Greetings from Warsaw, Poland! I don't know how many of these Barfly Top 10s will be from folks outside of Australia, but I'd wager a year's salary that mine will be the only one from a former Eastern Bloc country. Here are Top Seven things I enjoyed in 2018:
1) Starting a record label 2018 was the year a long-dormant dream became flesh. All the planets had aligned just right: some good local bands had appeared on my radar, I had a steady income that allowed for occasional extravagance, and the label name had been bouncing around my head for months, inspired by an Action Swingers tune.
And thus in July, Heavy Medication Records was born, and it's been a most-rewarding learning experience since Day One. I got turned on to a lot of cool bands, networked with like-minded labels and music fans, and even got some exceptional reviews that convinced me I wasn't wasting my time. The damage so far: three releases in the can, another three in the works, and a bunch more on the horizon.
I must admit, I didn't listen to many 2018 releases, outside of the ones I put out myself. It's rare that I feel the urgency of snatching up a band's new record as soon as it comes out. There were a few notable releases that caught my attention however...
Once 1999 clicked into 2000, I struggled to recall one year from the next. What I do know is LCMR (Late Century Modern Recordings) released a blue vinyl version of Razar’s "Stamp Out Disco" 7” and (unsurprisingly) it popped up on various selling sites like mushrooms as the 100 pressed had all sold just after lunch on Record Store Day.
Our label also released one of the weirdest pop records to come out of Brisbane by Sneaky Radio. A week or so after the release, Ross Lovell (the man behind the moniker) phoned me to ask how many copies we’d sold. I said about 40. He quickly replied without a second’s thought and said in his soft, inimitable voice: “That’s 40 more than what I did!” Needless to say, if you like outsider music, may I recommend it to you.
It goes without saying that I thought The Aints! most recent tour on the back of their "Church of Simultaneous Existence" was exceptional. Audiences in Brisbane were treated to solo set of mostly tunes from his last (and some say final) solo album "Lost Cities" followed by a set of Saints tunes, topped off by the new Aints! LP in full and a long encore - with my maths suggesting a sonic extravaganza of about three hours.
Dave Aguilar - Chocolate Watch Band Rod Stewart - Faces David Johansen - New York Dolls Wally Tax- Outsiders Steve Lucas - X Greg Prevost - Chestetfield Kings Rudi Protrudi - Fuzztones Smokey Robinson - The Miracles Jim Keays- Masters Apprentices Joey Ramone - The Ramones
I couldn’t find a clear winner for Gig of the Year for 2018. Here are 10 that were special.
TODD RUNDGREN – Oxford Art Factory. His Toddness, the runt ,the hermit of Milk Hollow. Backed by a cracking band Davey Lane’s Drunken Blue Roosters, Todd took us from The Nazz, through his AM hits and on a detour to play many songs he admitted to not having played live for some time, if at all.
Great songs, top musicianship and Todd really seemed to be enjoying himself.
I suppose my prevailing sentiment has been one of simmering frustration and anger at a world more out of control and stupid than I can remember. Perhaps it’s always been this way and I’m only noticing it in my dotage.
Whatever the reason, I’m noticing that personal selfishness and cultural callousness are the new black and that I just haven’t been able to continue being my usual conciliatory self.
Another bumper year for the discerning music fan with some cracking releases and choice gigs. It’s a fine time be a punter and the challenge will be keeping this review of the year to just 10.
Speaking of challenges, as I get older and my brain gets more addled, trying to remember what I had for breakfast is enough of a challenge, let alone trying to remember what I happened in the first half of the year. So, if I left something or someone off, be kind.
Amy Helm – This too shall light Amy is the daughter of Levon Helm and Libby Titus and she (Amy) was a regular member of her dad’s band in the latter stages of his career. This is only her second solo album (she’s nearly 50) and with a pedigree like hers, you just have to check it out. In short, it’s a wonderful mixture of country, folk, soul, gospel and rock. Great voice and great backing. One of the albums of the year.
Other albums worth mentioning in the US sort of country space include Kim Richey (Edgeland) and Dawn Landes (Meet me at the River). Both excellent singers and songwriters. Kim’s ‘Leaving Song’ is one of the songs of the year.
Earthlings! We The Dark Clouds don’t care who you are! If you like polls, surveys and lists or if you think Shannon Noll is the pits. You’re all going under The Thunder.
1) You know that guy. The keyboard warrior, the one always going on about there is no good music these days. The guy with Brian Mannix as his profile pic. Well strike me lucky and call me Shirley you Putz. Here’s 10 bands in ten seconds: Port Royal, Legs Electric, The Lazys, MASSIVE, Aberration, Grindhouse, Dead Set, The CRAW!, East Coast Low, Electric Mary. See how easy that was. 10 ripper bands in ten seconds.
So you want a Top Ten? You don't ask for much, do you? Being a contrary individual, the approach is unconventional. There's a selection of lists for your perusal and the items on them appear in no particular order.
10 Things That Sucked in 2018 Cancer Adulting Manbuns Hipsters Commercial Radio Flume Phil Collins, Phil Collins and Elton John Pop-Up Stores of Any Description Self-Described Social Media Influencers Something else I can’t quite put my finger on right now but it will come to me
As another year draws to a close, your friend and mine, Mr. Craig T. Barman has requested I compile my top ten list for 2018 to be published on the esteemed I-94 Bar.
So, I turned my mind to the events of the year – and there have been as many standouts as low points – however, I think a lot of those have already been covered in a very heartfelt way by some of my compatriots here.
Needless to say, the loss of so many great musicians this past year – and the stellar support lent to those in dire need of it – has exemplified the way the “rock n roll community”, both performers and punters alike, pull together and lend of themselves a little bit more for who and what they love when the going gets tough. It’s been both saddening and heartening in one.
Now onto the list: I was reading a recent post on the social medias about a study that posited most people ceased seeking out new music around the age of 28-years-old. “What bollocks!”, I exclaimed to the socials.
Well, this may be true of a lot of people – but not the kind of people I know (and I’m sure not you, kind reader, being a lurker on the I-94). These are the ones who are forever curious; always hungry for the new; always the ones with the gleam in their eye when they are telling you about some new band or artist “you’ve just gotta hear!”; the ones who never declare “rock is dead!” or “there is nothing new that’s any good!”
I thank all of those people for keeping me in the loop of what’s going on because I too crave and thrive on new music; whether it’s all new or undiscovered (for me) gems from bygone eras.
The Barman has been pleading for a Top Ten list. I have a Top Ten list but everyone is gonna fucking hate it. For once I'm standing up and demanding some attention for something I believe in.
Normally, I let you ignore my records. Normally, I just go with the inferioty complex. But I bought my friend's in on this and I don't like them being ignored. Fuck you all. You're gonna listen to this fucking record. And you can happily call me a cunt.
I noticed that the way to actually push things through social media is by being a repetitive rude cunt.
If you ask me what the 10 most important things that musically consumed me, it was the ten songs on the album Going Underground by the Light Brigade. Which other songs did I dedicate 100 hours plus a piece to? A thousand hours. Forty days. A tenth of the year.
No songs more obsessed me. Musically, fuck all else actually mattered. Other new albums this year? James Williamson did a good one.
The easiest cop-out is to call this record a Velvet Underground tribute but tribute albums are inevitably piecemeal. A blur of people's visions. Someone inevitably always has to do a Ramones version of a slow song and someone else has to slow a fast one down into an overblown ballad to try and force meaning onto lyrics that have none.