I don’t know who your favorite Greek psychedelic band is, but mine is the mighty Acid Baby Jesus. Selected Recordings is their second full length album, and it’s a pretty goddamn wild trip. Where a lot of modern psychedelic bands are content to simply work within the genre’s preconceived boundaries, these guys seem legitimately weird which makes a huge difference. The band’s first album had a garage rock vibe that reminded me of Ty Segall, but Selected Recordings is almost uniformly dedicated to drugged up drone-rock damage. Songs like “Diogenes”, “Night of Pan” and “Ayahuasca Blues” have me thinking of The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” but with a modern production and Spacemen 3-like dedication to achieving some kind of noisy nirvana meant to replicate (or enhance) the drug experience. “Who’s First” represents a sonic outlier, sounding like an obscure single from the early days of California punk. Oh, and the lyrics have something to do with a gay cop looking to give someone oral sex. You certainly won’t hear that on the next Foxygen album! Two songs later “Troublemaker” blasts your brain with a Sabbath-y heaviness that’s always welcome. Selected Recordings has cool sounds and cool songs, so check it out.
Pre- (r)amble: Well, 2014 wasn’t such a great year for music, was it? The problem with this year is the same from recent years – the bands I like from my late-’90s/early-’00s young adulthood are largely slumping and there aren’t enough high-quality young bands arriving on the scene to take their place. If I’m correct, ten of the fifteen albums listed below are from artists in their forties, or beyond. That said, there were still a lot of really good releases, and here are my Top 15. Enjoy!
1. Mark Lanegan – Phantom Radio (Vagrant)
If you grew up listening to music before the digital age made packaging obsolete, you’ve probably seen the name Glyn Johns on the back of some of your favorite records. He’s recorded, mixed or produced music from just about all the big names in rock like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Dylan, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles, to name a few from his 50 year career behind the boards. Based on his accomplishments and the characters he’s crossed paths with, Johns’ autobiography should be an indispensable treasure trove of great stories and anecdotes from rock’s most vital period. Instead I find it kind of dull. Yes he was there, and yes, he played an important role in shaping the sound of classic rock. But his retelling of events is so dry and emotionless that all of the vitality gets sucked out of them. Johns wrote Sound Man – the title perhaps a play on his “normalcy” in a field dominated by insane characters – by himself, which was probably a mistake. It won’t take readers long to figure out he’s not a professional writer and that using a co-writer could have added some crucial spice to an otherwise bland read. They also could have suggested a normal-sized font instead of the squint-inducing font we’re left with. Johns also errs by only focusing on his most well known musical activities, condensing the last 35 years of his career down to just 40 pages. True, his output during that time is weak compared to the albums he worked on in the ’60s and ’70s, but this is supposed to be a biography and not a selective ‘greatest hits’. It might have been interesting to hear what it was like for him emotionally, given his extraordinary resume, to be working on albums by forgotten C-level bands like Summerhill, Jackopierce and The Warm Jets. Unfortunately he doesn’t let us in on that…or much else.