Exactly 10 years ago, on this day, I broadcasted the very first The Little Lighthouse. At the time, it was a two-hour radio show on college radio station KLSU. With the second show, on January 27th, The Little Lighthouse also got a website and became one of the first podcasts ever on Internet, before the evil corporation Apple even coined the term, before the first mp3 players became a household item. But more importantly, this show became a vent for me to enjoy and understand new and old music in a new, exciting way. Starting with today’s show, and further in 2011, I will try to recall highlights of the first season as it was unrolling. I am alsoo very happy to announce that The Little Lighthouse will from now on be syndicated at another radio station, in addition to Radio SC in Zagreb: it’s the brand new radio station in Kragujevac, Serbia called Radio Centar 987. These guys are setting up their antenna as we speak, so I will let you all know more details when the regular program starts. In today’s show we hear some of the highlights from the very first show. Also, we have a brand new cd by Tom Getter Slack, who was one of the stars of the first seasons. This is his first album in ten years. But, in the first half of the show, we review the best singles, eps and other short form records and the best reissues of 2010. Happy birthday to The Little Lighthouse!
Davila 666 – Mariel;
Mad Dukes – Joey Superteen’s Gone;
The Rolling Stones – Plundered My Soul;
Sweet Apple – Dead Moon (demo);
Drive-By Truckers – Where’s Eddie;
Range Rats – Lonely;
Elvis Costello – Lip Service;
Gibson Bros. – Mississippi Bo Weevil;
Giant Sand – Dead Air;
The Rolling Stones – Sweet Virginia;
Damien Youth – The Little Lighthouse (On The Radio);
Fruit Sandal/The Akibas – Baltimore Harbour;
Chris Whitley – Automatic;
Big Star – September Gurls;
Mega City Four – Words That Stay;
Laura Nyro – Buy And Sell;
Fruit Sandal/The Akibas – – Down Along The Road;
Tom Getter Slack – Can’t Feel Sad;
Tom Getter Slack – Your Love.
Every year about this time, The Little Lighthouse puts together a list of best albums that we rocked out at the show in the past year. This year is no exception. 2010 was quite exciting as far as the new albums go. I’d say that at least top 10 of the albums are modern classics, with all ingredients that a really big rock’n’roll record should have. I think it’s not so surprising that Sweet Apple with Love And Desperation took the number one. I was fortunate enough to see this album coming out of John’s sketches and forming into a full blown LP. But, even without that part, this record reminds us what a true rock record should be, without twists and frills. The real thing. The we also have Eamon McGrath as a surprising new songwriting talent and also Harlan T Bobo establishing himself as probably the greatest on in past 10 years. The rest of the list follows here:
01 Sweet Apple – Love And Desperation
02 Eamon McGrath – 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light
03 Harlan T Bobo – Sucker
04 Apache – Radical Sabbatical
05 Peter Case – Wig!
06 smRts – Sun Sets On A New Tomorrow
07 Endless Boogie â€Ž- Full House Head
08 Slummers – Love of the Amateur
09 Tav Falco And Unapproachable Panther Burns – Conjurations
10 Pierced Arrows – Descending Shadows
11 Greenhornes – Four Stars
12 Sid Selvidge – I Should Be Blue
13 Luther Dickinson & The Sons Of Mudboy – Onward & Upward
14 Glossary – Feral Fire
15 Limes – Rhinestone River
16 Kate Maki – Two Song Wedding
17 Mike Watt – Hyphenated-Man
18 The Parting Gifts – Strychnine Dandelion
19 Steve Wynn – Northern Aggression
20 Nobunny – First Blood
21 Demon’s Claws – The Defrosting of…
22 Kropotkins – Paradise Square
23 The Parties – Coast Garde
24 Holly Golightly & The Brokeoffs – Medicine County
25 Nick Curran And The Lowlifes – Reform School Girl
We go from number 25 up to number one counting down using the playlist below.
Nick Curran And The Lowlifes – Rocker;
Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs – Eyes In The Back Of My Head;
The Parties – Let’s Call It Love;
The Kropotkins – Little Drag Racer;
Demon’s Claws – Last Time at the Pool;
Nobunny – Never Been Kissed;
Steve Wynn And The Miracle 3 – On The Mend;
The Parting Gifts – My Baby Tonight;
Mike Watt – Arrow Pierced Egg;
Kate Maki – In Comes the Light;
Limes – Rhinestone River;
Glossary – The Natural State;
Luther Dickinson And The Sons of Mudboy – Angel Band;
Sid Selvidge – Don’t Make Promises (You Can’t Keep);
The Greenhornes – Let the World Behind;
Pierced Arrows – Buried Alive;
Tav Falco and The Panther Burns – Tango Fatale;
The Slummers – Rift Valley Evolutionary Blues;
Endless Boogie – Empty Eye;
smRts – Lenin’s Funeral March;
Peter Case – Colors of Night;
Apache – Bad Kids;
Harlan T Bobo – Hamster in a Cage;
Eamon McGrath – Welcome to the Heart;
Sweet Apple – Can’t See You.
Sweet Apple is a side band for John Petkovic of Cobra Verde, J Mascis of Dinosaur JR and Dave Sweetapple of Witch. It happened in a bitter moment when the trio of these rock’n’roll greats desperately needed a break not only from the music that they worked on in their original bands, but also a break from the situations in life that at the time seemed to choke them. Sometimes the best cure is to run away which a pack of friends, experience something new and return as a richer person. This is exactly what this pack did. A weaker person would cut his wrists, but these three people poored their hearts into a rocker that bursts with energy and desire for life. Casual atmosphere in the record creation allowed J to switch over to drums, totaling only three solos on the entire record. Still, there’s plenty of brilliant guitar work on the record courtesy of Tim Parnin of Cobra Verde and John on his purple Gretch (which he used in the songwriting process). Nothing is forced here, songs are charged with energy, crispy riffs are everywhere only to slow down on Dead Moon which stands out as a dark reminder that a man needs light to live, even if that light comes from a stage light show.
In four years, Eamon McGrath changed two cities – he moved from Edmonton Alberta to Toronto and produced over 20 “albums” that he recorded in his bedroom and distributed on his gigs around the town. Legend of McGrath slowly started to happen – people started to talk about his incredibly strong songwriting skills with influences anywhere from Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Warren Zevon to Darby Crash and Greg Ginn. The way out of his bedroom into the ears of thirsty rock’n’roll enthusiasts all over the world happened last year when he put out a compilation of his best work from the bedroom years on Canadian White Whale label. This is precisely what 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light is. The story reached The Little Lighthouse only in 2010, when he also published a new record Peace Maker. Although this is also a wonderful record, it falls a bit short from the compilation which we’re discussing here. Absolutely every song on it is a perfection. We will definitely keep an eye on this guy in the years to come.
Harlan T Bobo hails from Memphis and in the past several years, he established himself as the most consistent songwriter on the rock scene, with only his Memphis buddy Greg Cartwright to rival that crowning position. But, while Greg has a strong pop streak, Harlan T Bobo takes things more seriously it seems. I guess, what I’m trying to say here, it’s hard to imagine Harlan writing songs for anyone or anything else besides his albums. The approach is hundred percent personal and we can only be grateful to be in it for the ride. His first album recorded back in 2003 was a painful breakup story. Harlan T Bobo is now a married man and blissful intro Life is Sweet accounts to his new found peace in family life. First half of this short record (only 30 minutes), is mostly folk oriented, interrupted only with the perfectly twisted pop tune Hamster in a Cage, which indeed sounds written in the key of Greg Cartwright. But things get twisted later on with two uncompromising rockers back to back Bad Boyfriends and Energy. And then we have an epic Drunk which is by far the longest on the record and key that creates a perfect contrast with the disarmingly beautiful opening song. And then, at the very end, as if demonstrating once for all that Bobo is equally talented in multiple musical genres, the record officially ends with francophone chancone Mille Chatte. Yes, Bobo is definitely the strongest songwriter today.
Dirtiest record in 2010 is this one. It reminds us that one of the duties of rock’n’roll is to shock and embarrass. It sounds as an outtake from early 1970’s glam rock scene in New York – The Dolls with Wayne County on vocals, but it is 2010 and it is the San Francisco scene. Snotty lyrics paired with serious riffs and great melodies will make you want more. Strong rhythms will make it hard for you to sit down. My great hopes are that some of the Cleveland music promoters will bring this band to the city so we can check how it all sounds live, as it seems that this is the best setting for this motley crowd. Party on with the Apache!
Peter Case is a long standing figure in the history of rock’n’roll. He indebted us with bands like The Nerves and The Plimsouls, plus his rich solo recording career and occasional production work. This year he returns with Wig!. Somewhat surprisingly (although pleasantly), Peter Case reinvents himself on this one as an uncompromising blues-man. Hallmark of this reinvention is the song New Old Blue Car, which artistically defines this record. Melancholic folk-blues tune Old Blue Car from his first solo record now has a very different taste. Let us also mention that this record is also embellished with several subtle quotations from rock’n’roll standards – for example Money in I Ain’t Got No Dough. That’s a wonderful trick that creates an immediate bound for a true rock listener. A hired gun on this album and someone who definitely left a strong mark on it is DJ Bonebrake with his rough beats. Another one who must be mentioned here is the guitarist Ron Franklin who even co-authored some songs on Wig!. I only wish the same line up was out there to tour with this record, as this kind of gritty blues is best consumed live.
smRts come from Perth, Australia, and they are a brain child of Pedja Delibasic who’s been a part of the Perth music scene for more than ten years now. He’s been in various bands and he is an avid record collector, especially the records from Yugoslavia. His great knowledge of various kinds of music allowed him to come up with a clever instrumental concept of three guitars and drums, lead by his playful one string guitar picking. Album is filled with thrilling quotations from the Yugoslavian sub-culture, although they are subtle enough to be completely missed by a casual listener. With all this, the most fun, dance-able record this year, comes from Perth, Australia.
When Endless Boogie appeared out of nowhere in 2008 borrowing the title of Johnny Lee Hooker’s album from 1971, and retooling the old Captain Beefheart concepts, they were a complete mystery. Very little presence on line, virtually no reviews, the word about the band literally was the word of mouth. In the meantime we found out that their bass player Mark Ohi played with Naked Raygun and that their singer Top Dollar works in New York City as a dealer of used LP records. The grassroots fan-base was waiting for the second album with great suspense. It came this year and it lifts off where the previous album ends. Or maybe the previous album never ended? The endless groove simply spilled over the physical boundary of a CD into the new release. The full on energy is only interrupted with the title Slow Creep that builds up like a foggy night and chills out the spine. Endless Boogie is not only the most fun band in the past five years it is also band with the strongest concept which they stick to without a compromise.
First part of the Green On Red stroy ends on a tour that followed their album Too Much Fun. Dan Stuart couldn’t take the pressure of touring any longer, band split, Dan relocated to Spain where he recorded a masterpiece album Can O’ Warms. Ever since then, all we could hear about Dan were rumors. But in 2005, Dan reunited Green On Red, finished that tour that was abruptly broken, the second Danny and Dusty album followed in 2007. This year Dan seems stronger than ever. This time he joined forces with producer JD Foster (also a former of True Believers) and two Italian musicians Antonio Gramentieri and Diego Sapignoli. The result is a new band called Slummers and another masterpiece album Love of the Amateur. The sounds range from Green On Red ramshackle, slow Americana and most refreshingly glam rock riffage of the first degree. Dan, welcome back!