‘Tis the season of “Best Of” lists…
Years back, a buddy of mine who had clearly grown weary of my music postings asked, “So, what qualifies you to be a music critic, anyway?”
Without thinking about it, I reflexively responded, “I’m not a music critic. I’m a music liker. I listen to a lot of music and then I give shout-outs to the stuff I like. If I don’t like something, I keep it to myself.
All this listening has definitely broadened my taste buds as far as genres are concerned. (And yes, on occasion, that includes a good polka.)
As for “Best Of” Lists, well, isn’t the whole idea both presumptuous and preposterous? Back in the days of Malcolm’s Monthly (1987-98) I used to proclaim an album and song of the year and serve up my own Top 10 List. (Maybe for laughs, I’ll post some of those in the coming months.) Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.
These days, I just trumpet the stuff I like. Here’s 25 songs from 2014 that I liked… a lot… alphabetical by artist:
1. “Detlef Schrempf” by Band of Horses” Off Acoustic at the Ryman. I confidently proclaim this as the best 2014 ode to a former NBA player. “My eyes can’t look at you any other way.”
2. “Country Down” by Beck. Off Morning Phase. “The plot against your will is furrowed into your brow.”
3. “Born in Chains” by Leonard Cohen. Off Popular Problems. “… but the waters parted and my soul crossed over.”
4. “Earthquake Driver” by Counting Crows. Off Somewhere Under Wonderland. “… I don’t wanna be with people like me.”
5. “What’s Broken” by David Crosby. Off CROZ. “Standing here is a very lost disciple.”
6. “Natural Light” by Drive-By Truckers. Off English Oceans. “…But it’s your natural light I need to guide me home.”
7. “Sweet Hunk O’Trash” by Dr. John (w/Shemekia Copeland). Off Ske-Dat-De-Dat – The Spirit of Satch. Doc and Shemekia (Johnny Clyde’s daughter) honor Armstrong.
8. “You Never Can Tell” by Dukes of September. Off Live. Old pros (Messrs. Fagen, McDonald, & Scaggs) give good cover to Chuck. “…700 little records, all rock, rhythm & jazz.”
9. “Mistakes of My Youth” by Eels. Off The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. “The choice is mine for making…”
10. “Midnight Train” by Bryan Ferry. Off Avonmore. The suave pillar of art rock for 40+ years can still bring it.
11. “Baby’s Gonna Kick” by John Hiatt. Off Terms of My Surrender. “I’m ridin’ downtown ’bout a John Lee Hooker…”
12. “Almost Everything” by the Hold Steady. Off Teeth Dreams. “The Waffle House waitress that asked us if we were Pink Floyd…”
13. “Wasteland City” by Zach Hurd. Off A Million Little Lights. “All the girls dressed up like they wanna keep score…”
14. “Get Up & Get Out” by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings. Off Give the People What They Want. “You got to Git Up and Get Out!”
15. “Today is OK” by Mark Knopfler. Off Privateering. “We like to have some friends around; Do the twist to Ray Charles & James Brown…”
16. “Platinum” by Miranda Lambert. Off Platinum. “You don’t need to be a fighter, honey… just go one shade lighter.”
17. “Where Did You Come From” by Mingo Fishtrap. Off On Time. Where did these guys come from?!? Stopped me in my tracks. 8-piece band out of Austin. Get this album.
18. “Old Me Better” by Keb Mo. Off Bluesamericana. He ain’t back; he never left. “I like the old me better, was a lot more fun, didn’t take crap from anyone.”
19. “Bad Boy” by Charlie Musselwhite. Off Juke Joint Chapel. Harmonica extraordinaire! “I’m just a bad boy… In yo’ town tonight!”
20. “Used to Her” by Willie Nelson. Off Band of Brothers. “When I get used to her… I’m sick of me.”
21. “I’m Not Here” by NRBQ. Off Brass Tacks. Purist Q People might not claim it as true, blue NRBQ, but it’s great music. Terry Adams is to pop eclectica what John Mayall is to the blues.
22. “Come On In My Kitchen” by Leon Russell. Off Life Journey – Leon @ The Crossroads. “Cause it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors.”
23. “Carousel Bar” by 7Horse. Off Songs for a Voodoo Wedding. A Saturday night song. “I could sit right here for 1000 years.”
24. “Hard to Be an Outlaw” by Billie Joe Shaver. Off Long in the Tooth. Most of the time – at least, when Laura’s not in the car – my XM radio option is tuned to “Outlaw Country” where there’s lots of Billie Joe. “It’s hard to be an outlaw who ain’t wanted anymore.”
25. “One Foot Ahead” by Avery Sunshine. Off The Sun Room. Just as the San Antonio Spurs showed us in 2014 that old school hoops is alive and well, this girl serves up a brand of R & B (awesome voice/piano!) that would have been the pride of either Motown or Stax back in the day. “I’m movin’ on!”
Happy New Year! And keep on likin’! Onward, Malcolm Gauld