Tag Archives: Best of 2009

New Album! Bobby Emmett

My #5 album from 2009

I’ll forgive you if you think you somehow slipped a Raspberries album in your player when the familiar staccato power chords come blasting out of your speakers on the opening track; I sure did. But quickly the bridge will reassure you that this is a different journey…and then the high octave harmony vocals sell the chorus, and the Todd-like guitar solo stutters and rips across the melodic ribbon…and your jaw, like mine, has dropped.

Bobby Emmett – you know him from The Sights – has stitched together a Frankenstein monster of a record that splashes the DNA of just about every powerpop touchstone you can name into an infectious, joyous blast. That he recorded it in a bedroom and played and sang the vast majority of it himself just makes it that much more amazing. Many albums start strong, an obvious single in the leadoff slot, but four, five tracks in you will find yourself hard pressed to settle upon a favorite.

“Still Wanna Be With You” borrows a line from “1-2-3 Red Light” for the chorus but dunks it into a modern framework not unlike Silver Sun or Farrah (and that vocal flourish at the end is spine-tingling). Sure, the haunted vocal in “Moving Ahn” suggests John Lennon, and the spelling of the song title correctly suggests a mix of Billy Joel and Big Star (think Chris Bell singing “Moving Out”) before the coda drifts into a mash-up of Pink Floyd‘s “Great Gig In The Sky” with “I Want You” (either The Beatles or the Elvis Costello song – your pick).

I say all this with reverence and a straight face. There are enough copycat bands of all genres exhuming the work of their predecessors and passing it off as their own sound, but Emmett has assembled a ten-track killer of a solo album here. Whether it’s the soulful mid-tempo “November” (a hipper “Everything I Own”), the sweet Harrison slide of “Never Waited So Long”, the psychedelic “Love Is Real” or the straight-ahead pop majesty of “Broken Hearted” and “Queen of Hearts”, Emmett is all hooks and harmonies and ear candy. Learning Love is a joyous and stunning effort. 

This review is from the brand spanking new issue of Bucketfull of Brains. Use the link on their page and sign up for a sweet three issue subscription.

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Valentines Day? Love and Curses!

The Best Album of 2009

On this day of gooey lovey-dovey Keep-Hallmark-Cards-afloat palpitations, allow me to remind you that sentiment and passion is not always a positive thing. Sometimes love can be gut-wrenching and soul-sapping and unrequited and dark. And no one – no one– captures the spirit of desperation and bitter loneliness in song better than Greg Cartwright

And as good as his recorded canon is (including solo efforts and his work with bands including The Oblivians and The Compulsive Gamblers) his live performances are stunning. Onstage there’s not a single moment when he does not wholeheartedly inhabit these characters and songs and – as the classic adage says – let it bleed

Time Bomb High School has long been my favorite Reigning Sound album; I consider it almost a perfect record. I truly believe that Love And Curses can proudly stand alongside it: 

Like prior Reigning Sound albums, Cartwright offers a strong theme and excellent sequencing to make a powerful statement that flows with dynamic appeal. Despite the aroma of desperation, unrequited love, and loneliness in the lyrics, there’s an infectious magnetism to a man who can bare his soul so completely in his music. Cartwright is a happily married man with a family, but he’s able to dip into some dark places and channel the angst and pain of a tortured soul with amazing clarity.  

He’s willingly haunted, like the man in the horror movie who is warned not to go in the basement but clutches a lit match in shaky hands and starts the descent anyway. The album was recorded over time in two studios but has the immediacy of a group documenting a feverish all-nighter, and the balance of hard rock and desperate shuffles is flawless. 

Read my full review of 2009’s best album at PopMatters

Check out some samples here

The Reigning Sound MySpace page and Wiki site

Curses...foiled again.

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Jacob, Oscar and Freebies

Locke invented Team Conan

Lost rang up some well-deserved ratings last night, and the net is abuzz with the latest storytelling vehicle that Darlton has tossed at us. I won’t spoil it for you DVR aficionados, but strap in, baby. Watch here.

For those who did watch last night, you might think you are going crazy. You have plenty of company, so check in with some of the primary Lost blog sites: Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune, Doc Jensen at EW, SL Lost and Alan Sepinwall’s excellent What’s Alan Watching blog. Be sure to scroll through all the comments – some interesting ideas…and some complete nutjobs. 

(Speaking of Alan, he and I share a love for the classic series Homicide. Nice blog the other day from him about that show including clips to the great Crosetti episode. Reminded me how they don’t make them like that anymore, and soon they may not make them like Lost, either. It will be interesting to see whether V and Flash Forward survive to a second season as well as if Fringe can get a third.) 

 

I’ll have more about the Academy Awards later on, but the nominations were announced yesterday (I thought the Lost feature was more important). With one exception – a swap of one Supporting Actress nominee – they were exactly the same as the Screen Actors Guild nominees in the four major acting major categories. Nineteen for twenty! 

Here’s the link to the official site. More soon. 

And if you’re bored with The Oscars, there are always The Razzies

 

How about some freebies? For a limited time…while supplies last

Download the Research Turtles album for free

Buy any album from Kool Kat Musik and get a free copy of the Gamilons EP “Blue Whispers“! 

Caveat: The Research Turtles link will simply stop working when it’s no longer available. Please check with Kool Kat prior to placing your order to make certain the EPs are still in stock. It’s a great place to buy music regardless – I am a paying customer, not a sponsor. 

Everyone Pays The Price.

Beware The Lockeness Monster

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T.G.I.F. – Top Ten Albums of 2009

Someone always disagrees

As you may or may not know, scrambling to assemble a Top Ten list of the year for anything is a pain in the ass, since many times eligible films and albums don’t come out until December. For that reason (let’s put procrastination aside for a moment) my deadline has always been Super Bowl Sunday, which use to be sometime in January. This year the Gods of Sport have decided to move the game back into February, probably to pretend its part of the Winter Olympics. And with all the wonderful decisions they have been making, who are we to question the brilliance of network television executives? 

But each year the deadline for the Village Voice gets earlier. So while I am still filtering through decisions on the lower end of the top forty, the Top Ten is cut in stone. (The full list will be available after the Super Bowl.)

I’ve already posted reviews for some of these albums, others will be forthcoming (some are not yet published in the respective magazines they were submitted to). So without further ado, I hereby announce my choices for the Top Ten Albums of 2009: 

  

One : Love and Curses (The Reigning Sound) 

Two: Lions in the Street (Lions in the Street) 

Three: National Champions (Olympic Ass Kicking Team) 

Four: 1372 Overton Park (Lucero) 

Five: Learning Love (Bobby Emmett) 

Six: More Like Me (Webb Wilder) 

Seven: Tinted Windows (Tinted Windows) 

Eight: Little White Lies (Fastball) 

Nine: Spills and Thrills (John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives) 

Ten: House To House (Tripwires) 

 

Link to my Village Voice Pazz & Jop ballot

My centricity rating, or how far off center my choices are. (Very

*** 

R.I.P. – the Greta Garbo of authors, J.D.Salinger 

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T.G.I.F. – I’d Rather Coco

Before anything else, let’s credit the man who created this artwork in the first place – Mike Mitchell. I’ve seen this replicated everywhere and not only does he not get the props but people are slightly modifying and then selling his image without compensation. I believe we call that (ugh)… sampling.

Now on to the guest of honor.

Tonight is the last Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. Final guests? Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell and Neil Young, plus an unannounced pop-in or two, I’m sure. An unfunny comic segment that appears to cost NBC a fortune in royalties. A long standing ovation before the show – and afterwards, of course. Ratings to die for. And the last glimpse of what should have been a show we could have all grown old with.

This whole situation has been nothing buy ugly, and while I don’t blame Jay Leno for setting the chain of events in motion, I do think he should have taken the high road and just moved on. His weak explanation – I’m just an employee doing what my boss asks – isn’t fooling anyone. He never wanted to leave the Tonight Show and although he might feel bad for Conan, I’d bet the farm that he’s secretly delighted that he’s back in the chair. But this mess is squarely on the NBC executives shoulders.

Conan is a brilliant writer and knows funny. He’ll survive. He’ll come up with something that will entertain and amaze us, and whether that’s a new show on Fox or an Internet podcast that opens the door to the next generation of broadcasting, it doesn’t matter.

Thanks for a short but great run, Conan. Kudos for fighting to get severance for your entire staff, the majority of whom will hopefully be asked to rejoin Team Conan for the next adventure.

Tonight, in honor of Conan, I defer my usual Friday TGIF routine of posting ten links, clips or facts to someone who will surely do it better. Tune in tonight and see.

Watch the Hope for Haiti telethon this evening and please give what you can; there but for the grace of fate go you. Then let’s all dial in one last time to say “see you soon” to Coco. It will be tough to top Robin Williams (try here or here – I’m sure these clips will come down as quickly as NBC can find them) but let’s give it a shot.

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