What a RUSH! The PUBLIC have finally voted on the Newman and women pending induction into the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. These artists have poured their Heart and souls into their musical craft, and will join ranks alongside fellow King and Queens of rock and roll. The induction ceremony is expected to broadcast on HBO one month before Summer, the 18th of May 2013.
(Have I dropped enough subtle hints yet?)
Clever word-play aside, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officials have announced the legendary musicians to be honored at the 2013 awards ceremony. If I could offer a drum roll to preface the results, it would be an eclectic mash-up of rhythms to reflect the musical diversities of these latest inductees. The vets joining ranks with fellow Rock and Rollers are: Albert King (posthumously), Donna Summer (posthumously), Heart, Randy Newman, Rush and Public Enemy.
For the first time in the history of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Awards, fans were able to vote online for their preferred artists. As a result, this interactive approach generated one hell of a musical lineup; offering six different genres spanning a period of fifty years.
The inductees are a refreshing reminder of the various musical influences that have shaped the tunes of my generation. The product of pro-hippie parents, I grew up listening to The Beatles’ “Greatest Hits” album on Saturday mornings. In one afternoon, I had traveled from 60’s Britain to 80’s Asia with the simple change of my mom’s record.
It’s great to see such artists like Albert King – whose musical influences date back to the 1950s – being honored in the year 2013. It just goes to show how the classic hits of our past are still acknowledged as the musical stepping stones of our future.
The 28th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced on October 4, 2012, offering a list of 15 groundbreaking artists who have circulated the music scene for a minimum of 25 years, as required for the ballot.
This unprecedented event was further marked by first-time fan voting, which allowed music lovers to vote on their preferred inductees. Though voting was concluded on December 5th, fans don’t have much longer to wait; the total nominations will be revealed sometime in mid-December, serving as a pre-holiday surprise for the musicians who made the selective cut. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on April 18, 2013 at Los Angeles’s notable Nokia Theatre.
In anticipation of the event, check the list below to revel in the revolutionary talents of the past quarter century:
From doo-wop to prog-rock to gangster rap, the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees fulfill a wide-range of experimental genres that have surpassed the last two decades; culminating in triumph as musical legends, regardless of the ultimate victor.
Over the course of his career, Todd Snider’s gained a well-deserved reputation as something of a smart-ass, an artist who apparently can’t resist the temptation to mingle his sentiment with satire, much the same as Kinky Friedman, Randy Newman, Shel Silverstein and other musicians known for their humor and chutzpah. Snider’s last effort, the obviously irreverent Peace Queer EP, found that line between sarcasm and sincerity all the more difficult to discern, and even though The Excitement Plan has Snider turning somewhat introspective, its also clear that his tongue is still situated comfortably in his cheek. Even so, Snider seems to be plowing his roots, turning down the amps and relying primarily on acoustic guitar, piano and harp for a steady, bluesy shuffle. The rustic appeal brings to mind more esteemed musical masters like J.J. Cale and Dr. John, but when he opts for a weathered and reflective perspective – as on “Greencastle Blues” and “Corpus Christi Bay” – the music becomes unexpectedly endearing. Happily, Snider’s observations are as wry as ever – borne out by the trippy tale of the ballplayer who pitched a no-hitter zonked on acid (“America’s Favorite Pastime”), an amiable diatribe on the spoils of success (“Money, Compliments, Publicity”) and a rambling lament about a shiftless spouse (“Barefoot Champagne”). Whether or not The Excitement Plan is as energized as its title suggests may be a matter of debate, but there’s no denying the lure of these entertaining observations. (Yep Roc)
This year has seen some extraordinary new music come our way. I’ve heard the opposite opinion from elsewhere, but for me, being on the West Coast has a lot to do with my enthusiasm. In fact, seven of the albums in my top ten are by West Coast artists, some more well-known than others. Not only that, three of the albums in my top ten aren’t albums at all. The “EP” is an anachronistic term that originally referred to a 7” vinyl record with more music crammed on each side (usually at the expense of volume and general sound quality) than what a normal single would hold. It’s an abbreviation for “Extended Play.” And yet, today’s EP is really just a half-length CD. They tend to be overlooked, either because they’re too short to warrant much attention or they contain songs not deemed strong enough for a full album, or both. But, like Bob Dylan said, “things have changed.” Our lives are busier, our attention spans are shorter, and our disposable income is shrinking by the hour. What better time for the EP to make a mini-resurgence than now?
Top 10 Albums of 2008
1. The Parson Red Heads: Owl & Timber (EP)
There’s a timelessness to the sound and the vibe of the Parson Red Heads that’s beyond explanation. You can single out the familial harmonies, the guitar interplay that recalls the Byrds and the Dead, the irresistibly solid pop songs, or their flowery evocation of a bygone era. But when it comes down to it, this band’s music simply feels good. No other band has released music this irresistible and uplifting in years, and only a select lucky few up and down the West Coast have had the luxury of being able to see and hear them live. With a little luck, this may change, and we’ll be able to look back at Owl & Timber as one of the elements that made it happen.
2. Brian Wilson: That Lucky Old Sun
Following up the 37-years-late Smile with another similarly built song cycle seemed like little more than a fantasy in 2004. But here we are in 2008, and Brian Wilson pulled it off. Mike Love would be proud to hear that there’s only one “downer” on the album (the beautiful, Pet Sounds-worthy “Midnight’s Another Day”), while all the rest are upbeat, aural murals depicting the sunny side of Southern California. It’s Brian doing what he does best, and outside of Smile, it’s easily his best, most enjoyable solo work.
3. Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
Technically, Tell Tale Signs is an archival release, but the recent vintage of the material (1989 through 2006), the abundance of never-before-heard songs, and the fact that most of it was recorded during the same period in which Guns n’ Roses’ 14-years-late Chinese Democracy gestated, qualifies it as new. And even if it didn’t qualify, it would still be listed here, since it does as good a job (if not better) as any of his last three records of proving that, even in his old age, Dylan has lost none of his power to inspire, confound, delight and move his audience.
4. The Gutter Twins: Saturnalia
Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli have collaborated in the past on a few tracks from Greg’s Twilight Singers albums, and while those duets were pretty good, they were never major stand-outs. Not until the two covered Massive Attack’s “Live with Me” on last year’s A Stitch in Time EP, anyway. As good as that cover was, this full album of originals by Greg and Mark is even better. Dulli stretches himself here, eschewing his usual rockin’ R&B swagger and falling under Lanegan’s dark, spiritual influence.
5. Chris Robley & The Fear of Heights: Movie Theatre Haiku
That straight-laced dude from Portland with the Harry Nilsson fixation strikes again, this time crediting his road band and turning in an even more confident record than last year’s The Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love. If the 1966 Beatles were a young band today, they’d likely be playing songs like Robley’s “User-Friendly Guide to Change.”
6. Joseph Arthur: Vagabond Skies (EP)
Of the four EPs and full-length album Joseph Arthur released this year, Vagabond Skies rises to the top not only for bearing some of his most captivating and ethereal songs, but also for containing the year’s most memorable guitar solo, in the EP’s centerpiece “She Paints Me Gold.” Plus, the cover art is damn cool.
7. The Happy Hollows: Imaginary (EP)
They’re funny, they’re smart, they’re tight as a conservative’s behind, and they’re the most exciting live indie rock band in L.A. right now. Imaginary is just a short burst of five songs, but what a burst it is – from the simple exclamatory chant of “Colors” to the almost prog-like tour-de-force of “Lieutenant” with singer/guitarist Sarah Negahdari’s Eddie Van Halen-esque guitar tapping, Imaginary tantalizes and teases, just like you want it to.
8. Guns n’ Roses: Chinese Democracy
Yes, it’s bloated and overproduced. No, it’s not the old, sleazy Guns n’ Roses of the late ‘80s. Yes, it should have been out ten years ago, and would have sounded even more contemporary in 1998 than in 2008. But Axl Rose is still the king of tortured, overwrought power ballads and menacing rock n’ roll screams, and on these counts, Chinese Democracy more than delivers – it beats you over the head with its twisted logic.
9. Metallica: Death Magnetic
Metallica sounds like Metallica again! It may be clichéd to say this is their best album since …And Justice for All, but it’s true, and it bears repeating: Death Magnetic is Metallica’s best album since Justice.
10. My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges Evil Urges goes to great lengths to prove that My Morning Jacket is no typical southern jam band. Not that they ever needed to go so far as to throw some Prince-like falsetto singing and funky R&B into the mix, but as it turns out, it sounds pretty cool.
Hey, you know that death spiral the music industry has been in for the last eight years or so? Yeah, it isn’t going away. (Matter of fact, it turns out that the record biz – ever the trendsetters – started its collapse a few years before the financial sector and the automakers.) But even if album sales aren’t what they used to be, and stars aren’t as super as they once were, more great music than ever is waiting to be heard. Here are 10 top-to-bottom winners from the scores of new albums I listened to this year.
Top 10 Albums of 2008
1. Randy Newman: Harps & Angels
He only releases an album of new songs about once every 10 years, so his fans have grown accustomed to pinning a lot of pent-up hope on Randy Newman – and fortunately, his latest is among his best. That isn’t just late-career grade inflation, either; Harps and Angels contains the sharpest, most acerbic pop tunes you’ll hear all year, mocking everyone from Korean stereotypes to Jackson Browne. Nobody bought it, of course, but that’s our problem, not his.
2. Dr. John: City That Care Forgot
Two years after the rest of the world moved on, the Night Tripper is still pissed off about what happened to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and this stank-eyed song suite proves you can be filled with rage and still be funky. If you haven’t kept up with the good Doctor since his “Iko Iko” days, you may be surprised – in a good way, of course.
3. The Felice Brothers: The Felice Brothers
If you’ve spent the last 30 years wishing Robbie Robertson hadn’t left the Band, well, The Felice Brothers won’t really make you stop pining for a bygone era, but it will reinforce your belief in the continued existence of wonderfully authentic (and just plain wonderful) roots rock. None of the Felice Brothers have ever walked within a mile of a vocal coach, and this record is so much the better for it.
4. Matthew Ryan: Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State
After the quieter, machine-assisted Notes from a Late Night High Rise, Ryan was ready to reconnect with a band and dial up the amps – and that’s just what he did on this album. The results are typically searing, but they have an added rawness, a spark that hums between Ryan and his bandmates. It sounds like what it is: A terrific album that was recorded in a garage. Open a cold one and play it loud.
5. Lindsey Buckingham: Gift of Screws
The once-and-again Fleetwood Mac guitarist isn’t known for recording quickly, but after taking 14 years to release the follow-up to Out of the Cradle, he’s been atypically busy, issuing a live album and the long-awaited Gift of Screws in ’08. It isn’t the double album fans were grabbing off the Web ten years ago, but that might be a good thing – it rocks harder and more cohesively than any of his other solo records.
6. Q-Tip: The Renaissance
After a lost decade spent entering and exiting five different label rosters, Q-Tip finally returns with his second solo album – and rather than sounding like something that was labored over for years, The Renaissance succeeds in providing some of the smartest, catchiest, most dance-friendly hip-hop of the year. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to keep him from another extended absence.
7. Steve Poltz: Traveling
In which the erstwhile Rugburn follows up his excellent Chinese Vacation with an even more excellent collection of hook-filled pop songs that gently run the gamut from sweet to funny to sad and back again. Poltz is a songwriter with an uncommonly deft touch, but he’s occasionally had his tongue stuck too deeply in his cheek to speak clearly; here, he plays to nothing but his strengths.
8. The Roots: Rising Down
Not the most user-friendly rap record of the year, Rising Down makes up in uncompromising toughness what it lacks in radio-polished hooks – something you wouldn’t have known if you only listened to “Birthday Girl,” the Fall Out Boy-assisted novelty track that Geffen shipped to radio before the album’s release. Here, “Girl” is relegated to bonus-track status – which is where it belongs on an album as dark and wily as this one. You’ve got to admire their commitment to artistic integrity, but if the Roots are going to keep from going the way of Jurassic 5, their next release needs to be smart and radio-friendly.
9. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend
Take the bug-eyed skittishness of mid ‘80s Talking Heads, cross it with the assuredly smooth globetrotting of Paul Simon’s Graceland, and you’ve got yourself Vampire Weekend, and one of the most instantly addictive indie releases of the spring. The post-rock landscape is littered with baby bands who tried too hard to have fun, but any band that can name-check Peter Gabriel and ask “who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?” on the same album has to have its priorities in order. Can’t wait for the next one.
10. Pete Seeger: At 89
Like the title says, Seeger turned 89 this year – and he’s still doing what he does best: Taking his message to the people, armed with nothing but a banjo and a voice that, while not as strong as it used to be, is still capable of leading a good old-fashioned sing-along. Hands-down the most inspirational record of the year, despite the occasional corny line.