Showing posts from December, 2013

Track This: The Backslider's "Christmas Doesn't Have to be So Bad)" and BR549's "Truck Stop Christmas"

Over the last few years I have become increasingly enamored by original Christmas tunes. I'm not talking about mall soundtrack, elevator muzak, or the same old Bing Crosby songs that get pumped through public sound systems or bloat out oldies stations. I've been on the search for original Christmas songs since I bought the Flat Duo Jet's "I'll Have a Merry Christmas Without You" from Norton records years ago. But recently something has me searching for new stuff. I've compiled a collection of sad old country songs, rocking jump blues tunes, alterna-rock one-offs, and purely novelty creations.

Two of these tunes really struck a chord this year; I can't stop playing them. Austin's Backsliders  "Christmas (Doesn't Have To Be So Bad)" underscores the assumption that many people grow up and the holiday loses its meaning, yet there is still much to be happy about even when you aren't a kid. The song rocks along with sweet guitar licks…

Track This: Jim White's Christmas Day

"Christmas Day" is a seven-minute gothic country exploration of loneliness. White tells the story of another lonely man stranded on his way to Mobile. The "devil is in the details" as the narrator sits crying at the Greyhound Station on Christmas Day in 1998. The sparse guitar work underlines the tragic experience and White's vocals only make it more harrowing.

The song is one of the loss and love that are seldom explored in most well-known Christmas songs which typically prefer to gloss over the loneliness that comes with this season, instead piling up a hootenanny of pleasant experiences. Even the songs rife with loneliness prefer to traffic in what the narrator hopes to find at home or misses, instead of reveling in loss. "Christmas Day" doesn't do that; the narrator wallows in self pity and continually returns to the sweet smile of his love. He discusses the good fiction that the situation might make, weaving in between reality and unreality.  …

Top Records of 2013: 10-1

10. Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave (Vagrant)

Black Joe Lewis and company serve up a healthy dose of lo-fidelity R and B that will get your ass shaking and leave a spring in your step. Rawer than 2011's Scandalous, but even more driving, if that is possible, Electric Slave pulses from the first dirty notes of "Skulldiggin" until the last of "Mammas Queen." The energy remains palpable and the melodies simmer long after. "Young Girl" is more garagey, but the tempo never lets up. "Dar Es Salaam" is just as manic as Scandalous' best cut "She's So Scandalous." While not as cohesive as that earlier effort, Electric Slave piles on one classic track after another, filtering it through a lens of blues, rock 'n' roll, and funk, and it just never lets up.

9. Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore)

Salt Lake City's Subrosa slowly infiltrates the psyche. Their albums are like little else out there and their s…

Top Records of 2013: 20-11

20. The Night Marchers - Allez Allez (Swami)

John Reis always has his hand in so many projects that sometimes it's hard to keep up. The release of the second Night Marchers' album, Allez Allez keeps up his tradition of putting out high voltage rock 'n' roll at a time when it is almost extinct from the shelves. Not as vibrant as See You In Magic, but just as raging, the tight guitars and manic drums deliver Reis's amped-up message to the masses. While it might not be as raging, chaotic, or fun as another Rocket From The Crypt release, it is good to know that Reis is still making music. Long may he "wear the horns."

19. Dawes - Stories Don't End (HUB)

 "Stories Don't End" is another minor triumph from Los Angeles's Dawes. The songs drift in like an amalgamation of 70's Laurel Canyon song-writing mixed with all too modern Suburban housewife ennui. Each seems so knowable and so perfectly formed that they seem to have been playing over…

Top Records of 2013 Part One: 26-21

This year has been really slow at Snobbin'. Grad school and other engagements have kept me from posting like I would like to. One of my resolutions is to post more often and write more about music and other important cultural artifacts. I even amended the title of the blog and excised the word "Indie" because the topics of the blog have never been quite that narrow.

As the end of this year neared, I had no idea just what albums I would put on the list. It has been so busy and I'm sure I missed a ton of good stuff. I've never been one to say that older music was better, but as I drift into my 30's, I understand the lure of this trap. I was second guessing this year's crop of albums from the start. There was nothing so immediate as what made the list last year. I even recalled conversations from the past that cursed odd years as being worse for music. While these types of High Fidelity conversations can be fruitful at times, they trend fairly closely to the…