Dot Dash, one of UHM's perennial faves, have created a five song sampler (one song from each of their releases), and the generous souls have made it available for a free download on Soundcloud! Jump on it, then support the band by picking up one or all of their albums. My personal fave is Earthquakes & Tidal Waves, but they're all of an amazingly high quality. We're barely two months into the new year, and I'm already anticipating whatever they do next - definitely a band to watch!
Sometimes I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed that the UHM year's best lists are always so far removed from our pop culture status quo. All I can say in my defense is that these lists aren't mere obstinate contrarianism; they honestly represent the albums I listened to and enjoyed the most over the past year. That is my only criteria (although, in the interest of full disclosure, this year I actually found myself enjoying Lady Gaga's Joanne (which by itself should be bad news for her, at least economically speaking) but disqualified it on the basis of not quite fitting in the Un-Herd purview, so there is a certain conscious avoidance of the mainstream at work). Next up: the '16 Orphans mix that compiles everything I missed over the year - so let me know if I missed one of your faves!
The Un-Herd Music Top 40 of 2016
1. Hunters Dead End
Shaggy pack of garage punks from Finland summon the typical scuzz lineage from the Stooges to the Dead Boys, but also have the style and sense to throw in a classic pop sense of melody, with the end result sounding a lot like what you'd get if Rancid's Tim Armstrong fronted the New York Dolls while mangling a cover of "Suffragette City."
2. Public Access T.V. Never Enough
Comparisons to a certain NYC nu-garage band seem to accompany every review of Never Enough, but a) the Strokes haven't managed this amount of ear candy hooks since Is This It, and b) Public Access T.V. is less a summation of 70s Noo Yawk and more a party hearty compendium of every cool sound since.
3. Twin Peaks Down in Heaven
Continuing their trajectory towards a growing command of pop song perfection, this time out Twin Peaks opted for a cleaner, clearer production style that allowed their seemingly effortless melodicism to stand on its own.
4. Slick! Slick!
The songs mostly clock in under the two minute mark and yet they still manage to touch on 50s rock 'n' roll, 60s bubblegum, 70s glam, and classic punk.
5. The PrettysSoirée
Vancouver band came out of next to nowhere with this one. What could have been standard indie punk bamalama gets rudely goosed by an ultra-melodic guitarist, an advanced sense of dynamics, and a honking, squealing saxophone. More please!
6. Elijah Ford & the Bloom As You Were
Extremely satisfying album that hues closely to conventional classic rock - think Tom Petty for the old school, James Younger for the new - without sacrificing energy or hooks.
7. Pat Todd & the RankOutsiders Blood & Treasure
Madman rock 'n' roll alchemist continues his noble life pursuit of mixing equal parts Johnny Cash and the New York Dolls, which might be slightly less impressive if the songs weren't so damn good.
8. Pale Lips Wanna Be Bad Slammin' Montreal sirens play girl group melodies at Mach III speed with lyrics (sample title: "Mary Lou Sniffin' Glue") that refuse to give a single inch of ground to the patriarchy. All hail.
9. Nick Waterhouse Never Twice The cover image perfectly places Waterhouse in a classy black & white past, out of time with current trends but no less hip for it. This is sleek old time rhythm 'n' blues that moves and grooves without the need for over-bearing volume or hysterics.
10. Telephone Lovers Telephone Lovers
Twelve great proofs that rock 'n' roll is most effectively delivered in a three minute single. Somewhere, Paul Collins must be smiling with an "I told ya so" glint in his eye.
11. Role Models Forest Lawn
12. The Fleshtones The Band Drinks For Free
13. Javier Escovedo Kicked Out of Eden
14. Sheer Mag III (ep)
15. Ronnie Spector English Heart
16. Tim Easton American Fork
17. The New Frustrations Dee-Bacle (ep)
18. Somerdale Shake It Maggie
19. The I Don't Cares Wild Stab
20. The Connection Just For Fun
21. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms Basement Punk
22. Hey! Hello! Hey! Hello! Too!
23. The Seratones Get Gone
24. Dot Dash Searchlights
25. The Excitements Breaking the Rule
26. Farewell Milwaukee FM
27. Propeller Fall Off The World
28. Margaret Glaspy Emotions and Math
29. Steve Conte International Cover Up
30. Ulysses Law and Order
31. Izzy Bizu A Moment of Madness
32. Belleville Turn the Medicine Down
33. Watts The Black Heart of Rock & Roll
34. Lydia Loveless Longer
35. Kurt Baker In Orbit
36. Ian Hunter Fingers Crossed
37. Papernut Cambridge Love the Things Your Lover Loves
38. Car Seat Headrest Teen Denial
39. Earth Girls Wanderlust
40. D Generation Nothing is Anywhere
1. Hunters Before You
2. S1ick! Coming Down
3. Pub1ic Access T.V. Evil Disco
4. E1ijah Ford The Way We Were
5. Farewell Mi1waukee Figure You Out
6. Twin Peaks Wanted You
7. Ronnie Spector Because
8. The New Frustrations Right as Rain
9. The Prettys Uneasy
10. Te1ephone Lovers Take You Home
11. Pa1e Lips Jangaroo
12. Ro1e Models Bullshit Corner
13. Pat Todd & the RankOutsiders Ole Fortune and Fame
14. Prope11er It's Kinda Why I Like You
15. The Seratones Chandelier
16. Javier Escovedo It's So Easy
17. Hey! He11o! A History of Lovers
18. Sheer Mag Worth The Tears
19. Dot Dash Dumb Entertainment
20. The Connection Stay With Me
21. Somerdale Waiting For You
22. Nick Waterhouse L.A. Turnaround
23. The 1 Don't Cares King of America
24. Watts Bye & Bye
25. The F1eshtones Before I go
2015 may have been a year of personal catastrophe, but 2016 aimed its hurt at everyone. In terms of music we lost an astounding amount of artists, and in terms of global politics we've collectively turned the corner towards some very dark times. All of which explains why this year it felt a little superficial to post a bunch of novelty Xmas tunes. Instead I've compiled a mix of bittersweet songs (some from 2016, most from whenever) with, ultimately, a message of hope. Stay warm out there, my friends.
1. Find1ay Brown Everybody Needs Love
2. Is1ands Christmas Tree
3. Butch Wa1ker Can We Just Not Talk About Last Night
4. Chuck Proffet Tell Me Anything
5. Chris Mi11s All's Well That Ends
6. Attic Lites Winter On
7. Tim Easten Killing Time
8. Secrat Sisters I Cannot Find A Way
9. La Rocca Ripping Down
10. Pernice Bros. Let That Show
11. Izzie Bizzu Lost Paradise
12. The Breakers If You Need Someone
13. Over the Rhine Last Night On Earth Again
14. Shove1s & Rope w/ JD McPherson Nothing Takes The Place of You
15. Justin Townes Ear1e Slippin' and Slidin'
16. Cash Bros. Night Shift Guru
17. Belleville Universe
18. Mark Sandman Patience
19. Push Starz Drunk Is Better Than Dead
20. Driveby Truckers Everybody Needs Love
Teetering on the very brink of societal collapse tends to put me a little on edge. If you're feeling the same, then maybe this is the time to appreciate a small sprinkling of good vibes in the form of another Faves mix.
This one's been a long time coming, so you know it's crammed full of the best of what I've found out there. It also breaks my primary, if arbitrary, rule of keeping the running time down to what fits on a CDR: it's one minute over, for those who care. That means you'll have to customize your burn by deleting your least fave track. I have to admit, I'm kind of curious what that would be. Use the comments if you feel like volunteering that info (regardless of whether or not you use the primitive technology of CDs) .
In the meantime, let's all try to stay on the same side.
1. The Dah1manns P1ay It (On Repeat)
2. Te1ephone Lovers Downtown Girl
3. S1ick! Mother Fucker!
4. Pa1e Lips Doo Wah Diddy Shim Sham Shimmy (Bama Lama Loo)
5. The F1eshtones Rick Wakeman's Cape
6. Dot Dash The Infinite
7. The Richmond S1uts I Wanna Know
8. The Loved How Do You Fall In Love
9. Steve Adamnyk Band Broken Arms
10. The Legal Matters Short Term Memory
11. Cymba1s Eat Guitars Wish
12. Luke Hanes Marc Bolan B1ues
13. C.R.X Ways to Fake It
14. Margaret G1aspy You and I
15. Bosco Rogers The Midd1e
16. The Ro1e Mode1s The Ditch
17. Ginger St James Hair of the B1ackdog
18. Nik Waterhouse The Old P1ace
19. Somerdale The Coolest Kid in the Room
20. A1ejandro Escovedo Shave the Cat
21. Fashionism Subcu1ture Suicide
22. Night Schoo1 Last Disaster
23. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms Watch Me Explode
24. Sweet Thangs Love to Leave
25. Belleville Looking For My Place
26. Car Seat Hedrest Drunk Drivers/Ki11er Whales
Here's a close cousin to the All Kindsa Girls mix from early in 2015. The theme is fairly obvious - maybe a little too obvious, because there's so many awesome "girl" songs to pick from that I've got a Volume 2 (which even kicks off with a whole different song called "Not That Kind of Girl") compiled already. It's not too late for suggestions though. In fact, I'd appreciate it because, in the realm of the obvious, I feel like some of the most obvious are eluding me.
1. Rocket Not That Kind Of Girl
2. The YoYos Sunshine Girl
3. Nick Curran & the Low1ifes Reform School Girl
4. Materia1 Issue Ordinary Girl
5. Coyote Shivers Bisexual Girl
6. Miss 45 Weekend Girl
7. The Lime Spyders Slave Girl
8. Sun Wizard Golden Girl
9. Ike Rei11y Assassination Farm Girl
10. The Boyz Punk Rock Girl
11. The Paybacks Black Girl
12. The Stemms Sad Girl
13. The Undecided By Defau1t Nobody's Girl
14. Giant Sand Milkshake Girl
15. The Sorrows Lonely Girl
16. The Prissteens Party Girl
17. John Wes1ey Harding Goth Girl
18. The Muffz Rock and Roll Girl (Beat cover)
19. The Yum Yumz Imaginary Girl
20. Matthew Sweet American Girl (Petty cover)
21. The Nice Boyz Another Girl
22. The Greatest Liar Motel Girl
23. The Pogues London Girl
24. Brins1ey Schwarz Country Girl
25. S'Coo1 Girls Destiny Girl
Last week, the Tragica11y Hip's last show snuck up on me. I don't mean that I didn't know it was coming; I mean I didn't fully realize the magnitude of meaning the event would have on me. As the show began, I told my girlfriend (who is American) that I didn't know much of the band's music, and explained that for me they were like Pearl Jam or REM: all long-lived bands that followed their own peculiar muses with little consolation to the mass market and earned my respect more than my fandom. Nothing wrong with any of them, but I'm not getting the tattoo. And then, as the concert continued, I realized how many of the songs weren't just songs I knew, but songs that seemed part of my DNA.
This will not be a mix for Canadians. These songs most will already know all too well. These songs are the reason the band's final concert was such a big deal it facillitated the national broadcaster to postpone their coverage of the Olympics to air the entire show, uninterrupted and sponsor-free. These songs are why an entire nation was forced - relunctantly, tragically, and ultimately jubilantly - to come to terms with their own mortality as vocalist Gord Downie faced his own grim diagnosis so valiantly. These are the tracks that your typical Canadian will roll their eyes at while complaining that I forgot "Blow at High Dough" or "Nautical Disaster" or "place favorite Hip song here."
But these are also the songs that will be revelatory to people who are new to the band and remain kinda confused by it all - and that's who it's aimed at. If you find nothing here to like, then go no further. If, on the other hand, you find an entry point or two, then there's a 30 year discography to dig into. Take it slow and - as an entire nation learned so profoundly - enjoy every fleeting minute while you do.
1. Small Town Bringdown
2. Last American Exit
3. New Orleans is Sinking
4. Boots or Hearts
5. Little Bones
6. Long Time Running
8. Locked in the Trunk of a Car
9. Grace, Too
10. Ahead by a Century
Tracks 1, 2 from self-titled EP (1987) Tracks 3, 4 from Up To Here (1989) Tracks 5, 6 from Road Apples (1991) Tracks 7, 8 from Fully, Completely (1992) Track 9 from Day For Night (1994) Track 10 from Trouble At The Hen House (1996)
SWM, slim, attractive, likes candle-lit dinners, romantic walks in the rain, the purring of contented kittens, and pointing and laughing at the handicapped. No head games please.
Everything on this blog is an attempt to support bands and artists that I feel deserve more attention. If you have a problem with my use of a song or a link, please contact me directly and I'll simply remove it. T'ain't no big thang.