Best Of 2017

(strictly for fun and heated argument)

By Peter Jesperson

 

1. Peter Perrett – How The West Was Won

That Peter Perrett could come back with an album this strong is astonishing. To call it unexpected would be a massive understatement.

A little background: Peter Perrett was the front man/lead singer/writer/rhythm guitarist with The Only Ones, a British quartet that came up during the late ‘70s punk/new wave boom yet stood firmly outside of then-current musical trends. Peter was a relative novice compared to the other three band members who were all seasoned musicians, and that made for an intriguing juxtaposition. The group played a traditional kind of rock that was dark, literate and majestic. Peter may have been less experienced but … he had the songs.

Between 1976 and 1980, the Only Ones recorded some of the most extraordinary rock music of the era. After the band broke up in 1981 Peter disappeared into a haze of drugs for the next 30+ years, only coming up briefly for air twice; in the mid-90s with a group called The One, and on a handful of OOs’ reunion shows in 2007/08. But now he’s back and, goddamn … it’s as if he didn’t miss a beat.

To make How The West Was Won, Peter teamed up with his sons (Jamie on lead guitar, Peter Jr. on bass) and their band, which brought a comfort factor to the proceedings. Along with veteran producer Chris Kimsey (Rolling Stones, Psychedelic Furs, Soul Asylum, among many others), they recorded off and on between November 2015 and August 2016 at Konk Studios in London. Fortuitously signed to Domino Records, they were left alone to make precisely the album Peter wanted to make. A purity of intent is palpable.

HTWWW feels deeply inspired, focused, unhurried and confident. The ten songs are solid and smart, full of wry observations on the human condition and brimming over with Peter’s often mordant sense of humor. Though it’s not always obvious, the material is heavily informed by his two biggest influences - Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. As Peter said in one of the numerous interviews he did for the record, “My only concern was to make a great album. I didn’t really care about whether it sounded like The Only Ones or if I sounded like any of my original heroes from the mid-’60s.

Similarities abound but there’s a distinct freshness, a modernity, and a youthful exuberance to the performances. Coming out of years of drug addiction, Peter elaborated that he felt “like a newborn” which, aided by the young band, surely helped derail any danger of mere nostalgia or redundancy. There’s never a moment where it feels like he’s trying to replicate past glories.

The album stands out from previous work in one specific way - romantically. More than one of the songs references Peter’s devotion to Zena, his wife of 48 years, bringing a maturity to the subject matter that adds a warm and welcome dimension.

In true Perrett style, the album is a feast of provocation; in the title song, a partly humorous diatribe against some of America’s less than positive aspects; in defending a love triangle in “Troika” (side note: check out the sly guitar reference to the Pretenders’ James Honeyman-Scott); blatantly on “Something In My Brain,” a song that tells of ultimately defeating drug addiction in a lyric of giddy resilience: “I’m still just about capable of one last defiant breath;” and lastly -- speaking of defiance -- a provocative sort of heroism in the perfect album closer, “Take Me Home,” where Peter references the documentary The Siege Of Leningrad in this couplet - “I wish I could die in a hail of bullets some time / But all I can do is sing and play on the front line.”

As the trade ads for HTWWW proclaimed, “The Return Of One Of Rock’s Great Lost Poets.” A new Peter Perrett record in 2017 is a gift I don’t take lightly. He’s one of my personal favorite artists of all-time, one I feared I’d already heard the last from. Rock n’ roll is back in him, indeed. And … he still has the songs.

(https://peterperrett.com)

 

2. Angus & Julia Stone – Snow

Of the new artists coming up over the last decade or so, if push came to shove, I’d have to say Angus & Julia Stone have been my personal favorite. But I must confess, this, their 4th album, confounded me at first. On initial spins, I was frustrated by what I heard as overly simplistic, lackadaisical, heavily ad-libbed songs. At the same time, I was captivated by the shift from their signature folk-rock to a more modern, groove-heavy sound and their newfound use of things like drum machines, loops, detailed track layering, playful treatment of vocals and overall air of experimentation. They had begun leaning in this direction on their eponymously titled 2014 album (notably produced by Rick Rubin), though they take it much further this time. But it wasn’t until I saw the Snow tour that it felt like a veil had been lifted - the songs were so magnificently rendered on stage, it was truly a revelation. Like cracking a code - suddenly, I got it! And the new album opened up in technicolor for me.

I caught three of the Angus & Julia Band’s west coast shows, each one stunning with its own set of highlights. The first was at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Sold out. 1,100 people. The devoted, standing room-only audience in rapt attention. Everything this band does, they do with care and class. Their sound and lighting is always impeccable. They put on a real show. I’ve seen them live fifteen times now and they’ve never ceased to amaze - it’s like they don’t know how NOT to be great on stage! Their songs often contain simple, reassuring phrases, like “Don’t be scared of what you don’t already know,” or “Everyone’s gonna make it out alive,” or “Maybe this is where we belong.” Live, reinforced by the audience singing along, these lyrics become unusually beautiful, communal, group chants. At the Fillmore, the room and its history couldn’t help but add weight to the evening.

To make this record, the siblings hunkered down at Angus’s farm near Byron Bay, NSW, Australia and, for the first time in a more than decade-long career, Angus and Julia wrote an entire album together. Once the songs were ready, they assembled a cast of ace musicians to flesh them out. Definitely more Angus’s record than Julia’s, the results are tough to categorize -- it’s vibey, beat-ey, melodic, sensual, stream-of-consciousness stuff, lots of subtle improv -- a bit out there, at times reminding me of the recent work of Bon Iver. And, as with all A&J’s records, the sound is exceptional. In particular, the vinyl, which is beautifully cut, 4-sided at 45 rpm.

(http://angusandjuliastone.com)

 

3. Bash & Pop – Anything Could Happen

Tommy Stinson resurrects his first post-Replacements band name, uses an all new line-up and makes his best record yet. It’s clearly a record about the demise of a relationship but, rather than a lotta crying in one’s beer, it’s unvarnished straight talk, taking the high road and getting on with one’s life, with sense of humor intact. Unquestionably a candidate for best record by an ex-Replacement yet.

“Too Late” / “Saturday” (7-inch 45)

A 2-song collaboration with Nicole Atkins in the Producer’s Chair. I especially like it cos it’s so fresh, doesn’t sound like anything Tommy’s done before, he’s stretching out.

(http://www.tommystinson.com)

 

4. Taylor Swift – Reputation

Not one to sit still musically, this is another daring move by the startlingly sure-footed Taylor Swift. Decidedly modern and partly a stylistic shift into Electro-Pop from the defiant Pop of 2014’s masterpiece 1989, Reputation is, once again, overflowing with hooks, imagination and creativity (a veritable feast in headphones!). To me, this is proof that an enormously popular contemporary artist on a major label with an unlimited recording budget can actually still get it right. It isn’t ruined by too many cooks nor does it drown in excess. It’s a testament to Taylor’s enormous talent and artistic vision. And it’s a shining example of exquisite, top of the line, state of the art record making. Reviewing the album for NPR, Ken Tucker elucidated, “She’s working, once again, with some of the biggest mainstream hitmaker producers – like Max Martin, Jack Antonoff and Shellback – but listening to the music you never think for a second that she has ceded control to them.” I love the album from top to bottom but I’m especially nuts about “Don’t Blame Me” with its spiritual-like arrangement, the catchy-as-hell “Getaway Car” and striking solo piano closer, “New Year’s Day.” I don’t think enough has been said about what a great singer Taylor is – her pitch, phrasing, playfulness and versatility are remarkable. Album #6 is another solid WIN for Taylor Swift.

(https://taylorswift.com)

 

5. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming

My devotion to this band is unremitting. I’ve been bewitched by the purity of Sherri Dupree Bemis’ voice since I heard Eisley’s first album, Room Noises, in 2005. Following Eisley’s last album in 2013 several key band members left – including little sister, co-lead singer/writer/keyboardist and perfect complement, Stacy DuPree King – as well as key founding members Chauntelle DuPree D’ Agostino and Winston DuPree. Eisley’s sound over the years has been largely defined by the blending of Sherri and Stacy’s voices. Their sibling harmony and intuitive intertwining are acutely missed on this new album. Miraculously though, Sherri, longtime bassist/cousin Garron DuPree, and their new comrades faced the challenge head-on and crafted a record that stands up to Eisley’s best work. In a more just alternate universe “Song For The Birds” woulda been a smash hit (the vocal cameo by Sherri’s husband and Say Anything frontman Max Bemis is tremendous). The disarming simplicity of “When You Fall” made it one of the songs I listened to the most all year. And that lead voice still sends shivers down my spine.

(https://eisley.com)

 

6. Tristen – Sneaker Waves

I frequently marvel at how much Tristen (Gaspadarek) has going for her. A pitch-perfect vocalist, top shelf musician, writer of fine melodies, inventive arranger and a strong performer … though it’s her lyrics that just might be her strong suit – alternately challenging, plain-spoken and baffling. In the opening track, “Got Some,” she casually brushes off her suitor with a couplet containing some very clever internal rhymes: “I think you’re pretty cool but as a general rule / I’m gonna hang back here in the atmosphere.” Or how about the opening assertion in “Glass Jar” (one of my most played songs of the entire year!): “Live by the sword / Die by the sword” followed by the startling aside, “They’re all assassins.” The chorus on this one really kills me, “You put me in a glass jar and tap, tap, tap to see how I move.” Or another favorite opening line, from “NYC”: “Terrible horrible humans / Take every moment for granted.” Not your standard fare Rock Lyrics.

Tristen is one brilliant and bold woman. Each album has been better than the one before it. I can’t wait to hear what she does next. Man oh man, would I ever love to make records with her someday.

Crying On Christmas Day” (digital single)

A must-have!

(http://www.tristen.com)

 

7. Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure

React to it at your leisure, modern pressure…” That line made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it but, over time, it has become almost a mantra for me … truer words were never sung! To my ears, Daniel Romano is quite simply one of the most talented musicians on earth. And he and his band are frighteningly good live.

(http://www.danielromanomusic.com)

 

8. The Parson Red Heads – Blurred Harmony

Folky, prog-ish, tremendously melodic pop-rock. I love it when a band that (criminally) hasn’t achieved mass success yet sticks to it and just keeps on keepin’ on. This is the Parsons’ best album yet.

(http://www.theparsonredheads.com)

 

9. The Barr Brothers – Queens Of The Breakers

Virtuosic musicians. I first ran into Brad and Andrew Barr when they were two-thirds of a Boston-based trio called The Slip. Truly, some of the most gifted and varied musicians I have ever heard. Now based in Montreal, The Barr Brothers deliver their 3rd album under that moniker, yet another brilliant and eclectic work.

(http://www.thebarrbrothers.com)

 

10. Bob Dylan – Triplicate

Odd that Bob would record three albums of standards in a row. Odder still that this, the third one, is not only a triple album but the best of the bunch.

(https://www.bobdylan.com)

 

11. Wire – Silver / Lead

Wire continue their hot streak with yet another fine addition to their Discography (their 16th!). Quoting the band’s Wiki page, they describe Silver/Lead as “uniquely addictive 21st century psychedelic post-punk" … “about as far from nostalgia as you could get."While I agree it doesn’t regurgitate the past, it still sounds like classic Wire. If you blindfolded me and played the song “Short Elevated Period,” I could name that band in about 3 seconds. Fun to hear a hint of T-Rex in the riff for “Diamonds In Cups.” To have one of my favorite all-time bands still making great records after all these years is truly remarkable. Fun fact: the live show I saw them do on April 1st was actually THE 40th anniversary of the first show the band ever played, in 1977 at The Roxy in London.

(http://www.pinkflag.com)

 

12. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

One of the best bands in rock music today. I call it “Stoner Rock,” which I mean as a compliment. The music always has a point, they never meander or feel jam-ey. WOD keep it fresh, always growing, fine-tuning. Cerebral and uplifting stuff that I play over and over and over again.

(http://thewarondrugs.net)

 

13. The National – Sleep Well Beast

Like The War On Drugs, The National are another bookish band that has such a distinct sound (and in this case, a very unique singer) that, album to album, it must be tricky for them to not sound at least somewhat repetitious. But The National have done an admirable job here. They sound like themselves and yet they’ve tried some new things and are pushing forward creatively. Certainly the song “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” is one of the oddest, yet catchiest, songs I heard all year, and a rippin’ guitar solo to boot. Art Rock at its best.

(https://americanmary.com)

 

14. Mark Eitzel – Hey Mr. Ferryman

Mark Eitzel has been making records for 34 years. I was lucky to see his first band – American Music Club – twice, before they even had an album out, and have been following him ever since. I am what you might call an aficionado of Mark’s music.

Mark is an odd bird, and I mean that as a compliment. He seems permanently awkward in his own skin and doesn’t fit into any traditional mold. But he has consistently been one of the best rock singers of the last 35 years. If he’d wanted to, he coulda done jazz or standards. And the man clearly has a way with a lyric.

On Hey Mr. Ferryman, right outta the gate Mark nails the listener with one of his finest couplets:

 

I spent the last ten years / Trying to waste half an hour

 

And, from here, the album flows through a series of songs that beautifully capsulize life and love … “Wait!,” you say, “Whaddaya mean love? It’s a Mark Eitzel album fer goshsakes! He’s the King of Sadcore (music ‘by and for the depressed’)! A hopeful, in love, Mark Eitzel record - can it really be?!” Yes boys and girls, Mark has made an album that can be described, at least in part, as heartwarming. Check out these other examples of further positivity:

 

You’re always on my mind / I can’t leave you behind /You make me want to stick around and find / If there’s an answer

 

My home is in your arms

 

You won’t find the sun / If the dead light your way/ Distract ‘em, keep ‘em laughing / Cause you’ll never have enough to pay

 

But, fear not! There’s still plenty of Mark’s stock cynicism, disillusionment and death. There are songs dealing with domestic abuse, the tedium of a musician’s touring life, a Hispanic legend murder ballad, concerns with aging, and a Thanksgiving dinner with a Fox News subscriber.

 

Produced in the UK by Bernard Butler of Britpop band Suede (who also plays most of the instruments), Hey Mr. Ferryman is a brilliant work of art, as great a record as any Mark Eitzel has ever made.

(http://www.markeitzel.com)

 

15. The Unthanks – The Songs And Poems Of Molly Drake – Diversions Vol. 4

More gorgeous, vocal-focused music from two of the most gifted singers in contemporary music – sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank. Singing the somewhat archaic language of Molly Drake -- Nick Drake’s mother, along with recitations by Gabrielle Drake, Nick’s sister -- the Unthanks take another perfectly executed turn in their always fascinating, musically adventurous career.

(http://www.the-unthanks.com)

 

16. Paul Kelly – Life Is Fine

Sharing lead vocals with the Bull sisters is just another of the many admirable and humble moves Australian artist Paul Kelly has made in his 40+ year career. He only brings a full band to America about once a decade and the songs on this new record benefited greatly from that – the shows were astounding! Life Is Fine is another masterclass in songwriting from one of the greatest rock artists of all-time. Any serious record collection ought to have the complete PK discography.

(https://www.paulkelly.com.au)

 

17. Kacy & Clayton – The Siren’s Song

Kacy’s voice and Clayton’s guitar playing are the main attractions here. At age 21, Kacy possesses a surprising voice, well beyond her years, unpretentious, confident and instinctual.

(http://www.kacyandclayton.com)

 

18. Chris Mars – Note To Self

An incredible melodist, lots of catchy pop elements, and a sincerity mixed with a devil-may-care approach that makes for a fantastic un-self-conscious album. Chris understands what makes a great song, something he brought to the Replacements, even if he wasn’t technically “co-writing” on a regular basis. And there’s a morality in his lyrics that I find immensely compelling. There are some very Beatle-ey / Pop moments. The song “F. Gallagher” is decidedly Who-ish … listen to the drumming – he does Keith Moon proud. Sounds like Chris has been keeping his chops in shape!

 (https://www.chrismarspublishing.com)

 

19. Delbert McClinton & Self Made Men – Prick Of The Litter

This is the first Delbert McClinton album since the 90s that I haven’t had at least some small hand in the making of so not hearing the demos, then the rough mixes, coordinating the artwork, etc., was a little strange for me. But it’s another great one from the singer / harmonica player extraordinaire!

(https://www.delbert.com)

 

20. Jake Xerxes Fussell - What in the Natural World

With the proliferation of roots music these days, I find I have become a bit ‘Americana-phobic.’ But there’s a quality to Jake’s album that transcends the genre for me. There’s no producer listed but the production is gorgeous and goes well beyond most of the roots records I hear these days. I listened to the song “Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine” incessantly all year.

(http://www.jakexerxesfussell.com)

 

21. Son Of The Velvet Rat – Dorado

Another group that just keeps making better records every time. Austria by way of Joshua Tree’s SOTVR keep expanding their sound but frontman George Altzeibler’s baritone is always immediately identifiable. “Surfer Joe,” with its boozy horn section, is a huge favorite.

(http://sonofthevelvetrat.com)

 

22. Los Straitjackets – What’s So Funny About Peace, Love And Los Straitjackets

Instrumental versions of Nick Lowe songs provide further evidence of just what a fine songwriter that man is. The Straitjackets’ arrangements are fun (as always) and impressive in their simplicity.

(https://straitjackets.com)

 

Archival / Reissues

 

The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Box Set

As if in a dream! To hear both a full stereo remix plus what are essentially the Beatles’ work tapes for this album is beyond comprehension. Even with all the years of evaluation and global acclaim, it’s still hard to ascertain its impact. But all that heavy-osity aside, I can still just kick back and enjoy Sgt. Pepper’s for the imaginative kick-ass rock n’ roll record that it is. For me, the outtakes of “Fixing A Hole” are the highlights of this box set. If I had to pick just one thing in the history of music that slays me more than anything else, it would be Paul McCartney’s voice in this era (1966-1969). The fact that he sang this song perfectly more than once is hard for me to fathom.

On May 2nd, Jennifer and I were excruciatingly lucky to get into a premier presentation of the Sgt. Pepper remix at the Grammy Museum, hosted by producer (and son of the original producer!) Giles Martin. He walked out on stage in front of 200 fervent attendees, provided a brief introduction, turned down the lights,  hit “Play,” and we all listened to the album in its entirety. When the album ended and lights came up, the audience responded with a unanimous standing ovation. An overwhelming experience!

(Peppers-Lonely-Hearts)

 

Bob Dylan – Trouble No More Bootleg Series #13 – 1979 - 1981

Studio outtakes and live recordings from Dylan’s most controversial period. On many of the songs, the lyrics are tough for me to swallow. It’s the one time in Dylan’s entire career where it would seem the message became more important to him than the construction of the words and much of this material suffers because of that. But, having said that, I love many of the songs and the musicianship was never better.

(https://www.bobdylan.com/news/bob-dylan-trouble-no-more-the-bootleg-series-vol-13-1979-1981-coming-november-3/)

 

The Rolling Stones – Satisfaction In Concert (The Classic Broadcasts)

 / On Air

The poor sequencing on On Air aside, these collections (which only slightly overlap) are a gas!

(https://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Stones-Satisfaction-Broadcasts-1964-1966/dp/B01N5SBBB)

(https://www.amazon.com/AIR-Deluxe-Rolling-Stones/dp/B0765MNS5S)

 

The Replacements – Live At Maxwell’s 1986

Considering the band was well aware of the mobile recording truck parked outside the club, it’s astonishing how well they played! What surprises me the most listening back to this after all these years is that, even though this was recorded during the Tim-era, I think the best performances are on songs from the first two albums. And, maybe it’s just me, but on “I Will Dare,” in spite of a couple vocal flubs, I feel like I can actually hear how proud of this song all four of them are.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Replacements_(band))

 

Lee Michaels - Heighty High – The Best Of

One of the year’s most pleasant surprises. My pals and I were huge Lee Michaels fans from 1968 – 1971 and then we kinda lost track of him. I had no idea his music would still sound so good after all these years. A fabulous singer, keyboard-driven soul-rock. (Thank You Dan Perloff)

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Michaels)

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Live Shows (LA except where noted)

January

10 – Steve Jones - Grammy Museum (interview)

22 – Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express – The Federal Bar

26 – Mark Eitzel – Resident

February

3 – Son Of The Velvet Rat – Hotel Café

18 – Alejandro Escovedo & band – Viva Cantina

25- Kacy & Clayton – Resident

27 – Marty Stuart & The Superlatives – Grammy Museum (interview + performance)

28 – The Everyday Visuals – The High Hat

March

7 – Bash & Pop – The Troubadour

18 – Tommy Keene & Ivan Julian – McCabe’s

29 – Record Store Day 10thAnniversary Panel – Grammy Museum

April

1 – Wire – The Echoplex (40thanniversary of Wire’s first gig ever!)

2 – Jimmer Podrasky – The Federal Bar

   - Leslie & The Badgers – The Echo

13 – Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express – The Grammy Museum (interview + performance)

25 – Gaz Coombes – The High Hat

27 -  Gaz Coombes – The Masonic Lodge at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery

May

2 – Giles Martin – The Grammy Museum – Premier of new stereo mix of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

13 – Elle Belle – at The Maypole on McCormick!

19 – Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen – Hotel Café

20 – Elle Belle – House Concert

June

3 – Lambchop

11 – Tim Keegan – House Concert – at my house!

July

15 – Now Now – The Echo

28 – The Parson Red Heads – The Satellite

29 – Steve Gunn – The Getty Museum

August

15 – Tommy Keene / Matthew Sweet – The Echo

September

12 – Ian Hunter – The Teragram Ballroom

16 – Tristen – Resident

17 – Louise Goffin / Eleni Mandel – The Federal Bar

25 – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – The Hollywood Bowl

October

1 – Inara George – The Federal Bar

4 – Kacy & Clayton – The Moroccan Lounge

6 – Elle Belle – House Concert

7 – Happy Abandon – Hotel Café

16 – Anthony DeCurtiss – Lou Reed book event – The Grammy Museum (interview)

20 – Joseph Arthur & Peter Buck – Lethal Amounts (art gallery)

22 – Paul Kelly & band – The Federal Bar

     - Paul Kelly & Band – The Roxy

November

5 – Cindy Lee-Berryhill – The Federal Bar

6 – Leslie & The Badgers – Zebulon

12 – Cowboys In The Campfire (Tommy Stinson) – Wild Honey back yard show

December

3 - Angus & Julia Stone & band - The Fillmore (San Francisco)

5 - Angus & Julia Stone & band – The Observatory (San Diego)

6 - Angus & Julia Stone & band – The Henry Fonda Theater

8 - Angus & Julia Stone & band – Amoeba Records (in-store performance)

 

In the Must Mention category

 

Peter Perrett Interview

My longtime friend, Kevin Cole – illustrious leader of the great radio station, KEXP in Seattle – asked me to interview Peter for the station’s blog on the eve of the release of How The West Was Won, his first album in 21 years (and the first under his own name). I’ve known the man for 38 years - having met he and his band, The Only Ones, on their first tour of America in 1979 - but I was still nervous. We talked on the phone for nearly two hours, he from his house in London. Me from mine in LA. I loved every second of it. I wanted to do he and the album justice. I hope the results speak for themselves. Honestly, it’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.

(http://blog.kexp.org/2017/06/20/kexp-exclusive-interview-peter-perrett/)

 

The Suicide Commandos – Time Bomb

Anyone who loves the rock n’ roll music that came out of the late 70s / early 80s Minneapolis-St. Paul scene is beholden to The Suicide Commandos. Writing original material in 1975 was practically unheard of and the touring reach of most bands was regional at best. The Commandos vigorously took on the former, handled the latter with the audacity of pioneers, and the whole lot of it with a sense of humor a mile-wide. They quite literally opened doors for dozens of others to careen through.

So when, after 39 years, the Commandos decided to make a 2nd studio album and asked if Twin/Tone Records would consider reactivating to release it, we jumped at the chance! I consider being part of the team that released the great Time Bomb one of the great honors and privileges of my life.

(https://www.thesuicidecommandos.com)

 

The Suburbs – Hey Muse

Still going strong, The Suburbs keep it in dance-gear on their 6th album, their first without co-founder / co-frontman, Beej Chaney. Buoyed by the energetic and inventive musicianship of guitarists Steve Brantseg and Jeremy Yvilsaker, the band has made a fine addition to their catalog.

(https://thesuburbsband.com)

 

Paul Westerberg – Dry Wood Garage(Soundcloud postings)

Paul’s best recordings in years I think. I’m especially smitten with the ballad “Mrs. Beethoven (with its sly, perfectly Westerberg-ian line “If I should snore/Roll me over …” – get it?!) and the rocker “Come Hither.” Some awesome drawings/paintings too – who knew?!

(https://www.drywoodgarage.com)

 

The passing of Tommy Keene the day before Thanksgiving was completely unexpected and all the more devastating because of that. I became a fan of Tommy’s in 1982 after being introduced to his music by my friend Blake Gumprecht, a DJ at KJHK in Lawrence, KS. I first met Tommy the next year, fittingly, at his home club, the 9:30, in Washington, D.C. A potential deal with Twin/Tone Records was discussed but never came to fruition. Over the years we occasionally ran into one another and it was always great to see him, on or off stage. One especially fun encounter was running into Tommy at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in the early 90s. I was there to pick up Alex Chilton, who’d surprisingly become a somewhat regular houseguest of mine. When Tommy realized who I was with, his admiration for Alex showed clearly in his eyes and Alex was visibly touched. After Tommy and I both moved to LA – he in 1988 and me in ’95 - we became friends through my wife Jennifer, who had a D.C. connection. We spent lots of time together. He was so much fun to be around. He had a razor sharp memory for anything music-related, especially key concert experiences. I swear, he remembered what he was wearing when he saw The Who open for Herman’s Hermits in 1966! Tommy also loved to play board games and I’ll never forget the time my then 10 year-old boy, Autry, beat him at Clue, his all-time favorite game … the tension in the room was thick! But he knew it was all in good fun and got over it pretty quick. Here’s another fond memory; We have an abundance of those little ceramic gnomes in our backyard gardens. They’re very colorful and when they start to fade from the sun, we have gnome-painting parties, which Tommy really loved. Jennifer and I were always lucky to get sneak previews of new songs as Tommy would begin each new album project. I’ll always remember Tommy’s delicious pear and watercress soup. And one of my very favorite things about Tommy was how much he and Jennifer loved each other. Even though we lived just a few blocks apart, they could spend hours on the phone. He’ll be remembered as a dear friend and one of my personal favorite rock n’ roll musicians of all time. And, as Jennifer and I often referred to him – The Power Pop Legend!

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Also R.I.P. Tom Petty, Grant Hart, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry.

 

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Peter's home page