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Top Records of 2015: 13-7

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13. The Sonics - This is the Sonics (Revox)



Who would expect a band that hasn't released a record for more than forty years to rock so hard? This is the Sonics undoubtedly shows that rock and roll is not necessarily a young person's game. The Sonics prove they still have what it takes in spades, delivering a record that has all the power of their early recordings with the levels turned up to eleven. The recording sounds crisp and clean, and the band has power to spare. The mono recording captures the power and passion of a group that sounds psyched to still be playing together and does not lessen the sheer visceral impact of their chosen material and performances. While it does not quite match the intensity of their 60s recordings, the album packs a wallop. Gerry Roslie still has the pipes to belt out frantic rock and roll numbers and Larry Parypa plays some riffs that could teach the youngsters a thing or two. Rob Lind blows his sax with the expected squall. The n…

Top Records of 2015: Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions (In No Particular Order):

Fuzz - Fuzz II (In The Red)

Meatwave - Delusion Moon (SideOneDummy)

Hop Along - Painted Shut (Saddle Creek)

The Bottle Rockets - South Broadway Athletic Club (Bloodshot)

Lucero - All A Man Should Do (ATO)

Will Johnson - Swan City Vampires (Undertow)

Turnpike Troubadours - Self-Titled (Bossier City)

Lou Barlow - Brace the Wave (Domino)

Eileen Jewell - Sundown Over Ghost Town (Signature Sounds)

Yo La Tengo - Stuff Like That There (Matador)

Track This: The Replacement's "Unsatisfied"

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The Replacements have been one of my favorite bands for a very long time, and they have been getting me through some tough times lately. My dissertation is nearing the halfway point, and I have not had a moment to blog lately. I can't believe it's been two months. Today the playlist contained some Sonic Youth followed by the Replacement's amazing Let It Be, an album that changes those who listen intently.

Picking a track to review from such a monumental album is extremely difficult. Where does one start? The album begins with the classic, propulsive rocker, "I Will Dare," and does not let up. "My Favorite Thing" is a pure pop wonder. "We're Comin' Out" has one of the coolest punky riffs of the band's early period before they signed to Sire. It recalls Husker Du more than most of their other songs. "Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out" is another punky piss-take, showcasing Paul Westerberg's sense of humor. "Androgynous&q…

Track This: Filth's "The List"

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When I was a young and impressionable punk rock kid in the 1990s, I went down a lot of paths. I was indoctrinated into the fold like many a naïve youth of the time by Green Day and then after pursuing their earlier albums and the Lookout Records catalog, I stumbled on to Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph before disappearing ever further into the underground and classic hardcore. I flirted with many labels and have moved into other genres practically entirely, but I never forgot my love for those earlier records.

The Shit Split, the joint collection from Bay Area crusty bands, Blatz and Filth, was one that was stamped indelibly on my mind, and I wish I had been in the scene when it was released in 1991. I made up for lost time when I got it later on CD, but I now I wish I had invested in the vinyl. I do have the 7 inches because I scoured every bin for Lookout releases for years. Blatz's “Cheaper Than The Beer” has been a longtime turntable favorite, but I was always partial to the ult…

Travels

The side streets are slick and worn
as I walk daily to the college
working on frustrations as old as time
in holey shoes and slighted ambition

My twisted ankle, my mucked up transmission
tiny travesties leading to submission
of mind, of thought, of body rot
in flooded back alleys and musty university towns

I walk past solemn green and dirty brick
a facade thrown across the earth
darkened windows hide secrets
in the midst of wind-bent trees

The fragile ecosystem of roadwork and wax
shelters my way through the days
past Sycamores and White Oaks
unlit houses and the cries of feral cats

Track This: Booker T. & The M.G's "Behave Yourself"

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Booker T. Jones' organ playing is a thing of beauty -- serene, yet expressive, propelling a late night vibe or a Sunday morning, post-church feeling. Transcendental, his playing is unmatched and recognizable, especially on the opening bars of "Behave Yourself," a fine equal and b-side to the group's ubiquitous 1962 single, "Green Onions," on which the organist lays down nimble melodies.The rest of the group never slouches either. Lewie Sternberg's bass lines are measured and supremely funky, just bubbling under the surface throughout the piece and superbly melding with Al Jackson's simple kit work. Steve Cropper takes the lead from Jones' organ to lay down a nice southern soul guitar line once in awhile, but Jones is the master of the game here, varying his playing but vamping as the tight rhythm section backs him up. Alternating patterns of sweetness explode as the group holds down the tight vibe, Cropper's repeating guitar figures taking …

Summer Dwindling

Each summer I rack up an amazing list of wasted opportunities, unproductive mishmashes of scattered writing, files full of mindless ramblings all in search of effectual copy. I write a lot and read even more in order to continually perfect my game, but fall under the weight of the work, ineffectually stumbling back months later and wondering where to begin.

As writers many of us fall into this pattern, putting work down never to return to it or never able to quite pick up where we left off. Summer is the time for me to supposedly catch up, but life always gets in the way. Even my blog posts trickle recently as dissertation chapters take all of my time. Fiction and essay writing are relegated to brief meanderings as I focus all of my attention on one never-ending project.

While I just finished my dissertation introduction, so now I plan on writing more, updating old posts and returning to music, film, comics, and the essayistic scene of the crime instead of dropping in every once in aw…

Seasonal Shifts: Matthiessen State Park

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Hiking the trails at Matthiessen State Park. Beautiful waterfalls, lakes, trees, abound. I've been to Starved Rock State Park several times, and I can't believe I missed this. The caves and the architectural detail throughout the park are not to be missed.