The Top 100 Songs of 2019 (90-86)

There have been a lot of really great songs released in 2019. This year, we will be revealing our top 100 songs five tunes at a time all the way to number one. Here are our picks for 90-86.

Go back in time to picks 100-96

Go Back in time to picks 95-91

90. Caamp – Peach Fuzz

The bouncy rhythm on this one slightly brings to mind The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” which is, in and of itself, somewhat mind-bending since nothing in this band’s background indicates that they would be fans of Lou Reed. The love story inherent in the song is pure “first couple of love rodeos” sweetness where you are sitting in the corner pouring yourself some punch while the current love of your life is in the kitchen cutting up a rug.

89. The Talbott Brothers – Run No More

This road warrior anthem is a slow-burn aural cinematic wonder. This set of rural Nebraska brothers on their 2019 record, Ghost Walker, delivers songs made for the wide-open prairie.

87. Midland – Mr. Lonely

Definitely riding the Hony Tonk Hot Tub time machine, “Mr. Lonely” definitely leans into the dirt floor, dance floor ethos inherent in places like Billy Bob’s and Gruene hall on a Saturday night. With dust bowl nods to Dwight and Buck, this one is a nostalgic winner.

86. Ingrid Andress – Lady Like

She’s on the list of women to watch in Country music, and if this song is any indication, paying attention to this up and coming artist should be no problem. “I drink tequila straight/haven’t brushed my hair in days/and i’ll kiss on the first date if I’m feelin’ It,”  the opening lines from “Lady Like,” tells you all you need to know about where this intoxicating new artist is coming from. A self-described unframeable, untameable Mona Lisa.

85. Kassi Ashton – Violins

The scorned lover song of the year, forget everything you thought you knew about Pop Country, most certainly dismiss the fact that you only have a passing interest in the genre, and check this song out. A banger of a song that calls out an ex-lover that is yearning for redemption as she proclaims “You can lay it on all night long but you don’t stand a chance, it’s the same old song and dance.” The video for this song is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The Top 100 Songs of 2019 (95-91)

There have been a lot of really great songs released in 2019. This year, we will be revealing our top 100 songs five tunes at a time all the way to number one. Here are our picks for 95-91.

Go back in time to picks 100-96

95 – Highwomen – Highwomen

The sister song to Jimmy Webb’s version of “Highwaymen” made famous by the Mount Rushmore of country music, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. This version focuses on the fairer sex with a supergroup formed by Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires. Taking you back  300 years in the women’s movement, the message sent lamenting the complete dismissal of women in country music should not be ignored. And, thanks to this song, their new album, and these women, the message is signed, sealed, and delivered.

94. Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas

Any collaboration between former Bright Eye Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is warranted to be on any list, and here, on one of the more upbeat songs on their debut album, the twangy guitars and the witty songwriting make this a collaboration worth celebrating.

93. Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun

Underneath the fiery, harsh guitar crunch and the stinging guitar licks is a wasted nun bursting to come out. This one is a female empowerment anthem for the new age.

92. Haim – Summer Girl

Singing in a Sunday morning voice with her head close to yours on adjoining pillows as you make plans for a California sunny day, the new Haim single is the laid-back summer jam of the year.

91. Hunny – Saturday Night

Contractually obligated to include any song that name-checks Echo and the Bunnymen, in this case, we are happy to oblige. Lifted from their highly excellent July release, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes,, this song is perfect for that random pop-up dance party.

 

 

The Top 100 Songs of 2019

There have been a lot of really great songs released in 2019. This year, we will be releasing our top 100 songs five tunes at a time all the way to number one. Here are our picks for 100-96.

100. Terry Allen- Death of the Last Stripper

It has been a while since this underrated Texas troubadour has released a new song. Another master class in storytelling.

99. Van Morrison – Early Days

From Three Chords and the Truth Van Morrison takes us back to 70’s Van and the early days of Rock and Roll.

98. Ruen Brothers – A Million Things

2018 favorites The Ruen Brothers continue to sparkle on their new record for 2019.

97. Kurt Baker Combo – No One’s Home

Frequent winners of Little Sten’s Coolest Song in the World in The Underground Garage, Kurt Baker and his combo delivers on a template of Indie tinged Garage Rock.

96. The Limboos – Where Did She Go

The genre defying Limboos with their 2019 release, Baia, combine Surf Rock, Soul, and good old Rock and roll for a record that just might be your party album of 2019.

Classic Album Review: Kiss – Destroyer

A Bernie Sparrow piece as originally published for Cool Album of the Day. Check them out.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact point in time that KISS ceased being a band and morphed into the soul sucking, cross marketing, American Idol appearing, corporate sell-outs that they are today. After all, this is the band that released Alive!, a self proclaimed live album that was cleaned up in post-production with actual guitar licks layered in, and more after-the fact enhancements than an air brushed Playboy centerfold.

These were the guys who kicked Ace Frehley out of the band for partying too hard (who among us doesn’t pine for those Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John years), and deceptively tried to disguise Tommy Thayer in Ace’s Spaceman makeup and dressed Eric Singer in the Peter Criss Catman outfit thinking we would be to stupid or too stoned to notice.

At least we can take some Rock and Roll solace in the fact that we can wear a KISS T-shirt, change our babies KISS emblazoned diapers, and even travel to our final rewards in a KISS coffin. And let’s not forget the KISS miniature golf course in Las Vegas, or the Anaheim, Ca expansion Arena Football League franchise where Gene Simmons is part owner. Heck, we can even go on a KISS Kruise where Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons might even helicopter in for twenty minutes to grace you with their presence, leaving you to mingle with the the somewhat less famous band members in the musical meet and greet equivalent of being stuck in a hot tub at a Three Stooges convention with Shemp and Joe Besser.

And finally, in a ripped from the headlines example of the “screw the fan” hubris on the part of those that own the trademark, Gene and Paul are at this writing are refusing to perform with the original KISS band members at their upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of fame induction ceremony. This would be like John Lennon and Paul McCartney not sharing the stage with Ringo and George.

In the interests of full disclosure, the KISS pinball machine is actually pretty bad-ass. The original KISS themed Bally machine originally distributed in 1978 features all four of the original members prominently displayed with sound and visuals that are straight-up cool. I would own one, but I cant afford the additional $10.00 per strike up-charge that Gene Simmons gets every time the silver ball hits the bumper that contains his picture. Ironically, or perhaps not, there is no charge for hitting the the faces of the other members of the band.

But I digress………….

Destroyer, released in 1976, is one fine old school Rock and Roll record. With the sound glossed to more of an ear-pleasing sheen than their prior efforts courtesy of Alice Cooper Major Domo Bob Ezrin who gets writing credits on seven of the ten tracks on the album, this record pretty much set the stage for their future live performances, a template the band would hone to perfection in the years to follow.

The scorching, rubber burning first track Detroit Rock City, much like Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A., takes on a bit of a different meaning when the lyrics are contemplated, and you realize the song is about a concert goer’s untimely death meeting a truck head-on while speeding down the highway presumably on the way to a KISS show. Here, for one of the first times on vinyl for this band, a subject matter that does not include drugs, girls, or sex is presented to the listener. Now a concert opening staple that replaced “Deuce” from their self-titled second record as their walk-out selection, the song has taken on a life of it’s own generating a movie, an excellent book of the same name that covers the Detroit Rock and Roll scene of the 60’s and 70’s, along with countless cover versions.

The anthems are all here, loud and bombastic as you would expect, with “King of the Night Time World,” a Paul Stanley standout, and “God of Thunder” another Stanley tune that Gene Simmons absolutely owns, and with the possible exception of Rob Zombie, he is the only front man that could bring out all of the demonic qualities inherent in the song. Who else other than those two guys could “slowly rob you of your virgin soul.” “Shout it Loud,” almost gets lost in the shuffle here, but along with “Flaming Youth” is a real stand-up and shout, audience participation favorite.

The elephant in the Destroyer room of course is the Peter Criss ballad, Beth. Originally considered to be the Rock and Roll equivalent of a chick flick, the song was actually the B side of the “Detroit Rock City” single, and quickly became of of those disc jockey turns the 45 over one day by happenstance success stories, scoring the band a top ten hit. Showing an outrage the likes of which had not been seen on the music scene since Dylan Plugged in, the KISS Illuminati was definitely polarized in their disdain or acceptance of this mostly innocuous tune. I for one, was firmly in the pro-”Beth” camp. Finally, a KISS song your girlfriend would let you play while we were making out in the back seat of your Ford Pinto.

Pound for pound, “Great Expectations” is my favorite song on the album. A slower tune that has a distinct Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance, English quality. The Bob Ezrin knob twirling on this track complete with school child choruses and Alice Cooper From the Inside atmospheric spookiness really represented something completely different from the Kiss stable here.

Overall, this record has a bit of everything, and is deservedly on the top of many a Kiss Army members list of any era, favorite album, with any record post 1978 where each member released their own solo album on the same day, firmly ensconced in the non-listenable category.

Of course, everyone will have their own opinion on this record, this band, and their legacy.

And that is a VERY good thing.

– Bernie Sparrow San Francisco, California USAPlease-visit-and-LIKE-our-facebook-page

Music Podcast Review: The Walker Lukens Song Confessional ded

The premise is deceptively brilliant. Gussy up a cool looking trailer into a space where people can enter and bare their souls confession style, drag the trailer around the country to music venues, festivals and other haunts where music fans tend to mingle, and chop it up with folks that have a story to tell. Once the story is told, the transcript is turned over to one of the many talented, mostly Austin based, songwriters. They, then, have four hours to write a song using the bones of the story that was just told. And then, once written, the song is professionally recorded to be pressed to a seven inch vinyl record and presented to the storyteller.

A year and a half in the making Walker, along with fellow musician Zac Catanzaro, have partnered with Austin radio station KUTX to gather the best of the Song Confessional tales into a one of a kind weekly podcast.

Episode 1 features a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances where the narrator experiences death first hand over the course of a bus ride and a road trip from Fort Worth to Austin. We won’t go into any more details, you can enjoy it for yourself by clicking on Walker himself below.

The song generated for episode 1, “Don’t Let Me Die in Waco,” written by Austin based Croy & The Boys, is a good ol’ Jerry Jeff Walker style Honky Tonk sing-along with the band tune. It is stellar, and Bad Boy Croy only needed one hour to write it. Texas Longhorns will love the song, Sooners and Aggies will be mildly amused, and Baylor Bears will be downright pissed.

And, while your in the listening mode, check out Croy & The Boys latest record, Howdy High-Rise.

Five Cool Albums: Five New Records Released Today (November 8, 2019)

Clearly, we are entering into the dog days of music releases. The dreaded  Christmas releases are upon us, George Michael even has holiday record out from the grave, and the overall pickings are somewhat slim as we anxiously await the release of the new Who album. Here are five nice ones culled from a limited  herd.

Simply Red – Blue  Eyed Soul

M0ney must be too too tight to mention for Mick  Hucknall  and the boys for them to feel that this release needed to see the light of day. Rolling that ball right down the blue-eyed soul alley, if nothing else this one delivers on what it promises. With a Darryl Hall Philly touch and a whole lot of Stax soul flourishes and immaculate grooves, the opener, “Thinking of You,” could be be the theme song for the next ghost busters movie. Sneak this one on in the middle of a Christmas party and no one will notice.

Blood Shot Records – Too Late To Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots

Launched way back in 1994, Bloodshot Records is celebrating their 25th anniversary in style with an album release that gathers many of the labels stars to celebrate their Chicago roots. Robbie Fulks, Freakwater, Kelly Hogan, and of course, Jon Langford all show up, and in style. Stay to the end of the party and you will be rewarded with the best version of Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song” your ears will ever have the pleasure of hearing courtesy of the Handsome Family. If you could only listen to one record label for the rest of your life Bloodshot records should be your jam.

Lucy Dachus – Historian

Much like the opener, “Night Shift,” Lucy Dachus’ second effort for Matador Records, Historian, is a slow burn that will reward the listener with multiple spins. The ebb and flow texturing of the songs with accompanying horns and strings are perfectly complementary to Lucy’s Velvet voice. Listen to this one at least twice and you will be hooked.

Tahiti 80 – Fear of An Acoustic Planet

Very much in the California Noir mold along with the likes of The Thrills, Best Coast, Conor Oberst among others, this band from the south of France consistently delivers Laurel Canyon beach vibes. The opener, “1000 Times” could be a “Shadow Captain” era CSN song, and “Seven Seas” would have fit quite nicely on Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” record. This one is a great escape to the island record.

Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders – Get The Money

Taylor Hawkins, Drummer for the Foo Fighters, can be forgiven if he hasn’t put a record out in over three years. He has been a little busy. With his latest, Get The Money, all of his influences and musical loves come to the forefront. The Police, Hawkins is heavily influenced by Stuart Copeland, the majestic choruses of Queen, most notably present on “Don’t Look At Me That Way,” as well as a bit of Prog dusting in the Genesis mold, all come into play here with astounding results. Joe Walsh, Nancy Wilson, Chrissie Hynde, and Roger Taylor are just a few of his famous friends that join in on the fun. This one is a fun journey to the past without a nostalgic bone in its body.