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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pat Pierson's Best Of 2006, And Other Things...

THICK AS A BRICK (Maybe, Maybe Not)

It's been a long week.

It's been a long January.

And I should get this all together. "This" being my picks for my favorites of 2006 and maybe a stab at trying to say something with substance. Get crap under the fingernails. Dig.

But real life has taken over (in a good way, mind you) so the sidetracking has been accepted as I let things slip away, so to speak.

But of course I can't let things go. I do want to ramble rant and get into some form of constructive babble, be it self-imposed, although other strains are in the mix. And I will get to that.


I had a very surreal dream about The Ramones the other night and it tipped the system into reflective mode, more so than usual. Thing is: a dream is usually a dream. Or at least when you wake up, you say, "Oh that was odd," and get on with things. What made this one different wasn't due to the fact that in real life, wolves (maybe a coyote) were in my backyard (yes, Caldwell) while very visible shooting stars and ├╝ber-thin crescent moons made after hours exciting. (Downside saw a girl get hit by a very real automobile outside the Loop Lounge Friday night, which shook everybody up quite bitterly along with last week's wind chills. Severe injuries aside, it wasn't as bad as we first thought.)

The essence of the dream and how it ended was what made it unique. First off: I never did get to hang with the Ramones, although, I did meet Monty. What stopped it all was my realization that this was happening back in time. The hand of fate was fate itself. It was for some kind of interview and the period was 1979 or thereabouts, located in some bizarre area reminiscent to the place where Joe Franklin taped his show when he did it in New Jersey (near the Meadowlands). After all the running around whilst getting things prepped, I stood there and realized I couldn't go in there and talk to Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee with full knowledge of their untimely fates. From there the dream fizzled.


A lot of talk and back and forth has gone on with Bob Lefsetz's emails about Patti Smith's induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and whether or not it washes and flies proper. Of course, it doesn't make sense to those who don't dig the artier side of rock and roll and/or the more primal side of punk rock. That was to be expected. I for one, have been very slow to catch up with Patti Smith, preferring to let the music fit into whatever part of my life I think it makes sense with. Slowly, I'm approving of the still overrated "Horses," which, as amazing as it is, doesn't knock me as hard as the best stuff on "Radio Ethiopia" (i.e. "Pumpin' My Heart," "Ask The Angels" and "Pissing In A River"). "Horses" may be the stronger and more profound album, but I prefer the HIGHS of the follow-up best.

Oddly enough there was a point taken about whether or not she was in the same league as the BIGGIES. Bob said:
These last two years have been curious. Blondie and Patti Smith? Sure, they had some traction, but are they in the same LEAGUE as the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, U2, Springsteen...
My reply was as follows:
no, but she is ABOVE the Lovin' Spoonful & the Mamas & Papas...
As it was, we lost Denny Doherty two days after I wrote that. (On 1/22 Bob posted my reply amongst the rest of the interesting clamor.)

Not that it matters much, but in my heart I place the Mamas & Papas right there alongside Patti Smith, although good judgment tells me Patti was a heavier force for rock and roll and its evolution. Nevertheless, I probably listen to The Mamas & The Papas more than Patti, and in a pinch, I'd side with them, softy I am. I like positive vibes before the dark shit. Inevitably, they make complete perfect sense/balance in my world and I NEED them in equal measures.

I could write a lugubrious book about the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and its inadequacies and what I believe are the merits of inclusion and what should be done about the marginal brilliance and sheer importance of lesser knowns and cult figures as well as where the hall should place the less groundbreaking yet massively successful corporate rock and metal acts. It's in need of clarity. But all of this shouting down and up of Patti and those like Alice Cooper and Kiss is rather pointless beyond the fact that it gets everybody talkin' (thinking) about it. That much I like.

That said, it's easier to cop, "Fuck art, let's dance..." or something to that effect. Worrying about awards and Hall Of Fame merits can be a major waste of time and gets everyone riled up about degrees, biases and favoritism. (Useless shit.) Sure it's nice to give the right people their props, but in the end, it usually works itself out; be it an abstraction or something posthumous. The good usually wins out, or it least gets some form of recompense, whether or not it's financial or just ink on a page or a tune placed in an AARP or potato chip ad. Bah.


For some not-so obvious reason, there's no real huge motivation to wax gigantic about these records and the state of things. I'm chalking it up to my own personal situation. And maybe a gut feeling that says, let the music do the talking. And so, beyond a word or two about my faves, there will be a "youtube" link so if anyone's curious they can check it out.

1. PERNICE BROTHERS - Live A Little (Ashmont)

The hands down favorite, despite some really strong dudes in the top 5. Many see it as their most consistent, and I think that's probably true, although ever since the debut, "Overcome By Happiness," Joe Pernice has been on the top of everything. Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Video: "Somerville"

2. JARVIS COCKER - The Jarvis Cocker Record (Rough Trade- UK import)

This choice was a quick one, and even though it's a wee bit irrational to place something at number 2 with four days to digest it, I'm sticking by the choice. And for Jarvis' sake, it feels like his best collection of songs since "Different Class." The single ("Fat Children") is a bit misleading (kinda post-punky) whereas the album goes deep into pop history, ripping Tommy James sweetly and revamping the tune he wrote for Nancy Sinatra.

Video: "Fat Children" (live)

3. ED HARCOURT - The Beautiful Lie (Heavenly/EMI- UK import)

Next to Joe Pernice, Ed is this era's most consistent pop songwriter. And this import-only album (his 4th) never lets go. For internet buzzers who continue to tag things with catch phrases like orch pop, chamber pop, etc., the idea of giving Ed his proper place in the mix has yet to take hold. Problem is that his records are above the likes of indie popsters like The Decemberists and Death Cab For Cutie. Ed never plays the novelty card and he ain't the least bit retro, despite adhering to an inspiration lost to most of this generation. Think of it as Jeff Buckley without the heavy rock gene, or Jon Brion with a voice as deep and cutting as Jeff Buckley's.

Video: "Rain On The Pretty Ones" (live)

4. BADLY DRAWN BOY - Born In The U.K. (Astralwerks)

He was over hyped and up until this album, was not the most consistent songwriter. He was prolific, but like Ryan Adams, gave the public a bit too much to sift out. On this album it finally changed. And the great songs really rise above expectations. Sounds like life hit him hard and this was the return.

Video: "Born In The U.K." (acoustic)

5. THE SLEEPY JACKSON - Personality [One Was A Spider, One Was A Bird]

Once I got beyond the quirky voice, this album took hold and never let go. Big scale stuff a la Mercury Rev, Polyphonic Spree, and The Flaming Lips but inspired by stuff like "Pet Sounds," George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" and Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything."

Video: "Devil Was In My Yard"

6. KEANE - Under The Iron Sea (Interscope)

An easy band to pooh-pooh and make fun of. They're dreadfully sincere. That said, it feels like songs this straight up and from the heart are hard to find these days. And despite familiar settings, the inspiration defies a "by-the-numbers" shtick. Soul music.

Video: "A Bad Dream" (live)

7. THE FRATELLIS- Costello Music (Universal/Island/Drop The Gun- UK import)

Derivative as they are, they throw in enough curves and have enough inspiration to make it fly. Smart kid, whoever that lead singer is. The drummer and bassist look disposable despite really rocking it up. And I have yet to tire of "Chelsea Dagger."

Video: "Chelsea Dagger" (live)

8. ARCTIC MONKEYS - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not (Domino)

Hyped and all that. Good stuff once it has time to breathe. There is a lot clatter, but it does hold on with sharp teeth.

Video: Arctic Monkeys (live)

9. NEW YORK DOLLS - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This

The title says it all. And of course there's no replacing the ones we miss. And they are missed dearly on this. But god bless David and Syl for kicking up a mess and getting on with it. Rock and roll.

Video: "Dance Like A Monkey" (video)

10. THE LEMONHEADS - The Lemonheads (Vagrant)

This one probably surprised me the most. My favorite batch of Evan songs since "It's A Shame About Ray." Both production and performance are absolutely stunning and inspired. Yeah, this is what we've always wanted, but who woulda thought it possible. He ain't the flake everyone thinks he is.

Video: "Become The Enemy" (live)


I kinda sided with a lot of glammy things, with The Flashcubes' cover of the Move's proto-glam obscurity "Hello Suzie" being the quintessential rock moment of the year for me. Cool to see it finally come to fruition 23 years later. I even got to film them nailing it to the walls at The Paradise in Boston at this year's IPO (see the youtube link below).

The Pernice's "B.S. Johnson" was one of many contenders from a CD full of top 10ers ("Somerville" and "Zero Refills"). It held tough and grew legs as I looked into the story behind the title. As I read about the late British author Bryan (B.S.) Johnson, I saw all the things that inspired Joe Pernice's masterpiece. One of the greatest songs ever written, period.

1. B.S. Johnson- PERNICE BROTHERS (Ashmont)
2. Hello Suzie- THE FLASHCUBES (
3. Let It Take U- GOLDFRAPP (Mute)
4. Chelsea Dagger- THE FRATELLIS (Universal/Island/Drop The Gun- UK import)
5. Dead- MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE (Reprise)
6. Born In The U.K.- BADLY DRAWN BOY (Astralwerks)
7. Dance Like A Monkey- NEW YORK DOLLS (Roadrunner)
9. Black Magic- JARVIS COCKER (Rough Trade- UK import)
10. Strasbourg- THE RAKES (V2)

Video: FLASHCUBES- Hello Susie (live @ The Paradise, Boston)


It's all about the Pernice Brothers. Live they pulled it off. The 'Cubes cut it fierce in glorious fashion. Nada Surf (Matthew Caws & Ira) did an amazing acoustic set at The Mercury. Even Johansen finally made it back to the U.S. (as Magnet). So did Ed Harcourt despite no stateside deal for his 4th album. Jesse Malin was brilliant at The Goldhawk with a stripped down set that included a cover of "Bastards Of Young" that pulled and pulled and pulled. Hamell On Trial explored more dialogue and sharpened his already brilliant live rep. APB and Mars Needs Women reunited fabulously.

1. PERNICE BROTHERS @ Mercury Lounge, NYC (12/08/06)
2. FLASHCUBES @ The Paradise, Boston (11/03/06)
3. NADA SURF @ Mercury Lounge, NYC (5/10/06)
4. MAGNET @ The Living Room, NYC (3/21/06)
5. ED HARCOURT @ The Living Room, NYC (8/19/06)
6. JESSE MALIN @ The Goldhawk, Hoboken (9/8/06)
7. HAMELL ON TRIAL @ Comix, NYC (11/29/06)
8. ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE VENUS 3 @ Maxwell's, Hoboken (11/19/06)
9. KEANE @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC (6/23/06)
10. DRAMARAMA @ Surfstock, Ortley Beach (7/15/06)
11. SCREEN TEST @ Shifty's, Syracuse (7/21/06)
12. APB @ The Loop Lounge, Passaic Park (12/09/06)
13. MARS NEEDS WOMEN @ The Court Tavern, New Brunswick (1/20/06)


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