Hello internet pals of music. Today we’re breaking down whatever fourth wall exists here, and looking back at the weird dumb year. Just like everyone else is, but with better music.
Wake me when it’s over.
Used to be at this time of year, the limbo dead zone between drinking / eating holiday #1 and drinking holiday #2, you might find me sipping morning hot toddies and running through the records I probably picked up over the holidays.
Or making a holiday mix, back when I had a turntable set up. Or a playlist. Or something that somehow involved slowing down my metabolism and shutting off the power button on the ol’ noggin.
Watching indefensibly trashy movies (RIP Ruggero Deodato). The good stuff that holidays are made of.
This year I’m waiting for a property manager to show up, inspect the ceiling tiles in the bathroom that somehow unglued and crashed into the bathtub, missing my head by about ten minutes; getting told to ‘suck a dick’ by a houseless dude tearing through our trash after I asked him what he was hoping to find (he also told me to not call him dude, and then called me buddy. Which the expected response should be, “don’t call me buddy, guy”…a delicate dance I avoided with a simple: fuuuuuck youuuu). Also, hiding a cat from said property manager using the sounds of both the clothes dryer and music, in case of random meows. Because landlords in this city are batshit-fucked-in-the-head assholes.
Remember, landlord is not a real job.
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Statistically, pet owners make more responsible tenants. STUDIES SHOW! The city council even passed a measure that the no-pet clause in this city was unfair and added to the housing / houseless crisis, since people with pets face a tight, overpriced rental market where 70-95 % of rentals do not allow pets.
Also, they passed that measure two years ago and yet, it’s still in effect thanks to pressure from landlords associations.
Real Estate shouldn’t be an investment portfolio.
It really makes you think, eh?
I’ve heard a lot from friends, tired exasperations at how this past year has been, or what besieged them over the holiday. Fitting end to this year, maybe, that so much of the world faced nasty climate related chaos. I don’t know, I’m being very personal here obviously.
One thing that soothed the overall inflammation this year was retail therapy. I bought records. Any time things became too stressful, I found peace in the one place I know I can depend on: a record store.
It doesn’t matter if I don’t find anything to take home. The lure and promise of possibility held within those USED NEW ARRIVALS bins prevented me from blowing many, many gaskets. That and the occasional deejay gig, where I could play some of those gems, even if only to satisfy myself and a few others I can count on to go explore the sonic caverns with me.
I picked up some great records this year. Because new vinyl is so overpriced, particularly in Canada, I really thrived in those used bins and truthfully, it was more satisfying anyway. So here’s my year end list, the records I was most pumped about picking up. None of this is any order other than my brain dumping it all out. Also, several of these were new, not used. But I did dig around like a Star-Nosed Mole through those used bins…
Don Slepian, New Dawn: New Music for Digital Orchestra Vol III (1980 / New Age)
This was a recommendation by the owner of my favourite record shop, Dandelion, and I don’t know how I would’ve been this year without it, to be real with y’all. For at least six months now, I’ve listened to this almost every single morning. It’s a routine that starts before I even turn the kettle on and grind the beans.
DMZ, DMZ (1978 / Scuzzy Garage Rock)
DMZ showed up on ye olden Sermons! early on, so it was without question that when I heard there was a copy at another great record store, Audiopile, I flipped my lid and asked for it to be held for me. Duh!
Personality Crisis, Creatures for Awhile (1983 / Hardcore)
Re-release, although I later found an original for $40 (nope!). Although it didn’t have my favorite song, Empty Skies, I needed this. I fell in love with their sound while on my Sunday drives back in Texas during le pandemic. Another great unknown Canadian band that deserves more attention and is a great example of how good the underground hardcore is once you break out of the coastal trap.
Parliament, Osmium (1970 / Funk)
I also picked up 1973’s Cosmic Slop, so I have my two favorite Parliament - Funkadelic albums on proper vinyl now instead of CD or worn-out ass cassette. This album was introduced to me light years ago, under the alternate title Rhenium. One of my ten favourite albums of all eternity. Why is Parliament - Funkadelic one of the greatest bands of all time? This right here.
Minami Deutsch, S/T (2014, Japanese Motorik)
FULL Neu! worship, but done with that perfect Japanese flair. I’ve posted this album before. I found it through an excavation of Kikagaku Moyo (RIP) and the label, Guru Guru Brain associated with them. Zoning out to repetitive shit is my favourite thing to do besides lean on walls, and in that record kismet kind of way, found a copy about 3 days after hearing it on Bandcamp (also, Dandelion Records saves yet again).
Plasmatics, Beyond the Valley of 1984 (1981 / Punk)
Actually picked up New Hope for the Wretched this year as well, but I think this one is my favourite of the two and without doubt got more action. The metal band they’d become starts here.
Girlschool, Hit and Run (1981 / NWOBHM)
I mean, I felt stupid not owning this. And one day I came across a $10 copy. A love story completed. Of the whole New Wave of British Heavy Metal, this album and Def Leppard, High and Dry are two absolute musts. Arguments on which Iron Maiden can follow in the comments…
Khruangbin, Mordechai (2020 / uhh, Psych Funk?)
For the first few years I heard their name from friends back in Tejas, I really just couldn’t be bothered. I was a lifetime away from that sound, here in these rainy, black leather jacketed PNW streets. As well, I made the assumption that they’d sound like Dengue Fever, who for me read better on paper than they sound. Dumb dummy. This may be my most listened to album this past year, and like all of the Altin Gün albums I still don’t own, I kept putting off because I’m dumb and just relied on streaming it.
Not sure how to count this next one, other than as a group. Easily the year of Power Pop, and I cleaned up, so as follows:
Teenage Head, Frantic City (1980 / Punk, but basically Power Pop) Paul Collins’ Beat, The Beat + The Kids Are the Same (1979, 1982) Phil Seymour, S/T (1980) 20/20, S/T (1979) Shoes, Present Tense (1979)
Loop, Sonancy (2022 / Psych Rock)
I also scored a sealed copy of the Array 1 EP that was released in 2015. I mean, what Loop fan buys that record, doesn’t even open it, then resells it? Some record collector nerd did me a solid this year. Records are for listening to, and I’ve listened to both of these, lots.
Boss, Cash ‘Em In (2021 / Oi)
One of my favourite songs to let rip at ye olden BC Hydra this year. I ended up playing more punk and hardcore than anything else at our monthly explosive rock n roll record night, and this, along with Chubby and The Gang, Personality Crisis, The Freeze and Plasmatics, have been guarantees pretty much every time.
There are others, including a great Erkin Koray compilation that got pulled from shelves for copyright issues, some more ambient / new age stuff, lesser-known country-rock / psych like Fat Mattress…I don’t know, for all the bullshit I encountered this year, of which there was a lot, I had a fantastic year of record hunting, maybe the best I’ve ever had.
Gotta find the little things to get you through the trench life of The Psychic Wars.
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Keep reaching! and who doesn't love to find buried treasure in a second-hand store. Looks like you got some good ones. Just listening to the first album (New Dawn) pretty gorgeous--reminds me a lot of Index of Metals and Evening Star (Fripp & Eno)