Friday, December 14, 2018

Self Help Radio 121418: Gary's Favorite Music 2018

(All images I believe came from Discogs.)

It's that time again.  It's a little scary, I think, to put stuff out there, for criticism - you liked that? really? - but it's also a time-honored radio tradition, & one I've done on Self Help Radio for most of the show's run.  (I started in 2004.  I suspect I didn't do it for a couple of years because I was hesitant to repeat themes.)

Hey, feel free to share your faves of the year here on the blog or on the Facebook page.  I'd love to see what you like & especially find something I may have missed.  Because I'm pretty certain I missed a bunch this year.  I have like two dozen records I haven't listened to yet as well!

The show is at the Self Help Radio site.  The list of songs is below.  The username is SHR & the password is selfhelp if you don't already know.  It was a good year for music.  I hope you like listening to what I liked.

Self Help Radio's Favorites Of 2018

"The Club" Hinds _I Don't Run_
"A Beautiful Cog In The Monolithic Death Machine" Chemtrails _Calf Of The Sacred Cow_
"Still Alive" The Spook School _Could It Be Different?_

"Eiffel Tower" Alpaca Sports _From Paris With Love_
"Love Lost" The Goon Sax _We're Not Talking_
"Relativity" Virginia Wing _Ecstatic Arrow_
"Happy Unhappy" The Beths _Future Me Hates Me_
"Estanquero" Axolotes Mexicanos _Salu2_

"Americans" Shemekia Copeland _America's Child_
"Oh Sweet Thursday" Herman Dune _Sweet Thursday_
"Memphis Never Falls From Style" Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis _Wild! Wild! Wild!_
"Rang Tang Ring Toon" Mountain Man _Magic Ship_
"Downhome Girl" Swampmeat Family Band _Too Many Things To Hide_

"The Great Curve" Angelique Kidjo _Remain In Light_
"Hlala Nami" Hot Soul Singers _Gumba Fire: Bubblegum Soul & Synth Boogie In 1980s South Africa_
"Kala Mukhra (ft. Ali Sethi)" Red Baraat _Sound The People_
"Better Sit Down Boy" Confidence Man _Confident Music For Confident People_
"Lockdown" Soft Regime _Hard Feelings_

"Untitled In D" Spector _Ex-Directory EP_
"It Can't Be Love Unless It Hurts" Tracyanne & Danny _Tracyanne & Danny_
"I'm So Depressed" Insecure Men _Karaoke For One_
"Golden Days To Come" Last Leaves _The Official Matinée World Cup EP_
"The Smile On Your Face" The Liberty Thieves _The Sound Of Leamington Spa, Vol. 8_

"Popular Music" Life _Popular Music_
"I Hope You're Very Happy Together" Art Brut _Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!_
"Feelings" Bloods _Feelings_
"Isn't Easy" School Damage _A To X_
"Marblemouth" Math & Physics Club _Lived Here Before_

"Famous Last Words" Eternal Summers _Every Day It Feels Like I'm Dying..._
"Calling Out" Remember Sports _Slow Buzz_

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Whither Gary's Favorite Music 2018?

(Original banner here.)

Yeah, yeah, the year end lists are coming now.  I've noticed that has started writing "Favorite [Genre]" instead of "Best Of," which is a welcome improvement, but the majority of them, alas, continue to tout their opinions as "best."

Here's the thing: I don't begrudge anyone their opinions.  I just don't really agree with a lot of them.  & I still insist it's weird to rank records in distinct genres as in competition with each other other.  For example, I really liked Angelique Kidjo's retranslation of Remain In Light but I also really liked Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis's collaboration, but could I say which one is better?  How would I decide that?  It's silly, then, to rank music or whatever on any other scale than what is best-liked.  That's all.

One thing: I see bands & musicians on Twitter genuinely pleased to be put on such a list & I am glad that they get that recognition.  I just wish we could admit that just because we like something doesn't make it "the best."  Maybe for us.  But boy did I try to listen to some of the records on the "best of" lists coming out now & boy did I not enjoy them.  & I listen to music all the time, so I don't feel my opinion is "wrong."  Opinions can't be wrong.  Ergo, there's no such thing as "best."

Anyway, my favorite music of the year is simply the music I listened to most.  It's something of a hodgepodge but also not all that surprising.  My tastes haven't changed a whole lot over the years but I think I was genuinely surprised at some of the music I kept returning to.  Find out what I liked &, hey! share you lists with me over at the Self Help Radio website starting at noon tomorrow.

Meanwhile: anyone who's released a record since around November that will eventually become one of my favorite records in the world: I'm sorry.  There are only so many hours in the day.  & I do enjoy spending time with my pets & my wife.  & oh yeah playing music on the radio!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Preface To Gary's Favorite Music 2018: Time To Share My Old Screed Again

This is a repeat of a post - something I don't really ever do except around this time of the year - that I wrote a couple of years ago about "best of" lists.  I repeat it now with my intro from last year:

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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Scary Caller

This morning as I was doing the Tuesday Morning Blend on KNON, I got one of those calls you kind of expect in noncommercial radio.  Perhaps I should explain.

If you do a show at a college or community radio station (this probably doesn't apply to Christian non-commercial stations nor to NPR stations which don't give out phone numbers, letting you know their programming is from somewhere else & not local or is local but can't be affected by listeners), any listeners can call up & talk to the deejay.  Sometimes (like at KNON) there are others in the studio who help the deejay & answer the phones, but in my case it's just me.  It's amusing when people talk about me in the third person, expecting someone else to answer the phones.  Nope!  It's just me.

Anyway, in such situations, people who are - we can't say crazy anymore but perhaps we can say troubled - become aware that they can call & talk to whomever, they will call.  This has been my experience at most every station I deejayed at.  (The one exception was WMUL in Huntington, West Virginia, & I think it's mainly because no one was really listening to the station.)

In Lexington there was a fellow who may have been the only person listening during my many late-night sub shifts.  He wasn't well, but I would try to talk to him.  I forget his name now - Jeff, maybe? - but I remember when the station got caller ID, I would not answer the phone when I saw his number - it was obviously his mother's name - if I weren't in the mood.  In Austin it was a person who seemed to call the same time every day - I noticed this when I subbed shows that were in the same timeslot as my show was.  Deejaying on KNON in Dallas, there have been a couple - one of whom I heard was recently institutionalized (naturally, he called the station to talk about it) - but this caller today was someone I have never - maybe I have but I didn't know I had - talked to before.

It was my first caller of the day.  He said, "I just wanted to let you know that those guys, those guys that were messing with me, they're all facing charges."

Having that weird feeling of becoming involved in a conversation that has been going on for a while, I simply said, "Good."

"You can't mess with me," he said.  "That's the lesson.  They wanted to mess with me, now they're facing charges."

He went on for some time in this vein, & at some point I said, "I guess the lesson here is that crime doesn't pay."  What else could I have said?

Whatever he was expecting for me to say, I don't think it was for me to actually agree with him.  He said, "That wasn't why I was calling.  I was calling to make a pledge."

Now, KNON needs all the help it can get.  We have four Pledge Drives a year, & I would gladly have accepted a pledge from this fellow.  So I asked him, "How much are you thinking about pledging?"

He said, "Tell me about tickets, man, concert tickets."

"The pledge drive isn't going on right now," I told him, "we don't have tickets but there are premiums at the website, KNON dot org, if there's something you'd like."

"I'll make a pledge there," he said, & hung up on me.

Someone else who's had experience dealing with people with mental illness can probably explain what happened there in some other detail, but in my telling, I had someone who needed attention, I respectfully allowed that person to state their case, & when I tried to end the conversation or turn it in a direction the person wasn't interested in going, they took the opportunity to leave.

Is that fair?  Is that how it is?  I wish I knew.

Monday, December 10, 2018

One Last Queen Of

As per usual, I found a cool pic of something related to the week's theme after I've done the show.  Here's a great pic of Gina Lollobrigida as the Queen Of Sheba in Solomon & Sheba.

The Tumblr blog where I found it did not have any information where it found the picture, but I noticed many stills & stuff from the film over on Pinterest, if you're interest.

& yeah, I look forward to find even more songs & stuff about this theme now that it's done.