybe in time - hundreds of years later - we'll know who stood the test of time.  But a few months after it was released?  Give me a break.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Good Giving Again & Again

It's time again to remind you that you can support Lexington Community Radio - you know, the station that airs Self Help Radio - this month by clicking on that link or directly here.  If you want to show your support for Self Help Radio - though all the money goes to LCR - use this link.  While it's very flattering if you want to donate in the name of this dumb radio show, what's important is that you support community radio in Lexington.

Listen: radio ain't cheap.  Both WLXU & WLXL in fact are staffed primarily with volunteers, who give their time freely, for the love of radio.  As a non-commercial radio station, we can't run advertisements like your hear incessantly as you go up the FM dial.  It's at this time of year we ask for your help.  & golly any amount helps!

Yesterday as I was driving back from somewhere, I randomly scanned the dial out of curiosity.  About half of what I heard was LOUD! ANNOYING! ADS!  I'm amazed people have become so inured to those.  The other half was either generic modern pop music or songs you've heard your entire life.  It wasn't challenging, or fun, or informative.  I suppose there's a comfort in that, & that's why such radio exists.  But if you're here, if you've listened to Self Help Radio, or any of the stations the show has been on, you have rejected that kind of programming.

Show your support for independent radio, for independent voices, for local music & local issues, for dumb attempts at creativity like Self Help Radio.  Now's the time, friend.  Please help Lexington Community Radio out!

(Special thanks to the two anonymous donors who gave to Self Help Radio already!  My self-esteem thanks you as well!)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Of Course, The Week After My Sidewalk Show...

...I find this on the internets.

It's from here, by an artist Michael Pederson, whose work I've shared on the Facebook & admired before.  His web page (I repeat) is fun & worth checking out!