The people who know me are no longer surprised when I mention Bob Segarini. He was one of those I-love-his-stuff-but-I'll-never-meet-him "rock stars" back when my revolving door girlfriends were leaving me because I could not pass a record store without a quick peek. Okay, sometimes they may have turned into long peeks with a couple of over-nighters thrown in, but only a couple, I swear. Anyway, Segarini has this column he writes for FYIMusic.ca and I try not to miss any. Like any writer, he can be hit or miss, but it is always an enjoyable read and some columns, like today's, he hits on all cylinders. Today's subject? Lists.
I don't know what it is about us these days, but we are a world of list-readers, if not list makers. Throw Top Ten in any headline and people who don't even know how to read pick up on it. David Letterman has made a living off of it (and I wish he would stop) and so-called experts have raked in a shitload of cash telling people what they did or didn't already know. You want to get action on the Net? Print a list of the Top 100 albums of all-time, post it and send the link to your friends (maybe post it on Facebook, too). Wait a few minutes and watch the comments come rolling in. Of course, they're usually not about your list. It is about readers' perspective of your list. It is like one of those parties I stopped going to when I worked in the record business--- the ones where everyone splits up into cliques and flaints their musical knowledge like it means something. My favorites were always the buyers, possibly because I was one. I swear to God, sometimes they stopped just short of unzipping pants and comparing sizes, in record terms. I laugh when I think about four or five guys standing in a corner tossing around numbers like they were trade secrets. "36555," one would say. "Heart, Dog & Butterfly," would come anxious retorts. "32817." "Kansas!" If it wasn't so pathetic, it would have been hilarious. And guys, I have no idea if those were the original catalog numbers, so don't bother correcting me. I printed them to make a point.
Anyway, Segarini's lists got me to thinking. I have been known to print lists and, on occasion, point to an album as my pick for album of the year. I think 2005's was Jess Pillmore's Reveal and 2006's might have been Greg Laswell's Through Toledo. Both of those albums completely planted me on my keister and, like I said, sometimes I do it to make a point.
What caught my eye in today's column was a section headed Top 15 Artists I Would Like To See Succeed Big Time. Now there is a list worth reading. Not his. Mine. Kidding, Bob. Yours is a treasure map waiting to be utillized. Here it is:
Eagles of Death Metal
Courage My Love
Of those fifteen, I have only really heard four--- Research Turtles (a solid personal favorite), Courage My Love (because I was afraid Segarini might pull the pop quiz on me and I didn't want to embarrass myself--- they turned out to be another class Segarini pick), Ali Milner (the first, I believe, in a string of topnotch artists I have found through Seg) and Dala (a duo I found all by myself and was so taken that I promote them whenever I get the chance). Of the other eleven, I have dabbled into the music of a few. The remaining I have yet to hear, but you can bet I will. Segarini, you see, is a treasure hunter like myself. I would be afraid to miss an artist he recommends for fear of missing something important.
Anyway, I thought I would put together fifteen of my own. I know the guilt will be overwhelming because I will play hell to remember all of the deserving and, hell, keeping it to fifteen is akin to pissing into the wind, but what the hell--- here goes:
My Top 15 Artists I Want To See Succeed Big Time------
Research Turtles--- Yeah, I know, Segarini already copped them for himself, the bastard. If we were putting together a football or baseball team, I would be pissed because these guys have the goods. My buddies Stanley and Howie and Sam are on board, Nate likes them kinda but they are a bit too saccharine for his tastes (he prefers more raunch and punch with his breakfast), but he listened and didn't hate them. If you want, you can get a free download of their album by clicking on their MySpace page... The music? I call it power pop, but Nate corrected me. He calls it garage pop. Tomato, tomato.....
The Beige--- Out of Vancouver BC. These guys are all over the map regarding genre, but put together an album which really knocked my socks off. I listened to it the other day and it happened again. There are socks all over my listening room. I wish I could tell you what their music is like, but right now words escape me. It is very adventurous--- I can tell you that much. If you're at all interested, here is a link to a review I wrote.....
Tom Mank & Sera Jane Smolen--- Dave Pyles at FAME asked if I would review Mank & Smolen's Where the Sun Meets the Blue for the FAME website. I cannot thank him enough. This is no folk duo. Mank & Smolen are accomplished musicians and step way beyond the folk genre. Not only that, but they surround themselves with some of the best supporting musicians I've had the pleasure to hear. Here are two reviews I've written--- one for Where the Sun Meets the Blue, the other for their latest: Paper Kisses. I am presently trying to wrap up a short synopsis of their musical lives and will be posting that when it is completed. Yeah, I think they are worth the effort. And then some.
Kirsti Gholson--- I keep begging Kirsti to get a more up-to-date page up, but she is very busy and I understand the delay. She released an album she calls her "demo" in 2000, but it is hardly a demo. It is a pop gem. Her voice and songwriting style is just off the beaten path enough to make her music comfortable yet on the edge. How amazed was I when I saw Gholson listed as a contributor on Mank & Smolen's albums? Pretty amazed. She has been working on a new album for the past year. Soon, Kirsti?
Ophelia Hope--- Speaking of on the edge, these guys are doing what no other artist I've yet heard are doing. I'm not going to say any more. Here is my review. You're either going to love it or hate it. I love it and can only dream of an American tour. Based in Norway, but members are from Belgium, Norway, the UK and Australia. Damn, I hope I got that right.
Bright Giant--- These guys have a good following in the Midwest, but they're from Des Moines. Hard to break out of Des Moines, but it can be done. They're rockers in the vein of early Stones and Black Crowes. They have a touch. They put their guitars to my head and made me write this. Those guys in the Midwest are cruel and heartless.
Old Californio--- I suppose you could call them country rockers, but they have a magic rock they rub on some songs and it catches my ear. I fell in love with Westering Again in just a few listens. Then Justin Smith, their drummer, sent me a 2006 album, unmastered, titled Along the Cosmic Grass. I'm sold. New album coming. It's taking too long.....
Devon Sproule & Paul Curreri--- There may be two listed here, but I always think of them as one. These guys have a large following in the UK but struggle for respect in the States. I don't understand it. Check out their latest albums (Sproule's Don't Hurry For Heaven and Curreri's California) and you'll hear what I mean.
Hymn For Her--- I've been following Maggi, Pierce & EJ for some years now. Not long ago, Pierce and Maggie started their own side project they named Hymn For Her. They load their songs with beautiful folk, manic and driving rock and everything in between. MPE should have been huge. Ditto H4H. Their new album, Lucy & Wayne & The Amairican Stream, was recorded in their 16-foot Airstream trailer. How cool is that? I can't tell you how they did it (trade secret), but it sounds great.
The Minnows--- This Belfast band at first listen doesn't seem to be much out of the ordinary, but they have a way of sneaking up on you. After hearing it a number of times while writing a review, I found that it had somehow become part of my genetic makeup almost. I see they have a few more vids up on their MySpace page. Just click on the name and enjoy.
The Weaver Twins--- These guys slay me. Their videos are classic and their music--- well, let us just say that it's a bit out there. Great, adventurous stuff, though. I heartily suggest you start with Mounting the Scaffold and Girl In Dolorous Blue. Waaaay up at the top of my all-time favorite songs list. I'll make it easy for you. Click on these for the vids: Mounting the Scaffold... Girl In Dolorous Blue... Not even 500 views in two years? Something is horribly wrong here!!!!!! My words.....
Arborea--- If you haven't noticed, I have a thing for guy/girl duos. I don't know why. Well, in Arborea's case, it has to do with the eclectic handling of their songs. Buck Curran is a class guitar player and wife Shanti has a voice which sometimes puts you in the etherworld. Spacey, beautiful, haunting, ethereal all describe what they do. They do it well. Here are my words on their last album (new one now being prepared for release), House of Sticks...
Mist and Mast--- When I saw these guys at Sam Bond's Garage in Eugene, they started out fine, but by the third song were ear-bleeding loud. Not their fault, though. They had no idea. They worked their way through a bunch of tunes--- an hour and a half's worth--- and that justified my long drive to see them. Absolutely superb musicianship brought their music alive. Better than the album (and I can seldom say that about anyone). Came out of The Red Thread. Again, my words...
Sweet Talk Radio--- Even if these guys had not placed two songs on one of my favorites TV shows (Haven), they would be at the top of my hope-you-make-it list. Kathrin Shorr and Tim Burlingame have a symbiotic musical relationship that will get even better with time, and they are plenty good now! You might want to check out the two songs from Haven, but their album is packed with outstanding stuff as well.
Kink Ador--- When my good friend Joe Lee sent me a link to these guys' website, I thought it would be just another better than average rock band because the really good ones come around all too seldom (though more often than you might think). Kink Ador is one of the really good ones. Three musicians who play like four or five, a feel for their music and a rhythm in their souls. Unlike any band I've heard. Again, more than likely you will love or hate them. You know where I stand
Tomorrow, I will regret doing this. I already have artists' name coursing through my brain and a growing sense of guilt. Not towards the artists listed but towards the ones which should be. There are plenty out there. They work hard. They play hard. Their music is not always for them, you know. Even when they virtually have to play out of a sense of urgency, they put their very essence on display. Next time you say someone sucks, remember how it felt when people say that about you. If you don't like it, move on. A negative never helps anyone.
Seg, I thank you for the idea, but I'm going to kick your ass if I should see you anytime soon. I have this intense flu coming on but didn't want to quit until this was finished. I feel like crap. I just hope this reads better than I'm feeling.