Friday, December 22, 2023

Self Help Radio 122123: Gary's Favorite Music 2023

(album covers from Discogs & Bandcamp)

Here you are. A selection of songs from mostly indie & postpunk releases of the year. I listened to these records a lot. That's how they made the list. Maybe you'll like them too.

Listen to the show at the Self Help Radio website (which is what those words are linked to). Remember there's a username (SHR) & a password (selfhelp) needed to listen. Everything I played is below except! On the original FFP show I played the radio edit of the Lichen Slow song - this one has bad words. & I didn't have time to play all the 3 Clubmen song. This file includes it.

To the person who sent me the message during the show that said "Thanx for not doing a Xmas show this year" - you are very welcome. Please enjoy non-seasonal favorites of mine.

Self Help Radio's Gary Favorites Show 2023
"Ceremony" Joe Policastro Trio _Ceremony_

"Men Are The Problem" Momus _Krambambuli_
"No One" Linda Smith & Nancy Andrews _A Passing Cloud_
"Markin' It Down" Swansea Sound _Twentieth Century_
"Lizard Queen" Teen Angst _Barn Sour_
"Relative Poverty" Mozart Estate _Pop-Up! Ker-Ching! & The Possibilities Of Modern Shopping_

"Medical Cube" Pataphysics _Pat Sounds_
"Schrodinger's Party Animal" Neon Kittens _Schrodinger's Party Animal_
"There's More" House Of All _House Of All_
"Back To The Swamp" Bas Jan _Back To The Swamp_
"Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is" Sparks _The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte_

"Cleaning Crew" The Mountain Goats _Jenny From Thebes_
"Shady Town" Corvair _Bound To Be_
"Back In The Middle" Spearmint _This Candle Is For You_
"Molotov In Stereo" Frankie Rose _Love As Projection_
"The Notion" Spector _Here Come The Early Nights_

"Comes A Time" Neil Young _Before + After_
"Broomhorse" Tele Novella _Poet's Tooth_
"Lady Grey" The Clientele _I Am Not There Anymore_
"Sadness" Soft Science _Lines_
"When I Was A Young Man" Robert Forster _The Candle & The Flame_

"Fallout" Yo La Tengo _This Stupid World_
"Bug In Spring" Subsonic Eye _All Around You_
"Thursday" Who Is She? _Goddess Energy_
"Magnetism" Lavender Blush _There's Nothing Inside Your Heart_
"We Did Nothing" Graham Parker & The Goldtops _Last Chance To Learn The Twist_

"Preset" Lichen Slow _Rest Lurks_
"Aviatrix" The 3 Clubmen _The 3 Clubmen_

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Whither Gary's Favorite Music 2023?

(A classic, found here)

At the risk of boring you, today's Self Help Radio is about my favorite music of the year. This is a thing we deejays do, although many of us try to sound grandiose & say it's "the best" of the year. It's not, of course - what's best is an opinion, & you might agree with my opinion, but at best it's just best for us. No one's opinion is more important or more valid than anyone else's. It's weird that people don't understand that.

Please listen to the music that I listened to most this year with me! It's happening today from noon to 2pm on 90.3+98.3fm in Portland & online everywhere at Freeform Portland dot org. Maybe something I play will become one of your favorites too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Preface To Gary's Favorite Music 2023: Being Philosophical

That's a picture of my dog Yoko. She turned 11 last Friday. She's one of my favorite things about 2023, but she's been one of my favorite things she since adopted us in 2015.

Lots of people make great arguments that lots of other people can't or won't recognize. I recently finished Bart Ehrman's book on Revelation called Apocalypse. It is (in my opinion) a smart, well-written, easily digestible tome which argues that the book of Revelation neither predicts the future (like evangelicals & fundamentalists believe) nor serves as a book of hope for the persecuted & suffering (as Augustine believed). He actually laid out the argument on his blog a while back but that shouldn't be considered a replacement for the book if you're interested. My point is, there are people in my life - born-again friends & relatives - who are immune to such things.

& wow I do admire Ehrman for writing the book & maybe a few minds might be changed, but my own experience with people - not just fundamentalist & evangelicals - suggests the vast majority won't even listen to the argument let alone try to counter it. & why am I talking about a bible scholar's book?

Because every year there's a slew of "best of" lists at the end of the year. & I personally don't believe an opinion can be "best." Because whose opinion is authoritative? I just typed in "best album 2023" into a search engine & clicked the first three sites - one had SZA at # 1, another had Bully, the third had Sufjan Stevens. Well which is it? "Best" means "that which is the most excellent, outstanding, or desirable." It's a singular thing. Three things can't be best. So if I don't think any of those are the best - & I won't play any of those artists on my show tomorrow - then they can't, by definition, be the best.

My opinion is that we just say "Favorite." Pitchfork's favorite records of 2023. Etc. It's less arrogant, it expresses an opinion, & it has all the authority an opinion should have - it's what someone thinks. It's not the objective truth.

Every year I wince a little when the "best of" lists come out. People I've never heard of in publications (which aren't really published) which I've never read assert that their opinion is the one we should pay attention to. They know what's best. Not just for them. For everyone.

Every year I write something about this around the time when I want to share my favorite music of the year. Most (all?) of the stuff I play won't end up on those critics' end-of-the-year lists. & I don't care. It's my favorite music. I wish you had a radio show so you could share your favorite music. Although like a lot of the deejays at Freeform Portland, you'd probably call it "the best of 2023."

Ehrman wrote a wonderful book, I complain a little once a year. The comparison is dumb & strained. But I do feel like there's nothing I can do but do the thing the way I do it. & feebly write something like: Of course you think the stuff you like is the best! But be aware that other people like other stuff as much as you like the stuff you like. There is simply no valid way - not appeals to authority, not appeals to financial success, not appeals to popularity - to make an opinion into "the best." But people will continue to do it.

Just like people will continue to believe that Revelation is predicting a future apocalyptic scenario. & even if I wrote as well as Ehrman does, I still couldn't convince the people who make "best of" lists to just be more honest & call them "favorites" lists.

Oh well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023


On this day three years ago we drove on a Saturday morning to Hillsboro, Oregon, to get vegan donuts. We haven't done that in a while. We took all the hounds & we found a nearby park where we walked. I don't remember it being cold but it was grey. & everything seemed to be covered in moss.

This sign was somewhere on the walk. It's pretty good advice. Although we were already pretty chill. We had a car full of vegan donuts!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Listening Differently

Is this a confession? Or an admission? Or neither?

It's just something I have been thinking about as I prepare for this week's show, which is my favorite music of 2023. My criteria for favorite is pretty straightforward - it's the stuff I listened to most this year. But I have a problem.

Though I listen to music all the time, most of the time I am listening to music for radio shows. I have two radio shows that are theme-based. That sometimes takes up hours of my listening schedule.

What happens with new releases? Unlike in years past, I find I usually only listen to them a few times. So if I were counting listens, a record that I really liked but that I might have only listened to three times might make the list.

This is not something you care about & that's fine. I only find myself a little disquieted by it.

In a recent conversation with someone I lamented something I never thought I would. I said I missed being bored. I never have the time to be bored these days. But what I might miss even more than being bored was the time spent lying on the floor listening to a record over & over. I remember one day after school listening to Hunky Dory so many times the sun fell & I was turning the LP over in the dark.

Maybe that's what I miss. I don't listen to music that way anymore. & it might make me a little sad.

Have no fear tho! I still hate "best of" lists!